“A road trip?”
“Yes, a road trip through the mountains and valleys and plains and it was for us, 2 women celebrating almost 35 years of friendship.”
I could see she was intrigued. Being childhood friends, at times I could read her expression like a book. Road trips has always held a special place in my heart. While out with my family on vacations, I would simply find excuses to go on road trips however short it might be. But this time, I was going on a road trip to Leh from Srinagar. That was exciting enough, but to add icing to the cake, we were going to Nubra Valley the very next day. My travelling companion would be my childhood friend Aparna, who had specially come from Colorado, USA for this experience.
Our friends in Kashmir and Leh were highly excited, and plans were made for our visit. Yesss! We were going.
Sonmarg to Kargil:
- Distance: 123.5 kms via NHI
- Time: 3-4 hours (approx. with sites, photography, Kargil War Memorial).
- Real Time – 2hrs 40mins. (without stop and according to the books).
- Distance: 123.5 kms via NHI
- Car: Bolero #Mahindra.
- Driver: Dawa
- Wheels: CEAT Tyres
Day 1-Srinagar- Ganderbal- Kangan- Sonmarg-Zoji La- Drass- Kargil
Stoppage at : Kangan, Sonmarg ( for awesome food and locale)- Drass war memorial- Kargil War memorial (this also has an Army canteen which provides quality food within a lean budget)
The route should be enjoyed and noted for its scenic beauty. The rapidly changing topography catches your imagination and you simply cannot keep away from capturing them in megapixels. Some of the pics here will tell you what you might see on the way. Be ready folks! You might not want to finish the journey too soon.
We were stranded in Srinagar for 2 days as there was a mudslide near Fish Pond in Sonmarg. 5 people had lost their lives and 7 cars were flooded in the incident. With the Army’s help, the road opened on the 5 the day and we were off like a shooting star.And look what we found. Ah! Glories of travel. The car ride was a pleasure and we were in 7th heaven.
DAY 2: Kargil to Leh
- Distance: 211kms. (approx.)
- Time– 4-5 hours (with stoppage)
- Real Time: 3 hrs 59 mins (according to the books without stop)
Kargil to Leh: Kargil-Mulbekh-Namik La-Fotu La-Lamayaru- Khaltse-Moon Valley- Nimmu-Leh.
Places to stop for- Mulbekh- Maitreya Buddha (9-meter statue of future Buddha, curved out of stone, curved in 8th century)- Namik La-Second high pass in this route at 12,198ft.- Fotu La at 13479ft- Lamayaru Monastery- Moon Valley- The confluence of Indus and Zanskar river- Nimmu- Leh City.
After a wonderful night at a hotel in Kargil which was across the road of Jawaharlal Centre for Art and Culture, which in turn was by the furiously flowing Jhelum river, we started our journey for Leh. The road is typically barren and has colored mountains. Yes, you read it right. Colored mountains. Off white, red, purple and black were the main colors reflected in the mountains. The road is needless to say, a very tough terrain and only a sturdy car with good tyres can really hold out well. In our case we were well enamored with CEAT.
After Namik La and Fotu La we stopped at Lamayaru Monastery. The Monastery has a wonderful restaurant and the food there are quite reasonably priced. You can have a hearty lunch there before going on to Khaltse. After this stop till Khalste there are no major food stops.
The trying time was after Lamayaru and the beginning of the Hangroo Loops. The loops were full of hairpin bends and needed very careful drive through. We didn’t stop there but were enjoying the turn outs and turning ins. The car and tyres with good grip was a boon.
Here are the places we crossed :
Nimmu– The smiling faces of the school going teens are all glowing with happiness with the unexpected holiday that the school had declared on Dr. A.P.J Abul Kalam’s passing away, the day before. They spent a good hour chatting as our driver went down (I mean 2kms down the mountain) to meet his brother who had met with an accident the night before.
We reached Leh at 2pm. The heads felt a bit heavy as we were just getting into High Altitude reactions. We decided to take life a bit easy that day. The next morning we were going to the world’s highest motor able road, Khardungla Top to Nubra Valley.
Pics & Write Up: Mohua Roy