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Old 7th September 2013, 16:21   #1
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Default A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh

For all the positive changes that my transfer from Delhi to Hyderabad brought, I had but one regret: My distance from the Himalayas.

Since childhood, I have never been so far from them. I spent 9 years in Delhi, and I would run off to the Himalayas to catch myself, as often as possible. I can still visualize the early morning mist in the forests around Haridwar, the drive up to Ranikhet to catch a glimpse of the Trishul (Three consecutive peaks close to Nanda Devi ).

One such snap from the collection. Please excuse the quality.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-himalayas.jpg

Even the small forest around Binsar was a haven, though Corbett, right at the foothills, served as a nice quite holiday and connection with the natural world. But most of all was a small Ashram tucked away in the mountains beyond Ranikhet. It provided my soul the rest it sought and the resolve needed to meander on, with my city life and duties. I hope that my Himalayan connection continues beyond this life.

Corbett Forest
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-trees.jpg

Tiger-Tiger! (A dear friend, snapped through the trees)
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-heera.jpg
This gentleman since then has moved to Canada, otherwise he would have been a part of this trip.



In terms of reprieve, the nicely written travel threads on the forum were my big support. Through the photographs and penned thoughts I have enjoyed and connected with the mountains.One day, after reading a Ladakh travelogue put up by Amolpol, I had a distinct urge to follow my heart back to the Himalayas and that too on a bike. This started off a search for a suitable bike and I ended up with the Thunderbird 500. Then started the process of getting the riding gear, sleeping bags, tent, etc. Additionally, with the help of mobike008, I was able to join the local Bullet gang: Wanderers, and got lessons in group riding. Took a few solo bike journeys on my own too, to get the hang of the bike and trying out the saddle bags and other stuff. I psyched up my old friend from college, here on referred to as Harinder, to buy the same bike and accompany me on the trip. Well, he did not require much convincing as he is a friend.

Harinder:
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-sonu.jpg

A very jovial Sardar (though not carefree), Harinder has many facets to his personality. I know for a fact that he will stand up for you in the most challenging of situations. I was once rounded up by three young, tall and well built men for offending them in some way in traffic. Harinder surprised me and showed them what a punch he packs. No further details on the forum are necessary…


Please excuse the digressions and long introduction.

It was decided that we would leave in August as by then the monsoon would have waned, hence less water crossings, better road conditions and comparatively fewer tourists. My bike was booked and transported to Jalandhar through Agarwal movers and packers as there was no direct train between Hyderabad and Jalandhar. Harinder received the bike and got it serviced.
As the time got nearer, we both were getting excited and edgy. In the last few days we would speak to each other daily and keep checking on our preparations By the beginning of August, we were both behaving like two excited kids, who could hardly control their chatter. My family would often smile at me patronizingly, as I was just thinking, talking and doing things related to the trip (no, there was not much to do actually, except day dream)

The bike
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-img_3902.jpg

What day dreams (Could not) conjure
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-light.jpg



Finally it was D-Day and I arrived in Jalandhar on the 7th of August, by the Shatabdhi. We decided to leave the same day even though it was already afternoon. Hurriedly, loading our bikes, we argued about some of the odd stuff that we were packing: Gas stove, lots of noodles, utensils, camera tripod and so on. Harinder lives in a joint family with his parents and three brothers. A very closely knit family, they were all at home to see us off. That means: three brothers, wives, kids and parents (about 15 odd people). It was quite an experience for me and I was enjoying all the attention. Everybody in the family had watched our chaotic loading and did their best to add to the confusion with their own advise. It was 4 p.m by the time we cut loose.

Family looks on as a friend comes along to sees us off till the city limits
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This friend in the middle is called "Teela", which is Punjabi for stick. The name comes from his bare bones frame.

