A dream fulfilled!

After reaching Leh, detailed in the previous post,  all we did was relax and rest.  We had plans to ride to Khardung La the next day and needed to conserve all the energy we would need and some more to be able to reach there.  we informed the hotel to arrange a permit for the three of us to be able to go to Khardung La the next day and we crashed after that… slept like a log and finally, woke up at about 0700 the next day.

Called up the room service for tea and then rang the reception to figure out the progress on the permit thingie.  We were told to call up after 1030 to find out more about the permit.  Now with more than 3 hours to kill before we could find out more info about the plans for the day, we all took it easy… never realised that the sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach was a sure sign of disappointment for me.

Rested and relaxed, we were raring to ride… we all got ready and at 1030 Hours, we called up the reception again… this time, we were told we would know about it by 1130. The manager had gone to the DC’s office for the permits.

Permits are necessary to be able to travel in areas beyond Leh.  This is so because this is deemed as Inner Line Area and the military rules here… the Police just act like sentries with no powers.  And common sense says that you do not screw around when it comes to the Army.  They take their work very seriously and if they do not see a permit on you, well you cannot go ahead.  PERIOD!

They are issued by the DC’s office in the J&K Tourism Complex, and you can get them on your own as well, but asking the hotel to arrange eases things for you… they do charge you for it, but on the whole, it saves a lot of time and headache.  So all people aspiring to travel on this route, be prepared to either wrack your head or shell out 75 bucks per head and get it done painlessly.

Well, soon the time came and we met the manager downstairs… he had some not so good news… the DC’s office was closed due to the Hemis Festival that day, and the DC was making his presence felt there.  We thought we would go see the Monastery and generally be touristy… but laziness and the punishment of the previous day was enough for us to drop any plns of extensive riding… sitting idle in the hotel was also not an option hence we figured we might as well see what is around Leh. 

Headed up to the room to gather the keys and the helmets… and disaster struck… I could not find the keys for BB… Searched high and low and everywhere… even at the reception where I might have dropped it by mistake, even in the hotel we had checked out prior to settling in here… No luck.  stranded with the steering handle locked, the ignition in the off position… BB was just like a hunk of metal… distraught and depressed, I decided to ride Sushil’s Puny Fiero and he would ride Pillion with Santosh in our touristy endeavor.  with the riding pair decided, we kick started our rides and went off to Shanti Stupa.

Shanti Stupa

Shanti Stupa

The place had some amazing views to offer of the Town below and the mountains surrounding Leh.

Leh as seen from Shanti Stupa

Leh as seen from Shanti Stupa

Leh as seen from Shanti Stupa

Leh as seen from Shanti Stupa

Post a brief halt at the Stupa, we decided to head down into town and do some shopping… looked at some t-shirts and local curios but nothing appealed… and we ended up in a small eatery called Leh Cafe… This was bang opposite our hotel which was a plus coz walking too much was making us breathless… Acclimatization… the key word while travelling to Leh and any such destination which is high up in the mountains.

After gorging up on some sandwiches made with the local ladakhi bread, which is dry and hard, we decided to have a look at the Leh Palace under the lights… we ventured up and found that the lights had not been switched on… depressing and disappointing… but did manage to click some night shots of the Leh Town below…

Leh as seen from the Leh Palace

Leh as seen from the Leh Palace

Another shot of the town below

Another shot of the town below

After this not so fulfilling bit, we returned to the hotel and decided to crash for the night… with hopes that the elusive permit would make an appearance tomorrow and we would be able to realize a long overdue dream.

Woke up in the morning and decided to do something with BB… but waited for a confirmation from the Hotel regarding the Permit.  Finally recieved word from the reception that the permit has been procured, we snapped the steering lock and disconnect the ignition switch of the bike to be able to ride it :-)

We started riding and pretty soon we ended up at the South Polu, which is the check post when approaching Khardung La from Leh.  deposited the permit with the sentry and started riding ahead.

The road from Leh to South Polu was newly laid and smooth to ride on… post the check post, all hell broke loose… the surface changed its nature to gravelly and rocky with some water crossings. 

