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Kargil Town

Kargil Travel Guide: Things to Do and Places to See in Kargil The Joint Capital Of The Union Territory Of Ladakh (2024)

Kargil is a town in Kargil district and the joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh. It is also the second-largest town in Ladakh after Leh. Kargil is located at a distance of 204 km to the east of Srinagar and 234 km west of Leh to the east. It is located at an altitude of 2704 meters above sea level and offers exemplary views of the Himalayan Ranges. Kargil is the center of the Suru River valley and it is historically known as Purig. It is usually an overnight stopover on most tourist journeys. Often, people stay at Kargil on their way to Leh or Srinagar. Kargil TownImage Source:

Kargil is situated close to the line of control. This fact makes it a volatile region and it sometimes gets tricky and risky to be here. However, despite the history and the war that has been fought here, the place is bestowed with natural beauty and adventure. Kargil is the place to be for travel enthusiasts. It is a beautiful place to visit, and one gets to enjoy a cultural amalgamation here. It is a beautiful blend of Pashtuns, Ladhakhis, and Kashmiris. Kargil is located on the banks of River Suru. It is bliss for adrenaline junkies as you will get to enjoy water sports like river rafting etc. The town is built in a classic amalgamation of Buddhist and Turkish architecture. It is also a good place for you to visit if you are a fan of ancient architecture.

Kargil has a rich history dating back to the 16th century. Kargil is the home to the famed Nun Kun Peaks. You would see people visiting the peaks for skiing, mountaineering, and trekking. Kargil is also a very important center for trade and commerce in the area. The entire town is covered in apricots and is one of the biggest producers of apricots in the country.

Places To See and Things To Do in Kargil

You get to enjoy the scrumptious meals from different cuisines of people from different cultures residing in the area. To know more, read the following:

1. Mulbekh Monastery

Mulbekh Monastery or Mulbekh Gompa consists of two gompas, one Drukpa, and one Gelugpa Buddhist monastery in Kargil, Ladakh, northern India. It is one of the top attractions in Kargil and the area around. The most interesting thing about this monastery is its location. Another interesting fact about this place is the statue of Maitreya Buddha that is carved on a very big and enormous slab of stone. Mulbekh Monastery is located at a distance of around 36 Km from Kargil on the way towards Leh on the National Highway 1D.

Best Place To See in Kargil-Mulbekh Monastery

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The Mulbekh monastery is believed to be around 800 years old and was built by the students of the Tibetan scholar, Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo. The legend says that the idol dates back to the 8th century but there is another school of thought that believes that the monastery was built in the Kushan’s period. The sculpture is said to have been carved by the missionaries. But based on the carvings it is clear that the missionaries were not Tibetans and were people from Ladakh. There are other ancient edicts near the main sculpture in the Kharoshti script. Mulbekh forms a panorama that is made of rock with occasional green patches spread across the unending horizon. Mulbekh Monastery stands on the top of a crag and is situated almost 656 feet above the road. One needs to walk for a bit on a steep path to reach this beautiful monastery.

2. Dras War Memorial

Dras War Memorial, also known by the name of Kargil War Memorial is built by the Indian Army in honor of and commemorating the 1999 Kargil War between India and Pakistan. The memorial is located on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway 1D. It is situated about 5 km from the city center across Tiger Hill. It is a great place to visit and especially to pay respect to the people who died to safeguard a country during times of war. There is a War Gallery that showcases the war photos and it also depicts the stories of brave soldiers at the Dras War Memorial. You will also be able to see a Sandstone wall which is inscribed with the names of the Indian army personnel who lost their lives during the war in this memorial. Visiting this memorial will give you chills down your spine and make you feel thankful and respectful of the sacrifices given by soldiers during the war. You can reach the Drass War memorial on the road leading to Leh from Srinagar. The memorial is located a little distance from Drass town. If you do not have a personal vehicle, you can get regular buses and taxis from Srinagar via National Highway 1. Drass War Memorial is open to the public on all weekdays including Saturdays from 10 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm. The memorial remains closed on Sundays.

