Day 1 (So here it begins)
As scheduled we completed the shopping before time and as usual we did forget something. So we had to do a final run to our trusted Decathlon stores to pick up the missing Items for our adventurous Himalayan Trek.
On the way to Decathlon, Trying out a few shades
Finally after a struggling run, we reached the Bus stand on time. Where we boarded our ride from Bangalore to Pune.
Day 2 (Reached Pune what next)
Finally reached Pune at 1pm, the weather in Pune was pleasant and welcoming.
Dhyan checking the itinerary
Wondering why the doors on the bus was so high ^
Had home cooked food at Dhyan’s House yummy Ghee buttered Roti & papad.
Quick family picture before leaving to the Pune Station.
Reached the Pune train station ahead of time.
Met up with the team who would join us for the Himalayan Journey Sachin, Priyanka & Harshad.
Day 3 (Long way to go but too less time)
By the time we woke up we had already crossed over 300kms by train and reached Itarsi. We travelled another 250kms and reached Gwalior.
We enjoyed each other’s company and got to know each other’s hands at UNO.
Day 4 (The Killer bus with no Cushioning)
Hoping to reach Delhi Central before 8:45pm but as of IST (Indian Standard Time) we reached Delhi at 11:30pm, thanks to the delayed train the Delhi metro was closed before we reached there and we ended up catching a Cab to Kashmiri Gate Bus Depot (ISBT).
It was a struggling 5 hours on the Bus to Chandigarh as there were no Volvo (AC) Bus available! We ended up taking the State Transport Bus, this bus was a nonstop transit to Chandigarh, the bus was really fast as it took only 5 hours to reach Chandigarh but the seats were cramped and with no proper cushioning, we also did not have any space to keep our luggage as we were a team of 5 we had over 11 bags :P (poor planning on our side) any way we ended up stuffing the available luggage under the seat and on our footrest. Yes that 5 hours was a really long sleepless ride, but we were thrilled to reach our destination ahead on time.
Jem of a driver
After we reached Chandigarh we looked around for a driver, who would be taking us from Chandigarh-Manali-Leh. It is a 3days and 4 nights Journey. We ended up meeting Kesav who was an awesome driver, very calm, respectful, humble, trustworthy and most of all very knowledgeable of all the routes, locations and History of almost all the town and rivers we could find along the way.
We were kindly escorted to the TATA Sumo where we loaded our luggage and started our journey to Manali.
On the way we stopped at a Punjabi Dhaba for Tea and to freshen up.
Kesav (our driver) was kind enough to stop in many places for photography sessions for free, He took us to different locations known as shooting spots.
We stopped on the banks of river Vyas to take some pictures and had our breakfast at an Aloo-Tiki-stand yum yum!!
We also stopped at a famous Dam in Mandi for pictures
After travelling for a while we stopped at a famous temple site for lunch on the bank of river Vyas the food and the way it was served was amazing.
Kesav also took us to a Kashmir shawl store where we got some overpriced woolen winter ware.
Finally after a 14 hour drive we reached Manali but it was gloomy day. We enjoyed what Manali had to offer and started our hunt to look for our hotel. Kesav also helped us find one of the best hotels there for the overnight halt.
The stay was comfortable, we also went out to the Streets of Manali to relax our tiered body.
We planned to leave Manali the next day morning as early as 7am.
Day 5 (Officers Bend for some mullah)
As planned to leave Manali before 7 we woke up by 8:30am and exited the hotel by 10am (Right on target) many reasons why we had to delay (not going to bore any one with the details) we are just lazy I guess!
We left to Rohtang on the way we saw a piece of Heaven!
Reminders on the road to keep us driving slow and carefully.
The roads were okay but on the way we were stopped at Palchah, as we were travelling on Tuesday we came to know the roads to Rohtang was closed for maintenance. Only cars with a permit could travel on the road to Rohtang on Tuesday, we either had to travel back 3 hours to Manali wait for 4 more hours, waste time and fuel travelling and get the permit or stay on the road till 4pm to continue the journey.
After waiting for a while our driver Kesav asked us to trek up the road to the next tea stall to relax.
We had our delicious breakfast here
We waited for a while and we went back to the location Palchah where the cab was stopped we requested the CO to let us go as we were travelling long distance but there were not we they were letting us go without a permit. So we contacted the army captain Rohit Sharma, we were going to visit him in Jammu he was Dhyan’s friend.
We had the Army Captain on the line but the officers were not interested to speak to anyone, then finally Kesav spoke to the officers and convinced them with a small quote then they agreed to let us travel further and bend the rule a bit.
On the holdup we lost almost 3hours, We made that time by not taking any breaks and continued straight to Rohtang pass, the road to Rohtang was just mind blowing.
