The Tryst with Himalayas – Road trip from Manali to Leh
After planning for ages and years of listening to else’s stories and reading their blogs and their travel tips, We finally got the opportunity this summer. A bike ride from Manali to Leh through the offbeat roads, picturesque mountains, scenic landscapes and breath-taking beauty. Here is my experience and some top inspiring moments from the trip.
The Thumping sound of the beast.In the valley of Manali & Leh, the thumping sound of Royal Enfield just adds up to the adrenaline rush. Highly powerful and customized with huge fuel tanks and off road tires, they are the best commute for any adventure enthusiast. Especially when you are riding with a pillion, my recommendation is to go with nothing less than 500cc. And to be very honest, I have never imagined myself as a biker, but with ‘Jab tak hai jaan’ tune in mind and with my awesome pillion (my daredevil wifey) and the real beast rider with his super cool pillion as companions for the trip, I can totally brag about me being one (Lets skip the part where I went off-road hitting the dusted ground..It was a learning 🙂 )
The valley of RohtangSituated at 13k feet Rohtang pass is the main point of attraction for anyone travelling till Manali. It connects the Kullu valley to the spiti valley. Recommended time to ascent is early morning due to heavy traffic but for bikers any time will suffice. The valley offers many adventures like skiing, paragliding, skidoo rides and many snow games. We skipped all due to time constraints and started our descend into the wild. Next few hours of ride was worth mentioning thanks to the bumpy ride with literally no road and cold water streams due to melted ice.
Maggi Maggi (2 min ruk sakhte hai!!!) No matter how many times your mom had told you that Maggi is not good for health, Maggi is the thing that keeps your stomach happy. It’s easily available all through the ride to Leh. The hot soup mostly is served raw without any seasonings or sauces and having it with the ‘slurrrpp slurrrpp’ sound is one fun you don’t want to miss.
The last greenery for next ‘x’ kms – Keylong. Keylong is the administrative headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh and a major hub for buses for other destinations. It was important to us as it had the last proper service stations for bikes. We got ours checked and took some snaps of the greenery which gets extinct for the rest of the journey. Having ‘chai-pakoda’ with a view of greenery blended with mist and rain was the Awww moment for us.Rudyard kipling described the place as :
It is surely the God live here; this is not the place for men.
We completed our Day-1 journey covering 150 odd kms and camped in Swiss tents at Jispa. Our hotel (hotel padma) was situated right on the banks of River Bhaga. The breeze had gain its strength and so had our desires to unravel the mystical nature that awaited for the next 2 days of our ride. The sleep was sound but the thought of the deadliest terrain of ‘Baralacha la’ , our next day ascent, gave few goosebumps every now and then.
Among the world’s deadliest pass – Baralacha La (16,040 ft)Enroute to baralacha la, we crossed our biggest water stream. Both in terms of strength and the distance. At one point the freezing water touched my knee. The happy feet was not happy any more ( Wet and frozen!!! ). Seeing the panoramic beauty we did stopped once at the highest point of the pass. I thought it could be the moment where I bring forth the philosophical side of me before realizing that the jaws have stopped moving. Next I remember a base camp 20 km off the pass having maggi and tea. The sudden increase above the sea level makes this place extremely difficult. Most of the people get their first tryst with acclimatization here. We were lucky!!
The lake that challenged our description of ‘beauty’ The feeling was beyond description. These lakes, rocky maintains and heavenly roads had made sure that our many upcoming trips would always be compared to this one making them mediocre until we get a different taste of nature.(I dearly want to be wrong..)
The Vomit Hilton – SarchuOur Day-2 ride completes at Sarchu. This place has the best accommodation camps for travelers. Due to the high altitude and lack of oxygen its often referred as the Vomit hilton and it did rise to its expectation. The night was extremely windy and temperature dropped to 8 below zero. We could hardly breathe and almost all were hit by AMS. (headache and fever). I layered 4 blankets above me and eagerly waited for the sun rise. Thanks to our little doc Poulamee and her apt medicines. Next day was our final ride before we reached Leh and we wanted to start early as more than 200 kms was to be traversed, but the restlessness forced us to start not until 10:00 am. Worth mentioning was the ‘Josh’ showed by enthusiast Divya dii, who had so much of spirit infused, that she didn’t even cared for her discomfort due to headache and AMS. Hail for the pillions !!
Over the top – Taglang la (17,480 ft)Taglang la is incorrectly claimed to be world’s second motorable road. This pass will surely test your fitness. The last 20 kms of ascent includes loose-stone road and an atmospheric oxygen level half that at sea level. Our stay was minimal only for posing our achievement. The descent had the most badly shaped road filled with mud surrounded by rocky mountain on one side and valley on the other. Extra precautions were required as few ft tire skid could be fatal for life.
The destination – Leh By 6:00 pm we finally entered our destination – Leh. The thumping sound of the bullet was fading, but what won’t fade was the adoring beauty that was imprinted on our minds. The inquisitiveness to unfold more of the Godly scenic might had been bestowed already. I felt that we all were embraced by an incredible energy. The faces didn’t had any sight of fatigue. Truly this was just a glimpse of Incredible India, lot more to be unraveled and mesmerized upon. Though routes will be different, but the four will be the same.