Destination Leh - A dream come true

7th Aug 2015
Photo of Destination Leh - A dream come true 1/6 by Raghu Vamsi Kodaboina
Photo of Destination Leh - A dream come true 2/6 by Raghu Vamsi Kodaboina
Photo of Destination Leh - A dream come true 3/6 by Raghu Vamsi Kodaboina
Photo of Destination Leh - A dream come true 4/6 by Raghu Vamsi Kodaboina
Photo of Destination Leh - A dream come true 5/6 by Raghu Vamsi Kodaboina
Photo of Destination Leh - A dream come true 6/6 by Raghu Vamsi Kodaboina

A trip which every motorcycle enthusiast would love to take. A route which was once accessed by only by foreigners for terrain ride and also my Indian army is a dream come true for every rider.

The route from Ambala to Leh is mostly taken by many riders. I along with my friends started the journey on a rainy day.

Day 1 - Chennai to Delhi (flight) and from Delhi to Ambala (train) where i meet my colleague & his friends.

Day 2 - started with a lot of troubles like issues with our bikes, rain, incorrect route access and many more. Before we could reach Mandi, we gave up due to weather and darkness.

Day 3  Route to Manali via Mandi was a excellent ride, full of lust green terrain, waterfalls, smooth roads to access. Finally we reached Manali were we went to the famous Vashista & Hidimbhi Temple. Nightlife in Manali is full fun with huge crowd around and great food.

Day 4 - We went to local corporation office for permit to Rohtang Pass, without which we are not permitted to entry the area. The route is again extraordinary. It is full of rocky mountains filled with fog, curved roads. The roads suddenly turned rocky and muddy and all of sudden we felt as if we were cursed. Well every rider feels the same at some point on this route. We came across a landslide which was getting repaired by the BRO. It was a great halt, meeting other fellow riders along the route, chatting with them and sharing various information and experience. That night after crossing most of the terrible route and also the last fuel station along this route we halted in Kwaring.

Day 5 - Destination Pang at any cost. we crossed one of the terrible routes to reach Pang. We almost got scattered and reached the heights of Pang. After riding this route any rider would have the confidence to ride in any rough terrain in this world. There was no single tower to contact any one along this route. The signals were not there. Only way to contact your nearest is through a telephone provided in the army base camp. It is provided for access only on some specific days as per the locals.

Day 6 - The route from Pang was rough and full of gravels and dusty. This continued for 10 km, but then the view cannot be described simply. Well to my knowledge i would call the whole route till Leh from Manali as the Grand Canyon. This route is not populated so much and the BRO has laid the roads to easy & smooth travel. We even stopped at some point in between to take some really awesome snapshots. By the end of the day we reached Leh. we first went to a monastery. Later having found some place to stay, we went to shanthi Stupa. It was excellent view from the top of this mountain. The city was surrounded by mountains on all sides. As darkness started to loom, the city started to glow. For star gazzers this is the right spot from the top of the mountain.

Day 7 - Pangong Tso, place where lake is shared by both India and China. Final sequence of the movie 3-Idiots was shot here. We were informed that the route is good and that we can return back to Leh on the same day. Well as we got out of the city and crossed Leh Checkpost, we realized we were misguided. The route was sandy and full of gravels. It was skiddy. As we ride to the peak point of the mountain, troubles started. Bikes tend to stop due to less oxygen as we tried to accelerate. one of my friend and I got stuck while the others went on. Some how we reached the top and as we declined we had a very warm welcome from the Army Base. After again crossing the other patch of rough route we reached the lake. After spending sometime we ride back to leh and reached safely.

Day 8 & 9 - To Hunder to watch the sand dunes in Leh and double hump camels via Kardungla. But first we need to fix our bikes carb, which is quite common in Leh to overcome the oxygen issue at high altitudes. After fixing we ride to our destination but this time we didn't want to take chances and decided to stay back and return the next day. The highest motor-able road in the world. It was extremely enjoyable & speachless moment. 18000 feet, the number sounds great and it is a great feel to be one among the few in the world who has reached this peak.

