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Old 10th June 2015, 21:53   #1
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Default Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!

Time flies, but memories remain and some are still very fresh in the mind. This is the story one of my most memorable trips. This June it will be 5 years since the trip and I thought it would be a great idea to re-live this journey by sharing it in this wonderful Forum.

It was out the blue that my good friend Devaiah informed me that he was planning a biking trip with our common Kodava friends and a few of his engineering buddies from Mysore. Without hesitation, I accepted the invitation, after all this is on the bucket list for most of us. In all, 10 of us agreed to participate. Devaiah took the responsibility for planning and we completely trusted him. He did a commendable job as you will see when the story unfolds.

Since a large part of the group was from Coorg/Kodagu, Devaiah decided to call the group "Wild Boars", due to our legendary fondness for pork! Hence all of us had WB pre-fixed before our names. Devaiah went to great lengths to complete our WB identification with stickers and jackets!

We used the services of Ladakh Safari for this trip. Deleks Namgyal who runs Ladakh Bike Tours, accompanied us on his Enfield bike throughout from LEH. We were followed by a back-up jeep & mechanic. Deleks was responsible for our safety, which was not compromised at any point. Deleks did a great job and we had a relatively trouble free trip. More details on Deleks and his setup can be seen here http://www.ladakhsafari.com/

Wild Boar stickering for our helmets

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Wild Boar Subbaiah
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Packing and all excited for the trip, checking out the gear
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We landed in Delhi on 6th June 2010 onward to Manali. Seen are WB Vikram, Abhin, Prasad & Sachin
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Delhi to Manali was a long 17 hour journey and we reached Manali around 4 in the morning
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7th June - The morning was nice and bright
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This is where it all began @ Manali
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That's me in the traditional cap given by the hotel
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The excitement of this trip ensured all of us were up bright and early, despite the long journey from Delhi
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Beautiful day
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A local seller hoping to attract our attention
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From the left we have Wild Boars - Abhin, Radha, Vikram, Kiran, Sachin, Prasad, Devaiah, Ranju, Cariappa and Subbaiah, all eagerly waiting to check out the bikes
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A local ignores our noisy group
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We had to cross the river Beas to get to our bikes
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Finally, our first glimpse of the bikes that were going to be ours for the trip. We had to test ride them and based on our feed back, the mechanics adjusted and prepared the bikes to suit our riding style. Poor braking was a common complaint. The bikes had obviously seen better times and rides in these harsh conditions had taken their toll. Since we had proper back up, we were not too worried and the mechanics were eager and seemed dependable
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WB Cariappa keeps a close watch as the bike is being adjusted
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Our Test Rides were blessed
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Last edited by KPS : 13th June 2015 at 17:41.
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Old 12th June 2015, 08:05   #2
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June 7th was a relaxed day. After checking out the bikes we had time to kill before we started riding the next day.

Manali, at an altitude of 6726 feet was not going to acclimatize us fast enough, so we debated and decided to take Diamox tablets for three days, to help us overcome possible high altitude sickness. Alcohol was strongly advised against and we knew the importance of being properly prepared for this trip.

Quote:
Acetazolamide, usually sold under the trade name Diamox in some countries, is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor that is used for the medical treatment of glaucoma, epileptic seizure, idiopathic intracranial hypertension, altitude sickness, cystinuria, periodic paralysis, central sleep apnea, and dural ectasia. Acetazolamide is a diuretic, and it is available as a generic drug in the United States
Disclaimer: It is strongly advised to seek medical advice before one consumes this tablet. It has to be an individual's independent decision based on proper medical advice.

After checking out the Bikes and allowing time for the mechanics to work on the bikes we decided to do some local sight seeing.

Our first stop was at the Hidimba Devi Temple
Quote:
The Hidimba Devi temple is built around a cave where Hidimba performed meditation. Hidimba was supposed to have lived there with her brother Hidimb, and not much is known about their parents. Born into a Rakshas family, Hidimba vowed to marry one who would defeat her brother Hidimb, who was supposed to be very brave and fearless. During the Pandava's exile, when they visited Manali; Bhima, one of the five Pandavas, killed Hidimb. Thereafter, Hidimba married Bhima and gave birth to their son Ghatotkacha.
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The locals will pose for pictures for a fee
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The cold weather at Manali kept us hungry all the time. Hence we decided to check out the local delicacies.

