9 days of a speck of dust- 13 days of travel on a motorbike- Leh Ladakh!!

Tripoto
1st Aug 2017

The view towards Chang La

Photo of 9 days of a speck of dust- 13 days of travel on a motorbike- Leh Ladakh!! by Pranit Tulsidas Naik
Photo of 9 days of a speck of dust- 13 days of travel on a motorbike- Leh Ladakh!! 1/1 by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

And as he rode for 18 hours and 600 kms , his journey had ended, his stay at Delhi was over and he would move back to his hometown- Goa!!

It all begun on 23rd July post the offer letter he received. 8 days and he had to ride to Leh- one last trip before he moves back home.Begin the marvelous sculptured roads of Leh. Neither me nor anyone else can take this road for you.

Day 1-August 1st 2017- Highways and dust!!

All riders like to feel the morning breeze (and a lot of dust) on their face. At the tick of 5 am i was on the move, zigzagging and crisscrossing every truck , bus and milk van i met on the road. By 10 am i was en-route 15 kms short of Chandigarh. As i rode i was prepared for rains. Its Manali , what else can you expect other than a random weather change?

By 7 pm i had checked in to my hotel room and by 9 was done with the oil seal change for my bike!!

Clouds trying to hide the half moon , glittering stars and the sound of flowing water!!

Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Pranit Tulsidas Naik
Day 1
Photo of Bhuntar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

Day 2-August 2nd 2017- The creator

The idea of creation is present. If you provide the necessary conditions you might as well get an awestruck creation!!While climbing Rohtang pass and navigating the muddy roads in heavy rains , one almost curses himself for leaving all the luxuries and comforts of life and riding a bike in the mountains!! Mountains, fresh waterfalls and greenery keeps you going. The cold breeze can either knock you down or teach you to stand tall!! In absence of rains there stood huge mountains, barren mountains!! The one who created this had used every possible permutation and combination to design his creation. With change in seasons he experiments with his creation!!

Day 2
Photo of Rohtang Pass, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by Pranit Tulsidas Naik
Photo of Tandi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

Day 3 – 3rd August 2017- Haunted loops

Some of the best journeys might begin during times of chaos, but are best experienced post the worst part of the best journeys. True to its every word the road from Jispa to Sarchu took me 3 hours. Pebbles, water crossings, altitude, fog and countless bars. Indian army is witty and sarcastic. The sign boards placed by them read, “drink whisky, ride risky”. To mention one of the famous bars- zing zing bar and special mention – whisky bar and brandy bar. Yes, you got it right, Indian army does name them!

Day 3

At Sarchu I met two Bangalore riders. They cursed every road they had ridden from Chandigarh to Sarchu. Seldom we knew hell had just begun!!

Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

The haunted Gata loops was the worst part I could have ever ridden .Narrow roads lead you to an abyss, heavy trucks carrying daily requisites towards Leh , sun at its peak and dust on the move. Not to mention the loops and hairpin curves in the absence of proper roads. My sight was on road, my body in shock and the brain cursing me as I followed my heart.

Photo of Zing Zing Bar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Pranit Tulsidas Naik
Photo of Zing Zing Bar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

Begin the marvelous sculptured roads of Leh. Neither me nor anyone else can take this road for you.

Photo of Pang, Leh by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

You will need to ride them to experience them. A 65 kms stretch to Taglang la, surrounded by mountains, greenery and army trucks. Leh here I come!!!

Day 4- 4th August 2017- Surrounded by mountains they guard us resting from the memorial built for them!!!

Once you enter Leh, I recommend you take the Leh district pass as soon as possible. The faster the better.

As I sit here in the dining hall of Mikza home stay I can clearly see snow clad mountains. There are trees whistling and birds chirping. Rarely can you hear a car honk. Straight roads, army camps and uniforms. Let us rewind the day and begin below.

Day 4
Photo of Leh by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

As I rode to Gurudwara Pathar Sahib , one could clearly witness faith and humanity. The clan of Sikhs is a clean example of humbleness, dignity and humanity. Food is served for free, everyone works and maintains the premises. (The army maintains Gurudwara Pathar Sahib). If you hurt this clan or you hurt their dignity you might as well be ready for a war on you ????

