Imagine a getaway from busy city-life to a quiet place in nature’s lap! A picture-perfect view of the splendid landscape from the balcony of a cozy village homestay. Isn’t that too idealistic?
How refreshing it would be to just escape to nature and hear the melodies of sparrows instead of the city’s horns!
It is rightly said by Maxime Lagace, the Canadian Ice Hockey goaltender, “By discovering nature you discover yourself.”
So, if the mountains are calling you and you are all set to discover the beauty of nature, then Turtuk is a place worth exploring.
Situated by the bank of River Shyok, Turtuk is one of the northernmost villages in India in Nubra valley, Ladakh. It is 205 kilometers from Leh and 2.5 kilometers from the border of India and Pakistan.
History and Culture
Turtuk is known for its scenic beauty and cultural heritage. The place is of significant historic importance. It was included in the Indian territory in 1971 during the India-Pakistan war when Baltistan was partitioned between the two countries. The village is the last outpost of Ladakh under Indian control and is one of the gateways to the Siachen Glaciers and Silk route.
The region was ruled for thousand years from 800 to 1800 AD by the emperors of Turkistan of the Yabgo dynasty, a central Asian empire. Baltistan was a predominant Buddhist region until a prominent Islam scholar, Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani, brought cultural changes to the region.
At Turtuk, you see how two cultures, Islam and Buddhism, coexist peacefully. You can spot Buddhist Gompas in the predominant muslim region as well as the mosques that showcase a unique blend of Iranian designs and Buddhist art.
Isn’t it so idealistic? How wonderful an opportunity to witness ancient cultures and traditions amidst nature so beautifully?
What makes Turtuk a desirable destination?
Snow-capped Himalayas, beautiful valley, tinkling river, green fields and apricot orchards – a perfect landscape view. This is Turtuk.
Apart from the mesmerising scenic beauty, it is the rich art and culture of the region that captivates tourists. The ancient Buddhist Gompas, mosques, museums and the Balti Heritage house reflect the rich cultural heritage of Turtuk.
If you are a nature-lover, this distant village would certainly rejuvenate you. You can enjoy the brown ranges of Karakoram mountains, the rocky roads and sand dunes.
On the other hand, there are lush green fields through which runs freshwater streams. The apricot and walnut orchards, yellow barley fields and the serene valley would certainly amaze you.
Turtuk was inaccessible to the visitors long after its inclusion in India. It was only in 2010 when the villagers embraced tourists with open arms. You would surely be taken away by the warm and welcoming behaviour of the Balti people, the residents of Turtuk.
Balti cuisines you can relish upon
When talking about Turtuk, Balti hospitality is a worthy mention. Fresh meals are served in every Balti restaurant, homestay and guest houses. They mostly offer delicious vegetarian food with loads of apricot and buckwheat.
The Balti noodles with a dash of local herbs and Chorbat Biriyani will certainly tickle your taste buds.
You must also feast upon the yummy cakes and pancakes made from buckwheat and apple, apricot, walnut salad topped with fresh Yak cheese.
Salivating already? Haha, that’s the beauty of Turtuk.
Must explore sites in Turtuk
The tiny village offers you a wide array of tourist spots right from trekking spots and desert safaris to places of cultural significance and beautiful landscapes.
Here’s a list of the must visit tourist spots in Turtuk that will make your trip memorable:
The Balti Heritage House and Museum
The 150 year old house and museum preserves the traditional values of the ancient Balti culture. You are bound to be impressed at the sight of pots and pans made of soft stone and bows made from the horns of mountain goats.The house showcases treasured tools, weapons and traditional clothing made of yak wool.
Ruins of Pun Khar and Brokpa Fort
The ruins of Pun Khar, the palace of the Yabgo dynasty built in the fifteenth century and the ruins of Brokpa Fort will take you to the yesteryears.
The Polo Ground
Polo connects Turtuk to the traditional Balti roots. The 16th century Polo ground, located at an altitude of 9300 feet is one of the attractive sightseeing spots. If you happen to be there on March 21, the first day of Balti new year, you could witness a polo match between the best players of Turtuk.
