Day 4 Drass-Panikhar 30 May 2012

To read this travelogue from begining click HERE

Previous day was a successful day.I overcame my biggest hurdle, Zozila, on my scooter.To defeat Zozila,I had to pass through many hellholes but by god’s grace,I SURVIVED to tell the tale.Made two new friends Deepak and Pradeep in this remote place and spend some unforgettable moments with them chatting on various topics.Desire of attempting Umba La pass also fulfilled on this day.

Today,the fourth day of my ride.Today,I am at other side of Zozila AND Technically inside Ladakh.The green valley of Kashmir have been left behind.Facial features of people are different,dialect are different,mountains are different.I am inside a little different part of JK.
Today,my new friend Pradeep had arranged a visit to an Army post near Tiger hill for me to show me weatherproof dwelling units for Jawans of Indian Army.He called up his driver to come over with a 4×4 Bolero_Only a 4×4 vehicle can go to this army post due to kutcha approach road.His driver reached at Drass JK Tourist Bungalow to take us to army post and we reached at army post after 1 hour drive.En route I saw many small army posts specially established for Howitzer guns.I also saw a Howitzer gun parked openly near the road.Rests of the cannons were hidden inside a room with a sliding roof.If war breaks out,all they need to do is just open the roof and start shelling from inside the room.Totally hidden from enemy.A new experience for me to see all this.Few individual soldiers were also guarding rooms made of mud.Upon enquiring the reason behind why they were guarding those room,I came to know that those room are actually ammunition rooms and and ammunition for Cannons are kept inside those rooms.

We reached at army post,situated on a plateau type place and surrounded by tall mountains all side.I could also see other army posts far in the horizon.I was totally in different territory and away from ride route NH 1D.The Jawan at barrier entered our details in his register and alloweed us to go to construction site.Deepak,my friend,had recruited many local men to carry out construction work.They all were busy in digging pits,tightening nuts etc etc.After giving them some directions to his men and listening to their demands/complaints/requisitions for new material Deepak show me a finished structure.Once inside this room,one feels like in his home’s drawing room.

Warm,comfortable beds,telephone,DISH tv,wash basin,cupboards, everything.This room was in stark contrast of ancient mud walled,tin roofed bunker type accommodation our brave soldiers had been living for a long time.Thank god,govt is showing some empathy towards our forces and providing them facilities.This educational tour of mine lasted for 2 hours and we returned back to Drass around 12.30 pm.

After giving thanks to Pradeep,Salim and Caretaker of JK Bungalow,I resumed my Journey towards Kargil hoping to reach Panikhar before dark.Salim again proved helpful here and gave me the name of Caretaker of Panikhar Bungalow and askeD me to give his(Salim’s) reference
to the care taker of Panikhar GH to book a room.He assured me that I would be surely allowed to stay there.
Real fun had started and Ladakh landscapes started appearing.I was elated to the core.Gray bare mountains with a small patch of green oasis,Balti features of people,their lifestyle,it was all very gratifying.After few hours of ride,Kargil town,the bustling town came.I did not stop here and straightway turned my scooter towards Sankoo.
It was already late evening ,and I had to reach Panikhar before dark,which seemed impossible.I kept riding frequently stopping to capture evening scenes in my camera.
Initial 40 kms between Kargil and Sankoo are very fast,thanks to well maintained smooth road.After Sankoo,road start to deteriorate little and slow you down.But mine ride was four times slower due to—
Slow scooter
Bad road
Frequent photo breaks
Darkness had descended upon the surroundings.

All these factors added to my woes and I was only able to reach Panikhar around 8.45 PM in toatal darkness.Since Panikhar GH was located slightly off the road andI could not see any sighn board pointing the direction of GH,I could not find JK Tourist Bungalow.I was very worried and puzzled and no soul was there to ask for direction for Gh.Suddenly,I saw four sillhoutte human figures walking on the road.when they reached near me,I asked them about the location of GH,they pointed towards the way to GH and I reached at the front door of GH.Gate was closed and GH was fully deserted.No sigh of Bashir,the caretaker of Bungalow.I again approached towards those gentlemen and requested them to help me finding the caretaker.One of them immiedietly dialed bashir’s no but could not talked to him.He tried few times but unsuccessful.
He then walked towards Bashir’s house and brougt him to the Bungalow.Meanwhile,those gentlemen asked me few question about myself.I replied that I am a govt teacher and visiting this place as a tourist.They all were govt teachers themselves.They stayed for a while with conversing on various aspects of teaching and also expressed disappointment over the disparity between Delhi teachers’ salary and state’s teachers salary.They bombarded me with their questions to know the break up of my salary.Even though they were living in a heaven like place still daily life’s troubles them.
After talking to them sometime all the teachers left and Bashir opened a room for me and asked me about Dinner.I declined.Bashir was very happy to hear that.
This is how my 4th day of ride came to an ended………………..
Sleep took over and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………

End of 4th day of ride…………

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Day 4 Drass-Panikhar 30 May 2012.

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