Stark beauty of the Drass Valley: The Coldest place in India
The picturesque small village of Drass is situated about 60 km away from Kargil, on the road to Srinagar. Popularly known as ‘The Gateway to Ladakh’. Dras is the coldest inhabited place in India and the second coldest inhabited place in the world (Siberia being the first).
Drass is situated at a height of 10,990 feet above sea level. In the freezing winter, temperatures in Drass can drop to as low as -45 degrees Celsius. The lowest temperature drop observed in Drass was during the winter of 1995, when the thermal reading fell to -60 degrees Celsius.
Intensely beautiful, challenging and numbingly cold, this Himalayan getaway is like none other. As dusk falls over the barren brown mountains, the shadows create different shapes and textures as they move across the craggy landscape.
During the summer months, the nomadic mountain tribes of Gujjars and Bakkerwaals make an almost ritualistic journey to the Drass valley through the formidable Zoji la in search of precious grazing grounds for their livestock. They set up their camps in the meadows in the highest parts of the valley.
Clad in beautifully embroidered garments, the nomads are often escorted by ferocious gaddi dogs. The Srinagar-Leh road drive, which skirts the Drass river, is staggeringly beautiful. The lofty landscape of Ladakh unfolds itself as the dense green forest-clad slopes give way to desolate multi-hued mountains.
Drass has become a popular pit spot for people travelling from Srinagar to Leh. Several tourist accommodations and a Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department guesthouse are the available stay options for those travelling to Drass.
Drass is the coldest place in India, and even though you might be tempted to, don’t visit it during winter. The best time to visit Drass is from July to October.