Enroute, we decided to click snaps to cherish the memories of a Ride, which usually is once in a lifetime affair…

Enroute Khardung La

Enroute Khardung La

Enroute Khardung La

Enroute Khardung La

The 14 km stretch from South Polu to Khardung La was hell but easy compared to the terrain we had covered to reach Leh… hence the going was pretty sure footed and quick.  Finally, hit the final bend and we were home… WE FULFILLED OUR DREAM!!!!!!!! We were at Khardung La

The highest Motorable Mountain Pass in the World @ 18380 Ft

The highest Motorable Mountain Pass in the World @ 18380 Ft

Sushil, posing in front of the Parking sign @ K-Top

Sushil, posing in front of the Parking sign @ K-Top

Yours Truly and Santosh @ K-Top

Yours Truly and Santosh @ K-Top

Clicked some more snaps of the views from here and this is how it looked:

Snow capped peaks seen from khardung La

Snow capped peaks seen from khardung La

My Salute to these brave men

My Salute to these brave men

The latest set of brave men who made my dream a reality

The latest set of brave men who made my dream a reality

Temple @ Khardung La - This a common fixture on all Mountain Passes

Temple @ Khardung La - This a common fixture on all Mountain Passes

Some Linguistic Gyaan

Some Linguistic Gyaan

There was a souvenir hut which was selling the usual assortment of T-Shirts, mugs, plaques and plates… I picked up a fridge magnet which proclaims that I was there at Khardung La… for memory sake and had a cup of tea in the canteen with one of the brave soldiers who man this place.

Decided to haul ass from Khardung La as it was close to 4 in the evening and the wind had picked up in speed and the chill factor… while riding back, we saw an amazing sight…

This wasnt there when we rode up :-)

This wasn't there when we rode up :-)

 Seeing this, we realized how inhospitable this place and Mother Nature could be at these altitudes… we picked up the pace, albiet only by a couple of kilometers and headed down towards the more tolerable climes of Leh.

Khardung La frog

Khardung La frog

A dream has been fulfilled and what was left was the disappointing and depressing task of getting back home… this was the difficult part… the bikes had taken a beating, leaking oil and one bike just plainly refused to pull anymore… Not wanting to split up and ride seperately, we decided to load up the bikes in a truck for Manali and we would take the night bus to Manali… How difficult would this be when we have a cushioned seat under us and place to sleep if we felt like… How wrong I was…

With the bikes loaded up, all we had to do was show up at the bus stand at 0100 Hrs to catch the bus for Manali.

This was accomplished and we ended up having the journey, which has put me off Tempo Travellers for the rest of my life.  I refuse to travel that way… I am ready to take the beatings on the potholed road, no road and slush and mud and dust and dirt but I am not travelling in that bus again!

The ride was scary… the windshield and all the windows fogged up and the mist froze, reducing visibility to almost zero, as we were nearing Tanglang La, the driver leaning out of the window to see where he was going, the bus reeking of diesel fumes emanating from the fuel can stowed in the bus, uncomfortable seats, a screwed up road throwing us around like rag dolls, tiredness and lack of sleep due to the bouncy ride… but did manage to click some good shots on the way :-)

Enroute leh to Manali - clicked from a moving bus

Enroute leh to Manali - clicked from a moving bus

Near the state border of Himachal Pradesh & Jammu and Kashmir

Near the state border of Himachal Pradesh & Jammu and Kashmir

Near Kokhsar

Near Kokhsar

The ride from Kokhsar to Manali was uneventful… except for the usual traffic jam on the descent from Rohtang into Manali…

Got down near the Vasisth turnpike and found a decent hotel to crash and wait for the bikes to show up… which came in a day later… the ride back from Manali was boring with a night halt in Zirakpur and managed to reach Delhi by 5 in the evening the next day.

More snaps can be seen at

http://picasaweb.google.co.in/manish.chachra/LehTrip?feat=directlink

7 Comments

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Greattttttttttt Manish. Heads off to you, for driving on the highest motor able road. Some of the pictures are amazing, sp. The fall , La frog & and the night view of Leh.

    thanks for sharing such a wonder trip.

  • bikerdude says:

    Mahesh, this was a long over due ride… had been planning to do this for close to four years or so… It felt great to be able to finally fulfill a dream… Thanks for your words of encouragement.

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    Excellent post, and fabulous pics. Congratulations. The Khardung La Frog looks almost life like.

    With best wishes,
    Jerry

  • Mani Gahatraj says:

    Thank u, great place and well taken snaps. u make me eager to do it fast and must, but next season is my plan.

  • nandanjha says:

    Bravo dude !!