It was a beautiful drive through the fields of Punjab, stretching till the horizon. Planning to ride as far as daylight would carry us, we drove with an urgency to cover whatever distance we could (never cruising beyond 80 kmph). As we passed through small towns, people stared at us curiously wondering where these two bikers in astronaut’s clothing and loaded bikes could be headed. The stares would slowly ease as we would enter Kashmir, where people are more used to all kinds of crazy tourists.

It was dusk when we entered a small town called Samba, and decided to stay there, having covered 160 Kms for the day. We found a small hotel on the highway itself. While the hotel was not clean and the room was shabby, it had an attached bathroom, a fan, a TV and an AC to boot! We laughed to ourselves at getting this set up for just Rs. 500 and happily ignored the less than basic upkeep. Took out our stove and cooked Maggi for dinner. The first day had been easy, riding through the plains and we were wondering how the bikes and our bodies would perform on the next leg of the journey. With approximately 300 Kms on the road next day, it was the longest planned leg of the whole trip.

Though the intent was to leave very early we got up realising that we were in the middle of the adventure that we had so much wanted. And we sat in the balcony and chatted over a cup of tea. It was 7.30 by the time we had loaded our bikes. It was already getting warm and a bit stuffy under the jacket and pants. We pushed off at 7.40 am.
Last minute touches:
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-samba.jpg

The seed to a small mishap was sown here. If you notice in the photograph above, the buckle on my bike (to the left) is hanging open and loose. We had already covered 20 odd kilometres when Harinder saw the loose buckles and honked me down. Too late! The buckle had got entangled in the spokes and the whole belt had been pulled and ripped out. Luckily, the bag had not moved an inch from it's position and nothing had fallen out. Close inspection of the bag revealed that the belt had been ripped clean off the hard and thick fabric of the bag, without causing any furhter damage. I was worried as this was really the start of the journey and I was not sure if the bags would hold up. We tied the top flap of the bag with a bungee cord. To the credit of the saddle bags they held up superbly in the face of rough roads, dirt, water, rains, never being ruffled, thankfully. Just to put it in perspective, we took off the bags only once during the whole trip, rest of the time they just hung there and we never had to make any adjustments to the belts even after long rough journeys.

Not many photographs of this day as we focused on the climb, it being a hot August afternoon.

Taking a short break, Harinder rests on the mat
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-sonu-resting.jpg

Eventually we crossed the Banihal tunnel and got our first glimpses of the Kashmir valley. We crossed many small towns on the way which had completely chaotic traffic and jammed crossings. The roads are being widened and in a state of perpetual construction zone, strewn with road rollers, drums and lot of dust. I had kept my mobile in the upper pocket of my riding jacket. At one stop when I took it out it was covered in many layers of dust. We both laughed and wondered how much dust we would have eaten.
We entered Srinagar at about 4.30 pm. The stay was with family friends of Harinder. Again a family of Sardars, the hospitality was impeccable. After being forced to gource on a variety of snacks, we took a shower and went out for the evening. Our host took us around the Dal lake, where we enjoyed some fresh corn and then to the local club. It was late evening when we sat down in the sprawling lawn of the club. I could not help being nostalgic, having spent a part of my childhood in the city. The tall and wide Chinars whispered familiar sounds as the wind stirred the leaves. I was engulfed with a grief that I did not know was still alive, inside me. As my gaze rested on the huge Chinar we were sitting close to, I was thinking of my school days in the valley. Plucking apples from trees in the University campus, cycling and then resting under the shade of a giant Chinar, taking the shikara for a picnic out on one of the islands. Or just sitting by the Dal lake staring at the stillness of things and wondering if I could sit there forever. With a heavy heart I realized that my valley days were over and I could not settle back there in this life time.

As we headed back, I could see the lights from the mountain top temple called Shankaracharya and sent out a prayer for peace in the valley.

We were both feeling lazy the next morning and really enjoying all the pampering that we were being given by our hosts.

Late risers, start preparations
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-srinagar.jpg

It was 11 a.m. when we finally got ourselves together and ready to be parted with the affectionate hospitality. There was a confrontation between the locals and the security forces because of which we had to take a longish detour around the city. But the weather was much better than what we had experienced during the ride, yesterday, and we tried to catch up on the lost time.

