Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 6, 25 June, On the way to Leh, Srinagar - Kargil

On day 6, we started to move towards our actual destination, Leh.
To reach Leh from Srinagar, one has to take a halt at Kargil. Kargil is around 205 Kms from Srinagar.

We departed at around 7.30 am. First well known place on the way is Sonamarg around 80 Kms from Srinagar.
Road conditions till Sonamarg were quite good. However, the traffic due to Amarnath Shrine yatra was quite heavy. There was constant flow of buses and cars towards Baltal, the base camp for Amarnath yatra.

The scenic beauty of the route was pretty amazing. The valleys are full of dense forests and as you reach towards Sonamarg, you will find the golden meadows flourished on the mountains.
Before reaching to Sonamarg, we took a small halt for breakfast and some rest. Here, we met a group of people from Nagar, Maharashra. They were very much wondered to know about our planned journey on bike till Leh .

Next halt was at Sonamarg. Initially, I had thought, it would be a small village but it was just a small army camp with some small restaurants. We clicked some snaps and wandered around the valley and then, continued our journey towards Kargil.

As we crossed Sonamarg, we were at Baltal and then started the first real challenging task, Zoji La (11,640 ft).
The road (there was no road as such) conditions deteriorated drastically. It was full of stones and gravel. Moreover, the turns were so much difficult and steep that driving bike itself was challenging.
By the way, while riding towards the top, one can get the grand view of Amarnath base camp at Baltal.

After some time, we were at "Capton Mode". A small monument has been built there in the memory of the capton who died in an accident while construction of the road. We had to stop aside as a small army caravan was on the way in our opposite direction. As the roads were very narrow, it was not possible drive at the same time, not for bikers as well.

Next a few minutes and we were on the top of Zoji La. Then, we continued our journey to next stop at Drass.
Famous after the 1999 Kargil War. It is second coldest inhabited place. The temperature in winter comes down up to -50 C.
Journey towards Drass was pretty fine compared to Zoji La. Although, there were some water passages in the way.
One important change was, the scenic beauty had changed drastically from the dense forests to almost barren mountains.
Finally, we reached Drass around 2 pm and had the much needed lunch. Although, there were not many choices in the meal. Right after lunch, we moved towards Kargil.

On the way, we visited Drass War Memorial. It makes us really proud to read about the real heroes who conquered the different mountains in adverse conditions when enemy had major geographical advantage.

After these humble moments, we continued till Kargil without any major stop. One of them was at the confluence of Drass river and Shingo river.
Around 6 pm, we reached Kargil. We managed to find a budget hotel for 200 Rs as others were pretty expensive for us. Major issue was with restaurants. It wass pretty difficult to find good veg restaurants.

Between, we took a small walk around Kargil. First, we went to Poyen village and walked around Kargil along the Suru river.
Our next destination was Zanskar valley for the next day.

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