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Small Town Kargil – Our New Favorite


Balti Girl in Kargil, on the trip from Srinagar, Kashmir, to Leh, Ladakh, India

We fell in love with small town Kargil. Not that is particularly attractive, but it was the first city in India where you are not blown off the street by honking drivers and can leisurely walk along the shop lined streets. Balti people dominate the second largest town in Ladakh, though Kargil is a fascinating wild mix of people. Women, no matter what age, still wear the traditional Pashwamra with a colorful headscarf. Small girls also do. Nevertheless, we never saw women wearing an Abaya or completely covered like we did see in Srinagar. Here the dress and headscarf seem a matter of tradition, not religious statements.

Young men show little interest in traditional garb and favor a more Bollywood style look, funky sunglasses, lots of gel in their hair and having their pants hang low – globalization at its best or worst? Men are more likely to come in different faces, anything from central Asia to Mongolia, so very charming.

After walking up and down the small center of Kargil for hours, people simply knew us and didn’t mind having photos of them taken. We actually found the local men very humorous, warm-hearted and eager to be in a photo.

But there was one big downside – our hotel, the Green Land – was next to an Islamic school & mosque with speakers that would blast your brain out. Prayers can be challengingly long during Ramadan, but here the time in between was filled with teaching. Angry shouting that made it sound like a political rally.


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