Sunday 31 August 2014

Day 5 : Sonmarg - Drass - Kargil

Day 5 : Events (Aug 19)

  • Got up by 7 am and started hiking toward the mountain to see some snow
  • Got to see some snow (which was about to melt off) at some height in the mountain
  • Hiked back to our tents and had some breakfast
  • Saddled up the bike and left Sonmarg around 9am
  • Enjoyed the Sonmarg view so much that I by mistake rode down the mountain till I realized Drass is connected from the top of the mountains to Sonmarg
  • While riding back checked at the only petrol bunk at Sonamarg and there was no petrol
  • Enquired locally and came across a person named Mr. Jaffer who helped me with 8 liters of Petrol
  • Rode to Dras with some of the challenging roads till now and was stranded at Zoji-La (pass) for 2 hours due to blasting work conducted by BRO. Met a few other bikers and many other travelers from all over the world.
  • Roads opened again at 3 pm and headed to Kargil War Memorial at Drass
  • Spent some time at the memorial
  • Headed to Kargil and stayed back for the night
Sonmarg - Zoji-La - Drass - Kargil

Road condition:
A few kilometers after leaving Sonmarg, the roads were one of the toughest I have ridden on. Smooth white sand (or you can call them dust, they were so fine) and sharp stones and gravel all the way till Drass. Of course, the only substance which makes me call it a road is some hard ground that gives the grip for the tires to rotate. So, in short, I can summarise the experience as there were around 50 km of tough terrain for one to master to make it to Drass.

Note: The roads near Zoji-La pass remain closed from 11am - 3pm for maintenance work. So plan your travel accordingly.

Entry Fee: 
While entering Kargil, I paid 50 bucks at a toll (run by local youth), which is used for local area development. This is not paid for by local (J&K) vehicles.

Punjab was hot and humid, but good cruising speeds on highways, more than compensates for the same. As one crosses Pathankot, the cold breeze can be felt and the surroundings get cooler (than Punjab).

Fuel Stops:
Ludhiana : 
Rs 740 / 72.00 pl = 10.3 Ltrs

The first view in the morning from inside the tent.

Bikes rested in the dew the whole night just to experience this majestic view well before any of us.

Tents in the background.

Hike to see the snow.

Those tents provide tea, soft drinks, biscuits, etc to travelers

Sun rays pierce through the trees on the mountain peaks.

These two guys made it to the snow. Hats off!

A local enjoying the morning sun at Sonmarg.

Myself, Murali, Sameer, and Sriky (at a distance) are on the way back to the camping site.

After a good breakfast of Toast and Tea, I started off from the camping site.

This is how the rivers get water.

After looking around, finally found Jaffer sahib's abode. He helped my tank up with 8 liters of petrol for my journey to Kargil.

The challenging roads to reach Dras.

That orange bleep in this photograph is a guy riding an Apache on the road which I just came through.

As the road remains closed from 11am-3pm on the Zoji-La (pass) for maintenance work by BRO, all riders and travelers socialize and share their stories here. The tent in yellow sells water and confectionaries to travelers. Trust me it's a blessing to have such a shop here in the middle of nowhere.

The memorable Zojila Pass.

Stopped to respond to a young passer-by waving at me:)

Finally made it through Zojila to the other side.

The bike and the rider both needed a breather after reaching Dras.

Kargil War Memorial at Dras

These brave hearts went beyond their mortal abilities and were acknowledged by Indian Army.

Selfie at Kargil War Memorial

Leaving behind the War Memorial and heading towards Kargil for the night.

Well..this is weird. I am not sure Google/Android/GPS got my route wrong just for this patch, which happens to be a sensitive area with a heavy army presence. Just for that stretch where I crossed Drass, the GPS points to some place thousands of kilometers away. See the next picture to know where.

Can you believe this?!! This remains an unsolved mystery till I find a logical explanation for this weird incident.

Night Halt:
Place                   : Kargil
Accommodation : DASPA Hotel/Homestay,  Just after the entrance toll gate to Kargil
Cost per Room   : Rs 
Room Capacity   : 3
Other Details      :
- Traditional wooden interior with beautiful carpeted floor keeps the house warm
- The accommodation was very clean and cozy
- The best part of the stay was the owner Daspa Ji, a very welcoming person and goes out of his way to fulfill your requirements
- The house basic built triplex type (3 stories) and is maintained with touches of local influence (furniture, crockery, etc)
- Morning view from the breakfast table is awesome, the mountain starts just 50 feet away and there are few gardens around the house

View the Main Post for this ride

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