Archive for the ‘Rides_n_Travel’ Category

Pre – ride preparations:

After few weeks long planning and some negotiations at office we were all set for a 15 days trip to Himalayas. Khardung La, Leh was the destination. Initially we were the team of two – me and one of my old pal ‘Jatin’, but we were joined in at the last moment by another friend of mine ‘Prasoon’. Prasoon did not have any bike so we asked him to rent one from Delhi. With all plans set, we decided to catch up in Delhi on 9th June.

With tips from other experienced riders and some research we made an extensive list of things and spares to carry on our trip. (drop a mail in case someone need help on the list) Each item from matchbox to sleeping bag was listed.

I needed to ship my bike from Mumbai to Delhi. When Speed Age informed that they no longer ship household goods due to some new company policy, I decided to book the bike on my train ticket and booked a ticket on Shatabadi. (Parcel and on ticket charges are different. On ticket it costs around Rs. 1600 + 1% of the value of bike u declare + misc packing and loading charges. You can take your bike to the station few hours before departure and make sure it is loaded carefully)

Day 0 – 9th June 07

I reached New Delhi around 10 AM and met Prasoon & Jatin, who were waiting there for me. Got my bike unloaded and all three moved directly to Kar

ol Bagh for spares and stuff. Headed straight to Khajanchi and got all our spares. Prasoon managed to get a Thunder Bird from Madaan Motors on rent. It was a long and extremely hot day and it was 8.30 PM by the time we finished our shopping.

Thereafter we had to see a friend so came back late after meeting him and managed to catch some sleep around 3.30 AM after finishing packing of all our stuff.

The Ride

The Route: Delhi – Chandigarh – Udhampur – Anantnag – Pahalgaon – Anantnag – Srinagar – Sonemarg – JoZi La – Drass – Kargil – Leh – Khardung La – Nubra – Khardung La – Leh – Tanglang La – Pang – Sarchu – Jispa – Darcha – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali – Chandigarh – Delhi

The Riders:

Rahul – Thunderbird ‘05

Jatin – Electra ’05 with new tyres

Prasoon – Thunderbird ’03 (on rent)

Total Distance clocked: 3040 kms

Start date: 10th June 07

End date: 24th June 07

Total riding days: 15

Day 1: Noida – Chandigarh – Hoshiarpur

Day 2: Hoshiarpur – Samba – Udhampur – Patnitop – Batote

Day 4 – Rest day at Srinagar

Day 5: Srinagar – Sonemarg – ZoJila – Drass – Kargil

Day 6: Kargil – Lamayuru

Day 7: Lamayuru – Leh

Day 8: Leh – Khardung La – Hunder/Nubra

Day 9: Hunder – Khardung La – Leh

Day 10 & 11: Rest at Leh

Day 12: Leh – Upshi – Tanglang La – More Plains – Pang – Sarchu

Day 13: Sarchu – Jispa – Darcha – Keylong – Tandi – Rohtang Pass – Manali

Day 14: Manali – Mandi – Chandigarh

Day 15: Chandigarh – Delhi

Post – ride hangover.

That hangover is not yet over and it will be there for atleast some time to come. Best thing that happens after such ride is that you tend to think what all went wrong, and how the ride could have been better. Even I have so many thoughts running and would love to make my next ride to the mountains even more rewarding. One piece of advise here for riders who are planning this route for the first time. ‘Start early’ – Start early and you get enough time to enjoy your ride and to appreciate nature. Check your bike the day before and tank it up. Especially in mountains starting early should be the mantra.

Enuf of gyan, now packing up till the next trip.

You can find more pics at



We started from Noida at 6:45 AM. It was a hot day and we had to take more frequent stops for water. We reached Chandigarh at 2.30, met some friends there and took a long lunch break. Started from Chandigarh at 4.30 to reach Hoshiarpur at 7.30. Till now we did around 440 kms and by this time every one was damn exhausted and tired. Hats off to Prasoon & Jatin who even being first timers for long rides didn’t give up and managed to ride 440 kms in scorching summer heat. We decided to take a break there, though we were 90 kms short of our planned halt at Pathankot. Slept to glory after a nice shower and dinner.

