Drass Valley – Heaven for Travelers
Drass valley acts as an entrance for you while visiting this beautiful region of Laddakh and so-known as the Gateway to Laddakh. You will land in Drass valley the moment you crosses Zozi la pass and the valley spreads over till the town of Kargil. This valley is the second highest and coldest inhabited area in the world after Siberia and seems like a complete white thick sheet of ice in the winter season.
While in the months of the summer season, the valley gets a completely different look with almost green everywhere. Summer is the best season to explore the valley, with a variety of flora will give you an amazing feeling with splendid meadows. So here we will explore some of the beautiful things about the valley which will help you in planning your trip easily and efficiently.
Drass valley is at a height of 3225 meters above sea level along the Leh Kargil national highway. Zozi la pass acts as an entry point to the valley having snow-clad mountains and beautiful meadows. The town of Drass is located at a distance of 58 Km from Kargil & 60 Km from Laddakh with main inhabitants here at Drass are from Dardic and Baltic tribes.
Why Drass valley is famous
Drass valley is famous because of its low mercury and entrance to the Laddakh region of India. This valley is the second coldest and inhabited place in the world after Siberia with the average temperature in winter is -12 degrees. This valley comes to light after the famous Kargil war between India and Pakistan where the brave fighter of India ensures the safety of the land for the nation. War was broke out between the two nations initially when the Pak army dropped shells in the valley of drass and its nearby villages.
The town of Drass is also famous for its historical and strategic significance for the land of India. Hall of fame is built here at Drass to pay tributes to the brave martyrs of the Kargil war and being maintained by the Indian Army. This town also has many trekking trails starting from here itself, including the famous three days Suru Valley trek.
Best time to visit Drass Valley
Being the second coldest region of the world, this place remains under cover of the thick ice sheets in the months of the winter season. While summer season provides a lavish green cover to this valley making it beautiful for visitors. So the months of May to September are best to visit here, throwing an opportunity for travelers and photographers with a lot of options to explore. The temperature in this season usually rises up to 23 degrees in the valley region.
Permit to Visit Laddakh Region
As this area located near the border area, it is strategically important for India. Hence before visiting here, you have to obtain permits or can say passes from the authorities. Domestic or Indian tourists need an Inner Line Permit, which can be obtained both offline and online. To have an offline permit, you have to visit the Tourist information center at Leh town or DM office in person.
For the foreigner tourists, a protected area Permit is required to visit the Pangong lake which can be obtained online or through registered travel agents.
The inner line permit can be obtained online by visiting the Official Website of Leh District Permit Tracking System. For Indian nationals, the option of ‘Domestic client’ can be clicked and permits will be issued online after filling in the required details. The fees for issuing permits is very nominal at the rate of 420 (400 as environmental fees and 20 as inner line fee).
How to reach Drass Valley
To reach the valley, you have to either reach Srinagar or Leh. Leh can be accessed from the man parts of India by road throughout the year. From Leh, you have to further drive for more than 12 hours to reach this beautiful valley. There are two ways to reach this region by road and here are the details for you:
One is from Delhi- Jammu – Srinagar – Kargil – Leh
& other one is
Delhi – Manali – Rohtang Pass – Sarchu – Leh- Kargil-Srinagar – Jammu
Among these two options, second one i.e. from Manali to Leh is usually adopted by travelers in common because of good road and transport network connectivity. You can find both ordinary and deluxe type busses being operated by Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir UTs governments. Also regular buses from Kargil to Srinagar and Leh are operated by Jammu and Kashmir UTs. Last year new bus service was introduced directly between Delhi to Leh which takes almost 24 hours to reach destination and you can utilize that as well. One thing to note here is that Bus Service
If you are an adventure lover and loves driving then Bikes and cars can be hired on rent at beautiful Manali and can be returned at Leh.
Ideal Route: Among the two routes listed above, second route i.e from Manali to Leh is the best route. Actual detail of this route is like:
Manali – Rohtang La – Tandi/Keylong – Darcha – Sarchu – Tanglang La – Upshi – Leh (from Leh you can take separate routes to Khardungla and Nubra, Pangong and Tso Moriri and Hemis) – Lamayuru – Kargil – Drass – Zozi La – Srinagar – Patnitop – Chandigarh.
