Are you planning a trip to Kargil War Memorial and surrounding areas of Dras & Kargil over Srinagar Leh Highway? Well, this travel guide will help you plan a memorable trip to Kargil including your visit to this epitome of bravery, courage & sacrifice.
When you go home tell them of us and say, “for your tomorrow we gave our today.”
A quote dedicated to our Indian Army, a quote that you’d find on every other BRO signboard on your Ladakh trip. A constant reminder that when we live free and happy, these gods sent humans are toiling for our tomorrow and sacrificing their today for us. The feeling you can never express in words.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
About Kargil War Memorial
Kargil War Memorial was built in honor and memory of more than five hundred Indian soldiers. They martyred their precious lives in the Kargil War between India and Pakistan in 1999. The Indian Army built this memorial itself, and it lies in the foothills of the Tololing Hills in Drass, in the Ladakh region.
You can hire a guide to learn about Tololing hills, Tiger Hill, etc. in detail. At the memorial, a small film is also played, depicting the events of the war, which you can watch munching on the samosas served alongside.
Pictorial descriptions of all the major events of the war are present inside the memorial. A sandstone wall displays the names of all the soldiers who martyred in the war. From the memorial, the peaks that were captured by the Pakistani troops, and later recaptured by the Indian Army, are visible.
The memorial also houses the war cemetery, an ode to every soldier who was martyred in the war. It instills warm feelings of patriotism, reminds us of the bravery and selflessness with which the soldiers shed their lives for the nation. It is also a reminder of the gruesome consequences of war and the high costs of freedom.
Places to visit in Dras Valley
Apart from the Kargil War Memorial, you can visit a few other places on your journey to Ladakh over Srinagar Leh Highway.
Dras, which is also known as the ‘Gateway to Ladakh,’ was the epicenter of the Kargil War of 1999. Other than the Kargil War Memorial, there are many other places to explore and hidden treasures of Drass that go unnoticed by travelers. Goashan is a popular picnic spot here, which is also famous for the Horse Polo ground.
The Valley of Dras finds its mentions in the epic Mahabharata as well. In a tiny hamlet called Pandaras, about 17 km away from Drass is the Draupadi Kund. This is where Draupadi, the daughter of King Panchala in Mahabharata, bathed before finally ascending to the heavens in reach of the higher Himalayas.
Bheem Batt Rock
Then there is Bheem Batt rock which is considered to be the solidified body of Bheem, you can find a lot of cattle around here, grazing the meadows casually.
You can also visit Manman Top, which gives the most stunning panoramic views of the Drass Valley. Chorkiat Forest is another natural gem that has a plethora of wildlife indigenous to the region of Ladakh. The Drass Valley is the second coldest inhabited place on the Earth, with the minimum recorded temperature going as low as -45 degrees in winters.
How to reach Kargil War Memorial?
No doubt Kargil War Memorial has emerged as one of the topmost spots to visit when traveling to Ladakh via Srinagar. It can be easily covered when you come to Leh from Kargil as well.
It lies between Dras and Kargil. You cannot miss the place when traveling on this route. As you travel from Drass towards Kargil, it lies 10 km ahead on Srinagar Leh Highway. Then Kargil is further 55 km away from the memorial towards Lamayuru – Leh direction.
Traveling by Road
The Kargil War Memorial is right by the side of the highway going from Srinagar to Leh. If you are traveling by road from Delhi, you can reach Leh via the Leh – Manali Highway or Srinagar Leh Highway. From the town of Leh, the memorial is at a distance of 270 km.
You can either take a taxi or your private vehicle to visit the memorial. JKSRTC, state-run and private buses ply within the Ladakh region. It would be a one day trip from Leh if you wanted to return the other day.
Or, if you are coming from Srinagar to Leh, you can make a stop at the memorial and visit it and the nearby places in one go, and then head towards Leh. It lies at a distance of 55 km from Kargil and 160 km from Srinagar.
So, the easiest way to reach Kargil War Memorial by road is hitting the Srinagar – Leh Highway.
Traveling by Air
The nearest airport is Srinagar which is at a distance of 160 km. The other nearby airport is Leh Airport which is at a distance of 270 km from Kargil War Memorial. Both Srinagar and Leh airports have good connectivity with other major airports in India including New Delhi.
From the airport, taxis can be hired to reach the hotel in Leh or Srinagar and then travel to Kargil War Memorial.
Traveling by Train
The nearest major railway station from Kargil is Jammu, at a distance of 412 km from the Kargil War Memorial. Taxis can be hired from the railway station to reach Leh over Srinagar Leh Highway in a 3-day journey with overnight halts at Srinagar and Kargil. Some people do prefer to stay overnight at Alchi or Likir after Kargil to be more cautious about AMS issues.
