The diary of a few rides and clicks!

Friday, September 14, 2012

On 4:34 AM by Yashwanth Rao in ,    23 comments

Day 8:

After buying some T shirts and a good long sleep, we bid a goodbye to Leh and started towards Srinagar in NH 1D. Our target was to reach Drass by the end of the day, after passing Kargil. After all these days riding in bad roads, finally our day started with wonderful, neat roads with amazing landscapes. The Leh-Srinagar road consists of plains and distant mountains, which forces you to do off-roading many times! We had to resist such temptations as our aim was to reach Drass at the earliest. So, after riding for around 30-35 minutes, we reached a little village called Nimmu. We had our breakfast here. After another 20 kms, we came across the magnetic hill. Magnetic Hill is a gravity hill located near Leh. The hill is alleged to have magnetic properties strong enough to pull cars uphill and force passing aircraft to increase their altitude in order to escape magnetic interference. In reality, the effect is an optical illusion and there is no magnetic disturbance in the area at all. We could not even feel the optical illusion as well! But the roads were awesome here. Many straight stretches of roads with good quality as well. 


We were enjoying the ride taking a few photographs on the way. Good roads faded soon and we came across mud roads again. The ride started becoming bumpy. Then we reached Fotu La - The highest point on the Leh - Kargil highway. We quickly took a couple of pics and were nearing Kargil soon. We were hungry, and Kargil seemed an eternity away, especially when the roads turned from decent to bad. We could not even cross 40 kmph park at most of the stretches. Finally we reached Kargil, had lunch and filled the stomachs of our bikes as well!

Soon after lunch, we left towards Drass, which was nearer to the Tiger hill where the Kargil war was fought between India and Pakistan. Before sunset, we managed to reach the war memorial at Drass. A sense of pride was flowing within us as soon as we reached the war memorial. All the way, there was a huge army presence, as it was sensitive. There were even signboards saying, "Beware! The enemy is watching you!". We spent more than an hour there, visiting the war memorial museum, and paying our respects at the memorial. A tall silhouette of a mountain could be seen from the memorial, which we later learned to be the tiger hill. We even interacted with a few army personnel there and were thrilled to know how they survived in the extreme cold conditions. Drass is known to be the second coldest inhibited place on earth! At winters, temperatures fall below -60 degrees! 

Tiger Hill

We managed to get a couple of well maintained rooms to stay at the Tourist department guesthouse. Drass was a very small village indeed. We dozed off, still with a sense of patriotism and pride, just by visiting that place where India triumphed!

Day 9:

Wake up early and start riding. Well, we did follow that rule that day at least! Early morning, when clouds covered most of the peaks, we 6 were riding on those roads, which used to transform themselves into good and bad all of a sudden! The first rays of the morning sun was pleasant indeed. We came across Zoji La war memorial, which marked the beginning of a treacherous Zoji La pass! 

If we had come in a car instead of bikes, I don't know how long we had to wait there, as it was jampacked with trucks. The entire pass was covered with trucks, as the normal road was blocked because of a landslide. There was an alternate path for the descent in that pass, luckily. Since we went in bikes, we managed to sneak past all the trucks, one by one. And within a couple of hours, we were at the bottom finally! We reached Sonmarg in five minutes. 

Sonmarg, or Sonamarg is the place where the holy Amarnath yatra(trek) starts. The place was crowded with tourists and many people had camped there, waiting to go to Amarnath. We had breakfast there and left towards Srinagar. We were not alone! All along the way, there was a huge army presence, with gun men standing every couple of kilometers! And to make the ride better, the Sind river was flowing parallel to the road and the burbles of the river filled our ears. We stopped to click a few pics on the way. It was one of the purest water in a river I had ever seen. 

Had been quite sometime since any of the bikes gave problems. And there, we had it! The carrier which we had fit to the Machismo was broken. We tried to get it welded, but in vain. We decided to take it off, and load one of the pulsars with an extra saddle bag, and somehow managed to drag all the bikes to Srinagar, even when it was raining. 

Finally, we reached the Gati office at Srinagar, which was the end point of our 9 day long bike ride. We gave our bikes there for shipping, took off our luggage, and hired a taxi. We still had half a day left. Our flight was at early morning, the next day. We did not want to waste our time by sleeping in a lodge. We took a cab to Gulmarg instead!

Gulmarg is the major tourist attraction near Srinagar. It is almost an hour away from Srinagar. We had some magnificent views of pine trees on the way. Gulmarg was one pleasant place, where we spent that evening peacefully, taking a horse ride and going on those huge stretches of green lawns. We could even go to the famous cable car there, but we were running short of time and sunset was almost nearing us. So we then left to Srinagar, did some shopping, and stayed at a boat house at the famous Dal lake. 

If you go to Srinagar, you must stay at a boat house! We talked to the same cab driver to pick us up and drop to airport next morning. We did have hot water at the boat house! So, it was time to take a shower, which eluded us most of the times during the past 9 days! 

Day 10:

This is it! This is where our first long bike trip was coming to an end. When we entered the flight in Srinagar, and reached the Bangalore airport, the only part of the journey we enjoyed was the views of the snow capped mountains near Srinagar. 

Finally, the reality hit us, and bit us hard! From the next day, we had to go back to our routine lives. The harsh evil reality was smiling upon us! When we reached home that night, we did not know whether to be happy about completing an amazing ride safely, or to be sad that it ended!


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