LADAKH TRIP: Hyderabad - Leh - Hyderabad. An adventure of 5 Dominar riders, 22 days, 6,500 kms.

4th Jul 2019
Photo of LADAKH TRIP: Hyderabad - Leh - Hyderabad. An adventure of 5 Dominar riders, 22 days, 6,500 kms. by Arshad Irfan

A rider's dream, especially Indians, is always to conquer the Leh, Ladakh on their bikes. This is where the planning started, from the first quarter of 2019, learning about the journey, adventure, struggle, excitement and expectations.

We have started working in this trip from the beginning of January 2019, working towards setting the trip, days, halts, budget, plan and convenience.

We are a team of 5 members from the same riding group in Hyderabad driving Dominars.

Let me introduce you to my team first:

- Santosh: Named his bike Lily.

- Vikranth: Named his bike Vishakha.

- Manoj: Named his bike Rani.

- Shobhit: Named his bike Toothless.

- Arshad (Me): Named my bike Nightfury.

Photo of LADAKH TRIP: Hyderabad - Leh - Hyderabad. An adventure of 5 Dominar riders, 22 days, 6,500 kms. 1/1 by Arshad Irfan
My Nightfury
Day 1

July, 4, 2019: We gathered at Decathlon near Suchitra in Hyderabad and the riders from our biking group (Dominators-HYD) have come to greet us Bon-Voyage.

The destination for Day 1 was Nagpur which is around 580kms from Hyderabad.

The first day of ride, started at 8am (after pics and greetings from all other riders of our riding group) with full of energy and excitement. We all have intercoms to speak to each other through out the ride. The intercoms we have is of 4 riders connectivity. Therefore, we used to connect 3 riders to one conference and the other two a second connectivity and we used to switch people between these groups for more lively interaction.

We were constantly cruising at 100-110kmph on he NH44 which is one of the smoothest highways of India. The road was such lively and beautiful on our way to Nagpur. We reached Nagpur at 8pm and the Orange City Riders group from the Nagpur were waiting for us to host us for the night. We have been to Haldirams for dinner and had tasty Chole Bhature spending some time with them and they have also presented us their riding group badges and stickers. <3

Day 2

July 5, 2019: The second day of the most exciting ride started at 7am from Nagpur. The destination for today was Jhansi via Chindhwara around 600 kms from Nagpur. The road was through low ghat roads and the view was much scenic. It was densely clouded and we were expecting rain. Rightly as expected, there was a heavy rain and the riding speed has come down to 60kmph. We put on the rain gear and moved ahead towards the destination in the rain.

The awesome part of today was, when we were entering Madhya Pradesh, we could see heavy rain just 500mts ahead of us and we stopped to put on the raining gears.

The first round of riding in the rain was done and we stopped at a place which was green all around to have some snacks.

As soon as we started from the break, it started raining heavily. Heavier than we were expecting, but we have decided not to stop. We are more 400kms away from our checkpoint of day 2. The road was full of water and unable to predict any potholes or speed breakers. The speed has come way down to 40-50kmph and by 5:30pm, we could only reach Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. Jhansi was 200kms ahead of Sagar and we know we cannot reach the place in this rain by the end of day. We have decided to end the day at a dhaba cum lodge on NH44. We were tired of riding in the rain and we need a good night sleep to recharge ourselves for the rest of the journey.

near Amarwara in Madhya Pradesh.

Photo of Nagpur, Maharashtra, India by Arshad Irfan
Photo of Nagpur, Maharashtra, India by Arshad Irfan

near Amarwara in Madhya Pradesh.

Photo of Nagpur, Maharashtra, India by Arshad Irfan
Day 3

July 6, 2019: The ride plan for the third day was to reach Delhi from Sagar. We are already 200kms behind our scheduled timetable. Delhi was 700kms ahead, but we planned to chase the target as we are more energetic to roll the dice. The route is via Lalitpur, Jhansi, Agra and Delhi.

There was slight drizzle until 9am and the roads were neat and clean. As soon as we crossed Jhansi, the weather was dry and sunny. It was tough to adjust to the climate as we were riding completely through cold breeze and rains for the past two days.

