Conquering the World's Highest Places - Battlefield, Saltwater Lake and Motorable Pass #triptoladakh

Tripoto
8th Sep 2018
Photo of Conquering the World's Highest Places - Battlefield, Saltwater Lake and Motorable Pass #triptoladakh by First_of_my_name
Day 1

Bangalore - Srinagar - Sonmarg

This was my first ever bike ride and I wanted to make it count, so I chose to conquer the world's highest motorable pass "Khardung La".

After everything was finalized, on the D Day, there we were – Me and Anoop with our bags packed, ready to hit the roads. We boarded the airport bus from Silk Board at 11:45PM and reached Kempegowda International Airport at 12:30AM, earlier than anticipated in Bengaluru traffic!

The next question was what we do until 05:30AM, as that was the time of our flight! We decided to drop the baggage and loaf around, but the counter was closed till 02:30AM. So we ended up sleeping in the beautiful lounge, only with that jitter in my stomach due to the excitement of what laid ahead of us. While waiting in the lounge after dropping the baggage, we met other rides who were heading the same way. We reached Srinagar around 12:00PM but had to wait to collect the baggage of another rider. The baggage was stuck in Bengaluru Airport as there was a power bank in it! (I reminded myself to be careful about this). We then met our tour guides.

As we could not contain the excitement of finally being in Srinagar, while waiting for others to join, we went to sightsee, as cheesy tourists call it! We saw the beautiful Dal Lake, Botanical Garden and amazing Floating Markets. After this, went back to the airport and left to Sonmarg. We reached Sonmarg at around 11PM and were accommodated at Akbar Hotel.

KIA buses: www.ewebbuddy.com/bangalore-airport-bus-vayu-vajra-bial/

Flight: Book through ixigo (Suggestion!)

Feeling hungry: I just munched on the subs at Subway (Healthy and tickles my taste buds)

Transport at Srinagar: Prepaid taxi services outside airport (Reasonable price)

Botanical Garden entry fee: Adults: Rs.10, Child: Rs.5

Shikara Charges: Rs.800/ boat (4 persons)

Photo of Bengaluru by First_of_my_name

Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden

Photo of Bengaluru by First_of_my_name

Floating markets

Photo of Bengaluru by First_of_my_name

Dal Lake

Photo of Bengaluru by First_of_my_name

Hotel Akbar, Sonmarg

Photo of Bengaluru by First_of_my_name

View of Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden

Photo of Bengaluru by First_of_my_name
Day 2

Sonmarg - Zojilla - Dras - Kargil

This was the most important day in our journey. The bikes were to choose their riders! 😊 I woke up too early due to the excitement but found no hot water. Somehow managed to get lukewarm water to make sure I take bath 😉 and then had breakfast. Also, roaming and making video calls to everyone had become like an everyday ritual! We then reached Divine Inn, where we got our bikes and permits. We both got RE Bullet 500 CC. Once I a lifetime I wanted to ride a JK registration and here it was – JK 10 A 6625!! <3

Once the verification was complete, we started towards Kargil at 10:30AM. We reached Zojilla Pass at around 11:55AM. After we enjoyed the scenic beauty, took lots of pictures, one of our friend explained the struggle our soldiers had to endure at this very place.

We then left to one of the coldest inhabitable places on Earth – Dras.  We reached the first checkpost, where we registered our bikes. On the way was another beautiful village Matayen. I usually add the locations on Google Maps if not added yet, which I did here. The road ahead was too rugged and was very difficult for us to ride. But we managed and reached the Kargil War Memorial by 2PM.  It was with heavy heart we paid respect to all the warriors who died in the war, so we could have this life! We also checked out the Manoj Pandey Gallery and had our lunch there. Around 05:25PM we reached our destination – Kargil. Today’s stay was at Hotel Chutuk Heights, where we freshened up and went for a stroll. While me and Anoop were experimenting on taking few long exposure shots, we noticed some locals following us. I should tell we were really scared and started walking towards the hotel but they started approaching us pretty fast and we had to run from there. :D

Photo of Sonamarg by First_of_my_name
Photo of Sonamarg by First_of_my_name
Photo of Sonamarg by First_of_my_name
Photo of Sonamarg by First_of_my_name
Photo of Sonamarg by First_of_my_name
Photo of Sonamarg by First_of_my_name
Photo of Sonamarg by First_of_my_name
Day 3

Kargil - Fatula - Saspol - Leh

One of the best days of my life! For the first time, I drove the bike for a stretch of 50kms. We started our ride around 09:00AM today and got a new Marshall, not to mention he was very strict and disciplined. Initially when we were forced to ride at a stretch without stopping anywhere, we were not happy with him. But then we realized the reason behind he doing that. At night, the climate drastically changes to be very cold and can’t be handled by most of them. So, the plan was to reach the destination soon and have lot of time to get acclimatized. We mostly rode through Mitkul, Namikala, Fatula, Lamayuru, Saspol, Basgo to reach Leh. We had our first stop at Fatula Top (13,478 ft), the highest elevation on the way to Leh. We also met some organizers from Tripoto who accompanied us. They had brought few very expensive gadgets to capture the enchanting beauty of Ladakh. We again clicked a lot of pics.

