Best MonthsAll year
Traveller TypesFriends, Couples, Families
Rank1 out of 11 attractions in Sonamarg
Reviews • 13
A must visit place , if you are visiting Sonamarg or Kargil or Leh-Ladakh.Private vehicles are not allowed. You'll have to hire a taxi from Sonamarg by negotiating (around 2000 to 3000 INR along with gum boots and raincoat is something you can come up to).From Sonamarg to Zero point it's about 15 km distance on NH 1D.As you travel more on that trail, you will see many gigantic figures with snow looming over them . Those larger than life figures, their charm making you want to meet and know them better.The name is zero point : The temperature there averages to around 0 degree Celsius.The expedition on that Highway ( highway of just a name,it's not even one lane also i guess :-P )My god it was most daunting, scary, yet awe-inspiring. Its like once in a lifetime experience.The highway connects Srinagar to Ladakh. The road was so narrow, with 20 - 20 feet high snow on both sides ,at a time only one vehicle could pass, with just two or three places to cross . So the traffic mostly goes in one sided direction at a time, alternatively.
We continued our drive towards Kargil and passing over Zojila Pass. The road conditions were bad with lot of twists and turn. One side we had huge mountain ranges and the other side deep gorges. We had terrible experience with the sledge owners at Zero Point. Be VERY VERY careful with them. The operators here fleece you left and right, are outright arrogant. We paid Rs 600 for sledge ride per person.
Zoji LaIf you open the map of Ladakh, all you will see, will be lots of ‘La’s & even more ‘Tso’s – La meaning pass & Tso meaning lake. Zoji La is the first pass on the Srinagar- Leh ‘so called highway’ totally controlled by the army. Considered to be one of the riskiest passes of the Himalayan region, Zoji La stands at 11,575 feet – the most precarious & scary drive of our journey. There is a high probability that you will get stuck on National Highway 1D, either by a convoy of atleast a 100 army canters squeezing their way on the already very narrow road, or by a herd of sheep getting back from a lazy graze, totally oblivious of the cars piling up behind them!By the time you get used to the traffic, the narrowest possible highway (especially after the ones we get to see in Delhi), the sharp gorge on one side & the almost-on-the-verge-of-rolling-down precariously placed rocks on the other, you realize you have driven down to the Mushkoh valley with the infamous Tiger Hill to your left.
Now Dras is known for its COLD temperature. It is the second coldest inhabited place in the world after Siberia, which made us work really hard to find a place in the city which had decent warming supplies. Hill View Hotel & Restaurant was probably the best place in the city and after working out the billings we went to bed as it was already a very long day.
We started early the next day. The real adventure had begun. Leh calling! Our first and arguably, the toughest mountain pass, Zoji La, was right after Sonamarg. Azal's driving skills, Sammy's adaptability, the Thar's mettle and my grit and gumption were put to test. At an altitude of 3528 m, it is the second highest pass on Srinagar - Leh National Highway. We knew the trial was on when the roads tapered to a heavily pitted pathway with a high rocky wall threatening to crumble any moment on one side and a hideous ravine on the other. I hugged Sammy tight lest the jerks agitated her. We did not dare to let our attention slip even for a second. And in the end, we made it. We passed the first of the many dangerous passes. At the highest point on the pass, the Border Roads Organization or BRO has erected a yellow milestone stating its altitude. Like a certification for the feat we had achieved.
In those sharp turns, I missed one or two heartbeat. There were moments when I felt the jeep would skid anytime into the deep valley below but thankfully we traversed. The Dras valley starts from the base of the Zojila pass, the Himalayan gateway, standing proudly at a height of 10990 ft. With the heartwarming senses for the 101 brave warriors we departed for the Kargil, after few kilometers sighted marvelous Kargil war fame ‘Tiger Hill’.