3. Kargil Main Street

Kargil is a town with a mixture of Pashtuns, Kashmiris, and Ladakhis. The blend of cultures comes in clear in this little town. You will get to see a touch of beauty from all cultures on your visit to this magnificent place. Indians remember Kargil as a warzone, but it is extremely beautiful and a wonderful place to be. However, Kargil is also one of the most neglected places during a typical Ladakh trip since it is almost like a 1-night stop before people leave for Ladakh or Srinagar. But the entire street in Kargil has a culture of its own. Over time, people came from all regions and a mix of Pashtuns, Ladakhis, and Kashmiris have settled here in an attempt to set up their businesses here in Kargil. You will get to see shops of all small businesses on the main street which is a classic blend of cultures. Kargil has authentic dishes from all cuisines to offer including Gushtaba, Rogan Josh, Rista, kebabs and Korma, Thukpa, Mutton in various preparations, etc. There are numerous local bakeries in Kargil that sell biscuits of various types, cream rolls, and cakes, etc. The main street offers a selection of dry fruits and some great food. Some shops also sell locally produced folk music which is like souvenirs for travelers. You can also buy the best apricots in the country from Kargil main street. Kargil is one of the biggest producers of apricots in India. Make sure you get some for yourself and your friends back home while traveling to this beautiful place.

4. Suru Basin

Suru Basin is a breathtaking and mesmerizing valley created by the famous Suru River. The Suru River is a tributary of the Indus River that flows through the Kargil district of Ladakh. The Suru river flows north into the Skardu District of Baltistan in Pakistan, where it joins the Indus at Nurla. Extending from Kargil to Panzella glacier, this fertile canyon is cultivated more than any other region in Ladakh. You can witness the beauty of the Suru valley in spots like Panikhar and Parachik where you will see that the grass is turning a bright, bold rusty orange. The entire landscape is made even more beautiful with the backdrop of the majestic mountains in the area. Traveling to Suru and Zanskar valley can get a little inconvenient but it is a journey laid out with the most splendid of views and sceneries. It is a place to see once in a lifetime and one should not miss visiting Suru Valley if you are in Kargil or around. Both these valleys come under one of the least visited spots in India due to the bad condition of the roads leading to these valleys. Most people prefer to come to this valley at the end of their trip when they are on their way back to Srinagar. Suru valley is the perfect choice for bikers and offers the kind of scenes you may have only caught in movies.

5. Trekking

There are many famous trekking rails around Kargil which are famous for the views the valley has to offer. One can enjoy a solo hike or with friends and family. The hikes are easy to moderate difficulty hikes which can be taken easily if you have a decent fitness level and availability of time. Several trekking and hiking routes start from Kargil which can be taken by the tourists. You can see some of the best views of pine forests and mountain tops. You will be able to see the majestic and awe-inspiring mountain ranges while you are hiking in this area. You can go for hiking in the area to Lamayuru-Leh, Padum-Lamayuru, Padum-Hemis, Sankaru-Dras, NunKun etc. Trekking in the region may be challenging due to the weather conditions. The entire experience of going for hikes around this area is rewarding and is beautiful in its way.

6. Lamayuru Monastery

Lamayuru Monastery is also known as Yuru Monastery. It is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Lamayouro, Leh district, Ladakh, India. Lamayuru is one of the largest and oldest gompas in Ladakh, with a population of around 150 permanent monks residing on the premises. The monastery is especially famous among the bike riders who specifically enjoy riding to this beautiful place. You can enjoy the beautiful and exceptional landscapes of this beautiful land on your way to this place. The monastery is situated on the Srinagar-Leh highway 15 kilometers east of the Fotu La at a height of 3,510 meters. The name Lamayuru means sauwastika and is a popular symbol in Bon for “eternity”. Yungdrung is the name of the most popular school of Bon. It is currently affiliated with the Drikung Kagyu school of Buddhism. The Drikung history states that there was an Indian scholar named Naropa during 956-1041 CE who caused the lake which filled the valley to dry up and founded Lamayuru Monastery. There are many old buildings in the monastery and one of the oldest surviving buildings at Lamayuru is a temple called Seng-ge-sgang, at the southern end of the Lamayuru rock, which is dedicated to the famous builder-monk Rinchen Zangpo between 958-1055 CE. Rinchen Zangpo was charged by the king of Ladakh to build 108 gompas in Ladakh and around Spiti Valley and the surrounding regions during the time mentioned above. The gompa consisted originally of five buildings. However, only one oldest building has survived the test of time but some remains of the four corner buildings can still be seen.

7. Shopping in Kargil

Kargil is a very small city but is a very famous tourist destination and a beautiful hill station. The place is famous for its shops and even street shopping. There are many things that one can buy from Kargil for friends and family and cherish the memories forever. The city is popular for its dry fruits, Kashmiri handicrafts, and Pashmina shawls. The sweets here too have a unique taste and should not be missed out on. You should know how to haggle if you are visiting these markets. It is a nice place for a day out where you can enjoy the famous street food as well while enjoying shopping.