Total distance covered: 440 kms

We got up early at 5 and started the ride around 7 after having a light breakfast. We started with plans of riding till Srinagar so as to make up for the earlier day’s shortfall from the plan. Riding through Punjab gives you a feeling of how rich this state is. The road passes through farms spread over miles and the greenery around you leaves you with a good feeling. After doing some 100 odd kms on plains we started to get the feeling of hills and the curves. Took a by-pass from Samba to avoid entering Jammu and found ourselves on the road through a dry forest towards Udhampur. On this by-pass we had one of our best lunch at a dhaba some 50 kms before Udhampur. It was 3.30 when we reached Udhampur. We enquired about the time it would take to reach Srinagar and people advised us to take a halt at Patnitop or Batote. I was bit upset knowing that this would result in whole one day deviation, but had to surrender to circumstances. People told us that its not advisable to travel late in the evening and so there we all agreed to stop at Patnitop. It was 4 PM and now we were having ample time to reach Patnitop. So, we decided to enjoy rest of the day’s ride. It was then when we saw a river and all of us took our bikes off the road to reach as close to it as possible. Bikes parked, clothes off and phew.. we slipped into the river. After a long break started again towards Patnitop. At 7.45 I asked Prasoon to guess the time and he said ‘6.15’. Yea, sun sets late in this part of country. We reached Patnitop around 8 just to find that it is one over hyped hill station. Rooms were mostly booked and whatsoever was available was too expensive. We decided to move on to next place Batote which is just 13 kms from Patnitop. Finally we reached there and got a decent room and we retired for the day.

Total distance covered: 310 kms

Day 4 we woke up ekdum araam se. Bed was like the best comfort in this World. We expected that Srinagar (5220 ft) would be cold, but even there was not much respite. We had plans to go to Gulmarg (80 kms from Srinagar), but the thought of riding was not so pleasant after 3 days of riding. So, we lazed around in the house boat till 4.30 PM. Then we looked out for a bike mech as Prasoon’s bike was giving some problem. We took our bikes to a famous local Enfield mech – Tahir (near Sanmar crossing). We were amazed to see his knowledge and skills. Must say, I haven’t seen such an efficient mech in my life. Just in 30-45 mins he managed to check all our bikes and shared whatever he observed, which helped us later in our trip. There was no other problem in my bike just that Tahir told that my crank is busted and I need to take more care. Well, I knew about the problem with my crank as there was a shrill in engine and the mechs back in Mumbai had already warned me. I took a call to get all this tuned up after the Leh trip.

After getting our bikes tuned up, we headed straight to Nishat Garden. After which we spent some time in the local market.(Off the topic, but worth a mention. As with Kashmir, we were equally amazed by the beauty of Kashmiri girls and most of them have got that innocent look.) Our day ended with delicious Kashmiri Vazwan dinner served at houseboat.

We started Day 3 at 5.30 in the morning. Now we were riding in a better weather and at some altitude on that quite decent Jammu – Srinagar highway. Hilly roads and we were getting acclimatized to the curves. Witnessed some beautiful landscapes. One can see a lot of Army activities on this highway. Every 500 mts there was a small troop and they were checking for land mines and stuff. It gives a shrill initially and one can sense some tension in that belt. We spoke to some jawans and they told us that this continues 24×7. We were amazed to know that military is deployed even on the surrounding mountains, and they have there bunkers all around the place. Whatever said and done, one gets a real feeling that ‘nation sleeps because these jawans are awake’. We salute the continuous efforts of Army to maintain such peace.

We crossed Jawahar tunnel around 9 AM to have a first glimpse of Kashmir Valley. Not much traffic was there till Jawahar tunnel as it opens at 9. We reached Anantnag around 11 and there met one of Prasoon’s friend who is doctor in Army. We always thought that it would be safer to move with army. After talking to him we got to know that its more safe for civilians and tourists than army. Army personnel can not go out of campus alone in military dress. Terrorist aims Army first. There in the army campus we noticed that Prasoon’s bike needed some oil and to get that oil from adjacent petrol pump a local person was asked who was in civil dress. After this revelation we decided never to ride along with Army convoy 😉

As we were having complete day at our disposal, we decided to take a detour and go to Pahalgaon which is somewhere around 40 kms from Anantnag. The road to Pahalgaon was mostly in good condition. Here we witnessed some of the mesmerizing views of Kashmir valley. Pahalgaon is a beautiful place and a must visit if time permits. We reached Pahalgaon at 2.30 and thought of leaving by 4.30 so as to reach Srinagar which is 40 more kms from Anantnag, in time. Reaching Pahalgaon, we were so captivated that we lost track of time and finally it was 6.30 when we started back for Anantnag. We reached Anantnag in 1 hr doing good speeds and noticed that at 7.30 all the shops were pulling shutters. Till Anantnag, we never observed any place closing this early. So, we quickly had a cup of tea and started for Srinagar.

