Kargil / Suru Valley Culture Tour
KARGIL : The Unexplored Side of Ladakh
Style of Tour: Culture (Museums, Food, Monuments, Rock Art, Landscape)
Tour Starts: Srinagar
Tour Ends: Srinagar
Accommodation: Hotels, Camping, Homestays
Food: All Meals
Vehicle: Innova (3 PAX per vehicle)
Day 1: Land in Srinagar
Arrive in Srinagar. Transfer to hotel/homestay. Evening for leisure (May be you can suggest what would be best to do in Srinagar.)
Day 2: Srinagar to Kargil (6 hours drive)
After breakfast, leave for Kargil via Zojila pass. Enroute stop in Sonamarg for Lunch. Visit Dropadi Kund and Kargil War Memorial in Drass, also known as the second coldest inhabited place in the world. Arrive in Kargil by evening and check into hotel. In the evening you can explore the local market. If time permits we will visit the Munshi Aziz Bhat Museum, a privately run museum that preserves the Silk Route Trade Heritage of Kargil. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 3: Suru Valley. Overnight in Tents
After an early breakfast drive to the pristine valley of Suru valley. Suru is a high altitude green oasis with snow capped peaks and the mighty Suru river snaking through its valley. Drive upto the Parkachik glacier at the foothills of the Nun Kun peaks, Ladakh’s two highest mountain peaks. The highlight of this drive is a visit to the third and the tallest of the three Matetriya Buddha statues in the historic village of Kartse Khar. Explore the historic village on foot and walk upto the fort ruins of this erstwhile Ladakhi Chiefdom for a spectacular panorama of the valley. Enjoy packed lunch picnic by the river in Damsna. Overnight will be spent in tents setup by us. Enjoy casual star gazing by the bonfire and freshly prepared local food. Suru valley is a heaven for night photography enthusiasts.
Day 4: Suru valley to Kargil. Cycling/rafting. Overnight in Kargil
Wake up to the rising sun in the picturesque Suru valley. After a healthy breakfast, you have an option of either cycle back down towards Kargil or get a taste of river rafting in Suru river. We will reach our hotel in Kargil by lunch time.
Post lunch, drive to the Hundurman border village to the “Museum of Memories” for a journey back in time.
Hundurman, is an abandoned Purgi settlement in Kargil, located at the LoC. The settlement is frozen in time ever since the families migrated. Unlock Hundarman- Museum of Memories is a permanent exhibition in this settlement through the narratives of war, arts and crafts, lifestyle and culture. These stories are brought alive with the help of artefacts ranging from old utensils, farming tools, Karachi biscuits, books from Lahore, French coffee, medicines from Germany, war artillery found on site. Drive back to hotel by evening and rest.
Day 5: Kargil to Garkone. Overnight in homestay (3 hours drive)
Today we will drive to the famed and mythical Aryan valley. Enroute we will visit the second Maetirya Buddha rock statue in Apati village. It is a short walk from the village head. Post this we will continue towards Garkone and arrive by lunch time. You will be greeted by your local host. Post lunch, join your local guide to visit the Labdak Museum (maintained by the homestay owners that houses artifacts from their Brokpa heritage). Take a walk through the by lanes of the village. You will get ample opportunity to interact with and photograph the Brokpas. Dinner will be a simple home cooked preparation along with a local grape/barley wine known as “Chhang”
A very little is known or written in the main stream about the Brokpa tribe living in these two remote villages of Darchiks and Garkone in the so called Aryan Valley of Ladakh (J&K, India). Said to have lived in isolation for centuries along the river Indus, legend has it that they are the direct descendents of the lost Army of Alexander the Great. Some locals even claim that they are the “purest, surviving Aryan race” or the “Master Race”.
Brokpa in Ladakhi lierally means “people who live in the higher reaches of the mountains (usually above village settlements)”. However, their historical background has always been surrounded by myths and controversies. Their fair complexion, deep brown eyes and sharp features give them a very distinct and different identity compared to other tribes living in Ladakh. Even their traditional attire is distinct in every way with colourful flower-studded head gear and heavily ornamented dresses worn by the women folk. In the ancient times, this tribe is said to follow the Bon religion who believed in worshipping nature, spirits and omens. Today, the tribe has converted to Buddhism but even today some of their traditional practices are defined by their ancestral roots of Bon faith.
Owing to its location along the lower Indus river, the settlements here enjoy long summers as compared to the rest of Ladakh and is known for its delicious fruits such as apricots, grapes, mulberry, pears and strawberries.
Day 6: Garkone to Kargil via Chiktan. Overnight in Kargil
After an early breakfast, bid goodbye to your local host as we leave from Garkone back to Kargil. The route back to Kargil will be through the village of Chiktan which boasts of a 16th century Fort known as the Chiktan Razi Khar. Situated deep inside a valley along the Indus perched on a hilltop, this fort ruin is a testimony to glorious past of Kargil when it was ruled by Kings and chieftains. There are many fables and legends about this fort and village which we will discover as we take a short hike up to the ruins. We will enjoy a packed lunch by the river in Chiktan. Drive back to Kargil via Namkila pass. Arrive at the hotel in Kargil after a quick stop over to witness the third rock statue of Maetriya Buddha in Mulbekh. Dinner and overnight in Kargil.
Day 7: Kargil to Srinagar/Leh
Depart for Srinagar or Leh