The Suru Valley is
formed by the catchments are of the Suru River, which rises
from the Panzella glacier. On its way to the confluence with
the Indus River at Nurla it is joined by numerous tributaries,
including the Dras River which flows into the Suru River at
Suru Valley forms the mainstay of Kargil district. Lying
nestled along the north-eastern foothills of the great
Himalayan Wall, it extends from Kargil town, first southward
for a length of about 75 Kms Upto the expanse around Panikhar,
thence eastward for another stretch of nearly 65 kms upto the
foot of the Penzila watershed where the Suru valley rises. Its
composite population of about 30,000 -- mainly of Tibeti-Darad
descent -- are Muslims who had converted their Buddhist faith
around the middle of the 16th century.
The upper valley
reaches of the valley, particularly around the Sankoo bowl,
the Panikhar expense and the higher stretch beyond, present a
spectacle of breathtaking features-majestic mountain ramparts
crowned by snow capped peaks, undulating alpine slopes
draining into wild mountain streams of foaming cascades of
pristine water, awesome glaciers descending along the
Himalayan slopes to the river bed in riverine formation,
Quaint villages of adobe houses straggling dry hillocks
surrounded by large tracts of lush crops downward the patches
of alpine pastures uphill.
The beauty of
this region is further enhanced by the sheer contrast provided
by the towering peaks of Kun (7035 m) and Nun (7135 m) which
loom over the skyline in their crystalline
The general topography is as rugged and mountainous as most of
Ladakh. However, the Suru Valley is relatively more fertile.
It extends from the Panzella glacier to south of Kargil town,
where the Suru River merges with the Botkul River rising from
the Botkul glacier.
The average elevation of the Suru valley is 3,000 m. Winters
are very severe and heavy and frequent snowfalls occur, though
the Suru Valley does not become as inhospitable as the Dras
Valley. The cold season begins around mid-November and usually
continues till May. During this period, most of the valley
discovered with a thick layer of snow.
As the snow melts, the water becomes muddy, often attaining
darkish hue which is quite a contrast with its normal
bluish-green shade. The color becomes normal in early
September when the melting of the snow in the uplands slows
down considerably. The summer season begins in May and it
becomes warm fairly quickly. Vegetation growth picks up
rapidly. The summer season lasts relatively longer than in
other parts of Ladakh.
Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for the people of
this valley. In many parts of the Suru Valley, two crops can
be harvested each year whereas in many parts of Ladakh raising
even one crop a year may not always be possible when summer
starts late or there is early snowfall.
The main crops raised by the people of Suru Valley are wheat,
barley and millets. Improved varieties of wheat have recently
been introduced. This has helped to increase the production of
cereals. Some of the vegetables grown here are turnip, radish,
peas and black peas. Grapes, apricots and melons are produced
in fairly large quantities at Darchik and Garkoon along the
lower course of the Indus through Ladakh. These find a ready
market in Kargil. Liquor is made from grapes
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