Historically, the name Kargil is derived from the words Khar means cattle and rKil means centre. According to another theory, the name is derived from "Gar" (anywhere) and "Khil" (central place). Earlier, it was called Puring. At the very beginning in the year 1590, the Gyalpo, meaning king of Leh, Sengge Namgyal, extended his power over the Western Tibet. During the period 1640-1675, Purig went into the hands of his grandson named Bde-ldan-rnam-rgyal, along with Zanskar and other parts of the modern Ladakh Division. In the year 1822, the Sikh emperor Ranjit Singh appointed Gulab Singh from the Dogra dynasty as the Raja of Jammu. Then in 1834, Gulab Singh ordered his general Zorawar Singh Kahluria to capture the territory lied in between Jammu and the Tibetan border. While they were moving through Kishtwar, Zorawar Singh reached Purig and there he defeated the Bhotia leader called Mangal at Sankoo in August. In this way different rulers ruled the place during different periods of time. After sometime Ladakh became a wazarat (district) with a governor at that time called wazir-e-wazarat. It comprised three tehsils namely Leh, Kargil and Skardu. The city of Kargil always had a tehsil headquarters. Once Zanskar was a part of the Kishtwar district which later merged into the Kargil tehsil. In 1979, it became a separate district after the disintegration from Leh district. Kargil is the witness of Kargil war between India and Pakistan in 1999. Pakistan took over the vacant high posts of India. India reoccupied the posts with the use of military and diplomatic pressure.
The district is the birth place of various famous personalities. Kacho Sikander Khan Sikander was a prominent writer from the Kargil district, Ladakh. His book ‘Qadeem Ladakh’ (Ancient Ladakh) is very relevant to know the history of Ladakh. Hujjatul Islam Sheikh Muhammad Mussa Shariefi was a senior scholar from Shia Islamic religion.
Geographically, the district has a total 14,036 sq km. area and occupies the rank 2nd in State and 24th in India on the bases of this size. It lies at 34056'N latitude, 76014'E longitude and 2676 m altitude. it is surrounded by Kashmir Region on the North, Himachal Pradesh on the South, Leh District, Jammu and Kashmir on the East and Kishtwar District, Ganderbal District and Bandipora District, Jammu and Kashmir on the west. The district has Suru Valley, Drass Valley, the Indus Valley, Upper Singh Valley and Kanji Nallah Valley. Lalung Glacier, Shafat Glacier, Parkachik Glacier are the part of the region. Zanskar River passes through the district. The climate of the district remains cold throughout the year. Most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 89.5 mm in the year of 2018-19.
Administration wise, the district is divided into 3 sub-districts, 1 town and 125 villages. Urdu is its official language. The district came into existence in year 1979 with an allotted district code of 04. Kargil is the head rate quarter of the district which is located at the distance of 202 kms from the state capital. There is a Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil (LAHDC-K) which was set up in the year 2003. It is a locally elected body.
Demographically, according to the 2011 census, the district has a total 18,212 numbers of households with the population of 1,40,802 comprising 77,785 are males and 63,017 are females and is leading it to the rank 21st in the state and 604th in India. It has population density of 10 (persons as per sq km.). The sex ratio of the region is considered as 810 (females as per 1000 males) males and child ratio is 977 (females as per 1000 males). According to the 2011 census, the principal languages of the district are Balti at 3.24%, Bhotia at 10.16% and Shina 8.38%. During the period 2001-2011 the population growth rate in the district was 18.02% including 19.75% were males and 15.94% were females. As per 2011 census the major religions in the district are Muslim and Buddhist with 76.87% and 14.29% of the total population. In the year 2017 the number of live births in the district was 1,050 including 597 were males and 453 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 176 including 89 were males and 87 were females.
Economically, the district is dependent on agriculture primarily. Wheat, grim, barley, pulses, vegetables, fodder, black zeera, etc are the main agricultural products of the district. Besides of agriculture, the other sources of the income are livestock rearing, farming and sheep husbandry. The Gross Domestic Product in the district during the period 2005-06 was Rs. 32,000 lakh at Current Price and Rs. 24,434 lakh at Constant Prices in the year 1999-2000. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, At Factor Cost in the district during the period 2003-04 was Rs. 15,269 at Current Price and Rs. 7,688 at Constant Prices in the year 1993-1994.
Education wise, according to the 2011 census, the literacy rate in the district is 71.34% including 83.15% are males and 56.3% are females. The total literate population in the district is 86,236 out of which 56,301 are males and 29,935 are females. At the higher level, Kargil District has only one college namely Government Degree College. It is under the control of the government of Jammu & Kashmir. It was established in the year 1995. It provides different courses in the streams of arts, science and commerce.
Qamar Ali Akhoon is an Indian politician from Jammu and Kashmir. He is a senior member of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference. He served as the Advisor to the Chief Minister J&K in 2014 as well as the first Chief Executive Councillor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Kargil. He also held the position of Minister for Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution and Transport and Minister of State for Works and Power during the Farooq Abdullah period. Haji Ghulam Hassan Khan was born on 11th December, 1936 at Silmo. He is a politician from the state of Jammu and Kashmir. He is representing Ladakh (Lok Sabha constituency) in the Indian Parliament.
The district has several famous historical tourist places to visit. These places are Zanskar (Penzila to Padum Karsha and Zangla), Sani Monastery, Rangdum Monastery, Zongkhul Monastery, Karsha Monastery, Stongday Monastery, Phugthal Monastery, Padum, Zangla, Mulbekh Chamba & Monastery, Shargole Monastery, Phoker. Stongday Monastery is the second largest monastic institution in Zanskar. The Gustor Festival is organized here every year. It is consisting of seven temples in all. The Rangdum monastery is consisting of tiny “museum”. It has interesting Tibetan and other artifacts. Around forty monks live in the gompa. Karsha Gompa is the largest monastic. It was founded in the 11th century by Phagspa Sherab. It is consisting of 8 temples.