By Train to Zanskar valley
There is no direct connectivity through rail between Leh to Delhi and the closest railway station is at Pathankot (746Km), Jammu (682Km), and Chandigarh (719Km). You can reach up to these two locations easily as they are connected with main Indian cities by rail network where trains run on a frequent basis. From these two stations, you have no options except taking the road to Leh by hired or govt transport. .
Things to do in Drass Valley
Hall of Fame
This is actually a museum that is built and maintained by the Indian Army in the memory of Brave Martyrs during the famous India Pakistan Kargil war in 1999. In this museum, the Indian Army proudly displays the arms and weapon of the Pakistan army seized by Indian Soldiers during the Kargil war. The museum is given a patriotic look by placing the photos and related things of Brave martyrs of Indian Forces.
Hall of Fame is located at a distance of 4 km from Leh town and it is a place to pay tributes to the supreme sacrifices made by our actual Heroes in wartime. History, culture, wildlife, and vegetation are also showcased here by the management by a collection of items related to these attributes.
The museum is located next to leh airfield and remains open for all days to visitors and you can enjoy the beautiful evening parade there. There is a marginal entry fee of Rs 10 for Indians and Rs 50 for foreigners to visit this museum. You can also watch a documentary over operation Vijay or Kargil war which is screened here at the museum from time to time. You can visit this place from 0900 AM to 0100 PM & 1500 PM to 1900 PM but for photography, you have to pay extra cost.
Beautiful Matayen village is located at a distance of 20 km from Drass town with amazing scenic views throwing ample opportunities for photographers for framing. This is the only place in the entire region of Laddakh where you can find people speaking the Kashmiri language easily.
This beautiful village is ready to welcome you as the first village after you cross the Zozi La pass. You can enjoy the beautiful views amidst high Himalayan ranges and explore the place further by camping here for a night.
This iconic Masjid is a religious site that is famous in the valley region because of its historical values and tales. It is believed that one of its walls was naturally raised without any human intervention. This site is a beautiful combination of architecture and craftsmanship. Located at a 7 Km distance from Drass valley, this Masjid is standing straight throughout the harsh weather of the region.
Valley of Musko came to light after the famous Kargil war, when infiltrators from the Pakistan side, crossed into the Indian side through this valley. Till that time, this valley region was taken as unsuitable for human life, and very rarely people were noticed. But after the Kargil war, this region gained strategic importance, and travelers also start exploring the valley. Day by Day local people start settling there and now you can see a significant number of people settled there.
The beauty of Musko is further enhanced by the Drass River flowing through it, providing an array of options for locals to live like farming. Locals here are also engaged in sheep rearing for livelihood. This valley serves as a base camp for many trekking trails including the famous trek to Gurez in the Bandipora region. Valley has a variety of flowers attracting photographers to it and making this region important. Musko valley is gaining importance for tourism purpose in recent years with significant help from authorities in building tourist attractions.
Saliskote is a small village in Suru Valley and located 23 Km from Kargil town on Padum road. Padum is a famous town in the magnificent Zanskar valley and acts as an administrative headquarter for the valley. Famous Saliskote trekking starts from Drass and ends here after two days. The village has the famous Darul Quran E Meraj mosque, making it religiously important for one sect.
Amarnath caves are famous Hindu shrine in the region, regarded as the holiest shrines for the people of the Hindu religion. These holy shrines are devoted to Mahadev Shiv Shankar and have an important place in the religious culture of every Hindu. It is located at 140 Km from Srinagar and many routes open for these caves from Srinagar, Pahalgam, and Minamarg village which is 30 Km from Drass. Route from Minamarg to Amarnath caves, is shortest among all, spanning just over three days.
These holy caves remain covered in the snow throughout the year, except for some months in the summer season. So devotees can visit these shrines only in the summer season after obtaining permits from the authorities. Amarnath yatra is famous among Hinduism and it is heavily guarded by Central Reserve Police Force and Indian Army.
Tiger hill is the highest peak in the Drass Kargil region and it is strategically important to India. This peak gained importance during the Kargil war when Pakistani troops captured it. By doing so, they could access important roads and logistic supply to forces. This point has a strategically important road connecting Leh and Srinagar, which also connects Siachin glacier from the mainland of India as well. Hall of Fame is Drass is built so beautifully that Tiger Hill can be best viewed from there.
