Greenscapes on Srinagar Kargil Highway | Zanskar 2012

26

Finally, it was the day for which I waited so long, the day to visit the Wonderland of Suru and Zanskar Valleys which I have always admired in the logs of other fellow travellers but always had to wait for my turn. The itinerary for my Zanskar trip had been decided and what a time it was, my favourite, September, when the burning colours of Autumn breaks out in trans Himalayan region and makes you get lost in magnanimity of mother nature…

Day 1 | Delhi – Srinagar – Sonamarg – Zozi La Pass – Drass – Kargil

I was checking the airline tickets for quite sometime to book it for Delhi – Srinagar with good deals on Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir and finally booked with last one for about Rs 4400 return airfare about 1 month before. It was an almost a sleepless night as I wake up at 4.30 AM to catch my flight which was at 6.30 AM in the morning. Hurried with the backpacks, couple of munches of a sandwich, hugs to family and I was on the road to airport from home. One of my would be friend Sudhir, who got connected with this lovely blog you are reading, and one of a known friend Gaurav, use to work with me at office were waiting for me at airport as I was the last one reaching there. Immediately as I entered we were like that we all knew each other for so long. Great guys, with so easy to gel with and in the end made the trip more successful. Completed to formalities of boarding, had to go through some trouble at security of removing the shoes and Sudhir getting into the re-check-in of camera batteries as they were not allowed in hand baggage. Flight took off on time and got us landed in Srinagar on time.

By 8 AM in the morning, we were out of Airport and our pre-paid taxi for the Tourist Reception Centre where Firoz, our taxi guy was waiting for us. Thanks to dear Kaushik Da for his contact Kazim who on request a day before arranged his taxi run by his son Firoz for us on a day when it a strike/bandh in Srinagar and we might have not got any taxi for Kargil Sometimes, Travel contacts do wonders for you 🙂 … Anyways, we also had to pick one more friend Punit Dubey (who blogs at Ghumakkar’s Diary) was also waiting to join us. Unfortunately due to band driver took the shortcut and we missed the hotel where Punit was staying but thankfully he was staying close and had explored a quite a bit of Srinagar previous day when he reached. It took just 15 minutes for him to arrive and board the taxi and with hugs to Kazim (who was leaving with Kaushik Da for inner Kashmir), we were all set to traverse the road to heaven, Srinagar – Leh Highway partially upto Kargil 😉 …

Green Colors Greeted us in Srinagar…
Green Beauty of Srinagar - Kargil Highway

Slowly and steadily we picked up pace through the lush green Srinagar Valley alongside Sindh river. As we exited the towns on the way, it gave us that very nice soothing feeling of life being simple but yet so beautiful out there. Firoz was a really cool guy and begin to gel up with all four of us. And suddenly, we all 4 were like friends together for being long time too. One beauty of Traveling is that you connect with people and one beauty of Travel Blogging is that it makes sure that you remain connected with those people 😉 … Target was to reach Sonamarg about 80 KMs from Srinagar and have some food/breakfast up there. Just before Sonamarg the beauty really begins with river flowing much close to you, offering you enough chances to play with it. We also did enjoy too aside river few times, actually there are little parks just aside the river to sit, relax or have sip of tea with your loved ones. The place was full of ROMANCE all the way up to Sonamarg right from 12-15 KMs before it. Reaching Sonamarg I was almost out of words than to say, I was missing my wife company here 🙂 … As soon as you reach Sonamarg many guys will flock you for taking horses for seeing glaciers, do bargain very hard with them as I felt the cost was too high. We had come here to see the glaciers but of Suru and Zanskar Valleys ;), so with due respects for all the offers we just passed by after few clicks. We had one of the very OK type of food, did not like much but cost a good amount. We also bought some chocolates, wafers, candies for rest of the journey as we left towards might Zozila Pass