Best Time to Visit Kargil

You will experience some extreme weather conditions in Kargil. The best time to visit this beautiful place and enjoy every bit of the adventure it has to offer is between the summer months which are short from June to September. The temperature in Kargil goes down to almost minus 5 degrees Celsius. During monsoon, there is a light shower to heavy snowfall, and it is also common to have landslides and cloudbursts. So, monsoons should be avoided to visit Kargil. Summer is a nice time for the tourists to get around and to enjoy the wilderness in the surrounding areas. The weather is pleasantly cold and is considered a good time to spend in Kargil.

Winters start in October and last up to May. Winters in Kargil are long and freezing. The temperature during winters drops to extreme levels and becomes intolerable for people not accustomed to living in extreme weather conditions. It is not inadvisable to go during winters, but it becomes a little difficult for tourists going from warm areas to stay in cold.

How to Reach Kargil?

Kargil is connected to the rest of India only by roads. There is no direct flight or rail connectivity, but you can easily take a flight for Leh / Srinagar, and take public transport from there. You can choose from air travel, trains, buses, or taxis to reach this heavenly town in this beautiful valley.

Air Travel to Kargil: The Nearest airport is Kushok Bakula Rinpoche airport at Leh at a distance of approximately 140 km from Kargil. It is connected to most of the major cities in India. The local airlines and carriers like Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo, Spice Jet, and others have direct flights from Delhi. You can take a taxi to Kargil or jeeps are also available for hire at the airport. To reach Leh, you can also take connecting flights from other local airports in India if a direct flight is not available from your nearest airport. You can hire a taxi from the airport to reach go to your destination in Kargil or the nearby cities if you are planning to go anywhere else.

Rail Travel to Kargil: The Nearest railway stations are the Jammu railway station which is around 507 km from Kargil. If you are coming from different and farther areas of the country or outside, you can reach Jammu Station and hire a taxi from here. The railhead is connected to most of the major cities in India. Jammu railway station is directly connected to prime cities of the country, including Delhi, Bhatinda, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and Jodhpur via several superfast, express, and mail trains. You can take a taxi or take a shared cab from outside the railway station to reach your destination.

Road Travel to Kargil: Kargil is connected via road to all places. Nearby areas have frequent buses that are plying on this route. There are regular buses from cities like Udhampur, Jammu, Srinagar, and Leh. You can also hire a taxi from these destinations. Generally, tourists reach Leh via public transport like planes, buses, etc., and hire a taxi from Leh to reach Kargil. Bus services also ply to and from the city of Kargil from nearby places like Jammu Tawi, Srinagar, Leh. However, there are no regular buses that travel on this route and it is very risky to rely on public transport.

Places to Stay in Kargil

It is located in a very volatile part of the country given the history of the war in the area and the constant infiltration. Kargil is located in a remote area and you will not find many let alone fancy places to stay during your visit. Often known as the cold desert of India, you will see brown mountains without any vegetation and majestic views of the valleys you have ever seen. There are only a few guest houses or homestays to stay at Kargil and you can choose a place based on your budget. You can also choose from several homestays at this place that you will enjoy which will give you a comfortable vibe and homely feeling. You can try to book the place before visiting during the season because it gets really difficult to find accommodation if you land in the town without any arrangement to stay in summer. You will also find places a little far from the main town so be careful and check all the details and confirm when booking the accommodation. Some of the famous places to stay around are Royal Gasho Hotel, Hotel Kargil Heights, Hotel Chhutuk Hights, Hotel Suru View, etc.

Things to Eat in Kargil

Like other towns and cities in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Kargil offers a variety of Kashmiri food. You will also get to taste an amalgamation of the tastes of different cultures. There is a variety of food available at Nathatop if you want to try street food and snacks Do not miss eating chocolate Barfi, Sund Panjeeri, Rajma with Rice, Kalaadi which is a type of cheese found locally in the state, Pickles specific to the state like Kasrod, Girgle, Mango with Saunf, Zimikand, Tyaoo, Seyoo, and Potatoes pickles, Khatta Meat which is mutton cooked with Pomegranate or lime juice. You will find famous restaurants and roadside eateries both serving delicious food. You will also find the famous Kashmiri dishes here that are a trademark of the state. The most famous dishes in the area are Rogan Josh, Modar Pulao, Matschgand, Shab Daig, Haakh, Yakhni, Nader ki Gaad, Kashmiri Naan are among the few. Make sure you try all the food during your visit. Like all the places, the food is also a unique specialty in Kargil and the nearby places. The best and famous places to eat in the town are Pasgo and Shangrila.

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