Road trip to LEH!!! doesn’t that sound something amazing? Yes, it is. Will take you through the course of the entire journey. I will try and keep it short 🙂
Leh was on my list but I never had a plan of travelling this year. Browsing through the pictures of Leh, Srinagar triggered something within me of making this trip and made up plan doing it.
Next thing I had in my mind was, how to travel, which are the places to visit, what are the preparations required. With lots of WHAT’s and HOW, I browsed about LEH and the places around it, distance from one place to another etc.
Out of all the sites, DOW (Devil on wheels) is the one which gives every detail about the valleys across J& K. You can find hotels, basic itinerary, things to do almost everything, road status almost everything. So now that I had some information in hand I prepared a checklist of all these items and started working towards it. As this was my first long trip to northern India and to a place where reaching out for help was a very difficult, loved ones had concerns about my safety and whereabouts.
That’s when I thought of looking out for some co-travellers and started to post my travel dates on DOW and BCM Touring. Soon I found some replies for the post and used to get into discussion and plans. But had some tuff time in working out as people changed their plans and some opting out which put me into a state on where to strat with.
With all these things happening, I reached out my friends who had already done their trip to LEH. Gathered all those information, as every piece information what you get is a valuable one. As days passing by, I realised that August was not a suitable time for travel, the reason being it is peak time of Monsoon season and had to move my travel dates to September. Meanwhile, I got in touch with some fellow traveller ( Ankit Khare ) from Lucknow on BCM touring and found out that our date and places match and decided not to change travel dates and places to visit even if there are any additions. So we opted Delhi as our starting point, travel through Chandigarh, Srinagar, Leh, Khardung la, Diskit, Pangong, Manali and back to Delhi. But the situation at Srinagar and places closer to Anantag were affected by Bandh. We modified our plan by dropping Srinagar and Kargil from our list and came up with a final list which was Delhi-Chandigarh-Manali-Kelyong-Karu-Leh-Khardungla-Diskit-PangonTso-Delhi).
On September 2nd, 2016 Friday, I boarded my train along with my bike ( Click here to know how to transmit the bike through train ). Boarded Karnataka Samparka kranthi train which started at 10:00 PM from Yeshwanthpur station and reached Delhi around Sunday morning 9:30 AM.
After getting down from the train it took approx 2-3 hours to get my bike out of railway station and start my journey. Remember in North India, fuel station would not let you fill petrol/diesel in plastic bottles. Either you can rent alluminum fuel cans by depositing 300rs ( refundable) or find some alternative ways. Started my journey around 12:45 PM, it took an hour to manage myself to zip through the heavy traffic of DELHI and reach Chandigarh highway.
Once you reach the highway, roads are broad and straight where one will Cruze through the road easily. But I had burnt out a lot of energy earlier, keeping in mind that I had to travel approx 300km and the scorching heat with riding jacket on, I decided to take a break and have lunch.
Stopped at Punjabi Dabha and order roti with panner butter masala. Sensing the urgency of reaching Chandigarh by evening as Ankit was already waiting for me, I left the place quickly. Didn’t stop at any place and was travelling at 120 km, all of sudden could able to sense a burning smell.
I kept on ignoring it assuming that it would of vehicles which are passing by. But the smell was so hard which gave me a feeling that it was my bike and when I got down and noticed that saddle bag was on fire (WTF)!!! Noticed that I had no water to pour on it, quickly unmounted the saddle and took off all the clothes from it, thinking that at least I could save some of my clothes. Good thing that I didn’t panic, else I don’t think I would have got through this easily.
Checked all my clothes and unlucky me that all my new Tshirts were burnt and I was left with only 4 Tshirt :(. The weight of the Duffle bag was put on the saddle which in turn touched the silencer. Such a disaster but not a good sign to start my trip with. On the way to Chandigarh, tagged with Ankit and we reached by 7:00 pm.
Right side Saddlebag was burnt
On that night we stayed at the hotel, next day got the bag fixed and we departed bit late to Manali. Road from Chanidghar to Manali gets narrower. But the scenic beauty what you get to see is absolutely fabulous.
Near Swarghat: Sutlej river
Car crossing the river
We took frequent breaks in-between enjoyed the scenery. Between all this, we didn’t realize that we have to cover a long distance. Around 10:00 pm, we reached kulu and decided to stay as riding at night was not a feasible option. Kulu is a small town with a limited option to stay, we managed to find a room at a decent hotel. Next day, my health was getting worse due to cold so we started around 11:30 am. with no further delay, we swiftly reached Manali and thankfully one of our other team members had got the Rothang pass ( entry pass ) which saved us a lot of time. The pass which you collect from Manali DSM office, need to be submitted at Rothang check post and have to pay 50 rs per bike.
Road till Rothang check post is well maintained. It’s a single road but still you have to be careful. Around 3:30 pm we had to stop for below reason and had to wait for 30 – 40 minutes.
After the road was cleared we continued to head forward. As and when we took every turn and reached higher on altitude, we could notice the power loss in our bikes and breathing was bit difficult. Noticed the KM sign borad stated as 5 km and in no time we made it to Rothang pass.
After clicking picture we left Rothang pass and now we had to descend the hill. As and when we got down the hill, roads turned to be a nightmare. There were no roads at all!!! it was a pure dirt track with big stones on the way. We were accompanied by a couple of other riders ( Sachin, Ansh and Ayushi ). While we stopped by for a tea break, discussed on where to halt, how far is our next destination. As per our plan, we planned to stay at Jispa. However, it was late and we had to reach Tandi fuel station before it gets closed. Because post Tandi, for next 350 km you won’t find any fuel station, so it is advised to refuel at this place. As and when we traveled, roads started turning from bad to worst. Around 8:00 pm we reached Tandi and refueled also carried extra fuel to avoid delays in the journey. By now places was dark and with no street lights, we all were depended upon bike headlight. It was around 10:30 pm, everyone looked exhausted, Without risking further we decided to halt at Kelyong.