Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018

Tripoto
10th Jun 2018
Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

A biker's travelogue of "the" ride to Paradise.

Locations we visited, put on map:

Delhi - Manali (A) - Sissu - Jispa - Tso Kar (B) - Hanle (C) - Chushul (D) - Pangong Tso (E) - Agham - Nubra Valley (F) - Turtuk (G) - Nubra Valley - Leh (H) - Sarchu - Manali - Delhi

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 1/1 by Barun Mittal
Ignore the time. The locations we visited in 15 days. 
Day 1

Day 1 – Delhi to Manali

So, this was the day we started off for the ride from Delhi. We had all gathered up in a hotel near the Karnal Byepass, the previous night in order to remove the hassle of crossing Delhi in the morning and saving ourselves an hour.

Bullet Prepared for the ride.

Photo of Delhi, India by Barun Mittal

Since our plan was to reach Manali by the end of the day, we started early. By early, I mean very early (at least for me). By 4:10 am, our bikes were thumping on the NH1. Since the journey was long, we took a few stops like one in Karnal, where we had our breakfast and near Ropar, where we had our lunch. Then a few minute stops to straighten up our backs every 1 to 1.5 hours. This way, we crossed the plains and entered the hills.

As we neared Mandi, it started to rain, but since we had our riding gear on (along with the waterproof liner), it wasn’t a problem.

We continued to ride slowly, enjoying the first day of our ride.

After covering 570 Kms and a journey of 15 hours, we reached Manali, we checked into the hotel, followed by a hot shower to relax.

Though it was hectic, but we managed to experience the first day in multiple environments- peace of night, heat of the day, dust and the best, a rain shower. As per the original itinerary we had planned a stay in manali for the second day of the trip. but we later came to know that the Gulaba check post (en-route Manali to Rohtang) does not allow tourists to cross on a Tuesday since the roads are kept closed for maintenance. So, following the itinerary meant we would be grounded in manali for an additional day. So, we planned to cross the checkpost on the day 2 itself. We booked a stay in Sissu which is almost in middle of Manali and Sarchu making the second day ride an easy and short one.

Day 2

Day 2 – Manali to Sissu

We started off from Manali at 13:00, though there were many places where traffic jam encountered us, but we managed to escape it (perks of being on 2-wheeler). Road till Rohtang pass was very nice. Though it was a mixture of wide and narrow patches at different places, but it had proper tar and we could see the snow laden tips of the mountains, which added to the beauty.

Rohtang Pass

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Barun Mittal

But as soon as we crossed the Rohtang Pass, the situation completely changed. There were a few big patches of the road which were completely broken. Crossing this, along with the usual mountain turns added a lot of stress on the wrist (though I will call it an off roading adventure en-route).

Additionally, there were two different streams of water flowing cross the road which we had to cross. Crossing them with water flowing at a decent stream was an adventure.

Finally, we got a good wide patch of the road which helped us reach our destination at 19:00 (100 km in 6 hours) when we finally checked into the hotel at Sissu, had some rest and started planning for the next day.

At the Khoksar checkpost.

Photo of Khoksar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Barun Mittal
Day 3

Day 3 – Sissu to Jispa

This day started off easy. We were staying at Sissu which was already halfway between Manali and Sarchu which was the original plan. But as we got up and had our breakfast, we got the news that there was a cloud burst and heavy landslide, the previous night, near the Baralachha La Pass, which has caused the two water streams, that cross the road, to overflow. We were told that some huge rocks (approx. 5 to 6 ft in height) have found their way in the middle of the road, making it difficult for anyone to cross the streams. Keeping this in mind, we changed the plan and instead of going to Sarchu we planned to go to Jispa, which was approx. 50 km from Sissu and near to the water streams, so we could start early next day.

Filling up petrol at Tandi petrol Pump

Photo of Tandi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Barun Mittal

We started off at 11:00. Our first stop was Tandi where we got our petrol tanks full. This is apparently the last petrol pump on the Manali Leh highway and the next one would be in Leh, and for our route it would be Diskit, near Nubra. Since this was an easy day, we took many halts. We then headed to Kyelong. As we have been told, this was the last city where we would get Airtel network. We sat down at a restaurant and had some amazing food. We even got Wi-Fi here and this meant we are again connected to the world after 1.5 days (though for a short duration).

