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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Leh Paroxysm : The unplanned trip to LEH

www.tatasafari.com/

This post is written for Indiblogger for I am Explorer! in 
association with TATA SAFARI

1.   Have never shared the script of my greatest journey of life with anyone on the web....but got some free time...and then I came across this SAFARI STORME competition and thought of sharing it in the webosphere...though my blog is all about IT...but then for a change I am going to share this one on my blog that will basically cover driving...driving and driving and driving....nothing else..sheer driving...that too in the mountains with few worst sets of roads....I simply love it...

2.  So two summer's back,it started with, at a lunch that I had at my friends place in Delhi...and one of his friend their was sharing his grievances of never been able to find a friend with whom he could plan a Bike trip to Leh...he too was passionate about biking and adventure like me...and the moment he shared his grievance I was their in front of him standing in Attention and said..."Sir...here is your friend that you have been longing for so long...."..he could not believe it and the sheer yes from my side had tears of joy in his eyes...(pun intended)...and so a week later we started with another volunteer and the best part was that except for our basic clothing and tying ropes we did not plan any other thing like where are we going to halt or stay for the night..one of us Chetan soni was kind enough to brace us with lots of google info printouts that proved critical en route the entire trip....so before I start with the details..I would first summarise the trip.

Delhi - Bilaspur - Manali - Rohtang Pass - Patsio - Pang - Moore Planes - Leh - Pangong Lake - Leh - Nubra - Leh - Batalik - Baltal - AmarNath Yatra - Srinagar - Pathankot - Amritsar - Jallandhar - Delhi

16 Days @ 4285 Km


3.    So we trio got together first at Karnal Bypass and then after seeking blessings from a small Hanuman temple there,we started to Bilaspur.Being the kind we foodies were...we though tried to drive and just drive but the hanging tongues at the road sides Dhaba's were enough to halt and have a grt food bite....

3

and off course since it was just the start ..we were slightly easy to stop...and then we stopped at Cafe day to ease out the humid environs!!!!

and then it was a non stop to BILASPUR...

Posing on way to Bilaspur,Himachal Pradesh.Till now the typical humid factor and summer heat was with us...and the best part is that it was not going to be with us for long....
When we were venturing into the darkness time late evening,we decided to halt for the night at Bilaspur but where.....so first we inquired about few hotels and then suddenly we came across this board of Govt Rest house...and we rung the bell...the officer their was kind enough to tell us that there was one room available...he checked our voter I cards and let us in...so after a simple veg dinner we just fell down on our beds...first day was our around 429 KM
Early morning Pose right in the sprawling green Lawns of the Guest House..we cleaned our bikes...checked up the basics.Thankfully all was well....so here they are seen raring to go!!!!!

we left Bilaspur early on way to Manali...we left early at 0500h...we ensured one more thing evry day we started from a place....HANUMAN Temple....and surprisingly we used to find the same at every place we ever searched for....sought the blessings...and then moved ahead....


Could not resist the tempting river call flowing aside our route....breaking into the break....


we saw interesting lives en-route like the one seen below

We were slowly entering into the realms of nature....which has lost all most all of its sheen in the cement concrete in cities.....the lush green effect had started taking up as the new desktop background of our new life ...though only for a short duration....
It was just the size that made us come closer to the champ seen...but had all the traits of a mini-Godzilla :-)
Vanishing in SPEED...
Crossing successfully....missed the trucks!!!!!
Posing inside the 3 km long canal....pitch dark at few places inside...the head lights were saviours
Entering the Manali Sarchu Road.Till now the roads had been like a ideal dream stuff....what was awaiting us was not known to us ahead.
Preparing one of the devils before the launch to Rohtang early morning.It was surveyed at local level that the earlier you move from Manali ...the better it is going to be....and the advise was noted and made compliant with.We left as early as 0430 am....in the arly morning chills
Right at the gates of SASE....thanking for the hospitality.....
Leaving early morning....
 The Game Begins...its now snake and ladder....at a snails Pace with no sight of clearing the traffic...the long stream of SUVs and tourist buses had no end....
I love these roads..the roads that have taken shape only owing to the moving traffic...and the innumerable blasts by the BRO to give them a face to look like road....but the natural beauty covered it all....

