A Taste of Kashmir
The World’s Highest Motorable Road
16 July – 27 July 2011 (12 days)
Private tours also available
There are few places on earth which offer the diversity and contrasts you will encounter on this amazing journey to the Indian states of Ladakh and Kashmir. No words or pictures can adequately prepare you for the emotional onslaught which you are about to undergo as you experience one of the world’s great adventure rides.
Starting in India’s bustling capital city of New Delhi, you will fly across the ‘foothills’ of the Himalaya to Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir. Set in a sylvan setting of pastures, high mountains and tranquil lakes, your accommodation on one of the famous houseboats (built in the times of the British Raj) is sure to put you in the right frame of mind to start your big adventure up into the awesome High Himalaya.
From the green ‘chocolate box’ scenery of Kashmir, you will cross a high pass and enter into the stark beauty of Ladakh. This in turn will take you to the colourful town of Leh ~ your gateway to the highest motorable road on earth.
The Vale of Kashmir is almost a tourist cliché, drenched as it is in the purple prose of scores of books, pamphlets, brochures and songs. However, the reality often transcends expectations and none of the phrases quite prepares one for the enchantment of the place.
The harsh beauty of the barren mountains piercing the sky, the massive cathedral-like formations of the land and the striated colours of the rocky surrounds – dun, ochre, saffron, red and yellow, have been replaced by a softer beauty full of green and blue, pink and purple, indigo and gold. Waterfalls cascade and rivers tumble through a landscape studded with jewel-like lakes filled with lotuses budding in the late summer heat. The vista of chequered fields, wildflowers, dense forests and rolling hills is punctuated by glinting silver threads of streams and canals.
And so to Srinagar, the magical centre of this sylvan world. Torn apart by more than 50 years of wars and skirmishes, destabilised by militant outrages, the focus of dramatic media coverage, Srinagar still manages to maintain a tangible aura of the sophisticated, graceful, multi-racial society that created the beauty and formal elegance of places such as the Mughal Shalima and Nishat Gardens. While a strong military presence is sadly still very much in evidence, out on the lakes you might believe you are in paradise.
However, all that said, this is not a ride for the faint-hearted – the roads and riding conditions can be very challenging and frequently quite dangerous. Up in the mountains they are virtually single lane with no safety barriers and precipitous drop-offs to one side. The surface can change in moments, from perfect bitumen (tar-seal) to mud, gravel and rocks, and small landslides are frequent after rain. But it’s a lot of fun!
For private tours please contact us.