We reached Srinagar around 9 PM and after Anantnag we were bit doubtful about closing time of Srinagar. As, we were about to enter Srinagar, we were stuck in a huge traffic jam and to our astonishment Srinagar was well alive even at 9. We looked out for a decent houseboat which took us another 1 hr and got one around 10. Promised houseboat owner to comeback by 11. Had a leisure dinner and by the time we were through and unpacked our bikes, it was around 12.30. After parking our bikes when we reached houseboat around 1 AM, the houseboat owner was furious at us. He reminded us ‘Remember this is Kashmir!!’ and we realized our mistake.

Total distance covered: 300 kms

We got up around 4.30 :O so to visit famous Dal Lake’s floating vegetable and flower market, which is there till 6 AM only. Farmers put up their floating stall on boats. It was a nice site and is a must visit in Srinagar. Around 7 we came back to houseboat and was trying to get in, when I slipped off the step of houseboat and was left half hanging in Dal Lake 😦 God! I somehow managed to save my camera. Finally, we checked out and loaded our bikes for the long day ahead.

As we were about to start from Srinagar, we saw a crack in Prasoon’s carrier. We looked out for a welding shop but could not find any open around 9. Finally, we started with the broken carrier and decided to get it fixed on the way. As we started from Srinagar and were ascending for Sonemarg, we were captivated by beautiful big green mountains around. We were excited by the time we reached Sonemarg. It’s worth spending some time at Sonemarg and we too had our lunch there but could not spend much time as we were already running late. Jatin wanted to put a halt in Sonemarg, but myself and Prasoon were not in favor of delaying the trip by one more day. Though it would have been a different experience, but we decided to move on. Next to come was mighty JoZiLa! The roads were in real bad condition with all the dust around. JoZila is a notoriously popular for its landslides and tough track. No one is to blame as ‘coz of frequent land slides and snow falls this stretch is not easy to maintain. As we moved ahead trucks halting for catching some breath was a common site. We covered this stretch very carefully and at very low speeds. Once we reached the top and moved ahead, the road ahead was decent and the views turned from great to mesmerizing. With lot of snow and really big mountains around we were forced to take halts at every few kms. Now, we were really enjoying our ride, but were running out of time.

We reached Drass around 7 PM. It was already late but we decided to keep on moving and reach our destination Kargil the same day. In hurry we also missed the War Memorial and Tiger hill, which is few kms down the road from Drass towards Kargil. I was leading at 60-70 as by now all of us were quite comfortable in riding on curves. On this Drass to Kargil stretch, there is a constant stupid fear of being watched by enemy. We were doing good speeds and then the inevitable happened. I was speeding ahead and then after waiting for some time for Prasoon and Jatin, I had to ride back 10 kms to find Prasoon struggling with first flat tyre of the trip at 8 PM and we were still 30+ kms away from Kargil. We had no prior experience in fixing punctures and changing tubes, but ‘time sab sikha deta hai’ and we were there unmounting tyre, changing tube, pumping it up and were almost through just to notice that we had messed up with new tube while placing it in tyre. And so we had to replace it again with new tube. It was complete dark by the time we were through and clock was showing 9.15. Three bikers alone in the enemy range :O. We wrapped up the spares and started moving. We had our dinner some 10 kms before Kargil at 11. Dhaba wala told us that these days its cease fire and things are under control. First sign of relief. After finishing our dinner we started again to reach Kargil at 12. Oh yea, it was a long day!

