Early Morning, with a lot of thrill, fear and the same level of excitement, boarded the Flight to Chandigarh from Namma Bengaluru Kempegowda International Airport. As soon as we landed Chandigarh, we rushed to the Gati courier center located at Panchkula and it was mere delight to see our bikes after 6 days.
A city where it is compulsory for pillion riders to wear helmet and person sitting next to driver in a car has to wear seat belt.Picking up our bikes, we checked in to "Hotel Vikrant" and evening we gave visit to Sukhna Lake similar to Sankey tank what we have here in Bangalore.
The time to serve the purpose has arrived; it was 4AM when we left Chandigarh en route to Manali with the roped back packs on the bikes. Our first halt was at a place called Dharampur on a roof top to taste the delicious tea with a view of Shimla's toy train starting from Kalka(Haryana).
With the refreshing break, it was just the start of the drive with our beasts, feeling the rough surface and undergoing the patience test till Mandi made us bone tired and its time for lunch out there. The roads from Mandi were eminent with the curves, military camps and tunnel roadway. The feel to shift gears around the beauty of hills en route to Manali was the most delightful drive ever undergone.
As the place is known for "the place has the reputation for the backpacks ;)", greeted us with the tall trees and cool breeze at around 4:30 in the evening and boarded at "Hotel Shivalik".
The evening was not to rest but to prepare ourselves legally for the next day. It was mandatory to get the traffic permit letter for our vehicles from Manali Tourist Office to let us pass via Rohtang Pass. We submitted the bike documents, got the bikes completely checked and washed by then.
Now, the permit process is available online and can be availed at the following link(effective 31stMay 2016).
Beginning of the day, with the visit to Hadimba Temple and Ghatothkacha temple around the tall trees and hills, the beauty of the place raised up the energy levels and curiosity to witness the the nature further. The Mall at Manali is a shopping street, a lively atmosphere with lot of people around and encircled with tiny green apple stalls. The further journey demanded to boot in our legs and it was opportunity for us to contribute our share to The Mall having purchased the gum boots there. It was around 12:30, collected the permit letters, backpacked and time to depart Manali after lunch.
Do not forget to fuel in your cans and tanks of your bikes while departing Manali.
While separating from Manali, the adventurous roadways forcibly made us conscious to be the most responsible throttlers and start realizing that the episode of epic journey has begun with mind blowing views around and the splendor of the nature stipulated us to halt for a photo shoot at Rohtang Pass with full of mist around.
After Rohtang, we experience the first water stream, was just a hint for us that this is the stature of the Manali - Leh roadway.
We halt for half an hour tea break and are back to business, setting our minds to stop being conscious and enjoy the ride on tough roads which is the reason why we are here for. Refueling our bikes at "Tandi", the last fuel station before "Leh". Now, our only view we had was our bike's headlight direction with the water flow sound beside which increased the fear and we reduced our pace of movement. Finally, we reach the destination "Keylong"and boarded our rest by 09:30 PM.
It was a mountainous surprise in the morning for us to have such a field of vision from our lodge which kept our energy levels at par and started to move on.
Stepping out from Keylong, it was a new spell altogether to see the place transformed into an army belt from that of the tourists. Our hands automatically raised to salute the army friends who were moving the military trucks laned as disciplined as ants, accompanying us with the co-bikers through the worldliness of terrain and tougher water streams.
The power of water streams over shadowed the preparations which sinked the cheeriness among us resulting to the hastiness because of the frozen water which brimmed into our boots.
It's time for a halt and re-boost ourselves, but every halt would turn into a photo session than to be a refreshment break although it is unfair to blame the nature's beauty for not allowing us to rest.
During our halt, we met a lot of bicyclers, and around 10 Innova Taxi's just like how we see the ministers travel through the city with the security vehicles around them. Having filled tummies, the journey began towards Sarchu and landing in to a no man's land and just a zigzag way for the vehicles to move surrounded by hills.
Finally found a tent for us at Sarchu and settled ourselves at around 6:30PM after terrain food like Chapati, Omlet, bread toast which was available.
It was around 4 Degree Celsius with the cold rain which gave us a second thought even to move out of the tent to peeeeeee. But, foreseeing the peaceful sleep, we stepped out for a while. :)
The fear brought to you by nature is always dominated by the fear brought by the human, hence we stood responsible to begin our day by 06:00AM though it was cold out there. The drive got tougher and harder where we had to remove out the air filter from our bikes to gain more pick up and still we could not shift more than 2 gears with only plane mountains accompanying 4 of us with the thump coming out due to the throttle. We reach Lachungla and we recollect our research that we are close to Pang by distance around 20kms but we ended up taking around 2 hours time where the command of our hands to the bike just became void and had to move the wheels with the help of our toes and managed to complete the stretch till Pang.
It was a great relief for us to get a spicy curry for chapati here and the lady who served us the food would never forget us as we almost emptied the bowl of curry she had prepared.
From Pang, we hear a good news that the roads are all clear and up after the cloud burst towards Leh at around 12:00PM. "The roads ahead are no more a terrain except 2 or 3 passes" said the bikers from the opposite side. Hence we plan to move ahead from our schedule, go forward and mark the finish point as "LEH" for the day. We got the roads eventually after pang, we took all the pleasure and liberty to throttle with the landscape view along with the shower of tiny snow fall throughout the way of magnetic hills.