Musical flow of Sindh River near Sonamarg…
Musical flow of Sindh River near Sonamarg
Those beautiful curves over Srinagar – Kargil Highway…
Those beautiful curves over Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Taking you to Sonamarg aside Sindh River…
Taking you to Sonamarg aside Sindh River
The Lovely Gang… Punit, Sudhir, Gaurav (Left to Right)
Dheeraj Sharma with friends over Srinagar - Kargil Highway

As we exited Sonamarg towards Zozi La pass, the beauty kept increasing and weather had gone a bit dark with rain drops falling here and there. We reached the point where the route to Baltal leading to Amarnath Yatra was clearly visible and could also see the remains of tented colonies for Amarnath Pilgrims from the top towards Baltal Those were some really nice views amidst lovely chilly winds. Now came the most interesting part of the day, scaling the Zozi La Pass. As we started climbing towards the top drizzling started increasing and the roads were not in that good shape as we reached a certain height. Finally, a truck was stuck as it was struggling to climb the steep gradient and everyone on both sides of it. After about 40 minutes or so, the overloaded truck was finally able to climb and let others by pass. Meanwhile we got some really nice time walking uphill and enjoying many of those vantage points overlooking the deep Baltal Valley down. Slow, slowly we reached top of Zozila Pass and that famous pavement started where people record so many clicks while we skipped and left it for return 😉

Green becomes Greener near Sonamarg…
Green becomes Greener near Sonamarg on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Green becomes Greener near Sonamarg…
Green becomes Greener near Sonamarg on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
The Baltal Valley as seen while ascending Zozila Pass…
The Baltal Valley as seen while ascending Zozila Pass
Bollywood Style… Firoz, our taxi guy
Green Beauty of Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Truck Stuck while ascending towards Zozi La Pass…
Truck Stuck while ascending towards Zozi La Pass on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
The Switch Backs of Zozi La Pass…
The Switch Backs of Zozi La Pass on Srinagar - Kargil Highway

Down the Zozi La pass I was swept of my feet seeing the ever beautiful and romantic meadows of Minamarg, seriously the lush green landscape was heart filling and we decided to get off at one of the switchback and asked Firoz to wait for us down as we strolled down. We shared some sweet moments of jumps and joy there, clicking few of them too before finally starting the run to Drass Sun has come out after a while as we started entered Drass Valley which elevated the charm of the landscape surrounding us. Finally, we were at Drass, as claimed the second coldest inhabited place in the world. We ordered Rajma Chawal which was quite delicious and helped ourselves too much as we knew we will not get much variety at Kargil. Both Sudhir and Gaurav were non-vegs, so that was not much of a concern for them but I never imagined that we will be devoid of eggs even 😯 … We took some pictures of the main road and started the final leg of the journey towards Kargil about 55 KMs away from Drass.

Curving its way into Minamarg…
Curving its way into Minamarg on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
The Romantic Minamarg Meadows…
The Romantic Minamarg Meadows on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
The Romantic Minamarg Meadows…
The Romantic Minamarg Meadows on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Lovely Colors of Drass Valley Unfolds…
Lovely Colors of Drass Valley Unfolds on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Rays from Heaven on Srinagar – Kargil Highway…
Rays from Heaven on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Different Scales of Nature on Srinagar – Kargil Highway…
Different Scales of Nature on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Cotton Clouds on Srinagar – Kargil Highway…
Cotton Clouds on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Smiling Threesome on Srinagar – Kargil Highway…
Smiling Threesome on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
A Beautiful Day in Drass…
A Beautiful Day in Drass on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Drass… Second Coldest Inhabited Place in World…
Drass on Srinagar - Kargil Highway

