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Kargil is a city in the Kargil district of Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the second largest town in Ladakh after Leh. It is located 60 km and 204 km from Drass and Srinagar to the west respectively, 234 km from Leh to the east, 240 km from Padum to the southeast, and 1,047 km from Delhi to the south. Present-day Kargil was not the natural capital of the region or Purig as it was also known. It was the Dogras who united Baltistan, Purig, Zanskar, and present-day Leh district in the first half of the 19th century under a single administrative unit, which lasted till 1947 when a new line of control was demarcated between India and Pakistan dividing Skardu and Kargil. Before the Partition of India in 1947, Kargil was part of the Baltistan district of Ladakh, a sparsely populated region with diverse linguistic, ethnic, and religious groups, living in isolated valleys separated by some of the world’s highest mountains.

The First Kashmir War (1947–48) concluded with the LOC bisecting the Baltistan district, with the town and district of Kargil lying on the Indian side in the Ladakh subdivision of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. At the end of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the two nations signed the Simla Agreement promising not to engage in armed conflict with respect to that boundary. In 1999 the area saw infiltration by Pakistani forces. They were repulsed by India in the Kargil War. The area that witnessed the infiltration and fighting is a 160 km long stretch of ridges overlooking this only road linking Srinagar and Leh. The military outposts on the ridges above the highway were generally around 5,000 meters (16,000 ft) high, with a few as high as 5,485 meters (18,000 ft).Suru Valley: The Suru valley is inhabited by 25,000 people of Dard and Tibetan descent. In Kargil and the lower Suru Valley (i.e. Sanku, Panikhar, and south as far as Parkachik), the majority of the population are followers of Shi’a Islam, having converted from Tibetan Buddhism in the 16th century under the direction of Thi-Namgyal.[citation needed] Beyond Parkachik the spectacularly beautiful valley is practically uninhabited other than a couple of tiny settlements (Yuldo and Julidok) that consist of Rangdum. People here are socially and culturally part of neighboring Buddhist Zanskar and support the 18th-century Rangdum Monastery belonging to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. About 25 km south of Rangdum Monastery, the 4,400 m (14,436 ft) Pensi La (pass) leads into Zanskar.

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