At Dal Lake
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-dal.jpg

We were planning to reach Kargil or stay at Dras if we got late. I had been given the responsibility of taking photographs and admittedly, I was being lazy. Taking photographs meant: Stop, take off your gloves, helmet, Balaclava, open the tank bag, take out the camera bag, take out the camera from it, click picture and then follow the whole process in reverse. So Harinder gave me very friendly dressing down (Which means he shouted abused and short of kicking me did everything to get my lazy mind “Clicking”), and I felt like a lazy guard dog who has been woken up in the middle of the night by a cat scratching the dog’s sensitive nose with it’s sharp claws. So then on, photographs were aplenty!

We were surprised by the quality of the roads and how easily we covered the first 100 kilometres. A bit more relaxed, we made a couple of stops for snaps.

Stop for taking in the cool air, last year's snow, shepherds and meadow
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-2-bikes.jpg

Just before Dras
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-sonu-dras.jpg

The lunch stop at Dras was at a simple Dhaba run by an affable, large man. We ordered Rajma-Roti and got chatting with the owner and a police officer who had stopped by for a smoke. Kind people. It was learnt that days are long in these parts and dusk falls at about 7.45 pm. That gave us ample time to reach Kargil, within daylight.

Until now, we had not felt any signs of AMS and we were hoping, a bit nervously, that all goes well. To be safe, we drank a lot of water from the camelbak bags on our backs. By the way, these are a blessing, you do not need to stop, take helmet and gloves off. Just put the pipe in your mouth, bite and drink. An asset on a long drive and highly recommended.

Our next stop was at the Kargil Memorial. The army maintains this as well as a small snacks shop next to the entry gates. We could see Tiger hill in the distance, the point of a fierce battle during the '99 war.

View from the entrance of the memorial.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-memorial-1.jpg
Just to give you an idea of the size of the big flag in the middle, look at how big the people look at the bottom of the flag. Yes, very big flag. When I stood underneath, I could hear a loud menacing flutter.

Tiger Hill
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-tiger-hill.jpg

Last edited by Insearch : 7th September 2013 at 21:04. Reason: Spelling and Grammar
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Old 7th September 2013, 23:25   #2
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Default Re: A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh

Thread moved from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 8th September 2013, 13:16   #3
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Originally Posted by Insearch View Post

We were planning to reach Kargil or stay at Dras if we got late. I had been given the responsibility of taking photographs and admittedly, I was being lazy. Taking photographs meant: Stop, take off your gloves, helmet, Balaclava, open the tank bag, take out the camera bag, take out the camera from it, click picture and then follow the whole process in reverse. So Harinder gave me very friendly dressing down (Which means he shouted abused and short of kicking me did everything to get my lazy mind “Clicking”), and I felt like a lazy guard dog who has been woken up in the middle of the night by a cat scratching the dog’s sensitive nose with it’s sharp claws. So then on, photographs were aplenty!
Nice photographs though they were less in numbers. And Harinder has done the right thing I feel (if that is what it takes to get more photographs ).

I have two ladakh TL's open in my PC and boy, I do enjoy seeing that place over and over again. Waiting for more snaps.

Drive safe.

Cheers
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Old 8th September 2013, 18:36   #4
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Nice photographs though they were less in numbers. And Harinder has done the right thing I feel (if that is what it takes to get more photographs ).

I have two ladakh TL's open in my PC and boy, I do enjoy seeing that place over and over again. Waiting for more snaps.

Drive safe.

