picturesque expanse surrounded by colorful Rocky Mountains,
Sankoo is an upcoming township with a small bazaar (42 kms south
of Kargil) and numerous villages around. Dense plantations of
poplars, willows, and wild roses fill the bowl shaped valley,
giving it the ambience of a man-made forest tucked within the
mountain ramparts. Two side valleys drained by large tributary
streams of the Suru River, the Kartse flowing from the east
and the Nakpochu descending from the west, open up on either
side of the expanse. The Karste Valley runs deep into the eastern
mountains mass with a large number of isolated villages tucked
within its course. The 4-day trek between Sankoo and Mulbek
follows this valley; the route passes through some very beautiful
alpine areas on the way the 4950 m high Rusi-la. The high altitude
settlement of Safi and its mixed Buddhist-Muslim population
is struck between the Rusi-la and the Shafi-la over which the
final leg of the trek passes before entering the Mulbek valley.
A southward diversion from the foot of the Rusi-la leads to
Rangdum across the glaciated Rangdum pass where the Karste River
rises. The 3-day trek to Drass across the Umba-la (3350 m) follows
the western valley. Sankoo is a very popular among local picnic
lovers who throng the area from Kargil town and other places.
Locally it is also popular as a place of pilgrimage to the ancient
shrines of Muslin scholar-saint, Sayed Mir Hashim, who was specially
invited from Kashmir for imparting religious teachings to the
region's Buddhist ruler, Thi-Namgyal of the Suru principality,
following his conversion to Islam during the 16th century. The
shrine is situated in the village of Karpo-Khar on the outskirts
of Sankoo where the chief had his summer palace.
How to reach?
Sankoo, Panikhar and Parachik are connected with Kargil with
regular bus services, in summer even twice a day. A bus ride
from Kargil takes 2 hours to Sankoo, 3 hours to Panikhar and
about 4 hours to Parkachik. Rangdum is serviced by the BI-week
bus service to Padum, which increases according to demand. Some
trucks plying between Kargil and Padum also offers a lift in
the cabin for the price of a bus seat. Cars and jeeps taxis
can be hired from Kargil for visiting different places in the
Suru Valley, including Rangdum and Penzila.
At Sankoo basic accommodation is available in the Govt. Rest
House. A Tourist Bungalow is also being built here. At Panikhar
the Tourist Bungalow provides 4 furnished rooms while some private
hotels also offers accommodation. At Rangdum the newly built
Tourist Complex provides 5 furnished rooms and dormitory accommodation.
Tented accommodation operated by the monastery management provides
simple overnight shelter while basic food is available at the
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