Photo of Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Leh by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

As I rode ahead to magnetic hill there was no magnetic effect felt. My bike did not defy gravity. Even if it did, it would have gone un noticed as the marks for the magnetic effect are only for a meter. Sangam valley or the confluence of Indus and Zanskar is a view worth every stop. You can clearly see two rivers meeting at a point alongside the difference in color of the water.

Photo of Zanskar Valley Road, Padum by Pranit Tulsidas Naik
Photo of Zanskar Valley Road, Padum by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

On the way, back you can visit the war museum. Here you can see the gear used by army and read about the heroics performed by our brave men during all the wars India faced. The memorial hall displays the name and regiment details of every brave man who walked this path and never saw home again. Soomany families left without fathers, husbands, sons, brothers!

Do read the letter written by a father to his son in response to the last letter received by the father. Dedication towards the country can have a thousand faces, I believe this one is the most difficult one where one would give up their life for a better future of this country.

Photo of War Memorial, Leh by Pranit Tulsidas Naik
Photo of War Memorial, Leh by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

Day 5 - 5th August 2017 - A lifetime journey for someone , is a daily routine for us- Indian Army

I am here again at Mikza home stay. Last time I had checked I had almost cursed this place for being too far away from the main city. Not to mention the dusty under construction roads and the trucks carrying material for road construction. May be It was the fatigue from the 350 kms ride on day 3. As I gulped down homemade dal rice, my stomach had stopped creating weird noises (the gulu gulu , kui sounds). Chaval (Rice) had stabilized my belly. It is almost full moon and the clouds try to hide its brightness. Alas they miss!!

Day 5
Photo of Alchi Road, Leh by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

My day had begun at 10.00 am moving towards Alchi. I am not a museum guy! On the contrary I hate museums and historical places. But this place was different. I over heard a tourist guide – this one is from the 8th century. I knew this place smelt old, but this old? Various Buddhas, monks , paintings and water offerings for every Buddha and monk!!

Photo of Alchi by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

As we move higher, the greenery decreases. You do find patches of green next to the river alongside a village. On my way towards Alchi I met Mr . Mumbai who was riding an enfield. He enlightened me about Moonland – Lamayaru monastery. He saw my luggage , my bike and said to me-Young man , it’s a Karizma , you will make it back with plenty of fuel!

Photo of The Lamayuru Monastery, Lamayuru by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

60 kms from Alchi and I did curse Mr. Mumbai. I had just broken the number 1 rule; no riding off routes when you are solo. So also , it was just another monastery. As I stood next to a flag and was done cursing Mr. Mumbai I turned. Awestruck as I saw the below view. The planned 120 kms turned to be 250 kms. I met Mr Mumbai at the monastery and we exchanged notes.

Photo of 9 days of a speck of dust- 13 days of travel on a motorbike- Leh Ladakh!! by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

Day 6- 6th August 2017- Tears of Joy

At 7 am I left from Leh. It was an uneasy night, weird dreams. As I rode through Leh , one could easily identify the rate at which I was gaining altitude. 15 kms short of Khardungla and I was back to treacherous roads. Sorry- treacherous rocks and mud!!

Day 6
Photo of Khardung La by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

The first 10 kms were completed in an hour and my bike was already under performing. And then I just realized and recollected the time when I ate 8 green chilies in a competition.

I would never do it if I had not got the crowd cheering – Go Kammo Go!! The secret mantra to success. Chanting Go Kammo Go I traversed the world’s highest motorable pass at 18380 feet.

Photo of Khardung La by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

As I stepped down from my bike I was already in tears ( or maybe it was just the dust ????). Magnificent Himalayas and snow clad peaks. You can see the road like a line drawn on a heap of mud!!.

Photo of Khardung La by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

The descent was good enough and I was at Diskit in 3 hours. Nubra is a world in its own!! Sand, water and a river. Creator did use his every possible combination. Board reading Siachen Tusker was a sign of goodwill and trust!! From Diskit I explored Sumur - land of sand dunes.

Photo of North Pullu by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

Some day Goans will take over this world!!! I met another Goan- Pinto at Sumur. He is the caretaker at one of the shacks at Sumur. Fellow Goenkars hugged and greeted each other . I rode back to Diskit post a cup of tea by Pinto.