A breathtaking trek to the origin of the waterfall is an exciting adventure for tourists. It is rest assured that though the climb is challenging, the glimpse of the K2, world’s second highest mountain peak is worth the hard work.
The 14th century Tibetan monastery is around 90 kilometers from Turtuk. The monastery situated on a hillock gives a pleasant view of the surrounding places.The major attraction of this historic and religious site is the 32 meter tall Buddha statue. Do you know this is the most popular Buddha statue in the Ladakh region?
Hunder is approximately 82 kilometers from Turtuk. Hunder is famous for the Leh Berry forests, a plant of rich medicinal importance.The Hunder Gompa is one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries of Nubra Valley. If you are an adventure freak, you must visit Hunder for camping and trekking. And, don’t miss the Camel Safari in the sand dunes of Nubra.
The 16th century minarets and mosques, the Buddhist Gompas, the watermill, natural cold storage are also recommended places of visit in Turtuk.
Head towards a rejuvenating experience
Imagine yourself under the pristine blue sky, far from honking vehicles, enjoying the gentle music of the rolling river in the shadow of tall trees and mountains. Now that’s a mesmerising experience!
If you are all set to escape the humdrum of your life, land in the lap of mountains and explore ancient art and culture, Turtuk is the perfect destination.
Get your backpacks ready to set on the thrilling journey to the mountains and experience the charm of unique Balti culture and cuisines.
Turtuk village (Image Source: Wikimedia.org)
7 Stunning Destinations for Summer Holidays in India
Summer is on its way, and everyone’s looking for a chill-out. Prepare yourself for the perfect holiday away from the scorching sun.
1. Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Manali is a popular summer holiday destination for young adults in India. If you fall into this age group and if you are an adventurer, this destination will surely appeal to you. Wonder why? Well, depending on when you visit, you could go skiing! That’s right!
What’s more, you can even bungee jump and paraglide here and click pictures of some scenic views for Instagram! Manali has a lot to offer, like strolling by the river or walking in the pine forests. If you feel spiritual and wish to receive divine blessings, do visit the Hadimba Temple and the Himalayan Nyingmapa Gompa monastery.
Other activities include yak riding, taking a dip in the hot springs in Vashisht, etc.
2. Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh
Famous for the serene and alluring atmosphere it offers, Kinnaur is among the popular summer holiday destinations for young adults in India. This destination appears to be straight out of a storybook. Would you like to know what Kinnaur can offer you?
It has lush green forests, majestic mountains, and rivers, making them a sight to behold. If you wish to indulge in a rustic adventure with your friends, this place is definitely for you.
Kinnaur offers visitors the opportunity to see the best fusion of the Hindu and Buddhist cultures. With temples and monasteries dedicated to Lord Shiva and Buddha, Kinnaur teaches tolerance.
3. Rishikesh, Uttrakhand
Are your parents senior citizens? Are you planning to arrange a blissful holiday for them? Rishikesh is known for its religious vibes and laidback, relaxing atmosphere. This makes it one of the top summer holiday destinations for senior citizens in India.
Did you know that Rishikesh is also known as the yoga destination of the world? That’s right! People from all over the world come here to take part in yoga courses. The Ganga aarti in the evening is a sight to behold.
If you wish to explore around and enjoy the local life, do visit the Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula. Also, not to miss is the Beatles Ashram, because everyone loves The Beatles!
4. Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
Think about a vast expanse of land with a clear blue sky and plenty of clouds amongst majestic mountains in the background. Also, think about colorful prayer flags against Buddhist monasteries. This is what makes Spiti one of the amazing summer holiday destinations for young adults in India!
If you are looking for an adventure, hiking is the most common sport. If you wish to test your photography skills at night, there are plenty of stars visible at night! When you are done exploring around to your heart’s content, Spiti is an amazing place to interact with the locals and learn more about their culture.
Who knows, if you get lucky, they might invite you over for a local wholesome meal?
5. Munnar, Kerala
Munnar is one of the best senior citizen vacation spots, with little quaint streets, exotic tea gardens, waterfalls and mesmerizing wildlife. This destination is a great place to completely rejuvenate yourself.
