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Old 1st October 2014, 14:49   #16
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I


Patnitop is a little hill station that often gets overlooked among the superstars in J&K region. However, it definitely warrants a visit, if not an overnight stay.

We woke up to a cool morning, got ready and headed up for the hotel restaurant for a breakfast. The food at JKTDC here takes bit time, but it is worth the wait. As with dinner, the breakfast too was simple and tasty.
I noticed that the roof of this hotel was having an interesting pattern, and as with the rooms, this restaurant too was covered totally in wood. Wonder how much would it cost if we were to do similar woodwork in city.

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The biker group was getting ready for leaving. As I had to go to a mechanic first, I had to wait till at least 10-10.30, so that the garage opens when we reach there. It was pretty early in the morning, and not everyone was up or ready.

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We asked in the hotel about places to see in Patnitop, but didn’t get any enthusiastic response.

‘Kuchh nahi saab, aisa hi hai aage… ghum ke aao!’
(there is nothing much to see, you roam around!)

We took Vesta and started riding towards the up road. Yesterday night, I climbed up the road for getting to JKTDC, and had noticed that the road continued to go ahead of JKTDC. But I didn’t explore it yesterday as it was almost night. Today it was a bright day, and we set out to explore where that way went.

It is a beautiful twisty turny way with about zero traffic. That morning ride, with the nice cool breeze brushing us, the twists of the roads being totally enjoyed without any fear of any incoming maniac, and the beautiful scenery running alongside us totally made a great memory.

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They have made such sitting points in a few ‘view points’ where people can relax. Such simple designs really contributed to the chilled back image of the place.

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We were passing a number of hotels on the route. When yesterday, those two gents informed that they had checked the surrounding hotels before finalizing JKTDC, I wondered whether they checked the main road hotels. But I guess they were talking about the hotels up ahead of JKTDC, the ones we were passing now.

After a while of slow ride, we saw a gate leading to a large lawn, and suddenly we were surrounded by horses and their owners.

‘Sir, want a ride? 500Rs only.’

I thanked them for the offer and continued riding on the road. I wanted to first see where the road leads, and then we would stroll on those green lawns, where evidently no vehicle was allowed.

The road continues and keeps on going, but we stopped at a point when the road slope and quality started degrading. Our goal was to explore Leh, not Patnitop, we reminded ourselves, and turned back.

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While on way back to the lawns, saw this beautiful property of ‘Southern Railway’.

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I think this is their holiday home used by employees. Seemed a great way to enable employees to enjoy nature and increase their loyalty. (I hope my Boss is reading this and taking a hint…)

Last edited by ani_meher : 1st October 2014 at 15:04.
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Old 1st October 2014, 16:06   #17
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

We parked our bike outside the huge lawns away from the horses, and went inside making way through the horse owners, who had now reduced their rates to Rs150 from previous 500.

The actual area of ‘Patnitop’ tourist point is this lawn. It houses many wooden houses of JKDTC, which are lent out only to groups. Taking luggage to and fro the rooms would be bit of a trouble, I guess, as vehicles were not permitted on the lawn area. There was a nice walk path laid in front of us, so we started walking, chatting among ourselves. Suddenly we were a newly married couple, giggling together and discussing what nots.

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The laid road ends at a corner of the lawn, but a walk way was visible. As we had already walked much, we decided to continue walking until it gets too tiresome.

We passed a private property of apple orchids, where an old gate keeper was selling fresh apples from the trees in the back. This was the first time that both of us saw an apple tree. It was so nicely laden with apples, it was hard to even imagine such sight back at home.

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We went on walking, but two incoming villagers informed us that the road ahead would get muddy as we moved ahead. We were already in pine trees and surrounding views were pretty much the same, so we turned back.

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But not without tasting the fresh apple, which was really juicy unlike the apples we get in city, which resemble a flour ball in dryness.

While climbing down, I noticed a danger ahead. I tried to take of Nandinee’s attention off it, but there was no chance I could have avoided it, it was right on the path that was leading us out. A husband’s nightmare – a cloth shop!

