Kargil: The Eastern Getaway to Kashmir Valley
Pregnant with unfiltered sunshine, sporadically scattered brick-houses and unending terrains of rugged mountains?Kargil, located in Ladakh?welcomes you, artfully engages you in a trance. Revealing the unknown side of Jammu and Kashmir, it serves as the ‘Eastern Gateway to Kashmir Valley’.
Falling in between Srinagar and Leh, Kargil Tourism is known for historical importance, religious pilgrimage and adventurous activities. The literal meaning of the term ‘Kargil’ signifies ‘a place which is in between the kingdoms.’
Well, quite interestingly, when it was called ‘Purig’, it was a conglomerate of several kingdoms like Sit, Suru Valley, Phokhar and Chiktan. Additionally, history of Kargil is replete with dramatic invasions, multi-cultural traditions and of course, tempting cuisines.
Trip to Kargil gained further importance with foreign tourists being allowed entry since 1974. Quite popularly, it has also been called the ‘Land of Agas.’ Additionally, it is also famous for rustic little towns, picturesque valleys and Buddhist monasteries.
Following are the tourist attractions of Kargil
Flaunting a nine metre tall statue of Maitreya Buddha along with the two Gompas (monasteries), it is also known for prized relics and exquisite wall paintings. One can also spot the ancient Kharoshti script inscribed on the walls, adding to its historic and cultural appeal.
The two monasteries deal with the old Buddhist school or Gelugpa while the other one deals with the new Buddhist school, called as Drukpa School.
Over the years, this prominent tourist attraction in Kargil has emerged as a top-notch base for practising meditation. One can spot several temples, religious centres and monasteries in and around it.
Shargole Monastery: Precariously perched on the top of a granite cliff, this monastery is follows the Gelupga, or old Buddhist school. One can spot a well preserved idol of Avalokiteshvara, or the ‘God who looks down.’
Tibetan artists have also ornamented the inside of the shrine with the three wooden and artistic images of the Hindu Goddess Tara. Silently watching the Cantilever Monastery from the balcony of this monastery is another spiritual endeavour.
Lauded as the one of the oldest religious sites of Zanskar and Ladakh, it was constructed during the reign of Kushan Empire. It follows the Drukpa School, or the new Buddhist school.
Interestingly, the different parts of Sani Monastery in Ladakh have been built in different centuries. The main tourist attractions include Kanika Stupa, Tibetan silk paintings and ancient rock paintings.
Excursions from Kargil
Tourists can explore the nearby destinations such as Pashkum (15 km), Shargole (35 km) and Mulbek (42 km).
Shopping in Kargil
Quite an engaging event in itself, it is known for traditional artefacts, silver jewelleries, Thangka paintings, coral stones and pashmina shawls. Elegant woollen attires are a must-buy. The bustling markets of Kargil would bring out the best of Ladakhi souvenirs.
When to Reach
With Kargil mostly experiencing rugged and desert type of climate, the best time to explore it is during summer months of May and June.
How to Reach
Air: The nearest airports are located at Leh (138 km) and Srinagar (135km).
Rail: Regular train connectivity is presently functional till Udhampur (202 km).
Road: Frequent bus connectivity connects Kargil with Srinagar, Leh, Anantnag, Pahalgam and Jammu.
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