Drive Srinagar to Leh

By Dr Salil Choksi | 2011

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Picturesque Sonamarg (9240 feet), our first night halt on the 434 km Srinagar Leh Highway. We drove from Srinagar to Leh. This collection shows you pics of all the key places enroute.

Baltal - Amarnath pilgrim camp (as seen from Srinagar Leh Highway.

Zoji La pass (11649 feet). Reached after driving on a difficult motorable road from Sonamarg.

Barren valleys of Zanskar, between Zojila and Drass.

In the local dialect “Baltic” Dras means “Hell”. It is at a height of 3230 m or 10990 ft. The road passes very close to the LOC between India and Pakistan. Temperatures below minus 40 C were recorded a few winters ago.

Ab Hamere Hawale Watan Saathio'' - Names of Kargil Martyrs carved in Stone. To see more pictures of Kargil Memorial look at links on right of this photo collection.

Breath taking beauty along the Drass river- near Kargil, on Srinagar Leh Highway.

Drass and Suru River confluence before Kargil - Suru river on the right coming from POK.

Riverine patch of Poplars and Willows - Suru river, before Kargil.

Kargil Town (8870 feet) - exactly midway on Srinagar - Leh Highway. It is the second largest town in Ladakh (after Leh), and a major transit point for adventure tourists.

Mulbekh, the first Buddhist town on the Srinagar Leh Highway. Note the Buddhist prayer flags stung across roof tops .

National Highway 1 (largely unpaved on Srinagar Leh section) - through moonscape - Near Namik La.

Not the skin of a prehistoric pachyderm - its weathered rock. Mulbekh - Lamayuru section on the Srinagar Leh Highway.

Star Wars'' could have been filmed here ... feels more like desolute Tattoine than planet Earth.

Surreal Landscapes - straight from a World of Fantasy.

Rocks and Slopes weathered by Wind and Ice.

Spell binding.

Ascent to Namik La (12629 feet) - note the encircled truck still about half way up.

Last pass on the Srinagar Leh highway - so windy that even the smile got blown away. Panorama of Zanskar range all around. Fotu La (Hindi: ????? ??) or Fatu La is a mountain pass on the Srinagar-Leh highway in the Himalayas Zanskar Range. At an elevation of 4,108 metres (13,478 ft), it is the highest point on the highway, surpassing the famed Zoji La.

After that came Lamayaru Monastery whose pics shall show in a separate section. Sculpted Stone— in Lamayuru.

Descending from Lamayuru towards Leh.

Natural fortress like Rock formations - near the Jalebi loops of the Srinagar Leh highway. (these loops are a marvel in road engineering - the road descends 1800 feet through more than 30 U turns).

Civilisation and Destination at last, after 3 amazing days on road.

Confluence of the Indus (left) and the Zanskar (centre) rivers. After that visit Magnetic Hill and Pathar Sahib Gurudwara.

Dard' Apricot Seller at Khaltse. The segregated Dard community are regarded as remnants of a pure Aryan race. Though of Buddhist faith, they are racially and culturally different from rest of Ladakhis. Blessed with a good climate, they grow two crops annually of fruits like apricots, walnuts, apples. Their culture and religion is more akin to pre-Buddhist animistic Bon religion.

Stately Poplars.

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