 Little Success on crossing one jam and sluggish roads


Manoeuvring through the slim and sick roads!!!

Moments that we have been waiting for in our lives...the mountains...the pleasure of driving in the terrain which offers only natural resources as support...


These little ways in between  standing trucks were good enough for bikers to move ahead,,,,to reach LEH...the skills were borne by us thankfully to manouvere inbetween....
The Devil Swim


What we see below in the pics is just a trailor of roads that we are expected to move along on the entire journey....sluggish...soaky...hardened by stones...


oooh..lala....life is getting cooler!!!!!rohtang pass was one of our first interactions with passes...but with the kind of stories we had read in various blogs we were lucky to get out in about 5 hours...


Stuck for nearly 5 hours..... and then finally a little congrats to each other on crossing the first major hurdle.....


Found a cave in between ...reminded of the Lord Shiva...just checked inside if we have finally been able to locate Lord Shiva's House...


Finally at ROHTANG PASS!!!!!!Shout is a must to celebrate.The all around cloud cover was though a danger sign for moving further but who cares...this is what we wanted....to expect the unexpected at each moment ahead...we had no plans of where to stop for the night...the only plan was to enjoyyyy nature and surroundings....


Such bridges were in not less then hundreds...at few places ahead we found few broken bridges.....that added to the planned hours of move....


Any time we sighted a flowing river...we would not hesitate to stop and have some fun by opening cans of the jaw water...:-) and we dedicated various such stops to the bikes...make them relax... :-)


It's a wow feeling...the bikes...and the trio of us...such a combo in the best of places with only driving as the mission....drive drive and drive....

To get this click...I had to jump about 10-15 times before my friend Chetan got it correct...this was just the beginning of various jumps we got addicted to...many jumps ahead!!!
The cloud and the dust cover had started to dominate....and the nallahs had started becoming more frequent...crossing the same was an art that we some how quickly learnt.....
The wrestle with flowing water at full speed and the machine with each one of us on the top was a hearty experience...that made our beats faster and the speed quicker....
So...we saw the first fall...no major damage....

The security forces units enroute played a great part in our successful trip...we had never planned or tied up with any hotels...or make shift accommodations for tourist...but these guys were always ready to help us out....a plain verbal request at the gate was enough...off course they checked our identity proofs but no further interrogations....the stays were made comfortable ....and the hospitality at such heights only made us respect them more....


The road was never ending like always...keep driving....


This was our first experience of crossing a flowing and bursting nallah...and the good thing about our team was that none of us had a Royal Enfield or a bike with a silencer parallel to the ground...my pulsar had a silencer which had a acute angle formation with the ground...so no water could stop us...and we paved ahead ...though it required some driving and manoeuvring skills


This is one of the Royal Enfield that got stuck in between the nallah...and we ensured to not only assist in pushing...but also concluding the cross...


Another pass...another happiness...another celebration


Posing with machine...did not miss any opportunity


Thats my LIFE...my view....live life full throttle....live your passion....and I was fortunate to experience these moments...thankyou GOD...for blessing the trip....


Can their be a better desktop then this ?....each thing is a gift of nature...un touched...unexplored by the humans!!!!


That's BIRU DHABA...seeing this site at a place which is inhabited by none....shows that there is no dearth of adventurers in this world who have been able to drive in this terrain regularly...and so regularly that dhabas like this exist to make a commercial living for the locals..


Man and the machine....and the backdrop....each pic speaks of volumes of what nature has to explore....


Straighten it out MAN........got a moment to straighten the back and below was my temporary bed....


The best bed ever slept on...balancing act!!!!


The road goes on and on...no end....sheer driving pleasure...no phone signal to get disturbed...no traffic...no waiting....chal bhai chal.....


Relaxing Machines....and we stopped for a nature's call...


The combinations of clouds,mountains and terrain was a never seen,never imagined and never experienced moments.....


The roads which were sandy and sluggish till now....slowly started getting rocky...we thanked god for each moment we moved ahead....lest we suffered a puncture in such a terrain....


21 hairpin bends called Gata loops took us from 4190 mts to 4630 mts. height. and measuresd approx 25 kms from sarchu tents.


