The Barren Heaven - Ladakh

14th Aug 2014
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 1/24 by mamta upreti
bike repair shop
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 2/24 by mamta upreti
Tanglang La
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 3/24 by mamta upreti
Tso moriri Lake
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 4/24 by mamta upreti
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 5/24 by mamta upreti
Tanglang La
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 6/24 by mamta upreti
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 7/24 by mamta upreti
Baralacha La
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 8/24 by mamta upreti
Kashmir se kanyakumari...hum ek hai
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 9/24 by mamta upreti
Khardung La
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 10/24 by mamta upreti
Khardung La
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 11/24 by mamta upreti
some roads aren't meant to be travelled alone
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 12/24 by mamta upreti
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 13/24 by mamta upreti
getting ready for manali
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 14/24 by mamta upreti
pathar sahib gurudwara
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 15/24 by mamta upreti
defense war museum
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 16/24 by mamta upreti
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 17/24 by mamta upreti
Magnetic Hill
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 18/24 by mamta upreti
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 19/24 by mamta upreti
Debring on the Moore plains.
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 20/24 by mamta upreti
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 21/24 by mamta upreti
Changla baba pass
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 22/24 by mamta upreti
Tso moriri
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 23/24 by mamta upreti
Tso Pangong
Photo of The Barren Heaven - Ladakh 24/24 by mamta upreti

Its a story of most awaited travel experience of my life. Suddenly I planned for a vacation with my friends in Ladakh and explore the life of hills on Royal Enfield Bullets.

I have no idea where to begin from? Let me start with how this journey began.

I always had a hearty wish of going to Leh & Ladakh which is like dream land for me since childhood. We had four days leave but extended it and planned for a vacation. The planning was still at an initial stage but we all had one thing clear in our minds that if we are going to Ladakh, it has to be on the Royal Enfield Bullets – like free birds.

August 14,2014

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Day 1

I boarded the bus from Delhi for Manali with three friends but due to bad weather followed by heavy rainfall, we got stuck mid way and reached the next day i.e. August 15, 2014 at around 8:00 pm. The 24 hour journey was too hectic for us but in the bus we met two people who were also going to Ladakh thus we all decided to go along. We were still in a dilemma about how to proceed with our journey as it was raining like cats and dogs outside.

After some pondering upon, we approached a travel agent to enquire about the tempos running from Manali to Leh who very conveniently informed us that usually the fare is Rs. 2500 per person but due to off season he charged us Rs. 1000 per person and the timing was around 11 or 12 o’clock in the night. Having this option at hand and after putting in a lot of thought we decided to hike up the adventure quotient and rent the Bullets. We went to bike rent shop around midnight in heavy rain fall and gave the shopkeeper Rs. 21000 as rent (including Rs. 11000 security amount). We also took an umbrella from hotel staff but it was crooked . . .a little more spice to the adventure.

I had little idea about what we were doing . . . taking test drives of the bikes at midnight, it was crazy. Somehow we chose the bikes and moved back to our hotel at 2:00 am.

Day 3

August 16, 2014

So next morning, we got ready for the much awaited journey. We gave our ID cards to the bike owner, loaded our luggage on the bikes and purchased hand gloves.

Now the real journey started. Our basic requirement was the food for our bikes - petrol, so we went to the petrol pump, got the tanks full and took around 4 liters extra petrol in cans. We purchased the medicine to help prevent breathing problem which is likely to occur at high altitudes. Then we started proceeding towards Rohtang pass; during this journey we travelled through Kothi, Kodi, Marhi which were small but beautiful places. There was a minor halt at Rohtang Check-post as every tourist had to enter his/her personal details. There was a heavy traffic jam before finally arriving at Rohtang pass at 4 pm. It’s a beautiful place around 52 km from Manali. That time there was too much rush of tourists because of the weekend. But this was not our destination, so we did not stay there. Our journey had just begun and we had miles to go before we stop.

We crossed Rohtang and the first place that we came across was a village called Gramphu.

The next village is Khoksar. But the route was very bad between rohtang pass and khoksar. After Khoksar, the next village is Sissu i.e. 35Kms from Gramphu. Sisu is a very good place for camping. From Khoksar to Tandi the valley view is just superb.

