Whosoever rides through Kargill route, has one challenge i.e crossing Zozilla Pass. We also had the same worry in mind. But having crossed toughest and highest altitude passes we were high on spirits. To accommodate any delay in plans due to landslide or some other reason, it is always advised that its always better to start early in the morning from Kargill.
We left Kargill at 06:00 AM with clear objective of crossing Zozilla Pass in three hours. Clear sky had given some relief to us but weather turns its waves in no time at high altitude passes like Zozilla.
Kargill, being close to LOC, was full with military base camps and every where critical points were guarded by military Jawans. Couple of places, one can see the peaks which falls on the other side of LOC.
On the way, few kilometers from Kargill, I met one Jawan who asked me to drop him on the way. So I got the opportunity to understand their lifestyle. It feels good to see them, but the life they lead is not at all easy. They live in all kind of extreme climate conditions to make them toughest and incomparable.
Riding early morning in cold weather when I was shivering we entered Drass, Second Coldest Inhabited place in the world. The Kargill War of 1999 was fought from here in the valley named Mushkoh which is the base of Tiger Hill. When I saw that sharp 90 degree Tiger Hill peak, I could not even imagine how our brave soldiers flagged the victory. Thats called the extraordinary bravery of our Jawans.
Kargill War Memorial at Drass speaks the bitter truth of the Kargill War. The memorial is full of martyr's names who gave their lives to protect the nation.
We stopped at one of the dhaba at Drass for breakfast. The next destination we could see was Zozilla Pass. The weather was still in our favour with sun shining in different corners of roads we were riding.
Having mixed experience of Zozilla in my previous trip to Ladakh, I was little skeptical about the road and weather conditions. I was praying for clear weather and no traffic.
Riding towards Zozilla reminded me about Chitkul in Himachal at one of the place wherein we were riding in the middle of lush green valley. As we started progressing towards Zozilla, the winds became cold and sky brought some clouds. Only best thing was that it had not rained at Zozilla for at least three to four days as we found all the roads completely clean and dry.
This time I got ample of time to spend at Zozilla pass. Unlike other high altitude passes, it is very congested, one hardly can see a place to park a bike. Soon we were riding downhill on the other side of pass. At the bottom of the pass, we could see colorful tents everywhere, and the place is called Sonmarg.
As we reached Sonmarg, we felt completely relieved as the road ahead was easy and calm. So far we were hitting our time. We stopped at Sonmarg for Lunch at one of the old Dhaba.
Ride from Sonmarg alongwith river was an amazing experience. Riding in deserts for more than a week had carved my pulse for greenery. River flowing in its full flow close to road felt awesome.
The traffic from both sides made us realised that we are back into the crowded life and so called civilization. I ignored it because I was super excited to see Gulmarg. The ride had started to reach Gulmarg now.
As we were heading close to Srinagar, the traffic was increasing, so is the case of pollution. We diverted onto the different route from Srinagar highway. The road to Gulmarg was beautiful and surrounded by green lush fields all the side.
It took us to the surprise when we were 30 kilometer away from Gulmarg and the ride was uphill. The traffic of tourist vehicle was unbearable. It was evening time and people were returning back from Gulmarg in huge way. It clearly gave us an indication about the crowd we were going to face at Gulmarg.
As we reached Gulmarg, we lost each others and got stuck in traffic. I searched for Anand everywhere and he did the same for me. Mobiles had stopped working. After an hour search I decided to stop at one corner and called Anand. With some struggle to spot the place, we finally met.