Day 4: 22nd July’16 (Friday)
From: Killar to Kishtwar
Route: Via Padder
Distance: 120 kms
It was another big day for us today as we looked to Conquer Killar Kishtwar. With high hopes and positive thinking, we all got ready and the saddles were tied on the bikes well before push off time. We started our Journey at 06.30 AM in the morning ready for the most Adventurous drive of our life on the famed Cliffhanger road.
The first four kms of the drive were on the same road which goes to Sach Pass. After four kms, the straight road leads to Kishtwar, which the locals normally call Kashmir road, and turn to the left leads to Sach Pass. The drive is all along Chandrabhaga river which flows in a deep and narrow valley all the way till Kishtwar. The first village that we came across was Luj, a mass of four small villages. It was the second day for all of us to be out of Network zone as we were driving in the remotest of areas. Maintaining a speed of around 15km/hr we kept on moving smoothly till we reached Himachal Pradesh Police Check post where two young well behaved Police Officials took a Record of each one of us and searched our luggage. The road ahead looked very uninhabited.
The road was all loose dirt trek. There were loose stones and rocks lying dispersed on the road. At many places we encountered landslide and land erosion due to which we had to take necessary stoppages before it got cleared. The middle of the road got raised as the sides of the road had gone deep with the weight of tires on dirt trek. We kept on moving towards Paddar and finally passed the Kishtwar Forest Division where we found probably the only board denoting our entry into Kishtwar.
We were now approaching Ishtiyari after crossing over to J& K. The road till Sansari Nala was a sheer descent, which ran along the Chandrabhaga river bed. The road was a steep stony ascent all the way till Ishtiyari the first J&K village. Despite the fact that we were bound to drive very slow and wisely, the stones constantly kept hitting the chasis underneath. Our beasts were never being hit so many times ever, not even on the feared Sach Pass road. The constant hitting did get me worried for a while. It was quite difficult to drive through the rocky and broken road but that is what defined Adventure to us on that day. Continuing the ascent, we were stopped by few locals who asked us to wait as they were planning to Blast the stone rocked Mountain.
As soon as we crossed the Blast point, just after Paddar check post the roads kept becoming even narrower and problematic. There were several steep hairpin bends where it was very difficult to maneuver the bikes. The road was very narrow, due to which our major focus was just on the road and the bends.
It was quite difficult to get any backup or support in case of breakdown or a landslide or any such case, as the area was very remote & we were also out of network zone. This is a zero miscalculation road, a small error from anyone of us would have meant that the vehicle disappears in the abysmal valley. We were hugely dependent on the vehicle’s coming from other side to know about the conditions ahead as the water level of water crossings would have kept increasing and also the chances of rain were amplifying. There were a number of waterfalls on the way and at times water falling from them was quite massive. At times I felt that few stone pebbles were also falling with the falling water. Undoubtedly the route was the best that we had traveled till date and all of us just couldn’t stop ourselves from clicking pictures of the terrain, nature, waterfalls and the famous Kishtwar Cliff hangers.
In order to save time at the Hotel and enjoy the night we had skipped our breakfast and kept travelling enjoying the weather and terrain. We planned to stop and have some snacks at a small tea stall. This tea stall was about 20kms before Gulabgarh. After having a little break, we made a move towards Gulabgarh. The road till Gulabgarh continued to be gravel, dirt trek but wide enough because of which Driving was relatively easy now. Driving through the hills, we came across an enormous water crossing. This was an Adventurous moment for us and I quickly crossed the water first so that I can cover a video of the whole convoy while doing the crossing.
Finally, we made an entry into Gulabgarh which from the top looked an astonishing beauty specially with it being situated on the banks of River Chandrabhaga. The distance from Gulabgarh to Kishtwar was about 70kms but we covered it in quick time as the roads were quite wide and decent enough for driving. We reached Kishtwar (Hotel Blue Sapphire) at 04:30 PM and quickly unpacked our Saddle’s and got freshen up to have the famous Kashmiri dishes with delicious spices. The wait for food was thoroughly paid off with some delightful dishes prepared by the cook at the Restaurant. The hunger actually made us over eat after which we decide to walk down towards the Kistwar market. A still from a Butcher shop in Kishtwar.
We returned back to the hotel around 07:00 PM and soon everyone gathered in a room to celebrate the Victory of each one of us. It was indeed a Special moment for each of us, covering the Sacred Sach Pass and the World’s Most Dangerous Road in a single Ride. This certainly was one hell of an achievement for all of us. The Party began, drinks were being offered, music was on a high, brothers in arms were singing together, the Ride discussion and the experience sharing clearly showed the thrill that was within everyone present in the room. The never ending day finally ended full of cherishable memories and experiences. The Love for Riding was at its peak as we looked to chase Pathankot tomorrow.