Cheers
Thanks Voyageur! Next instalment will be posted late tonight, so do log in, tomorrow morning ...
Regards,
Insearch
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Old 9th September 2013, 04:32   #5
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Continuing from the last post:

There was a small contingent of soldiers in the main sanctum, practicing a salute under the watchful eye of their officer.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-guard.jpg

The huge Plaque, with names of our martyrs embossed on it.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-memorial-board.jpg

From the museum at the venue
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-arms.jpg



We arrived in Kargil after 6 and started our hunt for a hotel. After checking out a couple of places which were rejected due to parking issues for the bikes, we headed to hotel D’Zojila, which was highly recommended on tripadvisor.com. They were full and we were guided to another hotel owned by them. Apologies but I do not remember the name right now. It is a very new property and faces the river Suru (tributary of the Indus ). We were shown a room overlooking the river, which we really liked. Our bikes were given a secure parking. All this for 2500/-.

We settled down into the easy chairs in the room, sipping on hot tea and biting into sandwiches, chirping about the day's experience. We were finding the landscape to be very odd. Most of it had been barren and sandy. Till now (before this trip), we had only been exposed to mountains covered in greenery. To us, Kargil was appearing like a town built in the middle of mounds of sand and huge, barren rock surfaces. Then in the middle of all this starkness, you have a river which has greenery, hugging its banks. After scratching our heads a few times, we decided to just enjoy the sound of the river below and rest our minds and body. It was a bright sunny morning, next day, and we felt fresh to get up and leave early. After refueling the bikes we were on our way. Today we reach Leh!

Kargil town
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-resized-kargil.jpg

We drove on for about an hour+ before making the next photo stop. This (below) rock face amazed us no end. We wondered how many thousands of years it would have taken for the wind and rain to carve it the way we saw it now.

For scale: spot the three men middle right of the monolith
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-pillar.jpg


Such projections can be seen throughout this route. It seems that some parts of the mountain are harder and are left standing, while the rest of the surface erodes faster and the mountain retreats further back.

We marvel at the ride that brought us here
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-bike-marvel.jpg

The mile stone in the picture shows the distacne to Namik La pass. We decided to stop for a cup of coffee when we reached/crossed the pass.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-namikla-13.jpg

In less than 20 minutes, we had reached what appeared to be the crest of the valley. Harinder cheerfully called in a halt and we took out our stove to make some coffee.

our stove:
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-stove.jpg

making adjustments
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-sonu-stove.jpg

A Scorpio stopped close to us and a couple got down to take some snaps. We shared our coffee with them and their friendly, local driver. While chatting with us, they asked us how bikes had behaved on the climb through Zojila pass. We were both a bit dazed and wondered as to when we had crossed Zojila. Harinder’s jaw closed faster than mine and he muttered something about the bikes doing just fine. While he continued the conversation, my brain went into a tizzy. In my mind Zojila was supposed to be the most challenging part of the Srinagar-Leh route. I felt like a child, who is scared of an injection and then does not even feel/realize the actual moment of the needle hitting the skin, because he was too distracted by the ice cream that he was busy licking. Not a good feeling.

After the couple left, Harinder walked up to me and asked, “What the heck was that?” As we discussed and tried to figure out Zojila, it dawned on us that yesterday, we had crossed a rough patch of road with a narrow width and a steep climb. That was Zojila! The realization brought along with it an appreciation for our bikes, which had climbed up so smoothly that we did not fully appreciate the terrain. This gave us a lot of confidence and we were more relaxed from here on during the whole trip. If we could do Zojila without an effort, we could sit back and enjoy the ride while the bikes took care of whatever the route threw at us. Off we went, with a little more wind in our sails.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-namika-la.jpg


In just an hour we reached from Namik La to Fatu La pass.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-fotu-la.jpg


We would not have stopped at Fatu La, except that it was the first time on this route that we saw a crowd, so to speak.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-sonu-fotu.jpg


A group of friends travelling together, in a Scorpio, decided to snap themselves on our bikes.

Hope you do not ride off
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-biker-fotu-la.jpg

After this, the roads started winding downwards and Harinder took the lead. He is an excellent rider and I was facing a slight challenge in keeping up with him. Pushing the bike out of the corners and then breaking hard into the approach, for the next one, I was using too much of the rear discs. This is not at all a recommended style and I paid the price. My rear break gave up. Completely! Luckily I realized it as soon as it happened and used engine breaking along with the front break to bring the bike under control. We made a 15 minute stop to give the cylinders time to cool down and the bite came back. After this, I reverted to the traditional style of breaking and never had an issue again, throughout the whole trip (Traditional style= Engine breaking+ front breaking, if required, and rear break only when very necessary).