After another long drive we stopped at Gulaba which is at an altitude of 9400 feet on the way we saw a glacier below a waterfall, we also ended up playing with the freezing cold snow which was awesome.
After travelling for an hour we reached Marhi, Rohtang pass and continued our journey forward and reached Sissu altitude of 10170 Ft, we also encountered a few mountain goats which hopped up and down the mountain in patterned groups.
Then we reached Tandi Bridge and had our lunch, this was a small stall right next to the Tandi Bridge the food was good and people inside were welcoming and warm after we finished our lunch they offered tea and we took a few clicks on the Bridge before continuing our journey.
After a long journey we reached Keylong and as we had to reach our next halt on time we did not stop in Keylong we soon covered Stngri, where the helipads were close to the roads and the views surrounding the other mountains was a must see, we also encountered a lot of cyclists in this area.
After a few more time we reached Jispa where we had to enter our car documents to the check post and continued our journey to Dercha we did not stop anywhere as it was already dark and we had to reach Zingzingbar where we would stay the night.
Goodbye Canon 50mm 1.4….
We finally reached Zingzingbar which is at an altitude of 12384 ft. After we carried all out bags to the tent, I had a plan to do some light painting, in the process I managed to break my 50mm 1.4 lens rendering it useless. Rest in peace nifty fifty. After which I was amazed to know I was able to use my laptop at 12384 ft with no problems the Peace tent at Zingzingbar had a generator which helped us power all our gadgets and battery’s.
Breaking a myth using my laptop over 14,000 ft see it works !!!
Day 6 (A gimps of the Milky way )
The night stay at Zingzingbar was good the tent also came with quilts which made our stay at 12384 ft pleasant. I woke up around 4:45am and wanted to shoot the night sky before any one wakes up. As soon as I went out to my amazement I saw the Milky way. I soon ran in to the tent woke up Dhyan and grabbed my tripod with the camera and we both saw the long trail of the milky way but before we ran to the point and set up the camera there were clouds and then the entire place was foggy. But we were happy we got to see the milky way.
After a while everyone woke by then I went jogging on the mountain roads, there is something about waking up early in the morning and just running alone which really helped me get to know myself and to praise God along with way. I also got time to spend time with God just thanking for the amazing fresh air and the view. Well that was refreshing, I also carried my camera and tripod where I was able to shoot an awesome time lapse of the black mountain.
I also delayed the entire team by taking pictures (my bad) but it was worth the delay. The pictures came out better than what I had expected.
Then we headed to our next destination LEH our plan was to travel as fast as possible to reach LEH before 8PM, as I had already delayed the team by 30 mins, leaving out tent by 6am. I was worried that we may reach late. But along the way we reached Baralachala and then Kilingsarai on the way to Sarchu we spotted a location that was breath taking the snow/glacier covered mountains looking great! We stopped here to take some pictures and rest our driver as we had driven almost 3 hours the time was 9 am.
After the shoot we started our journey back and we spotted a lot of tent sites and camps. The roads were good for a while, we did not find any difficulty with the water crossing but on the way to Pang we had to stop as there was a traffic Jam. I got down to see what was the holdup we came to know a bridge was damaged and a lorry trying to cross the river was stuck in the river. I waited for 15 mins and a car in front of us Scorpio tried to cross the river but even that one got stuck. Our driver the Genius asked everyone to get out of the car and revved the engine and pulled down the breaks the next thing I saw was our car racing down to the river bed and he successfully crossed the river!! What a Champ!
After our victory we got back in the car and congratulated our driver for the adventurous feat that he had performed.
We drove another 10kms and reached Pang we stopped there to have our Brunch. Pang with an altitude of 15280 ft where the scenic view was just unbelievable.
On the way to Leh we encountered a few road workers thirsty we they requested for drinking water and food, they were a group of 20 people and we only had 2 bottles of water left we gave them all we had I request everyone to carry extra stuff to give so as there is something about giving. I always feel good to give as it is written ’Give and it shall be given back to you, pressed down shaken together’.
We also saw beautiful landscapes on the way to Leh the sky was blue and as far as you can reach, the roads were never ending just loved the journey.
After another long and wondrous drive we reached Leh at 6pm and checked in to the New Kayuel Resort.
Our driver dropped us at the hotel and we said our goodbye.
In the evening we taught to go out to the market to do some shopping, the market was not too crowded but was well lit the night life in Leh usually ends by 10:30pm max 11pm.
Day 7 (Broken Bikes Rental Store)
Our Hotel landlord told us that his cousin owns a bike rental shop and could get us bikes for very less it was less than anyone would offer, in the morning we went to the bike shop and checked out the bikes they said they would have 3 bikes ready by afternoon and we can test it.
