My Ladakh My Heaven || The hardest Goodbye
My Ladakh My Heaven || The hardest Goodbye
Day 11- As they say impromptu plans are the best – they are right.
One day is never enough to capture the beauty of Pangong-Tso, so I decided to visit the lake once again before I headed home and now when I look back I can say I did make the right choice. I left early morning from Leh city and the plan was to only reach the lake, the weather was chilly and the cold breeze was an add-on. I truly enjoyed the ride and I was relaxed a bit because this time I knew what roads I was going on.
I reached Chang-La pass for the second time to have lunch. It was around 3 in the afternoon when I reached Pangong-Tso and I was welcomed with clouds. The beauty of the place was enhanced by the snowfall and rain, soon enough I realized I cannot camp out next to Pangong Lake like before and have to take shelter in one of those campsites next to the lake. It was a good decision because the wind was so strong along with rain and snowfall that camping out alone would have been a struggle.
Even though the campsite tent was cozy and had good arrangements, the Mother Nature had upper hand as always and it was hard to survive the cold even under the multiple layers of clothing and blankets and what not. The temperature at Pangong Lake dropped down real low and only rum kept me warm enough to survive, somehow I survived the night and hardly slept due to extreme cold and the sound of wind.
P.S. This was the coldest weather I experienced that day and survived.
Distance covered between Leh – Pangong-Tso – (130Kms)
Day 12- Return after surviving the coldest night
It was a beautiful morning to wake up to, it was a little warmer than the last night which was calming, and the mountains were now covered with snow. There was another Snow fall at Pangong Lake area predicted so I decided to have my breakfast as quickly as possible and leave for Leh.
After riding for 30Kms I reached Durbuk, where there was too much commotion as the Chang-La pass was covered with six feet snow because of the overnight snowfall and I had no option but to wait for hours before the roads were cleared by Border Road Organisation (BRO), while sitting in a restaurant in Durbuk I spoke to many people, had maggi and tea and even made some new friends. After waiting for almost four hours the roads were finally cleared by BRO, however the condition of the roads was worst now with last night’s snow.
I somehow reached Chang-La again only to witness that it was covered with snow completely and only the road area was cleared by BRO for traffic movement, as much as I wanted to stay more I couldn’t because of the cold, hence I decided to move further only after having a cup of hot tea.
I had my lunch at Karu where I also stopped for some extra time to give rest to my body after riding on the slush filled roads and I reached Leh by 1700hrs. I was extremely tired and my boots were covered in mud and dirt, I decided to take a hot water shower at the guest house and called it a day right after an early dinner.
Distance covered between Pangong-Tso – Leh city (130Kms)
Day 13 – Journey to home begins here
Today I was all set to discover the Manali-Leh road which was opened to the public only two days ago. From what I heard, the roads were still in very bad condition. This was also the beginning of the same route that does not have any petrol stations for almost 400Kms.
I left the road at 0730hrs as I had to cover 220Kms to reach Sarchu. On my way, I came across a milestone which read I am 24kms away from the World’s Second Highest Motorable road. The road was pretty smooth and I loved the silent yet beautiful ride, the view was mesmerising. The peaceful ride was a sheer satisfaction. As the weather got colder I realized I am about to reach the top, it was too windy and the breeze was cold too, also I started seeing snow on the side of the roads too.
I reached the top around 1115hrs of Tanglang-La, the wind was too strong at the top making it difficult for me to balance my bike. There was also no sign of any life on this path, it was just me and my bike.
The wind was so strong at the top that I had to take shelter inside an old temple (that was the only construction at the top, apart from the milestone that said Tanglang-La). After some 15 minutes at the top I saw a taxi stopping by, 3 tourists from England and a guide stepped out. They had a device which told them that the wind speed was 70km/h (now this got me worried). I decided to stay in the temple itself until the wind speed reduced and leave for Sarchu afterwards.
I managed to leave after 30 odd minutes and soon I found myself at the starting edge of 21 Gata Loops, now just to let you know about the route, 21 Gata Loops or 21 Gatta Loops is a road that has 21 hairpin curves and takes you from top of the mountain to almost at the bottom by the end of the road, also this road is furious and narrow, manoeuvring through this road and the hairpin curves was a task in itself since almost the whole stretch is very steep as well.
At around 1345hrs I reached Pang, when I entered Pang it looked like mini Grand Canyon to me, the landscape vaguely resembles to that of The Grand Canyon. I reached a Dhaba which was managed by an old lady whose hospitality was at its best and I decided to have my lunch there itself. From this point, now the distance between Pang and Sarchu was just 75kms.