The roads after Jhansi were extremely bad and it was very tough to reach Delhi according to the plan. The traffic and lorry drivers coming on the wrong way and people not following any traffic rules made us go slower than we wanted to. The most dangerous part is that, you do not have a right way and a wrong way on roads. People don't care about the rules here, even if that is a bicycle or a lorry. We see more than half of the lorries coming in the wrong direction ahead of us making it difficult to move ahead.

We reached Mathura by 9:30pm and we were already exhausted due to worst roads all day long. Delhi was 150kms ahead and we know the traffic in Delhi would make it worse if we continue further. Day 3 ends here on the Mathura-Delhi highway at a Hotel cum lodge.

Day 4

July 7, 2019: We started from Mathura by 8:30am and started towards Delhi and had our breakfast on our way. Some of us didn't have pollution papers and got them on our way to Delhi. We entered Delhi by 10:30am and reached hotel by 1pm. I was more excited among all of the because it was my first visit to Delhi, that too on my lovely Nightfury riding all the way from Hyderabad.

The humidity of Delhi was our next challenge to survive. The sun was not much hot, definitely not more than what we know in Hyderabad, but the humidity made us suffocate for oxygen. The air around us was heavy and the lungs were struggling at the beginning. It took time to adapt to the atmosphere there.

Manoj had to replace his front tire which was worn out and couldn't continue further with that condition to Leh. We got the front tire replaced and parked the bikes at Metro and went to Karol Bagh via Metro for some accessories shopping and sight seeing. Believe me, only two places in Delhi were pleasant, hotel room and Metro station/train. It was so relaxing to enter into the metro station after a lot of humidity outside. Even without any hard work, the humidity is enough to make you tired and exhausted. We reached hotel room at 9pm and Day 4 ends here.

A Metro Station at Delhi

Photo of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan
Photo of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan
Day 5

July 8, 2019: It was a sight seeing day and we have planned to stay in Delhi and visit places around.

We first visited Qutub Minar and then to Jama Masjid.

You could see the sweat and irritation due to the humidity on our faces.

It was already 4:30pm and we headed towards the street food on the streets of Jama Masjid. The street food on Jama Masjid is famous for the recipes from the times of Mughal reign.

The varieties of dishes available are to such an extent that it might take more than a week to taste all dishes one after the other without repeating. For the first time in my life, I felt my stomach is very small to fit in everything that is mouthwatering in the streets of Delhi.

The Chicken and Mutton Kababs, Sweets, Rabdi, Nihari, Kulfi, Jalebis, and what not! The list is never ending.

The street food over there was more than any dinner for an individual. We reached hotel at 8:30pm, skipped dinner due to heavy food on the streets. Day 5 ends here.

Left to Right: Vikranth, Shobhit, Arshad, Manoj, Santosh - at Qutab Minar

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Arshad Irfan

Jama Masjid, Delhi

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Arshad Irfan
Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Arshad Irfan
Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Arshad Irfan

Karim Hotels Pvt Ltd. Est: 1913

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Arshad Irfan

Qureshi Kabab Corner. Very famous for Kababs.

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Arshad Irfan
Day 6

July 9, 2019: It's time to move to the next checkpoint, Amritsar from New Delhi.

We were unable to cover India Gate and Rashtrapathi Bhavan on day 5 due to time constraints and we have decided to visit them today early in the morning before starting to Amritsar.

Amritsar was 500kms away from the starting point and we have decided to reach the checkpoint by the end of the day. The road was smooth and almost 6 lane all the way. It was a good feeling riding through Sonipat, Panipat, and Kurukshetra recollecting the historical names from the Social Studies during childhood.

It started raining again near Kurukshetra and the rain was heavy, but for a very short duration. It felt like we have crossed the raining clouds and the road was dry again. We had our lunch after we entered Punjab. I remember this part of the ride very well. It was the day when I have competed with the train. There was a railway track parallel to the highway 500 mts apart and I could see a train passing me. It was fun overtaking the train at a speed of 135kmph and it was a victorious moment. ;-)

We reached Amritsar at 8:30pm and we were welcomed by Sethi bhai on behalf of Holy City Riders (Amritsar). He was a generous person and has made us feel comfortable in their city. Amritsar was so pleasant and holy city and is well known for the Golden Temple and Wagah Border.

