Left Sonmarg at around 9 after our camping breakfast. However, 1 km down the road we reached a roadblock; there was danger of a landslide and the border security forces (BSF) had closed down the road. It was supposed to be an hour’s closure. However, the road was not opened till 11 and at that time, a new order came that the road would not be opened till 1500. Then started the fun and frustration.
Let’s begin with the fun first. We used this time to make friends with anyone and everyone. One thing I realized about S. He is very quick at making friends and damn good at getting things down. Amazingly good at making people do what they are reluctant to do, and willingly too. An art to be learned.
Anyway, we whiled away the time eating Maggie and chatting. We got to know the histories of all the personnel posted there, how long they have been there, where they are from, which regiment etc etc etc .And it was fun, military life is a life filled with adventure and I love listening to stories
Anyway, the fun was coupled with frustration. We left Sonmarg at 9 hoping to reach Kargil by day end. Added to that, roads close at around 6 as they are dangerous to cross at night. And there is no way w could cover 300 km of mountainous road in 3 hours. Which is one more day wasted as Sunday was supposed to be Leh permit day.
There is also one incident that happened which is worth mentioning. There were more than 100 cars waiting for the road to open and 2 of the cars were of police personnel who were travelling to Leh for personal purposes. We shall call them POL for the sake of convenience. This was the gist of the ensuing conversation.
BSF: Sorry sir, roads are closed due to danger of landslide
POL: Ah a landslide…. how long will the road be closed?
BSF: Not sure exactly, for now, the orders are from 1100 to 1500.
POL: And you expect me to believe it’s due to a landslide! How come the police post at Sonmarg allowed us here then?
BSF: Well that is the same question we are asking. We have called the police personnel; they should be here soon to answer your queries
POL: Rot! Let me tell you one thing mister, BSF has no jurisdiction on us. The police do. You do not have any rights to stop us for any reason what so ever
Point 1: Military personnel have a jurisdiction over police in any state, anywhere in the world. I do not even need look this up
Point 2: The BSF guys were not holding up the road for some politician or big shot who wants to road all to himself situation, which the police are famous for. They were holding the traffic due to danger to civilians! And instead of getting applause for that they had to undergo shit!
Truly a disgusting moment indeed.
However, back to our adventure. This is where the fun helped. Soon, the BSF guys let us go once the roads were reasonably done, which was way before the others could! 🙂 🙂
We thus made our way to the first pass of the day, called the Zozila pass. In the Ladhaki language ‘la’ means pass. Due to the sheer height of the pass (Zozila was around 9000 m above sea level); they are also revered as gods. Thus honking, loud music, and general misbehavior on the pass are forbidden. One is expected to cross the pass in a respectful manner.
Coming to Zozila pass. As mentioned the pass is around 9000 m above sea level. And the road is literally on the cliff. I could see 9000 m down from my seat! And wow, was it awesome! P did not like it though and she felt quite scared.
If I had not trekked as much as I did and seen down kilometers of cliff as often as I did, I swear to god I would have freaked out, but I had fun!
Post crossing the pass, we reached Drass.
Another digression here. The Kargil war of 1999 was not actually fought in Kargil but in Drass. Thus there is a big memorial to acknowledge the victims of the war and educate the public on what exactly happened. The military personnel who acted as our guide actually took part in the war and he gave us firsthand account of what happened. I am not going to state the name of the personnel, nor his regiment due to obvious reasons. Also, details of the war is littered over the net so does not make sense to replicate it here. Needless to say, getting a firsthand account was a different experience altogether.
Post Drass saw us making our way to Kargil, where we stopped for the night. Here we came across another surprise: the cost of hotel rooms.
S did not book any hotel room prior to us going as he wanted to flexibility to change the plan if something better comes up. Added to that, roads here close very often due to landslides etc and so we did not even know if our chalked our plan will materialize. Thus we ended up looking for hotel rooms wherever we went. The rates at Kargil were astronomical. 2500 INR for one measly room, with two beds which were found in old hospitals, stinking mattresses and toilet to be shared by all the hotel occupants! Lucky for us, we managed to find some decent accommodation within a decent time.
That was the end of our Day 2.