Next morning, I head to NH1 which connect Kashmir to Leh. After two hours of riding, I reached Sonmarg which is covered with the green forest of deodar and pine. Sonmarg is famous for its trekking locations. It is usually crowded in season time, filled with honeymooners. Development of tourism has affected Sonmarg and it has lost its natural charm long ago.
Zoji La pass situated at 11,575 ft is often closed during winter. Thus Kargil and Leh are cut off from the Kashmir Valley and from the world during December to June. Border Road Organisation (BRO) is putting their effort to clear landslide and maintain roads in these high passes.
After Zoji La Pass.
Traffic mainly consist of Truck and Bikers.
Sometimes the view in the rear mirror takes my breath away.Life in these part of the world is very difficult. It will become negative degree cold, access to food & essential will stop if the highway is hit by avalanche or snow.
I spend my night in the small town of Drass.
Drass is called ‘The Gateway to Ladakh’ and considered as the Second Coldest Inhabited town in the world (first one is Oymyakon, Russia). Drass recorded as lowest as -60 degree once in Jan 1995. It is very chilly cold in the day and bone piercing cold in the night. Most of the inhabitants migrate to Uttarakhand and Leh during winter.
I find a small homestay and rolled under a blanket for the night.
Dras War Memorial is on the highway between Drass and Kargil and is a standing remembrance of the heroism of our soldiers during 1998 Kargil War. Tiger Hills stand silent in front of the Memorial. It is a patriotic and emotional moment for me and everyone visiting here.
The turquoise water of Indus river is the only companion I had on this road. Later, Indus join with Zanskar river in Zanskar plateau.