On top of the world-The Travelogue: Part 2

The dinner at the small dhaba in Drass not only filled our famished stomach but also our hearts. Since the ride till Drass was quite arduous therefore, I decided to keep the next day’s agenda a little light. Our plan was to start a little late unlike previous days and try and make it to Leh by evening. Since am an early riser, I used the morning time to roam around the idyllic town of Drass. There was a mosque nearby that was looking beautiful. The JKTDC guest where we stayed was set against the backdrop of Tiger Hills that attained notoriety during the Kargil war. As the sun rose with its rays touching the tip of these mountain ranges, the sight was mesmerizing.

the hill ranges behind the guest house



the quaint market of Drass

a beautiful mosque near the guest house

Leh was roughly 300kms from Drass and I was fairly confident that we should be able to make it to the city of Leh by evening. However, the roads only got worse from Drass. It seemed that the entire stretch of road from Drass was being repaired and there was huge amount of dust on the road.

We reached Kargil by mid day and stopped for some bike repairs and food. Since Kargil was the last town where we could get fuel therefore, we also tanked up. The town of Kargil reminded us of the Kargil war in which our Indian soldiers valiantly fought against the enemies to save our nation. After the bike repairs, food and fuel, we proceeded towards Mulbekh. The dusty terrain, bad roads and sweltering heat forced us to take frequent stops. I particularly remembered Mulbekh from my last ride for its monastery that has a giant status of a deity carved on the façade of a hill. This time, I visited the monastery from inside. It was such a peaceful experience. There was this Lama who was sitting inside the monastery and reciting the mantra “Om mani padme hum”.

an awe-inspiring carving of a deity on a mountain facade at Mulbekh

a close-up shot of the statue

the lone lama at the monastery in Mulbekh

After a few customary photographs, we proceeded further and reached the next pass, Namika La. The roads were smooth in patches but were largely damaged. This slowed us down and it did not seem we would be able to make it to Leh by late evening. Then we reached Fotu La pass, the highest point in the Srinagar-Leh highway. We stopped for a little while and in that brief moment, we could experience a unique characteristic of Ladakh valley-the high speed wind. There was no sign of civilization around and it was so quiet that we could almost hear our heart beats.

Namika La Top

Fearing altitude sickness, we quickly moved forward. With very little daylight, we decided to drop the plan of reaching Leh and stay at Lamayuru.

Lamayuru is a very famous monastic village and is quite a tourist attraction for its ancient architecture. The main monastery is perched on top of a hill with the village at the base of the hill. We wanted to get an experience of staying in the monastery however, we could not get a proper accommodation. So we decided to go to the village and take up an accommodation. One of our fellow riders, who had a knack of cracking some lucrative deals, struck a deal for our stay. It was another tiring day in which we were riding on bad roads filled with dust. After a delicious meal, we all crashed for the night.

Lamayuru Monastery

Lamayuru Monastery from inside

Leh was now only 120kms away. Our inquiries with the locals told us that the roads ahead were in great condition. So we relaxed a little bit and started our final leg of the onward journey. In a short while from leaving Lamayuru, we stopped for breakfast. After having a king-like breakfast, we all proceeded further. We reached Nimmu in no time and then, the famous “magnetic hill”. We all stopped to experience the natural phenomena but we could not feel anything on two wheels. Maybe its better experienced in a four wheeler. But the best part here was the straight road that goes all the way till Leh. Its so amazing to see such a flat stretch of road at such a high altitude and riding on this stretch was an out of the world experience.

the straight road from Nimmu to Leh

In a short while, we were standing face to face with the board that read “Welcome to Leh”. This was a moment all of us had been waiting for and for everyone except me this was a dream come true as they all were riding into Leh for the first time in their life. It took a little while for us to really believe that we have finally made it to our destination. It took us five strenuous days for us to reach this heaven. It was a great achievement for all of us.

Welcome to Leh..Yeah, we made it..!!!

One of our colleagues at work had contacts in Leh and he was kind enough to arrange our accommodation for the entire duration of our stay in Leh. We spent a long time capturing the moment of our entrance into Leh. After satiating our cameras with videos and photos of the surroundings, we moved on to enter the city of Leh. With traffic all around, as soon as we entered Leh, some of us lost our way. Thankfully, the mobile network was working so frantic calls were made in order to locate each other and eventually we made it to the hotel. We quickly got our rooms and settled down.

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