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However, I must agree that it was nice to have it open ground, where I could enjoy nature while wife enjoys my good nature of not being too conservative with wallet.

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To wife’s credit, she only took one dress and walked away with heavy heart, and a look of Karna when he was rejected to take part in the Draupadi-Swayamwar.

The clock was ticking, and we dashed back to hotel, got ready and got moving.

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Old 1st October 2014, 16:10   #18
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

I was praying since morning that let the bike somehow get magically repaired overnight, and may it continue trouble free. When we rode around in morning, as it was a pretty slow ride on not so steep roads, I couldn’t judge whether it was back to normal or not. My brain was saying it is still not well, but I kept on refusing to accept it. But it was evident very soon.

Luckily for us, ‘Patnitop’ was really a top, so the road ahead was a down slope for a long distance. The bike kept on rolling downwards, and I kept on hoping may the mechanic shop be on the down slope only. We both were keeping keen eye on the odometer for the magical mark of ’12 kms’ as our savior for the day – a motorcycle mechanic – was supposed to meet us and relieve us of our curse at that mark.

Fortunately, a mechanic shop was there right at the 12th km, when the slope ends. Unfortunately, it was a truck mechanic. I guess it must be very insulting for truck mechanics to ask about motorcycle troubles, at least based on the stingy looks he threw at me when I suggested him to look at my motorcycle.

‘Go ahead to Ramban. You will find the mechanics of that thing!’

Alright Mr.Proud, thanks for the advice. Poor Vesta was sputtering now, and it was becoming very tough for her to ride even on small upclimbs. I would see ahead as long as eyes could see, and would get happy if I could see a straight or sloping road, and would get tense if there was even a small upclimb ahead. Slowly the bike was doing only 20 KMPH on a road with small gradients. Finding a mechanic now was extremely critical.

We were proceeding while asking around for the location of this elusive mechanic. We started getting replies that there were not one but two mechanics, but the better one of them was inside of the main road. Well, if my Vesta is getting attended by a doctor, then that will be the best of the lot. So I continued pushing and prodding Vesta, while apologizing her for such a trauma.

There is a village named ‘Maitra’, whose road comes at the left hand side of the village Ramban. This Ramban village seemed a favourite lunch halt of Jammu-Srinagar passengers, as many buses and tourist vehicles were seen around the hotels.

The name of the mechanic’s village itself was curious to me. The people whom we asked were pronouncing it as ‘Maa-It-Ra’. But in sanskrit, it means maitra – friendship. I hoped the mechanic would be friendly, if not to me, then at least to Vesta, as we took a turn to Maitra.

The road was no different than what we were traversing so far, but it was bit too much now for Vesta. We noticed the military movement was more on this road, and so number of huge speed breakers too was high. When the going got impossible and I climbed on what seemed to be an endless steep road, I finally saw a garage at the end of the down slope.

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The mechanics instantly sprung to attention when we rolled into their shop. We were directed towards the chairs, glasses of cold water were shoved in our hands, followed by hot tea. The motorcycle was already being checked, and the preliminary culprit was found to be the air filter. It is supposed to be sprayed with engine oil, but for some reason, in Vesta it was swimming in oil. So Vesta couldn’t breathe, and hence couldn’t produce power.

As a protective step, I changed the spark plug as well. On their own, they checked the battery and filled it up as well. I was asked to take test rides, and the work was marked complete only when I gave a thumbs up.

The work was very professional and friendly. I miss such no nonsense garages in Pune, where the mechanic is either a hot shot superstar in his own world, or too naïve to trust with even a screw driver. I will definitely recommend a visit to this garage if your bike is showing even a little bit of problem. He has good amount of spare parts and good expertise to work on a motorcycle.

The head mechanic was from Srinagar, and was thrilled to hear that we were heading there. He assured me that the bike’s trouble was past us, and this point forwards there won’t be any trouble. I realize now that it was a tall claim, but it was what I wanted to hear at that time, and I am glad he said it.

