This post is going to travel you across a small vicinity of Jammu and Kashmir, which has witnessed frequent bombardments and casualties during the Kargil War in 1999. If your speculation regarding the name of the place is Drass, you are absolutely on the spot. Keeping aside the despondent tale of Kargil war, Drass has its own realm of exquisiteness in Jammu and Kashmir that lures numerous visitors every year. Nestled at an elevation of around 10990 feet from sea level, this small beautiful township of Kargil district is often referred as ‘The Gateway to Ladakh’. The reason being, Drass dale starts from the plinth of the Zojila pass, the Himalayan threshold to Ladakh.
With its tall stand existence delimited by mount ridge and river banks, Drass is famed as the “Second Coldest Inhabited in the world”. In the words of local inhabitants, Drass is called ‘Hembabs’’, which indicates a land of snow. In winter, the temperature of Drass curbs down up to – 600C, which further leads to intense of snowfalls. But during spring and summer, you can reveal the picturesque vista of Drass when the knoll turns to a breath-taking lush green dale with untamed flora.
The geographical existence of Drass is well-connected to its nearby locations like Kargil (60Kms), Srinagar (140Kms) and Leh (270Kms). With a magnificent vista of the Tiger hill and Tololing Range, Drass became the preferred trekking base for numerous visitors. Tourists flock this base to complete their adventurous long trekking distances towards Suru valley, Tilail and Saliskot. Despite of past warfare and growing presence of Indian Armay, the frosty climate of Drass still fascinates ample of tourists from all parts of the sphere.
The inhabitants of Drass are mostly Indo-Aryan, and by nature they are very cool and composed. It is believed that most of them are migrated here from Central Asia. The small township of Drass has both Buddhist and Muslim communities. Though the official language here is Urdu, but the Indo-Aryan inhabitants mostly speak Shina, which is a Dardic language. The people of Drass are very enthusiastic and they love to enjoy their free-time playing Polo, which is the traditional sport of Drass. When the climate is dry and convenient for outing, you will come to see many women stepping out from their houses carrying basket at their back. They use such baskets to carry mud, fertilizer and children.
Best Time to Visit Drass
Because of its soothing and frigid climate, the exquisiteness of Drass can be cherished throughout calendar. If you want to get an eternal experience of intense snowfall, you should visit here from the months of December to March. However, due to extreme snowfall in winter, most of the alleyways in Drass get blocked, which further hinders the visitors from exploring the beautiful attractions in Drass adequately. Therefore, the best time to explore the actual beauty of this place is during summer. The climate of Drass Valley in summer turns comparatively enjoyable and the temperature also gradually starts reaching above the freezing point. Lack of much rain during summer makes the place quite arid and a worth visiting place. Summer hits the region in the month of May and it continues till June, which extends till September. At that time you can feel a temperature somewhere around 24°C.
Places to Visit in Drass
With abundance of scenic mountains and majestic sunset view from the altitude, the land of Drass Valley witnesses ample of tourist’s footfall throughout the year. If you happen to visit this heavenly land of Drass, there are some dazzling sites that you must visit. Let’s have a look into the attractions in Drass.
#Tiger Hill or Point 4660
This place probably made epical headlines during the Kargil war. Situated at an elevation of more than 5000 meters, Tiger Hill is the highest mountain area in entire Drass Valley, which is surrounded by the Tololing Range. Despite of being one of the exciting tourist pullers in Drass, heavy clouds often restrict the visitor from getting an explicit view of Tiger Hill.
#Drass War Memorial
Popular as the ‘Kargil War Memorial’, this monument was came into existence as a gesture of commemorate to the martyrs of Kargil war, who sacrificed their lives shielding the mother earth. This is located around 7Kms away from Drass. Visiting this place will not only remind you about the war, but also will leave you a true feelings of patriotism. Constructed with pink sand stone, Drass War Memorial is one of the major tourist pullers in Dras village. Here, you will also come across the ‘’Manoj Pandey Gallery’’, which is specifically meant for exhibiting the goosebumps moments captured during the war. In addition, the army here also screens a short film, which going to be remarkable experience for you. Every year on 26th July, Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated here paying highest tribute to the Indian soldiers.
Majority inhabitants in Drass are Muslims and they believe that one of the walls of Ningoor Masjid or mosque was self-constructed with the special blessings of Allah. Located merely 7Kms away from Drass, this mosque faces frequent footfalls of Muslim pilgrims.
This is an amazing valley surrounded by thriving foliage and the alluring Machoi glaciers. Situated around 30Kms away from Drass, Minamarg is best known for its picturesque mount, which turns this beautiful pasture a true paradise for all the nature lovers across the globe. Therefore, if a nature loving persona lies in you, you should not restrain yourself from stepping into this amazing Minamarg.
If you want to get an aerial view of entire Drass Valley, Manman Top is the place you should scale. Situated around 10Kms away from Drass region, the peak of Manman wonders you with its luring environs of mountain range of the Himalayas and LOC (Line of Control). Some enthusiast tourists also enjoy climbing the scales here by emerging out their daring persona.