We could not stop ourselves and went to the Golden Temple at 11pm. It was a spectacular view and the calm water reflecting the lights around the Golden Temple. There are a lot of huge golden fishes in the pond and it is not less than a large aquarium full of various types of fishes. Maybe I would not see such big golden fishes anywhere else.

Photography at the Golden Temple is restricted, however, I could manage to capture one of the most beautiful pictures of night view of Golden Temple and the pond. We returned to hotel around 1am in the night from Golden Temple and this is where Day 6 ends at Amritsar.

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Arshad Irfan

India Gate

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Arshad Irfan

Starting from India Gate to Amritsar.

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Arshad Irfan
Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Arshad Irfan

Night view of Golden Temple

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Arshad Irfan
Day 7

July 10, 2019: It was a rest day at Amritsar and time for a general service of the bike at the Bajaj Service Center. The plan was to give the bikes for service, go to Jallianwala Bagh, come back to the service center, collect the bikes and go to Wagah Border.

Had our breakfast, handed over the bikes to the service center and went to Jallianwala Bagh as per the plan.

The place was such realistic that we could see the bullet marks and the traces on the walls which show the cruelty and barbarous act towards 400 people by the British Army in 1913. This place is being well maintained as it was more than 100 years and the ambiance is still organized. Looking at the walls of the place send shivers down the spine.

It was a complete day of ghee, paneer, butter and oil here in Punjab. Chole Bhature and Kulfa were just awesome. Heavy food made us lazy and numb all day. Also, this city has lesser humidity than Delhi.

We returned to the service center at 3pm to collect our bikes, but to our bad luck, the bikes were not ready. We had to spend time there until the bikes were serviced and washed. This has made us miss the visit to Wagah Border. We could not go to the Wagah border without the bikes because by the time we return from there, the service center will be closed and we need to start from Amritsar tomorrow. We could not afford staying another day at Amritsar due to shortage of planned leaves, if we do not collect the bikes today. We were already running a day late than the scheduled plan from Hyderabad.

Collected the bikes from the service center at 5:30 pm and with no other options left, we visited the Golden Temple again for some peaceful atmosphere and night view. Day 7 ends here.

Bullet marks on the walls of Jallianwala Bagh

Photo of Amritsar, Punjab, India by Arshad Irfan

At Doaba Bajaj Service Center, Amritsar.

Photo of Amritsar, Punjab, India by Arshad Irfan
Day 8

July 11, 2019: It's time to move further according to the plan. Started from Amritsar to Srinagar via Pathankot and Patnitop which is 450kms.

The road of sceneries and ghats has started and a vast view of heavy mountains right before our eyes. It felt like we are travelling into the mountains right ahead. We entered into Jammu and Kashmir at 10am and it was one of the best feelings of the ride all the way from Telangana to J&K.

This was also the time for Amarnath Yatra and the devotees were hugely travelling in busses and cars escorted by the Indian Army. We were stopped at many places to give way for them.

We have been through our first tunnel of the ride known as Chenani Nashri Tunnel (now renamed as Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Tunnel). This tunnel is a recently constructed and a wide tunnel running all the way for 9.2kms under the mountains. The other end of the tunnel gave us a complete different look than the one we had while entering it. And to our surprise, it rained briskly by the time we exited the tunnel and roads were all wet on the other end.

By the time we reached Patnitop, it was afternoon and the Indian Army was not allowing people to enter the Jawahar Tunnel ahead due to the Amarnath Yatris schedule. Therefore, we had to take a halt at Batote Hillstation for the day and start early in the morning the next day. We have covered around 270kms from Amritsar and we checked-in to a hotel at Batote by 4pm post lunch.

Entrance of J&K State

Photo of Amritsar, Punjab, India by Arshad Irfan
Day 9

July 12, 2019: Woke up at 4:30am and started at 6am towards Srinagar. We did not want to be blocked or delayed due to the Amarnath Yatris and their convoys. We have got the information from the locals at Batote that there will be a lot of road blocks and first priority will be given to the Amarnath Yathris and all others will be stopped until their convoys have passed.

We have reached the Jawahar Tunnel by 9am. The tunnel was extremely narrow where only 1 car/jeep could fit at once. It was built in 1956 for a stretch of 2.85kms and named after the first Prime Minister of India Shri. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The tunnel was extremely dark as if we were driving in a cave with no way to escape. All we could hear was the roars of vehicles and some sounds which looked like water was flowing on top of the tunnel.

