Kargil is spanned across 15000 kilometres and is situated on the banks of the Indus river. It is set 8,780 feet above the sea level and after Leh, it is the largest town of Ladakh. It holds great significance in the history of the country as the land has been a battlefield of the Indo-Pakistan war in 1971.
The only way to reach Kargil is by road as it is completely landlocked. You can choose to travel via bus, private taxi or hired vehicle or by a road trip on a motorcycle.
Here are all the details you need to know on how to reach Kargil:
Touring Ladakh on a bus is every backpacker’s dream. Buses are a convenient mode of transport and do not burn a hole in your pocket. However, the service is not very extensive and you will have limited options to choose from. You can take a bus from Leh bus stand or another option is to hop on a bus from Srinagar, depending upon your travel itinerary.
Buses from Srinagar: Buses service the route on a day to day basis between Srinagar and Kargil. These are operated by J&K SRTC. Ladakh Corporation LBOC also runs buses to multiple locations in Ladakh. The bus departs from Srinagar at 7 a.m., reaches Sonmarg at 11 a.m., then Drass at 2 p.m. and then Kargil at 5 p.m. Deluxe coaches are also available on this route.
Buses from Srinagar: There is a daily bus that runs from Leh to Kargil. It departs the Leh bus stand at 6.30 a.m. and arrives at Kargil by afternoon. The approximate fare per person is INR 600 for one way journey. You can also check for any other buses that are going to Nubra Valley as they go via Kargil. The availability of seats is minimum and you must inquiry and get your tickets at least a day prior to your journey. The tickets can be bought directly from the Leh bus stand.
By Private Vehicle
There are two best routes to reach Kargil. You can either choose to fly to Srinagar and drive to Kargil or if you are in Leh, then take the route that comprises of a lot of sightseeing as well via Lamayuru and Mulbekh.
Route 1: From Srinagar (Srinagar – Sonamarg – Zoji La – Drass – Kargil)
Starting from Srinagar early in the morning and head towards the small town of Ganderbal. The traffic on this path is a bit rash and the roads are narrow so take caution while crossing this area. The landscape turns extremely scenic after that as you drive towards the small town of Kangan. Continue your drive through the mesmerizing valleys of Kashmir until you reach Sonamarg. Drive to the popular camping point of Baltal from there and then climb up the mighty Zoji La Pass. Once you are done basking in the snowy views from an altitude of 11,575 ft, then reach the town of Drass. Pay a quick visit to the famous Kargil War Memorial which is located here and then run about 65 kilometres straight to Kargil.
Route 2: From Leh (Leh – Nimmu – Lamayuru – Fotu La – Namik La – Mulbekh – Kargil)
The location of Kargil town from Leh is approximately 220 km. It should roughly take you 5 hours of road journey, depending upon your speed and road conditions. Fuel up your tank to the full as you will not find petrol stations once you leave Leh. Head to the scenic town of Nimmu first. Once you get to Nimmu, look for the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers. The road ahead that takes you straight to the moonscape town of Lamayuru. Once you are done ogling at its monasteries, cross over the two high passes of Fotu-la and Namik La which are set at an altitude of 4120 meters and 3400 meters, respectively. Upon crossing these, you will get to Mulbekh and at a short distance from there, you will get to the historic town of Kargil.
There are ample bikes available on rent in Leh if you wish to opt for a thrilling road journey. The road between Leh and Kargil are open almost throughout the year. The main pass between Srinagar and Kargil, however, is only open from May to October due to heavy snowfall. The road on both routes is a mix of good and bad and it is advisable to check the weather conditions before commencing the journey on your bike. Since you will be travelling via the toughest of roads, choose your ride wisely. We recommend you to choose the Royal Enfield 350 C or an Enfield Bullet. If that is not available, you can also ride the Pulsar bikes. Make sure you have got your tank fueled up as the gas stations are not available after Leh and Srinagar. The next fuel pump you will find is directly in Kargil.