Part 2 -Manali-Leh-Srinagar

...continued from Part 1 -Pune to Manali and return from Ludhiana to Pune

The land here is so barren and the passes so high that only the bestest of friends and fiercest of enemies would want to visit us -said a board en-route Pangong...

Following is an account of how barren the land was and high the passes were, yet how tranquil and mystic the nature was!

THE ROADS,PASSES,HOTELS and more

We left Manali on June 18 at around 4 am to avoid traffic of tourist taxis going to Rohtang-La (pass #1 of the 11 passes that we covered till Srinagar). Yet, we encountered traffic after riding for about 10 kilometers and then the road was closed to clear a landslide.



The road was like this at the beginning

It then became like this

It gradually ceased to look like a road



...And then came the Rohtang-La


A  biker from Jharkhand was riding the old model of Karizma and could not change his gear.  Tejas and Sagar tried to help him for 10-15 minutes,  but guess the bike's clutch plate was kaput and we decided to proceed. We guess that the had to end his journey there
Here we bought two packets of hide and seek and a bottle of water and it costed us Rs 100.
Landslide clearing in progress

We waited for a couple of hours till the landslide cleared

We met this soldier of Indo-Tibetian Border Police from Ahmednagar at Rohtang

Finally we made it to the top and had chai and omlette at Rohtang
Where we saw three bikes break down while climbing Rohtang, this one was with us all through
Descending Rohtang -La

Ice melting on the road



This is the road from Manali to Jispa

After Rohtang, though the road is not as bad, it is definitely rocky in certain patches. Also, since most tourist taxis return to Manali from Rohtang, there is hardly any traffic on this road, which makes it more scary. And then you start turning hospitable, greet strangers, wave towards any human soul that crosses your way...

After Rohtang, we went ahead till Keylong to have lunch. I was beginning to feel uneasy and thought it was a sign of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). I took one Diamox and we proceeded to Tandi. It is the last filling station after which the next filling station was 365 kms ahead. This was the last time we could call home, after which we had to request the army in Pang to allow us to make a call at home to tell them that we were safe...


The Tandi petrol pump
 
The road after Tandi

From Tandi, we went ahead to Jispa where we had planned to spend the night. That day, we had taken 13 hours to cover 147 kilometers! At Jispa, there were tents and one hotel -Jispa Ibex. Chaitanya had gone to see the tens and they had a bed and were warm. But we were tired, it was chilly cold and I was still feeling the signs of AMS. And so, we decided to stay in the hotel.


Hotel Jispa Ibex
The three musketeers along river Bhaga opposite the hotel
We the couple on the banks of river Bhaga
It was a good decision to stay at the hotel, as the next day had a lot of misery in store for us...

From Jispa, we decided to stay at Pang -the world's highest transit camp at 15, 380 feet. The only other option where accomodation may be available is Sarchu, which was very close and we had reached there by lunch time.  Here, the distance between any two villages is around 40-50 kilometers. Come what may, you have to reach the destination, else spend the night alone in the cold barren mountains...

We left Jispa on June 19 at 6.30am. Some one on the way told us that Barlach-La (pass #2) was closed, but we decided to go ahead and check for ourselves and wait till it opened, in case it was really closed. But, it was not and it turned out to be the most beautiful and scenic pass of all...


Approaching Baralach-La

Baralach-La

The ice-walls
Unlike Rohtang, where we did not find a single board, this one seemed to be intact even during snowfall

This is icy cold water which burn your feet...Gum boots are a must!


The frozen mountain lake after Baralach-La


The tents in Sarchu where we had lunch...dry maida roti and mix bhaji in watery fluid


The tents in Sarchu


at Sarchu

The army makes a note of the vehicle number and number of persons at Sarchu. They army guy said, "Woh beech mein road kharab hai na...toh check karna padta hai kaun kaun yahan tak pohoch gaye."

After Sarchu we proceeded to Pang...the road was through Gata Loops, Lachlung-La (pass #3) and barren mountains where we hardly saw any biker.

The Lachlung-La at 16,160 feet


The Gata Loops

The Gata Loops
Mountains with weird shapes
Sagar puked four times on the way. By the time we reached Pang, we were tired and bored and wanted some place to sleep!

Rukmini and Padma travel for about 75 kilometers from their village to run this tent for five months during  tourist season. 

Our tent with solar lighting

Mandya and Sagar's tent


About 15 tourist tents, 15 army tents and that is all Pang is! -the world's highest transit camp at 15,380 feet
Sagar was very weak and even I puked twice in the night because of AMS. The nearby army camp has a round the clock doctor who attends to tourists, gives medicines and even gives oxygen if required. The army even allowed us to use their satellite phone to make a call at home. Visiting the doctor is very common and even they are always ready to help. But, the only solution is to move out of this altitude as soon as possible.


In Pang, our bill including lodging, food, hot drinking water (which was like amrut in shit cold) and unforgettable hospitality was Rs 560! 


We left Pang with lifetime memories...and uneasiness in my chest because of the altitude continued for three-four days.

The next day we left for Leh via Morey plains and Tanglang-La.

'The Morey plains is a surreal stretch of 40 kms plain ground. One has to be cautious while riding on the loose gravel , but the plains is a good respite from the otherwise continuous mountainous winding roads




After Morey plains come the Tanglang-La (pass #4), second highest motorable roads after Khardung-La. 

Four out of the total 11 passes that we covered

This is not just a board, but a sigh of relief!