The roads started widening and the turns were less sharp. As a result we were pushing the bikes sometimes into the 3 digit range. Most of the roads were oven fresh and stood out against the bare landscape, like black on a brown canvas. We had an exhilarating drive as we had gained in confidence over the past few days, and leaned into corners with panache. A quick stop was made to capture the landscape on camera:
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-bikes-horizon.jpg

Harinder tries out the dunes
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-1-bike-other.jpg

Sharukh Khan enticing the trucks?
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-sharukh-khan.jpg

Are we on the moon?
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-dune-both-bikes.jpg


Both, ourselves and the bikes, were feeling the effects of the rarified air. We would feel winded if we did any strenuous activity, while the bikes were generally showing higher RPMs than normal. We focused on drinking a lot of water, which had been the recurring advice to us. This meant more stops which also helped the bikes cool down.

At one such stop, we checked our mobiles, which had not been working throughout the day. We were getting faint signals and it was time to make an important call. Two of my friends from the financial services industry had flown into Leh the previous day and were waiting for us. We planned to go beyond Leh together, except that they would be in a hired Innova and we would continue on our bikes. They decided to hire bikes for the day and meet us at Gurudwara Pathar Saheb.

We made a brief stop at magnetic hill and sped on towards our friends, the Gurudwara and Leh city.
Attached Thumbnails
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-magnetic.jpg  

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Old 9th September 2013, 11:44   #6
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Fantastic TL So far Anurag, waiting for you to pen in the rest. Looks like you guys had a wonderful and the bikes have held up very well so far. Good to know that the Zozila Pass was dispatched with no issues.

Suppose the Leh is loosing its appeal as a hardcore terrain and turning out to be a medium difficult.
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Old 9th September 2013, 12:13   #7
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See...I remember telling you to not to worry whether the bike can endure the Ladakh terrain or not. For a single rider, it's no trouble doing Ladakh at all though the equation changes when you have a pillion and luggage since you can feel the bike struggling on the hairpin bends even with a full throttle on first gear. Although, I still maintain that the Bullet/Thunderbird is probably the only comfortable bike for a pillion.

Riding with a buddy is much more better than going as a part of some convoy with support vehicles etc. You're pretty much free to decide what you want to do and enjoy the time versus having a schedule to follow.

Good to see that you completed the trip in the first year of ownership. Happy riding!
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Old 9th September 2013, 23:09   #8
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Originally Posted by ku69rd View Post
Fantastic TL So far Anurag, ..

Suppose the Leh is loosing its appeal as a hardcore terrain and turning out to be a medium difficult.
Thanks!
And I still consider myself a novice, so if I can do it then I guess it would be a shade lower than medium . Maybe we were just plain lucky and did not have any major event with the machines or terrain (rains, land slides, etc).
By the way you were planning a long ride...?
And how about that meetup?

Quote:
Originally Posted by amolpol View Post
See...I remember telling you to not to worry whether the bike can endure the Ladakh terrain or not. For a single rider, it's no trouble doing Ladakh at all though the equation changes when you have a pillion and luggage since you can feel the bike struggling on the hairpin bends even with a full throttle on first gear.
Yes I remember your answers, especially the one on the Classic 500 thread, after I had posted a query. You were absolutely right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amolpol View Post
Riding with a buddy is much more better than going as a part of some convoy with support vehicles etc. You're pretty much free to decide what you want to do and enjoy the time versus having a schedule to follow.

