482 kilometres without a fuel pump.
Jagged, muddy slippery stretches of gravel.
Foot-deep stretches of slushtraps.
The ever-present danger of landslide. Rockslide. Mudslide. Sometimes all three.
Narrow paths that yawn stingily for lonely hundreds of miles.
Oxygen getting rarer by the minute.
No more than tents to sleep in along the way (with much used and rarely cleaned quilts and blankets).
No civilisation for the most part, and for the city greenhorns, no cellular network.
It takes off-roaders a minimum of two – three days to traverse this route.
So why do people even embark this unpleasant sounding journey?
This question cannot be answered in words. But one guesses these pictures might go a little way towards it.
A full tank, a jerry can filled with spare fuel, well-checked tyres and a strong will can get you there, however, road warrior. At those oxygen-starved heights, to keep your engine from refusing to start, it would help if the car battery under the hood is as tough-spirited as you. The powerful SF Sonic for instance, simply doesn’t acknowledge the dizzying altitudes up there. Conquer, if you will, the world’s highest motorable roads and get within a whiff of China and Pakistan!
Once you’re done with Ladakh and its awe-inspiring offerings, may we suggest you drive to Srinagar, on stunning, well laid tarmac through jaw-dropping terrain? This is the legendary NH1. But do not assume you’re past all peril, dear traveller, because the treacherous Zoji La pass ambushes you all of a sudden, zigzagging in its one-laned slipperiness through the mountains for one last adrenaline rush before you ease into a more hospitable path to Srinagar.