"Life is not always what one wants it to be, but to make the best of it as it is, is the only way of being happy." ~ Jennie J Churchill


Jammu and Kashmir

The town of Drass, 60 km west of Kargil on the road to Srinagar, is located at an altitude of 3,300 m in a relatively flat and open space in the centre of a valley.

The town of Drass, 60 km west of Kargil on the road to Srinagar, is located at an altitude of 3,300 m in a relatively flat and open space in the centre of a valley. It has extensive willow groves along the river. In winter it is covered with a thick blanket of snow. Drass experiences the lowest temperatures in the Ladakh valley and is said to be the second coldest inhabited place in Asia. The mercury may drop to as low as 40 degrees Celsius below freezing point, and communication with the outside world is often completely cut off. During the spring and summer, however, the valley around the township becomes very picturesque as the gently undulating hillsides turn into lush green pastures splashed with a variety of fragrant wild flowers.

Its inhabitants are mainly of the Darad stock, an Aryan race believed to have originally migrated to the high valleys of the Western Himalayas from the Central Asian steppes. They speak Shina, which, unlike the Tibetan-originated Ladakhi dialects spoken elsewhere in Ladakh region, belongs to the Indo-European linguistic family. Their ancestral sport, `horse-polo' which the Darads play with particular zeal, resembles our modern polo.

The Drass valley starts from the base of the Zoji La pass, the Himalayan gateway to Ladakh. For centuries its inhabitants are known to have negotiated this formidable pass, to transport trader's merchandise across and to help stranded travellers to traverse it, even during the most risky period in the late autumn or early spring, when the whole sector remains snow-bound and is subject to frequent snow storms. By virtue of their mastery over the pass they had established a monopoly on transportation for trading, during the heydays of the Pan-Asian trade. A hardy people, with the fortitude to tolerate the harshness of the valley's winter, the inhabitants of Drass can well be described as the guardians of Ladakh's gateway.

More on Kashmir
Tourist Information

Places to Visit:
More on Ladakh
Pilgrim Places
Amarnath Yatra
Vaishno Devi

Journey to Ladakh

Rock climbing

Drass is a convenient base for a 3-day long trek to the Suru valley across the sub-range separating the two valleys. This trek passes through some of the most beautiful upland villages with flower sprinkled meadows on both sides of the 4,500 metres high Umbala pass which falls en route. The trek to the holy cave of Amarnath in neighbouring Kashmir, which starts from Minamarg below Zoji La, takes 3 days and involves crossing a 5,200 metres high pass. Drass also offers numerous shorter treks and hikes to the upland villages.

How to Get There
Buses plying between Srinagar and Kargil/Leh touch Drass. Local buses leave Kargil in the morning and afternoon for Drass

Tourist Information
All tourists to Ladakh, travelling from Srinagar by road are required to register themselves at the Tourist Registration Centre at Drass.

Compiled by Puneet Sachdeva

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.