16th: We had a surprise awaiting us this day. One of the bridges that we were supposed to take to our next destination had broken down the previous night and we had to take an alternate route(through the river, water upto your hip level) which would have been dangerous as well. I was very anxious about the whole thing. We kept ALL our luggage(we usually carried cameras and basics on the bike) on to the van and set off. On reaching a check point we parked the bike and Sanjeev went to check if the bridge was restored. Hats off to our own Indian Army - They had taken all their effort to restore the movement of vehicles by working all night long - that too on Independence day night - and it was up and running. With gratitude we started our bikes and continued our journey through the colored mountains and river sides - on our way to Leh. The picturesque More planes are pure bliss.. We rode @ over 100kmph speed and enjoyed the ride! More plains is about a 45 km stretch and is just inviting and beautiful, and it surely is every rider's destination <3We reached the Leh checkpoint and waited for the others to reach as we were beginning another phase of our journey. We clicked tons of pictures while waiting for the others. We waited for quite long, and that's when we came to know that some of our friends had met with different accidents. More plains being so nice and smooth, also calls for high risk. Simply because on both sides of the road are mountains and sand which calls for a high risk in case you lose control over the bullet when you are speeding.
The Zanskar mountain range covers an area of 7000 sq. kms and is without a doubt, one of the most desolate places in the Himalayan range. Zanskar is known for its awesome scale. The tributaries of the Zanskar River are famous for seasonal white river rafting. Deep gorges, snow glaciers and a number of small religious spots dot the Zanskar valley. Be careful of the time of the year you choose to visit Zanskar. It’s closed for a significant time due to extreme snowfall and winter.
Day 8: Pangong Tso- Changla Pass- Leh: 180kms (9am- 6pm)It was tough next morning to get out of the blanket and proceed with the daily routine. But then there was ‘sunrise’ which made jump out of my bed. What I witnessed was speechless. One has to be there to see the sunrise. It was the best sunrise I had seen till date. I have taken videos and pictures of the sunrise doing just a bit justice to it and as a memory for me. Next was freshening up with the cold water. I was ready, lubed my bike’s chain and was ready to go to the lake again. I enjoyed my ride along the shores of the Pangong. I spent some quiet time near the shore and just enjoyed the moment. Captured some final shots of the place from every possible angle and decided to proceed further to Changla pass with different shades of alluring Pangong Lake in mind. Next was the Thiskey Monastery before Changla pass. From a distant only one can see the huge statue of Buddha. Parked down the bike and then I climbed up to see it more closely from inside. Peace was in the serenity and I could feel it. Went through some of the preaching’s of Buddhism, prayed for some best wishes and enjoyed the view from the top and finally heading for the Mighty Changla. Actually while in the monastery I met a group of ladies of 6, who must have been in there 40’s and were on a road trip. They were from Mumbai and were glad to know me when I said them that I was riding from Pune. They warned me of the biting cold at Changla that they had encountered. I actually underestimated their advice as I had been to Khardungla. Though Changla pass is at a less height than Khardungla and is the 3rd highest pass, but the cold here is biting one. The roads were wet and slippery. Except the road, surrounding mountains were covered with ice and gradually at the bottom were patches of brown and white. Snow was in plenty here. I opened the helmet and within seconds my eyelids, nostrils were covered with tiny bits of ice. The cold here was something I had underestimated. So before it could get me I clicked few pictures and was ready to get down. After descending a few kilometres I could finally feel my fingers. After that the roads were good till Leh. It was around 6pm I reached Leh and went to the same hotel where I had checked in previously. Again there was this satisfaction having encountered these places which I had accomplished after riding continuously for 8 days. Though it was 2-3 degrees C at night, the weather at Leh now was quiet manageable having spent some time in the harshest conditions that I will ever encounter.