As we were about to reach closest proximity of Hunder we faced sandy roads with water stream on the other side. It was skiddy to ride through. August 15, we spent ample time at Hunder in sand dunes and waited a long time to watch the camels but in vain. We were about to ride back then all of a sudden i heard some noise from far end. And we saw the camels. Later we went to a monastery. To the end of the day we ride back to Kardungla to celebrate independence day with army. Watching the flag flying high on this peak makes one feel patriotic. We spend some time with the Jawans there and then ride back to Leh. We then celebrate that night to have completed the major part of the journey.

Day 10 - Shopping in Leh Market, ride to the nearest famous gurudwar and finally reached drass.

Day 11 - Kargil, another patriotic moment. A special education on what happened in 1999 kargil war and how it all started. The day came to an end as we reached Sonamarg.

Day 12 - Ride to view glacier. The view around was spectacular. Ride to the top was either by a pony or one has to trak. The route is very hard to trek. Ride to Srinagar through small villages was nice. But as we got closer the pressure was mounting due to the presence of Army. That night we went for a ride in Dal Lake, and some shopping.

Day 13 - Shankarachari Mandap. It was full of security and after various checks some of us went inside. Later we ride to Pahalgam.

Day 14 - Rest day in Pahalgam, with short trips to Chandanwadi and Betaab valley.

Day 15 - Travel back to Jammu. Travel through the tunnels and BRO maintained road route after Udhampur was great. After Udhampur BRO of India has well planned road route which reduces the stress to ride up and down of numerous small hills. This has vastly reduced the travel time. By evening we reached Jammu railway station, packed our vehicles and transported them to our respective destination. That night though we were tired we continued to discuss about our trip.

Day 16 - Board the train to New Delhi.

Day 17 - Flight to Chennai. I returned back to my sweet home and rejoined my family. It is the same with others as well. Neither of us along this trip knew one another, but after the trip we became good friends and did travel to some other spots.

