If you're lucky, you get to do what I did – go on a drive from Srinagar to Manali, through double-crossing mountain passes ready to kill, as well as endless plains, rivers, slush and snow-capped cliffs.
Ten days of driving through a landscape that is unpredictable and conditions that will drain out the last ounce of energy from you. Only to come back overwhelmed, with a sense of absolute joy. All thanks to the Mahindra Monastery Escape. Red Thar to lead, shall we?
SONAMARG & KARGIL
Navigating through the treacherous Zoji La ("La" means "pass" in local dialect) requires nerves of steel and alertness levels of Jason Bourne. Elevation of 11,575 feet, abrupt showers and battered roads with a slick mixture of rock and gravel make matters even more dramatic. Check your car's essentials before attempting to cross. Also, throughout your drive, dress in layers as temperatures shift in seconds. As you drive out of the pass, keep an eye out for Machoi Glacier (source of Sind and Dras rivers)on your right. These ice-capped peaks are a photographer's paradise and you should be able to spot it after crossing Baltal.
As you forge ahead on national highway NH 1D before you reach Kargil, you simply have to stop at the Kargil War Memorial. While it is one thing to be in awe of what the Indian Army does on a daily basis– protecting our borders – here is where you get to speak to the brave men in person. You can also get a glimpse of the peaks near Tiger Hill which were captured by Pakistan. The memorial is dedicated to soldiers who gave their lives to protect ours. Before reaching there, you pass through roads carved in mountains, as seen here. Tons of massive rocks lie in wait to pancake your car. Drive slow, drive with extreme caution and maximum alertness at all times.
SHOOT SPOT: AMARNATH VALLEY
While the place is buried under layers of snow in winters, this is the sight you get to experience when lacs of devotees throng in for a glimpse of the Amarnath Temple. Once you are at the top of Zoji La, disembark to take this shot.