Rohtang La – Ride of a lifetime

I love the name of this site as it defines my aspirations. I have been thinking of writing on this site for long but somehow could not and may be the culprit is yet again the same old “starting trouble” and its first cousin “will do it tomorrow”.
I own a Bullet, the legendary Royal Enfield Bike and it’s the first thing I bought once I started earning decently. I have seen a few places in and around the NCR on my bike. It started from Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary to Hardwar & Hrishikesh then Chandigarh & Shimla to Agra followed by Joshimath & Auli amongst others. However the one trip I have decided to write about, as my first contribution is my trip to Rohtang pass along with an Indo-Chinese colleague and friend Wilkim Lee.

Wilkim Lee and Kshitij at Rohtang

All trips are special, I know I need not mention it (at least here!!!), but our trip to Rohtang La stands out as it gave immense confidence apart from the joy of riding. To venture out as a student is far different than when one starts working. Finances become easier (at least to say so…!) but the age-old saying that Time is Gold proves to be a really golden statement. We planned to do almost 1300 kms in 3.5 days or say scale 13050 ft above sea level and back in about 80 hrs.
We got our bike serviced as we do before every trip and took a few spares like clutch cables, spark plug etc. and started at around 1:30pm on a Friday late last May (i.e. 2007) from our office in Gurgaon high on enthusiasm and a bit of apprehension with lots of luck and wishes from our dearest friends and colleagues in office (that’s the magic of working in a small team!)

We knew that the worst part of the Journey would be the start i.e. to get out of New Delhi to the Karnal highway and we did that in slightly more than expected time. As per our plans we stopped every 60-70 kms for refreshment and had a good meal in Karnal exactly halfway between Chandigarh and New Delhi.Wilkim has a flat in Chandigarh and that was the reason why we started post noon on a Friday. We reached there at 8pm and had a sumptuous meal and slept well.

Rohtang La on Bike

Next morning we started at 4:30AM for Manali where we planned to reach by noon and decide whether to head for Rohtang or not after seeking the opinion of the locals. We were completely enjoying the ride though it was all straight roads and sight was nothing unusual but the wind hitting us and the anticipation of what would be next kept us engrossed and Wilkim kept chatting as he went on capturing all he could with his cell phone…deleting and recapturing ( as our camera remained packed!!)Everything was going as per the plan and suddenly we were struggling with the gear panel and accelerator but the bike wasn’t picking up. We got down and before we could tax our brains a few people standing on the footboard of the bus we last overtook shouted in chorus with huge smiles on their faces:”Bhai Saheb chain gir gaya!”We looked at each other and ran. We could retrieve the chain and a disfigured chain lock.

Thankfully we were uphill and about 2 kms from a small town. We rolled down the serpentine hill road on our bike and the found a mechanic of the kind that is rare and elusive nowadays cause he was a JT champ and fixed our bike at least good enough to take us to Mandi,the next big town on our way.{…JT stands for Jugar Technology! The mechanics that we find these days at least in the Metropolis have one easy solution for all faults…change kar dijiye…the Art of being a real Mechanic is on the verge of Extinction for sure:o(}. I was carrying a few spares but I had missed the chain lock and we lost much time first in getting the broken chain lock fixed and then in Mandi where we got it replaced by another new and original chain lock. We had our Lunch in order to make up for some lost time.

Despite having tasty paranthas in a very organized market in Mandi (which has its parking at the top) we felt a bit sad and depressed. But the world is far too exciting and the nature has too many beautiful cards up its sleeve. We soon had the roaring Beas River flowing alongside us for company and the well maintained Himachal roads added all the more to the pleasure and we rode till Kullu passing through a thrilling 2.8 kms long tunnel (which was an experience in itself) until heavy traffic and need for refreshment stopped us. We finally reached Manali around 2:30pm and after a survey of about an hour found a hotel about 3 kms on the way to Rohtang la.