After we crossed the tunnel, as we were informed by the locals, we have been through around 5-6 road blocks for the Amarnath Yathris and we had to spend around 4 hours in waiting for the devotional passengers to pass. There were like hundreds of busses and cars from private vehicles passing as a convoy guided by Army vehicles all over. We finally reached Srinagar and checked into the hotel by 2pm.

We refreshed and then visited Dal Lake during the rest of day. It was very vast and beautiful view, with snowy mountains in the far view. The lake had beautiful lotus around it and many house boats sailing in the lake giving such a crazy view just like we have learnt about it during our childhood in Social Studies.

During our local sightseeing, we could see the whole city was full of barricades and fences all over the government offices, which gives a clear idea about the chances of riots and fights we hear in the news often.

However, during our interaction with the local people over there while having our dinner, we met very humble and kind hearted people, who were trying to tell the behind story of all such incorrect news in the media. We then realized, Srinagar (Jammu & Kashmir) is not a place for anti-national activities as being portrayed by the media in the news channels. We all have been wrongly judging this place all these years. The issues that are being created there are due to very few people and the blame goes on all of them.

Also, to my surprise, I was excited to see the sunset at 7pm, and it was still not completely dark at 8pm in Srinagar. This was the first time I've ever seen daylight until 8pm. Here in Telangana, it goes complete dark by 6:30-7pm max.

On our way to Jawahar Tunnel

Photo of Batote by Arshad Irfan
Day 10

July 13, 2019: It is time to get into the real adventure in the Ladakh trip. Srinagar to Kargil via Sonamarg, Zoji La Pass and Drass.

The land of high passes has offered us its first pass, Zoji La. It was a very tough job to maneuver a bike with heavy luggage at very slow speeds. The road seemed to be extremely tough, as it was the first day of ride on such deadly roads.

All these ghat roads were full of lorries carrying petroleum and Indian Army convoys and battalions. The roads of Zoji La were too narrow that whenever a lorry comes in, there was hardly any place for an opposite vehicle to pass.

We then reached Drass the place where Kargil War Memorial was built. This memorial was built by the Indian Army in the memory of 500 Indian Soldiers whose sacrifice made us win the Kargil War in 1999 against Pakistan.

Kargil War memorial was located very close to the Kargil city. We reached the city at 5pm and checked-in to the dormitory where all five of us can accommodate in a single big room. We then went out in the evening to the Kargil market to have local food and had different varieties of non-veg and kababs. The food tasted very good there. We have had snacks so heavy that there was no space in stomach left for dinner.

View of the campsite and Sonamarg from Zoji La Pass

Photo of Srinagar by Arshad Irfan

The road of Zoji La Pass, with a deep valley on the other side.

Photo of Srinagar by Arshad Irfan

Indian National Flag at Kargil War Memorial

Photo of Srinagar by Arshad Irfan

That's me at the entrance of Kargil War Memorial

Photo of Srinagar by Arshad Irfan

An exhibition of war machines used in the Kargil War

Photo of Srinagar by Arshad Irfan
Day 11

July 14, 2019: We started from Kargil the next day towards Leh passing through Magnetic Hill.

The road from Kargil to Leh was one of the roads to have very neat and smooth roads from BRO (Border Roads Organization). The road was very good with extremely huge scenic view of the mountains far away from the road. It looked to be one of the most drought places with no greenery at all. However, the clouds and the mountains made a splendid combination. I've been dreaming of Ladakh with blue sky and white clouds since ages and this is where I got to witness the view I always had in my mind.

I have captured a time-lapse of those moving clouds at this place, which is the best till date.

We reached Magnetic Hill by 5pm to witness the never solved mystery of illusion. The place is know for its magnetic effect where the road is actually a downhill road, however, any vehicle at stand still position would go uphill defying the gravity at that point on the road.

We reached Leh at 6:30pm and checked-in to the hotel. We had our dinner trying the local cuisines.

Day 12

July 15, 2019: It was the rest day at Leh, for local sightseeing and to get ILP (Inner Line Permits) to explore internal Ladakh. A local guy at the hotel helped us get the ILP passes for internal Ladakh which also helped us save some time meanwhile to explore Leh market.