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Old 1st October 2014, 16:23   #19
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

A happy Vesta and two relieved tourers left the garage, and headed finally to Srinagar, at 2pm. We took a quick lunch in a nondescript hotel en route, and moved ahead with Vesta doing decent speeds.

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The scenery starts changing in style when we move ahead from Ramban. It becomes a little rough, with overbridges and sharp stones pointing out the hill on the road, as if nature is showing you a trailer of what to expect ahead.

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At about 5, we were at the legendary Jawahar Tunnel. This tunnel joins the Jammu Valley with Kashmir. It is a whooping 2.8 kms long, and consists of two one-way tunnels. Cluastraufobic people better brace themselves, because this is a situation you can’t escape until it’s over.

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Riding in the tunnel is a freaky experience. The tunnel itself is hardly one lane road, and you have to keep following the next vehicle. If it happens to be a truck, be ready to be covered in soot by the time you come out of the tunnel.

It takes about 5 minutes to cover the tunnel, but when you see the light at the end of the tunnel after 5 minutes of near darkness (the tunnel is dimly lit so that you can see the road), you think this must be the view for a new-born coming out of its mother’s womb!

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Out of the tunnel and the scenery is markedly different. There are hardly any slopes, the roads are wide and long, and there is greenery all around.
Also, the military presence is now noticeably increased. We saw many groups or even Solo jawans standing in a bunker or just by the road side, watching the passer-bys.

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We took a tea halt in a village named Quazi Gund, where there were a lot of shops for dry fruits and wooden artifacts - mainly cricket bats. Almost every shop was selling bats. I think this would be a good area to buy the famous Srinagar bats. As I was not a prospective shopper of the goods, I did not venture further in any shop. Just clicked a shot from a distance and moved on.

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Old 1st October 2014, 17:20   #20
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

The traffic was now dense once we started approaching Srinagar. There are lot of road widening projects going on, so in a few year this ride will be really a fast one. Presently it was very dusty, and a rider had to be on his toes because of all the Kamikaze drivers coming head on.

Most of the road is canopied by pine trees on both the sides. There are green fields bordering the road, and had it not been the constant praying for life because of suicidal tourist vehicles, it would have been a much more enjoyable ride.

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Srinagar is supposed to have a railway station soon, and what we could see in the distance, the railway station was almost complete. We could even see the red LED indicators of time from the road. I don’t know which train it caters to now, but it will be a good push for the tourism sector if there is any direct train to Srinagar.

Many military jeeps were plying on road. One such Gypsy vehicle was ahead of us, when I noticed a Jawan in the back seat. For some reason, his gun point was held too high, pretty much at us! I startled involuntarily, and he too noticed the same at the moment. Wondering about possible result of shooting a tourist accidentally, I twisted the accelerator and made sure the Gypsy watched our back.

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There was a board on road, saying ‘Avanti Shovara Mandir’. We took a quick bread to stretch our legs. There was a sight of ruins of this Mandir across the road. The gate was closed, but that didn’t stopped people to jump on it to venture on the ruins. As the sundown was near, I clicked it from a distance before proceeding to Srinagar.

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We reached Srinagar at twilight. Usually such tourist locations have a few areas which have many hotels, so we tried searching for such area based on the help of lonely planet. But the hotel agents on the roads that were looking out for a bakra misguided us a lot, and we kept on going in circle. Finally we saw a TRC, and went in there in hope that they would cater a tourist honestly.

A chubby middle aged man was sprawled on the sofa as if he owned the office, the air of importance surrounding him. So we went to him for asking any rooms in the TRC.

‘Sorry, no rooms in TRC. Not even a single room’.

The empty parking lot outside his office was somehow contrary to his story, but we gave him benefit of doubt. He asked us few general questions, who we were, why on bikes etc, and slowly I noticed a light bulb going on at the back of his mind ‘Got a Bakra!’

