So here we are… Sonamarg… Hotel Glacier Heights… Waiting eagerly how to kill time till 12 pm (so that we could move towards Leh via Kargil). The distance from Sonamarg to Leh is approximately 400 kms and it needs too much stamina to reach the destination.
So we have our breakfast and then decide to go for a horse ride and visit the Thaksine glacier where bollywood movies like Ram Teri Ganga Maili and Satte Pe Satta were shot. The horse ride takes approximately 75 mins to reach the glacier via the rocky terrains, mini grasslands and of course man made roads. (Tip: Please please please, bargain with the horsewalas because the rates vary from Rs.200 to Rs.2000. It’s they who cleverly take off money from your pockets by sweet talking.)
One thing is for sure… You can learn horse riding within this span of time. So after reaching the Thaksine glacier, we are compelled to have a kind of ice ride (similar to ski riding but sitting on a ski made of woods or maybe sledge ride is an appropriate word) due to emotional attyachar by the guys out there. You can be prone to emotional blackmailing by the ski riders, helpers (the ones who help you climb the icy paths) and kids (below 15 years age who either beg or guide your horses). Be as much polite as possible because ultimately you are staying in an unknown land. The ice ride costs you Rs.50 per point. A point is equivalent to 50 foot. So in case if you are planning to take the ride from Point 1, its gonna cost Rs.100 (50 for climbing up and 50 for skiing down..) These guys are much more intelligent than anyone can think.
The return horse ride is tiring and exhausting because there are maximum chances that you hurt your back or buttocks… Hehehe. In short, all the excitement gets murdered due to the unbearable pain while riding the horse. Slowly and steadily we reach back to the hotel for lunch and swiftly get ready to leave this beautiful place. The hotel provides us with delicious lunch which I miss (courtesy fasting) and soon upload the bags in the vehicles.
And now… We leave for Kargil on scheduled time (note: either leave Sonamarg at 8 am or at 1.30 pm because thats the only time when the army allows the tourist vehicles to pass.) But an accident somewhere on the way leaves us waiting for a couple of hours at the check post. After a short (uncomfortable) nap in the car, we clear the checkpost and move towards Kargil… The road is a terrible mess… Get ready for a bumpy ride (especially if you have already screwed your buttocks while riding a horse) or keep some ointments to make your feel comfortable. (I wished I had a couple of cushions… Hahaha.)
So after a couple of hours, the bumpy roads over the top of the mountains are over. The roads get smoother in the latter half of the journey and we get down at the place called Drass. It is a historic place related to the Kargil war. It’s a perfect place to commemorate the lost heroes of war. It’s a must watch place (even if you aint patriotic). After surveying for about 40 mins which comprise of loitering around the war memorial and a special description by the army officials regarding the historic war, we move for the final hour of our journey to reach Kargil.
We check in Hotel Siachen at 7pm and freshen up for dinner. According to my knowledge, there are only two decent hotels for stay (Hotel Siachen and Hotel Zozila) and I must confess that its not as bad as it maybe described by the rest. Hygiene and maintenance is apt. The food is pretty good and you hardly need to compromise with the taste.
That’s the end of the dinner and we move out to survey the market around the hotel’s locality… Tough luck! Every shop gets closed except the STD booths… Lucky enough to dial a few buddies. The STD rates vary from booth to booth… So beware about it… It’s time to go back to the hotel rooms and prepare for the next day’s schedule.
So thats the end of the hectic day and its time to have a good night sleep.