Tiger Hill is over looking the Drass Valley on Srinagar-Leh Highway 1D , it is also known as Point 5353 is the highest peak in this area (16500 feet) . It is the most dominating feature in Drass Valley , is on a confluence of number of spurs and over looks the long stretch of Srinagar-Leh highway. In the local dialect “Baltic” Dras means “Hell”. It is at a height of 3230 meter or 10990 ft. The surrounding mountain ridges however range from 16000 feet to 21000 feet. It has become famous as the second coldest inhabited place in the world . Winter temperature is sometimes comes down to less than minus 60 degrees. It is often called ‘The Gateway to Ladakh’ . It also became famous during mid 1999 due to invasion and capturing of surrounding tops by the Mujaheddin with the help of Pakistani army which led to a war from Indian army to recapture the territories back from the intruders.
It was mid June of 2010 early morning when we left Kargil , our driver wanted to cross the Zoji-La pass as early as possible to escape from melting snow and heavy traffic on Leh-Srinagar Highway 1D. We entered the Drass Valley around 0530 hr. it was very cold and when I checked at the War Memorial which was closed at that time the temperature was -5 degree Centigrade , while waiting to open the gate my heart became so heavy I could not control my self and tears started rolling out of my eyes , imagining the Kargil War and my country brave soldiers who fought not only the enemy but the cold adverse weather , they preferred bullets to be carried with them instead of food. The soldier with his INSAS Rifle on duty at Memorial Gate was having a cylinder with a burner on top with a flame to keep himself warm told me that in this cold the fingers become num .
While travelling from Leh , we stayed a night at Kargil , early morning when we entered the Drass valley , moon was still shining over our left side of the mountains , our Ladakhi driver who was very quite since we started from Kargil broke the silence ” woh dekho Tiger Hill “ and my reaction was ” Wah” I was stunned with the beauty of it .
Most of the Cab drivers want to cross the Zoji-La early morning because after the sun rise the warmth of sun rays causes the melting of Glaciers , and water flows on the roads and it is difficult to drive in this patch, the War Memorial opens at 0800 hr. in the morning the war museum is worth visiting and paying respect to the Kargil War Heros.
- Drass War Memorial , Snow cap Tololing Ridge in backdrop
If one is entering the Drass valley from Kargil , it is about 2 hr. drive, make sure you leave from Kargil in time when you reach Drass the War Memorial is open . Take care of your woolens as Drass valley is the second highest coldest inhabited place on earth
“Sir, I’m on Tololing Top.” a simple message from Col. M.B. Ravindranath of 2nd Rajputana Riffles minutes after recapturing the Top , “Tololing being bang on the road, it choked our throats,” says a field commander. “That pressure is now off.” The victory earned by Ravindranath and his men a rare, direct “well-done” from then army chief Gen. V.P. Malik .
I could feel that chill in my body while standing at the War memorial which is just below the Tololing top. It took just six days for Indian troops to give final touches to the successes by evicting well-entrenched intruders on four nearby outposts with names echoed all over the World — Point 4590, Rocky Knob, Hump and Point 5140. It could lead to the recapture of a similarly strategic height of Tiger Hill.
Tiger Hill has sharp conical features, which stands among the mountain tops a few kilometres north of Drass. During the Kargil war, the picture of Indian troops after having captured the Tiger Hill became the symbol of the Indian victory in the war. Indian Armed forces involved to recapture the Tiger Hill were from the 18 Grenadiers , 2 Naga and the 8 Sikh Regiment it was one of the costliest operations for the Indian forces in the entire conflict, with casualties of nearly forty personnel killed and nearly a hundred wounded in the entire operation. In the 36 hour operation, the first meal our soldiers had were the dates left behind by the retreating Pakistanis.
Captain Batra, the soldiers of 13 JAK Rifles charged the enemy position and captured Point 5140 set in motion a string of successes, such as Point 5100, Point 4700, Junction Peak and Three Pimples with fellow Captain Anuj Nayyer who was awarded Maha Vir Chakra , Capt. Batra led his men to victory with the recapture of Point 4750 and Point 4875. He was killed when he tried to rescue an injured officer during an enemy counter attack against Point 4875. Captain Vikram Batra was awarded the Param Vir Chakra .
I saw very few local people in the morning , houses with door closed it was very cold , even stray dogs or animals not visible anywhere in the valley. People I saw on the highway here either they were soldiers or truck drivers from Kashmir and Punjab.
Leading the brave men right from the front were the officers. It was the Captains and Majors considered to be the cutting edge of the Indian army who once again proved their worth . Sacrifice has the words ‘For our tomorrow, they gave their today’ this been true in the case of our gallant soldiers. And yet, the nation generally tends to forget the ordinary soldier in times of peace.
What price we paid to in terms of men, who laid their life just for IZZAT , Fellow comrade ,Call of Duty keeping aside their own personal safety , it will always be in my mind that because of these above the extra ordinary men, I was able to travel to this place without any fear and took the pictures of this most beautiful place of our motherland .
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