The loops were keen to ghost us....like the stories existed and we had read on various blogs....debriefed here in short...

" Years ago, it seems, a truck broke down on the same bend. The driver, mindful of the cargo he was carrying, told the cleaner to stay with the truck while he walked to the nearest village to get help. Off he went, trudging the forty kilometres of mountain roads that separated him from inhabitation.

He got there, totally spent, to find no help in sight. A storm on another pass had closed the road, there were no mechanics to be found in the tiny village and, even as the driver waited, the weather closed in. He was stranded in the village for over a week before a mechanic and a vehicle came by. By the time the party reached the truck, they found the cleaner dead, felled by exposure and thirst, high on the bone-dry mountainside. Rather than carry a decomposing body home, the rescuers buried it close by.

Then, things started happening. Travellers stopping on the loops started meeting a man who begged them piteously for water. People who refused were soon writhing with mountain sickness, and some even died of it. Those who obliged, though, saw the bottles they offered drop through the man’s hands, while he kept pleading for water. Terror struck the region and only subsided when the locals set up a memorial at the site and made offerings of water to placate the ghost.

No one stops unnecessarily on the Gata Loops."


The bottle devi....a memorial as mentioned above of used water bottles!!!! remarkably Indian


After the gata loops...we reached the Lachulungla Pass.Located some 54 km from Sarchu and 24 km from Pang,this is one of the easier 16,616 ft passes and it can be traversed cross-country by moving along the nallah on both sides. However, due to elevation, most of the the bikers face breathlessness during climb and those who have not undergone acclimatisation may face severe symptoms of altitude sickness...so at such places we only decided to click and move jaldi jaldi..


The roads...alass!!!were not there....


Can their be anything better then this....u r a dot from far!......


and even a smaller dot from much far.....


Pose can never stop.....


Click me buddy!!!!i m feeling like a bond.....


Helped yet another time by a security force make shift camp....no worries...jai army...jai hind....i love them...good food...and a good sleep...we could get here....


The morning meter....


Morning check of the machines....basic repair and maintenace had to be done...to expect a flawless performance on such a terrain


My pulsar...my machine...my life...my time..."IT's my LIFEEEEEE"


Moore plains is crossed by the road from Leh to Manali. This stretch of approx 40 km falls in between Leh and Sarchu on Manali-Leh Highway. This road has an average elevation of 4000 metres and is flanked by scenic and beautiful mountain ranges on both sides. At some places the road runs along the Sumkhel Lungpa river featuring some stunning sand and rock natural formations. Unexpected breaks in the plains, you make your own road is the policy when u drive.
 
The road goes on and on....no established road....u drive and make your own road...
 The plain area starts after covering around 4 km uphill road from Pang towards Tanglang La pass. The road is mostly on the plain for around 30–35 km, before it again starts to rise to Tanglang La. Flanked by beautiful mountains on both sides, this area is a major attraction to the Bikers heading towards Leh from Manali.

The area is uninhabitable and has no construction at all, and also no population...no trees...no vegetation...no birds...nothing...!!!
The Dusty State of the Explorer


Another pass...another coming together...another click....we have been achieving newer heights every day of the trip and the good thing is that there are many more to come



The ride must go on!!!!!



The unofficial...shabby looking,not to scale road signage and directors were of great and crucial help when we moved along the general directions on the roads....

The roads as beautiful as this were never ending...and we always kept waiting for something like a small puncture to happen....so that we can test our repair skills....but we could never get such an opportunity...thank you god for that!!!!


More then in Bike..we felt like engine oil doing the rounds in our veins that kept us moving along these beautiful roads...and these are the same roads on which trucks and buses ply for the localities...no wonder one trip would eat into each vehicles Clutch and Brakes......


With no in habitat around...it was only the roads that showed us the way ahead..the tell tale signs of the earlier tyres were the source of navigation....


and stoppages like these were some times irritating for the speeds but it was we only who asked for all this...no one sent us on a mission....


so after this unexpected break for about one hour...we started crawling ahead with confidence in our tyres....on such roads..more then confidence in selves..it is the confident in tyres that makes the way ahead....:-)


Looking for the third guy......


oh!!!!!here he was...few metres back on a turn...he had a skid...thankfully nothing major...some dettol and a bandage were enough to keep the mission on the move....