It costed us around Rs.2500 for ILP for all five of us, costing Rs.500 each. The ILP was for two days. ILPs are mandatory to enter in to the restricted areas which is issued by the local government to keep a track of the visitors going in and out of the restricted areas.

Inner Line Permit (ILP) is required to visit the below places:

- Khardung La Pass, Nubra Valley and Shayok

- Chang La Pass, Tangtse and Pangong Lake

- Chumathang, Tsaga La and Tso Moriri Lake

- Dha-Hanu Valley and Batalik

In the Leh market, we purchased some essential accessories for travel like gum boots (to ride through water streams), hand gloves for extreme weather conditions, and face masks to save us from cool winds while driving. We also had to purchase jerry cans and fill them with fuel to carry with us for internal Ladakh, since there were not much fuel stations and there is a high probability of running out of fuel somewhere deep in the mountains.

All further arrangements are done and we were ready to get into next level of adventure, towards internal Ladakh.

Filled two jerry cans for each bike, carrying a total of 10 litres of extra petrol.

Photo of Leh by Arshad Irfan
Day 13

July 16, 2019: We have done the packing and also loaded the bikes with all luggage early in the morning. Started from the hotel at 6am towards Nubra Valley which is 160kms via Khardung La Pass.

The road to Khardung La was the toughest due to two reasons.

1. The road was extremely bad, the worst I can say due to snow, slush, rocks and no care.

2. The Khardung La Pass is one of the highest motorable roads (~18000 ft) in the world and the oxygen levels are extremely low.

After we started from Leh, as soon as the breakfast was done, we all had a Diamox tablets each which helps with AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) when the oxygen levels are too low. This tablet needs at least 2-3 hours to start working in the body. Therefore, by the time we reached Khardung La, we knew this tablet was working as we were able to survive the extreme low supply of oxygen in the air.

The weather was so cold and almost close to 2° Celsius and the hands were freezingly cold. We had Maggi at the canteen over there (no much food options available though) and hot tea to withstand the freezing temperature.

We started from Khardung La by 1:30pm passing through the most beautiful views around us. This was the point we could touch and play with the snow and ice for the first time in our ride.

The scenic view has suddenly changed from snow in Khardung La to sand dunes towards Nubra Valley and Diskit. Nubra Valley is the place surrounded by huge mountains around it and it is filled with sand resembling a desert ahead.

Reached Diskit (Nubra Valley) by 5pm and the actual plan was to go till Turtuk which is known as India's last village located adjacent to LOC (Line of Control) near Pakistan. We were already late as per the plan and understood we cannot reach Turtuk which is 90kms (3hrs) away from Diskit. We decided to stay at Diskit and found a home stay at a local person called Mohammed, who was really a nice guy.

Checked-in to the house and went towards the backyard which has more sand dunes spread through a vast area.

Day 14

July 17, 2019: Started from Diskit at 7:30am towards Pangong Tso Lake which is 230kms from Diskit. The plan for the day is to visit Pangong Tso Lake and return to Leh by the end of the day covering a total of 450kms.

We reached Pangong Tso Lake by 1pm and the road was bad half way. The first view of blue water of the lake was such a mesmerizing view. It just made us more excited to have a look at the complete water surrounded by mountains.

Pangong Tso Lake is very famous for the Bollywood movie 3 Idiots where the climax was shot here. The lake is 130kms long and is spread between India and China. The lake is usually frozen during winters and melts down to water in early summers.

We had lunch at a restaurant near the lake and started at 3pm towards Leh which is 250kms.

We know it is going to be tough as the distance is very far as per the road and weather conditions, especially the Chang La Pass. According to Google, it was 7 hours, however, we know it is way more than that.

The Chang La Pass was the toughest, deadliest and dangerous than all passes of the trip, surpassing Zoji La and Khardung La. We crossed the Changla La pass during 8-9:30pm and it was extreme dark and no one around us to give a helping hand if something goes wrong. We also had no idea where we were for a very long time. All we could see was the road to an extent our headlights can reach. Out of nowhere, we five members were riding the bikes just like bullock carts follow the one cart holding a lantern back in olden days during farther travels.

We reached Leh at 11:30pm all tired and exhausted. We had no idea what would have been our condition if the destination was hundred more kilometers ahead.