As promised we got the bikes and we did a few test run in the city lane which worked great, we taught to get the bikes a bit out and used it to do the Leh local sightseeing, we decided to head to Magnetic hill we tested the bikes to the limit and found few problems with 2 bikes. One of the bikes back wheel was not aligned and was wobbly the other one was turning off as we reached a certain speed.
On the way we taught it would be a good Idea to have a shoot in between the roads and the mountain’s
It was Dhyan’s birthday and we taught to surprize him by celebrating it on the Magnetic hill, as we reached Magnetic Hill we met the Moterhead MC guys with Harley’s heading to Manali. We also met a lot of other bikers with the heart for Leh roads.
Upon reaching the Magnetic Hill all our camera battery which was full drained, I was worried all out data was erased but thank God nothing had happen to the pictures and the Videos. But luckily our phones were working well and we recorded the rest of the day using our phones.
As decided we celebrated Dhyan’s Birthday on the hill, Sachin had carried cakes to celebrate we made sure we did not litter anywhere.
Dumbest thing to do!! But was an awesome experience to keep us from speeding.
On the way back we decided to push our bike (the one with the badly aligned back wheel) to the Max speed we reached around 120 and I spotted a blind turn 200 mts ahead. Dhyan was driving as I was filming with my Sony Xperia Z, Dhyan controlled the bike with the gears as we did not want to skid by using the breaks off the cliff. It was a perfect bend and we controlled the bike by balancing and breaking evenly. Then we decided never to take the bikes above 60.
On the way we decided to go to Shanti Stoopa I was able to take a got Long exposure of an overview of LEH it was less crowded as it was around 8:30pm when we reached.
We also decided to go out for dinner in Leh as it was still Dhyan’s Birthday we went to Hot Pot where the dinner was good and we had late night fun the restaurant was as good as a fine dine and close to the hotel where we stayed. We had already dropped the bikes for service as it did not perform well the mechanic offered the bikes dropped at out hotel doors before 6am the next day.
As we reached hotel by 11:30pm after dinner, we heard the bikes roll in one by one as promised guys did some test run at 12am and as we were already tired and had to leave to Nubra Valley the next day, we called it a day and crashed like cracked eggs on a hot pan.
Day 8 (Nubra here we almost came)
We woke up early and got ready to leave to Nubra as we did not have the petrol can’s to carry the required petrol for all the bikes the guys went shopping early so to know the shops only open by 10am, So we waited for a while for the guys to return by the time all was set it was 12pm. We planned to take a quick group picture and leave.
Went straight to the Leh fuel station and fuelled all our cans we planned to carry 30lts of petrol (which was not at all needed).
Soon we reached South Pullu checkpost where we submitted permits for the bikes and identified ourselves.
On the way we came across a few Australian cyclists trying to reach the highest motorable road in the world, it was great to know there were so many outsiders taking pride in climbing, trekking and biking the death defying roads.
After a while we reached one of our dream location Khardungla Pass, the highest motorable road in the world at the Altitude of 18380 ft, it was around 37km from Leh. The oxygen levels were so low that untrained and unequipped people were requested not to stay on the pass for more than 25 minutes.
We took a lot of pictures and had tea at the pass then decided to leave as we did not want anyone in the team to get unwell, after tea we continued our journey to North Pullu.
The road from Khardungla Pass to North Pullu was bad and it was hard for us to manage riding with a pavilion and extra fuel but till now we were doing fine and did not face any great difficulty. After a while the roads got better.
After a few more bends we reached Khalsar, we had to stop there for a while to see the rushing river after a while we had to wait as there was an convoy of Indian Army trucks (Road Trains) taking over the road, we waited for a little longer and drove to Deskit. We had to hurry as there was heavy clouds above us and I was not in a mood to get drenched.
We reached at our hotel at Diskit at around 7pm. We had our shower and dinner at the hotel and the food was great.
Day 9 (Start of unwell change of plan)
We started our day a bit late as we had been driving for a while and got a well deserving rest. We planned to drive to Hunder. We also had plans to ride camels here.
As planned we drove to Hunder from Diskit, the roads were great and we ended up reaching the location pretty fast. The desert of Hunder is covered with 12ft and above silver sand dunes and tourist from all over come here to relax as Hunder is well known for its Spa, Resorts and the famous camel ride.
We waited for the camels to arrive in the meanwhile we took some pictures, we were told the camels would arrive by 1:30 but they finally showed up at around 3:30pm there was a group of 40+ Camels for the ride.
I was getting dehydrated so decided to skip the camel ride and stayed in the camp taking pictures collecting some HDR images for processing.
After a while the guys returned and we planned to head back to the hotel to relax before proceeding ahead as we had planned to go to the hot water springs at Panamik I for one had an urge to go to the hotel before going any further.
