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With improved infrastructure and tons of picturesque spots, Kargil waits for tourists

Last Updated on January 27, 2021 at 7:46 pm

Around 20 years back in 1999, a deadly conflict between India and Pakistan known as the Kargil war took place. Thousands of soldiers were killed on both sides with a slightly more number wounded. It has now been more than 20 years, the region of Kargil has went through a major shift and is now a part of the newly created Union territory of Ladakh. The region is constantly trying to get rid of this image which is based on the conflict and has shooed away tourists.

An administrative official said that Kargil is not all about conflict and they have many things to offer. He believes that the stereotype of Kargil being a hostile terrain is hard to overcome. People just associate Kargil with the war and as a result, people have just ignored it as any tourist destination. Kargil War took place between May and July of 1999 and was initiated by the infiltration of Pakistani troops into Indian side of the Line of Control. In the starting, Pakistan blamed the conflict on Kashmiri militants. When the Indian army, supported by the Indian Air Force, again captured a majority of the positions, Pakistani army had to step back.

Kargil has undergone a radical change is these two decades. During the daytime, one will encounter local residents discussing about markets that sell wares from the traditional phiren to cutting-edge sporting equipment made by international chains such as Quechua, a brand marketed by the French company Decathlon.

The official said that Kargil has a great potential for tourism. He believes that education sector in the region is yet to improve and more English-medium schools are neede. Road infrastructure has largely improved in the recent past. A former army truck driver Dorje said that roads have improved but people are still scared to visit Kargil.

Kargil barely receives 4,000 tourists a year which is a fifth of the total number of visitors to Leh.

Amjad Hussain, 25, a professional skier, said that after Ladakh became a UT, the Zojila tunnel started being constructed which will become the lifeline of connectivity in Ladakh once it is completed.

The official said that the government is planning to build an airport in Wakha and a possible realignment of the airport in Kurbathang, which is currently managed by the Indian Air Force. Union minister for tourism Prahlad Patel has also announced that India’s premier skiing institute, Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM) in Gulmarg, J&K, will soon be opening its branch in Pashkum, Kargil, to promote adventure tourism.