Trust me, even today, I would consider the ride through Chang La Pass was the toughest and worst. The average speed at Chang La Pass would have been between 15km/h due to the dirtiest roads ever.

My Nightfury at the Pangong Tso Lake.

Photo of Diskit by Arshad Irfan

The Five Dominars.

Photo of Diskit by Arshad Irfan

The water is so clear that it always reflects the blue sky.

Photo of Diskit by Arshad Irfan
Day 15

July 18, 2019: It was a rest day at Leh as we reached the hotel very late in the night and has got extreme body pains due to worst roads. We decided to take rest and start the next morning. The halt on this day was unplanned however, we had to make changes in order to make the ride ahead smooth and not rush things.

It was one of the laziest days of the trip I can say. We also washed the clothes we had during free time so that we can re-use them in the next days ahead. We had used almost all dresses we carry and this day was useful in getting them washed.

Day 16

July 19, 2019: We started towards Manali which was 450kms from Leh. We thought we could reach Manali by the end of the day. However, god has got his own plans to make things tougher.

The road to Manali passes through Tanglang La Pass, Lachung La Pass, Sarchu, Jispa, and Rohtang Pass. Immediately after we started from Leh, it started raining heavily. The mountains on one of the sides had small rocks falling off as in a landslide due to the rain water. On top of that the climate was extremely cold that we were unable to feel anything with our palms and it is tough to engage the clutch or apply the front brake due to frozen hands. It was a panic situation and we were not in a condition to take a decision to move ahead or go back to the hotel. We have already exhausted the two buffer days and we cannot extend the trip further due to limited leaves at everyone's offices.

We decided to go further and we realized there was no rain, but the road was full of dense fog. Road was hardly visible and the riding speed has come down to 40's. We travelled like 60kms in the same condition and it was already 11am we reached Tanglang La Pass.

We then headed towards Lachung La Pass by 2:30pm and by the time we reached Sarchu, it was 6pm.

The gate at Sarchu was closed and no vehicles were allowed as it was very dangerous for someone to travel in the night after they cross Sarchu in the evening. We realized how true it was the next day.

We halted at Sarchu at some home stay who helped us with dinner as well. The room was built with iron sheets and does not stop any cold. Th temperature was close to Zero degrees during night and all we had was a very thick blanket provided by them to stay alive.

At Lachung La Pass. Wearing surgical gloves inside the riding gloves to beat the cold.

Photo of Leh by Arshad Irfan

At Sarchu. The pic was shot at 6:30pm, where the sun was still so bright and shining like afternoon.

Photo of Leh by Arshad Irfan

Sunset at 7:30pm, however, daylight was until 8:15pm.

Photo of Leh by Arshad Irfan
Day 17

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.

Crossing the streams and boulders at Baralacha La Pass

Photo of Sarchu, Himachal Pradesh by Arshad Irfan

The water current was flowing on the drive way and we had to take the off road.

Photo of Sarchu, Himachal Pradesh by Arshad Irfan

Water stream so deep and rock boulders under the water current.

Photo of Sarchu, Himachal Pradesh by Arshad Irfan

Rohtang Pass curves all over the view

Photo of Sarchu, Himachal Pradesh by Arshad Irfan

Greenery and beautiful view near Rohtang Pass

Photo of Sarchu, Himachal Pradesh by Arshad Irfan
Day 18

July 21, 2019: Woke-up at 7am at the hotel and as soon as the backyard door was opened, we could see an Apple Orchard and trees all over the place. In the night we did not notice them and early morning as soon as we saw that place, we brushed our teeth and rushed to the Apple Orchard. I personally was very much excited to see that because I always wanted to eat an apple from the tree ;-) And this is where one of my dreams fulfilled.

I'm smiling looking at the pictures above while typing this. The apples were a little bitter as they were raw on the trees, but it was fun eating them plucking from the trees directly. An apple in Hyderabad costed minimum of Rs.15 and I can see over ripen apples fallen down there and thought these people have no value for such costly apples.

And to my surprise, when we were returning from Manali, I could still see an apple for Rs.15 being sold by road side vendors in Manali.

We had our breakfast at the hotel and started at 9am towards Chandigarh which is 300kms from Manali.

Santosh took over his bike as it was a plain road and no much curves or ghats here after. I got back on my bike from Manali.

