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In pictures: Life in Baltistan - BBC News

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In pictures: Life in Baltistan

  • 1 July 2013

Images of life in the remote region of Baltistan

  • A part of the remote region of Baltistan lies on the northern-most borders of Indian-administered Kashmir. Baltistan mostly falls in Pakistan, where it is part of the Gilgit-Baltistan autonomous territory. Photographer Arko Datto has been chronicling the life of the residents in the Indian-held areas.

  • The Indian-administered area was virtually inaccessible to the public before 2010, when the government decided to allow access to a couple of villages. The area can be reached only by a circuitous route through the Nubra Valley in Ladakh. Another route through the mountains is being constructed.

  • A girl in Turtuk village, one of the few to be opened to tourists.

  • There are seven villages in Indian-held Baltistan with an estimated population of 5,000 people.

  • The Baltis are predominantly Muslim. Arko Datto says that like "much of Kashmir and Ladakh, the people here are very hospitable". He adds: "It is not uncommon to get invited into people's homes for a cup of 'namkeen chai' (salty tea) and apricots."

  • Some in Baltistan have opposed the opening up of Turtuk to tourism, convinced that only harm can come out of it. This photo shows Balti elders leaving a mosque after evening prayers.

  • The region has a strong military presence as Turtuk is just a couple of miles from the Pakistan border.

  • Community ties here are strong. A man stands in front of his house destroyed by a landslide. During rebuilding, he says, the entire village will help him out.

  • The villages in the area are sparsely populated. This photo shows children returning from school in Turtuk.

  • One of the oldest villagers in the region, this lady was born in Pakistan and later moved on to the Indian side.

  • Migrant labourers from the states of West Bengal and Bihar help in the construction and maintenance of roads in the region.

  • Apricot farming is one of the primary sources of revenue in the region. This photo shows girls in an apricot orchard in Baltistan.

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