More than half of the night was spent playing cards. Day 9 ride was different from other days because of no option than to start the ride at 04:00 AM in the morning. All this was done to cross last pass of our epic ride, Zozilla Pass.
We had heard a lot of Zozilla Pass from most of the riders and feedback was not at all good. Mud, slush, water, rocks and above all narrow roads and steep downhill ride, this is all we knew about Zozilla. Later we learnt from Hotel manager that its not only the road conditions which makes Zozilla tough for ride but also Army Vehicle convoys. Many a time Army blocks one way movement depending on their convoy timing. So we had no other option than to leave Kargil early morning at 04:00 AM.
Sleep of two hours and our alarms started ringing at 03:00 AM. Except Sudhir, all four of us hit the road sharp at 04:00 AM in a dark and scary morning of Kargil. We left Sudhir at his luck and rode ahead. By the time light came down, we were riding on fairly good roads. Being able to see landscapes in early morning was exceptional feel.
In an hour Sudhir caught us on the way. He must have ridden really extraordinary in dark when he had no headlight of his modified Pulsar. I really felt bad for him. But as usual it looked very normal to him.
The morning was freezing cold. My riding gloves had given up and it was sucking all the air in it. By 06:00 AM I had started feeling hungry but no option to stop. Moreover the nervousness to conquer Zozilla pushed everyone hard this day.
But above all lies the Patriotism. No matter how late we were, there was no question of skipping, Kargil war memorial at Drass. We reached Drass in 2 hours from Kargil. In freezing morning of Drass (World's second coldest habitat), we saw Kargill War memorial Gate at roadside.
Kargill War memorial, a place dedicated to all our heros who sacrificed their lives in 1999 to capture back Tiger Hill. The calmness of the memorial there tells the whole story of braveness of our soldiers and Army. The memorial had all the walls with names written of all our heros who laid their lives to earn the victory for our country.
Tiger hill is clearly visible from this memorial at Drass. The peak was covered with thick layer of snow and was too steep to climb up. Infact the sky touching Tiger Hill climb looks almost impossible to conquer. However our defence forces made it all possible. Really proud of those Heros.
We left from Kargill War Memorial at Drass with heavy heart after spending around 20 minutes there. All of us desperately needed Tea or coffee in freezing morning. Ride for another half an hour and we get to see a Dhaba where we took Tea and breakfast. It was all done in hurry.
Next was Zozilla Pass on our way. The easy uphill ride started with slush and water on road. Trucks made it more difficult to ride along with tourist cabs trying to overtake from left and right.
As we rode closer to Zozilla pass top, the road became very narrow. The river flowing fast far down in sharp valley of mountains made the ride very scary task. But roads were not as bad as we were told by almost everyone. Trucks have slowed down almost to 5 kmph, we always had to wait for driver to give us signal to overtake trucks.
We did not even realize when we cross Zozilla top, where all of us wished to have at least one photograph. The down hill ride made us realise that we missed our spot.
Ride on the other side of pass was amazing to me. The road was well built with rocks properly settled under the mud, but steepness of road was all worth riding. This was the only place where I saw a nervousness on the faces of each and every truck driver. Every trucker had maintained a distance of at least 300 meters from each others. Hats off to those truckers who drive loaded truck with one sided wheels many times in air and almost 90% chances of imbalance.
Although down hill was too steep, but it was not a big challenge for bikers except the fact that riding above 2nd gear was not advisable at all. Once we finished with Zozilla pass, we felt like reaching our destination and what else one expect as Gift of nature than serene, breadth-taking and beautiful Sonmarg ? The awesome road of Sonmarg helped us open our hands with full throttle.
We spent sometime at tea shop at the bank of river full of white water. Maggi, Tea, Coffee and lot more, we filled our stomachs well and decided to have lunch at Srinagar.
Traffic on Sonmarg to Srinagar had increased drastically. With very less stops on the way, we reached Srinagar at 2:00 PM.
Disappointingly, Srinagar was too hot during day time. First it took us time to locate place to reach house boats then lot of time spent to find out parking for our bikes.
Another disappointment was Dal lake's dirty water which was smelling all around. We chose one of the house boat for our stay. It was not so fascinating as we had heard about house boats. It was too hot inside house boat also and there was no air conditioning.
Shikara ride on Dal lake in the night was the best in Srinagar with Cold breeze. We spent an hour and went back to house boat. Nothing else to talk about Srinagar.