Special thanks to Nandan, for taking me on board.
Ahhhhhhh………….Not sure or admit to say little bit lost from where to start my experience for the most CRAZY thing in my life which I did….. Yes, it is….. “DRIVE TO LEH” .
Life Event – Journey to LEH (4 IDIOTs)
It is easy to say / plan to go by car to LEH but believe me it is not so easy. You must be tough, you must be strong determine with plan, surrounded by positive, energetic and never die attitude people around you and last but not the least you should be positive with firm determination. While portraying my experience – JOURNEY TO LEH along with 3 of my friends – GOURAV, HARISH, NAVEEN and off course me (KAPIL) I feel that I had mix few of the things based on overall experience from our journey.
First thing first, I begin with 1000’s of salutes to BRO / INDIAN ARMY to make roads clear from snow / ice and make the route available from MANALI – LEH and back to LEH – SRINAGAR to bikers and off course riders. They don’t only clear the roads, also make it available for traffic movement, construct temporary small bridges on water falls every year, still if you stuck at any point after Rohtang pass until Leh only Indian Army can help you with food, medicines and shelter. Travellers are also available and they also ready to help but they have their own limitations.
I along with Naveen started from NOIDA on 12th June and reached MOHALI, meeting point @ Gourav’s place (+ Harish) to start early morning on 13th July. We were about to start from Mohali on 14 June but due to Permit which we got (1 day prior) we made swift change in plan due to which we were not make ourselves ready or equipped with all things which we suppose to have. I explained details about those things later in this article……so you may have details later.
Day 1 – 13 June 2019
Yes, as planned we started around 6 AM in the morning from Mohali, though me and Gourav couldn’t made a sound sleep last night (12 June) due to power failure in his locality so not very energetic but we started with short delay.
We moved and took small break on the way for own cook breakfast, we were lucky that among us we had a very good chef – Naveen (Vicky), equally supported by Gourav and Harish in our Journey for all our meals during the complete journey.
Mind you all Harish and Gourav already did a bike ride 2 years back from Mohali to Leh, so they had bit of experience with mindset of bikers, however this time we four planned to travel by my XUV 500.
We reach Manali around 16:30 hrs and started arguing each other where we stay tonight. Few said in Manali and spent good time in old Manali with hippies…..but Harish was not agreed to this and suggested all to move from Manali towards Rohtang Pass and cover as much distance as we can today itself, as we heard lot about traffic jam at Rohtang pass.
Harish and Gourav had little bit of argument but later we all decided to move on. In fact, I was also agreed with Harish to some extent as I knew that I am the only driver for the entire trip for XUV as others had not much of the experience to drive the bull 😊. We move on…..
@ Koti Heights – (Manali – Rohtang road)
In short time we felt that we made a mistake, as in 2 hours of time we covered approx. 10 KM and feeling tired / bored & hungry too……but in another short time we made around 25 KM which was a fair distance. Reached Koti Heights and took a small cottage on rent Rs 700.
Finally, we unpack, took shower and had some Maggie along with Tea, during this we meet 4 travellers (they were from Faridabad and travelling in Scorpio) they all returned from Bara la cha pass, they were in adjoining room and update us about route conditions and after listening them we got to know that conditions are not bad they are in worse as in when you will move ahead from Rohtang pass.
As per them though ARMY opened the route on 10 June but due to heavy snow again on 11 June, routes are almost closed again, and it would take time to make it all clear again for travellers. They also updated that they were stuck for 3 days and return now from Bara La cha, few others also updated the same, moreover cottage owner lady also updated the same that we have no chance to go till Leh as now. Routes will open again after at least 7 days.
By listening all these facts, we all four were in dilemma what to do next? Shall we go back via Jammu? We all go back to our home town? Etc etc …..and in this confusion we all slept around 21 00 hrs during night…….no final plan now (confuse) and we all felt bit low as our plans were shattered now and excitement turn into ambiguity…….
Day 2 – 14 June 2019 @ 03 00 hrs
Something was cooking in the background, not sure but it was the case of some positive power by itself. I wake up around 02 30 hrs by the noise of cars moving from Manali to Rohtang pass, not sure why but found many cars passing our cottage one by one.
@ 3 AM, I request everyone to be ready and all were ready in sometime. We had tea and move from Koti Heights to Rohtang Pass without planning too many things. We all four had lot of questions on faces but no answers and believe me sometimes it is good not try to find out answers as it will come by the time only…… We all moved and reached the GULABA check post to show the permit which we acquire online. In some time we reach nearby Rohtang pass and found same as we heard lot about the place. Place is choke by the traffic and we found a long waiting traffic queue, stuck for approx. 4 hours and we felt lucky that we have petromax (gas for cooking) and most essential rashan with us to cook our food where ever we felt hungry. For sure please carry eatables, MTR food and small GAS for cooking purpose. Also carry milk tetra packs, water bottles, bean bags for garbage collection. Finally, we crossed Rohtang pass.
“Guys please carry bin bags along with you, in our entire journey we never ever through anything on roads, all garbage collection we made in trash bag and dispose it at appropriate place.”
Finally, we crossed Rohtang pass and found bad patches of roads, hard to find out the roads only muddy roads water and snow was there. Start feeling some breathing issues and start taking Dimox 250 MG for breath easy.
For sure please carry all your medicines as after Manali you will find out things only in Leh, this is important and no 2nd thought on this.
