Kargil is a town in Kargil district and the joint capital of the Indian union territory of Ladakh. Kargil is the second largest town in Ladakh after Leh. It is located 204 km to the east of Srinagar and 234 km west of Leh to the east. Kargil is the centre of the Suru River valley, historically known as Purig.
|• Type||Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil|
|• Total||2.14 km2 (0.83 sq mi)|
|Elevation||2,676 m (8,780 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 ([Indian Standard Time)|
|Vehicle registration||LA 02|
|Other spoken||Shina, Balti, Ladakhi, Urdu, Hindi, English|
The name Kargil is said to derive from the words Khar, meaning castle, and rKil meaning "centre". "Kargil denotes a place between many forts, a central place where people could stay". It appears to be a fitting description for a place that is equidistant from Srinagar, Leh and Skardu (the capitals of the Kashmir Valley, Ladakh and Baltistan respectively).
Historically, the region around Kargil was called Purig. A major study of the history of Purig is included in the 1987 book Qadeem Ladakh by Kacho Sikander Khan, which includes genealogies of various dynasties that ruled the region.
Kargil is the main town in the historical region of Purig, which consists of the Suru river basin. It was not the historical capital of the region. Earlier, Purig consisted of a number of small but independent kingdoms, which included Pashkum, Chiktan, Fokar, Soth and the Suru Valley. These tiny principalities would often fight among themselves over petty issues. Gasho “Thatha Khan”, an exiled prince in the 9th century AD, is perhaps the first ruler who brought together all the territories under a united administration. Another sultan of Purig extended his kingdom to include Zanskar, Sot, Barsoo, Sankoo pretty much the territory of the present Kargil district. He is referred to as “The Purig Sultan”. His capital was based at Karpokhar in the Suru Valley. The other famous kings of Kargil were Boti Khan, Abdal Khan, Amrood Choo, Tsering Malik, Kunchok Sherab Stan and Thi Sultan.
It is said that it was the period of Ali Sher Khan Anchan, the famous ruler of Skardu, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries which had a great influence on the area. This prince from Baltistan conquered most of the principalities of Purig and introduced Balti culture in the Kargil district. Subsequently, it was the Dogras who united Baltistan, Purig, Zanskar and present-day Leh district in the first half of the 19th century under a single administrative unit, which lasted until 1947 when a new line of control was demarcated between India and Pakistan separating Skardu and Kargil.[better source needed]
Before the Partition of India in 1947, Kargil was part of the wazarat (district) of Ladakh, a sparsely populated region with diverse linguistic, ethnic and religious groups, living in isolated valleys separated by some of the world's highest mountains. The Ladakh wazarat had three tehsils (sub-districts), named after the cities of their headquarters: Leh, Skardu and Kargil. The district headquarters shifted between the three locations each year.
The First Kashmir War (1947–48) concluded with a ceasefire line that divided the Ladakh wazarat, putting roughly the Kargil and Leh tehsils on the Indian side, and the Skardu tehsil on the Pakistan side. The two Indian tehsils were soon promoted to districts and Ladakh was named a Division, on par with the Jammu and Kashmir Divisions in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan renamed the Skardu tehsil Baltistan and divided it into further districts.
At the end of Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the two nations signed the Simla Agreement, converting the former ceasefire line with some adjustments into a Line of Control, and promising not to engage in armed conflict with respect to that boundary.
In 1999 the area saw infiltration by Pakistani forces, leading to the Kargil War. Fighting occurred along a 160 km long stretch of ridges overlooking the only road linking Srinagar and Leh. The military outposts on the ridges above the highway were generally around 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) high, with a few as high as 5,485 metres (18,000 ft). After several months of fighting and diplomatic activity, the Pakistani forces were forced to withdraw to their side of the Line of Control by their Prime minister Nawaz Sharif after his visit to the USA.
Kargil has an average elevation of 2,676 metres (8,780 feet), and is situated along the banks of the Suru River (Indus). The town of Kargil is located 205 km (127 mi) from Srinagar, facing the Northern Areas across the LOC. Like other areas in the Himalayas, Kargil has a temperate climate. Summers are hot with cool nights, while winters are long and chilly with temperatures often dropping below −20 °C (−4 °F).
Islam is the largest religion in Kargil Town, followed by over 77% of people. Hinduism is the second-largest religion with 19.21% adherents. Buddhism and Sikhism form 0.54% and 2.2% of the population respectively.
Kargil Airport is a non-operational airport located 8 kilometres from the town. The airport is included in UDAN scheme and is proposed to be operational in the near future. The nearest operational airport is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh, located at a distance of 215 kilometres.
There is no rail-connectivity to Kargil yet. The Srinagar-Kargil-Leh railway line is proposed which will connect Srinagar and Leh via Kargil. The nearest major railway station to Kargil is Jammu Tawi railway station located at a distance of 472 kilometres.
A famous all-weather road, the Kargil-Skardu road linked Kargil with Skardu, a city in Gilgit-Baltistan. Since the 1948 Kashmir War, the road has been closed. Whilst the Indian Government has been interested in opening the road as a humanitarian gesture, this has been refused by the Pakistani Government.
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