City administered by India
|Region of administration||Union territory of Ladakh|
|• Type||Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil|
|• Total||2.14 km2 (0.83 sq mi)|
|Elevation||2,676 m (8,780 ft)|
|• Density||7,600/km2 (20,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|Vehicle registration||LA 01|
|Official languages||Urdu, Purgi, Ladakhi, Brokskat, English|
|Other spoken||Shina, Balti|
Kargil // or Kargyil is a city in Indian-administered Ladakh in the disputed Kashmir region. It is the joint capital of Ladakh, an Indian-administered union territory. It is also the headquarters of the Kargil district. It is the second-largest city in Ladakh after Leh. Kargil is located 204 kilometres (127 mi) east of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, and 234 kilometres (145 mi) to the west of Leh. It is on the bank of the Suru River near its confluence with the Wakha Rong river, the latter providing the most accessible route to Leh.
Modern newspapers are said to spell the name as Wylie: dkar `khyil, THL: kar khyil. It can also be interpreted as a bright or wholesome mountainous amphitheatre. This phrase occurs often in Tibetan literature.
The Kargil basin does give the feel of an expanse surrounded by low-pitched mountains, with the low Khurbathang plateau at the southeastern corner. This is in sharp contrast to the deep gorges that give access to the valley.
The people of Kargil however relate the name to Khar (fort) and rkil (centre) and interpret it as a central place among many forts. Radhika Gupta has opined that it is a fitting description for a place that is equidistant from Srinagar, Leh and Skardu.
Kargil is located at the confluence of multiple river valleys: the Suru River valley to the north and south, the Wakha Rong valley to the southeast leading to Leh, and the Sod Valley to the east leading to the Indus Valley near Batalik. In addition, at a short distance to the north, the Dras River valley branches off from the Suru valley leading to the Zoji La pass and Kashmir. Further north along the Suru valley, one reaches the Indus valley, leading to Skardu. Thus, Kargil is located at a key junction of routes between Kashmir, Ladakh and Baltistan.
Scholar Janet Rizvi states that the Indus Valley between Marol and Dah is a narrow gorge and was not easily traversable in the pre-modern period. So the normal trade route between Baltistan and Leh also ran via Kargil, using the Suru valley and Wakha Rong.
After the Partition of India and the First Kashmir War, Baltistan came under the control of Pakistan. The Line of Control with Pakistan-administered Kashmir is roughly 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) to the north of Kargil.[unreliable source?] Peak 13620 overlooking Kargil town and the Srinagar–Leh Highway remained in Pakistani control at the end of this conflict. During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, Indian forces pushed the Line of Control north of the ridgeline, ensuring Kargil's security. A key village called Hunderman came under Indian control as a result of this push.
The Sod Valley had a strong fort called Sod Pasari (Wylie: sod pa sa ri, now known as Pasar Khar) by the 16th or 17th century. It controlled "Lower Purig", including the Sod Valley, the lower portion of Wakha Rong and, likely the Kargil basin itself. By the 18th or 19h century, it also had a sub-branch at Pashkum[a] (Wylie: pas kyum) southeast of Kargil town in the Wakha Rong valley.
During Zorawar Singh's invasion of Ladakh in 1834, the Dogras attacked both these forts and destroyed them. Afterwards, Zorawar Singh stationed a Kardar (administrator) for Kargil and Drass, and probably built a fort at Kargil for this purpose. In 1838, the people of the region revolted against the Dogras and the killed the Kardar.
In 1840, after another rebellion in Ladakh, Zorawar Singh deposed the Gyalpo and annexed Ladakh. He also decided to invade Baltistan. On the way to Baltistan, he made a detour to Sod, routed the rebels and, according to the Dogra narrative, "annexed" the whole of Purig. He appointed kardars for Drass and Suru.[b]
After Zorawar Singh's death in Tibet, there was another rebellion in Ladakh and Purig. But Dogras sent fresh forces under Wazir Lakhpat, who beat back the Tibetans and reestablished status quo ante. On returning, the Wazir garrisoned the Kargil fort and took all the Rajas of the region as prisoners.
Alexander Cunningham described the Kargil fort as a square of about sixty yards on the left bank of the Suru River immediately above its junction with Wakha Rong. It was able to defend the bridge over the Suru River and completely command the Kashmir–Ladakh road.
In 1854, there were three ilaqas (subdistrics) in the present day Kargil distric, at Kargil, Dras and Zanskar respectively. They were headed by civil officers called Thanadars. It would appear that the growth of Kargil as an administrative centre and a town owes to this establishment.
During the reign of Pratap Singh, a wazarat (district) was established for all the frontier regions (including Gilgit), and Kargil was made a tehsil of the wazarat. Sometime later, Gilgit was separated, and Kargil, Skardu and Leh made up the Ladakh wazarat. 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 a 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 he visited 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 City, followed by over 77.56% 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.
Media and communications
All India Radio's channel AIR Kargil AM 684 is broadcast from a radio station at Kargil. Greater Ladakh is the largest circulated bi-lingual newspaper in the 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.
The all-weather Kargil-Skardu road once linked Kargil to Skardu, a city in Gilgit-Baltistan. Since the 1948 Kashmir War, the road has been closed. Whilst the Indian Government has proposed opening the road as a humanitarian gesture, the Pakistani government has refused.
- Kargil War
- Jammu and Kashmir (state)
- Jammu and Kashmir (union territory)
- 1988 Gilgit massacre
- Alternative spellings: Pashkyum and Paskyum.
- The mention of "Suru" could be a reference to Kargil.