One more rarely explored site in Drass region is Laser La. Situated around 14Kms away from Drass, this location is popular because of its amazing Laser La Glacier. Tourists flock here to witness the sparkling milky white water that flows through Laser La. Presence of enthralled stony mountains gives many visitors an overwhelming way to involve into climbing and trekking activities here.
If you want to give your Drass visit a flavour of variety, Matayen is just 20kms away. This place is prominent for its wonderful village area, which is one of the most offbeat sites in entire region. Inhabitants of Matayen predominantly speak Kashmiri.
This particular site in Drass pulls lot many visitors because of its miracle rock. Situated on the periphery of Drass (around 7Kms away), Bhimbet is named as a gesture of respect to Bhim from the greatest epic Mahabharat. As per mythological saga, it is said that a massive rock was moved of its own from one part of the mountain to another side. According to the local inhabitants, Bhimbet is a spiritual stone with astounding healing powers. Bhimbet is a significant site to visit for Hindu pilgrims.
Located around 8Kms away from Drass, Mushkoh Valley is known as a secluded vale of Ladhak. The best time to visit this glaciated paradise is during summer when you can explore the various wild flowers adding a new magnetism to this valley. Visitors also flock Mushkoh Valley to kick-off their three-day long trekking trail to Tilail in Gurez. Mushkoh Valley is not for subsistence. What amazes the visitor most here is its milky white glaciers.
Note: There are few more trekking options for you from Drass region. You can enjoy a two-day trek from Drass to Saliskot. Likewise, you can also cover a three-day trek to Amarnath from Minamarg, which is around 30Kms away from Drass. In addition, tourists also rejoice an exciting trek to Suru Valley from Drass.
Drass has affluence of powerhouse attractions for tourist. Apart from the aforementioned sites, you can also visit some of the adjoining attractions like Draupati Kund (18 kms from Dras), Dongchik (10 Kms from Dras), Tiasbu Astana (2kms from Dras) and Chorkiat Forest (20 Kms from Dras).
How to Reach Drass
Being referred as ‘The Gateway to Ladakh’, Drass is conveniently connected to other parts of the country. The following are the convenient means of transport to reach Drass:
For air travellers, the adjoining airport is Sheikh-Ul-Alam International Airport in Srinagar. From the major places like Delhi, Mumbai and Leh you will get frequent air services to reach Srinagar. The best part after reaching Srinagar Airport is that you can hire private cabs and taxis towards Drass from the airport premises. Alternatively, you will also get to avail state owned buses from here.
The nearest railway station is Jammu Tawi railway station, which is around 739 kms far from Drass. This railway station is well-connected to all the major cities of India. Once you deboard at Jammu Tawi station, you can hire a cab or taxi. Buses are also available from the railway station to reach Drass.
The best roadway connectivity to reach Drass is from Srinagar, and the distance between these two places is around 142kms. You will get many frequent buses from Srinagar that travels till Drass via National Highway 1. In the morning frequent local buses are there from Srinagar to Kargil that passes through Drass sector. Reaching Drass by road is something splendid that you must try. On the way to Drass, you will get to view some scenic mountains and lush green environs.
Alternatively, you can also hire private taxi and cabs from Srinagar to reach your destination.
Places to Stay:
Crowned as the “Second Coldest Inhabited Place in the World”, Drass has plenty of quality suites and guest rooms within a very nominal distance. Depending on time of visit and amenities you avail, hotel charges may vary from time-to-time. However, by spending approximately Rs.3,000 to Rs.4,000 you will get many luxurious accommodations near Drass.
Some of the hotels are suggested here for you:
Bemathang, Baroo, Kargil,
Kargil, India, 194105
#Royal Inn Hotel
Royal Inn Hotel 5 Zmastiang,
Kargil, India, 194103
Main Market, Near Old Taxi Stand,
Kargil, India, 194103
#The Highland Mountain Resort & Spa
Baroo TSOQ, Kargil, Jammu & Kashmir,
Kargil, India, 194105
Main Bazaar Kargil, nearby to LAHDC headquarters,
Near old taxi stand,
Kargil, India, 194103
#Hotel Rangyul Kargil
Near District Session Court,Baroo colony kargil,
Kargil, India, 194103
So, if you are still not up to your next holiday destination, move ahead to explore an energizing and coldest inhabited place, which is waiting to gift you an everlasting experience.
Some key travel pointers:
- Drass is located at high altitude. Hence, make sure about your health condition before scaling the elevated peaks.
- If you visit here in extreme winter, do not forget to carry lot of warm outfits.
- During summer, carry adequate water and cross the distance steadily instead of too much rush.
- During peak season advance hotel booking is highly recommended.
- While trekking long distances, do not forget to carry the essentials that you may require on the way.
- If high altitude is a matter for you, prefer staying in Kargil, which is located comparatively at a lower altitude.
- Carry good quality shoes for trekking and climbing purposes.