An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. 

Tripoto
16th Jun 2016

Delhi – Chandigarh – Manali – Leh – Khardung La – Leh – Kargil – Srinagar – Delhi

JUNE 16 TO JUNE 30 2016

The Team

1.Balaji kumar Royal Enfield Desert Storm 500 cc

2.Sunil Kumar Ktm Duke 200 cc

3.Asif Elayadathil

4.Deepak Papineni

5.Satish Kumar Yamaha FZ-S

6.Kiran Kumar Royal Enfield Desert Storm 500 cc

4 Bikes and 6 Wonderful people

The bikes experienced all the tough terrains that any bike would be tested for, slush, hard soil, soft sand, stony, wet, water crossings, slippery, uphill, downhill etc.

This was more of a mentally challenging ride, anyone can take any bike and go but the connect between the bike and the rider is of utmost importance. If you do not trust or do not know your bike avoid this trip.

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes.  1/1 by Kiran
all our luggage in the lift

Water becomes more during evenings so better to start the ride early morning. We did see a beautiful frozen lake and spent some time and went towards pangong, the place which was shown in the climax of 3 idiots Hindi movie. We reached the Pangong Tso lake finally, what a beauty, crystal clear water surrounded by the cold desert. It’s a visual treat to the eyes.

After some wonderful breakfast and soup, we headed towards LEH with much more confidence now. The roads from Pang are just amazing, we zoomed towards LEH, the KTM was still towing the FZ. We reached Ladakh passing through some amazing landscapes. We did take some rest and we were just under 40kms from LEH. There were also signboards which showed directions to all tourist places nearby.

Day 1

First flight from bangalore to delhi, the bikes have been shipped from bangalore and are already waiting near the railway station. Landed in delhi, booked a room, off to the railway station to collect the bike. Took the bike, checked for damages and the next day it was Manali.

Photo of Delhi, India by Kiran
Day 2

Delhi to Manali, initially planned to stay in Chandigarh but ended up riding to Manali. We missed all the beautiful scenic roads while entering Manali as we were riding at night. Reached Manali and found a place to stay.

delhi roads

Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kiran

If you are going to Leh via Manali, a permit is required. Do carry a copy of your insurance, RC, Pollution check papers and head to the Permit office, the timings are from 8am to 12pm.

the beautiful roads

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran

We did get our permits and did some shopping for some woolen wear, jerry cans, bunjee cords and took some rest. During this time we also visited Solang Valley and experienced paragliding at its best. 3000rs per person, its well worth the ride.

testing thermal wear at manali

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran
Day 3

Next day was Manali to Kellong, some tough roads to encounter and we ended up staying in Kellong. A very beautiful place covered by snow capped mountains, you can also find few ATMs in this place, do withdraw some cash as ATMs disappear enroute to LEH.

keylong

Photo of Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kiran

After an awesome stay at kellong, we headed towards leh. Our initial plan was to stay at Jispa, but most of them suggested Jispa would eat a lot of money for stay. So we thought of staying somewhere else on the way.

rhotang pass

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran

Most of us were already showing symptoms of High altitude sickness, the white colour of the snow appeared as pale blue.

maggi at 14000 feet

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran

We had maggi along the way at one of the tents, maggi at 14000 feet. One of the guys showing bad signs of sickness.

along the mountains

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran

We were too tired to ride further, as one of our bikes was also struggling at that high altitude.

first signs of snow

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran

So, we had to tow the Yamaha FZ which was not able to move at high speed withe the KTM duke 200. Our rider Deepak showed amazing skills to tow that bike. We did encounter some water crossings along the way

water crossings along the way

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran

and most of us got our feet wet, some did change to gum boots after that. Gum boots are very much useful in water crossings. Please also carry extra pairs of socks. It’s not warm water from those mountains, its freezing cold water from the glaciers.

journey along sarchu

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran
Day 4

This is where the bad part is, SARCHU. This place will never be forgotten by anyone in our group. Where there is cold wind, low oxygen, harsh weather conditions its called Sarchu. Towards Sarchu you can find tents to stay on both sides, heard all facilities are provided over there inclusive of food, toilets and good stay. One of our riders had a terrible health issues, so we had to take him to the nearby army camp in Sarchu for medical assistance.

suffering from high altitude sickness

Photo of Sarchu, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kiran

After getting him to the army camp, some of us went to search for rooms, we found some rooms near the Sarchu checkpost,

room in sarchu

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran

After you cross the checkpost its Jammu. We stayed near to the check post. Everyone’s health was screwed up and we hit the bed , the water is extremely cold and people who had to use the rest room had an unforgettable experience.