Good to see that you completed the trip in the first year of ownership. Happy riding!
Bingo! As a part of the Ladakh preparations, I used to ride with the local Hyderabad bulleteers. While it is a thrilling experience, but unless you have strong bonds, the riders drift apart over longer rides and smaller groups start forming. I have realised that for such a long ride, one should be only with a very close knit group of friends.
And yes, being close friends, we could simply veto the plan and do what we liked.
Thanks for the wise counsel.


Coming back to the thread:

From the Magnetic hill it was only a short distance till the Gurudwara and we met our friends with open arms. It was overwhelming to be recieved by friends so many miles away from our home turf.
Time to introduce our two friends Sandhir and Rajan.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-friends.jpg

Sandhir is on the left and Rajan on the right, with Harinder in the middle. Sandhir is basically from Delhi, and lives in Mumbai. I have not met any other Delhite who is half as gullible as this man. Rajan is the CEO of a European financial institution. Unusually humble, he speaks in whispers and will express substantial thoughts with the weight of a feather in the tone.


The Gurudwara is maintained by the army and 8-10 army personnel are posted there at all times. It was nice to see the presence of a spiritual abode in the middle of the desert, just like an oasis.

Guru Nanak had come from this route on his way back from Tibet. There was a person who was evil and resided on the hill overlooking the Gurudwara. He had pushed down a boulder from the hill top, towards the saint sitting in meditation. It is said that the speeding boulder hit the Guru from behind and melted like wax in the place where it came in touch with the saint’s body. Hence the name of the shrine.

Inside the sanctum sanctorum.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-gurujis-back.jpg

Heading back to Leh.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-united.jpg

Our accommodation was in a resort that stood just outside the main city. It was a quiet, peaceful, tented accommodation. The next day was planned to be a day of rest and local sightseeing in Leh. With time on our hands we all gathered in the large tent and enjoyed each other’s company.

The tents.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-tent-inside.jpg

Pretty comfortable, with TV and attached bathrooms. Though TV was a strict no-no for all of us.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-tent-inside-bathroom.jpg

Next morning, me and Rajan stepped out for an early morning walk. It was slightly cloudy with a hint of chill in the air. Some snaps:

A village, caught in the play of light and shade
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-landscape-man-front.jpg

Another view, next to a small cozy house
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-rajan-landscape.jpg


I think this is a Magpie, resting and soaking in the sun
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-magpie.jpg

Another little bird
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-red-bird.jpg


Back at the resort, sharing...
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-sharing-snaps.jpg

The afternoon was spent lazily moving about in the main market. There is a famous German bakery and we tried out their Apple pie plus a couple of other preparations. Delicious stuff! While we had no plans to buy anything, we just kept moving in and out of shops, looking for excuses to interact with the locals.

A shop's Facade
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-shop-front.jpg

Street scenes: Women chatting
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-women-chatting.jpg

A vendor on the footpath
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-vendor.jpg


I have always liked the prayer flags that Buddhists put up on the passes and in general everywhere else too, as a prayer and blessing. We bought two miniature versions and these were put on our bikes.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-prayer-flags.jpg

Lunch was at an open roof top joint with a lot of psychedelic paintings on the walls. Though I do know that the weed is very popular on the Manali side, Leh was a surprise. The very clear, non-polluted environment along with the clear skies meant that the sun really stared at you and we chose to sit under a covered part of the restaurant. This monastery, over looking the market was snapped from there.

A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-monastery-far-shot.jpg

Closer up
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-monastery-close-up.jpg

Last edited by Insearch : 9th September 2013 at 23:10.
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Old 9th September 2013, 23:45   #9
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Just to give you an idea of the size of the big flag in the middle, look at how big the people look at the bottom of the flag. Yes, very big flag. When I stood underneath, I could hear a loud menacing flutter.



.....................goosebumps moment, isn't it ?

That's the sound of freedom.............fills you heart with pride, and gratitude for those who aren't here amongst us, but because of whom you can still hear the flutter of the tricolour in a place like this !

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Old 10th September 2013, 16:52   #10
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One more inspiration !!. Firstly, congratulations on getting Leh'd. I am getting drawn closer than ever on reading your thumping travelogue my friend.

