The Open Road

Just outside Dras, a road sign warns: "Caution—you are under enemy observation." Being watched by the enemy is not nearly as unsettling as being bombed by them. This time last year, Pakistani troops were lobbing shells at the Indian army camps that appear along this highway with the regularity of gas stations in more civilized parts of the world. But then, this is the Kargil road, where nothing is ordinary.

Some 433 km of nature-defying tarmac, the Kargil road twists through some of the most barrenly beautiful landscapes in Asia, starting at Srinagar in Kashmir and ending three...

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