Kargil’s century-old heritage market continues to attract shoppers

A famous century-old bazaar in the city of Kargil in the Ladakh region, also known as the Heritage Market, has survived turbulent times and continues to attract customers looking for varied goods.

Located in the middle of Kargil city, previously it evolved as a trading center along the silk trade route where travellers, traders stopped to rest, buy and sell.

The foreign trade of Ladakh was mainly that of transit through the city which served as a single market or warehouse.

Muhammad Hussain, a retired government worker who now runs a fabric shop in the market, said the market existed 100 years ago.

“We sell clothes of different kinds for the winter and summer seasons. Most of the shops here sell clothes, including pherans, hats that mostly come from Kashmir,” he said.

He, however, said that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the region’s economy, which has also affected the volume of business in the market.

Even today, the markets of Kargil retain the charm of the old world and imitate the rich persuasions of Central Asia in its architectural character. The Kargil bazaar market is one of the prominent features of the region’s socio-cultural landscape.

Muhammad Issaq, a market tailor, has worked here for thirty years and makes different traditional garments used for summer and winter seasons.

“This market is not only known for shopping for daily necessities, but also for clothing. People also come here for wedding shopping and other essentials,” he added.

Interestingly, Issaq also manufactures Kashmiri Pherans upon customer request. In the market, traditional and cultural clothing remains available.

Two years ago, the Kargil tourism department decided to save the old market as a heritage market and restricted the dismantling of mountain stone, gravel and wooden shops. The decision was welcomed by the general public.

In accordance with the district master plan, the administration is developing Kargil as a tourist town by conserving and enhancing the heritage of the town and its surroundings.

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