Post having lunch and posting some videos and pics over internet, we headed towards the Shashur Monastery. The ride to the monastery was rugged but amazing. There was a steep ascend straight for 5 kms including some steep U-turns. The scenic beauty, we saw post reaching the top, was amazing.

Post this we headed back to Kyelong and started our ride to Jispa. Kyelong to Jispa was another 25 kms but since the road was smooth and wide enough, it took us approx. 45 minutes to reach Jispa where we had our campsite booked.

The campsite was on the riverside, so you could hear the river flowing. We relaxed, enjoyed the bonfire, had dinner and we were then off to sleep.

Day 4

Day 4 – Jispa to Tso Kar

Today we had to cover a long distance to make up our original plan. The plan was to start from Jispa and reach Tso Kar which was approx. 250 km ride covering the Baralachha la, Gata loops, More plains etc.

We started off early i.e. by 06:00 we already had our engines on. This started off as a usual ride, until we reached the first checkpoint which was one of the water crossings. Because of the cloud burst two days back, the water was gushing across the road. While crossing this, since the rock bed wasn’t stable, 3 of the 6 bikers lost control and tripped, but managed to come out with no injury.

Then we started and were soon near the Baralacha La pass. What a scene it was. There were ice walls on both sides of the road, some ranging to more than 6-8 ft. We stopped at the Baralachala La for some photography on the ice.

At the Baralacha La Pass

Photo of Baralacha La Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Barun Mittal

Once done, we were back on the road. After riding some more distance, we got a board marking the start of the Gata loops. There are 21 loops in this region with very steep ascents. By the time we reached the top, many of us had started to feel the mountain sickness. The journey ahead was a descend, so we managed to cover this slowly and once down, we stopped at a restaurant to have some rest and restore our oxygen levels. We stopped here for almost an hour.

Once everyone was ok to proceed, we started off again. This time we crossed Nakeela pass and headed to the More plains.

Road through the More Plains

Photo of More Plains by Barun Mittal

More plains are a vast stretch of land in the valley. The wind in this area is very strong. I have been told to park my bike properly else the wind could even drop it.

We almost covered 25 to 30 kms in this area when we reached our destination. The camp site was beautifully set up between the mountains on a vast stretch of land.

As soon as we reached, I went to bed in the riding gear itself to get some rest and this marked the end of the day.

Day 5

Day 5 – Tso Kar to Hanle

I got up around 6 am and was feeling easy. I was able to walk easy. So, we got ready, had breakfast and soon started for our nest destination, which was Hanle, the last village on the Indo Tibet Border.

The first few kilometers was a ride on a long patch of land with no road or trail. We knew the direction we need to go in to find the road, and headed towards it, creating our trails. After riding for around 3 to 4km in sand, we managed to hit a narrow road which would lead us to Nyoma.

Riding from Tso Kar

Photo of Tso Kar by Barun Mittal

While riding on the road, we neared the other side of Tso Kar, where we again went off the road to the lake for a photo shoot since the view was amazing and the sand was white, a beautiful place for a shoot. We were almost there for 15 minutes clicking pictures.

Next, we started from Tso Kar and rode in the direction of Nyoma. The ride was a bumpy one. There was road at one point and then rocky trail at the other. Covering thus off, we reached a small place named Nyoma. We took a stop there for lunch.

Our Group Pic

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

Riding on the bumpy road.

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

And Yes, Sher Tayar hai (Lion is ready)

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

Post lunch, we started off towards the Loma check post, which was 40 km ahead of Hanle. This was where our permits were to be checked by the ITBP. In order to cross Loma and head towards Hanle or Chushul, you need permits from the Leh DC office. Since we had the permits, we crossed the post at ease.

Once we crossed Loma, the road that led to Hanle was beautiful. This was a plain and well tarred road, surrounded by sand on both sides and mountains at a distance. This truly gave a sense of riding in the heaven with no one to be seen for miles.

The road from Loma to Hanle.

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

As we reached Hanle, we settled in a Homestay, arranged by a local family there. It was simple, yet relaxing. Since we rode for almost 150 KM in multiple terrains, we were quite tired and hence settled down in the rooms that were available for us. Hanle is one of those remote places which receives electricity only for 3 hours a day i.e. 19:30 - 22:30 every night. We had our dinner during this time and then moved out for a stroll in the clear star lit sky. It was a beautiful feeling that reminded me of the skies we had been missing since our childhood. We spent almost an hour strolling around the village in the dark, post which we came back to the house and went to sleep to mark it the end of the day.