We move on and reach to 2nd check post of permit check, Keylong was 50 KM approx. from this check post. Sudden off we found ourselves in mid of beautiful scenes, valley and we found road was OK to drive.
In sometimes we crossed Keylong and Jispa and reach near to Zing Zing bar and we hold it that place for almost 3 hours and no traffic movement during period. We were in different thoughts may be this would be last point of our journey, as there was one truck fallen on road with iron rods and for that day Army announced that you all may have to stay here or any other safe place. No traffic movement until road will be cleared by Army. We came back to Jispa book a nice 2 tents for stay each Rs 1000.
We missed out own tents at this place as many of travellers start putting up their tents in the valley.
We cook our food did some chit chat and try to plan up things, but this is fact that whatever you plan it is up to you, but you will move only if weather and circumstances permit you.
So day 2 end at JISPA tent stay and feeling good that we move a good distance from Rohtang.
Day 3 & 4 – 15 & 16 June 2019 @ 08 00 hrs
OK….. so, Guys journey reach to it’s climax. As per the update we got to know that no one is going beyond Bara La Cha pass and today we were supposed to experience it. We started and stuck at Darcha check post for almost 2 hours around 5 KM from Jispa. Then we moved to Zing Zing bar able to reach there without many hiccups and then Army stop us and ask us to hold unless they will get to know the traffic clearance report from Bara la cha pass which is approx. 25 KM from that place.
We cooked and shared Poha and tea with some foreign tourists and share the same with Army as well.
After Army made the route clear, our car was first on the route to move, and it is not always good to be first we realize this very soon. As we first to crossed one of the giant waters fall and we stuck there for almost 40 minutes. Water was chilled so can’t stand in the water for more than 30 seconds. With the help of bikers and other people we were able to push our car out.
But it is not the end of the trouble, in fact it’s beginning of the toughest phase and soon we realize something is wrong technically in the car.
Soon with the help of few people we made it that our car steering motor is faulty, and we need to pour transmission oil again and again to carry on journey in either direction (towards Leh or towards Rohtang). We arrange some steering oil from the passers and discuss among us what to do next, as we were standing at the midpoint of Rohtang and Leh so we decided to move ahead towards Leh. Believe me it was a BOLD decision…
People already confirmed roads are worst ahead around Bara la cha pass and cars are skiting due to lot of snow and ice on road.So, for sure please carry all your rescue items as per your vehicle, all oils – for your vehicle (must to have), toiling rope, good jack, puncture kit etc etc. Also, good to have tent along with some food and tools as well.
We reach to Bara la cha passes around 15 00 hrs and found traffic jam, stand until 20 30 hrs in Jam.
At last we move on snow covered road, where cars dancing if you put break on. We covered worst roads and reach to Sarchu, without wasting much of the time. I decided to drive during whole night as we all know there is very low level of Oxygen in Sarchu and Paang.
Roads are bad in shape, you will find lot of stones and if you try to drive rash / fast it may tear your car tyre in sometime, lot of snow / muddy roads so you can’t drive fast on such roads. After crossing Paang, Leh is almost 170 KM and sudden off you will realize you are in different world. Roads are very good in condition and from high mountains you will drive in plain plateau.
Around 9 00 hrs we reached to city Leh, during the overnight journey we checked steering oil few times and whenever we were in doubt we pour it.
From Noida distance we covered almost 1210 KM.
Day 5 – 17 June 2019 @ 08 00 hrs
We start our day at the workshop of Mahindra and soon we got to know that we can’t stay much at Leh as the steering motor is not available at Leh workshop and they ask us to drive car in same way until Jammu or Noida where motor is available to replace.
We plan out the day @ 14 00 hrs to move Khar dung la pass, world highest (2nd highest now) motorable road. We hired local taxi, from the driver Rig Zig we meet at workshop only, Rs 3000 for Khardungla pass and Rancho’s school visit (3 Idiots movie place).
Keep remember to have your medicines along with you. Drink lot of water during your whole journey.
Day 6 – 18 June 2019 @ 09 00 hrs
Started from Leh to Srinagar, we know that roads are good from this route and as our car is also not very ok, so we are happy that we must cover good route now.
Route is extremely beautiful and you will find lot of views for photography and to admire.
Worst part of the route is Zozila pass, as all other passes you will find no road there. Snow covered mountains and terrible conditions of the roads. This is really bad all the way…..
Stay at Son Marg for dinner and it was a great stay, this was our first halt in the entire journey where we had our dinner from restaurant.
We reach Srinagar around 1 AM mid night, book our Hotel Nishant Regency online and stay there during night.
It was a
long drive on mountains, almost 450 KM from Leh to Sri Nagar.
Day 7 – 19 June 2019 @ 10 00 hrs
We went to Dal lake and spent some time in Shikara, local market and start out Journey around 17 00 hrs to Jammu.
After reaching Jammu we all decided to move Mohali, did overnight drive to reach Mohali at 5 AM and after taking 4 hours of rest around 12 noon I started for Noida.
20 June at 18 00 hrs Journey finish, covered 2500 KM approx.
Checklist – Travel LEH by car:
Hope you enjoyed the journey story and it may helpful to you by one or the other way.
Free Advice –
Last but not the least if you LUV your CAR never plan travel on these Roads by your OWN CAR :)