Trout was introduced to India in the early 1900's by the British. The Brown Trout has becoming as a self-sustaining population in the Himalayas. The rainbow trout, however, has remained confined to pond culture

Trout farming is a big in Himachal Pradesh as seen from the link

This is the Rainbow Trout Farm we visited
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Fresh water supply is a must. You will see channels where the fish are farmed are designed in such a way that fresh water flows through them constantly

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Our catch, each fish cost Rs. 200 but had to have it
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Our meal
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The hungry WB's waiting for the freshly cooked trouts
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After a satisfying meal we went to Solang slopes. There are various sporting activities there

Hot air balloon
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Cable car rides
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Para sailing and Zorbing
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We took the cable car to go up 3200 meters to Mt. Phatru as part our efforts to acclimatize as quickly as possible
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It was evening and we were in a very good frame of mind when we returned to collect our bikes and refuel them for our journey to LEH through the Rohtang Pass, the next day.

Little did we know that there was going to be a major twist in our plan......

Last edited by KPS : 13th June 2015 at 17:52.
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Old 13th June 2015, 08:17   #3
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We collected our bikes and started to refuel. As we refueled them it started to drizzle. In South, rain is considered a good omen and all of us were happy and chirping that this was going to be a great trip.

By the time all the bikes were fueled it started to pour. Three of the bikes stopped and WB Radha was badly stuck for on hour in the freezing rain.

Once we reached our hotel we got to know that the rain was the impact of Cyclone Phet

Quote:
Cyclone Phet (IMD designation: ARB 02, JTWC designation: 03A, also known as Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Phet) was the third named cyclone of the 2010 North Indian Ocean cyclone season and powerful tropical cyclone. Phet developed from a low pressure area in the Arabian Sea that organized into a tropical cyclone on May 31. It initially moved to the northwest but later turned northwards before making landfall in the Oman Desert on June 4 at peak intensity. Weakening, it then shifted direction and headed northeast and made landfall as a deep depression at Thatta, Pakistan on the evening of June 6.[1] Phet is Thai word meaning Diamond.
It rained non-stop for the next 36 hours. We had no where to go
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We got kicked out of our hotel as there were no rooms. The tour operator found us an alternate accommodation
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We played cards to fight boredom and disappointment and kept a constant watch on the weather
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Finally the sky cleared on 9th June. We could see the mountain tops had very heavy snow cover. We learned that the roads were all badly blocked as there was more than 6 feet of snow.
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When WB Radha who was drenched in the rain heard that rains in Manali meant heavy snow on the hills, decided that the risks were not to his liking and opted out.
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While we awaited news from the Border Road Organization (BRO) on the state of the road and the likely opening of the Rohtang pass, we decided to get out of the hotel and do a 70 kms ride before planning our next move.

We wanted to check out if we were up to it.
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WB Devaiah is all smiles to be on the road
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Via Naggar we rode the Bijli Mhadev route and back
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The trails were narrow
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Everyone rode the bikes with great comfort and the zing was back
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Our first water crossing was successful
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Each one awaited his turn to cross the water
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The views were of the spectacular Kullu Valley
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You can get a sense of the road we rode on
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Such beauty in such harsh conditions
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What more can one ask for? Bike at you feet and great trails
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Great views
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Roadside restaurant in very natural settings
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We had a good meal
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Old 13th June 2015, 12:58   #4
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We got bad news from the BRO that the roads were badly blocked and it will take another 10 days to open.
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We debated what should be the next move. Abandon the trip here or fly in to LEH and continue our trip
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The Wild Boars were unanimous that we should continue with the trip. Devaiah made frantic arrangements and booked our flight tickets on Kingfisher from Delhi to LEH
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10th June

This is last we were going to see the bikes. We were not sure what kind of bikes we would be able to get at LEH
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The Wild Boars are ready for the long drive back to Delhi
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We leave the snow capped mountains of Himachal
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We got a "Pahadi" driver who boasted that this journey would be a breeze. The door of the vehicle just would not close! We had to get this repaired
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WB Devaiah at the work shop
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We got fresh fruit for our journey
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Our journey was very eventful with great scenery
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The "Pahadi" driver was very slow and we got in to a bad fight with him. He said he was not used to driving in the plains! Finally after much cajoling we just about made it in time for our flight
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LEH from the skies. We were full of nervous excitement
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Finally on 11th June we landed in LEH
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Looking forward with much excitement
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We quickly settled into our Hotel and were eager to do something different.
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Old 13th June 2015, 16:23   #5
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LEH is the capital of the Himalyan Kingdom of Ladakh. LEH is at an altitude of 11483 ft. and temps vary from -14 C to 25 C during the year.