I feel absolutely motivated on reading your experience, hope to get Leh'd very soon.

Keep it thumping for us

Cheers,
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Old 10th September 2013, 20:02   #11
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I can understand you clearing Zojilla, but how could you miss the boards and taking a photo there

Nice write up till now. Congratulations for having completed the trip and getting this up online so soon...If you were lazy in taking Pictures, I was Lazy in writing my TBHP travelogue

I see that the Kargil memorial has got a makeover, Like the martyrs names are now on a golden metal plaque which was earlier on the same sand stone (I liked the sand stone ones better). Also the many number of flags on both sides of the road to the big flag. Were those permanent installations or temporary?
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Old 10th September 2013, 20:30   #12
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OMG!! that is one awesome review. Kudos to your narration. With so many travelogues pouring in on the forum, one is left wondering which spot to attack first.
The miniature flag looks really good on the Enfield (aka the BULT)
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Old 11th September 2013, 01:21   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hemanth.anand View Post
I can understand you clearing Zojilla, but how could you miss the boards and taking a photo there


I see that the Kargil memorial has got a makeover, Like the martyrs names are now on a golden metal plaque which was earlier on the same sand stone (I liked the sand stone ones better). Also the many number of flags on both sides of the road to the big flag. Were those permanent installations or temporary?
I guess we were too focussed on the road and trying to avoid a fall into the deep ravine .
The flags may have been put up as a precursor to 15th August celebrations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeClutch 4X4 View Post
One more inspiration !!. Firstly, congratulations on getting Leh'd. I am getting drawn closer than ever on reading your thumping travelogue my friend.

I feel absolutely motivated on reading your experience, hope to get Leh'd very soon.

Keep it thumping for us

Cheers,
Thanks DeClutch!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Utopian View Post
OMG!! that is one awesome review. Kudos to your narration. With so many travelogues pouring in on the forum, one is left wondering which spot to attack first.
The miniature flag looks really good on the Enfield (aka the BULT)
Yeah Bult it is !

So, back in Leh, we gave our bikes for washing and greasing. Whe we came back to pick the bikes we found that they had broken the front left side foot rest of Harinder's bike. Since the folding footrests of the TBTS have still not made it to Ladakh, one from the standard model was fixed to do duty till Manali. It jutted out a bit more than the original one but nothing to cause a challenge. A bit ruffled we drove back to the resort.

we chose to sit in the open lawns and enjoy the breezy evening. But to our surprise the breeze turned to wind and then a powerful dust storm. We rushed into the safety of our tent and sat down to play cards. Sandhir had us in splits because he played with the seriousness of a professional, but would keep forgeting the cards, make a mistake, and then feel guilty as if he was Sachin Tendulkar and had given a lolly pop catch to the bowler.
Eventually, we got into discussing our plan for the rest of the trip. We were planning to move from Leh to Diskit and then Pangong Tso. From Pangong the plan was to go on to Pso Morriri through Chushul and join the Leh Manali route at Pang. While Chushul to Pso Morriri route is generally not open to civilians, we had been able to get the army’s permission. This meant we would not encounter any petrol pump for the next 600 odd kilometers. Not a serious problem for the Innova, but for the bikes we need to make a fool proof plan. So it was decided that in addition to full tanks, we would carry 50 liters of petrol in a can, for the bikes. This should see us through to Pang, from where we had made arrangements for additional fuel

Early morning the Innova driver, Jigmay (on your left), arrived along with our tour operator Angchuk (on your right)
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-jigmay-angchuk.jpg

Jigmay we found eventually, was a very positive thinking and helpful person. If I ever go to Leh with my family, I will look him up to take the them around

I will let the photographs do more of the talking this time:

Leaving the resort, I stopped right at the first bend itself and snapped this.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-exit-landscape.jpg

At the petrol Pump. We also picked up the can with 50 liters petrol
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-refueling.jpg

Getting the can, checking it for leaks, reloading the fuel into leak proof containers took a long time and we left the pump at 9.50 am. We had the comfort that today was not a long drive.