Rohtang is exactly 51 kms from Manali and we were advised against traveling anymore for the day as the roads are sometimes closed for traffic heading towards Rohtang by BRO(Border Roads Organization) as there is heavy flow of traffic coming down and riding with the setting sun is also not the best thing to do. so we changed, rested and then headed back to Manali to have food and see the local market. We returned around 5:30pm, washed our bike and spent the remaining time by the river Beas which now flowed about 200 mtrs behind our hotel’s backyard. We had dinner in the local Dhaba followed by a glass of extremely tasty Lassi and retired off to our beds. Thus started the end of Saturday and almost 30 eventful hours.

We woke up at about 4AM and as per our plans set off for Rohtang La while darkness was still changing shifts with daylight. This was going to be the ride we had traveled all this far for. The best ride of my life with the narrow roads with snow on one side and unfathomable depth on the other. The elevation and the turns and what a magnificent work does BRO do. Stretches were under construction and even broken but you got to be there to know how difficult it can be to maintain such a road. The best thing we did was to start so early as we found no other man made machine for company for most of the part until we got right behind an Indian Oil tanker and it took sometime for us to overtake it. There were pits and gravels on road at times and mud being leveled at some stretches but the beauty of it all is what you will have to see to understand the meaning of the word MESMERIZING (unless of course you chose to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat and that I agree may be arguable!!)


We reached the snow clad Rohtang Pass by 7AM and we took 2 hrs cause we enjoyed every turn on our way up i.e. we were riding slow for most of the part except at times when adrenaline got the better off me and Wilkim had to pat my back. When we arrived the first of the Maggi vendors were setting shop and it was all dazzling white with the rising sun.
We ordered a coffee and plate of Maggi and eating Maggi at 0 degree centigrade I felt Nostalgic as I remembered the reassuring voice of my mother calling out of kitchen that she will get something in 2 mins when my siblings and I shouted and sang the magi jingle out of hunger in the evenings.Maggi was a constant companion through out the college days and at times the only thing that came to our rescue when the caterer, cook and the pocket money failed us. The joy of having a plate of Maggi outside BPO’s past midnight has its own charm and it has created a niche for itself even there. I have eaten magi cooked in various ways, its something always up for experimentation but the way I relished it at 13050 ft above sea level, surrounded with nothing but snow is absolutely inexplicable. You need to have it there to believe the romance of it all.

As time passed, a sudden realization that its a country of a billion people hits us hard. We visited the Ved Vyas temple which houses the small kund from where originates the River Beas. To our surprise we suddenly noticed that there was a crowd equivalent in magnitude to the final days of DurgaPuja fair in Bengal, Bihar or New Delhi’s C R Park!
No wonder it took us 2hours to travel 2kms out of the Rohtang pass area with all the parking full and the familiar irritating Taxi and Bus drivers having done their best to clog the thin arterial road approaching the Rohtang la and I had all the sympathy for the few uniformed men trying to bring order. And here standing in the unending queue of vehicles I felt something moving in my pocket and wow I had received a call from my father. My Idea connection was working at such a height and although I could hardly believe it I felt very happy nonetheless…Idea had changed my life for once!!

We tried our hands at skiing and actually felt fooled into spending around 150 bucks each and that too after much negotiation and assurance that the guy would teach us how to do it.

Rohtang on the snow

With no prior experience I ended up hitting a couple of people who were deaf enough to not hear my shouts warning them or may be they were plain awestruck by the beauty of the place and I apologized with a generous smile which they accepted with a hmmm…slightly reluctant smile but then a smile is a smile and I had actually hurt my knee a bit. Sliding on inflated truck tubes from hilltop is an amazing idea put to very good use by the locals and I really enjoyed that.

Rohtang La

The way back was equally good r getting out of Rohtang at around 11:30AM except that I felt a bit uneasy soon after leaving Rohtang Pass…it was exactly the kind of feeling we get sitting in a giant wheel when it is on its way down. I told Wilkim about it and he asked me to ride cautiously and it was about same time that we found a BRO board saying “Sinking Area Ahead. Drive Cautiously”. We reached Chandigarh the same day by 2200hrs.We then enjoyed Barbeque chicken from Birdy’s behind Sector-17 post office in Chandigarh.There is so much demand for it that one has place an order for it in advance but we were fortunate enough to get at least one plate.