Day 5

After a terrible day, we left Sarchu the next morning and reached Pang. Pang is just beautiful, our luck changed from there. Some wonderful weather, lovely people. We Stayed at Lyon guest house in Pang.

lyon guest house in pang

Photo of Leh Manali Highway, Pang by Kiran

There we met some wondeful women who changed our mindset and gave us confidence to complete our ride. Amazing food, awesome stay. They also provide hot water. If you need to make any phone calls, you can find an army camp which is nearby.

pang to leh amazing roads

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran

After some wonderful breakfast and soup, we headed towards LEH with much more confidence now. The roads from Pang are just amazing, we zoomed towards LEH, the KTM was still towing the FZ. We reached Ladakh passing through some amazing landscapes. We did take some rest and we were just under 40kms from LEH. There were also signboards which showed directions to all tourist places nearby.

signboards once you enter leh

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran
Day 6

We found our first petrol bunk after nearly 400kms in LEH. After that we decided to head towards Pangong Tso lake, we were still carrying luggage on our bikes. After around 30kms there was some road repair which was going on so we had to take some diversion which was steep uphill with loose sand.

the clutch plate of the ktm got burnt

Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kiran

The bullets 500cc easily climbed uphill, the KTM which towed the FZ could not pull after few metres, and at somepoint it did not go any further. The KTM clutch plate got burnt and the worst part we had no spare clutch plate. Since the road was downhill towards LEH, it was easy for the KTM to head towards the signboard of Ladakh. There we had to hire a Mini truck and had to board our KTM and FZ and head to one of the mechanic shops in LEH. The first mechanic shops appear in LEH. We did reach one of the mechanic shops in LEH , Mohan Mechanic

mohan mechanic in leh

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran

a very famous mechanic in LEH. By the time we reached it was too dark and he advised us that he also does not have a spare clutch, so we found another mechanic in LEH who told he had a spare clutch for KTM. But later he advised that he would put the pulsar clutch plate for KTM as both were similar. We did not agree to that and we had also booked a room, LYON guest house in LEH. The same LYON guest house is also in PANG and we met a person whom we can never forget. ZOTPA, the owner of the guest house got his car to pick us up from the mechanic shop and we dumped all our luggage in his car and one of us went to the guest house. Zotpa assured us that he would contact some of his friends and arrange for KTM clutch plates. Meanwhile we sorted the problem of FZ and other bikes in the mechanic shop and Zotpa was still with us and made sure we reached the room. We had dinner and retired for the day.

The next day the bullets were fitted with new luggage carriers as the old ones were bent. We did inquire about the KTM clutch plates and one of our contacts, a guy who works in Srinagar KTM advised he had the clutch plated but would sent it through one of the taxi guys. He ditched us in the last moment thinking how we would make the payment. We were out of options and Zotpa already had introduced us to The Greater ladakh tours owner, who offered us help. He also rented KTMs which were the only ones in LEH, we hardly knew him, he had a single spare Clutch plate which he gave it to us and charged the same amount nothing more. We realized LEH is much more than its mountains and landscapes it the people who are more valuable in LEH.

left: with lyon guest house owner Zotpa , upper right: the owner of the greater ladakh

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran
Day 7

We went to Mohan mechanic the next day and did get our KTM ready. We headed towards Pangong Tso, the roads are horrible towards pangong. You better carry a backsupport. As usual many watercrossings.

frozen lake enroute pangong

Photo of Pangong Lake by Kiran

Water becomes more during evenings so better to start the ride early morning. We did see a beautiful frozen lake and spent some time and went towards pangong, the place which was shown in the climax of 3 idiots Hindi movie. We reached the Pangong Tso lake finally, what a beauty, crystal clear water surrounded by the cold desert. It’s a visual treat to the eyes.

pangong tso

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran

We headed back to LEH to our room, you can also get tshirts printed in LEH. Many shops offer different varieties and prices. Shanti Stupa is one of the famous places in LEH.