As we started towards Kargil from Drass, we were greeted by views of various important peaks including Tiger Hill, Tololing, Batra Top etc. which were captured in the Kargil War. Looking at them one could imagine how serious and critical and strategically important these peaks were to our country, one could imagine closely and feel how the Jawans fight for our country with our enemies. As we entered one of the main spotlight places of the day, Kargil War Memorial the hearts were filled with numerous emotions for all those martyrs who sacrificed their lives, love of their families for us and our peace. As one of the Jawan narrated the whole war in brief wordings, there was flow of emotions inside, a complete silence inside, a completely different feeling of patriotism inside and every breath just murmured 4 words “Jai Jawan, Jai Hind!!!” … A Salute to Indian Army and all those Jawans out there in harshest of conditions, standing there with a cause and selflessness just to make us feel and keep protected!! It was one of the most emotional experience I had in my whole Traveling days so far in life…

Tiger Hill and Batra Top in the Background…
Tiger Hill and Batra Top on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Is it picture perfect???
Somewhere near Drass on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Vijay Path – Kargil War Memorial…
Vijay Path - Kargil War Memorial on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Flying High – The Tri Colors… Jai Hind…
Vijay Path - Kargil War Memorial on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Kargil War Memorial on Srinagar – Kargil Highway…
Kargil War Memorial on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Kargil War Memorial on Srinagar – Kargil Highway…
Kargil War Memorial on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Kargil War Memorial on Srinagar – Kargil Highway…
Kargil War Memorial on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
As Light and Shadows Play in Drass…
As Light and Shadows Play in Drass on Srinagar - Kargil Highway
Tololing Hill…
Tololing Hill on Srinagar - Kargil Highway

The last run was not much but a drive with dreams and emotions and feelings inside as the twilight begins to take control of the sun… As we reached Kargil, we went to Tourist Center and from there on to JK Tourism office to book the JKTDC Bungalow at Rangdum/Parkachik I was keen for Parkachik as per plan but Firoz and local told us that we will reach too early at Parkachik, so its better to hit Rangdum and stay there. We nodded and got the bookings for Rangdum unaware of the mighty mistake we just did. Then the hunt for a place for the night stay begun as Tourist Bungalow was not available being Kargil Festival going on. We asked around and finally after much bargain and running here and there, decided to go with Hotel Greenland for Rs 800 per room while others were asking for very high rates. Meanwhile, Firoz introduced us with Hasan, Kargil Taxi guy, who will be taking us to Suru – Zanskar (Padum) as he was having his turn as per local Kargil Taxi Union rules. Bidding adieus to Firoz and settling the dates of return to Srinagar with him, we went to relax for a while after a long day. After about an hour or so, we went in search of food in Kargil town as the Hotel did not have much food available for us. We asked a local guy for egg curry and he said yes and we were joyed. When it was served, we saw it as chopped omelette dipped in hot water 😯 … Still, I went to taste it and I was almost about to puke 🙁 and just could not eat after that as it tasted so bad. Finally, settled with some chocolates and biscuits on the way back to Hotel as all three made fun of me as they enjoyed the mix. veg 😉 … Finally, it was time for a good night sleep after talking to wifey and family at home dreaming of the Wonderland – Suru and Zanskar Valleys …

The Journey ahead…

If you found above article useful, then PLEASE stay connected with us on Facebook or Twitter or Email Subscription for any himalayan travel queries or travel updates / tips / news / guides on Traveling to Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kashmir and other parts of Himalayas. Travel, off the road with us...


Share.

About Author

You can call me an Avid Traveler, a Day - Night Dreamer and a Passionate Lover of Himalayas who has a high zest for driving whilst exploring new places in Himalayas & sharing back those Himalayan Travel experiences with the other fellow Travelers... I am in love with Spreading Smiles in Himalayas through DoW Causes & currently enjoying life as Happy Traveling Soul at DoW Community. You can read more about me in detail at the link here ...