Bike damage was not enough to deter us moving ahead....thankfully....


So after the this we started moving ahead...a closeup of the damage


and yess!!!!!!!!!we saw the first sign-age that welcomed us to Leh....it was our first step in the Leh terrain...that we have waiting for our last 4 days.Today was our fourth day...most of the pics tell you the date to show our dates of move....


We moved ahead...and the roads were slightly getting better...we started seeing public..population which our eyes had been deprived for last two days...we could see markets welcoming us....


But the main city was still about 60 km from our welcome point...


and yess!!!as we entered in the out skirts of Leh...we tasted success...ie the national food of LEH...Maggi...ha ha ha...we had it like about 2-3 plates per person...and we never knew that this is going to be the most sold out food in outlets and restaus ahead.


As we found this barren land in between our present location in the outer skirts of Leh...we started doing Saat Pheras....so that we get bonded by heart :-)


This PIC is my personal favorite...the flag shining and flying and my machine relaxing!!!


and then we found the same set of Haryana Guys whom we had met and helped out earlier...these guys were like great...they had travelled around the same route like we had...but with a twist....two guys on one bike...abd each bike was a mere 100 cc...how did they manage...I still keep wondering


So after we reached Leh...we found a relatively economical accommodation and you can see that after bath and clean up...i started looking smart and handsome again....:-)


So the first and foremost part early next morning of our first day at Leh was the basic maintenance of our machines who had without any issues helped us out reach till here...so here we are posing with our mechanic


Though there was no dearth of bike repair shops in the market,we trio filtered out this guy at SHIV SHAKTI shop based just on our bike handles....we all stopped some how at his shop...we all looked at each other...and YES'd to select...thats how...and we were not wrong...his basic repairs were enough to handle us till Delhi...


Repairs ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!Rock ON!!!!


A hot cup of tea en route to the world's highest motor-able road..courtesy ....the security forces...we were already indebted to them for lending out a helping out every time we desired or we felt like some one helping us...loads and loads of thanks.....


Top view of the Leh city from a approach road point to Worlds Highest Motorable road....


Can their be some thing like this shoppe.....Highest Cafeteria in the World...surprised us and we immediately ventured inside to find out varieties of national food of this terrain "Maggi"...what else?


One kid monk requested us for a photo on one of our bikes...feeling like heroes :-)..we could not say no to our first fan....


and here is our dream pic of the trip...KHARDUNGLA fateh!!!!the machines who bought us here in the front and we stand in the back ground


We were so happy and enthu about this feel that we did not even come down from the place we are seen standing...for about 30 min we kept standing at the place we are seen in the pic....:-)


The trio with the waiving flags...


this is the pic inside the worlds highest cafetiere ..had a hot Maggie and a hot coffee...it felt so good....in the heaven and feeling heaven....heavenly feeling :-)


and we started our move further and the scenes were just getting better..all around the scenes were better then each other...we could not resist clicking...just went on clicking and the pics as seen here are just few of the thousands we have in our repository.


then we first went to the hot geyser location that we had read across various blogs...at Panamic.Along the Nubra River,there were various small villages viz Sumur, Kyagar , Tirith, Panamik, Turtuk and many others. Samstanling monastery is between Kyagar and Sumur villages, and Panamik is noted for its hot springs and then there is this  isolated Ensa Gompa. Sadly the hot water stream did not make us jump with joy...as it was equivalent of tap water flow :-(.The yellow color in the pic below shows the erst while sulphur that remained and the water that was their in the past...but now now....


The kids in these villages were always keep and enthu not only for the pics but for various choclates that we used to distribute anywhere we found a kid....


The journey went on from Panamic...and now we headed for the desert...the highest desert in the world with double hump camels....we always wondered that in this chill cold what can a desert with camels look to fit in like....


Pictures and photographs can be clicked but not the feel....for any biker..visual treats like this can always be only felt...and remain in memoirs....another favorite of mine is seen below.


and here comes the camels and the desert....it is sheer nature that plays such games....I had only seen deserts and camels in Rajasthan...but at such heights and such cold....we were left wondering of the combo....