Experience Zojila PassOne can see the notorious Zojila Pass from Baltal, and yes, it appeals like anything. For the sake of fun, you may ask your driver to take you over Zojila Pass and have that experience of driving through the narrow mountain track, where every move takes your breath away. But this should be done with pre-planning as you might have to drive until Drass and in line with military convoy. Be with Nature Or you may just take a nice location, stay there for hours enjoying serene nature and cool weather, where the sound of flowing water is your sole company. I hope this would help you plan your trip to Kashmir better and richer. And before I end, let me credit Mr Vikas Manhas for beautiful photography. Enjoy travelling J
When we reached the checkpost at the Zojila pass, we got to know that there were 200 vehicles left in the morning and we were just half an hour late. But, they assured us that they would let the rest of the vehicles get through the pass in a while. Since, now we had hired small vehicles to drive through the pass, we all were distributed in 4 cars. We waited for 2 hours until we started a conversation with our driver: Umar Pathan. He was fair, had cat eyes and was cute. All the Kashmiri men are admirable. It looks like God bestowed Kashmir with all the handsome people. They had these strong personalities along with their good looks. Which girl would not be in an awestruck state? We spoke to him about the Kashmiri language; he taught us some of the words too (Naav ke chi – What is your name?, Asalpoi – Are you fine?). Time passed and we did not move a bit. One of the 4 cars was just 2 cars before the checkpost. Boredom struck and I moved out from the car to meet Arun (a college mate in another car). Arun and me then decided to go to his car which was 5 cars behind ours to meet Pooja (another college mate). During this whole course of time, the Bihari workers, who were also waiting for the pass to open got together and gathered around the checkpost, screaming and protesting to open the pass. Arun, Nadiya, Stalina (college mates) and me were standing near their car, while, we heard sounds of bullets being fired. In my head, “I think their burning crackers.” Arun pushed all of us towards the car; but the car wouldn’t open. After a struggle it opened and we all pushed ourselves through the door. The crowd started running hap- hazardly. The firing did not stop; they (the military guarding the pass)broke car windows too. I was worried about the people in my car; they would wonder where have I gone and wait in search of me. I wanted to go back to my vehicle, but, Arun did not allow me to. There was an army police just infront of us; he pointed his gun, almost straight and shot a bullet. Fortunately, it did not hot anyone. We turned all our cars & rushed back. My car followed us; I was relieved. We saw death right infront of us. It was an experience for sure, not a very pleasurable one. We discussed about how we always thought about the beauty of Kashmir, its landscapes, its handsome men; but we saw a different side of it, today. I had always heard, everything, every situation has two sides, we just have to focus on the positive.Our H.O.D explained how the police are not accountable for the bullets they fire. Those military men had the power to act in any manner they wished to, the power to play with peoples’ lives. Was it some kind of a game? It looked like one though. The helpless workers had no choice but to succumb to power. We had just witnessed this once and were scandalised. Like one of the locals said, “Tum log toh ye aaj dekh rahe ho, ye toh hamari zindagi hai”; they live like this everyday. The fear of death has been instilled in their hearts permanently. How could one live a life staying in fear that you could die any moment?Today, we saw what the AFSPA could do, what was real aggression, lack of tolerance and patience. It was an unnecessary incident. It is similar to each of our lives too. We, too, take impulsive decisions, absolutely unnecessary ones. There is a limit to everything, but, we should learn to control ourselves in the most adverse situations, under pressure and power. Violence is not the only answer, may it be physical or emotional. Suddenly, I remembered Gramsci and his theories on hegemony, He was right! The powerless are controlled by the people in power! Back in Mumbai, we may not notice it, but, we do follow hegemony. We believe that our lives have been insulated by all such differences, but, in reality, we are not.Another thing that I noticed was one of Maslow’s proclaimed needs in the 'Hierarchy of needs triangle'; the need for security. We never take such information into much consideration unless there comes a situation where we sense the need of it.This incident, today, made me question myself, why did the police react in the way they did. It was wrong and could not be justified, but, if the table is turned round and the situation is seen through their lens, the whole picture seems different. Their working conditions are getting worse day by day. They stay in the cold guarding the checkpost, live in adverse conditions, away from family; they got no life of their own; sometimes blaming them alone would not be justified as well. They do their job despite the working conditions they are exposed to.This experience taught me that life is immensely precious. It is a gift given by God; had bestowed us into our mothers’ hands. God had it planned, and, showed us such instances so that we realise the importance of the life that we are living.My learning from the incident may be many; these images will stay with me forever. I needed to grow, learn, stay strong, be mature, be an individual to understand the situation objectively, suppress impulsive reactions. I am exposed to the way the people live, here, people who are different from us, who live differently from the way we do. When we hear such stories, we tend to forget them; when we live the same stories, it stays with us for a lifetime.This incident was important, very much important. I hoped to see Ladakh, God’s heaven, to be near it.We had a bath and planned not to sleep as they could be an emergency & we could leave even at 2 am to get through the pass. We all cuddled up on the same bed, planning not to doze off, but we did, to a much tiring day.
A mountain pass that separates Kashmir valley and Ladakh.14000 feet altitude.
Zoji La: 11575 ft Zoji La is a high mountain pass in Indian Kashmir, located on the Indian National Highway 1D between Srinagar and Leh. Zoji La is 9 km from Sonamarg if you are coming from Srinagar it’s the first and most difficult pass to cross. I will call this as the nightmare since it is one of the riskiest of all passes. 40kms from Drass the second coldest habitable place in the world. After crossing the pass you will find rest all roads on India as the most habitable & motorable roads. And with crossing this pass you enter the another Heaven called Kasmir & enjoy the Green Natural beauty.
Zoji La is 9 km (5.6 mi) from Sonamarg and provides a vital link between Ladakh and Kashmir. It runs at an elevation of approximately 3,528 metres (11,575 ft), and is the second highest pass after Fotu La on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway.