Sunday, 14 August 2016

Ladakh Travelogue Part 2: One Night in Kargil

"When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrow, we gave our today"

Epitaph at the Kohima War Cemetery, written by John Maxwell Edmonds

After our fortuitous escape from a riot-torn Srinagar (read more about that here), we crossed most of Sonmarg in the dead of the night, which was a real pity. Sonmarg is an incredibly beautiful place and I could have got some terrific photographs there. Unfortunately, the weather too took a turn for the bad. The sky was overcast, with a constant drizzle, which drove the temperature down. Srinagar had warm and humid. Our heavy jackets were in our suitcases. If it got any colder, we’d be in serious trouble. But thankfully, my windcheater was enough. We were proceeding to the town of Drass, where we would stop for breakfast, followed by a visit to the Drass War Memorial and finally Kargil, where we would stay the night.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Ladakh Travelogue Part 1: Paradise is Burning

"Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast."
   (If there is a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here)

-          Mirza Nur-ud-din Beig Mohammad Khan Salim, aka Mughal Emperor Jahangir

Perhaps a somewhat predictable way to begin an article on Jammu and Kashmir, but I could think of no better way than Emperor Jahangir’s famous Persian couplet, about a place that even we Bengalis call “Bhu-shorgo” – paradise on earth. My trip to Kashmir and Ladakh began with a conversation of an entirely different nature though. “There’s a lot of pressure on me to get married. Before that happens, I want to do this. I want to travel down NH1 to Ladakh”. With that startling revelation from my friend Prasenjit, our planning for the trip began. A group of five, Prasenjit, his friends Ananya and Harsha, my friend Sreyashi and I, would take the trip down India’s National Highway 1, to the northernmost region of our country, which is both one of the most inhospitable and one of the most beautiful. But our trip would begin with Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.