We woke up late next morning i.e. Sunday and started around 12: 30pm for New Delhi. Stopping again at every 60-70 kms we reached home by around 10pm at night and joined office the next day. It was because we had to be in office on Tuesday that we rode in a relaxed manner on our way to New Delhi from Chandigarh.


While brain is the storehouse for most of our memories, I feel that I somehow get connected to somewhere below my neck a bit towards the left every time I think of Rohtang La. I am looking forward to reliving it again this June end on my way to Khardung La (Leh).


  • Hey Bro .

    That was awesome …..
    u are a true ghumakkar.

  • devendra says:

    Hey it is awesome……I wish …..I would have been with U …..

    Keep riding……All the best…..for next trip……..

  • Hey Kevin,

    Very nice article . Keep up the amazing work…………..

    U are a true naughty ghumakkar.

  • Pallavi Sinha says:

    Hey Kshitija, I’m sure this must have the ride of a lilfetime. The place seems to be heavenly (so it seems from the snaps you’ve posted). I wish I would ever be able to go to such a place at least once in my lifetime. Your write-up is wonderful & will inspire a lot of similar enthusiasts to vivit Rohtang La !!

  • devendra says:

    Hi I forget to give rating……not a problm …..I rate it 5/5…….I’m sorry to miss
    it’s rating part…….

  • vICKY says:

    Well I feel proud to be in a team where Kshitija And Wilkim are. It’s motivating me to go for a trip like this as I am always intrested in travelling and trips with my friends. It was a good effort by both of you, Nature teaches us a lot of things for which we need to be with nature.
    I am sure you guys must have experienced some thing diffrent wich we do inour office so you have more things to teach me waiting for the time when we all will go for a trip like this together.

  • Shruti G says:

    Though I have heard about this trip ‘n’ number of times from both Kshitija and Wilkim; nevertheless, reading all about it is altogether a different experience.

    Can truly feel the passion and determination in the writer’s words of soaring higher and ever higher. There are different kinds of people: some cant dare to dream; some dare to dream but cant actualise; and the third type are the ones who dare to dream big and then turn it into reality.

    Kshitija, falls in the third category…..This kind is rare…and i am happy to know someone like Kshitija…All the very best dude and see you in Leh :-))))

  • Ram Dhall says:

    A breathtaking account of your visit to Rohtang La. Your story ran faster than your bike and I had no choice but to finish it in one go.

    Your beautiful description brought back the fond memories of our trips to Manali and Rohtang.

    I don’t know if you have been following Manish Chachra’s articles on “Wishful riding”. You will find these posts an interesting read.

    Welcome aboard and thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of writing.

    Now that the initial inertia is behind you, we would look forward to more of your travelling experiences. Make it quick.

  • Nandini Acharya says:

    “haan hai koi to wajah jo jeene ka maaza yun aane laga” is wat I feel reading ur article and the pics inspires me to go on a trip like this……………………….really refreshing and rejunevating!!!! Its a treat not only for the eye but also for the soul……..Hope to read more of ur exciting trips!!!

  • Wilkim Lee says:

    A vivid description of our journey towards Rohtang La.
    And to add to that, while descending from Rohtang La we had a brief halt near a lake which was as much a part of the snow and ice we encountered at 13,050 feet, mesmerizing and enthralling.
    Thanks Kshitija for expressing your memories stored below the neck and a bit towards the left in words (wow!).
    Ghumakkar Buddies and forever

  • Anuradha Mitra says:

    I have nothing to say except that this article has fueled my desire to journey on the beautiful land of India that comprises both the extremes- shallow sea and high standing snow mountains.Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Memsana says:

    Hey Kshitija,
    Ur trip must have been interesting and enjoyable. I wish i could also go there someday… update us on any new trip that u go for in the future so that we can at least satisfy ourselves with the pictures.

    u get 5 stars for this!!

  • Nandan says:

    Wow. I am usually among the early ones to comment but it seems that you have a large fan club already and all for the right reason.

    So first of all, welcome aboard.

    It was very delighting to read your story, it moved very lucidly and was very quick. Very inspiring Kshitij.

    Riding is good :). Hope to be with you with more trips as you share more.