As a speed breaker, we had to halt seeing the cordon of trucks and visualize a live landslide (a minimal though), the level of energy in us and the desperacy to reach Leh motivated us to help the Indian Army to clear out the landslides.
Heading down from World’s 2nd highest pass in the world Tanglang la, the roadway blocked out our memory forgetting all the past and made us “feel like God”.
And then, Just like a camera flash, the board “Welcome to Leh” switched and gave us the relieving sign that our first level is complete.
Just like how our bikes took care for us, it was our turn to take care them and got them serviced and there is no more excitement when you are asked to roam around the shopping street of “Leh”.
It was time to hangout through out the local sight seeing places and attend Dhakthok Festival at Dhakthok Monastery.
After an elongated confusion to hire a taxi or to pick our bikes only to visit the most wondered place situated in Indo-China Border. The breezy, calm morning drive through the Ladhak army camps topped up the stamina to continue our journey after breakfast. We start to drive high towards Chang la Pass which is one of the highest motorable roads after Khardung la realizing the pressure of cruiser machines through the tougher ways. Meanwhile, the increase in altitude forced us to top up our costume and withstand the cold.
Now we ride down from Changla Pass, moving towards the china border and it is only the nature, unique sight and the curiosity to witness the destination helped to keep our mental strength to hammer the handles through drifty white sand spots and of course snow melting everywhere.
The Riding was going on and on, the excitement level is coming down, energy level in our body is evaporating, absence of mind overshadowing the cautiousness, palms refusing to rotate the accelerator handle and thus our journey is pulled back with desperacy, irritation, tiredness and the only energy which was left was to look out for the distance sign board of number of kilometers to the destination. But it was time for us gain patience, learn to attain calmness and let the bad energy down and slowly gain the will power to make our journey smooth. By that time, we get to see the first view of our destination which stroke us like spark, gained energy in a lightning speed and still our journey continues for some more time.
Here we come; it’s a BANG to our eyes. It is around 14:30 IST, only thing is to find a place to park our baggage and get ourselves near the much awaited destination PANGONG LAKE.
We are set free to live up to our heart, never realized what we are upto as we are just jumping, running, walking around the blue water situated through the hills like those kids who are let free to play. It is end of the show, now we pick up our baggage and plan to leave the place but our hearts have already reserved a permanent parking place for themselves here.
With no choice, we leave the pleasing spot knowing that getting back is not that easy; yet, the journey began through the vehicle free flat roads. Around 17:30, we start heading to drive up the changla Pass back.
With no time to think for our action, we are drenched with ice storm where sky was the only shelter for us. The impact of the rain affected the temperature of our body, increased the water flow on the roads, ultimately our journey is getting tougher and so our mindsets. Thankfully, we drove through all the adventurous crosses successfully and stop for a tea break nearby Ladhak camps. With an ending note for the day, we take pride to have chosen bikes over the taxi to visit Pangong lake for the kind of memories which would sustain in us for our life time.
While all the nerves of our body are still on the edge with a kind of day we had previously, we had to stick on to our plan and make our day as planned to Khardung la, 40kms steep from the city of Leh, the main purpose which we have been dreaming off throughout the trip. We reach on top most road well known as “Highest motorable road in the world” and it is the proud moment for every bikers who has taken effort to drive through all the terrains which is a sign of achievement.
Day 10, 11, 12 and 13.
We are all set to leave “leh” and started to throttle towards our next destination ‘kargil” through NH1 with no mood of excitement. The ways are filled with peace, calmness so as our mind’s state with a feel of fulfillment of our lives. The far we go, we get to see lot of hills around and we have been seeing hills from the day 1 but all different when the place changes and yet we can call only as hills.
Coming to Kargil, only thing we remember is the war happened and the heroes of the war, we come to Drass only to salute those heroes who gave up their lives and saved us. It is the proud feeling of our heroes to see all the Pakistani weapons conquered and showcased in the memorial. We decide to rest ourselves for the day in Drass and move to Srinagar the next day.
On the way to Srinagar, we stop for breakfast in a military camp at a place called Gumri. The Samosa’s were filled with Army folk’s love, got us mentally keyed up with the wonderful background voice of the Chef himself and scenic view in front.
We pass through Zojila Pass which is meant to be one of toughest passes to drive and it was, but the riding experience from the beginning of the journey had made us proficient and made our day simpler to reach Sonamarg.With Indus running around the city of Sonamarg, the proportionate match between the cold breeze and the hot sun glowing on us was the perfect weather for the sip of coffee hitting our taste buds.
Nearing the climax, 80kms away to the last destination. We took our own time to reach Srinagar as the sounds of our bikes were overtaken by the sound of the water stream running opposite like a two way road. By 15:30, we calmly find our place in Srinagar. It is end of the Journey here and Thanks to the GATI courier again who got back our bikes safely to Bangalore.
Thanking to the almighty and all your blessings which made the adventure ride success without any kind of hassles. Also, thank you for valuable time spent to go through the above write up.