Kargil is the second largest urban centre of Ladakh, situated at the height of 2704 meters and is the middle point on the Srinagar and Leh Highway. Around 204 kms from Srinagar and 234 kms from Leh, Kargil once served as an important trade and transit centre in the Pan-Asian trade network. With a population of 140,000 Kargil is the only Muslim majority district in Ladakh. Of total population, 85% are Muslim, of which 73% follow Shia Islam. Most of the district’s Muslims are found in Kargil town, Drass,Wakha and the lower Suru valley. The remainder 14% are followers of Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, mostly found in Zanskar with small populations in the upper Suru valley (Rangdum) and around Shergol and Mulbekh. Torurists travelling between Zangskar, Leh and Srinagar have to make a night halt here, before starting for the second day of their journey.
The Kargil town is situated in Basin of Suru River, where two tributaries of the river meet. This region formed part of the erstwhile Kingdom of Ladakh. It was a colony of the people from Ladakh. Kargil is a mixture of various ethnic groups living a peaceful life on this hilly cold terrain. These tribes still follow their own rituals and cultures. The Indo-Aryan Mhon from across the Great Himalayan range, the Dard from down the Indus and the Gilgit valleys and itinerant nomads from the Tibetan highlands all came to settle here forming a culture and tradition which is unique in its own way. They learnt various aspects of life and living from each other to fight the tough weather and stay happy.
Kargil is famous as the land of Apricots. In summers the whole Suru valley blooms and comes alive with the orange color and sweet fragrance of the Apricots. While nearly 85 % of the population of Kargil follows the Islam, the traditions differ largely from the conventional Muslim rituals and beliefs. This is the example of confluence of Buddhism and Islam that has followed in the valley for ages now.