It was Sunday and we were least expecting any Bajaj Service Center to be open to get the rear brake lever fixed. However, to our luck, we found a Service Center to be open near Mandi but they didn't have the required part. However, he helped in fixing the level with some Indian Jugaad and the rear brake was back in action. Of course, it cannot be completely relied, however, the job is being done.

We stopped for a fuel station at Mandi and then headed to Chandigarh by 6pm and checked into the hotel.

Apple Orchard in the backyard

Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

Apples <3

Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

That's me trying to eat an apple from the tree directly ;-)

Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan
Day 19

July 22, 2019: It was the day to reach Agra today which is 500kms from Chandigarh crossing Delhi on our way.

We halted at Delhi while going to Leh, that is the reason we decided to stop at Agra on our way back. The road up to Delhi was smooth and without any hassle we reached the outskirts of Delhi.

On our way to Delhi, came across certain commuters driving with all kinds of stunts on the roads. Especially this guy on Bajaj Boxer, at a speed of 90kmph with a very cheap helmet on road in this sitting posture.

He almost chased us for 20kms and then we had to go faster to get rid of him. He was trying to increase the speed to catch us and therefore we did not want him to speed up any further for a longer duration and therefore we moved faster out of his sight to make him calm down.

We have also been through oxen on roads with extremely huge horns. The horns were so huge that they could turn a car upside down easily.

At 12:30pm, we reached Yamuna Expressway connecting Noida and Agra. The road was a 6 lane RCC laid with beautifully constructed toll-gates.

We had our evening snacks/tea near Agra and reached the hotel at 7:30pm.

Red t-shirt guy on Bajaj Boxer with legs on the crash guard at a speed of 90kmph.

Photo of Chandigarh, India by Arshad Irfan

Oxen on road with very huge horns

Photo of Chandigarh, India by Arshad Irfan

Toll-gate for 3+ wheeled vehicles on Yamuna Expressway

Photo of Chandigarh, India by Arshad Irfan
Day 20

July 23, 2019: It was rest day at Agra. Also the time to get the bikes washed and make it clean after all the water streams and passes we have been through.

The humidity in Agra, just like Delhi, was to such an extent that, standing outside the AC room was like bathing with the sweat.

Look at the heights of humidity.

We had like 2 liters of water to survive that small duration and immediately had lunch and went back to the hotel for a very good sleep and AC.

Woke-up at 4:30pm, Vikranth and I went to visit Taj Mahal, as others were not ready to step out due to humidity.

It was my first time visiting the Taj Mahal, the magnificent symbol of love.

We roamed around there and had some funny Indian clicks.

I've also captured some time-lapse videos of the crowd at Taj Mahal.

Time-lapse at Taj Mahal

Snapshot of bike wash from my Insta Story.

Photo of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

That's me having a sweat bath while my bike was being washed.

Photo of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

This was just in a span of 30 mins.

Photo of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

Left: Vikranth and Right: Arshad

Photo of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

Taj Mahal

Photo of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

PC: Vikranth

Photo of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

PC: Vikranth

Photo of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan
Day 21

July 24, 2019: According to our schedule, we had to reach Hyderabad 3 more days later from today, however, Santosh had to reach home earlier due to some family reasons and he decided to ship the bike using train and reach Hyderabad directly without driving for 3 more days. He left towards railway station and we headed towards Hyderabad.

So, we are only 4 more members who will be riding to Hyderabad on our bikes. We headed towards Nagpur which is 800kms from Agra, and we were pretty sure that is hard to reach. However, we wanted to drive as much as possible and half at some hotel.

We drove for around 600kms and reached Narsinghpur in Madhya Pradesh until 8pm in the night and we were very tired by then. We halted at a road side dhaba for dinner and we also decided to sleep at the dhaba for the night and start again in the morning.

After we are done with our dinner, the boy at the dhaba recommended a hotel at around 2kms from there and the hotel was good and we checked-in to the hotel at 9:30pm.

The hotel parking was outside on the roads and we were worried of the bikes keeping them outside all night long with all the luggage and bags attached to them. The hotel guy helped us parking the bikes in the lobby of ground floor and we accommodated 4 bikes inside the grills and locked it from inside. He understood our concern and supported us in parking the bikes inside the hotel where we can lock them from reach of outside public at night. We could have a very good and relaxed sleep after bikes are locked safe from inside :-D

At a dhaba in Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh

Photo of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan
Day 22

July 25, 2019: We started from Narsinghpur at 6am in the morning, and Hyderabad is 800kms ahead of us. We have decided to reach Hyderabad by the end of the day to reduce the trip by 1 day in total.

