Ladakh – Some say it’s about the journey, Some say it’s about the destination – I would say it’s about passion to explore
It’s a back dated story...not like once upon a time types...but from august 2015…
I was very excited about going to Ladakh. We were 6 friends flying from Mumbai to Srinagar with an onward journey plan in a car. I had in my mind what all I was gonna do. I was confident that once we reach Ladakh, I will convince my friends to travel on bike (some were on my side since beginning).I had some preconceived notions as to how d trip will workout. Some photos at some locations, with the bikes, on the highway – lot of things were visualised based on reading of blogs & pictures & blah blah.
But the real expedition turned out to be different – almost 80-90 % different than what I thought. Nothing like not as good as I imagined nor like 100 times better than I thought. But different. Inspite of being in group, I enjoyed the self-time. Sometimes it’s about the journey, sometimes its about the destination, but mostly it was about the seatmate/pillion.
We had our Itinerary somewhat like – Mumbai - Srinagar – Kargil – Leh – Pangong – Leh – Nubra Valley – Turtuk – Leh - Srinagar - Mumbai
Each day we had some different experiences, some good, some adventurous, some not so good – but it was all worth it.
On our 2nd day of tour while going from Kargil to Leh – we were sitting on carrier on top of the car & had so much fun, that ride gave us more goose bombs then roller coaster ride in Imagica.
We visited many places in & around Leh on bikes. While going to Pangong lake we passed through Changala Pass - 3rd highest motorable road . Another best part we always came across was BRO Sign boards with classic messages throughout the roads. Pangong Tso is a saltwater lake with mirror-calm water. The colour varies across multiple shades of blue and green within the space of the same day. We visited different points at pangong lake & we were not able to move away from it as each point was so beautiful. We met many bikers group here – some travelling from Mumbai to Leh on bike, some from Manali, 1 from Srinagar & many other places. They really inspired us a lot to try & risk the remaining journey on bike.
& so for the remaining journey Leh to Nubra valley to Turtuk & back, we hired a bike. It was kind of achievement to ride through Khardungla pass – Worlds highest motorable road. The bike ride was amazing. Somewhere v actually used the lines - Nani yaad aagayi yaar . Ladakh region have got all types of climate & biographical diversity. Till here we came across lush greenery – rocky mountains – river – lake – snow – sand dunes. I guess nothing was left to see. But nature proved me wrong by giving me the best star gazing experience. We could see stars in front of our eyes & we don’t have to look upwards for it…we had stars for whole 180 degree… I have never seen so many falling stars in my whole life the much I saw during those 3 to 4 hours.
Another day with the whole excitement to see the last village of India , we headed towards Turtuk. A small typical Kashmir village on India – Pakistan border. The village have a Pakistani culture since it belonged to Pakistan once. We hired a local guide who showed us the whole village through its small lanes, apple & apricot trees, a temple, a mosque, an old museum, local market & all. We travelled through whole village in almost 3 to 4 hrs. It was again a different experience.
In our group , we had 3 chefs - & that was a bliss. At so many places our lovely chefs use to get into the kitchen & cook for us. At times they use to do the dissection of the food & cry about how bad it is & we remaining 3 use to look at each other & then food & with eyes say each other “accha toh he, chood ignore them & lets concentrate on food”. The people in Ladakh were so cooperative. They used to allow us to enter their kitchen, use the sockets to charge, allow home/personal washrooms to use, really very generous people.
While coming back from Turtuk to Leh , I was riding bike for more than 7 hours, I enjoyed it like anything but towards the end I was tired, we got a bit wet & so were feeling cold like anything – my legs started losing sensation, I was sad also because my other friends in car didnt waited for us & with all this going together, I had one thing in mind – to reach asap. My mind almost stopped working & we saw a short cut & so we took that. The moment we entered, I realised It was red sand that to wet. Somehow we tried to reach till end & as the end came, we saw there is almost 2 feet gap between the road & the end. I realise if we fall on road, we will be badly injured & so I applied both the break completely & just jumped from the bike. We were not injured much since it was red wet sand. Instead of getting up, we started laughing. Soon only we got help & got our bike on road with help of 2 more people. Later we reached Leh safely. In a day I rode through cement roads, water, sand, stone, mud – dirt, rough patches & what not. I felt like lost but in the right direction. In the middle of nowhere, I felt like am now really finding myself.
It was almost time to return – return from Ladakh – By this time I realised why is it named heaven on earth- because it’s so true. The most important thing was left to see - Hall of fame. A must visit place. It made me realise - the sacrifice of our great Indian soldiers, the battles they won, the lifes they sacrificed, the difficulties they faced & survived through. We saw the documentary on Operation Vijay (Kargil war fought between India & Pakistan),The contribution made by Border Road organisation because of whom we are able to visit this heaven on earth. Everyone in that room got goose-bums. Can’t explain the whole experience in words- one should visit it.
We visited many monasteries, museums, landmark, witnessed many beautiful sunrise & sunsets, collusion of rivers, etc but then like said by many others – Its more about the jouney & less about the destination.
We had our tour partly on Bikes & partly by car – Next time am gonna have completely on bike – Manali to Srinagar Via Ladakh – That’s the future plan or promise I made to myself “will come back on my bike within 3 years”
Ladakh is a miniature in this superlative world - but the exquisiteness it offers you is worth more than a round trip to the globe.
Roads taught me many things which a degree, job, & friends were not able to teach me – To be responsible for yourself – my capabilities – my limitations – much realistic approach to life
Life is beautiful. Eat Ride Drive repeat!!! Its good to take breaks & visit the awaited items in the bucketlist. Sometimes planned & sometimes unplanned. Never get so busy making a living that you forget to live.
The more I travel more I realise, how insignificant I am in this magnificent world. But the more I travel, I get to know the upgraded version of myself. The more I travel, the more hungry I am for travel – I guess travelling is an exception to the Marginal utility theory.
DREAM – DARE – DRIVE !!! Bon voyage – keep on exploding