The Wild Boars could not be contained, for we were cooped for too long. We decided to go rafting
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The Indus River after which India is named, was considered as river Saraswati in the Rigveda
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This is the Nimoo valley
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We rafted on grade 2 rapids between Saspo and Nimoo on the Zanskar River
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The Zanskar river harbors one of the most spectacular gorges in the world
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Starting point at Saspo and we rafted 10 kms down to Nimoo
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It is called the Grand Canyon of the Himalayas
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Krishna our raft commander launches us into the water
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We follow Krishna's instructions to the T and have a good ride
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Krishna encourages WB Kiran and Abhin to jump into the freezing water. We had Ravi on a Kayak watch over them
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Krishna and Ravi give us a good pose
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This is our landing point at Nimoo Valley
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Beautiful Iris flowers with WB Prasad in the back ground
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We had our evening tea
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Confluence of Indus and Zanskar
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We head back to our hotel at LEH
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We ended the night in a great mood, after all we were going to start riding from the next day. The fact that our rides were a mix of Royal Enfield, Yamaha FZ & Bajaj Pulsar just did not matter. We were ready to go

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Old 13th June 2015, 19:55   #6
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12th June

All geared to ride to the Nubra Valley through the Khardung La Pass
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The Wild Boars
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LEH Palace built by King Singge Namgyal (1612-1642). This is a nine storeys high and was abandoned in the mid 19th century when besieged by the Kashmiri forces
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Beautiful paved road as we motored towards the Khardung La Pass
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Diamox the tablets we took to prevent Acute Mountain Sickness necessitated frequent pee breaks! You needed to be hydrated at all times
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LEH Valley, with the Shanti Stupa at the far side on left and built by the Japanese.
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The plot developed fast from here. What seemed to be a cool ride turned treacherous as we climbed higher altitudes
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Till South Pollu the road is paved
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South Pullu is the first military check post. Based on the movement of the military, the gate is closed or opened to the other users of the road
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As we climbed higher from South Pullu, the ride got more exhilarating
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Delex our tour operator and guide leads the way
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The roads are the lines that cut across the mountain! The clouds seemed close enough to reach out.
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More breath taking views were seen
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Rock fall is a major danger on this route. Landslides are not uncommon. The road is maintained by the Army and is open 365 days, as it a strategic road to the Indo-Pak border
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Beautiful isn't it?
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We took a break just before the final climb to Khardung La
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Delex is seen in the front wearing a black jacket and camera in hand, as Chauvan our mechanic checks out a bike
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Old 13th June 2015, 22:27   #7
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The ride was scary but exhilarating. The road is cleared daily by the army bulldozers. The water when frozen in the pot holes can get very dangerous
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The loose rocks and snow are a dangerous combination
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This experience was surreal
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The bikes struggled at such high altitude, with the Pulsar being the worst. The RE's were the most comfortable at this height
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Khardung La is the gateway to the Nubra Valley also known as the Valley of Flowers
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Old 14th June 2015, 15:49   #8
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The Wild Boars on the Top at last. The 37 kms from LEH took two hours
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The board says it all. The army does not allow you to stay here more than 20 minutes to prevent mountain sickness and we had ridden for two hours to reach here!
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On the top, WB Prasad, Subbaiah, Kiran and Devaiah
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WB Devaiah snow balled us, whilst WB Prasad ducks
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The world's highest Souvenir Shop is maintained by the Army and is priced very reasonably. WB Cariappa flashed his best smile
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The Summit
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Temple, as we started our descend
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The road down Khardung La was very challenging. The sheer beauty of the roads cutting across the snow was a sight for sore eyes
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The Nubra Valley is some where in the distance
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The road, as carved through the snow. Riding through this was a great experience
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We were slow and careful in our descend. This gives the exact sense of the road we travelled. The snow wall on one side, the deep gorge on the other and pot hole ridden road made a a deadly combo.
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An Army vehicle bears testimony that you cannot be but careful here. Taking risks is out of the question
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Out of the world! Just before a blizzard hit us at North Pullu
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It felt like walking into a huge canvas
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Suddenly it cleared for some time before the blizzard hit again
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A hot bowl of Maggie noodles never felt so good. We were safely inside while there was a blizzard outside! WB Ranju Belliappa hogs his share
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As the blizzard cleared, WB Devaiah had his Maggi outside enjoyed the experience of snowflakes raining down
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WB Kiran stretches in front of the Nubra Valley Restaurant, which only had Maggi on the menu
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The Chef, who specialized only in Maggi!
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By the way, YAK is a male, NAK is female. So remember YAK cheese is actually NAK cheese!
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The board gives you a sense of the distances
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Waiting the return of the Wild Boars
Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!-dsc01970.jpg
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Old 15th June 2015, 11:48   #9
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Default Re: Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 15th June 2015, 15:07   #10
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Default Re: Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!

