Overland Traveller



Travelling the road from Leh to Srinagar, Kashmir: a photo diary (Page 2)

One of the region’s amusing road signs © Emma FieldOne of the region’s amusing road signs © Emma Field

Numerous rhyming signs scattered along the Leh-Srinagar route helped to keep our minds off the treacherous roads. Speeding seems to be the biggest road safety issue in Jammu & Kashmir. This is even more worrying when you see the standard of the roads, but signs such as “Be gentle on my curves”, “If you are married, divorce speed” and “Mountains are a pleasure if you drive with leisure” gave us good chuckles between speeding Tata lorries and precipitous bends. The most disconcerting sign, though, is found along the Pak-Indo border just past Kargil: “Caution: you are under enemy observation.” Gulp.

Lamayuru Gompa © Craig FastLamayuru Gompa © Craig Fast

Lamayuru is set in the midst of some rather strange scenery. The road through the mountains dips into a gorge that in turn opens up into moonscape badlands, with rounded, yellow pinnacles and meditation caves carved into the mountainside. Lamayuru - the oldest monastery in Ladakh, dating from the 11th century – perches quietly near the top of the mountain, overlooking the badlands. Its whitewashed walls glowed in the evening sun, which cast eerie shadows across the landscape below as we settled into our hotel for the night.

Craig at Fotu La, the highest point of the Leh to Srinagar road © Emma FieldCraig at Fotu La, the highest point of the Leh to Srinagar road © Emma Field

Early the next day, about half an hour from Lamayuru, we reached the Fotu La (‘la’ means ‘pass’). At 4,100m it was the highest point of our journey. Compared with the Khardung La near Leh, the world’s highest motorable pass at 5,602m, which comes complete with souvenir shops, cafes and thousands of prayer flags, the Fotu La is pleasantly modest. There is only this sign Craig is standing next to, a few prayer flags and a satellite dish. There weren’t any other cars around either.

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Overland Traveller copyright © Emma Field 2010