Total distance covered: 250 kms

We were too tired the previous day and its hangover gave us an excuse to sleep till 10. By the time we started again it was already 1 PM. We decided to cover as much as possible by 7 and then to take a halt, but not to ride after dark. And so we started again on one of the Godly stretch on this tour. Mountains were no longer green. They were all grey. Big mountains and long road and not even a single sign board for miles. While driving on this stretch one can not ignore that feeling of loneliness. It creeps in. And for us it was first stretch of this kind with just the noise of whizzing motor and speedy winds. We crossed Namik La and again were forced to halt for 30 mins as BRO was in process of widening the road. There are plans of making this complete Srinagar – Leh stretch a double lane highway by 2012. We knew by this time that it would not be possible for us to reach Leh. As we moved ahead, Prasoon’s clutch broke down (God! Why always with Prasoon!!?). Another 30 mins gone. We gave up and decided to put a halt at Lamayuru. There is a famous old Gompa (Monastery) in Lamayuru and we thought of this as an opportunity to visit that. Once decided, we were riding at our own pace getting most out of the nature. Then we crossed windy Fotu La and later reached Lamayuru around 7 PM.

Total distance covered: 111 kms

Day 7: Lamayuru – Leh

Posted: July 8, 2007 in Rides_n_Travel

Day 7 we started quite early around 6 in the morning. Roads were mostly in good condition and we maintained good speed. Visited gurudwara Pathar Sahib in Nimu and it was a pleasure to find a long tarmac from Nimmu to Leh. We finally saw the signboard ‘Welcome to Leh’. We all were exhilarated and were feeling great on reaching ‘the destination’. And so half of our journey was through.

Booked a decent guest house and after unloading we headed straight to take permissions for Khardungla, Nubra and Pangong Tso. You need to take permission from DC office to visit these sites as there is restricted access to these sites, but permissions are given easily to tourists.

Finally, we ended that day with victorious meal.

Total distance covered: 136 kms

We were in somewhat relaxed mood on day 8 and started off late again, to discover that there was some problem with Jatin’s brake. We looked out for the mech, but they were all closed, it being a Sunday. We fixed it up ourselves, but it took some of our precious time. By the time we started it was 12 PM. After riding some 30 kms we reached South Pallu check post. We were stopped there and were initially not allowed to go ahead as last time for vehicles going uphill is 11.30 AM. We pleaded and were somehow allowed. I had to adjust my air-oil mixture as bike was not performing well. It was a relatively bad stretch beyond South Pallu to Khardung La and gain in altitude was also much. We reached Khardung La around 2 PM.

‘Khardung La – 18380 ft – Highest motorable road in the World’ and you can’t help but need to pose there next to the sign board. And your pilgrimage is through. 🙂 K-Top was covered with snow and temperature must have been sub zero. It was getting difficult to resist that cold and we were feeling tired and dizzy because of less oxygen levels there. Prasoon, in that dizziness coined the idea of dropping Nubra and resting back in Leh, but that was outrightly turned down by Jatin and me.

We started towards Nubra and road was real bumpy till North Pallu. As we crossed North Pallu we saw tarmac and we pressed our accelerators. We enjoyed the ride on that tarmac and that route. All our tiredness vanished, and we pressed and pressed and paused for clicks and again pressed. We reached Khardung village and again had maggi for lunch. We witnessed all different kind of views on this road from snow to big gorges to desert to river and what not. It was a real bliss! And Prasoon, later agreed that it was a good decision to come down to Hunder. In our excitement we passed Hunder and continued on the same road till we were stopped and told by military that it was heavily restricted area beyond that point. We came back to Hunder and anchored for the day. It was 7.45 PM.

Total distance covered: 151 kms

We started back from Hunder around 9 and taking the same route we were planning to hit Khardung La as early as possible. As we crossed North Pallu, we could sense some bad weather approaching. Grey clouds were all over Khardung La and air started getting colder. We decided not to stop and so we moved on. Just after few kms from North Pallu towards Khardung La, those clouds surrounded us and snow fall started. All of us were witnessing snow fall for the first time and were excited on that pleasant view. We wanted to stop for a while to enjoy it, but fear of weather getting worse kept us moving. We were riding in snow fall, with snow flakes all around our visors and riding gear. We were riding very carefully and were doing extremely slow speeds, but we were moving. It was light snow fall and continued for another 15 mins or so and then we were exposed to the bright sun. We stopped and clicked some pics and then moved towards Khardung La. At Khardung La we took a short break and then continued our journey. After crossing South Pallu we took a good road side break and then finally reached Leh around 5 PM.

Total distance covered: 128 kms