What’s more, Munnar boasts amazing weather all year. This makes it one of the top summer holiday destinations for senior citizens in India. Other activities here include visiting tea museums, flower gardens, spice plantations, and the lakes.
If you fancy visiting national parks, Eravikulam National Park is a great choice. You might be able to see the endangered Thar here. Neelakurinji is a species of flower that grows every 12 years in this area. The next sighting is supposedly in 2030.
6. Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra
This destination is not to be confused with the Mahabaleshwar temple in Gokarna, Karnataka! This is a quaint hill station in Maharashtra, known popularly for its strawberry cultivation. This place is a wonderland for toddlers. Wonder why? Because, in the Mapro gardens, they are encouraged to go wild and pick strawberries!
What’s more, there is a chocolate factory here which they can take a tour of! Other places worth visiting here are Echo Point, where children can yell at the top of their voices. Riding ponies and boats are some of the other famous activities here. This makes Mahabaleshwar one of the best summer holiday destinations for toddlers in India.
7. Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
If not hill stations, you can always visit the desert! Jaisalmer is one of the top summer holiday destinations for senior citizens in India. Jaisalmer’s allure is such that there is something for everyone, regardless of age or type of traveller.
Since it is a less popular choice compared to destinations like Jaipur and Jodhpur, it is less crowded with visitors. This will allow you to fully appreciate the fort, museum, lake, temples, and sand dunes.
A tour of the desert is a nice way to dive into the local culture, where they take you around the nomadic villages. Sleeping under the stars at night in the desert would definitely remind the elderly of earlier days.
Take a relaxed time-out this summer!
Those were a variety of summer holiday destinations for different age groups to visit in India. While young adults usually seek thrilling adventures, senior citizens have already had their share of it, and would probably just like to relax. And, as long as toddlers are concerned, they like to run all around the place! There’s a little something for everyone! Regardless of what age group you fall in, each of these destinations are worth visiting.
Visit Tawang: an Escape to the Quiet Mountains
Escape the scorchy summers and spend some quality time at the mighty mountains, splendid landscapes, sparkling waterfalls, and the biggest Indian Buddhist monastery – Tawang
“Mountains are the beginning and end of all natural scenery”, says John Ruskin, the leading English art critic of the Victorian era. And, we are sure all the mountain lovers out there are nodding a big yes to that.
If you are planning your summer holidays to the mountains, then here we bring you a less crowded and offbeat holiday destination in Arunachal Pradesh- Tawang.
Visit Tawang to Explore the Unexplored
Perched at a height of 3050 meters, the beautiful hill station is worth exploring. Tawang is famous as the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama, Tsangyank Gyatso. Lying in the north-western extremity of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang shares borders with Bhutan, Tibet, and China.
Predominantly the land of the Monpa tribe, you can witness a mix of Tibetan and Buddhist culture here. Tawang means ‘chosen by horse’. The name of the place has an interesting story behind it.
It is said that Merag Lama Lodre Gyatso, following the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, was set on his search to find a suitable place to build a monastery. Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t find one and decided to sit and pray to seek guidance.
Once he finished his prayers, he found his horse missing. When he went out searching for the horse, he found it at the top of a hill named Tana Mandegang. Very soon, the monastery was built on this place, and the place was named Tawang.
Best Time to Visit Tawang
Summer and spring are the best times to visit Tawang. March to August is considered to be the most suitable. If you visit Tawang in February or March, don’t forget to attend the Losar festival which is celebrated in the Tawang monastery.
Enjoy the natural beauty of Tawang, its mesmerizing landscapes, pristine glacial lakes, and pleasant weather. You can also spot beautiful migratory birds by the lakes during summers.
However, the best time to visit Tawang for snow is in December and January. If you are an adventure freak, there is a lot to do for you in Tawang. Enjoy enthralling adventure sports like skiing on the Himalayan slopes and create some unforgettable memories.
Places to Visit in Tawang
Tawang is endowed naturally as well as historically. The spiritual ambiance of the place is utterly soothing. Buddhist chants and prayers of the monks at the monasteries and captivating scenery create a pleasant aura all around.
