(….Contd from Part-II)
Day11: Monday July11, 2011:
Prabul reached us at 9 AM. He started early despite fever & we owe him for that. We packed and departed Leh around 11 AM. Kashmir, here we come! Or so we thought. End of day, we could only reach Kargil! Ate delicious Kashmiri Wazwan and a shopkeeper narrated stories of the infamous 1999 Kargil War. Amazing to note, the town bounced back into a major commercial center, despite being ruined during the war! Nothing special about this day, except that I felt I was riding through history. Nice feeling.
Day12: Tuesday July12, 2011:
Left Kargil at 9 AM after a local tea & breakfast. Rode past Drass around 11 AM. Stopped at the Drass War Memorial. The highlight this day was – a sign just after Kargil town that says “You are under enemy observation”. The place is called Sando Top, from where you can see Pakistan Army posts AND THEY CAN BLOODY WELL SEE YOU! We didn’t have the guts to stay and find out. Rode like hell out of that place
Crossed Fotu_La, the highest point on the Leh – Srinagar road. Rode on to cross Zoji_La, one of the most treacherous roads on that stretch. At one point, you can see the base camp of pilgrims heading to Amarnath (place called Baltal). Reached Pahalgam for lunch and left from there at 3 PM. Reached Srinagar, the paradise on earth at 6 PM. Found a place to crash. Freshened up, rode out to the town, did some shopping. You’d be surprised; the night-life in Srinagar extends up to at-least 12 mid-night (unlike Bangalore where the cops insist you sleep at 11 PM). We learnt that next day, Martyr’s Day was being observed & that we were actually living in the middle of the hottest spot in Srinagar (called Lal Chowk). We decided to crash early & leave early the next morning. Ate the best Chicken dishes on this side of the equator
Day13: Wednesday July13, 2011:
Left early around 6 AM, only to run smack into a CRPF check-post. The soldiers were friendly, but wary of us as there was hardly anyone else on the road. A bandh had been declared and there was cops/CRPF/Army everywhere. We had to prove our credentials to be let thru. We asked if we could see Dal_Lake, they said “go ahead, at your risk ”. We did a quick visit to the lake which was surprisingly bustling with people, early morning walkers & tourists. Strange! We lingered for some time, shot some pictures & then rode. We hoped to reach Pathankot via Jammu that day. Road out of Srinagar is beautiful, all the way to Jammu. Only glitch, it is 100% twists & turns, which can be very painful for the wrists & shoulders. Rode thru the Banihal_Tunnel & landed at Patnitop for tea at 4 PM. This being a tourist spot, we were mobbed by locals & tourists, asking about our ride and how adventurous it was. Refreshed and rode again, only to reach Udhampur at 6. By then, shoulders & arms were paining a lot. Saddle felt like we’re sitting on a bed of pine-cones. Still we had a destination to get to. We decided not to take the NH as traffic would be high. We took the State Highway, with the plan to halt at Samba for the night. Man Proposes… We don’t know when we crossed Samba. It was dark already. Reached a crossroad where a small tea shop owner insisted that we freshen up before he answered any queries. He also knew we were LOST! After 2 cuppa each, he gave us directions. We rode the rest in pitch dark conditions, with only headlights to guide and taillights to follow. Dinesh led us thru the darkness, not because he was a messenger from God, but because he had the best headlamp :D We landed at a JKTDC guest house at Kathua, still 45 kms short of Pathankot. It was already 9.30 PM, but fortunately they had a lovely restaurant open till 11. We don’t recall when we slept.
Day14: Thursday July14, 2011:
Woke up to realize it had been raining the whole night. It was still raining as we rode out at 9 AM (BIG MISTAKE!!!). For the next 5 hours, till we crossed Jalandhar, it was raining. I can proudly say, that was my biggest rain ride. I can also say I have weathered many a storm! :) With water inside the shoes, pants and everything else, it became even more tiring. When the sun came out, we were pretty close to Ambala. We were also pretty close to the end of our endurance. Sheer exhaustion and severe saddle sore doesn’t listen to any reasoning. The milestone said – New Delhi – 200 kms. My sore posterior said “Forget it”. Fortunately, others agreed and we packed up at Ambala! Found a GATI store to ship our beloved bikes back, we would get them in our parking lot only after 5 days . Found a room to party our successful ride & slept.
Day15: Friday July15, 2011:
Wished bye-byes and good luck to Dinesh who had to ride all the way to Ahmedabad. Prabul & I took a BUS to Delhi & a flight back home. Was home at 10 PM. Another dull day… Back to the daily grind… hmmm
Thanks Bro, for sharing all this
As usual, I can do nothing but envy him!! I married a man who doesn’t have an inch of adventurous bone in him , so my chances of ever visiting such lovely places comes down by 50%!! BUT! Hope persists and InshaAllah, one fine day, I might just take off to such places myself (a girl can dream, cant she )
AND, since I love drooling over those lovely sights, I’m gonna post some more pics here -