Consider moving slow enjoying the nature while passing this area. It is a heaven for landscape photographers. At Tandi, we saw confluence of rivers Chandra and Bhaga. The place is just gorgeous with the back drop of huge mountain line. At Tandi, take a right turn and Keylong is just 7Kms from there. One will be moving along with and opposite to the river Bhaga which flows beside Keylong. Before reaching Tandi our bike was making weird sounds so we stopped in an army station and asked for help. They took us at their workshop to check the problem while one of them made tea for us. During this time, there was a snow storm so we stayed there for some time, and drank the tea which seemed best at that time. They changed engine oil of our bike without any cost and advised us to get it checked by mechanic.

Around 6 pm we reached Tandi village where we got petrol filled and reached Infield point, the bike repair shop.

The traffic was at a standstill at that time and signals was coming so everyone contacted at his/her home. We saw a camp beside the road. We planned to stay there (The camp was 9km before Jispa).

Day 4

August 17, 2014

Next day I woke up around 6.30am and saw everyone was already awake. As I went outside camp I was mesmerized by the natural beauty around, big snow mountains with small waterfalls, simply one of the most amazing moments of my life.

We reached Dharcha .From Keylong to Dharcha distance is approx 28kms, the roads are good enough but get smoother as you approach Jispa and eventually Darcha.

Our next target was Sarchu which is 84 kms from Dharcha. Roads were very bad and as the altitude increases, we started noticing the first effects of Acute Mountain Sickness. It is advisable to take it easy and not over stress yourself, especially at the summit of Baralacha La, 16,500ft.

From Baralacha La it is again a downhill but a rough ride till Bharatpur, after which the road’s condition starts improving gradually as you approach Sarchu.

Before Sarchu we also covered Zing-zing bar, a beautiful place and camps are also available there to stay. Sarchu, at an altitude of 14,000ft, is a collection of tents and a militarily base. Even though it is quite a windy place and high in altitude. It is a preferable night stop for most travelers. But we didn’t stop there, kept moving on. While moving from Bhartpur to Sarchu, we saw plain green grass ground and beautiful colored mountains. The scenic beauty of the place will surely remind you of a wall-painting.

After that we moved for Pang, the distance between Sarchu & Pang is around 80 kms and road from Sarchu till the start of Gata Loops were in good condition and the progress of road-building looked pretty fast.

Gata Loops are a collection of 21 loops that take you to an altitude of 15,302 ft, roads in the loops were not in a good condition and the slow moving trucks leaving cloud of thick smoke make the ascent feel tougher than it actually is. Next up was the third pass on the Manali-Leh route, Nakee La (15,547ft). While few kilometers down the road was Lachulung La pass situated at an altitude of 16,616 ft. The descent from Lachulung La took us to Pang.

We reached pang around 4:00pm.The road from Pang, it took us through the famous Moore Plains situated in a Plateau, it was hard to believe this flat piece of land could be located at an altitude of 15,400ft; the roads were relatively straight and in good condition, inviting us to indulge in speeding up to our limits. The road was quite bumpy making it a good workout for the vehicle’s suspension and our stomach.

The sun had started to set and it was around 7.30 pm when we reached a small village Debring on the Moore plains.

Then we went off to sleep as next day our target was T Pangong Lake.

August 18,2014

Day 5

We woke up early and got ready for our next destination.

After the fast paced journey on the Moore plains, we found ourselves in third highest pass encounter in Ladakh, Tanglang La (17,582ft). Final few kilometers to the summit of the pass, roads were in a bad condition and the steepness coupled with lack of air takes a toll on vehicles performance. But once we reached the top, we were greeted with spectacular views; in fact from Tanglang La we could clearly spot the complete path to the pass for miles on both directions.

Descent from Tanglang La for first few kilometers was in a bad condition; however after that the roads were smooth and with the altitude decreasing, our spirits were starting to pick up and we felt rejuvenated by the time we reached Up.

We took a small break for a cup of tea/coffee at Upshi. Near the checkpost, we registered ourselves and took some permit near shop for visiting Tso pangong and Tso Moriri, Korzok and Khardung pass. I filled that permit forum and submitted our details and covered a distance of 20kms from Upshi to Karu.

From there we moved for Tso Pangong Lake. There was only one nearest petrol pump at Karu but we forgot to fill petrol in our bikes after 15 Km realized but now we did not have any option so leaving everything on destiny,we moved further and waited for other bikers. There was an adventures day of my life,we had seen nothing so far except barren land.So we moved further and now met highest pass Changla baba pass, there was a temple of Changla baba, DRDO center and army station but road’s condition was bad.

