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Sightseeing & Excursions
Mulbek - Situated 45 kms east of Kargil on the road to Leh, Mulbek (3,230 m) is a predominantly Buddhist area.
  Landscape around Mulbek
Landscape around Mulbek

Many monuments of the early Buddhist era dot the landscape among which the chief attraction is Mulbek Chamba, a 9 m high rock sculpture in deep relief of the Maitreya, the "Future Buddha", which reflects a unique blend of esoteric Saivite symbolism, with early Buddhist art. Situated right on the highway, it dates back to the period when Buddhist missionaries came travelling east of the Himalayas during the 7th and 8th centuries. Mulbek gompa, the main monastery of the area is perched atop a rocky hill that dominates the valley below. It is easy to see why in the past this site served as an outpost to guard the caravan route between Kashmir and Ladakh.

Kargil Landscape on way to Leh  
Kargil Landscape on way to Leh

Further up inside the picturesque upper part of the Wakha river valley is Wakha Rgyal, an interesting hilltop village that appears like a medieval settlement of cave dwellings. Its mud houses, neatly whitewashed and closely stacked, are built around caves dug into the face of a vertical cliff rising high bove the lush valley floor. From a distance, Rgyal looks like a cluster of beehives hanging from the ochre granite of the cliffside. A small monastery, similarly constructed, on the top of the brown hillside, completes this interesting Buddhist village. Breathtaking views of the undulating hills crowned by rocky peaks can be had from the plateau, the terminal point of a 5-km long rough road linking the village with the main highway.

Shergol - Another picturesque village of the area, Shergol has a mixed opulation of Muslims and Buddhists, and can be approached through a link road from the main highway.

  Shergol cave monastery
Shergol Cave Monastery

The main attraction for visitors is a cave monastery visible from afar as a white speck against the vertically rising brown hillside, from which it appears to hang out. Down below is a Buddhist nunnery with about a dozen incumbents. There is an interesting 4- day trek from here into the Suru Valley across two mountain passes, Safi-la and Rusi-la. Urgyan-Dzong, a meditation retreat tucked deep inside the surrounding mountains, can also be approached via the nearby village of Pho-khar. This natural mountain fortress conceals a circular tableland with a small Buddhist temple at its centre while the surrounding hillsides reveal several caves where high-ranking Buddhist saints are believed to have meditated in seclusion. One such cave is associated with the visit of Padmasambhava, the patron saint of Tibetan Buddhism.

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