Kargil is a district in the Indian union territory of Ladakh. Kargil lies near the Line of Control and is surrounded by the Pakistan-administered region of Gilgit–Baltistan to the north, the Kashmir Valley and Jammu divisions to the west, Leh district to the east and Himachal Pradesh to the south. Kargil is divided into 9 blocks which are, Kargil, Drass, Sankoo, Taisuru, Shargole, Shakar-Chiktan, Zanskar, GM Pore/Trespone and Lungnak. It has three Tehsils, namely Kargil, Zanskar and Sankoo. Zanskar and Drass are also sub divisions, and are headed administratively by a Sub Divisional Magistrate.
Map of Kargil district in Ladakh
|• Total||14,036 km2 (5,419 sq mi)|
|Elevation||2,676 m (8,780 ft)|
|• Density||10/km2 (26/sq mi)|
|• Spoken||Purik, Hindi/Urdu, Sheena, Balti|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|Vehicle registration||LA 02|
The name Kargil is said to derive from the Balti-Tibetan words Khar and Rkil. Khar means "Castle" and rkil means "Centre" - thus a place between castles (as the place lay between many kingdoms). The ancient name of Kargil was Purig.
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. Another 1% of the population follow Hinduism and Sikhism.
Purig and Balti people of Tibetan origin (converting from Buddhism to Islam in the 16th Century) mainly live in Kargil. They have mixed with the Dard, Mon and other Aryan people. The mainly Muslim Dards live in the valley of Drass and speak Shina. A small number of Buddhist Dard, known as Brokpa, live in the Dha-Hanu region near the Lamayuru monastery. Some Arghons also live in in Kargil Town. Of late, immigrants from Kashmir and Hindus Jammu have come to live in in Kargil.