The only difficulty for us was crossing Nagpur from the heart of the city as there were no bypass or outer ring roads. It was tough to cross the traffic and was also time consuming when compared to the target of 800kms in 1 day by a team of 4 riders.

We crossed Nagpur by 10am and as soon as we entered Telangana, it started raining as if the clouds were waiting for us to enter our own state. It felt like flowers from the sky for the achievement we are about to complete, however, very soon the rain started hitting very hard and it was difficult to ride in the heavy downpour where the road was hardly visible.

We have been riding in the rain for more than 6 hours with very small stops at fuel stations and the speed was also around 70-80kmph in the rain constantly due to less visibility of road through the closed helmet visor. We have not been through such a rain since the beginning of the trip.

It later started drizzling from 4pm, however, the visibility has later come down due to dawn and we crossed Medchal (Hyd) at 10pm. We reached S&S Bajaj Service Center at Kompally in Hyderabad at 11pm and Santosh was already in Hyderabad waiting at the service center for us to arrive.

We departed after congratulating each other for completing this milestone in our lives and for such an adventure.

We all reached our home somewhere around 12:30am in the midnight. It was still raining in Hyderabad.

Selfie after reaching Hyderabad (S&S Bajaj, Kompally)

Photo of Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

On the peak of Khardung La, the highest motorable road in the world.

Photo of Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

The view just after crossing Khardung La Pass

Photo of Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

On the way to Nubra Valley

Photo of Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

The sand dunes of Nubra Valley at Diskit.

Photo of Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

The sand dunes at Diskit, Nubra Valley.

Photo of Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

At Diskit, having fun in the backyard jumping above a stream.

Photo of Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

At Magnetic Hill

Photo of Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh, India by Arshad Irfan

This is my Instagram post on the next day after I woke up, expressing my happiness about an adventure which I could cherish for a life-time.

I'm not sure if anything of such huge would every happen to me in my future, but this is going to the best experience in all aspects. This is the longest, toughest, costliest, adventurous and exciting ride I have ever been so far.

After we reached close to Nagpur on Day 22, there was a feeling like the greatest thing is going to end soon, and realized even a trip for 22 days was not enough to satisfy a soul.

We are extremely grateful to Bajaj Dominar, all five of us, which is the reason behind making this ride a very successful journey. I still wonder, not even 1 of the vehicles has troubled us throughout the trip. We have seen a lot of people struggling and suffering due to vehicle breakdown or any repair in the middle of the road at an altitude of around 18000ft and there was no help from a trained technician. Other riders passing by used to help them reach the nearest check-point and get the bikes repaired. But our five Dominars have performed so well that we were very much involved into enjoying each and every minute of the journey and not to worry about these machines at all.

We have also carried an air pump, mechanical tool kits, extra clutch/brake cables, puncture kits and everything we thought of, but not even one single item was useful. This is the greatness of those machines, which proved that they are capable of any terrain. A huge shoutout to the Bajaj Dominar 400 <3


I hope I was able to give you my complete views about the trip and I thank you everyone for reading the story until the very end patiently.

This trip was in July 2019 and I have started writing this since a very long time, but due to time constraints, I have spent very less time to complete it. I now got time to complete this and share it for you here so that people planning for Leh-Ladakh in 2021 would find this helpful.

Will be happy to share my other rides with you in the future. Find me with @arshad.irfan19 on Instagram for all my regular rides and adventures.

I'm ARSHAD and SIGNING OFF for now. <3

My NightFury after I reached home, finally.

Photo of LADAKH TRIP: Hyderabad - Leh - Hyderabad. An adventure of 5 Dominar riders, 22 days, 6,500 kms. by Arshad Irfan

Edit 1: I have narrated the story in a very good manner with all pictures included as per the respective days, but Tripoto seems to have messed up things. The pictures are not tagged at the day I have added them and they are all accumulated at the end of the post. Also, the days have been jumbled after I published the event. I edit it and correct and some other day gets lost into an incorrect position. I'm unable to set these things right as I typed them.