    I look fwd to doing this. Great day to start after reading this :-)

  • ATUL BEHAL says:

    UNPRECEDENTED JOURNEY TO THE ROOF OF THE WORLD–BY ATUL BEHAL

    Hello Friends,

    This is my first post on ur website…

    I just got back from the famous Delhi- manali-keylong-leh–kargil-dras-zozila-srinagar-patnitop-delhi highway…This writeup is really gr8. Atleast for me it would have been of gr8 use…if i would have read it before my trip…primarily becoz i got some handson lesson of what is termed as acclimatization.:))) haha….this trip was first of its kind in my life.

    I took manali-keylong route…stayed overnight at chandrabhaga hotel…at keylong…and decided to cover the entire distance to leh in one shot…..which me and my friend did. I started early in the morning 0500 hrs from keylong…and by 1500hrs i was at pang.. Someone once said “Experience is the only teacher which gives test first and lesson later–.Indeed great things learned on this route which will put ur endurance to a test while driving thru rough roads…of rohtang la… tanglang la….and zozila pass..

    Honestly speaking going in innova was pretty comfortable as compared to dirt biking and buses……helped me a lot in capturing scenery/videos in my camera/handycam..
    In leh i got the innerline permit for khardungla which is mandatory for indian and foreign nationals and finally after reaching khardungla chill was all around me and my enthusiam was growing. Luckily my cellphone signal was coming and i couldnt resist calling my pals back in delhi about this great achievement.

    I popped in a diamox to acclimatize faster as i had only 2 days plan for leh..

    What i feel..i missed was nubra/panggong and enroute drive to siachen…maybe next year….i will fulfill this dream….

    Next day i was all geared up for kargil….as i had planned to spend my night in kargil….on the way i stopped by gurdwara pathar sahib and magnetic hill (a place which defies gravity)and carried out a real time operational test of magnetic hill by taking out the ignition keys and car was moving uphill on its own…..

    Thers actually no such great place to stop enroute and its a good thing to carry ur own packed stuff ….i stopped by lamayuru the oldest monastery..and took some gr8 pics at fortula(13479ft) the highest point on leh srinagar road…..as i got out of my car i felt the high wind speeds at that alitude….

    spotting a wild yak is very easy on these routes…but i wonder what they feed on as there are no trees….its just a high altitude desert area….

    By evening i was in kargil….which reminds all of us about the 1999 war…The town of Kargil (Kargil is a Muslim majority region of J&K) is located 205 km from Srinagar facing the Areas across the LOC. places of interest kargil wall and harka bahadur bridge…maintained by indian army

    An early wake up call from kargil and i was all set to srinagar…on my way i took a break at Dras (the second coldest inhabited place in the world)..
    Dras has a war memorial which is really worth visiting for every indian soul…from the memorial u have a gr8 view of tiger hill and tololing…

    My next stopover was at a place called “Dropati Kund” As per the legend associated with this Kund, Draupadi, of the Mahabharat, had her last bath here before she died forlorn in the Himalayas.

    On the way to sonmarg comes zozila pass the last highest pass on this route Zoji La is 9 km from Sonamarg and provides a vital link between Ladakh and Kashmir. It runs at an elevation of approximately 3,528 metres (11,575 ft), and is the second highest pass after Fotu La on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway….

    Thers a war memorial at zozila ….after zozila…..its time to say goodbye to deserted and rocky mountains……as u enter the sonmarg valley…HIGH ALPINE MEADOWS WELCOME U……with some breathtaking scenery…..and drive till srinagar…..

    by evening i was driving around the infamous lal chowk in srinagar….dal lake is really bigger than what i actually thought…..as i drove around the perimeter road…..stayed overnight in a houseboat which is one the best ways to stay when ur in srinagar….

    next afternoon after a heavy breakfast at nathu sweets near dal lake road…i headed to patnitop….for a night halt.

    As my vacation came to an end i was realising what a great trip it was(actually it is WORLDS 3RD MOST SCENIC ROUTE FROM MANALI TO LEH) As i travelled thru one of the highest passes of the world…without any tyre flats.

    an unprecedented journey coming to an end…..and i hope to go there every year…..:))

    thanks and best regards
    atul behal
    delhi

  • Vipul Purohit says:

    Hey Atul,
    I did the trip exactly the same way in a an innova too ….. soon there will be share a car to leh …….
    Cheers
    Vipul

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