  • Aditya says:

    Awesome! what a smooth reading! reminded me the Rohtang visit 3 years back.

    I have been to Khardung La (Leh) but by flight and taxis. I am sure you will have lot of fun riding there. It took us 1.5 hours to reach there from Leh but the road was very steep.

    Best of luck! Look forward to your next post.

  • srijan says:

    Reading your blog, i feel driving is not half as much fun as riding is. It is a very well written story with smooth flow and adequate scenic description. Will like to read another one from you soon.

  • sakhi says:

    Hmmm written very well. I could imagine while reading and for a change read the whole article. Best of Luck go ahead and collect more memories of your next trip to Leh.

  • Priyavrat says:

    Dude this is awsome!!. I wish I had taken such trips when I was young (not that I am so old now :) but yeah at least for adventure of this scale). We used to ride till Shimla/Chail but never to that part. Reading this article I want to ride a bike again to such hights but I am sure my wife and my mom (as it has been for past so many years) will have a lot of problem. May be one day I will do a pillion with my son :)

  • Priyavrat says:

    and i forgot to write, drive safe man.

  • amit katyain says:

    awesome bro..,
    you r brave enough to scale the heights,we all r proud of u,we in bangalore as well as at jamshedpur miss you alot.i wish i could be part of ur adventure team…..may be plan for bhutan and sikkim along with NEPAL…all the best…enjoy the life to its fullest.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    A thrilling ride indeed!

    Any specific reason for starting so early from Manali for Rohtang pass? Or was it just to reach Chandigarh in time?

    Keep riding and writing!

  • Kshitija says:

    Thanks everyone for your appreciation .But then if my story inspires some of you to visit Rohtang, your responses inspires me to write more and mind you its you guys who will be at the receiving end:o)
    Jokes apart I am very thankful to Bhaijee(My elder Bro Srijan sandilya) who insisted that I write about my trips and even took the pain to go through the first draft and ofcourse Nandan Jha for being so helpful in helping me get it posted.
    Riding is really fun and at my age I had no reasons to not travel fast and zoom past all vehicles when I started but I have slowed and stabilized with every trip.Riding fast adds needless strain and one does not benefit much by the amount of time saved is what i understand though I do ride fast under suitable conditions but no more for the heck of it.Accidents can happen anytime but we travel to enjoy so riding safe is important.We need to set right examples to enable our less fortunate friends to get permission from their parents easily!!
    Patrick, we started that early because we love travelling with the rising sun with minimum traffic.Also, we never include riding in the dark in our plans beacause of the irritation caused by vehicles driving with High Beams and ofcourse we were racing against time.

  • Kshitija says:

    Priyavrat,My father is way past 50 and is also a travel enthusiast.He too plans to ride with me to Rohtang if only I agree to sit pillion half the trip and after reading ur comment i feel like agreeing!!
    Ram Dhall- i ‘ve read the articles and its been part of our ongoing research as we plan to reach the highest motorable road in Khardung La at 19000ft. this June end and sure will write more soon.
    Thanks coz it reminds my bro Amit Katyain of me after a very long time:o)

  • Tanushree says:

    Kshitija, reading this article of yours, I feel like having experienced the journey to Rohtang La all by myself. Its just too well expressed and nothing is left to imagine.
    Moreover, in this humid and sultry weather of Shanghai, your article and the snaps of snow covered Rohtang La, soothes the soul and brings so much peace in this overtly crowded city.Thanks for that!!!
    The blog is interesting and motivating enough to explore the diverse landscape, ranging from sandy beaches to snow capped peaks in our own India.
    Your fascination for travel, your passion for ride, your explanation of a journey and its connection with the reader; forces me to look forward to another write-up from you soon :)
    Bon Voyage!!!

  • Nandan says:

    Kshitij – Srijan finally came on board though he must be aware about the site for a long time :) but better late then never.

    Your story is probably the first one which got so many, in fact so so many comment on first day. Dont let the stardom go away and be around.

    Not many would know but I am proud to be from the same land as you :))

  • smitadhall says:

    Welcome, to the amazing, inspiring, highly enthusiastic and ever-demanding world of Ghumakkars.