The second stop was Lamayuru where we finished the lunch. We also spotted the amazing apple and plum trees. We plucked and collected some fruits to have on the way. The next stop was The Magnetic Hill. It was called the Wonder according to the locals there. There were yellow marks, where we have to put the bike in neutral in the slope and the bike moves forward by itself by the gravitational pull which is logically against the law of gravity!! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to experience that. Then we started from The Magnetic Hill and realized that the brakes have got some issue. So, we waited for the mechanics to come and repair. Once it was fixed, we reached Hall of Fame, Leh around 4:00PM and rested for a while.

We were then invited by the Army officers to attend the Light and Sound Show and the Flag Lowering Parade. Though our organizers restricted us from attending it, as it will be too late, and the night rides are not safe to travel, and we might get lost in the mountains, a group of 10 of us went to witness it as it was once in a lifetime opportunity. We got to witness the screening of the history of all the wars that we have fought till now and the innumerable soldiers who sacrificed their lives for us. The show ended at around 07:30PM and we reached our final stay Hotel Lehchen around 08:15PM.  

Photo of Kargil by First_of_my_name
Photo of Kargil by First_of_my_name
Photo of Kargil by First_of_my_name
Photo of Kargil by First_of_my_name
Photo of Kargil by First_of_my_name
Photo of Kargil by First_of_my_name
Photo of Kargil by First_of_my_name
Day 4

Leh - South Pullu - Khardung La - Khalsar - Diskit - Hunder

This is regarded as one of the most memorable day in my life. The day was filled with so many achievements and fulfillments.

The day started with the early morning trip to Shanti Stupa. We took a cab, stopped at the Leh Market for shopping some clothes. We then went to the beautiful Leh Palace, which dates back to the 16th century. Going inside felt as if we are going into a cave. It very much resembles the Chinese fortifications architecture. From there by 10AM, we started our trip to Khardung-La which is the highest motorable pass in the world and conquering it is the dream of every biker. On the way there, when we reached South Pullu, which is checkpost for Khardungla, we met fellow riders who were 50years older, travelling to all the state capitals in 30 days by bike! That just inspires me even now.

Have you ever dreamt of experiencing the snow fall? I had and when I reached there, I experienced snowfall for the first time in my life 😊. The temperature was 2°. The snowflakes looked really like the hexagonal crystal, just like how I had imagined. Also, there was a landslide which was being cleared up by the Indian Military. Once again felt so much love and gratitude towards all those brave soldiers working for us in the border and off the border. We played in the snow until the landslide was cleared. We then reached Khardungla around 12:30PM. I took few pics for my collections. Due to high altitude, most of our riders had breathing trouble. They were taken to the military camp and given oxygen supply. Then we had lunch at Khalsar and left to Diskit. We reached the place at around 02:00PM and took pictures of the Mighty Maitreya, who is believed to be a future Buddha. We also meditated for a while and left to Hunder through Nubra Valley. The valley is filled with sand dunes. So, we also took the camel ride and MTV ride which was organized by the team.

We finally reached our campsite – Regal Camps. As usual, the couples took the better tents and we had to stay in the dormitory. Only after reaching the dorm it felt like, we belong here. The dorm was completely surrounded with apple trees, which in itself was an experience. This was also the first day of my stargazing experience, which I savored every day in the trip by seeing the Milky Way and the dark yet beautiful night sky.

Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

Entrance to Diskit

Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

The Maitreya Buddha

Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

Hunder

Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

Camel ride, Nubra Valley

Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

Nubra Valley

Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

Regal Camps, Hunder

Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

The Achievement

Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

The Peace

Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

Khardung-La

Photo of Leh, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Day 5

Hunder - Shyok - Pangong Tso

Today was also another unforgettable day as we went to the World’s highest Salt Water Lake. We left the camp at around 08:00AM to Shyok via Agam. Then reached Pangong Tso at 02:00PM. We wandered around the lake, took pics (which is now becoming not worthy of mentioning :D) and saw the 3 Idiots site. We had our stay at the Tso Hotels. We also celebrated 2 of our riders’ birthday here. Organizers had made rice cake for them 😊

