If the Kargil War Memorial doesn’t ring a bell immediately, don’t be embarrassed. We were as clueless… About 60 kilometers before we reached Kargil, we saw a lot of commotion going on in the middle of nowhere. Soon we got another taste of Indian patriotism. In June 1999, Pakistan managed to intrude and conquer Tiger Hill, a big mountain range about 50 kilometers from Kargil. The Indian army managed to drive them back. Lots of blurred photos praise the Indian heroes in the small museum.
The business that caught our attention in the first place was a pompous memorial service that was held the following day. Since we spent the night in the town of Kargil, our driver suggested driving us back the next morning to watch the party. But doing an extra 100 kilometers to watch a military spectacle seemed overdoing it.
Now our attention returned to the scenery surrounding us. After the small town of Drass the landscaped becomes drier but not less spectacular, due to the many different colors of the rocky slopes. This is apricot country: plantations pop up around the valley, making them look like oases in this otherwise desert-like scenery.
We never realized how close to Pakistan we were – a mountain ridge overlooking the town of Kargil. The omnipresent military cannot be overlooked: the soldiers walk or sit along the road, or on top of an armored vehicles with big guns mounted. We were wandering how deadly boring this must be for the young men. But obviously the army knows how to keep them busy: once we watched a group of soldiers who were forced to crawl down a steep sandy slop on all fours chocking on tons of dust, while about hundred more soldiers were looking on.