Dream of every biker is to ride on the highest motorable pass in the world “Khardung La” which is in Leh, India. Most of them plan in advance be it in few weeks, Months or a Year too. The roads are open only from mid of May to end of October every year due to heavy snowfall. These roads are maintained by Border road organization (BRO) which is managed by Indian Army, their efforts to be lauded for maintaining the road in such a great condition.
I was looking for long distance road trip destinations to travel and I wanted to do something different this time. Finally, I decided to ride to Leh the land of high passes. I read many blogs, reached out to people who had been on road trip and asked for their suggestions, took a lot of precautions right from bike servicing to altitude sickness, things to carry, the best time to visit and so on. I did some research about Leh, an article said about Leh festival during my schedule. I finally locked down my destination to Leh and started working on it.
I discussed my ride plan with my friends but many couldn’t make it due to leaves constraint, but Gautham gave me a positive response and confirmed he can make it for one-way travel and fly back and I was okay with it. We planned accordingly booked a train ticket and shipped my bike too from Bengaluru to Delhi. I was very skeptical about this journey as this was my first long distance north India road trip on my Pulsar 150.
Day 1: Delhi – Manali
We rested for a day in Delhi, did some shopping, We hit the road next day early morning 5AM to Manali, it was a long day we took our sweet time to reach Manali (rode 585KM) and finally reached around 8PM. My colleagues ( Anand & Guru) had also visited Manali for a vacation we were lucky enough to get accommodation in the same hotel. A night well spent together.
Day 2: Manali – Rohtang pass – Keylong
We started from Manali to Keylong via Rohtang pass which is approx 120 KM, it takes you through steep curves of Keylong, Rohtang pass is another key destination you often see honeymoon couples walking through the lane, people playing with snowballs, ice skating, paragliding and so on. We had our lunch in Rohtang, clicked some pictures on the way and tanked up the fuel just before Keylong city which is the last filling station till we reach Leh. Managed accommodation and spent the night in a motel.
Day 3: Keylong – Sarchu – Pang
We had our breakfast in the motel and started our Journey towards Leh, the hills & valleys, panoramic view of the landscape, the Himalayan glacier is totally breathtaking during the travel. We passed through Sarchu and finally called off our day in Pang. We came across few tents during our travel which served Lunch and Tea. When I say lunch its Maggi 😀 Stayed in tented accommodation the lady was kind enough to provide warmers and quickly prepared a cup of tea. Later we were served with dinner, finished it and took a nap, that night the temperature was around -4 to -6 degree in Pang. The next day I was a victim of AMS (mountain sickness) I was not able to eat, vomiting sensation and mild headache. I consulted a medic help facility and they gave me a pill for altitude sickness, took the pill started our journey towards Leh.
Day 4: Pang – Leh
Within few kilometers after pang we entered tarmac, now we were descending and I was feeling much better after taking a pill and also was getting acclimatized to that weather, around 3.30PM we couldn’t control our joy seeing the signboard “welcome to Leh city”. We managed to get accommodation, had food after a short nap started planning for local sightseeing.
Day 5: Leh – Khardung la – Leh
We planned our ride to Khardung-la Highest motorable road which is approx 40 KM from Leh city, since we had taken inner line permit (Currently the inner line permit is not required, just carry your original govt id proof, please check Leh official website for more details) with the help of hotel staff, had to submit one photocopy in check post and enter the vehicle details, after almost 40 minutes we finally conquered the highest motorable road Khardung-la pass. We met Bharath who is an adventurist and works for an IT firm in Bengaluru, he had visited Leh for a Cycle expedition for around 120KM organized by one of the community, we exchanged our numbers and returned back to Leh and spent time taking a walk around the city and did some shopping.
Day 6: Leh – Pangong Lake – Leh
Early morning we started to Pangong Lake (lake pictured in 3 idiots movie or also known as the blue lake) which is around 160 KM away from Leh(approx 5-hour ride/drive) which also required inner line permit. it’s a rough mountain road. You will pass through army sentries and a small teahouse once you’re about to reach Pangong lake you will pass through a first viewpoint of the lake really a breathtaking moment, a serene tranquil, mesmerizing beauty its tourist’s paradise. Ride to the lake is one of the most wonderful experiences of a lifetime. Time well spent in the lake, while returning back from Pangong we met Mr. Satish Laksh who was a solo rider did all the way from Bengaluru to Leh on his CBR 250, joined him for the rest of the ride. You can visit his Leh blog in the below link.
Day 7 : Leh – Shanti stupa – Lamayuru – Kargil – Drass – Zojilla Pass – Songmarg – Srinagar
Gautham had to board his flight this morning to Bengaluru, I dropped him to airport and back to the hotel to check out, joined Satish for the ride and we left to Srinagar. Enroute to Srinagar we passed through Kargil where we took a pit stop in Army hotel for lunch, our conversation was taking place in our local language, overheard one of the Jawan (army personnel) asked us are you from Bengaluru ?? We said yes and he reminisced about his stay in Bengaluru and how much he liked the place. We had a genuine conversation with the army person and talked about our journey too and he was really impressed. Resumed our ride rode through Zojila pass, complete off-road track for approx 30+ KM, it was dusty and dusky. took more than 2 hours to pass this stretch. We also rode through Sonmarg which is another must visit place in Jammu. Reached Srinagar city around 7 PM in the night and rested for the day.
Day 8 : Srinagar – Vaishnodevi Temple – Jammu
Due to lack of time constraint, this was my final day of the ride, since I had my train tickets booked from Jammu to Bengaluru via Delhi. We started our Journey around 6 in the morning towards Jammu, took a tea break once we touched the highway, I had my first flat tire near Vaishnodevi temple, for my luck within half a KM there was a garage who was able to fix it. After a break, we resumed our ride, en route to Jammu, found a good Punjabi restaurant had our lunch and rested for a while. Post lunch we resumed our ride and reached Jammu around 4 PM. Satish departed from Jammu took the road towards Delhi and I had to take the train around 9 in the night.
Reached Delhi next morning, visited one of my friends in the noon, and on the same night, I had to take the train back to Bengaluru which concluded my Journey.
I have tried to minimize the context and give you as much as information as possible, If you have any questions about the ride or suggestions do leave me a note to my email address I will revert ASAP
Best Time to Visit: June to October
Leh official web link: http://leh.nic.in/ (you can also check for road status) Routes to Reach Leh:
- Srinagar – Sonmarg – Kargil – Leh
- Manali – Rohtang – Keylong – Sarachu – Pang – Leh
Things to do / visit:
- In Manali / Rohtang Pass
- Apples & saffron are very cheap
- Woollen Warmers
- Ice skating
- Camp or stay in Tented accommodation in Sarchu, Pang or Pangong Lake.
- Khardung La, Pangong lake, Magnetic hill, Shanti Stupa, Nubra valley, Fort & Monastery are some place to visit in and around Leh,
- Leather Jackets and pashminas are very famous & reasonable in price in Leh
- Take pit stop in Army camp hotel in Kargil & if you have enough time look out for accommodation in Sonmarg and stay for a day