Day 10/15 – Leh to Kargil – 220 kms – 9 AM to 6 PM
We planned to get up by 4 and start. When the alarm started ringing, I woke up and turned on the lights. To my surprise, they weren’t switching on. I realized that there was no power, which meant no hot water. I got back to bed and waited till 6, when it was pretty bright outside. I kicked the rest of the guys of the bed and we decided to move on without a bath. The hotel guy lost his tip, though!
Stepping outside, we realized that it had rained the previous night and it was still cloudy. There were still good chances of rain, so we decided to cover up the entire luggage. We were short of bungee cords and were thinking on how to tie up the plastic sheets to the bikes. That’s when Kiran took out the big rope that we earlier used to two Allen’s bike. The rope was made out of smaller ropes intertwined together. We patiently removed them and made them separate smaller ones. One by one, we helped each other tying all the bags. It was about 9 when we were done and the clouds started clearing slowly. As we rolled out of Leh slowly, it was in fact getting hotter.
At the outskirts of Leh, there were big canals by the army area that reflected the mountains as if they were Saint Gobain mirrors. I was the only one patient enough to spend a while to enjoy the beauty with the camera; the rest chose to wring their throttles. Nothing to blame them, just that we were experience good roads after such a long time.
The roads took us through small hills that we climbed and descended with ease. After a couple of them, I noticed a few cars parked by the side in the middle of nowhere. I could understand they were up to something, but had no clue since I could spot nothing very different at the location. As I went near them, I noticed a small board that read ‘Magnetic Hill’. This was just after a small slope that I had crossed. The board said that the hill exhibited a magnetic phenomenon wherein it pulled vehicles up the slope that I just came down. So, it meant that if a car was parked at the bottom of the slope, and if it were on neutral, the hill would pull it up. I have earlier heard about his was very curious to check it out. I was also pretty sure that the other folks had pretty much skipped this exercise. I waited until couple of cars came by. Most of them were foreign tourists, whom the drivers cheated by parking the cars down towards the downhill and claimed that it was the magnetic phenomenon that was pulling it down. How stupid! I walked by to another tourist whose car was parked a little further, and asked him to check it out. When he went and asked his cabbie to park the car in the bottom of the hill to see the phenomenon, the driver chuckled away, which was enough to convince myself that this phenomenon wasn’t active any longer. A little disappointed, I moved on from that point.
Apar was waiting for me a little further down the same road. When I asked him if he checked out the magnetic hill, he said that he only took a picture but didn’t spend much time there. He also added that Kiran and Allen didn’t even notice the board near the magnetic hill. We decided the fool the two by telling them that the phenomenon worked amazingly well and all we had to do was to put the bike on neutral and it pulled it upwards. Just as planned, we executed it dialog after dialog at a dhabha where we met the two. Kiran started burning, and wanted to head back to check out the place. Allen’s face showed his disappointment, though he tried to put up a neutral face. After a few minutes of fun, we gave up telling what actually happened. You should have seen the two grinning; we could count their teeth.
Quickly gobbling the puri we got at the dhabha, we were back on the saddles riding towards Kargil. We climbed smaller mountains that exposed silver snow patches on the mountains nearby. Since it had rained the previous night, the snow was pure white, and appeared silver in color along with the clouds that were covering the peaks.
Slowly, we were traveling in the middle of golden brown fields, which was a trademark sight at Kashmir. The people cultivated some green crop that had yellow flowers; I had no bloody clue as to what they were. They streams had greenery around them, which made them look like live desktop wallpapers.
We were traveling by the magnificent and wide Indus River. At some places, the river was so wide and deep that it was as if the whole ground was moving at about 50 km/hr. My feet where trembling when I tried to pose for one of the pictures near the river. At some point, Apar and I got deviated towards another camping site, but soon realized it and got back on track. We passed through more mountains and valleys before we hit the top of another mountain that showed a breathtaking view of a million shades of brown. We spent a while at the viewpoint enjoying the beauty of the deserted mountains with a little bit of trees in the middle that grew out of nothing. We passed by a point called the ‘Fotula Top’, which marked the highest point from Leh to Srinagar.
As we crossed one of the bridges, we visualized one of the streams that ran nearby. The people there also had dug up a small passage that collected the same water nearby it. The flowing water appeared brownish, but the stagnant water was extremely blue. It was so still and deep enough that it reflected the color of the sky right above.
Nearing the town of Kargil, we passed by some very young school children who wanted a lift to somewhere down the road. I pitied them that they had to walk by foot everyday to school that far away, but was afraid on how the locals would react if we were to offer a lift. Around of the corners, we could see the entire town right below. Apar and I found a fuel station just before we entered the place, where we tanked up. Allen and Kiran were waiting for us right after that.
At Kargil, we saw some mega event happening, which was called as the ‘Kargil Festival’. It was quite difficult to find a room that fit our budget, but we finally found one after a considerable amount of searching.