Dinner we were served in Hanle

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal
Day 6

Day 6 - Hanle

Since we had been riding for last 5 days and covered around 1100 KMs, we planned to spend the day in Hanle to enjoy the local beauty and the simple lifestyle of people. We woke up late in the morning and had our breakfast in the house. I utilized this day by washing the Gear to remove the dust and sweat and to restore its shine. Post this we headed towards the Astronomical observatory.

Hanle is the few place that gets the highest number of clear nights in a year in India. Because of this, the Indian Institute of Astrophysics has built up an observatory which is remotely operated by the scientists from Bengaluru. The caretaker, who arranged for our stay in Hanle, organized a visit for us at the observatory. We visited the observatory and got a chance to see the huge Gamma lens (covered with cloth to prevent it to getting the light). It was an amazing feeling learning about the working of the Lens and how the images are transmitted.

The Astronomical Observatory

Photo of Hanle Gompa, Hanle by Barun Mittal

Post this we made our way towards the Hanle Gonpa i.e. Hanle Monastery. This monastery was beautifully built in the 17th century on top of the mountain and could be easily noticed from a distance. We rode our bikes towards the monastery. It was beautiful in the inside too and quite big. We made our way towards the top, enjoying the beauty of the open rooms. As we reached the top, we were awestruck by the beauty of the mountains and the valley. The scene of a long stretch of road, with vast land on both the sides ending into mountains under a clear sky, was just amazing. we spent almost an hour, enjoying and capturing the scenery in our cameras. Post this, we headed back towards the place of our stay to enjoy the lunch.

View of Hanle from the Monastery

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

After lunch we headed back to our beds to relax and take short naps. in the evening we went to a local school where the kids of nomads from around Hanle would stay and study. We were welcomed and honored in the school with a 'Khata' because of good deeds that Royal Bikers had done for the people of Hanle. We had tea and enjoyed some time in the school with the kids. Post which we headed back to house. Since it was already evening, we spent some time discussing the plan for the upcoming ride and had our dinner.

During dinner, we requested the homestay family to prepare us something local. They prepared a local dish named "skew". This dish is made by rolling the dough and making thumb sized pasta from it and then cooking it with meat or any other veggies. The skew we were served was made by cooking the pasta with lentils. It was different for us but it tasted good and was worth enjoying. We enjoyed our dinner and then headed towards the bed for a sleep.

Day 7

Day 7 – Hanle to Pangong via Chushul

This morning we started from Hanle and were destined to Pangong via Chushul. To reach Chushul from Hanle, one has to back towards the Loma check-post and take a turn towards the road that leads to Chushul. The ride to Loma from Hanle was almost 40 KM long, with vast stretch of land on both sides ending into mountains. We started our journey around 7:30 in the morning.

As we started left Hanle, we noticed snowfall on the tip of the mountains. This caused the strong chilled cross winds. Though we had sensed the chill in the air and wore an additional pair of thermals, Double layer of gloves, the body was feeling cold. The double layer of gloves helped a lot but I could still feel the chill and it was getting difficult to hold the handlebar. We anyhow made it to the Loma check-post from where we turned towards Chushul.

Han;e

Photo of Hanle Gompa, Hanle by Barun Mittal

Road from Hanle to Chushul was good, though it had some broken patches, it was still bearable since it was sunny and pleasant. We started our ride towards chushul, stopping by at multiple places for some amazing photos. On the way to Chushul, we crossed the Tsaka La Pass first. At the pass there was a wall covered with the multicolored traditional Ladakh Prayer flags. It was a beautiful patch of road. We stopped by this place for a photoshoot.

At the Tsaka La Pass

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

As we moved ahead, we were surrounded by vast stretches of land, without any road. All one could find were the tyre marks of the vehicles that passed from that pace. You would have to follow the path to move ahead. Though it was scarry, but it was adventurous too. We followed the marks for miles. It was difficult to balance the bike on the sandy path but somehow, we managed it. I even took a fall on the rocks after losing my balance on the bike, but the riding gear saved me and I did not get even a single scratch.

Loosing and maintaining balance at the Tsaka La Road.

