Kargil, which is popular as a reminiscent of the Kargil War, is so much more than just that. The vast skies above this terrain are simply captivating and there is no doubt about it. The unending sky and snow-white clouds will always be successful in grabbing your attention, no matter what.
The place has quite a volatile history owing to the 1999 war. It seems as if the very winds of Kargil carry the names of the martyrs who laid their lives for their motherland.
Visiting a place like Kargil is generally not safe. However, leaving alone the belligerent conditions, this place indeed is a very beautiful spot to visit and explore along with your loved ones. The natural scenery of this place is actually quite incredible and offers a completely different perspective on Kargil.
The best time to visit Kargil is the summer season. This is the time which is quite great for sightseeing and exploring new places.
History of Kargil
Earlier Kargil was also known as Purig. In the initial history, Kargil consisted of many small numbers of kingdoms namely Pashkum, Chitkar, Fokar, Soth, etc. Despite being small, these kingdoms had the extreme tendency to fight over petty and quite nominal issues. It is said that it was Gasho, also known as Tatha Khan, who brought all of these kingdoms together under a united administration.
Furthermore, it is also said that it was the time period of Ali Sher Khan Anchan that saw a great influence on this particular geographical area. And eventually, with the pace of history, it was the Dogra community that successfully united Baltistan, Purig, Zanskar, etc in the very first half of the 19th century.
It is said that before the early partition of 1947, Kargil was a part of the Wazarat district of Ladakh. It is known for its sparsely populated region with a very diverse set of linguistic, ethnic as well as religious beliefs. The first Kashmir war was essentially concluded with a ceasefire line which was responsible for dividing Ladakh Wazarat and the Skardu Tehsil which was located on the side of Pakistan.
Major Attractions in and Around Kargil
1. Mulbekh Monastery
The 9-meter tall idol of the Maitreya Buddha inscribed in the rocks is a sight to behold. Seeing such a beautiful idol is quite an incredible experience for every visitor. While discovering this place, one can see that it has two Gompas. One is Drukpa and the other is Gelugpa. These Gompas are connected with the nearby palace of Raja Kalon of Mulbekh. Mulbekh Monastery isConsidered one of the best monasteries in Leh Ladakh.
2. Drass War Memorial
Being a war-affected area, one can easily believe that there won’t be much to see and discover. On the contrary, one can observe that there are many hotels which have opened up here in the past owing to the rising tourists' crowds at the main war theatre. One can also see that the whole dynamics of the place has shifted and it is refreshing to see and experience that.
3. Kargil Main Street
Kargil's main street isn’t exactly a shopper’s paradise. However, you can expect some really good options to shop from, such as dry fruits and handicrafts stuff as well. Moreover, here are some shops where you can find locally produced folk music and perhaps take it home as souvenirs.
4. Suru Basin
Visiting the Suru Basin is quite an interesting experience. Apart from that, one can also see that the Suru Basin also has lush green scenery with some of the most picturesque vistas to enjoy.
For a sports enthusiast, trekking is really a great activity to indulge in here. However, for first-time trekkers, this may be a challenging experience. So, it is humble advice to the first-timers to keep their safety as a first priority and follow the steps of their respective guides.
6. Lamayuru Monastery
Lamayuru monastery is a great architecture to explore in its fine subtlety. It is really an amazing experience to explore the peaceful surroundings of this place. The fact that most people adore this place is because it has been adorned with a great number of “Khor-lo” or what is known as the Prayer Wheels.
How to Reach Kargil
Situated very close to the line of control, Kargil is also considered a very volatile region in terms of conflict. However, there is another side to this place as well. Many don't know but it is also loaded with some of the most stunning natural views of skies, mountains, and beautiful clouds. Kargil is located at a distance of about 1,010, 2,366, 2,534, 3,186 km from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru respectively. Here is how you can reach Kargil by the following means of transportation.
Lehairport aka Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport (IXL) is the nearest airport from Kargil situated 215 km away. Situated at an altitude of about 3,256 meters this is also one of the most scenic airports of India. It has overall good connectivity to other Indian cities. After deboarding your flight, you can hail a cab or other conveyance options available locally to reach your destination.
The nearest railway station is located in Jammu. Traveling to Jammu via train is a great experience in itself. It has good overall connectivity with other Indian cities. However, it is located at a distance of around 450-500 km from Kargil. Thus, from the station, you will need to take a cab or a bus to reach your destination.
Kargil can be reached via motorable road networks. The distance from Srinagar to Kargil via road is around 202 km. There are regular buses which you can take from nearby regions like Srinagar and Jammu. You could also drive to this place from major cities if that is convenient for you in terms of traveling and expenses incurred.