He asked a young man loitering around to show us a ‘guest house’. I realized this was a ploy to get us into some crap hotel for him to earn brokerage. We tried to make a leave, saying the company of the young man was not required and we could manage just fine for finding the hotel. However the gentleman cum broker at the TRC was so overcome with affection to the guests that he asked us to follow the guy, who was already sitting in a rickshaw waiting for us. Out of curiosity we followed him.

At one point, he got down the rickshaw and came to me.

‘Park your bike here.’.

‘Where is the hotel?’

‘It’s right inside this lane.’

I peered into the lane which was situated at a level below the road. It resembled the general slum roads that we see so much in bastis in cities.

‘The guest house is nice, you will like it there.’

‘Yeah, seems wonderful. Why don’t you spend a night in there thinking over missed opportunity?’

I turned the throttle and moved on, the man’s disappointed face slowly reducing in my rear view mirror. It was one thing to attempt cheap tactics on tourists, but when such thing happens right in TRC, at 7.30pm, it doesn’t paint any picture. I hope this gets to some high officials in JKTDC that they have employed agents instead of helping persons in their Srinagar TRC.

Luckily for us, that agent headed us to an area which was populated by many hotels. We started looking around for a decent room. By ‘we’, I mean I started riding around and Nandinee started hunting in hotels.

‘This hotel is too dark… this is too costly… this is too noisy…’

We went on the search. In one such hotel, I sat on a sofa while Nandinee climbed up for seeing a room. An old man caught my sight, and look amused. He was even more amused when he learned that we were from Pune, and heading to Leh.

Nandinee came down the stairs. The room was good but the rate was not. It was out of our budget and the hotel owner refused to bargain at all. Alright, let’s move to the next hotel, I thought and picked up my helmet.

‘Wait, beta’. That old man bellowed. Turned out that he was the father of the owner! He asked my quote, and accepted it without paying attention to his relenting son.

Having got a good hotel room, we rested well that night. Vesta too was happily parked below, now that she was breathing perfectly. Tomorrow we were supposed to head to Kargil, but we had heard too much about Zo-zilla pass. And turning up in Srinagar and not seeing the city at all was not right either.

So we decided to use up our spare day tomorrow. Rather than riding all the way to Kargil through Zozil La tomorrow, we would halt at Sonmarg, a hill station hardly a few kilometers before Zozi La. This way we can see one more beautiful place and face the feared mountain pass when we were fresh.
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Old 1st October 2014, 17:25   #21
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

I am sorry for not updating this thread regularly. I hope this installment will be worth the wait Thanks for your replies, critics are welcome.
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Old 1st October 2014, 17:35   #22
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

Thanks for getting on with the story. Really great going man. Finish it in leisure.

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Old 2nd October 2014, 05:15   #23
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

Salutes and respect to both of you for undertaking this journey. Somehow I always have admiration for couples who take up this journey on a two wheeler. Not an easy task to sit as a pillion rider on these type of treacherous roads.

Awaiting the next part of the travelogue.
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Old 2nd October 2014, 07:32   #24
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

Excellently detailed log. I never have the patience to write in such detail, esp the quip made by your wife about Jammu's heat Put a smile on my face.

Would be interesting to hear your wife's POV too.

Like Jose said, its terribly boring and easy to get road-sick / irritated looking at the endless twisties. My wife had the same issue when we rode up there. The scenery was lovely but she was bored to death watching over the edge into the abyss, which was NOT fun - though I was having fun riding!
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Old 3rd October 2014, 12:02   #25
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

Really nice travelogue, hats off to you for riding with pillion up to Leh. I was wondering how the air filter got drenched in oil? How about the fueling stops can you mention that as well. In Srinagar the boulevard road is where all the hotels are near dal lake. We stayed in a house boat on the other side of dal lake for just about 2500 bucks for the entire boat.
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Old 18th April 2016, 15:00   #26
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