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

Amidst the sandy path, there was a memorial built by Indian army, Rezang la memorial for the martyrs of the Rezang la war. We stopped at this place to pay tribute to the martyrs of our country.

Rezang La War Memorial

Photo of Rezang La War Memorial, Tsaka La Road by Barun Mittal

Post this we resumed out journey towards Chushul. There was a function organized by Indian army in Chushul and because of which the internal road was blocked. We had to reroute in order to cross Chushul and get on the road to Pangong. During this reroute, my bike took a toll and refused to start. We tried changing the filters of the bike in order to start it. It took around 30 minutes to sort it out, when it finally started, and we headed towards the road to Pangong.

The initial road to Pangong lake from Chushul was okay but soon it was all sand and here we could not see much of tyre tracks even. As we headed ahead, all we knew the direction we had to proceed in. Though it was getting difficult for us to find the clear path amidst the rocks, we managed to move on slowly finding our way (and preventing another fall). This went on many Kilometers. We moved on slowly and carefully for hours until we got a glimpse of the Pangong lake.

The first glimpse of Pangong Lake (the sharp blue line)

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

As we got the glimpse of the Blue Pangong Lake from many KMs away, we had a very different energy enter our body. We could feel the energy to rush to reach the lake. Though it took us almost 15-20 Kms to finally reach near the lake after we first saw it, but it was quick since we could feel the distance getting shorter, compared to before when all we were doing was just riding without any sense of the destination. There were many Wild Ass running across the path to make the scenery worth remembering.

As we approached near the lake, we stopped to enjoy the different shades of the blue color in the lake. We could feel the multiple shades of blue reflected by the lake. It was mesmerizing. we spent almost an hour there enjoying the beauty, feeling the chilled water and capturing the scenery in our cameras. This was the only and the best place where we captured our only group photo of the trip.

Posing at the Pangong lake

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

From here we proceeded further towards our camp site. The camp was far off from here. To reach the camp, we had to ride on rocky road for around 20 KMs. It was a painstaking ride. We would only ride at speed of 10-15 KM/s, to prevent any damage to the shockers and our backs. It took us around an hour and half to reach the camp site where we parked our bikes, had tea and settled in the camps.

The Bull Posing at the Pangong Lake

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

After changing from the riding gear into normal clothes, we headed towards the lake side which was filled up with tourists, capturing their moments, enjoying horse ride etc. and we spent a few minutes there and headed back to the camp. Since our camp was lake facing, we could easily sit outside our camp and enjoy the blue lake. The camp prepared some amazing poppadum which we enjoyed with tea, feeling the chill in the air and the beauty of the lake.

Around 22:00 we had out dinner at the camp and headed towards the bed.

Day 8

Day 8 - Pangong to Nubra Valley via Agham.

Next day we woke to a beautiful morning on the lake side. As per plan we were to ride to Nubra Valley via Agham which was approx 180 KM and would be covered in approx. 9-10 hours. There are two routes from Pangong to Nubra Valley, one goes via Leh city and the other via Agham. We chose the route via Agham to Nubra Valley.

Durbuk Intersection

Photo of Pangong Lake by Barun Mittal

The first stop on this route was near Durbuk, where the route to Leh and Agham separates. Since this was a convention route which most bikers would take, we encountered many riding groups from different parts of the country and abroad. We crossed the iconic 3 Idiots shooting site, which was covered with Tourists clicking their pics with the scooter, buttocks and other props from the 3 Idiots movie.

As we headed towards Durbuk, we could feel the chill increasing in the air. As we approached Durbuk and halted for a Honey Lemon Tea, we could see the top of the mountain that has the Chang La Pass, covered in thick black clouds, since it was raining and snowing there. After settling for about half an hour, we started our journey towards Agham. The route via Agham to Nubra was quite tough. Though the roads were ok, but they weren’t wide and had sharp curves. We could not maintain much of a speed and had to drive slowly and cautiously.

Bikers posing for pic.

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

After reaching Agham, we halted at a small shop opened within a house, where they served us multiple eatables like Maggi, Omelets, Dal rice, Parantha etc. They even had a carrom board kept across the road in a small shack where we enjoyed the time relaxing. We spent almost an hour and a half there, relaxing, eating and playing. Post which we resumed our journey to Nubra Valley.

