Kargil is like a bridge connecting Ladakh to rest of Kashmir. Now it was time to move further towards Ladakh. It had rained all night and we were a bit worried about journey ahead. It was still raining in the morning and we started our journey early in the morning to have buffer time. As we progressed again we could see different colors of mountains. The road for some distance was not in good condition and we had to move slowly. Further rain had created a chance for land slides and driver had kept us on alert to watch out for any thing falling form top of hills. I continued taking pictures from cab once rains had turned into drizzle as I could see clouds on top of hills making it look wonderful.
Clouds in Kargil at morning
Some more clouds
Outskirts of Kargil
We saw our first monastery on the way called Chamba. We stepped out and realized it was extremely cold outside. Within 5 minutes I was shivering literally and hands had frozen to take any photos. We immediately went to a small tea stall near by and that tea was like blessing that time. We were feeling much better after tea and we decided to move forward from there.
On the way we spotted Dzo, a hybrid of Yak and Cow which was grazing on the slope of hill and we were wondering how it is maintaining the balance :). We were moving among clouds and we could see them on the road. The scenery on the way was spectacular (I know soon I will be short of adjectives to describe place). After moving for around 2 hours from Kargil, we reached top of second pass on the way called Namikala at an altitude of 12198 Ft.
Clouds on the road
By the time I have seen hundreds of different colored mountains and was still counting. Moreover the scenery was improving gradually as we were moving ahead. It was difficult to capture everything as in whatever direction I saw, I found a clickable scene.
Three Hills with Different Colors
Our Cab after crossing Fotula Pass
After crossing that pass and moving for 2 more hours we were at the peak of final pass on the way called ‘Fotula’ pass at an altitude of 13479 Ft. which is highest point on entire Srinagar Leh Highway NH-1.
After crossing that and moving for another 1 hour we reached Lamayuru monastery. The monk did allow us to go inside at all places inside it and we could see some holy books kept there along with some historical pictures. The places had absolute silence and after some time we went to top to capture view of hills. On the way again we stopped at several places with many of them appearing like paintings. Indus river was flowing alongside on the way. We had taken our lunch at a roadside dhaba for a change and we were not disappointed with food.
We started further from there and Indus river was accompanying us on road side. We were approaching towards Leh in the evening and then we spotted another scenic place. It looked like God has used his sketch brush and painted in his own sketch book. We stopped for some time there and then something which I was fearing from morning happened. The first sign of AMS was there as one of our friends started having headache. Though on some levels I had expected that this might happen but was worried as we were still outside city.
Painting Made by God
On the Way to Leh
We moved forward from there and then stoppage point was Magnetic hills. There is a hill which is believed to have magnetic properties which pulls cars uphill against gravity rules. There was point marked on road saying ‘Park your Vehicles here’ and I could see one of the car moving uphills by a few feet. Some people say it’s just an optical illusion but I had to believe my eyes. We didn’t stop there for more than 5 minutes as we wanted to reach Leh before dark.
Park Your Vehicle
An hour later we were inside Leh and I was relieved as we could expect medical aid in case needed. We found a very good hotel in Changspa road having a big room with 24 hours hot water.
Changspa road is a good place to stay in Leh as it is close to market, restaurants and Shanti Stupa.
We decided to explore food options in near by street. To my surprise not a single Indian tourist was there. For a moment I thought we are in an expensive area of Leh which turned out to be false later. We had our dinner in one of the restaurant and our dinner was spoiled by bad food as I realized later it was more of a bakery than a restaurant. It was getting cold and we decided to have coffee at near by cafe. Coffee somehow compensated for bad food, we returned to hotel and I slept dreaming about next day’s city tour.