Leh city
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-leh-close-up.jpg

Shanti Stupa on the right
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-top-world.jpg

From A bit farther
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-perfect-leh.jpg


Leaving it far behind.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-green-patch-leh.jpg


Khardungla
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-khardungla-board.jpg

Due to a landslide clearing exercise going on just half a kilometer beyond Khardungala, the pass was jammed with vehicles and people.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-khardungla-cyclists.jpg

A group had brought their bicycles to the pass, loaded on vehicles. They planned to ride back to Leh on the cycles. Brave people.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-khardungala-girl.jpg

The diesel fumes made breathing difficult and to add to it we could feel the shortage of oxygen as even parking the bikes was an effort.
Harinder faltered while parking his bike and it fell, breaking the same foot rest again. We did not expect to find a replacement foot rest at the pass and at the same time we could not drive on without it. So we pulled out the rear foot rest and put it in the front. It was a good fit and we all laughed out our nervousness which had creeped in with the broken foot rest.

Then we heard a loud noise and the whole mountain shook under our feet. It was the effect of the blast that had been used to clear the road. Soon the traffic started moving and we moved into a new valley beyond Khardungala. It was chilly at Khardungala and you could see last year's snow lying frozen quite close by, with a couple of streams also visible from the mountains that gave way to the pass. So we were mighty pleased to spot these flowers, shielded by the rocks around it.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-img_2941.jpg

The landscape became more barren as we descended down from Khardungala.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-bikers-sand-mountain.jpg

Stop for a landslide being cleared. It took about 20 minutes, and we watched as the Dozer knocked off a big boulder off the road.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-landslide.jpg

It was our first day travelling with the Innova. We found that the Innova was no match for us on the mountainous terrain and for every one hour of riding we would leave it 5-10 minutes behind. So we would ride a while and then take a break for the Van to catch up.
This photograph was snapped from the Innova as me and Harinder stop by a stream and make lunch. (Maggi Noodles)
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-distance-noodles.jpg

I cooked
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-noodles.jpg

And Harinder enjoyed the place and rested
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-noodle-rest.jpg


In the while that we cooked, ate, and cleaned, a large black cloud ominously came up above us and started heading in the direction of our destination. We quickly packed and raced the cloud, so as to avoid driving in the rain. The cloud teased us with a light drizzle, before we overtook it and came back under the protection of sunrays.

Close to the river bed of Shyok river. Roads in some places were covered with upto 6 inches of sand
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-mountains-end.jpg

While I have photographs of the drive from here on till Hunder, I will have to be very selective, as my photography skills could not do justice to the beauty and sheer scale of what we saw. We witnessed some of the most imposing views, of the trip, till now.

Crossing Diskit.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-rider-headlights.jpg

In the distance we could see these mounds, but hardly believe our eyes.

Rajasthan, Bikaner?
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-sand-dunes.jpg

Guess again
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-camel.jpg

Last edited by Insearch : 11th September 2013 at 01:43. Reason: Corrections
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Old 11th September 2013, 09:27   #14
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@Insearch, awesome TL mate. What a coincidence - we were at Kardhung La at the exact same time as you were there. I saw the AP registered bike and I also saw one of you sitting in the front seat of an Innova looking a bit sick (AMS problems?).
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Old 11th September 2013, 15:39   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Insearch View Post
Getting the can, checking it for leaks, reloading the fuel into leak proof containers took a long time and we left the pump at 9.50 am. We had the comfort that today was not a long drive.
Hi Insearch,

just what the Doctor Ordered , for a nice fresh start to the week post festivals,very nicely written with crisp details, I have already asked you some of the questions so for now i will continue to enjoy your travelogues.

some question though for the above post on petrol cans
1.did you carry then or bought them on the way
2.what was done post your trip
3.can you share pics on how did you secure it to the bike
4.is it legally allowed
5.any specific process to be followed
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