Upon reaching the hotel I felt like taking a quick nap and I got completely dehydrated and was not able to get up. Even the team was not feeling good enough to drive all the way to Panamik. By the time I wokeup it was 8pm and it was a full moon day we had planned to shoot some moon clouds time-lapse we went up to the roof of our hotel and captured some time-lapse for about 30mins followed with dinner and I went back to bed.
Day 10 (Decisions taken that changed our journey and our lives for ever)
I wokeup at around 2am with high fever and thirst for water but was not able to find any so had to climb down 3floors to the front door to find the hotel doors were locked and there was no way I was getting any water until the doors were opened.
Now all I could do is wait till morning for the doors to open. I did try going down twice since then to see if I can find any water we also did not have a phone in our room for room service.
Later at 8am my dear friend Dhyan checked my temp and got some water and tea.
We had to leave early as we had to go to Pangong Lake. I had decided to leave to Leh on a bus and rest there as we already had a hotel holding our bags. But the guys were not willing to let me go alone all the way in my condition.
(Beginning of a new chapter)
So I decided to go on the bike to Sakti (Ser- thi) and then decide to stay or leave to Leh. The road to Sakti from Diskit was bad we decided to take the Wari La road this road was a Heaven for off roaders as there were not well constructed roads and there were a lot of water crossings and rocky curves where we had to get down to push the bike as it would skid on the way up.
It was a difficult road for an unwell soul like me lol.
But the view was absolutely breath taking, I was not able to even remove any of my camera’s as I was too weak and was in much needed rest. But did manage to take a few shots from there.
Finally after a very long and excoriating ride we reached Sakti.
Upon reaching Sakti the team spotted a hospital for my check up, as we entered the hospital the doctor greeted with a smile and took me to the checkup room on the first floor. This lady doctor was well trained and was a professional at what she was doing. I had a sore throat and body ache.
She gave the best tip for sore throat that gave me an immediate relief, she asked me to dissolve a Disprin in a bottle of water 500ml and gargle. That was the best thing that ever worked. The Doc also gave me a list of medicine to get including cough syrup, I asked the doctor where I can find these medicine and she pointed me to the dispensary. Harshad asked me to stay seated and went to get the medicine from thee dispensary which was only two rooms away. As I was sitting Harshad came back with a big smile saying the medicine was free.
We soon came to know all the services and medicine offered by the doctor and the hospital was free. After coming out of the hospital I was not keeping well and was not able to sit on the bike I once again was escorted back to the hospital for bed rest. I also noticed there were no patients in the hospital. That was the only hospital for 2 villages. The doctor asked me to take some rest and sleep for a while the doctor and the nurse came multiple times just to check on me. The nurse were the Best-est I would give 10 out of 10 for the service and support they offered. The hospital was the clean and did not smell like one my sleep there was peaceful as I could hear nothing but the birds and the water stream through my window.
While I was asleep the doctor went out to the guys and asked us all to rest for the day. In the meanwhile Sachin had found a place for us to stay in Sakti for the night. Sachin and Harshad came to pick me up from the hospital after preparing the room for me and helped me move to the new guest house (homestay).
We ended up staying there one night where I lightly recovered, this home stay was just what I wanted and it was great staying at Sakti, this place really changed the way you think as its covered with greenery and wheat fields relaxing you in every way. All you can hear from the windows would be the sweet birds singing and the wind grazing through the wheat fields.
While I was resting the guys went out with the house owner to his prized green peas farm. As they explained the peas were sweet to eat and they also went to a local school where the benches were outside on a garden, as you can see this place has struck me with love I felt like I wanted to stay back there as it had lot more peace.
While the guys enjoyed the land and its fruits, I got a lot of rest and slept.
The guys returned by 8pm and requested for dinner, we had roti, rice, dal and aloo matter we were told 90% of everything we ate was grown there. The food tasted absolute. After I had my dinner I took my medicine and went back to sleep ending my day 10 in heaven.
Day 11 (Beyond our expectations is what we got)
We woke up early morning as the big window panes reflected beautiful yellow sunshine over the wheat fields making our rooms bright yellow. I woke up with a sour throat but I was feeling better and good to travel. We got ready as fast as we could and left our beautiful and magical home stay at 8:30am.
The Owner of the house had a beautiful family and they had taken pretty good care of us and the only way I could say thank you was by taking their pictures as it made them happy.
Hardly 20 mts from the owner’s house one of our bikes slipped and we (genius) ended up breaking our front break.
After leaving Shakti we reached Chang la in less than 2 hours, the ride once again was pleasant till we reached the top of Chang la pass after which the roads were not constructed but we saw BRO (Border road organisation) working on widening and cleaning the road which I am sure will be complete by my next trip.
