Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 1] – Bike trip – Planning

Leh Ladakh bike trip – Dream ride of every biker. Recent days I was seeing many pictures of the Leh – Ladakh bike rides which motivated me to plan for this trip, mainly one of my friends Vinay had been to Leh on his bicycle and captured wonderful pictures in his camera, by seeing those pics decided to plan for this dream trip. I was waiting for right opportunity to execute this plan. Finally decided to execute this plan in this year (Actually I wanted to execute this plan before I get married :P). As mentioned earlier it considered to be a dream ride for all hard core bike ride lovers, being a passionate rider wanted to execute this plan at any cost.

Trip was planned for 16 days, Traveling approximately 3 thousand Kilo meters, covering 3 States (Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab), Main places planned to cover are Kulu – Manali, Leh, Kargil, Srinagar & Amritsar.

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 2] – Bangalore – Chandigarh – Manali

Time had raced past to 28th June 2014 sooner than we anticipated & there we were, woke up early on  Saturday morning around 2.00 a.m., started calling everyone just to make sure everyone is ready. Our flight was at 6.30 a.m.., booked cab at 3.00 a.m. Since we had multiple pickups from different places, so we decided to leave early. Started sharp 3.00 a.m. from my place, by the time we pick every one and reach airport it was around 5.00 a.m. Ullas was about to join us from Chandigarh.  Reached Airport well in advance. Checked in all our luggage and we were all set to go. 

Though it’s a short journey from Delhi to Chandigarh (around 35 mins by air), took almost 7 hours to reach Chandigarh with one stop in Delhi [3 hours waiting for next connecting flight to Chandigarh]. Finished our lunch at Delhi only to save some time in Chandigarh. Finally reached our destination Chandigarh without any delay.

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 3] – Manali – Rohtang pass

Day started with a surprise after looking outside the hotel window, it was around 4.30 a.m. but surprised by the light outside…!! It was like 7.00 AM in Bangalore. Took out camera and clicked couple of pics… Day started with photo shoot…

Our initial plan for this day was to get permission from SDM (Sub-Divisional Magistrate) to Rohtang Pass, some shopping in Manali and go for river rafting and paragliding. While booking room only we asked hotel guy to help us to get permission letter and give contact details of some guys who can take us for River Rafting. He just told us to go to SDM office where we will get permission letter and all. By seeing his response we understood that he is not going to help us, so we decided to go and check for this permission letter by our self. As per plan we were about to leave Manali next day morning, so we had enough time to spend in Manali.

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 4] – Ride through Khoskar

Khoskar is around 70 Kms from Manali, Day – 3 ride was limited to covering only 70 Kms. We were forced to take this ride and change our plan at last minute. By the time we reached and settled at hotel it was bit late, we needed some rest and new start for our ride.

Morning when I just came out of room, I was just stunned by looking around. It was a beautiful morning and could not imagined we were staying in such a lovely place. Because of night ride we could not witness the beauty of the place when we reached Khoskar. Ran inside the room, picked up camera and started capturing the beauty of this place.

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 5] – Ride through Darcha

Ride from Khoskar to Darcha ended covering only 75 Kms for the day. We were in a hope of clear roads and crossing the blocked streams.

Woke up early morning and came out of the tent. Already vehicles started moving. Checked with one truck driver who was coming from the other end about road, he said now it’s clear you can move. Started packing all our luggage’s and tied it to our bikes. Had morning tea and left Darcha around 6.00 a.m. Due to block from last night, early morning only there was bit traffic. Sun rays were falling on the mountains and perfect day to start. Not even 5 Kms we traveled, Stream was in front of us. On cold morning now it’s our turn to get into chilled water.

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 6] – Ride from Sarchu to Leh

Last two days we could not cover our destination as we planned earlier. We wanted to reach our destination Leh at any cost which was around 250 Kms. Woke up early morning and started our journey at 5.00 a.m. Since we left all our luggage’s in bike only last night, didn’t spend any time on tying our luggage’s. 

Keeping Deepu’s bike issue in mind we stayed with him and let him go front and we were following him. Till Gata loops it was flat road so managed to move without any issue. From Gata loops to Naki la again it was uphill junction; here we struggled a lot to cross this junction. Again our 2 bikes left behind, even my bikes pick up also dropped (because we forgot to off the choke after starting bike, we realized that after one day when we reached Leh…!!!) but managed to reach our destination. When we reached Naki la, Deepu’s bike completely broke down. Now situation was very bad, we were totally exhausted due to struggle what we faced while pushing bike in Gata loop and since we were standing in high altitude we were facing some breathing problem too. But view around the place was awesome

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 7] – Relaxing day at Leh

It was relaxing day for us after all adventure ride, many struggles and sleepless nights!!!  Main thing was we got a chance to take bath after 5 days :P, Since we were in no hurry to continue our ride for the day, woke up bit late and took our own time to get fresh. Went out for a walk just to see the city and to fill our empty tummies, luckily we found many restaurants near to our hotel. Had our breakfast came back to hotel and took help of Hotel manager to get information about good mechanic and places to see in Leh.

On day 7 almost half of our day we spent in mechanic shop only, found out the actual issue of Deepu’s bike, it was clutch plate which caused so many problem…!!! All of us checked our bikes and fixed all minor issues. By the time we left mechanic shop it was around 3.00 p.m.