Thank you for a well written Travelogue and for nice pictures. Pretty evident that you along with the group had a great time. You have mentioned that FZ and Pulsars struggled during uphill. Can you kindly be specific what exactly was it, maintaining the grip or lack of torque? Also, any idea how would Avenger fare there? Specially considering its low ground clearance?
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Old 15th June 2015, 16:11   #11
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Default Re: Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!

Mesmerizing Ladakh! An excellent write up there. Good to see that you guys anyways got Leh'ed!!! Its filled with snow, such a delight!!!

Will plan for my 3rd drive to Ladakh may be next year around this time.
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Old 16th June 2015, 13:09   #12
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Default Re: Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!

Hi KPS,

Thanks for sharing this. Ledakh is ageless. So it really nice evn though the trip was a few years ago. Nice pics.

I was planning to start a Ladakh trip 21st of this month, but had to give up due to reasons beyond my control. Haven't gone that side since 1980, will have to do one soon.

Best Regards & Drive/Ride Safe

Ram
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Old 17th June 2015, 13:37   #13
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Default Re: Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!

Great thread. And salute to your never say no spirit. But couldn't help but notice some of the stuff that you have mentioned are dead and gone now. Kingfisher airlines and Maggi.
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Old 17th June 2015, 13:51   #14
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Default Re: Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!

Wow... great travelogue and some lovely pictures. Your ride upto Khardungla reminded of my ride back in 2012. Me and my wife had gone in September, so the snow was all but gone except in the very high reaches - like Khardung La and Tanglang La. Going through your pictures was almost painfully nostalgic... keep them coming.
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Old 18th June 2015, 07:24   #15
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Default Re: Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zinda View Post
Can you kindly be specific what exactly was it, maintaining the grip or lack of torque? Also, any idea how would Avenger fare there? Specially considering its low ground clearance?
The high altitudes require very lean fuel mixture and calibrating this, as one goes up to 18000+ feet and down to 11000+ feet is a challenge. The bikes do well in the plains but as we go higher they start to lose power. Even on first gear it feels that the bikes are climbing uphill on 3rd gear. The bigger RE handles this very well. My suggestion is to hire RE's and do the trip, it will be more enjoyable.

The story continued ......

From North Pollu, back on proper roads towards our resort Lharimo North at Nubra Valley
Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!-dsc01974.jpg


Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!-dsc01979.jpg


Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!-dsc01982.jpg

Pee break in the sun.
Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!-dsc01987.jpg

The Shayok River
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On to the Valley of Fowers, Nubra
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WB Devaiah and Abhin are all smiles are we reached the valley
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Wangyal the owner of Lharimo Resorts explained our location. Wangyal was a very interesting character and had wealth of information to share
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Relaxed and absorbed the wonderful experience so far
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The locals at Lharimo Village
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That evening we rode on to the Panamik Hot Springs.
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You could smell the sulphur in the air. The water is incredibly hot. Rooms are being built to enable people to bathe in the hot spring water.
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The Ensa Monastry or Gompi is located across the Hot Springs and has a constant source of fresh water supply.
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This picture shows you the isolation and harsh conditions the monks live in
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Delek's is all smiles as the warmth of the hot springs seeps through
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The Wild Boars enjoyed the warmth of the Hot Springs as it percolated the air.
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The Lost Monastery is supposedly symbolized by the reflection in the water. It was originally meant to be the Ensa Monastery but as the Yogi's from Tibet and Panamik could not meet, the Gompi was deemed to be lost. There are supposed to be seven foot prints of the Yogi from Tibet and smaller current Ensa Gompi is built on one such foot print.
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Sunset at the Lost Monastery at 19.40 hrs
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As it was getting late we headed back to our resort
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Reliving a memorable trip: 10 friends, Enfields & Leh!-dsc02044.jpg
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