The distance from Agham to Terith (the place of our stay, on the Nubra-Siachen route) was approx 50 KM we had an easy ride. We reached the camp side in Terith in the evening and settled our selves in the tents. They had prepared tea and snacks for us which we enjoyed and then changed to our normal clothes. Since the campsite was a huge one, it was nice roaming around the garden.

Sandstorme view at the campsite

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

Terith was another place which would receive electricity in the evening for a few hours. So we made ourselves comfortable in the dining area where they had arranged the sockets for us to charge our devices (laptops, mobiles, camera etc.) and a large projector screen for TV. We spent around 2-3 hours here, charging devices, enjoying food and watching TV post which we headed towards our tent for a sleep.

Day 9

Day 9 - Nubra to Turtuk and back

This was a comparatively easy day since we did not have to pack our bags in the morning before our ride. We had planned to ride to Turtuk from Nubra Valley via Hunder and then back. Total distance covered in this day was approx. 180 KM.

Turtuk is the northern most village in India before the LOC. It was part of PoK until the 1971 war, when the Indian army got back the village to India.

As we started in the morning, our first halt was at Diskit for filling up the petrol tanks. After we left Tandi on Day 3, this was the first petrol pump on our way. So we stopped by and filled up the petrol tanks in our bikes and the drum we carried. The petrol pump here used a conventional gear lever mechanism. We met a few people here from Punjab who came down to us seeing my bike (its registration number is of Punjab) who flew to Leh and appreciated us for riding this long.

After filling our tanks to the brim, we started off for Turtuk. Next on the route was Hunder. This place had sand dunes scattered on a vast area. Though they were not huge (atleast you could feel that from top of the mountain) but it was a very beautiful sight. We planned on making a stop here during our return in the evening. Hunder is additionally famous for its double humped camel.

We left Hunder and proceeded for Turtuk. The drive from Hunder to Turtuk was amazing. The road was very smooth and well maintained and had many Military and Air Force base en route. We rode for like 70 KM to Turtuk through the mountains and valleys.

The feeling you get as you enter Turtuk is very different. You could see the mountains which are part of the PoK from the village. The thing that scared us was the billboard that said “Caution: you are under enemy observation”. We stopped at a café in the village, for half an hour, for some tea and snacks and post which we headed back.

During our way back, we stopped in Hunder for lunch. There was a Punjabi Dhabba where we stopped and had our lunch. Post which we headed towards the Hunder sand dunes. As we entered the dunes, it was filled up with the tourists from different parts. There were many camels in the dunes which were giving rides to people on the dunes. We spent almost 2 hours here, enjoying the beauty of the place and capturing it in our cameras and post which we headed towards the camp site.

The double humped camel calf in Hunder

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

Camel ride at the Hunder Sand Dunes

Photo of Hunder by Barun Mittal

After reaching the campsite we settled down in the tents for some time and later we gathered in the dining area to put our phones, cameras etc. to charge. We relaxed in the dining area for some time, post which we had our dinner and were off to sleep.

Day 10

Day 10 - Nubra Valley to Leh via Khardungla

This was one of the days we had been long waiting for. We were to reach Leh by the end of the day covering the highest motorable pass in the world, the Khardung La Pass. The distance from Nubra Valley to Leh was approx 125 KM, we started off easy. We started off around 09:00 in the morning.

As we started off from Nubra Valley, one of our bikes took a puncture and it took us around half an hour to sort that out by changing the tyre. Post which we headed back. There were some road construction work going on as you ascend for pass and hence, we were stuck in traffic for additional 1 hour.

Once cleared from the traffic jam, we started off to climb towards the Khardungla pass. As we were heading towards the peak, we could feel the air getting colder and thinner and the oxygen level decreasing in the air. A few KMs before the top, there was ice on the sides and frost on the road, making it hard for us to ride since the bike was losing friction. We rode our bikes at very slow speeds. Slowly and steadily, riding through the ice and frost, we managed to climb to the Khardungla Pass.

Since we had experienced the altitude sickness at the BaralachaLa pass, we did not spend much time at the top and were back on the road in just 3 minutes.

It was very cold but somehow, we managed to ride and get to the South Pullu where we halted for and snacks. Because of the traffic jam, and the rush on the road, the cars that were with us were left behind. So, we used this time to get back together again. After spending time eating and waiting, we were back on the road towards Leh.

