Kargil is 204 km from Srinagar and 234 km from Leh to the east, located almost in midway on the Srinagar to Leh Highway. It is also a junction where roads to Skardu and Zanskar converge.  It is situated at an altitude of 2740 metrs above sea level with close proximity to the LOC (Line of Control) and shares boundary line with Baltistan of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. This town was came into the limelight in 1999, when it served as a battleground for Indo-Pak War.  Kargil is the second largest town in Ladakh with total population of around 10,000. Kargil was once a flourishing and an important town lying on the ancient trade routes between India, China and Central Asia. The town has regained its prominence after it was opened to foreign tourists in 1974.


What To See


Suru Valley


On the way from Kargil to Zanskar After Kargil it starts Suru valley It separates Kargil from Zanskar. The Suru river flowing through the valley keeps it surprisingly green despite of its altitude of over 3000 meters. It was the last bit of green one would be seeing on the way to Zanskar.The Suru valley dominated by the twin peaks of Nun (7135 m) and Kun (7087 m) are the biggest and the highest attraction in the Suru valley.Suru Valley extends from Kargil town to Penzi La Watershed and is from where the Suru River originates. With snow capped mountain peaks flanking the valley, this place is extremely beautiful especially in spring when the apricot and apple trees are in full bloom.
Willow and poplar trees that are seen throughout the valley add to the beauty. Tourists visiting the valley in May can view the melting of ice which is a surreal experience. The valley is the most fertile land in the otherwise arid Ladakh region and about two crops are harvested every year. Cereals like millets, wheat and barley and vegetables like radish, turnip and peas are mainly cultivated in the valley. Grapes are also grown in the valley which is mainly used to make liquor.
Though a beautiful valley, Suru Valley is not often crowded with visitors, making it an ideal destination for couples. Tourists can also enjoy the panoramic view of Kun and Nun peaks from the valley and can indulge in adventurous activities like trekking and rock climbing, the most popular trek being the three day trek from Suru to Dras.


Dras War Memorial


Drass is also known to be the War Memorial, situated in Drass in Kargil District, was built to honour all the officers and soldiers who died in the 1999 Kargil war.
Drass is known to be the coldest place in India is a small village where the Pakistani army had illegally intruded into India. The Kargil War began on May 8 1999 and continued till India recaptured Tiger Hill on July 5. Kargil War or Operation Vijay was declared successful on July 26 after the complete eviction of Pakistani intruders. On every July 26th, Vijay Diwas is celebrated and the martyrs are paid homage.
Drass War Memorial is built in pink sand stone and has an epitaph commemorating the sacrifice of the soldiers. A wall with names of all the officers and soldiers who sacrificed their lives is also found.
A war gallery, known as the Manoj Pandey War Gallery, showcases weapons and artillery recovered from the Pakistani forces and photographs taken during the war
Situated on NH-1D, this memorial is easily accessible.


Rangdum Monastry


The Rangdum Monastery is situated in Rangdum village which is 127 km from Kargil is at an altitude of around 3,657 m above mean sea level. The monastery has a museum that features a collection of Tibetan and other regional artefacts. It is counted amongst the important landmarks of the region and is believed to have been constructed in the 8th century. This monastery is home to around forty monks.


Pensi-La/ Lake 


Pensi-La is a mountain pass in Kargil district on the way from Kargil to Padum, which is known as the Gateway to Zanskar. Pensi La is 4,400 mtrs. above sea level and connects the Suru Valley region to the Zanskar Valley region. From Pensi-la there is a stunning view of Nun Kun peaks respectively 7,135 mtrs. and 7087 mtrs. of hight. The pass is about 25 km from Rangdum Monastery. From Pensi La, one can also capture the stunning view of the Suru River valley, the glacial lake and the Drang Drung Glacier.


Lamayuru Monastry


Located on the main Kargil Leh highway between Bodhkharbu and Kha-la-che, on a steep rock mountain Lamayuru is amongst the oldest monateries in Leh and is beleived to be in existence along the same time as Alchi monastery. Lamauru monastery is about 125 kms from Leh and can be visited on the way to Leh from Srinagar if you are travelling by road.


Though almost in ruins Lamayuru monastery is home to about 150 monks of Red-Hat sect of Buddhism. It is believed to have housed more than 400 monks in earlier times.

The monastery is famous for its rich wall paintings, collection of thangkas, murals, scriptures and statues of different forms of Buddha and other deities. There are several legends about the monastery. According to one, it was founded by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa in 11th century who came to the place for meditation. However, the foundation of the monastery was predicted in the Bodhisattva Madhyantaka.




Pashkum is located 15 km from Kargil on the Leh road. It is a historical village with beautiful ruins of castles on hillocks, reminding visitors of its glorious past.




Mulbek is a small Buddhist village at a distance of 42 km from Kargil on Kargil-Leh road. The main attraction of Mulbek is Mulbek Chamba which has a nine metered tall 7th century rock sculpture of the ‘Maitreya’- the future Buddha and a monastery with beautiful wall painting and statues. The monastery is situated atop a crag at a height of around 200 m above the road. This monastery houses relic of many Buddhist monks, along with the 9 m long relief idol of Maitreya Buddha. There is also a mosque and remains of a fort, which can be visited in Mulbek. 




Shargole is a beautiful village located about 35 km towards the right side of Kargil-Leh road. Majority of its population comprises of Buddhists and Muslims. The main attraction is a small monastery with beautiful interior wall paintings. It is perched on a cliff and offers great picturesque views. An exciting four days trek from Shargole leads to Suru valley via Safi La and Rusila Passes. Mulbek and Shargole are connected with Kargil by proper road and have daily bus services. Even private mini buses operate on this route.


Fokar Urgiyan Dzong


Fokar Urgiyan Rzong is around 8 km further up streams from Shargole. It is located behind a natural fortress. It is best known for the cave monastery of Urgiyan Dzong. This monastery is the popular meditation retreat of Guru Padma Sambhava. Handprints of the great saint and natural statues and figures can also be seen here. Phokar Rizong stands on a flat and circular plain that serves as an ideal base for meditation.
Surrounded by hills and caves, the site has various shrines and religious centres that were established by Buddhist saints, including the Padma Sambhava.
This place is accessible via two routes, amongst which the cave route extends around 1 km and is closed during the months of June and July. The other route that passes through the mountainous tracks is around 3 km to 4 km long.




Drass (3,230 m), 60 kms west of Kargil on the road to Srinagar, is a small township in the centre of a valley of the same name. Locally called Hembabs ("snow land"), it is renowned as the second coldest inhabited place in the world because of the intensely cold winters and heavy snowfall. Winter temperatures are known to plummet to 40* Celsius to 60* Celsius below zero. During the four months of spring and summer, however, the valley turns very picturesque as the gently surrounding hillsides turn into green pastures splashed with a variety of wild flowers.


How to Reach


Taxis of all types, including 4-wheel drive vehicles, can be hired at Srinagar and Leh, for visiting Kargil. J&K State Road Transport Corporation operates regular buses (including deluxe coaches) between Srinagar and Leh/Kargil. Local buses, including mini coaches for Mulbek and Drass, leave Kargil every morning and afternoon.


Sankoo, Panikhar and Parkachik are connected with Kargil by regular bus services. The bus ride from Kargil takes 2 hours to Sankoo, 3 hours to Panikhar and about 4 hours to Parkachik. Rangdum is serviced by the buses proceeding to Padum, which increases in frequency according to demand. Trucks plying on the Kargil - Padum Road also offer a lift, in the cabin, for the price of a bus seat. Car and jeep taxis can be hired from Kargil for visiting different places in the area.





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