Photo of Diskit by Pranit Tulsidas Naik
Photo of Diskit by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

Day 7- 7th August 2017- Flow with the river

The last Indian Village – Turtuk. As I rode through the mountains, the beauty never changed. It was spectacular and indeed breath-taking. You could see humongous mountains and their peaks clad with snow. There was a gentle breeze blowing and the ride was easy. As I entered Turtuk I was greeted by a waterfall. The water from mountains is pure. It is cold but pure!! At my guest house I was told about a nearby river where I could swim. I trekked through a small forest area and there it was.

Day 7
Photo of Turtuk by Pranit Tulsidas Naik
Photo of Turtuk by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

If Turtuk is on your list, then a dip at this river junction should be on yours to do list. The water current will drive you for a couple of meters and dump you right next to the exit. Flowing freezing water and you would do it again!!

Post lunch and a nap my next walk was towards the natural freezers. At a point among these freezers one can literally feel the cold. Built using layers of stones and wooden doors, these storage locations are used to store meat and dairy products extending life for a period of 1-2 months depending on external climate conditions.

Photo of Turtuk by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

The day ended with a polo match and a walk back to my guest house. Turtuk you have offered me the best hospitality I could ever receive at Leh!

Photo of Turtuk by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

Day 8- 8th August 2017- Khardungla Again!

Riding back on the same route makes you wonder- how can one miss this scenic beauty? I did travel this way right? There is soomuch to stare at and stay in peace. The mountains hasting the river to move to a lower altitude makes your heart beat fast. The fear of falling off in the flowing water, or the sheer hypnotizing power of magnificent waves hitting the rocks and rising above all, you clearly don’t want to be among them.

Day 8
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

This time Khardungla was easy enough. There was a traffic jam with tourists literally hugging the post which said Khardungla top!! Reached Leh back by 3.00 p.m. Checked into my guest house and rested for a while.

Photo of Nubra Valley by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

The day was great with not many pictures but too many views!!

Day 9- 9th August 2017- 14K feet and 135 kms of river

Why would one choose to ride rather than enjoy the comforts of a 4 wheeler and a chauffer!! The wind on my face, the treacherous route and the bike itself. Everything comes alive together. The water rivulets challenging your skillset ,the 18000 feet climb challenging your motorbike!!

By 7.00 am I was already at the fuel station to fuel my bike. Pangong would be the destination. A 5 hour ride turned to 7 hours inclusive of the breaks during my ride. By this time I had lost the water crossings count and as it was already mid day,the water levels had risen. The last water crossing was scary enough to slightly push my bike off the crossing, but managed to get through without any help or falls!!

Photo of Nubra Valley by Pranit Tulsidas Naik
Day 9

Pangong gave me a home feeling. Narrow sea, tents and sunlight. Harsh skin-burns/ tans. The only added bonus was I was at 14000 feet alongside cold winds!! The picturesque landscape is enough to keep you mesmerized for the day. The night sky at 14k feet is always better than watching or dancing in a pub filled with strangers.

Photo of Chang La by Pranit Tulsidas Naik
Photo of Chang La by Pranit Tulsidas Naik
Photo of Pangong Lake by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

As I sit now on my day of exploration, let me just rewind the memories I made : Mountains , travel , water crossings, water falls, rains swimming at turtuk, polo match , harsh sunlight, cold breeze, highest motorable pass, snow, mud, water, low oxygen , greenery, new friends, naked sky , army trucks , early morning rides, bike suspension failure and tears of joy!!!!

Photo of 9 days of a speck of dust- 13 days of travel on a motorbike- Leh Ladakh!! by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

He created mountains and let snow and water cut through them.

The mountains were ashamed of the scars left behind.

Only if they could see through my eyes,

They would love the scars,

As the scars would make me fall in love with you!!

Photo of 9 days of a speck of dust- 13 days of travel on a motorbike- Leh Ladakh!! by Pranit Tulsidas Naik

I rode for 4 more days tracking back my path to Noida. The last day had a surprise for me. There was a landslide and i had to ride 100 kms extra to reach Mandi. 609 kms and 18 hours of riding , battling dust, sun and rains i reached Noida on 14th August 2017 at 12.45 am. I had left Manali on 13th August at 6.00 am

Photo of 9 days of a speck of dust- 13 days of travel on a motorbike- Leh Ladakh!! by Pranit Tulsidas Naik
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