Chang la at the altitude of 17688ft and is the 3rd highest motorable road in the world. We went into the famous Chang La cafeteria and had Tea with Maggie.
But bad news struck us real fast as one of the bikes I was on was not performing well, this bike had me and all the fuel on it. It finally gave up and broke down 500mts before Tsoltak. The bike stopped responding to the throttle and did not enough power to push the bike with all the luggage.
We went to the Tsoltak TCP Army Traffic control post, where we had FREE tea and refreshment. The Army personals were very kind and offered had in getting our bike fixed. But they did not have the tools to get it fixed.
Then a group of bikers from Ahmed Nagar offered assistance and got the bike starting but it did not stay put but they did try a lot in getting our bikes working.
As it was a warm day and the sun was blazing the Army personals invited us in to the Army resting bunkers and offered us juice and loaded our bags with biscuits. They suggested us to leave the bike and the extra fuel at the camp and continue the one day trip for Pangong with two bikes. The officers also provided us a car with a driver to drop us till the next town Durbuk as the roads were bad to travel on bikes.
We accepted the offer with a smile and 3 of us sat on the car with our bags (we only carried what we needed) and Dhyan and Sachin took the bike all the way. The car that was offered was a Maruti WagonR it was the first car that I saw with a 4000 watt sub-woofer strapped on the back, it was just surprising.
We soon reached Durbuk and said good bye to the army car. We planned to sit 3 on one bike and 2 on the other as we only had 2 bikes now. We continued our journey through the amazing valleys of Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary where we spotted wild horses, marmots and yaks this was a no stop zone and we decided to stick to that rule, but we did spot other cabbies stopping there to feed the animals and spoil the greenery.
After a while we stopped at a water crossing as the water was a bit high there was a truck behind us who encouraged us to go through, we did pass the water crossing successfully once again we spotted a kind soul who offered Harshad ride on the truck till Pangong Tso.
We soon reached the first view of Pangong Lake, this is the place where we could see the first view of Pangong Lake which was 4kms away. Our first view was amazing as we could see the lake as a blue pebble in between the high altitude mountains.
Pangong Tso (Tso-Lake) with the distance of 27km stretching in to China.
After crossing 4kms we reached the world famous Pangong Tso Lake where we had fun in the sun, we also splashed the icy cold water over ourselves, we soon decided to find a camp for the overnight halt we came to know the price for the tents were extreme even if it was the off season. So we decided to go a bit further to find another camping site on the way we encountered another water crossing were the water was knee high and was hard for us to cross behind us there was a Xylo we led the way to the crossing but the big SUV was struggling to cross the water, we decided to throw stones to see if it hurls down, we threw different sized stones and they were carried by the current swiftly and the drop was around 800ft down.
We decided to back off the mighty crossing and stay in the previous tent, we taught to bargain with the tent owners for a better price and to our amazement it worked!
We ended up staying on the beaches facing the Great Pangong Tso Lake. The tests were in great condition with attached toilet and shower room.
It was still a full moon night I decided to take some time-laps and slow shutter shots.
After a while we planned to order dinner (Maggie) and play UNO. This was to be marked as the greatest thing ever was set to be unveiled today. Yea I won UNO
After like 10 games of UNO we decided to go to sleep. We had stayed up late till 12:45 am that night.
Day 12 (Woke up in heaven)
I woke up early the next day and went down to the lake alone for some quiet time, I enjoyed the color changing water and just sat at the shore for a while I was also blesses with an awesome sunrise with the cloud moving swiftly which I did a time-lapse on.
After the amazing quiet time at the shore I decided to join the guys and see if they were up, upon reaching the tent found all the geniuses sleeping and I went back to sleep for another hour. We all woke up at 8:30am and ordered Maggie for breakfast. As the guys were getting ready to visit the Shores of Pangong Tso I finished my breakfast and started taking pictures. I am proud I was fortunate to see the uttermost beauty of Pangong Tso.
We all packed up and prepared to leave to the next destination, on the way back we also were welcomed by the flag hoisting at Pangong Lake. It was majestic to see the Indian flag hovering over the shores of Pangong Tso.
On the way back from Pangong Tso to the Army camp where our damaged bike was parked we encountered yet another difficulty with another bike the bike was behaving the same way it was difficult for the bike to pull as all the bikes were maintained poorly and was not serviced properly.
With great difficulty we got both the bike over the cliffs as there was another bike with 3 people on board it was difficult for both bikes to cut the curves so we decided to send Harshad on the Army Bus till the Tsoltak TCP Army Traffic control post to avoid braking yet another bike.
