J&K Guv proposes opening Kargil war hotspots for trekking
Jammu: Twenty years after Tiger Hills in Kargil became famous in the entire country, the hill might soon be opened for the general public as a tourist destination. Apart from this, at least 16 other peaks in Kargil that saw action during the 1999 India-Pakistan war may soon be thrown open for domestic as well as international tourists coming to admire the beauty of arid desert of Ladakh.
The decision to seek the Centre’s permission to open these out-of-bound areas has been taken in a meeting of the State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik. At present, tourists need permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs to visit any inner line area in Ladakh. Likewise, a permit is required to visit tribal and out-of-bound areas in Ladakh.
The peaks that the government plans to throw open are mostly in Drass and Batalik sector of Kargil, where intense fighting took place between Indian and the intruding Pakistani army in 1999. The base of Tiger Hill, which received high coverage during the war, will also be opened for tourists.
Trekking routes that the government plans to open include Kargil-Lalung-Shahshi Lake – Darchiks/Garkone Broq, Kargil-Hunderman Brok Ridge (LoC Visit), Batalik Junction to Gargardo (apricot Village), Drass-Sumda-Marpola (Tiger Hill Base), National Highway to Kaksar Village (LoC Visit), National Highway to Lato Village (LoC Visit) and National Highway to Budgam-Majdass Village (LoC Visit).
Other trekking routes include Faroona-Jasgund via Lasar La, Akshow (Zanskar)-Gulab Garh (Kishtwar), Padum-Gulab Garh (Kishtwar) via Omasila, Padum-Dangale (Padder Valley) via Pot La, Kanore-Batambis-Sapi, Sapi to Rangdum via Rusila and Wakha La, Rangdum-Heniskote via Kanjila, Rangdum-Padum via Pangong La and Padum-Ralakung and Padum-Lamayuru.
The official spokesperson of the J&K government said in a media statement that one of the major attractions of the state, particularly in the Ladakh region, is the vast scope it offers for trekking. “The trekking avenues available range from short, day-long trek up and down mountain slopes, to long trans-mountain traverses involving a week of trekking and camping in the wilderness. The south-west flanks for the Ladakh region, particularly the Suru and Zanskar valleys, offer a variety of trekking routes involving the crossing of world’s greatest mountain range through various passes in its crest,” the statement read.
The trekking routes the government plans to open were traditionally used by the locals for trade and travel since ancient times. The cross-Himalayan trek passes through high passes and amidst scenic splendours, wild fauna and flora.
Delegations from Kargil had in recent past visited the Governor and asked to promote tourism in the area. “Now that youth across India are inclined more towards adventure activities, these treks along with other cross-Himalayan treks can be a well sought-after destination,” according to Governor Satya Pal Malik. He pointed out during the SAC meeting that the opening of these trekking routes will provide employment to the local population, particularly in the Kargil region, and help to showcase the tourism potential of the state.
Sajjad Hussain, a tour and travel agent based in Kargil town, said tourists coming to Ladakh mostly visited Leh district, as a result, Kargil mostly remained ignored. “However, if these peaks are thrown open for trekkers, we could hope for a hike in business in coming months,” said Hussain.