After Leh, Pangong is the place you can get liquor and a PCO phone booth (You have to forget your mobile connectivity for time being when here :P). Then we went to make a call at around 07:00PM but had to wait for a long time (Probably the longest time I have waited to call someone :-/). After this finished our dinner and went to sleep. I woke up at around 01:00AM and came out for stargazing. My friend was already taking pics of the Galaxy. Since I am a beginner in taking pictures of the galaxy, not to mention I didn’t have any devices or equipment for the same, I had to use stones and chairs which were around, as tripod. Finally, after about 20 shots, I could get one clear picture. Also, clear sky with no clouds added to my advantage. After this stint, I went to sleep again. We were given woolen blankets to wrap around. I suddenly noticed a spark when my nails came in contact with the blanket. It reminded me of the static energy lessons in the 5th grade :D. I played with my blanket to ignite more spark until I dozed off to sleep. Sometimes the child in you comes alive 😊

3 idiots Spot

Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name
Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name
Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name

Pangong Tso

Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name
Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name

Milky way from Pangong

Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name
Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name
Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name

Shyok

Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name
Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name

Tso Hotels, Pangong

Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name

Tso Hotels, Pangong

Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name
Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by First_of_my_name
Day 6

Pangong - Chusul - Loma - Hanle

Early in the morning Anoop was not feeling well, he had severe neck pain and could not have managed today’s ride. So, had to leave him there to rest, as he was not comfortable even after a walk. Hence, I shared the bike with Vishnu and left the tents at around 07:30 AM. Today was also the hardest ride of our entire journey, as we had to cover a total of 180 kms off road! Also, the roads were so near to the Pangong which made us not know the hardness of the road. As the other side of Pangong is China, just 200 mts away, it is going to be turned into an Indian Army base and we were the last ones who could visit Pangong. I cannot explain how lucky I felt coming on this tour 😊

Our first stop of the day was at Chushul and then at the Saitan Singh War Memorial. From there we got to see many Indian Army Bunkers but were restricted to take any pictures. The road was laid between India and China border. This was one of great roads built by the BRO (Border Roads Organization). It was so out a movie experience, China was only 100mts away from the roads we were riding. Then we stopped for lunch and ordered Maggie, which is the staple food around. It feels good if you are a Maggie person or else, you feel pity for yourself the cook used only 8 Maggie packets for 12 of us and he charged Rs.40/Plate. Well, the ride continued to Indo-Tibetan border, Loma. I saw the most amazing thing at this check post. Along with the heavy security check, the whole check post was employed with our Nation’s bravest womenfolk. Photography was restricted even here as they can cause security threat to the country.

The next place we reached was clearly ‘The Land of Lama’s’ – The Hanle Monastery. We reached there aroungd 04:00PM to be raced by the many lamas who crossed the way. Hanle has one of the world's highest sites for optical, infrared and gamma-ray telescopes. It is operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore. We were too late to visit the observatory. We reached our campsite at around 06:00PM and it was already too cold. We stayed in the campsite which was Padma Home Stay, run by Mrs. Padma who took really good care of us like we were her own people. This is another thing I love about travelling and meeting new people. It brings you closer to people you have just met and probably might never meet. I had to stay with new members today. It was fun getting to know about them. Two of them were working for Tripoto. Got to know about their travel stories and got some tips on photography too. My favorite part of the day – Night 😉, I went to stargaze again and tried my hand at taking pictures of the night sky, in my mobile using car tires, bucket and a stone as tripod.  There were already about 5 members from my group taking astrophotos. I got a great tutor to help me take photos of the night sky in mobile. I also showed him my earlier pictures of night skies and stars from Pangong and Oh Boy! That was the first time someone I barely knew said my photography was really great! I beamed with the child like grin 😊. I went to sleep at around 01:00AM.

Pangong Tso

Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name

Kumaon Regt.

Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name

Kumaon

Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name

Hanle Monastery

Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name

Hanle Monastery

Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name

Indus valley

Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name

Galaxies fro Hanle

Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by First_of_my_name
Day 7

Hanle - Nyoma - Tso Moriri

Today’s plan was to go to one of the highest towns in the World – Karzok. I was so excited already. We started packing and left the place at around 09:00AM, drove back the same way through Loma, till Nyoma. The road was mystified, mountains on both sides. But time had other plans for today. One of our riders who came in a tempo had serious breathing trouble. He was taken immediately to the hospital at Nyoma, given first-aid and was sent to Leh. After this, we had our lunch at Nyoma and left at 01:00PM to Tsomoriri. On the way, one bike met with an accident due to friction in the tires and less brake. They had some minor scratches, were given first-aid. We rested near a frozen lake on the way! Do you feel the same I feel? I mean, my mind wanders when it hears about frozen lakes. What if the temperature drops all of a sudden, the lake defrosts, and I die :D Too much of watching movies I tell you.  Well, that did not happen, and we reached Karzok at 06:00PM through Tso Moriri. The entire village gets BSNL postpaid connectivity. The lakes in the region gets water during summer from the ice melted from the adjacent mountains. This route was also very famous back in 1947 for trading Pashmina. One more interesting fact is, the access to this village will be closed after September every year.
We had our stay at Hotel BaruLa, finished an early dinner by 07:30PM. The entire night passed talking about how to get into NDA as most of us who were there had dreams of joining the Army. The temperature started dropping drastically to 2°C and we called it a day.