After having Harshad safely escorted to the bus we continued our journey to a garage where we could fix the bike as one bike did not have any braking as the front break was broken and the back break was not working on the other bike the engine was not powerful to pull 2 people and was lacking power.
After a while we reached 212 FD workshop, this workshop is known to be on the top of the world as it is the Highest FD (four-wheel drive) workshop in the world.
As we entered, the army personals reached out to us with a smile and we told them our difficulty. They immediately acknowledged our issue and modified our broken front break they also helped us in getting the back break fixed.
They were too good and offered us sweet corn soup with halva which tasted absolutely great in the hot sun.
We have to give it up to these guys they struggle in the hottest desert with nothing less than a hope for tomorrow. Hats off to Indian Army !!
Once we got our bikes fixed we headed back to the Tsoltak TCP Army Traffic control post to collect the broken bike so we can send the bike back to Leh.
Upon Reaching Tsoltak, we looked for Harshad we came to know he was feasting with the Army personals. Upon seeing us they once again invited us into the bunker and spoke to us for a while they also had whispered our brunch was getting ready. We all had been travelling from Pangon Tso with empty stomach they sound of any food was out of our hopes but hearing the Army personals preparing lunch for us was the greatest thing ever!!
After a while the Army Chef invited us into the Kitchen Bunker and offered us Lunch. It was Fried rice, Paneer curry and Brinjol pickle. I went for thirds it was the best lunch I had tasted for weeks!
After Lunch everything went well!
After all our bellies were full to the max, then arrived convey of bikers, we soon came to know they were Doctors on a biking trip they also had a mechanic with a truck.
They checked the bikes and found out the sparkplug was bad after replacing the bike started, we were extremely happy we knew that this saved us a lot of time and money getting a dead bike back to Leh.
We also noticed the Army group were also taking joy in seeing the bike coming back to life.
After this achievement we said out good bye to the the Tsoltak TCP Army Traffic control post soldiers left to continue our journey back to Leh. On the way we did face difficulty with the same bike as it still did not have power to push the bike with the fuel and a pavilion.
The bike also slipped on an upper curve just before Chang la we were worried if the bike reversed as it was not on gear if might fall off the cliff, but luckily nothing bad happen and the rider put It on the right side as on he left rested our fuel tank.
After another long ride we reached Chang la took a few more pictures and decided not to stay up there so we could reach Leh to view the sunset.
I could already see the team getting weary and tired trying to get a shut eye. But we continued downhill over the long and never ending roads to heaven (Sakti)
After a while we reached Sakti where we rested and had a tea break.
Then we carried on to Leh. But before the last stop we also wanted to see a Monastery on the way where I was able to capture an HDR image of the Thiksey Monastery.
After a few pictures we reached Leh at around 7pm. As soon as we reached we decided to rent a cab for the next destination Srinigar and Jammu before returning the bike.
After checking for the cab we decided to return the bikes, upon receiving the bikes we were told if there were any difficulty with the bikes the rent would be deducted and we only had to pay the rental.
But the mechanic and the owner were rude and the day we had returned the bike they were drunk and stubborn and did not want to listen anything from us. We also told them the breaks were faulty on all the bikes and we did not receive the tool kit even upon request.
They said that it is normal for the brakes to break and they were not at all corporative with us deciding this is not going anywhere we paid the full amount and said goodbye to their pathetic service.
After that we returned back to the hotel and ended our day.
Day 13 (Respect for the Army, Respect for the Nation)
We woke up a bit late as we were on bikes travelling for almost 5/7 days upon waking up we called the Cab to check what time they would arrive as we were leaving to Jammu, We also were crossing our budget here as the Cab cost us 17,000 for a 750km ride to Srinagar. I noticed an Innova outside our hotel and informed the guys about it thinking that was our ride, but we came to know that was an Innova that was going to Jammu empty. We soon made a deal with the driver and he offered to drop us to Jammu for 14,000 which was way cheaper.
The driver was kind and was happy to see the joyous group. We soon called our old contact and cancelled the old n expensive cab.
We began our journey to Jammu at around 11:30 am, the car was more spacious and comfortable as we were on the bikes for a long time. We had to go through Kargil > Drass > Panikhar > Zozila > Srinagar > Padam and Jammu in order to reach Jammu so we requested the driver to stop us in some of the locations and he was happy to do so.
Our drive took us through the Magnetic hill road as that was the road to Jammu and we remembered our first day bike run along these roads.
The driver was super professional and was very cautious cutting the curves of Leh-Kargil-Srinagar roads like butter.
The roads were new, wide and clean. We were already dreaming for our next bike trip on these roads.
After a four hour drive with no stops we reached Kargil the view was just amazing from the mountain tops and we were able to capture some images from the mountain top. After a while we stopped at S.Seleme restaurant in Kargil the food once again was delicious after munching on our breakfast we decided to take some pictures.