The descend from South Pullu to the Leh city was a long road of about 50 KMs with sharp turns. We covered this ride with the engines off (saving some fuel) keeping a control of the bike using brakes. We entered the Leh city around 16:00 in the evening and took another hour to find out the hotel we had booked for us. Once in the hotel, we had some tea and snacks, post which we relaxed in the rooms for some time.

After we left Kyelong on the Day 3, we got the signals in our mobile phones today. All the notifications that we missed in the last couple of days started to pop on the mobile.

In the evening we went for a stroll in the Leh town which was a walking distance from our hotel and post this we had our dinner at night and headed for sleep.

Day 11

Day 11- Leh city

We had planned two days of stay in Leh to relax and enjoy the beauty around Leh. We planned on going towards the Kargil highway, to the famous Pathhar Sahib Gurudwara, Magnetic Hill and the Sangam. We started off in the morning at 10. And headed towards the Gurudwara and spent some time there.

Next, we headed towards the Magnetic Hill. This hill is known for its magnetic property. A box has been painted in the middle of the road and when you park your vehicle in the box and release brakes, the vehicle starts moving uphill. Though this phenomenon is great to hear and experience, but when you watch closely, you will notice the illusion. Because of the surrounding mountains the road seems going uphill where as it is going downhill, and the vehicle moves ahead with gravity.

Moving ahead, we went to the Sangam at Nimmu. This was a beautiful place where the rivers Indus and Zanskar meet. The turquoise water of Indus river looks amazing from a distance. We noticed that there were many private rafting points organized on the banks. They would take you around 8Km ahead in a tempo with the rafts and start rafting. It looked amazing knowing the temperature and the how cold the water is, it sent chills in the body. Later on, we got to know, it was the highest rafting point in the world.

Confluence in t

Photo of Leh by Barun Mittal

After spending some time at the confluence, we got back to the Leh city, which was approx. 40 KM from Nimmu. Since it was already lunch time, we went directly to the Gizmo, the famous German Bakery in Leh city and enjoyed some German delicacies. Post this we went back to the hotel and relaxed for some time.

Shanti Stupa

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

In the evening, we headed towards the Shanti Stupa which was not far off from the hotel. The evening time at Shanti Stupa was amazing. Since it is built at a height, you could easily see the Leh city from top, along with vast stretch of land and mountains. It was a good place to capture the skyline of Leh in our cameras. We enjoyed shooting here and headed back to the Leh city.

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

We then spent around 2 hours in the Leh market, window shopping and enjoying some local delicacies, and post which we headed back to the hotel to have dinner and rest.

Day 12

Day 12 - Leh city

The previous day we checked for rafting in Zanskar river. A friend of ours had organized rafting in the Zanskar river with the help of Indian Army adventure wing. So, we reached the Nimmu camp at around 9:30 in the morning, so we could start the rafting early.

We went rafting in the extremely chilled water of the Zanskar rived with our brothers from Indian Army. It was an amazing experience to know the Army men from close. We managed to jump in the river at a shallow point, but since the temperature of the water was extremely low, we had to be pulled out instantly. Since we were wearing dry suits, we manage to be safe from the cold. Since we were rafting in groups of two, it was like a competition on who reaches the destination first.

Later we reached the Nimmu base where we changed back into our clothes from the dry suites, thanks the army men and headed back to Leh. In Leh, we went to the Hall of fame. Hall of Fame is a museum built and maintained by the Indian Army, displaying the different ordeals that they have to go through while serving the country and to pay homage to the martyrs who lost their life in different wars. It was an amazing experience.

Later we headed to the Leh Palace. Though we did not spend much time there because of rush, but it was good. Later in the evening, we went back to the Leh market to buy some souvenirs and gifts for some near and dear ones.

Later in the evening we celebrated our successful ride to Leh and started planning for the journey back home.

Day 13

Day 13 - Leh to Sarchu

The day started early, since we had to reach Sarchu by the end of the day, crossing Tagland la Pass, More Plains and Gata loops.

The start of the journey was good. Since the road on this route was good, we started at a decent speed and rode towards Taglangla pass crossing multiple army camps. We reached the pass in almost 2 hours and spent some time there shooting and enjoying the Kashmiri kahwa to feel some heat in the body.

As we started from Taglangla pass to More plains, the condition of the road took a toll. The road was now broken, rocky and had sharp curves. It was getting difficult for us to keep the pace. We had to ride at 10-15 KM/s for next 30 KM to cross this stretch of the road, after which we hit the More Plains.