Drang Drung Glacier
It is the only glacier in India and one of the very few glaciers of the world, that can be reached via road. Located at an altitude of 4780 meters, this glacier can be spotted on the right-hand side while traveling to Kargil. Famous Stod River originates from this glacier which is a combination of ice, snow, and water. This glacier spreads over 22 km in length and is accessible only in the months of summer i.e from July to September. The glacier can be reached by strenuous trekking of 3 days from Padum town in Zanskar valley after crossing Pensi La pass.
While traveling from Srinagar to Leh, you can observe the highway running parallel to the Drass river. After its origin from the Machoi Glacier- also the source of the Sind River- near Zoji La Pass, the Drass River flows entirely in the Drass Valley. This river is 83 km in length and flows through the towns of Matayan, Kharbu, and Kakshar and the town of Drass itself. Drass River is also famous among adventure lovers for river rafting activity.
Hotels in Drass valley
Once you planned for a trip to this region, you should not worry about the stay because you will get enough options to reside here. Drass valley has many small towns where you can stop for a halt over and also enjoy the scenic beauty there. Apart from Kargil town, famous villages like Matayen and Minamarg have good accommodation options available within. You can book cheap hotels at convenient prices in both offline and online mode by paying through Plastic money like credit cards easily.
Services Available in Drass Valley
Mobile connectivity – Mobile connectivity can be assumed as Not available because, in most of the region and valleys, you don’t have access to it. Mobile network is found only around the major towns like Leh and Kargil.
Medical facilities– No, Medical Facilities and Hospitals are not available in the region. The only town of Leh has some good facility and no other part will be serving you with any of it except some basic first aid.
ATM– ATM is available only in the town of Leh. You will not find ATM anywhere in the entire region except here. So it is recommended to carry enough cash while traveling to the region.
Fuel Station– Fuel station or Petrol Pumps are available on the highway only and that also not so frequent to access. So it’s better to drive with enough fuel so that can catch another station located distantly. After Leh- Manali highway the first petrol pump you can find is at Tandi village. However, black fuel can be found in the village Karu, Spangmink, Chusul, Tangtse, Chumthang.
Automobile Repair shops will be accessible in major towns like Leh and Kargil only. In the rest part of the region, there is hardly any repair shop for your vehicle, so be mentally prepared for handling any contingency of breakdown.
Tips for Trip to Drass Valley
There are some small tips that will help you in Planning your Trip efficiently. These tips must be kept in mind before boarding to the beautiful region of Laddakh. To get details you can go through other blogs on Things to carry on the trip as well.
Driving by Bikes: If you are a bike rider and visiting the lake by bike, then you should carry enough fuel with you. As there is no fuel station available from Leh/Srinagar onwards and you have to be self-sufficient for that purpose. Also, an option of bike repair will not be found easily, so must have a mechanic with you or else have arrangement prior.
Do carry necessary documents to prove your identity, in case asked. As you are traveling to border areas where frisking can be there by the security forces, you should be in a position to furnish all details to them when asked.
Don’t Disturb the Beauty: You are traveling to a beautiful location, and it is our moral duty not to disturb the beauty. Don’t throw garbage and keep all your used baggage with you and dispose of at designated place only. Please don’t throw Plastic and other garbage in this hill area, and if possible collect and dispose it of at the designated place.
Be polite with the local people out there, because they welcome travelers with a warm smile. It is our duty to maintain harmony so as to benefit future travelers.
Be Free and always plan your traveling in such a way that you have enough time available with you to explore to destination fully. Because traveling with a disturbed mind or under paucity of time will spoil your entire trip.
Medical Facility: If possible carry some minimum required medicines in your First Aid Box with you because the availability of medicine is scarce in the region. You can go through the checklist of minimum required medicines in the other dedicated blog on the Travel medicine kit.
Required Clothing items must be carried along in the trip to this region. Proper winter clothing including socks, undergarments, shoes, pants, and shirts keeping the harsh cold weather of the region in mind.
Carry enough cash while traveling, as there will be no ATM or internet banking facility in the far-flung areas of the valley. Most of the iconic places are located in the deep valley or on the border area where there is no cash-dispensing mechanism.
Capturing the beautiful visits is another thing we must stick to while visiting any place. When you are visiting such a nice place, it is recommended to carry a good quality camera with additional batteries and storage space to let you capture the landscapes fully to cherish forever.