Kargil Travel Guide

 

Culture

Though earlier Tibetan contact has left a profound influence upon the people of both Kargil and Leh, after the spread of Shia Islam the people of Kargil came under heavy influence of Persian culture. This is apparent by the rigorous use of Persian words and phrases in the popular religious as well as other songs called marsias and qasidas. At least until recently, some Kargilis, especially those of the Agha families descendants of Syed preachers who were in a direct line descent from the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)), were sent to Iraq for their education.

Social ceremonies such as marriages still carries many customs and rituals which are common to both the Muslims and Buddhists. Among the two districts of Ladakh, Kargil has a more mixed ethnic population and thus there are more regional dialects spoken in Kargil as compared to Leh. Local folk songs which are called rgya-glu and balti ghazals are still quite popular and are performed enthusiastically at social gatherings. The J&K tourism ministry annually organises festivals in which various programmes are organised to highlight the culture so as to boost the tourism industry in the district. However, the tourism industry is still undeveloped despite attractive natural as well as rich cultural resources due to bad infrastructure and severe accommodation problems.

 

Kargil  is a district of Ladakh, Kashmir, India.


History


The name Kargil is said to be derived from the words Khar and rKil. Khar means castle and rKil means center thus a place between castles as the place lay between many kingdoms. The competing theory is that Kargil has been derived from the words "Gar" and "Khil". Gar in local language mean ‘Any where’ and Khil means a central place where people could stay.


Kargil remained relatively obscure right until the Partition of India when the issue of Kashmir became the focal point and resulted in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. There were pitched battles fought around Kargil which saw the entire area including Drass and Zoji La Pass initially coming under Pakistan control before most of it being reclaimed by Indian troops by November 1948.It remained with India after the ceasefire. It again saw some action in the Second Kashmir War with India managing to wrest back the reminder of the Kargil area twice. The first capture was on May 17, 1965, when skirmishes broke out in Rann of Kutch, and India retaliated in the Kashmir sector. However, this had to be returned as per UNMOGIP treatise. On August 15, the same year Kargil fell to Indian forces, though it was once again returned as part of the Tashkent Agreement.However in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 the entire Kargil region including key posts was captured by Indian troops under leadership of Col. Chewang Rinchen .In order to straighten out the line of control in the area, the Indian Army launched night attacks when the ground temperatures sank to below -17º and about 15 enemy posts located at height of 16,000 feet and more were captured.  After Pakistan forces lost the war and agreed to the Shimla Agreement, Kargil and other strategic areas nearby remained with India. Kargil became a separate district in the Ladakh region during the year 1979 when it was bifurcated from the Leh district.

The area shot into the spotlight in spring of 1999, when under a covert plan hatched by the then Army Chief Pervez Musharraf, armed infiltrators from Pakistan, aided by the Pakistani army, occupied vacant high posts belonging to India in the Kargil and Drass regions. The result was a limited scale conflict (Kargil War) between both nuclear equipped nations that ended with India regaining the Kargil region through military power and diplomatic pressure.