Once in the More plains, the condition of the road was good. It was well built and maintained. Since the road in the More plains is built in the valley, there were not many turns. So, we covered the distance at a decent speed and covered the time lost in the previous stretch. We stopped for a team and snacks at a shack in Pang and relaxed for some time there.

Later we covered the Gata Loops. Since this time, we were descending down from the Gata loops, it was comparatively easy. We managed to cover it in good time. Later in the evening around 16:00 we reached Sarchu. Just a few Kms before our camp site, we saw a beautiful green stretch of land on the road side and headed in to capture some shots. We spent almost half an hour here, capturing different shots and then headed towards the campsite.

Sarchu has been known for its cold strong cross winds. One could easily feel the tent shaking in the evening and night. Because of these winds, it was quite cold outside. We gathered in one tent and enjoyed the evening with some snacks and later when the dinner was ready, went and had dinner in their dining camp. After dinner, since it was already dark and we were quite tired, we went for a sleep.

Day 14

Day 14 - Sarchu to Manali

We woke up around 6 in the morning. Behind our campsite, there were some holes dig up by the marmots. So, we went into that area to capture some nice shots and spent 10-15 minutes there. By the time the breakfast was ready, we headed to wards the camp site back, had our breakfast and were ready to start our journey ahead towards Manali.

The ride from Sarchu towards Manali included the Baralachala pass, the different water streams, etc. unlike the time while we were headed the other way, it was quite this time. Though there were water streams flowing over the road, but the water pressure was lesser, and the rocks settled, so, we could easily cross them. We crossed all the places like Jispa, Sissu, Kyelong etc and as we were nearing Rohtang, we could feel the number of tourists built up.

Baralacha La Pass

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal

Having spent multiple days in places with very lesser number of people or tourists, the scene at Rohtang was completely different for us. It was filled up with cars parked on both the sides of the roads for a few KMs and tourists enjoying the snow. Since it was raining lightly as well, we headed towards manali without halting at Rohtang pass.

As we neared Manali, the traffic started piling up. Though our original plan was to halt in Manali, we were planning to extend the day and ride till Bilaspur in order to ease up the next day ride. But as we saw multi KM long traffic Jam, we held our original plan and headed towards our pre-booked hotel in Manali. As we reached the hotel, we relaxed for some time.

There is a café in old Manali, that goes by the name “Johnsons’ café” and I am fond of their Waffles since they made crisp and tasty waffles. So, I and a fellow biker headed towards it to enjoy the food, which made our evening and the stay in Manali, pleasant.

Post this we returned back to the hotel and celebrated the last night together sharing memories from the ride and discussing some future ones. It has been the best ride so far and hence we were quite sad to see it end.

Day 15

Day 15 - Manali to Gurgaon

This was the last day of the ride when we all were headed back home. We were planning to start the day at 05:00 so we could reach our homes well in time in the evening. But since this was the last day of the ride, everyone was quite relaxed, and we managed to start around 07:30 after breakfast.

The temperature in Manali was cold but as we headed towards Bilaspur, it was getting warmer. Since we had to cover almost 750 KMs in the day and we started late, we managed to reduce the number of breaks and stretch the rides. Until around 15:00 we managed to cross the mountainous region and hit the plains.

We stopped by around Ropar for lunch where we had decent Punjabi food at a roadside Dhabba and rested for around an hour.

After lunch and some rest, we started our journey towards Delhi. We had been riding since morning and had taken very limited breaks, our backs started to go numb. We started stopping and taking short breaks at shorter distances. We managed a short break every 50-60KMs, while taking the last break just after crossing Panipat where we had some soft drink.

After we were back on the bikes, it was already getting dark (around 20:00), we resumed our journey. Around 21:00 we reached Delhi where we parted out ways and loaded out luggage back from the Getaway support vehicle onto our Bikes. Around 00:30 that night, I reached home in Gurgaon after covering 750Km since morning, and after enjoying a ride of life time.

Riding through the plains.

Photo of Exploring Ladakh on Bike #bestof2018 by Barun Mittal
1 Comment(s)
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Now that is what I call "Experience"!! Next time mujhe bhi le chalna Bhai
Tue 12 25 18, 19:12 · Reply · Report
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