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Located at an altitude of about 9,524 ft above sea level, Sankoo is an upcoming township with a small bazaar and numerous villages around. Sankoo is located 42 Km South of Kargil in a bowl-shaped valley. This valley is drained by the broad secondary streams of the Suru River, the Kartse and the Nakpochu. Sankoo is fondly known as the Ladakh’s own Gulmarg as this is the most flourishing valley throughout the entire region of Ladakh.

Sankoo is a picturesque township surrounded with numerous villages and colourful rocky mountains all around. It is a popular picnic spot for the tourists where you can explore the lust plantations and wild roses. Main reason to travel to Sankoo is the visit a small village near it called Kartse Khar which is famous for 7-meter rock carved statue of the Maitreya Buddhha.

Sankoo is considered as the gateway to the Zanskar Valley and other villages of Suru Valley.

Key Facts

  • Region : Sankoo, Kargil, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir
  • Ideal Duration For Suru Valley: 1 Days (without Zanskar Valley)
  • Difficulty : Easy – Moderate
  • Highest Altitude: 9,524 ft
  • Trip Starting Point : Kargil
  • Nearest Airport : Leh Airport and Srinagar Airport
  • Category: Scenic, Offbeat

How to Reach

Sankoo is located 42 Km from Kargil in the South and can be reached through Kargil. JKRTC buses are available from Kargil to Sankoo and the neighbouring villages in the Suru Valley. To avoid crowd you can take sharing jeeps from Kargil. You can also hire a taxi if it’s a group of travellers.

There is a “teacher’s bus” which leaves at around 7 AM and goes to the Sankoo village. This time makes it ideal for the teachers who live in Kargil, to attain the schools in the Suru valley according to schedule.

Best Time to Visit

Summers are warm in Sankoo but the winters are extremely cold and harsh when temperature can drop as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius. Temperatures are most comfortable from June to September, so this is the best time to visit Sankoo.

Where to Stay

Sankoo has J & K Tourist bungalows which can be book at the Tourist reception Centre in Kargil. There are also basic home stays and few guest houses in this village since very few people spend the night here. Sankoo is generally the breakfast stop for most of the tourists.

Tourist Attractions of Sankoo

It is a popular picnic spot for the tourists and local picnickers where you can explore the lust plantations.

This place is famous for the ancient shrine of a Muslim saint, Sayed Mir Hashim, who was particularly invited for conveying religious teachings to the Buddhist ruler of the Suru principality after his conversion to Islam. Situated in the village of Karpo-Kharon, this shrine is located in the outskirt of Sankoo where the Chief had his summer palace. Tourists visit Karpo-Kharon Shrine to offer their prayers to the saint.

The main reason to travel to Sankoo was the visit a small village near it called Kartse Khar which is famous for 7-meter rock carved statue of the Maitreya Buddhha. This is considered as the tallest statue of the Buddha after the Bamiyan in Afghanistan as the local claims.

Sankoo is popular for its very nice morning breakfast stop. You can also enjoy the beautiful view of the lush greenery all around the village. Sankoo has plenty of greenery all around the village and is easily the only place in Ladakh where greenery actually flourishes and makes this tiny village looks like a veranda of flowers. You can also explore forests which are situated in proximity to the hamlet.

Around Sankoo, you can also visit Panikhar and Parkachik from where you can catch a breathtaking view of the Nun-Kun peaks.

Reasons to Visit Suru Valley

If you are interesting in backpacking, Sankoo is among the best places in the Himalayas for some backpacking. Sankoo is also a perfect weekend picnic destination for those who live near Kargil.

Mountains are everywhere and you can have also the view of lush greenery. Since Sankoo is the gateway to the Zanskar Valley and other villages of Suru valley, you can further travel to the Suru and Zanskar valley.

Life in Suru Valley

Sankoo, being close to the main district place of Kargil had its advantages. Local bricks are used to made houses and these houses have highly stylised textures. Every house has bright coloured window and door frames with cute little flower pots on the windows.

The villagers earn their living by growing crops such as wheat and also few seasonal fruits. Many of the locals are involved in animal husbandry while some are now engage in tourism by opening guest houses, tea stalls and small eateries. With a high school and a hospital, Sankoo is the most advanced village in the Suru Valley.

Tips For Travelling In Suru Valley

  • Acclimatise yourself and aware of Altitude Sickness.
  • Do not expect lavish stay arrangements here as these villages are remote places.
  • Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol.

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The Himalayan Odyssey

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