One step closer to Mount Nun: Tongul, Suru Valley
The tiny village of Tongul is one of the lesser known villages of Suru Valley in the Trans- Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir. The village of Tongul is located at a towering altitude of about 11,181 feet above sea-level and is nestled on a plateau with the Suru river flowing just below the village.
The best way of reaching the village of Tongul is by hiring a taxi from Kargil, travelling by taxi is also the most comfortable way of getting to the village, because after crossing the village of Panikhar there are absolutely no tar roads for the rest of the route. The roads from here on are just unmade, dusty trails which make it a very bumpy ride regardless of the vehicle. It takes about six hours/ 80 kms to reach Tongul from Kargil by taxi. Shared taxis also leave for Tongul daily from the Kargil taxi stand.
Daily government buses also ply to the village of Tongul. The government buses are not very frequent but there is a daily bus that leaves early in the morning around 8am from Kargil and returns back from Tongul at around 5pm. The bus is over crowded, with villagers sitting on the roof top of the bus and the journey takes around five hours to reach Tongul from Kargil. A bus ride along these roads is equivalent to a camel ride at high speed.
Ones in the village the first thing that one will notice is the greenery all around the village. This is a feature of most of the villages in Suru Valley. The village has about 30 houses and most of the houses are duplexes. The ground floor generally has two rooms, one is used to store food grains and fire wood for the winter while the other room is used to keep their cattle. The upper floor is where the family members reside. The main reason for such a house structure is to keep as far as possible from the severe winter.
The Tongul houses have a very unique fencing which is made of small boulders which are arranged in more or less a circular manner all around the house. The houses also have a small wooden gate. This surrounding protection is made mostly in order to prevent domestic animals from entering.
Tongul is a village that serves as a excellent base for various treks and hikes to peaks and glaciers in and around Suru Valley and is the ideal place to get porters to carry the gear and equipment for the famous Mt. Nun expedition.
Accommodation in Tongul is limited to a couple of home-stays and a government guest house. The village does not have any phone booth or cyber cafe. There are just a couple of home run shops that sell very basic commodities. The village also has no eateries and the only option is to eat what is served in the home stays.
Tongul is a village that only attracts the adventurous kind who use this village as a base to hike or climb around the valley. For other travellers Tongul is nothing but just another village in the Suru Valley.