The coldest Indian town you probably don’t know
The whole of North India is in shivers as the mercury continues to go south. While most of the Northern Indian states hardly touch 0 degrees, there is a town in our country that is often touted (not officially) as the world’s 2nd coldest inhabited town. and that statement puts the place amongst some of the coldest towns that dwell in subzero temperatures, example Oymyakon (Republic of Sakha, northeast Russia).
Dras (or Drass) is a town in the Kargil District of Jammu and Kashmir which experiences subarctic climate. Also known as the ‘The Gateway to Ladakh’, Dras sits at a height of 3230 m or 10,990 ft. The first village after Zoji La pass, Dras is situated at a height of 10,990 feet above sea level.
At the height of winters, the mercury in Dras can dip to as low as -45 degree Celsius.The lowest temperature ever recorded was -60 degree Celsius in the winters of 1995.Even at such bone chilling temperatures, the town is home to approximately 1,021. The local population is of 64 per cent male and 36 per cent female.
The town came to national light in the summer of 1999 following Pakistani army incursions into Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian army finally captured the place and made it one of its bases in the extreme north.
Intensely beautiful, challenging and numbingly cold, this Himalayan getaway is like none other. Feast your eyes on these gorgeous images of Dras Valley – they will make you want to pack your bags and leave for Dras right away.In summer, the gorgeous valley is resplendent with wildflowers blooming in colourful abandon, even as the Dras river playfully meanders through sea buckthorn thickets and a patchwork of fields in multiple hues of green.
The tiny villages nestled between towering mountains are surrounded by terrace farms cut out along hillsides. Carefully nurtured soil is preserved between vertical walls of rocks and boulder. These terraces are home to groves of poplar and willow, orchards of apples and apricots and fields of barley and buckwheat.
On the outskirts of Dras is a place called Bhimbet. Local legend says this piece of rock is supposed to represent Bhim, the burly Pandava from the epic Mahabharat, and that the soil surrounding it has great healing powers.
Dras is known to host riveting contests of polo, the favourite sport of the landlocked region. Horsemanship is a treasured tradition of the Dard natives and polo is played with particular zeal and fervour in Dras. International and local polo players compete in a friendly tournament conceptualised by the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group to promote tourism in Jammu and Kashmir.
Driving through Dras valley is mesmeric and meditative. But, at the same time, it’s easy to imagine the adventure of being part of the trading caravans of yore that rode in and out of this valley carrying fabled silks, spices and unnamed treasures.