Originally Posted by ani_meher View Post
I am sorry for not updating this thread regularly. I hope this installment will be worth the wait Thanks for your replies, critics are welcome.
Hi, could you please share the link to the next installment of part I? I know you have a part II out there that describes your experience of visiting Leh and around but am keen on learning details of your ride to Leh

I am looking to follow your footsteps (or shall I say tire marks?) in June this year. With my wife as a pillion, I am planning to tour Ladakh with a similar spec'd itinerary from Pune hence keen on learning much detail as possible
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Old 20th April 2016, 20:15   #27
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

Originally Posted by ani_meher View Post
I am sorry for not updating this thread regularly. I hope this installment will be worth the wait Thanks for your replies, critics are welcome.
Yup. You must update it. Pronto.
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Old 20th April 2016, 20:41   #28
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

Originally Posted by ani_meher View Post
Kashmir and Kanyakumari are the two states that form the head and feet of India.
Nice travelogue, but I didn't know that highlighted part!

The state of kanyakumari, I mean!
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Old 10th May 2016, 12:07   #29
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Srinagar’s Dal lake is the one that makes up for the image of Kashmir. It has over 15 kms of beautiful road running besides it. Many hotels pride themselves for ‘Dal lake view’ and even more houseboats with the ‘best view in Dal lake’ float on the water. It forms a major tourist point in Srinagar, along with total nine gardens that the Mughals created in their ruling time.

In Srinagar hotel, I finally found time for shaving after a week or so. I was secretly planning to grow a beard and mustache for all of the trip, and emerge as a Himalayan Sage to friends and family when we return from the trip. Alas, the Menaka accompanying me had her limits of acceptance, and I had to sacrifice my plans. At least I got a nice video out of it:

After breakfast in hotel, we moved out to explore Srinagar. We reached here at night, so I couldn’t observe the surrounding nature then. The moment we set forwards, the first thing we both remarked on, was how tall the trees were. The trees surrounding the roads were easily many storeys tall. In our cities we can’t even think of a tree growing this tall, but here almost every tree was at least 10 storey tall or more.

The first point of interest for the day was of course the Dal lake. It was pretty nearby, and riding alongside it was a very unique experience. The road is kept in top condition, and traffic flows properly. We just kept on riding till we get bored, and then moved back after a while.

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There are lots of points in Dal lake where one can take a Shikara ride. They have some predefined rates for 30 minutes, 45 minutes and 60 minutes ride. Some petty points are covered in the itinerary. Whenever we came to halt to review the offerings, the Shikara drivers would flock in our direction for getting us take a ride in their Shikara. This hard selling thinned once we moved ahead to lesser touristy patch of Dal lake. Most of the tourist live at areas which is at one point of Dal lake, and so most of the taxi stands make a killing there. Once you move ahead with the Dal lake at your left side, the number of tourists as well as touts reduce substantially.

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Srinagar is famous for its gardens as well. When Mughals ruled Srinagar, they created many gardens for their many wives. Now even though such lavish lifestyle is long gone, the luxuries continue in the form of those gardens. The government has done a real nice job in preserving the gardens in their glory. We had passed a few such names while our ride by the Dal lake. We went it one such garden ‘Nishat baagh’ which is situated right on the Dal lake road. They have a good parking available right outside, and the entrance charges a little fee.

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The garden is having a step like structure, where there are long lawns sprinkled with sections of colourful bushes. There is hardly any garbage or even fallen leaf to be seen, such is the level of maintainance.

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There is a line of fountains that looked as if it was in use, but it was not on at that time.

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There were some flowers which I saw the first time. Flowers as big as as my palm’s cup and still protruding out.

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The really tall trees are situated at the last level of the baagh. They are SO tall, it is unbelievable to see them in person. It was as if the Avatar’s home tree was based on such trees.

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Strolling through Nishant bagh was very relaxing. No wonder Mughals preferred their wives do rounds of such gardens than to put up with their complex from other wives!

