About KargilKargil may not hold as much significance in tourism of Ladakh region as Leh but the serenity of this place is simply beholding. It is a calm city and headquarters for the second largest district in Ladakh. The area has always been under dispute due to the proximity with Pakistan. Its location near Line of Control has made it a bone of contention between the two nations since 1947. It is a prominent district in Jammu and Kashmir, both politically and strategically. But despite all these disputes, nothing can surpass the tranquility offered by its vast landscapes and towering mountains.
History of KargilKargil has a very interesting history that is intertwined with many chronicles related to the erstwhile dynasties and rise of Islam in this region. To start with, it was called as Purig in ancient times. Purig was a state with many small kingdoms. During 9th century AD, these kingdoms were brought under single administration by then Sultan of Kargil. Later on, the areas of Zanskar, Sodh, and Pashkum were also included in this kingdom. Many rulers reigned over this plce after that. But the major historical shift happened here in 16-17th century. The prince of Baltistan, Ali Sher Khan Achkan, brought Balti culture to Kargil. He was followed by Dogra rulers who united the entire region under one administration, the change that continued till independence of India in 1947.
With the dawn of freedom in India and its partition from Pakistan, Kashmir became a subject of war between the two countries. Subsequently, many major battles were fought around Kargil area to conquer it. In the wars of 1948 and 1965, Indian troops reclaimed most of the area in Kargil including the parts initially captured by Pakistan army. However, under Tashkent Agreement, India had to return Kargil, but only to be regained in the consequent battle of 1971. After this war, Shimla Agreement was also signed between these two nations for not engaging n any armed conflict afterwards. In 1999, the area again rose to significance with infiltration from Pakistani Army resulting in Kargil war. It was made a separate district in the year 1979.
Geography of KargilThe region of Kargil is mostly a cold mountainous desert with some areas completely inhabitable for humans. It is flanked by Doda, Srinagar, and Baramulla towards south west; Himachal Pradesh lies in its south, Leh towards its east, and Pakistan in the direction of northwest. It has elevation of 2676 meters above the sea level. The area has 4 high valleys and snow bound arid desert with negligible vegetation. Zojila and Fotula are two passes serving as gateways for Kashmir and Leh. Namikala and Penzila are the highest peaks of Kargil. For wildlife enthusiasts, it is a paradise with many endangered species found here.
The climate of this region is temperate with average temperature of 8.6 degrees Celsius. Winters here are extremely cold with temperature dropping below -48 degrees Celsius while summers are generally hot. November is the driest month with low precipitation while March is the wettest one with 82 mm of precipitation falling.
Tourism in KargilThe natural beauty of Kargil is quite alluring for every visitor. The region houses many mesmerizing natural sights along with mystical environment of its monasteries. The rich history of Kargil is reflected in the architecture of these monasteries and gompas. It is a heaven for trekkers with many adventurous trekking routes lying in the area. The main tourist spots in this region are:
- Zanskar with its picturesque lakes and high passes
- Kargil War Memorial in Drass
- Rangdum Monastery
- Karsha Monastery
- Sani Monastery
- Phutkal Monastery
- Stongday Monastery
- Mulbekh Monastery
- Shargole Monastery
- Zongkhul Monastery
- Munshi Aziz Bhatt Museum
Business and Economy of KargilThe tough topography and extreme weather conditions of Kargil have led to lethargic pace of development in this region. The only connecting link of this district with rest of the world is Zojila Pass which remains closed for six months in a year due to snowfall. The area becomes completely inaccessible during these months. As such, the tourism, infrastructure, and education in this region is very badly affected.
The region also does not possess any significant industrial growth or even local businesses that can boost its economy. It has vast scope for geological research and training along with medical tourism due to presence of many medicinal herbs here. Also, the energy resources are really scarce in Kargil. All these factors collectively result in negligible economic progress of this district at large. Although, steps are being taken to induce tourism in this serene place along with some intriguing winter sports to allure adventurists.
The only accountable source of income for local people is agriculture. However, the potential for this sector is also limited with desert type topographical situations. The area has rich harvest of fruits like apricot, apple, peach, pear, grapes, plum, cherry, etc. Major field crops cultivated in Kargil are barley, pulses, wheat, Lucerne, and oil seeds.
People and Culture of KargilKargil has a mixed population resulting from influence o several dynasties over its culture. Most of the people in this region are believed to be descendants of Dards, Mongols, and Mon people, who were of Indo Aryan origin. Due to massive immigration from Tibet, there are many people of Tibetan origin as well in Kargil. The area mostly comprises of Muslim population in the regions of lower Suru Valley and Drass. However, there is large Buddhist populace in areas surrounding Rangdum, Shargole, and Mulbekh. Interestingly, most of the people in Kargil were Buddhist prior to 14th century when many conversions to Shia Islam took place under the influence of then rulers.
Purik is the main language of Kargil with Shina, Balti, Kashmiri, and Dardi also spoken in many pockets. Marriages in this region reflect the mixed influence of Buddhist and Muslim cultures. Like the rest of state, people in Kargil also celebrate their festive occasions by singing and dancing. Ragya Gul and ghazals in Balti are the folk genre of music loved here.
Art and Entertainment in KargilThe area of Kargil is industrially weak and unsustainable. Hence, small scale or cottage industries are established here by the local administration to nurture the handicrafts in this region. The people in this district are indulged in handicrafts that include carpet weaving, Namda embroidery, Pashmina shawl weaving, knitting, Gabba embroidery, Dragon painting, shoe making, and wood carving.
People of Kargil have limited access to the contemporary forms of entertainment. The region has slow connectivity of broadband and telecommunication. There is scarcity of theatres and movie halls. Newspapers and radio are the major sources of entertainment for people. Though, the area offers lots of sightseeing for the tourists visiting Kargil.
Demographics of KargilKargil is a distinctively significant district in Jammu Kashmir. It is run by Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council having seats of 30 councilors. Ironically, it is bordered with Pakistan along the Line of Control. Having gone through many battles in the past, the area has now recovered from its troubled past. The city of Kargil has developed quite significantly over past few years with many tourist centers, hotels, and restaurants being established to attract travelers to this place.
State: Jammu and Kashmir
Area: 14086 sq km
Sex Ratio: 775
Literacy Rate: 74.49%
STD Code: 01985
Pin Code: 194103
Vehicle Registration: JK- 07
Official Language: Urdu
Elevation: 8780 Feet (2676 m)