The next day, we planned to start early in the morning to avoid any unforeseen consequences. After crossing the Lake, we headed towards the parking lot and packed our luggage. A heavily armed army personnel standing next to the boat station was excited to see UP-70 number plate on my bike and soon approached me for a conversation. He was from Bhadohi, just 40 km away from my place of stay at Allahabad. In a short span gossip with the army personnel, we were suggested not to halt anywhere and head straight towards Sonmarg. We drove across the Boulevard road encircling the Dal lake to the highway leading to Sonmarg. The breath-taking beauty of the Kashmir valley could be captured only in my Gopro as we refrained from halting anywhere. In 1.5 hours, a huge road side hoarding reading “Welcome to Sonmarg’ greeted us. It’s a perfect dream destination we could wish for, with green mountains all around laid with patches of snow on the cliff. We crossed the main bazaar and paused at a roadside eatery to treat our taste buds.
The road ahead led to Zojila pass, one of the toughest passes in Ladakh and is known for its treacherous stretch. As we were gaining altitude, the road conditions were getting worse. The well tarred road gradually led to a rocky trail and steep curves. A major part of the road was under construction by BRO (Border Road Organisation). The camps of the Amarnath pilgrims were visible at Baltal in the valley below as we were reaching higher altitudes. As the weather at Zojila region is known for its high variability, we moved on hastily. An hour after driving in steep terrains we successfully traversed the pass and landed in Kargil district. The board showing “You are at Zojila pass” welcomed us.
Conditions of the road were getting better as we drove from Zojila pass. After an hour’s drive amidst wilderness, a roadside hotel with a spectacular view popped up. Lunch with egg fried rice and hot tea was on the cards. A group of children approached us anxiously and we welcomed them with juice and biscuits. They belonged to the local Gujjar tribes of Ladakh region. Gujjars are nomads of the Ladakh region whose main livelihood is on livestock. After a short break and good food it was time to head towards Drass village, which had once recorded the coldest temperature on Planet Earth. The village Drass, has the Kargil war memorial and we stopped over to take a look. The memories of Kargil war were still afresh in the memorial.
Link to previous blog :