Joginder Nagar railway station is just 635 KM from Leh via Manali Leh Highway but is not a major one. Similarly, there are a couple of smaller train stations recently developed in the Kashmir region that connects Srinagar to Jammu. So, you can essentially travel to Srinagar up to train and then travel further towards Kargil.
Best time to visit Kargil War Memorial
The roads to reach Ladakh via Srinagar and Manali are closed from November to April-May, because of heavy snow. Therefore traveling via air is the only option to reach Leh, and further to the Kargil War Memorial in Ladakh during wintertime.
Hence, a good time to travel to the memorial is the same as the best time to visit Leh Ladakh & Zanskar Valley. That is, from May to September / October when the roads to Leh Ladakh are open from Srinagar and Manali side.
However, the best time visit the Kargil War Memorial monastery is during the celebration of the annual Kargil Vijay Diwas on 26th July of each year. It is celebrated on this date because in 1999 India successfully took command of the high outposts which had been lost to Pakistan in thw war.
The road from Leh to Kargil – Dras is also open in the winter months most of the time. So, you can surely plan a trip to the memorial from Leh in winter months as well after flying into Leh. Please ensure that you are willing to endure the cold weather and want to witness the white beauty of Ladakh.
Where to stay near Kargil War Memorial?
As you are traveling on Srinagar Leh Highway, you will most likely be staying at Kargil or Drass. If you are planning to make Drass a stopover on your way to either Leh or Srinagar, you will get many options in Kargil or Drass. Kargil is just an hour separated from Drass.
You can also go for the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department Guesthouses, which are the most reliable. Please check for availability beforehand, call on +91-9560-788884.
There are few guesthouses and homestays in Kargil village where you can stay overnight. Many people do stay overnight at Kargil or Drass for better acclimatization when traveling to Leh from Srinagar.
It is highly recommended to leave early morning from Kargil for making a day trip to Kargil from Leh.
Where to eat?
There are many tea stalls and small eateries on your way to the Kargil War Memorial. You will also find food options available in Drass. But, when traveling in Ladakh, it is always safe to stock up on food, water, and fuel while you are traveling.
If you are traveling towards Kargil War Memorial from Srinagar side, then there are many good dhabhas at Drass offering Rajma Chawal (Bean-Rice). You will love the taste and authenticity in simplicity.
If you are traveling from Leh to Kargil side, I will suggest that you have your meals at Nimmu village where there are plenty of local shops right on the road itself. Some do offer very nice and tasty local authentic Tibetan food as well as samosas.
Then there is this amazing restaurant at Lamayuru Monastery which is ideal for lunch. The service is slow in the restaurant but the taste is amazing. You will not be disappointed as I have never been.
You should always carry your water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts and your step in this direction can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂
Can I visit Sham Valley with Kargil War Memorial?
Apart from the Kargil War Memorial, you can visit also visit Sham Valley sightseeing on the way to Leh from Kargil. Of course, there is Lamayuru Monastery midway between Leh and Kargil. The local places in Sham Valley which includes Magnetic Hill, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Basgo Plains, Confluence of Indus – Zanskar Rivers and Likir Monastery or nearby monasteries from Leh.
Other Important Tips
The Drass valley not only offers war topographies and memorials but also treats you with some scenic landscapes and splendid natural beauty. Hence, when you visit the Kargil War Memorial is a joy for those who love natural beauty as well.
It is a photographer’s paradise as you can find a beautiful frame anywhere you look at those mountains. So, don’t forget to carry your cameras here.
Travelers are advised to consult their doctors before commencing this journey to Leh Ladakh because it can be tedious and demanding, and the climatic conditions can get extreme, especially in winters.
Besides being unbearably cold in the winter season in Ladakh, AMS (acute mountain sickness) is sure to hit even the most experienced travelers, as the altitude is high and vertiginous.
Mobile Network Connectivity
BSNL and Airtel postpaid numbers work fine in Ladakh, other networks do not get any reception. Kargil War Memorial may have signals of BSNL mobile services. BSNL has the widest coverage, and Reliance Jio has also begun its operation starting 2018 and expanding since.
As an Indian, and a travel enthusiast, Dras and the Kargil war Memorial demand your attention. Let yourself embrace the courage and sacrifice of the brave soldiers who laid down their lives saving the land of Ladakh for our freedom.
Do not miss the visit to this memorial on your Ladakh vacation and pay tribute to those brave soldiers who help us live each day freely. I hope this travel guide for visiting Kargil War Memorial will help you plan a successful trip to this emotional place in Leh Ladakh.
If you know your friends or family are planning a trip to the Kargil War Memorial, do share this article with them to help them make a memorable Leh Ladakh trip.