Day 8

The next day was planned to Khardung La, the world’s highest motorable road.

khardung la

Photo of Khardung La by Kiran

We had got our prayer flags the previous day and wanted to tie it to our bikes after reaching Khardung la. It was just under 50kms from LEH. But as usual water crossings and freezing weather conditions and bad roads. We reached Khardung la and were surprised to see so many tourists gathered around the board for just one singe picture. They spoil the beauty of the place, there is an army canteen nearby where you can fill your stomach, water bottles are not available.

view from the top of khardung la, below is the army canteen

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran

We did get some pictures over there and tied our flags to our bikes and headed back happy and proud.

We finished our shopping and headed back to our room and tied our luggage to the bikes and the journey back to delhi was on.

Day 9

We left LEH and headed towards Srinagar. The plan was to stay in Kargil but some of the riders advised us to stay in Lamayuru, it was dark by the time we reached Lamayuru and the roads are too good from Leh to Lamayuru.

lamayuru

Photo of Lamayuru by Kiran

We stayed in a guest house in Lamayuru and took some valuable rest and headed towards Srinagar the next day.

The dangerous Zoji la pass was on for the next day, lots of traffic on those mountains and some dangerous curves and not much snow on the way but we could see some amazing landscapes.

along zoji la pass

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran

We encountered the wall of snow it was amazing. We had our lunch at Drass, the Tiger hill could be seen from Drass, the world’s second coldest uninhabited place. Some amazing food in Drass and beautiful roads towards Srinagar. We entered near Srinagar and there was tight security in the entire region.

beautiful srinagar

Photo of An unplanned journey to Leh Ladakh on bikes. by Kiran
Day 10

Srinagar an amazing experience, security personnel everywhere and we stayed nearby Lal Chowk. We had our lunch at the famous Mughal Darbar, Kashmiri wazwan which was famous there was good. We headed towards Delhi from Srinagar.

along srinagar

Photo of Srinagar by Kiran
Day 11

The roads are just brilliant from Srinagar to Delhi. We had our dinner at a nearby Dhaba after crossing Jammu. Found the room at around 4am in the morning, we strugged a lot to find rooms at midnight. Slept the entire day and headed to Delhi by afternoon. We reached Delhi after crossing some hot conditions. Lots of smoke and Traffic welcomed us to Delhi.

few kms before delhi for a break

Photo of Delhi, India by Kiran

We stayed in Delhi and the next day headed to Pack our bikes back home to bangalore. 12k for the royal enfields and 3.5k for the fz and ktm by the packers. We were done with procedure and headed back to the room had some wonderful lunch and our flight to bangalore was scheduled in the evening and we reached Bangalore around midnight.

The journey was over, all those struggle, emotions, adventures were over in a blink of an eye. Lots of things were learnt, lots of memories, lots of pictures and all those smiling faces will be with us forever.

The ride taught us a lot of things, we were back with a lot of happiness and satisfaction inspite of missing on some places. Thank god and all our friends and family for backing us on this trip of a lifetime. Adding an achievement in the Piston Saints Family.

Do check the video

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3 Comment(s)
Sort by:
Fabulously written. The details conjured up the images in my mind which drive to take up the trip !! :) But i too have a Yamaha FZ :( .. What problem did your FZ face, and how was it sorted out? And given that it was sorted out, would you still recommend FZ for the trip? This will help me in preparations.
Tue 06 12 18, 14:41 · Reply (1) · Report
thank you Raja, sorry logged in after a long time. Fz had issue starting up at high altitude , we had to remove the air filter and ride further. it depends on your bike condition , our bike condition was bad
Tue 10 09 18, 10:03 · Report
Thank you :)
Fri 02 09 18, 09:29 · Reply · Report
amazingly written!! Cheers!!
Thu 11 03 16, 15:37 · Reply (1) · Report
thank you
Mon 12 26 16, 10:00 · Report
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