After our Lunch we planned to drop at Kargil memorial. We soon reached Drass and we were all memorized by the beauty of this land.
The ambience inside the Kargil memorial was just too good. We got a special sense of respect entering the wall of Kargil memorial, this was exactly what we wanted as we were already dear with the way the army officers helped us along our journey.
We also listened to army general speaking how we won the war.
After our uplifting patriotic experience we travelled to Panikhar by this time it was late night and finally reached Zojila Pass.
Zojila Pass is known to be the 2nd most dangerous roads on Earth.
Zojila pass is located in Himachal, India. Like the other one, this road is also built by paving the mountain to pass through. What makes it more worse is that this road doesn’t have any fence to protect vehicles from falling to the downhill. When a vehicle crashed in this road, it leads to more number of crashes along side. Besides, there is no way of survival such a lethal accident.
Here are few pictures from google.
Now I have an urge to go there to take pictures as we were not able to see anything there
It was pitch dark but we did come to see the roads were very dangerous.
More information at : http://howtiger.com/the-most-dangerous-roads-on-earth/
There are also plans of All weather roads planning to start construction here to connect Leh and Srinagar throughout the year.
Source: Click Here
After a while we reached Sonamarg where we had a cup of tea and stretched our legs.
Then we reached Srinagar our driver had decided he would drive all night and drop us at Jammu but we were tired sitting and also worried it may strain us so we decided to halt at Srinagar for a night.
Our driver with his contact stopped at a hotel and we rented it out for a night, we did not look for comfort but the room was great with an awesome view seeing the Famous Dal Lake we had our dinner and crashed for the night.
Day 14 (Walk by the Dal Lake, Early morning in Srinagar’s Dal Lake)
We had to wake up at 6am as we were requested by the driver, he said it was good to leave early as we would avoid road trains and early traffic in Srinagar we also had to hurry as there were rigours checks done as we were close to Independence Day August 15th.
I woke up earlier and decided to go to Dal Lake to take some early morning HDR and time-laps and the early morning stroll was amazing.
By the time I finished taking the pictures the team and the driver was ready and were in the car, I hopped into the car and we continued our journey to Jammu.
We soon reached Padam and continued the journey once again the roads to Jammu was amazing tempting us to visit again using bikes.
By afternoon we reached Jammu and to our luck our driver took us to his agency were we inquired about our mode of transportation to Delhi. We had decided to leave to Delhi by train but it would be a hectic ride with all the bags to the station and we took a vote to see if we wanted to travel by a Volvo bus. Yes we all voted to go by bus as it would be way easier than a run to the station.
We paid the agency our cab fare (Leh to Jammu) and booked our bus to Delhi from Jammu.
In the meanwhile we were able to roam the markets of Jammu and yes I was able to take some cool pictures and of course a time laps.
We were asked by the agency to reach the back by 8pm as our bus was a 9pm. As requested we reached back early and to our amazement when we reached the bus there it was we were going on a comfortable Mercedes Benz Bus. As soon as we got on the bus it started raining and on the way the water was knee deep but the Bus had no problem cruising at high speeds over the water as a speed boat. We all could hear the bus swishing over the water.
After a while I fell asleep ending the day 14 swiftly.
Day 15 (Proud to be an Indian, I love my country)
On this amazing day we were in the capital of India, Delhi. We reached Delhi at around 8:30am we were dropped off at the ISBT Kashmiri Gate. We decided to take a rickshaw to Delhi Metro. To our amazement Delhi had announced free metro services on August 15th that was a blessing we did not waste any time and jumped on the metro leaving to Gurgaon.
We had a flat in Gurgaon as one of Dhyan’s friend had invited us to stay. But I had plans to visit my sister Monalisa Rai in Delhi.
Once I reached the flat I recharged the battery’s and packed up the gear for a day shoot and went to meet Monalisa at the Select City Walk shopping mall.
As we reached the station we were planning to have lunch, we decided to go to Chilli’s Restaurant in the mall. The food was good but the quantity was more than what we had expected but all in all good service.
I had also asked the guys to meet me in the evening so we could return to Gurgaon together later that night. But things took a turn as we planned to party all night and I ended up staying near my sister’s place and decided to leave to the station early.
We went home took a few more shots/pictures and went to sleep ending out 15th day.
Day 16 (Run we can still catch the train, we have pulled the emergency breaks ?)
I woke up early as 6am as I had a train to catch and even if I was staying closer to the station I decided to leave early. My sister and brother also wanted to drop me off to the station in case we miss the train we planned to party :p.
