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Kargil

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Kargil [1] is in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is an important transit hub of Ladakh, with roads leading from here to Leh, Srinagar, and Padum in Zangskar. The unofficial capital of Muslim Ladakh, and capital of the Kargil district, it is still a small town. While interesting in many ways due to it’s historic position on the carivan routes, nothing of this is visible to the casual visitor. It is notorious with travelers as a necessary stop between Central Ladakh, Zangskar and Kashmir.

It is now famous due to the Kargil Conflict, when the town, and surrounding areas, was shelled by Pakistani based militants.

Get in

Kargil has direct bus connections with Leh, Shrinagar, and Padum. Shared Jeeps make a faster, more expensive alternative to the buses, they leave from near the Bus depot, on main Bazaar.

Get around

Kargil is small enough to walk from one end of town to the other easily.

See/Do

There is nothing of tourist interest in town, although the general area around Kargil has pleasant scenery and would make for nice walks, otherwise come prepared with a good book. The Jameh Mosque in the main street is open for visitors, but although it is a shiite mosque, it lacks the ornaments found in iranian mosques.

Buy

Kargil has no souvenir shops, although you might visit one of the music shops selling locally produced folk music.

Kargil is a good place to stock up on trekking food, better than Padum for dry fruit and fresh veggies. Don't miss the dried apricots, and fragrant tandoori naan, even if you aren't trekking.

Eat

There are a plenty of decent eateries of the Dhaba variety around Main Bazaar. The tibetan restaurant on the third floor of a building in the main street offers pleasant and inexpensive tibetan dishes, such as Momo and Thugpka.

Drink

As a conservative Muslim town, there are no bars. Tea is available in any of the Dhabas.

Sleep

Unfortunately for a town that is necessary for so many travelers to spend the night in, accommodation is of very low quality and poor value, for the price of a beautiful double room in Leh here you will get a dirty, dark, box. There are enough places to choose from and finding a bed is not a problem, follow the signs all around the bus depout and main bazzar. A sleeping bag is useful, as the bedding is unlikely to be clean in even the more expensive places.

  • Izhar Palace The a bit run-down place near the bus station, offers dorm beds (actually a bedding on the floor) with very warm blankets (a must in Ladakh) for R 50.

Get out

Most travelers passing through Kargil are going from Leh to Srinagar, or vice versa, and as such have booked a through ticket. Be sure to do this if at all possible. For people coming from elsewhere in Ladakh, or going to Zangskar the bus station is chaotic and it can be confusing to get a ticket. The ticket office is down a small pedestrian lane, in an unmarked large stone building, (there's normally a couple of buses out front) a couple minutes walk from the bus depot.

Respect

Remember this is a conservative Muslim area, and it would be inappropriate for men or women to wear shorts. Women should particularly avoid tight or revealing clothes.

Also, travellers should avoid any raising a political discussions in public on issues like Hindu-Muslim riots; whether Kashmir should be a part of India, Pakistan or a separate state; or any other topic that might hurt the sentiments of either Hindus or Muslims.



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