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 8] – Ride through highest motorable road – Khardung la pass

After relaxing day at Leh it was time to continue our adventurous ride. Since we dumped all our luggage’s in watch room, morning didn’t took more time to get ready and start our ride. We are all set at morning 6.00 a.m. only, but daily one or the other thing was delaying our ride. This time it was bike problem, Bullet got puncher…!!! Since it was early morning it took almost 2 hours to find puncher shop, somehow Deepu & Vagee managed to find puncher shop.  By the time we fixed this it was around 9.00 a.m. Meanwhile we finished our breakfast in Leh and all set to start our ride to Nubra Valley through Khardung La Pass.

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 9] – Ride through Nubra Valley

Plan for the day was to visit Hunder and go for Camel ride. But main challenge in front of us was Gurus bike and fuel constrain….!!! Searched for a mechanic shop in Diskit Town but didn’t find any mechanic shop. But for fuel we found petrol bunk (I guess it was built in 1947, by seeing condition of that petrol bunk I thought like that). It was fun & exercise time out in Petrol bunk.

It took more than 45 mins to fill petrol for our 5 bikes..!!!

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 10] – Ride through Changla Pass

A long & tough ride to Leh had extracted most of the energy out of us, but the major inspiring factor was that our next destination Pangong Tso (which is now a days famous as 3 idiots lake). This motivation filled our spirits and we were all set to go. Our destination for the day was 170 Kms away from Leh. For the first time in this trip we started our ride on time without any interruption. Started our ride around 6.30 a.m. since there was 33rd  Kalachakara function was going in Ladhak, there was slow moving traffic around the city. Traffic police deviated the traffic from out skirts of the city.

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 11] – Pangong Tso Lake

Pangong Lake is the famous & most attractive sightseeing point at Ladakh. Splendid, wonderful, colourful lake beauty which is not describe in words. One third of the lake is in India while the remaining two thirds lies in China. Majority of the streams which fill the lake are located on the China side. The lake has become a star attraction after being featured in blockbuster movie ‘3 idiots’. First we decided to fill our empty tummies and then go near lake. Funniest thing which I observed here was restaurant names!!!

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 12] – Kargil Memorial

Ride after visiting Pangong Tso Lake was bit smooth as well as some long stretches, plan for the day was to leave Pangong Tso lake bit early and reach Leh by lunch time and proceed towards Kargil on the same day if possible. We have limited our stops while heading back to Leh and reached Leh around 3.00 p.m. had our lunch and picked all our luggage’s from hotel and headed towards Kargil. Kargil is around 210 Kms from Leh, we thought of covering at least 100Kms for the day and stop somewhere on the way.

Stopped near Magnetic Hill which is 30 Kms from Leh.  The “magnetic hill” is located on the Leh-Kargil national highway and is bordered by the Sindhu River. The hill is assumed to have magnetic properties strong enough to pull cars uphill. Ullas took his bike to test the power of Magnetic hill but he didn’t felt the effect…!!! Spent almost an hour in this place by seeing the circus done by the other people…

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 13] – Ride through Zoji La pass

Once we cross Kargil Memorial head towards Srinagar. Main challenge was in-front of us, crossing Zoji La pass!! Road was worse in this stretch but nature around us was beautiful. Nature at its best.

Reached Zoji La pass around 4.00 p.m, we need to enter our details in this check post. When we stopped to enter our details in check post, talked to one of the tourists who were coming from Srinagar and asked them about the road, they told us its very bad and in bikes it’s not advisable to travel at this time (Since it was already 4). But we didn’t had any option other than continuing our ride, we just continued.

Leh Ladakh Diaries [Part – 14] – Final stretch through Amritsar

Day 14 of our ride we started from Patitop, actual challenge was in front of us now… we wanted to cover 280Kms to visit Wagah Border. I guess this was the only day we started our ride early as per plan. Left Patnitop around 5.00AM and headed towards Amritsar. Once we crossed Srinagar temperature was crossing around 40 degree…!!!

Due to long ride, short sleep and hot weather we were totally exhausted… stopped many times for quick breaks. Did nothing on the way, it was just ride, ride & only ride…!!!

Finally we managed to reach Amritsar around 3.00PM, done some circus to find out hotel. Just dropped all our baggage’s at hotel and thought of finishing lunch and head towards wagah border. We were so fortunate to meet one person at hotel, he only arranged vehicle for us to go to Wagah border and he took responsibility of our entrance to Wagah border.

Leh Ladakh @ Winter

It was my second visit to this beautiful place, but totally in odd timings. Basically Leh-ladhak is open to tourist from month of June to September (that’s the ideal time or season to visit).  Just 5 months back i had visited this place for bike ride. And this time i was here for Chadar trek.

Chadar trek was cancelled in last minute due to some reasons and we planned for Stock Kangri trek, but before that we had couple of days left to explore Leh-Ladhak.

It was totally a different experience compared to my list visit in summer.We started exploring this place from Hemis Monastery which is around 45 Kms from Leh.

On the way back to Leh stopped near Thikse Monastery. 

Trekking at Stok..

We were in a dilemma because of last moment cancelation of Chadar Trek, not sure what to do for rest of the days. Couple of friends in our group went back to Bangalore. Lot of debate was happening and finally our Singh Sab (well known as Mestru) contacted one of his friends, Jayo who runs ‘Mitra Tours & Travels’ (they organise trekking across Leh). Jayo suggested about trekking around Stok, We happily agreed to follow his plans.

Stok, a village with a population of about 1500 people, located 15 km away from Leh.  In Shanti Stupa there is a direction board written as ‘Stok – the home to the royal family of Ladakh’ (First time when I visited Leh I have not noticed that board). We planned to stay for 3 days at Stok. Jayo Bhai only arranged for accommodation for us. We stayed in a home stay run by Jayo Brother in Law, they charged 800/- per day (because of off-season).