After that road was down so now for saving petrol we got your bike in natural. After sometime we reached Tangtse, it’s another Indian army station, We stopped there and they offer us black tea with raisin. I gossiped with army officer and after exchanging smiles and talks, we continued our journey. Now the time was around 4.30 PM, Tso Pangong was from there around we moved fast but still we were worried about petrol. After one hour ride In between we saw a biker while he crossed us and we stopped him. He was alone rider, came from Faridabad to visit Ladakh .We told him about our problem then he decided to gave us 1 liter petrol, that was our first time when we realized the cost of petrol. After giving petrol he said us, go back towards Leh now because you’re already late and would not reach there on time. We said him thanks and then he moved for Leh and we moved for Tso Pangong because we were not gone there for returning back.

We reached near Tso Pangong Lake at evening, but before that we slipped on a rough road but didn’t get hurt. At that time we laughed more suddenly I saw, petrol was falling down from tank and immediately stopped laugh and picked up bike.

Now we faced a waterfall falling on the road, but there we saved from fast flowing water. We took precaution I am off the bike and started walking there and the one who was riding it crossed it very slowly so that it didn’t get slip. After that around 7 PM we reached Tso Pangong Lake. That view I can’t explain in words.

Now I believe that that time I was in heaven, there was too much cold so first we searched place where to spent nights and saw camp, tents and finally we decided to stay at Martsemik camp and it was very beautifully made by Leh local peoples.

Because in our mind was next day adventure, our main requirement were petrol because we didn’t have enough petrol for going back to Leh so regarding it we talked to local people there. They sold petrol there but took double money for that.

August 19, 2014

Day 6

At early morning around 6 AM, we all woke up and ready for visiting Tso Pangong Lake but before that I went near camp for petrol and there was an old man, who sold it. So I went to him bought around 3 litre petrol, as per our mutual discussion it would be enough for reaching Leh.

It was amazing view when I saw first time, that feeling I cannot explain in words. I felt like I was in heaven I do not know how heaven look like but somewhere when you see. It was the most beautiful experience of my life up to now.

It situated at a height of about 13,900 ft, the name Tso Pangong is a derivative of the Tibetan word Banggong Co meaning “long, narrow, enchanted lake”. One third of the lake is in India while the remaining two thirds lies in Tibet, which is controlled by China. Majority of the streams which fill the lake are located on the Tibetan side. Though it’s a saline water lake, it freezes completely during winters.It’s a picturesque and serene place. While the movie 3 Idiots,Fukrey brought more popularity to Tso Pangong Lake, it has featured in several other movies too.

After that we moved for Leh and on the mid way, saw a monastery and went there and talked to lambs living there and he gave me chocolates as a parsad. After that in mid way before Chang la our bike was facing some problem so we decided to stop there and checked out the fault actually it was not picking speed and we thought our bike was puncher as air in Tyre seems to be less. We had a tool kit so tried to fill air in tyre but it’s not working well. We decided to asked for help on road from bikers passing by then a group cross there and we told them our problem, one person out of them was expert in bike repairing so he checked it told us , found out that tyre is not puncture but acute of air. Actually after using our tool kit air pump its tyre air was leaked as our air pump was faulty then they used their air pump and filled air again in tyre. Then we joined there group and ride along them for some far while on the way for Leh. I was very happy when we met our friends whose bike was brooked last day they were going to Tso Pangong that day. We got our bike registration certificate paper from them and shared our last day experience. After that our journey again started and around 5 PM we reached Leh.It’s beautiful city. We watched Indian army base station on Leh-manali highway, Indian air force station there. After that in between watched Leh palace which was made by king of Leh, and then reached main market of Leh and searched guest house or hotels for stay.

After half hour searched we found a guest house. It’s name was TONGSPON. We were already late for visiting local Leh city points to visit so decided to take some rest and shower which is very well required after tiring journey. We were feeling very hungry and waiting for good food. After 1.30 hour we were ready for our next trip around main market which is near to our guest house. First thing came our mind only and only about food, we were too much hungry that time so searched best Ladakhi food in leh.

In between we stopped our bike in corner side of road and saw a CHOSKOR TOURS & TRAVELS shop front of us. We went inside the shop and met its owner, his name was Bashier. We sat their around 2 hour talked about our 2 days plan, because we had already spend 4 days till yet .So we told him about our whole trip and what places we covered till yet now we had left only 2 days so we were confused where should go or not? After that he suggested us ,next day tour plan you would covered leh and outer places near to Leh. We went to lamayururestaurant for dinner,it very famous and well known for his food. After that we enjoyed ambience there. All were foreigner and at same place all were together. So now time to sleep, so we slept that time.