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After we got out of the garden, the next item on agenda was to take a Shikara ride. The sky was looking gloomier that it did in morning, but we hoped that it wouldn’t rain. Riding through mud was not something I was looking forward to, so we hoped our hearts that it wouldn’t rain. But the rains arrived with great valor, and poured their hearts out. We were riding in a Shikara, hands and feet snuck inside the boat like a turtle. The enthusiastic boats man was doing his job of guiding and advertising very well.

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There were many such luxury boats parked in the lake. These are the houseboats that touts from all over Srinagar were pushing us for. Some seemed alright to me, but somehow I am reluctant on staying at someplace where your only contact to outside world is the mercy of the shikara driver to take you to main land. So we had skipped on this opportunity last night.

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The area of lake that is actually shown to tourist is pretty small. Most of the lake’s inhabitants are concentrated in a small area, where a crop of lotus and some other vegetables was being harvested.

Now a day, most of the tourist lakes have boating available, but what sets Dal lake apart from the others is, it is a small village in itself. People stay on the lands inside the lake or in boats floating on the lake. They have all sorts of shops, including regular grocery shop and even a mutton shop!

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We spotted many locals going about their daily business too. The same scene was seen in Kerala, where many households are situated by the river and rely on their personal boat to move around.

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We had forgotten to pack Nandinee’s Duckback rainwear. Luckily, so far the rain gods had shown mercy, but now they were showering their affection on us – literally. So purchase of a new rain gear was in order. When I asked the boat driver whether we could get something in the city, he said:

‘Why in city? There is one shop right here in Dal lake! I will take you there.’

Damn it. I was avoiding his offers so far to visit this shop and that outlet, because we have taken this experience far too many times to count: that the taxi driver will have his own commission and will always push the travelers to costly places. And who could make stuff in the middle of Dal lake? Surely it had to be sourced from the land and resold it here at a higher price.

‘No Sir. He makes it in his shop in the lake.’

What?! A jacket maker in the middle of Dal lake? We were curious about this claim, and it turned out to be true. A text book tailor with a small bidi poking out of his mouth has a shop in the lake, and makes and sales many wonderful designs of rain gear and winter jackets. We bought a poncho for Nandinee at a very reasonable price, and even some of the jackets were seriously considered. However as our ride to Leh was not even in its initial stages, we skipped on that purchase.

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Seeing Nandinee covered in her new Poncho and I facing the rain, the boat person amused:

‘Bought a rain cover for wife, and you are getting drenched in rains! Why Sir?’

The real answer was of course, I had my Duckback at the hotel. But I replied:

‘Boss, who spends on himself after marriage?’

It earned me a emphatic nod from him, but almost cost me my lunch.

When we returned to the shore, the rains were in full form, dancing around happily. ‘Are we going to ride to Sonamarg in such rains?’ I wondered. Now we both had rain covers, so getting drenched was not a problem anymore. But riding in rains is always tricky. We tried to reassure ourselves – a part of fun in Leh ride is to ride in rain, and we have come prepared for this, so let’s do it without much pondering now.

We snuck in a little hotel for grabbing a quick run while rain played havoc outside. But by the time we finished our lunch, it was clear and bright day outside. Had it not been for the wet streets, one would not believe it was raining hard a few minutes ago. All the clouds had run away from the sky, presenting a washed and cleaned Srinagar.

That was a great news, and we quickly dashed to the hotel. Packed our stuff on bike, and rolled away towards Sonamarg. It was almost 4 pm that we left Srinagar. However we couldn’t speed up so soon, because Dal lake and surrounding area was literally casting a spell on us, causing us to stop and click its beauty.

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The same road that we rode in the morning was heading to Sonamarg. However it was not one bit boring to ride it again, and I would do it a million times more if got a chance.

When we passed the Nishant baagh, we noticed that a water strem had started flowing from the garden, which meant that the fountains were started. It seems the time for fountains was afternoon – evening. So a note to travelers: reach early and see Dal lake first, this way you have good chances of getting to see the fountains in garden.

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The fountains in lake were started too. Each fountain was having its own little rainbow, and it was a mesmerizing sight.