- The application of the term "administered" to the various regions of Kashmir and a mention of the Kashmir dispute is supported by the tertiary sources (a) through (e), reflecting due weight in the coverage. Although "controlled" and "held" are also applied neutrally to the names of the disputants or to the regions administered by them, as evidenced in sources (h) through (i) below, "held" is also considered politicized usage, as is the term "occupied," (see (j) below).
(a) Kashmir, region Indian subcontinent, Encyclopaedia Britannica, retrieved 15 August 2019 (subscription required) Quote: "Kashmir, region of the northwestern Indian subcontinent ... has been the subject of dispute between India and Pakistan since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. The northern and western portions are administered by Pakistan and comprise three areas: Azad Kashmir, Gilgit, and Baltistan, the last two being part of a territory called the Northern Areas. Administered by India are the southern and southeastern portions, which constitute the state of Jammu and Kashmir but are slated to be split into two union territories.";
(b) Pletcher, Kenneth, Aksai Chin, Plateau Region, Asia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, retrieved 16 August 2019 (subscription required) Quote: "Aksai Chin, Chinese (Pinyin) Aksayqin, portion of the Kashmir region, at the northernmost extent of the Indian subcontinent in south-central Asia. It constitutes nearly all the territory of the Chinese-administered sector of Kashmir that is claimed by India to be part of the Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir state.";
(c) "Kashmir", Encyclopedia Americana, Scholastic Library Publishing, 2006, p. 328, ISBN 978-0-7172-0139-6 C. E Bosworth, University of Manchester Quote: "KASHMIR, kash'mer, the northernmost region of the Indian subcontinent, administered partlv by India, partly by Pakistan, and partly by China. The region has been the subject of a bitter dispute between India and Pakistan since they became independent in 1947";
(d) Osmańczyk, Edmund Jan (2003), Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements: G to M, Taylor & Francis, pp. 1191–, ISBN 978-0-415-93922-5 Quote: "Jammu and Kashmir: Territory in northwestern India, subject to a dispute between India and Pakistan. It has borders with Pakistan and China."
(e) Talbot, Ian (2016), A History of Modern South Asia: Politics, States, Diasporas, Yale University Press, pp. 28–29, ISBN 978-0-300-19694-8 Quote: "We move from a disputed international border to a dotted line on the map that represents a military border not recognized in international law. The line of control separates the Indian and Pakistani administered areas of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir.";
(f) Skutsch, Carl (2015) , "China: Border War with India, 1962", in Ciment, James (ed.), Encyclopedia of Conflicts Since World War II (2nd ed.), London and New York: Routledge, p. 573, ISBN 978-0-7656-8005-1,
The situation between the two nations was complicated by the 1957–1959 uprising by Tibetans against Chinese rule. Refugees poured across the Indian border, and the Indian public was outraged. Any compromise with China on the border issue became impossible. Similarly, China was offended that India had given political asylum to the Dalai Lama when he fled across the border in March 1959. In late 1959, there were shots fired between border patrols operating along both the ill-defined McMahon Line and in the Aksai Chin.
(g) Clary, Christopher, The Difficult Politics of Peace: Rivalry in Modern South Asia, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, p. 109, ISBN 9780197638408,
Territorial Dispute: The situation along the Sino-Indian frontier continued to worsen. In late July (1959), an Indian reconnaissance patrol was blocked, "apprehended," and eventually expelled after three weeks in custody at the hands of a larger Chinese force near Khurnak Fort in Aksai Chin. ... Circumstances worsened further in October 1959, when a major class at Kongka Pass in eastern Ladakh led to nine dead and ten captured Indian border personnel, making it by far the most serious Sino-Indian class since India's independence.
(h) Bose, Sumantra (2009), Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace, Harvard University Press, pp. 294, 291, 293, ISBN 978-0-674-02855-5 Quote: "J&K: Jammu and Kashmir. The former princely state that is the subject of the Kashmir dispute. Besides IJK (Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir. The larger and more populous part of the former princely state. It has a population of slightly over 10 million, and comprises three regions: Kashmir Valley, Jammu, and Ladakh.) and AJK ('Azad" (Free) Jammu and Kashmir. The more populous part of Pakistani-controlled J&K, with a population of approximately 2.5 million.), it includes the sparsely populated "Northern Areas" of Gilgit and Baltistan, remote mountainous regions which are directly administered, unlike AJK, by the Pakistani central authorities, and some high-altitude uninhabitable tracts under Chinese control."
(i) Fisher, Michael H. (2018), An Environmental History of India: From Earliest Times to the Twenty-First Century, Cambridge University Press, p. 166, ISBN 978-1-107-11162-2 Quote: "Kashmir’s identity remains hotly disputed with a UN-supervised “Line of Control” still separating Pakistani-held Azad (“Free”) Kashmir from Indian-held Kashmir.";
(j) Snedden, Christopher (2015), Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris, Oxford University Press, p. 10, ISBN 978-1-84904-621-3 Quote:"Some politicised terms also are used to describe parts of J&K. These terms include the words 'occupied' and 'held'."
- District Census Handbook: Kargil, Directorate of Census Operations, 2011, pp. 22–23
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- Martin, Dan (1991), The Emergence of Bon and the Tibetan Polemical Tradition, Indiana University, p. 280, note 128; See also Gyeltsen, Jamyang (2020), dgon rabs kun gsal nyi snang / དགོན་རབས་ཀུན་གསལ་ཉི་སྣང་།, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, p. xx, ISBN 9789390752270
- THL Tibetan to English Translation Tool, The Tibetan & Himalayan Library. Term: "dkar 'khyil".
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