Srinagar to Leh is a two days journey with an overnight stop in Kargil. You need to start early in the morning if you want to have sufficient time to stop on the routes for enjoying the scenery and take pictures. Also Zojila pass has to be crossed early as it is closed for couple of hours once army trucks start coming from other side. We started around 7:30 in the morning. After crossing Srinagar the next district was Ganderbal. In some time we were out of Ganderbal and from there we started seeing glimpse of what wonderful region is about to come. In some time beautiful Sindh river were flowing along roadside and small bridges built on this added to it’s beauty. We almost became crazy to see this and started driver to stop for some time. He just smiled and said it’s just beginning and you will see much more better places as we move forward. Since we had to cross the pass in time, we decided to stop wherever the driver felt right as entire route was amazing.
The entire journey was very scenic and we stopped at couple of times to take pictures. We reached Sonmarg by 10:30 and had our breakfast there. We were approached by many pony owners to take us to glacier but we had to skip it as it was not in our plan. There was also a small but nice temple and we prayed for wellness of our future journey. Breakfast was good and made us ready to start further from Sonmarg.
View Near Sonamarg
Around 11 we continued our journey and our next destination was Drass. On the way we started seeing different hills and each having different color with all shades of green, brown, yellow and of course white snow at far distance. Yes I had seen mountains earlier but no other place can come even closer to what this region has to offer.
We also saw frozen part of river which looked brown from a distance. When driver told us that it is snow we didn’t believe, so he immediately suggested a small trek downwards towards river. We stopped on the way and he guided us how to safely go down. We reached down and looked closely below brown sand and yes it was frozen river. He advised not to move forward as the ice may break as it was not peak winter time. We dug into ice with stones nearby and enjoyed our first experience of frozen river.
After moving ahead from there we had to cross Zojila pass which looked a bit dangerous as there was no road and cab had to go through a muddy way which was just wide to fit one cab at a time. Do expect a bumpy uncomfortable ride here even if you are in a car. But the view from the top was amazing and we crossed the pass in next half an hour. After crossing the pass we were relieved and now there was no worry of timings. We again stopped at several places sometimes near bridge crossing river, sometimes on bank of river, sometime on a long empty road, sometimes to click pictures of glacier at a distance and the list goes on.
Zoomed View of Glacier Visible from Zojila Pass
Crossing Zojila Pass
Though it’s beautiful but scary as well 🙂
Our next stop was at Drass where we had our lunch. We could see tiger hills at a distance which was conquered back by Indian army in Kargil war. Drass is the second coldest inhabited place in the world at an altitude of 10990 Feet with a minimum temperature of -45 C in peak winter. After having lunch we moved forward towards Kargil. The road condition was excellent and BRO is doing an excellent job in maintaining road in the area. The drive remained equally scenic and we witness several bunkers that were built during Kargil war. Also lot of memorials of soldiers who sacrificed their lives for country. We were passing beside the hills from where attack happened in 1999. Seeing it on tv was different and actually passing through that area can not be described in words. We could see the traces of destruction that were left from that time.
On the Way to Drass
Road between Drass and Kargil
Entry point to Kargil
It had started raining when we were one hour away from Kargil. After reaching Kargil we checked rates in 2-3 hotels in main market and finally got a good room. We were tired and after dinner went straight away to bed as next day we had to start for Leh, again early morning :).