The double hump camels..resting at peace...Camel safaris here at Hunder and Deskit are the most popular centres for the tourists. This ride through the Nubra valley surfing the rugged terrain and changing landscapes of sand and snow was one another memorable parts of the trip.


Finally we could see people flocking this pretty inhabited area...full of tourists...kids..children and camel safari's....the weather could not have been better


Manning the machine and smile tells it all for me.


Feeling deserted was never so good as seen in the pic....the cool sand and the sun combo was mind boggling....


Where did we stay....?yess!!!it was again the secuirty force camp...by now we started giving references of our past stays at their respective transit camps...and no one said "No"...


Early next morning we started back for Leh and this time we were looking for the 3 idiots climax location...PANGONG lake....


the desert had made our faces look deserted as can be seen.....


break for natures call....


We were now getting used to regular jams that used to happen any time unexpectedly...so here we are seen waiting again....


wait...wait....wait.....


wait continues as we keep clicking the basic area around to pass time


resting machines....


again getting back to khardungla while getting down to leh....this time the pose was planned!!!


The place at Leh....where we all stayed...nice economical stay...we could not have asked for better...



next day we started for pangong lake and here we are seen seeking directions from the army guys...


beautiful roads .....


One of us just wanted to celebrate in a different manner as we pass the worlds third highest pass "CHANG-LA"


Changla has been captured by two of us...and we have the proof below ...:-)


stranded and sitting in peace while the other guys attends a nature's call....


Started feeling high as we approach the Pangong lake....


Isn't it simply wow!!!!!this is the first sight of the lake.... traveled for about 5 hours from leh....the roads were finally good for a large part of the route....


The Pangong Tso...the board tells about the history....interested to know...zoom inside!!!! :-)


U see these small hutments....the exact 3 Idiot climax location....


and I tell u ...the lake was sub zero....and we decided to try our luck here too....dip dip dip...and it was another frozen experience....first time in life!!!!!



Life was never so cool....and chilled


Pangong Tso has few special things to know about….one was the fact that lake has boundaries that separate China and India…second, within the lake some part of the water is saline and some part is sweet like you can drink with comfort….third ..the color of the lake though is blue all day…but the shades of blue keep changing every 10-15 minutes based on the cloud cover and sun shine availability…The time at Pangong Tso for finding a suitable accommodation was also great fun…after driving alongside the lake we came across various options that included the basic tentage to the luxurious tents with hot water geyser!!!our priority of location was based on the nearest vicinity to the lake wherein we can hear the sound of water at time of silence in night…so we opted for this Whitehouse as seen below….and I tell you that this was another good decision…not only was the stay good but in such chills when hot food served…we could not keep thanking God for making us experience all this…the camp fire was icing on the cake….and here is our Pangong House for the night....bang opposite the lake....


This became my profile pic at Google....the best with my machine


Reminds you of the 3 Idiots...that we were trying to prove we are...


We met this cute set of kids on way back to Leh...and Rahul could not resist stopping and offering them sweets and I could nbot stop my self clicking!!!


And below is the Magnetic hill....where crowds can be seen fighting over the fact and illusion....does this mountain has ghostly powers to pull a car if stranded without engine start....we trio had our doubts about this....


The journey to Amarnath Continues....


another jam of traffic...another blockage...another waste of time....


A Small event like a car getting stuck in a bridge can add to about 3-4 hours to your journey...and here we are seen wasting few ....


The long jam...continues...and keeps occurring every 15-20km of each other....but who cares...we have our oiled machines ready to take us at any hour of the day or night.


Do I need to say where the other two guys have disappeared!!!!!!!!!!


The noise of this flowing water seems like music by nature...


The thrill at reaching Batalik.....stayed over nite at a local's hutment....Batalik is that part of Indian Administered Ladakh which has been the centre of all Indo-Pakistani wars. Operation Safed Sagar was launched primarily in this region. It was one of the main regions in which Kargil war was fought.


Started early morning....and as always ...clicks are a must


Kargil welcomes us!!!!Thanks Kargil..
.

Now here we are seen standing at the second oldest inhabited place in the world...so many firsts in so few days...


