After waiting for 8 hours at the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel’s exit we started driving further. It was pitch dark, not many vehicles on the road as the roads were still blocked. Our car was all alone on the road without road lights and a dangerous hilly road. The road is very dangerous as there are a lot of twists and turns on this mountain road which is pretty normal but there were few parts of the roads that had no barricades on sharp turns. we were all scared of the roads as some places looked very creepy with our car headlights. Also with a place named Shaitani Nallah on the map, anyone can be a little scared if you are crossing that in the middle of the night. I am thankful and proud of my friends who drove on those dangerous roads without any mishaps. But as usual, we were stopped again at around 4 AM just before a few kilometers from Banihal pass. By now I think everyone knows what we will do if you have read the previous blogs, the same drill again, requested the guards to lets us go they denied hence we had to wait there. As we dint rest much we planned to sleep for some time it was pretty cold outside even with our jackets and woolen hats we were getting the chills. We would have enjoyed it more if everything had gone as planned.
After sleeping for an hour we went to the guards again requested to let us leave, after some convincing he let us go at 5 AM. We drove for about a few kilometers and there was a barricade again this time it was the Army and this roadblock was to at another Tunnel at Banihal pass. The entry to the tunnel was blocked till 7 AM so we slept for some more time. At around 7 AM the army opened the gates to the tunnel and we started moving forward. This tunnel was not as wide as the Chinnani tunnel but it was like a pair of big tubes similar to Bengaluru Metro underground tunnels. Even this tunnel was long but we felt it was not as long as the Chinnani tunnel it was around 6 to 7Kms. This time at the end of the Tunnel there was light and we were happy to get out of the tunnel. The exit from this tunnel was the end of our problem as the road ahead was smooth and the sky was clear that gave us confidence that we have passed all the challenges.
We were around 60 kms from Srinagar hence we contacted the boat house owner if he can let us stay for an hour and get freshen up. As I mentioned before he was a nice guy and told he will be happy to host us. We got the directions and the gate number at Dal lake. Dal Lake is a huge lake with a lot of gates and each gate will provide entrance to a group of boathouses. We had booked the boathouse named Switzerland which was at Gate No:12. We reached Dal Laka at 9 AM but to took a while to find Gate 12 at 9:30 AM we found the gate, parked our car in a nearby place and took only essential luggage. The plan was to just get in take a shower, have some refreshments and leave, as we had to race against time to overcome all the delays. We had to be Ferried to the houseboat and the houseboat looked awesome from the Ferry.
We met the owner he was very friendly and helpful. We explained our situation and he was kind enough to let us use their personal bathroom due to our time constraints. He also served us tea and bread omelet as breakfast. We had our breakfast, thanked our host and said goodbye to our houseboat. We are back on the road again heading towards Kargil. Before we exit from Srinagar I bought water bottles as we need to be hydrated as much as possible due to the high altitudes. I also bought some dry cake to have it in case we feel hungry on the way. We did stock enough snacks for the trip like dates, almonds, cashew, peanuts and many more. So we did end up having them whenever we felt hungry. Srinagar is very beautiful but we were unable to explore much but we will definitely plan another trip to Srinagar in the future. On the way to Kargil from Srinagar, we have to travel through Son Marg its a beautiful Valley road with mesmerizing views. It will be an awesome place to just relax and be one with nature.
After Crossing the Son marg we had to cross the infamous Zojila Pass one of the dangerous roads. The roads are mostly narrow and muddy and a good amount of traffic. there were goods trucks Army trucks and many more vehicles using the same road. As there was in this area the roads were manageable to our Swift. There were many instances where I had to get out of the car to make sure the car climbs the inclined roads. It was a great experience to cross the Zojila Pass. We also saw they were making roads with cement stones which looks similar to a few footpaths in Bengaluru. Probably making the road with that kind of stone or blocks will help the road to survive the harsh weather conditions. Also, the roads must have been completed in 2018 or in 2019 if that happens Zojila pass would be easier to cross in the future.
We had lunch at around 4:20 PM in a town called Dras, as it was late we dint have much options and we all were craving for some hot Maggie and hence settled for veg/egg Maggie with Tea.
We Reached Kargil Memorial at around 5:30 the View from the entrance of Kargil memory was awesome. Seeing the tombstones of the war heroes of Kargil made us feel how small and insignificant we are for our country how grateful we should be to our soldiers for all their sacrifices. The memorial is situated at the same place where the enemies had infiltrated during the Kargil War and all the land/mountains which were taken back by the Indian Army during the 1999 Kargil war. The view from the Kargil memory is very beautiful it is hard to explain. There is also a Museum which has a lot of artifacts and weapons used during the War on display. Also, an army officer will narrate the stories of the War Heroes and how we won the war. I would definitely suggest everyone who visits the Kargil memorial to stay there and not miss the storytelling session. We clicked a lot of photos, bought some souvenirs and it was time to get back on the road.
After the Kargil memorial visit, we debated if we should stay at Kargil or go directly to Leh. As per our plan, our check-in at Leh was on the 1st of July 2018 so we will have to pay for a stay at both Kargil and Leh. Considering all the financial and the time constraints we decided to go directly to Leh. We contacted the owner of the Leh’s guest house updated her that we are running late and will be reaching late. She was kind enough to agree to it. We had to cover around 220 Kilometers from Kargil to Leh there were a few places to visit on the way but we had to skip them as it was going to be late evening/night drive. For us reaching Leh that day meant that we have overcome all the delays and be back on track with our Plan.
We kept on driving till the date changed so the journey will continue in the next blog…