Drass 3230 metres, 60kms west of Kargil on the road to Srinagar, are a small township lying in the centre of a valley of the same name. It has become famous as the second coldest inhabited place in the world by virtue of the intense cold that descends upon the valley along with repeated snowfall during winter. Winter temperature is sometimes known to plummet to less than 40 degree Celsius. During the spring and summer, however the valley around the township becomes very picturesque as the gently undulating hillsides turn into lush green pastures splashed with a variety of fragrant wild flowers. Its inhabitants are mainly of Darad stock, an Aryan race believed to have originally migrated to the high valleys of the Western Himalayas from the Central Asian steppes. Darads : They speak Shina which, unlike the Tibetan-originated Ladakhi dialects spoken elsewhere in Ladakh region, belong to the Indo-European linguistic family. Their ancestral sport, Horse Polo, which the Darads play with particular zeal, resembles our modern polo. The Drass vallley starts from the base of the Zojila pass, the Himalayan gateway to Ladakh. For centuries its inhabitants are known to have negotiated this formidable pass even during the most risky period in the autumn or early spring, when the whole sector remains snowbound and is subject to frequent snow storms, to transport trader’s merchandise across and the to help stranded travelers to traverse it. By virtue of their mastery over the pass they had established a monopoly over the carrying trade during the heydays of the Pan-Asian. A hardy people enduring with fortitude the harshness of the valley’s winter, the inhabitants of Drass can well be described as the guardians of Ladakh’s gateway.