Kargil is a town situated in Ladakh, India. It's an important transit hub of Ladakh, with roads leading from here to Leh, Srinagar, and Padum in Zanskar. One of the two capitals of Ladakh, and the capital of the Kargil district, it is still a small town. While interesting in many ways due to its historic position on the caravan routes, nothing of this is visible to the casual visitor. It is notorious with travellers as a necessary stop between Central Ladakh, Zanskar and the Kashmir Valley.
It is now famous due to the Kargil War, when the town and surrounding areas were shelled by Pakistan-based militants.
Kargil has direct bus connections with Leh, Srinagar, and Padum. Shared Jeeps make a faster, more expensive alternative to the buses, they leave from near the Bus depot, on main Bazaar.
Most people passing through Kargil are going from Leh to Srinagar, or vice versa, and have booked a through ticket. Be sure to do this if at all possible. For people coming from elsewhere in Ladakh, or going to Zanskar 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 are normally a couple of buses parked in front, a couple minutes' walk from the bus depot.
Kargil is small enough to walk from one end of town to the other easily.
There is little of tourist interest in the town.
- The Jameh Mosque in the main street is open for visitors. Although it is a Shiite mosque, it lacks the ornaments found in Iranian mosques.
The general area around Kargil has pleasant scenery and would make for nice walks.
Kargil has no souvenir shops, although you might visit one of the music shops selling locally produced folk music.
There are a plenty of decent restaurants of the Dhaba variety around the 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.
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.
As a conservative Muslim town, there are no bars. Tea is available in any of the Dhabas.
For a city where it's necessary for so many to spend the night, 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 depot and main bazaar. A sleeping bag is useful, as the bedding is unlikely to be clean in even the more expensive places.
- The Kargil: New and fabulous, this hotel has all amenities for a very comfortable stay
- Izhar Palace This rather run-down place near the bus station offers bedding on the floor in a dormitory with very warm blankets (a must in Ladakh) for ₹50.
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, visitors should avoid any raising any political discussion 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.
- Dras - a truckstop town with cheap rooms directly west on the way to Srinagar
- Lamayuru – small village with a Buddhist gompa, on the way to Leh