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With heavy heart, keeping our eye on the watch in Vesta’s instrument console, we pushed ahead.

We were going ahead by asking directions to police or army people standing on the roads. Almost everyone of them said: your group went ahead just now. We thought that the Rajasthani biker group must had gone just now ahead of us.

The road passes through old Srinagar. I think this Old Srinagar was the original city, and the Dal lake and the gardens were located on its outskirts. Because of the influx of tourists and perhaps cheaper lands, a new city started to develop on the opposite side of the lake, which formed today’s Srinagar. The Old Srinagar is primarily Muslim area, and often gets locked down in case of any troublesome situation. The roads are small and the area is quite populated.

But soon we left the town, and were facing the open roads that lead to Sonamarg. We started to see some fog up ahead, and on top of hills that were now increasing in number. The road slowly become less populated, and more surrounded by hills that started towering around us. Many of the hills closer to Sonamarg were covered fully in pine trees, and it looked wonderful from below, seeing so many pine trees so close to each other. They were looking so tiny, I thought it looked like it is a birthday cake of the world where the pine trees were candles, and there was one tree for every year.

Sonamarg is hardly 80 kms from Srinagar, and many tourists do a day trip to the place. As it lied on our way towards Leh, we had decided to stay there.

It is a hill station, so the road was climbing up most of the times. But it was not tiresome at all. For most of the time the roads are in very good condition.

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Soon we were riding besides a river, that accompanied us all the way to Sonamarg.

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After a fast ride and lots of photos, we reached Sonamarg around 7pm.

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The town is located along a strip on the main road, where you will see hotels coming up on both sides of the road. I noticed that most of the hotels were either very posh, or very shabby. We couldn’t find any ‘average’ hotel atleast on visual inspection. As usual, we first did a ride of the whole strip, and then finalized a few candidates for hunting for room. It was a low season, so our chances of getting a bargain were good. But we didn’t just wanted to stay in the cheapest room, we prioritized safety as well, so there had to be some tourists around too.

When we were passing by the JKDTC Sonamarg, we noticed that the Rajasthan biker s group were getting down their bikes and unpacking their bags. Seemed that they were staying there. I planned to join them in the hotel, but the hotel manager had his plate full when he got booking of that group. So he was least interested in negotiating. When the official JKDTC discount was 40%, he was giving only 20% and that too on a non deserving rooms.

So we bid the group good bye and went out to search a different hotel. Nandinee saw a hotel perched on top of a hill, were a kaccha road was leading. Out of curiosity, we headed there. It was hotel xxx. While Nandinee was checking out the rooms, the hotel’s staff was curiously checking my bike, and were happy to hear about our ride. The manager gave the rooms at an unbelievable discount, and we were really glad we could get such a room at such a price.

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Today we were very fresh even after checking in, because there was no tedious ride and most of the day was spent on visiting beautiful sights and embracing the nature. The huge trees of Srinagar, the foggy cap wearing hills and god’s birthday candles – the pine trees were a topic of discussion well into the night.
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Old 10th May 2016, 12:11   #30
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Default Re: Dreams of Leh: A couple's motorcycle ride to the Himalayas - Part I

Originally Posted by Rajiv0909 View Post
Hi, could you please share the link to the next installment of part I?....
I am looking to follow your footsteps (or shall I say tire marks?) in June this year. With my wife as a pillion, I am planning to tour Ladakh with a similar spec'd itinerary from Pune hence keen on learning much detail as possible
Next update is posted Also, why June? After all my research, I found that August-Sep is perfect for a relaxed ride. June is a little too risky with all the snow and rains. All the best for your ride.

Originally Posted by skdking View Post
Yup. You must update it. Pronto.
Yep. Doing so.

Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
Nice travelogue, but I didn't know that highlighted part!

The state of kanyakumari, I mean!
Good eye It's too late for correcting it though, so let it be!

Thanks for the interest shown guys, it means a lot. I will now regularly post the updates to this Part I of my Leh journey.
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