    Great travel and an even greater travelogue! One could not help but read-and-smile-and-read further-and-smile along the way, sitting on the edge of the chair. Congratulations for a great first story.

    And, yes, for the name of the website…ahem!, why don’t you ask Nandan where it came from.

  • Cuckoo says:

    Wow !! What an awesome riding !!! ooops reading. You really took us all to Rohtang La. It was as smooth as your riding. Reminded of our trip to Manali.

    In the photographs it shows all snow in month of May whereas when we went to see snowfall in Dec and it was same. Only difference… Rohtang wasn’t allowed. We had to come back from halfway.

    Keep writing, you have a knack for writing.

  • srishti mishra says:

    Wonderful blog..Kshitija!!!
    I didn’t know, u cud write so well…I almost visited the Rohtang Pass.. :))
    Keep up the good work..I m sure u’ll inspire many to travel…;-)

  • Celine says:

    Very nice post, and beautiful pictures. Next time hope you get a chance to go beyond to Keylong Valley, to Lahaul Valley and onto Leh. It’s one of the best road journeys.:)

  • Kshitija says:

    Nandan- would definitely like to know about how did u land up with this name for the wonderful idea.
    Cuckoo-Though we had done some research I could hardly believe that there was so much snow just 650 kms away from the scorching heat of NCR.
    Celine-I am keeping my fingers crossed for my trip to Leh and will definitely get back with the story and the pics…some of them without our smiling faces:o)

  • Megha Rouchella says:

    hey:))…only the thing which i woud like to say after reading this and watching these snaps is ….Dunia mein agar kahin swarg he to yehin he yahin he!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!….can’t explain it in words about how i felt …a real beauty i must say ….Kshitija & Wilkim Lee nice to c that u are so close to nature….best of luck for your next trip looking forward for some more such kind of adventures trips from you guys …..Good Keep the sprits high!!!!!!!!

  • Atul says:

    hey Kshitija you must be waiting for this from long i know….here it goes…..firstly to be honest i did not read the full article not because i did not have time but but but it was so very good that i started feeling kind of ‘J’. as even i wish to go on such a trip from long but “no luck”…anyways just one word for you and your trip “””Awsome”””….and all the best for future trips…keep having fun and do remember to take me along:>.


  • sabita santuka says:

    Its really “Awsome” and really both of u are looking very nice .beautiful scenery .”wonderfull “. i wish i could be there with you guys .its amazing and inspire me to have a trip like this if i got a chance .i wish all the best to both of u so that u can go beyong this and discover the beautiful ,amazing scenery of the country……keep having fun and keep the spirit high.!!!!!! :)>

  • Nandan says:

    Kshitija – It was Smita who thought of this name :), i am sure you would have guessed it the moment after reading her comment.

  • Akshaya says:

    It is not easy to put all your feelings into what you write, as some experiences go beyond words but you brought me so close to them I almost felt it… Our mind is a sponge and heart is a stream … I am glad you chose to run rather suck… Cheers:)

  • Akshaya says:

    Carry on with your trips as the only safe thing is to take a chance … Vroom

  • its meh...mew says:

    Dost.. I must appreciate u for ur hidden talent…U have written well….and really I must say that both of u r looking much younger, must be the magic of white snow. Next time dont forget to take the snap of ur bike too..that will make the photos worth watching…hehehehe….heheheh
    Hope u two will remain friends forever and explore the beautiful nature like this again and again…and then we will get a chance to see the beautiful nature through ur eyes.{8 eyes in total}
    Very beautiful article dost…..gud work…

  • Wilkim Lee says:

    Looking at all the attention and response you are getting I am really inspired to write an account of my own nostalgic experiance in the lap of “The Himalayas”.
    Being and avid adventurer I really like the smell of fresh air cleansing all the stench & dirt I have gathered all these years.
    I am really thankful to Kshitija and the likes of his for their contribution towards getting us to open ourself and to become a prolific contributor.


