The morning was warm and pleasant. Sitting on the verandah of our houseboat I was awed by the beauty of Dal Lake. With Shikaras rowing all over, Dal Lake looked magnificent early in the morning. The milieu was so calm that I could clearly hear the splashing of water as the Shikaras rowed. Suddenly I realized that in some time we would leave this beautiful place and continue our journey ahead to reach our dream- Leh!
Getting ready we were all set to start our journey towards Dras. Loading all our luggage in the Shikara we left our houseboat. Reaching the shore we carried all the luggage from the Shikara and arranged them at one corner. Making two of our group members to stand near the luggage, we went to take our motorcycles from the parking spot.
Arranging our luggage on our motorcycles we left to have some breakfast. Riding for a couple of minutes we found a decent snack corner near Dal lake. Finally, after fnishing our breakfast, it was time to bid a goodbye to Srinagar.
Our plan was to complete the ride till Ladakh in 2 days. Starting from Srinagar we decided to reach Dras and stay there for the night. Next morning we would continue our journey from Dras and reach Leh by evening. The reason for staying at Dras was that you can easily get cheap and nice hotels at Dras which is hard to find in Kargil.
The only road that takes you to Dras is the Srinagar-Leh highway. The distance of Dras from Srinagar is around 150 kms, which is not very much but the risky roads and never ending traffic will surely make this journey a tough one. We all knew it was going to be a tiring day.
On your journey from Srinagar to Dras you’ll surely be fascinated by the stunning beauty of Kashmir. After riding a couple of hours we reached Sonamarg, a famous Hill station and tourist spot in Ganderbal district. Sonamarg which means Meadow of Gold is around 80 kms from Srinagar. The Roads connecting Srinagar and Sonamarg are truly scenic with a beautiful river running along the way. Apart from passing through some breathtaking sceneries, the roads from ” to Sonamarg was in excellent condition with very less traffic.
Ahead of Sonamarg, starts the dangerous Zojila. Riding around 9 kms from Sonamarg we reached Zoji La or Zojila pass. Running at an elevation of around 3528 meters (11575 fts), it is surely one of the toughest road you’ll be riding on your entire journey. The road looked like a thin like passing through the mountains. My hands were all sweaty as we slowly started riding on this mighty pass. The road was rough, rugged and narrow. I tried to look straight and keep my eyes on the road as the view down was quite frightening. Absence of proper roads makes riding on Zoji La more of an off roading experience.
It came as a relief to complete Zoji La and enter the Dras Valley. As soon as we entered the Dras Valley,we made a halt to have something to eat as we all were too hungry.
After visiting Zoji La War Memorial we finally entered Dras, the coldest place in India. We got 2 rooms for Rs.300 each to spend the night. The climate of Dras at night was too cold.
It should be kept in mind that your cell phones will not get network coverage when you reach Dras. It would become functional once you reach Leh.
Read my next blog as we celebrate independence Day at Kargil War Memorial and reach Leh, our ultimate destination.