About 60 km west of Kargil on the road which takes you to Srinagar is Dras. It is a small town which is found at the center of a valley known by the same name of Dras. The village of Dras is the first village one would come across after crossing the Zoji-La pass.
PC: Deepak Bhatia
It is has gained fame for its hostile weather conditions and is known as the second coldest inhabited place in the world. During winters, the place witnesses heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, which at times, goes way below to minus 50-degree Centigrade or so, which completely shuts down the town.
The valley of Dras begins from the base of Zoji-La pass which is the gateway to Ladakh. Since time immemorial, the inhabitants have negotiated with this frightening pass even at the most risky time periods, which are the late autumns and the early springs, as the place remains under the thick blanket of snow.
Best Time To Visit
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Due to its extreme weather conditions, the best time to visit Dras would be the summer months from April to June, as the temperatures are relatively normal when compared to other seasons. The average temperature at Dras during the summer season is around 15-degree Centigrade.
Dras shot to fame in the year 1999 during the Kargil war, when the Pakistan Army captured the place and led out an invasion attack that eventually resulted in the war between India and Pakistan, which claimed the lives of many Jawans.
The town doubles up as the base camp for those who are undertaking the Amarnath trek via the Zoji-La Pass. The houses in the town are mostly wooden structures that are slowly changing into the ones built of stone and mud. The utensils used here are made out of copper and not the ceramic ones or the Chinaware.
The landscape at Dras is more or less in hues of brown, with slight green here and there and orange too, as the place is well known for its apricots. Braving the temperature and venturing into the depths of Dras would open up some picturesque views of the area, which would instantly capture ones' eyes and leave a lasting mark on the souls of its visitors.
What To See?
1. Dras War Memorial
The memorial built of pink sandstone has an epitaph, which dedicates itself to the memory of the martyrs who lost their lives in the Operation Vijay, commonly known as the Kargil War, which was fought to send the intruders back to their homeland.
The memorial houses a special gallery that is named after Captain Manoj Kumar, which houses photographs taken during the war and a few of the weapons. The walls of the memorial have the names of the brave-hearts who sacrificed their lives.
Visit the memorial as a gesture of respect to the martyrs and it sure would pump up your spirits of patriotism and make you want to give a big salute to the Indian Army.
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According to the local legends, when the masjid was being constructed, one of its walls naturally rose up and hence is frequented by Muslim pilgrims. The masjid has a lot of legends and beliefs that are closely associated with it.
3. Draupadi Kund
As the name says, the place is believed to be the one where Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, took her final bath before heading on to her last journey to the Himalayas.