kargil

Majestic Ladakh : Kargil to Fotu La

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The monastery is placed at the centre top of a brown mountain cliff and appears as if suspended in the middle of it. A narrow road with many steps will take you inside to this wonderful cave monastery. This monastery has many elegant frescoes. This is one of the old Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh region.

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Majestic Ladakh : Kargil

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But that war is not the sole identity of Kargil. It was famous even before- famous for centuries among the silk route traders. This land was a transit point of the traders and caravans on their way from Kashmir and Punjab through Leh to China, Tibet and Yarken. The trade route though was closed many decades ago but the place has not yet lost its importance. Even today the travellers choose this small town as their favourite and most convenient place for night stay while going to Leh from Srinagar or when returning from Leh to Srinagar.

We were travelling to Kargil from Sonamarg. Enroute, we passed through the treacherous mountain pass Zojila and the second coldest inhabitat place in the world- Drass. Kargil is about 60 Kms from Drass. We crossed beautiful pasture grounds and Majestic Mountain peaks on the way from Drass.

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Majestic Ladakh : Kargil War Memorial, Drass

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Kargil War Memorial is a monument established to commemorate the victories of Operation Vijay during the Indo-Pak war of 1999 and also to pay homage to war Martyrs who laid their lives while safeguarding our country against the Pakistani intruders. The memorial is made of pink sandstone at ‘ground zero’ with the backdrop of Tololing Range. On its rear wall, names of the martyrs are inscribed on golden plate.
I read therein the quote, “Beneath this earth young warriors sleep” and few lines from a poem of Martyr Ram Prasad Bismil (He was a great freedom fighter participated in Mainpuri Conspiracy of 1918, and the Kakori conspiracy of 1925 against the British Empire, and was sentenced to death by British Raj) at the bottom of the wall,

Shaheedon Ki Chitaon Par
Lagenge Har Baras Mele
Watan Par Mar Mitne Walo Ka
Yahi Baaki Nishaan Hoga

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Majestic Ladakh : ZojiLa- The Most Treacherous Mountain Pass In The World!

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Wait a minute! It has a history of war too. Don’t raise your brows! Yes, it has. Kashmir was then an independent Kingdom and Maharaja Hari Singh was its king. It was the year 1947-48. The king was finding it difficult to decide with which country to join his territory, India or Pakistan, or to remain independent. The king chose to remain independent but his wishes were short lived and dashed in October 1947 as Pakistan sent Muslim tribesmen invader into the territory of Kashmir who were then approaching to the capital Srinagar fast. Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession, ceding Kashmir to India on 26th October. Thus the first war between India and Pakistan broke out over Kashmir in 1947. India referred the dispute to United Nation on 1st January 1948. During this war Pakistani invaders seized ZojiLa in 1948 while they were on the verge of capturing Ladakh. On 1st November, Zojila pass was recaptured by Indian forces under Operation Bison. On 1st January 1949, a ceasefire was agreed with only two-third of the whole Kashmir under Indian control and the remaining with Pakistan (we call it now as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir or P.O.K). In the ceasefire lines, LOC (Line of Control) was drawn up which was formally established in 1972, after a third war between India and Pakistan in 1971.The Line of Control remains the de facto border between the two countries.

We spent enough time at the pass looking at how other vehicles were negotiating the road at the mountain edge that has no barrier. The road is so narrow and vicious that it is known as one of the most dangerous passes in the world. But the route is a lifeline that keeps the people of Ladakh connect with the rest of the world. However it remains closed for more than six months in a year for blockage due to heavy snowfall. The road reopens in late spring. ZojiLa at an elevation of 11649 feet above sea level is considered to be the second highest pass after Fotu La on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway.

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Road to Leh!

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This July, I completed a motorcycle ride from Gurgaon to Ladakh, covering Spiti Valley, Leh, Kargil and Srinagar – one of my many trips to this part of the world. Despite having done these rides multiple times earlier, why do I keep riding to these crazy terrains, where unless someone has actually travelled on a motorcycle? They wouldn’t believe what one would experience. What’s the lure of Ladakh still, when everyone and their mothers-in-law are riding/driving/flying there these days? When

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