A picturesque expanse surrounded by colorful rocky
mountains, Sankoo is an upcoming township with a small bazaar and numerous
villages around. Dense plantations of Poplers, Willows, Myricarea and wild
Roses fill the bowl shaped valley, giving it the ambience of a man-made
forest tucked within the mountain ramparts.
Two side valleys drained by large tributary streams of the Suru River, the Kartse flowing from the east and the Nakpochu descending from the west, open up on either side of the expanse. The Karste Valley runs deep into the eastern mountains mass with a large number of isolated villages tucked within its course.
The Sankoo-Mulbek Trek
The 4-day trek between Sankoo and Mulbek follows this valley; the route passes through some very beautiful alpine areas on the way the 4,950 m high Rusi-la . The high altitude settlement of Safi and its mixed Buddhist-Muslim population is struck between the Rusi-la and the Shafi-la over which the final leg of the trek passes before entering the Mulbek valley.
A southward diversion from the foot of the Rusi-la leads to Rangdum across the glaciated Rangdum pass where the Karste River rises. The 3-day trek to Drass across the Umba-la (3,350m) follows the western valley.
A Scenic Picnic Spot
Sankoo is a very popular among local picnic lovers who throng the area from Kargil town and other places. Locally it is also popular as a place of pilgrimage to the ancient shrines of Muslim scholar-saint, Sayed Mir Hashim, who was specially invited from Kashmir for imparting religious teachings to the region's Buddhist ruler, Thi-Namgyal of the Suru principality, following his conversion to Islam during the 16th century. The shrine is situated in the village of Kartse-Khar, the erstwhile capital of Purig Sultanate, on the outskirts of Sankoo where the chief had his summer palace.
Another nearby attraction of Sankoo is the 7m tall rock statue, which was built in the 7th century.
Road: Sankoo, Panikhar and Parachik are connected with Kargil with regular bus services, in summer even twice a day. A bus ride from Kargil takes 2 hours to Sankoo, 3 hours to Panikhar and about 4 hours to Parkachik. Rangdum is serviced by the weekly bus service to Padum, which increases according to demand. Some trucks plying between Kargil and Padum also offer a lift in the cabin for the price of a bus seat. Cars and jeeps taxis can be hired from Kargil for visiting different places in the Suru Valley, including Rangdum and Penzila.
At Sankoo basic accommodation is available in the Govt. Rest House. A Tourist Bungalow is also being built here. At Panikhar the Tourist Bungalow provides 4 furnished rooms while some private hotels also offers accommodation. At Rangdum the newly built Tourist Complex provides 5 furnished rooms and dormitory accommodation. Tented accommodation operated by the monastery management provides simple overnight shelter while basic food is available at the nearby teashop.