About Kargil War Memorial
Kargil War Memorial was built by the Indian Army to commemorate the huge victory of the valiant Indian soldiers in the 1999 Kargil War. The memorial is located at Dras, a mountainous town in the Kargil District of Jammu and Kashmir. In May 1999, Pakistani troops invaded and captured many hills like Tololing, and Tiger Hills along the LoC of the Indian state.
The Indian Army gave a strong fightback and recaptured all the spots. However, during the war, many martyrs and jawans selflessly lost their lives and the Kargil War Memorial is a homage to their bravery and sacrifice and this historic monument built in pink sandstone is an epitome of sheer bravery and sacrifice.
The huge Indian Flag weighing about 15 kg flutters majestically at the memorial and tells many untold stories of the sacrifices made by the army men to keep this flag flying high here. The memorial is located right in the place where the Kargil War happened and one can actually see the Tololing Hill and Tiger Hills in the background which were captured by the Pakistan army.
The cemetery and the war museum at the memorial makes one go short for words on how much we are indebted to the men in the Indian army and their families. If you are travelling to Leh Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, a trip to the Kargil War Memorial is the best thing you could do.
How to Reach Kargil War Memorial
There are three ways to reach Kargil War Memorial from Leh. You can either go to Srinagar and then to Kargil War Memorial or go to Kargil and then to Kargil War Memorial based on your trip plan in Leh Ladakh region.
1. Leh to Kargil War Memorial through Srinagar: From Leh, you can take the non-stop Air India flight to Srinagar; prices of which start from INR 3,800. From Srinagar, you can hire a taxi and reach Kargil War Memorial which is about 160 km away through NH1. The duration of the trip from Srinagar to the War Memorial is about three and a half hours.
2. Leh to Kargil War Memorial through Kargil: There is one state-government run bus that leaves Leh every day at 2.00 PM and reaches Kargil by late evening. Travel cost per person on this bus is INR 604. From Kargil, the war memorial is 53.5 km away and you can travel the distance in just a few minutes more than an hour by hiring a taxi.
3. Leh to Kargil War Memorial Non-Stop: The most convenient option is to take a taxi from Leh to Kargil and can cost about INR 7000. However, the fares of the return journey can spike until INR 10,000.
Best Time to Visit Kargil War Memorial
The best time to visit Kargil War Memorial is during the summer months from March to June. During this period of the year, National Highway 1D that connects Srinagar and Leh is open for tourists and the weather is pleasant with clear, blue skies.
The average maximum temperatures hover a little above 20 degrees Celsius and are ideal for sightseeing. Winters (October - February) in Dras are spine-chillingly cold with temperatures dipping to as low as -50 degrees Celsius. During the monsoon months from July to September, landslides and cloudburst are a frequent issue which will deter your sightseeing experience.
Other Essential Information About Kargil War Memorial
1. Location: Drass, National Highway 1D, Jammu and Kashmir.
2. Timings: 7.00 AM - 7.00 PM on all days
3. Mobile Connectivity: As in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir, only postpaid connection works in this region. Mobile connectivity in Kargil is excellent as providers like BSNL, Airtel and Jio offer very good connectivity with decent data clarity. These providers even provide 4G data in Kargil. Tourists are highly recommended to carry two to three power banks with them as the power supply is erratic in these high-altitude terrains.
4. ATMs: Dras and Kargil have J&K Bank ATMs. Apart from these, The Drass War Memorial has an SBI ATM with its premises.
5. Petrol Pumps: There is no petrol pump in Dras. However, there is one HP Petrol Pump in Kargil.
6. Medical Facilities: Dras has a modest medical dispensary with a doctor. Kargil has sophisticated hospitals with facilities like ambulance services, surgical facilities, emergency care, maternity care, and laboratory services.
7. Reputed hospitals in Kargil: District Hospital Kargil and Army Hospital
History of Kargil War Memorial
From 8th May 1999 to 5th July 1999, the infamous Kargil War between India and Pakistan took place after the Pakistani troops intruded for about 4 to 10 km into the Indian territory. The Indian Army gave a fitting reply to the intruders and after several days of battle, India declared a momentous victory on the battlefield on 26th July 1999.
To commemorate the success of Operation Vijay during the 1999 Indo-Pak war and to pay homage to the brave martyrs who shed their lives for the nation, the historic monument, Drass War Memorial was built in Drass at the foothills of the Tololing Hill. 26th July is celebrated as Kargil Diwas every year.
Inside the Memorial
Visitors to the memorial are greeted at the gateway which has the poem "Pushp Kii Abhilasha (Wish of a Flower) written by the poet, Makhanlal Chaturvedi. There is a MIG plane and few other cannons and army vehicles kept on display on the way from the entrance to the memorial. Inside the memorial at the centre is the Amar Jawan Flame that is kept lit 24 *7.
Just above the flame is the tower bearing the words “Op Vijaypath” over which the Indian Tricolor Flag flutters high. Behind it is the Memorial Wall which has the names of all the martyrs who lost their lives in the Kargil war. Beside the Memorial Wall is the special war gallery named after Captain Manoj Pandey. The gallery features the photographs and seized Pakistani weapons from the war featured here gives an insight into the actual war happenings.
The war museum inside the memorial features army emblems, war document archives and miniatures of Himalayan mountain ranges. On the other side of the War Museum is the memorial ground where the jawans are put to rest in peace. An elegy written by Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan found at the memorial moves everyone to tears.
The sight of this place stirs one’s heart filling it with extreme patriotism and gratitude for the army men.The cafeteria inside the war memorial is run by army men and serves tea and samosas. Then, there is also a souvenir shop selling hats, T-Shirts, coffee mugs, etc., to freeze your moments this exceptional visit. The sound and light show and a video documentary screened for about 15 minutes at the memorial is a must-watch that explains the happenings of the war.
Traveller Tips for visitng Kargil War Memorial
1. Dras is the second coldest place in the world and so even if you are visiting the Kargil War Memorial in winters, carry enough woolen clothing to keep yourself warm.
2. Being a high-altitude destination, that is located about 3,300 metres above sea level. So, give yourself enough time to acclimatize to the cold weather and high-altitudes.
3. Watch if your body shows signs of discomfort and carry medicines to overcome high-altitude sickness.
4. Keep yourself hydrated.
5. Carry power banks, a postpaid mobile connection, and a sufficient amount of cash in hand.