On way to Nyoma

Photo of Hanle, Leh by First_of_my_name

Tso Moriri

Photo of Hanle, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Hanle, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Hanle, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Hanle, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Hanle, Leh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Hanle, Leh by First_of_my_name
Day 8

Tso Moriri - Tsokar - Gata Loops - Sarchu

Guess what happens in the frozen lake region? Not only the lake but the water in the tank too freezes and we were left with no water to take bath. We had to leave for the day without taking bath (Chhheee.. I know :D), but the hotel got us some hot water which was enough to wash our face. So, we got ready, had breakfast in a hurry and left by 09:00AM for our ride. Today was the last day our Marshall accompanied us for the ride. He had another batch to take around from Sarchu to Leh again.

Our destination for the day was Sarchu, which we reached through Tsokar, Pang, Lachhungla, Nakeela Top and Gata Loops. I read about the stories of Ghosts of Gata Loops after one of my friends told about his experience at there. The Gata Loops has 21 hairpin bends. I have shared the story of Gata Loops in a separate blog. We then reached Sarchu and thought we have reached our campsite but the Marshall said it is 20Kms away from here. We then left to our campsite and reached Redrock Camp at around 06:00PM. The electricity here is timed and everything blacks out after 08:00PM. So, we had to charge our mobiles and cameras. Well, as usual the temperature was too worse today and I caught fever as well. Couldn’t do anything much for the evening, I had little dinner just for the sake and slept by 07:30PM!

Photo of Karzok, Leh by First_of_my_name

Nakeela Top

Photo of Karzok, Leh by First_of_my_name

Sarchu

Photo of Karzok, Leh by First_of_my_name
Day 9

Sarchu - Baralacha La - Darcha - Jispa

We started around 08:00AM with a different bike as we were going to Himachal today. As per the council, we are not allowed to use JK registered bikes in Himachal. Our friends from Tripoto took drone shot of the complete campsite. We reached Baralacha La (11,000Ft) at 11:00AM. The road was under construction as it was been made as a National Highway. Our travel distance was only 80Kms and through State Highways, we reached Jispa at around 01:00PM. Today’s stay was so magical, was called the Nomadic Camps, which was near a lake. The temperature was normal which is 15°C, so finally took bath today in normal water, had our lunch and took a walk to the lake. Our Malayali friends, who had come from Singapore had planned to take bath in the lake but couldn’t dare to do more than washing our faces as the water was too cold. The connectivity here is as well timed. BSNL provides good network from 08:00PM till 06:00AM (Couldn’t get the reason behind it though). With such good ambience at the camp, it definitely called for a party. We had food around the campfire, most of them boozed there. Also made it to the memories by finishing with some singing and dancing for a long long time.

Nomadic Camps, Jispa

Photo of Sarchu, Himachal Pradesh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Sarchu, Himachal Pradesh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Sarchu, Himachal Pradesh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Sarchu, Himachal Pradesh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Sarchu, Himachal Pradesh by First_of_my_name
Photo of Sarchu, Himachal Pradesh by First_of_my_name
Day 10

Jispa - Keylong - Rohtang Pass - Manali

Today was the last day of this amazing journey we started. For all these days, I was so free from internet and social network. It was such a strange feeling to leave the mountains, the roads, the cold, no connectivity behind and go back to my so normal life. But life has to move on to come back again and again, right?

We started from Jispa at 09:10AM, reached Manali via Stingri, Keylong. We had to pit stop at Tandi to refuel our bikes and reached Sissu through Gondila. These roads were too narrow and we had to drive really slow and careful. Our Marshall stopped at a place called Kothi, to wait for other riders to join us. After resting for a while at a park, we crossed Koksar checkpost and reached Manali at 03:00PM. Our tour actually ends after a day, but we had to book our flights a day early as we were supposed to report to work. But it was such a hassle to get the bus fair to Delhi from the organisers, as Deyor Camps were not the organizers, had outsourced to Global Tours and Travels. We had to call Deyor Camps, had some oral fights :P and then had to take the bus to Delhi with our own money ☹. Deyor Camps has not been responding to our mails for the reimbursement of the bus fare. Well, apart from that the day ended in our bus journey to Delhi. 

Jispa

Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

Ginger Tea, Keylong

Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

Rohtang Pass

Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

Kothi, Manali

Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name

Manali

Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by First_of_my_name
1 Comment(s)
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It's soo inspiring and the photography is awesome.. long way to go
Sun 03 10 19, 20:29 · Reply · Report