Day 7

August 20, 2014

Next day,we started for Khardungla top (18380) pass, Khardung La (in Tibetan, La means pass) is situated at a distance of about 40 km from Leh. The pass offers amazing views of the valley and the roads winding up the mountain. The pristine air, scenic vistas and the feeling of being on top of the world have made Khardung La a popular tourist attraction. I felt amazing there. Now, you’d be surprised – Airtel works here!!

We spent around 1 hour there with army people. They all were awesome people, they greeted us and offered drank black tea there. Now time to go back to Leh because we had only one day left after this day there. We did not go Nubra valley cause of short of time. It’s also a beautiful place of Leh, so please try to do not miss it.

We went to Leh in between took shortcut for reaching Leh, it’s too much adventurous but less of risk. Finally we reached around 2 PM and we had lunch in Tibet kitchen restaurant. It’s very famous for local food. We had their American chopshy and thuppa which is local

Ladakhi dish. After that we went for hall of fame near to leh air port. It’s a defense war museum. There we watched a short movie which was based on Kargil War and about warriors.After that we went for magnetic hill. AMagnetic Hill is a so-called "gravity hill" located near Leh in Ladakh, India. The “magnet Hill” is located on the Leh-Kargil-Srinagar national highway, about 30 km from Leh, at a height of 11,000 feet above sea level.After that reached pathar sahib gurudwara. It’s very famous gurudwara in leh –kargil national highway. The Guru Nanak came there and spent some time with local people. There we had sweet Bundi, namkin with tea prasad and all things managed by Indian Army people that was very tasty. We had two cup of tea its awesome and more to spiritual day. We enjoyed a lot there. One thing I miss we had seen sangam at nimu which is merging of two rivers into one. It’s a beautiful view from top hill.

Time to go back to leh after that we went to Bashier uncle shop because last day we asked about reasonable shopping place in Leh. Finally we purchased yak wool shawls for my father. It’s beautifully worn.

August 21, 2014

Day 8

Next day, we had plans for Tso moriri Lake. Tso moriri is a lake in the Changthang area in Jammu and Kashmir. The lake is at an altitude of 4,595 m (15,075 ft), it is the largest of the high altitude lakes in the Trans-Himalayan biogeography region, entirely within India. The lake sits between Ladakh, India to the North, Tibet to the east and Zanskar in the west. The lake is oligotrophic in nature, and its waters are alkaline. The lake is located to the southeast of Leh at a road distance of 240 kilometers. We reached Tso moriri directly from Leh via Upshi and it was a journey that we never forget. After Leh and Karu there are no petrol pumps in the area so carrying enough fuel is necessary. In that route we faced lots of challenges. The route especially when one is near to the lake is quite challenging but the lake is simply very beautiful it has one more specialty that a very beautiful bird known as Rajhans which is only seen there and Kailash Mansarovar china out of whole world . There was also another beautiful lake on the route. We reached there around 7.30 PM. We stayed there for a night at KORZOK. It was completely a home stay and the hospitality was inexpressible.

I do not know how can I express my feelings about the beauty but I will request to all try to visit at least once in a life.

August 22,2014

Day 9

Next day we woke up around 6 AM and we would plan to reach Darcha at evening. So we visited some local site seeing places. We saw some migratory birds at Tso moriri.After that we moved for TSO KAR LAKE. It’s another beautiful small lake inside wildlife security in Jammu Kashmir. But transportation condition and roads were in bad condition. In between we faced lots of up and downs on the way but with courage and faith in God we completed whole journey with happiness.We reached Debring around 2 PM and decided to reach Darcha same day. But we were already late. In between we crossed Pang, Lachalagla, Nakeela pass, Sarchu, Baratpur and Baralachala pass, Patso like small places .So around 8 PM, reached Zing zingbar. It’s a small halt point and there were 2-3 tents available, then we decided to stay there.

Day 10

August 23,2014

Next day early morning we moved for Manali. We crossed Darcha (police checkpoint), Jispa , Keylog, Rohtanga pass.Near Rohtanga, Marhi location we have done paragliding. It was amazing experience of my life. We finally reached Manali before 4 PM. We booked our returning tickets in valvo same day. Around 5 pm we left Manali.

August 24,2014

Next day around 10 AM we reached Delhi with an unforgettable experience of my life.

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