Green, Brown, Black, White: 4-color mountains; on the way to Rangdum, Jammu and Kashmir.
The first part of our journey to Padum in the Zanskar valley was from Kargil to Rangdum following the Suru river upstream.
Padum is right now connected to the rest of the world by only one road and it is ~245km from Kargil; and the only petrol bunk around is in Kargil which meant we needed to carry enough fuel to reach Padum and come back to Kargil. We had cans for 20lts of petrol and needed 20 more for the two bikes. Having breakfast at a small restaurant tucked in a small alley off the main road, we got talking to the owner who arranged for two 15lt vegetable oil cans for us. After giving the cans a rinse in petrol to get rid of the little oil left and filling about 11-12lts of petrol in each of the cans we were on our way with my bike carrying ~45lts of petrol in the cans with a full tank.
The ride the whole day is following the Suru river upstream with villages dotting the path; with each village having about a dozen houses surrounded by fields of barley and the time we are here is harvesting time; so everywhere along the way people are busy in the fields, preparing for the winter. It is cloudy but thankfully it does not rain and clears up late in the afternoon; with the clearing skies the lower mountains become much more visible but the 7000m+ twin peaks of Nun-Kun remain amidst the clouds. Later in the day the road turns into a dirt trail but this is still somehow better than pot-holed tar roads earlier. The major religion in the region also changes as we go further along: the mosque at Partachik is the last one of this road till we reach Padum and what you will see all along the way are prayer wheels, chortens and monasteries.
We had taken a break closer to Rangdum when there are a beautiful glow in the sky from the setting sun which was hidden behind a turn in the road. We walked back to the turn to realize that the sun was hidden behind a hillock, so we got on our bikes and rode back for more than a kilometer before we could experience the full view, and it was beautiful, with the sun disappearing between the mountains lighting up the clouds gathered above(the photo does not do justice to what we saw).
The ride after the sunset was on almost flat path, with cold winds blowing across the wide valley. Our stop for the sunset had us reaching Rangdum in the dark, with no electricity and not a person in sight! Luckily one of the village folk walked into our path and with his help we settled down in a room in one of the traditionally build homes there. Rangdum gets cold in the night, being at an altitude of 3657m, but the razai ensures that you have a good night of sleep.
Part of 'The Trip/2007', Aug/Sep/Oct/Nov.