    Your trip to Rohtang took me back to my two trips to thatplace. The first trip was long time ago,late 60s, when the road ended at Kothi, and the rough track was being built by Border Road people. We were travelling in Willy Jeep with my two little kids, and the jeep was almost going back hill. One of our member then had to walk behind the jeep with a stone to keep the vehicle sliding back. Since ,at those times, you had to take permission to go up we had some arny people who finally helped us to reach Rohtang after a long time. Never forgetthat. Recently, about 6 years back we drove upto rright up there without any difficulty. Also spent some money for ice carting( the gloves they gave us for carting ,I brought them back with me.Somehow I felt sad when I saw all kinds of ads/sales messages written on all hills all the way up.Must confess having spent over 20 years in Advertising Agency in Mumbai, i cursed my cla. But nice trip. Wish I could go on the Bullet . JATINDER SETHI

  • abhishek mishra says:

    Well done Kshitij. For three reasons. One, for showing us that with a belief on self and a proper plan, any height is small for human endeavour. Two, for having mastered a splendid way of narrating an experience. Three, for being courteous and respectful about the abilities of your father.
    You have got the elements of a successful motivator. Continue to excel. All the best. Hope snow at greater heights of Himalaya will see you soon.

  • bikerdude says:

    Kshitija, Welcome to the community of travellers… Neat effort dude… good fun to be reading about motorcycle rides rather than writing them… a very welcome change to be on the other side I must say.

    Your writeup reminds me of my sojourn with Rohtang… an unsuccessful attempt I must add due to improper planning and packing… we forgot to pack gear to battle rain and the snow. Had to turn back from Gulaba coz we could not venture any further withour freezing our a$$es off. not to mention wrong timing… we tried in April and had ourselves a good case of chills bordering on frostbite….

    But one lives and learns… So have I.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Mr. Sethi
    Thats and interesting flash from the 60s.

    Reminds me of the early days of automibiles where a person is deputed to run ahead of the vehicle alerting pedestrians of its arrival as brakes were not invented!

  • Kshitija says:

    Am really happy that I posted my story here (Candid & Concise!!!)
    I agree with Mr.Sethi about irresponsibility shown by Corporate houses and administration that despite the Supreme court ruling against such advertisements they continue to blatantly hurt the nature.Its as painful as it is to see the misguided enthusiasm of lovers on historic monuments:o(
    Thanks Abhishek for the wishes,encouragement and analysing my story as well as the comments so comprehensively.
    Yup Mr.Biker dude life is all about learning new things by other’s and our own experiences.
    Thanks Patrick as I definitely didn’t know about any such practice and it makes being here all the more exciting… :o)

  • eunice says:

    Nice photos and interesting narration of your travel experiences.


  • somali says:

    wow man !!!!!!!!1
    dis is sumthin really crazy n m sure ur gonna remeber dis 4 whole ur life
    i really wish to go on a tri like dis in future

  • somali says:

    wow man !!!!!!!!1
    dis is sumthin really crazy n m sure ur gonna remeber dis 4 whole ur life
    i really wish to go on a trip like dis in future

  • somali says:

    wow man
    dis ws sumthin really crazy n m sure ur gonna remember dis whole ur life
    i realy wish to go on a trip like dis in future

  • mini says:

    hiii kshitija
    sorry for reading it soo late.i remember when u showed me that 3 page article and the only thing i told u is that its too lengthy n will read it later.its very well written that i didnot realise that i have reached the end of ur story.
    keep up the good work.will soon get to read another one from u.

  • Virender says:

    Hello guys its awesome..i always admire ur Ghumakkar spirit ..and it really motivates me to be like u guys and mujhe bhi jana hai……and i think you guys have not forwaded me the photographs yet … do it asap otherwise u know me very well… …….byeeeeee and all the very best for the future trips….

  • Virender says:

    Hello guys its awesome..i always admire ur Ghumakkar spirit
    ..and it really motivates me to be like u guys and mujhe
    bhi jana hai……and i think you guys have not forwaded
    me the photographs yet … do it asap otherwise u
    know me very well… …….

  • Sarita Pandey says:

    Hi kshitija,

    Good photographs I must say… And so it prooves that what people say is right… you two make excillent pair…

    I liked the article very much…. I think I would definitly consult the writer once I go on such a trip…

    Not to mention the scenery… I think it’s just Wao….

    Thanks a lot for making me a part of this:))

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