As we neared Leh..


...and we had reached Leh
Following are some pics of Leh...
in Leh

Julley....namaste in Ladakhi

where the mountains are blue

We were seeing greenery after four days

remains of the Shey palace in leh

Children at a prayer wheel in Leh

We found the Hotel Leh Castle owned by Mohi-uddin...he's a biker himself and runs this hotel...was very helpful in telling us the shortcuts, routes, food places etc...

The next day, we left for Nubra valley and decided to halt at Diskit

There is a road that goes from Lamdon School towards Nurbra via Khardung-La, which is the shorter route as compared to another one which is about 10-15 kilometers longer and goes through the mountains...

On the way to Khardung-La

Shakti village

Is it a stone or a frog?



Road to Khardung-La


We, the bike and Khardung-La
I don't know if it was an emotional outburst because of the altitude or the scenic beauty of just the pride of being a citizen of this incredibly beautiful country...but I cried as we were nearing Khardung-La! They were happy tears...

Add caption
The road to Khardung-La

As we passed Khardung-La, we started spotting desert sand and sand dunes of the cold desert Nubra valley...

The cold desert of Nubra Valley

As we were approaching Diskit


The brown, the white and the blue

The gaps seen in between are actually crevasses as deep as the valley


Beautiful, yet scary

poster pic

The sand dunes

Remnants of the sea that was present here millions of years ago


The road to Nubra


 If there was icy cold water on the way to Leh, there was hot desert sand on the way to Nubra

We stayed for the night at hotel Olthang in Diskit where we met Marne uncle from Pune who made batata wada for us. 

Hotel Olthang



Marne uncle on the left and Mayur Patel from Gujarat, manager of the hotel
The next day we left for Hunder village, about 7 kms from Diskit to see the double-humped camels. These are descendants of camels in Aghanistan and brought here for a camel ride and safari for the tourists.

Double-humped camels at Hunder
Double-humped camel baby

We did not take the safari...just saw them, took pics and videos and returned back to Leh via Khardung-La. I rode on the way back..



Me riding



Eating the batata wada parceled by Marne uncle at Khardung-La
The next day we left for Pangong Tso and were to return to Leh the same day.Earlier we were thinking of going to Pangong by taxi as we had to cover about 350 kms on the rocky roads in one day. But, i insisted of going on bike as we had rode so far and I wanted to finish the entire journey on bike unless there was an emergency. The guys agreed and we even completed the ride in one day, but it was indeed very tiring for all of us and more for Tejas and Chaitanya whop did the riding.

Enroute Pangong is Chang La, where our bikes were making a lot of effort in climbing...we were just hoping that they don't break down. We also had to halt after every hour to allow the bikes engines to cool.

That's the road to Pangong


Atop Chang La

I felt guilty about it for sometime and decided not to force anything on them further...fortunately, no-one fell ill after so much of exertion!

Following is Pangong Tso..best described through photos, videos and their captions. The next time, we have planned to stay there and observe the colours of the lake all day in moonlight.

Once i started clicking it was difficult to stop

The lake was blue everywhere, but the shades looked different each time

The golden brown mountains and the blue water...it almost washes away all the pains and troubles of reaching there

It is for everyone to experience for themselves













Tourists were entering the lake, littering all over and the sight was really saddening. I feel tourists should be banned from 10 feet of the lake or heavily penalised if found littering or entering it.









On the way back to Leh, we came across the Pagla nallah. One can understand by the name itself. It is knee-deep icy cold water on road which we had to cross on bike. Of course, pillion riders crossed it on foot, but the four of us had to make a human chain to make sure that we don't get washed away with the waiter in the unending valley.


Later, we returned via Srinagar and crossed two more passed -the Fotula -highest on Srinagar-Leh road and Namik-La. We halted for the night at Drass -ahead of Kargil. later, we crossed the Zoji-La..the most dangerous and scary pass for its steep slope, loose sand and deep valley! That day we halted at Batote and then at Ludhiana. I do have pictures of this route, but they are nothing great...

I would rather prefer to end this blog with Pangong Tso -which represents the mystic nature in Leh and the pagla nallah -the wild side of this mystic nature!

Ducks in Pangong Tso




The pagla nallah

Comments

  1. lovely post Ads...

    Cheers to u and Tejas

    Swati

    ReplyDelete
  2. ya.. I'm also speechless and proud of u and tejas both.. what a journey!! Congrats to u both ...

    Kartiki

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Swati and Adwait... am sure you guys would do it too!

    ReplyDelete
  4. hi aditi this is abhijeet jadhav .
    i watched ur expirience of this tour.
    i'm really exited to feel this xpirience
    and also surprise to know how u can did that
    i want ur help for my tour to leh on bike with my frnds. plz send me ur email id or contact no on my email id - abhijeetjadhv000@gmail.com
    my no- 9960500880
    02024378146

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi abhijeet..you can mail me on aditi.jathar@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi aaditi,
    Congratulations on completing that Pune-Leh-Pune trip. We are also planning a trip on the same route though I shall start the riding part from Chandigarh onward. I had a few questions about your experience as a pillion since my wife will be riding pillion the whole time.
    1. How straining was the experience on the body specially the lower back part and what precautions did you take?
    2. Were there any parts on the Manali-Leh-Manali stretch where you had to dismount and walk for any considerable distance?

    Thanks and Regards
    Shashi kant
    8381010098

    ReplyDelete

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