16th July, 2008.
Route: Leh – Nimmu – Lamayuru – Kargil.
Distance Covered: ~230km.
The day of return journey.
After been to the Nubra Valley, we were bit sad as we could not see its other end ‘Sumur’ and ‘Panamic’ again the last points but on opposite bank of the river Nubra/Shyok. On the other hand, we had to start today with one day kept as buffer for unforeseen problems. The plan was to reach as much distance possible and try to reach Kargil by evening, a distance of 227-230 km from Leh. We chose to return via Kargil-Srinagar route, as most of the locals told that this route is in far better condition that Leh-Manali route.
We filled up petrol tanks, and were literally cruising (60-70kmph; sometimes 80kmph) on the Leh-Kargil highway. At some places the bike literally drags; even though the road appears to be downhill. Later we realized that we were passing a place called magnetic hill. It is said that if you park your car on the road and keep it in neutral, it will start rolling in the uphill direction of the road; that explained why our bikes encountered drag. According to wikipedia, the landscape, because of an obstructed horizon, creates an optical illusion where an uphill road appears to be downhill.
Indus River kept us company almost throughout the route. After 25kms into the route we reached gurudwara called Pathar Sahib, stopped here, took the blessings and Prasad. It is believed that Guru Nanak had been meditating here when a demon tried to kill the Guru by rolling a large pathar (boulder). The boulder came rolling down and when it touched the Guru’s body it came to halt. The Guru remained unhurt, his back, shoulders and head left an impression in the boulder which can be seen. Also demon’s foot impression can be seen on the other side of the boulder when he tried to kick the boulder. The place is now maintained by Indian Army.
The road continued to be in amazing condition, met an Army convoy and overtook them this time quite easily. We reached a village called Nimmu and decided to halt for breakfast, it served the best paratha’s in the complete trip. After Nimmu, the road condition deteriorated and immediately few km later the road almost vanished, a dirt track, gravel track and under construction mountain road took its place. We continued in the hope that this patch would get over soon but not. The day was marked for riding on the worst road of the trip. Nimmu-Kargil was easily the worst road of the entire trip, often replaced by the dirt and fine sand. However it offered beautiful landscapes.
After am hour or so, we met with an incoming army convoy. Passing that was not easy and as soon as we passed that we were struck behind another huge army convoy going probably to Kargil. The roads became narrow and overtaking this convoy was not easy. We followed them for most of the time and by the time we reached Lamayuru we had overtaken them. At Lamayuru, we had a confusion amongst us for the first time. Manoj and Sudhakar had actually stopped for Lunch and were waving hand to stop, while I thought they told Sudhakar told me to continue further so that we are not again get stuck behind the convoy. Later when I realized, in spite of madhavi telling me to stop, it was too late. Manoj in a fit of rage had gone much ahead and all we had to do was continue riding ahead until we reached next town/village.
As we crossed ‘Fotu La’ (at 13,647 ft, is the highest point on the Leh – Srinagar Route) the landscapes were getting prettier and greener. The decision of not having Lunch at Lamayuru was not a good idea; we never found a decent place to eat until we finished the day. Somewhere during late afternoon I suffered first half fall; actually not a fall exactly but the foot deep fine sand, which I could not see because of dust blown by Shantanu’s bike riding ahead, had caused me to loose balance a bit. As the speed was slow and with disk brakes, I managed to stop the bike just in time and prevent from falling it. We crossed Namika La pass on the way.
We were bit tired when we reached Kargil; the NH1, Leh-Srinagar highway, had taken its toll on our bodies. We stopped at the first Hotel we found, Hotel D’Zozila at Rs1000 a day/per room was not worth the price it commanded.
Srinagar was still 204 km apart, and Delhi 1080 km’s.