Kargil

Located in the Ladakh region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Kargil is one of the most scenic and enchanting destinations in Northern part of India. Situated close to the Line of Control near Gilgit-Baluchistan and Kashmir valley, Kargil is famous for the 1999 war between India and Pakistan.

Kargil means a place that is placed between several kingdoms or castles. The name itself is derived from the words ‘khar’ which means castle and ‘rkil’ which means center. The place is a destination of religious importance, a heaven for adventure activities and the eastern gateway to Kashmir valley making it the halting destination for visitors. The place offers multiple opportunities for mountaineering and trekking along with an array of options for historical travel and pilgrimage. Sani and Rangdum Monasteries are some of the well known places of religious importance.

Apart from the various scenic spots, another facet of Kargil is the many festivals celebrated here with much grandeur and gusto. Some of the key festivals of the city are

Hemis Festival – One of the most famous monastic festivals devoted to Guru Padmasambhava is celebrated towards the end of June or early July every year.

Dosmoche Festival – Another important festival of the region celebrated in the second half of February on the arrival of New Year.

Losar Festival – Celebrated as per the lunar calendar for 2 weeks during the months of December and January, Losar festival is enjoyed by Ladakhi Buddhists, offering prayers to Gods both in Gompas and native shrines.

Weather

The best time to visit Kargil is during summer from May to September when the temperature is comfortable and apt for sightseeing and experiencing the beauty of the place.

Winters are from November to February with temperature plummeting to sub zero level averaging between -10°C to -14°C. A white sheet of snow covers the entire Kargil region during the period.

How to Reach

The nearest international airport is Srinagar; about five hours drive from Kargil. The airport is well connected with other important cities of the country like New Delhi, Mumbai, Amritsar, Jammu, Leh and Bengaluru.

Jammu Railway Station is the nearest railhead about 540 km away. Apart from connectivity to the important cities of the country like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Chennai, Puri etc. The railhead is well connected to the major cities of state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Key attractions/Sightseeing

Some of the key attractions of Kargil include Phokar Hill or Phokar Rizong located on a flat circular plain that serves as an ideal base for meditation. Established by Buddhist monks, the place has many religious canters, temples and is surrounded by hills and caves. The place is closed for tourists during the months of June and July.

Shargole Monastery is another key attraction situated in Shargole village just about 10 km ahead of Mulbekh. The old Buddhist monastery is extremely popular amongst the locals and is called Ge-Lugs Pa Buddhist Monastery.

The Rangdum Monastery located in the Rangdum village was built in the 8th century and is home to around forty monks. The museum in the monastery is a reservoir of Tibetan and other locally manufactured articles.

Situated close to the Sani village, Sani monastery is one of the oldest religious sites of Zanskar and Ladakh. Built in the first century by the famous Kushan emperor Kanishka, the monastery is located on the plain where the Stod valley spreads into the central plain of Zanskar. Between the months of July and August most popular forms of dance, face mask dance are organized in the monastery premises.

Mulbekh Monastery is situated on the way to Kargil from Leh in Mulbekh village. It houses the 9m long idol of Maitrya Buddha along with artifacts of several Buddhist monks.

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