Our train was scheduled to leave at 9:30am and I with my brother and sister reached the station at 8am as it was only a 20 min ride from home. As we were waiting we saw the train and decided to sit inside the train waiting for the guys. I only had one bag (my handy camera backpack) to carry. As we were waiting we took some pictures inside the train trying to spend off the time but it was around 9:00am and I was already worried for the guys as they left Gurgaon late and was nowhere near the train.
In the meanwhile, I called them a million time to check on if they were on the right track. They were close but with a really slow rickshaw driver. The time was around 9:25am when my sister said lets stand out just in case they don’t make it we will be out she also asked me to take my bag with me so in case they don’t make it I don’t lose my expensive gadgets.
I decided to listen to my sister and took my bad and got out of the train, waiting for the guys was the worst feeling as I was worried if the guys were already on the train climbing from the front or any other side of the train, I would be the only one stranded in Delhi.
But the time was really short at 09:31am I heard the train horn blow and the TT waving the green flag, my sister tells me if they are late lets pull the chain stopping the train. I the genius took it as a joke. As soon as the train starts moving I see 2 guys running to catch the train they all carrying 3 heavy bags each climbing over the over bridge, the train was already in good speed and it was also a nonstop train.
It was a sign of relief seeing the guys running on the over bridge I now knew that no one was on the train and relaxed seeing the guys with 11 bag running to catch a speedy train haha they were nowhere close to the train. By the time they climbed down the bridge the train was long gone.
We waited for a little longer and 2 other guys come running looking for the train for me it was a funny site as I was in the train 30minuts early and seeing the train move right in front of my eyes was somehow funny.
After a while all the guys gathered together and taught to catch at the next station which was impossible as we had to travel almost 20kms and the train may have crossed the station. We went to the service desk and they tell me that we could have PULLED THE CHAIN as it was a valid reason. I never knew that.
Any how we had to go to Mumbai as me and Dhyan had a flight from Mumbai to Bangalore. We sat in the station for a bit longer and my genius sister asked us to book a flight ticket to Mumbai.
We immediately asked my brother to check for the price and to our amazement the price was cheap we could travel to Mumbai for a lesser cost than train. We immediately booked 5 tickets over the phone in the railway station and left to the airport as our flight was at 4pm from Delhi to Mumbai.
I also had to say bye to my sister and brother as they were leaving for home.
We reached the airport at 1pm decided to relax there for a while till our flight.
We reached Mumbai airport at 5:30pm and said bye to Sachin, Priyanka and Harshad as they were heading back to Pune. After the goodbyes I and Dhyan decided to look for a hotel to spend the night as we were super tired, we were also hungry and before we started to hunt for hotels we had out dinner at a good restaurant.
We went looking for hours after searching for almost 3 hours we found a hotel in Mumbai and rested well as our next flight to Bangalore was on the next day at 1pm. As soon as we reached our rooms we washed up and crashed ending our day 16 extremely exhausted.
Day 17(Home here I come…..)
We woke up late enjoying our hotel and the relaxing bed behind our backs, we were lazy to wake up as our flights were at 1pm we were not in the mood to get up before at least 11am. After some time I woke up to write the blog and backup my images on my safety backup drives. After which we got ready for our flights we also decided to walk for a while enjoying whatever Mumbai had to offer. We took a rickshaw and reached the airport before 12pm I could see Dhyan resting well as I continued editing the blogs.
After a while Dhyan got Lunch from our faithful KFC which we attacked well and boarded our flight to Bangalore.
It was a quick flight, the view of Mumbai from my window was amazing saying goodbye to Mumbai we reached Bangalore in an hour and 45 minutes. The moment we reached Bangalore we were hit by cold winds welcoming us into Bangalore.
This trip took us from:
Bangalore > Pune > Delhi > Chandigarh > Manali > Marhi > Rohtang pass > Keylong > Stngri > Jispa Dercha > Zingzingbar > Baralachala Kilingsarai > Sarchu > Nubra Valley South Pullu > Khardungla Pass > Khalsar > Deskit > Hunder > Sakti (Ser- thi) > Wari La > Chang la > Tsoltak > Durbuk > Pangong Tso > Kargil > Drass > Panikhar > Zojila > Srinagar > Padam and Jammu- Kashmir > Delhi > Gurgaon > Mumbai > Bangalore.
Bus, Train, Car, Cab, Camel, Plane, Bikes, Taxi and Rickshaw’s
Total Distance covered:
Total Time taken:
17 days (August 1st to the 17th) 2014
All in all:
We enjoyed the experience of a lifetime travelled to the uttermost regions meeting and greeting along the way, I am glad I will be able to scratch this off my bucket list !
I can’t wait to visit back but next time when it is freezing cold just to experience the extreme cold and the peace offered by the Land.