On July 14, 2014, we hired a Maruti Van for a Leh-Chilling drive in Ladakh. The van window offered a perfect opportunity to capture the almost treeless house of the Zanskar River on camera because the skillful driver minimized jerks and drove at slow and steady pace. The 2-hour drive presents many surprises, especially for travelers looking for
- colorful rock forms and stones,
- solitude, adventure on wheels in less frequented areas of the Himalayas, and / or
- white water rafting enthusiasts.
The First Hour of Leh-Chilling Drive in Ladakh slideshow introduces you to the road (National Highway 1D) that you would follow during the first hour of the bicycle ride, motorbike ride, or car drive. You will see two major religious monuments along the road:
- Spituk Monastery – an ancient Buddhist temple complex and
- Gurudwara Pathar Sahib – a Sikh shrine managed and maintained by the Indian Army.
A geographical attraction Magnetic Hill is also located along this section of the ride/drive.
National Highway (NH) 1D is a lifeline for locals and the Indian Army.
Spituk Monastery located along Leh-Srinagar Highway (NH 1D) stands on an isolated hill. The Yellow Hat sect monastery features nine-foot tall statue of Yamantaka.
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) fuel station on the left side of the highway
Srinagar-Kargil-Leh highway became national highway (NH 1D) in 2006.
The Ladakh Range is to the north of NH1D, whereas the Zanskar, Stok, and Masho ranges are to the south of the highway.
During 1999 Kargil War, Pakistani shells reached a part of NH1D.
Barren mountains wearing dress of brown orange hues stand tall against deep blue sky. A treeless land can also make an eye-catching landscape.
Traffic free NH 1D
Road to the sky
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib on NH1D is about 25 kilometers from Leh.
The Indus River meanders through barren ranges of yellow and brown tints and tones.
NH 1D follows the mountain curves.
On the left of the road, Magnetic Hill, an optical illusion, gives the feeling as if vehicles with even engines turned off are going up the hill against gravity. The optical Illusion is ascribed to obscured horizon, so people think downhill slope is an uphill slope when they park their vehicles on Magnetic Hill.
Magnetic Hill at an altitude of 4,245 meters / 14,000 feet is about 30 kilometers from Leh.
The confluence of the Indus and the Zaskar rivers is three kilometers south of Nimoo village. The Zaskar river covers 370 kilometers between Karsha, its birthplace, and Nimoo, where it merges into the Indus River, villages.
A rafting and tourist complex at the Indus and Zanskar Sangam. The Zaskar River is the major tributary of the Indus River.
Nimoo village on the Indus river, a trans-Himalayan river
Leave NH1D before Nimoo and take left road for Chilling.
Chilling Road runs along the Zanskar river.
A bridge on the Zaskar river that freezes in winter. The frozen river is called chadar (a bed sheet) that draws many trekkers.
Repair work in progress on Chilling road
Labor take a short break from road work.
Purple rocks along the Chilling road in the Zaskar range composed of metamorphic rocks of various hues
Laying tar on the Chilling road
A dumper truck pushes a big boulder away from the road.
Second bridge on the Zaskar River
Beyond the bridge
Have fun, be active. Ride a bike instead of driving, for example. — Dan Buettner