Khardung-La is the highest motorable pass in the world. While the army roads are mostly fantastic in fact better than Mumbai roads, the elements cause damage to the road on a regular basis. The road to Nubra valley has some of the most beautiful scenery one can see. The geological conditions are something we have not seen anywhere else. Rocks of all colours, copper, green, purple, grey and a combination of beautiful streams and greenery, rock faces, snow clad mountains and the dessert at Hunder which is where we were headed. Sonam from Mentokling guesthouse was most helpful. Not only did he arrange for the cab but also provided us an emergency oxygen cylinder and his own bsnl card. The cylinder was provided just in case we planned to stay overnight at Pangong as per our original itinerary. Pangongs temperature had dropped down to 2 deg C courtesy some snowfall which means staying there could be a little dicey.
Not very often does an IT engineer get to tread the Highest Motorable Road in the world, that too twice in a day. We were one of the chosen few blessed with this gift and a memory to be cherished forever. The itinerary prepared for Leh had some extraordinary landscapes, picturesque lakes and steep mountains to be covered and Khardung La topped them all, literally too!
We started at around 6 towards Khardungla pass, the then highest motorable in the world (currently second). Once we started moving upwards from Leh, the temperature started to dip and our poor glubs couldn't take it. During the last few miles, the rocky road, with landslide prone areas and patches of ice, made us touch the ground a couple of times. Our riding speed was hardly more than an old man riding an old bicycle, so no damage done. Once we reached the top, I could barely hold my mobile to click a photo (see my face below).While returning from the pass, the sun had warmed the place and we took a long break to admire the birds' eye view of greens in barren landscape of Ladakh. We stayed in a home stay in Leh for the night.
The next destination after Leh was Nubra, and our first stop from Leh to Nubra valley was Khardungla Pass, one of the highest motorable mountain passes in the world at 18380 feet! It was like driving over a summit and I could literally feel how my breathing slowed down, but the excitement level was not in a mood to compromise. Though it was not advisable to stay at the K-top for too long because the air at 18000+ feet was very thin, we came back to our car after spending a good 30 minutes, singing and shouting amongst the colourful prayer flags fluttering at the top. We got our adrenaline rush pumping, you see!