(In continuation with the earlier post on Ladakh)
“Plan only a part of the intended travel. In anticipation of the unknown, lies the adventure.”
I like a little bit of planning because the groundwork is fun – to have a basic sense of the geography of the place, the culture and an attempt to search a little in-depth and discover little treasures tucked away from the regular sights.
And so, having reached Ladakh, we had no clue what we were doing for the second half of our trip. Which resulted in an impromptu overnight drive to Kashmir via Kargil. And what a night that was!
Leading the way were two ladakhi youngsters taking charge of a rugged and much-abused SUV – it all started well with 2 traditional and hummable ladakhi songs. Which later turned out to be the ONLY two songs they had in their ‘cassette’ and the ONLY two songs we heard in-loop for the most part of our journey! “Jojolejo-nonoleno” (whatever that means) still rings an air of nostalgia!
The road (if one would call a mud path so) through the mountains was nightmarishly narrow and winding. The only sound was that of river Jhelum gurgling right below us in full frenzy. Luckily the moonlit night helped give some direction to the dual-song obsessed drivers who drove like men who had an overdose of Red Bull. After a brief stop at 11am for some excellent dhaba ‘rajma & rice’, we reached Kargil at 2 pm hoping to get some rest till morning. The infamous town was eerily silent and the J&K tourism lodge that we spent the rest of the night will go down in history as one of the worst-kept rooms ever!
The next morning, after a brief homage at the Kargil Memorial and ‘chai’ at Drass, we reached Srinagar. The Kashmir of my childhood (in 1988, when we did a family trip) was just as beautiful but with security personnel holding rifles at every nook and corner. Dal lake was just as beautiful and the weather was perfect. And it is worth mentioning how gorgeous the men and women look (Psst: I was shamelessly ogling at some women with flawless skin and pink cheeks and briefly had the husband worried). Spent 2 lovely days on and around the lake before it was time to head back.
My 2 cents:
J&K is a paradise for backpackers, honeymooners, families, spiritual seekers. And despite all the turmoil that the state goes through, it must be visited once in one’s lifetime. Enough said.