The Tiger Hill.....stop to click..this place has its critical significance.Tiger Hill or "Point 4660"is a mountain in the Drass-Kargil area of Jammu & Kashmir, India. It is one of the highest peak in the area and was the subject of the famous battle during the 1999 India-Pakistan Kargil War. Its recapture as it was claimed by the Indians was one of the most important objective for Indian forces during the Kargil War.


Seeking directions from localites


and now we are very much near the shrine ...another about 30 km's...but I must tell you that these 30 km's were the toughest part of the complete trip...soaking mud... continuous rains..slippery and narrow roads...with regualr army convoys coming from the opposite directions at roaring speeds


And here comes the best part of the trip...the AMARNATH Darshan...this view from top was the first sight of the devotees camp....it looked like a wallpaper HD View....from top.


The closer we came to the camp..the more beautiful it started to become.

After lots of documentation and clearances and security checks we finally started the yatra early morning at 0300 am...pitch dark and chilled cold..was the weather...but the enthu inside us could not be beaten by any...we started and we were at the main temple up in about 4 1/2 hours...for most of our circle it was a record of sort....what carried us at this speed was actually the thrill we were imagining of going further ahead after this...ie to srinagar and ahead.....:-)


The yatra was an experience in itself...the number of devotees was just like a ant story....the queue never got over...jai bhole baba was the cry and naaraa all along....har har mahadev.....


Finally on reaching near the cave temple...we could see the commercial shops all along offering prasad etc....


Were we tired?....aah!!!!not at all...we were all jumping to new heights :-)


Never late to give a pose to the camera....


After the darshan...we started back....and it was not so easy while we got down....the crowd...and the rush...made it difficult for us to move at the speed we desired.....but alas...there was no choice....


We took our first break since the road was blocked for some accident had taken place ahead...we had to stop...so we rested our backs!!!!


Finally back with our machines....the journey and the yatra to amarnath was over...got the blessings and we started getting ready for the next move.


The local children were too happy to see three bikes and guys with camera's...all ready to pose....the josh was on!!!


The journey to srinagar started and we were there after a cruise of non stop 8 hours....


...and here we reached Dal lake...and the josh was on......yahoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!


Dal lake and the boat ride....it was another never to forget experience


The spearing boat....took us into the water streets...relatively unknown concept to city guys like us.....


Shopping complex along....

After a days halt at srinagar...we started back next morning early at 0400h...and we only stopped at Patnitop.....the down fall had started....we started seeing sweat and humidity again....


The face had damaged like never before...the hair had started vanishing...the natural face had started coming out of us....the handsome guys were no more looking handsome....


A famous sweet shop....we took our packed orders for the families and friends waiting at Delhi....


and here after riding and cruising through udhampur....we were into the lanes of punjab....and we started looking more handsome...the faces can be seen...but the enthu was even much better


At a friends place....at amritsar.....too happy and shocked to welcome guys who drove from delhi up to leh and got down at amritsar!!!!!


At the golden temple at Amritsar....seeking further blessing and thanking  for the continued blessing en route greatest bike ride of our lives


Starting back for home...the conclusion begins...now deciphering the amritsar streets....


the tanned face had started glowing on thoughts of getting back to the metro life style...


The journey back to home had started...the road to Delhi...the concluding part starts.


The house door...with a WELCOME BACK SIGNAGE by my daughter


here my father and mother are happy to see me...and I will always thank them for allowing me on such a rigorous trip that I now realize after two years....


My mom....


and my Wife...who always bears my adventures silently...thanks wife


7 comments:

  1. commendable.....words fall short....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful pix... Loved your descriptions... Terrific job, BIL... !!! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Loved the picture story of your Leh trip... have been there via Srinagar and Kargil... but 'bussed' it. Will surely plan a bike trip now that we've also been to Spiti...

    Arvind Passey
    www.passey.info

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Blog is so informative and so beautiful pictures I like everything of this blog. I like to wander in different-different places because journey is my hobby. I have visited many places of India and I felt only one thing India is so beautiful country and there are lots of Tourist places like Manali, Shimla, Chardham Yarta, Golden Triangle, Rishikesh, Kerala, Kullu, Vaishno Devi and more interesting places available here which attract to us.

    ReplyDelete