Tawang is a combination of lakes, monasteries, mountains, passes, and waterfalls. Let’s have a look at the major attraction sites at Tawang.
The major attraction of Tawang is the Tawang monastery. It is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists in India. The 400-year-old monastery is the largest Buddhist monastery in India and the second largest in the world.
Perched at a height of 10,000 ft., the monastery gives a panoramic view of the surreal surroundings, the beautiful Tawang valley, cradled by the snowy Himalayan slopes and lush green coniferous forests.
A three-storeyed building, the monastery is an impeccable piece of architecture. The gateway to the monastery is called kakaling, which is a hut-shaped structure with beautiful mandala roof art. The walls are decorated with vibrant and colourful thangkas (Tibetan Buddhist cloth paintings) and curtains. The monastery is surrounded by a 925 ft high wall.
You will surely be spellbound by the sight of the 18 ft. high Budhha statue at the monastery. The monastery also has a library with a printing press and hundreds of ancient scriptures.
Tawang War Memorial
The Tawang war memorial is a 40 ft high architecture that overlooks the Tawang Chu valley. The war memorial was built to commemorate the sacrifices of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the India-Sino war. You can find the names of the brave soldiers engraved on granite plates.
Nagula Lake, Pankang Teng Tso Lake, and Shonga- Tser Lake
Nagula Lake is a high-altitude lake flanked by snow-clad mountains and green forests ideal for a panoramic view of the surrounding surreal beauty.
Pankang Teng Tso Lake is an absolute beauty bestowed with vibrant flora, bright rhododendron flowers, and tranquility. It is the ideal spot for bird-watching in the summers. In winters, the lake freezes and turns into a skiing ground for tourists.
Popularly known as ‘Madhuri Lake’, Shonga-Tser Lake is a perfect scenic view surrounded by beautiful valleys and snow-capped mountains.
It is a popular tourist spot in Tawang as the film Koyla starring Madhuri Dixit was shot here, and the perfect picturesque view offers much to the photography enthusiasts.
Sela Pass and Bumla Pass
One of the highest motorable passes in the world, Sela Pass connects Tawang with Guwahati, Assam. Sela pass offers a magnificent view of the surrounding majestic mountains, beautiful valleys, and crystal blue Sela Lake.
Perched at a height of 16,000 ft, Bumla pass connects India and China. The pass is believed to be the passage through which the Dalai Lama escaped to Tibet from India.
It is suggested to visit these passes from May to October as they remain closed in winters.
Narurang and Bap Teng Kang Waterfalls
Who doesn’t love the sight of cascading waterfalls rolling from a humongous height?
Narurang falls that originates from Narurang river is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Arunachal Pradesh. It is a wonderful sight when the water flows down through multiple steps from the height of 100 meters. It is also known as Jang falls and is surrounded by dense green forests. You can also pay a visit to the hydel power station near the waterfall.
Bap Teng Kang falls is a beautiful waterfall where water cascades down from a height of 100 ft and creates a unique plunge pool at the bottom. It is an extremely rejuvenating experience to swim in the pool surrounded by lush greenery.
These gorgeous waterfalls are best to visit during monsoons when you can marvel at their gushing beauty.
Gorichen peak, perched at a height of 22,500 ft offers an immensely challenging trek for the adventure junkies. The peak is also of great religious significance. It is also known as the ‘kingdom of deity’. The local inhabitants consider it to be sacred and believe that the peak stands tall to protect Tawang from all evils and misfortune.
What to Shop for at Tawang?
Shopping is an inevitable part of any trip to a new place. We always keep a day aside to shop for the gift items for our loved ones and some special items of the place.
When in Tawang, you can shop for a variety of items. You can shop for dresses, gift items, household stuff and many more. Good quality shawls, carpets, and handcrafted bags are ideal purchases from the Handicraft Emporium, run by Arunachal Pradesh government.
Wool weaving industry being the main industry, you will find abundant winter wear in the markets of Tawang. You can buy sweaters, jackets, shoes, handbags, Chadar (wrap skirts worn by Monpa people) and traditional jewelry. You will also find pocket-friendly and good quality trekking and adventure gear in the local markets.
