Kargil , Ladakh

Kargil lies on National Highway 1D which connects Srinagar to Leh , it is on the banks of Suru river , the name is from two words “Gar” means in local language “Any Where” and “Khil” means central place “where any one can stay”. Total population of Kagil 80% follows the Shia faith of  Islam and are inhabited in Kargil, Drass and lower Suru valley, Tibetan Bon Buddhist are mostly in Zanskar valley with small population in Shergol, Mulbek and Upper Suru valley.  There are about 4%  Hindus and Sikhs . Most of the people are of Burig and Balti of Tibetan origin mixed with Dard , Mon and Aryan people.

Kargil City view from Leh-Srinagar Highway

The Tibetan influence is seen in Kargil and Leh people , the Islam came here with Persian influence which has lots Persian words , phrases and even the religious songs in their language , the marriages are solemnize with common rituals of  Buddhist and Islam customs .

Mt. Nun & Mt. Kun from Suru valley trekkers hot spot

It was a transit point of caravans on their way to and from China, Tibet, Yarken and Kashmir till 1949, but since 1974 with the influx of tourists the region has been replaced as center for tourism related activities. Tourists traveling between Zanskar, Leh and Srinagar stop for  a night stay , before proceeding for onward  journey.

People visit Kargil with the memories of 1999 India and Pakistan conflict as it lies very close to the line of control .

Bomb Shell splinters holes fired from Pakistan

The Suru river flows through Kargil , Suru valley extends till the Pensi-la where there is a famous peaks of Nun and Kun , Karaste kar is a small village on Leh highway where 9 meter tall rock carved statue of Maitriya Buddha attracts the tourists from far places . There are other magnificent Stupas and rock carved statues to be seen in Suru valley . Most of the trekkers take a hike to  the Nun- Kun view saddle (3810mtr. ) in the Parkachik ridge. It is a  3 hours of walking along the slopes  overlooking the fertile valley below.

Pakistani post was captured and pushed behind this peak

The road connection from Srinagar is open from May till November , rest of the year there is a heavy snow in the Zoji-la , this area is cut off by road in winters from rest of India , the Indian Air Force  operates few flights to help the local people to come in out of the valley. summers are warm with cold nights , Drass which is 56 km from Kargil is coldest inhabited place in India. The only  road link to Zanskar  is from Kargil .

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Rangdum Gompa,Monastery, Suru valley, Ladakh

Rangdum Gompa , Tibetan Buddhist monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sect administered from Karsha Gompa, situated at a height of  3,657 m (11,998 ft) on top of a small but steep  hill  at the head of the Suru Valley, in Ladakh. The monastery is built over a hillock , entrenched around by the bifurcated route of a mountain stream. The Rangdum Gompa of Ladakh gives the appearance of an age-old fortification. It was built 200 years ago by Gelek Yashi Takpa in the period of King Tsewang Mangyul . 

Rangdum Gompa, Monastery, Zanskar, Ladakh

Rangdum is 130 km. from Kargil at far end of isolated part of  Suru valley it is on a mid way to Padum and Kargil. On one side are the colorful hills while on the other side are rocky mountains and Glaciers . The small mani walls here and towards Padum are more ornate than in Ladakh , some of the stones are carved not only with the usual “Om Mani Padme Hum “ mantra but also with pictures of chortens and mandalas .  It is next to the tiny village of Julidok, and about 25 km from the Pensi-La  which leads into Zanskar valley,  it is physically in the Suru Valley, but culturally part of Zanskar

Holy Scripts kept at Rangdum Gompa Zanskar, Ladakh

The Rangdum Monastery of Ladakh owns the entire valley around it , there are more than 50 Monks who depend upon the offerings of grains and butter from the villages  , the  villagers who tilled the fields are decedents of serf-tenants of the monastery. The small villages of Yuldo and Julidok, at the end of the valley are entirely Buddhist. The people are socially and culturally part of Zanskar and support the  Rangdum Monastery,The country surrounding  is very bleak crops sometimes cannot ripen in the brief summer. The locals depend on their flocks and supplies from lower down the Suru Valley from Kargil or over the pass from Zanskar.  it is also the destination of the nomadic herds people called Bakaarwals, who trek up every year from the Himalayan foothills from around Jammu area , bringing their flocks of sheep and goats to grow fat on the rich summer growth of grass.

The road conditions are very bad near Rangdum.  There is no access to electricity, phone or internet.

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