July 20, 2019: We started from Sarchu at 6:30am to Manali via Baralacha La Pass, Zing Zing Bar, Jispa, Keylong, Rohtang Pass.
Just before we reached Baralacha La Pass, we have been through a wide stream (name unknown) to our left side, which was all frozen and I could see the pieces of ice floating on the water flowing at a very slow current. I have never seen a frozen lake/stream before and it was a feeling of excitement. On top of that, the weather was close to 1-2 Degrees Celsius and we have literally stopped aside to remove the gloves and get some heat from the bike's engine. The hands were frozen to such an extent that after we have put our bare hands on the bike engine, it took nearly 5 minutes for us to feel the heat and sense something on the palms.
We started further after a 15 minutes break and here comes the next phase of adventure out of nowhere. We were not at all prepared for this pass, the Baralacha La Pass. There was no road for about 1.5kms and it was all filled with rock boulders and water streams flowing over it with heavy current. That was literally no road place. It is impossible for someone to tell where the road actually is/was.
While crossing the stream, one of our riders, Santosh has damaged the rear brake lever of his Dominar and he couldn't apply the rear brake at all.
For Dominar, front brake has a greater bite and driving the bike in such road with ABS turned ON was a tougher task. Santosh was worried about how to move ahead without rear brake in such roads ahead and ghats where applying brakes was very much necessary to control the bike in sharp curves and potholes.
He was reluctant to drive ahead and was planning to ship his bike to Manali with some mini transport vehicle. When asked for the charges, one of them quoted Rs.3000 to transport the bike till Manali. Btw, Manali was more 250 kms ahead of us crossing Jispa and Rohtang Pass.
Then, I asked Santosh to take my bike and I got on his bike, wanting to take risk and save money of course. The only confidence was, I have a habit of using my front brake more than the rear one on my bike, that is the reason I was sure I could handle Santosh's bike with only front brake managing to ride at lower speeds. Of course, the road condition does not allow us to go beyond 30-40kmph.
Handling the bike with only front brake and ABS was a challenge, and it was fun actually. At times, I used to press the rear brake and the bike does not stop and then realize the rear brake is gone and then engage the front brake :-D Meanwhile we crossed two very long and deep streams on our way and the water was flowing till our knees if we get down the bike. At this point, the main challenge was to ride Santosh's bike through the water with boulders inside and without keeping the legs on ground because the gum boots we had can only save us when the water is until the lower calf. I though I cannot pass the stream without wetting my pants till the knees. It would be a pain to the shoulders and arms to control the handle in such boulders below and make sure the bike keeps moving so that we don't have to stop in the middle of the stream.
We reached Rohtang La Pass by 3pm. Rohtang La Pass is known as one of the deadliest roads of the world. It is also one of the most beautiful roads where you can see the road passing through the mountains and get a clear 360 degree view of the road for several kilometers ahead of you taking hair pin bends and bottleneck curves.
While traveling from Leh to Manali, Rohtang La Pass first welcomes you with water streams, landslides, narrow roads, heavy traffic jams and all Dairy Milk chocolate resembling slush on the roads. After we cross this bad phase, all you see is greenery and heavy public all over the places. These are the tourists who come from Manali towards Rohtang Pass for a one day trip with family and friends. Rohtang is a favorite and regular tourist spot for people visiting Manali.
We reached Manali at 5:30pm and the hotel was booked through OYO on our way to Manali as soon as we got the cellular network. But by the time we reached the hotel, the OYO booking got cancelled and we had to book it again for a higher price there.