26 Comments

  1. dear dhiraj
    i have been reading a lot and planed to cover zanskar in 4 days while ending by 16 day trip to leh and around. can u please let me know how much is the cost of 4 wheller for 4 days from kargil to padum and back?
    redgards
    dutta

    • Hello Dutta,

      Well, you need two taxis in order to do this route. First taxi you need from Kargil to Padum, Zanskar Valley which will cost you around 12K types for a drop. Then consider around 17-18K for local sightseeing around Padum and drop back to Kargil from Padum via Rangdum. Overall, it shall be between 25-30K fr taxi charges as per taxi union rates.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

      • thanks dheeraj. talked to regzin. lets see what happens.
        are bikes available for padum. as to reduce cost. we are 4 persons , so think even 3 bikes will be economical. pl suggest from your huge exp

        • Nopes, bikes are not available for Padum. There are no rentals of bike in Kargil or Srinagar. You have to come to Leh and then hire bike and then travel there again from Kargil.

  2. Rajesh Dhawan on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Any report on the Umba La route? According to your itinerary you were supposed to do it.

    Thanks.
    Rajesh

    • Rajesh, well the route is generally off. I was supposed to traverse the Umba La route BUT it was closed. Locals told me that only few times the route remain open and almost no one takes it as the time period is almost same to reach Drass from Umba La and via Kargil as per locals, may be due to bad roads. The bikes have more possibility to pass by rather a car which in most cases return due to landslides in between.

    • Not suggested to run over Zozila Pass over nnight but it does not mean it is not possible. Shared taxis doing cannon ball run from Srinagar to Leh does that.

  3. Pingback: Zojila Pass & Life over Dal Lake | Zanskar 2012

    • Thanks alot Swapnil!! Glad to see you here after sometime. I would be posting the concluding article over this weekend, so stay tuned and hope you enjoyed it so far and also might have remembered your days in Zanskar as well 😉

  4. Pingback: The Long Run from Padum to Kargil | Zanskar 2012 - DeViL on WheeLs...

  5. Pingback: Exploring the Zanskar Valley Wonderland | Zanskar 2012 - DeViL on WheeLs...

  6. Pingback: A Sprint from Rangdum to Padum | Zanskar 2012 - DeViL on WheeLs...

  7. Pingback: Serenity with Nightmare in Suru Valley | Zanskar 2012 - DeViL on WheeLs...

  8. Amazing snaps!! Looking at these snaps one can easily realize why Himalaya is called as the land of Gods..

  9. Drass, it is a very very small town, and I think it is only for ‘transit’. We stayed one night in the ‘guest house’ behind the board ‘Drass, the 2nd inhabited coldest’ in the pic above. Its cost is suprising, 1-200 Inr/each, where you cannot find standard facilities, including ‘light’. However, the amazing coming is the scene of Army people practicing on 2km road. I share the feeling with you. This road, this beautiful area, the green valleys tells me your Jaiwan have worked very hard to protect the peace.

    • Thanks alot HTV. It is great to know such sentiments for the army and respect too. And yes, the prices are steep there considering the facilities available there. Generally, I advice not stay at Drass and rather staying at Kargil which has more options of accommodation. However, the prices are high too in Kargil but manageable with facilities on offer.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

      • Understand that most of people dont want to stay at Drass, even our driver. He did not want us to go directly from Kargill to Drass. But we want to make another try. Facilities does not stop us from the wish to see Drass in early morning, clear blue sky, shining sunshine on the green field. That pic was so terific!

  10. To be in the lap of pristine nature is an amazing experience and you have narrated it very beautifully. The breathtaking vistas are inviting me to be there right away!

Leave A Reply

Love Traveling to Himalayas?

YES?? Then, Let's Stay Connected !!

Get FREE monthly travel updates, news, guides, tips, itineraries, stories, hotel & restaurant reviews, etc.. focused totally on travelling to Himalayas right in to your email inbox.

Don't worry, we will neither SPAM nor SELL your email :)

Love Traveling to Himalayas?

YES?? Then, Let's Stay Connected !!

Get FREE monthly travel updates, news, guides, tips, itineraries, stories, hotel & restaurant reviews, etc.. focused totally on travelling to Himalayas right in to your email inbox.

Don't worry, we will neither SPAM nor SELL your email :)

Send this to friend