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Once back home from flood hit Kashmir,I never knew i would be reviving my ride plan ,but a phone call changed all.Jassi called me after few days and lamented that he can not bear the feeling of a failed ride and wanna complete his ride at any cost.He asked me about my willingness to again ride to Ladakh.Me,being a complusive person,said YES.Jassi reached on an Orgasm hearing my affirmative response.Next task was to ask Doc for his response….Surprised,he was also dying to complete his maiden ride.
I talked to Jagjit paaji at Srinagar for road status.He said roads are open and water has receded from most of Srinagar and Srinagar-Sonmarg section is open for vehicles.
Jagjit paaji is a resident of Srinagar and he runs a tented tourist resort Aru Eco Resort,Pahalgaam,JK
I booked three tickets and we again landed at Srinagar on 21st September,retrieve our bikes after giving a Royal Challenge whiskey bottels to hotel manager who had requested us to bring booze for him as Srinagr was completely dry.We gifted him a bottle.He was a happy man seeing a bottle and swiftly hid the bottle to enjoy it alone.
I called up Jagjit ji after our arrival at Srinagar.He invited us to his home and hosted us at his beautiful home with hot tasty Parantahs prepared by his wife.He also packed some paranthas for en route lunch.Jagjit paaji run a tented colony for tourist at Aru near Pahalgaam.His business was also affected due to flood.Doc’s bike had some problem,Jagjit ji took us to old interior Srinagar city for Bullet mechanic and and spent half day with us.Bullet was repaired by a old age mechanic from Meerut who turned out to be an aquaintance of Jassi’s father.The mechanic in fact learnt the mechnicgiri at his Fufaji shop back in 1970.What a co-incidence.
Half day was devoted to Bullet problem and we could only start around 1 pm for Sonmarg.Road was dry and normal condition…no effect of rain was there at Gahnderbal,Kangan,Gagangir etc between Srinagar-Sonmarg.Life was smooth there.Stopped for a tea at Gagangir and Jagjit paaji’s Paranthas were again awesome at this place.Each of us very happy to know that finally we were riding towards Sonmarg,towards Zozila ,towards Ladakh after so much events.Srinagar was finally left behind.We were going to Ladakh,at last.
Sonmarg arrived,deserted Sonmarg….
No ponnies,no hustle bustle,no horse shit,no kabab seler,parking lots empty,hotels shut,no snow at peaks.Desolate Sonmarg.Suddenly a man waved us from inside his hotel…thank god,a hotel is open.I turned my scooter towards him and parked inside his hotel.He offered us room at his property.We bargained a bit and instantly liked the room made of wood.Room was spacious.Toilet had running water..hot water…..He also agreed to serve Chicken at night…Good place to stay.
It was around 5 PM when we checked-in Sonmarg.It was a relaxed day of only 100 kms of riding and cozy place to stay and Sonmarg beauty to enjoy over a cup of tea sipping in the lawn of our hotel.Towering peaks of nearby hills were touching distance.What a day it had been.We discussed many topics with hotel owner and he was lamenting the flood related problem which had killed his business this year.A very bad year for Hospitality sector in Kashmir this year.He told that they would be shutting their hotel in next coming week due to no tourist.Night falls,dinner served and relished in dining hall of hotel.It was time for some night photography,some star photography….I order three cup of tea which was served right at the main road of Sonmarg where we were doing our night photography.Just loved this setting…Sonmarg like place,camera mounted on tripod,no crowd,lovely friends and above all a cup of tea served right on the traffic free road.
Route-Delhi Airport-Srinagar Airport-Dal Lake-Ganderbal-Kangan-Gagangir-Sonmarg
Distance=Delhi-Srinagr 2 hours by flight
Srinagar-Sonmarg=90 kms by road