How I got LeDakh'ed :)

12th Aug 2016
Photo of How I got LeDakh'ed :) by Archana Ramesh

12th August was when I headed to THE dream destination of riders! - Ladakh :)

Day 1

We reached Delhi in the morning and evening was the bus arranged by the mOtOsAgA group to Manali. We loafed around at my newly-wed cousin's place at Saket and took a metro to the bus station - R.K.Ashram Pillar No. 7 by evening. We reached the station by 6:00p.m and the bus departed at 7:00 - we weren't sure if the others in the bus also had chosen the same road trip so we hardly spoke to each other. :)

Day 2

Day 1(13th Aug): On reaching Manali, jeeps were arranged from the bus station to the hotel. We were given the room keys, and later were called to a conference room where we were given a copy of the road map, instructions on gear and do's and dont's and the bike keys. For those who didn't carry proper gears, no worries - you get everything in Manali - for purchase as well as for rent! The elbow and knee guards were available for a rent of INR 100 per day, which wasn't too much considering certain stretches of roads.

32 souls and 20 bullets, took off to Kotha, 2 kms before Rohtang for a test drive. The ride was heart whelming :)

Day 3

We were back to our rooms with much excitement for the actual expedition. We started off next day(14th Aug) by 9:00a.m(Plan was 7:00a.m but certain bikes required mechanic's blessings and hug!) Through Rohtang through Tandi(where we filled the petrol tanks because the next petrol bunk was 365kms away!! - yes that's right!), we reached Jispa that was our first camp site. This site couldn't hold all of us, so some of us were moved to another site even closer to the river - It was a fairytale location and loved every bit of it. This was my first camp experience too!

Day 4

15th: Next day morning we hit back on the roads, and were prepared for the harsh roads our leader had warned us of. The road to Sarchu. On reaching Sarchu camp, we realized that the stay at Sarchu was going to be worse than the roads .. temperature fell below 5 degree and we were freezing without electricity. Each camp had space for two & had a bathroom attached. Even though we had water from the tap, we couldn't touch it - it hurt us everytime we did! The camp organizers were kind enough to heat one bucket of water and supply it to every tent. We had our own share of 'heat' and campfire the previous night so sleep wasn't an issue under the super cozy blankets! It was super fun and once-in-a-lifetime-experience :)

Day 5

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 <3

We 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.

Day 6

We checked into the hotel in Leh by about 7:45pm and was too tired to do anything. Next day, we set off to Khardung La Top, the highest motorable road in the world. The ride to the top wasn't so pleasant as the roads weren't tarred or proper after a point. Some of us who had breathing issues (which is very common at that point because of the altitude), left back to hotel soon. The whole day was for us to loiter around Leh at our leisure. Some of us visited the majestic Shanti Stupa while others did little bit of shopping in Leh (Pashmina shawls and the singing bowl are the 2 must haves from the Leh market). Oh, and there are custom made T-shirts that you can get in Leh market. They usually take one day to get your design stitched and one T-shirt costs about 400-500 INR. A good drink at a bar, and a night stroll afterwards through the market is something you should do!

Day 7

18th: All of us got ready and a traveler van was waiting for us outside the hotel. This was an excursion day to Pangong lake.. this gave a day's break for the riders as well! Pangong Tso lake, as the 100 odd pictures on Google illustrates is more beautiful, serene and breathtaking than those in the pictures. It also depends on the time and climate you visit the lake, as the lake is an absolute reflection of the sky. Sometimes its blue, sometimes green and sometimes colorless. It was Rakshabandhan and one of us had Rakhi tied on to her brother's hand who was also in our trip. Hundreds of pictures again and then it started raining. What looked as a colorless lake till then turned out to be absolute blue. We were lucky enough to witness the change! We then rode back through the place where 3 idiots was shot and through various Indian Army camps.

Day 8

19th: We started our journey back from Leh. Tso Moriri was our destination on this day. We reached Tso Moriri by evening and this place being far and less visited, had its own charm. The sunset and the moon light fell on the lake which we could see from our rooms - we thought we can never have enough of it.

Day 9

20th: After a good night stay and Tso Moriri and witnessing one of the most beautiful sunrises, we started our journey for the day. Driving through More planes again, this time everybody more careful, we reached our camp at Sarchu by evening. We were more dreaded about the stay at Sarchu, but Sarchu was good to us this time around!

Day 10

21st: Next day, we rode back to Manali through Rohtang pass. We reached late evening as we took it slow and had a number of scenic views that deserved a good time. It was absolutely an emotional moment on arriving Manali. The sights seen, the friendships made, the backs broken, the bullets fixed, the much needed breaks, riverside roads, and above all those, the bullet that carried us all throughout... It was definitely not ours but we certainly had a tough time saying Good bye to it. Some of us hugged, some of us kissed and some of us bowed down in front of their own bullets. :) The bullets were taken to the workshop for the next batch of riders.

22nd: We got this day to sight see Manali and explore the markets. Hidimba temple (where the kidnapping scene film 'Roja' was shot) is one of the places you need to visit. You can also get clicked in the traditional 'Kashmiri' attire here. By evening we boarded the bus from Manali to Delhi. We reached Delhi in the morning and took the flight back to Bangalore by evening. Bangalore was kind enough to welcome us with a pleasant weather. :)

Day 12

With tons of memories, loads of good friends and a life time experience, we got back to our desk jobs, with smiles!