Kargil town (2,704 m), situated midway between Srinagar (204 Kms) and Leh, (234 kms) on the Srinagar-Leh highway, is the second largest urban centre (approx. 8,000 inhabitants) of Ladakh and headquarters of Kargil district. A quiet town now, in the past it served as an important trade and transit centre for the Central-Asian merchants due to its unique equidistant location (about 200-230 kms) from Srinagar, Leh and Skardo, all well known trading outposts on the old trade route network. Numerous caravans carrying exotic merchandise transited in the town on their way to and from China, Tibet, Yarkand, Kashmir and Baltistan. Since 1975, travellers of various nationalities have replaced traders of the past and Kargil has regained its importance as a centre of travel-related activities.

Being located in lap of the Himalayas, Kargil serves as an important base for undertaking adventure tourism and trips to the exotic Zanskar Valley and other Himalayan regions. Visitors travelling between Srinagar and Leh have to make a night halt here before starting the second leg of their journey.

The town and its suburban villages lie nestled along the valley system formed by the confluence of the Suru River and its tributary, the Wakha-chhu. The land along the narrow valley floor and the hillsides are neatly terraced and intensively cultivated to grow barely, wheat, peas and several other cereals, besides a variety of vegetables. Thick plantations of poplars and willows, besides rich orchards of apricot, apple and mulberry, adorn the area to form a rich oasis against the backdrop of the undulating mountains. Kargil area is famous for its fine apricots. In May the countryside surrounding the town gets awash with the white apricot blossoms, while in August the ripening fruits lend an orange hue to the landscape.

Kargil is convenient base for undertaking adventure activities like trekking, mountaineering, camping, river- rafting, etc. in the high Himalayan valleys. It is also a convenient base for taking excursions to the Wakha- Mulbek valley, where the chief attraction is a 9 m high rock sculpture of Maitreya, besides other monuments. Another tour option is to visit the beautiful Suru Valley to behold the gradually unfolding panorama of the impressive Himalayan landscape. Yet another interesting excursion option is to visit Drass to see its famous features like Tolo-ling, Tiger Hill and the  Mushkoo Valley, well known throughout India on account of the extensively televised conflict on the LoC between India and Pakistan during May-August, 1999.

Kargil also offers some interesting walks through the suburban villages nestling along the rising hillsides of theriver valleys. The best among these is the walk towards Goma Kargil along a 2-km long winding road that passes through some of the most picturesque parts of the town, offering breathtaking views of the unfolding mountainscape as one ascends alongside a tumbling mountain stream. It is best taken in the afternoon as the setting sun plays magic with the changing hues and shades of the hills. A shorter walk across the bridge, over the Suru River, takes you through the ancient village of Poyen, and up the Wakha-chhu valley.

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