Drass is a beautiful high-altitude township located 65 km from Sonamarg on National Highway 1 across the Zozi la Pass on the Himalayan range.
I had last driven on this road to Drass in 1992 which remains covered under feet of snow for nearly six months. It used to be just a dirt road for nearly 25 kms. The move used to be slow and cautious because of fear of landslides and incidents of shooting stones.
I was in for a big surprise this time around. The road condition has improved manifold since 1992, courtesy the hard work of Border Road organisation. The journey which used to take 4 to 5 hours was over in just about 90 minutes.
The drive from Sonamarg to Drass cutting across the western Himalayas is beautiful because of the lovely terrain. The features change as one moves closer to Zozi la and the mountains get loftier and the tree line reduces. The sight of snow- clad peaks and the river winding around through deep gorges in the narrow valley make the drive memorable.
The valley eases out a bit a bit as one drives past Minamarg, Matayan to Drass. The road goes along the Drass river flanked by tall mountains. The river water is crystal colour and the sky as clean and blue as you can imagine.
The road condition has certainly changed for better over the years. But what has thankfully remained unchanged is the natural beauty of the place and the simplicity of the people. Once you reach there you are bound to fall in love with the place.
Weather and the Demography….
Drass is located at an altitude of 10,800 ft and is the coldest inhabited place of India. The average temperature in winter remains around 20 degree. This part of the year the weather is just pleasant something we from the plains can only imagine in dreams.
People are simple and mainly engage in agriculture and sheep rearing. There are mainly two ethnic groups, the Shina and the Baltis and majority follow Islam.
Kargil War Memorial….
Drass and Kargil have been a witness to all the Indo Pak wars the two countries have been engaged in since 1947. Kargil War Memorial stands tall as a tribute to the 559 defence personnel who laid down their lives fighting the enemy in Operation Vijay- 1999. It is a very well conceptualised and constructed memorial. All the major actions fought during the 1999 have been explained through a photo gallery and models. The famous Tiger Hill and Tololing mountain features with which we Indians are so familiar with, proudly flank the War memorial.
We returned back to Srinagar the same day after a short and memorable trip to Drass. I was satisfied because I introduced my two children to one of the most wonderful part of the country and give them a good idea of the area where our soldiers laid down their lives for the national cause in 1999.
I have tried to capture the natural beauty of the place in this short clip. I am sure the readers will enjoy and get a a first hand view of the location.