After riding for some time I reached Sarchu by 1700hrs and found nothing around, no buildings, no houses or anything else. I thought of setting up my tent in Sarchu, however, it was still too windy outside and the ride was tiring as well. I changed my plans and took up a tent at a campsite which was newly setup by the owners. The strong wind continued which kept the weather cold irrespective of bright sun. In the night I had my dinner in the same campsite where I met some more travellers from Indore (M.P.), these people started their journey from Manali and were going towards Ladakh region.
We had chit chat during dinner and later went back to our tents, the strong winds were shaking the tent fabric so much and making noise throughout the night, glad I was tired enough to not be bothered by all that noise and wind hissing, I slept right after I got in my sleeping bag and that was the end of my day 13.
Distance covered between Leh city – Sarchu (220Kms)
Day14 – The last rough patch of the journey
My plan for today was to cover the other half of Manali-Leh Highway, so I got up early, had breakfast, got ready and I started from Sarchu at 0815hrs. On my way out, I enquired from a few people I met about the road conditions. As informed, the Baralacha-La was not in a very good shape and there were some rough patches through the roadway. But I had seen worst, so there I was, riding my bike and leaving Sarchu.
The Baralacha-La road was getting bad and there was snow on each side. I came across some river crossings, snow-clad roads and cold weather was always there to accompany me. When I reached Baralacha-La, it was covered with snow completely. I stayed there for a while and moved further on my trip. After riding through the snow covered Baralacha-La the roads got better and the weather got warmer, I started enjoying my ride while crossing different towns and villages.
I was about to reach the famous Rohtang-pass and weather got cold again, I was riding for some time and decided to take halt at Rohtang top, however right before I was about to reach the top it started to rain and snowfall at the Rohtang Pass and pretty soon I was all drenched from top to bottom, Also when I reached the top I realised there’s no shelter or spot to stay until the rain and snowfall stopped, hence I decided to keep going.
The roads were all covered with snow as well. The Rohtang-Manali road was a little dangerous and since it was my first experience at Rohtang, I was a little conscious considering I was all drenched and riding with extreme cold being felt by the body. I reached Manali around 1800hrs and planned to stay in Ride-inn Manali, since I had seen their photos online and really wanted to experience the property. The place looked impressive and the photos did complete justice to the actual property. A perfect place for a rider to stay, the property is managed by Godwin and Sneh. The hospitality was top-notch. I met two more solo travellers– from Pune and Chennai. We had dinner together and shared our stories, further plans, checked out the photographs we clicked. It was late past midnight when we headed back to our rooms. My trip was coming to an end, the reality was sinking in.
Distance covered between Sarchu – Manali (270Kms)
Day15 – getting back to chaos with peace within
This was the last day of my trip, from Manali to Delhi, and then that’s it my journey will come to an end. I started from Ride-inn around 0800 hrs after saying goodbye to the host couple and the new friends I had made. Right after I crossed Mandi, my bike’s clutch wire broke down and I took a halt to fix it. This was the first breakdown in last 15 days, this is acceptable for me considering what my bike has been through. When I reached Bhuntar, I had to fix the bike’s chain as well and I decided to have lunch at the same place.
I had covered approximately 100 kms and my body was aching out. I started having backaches and I had to stop every 10 to 15kms to stretch my back, this was such a bummer, I just wanted the pain to go away anyhow. The ride was getting tough, and even after traveling for the entire day I had not reached Chandigarh. I stopped at a dhaba for some food and relaxing and then continued again, the day was coming to an end, however I was so eager to reach home that even the heavy rain 30kms before Chandigarh could not stop me. I was completely drenched but thankfully all my luggage was covered. The time was 1730hrs already and I had just crossed Chandigarh but I just wanted to reach home and so I kept riding. I continued even when it got darker and the intensity of rain increased, I was also wondering how come its raining like cats and dogs in the month of May, this was totally unexpected.
I could not ride fast enough but surprisingly my backache disappeared. I was near Ambala when the rain finally stopped. I decided to stop at a guest house to change into dry clothes and rest for an hour. The clouds were clearing out and I decided to hit the road again. It was already night when I left Ambala and the weather changed again and it was raining all the way, even when I reached home at 0130hrs. I rode for 17 hours and I was exhausted. For first 10 hours after I started from Manali I suffered terrible backache and next 7 hours it just rained crazy. But I had a sense of fulfilment.
My 15-days journey had come to an end. I had finally fulfilled my dream. It was the most amazing 15 days of my life and I had a whale of a time. I had a bag full of memories and endless stories to share. It was “The Trip” of my life with some lessons learnt. The journey never stops, planning another trip soon but I know that executing the plan is far more important.
This journey taught me the importance of being alone and finding peace within, I will try to not let go of it and see where it takes me.
One thing is for sure, this will never stop.
Distance covered between Manali – Delhi (550Kms)
For the love of journeys – We will meet again, till then.
KEEP TRAVELLING || KEEP EXPLORING || KEEP SHARING