Kargil was once known as Purig and was a major attraction for tourists and wanderers as it is now.
The region was also a part of Silk Route, an important trading route. Kargil is home to many tribes and has a rich culture. With valleys, peaks, lakes and ancient Buddhist rock relics, Kargil acts as a jewel in Ladakh’s crown.
According to the 2011 census, with 77 percent of the population the district of Kargil is Muslim dominated. There are a couple of ancient Buddhist relics that are even older than the Tibetan Buddhism. Among these relics is the statue of the Maitreya Buddha who is believed to take birth in the future. Since the Taliban destroyed the famous Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001, only very few such relics remain in the world.
The sculptures are located in three parts near the Kargil district- Khartse Khar, Apati and Mulbekh.
Khartse Khar is 40 kilometers away from Kargil and is a pleasant village near Sankoo town in the Suru valley. The Suru river flows at an elavation of 3,000 metres and is beautifully green.
The figure of Maitreya Buddha is seven-metre-tall and was sculpted from a greyish-yellow rock. The figure is the work of a master craftsmanship. There are holes around the sculpture which suggests that these were used to climb up to the top of the sculpture and perform finer details.
With his right hand, Buddha formed an Abhaya-Mudra (gesture of fearlessness) and with his left hand, carried a lamandal, a pot, to carry water. A rusrakh mala (prayer beads) is tied around his wrist and arm with the janeu (sacred thread) and the karadhani (waist chain) also made out of rudraksha. As a symbol of the majesty, the stateu’s hair fell over his shoulders.
The town of Mulbekh off the NH1, Kargil-Leh highway, and generally has more traffic than the last expedition. The stateu of Maitreya Buddha is well-known in this area. The sculpture is just around the highway. This stateu is quite famous among the locals and the travelers, unlike the previous one.
This nine-metre-tall statue is said to belonging the eighth century era under the Kushan period. The third statue of the Maitreya Buddha is located in the Apati village which is around 22 kilometres away from the Kargil and is quite similar to the previous two.