The Adventure ride started from here. We had Lunch on the way to Mandi which cost us 535 / 5 Persons Route NH 21 is Good NH 22 to Mandi is not so good more potholes
Hotel Chitrakoot Rent + Dinner - 1674 / 5 Person
Beautiful outskirt surrounded by Green Mountain with waterfalls and River Beas flow through the City Excellent place to stay as well
Cool and Lively place for many. There a lot of tourist spots here. Outside the city is beautiful and Solang Valley is something to be experienced. Room Rent - 700 / 5 Person Dinner - 950 / 45 Person Breakfast - 330 / 5 Person
Temple is related to the Mythology Mahabarath of Hindu Culture. Temple is dedicated to Wife of Bema Hidimba Devi and opposite to this temple is Gatothgaja Temple dedicated to the great warrior son of Bema and Hidimba Devi Entry Free
Another temple to the great sage Vashishta of Hindu Mythology Entry Free
Road to Rohtang La is very tough and tiring Road Route - Partially good and partially bad
Town next to Keylong. Rooms in Keylong are expensive, but in this town it was very cheap. Beautiful location and road route from Keylong to Kawaring is good Room Rent - 800 / 5 Person Road - Good and smooth in condition
Road to Pang leads through Sarchu. Also the route from Kawaring is good for few kms and then the route is way too rocky. About 10 kms before Sarchu the Tarmac is patchy and Bumpy Less food stalls here and good spot to rest for couple of hours Breakfast / Lunch - 550 / 5 Person
After Sarchu the route to Pang is extremely worst with water logs here and there. It is rocky. It covers 77 kms and it takes more time. Never try to travel this route if it gets dark, really dangerous. Tsarap River can be all the way long to Pang. Pang is such a remote area that no Postpaid network (of-course prepaid from other states never work in J&K Zone) works in this zone. There are no STD / ISD booths as well. Phone calls in case emergency has to be made from Army Camp which is few kms away towards Sarchu. Room Rent - 250 / Person (Not a Tent) Dinner - 60 / Person Morning Tea - 20 / Person
Road to Leh is excellent and well maintained by BRO (Border Road Organization) except for the first 10 km from Pang. Rumtse is again another Army zone where there are a lot of camps where help is offered in case of emergency. @ Julley Cafe & Home Stay we stopped for Lunch. It was not so expensive as earlier at Kawaring. It seems that they have chain of Julley Cafe & Home Stay Network through out Leh Ladakh area. Lunch - Julley Home Stay -
Once we crossed Upshi which is about 40 - 50 km from Leh we reached a Check point, to make entry of our vehicles From here Leh - Ladakh starts and we passed the Army camp again. Towards Leh on the left was Hemis Gompa, a famous Monastery in Leh. It is a very old monastery and the lama of Leh resides here when he visits. There is Museum showcasing the history of the monastery along with the gifts it has received over the duration. Entry Fee - 50 / Person
From Hemis Gompa we ride to Leh via Thiksey and Shey Palace (visit to these place were strictly if time permits) In Leh after we checked into Guest House, we ride to Shanti Stupa. A very famous monument in Leh visited by Many tourists. It was few km from where we stayed. The View of the City during the night is excellent from the top of the hill. Also for Star Gazers this is the rite spot. Late night stars from the top of this hill would look like viewing the galaxy, such pure is the environment in this zone. Exactly the rite spot for photographers From here we reached the Leh market for dinner. There are lot of options from local food, to Nepali, Tibetan, Indian and other Chinese and Japanese food stalls. Leh Room Rent - 1200 / 5 Person Shanti Stupa Entry Fee - 0 / Dinner -
Chang La, about 5360 mts high from Sea Level falls on the way to Pangong Tso. It is one of the worst inclined routes. Suggestion to all motorbike riders - do get your vehicle tuned by mechanic if it is a Carbuerator, as the oxygen is low in all the zones as your start climbing the altitude, but climbing Chang la is very steep and at times you have ride half clutch in first or second gear only (Fuel Injector vehicle ignore this suggestion). To avoid any further damage to your Vehicle. On the top of the mountain there is a base camp and also on the other side there is a base camp. The army helps visitors with tea and water, as this is what is going to be necessary for you at high altitudes, more and more water. Road Route - Worst of all filled with lots of water logs (be careful while crossing them, they are cold and the flow is fast at some points) Mechanic Cost - Regular Indian Vehicle Rs 100 but vehicles like NS 200 or ones with huge front fairing Rs 200 - Rs 600
Pangong Tso, If you have watched the movie 3 Idiots and remember the climax, the huge lake where Kareena rides to meet Amir Khan is Pangong Tso. It is also close to China Border. An entry fee is applicable to all vehicles While you ride to Pangong Tso you also get a chance to see Marmots, amazing little fellows choosing to live only above 4000m This place is amazing and do not stop where you see a lot of crowd as the actual scenic part is way ahead. Pangong Tso river is part of Indus Valley Road Route - After the Army Base Camp the route is pretty much good. Vehicle Entry Fee - 50 / 4 vehicles Lunch - 810 / 5 person
Same day return from Pangong Tso after Lunch. Route to ride back is same, cross the army camp, cross all the inclined roads, cross the water logs, and reach Leh via the same market Route to Diskit from Pangong is available but heard from locals that it is not good ride especially in the dark. If required hire some tents in Pangong and rest for the day and ride to Diskit from here, but we decided to ride the same day back to Leh. We decided to ride back and cross all the water logs before it get dark and we did so and by the time we reached the base of the mountain, it was dark. After a cup of tea, we ride back to Leh City again. Abbreviate Guest House, Leh - 1200 / 4 person
Kardung la the highest motorable road in the world as proclaimed in India ia about 18380 feet above see level. A stay