The Buddha statues, wall hangings and goodluck charms made of wood and brassware are also an ideal purchase as gift items for family and friends.
Porcelain crockery designed in traditional Buddhist style makes a great buy. You can also find wooden utensils like bowls and ladles to cater to various kitchen needs in the local market.
Tawang Delicacies to Feast Upon
Traditional Monpa cuisines are spicy and flavourful that surely will tickle your taste buds. For authentic Tawang recipes, you should try local eateries and food joints.
Momos are available in plenty just like any other north-eastern region. You must try Authentic Tawang cuisines like Thukpas (spicy noodle-soup mixed with minced meat), Khura (pancake made of buckwheat) and Zan, staple food of Monpas (made of millet and is teamed with meat or vegetables)
Also don’t miss Gyapa-Khazi and Puta, the Monpa version of Pulao and noodles respectively. When it comes to beverages, you must try the chief beverage of the Monpas, Sueja or butter tea.
Already getting the aroma of the delicious Tawang cuisines?
Best Way to Reach Tawang
Although Arunachal Pradesh does not have an operating airport, the best way to reach Tawang is through airways. Salonibari airport is the nearest airport, located in Tezpur, Assam, and is 317 kilometers from Tawang. From there, it takes around 4 hours to reach Tawang by car.
Tawang is 480 kilometers from Guwahati airport, which connects to all major cities in India. One can also hire a car to Tawang from here and enjoy the road trip.
Head off for the Ultimate Rejuvenating Trip to Tawang
A peaceful getaway from the cacophony of busy lives to a quaint place is the ultimate rejuvenation.
Visit Tawang to explore the majestic Himalayas, mesmerizing landscapes, and learn about the Buddhist and Tibetan culture. Shop for gift items, traditional clothes, ornaments, and porcelain crockery and relish upon the Tibetan cuisines in the eateries at the local Vihara market.
Explore and enjoy Tawang!
Encountering Escapades – One Day Trip Ideas to Places Near Kolkata in Summer
Sometimes years feel like a matter of moments, and sometimes just a day makes a matter of years.
Calcutta, better known as Kolkata, is nicknamed ‘the city of joy.’
Known for the famous festival of Durga pooja, the city is a humble abode for many.
Did you know? Kolkata is the third most crowded metropolitan city present in India.
And it is the cultural, educational, and commercial center of Eastern India.
The city is jam-packed with exciting trams, unique Bengali delicacies, exciting football tournaments, eye-catching colonial structures, and beautiful literature.
As impressive as the city is, the same goes for the places near it.
There are numerous astounding tourist destinations near Kolkata that just need a day for you to explore them thoroughly.
When talking about the one-day escapades from Kolkata, Sunderbans will make the top of the list.
The place is at a distance of 109 km from the city that takes up about 3 hours of driving depending on the route you take.
It’s packed with remarkable biodiversity, and nature enthusiasts will quickly fall in love with the place.
The place is also included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and is famous for animals like:
- Royal Bengal tiger
- Indian grey mongoose
- Jungle cats
- Leopard cats
- Wild boars
Birds like mangrove whistler, jungle babbler, and black-capped kingfisher also make an incredible sight.
Sundarbans also have opportunities for a boat safari, which gives you a chance to encounter the fantastic river dolphins.
Tarkeshwar, also known as Duttakeswar, is a city located about 63 km away from Kolkata.
It’s a famous pilgrimage site, and devotees from all around the world come here to venerate Lord Shiva in the Baba Taraknath Temple, especially in April and mid-July to mid-August.
Festivals like Gajan, Charak Puja, and Neel Puja make it a significant tourist attraction.
Situated 139 km away from Kolkata, Bishnupur is a town that’s famous for its intricately carved temples.
The top attractions here include the:
- Radhashyam temple
- Lalji temple
- Jor-Bangla temple
- Madan Mohan temple
- Rasmancha temple
The unique thing about these temples is that they’re carved from local terracotta.
It’s a perfect getaway for people interested in architecture, history, and culture.
Overlooking the Bay of Bengal, Digha is a coastal town near Kolkata that has consistently been a top choice for beach lovers.
