Kargil /ˈkɑːrɡɪl/ is a city and a joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh in India.[3] It is also the headquarters of the Kargil district. It is the second-largest city in Ladakh after Leh.[4] Kargil is located 204 kilometres (127 mi) to the east of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, and 234 kilometres (145 mi) to the west of Leh. It is the centre point of the Suru River.

Kargil Town Panorama.jpg
Kargil is located in Ladakh
Kargil is located in India
Coordinates: 34°33′N 76°08′E / 34.550°N 76.133°E / 34.550; 76.133Coordinates: 34°33′N 76°08′E / 34.550°N 76.133°E / 34.550; 76.133
Country India
Union territory Ladakh
DistrictKargil district
 • TypeLadakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil
 • Total2.14 km2 (0.83 sq mi)
2,676 m (8,780 ft)
 • Total16,338
 • Density7,600/km2 (20,000/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
Vehicle registrationLA 01
Official languagesHindi, Purgi, Ladakhi, English[2]
Other spokenShina, Balti


The name Kargil is said[by whom?] to derive from the words Khar, meaning castle, and rKil[what language is this?] 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 [5]

Historically, the region around Kargil was called Purig.[6] 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.[7]


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. Gasho "Thatha Khan", an exiled prince in the AD 9th century, 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, Barso, 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.[citation needed]

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.[8][better source needed]

Location of Kargil with respect to the Line of Control
Indian soldiers after winning a battle during the Kargil War

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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12]


Suru river near Kargil
Kargil War Memorial

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,[13] 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).[14]


During the 2011 census, the population of Kargil town was recorded at 16,338. A majority of the population (11,496) is classified as Scheduled Tribes. The literacy rate is 75%.[1]


Islam is the largest religion in Kargil City, 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.[15]

Religion in Kargil City (2011)[15]

  Islam (77.56%)
  Hinduism (19.21%)
  Sikhism (2.20%)
  Christianity (0.39%)
  Buddhism (0.54%)
  Jainism (0.01%)
  Others (0.01%)
  Not Stated (0.09%)

Media and communicationsEdit

All India Radio's channel AIR Kargil AM 684 is broadcast from a radio station at Kargil town.[16] Greater Ladakh is the largest Circulated bi-lingual newspaper in whole Ladakh Union Territory that publishes once in a week.



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 the Srinagar International Airport.


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.


An Indian national highway (NH 1) connecting Srinagar to Leh cuts through Kargil.

Kargil-Skardu RoadEdit

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.[17][18][19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b District Census Handbook: Kargil, Directorate of Census Operations, 2011, pp. 22–23
  2. ^ "Report of the Commissioner for linguistic minorities: 50th report (July 2012 to June 2013)" (PDF). Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. p. 49. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  3. ^ Ladakh to have headquarters both at Leh and Kargil, Greater Kashmir, 16 February 2019.
  4. ^ Osada et al (2000), p. 298.
  5. ^ Radhika Gupta, Allegiance and Alienation (2013), p. 49.
  6. ^ Grist, Nicola (2008). "Urbanisation in Kargil and its Effects in the Suru Valley". In Martijn van Beek; Fernanda Pirie (eds.). Modern Ladakh: Anthropological Perspectives on Continuity and Change. BRILL. p. 80. ISBN 978-90-474-4334-6.
  7. ^ Kalla, Krishan Lal (1997). Kashmir Panorama. Raj Publications. ISBN 978-81-86208-07-6.
  8. ^ Ismail Khan (4 September 2005). "A peaceful Kargil". Dawn. Archived from the original on 13 October 2008.
  9. ^ Aggarwal, Beyond Lines of Control 2004, p. 35.
  10. ^ Cheema, Pervaiz Iqbal (2003). The Armed Forces of Pakistan. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-119-1. Pg 4
  11. ^ "1999 Kargil Conflict". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  12. ^ "War in Kargil – The CCC's summary on the war" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  13. ^ Profile of Kargil District Archived 18 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine Official website of Kargil District
  14. ^ "Climate & Soil conditions". Official website of Kargil District. Archived from the original on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  15. ^ a b "Kargil City Population". Census India. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  16. ^ "How one Ladakhi Woman Kept Kargil's AIR Station Running, Despite Enemy Shelling!". The Better India. 26 July 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Moving on the Kargil-Skardu road". The Indian Express. 24 April 2007. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  18. ^ "The Kargil-Skardu Route: Implications of its Opening by Zainab Akhter". Ipcs.org. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  19. ^ "Q. 368 Present status of Kargil to Skardu Road | Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses". Idsa.in. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013.


Further readingEdit

External linksEdit