Wiki Info KargilWiki Info Dras - Coldest, See PhotoBhimbhut Stone - see fuzzy photo
Beautiful blue sky sunny day! By 8 am there was a long, long line of vehicles, mostly cargo trucks lined up in front of our hotel heading in both directions three across. They were waiting to start the trek up the mountain pass. However, it didn't really start to move until 11 at which time we were on the road waiting for our govt. bus to come by on its way to Kargil. It came and by noon we were moving down the road, there were 2 gals from TX on the bus as well heading the same way - they'd started from Srinagar at 8 this morning.
About noon thirty we came to a halt, and began a hour wait for traffic coming down to pass since it is essentially a one way road with a few passing wide sections. See photos. It was stop start from then on with perhaps 200+ vehicles in que snaking our way along.
Crossed Sozilla Pass about 2 at 11,670 feet! Great valley of herders in spring pasture...goats, sheep, horses, cows, and people.... Spent the afternoon going down the pass into valley floor arriving at Drass (worlds 2 coldest location) about 4 for tea stop and register with tourist office. The road continues to be a combination of paved and gravel/under repair-construction. Several times we were stopped for some time waiting for equipment to do their job clearing the road or? By 6 we were within 20 km but got stopped again while bulldozer cleared rock from excavation off the road. Within 10 km we ran into an army convoy problem. At a narrow stretch the cargo truck ahead of us went face to face with an army troop carrier which only had 4 vehicles behind him yet forced the cargo truck to back up which in turn forced our bus back and the chain reaction continued for 7 vehicles behind us! A major delay due to a stubborn army driver! Thus, we arrived in Kargil at 8 just at dark. After locating the taxi station to find out only that we should show up at 7am to go by shared JEEP, we set off looking for a place to stay. This entailed the usual checking LP and Kindle to no real gain at which time we began walking the streets and checking guesthouses along the way. All full until we got to an LP suggested one, Greenland Hotel which did have a room for the outrageous sum of 2000 rupees ($40 US)! This we could not abide so we headed out once again only to run into 3 Indian young men who recognized us from the bus and asked if we'd found any rooms. We said we had not (meaning to our taste) and they proceeded to list all the ones they had visited with no success. They said that it was due to a festival in Ladakh which happens every year this time on the 29th & 30th of June in Leh! Lucky us, thinking we were out of season only to run into a FESTIVAL, and not just any one but the biggest of the year in Ladakh! They say places are already booked a week ahead of the actual event but we've lucked out before no reason to change now, ha!
Back to Greenland Hotel
, paying their inflated price and deciding we now cannot afford a shared jeep to travel in daylight, we must economize and get up at 3:30am for the government bus!