Located about 183 km away from Kolkata, it approximately takes 4-5 hrs to drive there . The place allows you to engage in various activities like:
- Enjoying the beach waters
- Capturing beautiful scenes of sunrises and sunsets
- Aquarium ventures to know more about the marine life
- Witnessing and becoming part of the tranquility of the temples there
- Enjoying water sports like parasailing, skiing, and zorbing
You can also enjoy delicacies like curry or fried dishes prepared with freshly caught fish there.
A trip to Santiniketan is easily one of the best road trips you could make from Kolkata.
Who doesn’t know about the great Rabindranath Tagore?
He is the person responsible for reshaping the Bengali culture and music with Contextual Modernism.
He is responsible for making Santiniketan a fascinating, instructive center where students are urged to accept nature, be innovative, and carry the legacy of bygone eras forward.
The place is 162 km away from Kolkata and is jam-packed with heritage buildings, meditation spots, and museums.
Tourists are primarily attracted to the beautiful city of Chandannagar because of its prime location of being situated on the Hooghly River’s western bank.
The place is located 48 km away from Kolkata and has a French colonial past.
The place has many architectural and religious attractions like:
- Chandannagar strand
- Sacred heart church
- Patal Bari
- Nandadulal temple
Mayapur is situated 123 km from Kolkata, at the confluence of the river Jalangi and a distributary of the river Ganga.
The city acts as a spiritual getaway for many because of the many spiritual sites it houses.
Are you a history lover and want to know about the Hare Krishna Movement?
Mayapur houses the global headquarters of ISKCON for you to come and explore.
The place has beautiful architecture, and you are free to explore the history behind it and learn the Vedic principles.
Raichak is an alluring getaway for people who want to escape the chaos of city life and are looking for calmness and earthly vibes.
It’s perfect for photography, and you can explore the colonial-era structures and the place’s rustic way of life.
It’s located 54 km away from Kolkata, and the top attractions are:
- Chingrikhali Fort, Diamond Harbour
- The Fort
- Ashram of Ramakrishna Mission
Falta is 51 kms away from the city. It is a destination marked by a confluence of rivers on both its north and south ends.
The place has been developed entirely on the banks of river Hoogly.
The Bose Bigyan Mandir of prominent Bengali scientist Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose is a farmhouse located in the place, responsible for making the village famous.
No one’s unaware that Britishers ruled India for 200 years, but do you know which was the first place they set up their cantonment in?
This is the fact that makes Barrackpore a city of great importance and an excellent place for a one-day trip.
The place has many mesmerizing green parks that give you the perfect opportunity to enjoy a peaceful evening.
The place is located about 31 km away from Kolkata and offers the chance to visit beautiful temples.
Bakkhali is a humble abode.
It’s about 125 km away from Kolkata, and your itinerary of the place includes:
- Bakkhali beach
- Fraserganj wind park
- Henry Island
- Bishalakshmi temple
- Crocodile breeding center
What’s a getaway that can’t give you the thrill of adventures?
Tajpur is a place near Kolkata famous for adventure sports like:
- Water zorbing
- Coastal biking
- Snorkeling rafting
In addition to this, you can witness the mesmerizing culture of this place in the fisherman villages.
The place also gives you camping opportunities and is a food paradise with delicious local cuisines.
It’s about 172 km from Kolkata.
19 km away from Tajpur is a place called Mandarmani, which is a happening beach town. Travelers and residents from Kolkata consider it their weekend’s hotspot.
The place offers you some of the best luxury sceneries, sandy beaches, and incredible views.
Travelers can find numerous resorts and hotels there that offer world-class amenities at affordable prices.
It’s also one of the longest motorable beaches present in India and has amazing adventure activities ranging from parasailing to banana boat rides.
It’s also famous for its mouth-watering cuisines, and the fish fry of the place is a must!
Sorted Short-Summer Trips Near Kolkata
Well, that was all about the list of the best summer escapes near Kolkata that would only take one day for you to explore thoroughly.
“Traveling is a humbling experience; it always leaves you with one thought: my life may not be perfect, but I am blessed.”
With the same thought, the TBM desk hopes that your next summer trip becomes a joyful event.