MANALI TO LEH
Members: Selvam Sridharan, Pradesh Raj, Sridhar, Nithya, Arun, Venu, Prathik
Bike: Royal enfield 500cc
About the Destination
Leh was the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, now the Leh district is in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Leh district, with an area of 45,110 km2, is the second largest district in the country, after Kutch, Gujarat (in terms of area). The town is dominated by the ruined Leh Palace, the former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh, built in the same style and about the same time as the Potala Palace-the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India, during the 1959 Tibetan uprising. Leh is at an altitude of 3,524 metres (11,562 ft), and is connected via National Highway 1D to Srinagar in the southwest and to Manali in the south via the Leh-Manali Highway. In 2010, Leh was heavily damaged by the sudden floods caused by a cloud burst.
Day 01: Arrival in Manali
We arrived in Manali by 12 pm on road and after checking us in into a hotel, the road captain briefed us on the route and day-wise plan. We also got to meet our co-riders. This day was basically reserved for us to rest and to acclimatize to the high altitude and physical excursion that awaitedus ahead.
Day 02: Riding practice in Manali
So this day was primarily meant to accustom ourselves and for us to get the hang of riding a Royal Enfield on the varied terrain of the Himalayas and be ready for the ride of your life. If you need any adjustments to be done, the mechanic will take care of it once we return to the hotel.
Day 03: Manali to Keylong
We woke up early in the morning to ride on the world's highest road - the Manali-Leh highway. The destination isKeylong.... which is the administrative centre of the Lahaul and Spiti district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, 126 km (78 miles) north of Manali and 120 km (75 mi) from the Indo-Tibetan border. It is located along the Manali-Leh Highway, about 7 km (4.3 mi) north-east of intersection of the Chandra Valley, the Bhaga Valley, and the Chenab Valley; on the banks of Bhaga River.
As soon as you leave Manali, the climb for the 13,051 feet high Rohtang Pass starts. After Rohtang, the road descends into the Chandra valley, passing through Khoksar and on to Tandi and Keylong. The night stay is at a hotel in Keylong. The road above shows the frozen path that could be a death trap if proper caution and dedication is not taken all along the ride!
Day 04: Keylong to Sarchu
Keylong to Sarchu was a ride from the lush green landscape to the stark moonscape which Ladakh is famous for. A very scenic ride passing through small lakes, waterfalls and streams. You also cross your second high altitude pass -Baralach La - at 16,500 feet. Our night stay today is in Swiss tents with attached toilets at Sarchu.
Sarchu is a major halt point with tented accommodation in the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway, on the boundary between Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) in India. It is situated between Baralacha La to the south and Lachulung La to the north, at an altitude of 4,290 m (14,070 ft).
Row of Tents at Sarchu
The journey along the Manali-Leh highway at high altitude and variable road conditions, normally takes two days, so travellers and tourists use this spot as an overnight stop. An Indian army camp is sited nearby on the banks of the Tsarap Chu river. The highway and thus the camps are closed during the winter, when snow blocks the high passes along the road.
This spot can also be used as a start point for the difficult trek into the Zanskar region of Ladakh.
Day 05: Sarchu to Leh
Undoubtedly the best stretch on the Manali-Leh highway, this section of the Manali-Leh highway will feel as if you're on a roller coaster ride climbing up and down from one Himalayan pass to another. You ride up and down three high altitude passes, Lachlung La (16,616 feet), Nakee La (15,547 feet) and Taglang la (17,480 feet), the second highest motorable pass in the world. We finish the days ride in the ancient city of Leh.
Day 06: Rest in Leh
As we reach our destination Leh! Today you take a breather from the gruelling ride wehave had from Manali. We very leisurely explored the various parts of the Leh city, like the Namgyal Palace, Tibetan market, Shanti Stupa and various monasteries. The so called Gem to the crown of Himalayas was indeed breath taking and astonishing. Did not fail to mesmerize us with its quality.
Day 07: Leh - Pangong Tso lake
Today we rode through the third highest motorable pass in the world, the Chang La pass at 17,586 feet. After the descent from Chang La, the magical plains of Changthang open up. But the real treat is the 135 km long Pangong Tso lake. Today, we stayed on the banks of the beautiful Pangong Tso. Pangong Tso is a lake in the high grass lands! Tso refers to remnants of lakes which were once structural and not any more!
Day 08: Pangong Tso lake to Hunder
We rode on one of the remotest routes of Ladakh made especially for the Indian Army, which connects Pangong lake to Nubra Valley bypassing Leh. The destination we headed was toHunder! It is located in the Nubra tehsil, on the bank of Shyok River. The Hunder Monastery is located here. Hunder was once the capital of former Nubra kingdom. This route was washed away in a cloud burst in 2010. Parts of it are still not rebuilt. With various stream crossings, riding on dry riverbeds, smooth tarmac and switchbacks, it truly is a religious experience for an adventure rider.
Day 09: Hunder to Leh
Well our ride back to Leh was through the road that takes you to the highest motorable pass in the world - Khardung La - at 18,380 feet. In spite of the altitude, the ride today took us on some of the smoothest roads so far and the landscape also becomes grand. After a steep and tough ascend and celebrations at Khardung La pass, we descended back towards Leh. The celebration of riding a Royal Enfield on the highest point possible might have stopped but the feeling of gust winds on our hair never did. Every thrill seeker needs to rush through the landscape of the highest motorable road ever made…!!
Day 10: Leave from Leh
All good things come to an end ! So did the most exhilarating road trip around the Himalayan region of Leh! Today was the day to bid farewell to the Himalayas and our riding buddies and headed home after a ride of a lifetime and memories for generations to talk about!We don’t know if we will ride this route again but our young hearts seek for these thrills and one must forever be in debt to the nature the mother Earth has for us for showcasing it’s beauty in such forms that only a serene seeker would understand. Even though the difficulties of travelling through the harshest roads didn’t seem so tough for the end result gave us the peace and serenity we sought after.