Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 21-22, 10 July - 11 July, Kalka - Pune.. Back home

On 10 July, we had to board into the train at Kalka. But, first we had to pack our bike before loading it into the luggage car. Fortunately, we could find some people at the station who packed our bike for 100 Rs. I remembered, same thing was charged 300 Rs in Pune.
Then, I booked the bike and got it loaded from a railway person.
Our back journey started at 10.10 am from Kalka. We were lucky that it started raining just after we reached the station.
Next day, we reached Mumbai at around 3.30 pm without much trouble. At station, the luggage dept. officer noticed that there was no booking information marked on the bike. So, he said that he could not transfer the bike to me and he would have to call up the Kalka station to confirm. Although I had the receipt and vehicle documents, he wanted to earn some money out of it. A typical example of bureaucracy in India. However, I went to his senior officer and told him the story and to my surprise he immediately came with me and asked the in charge person to transfer my bike to me as I had valid receipt with me. This was the other face of our bureaucracy :)

One more thing was about the porters working under that person. They were almost trying to scare me by saying that nothing can be done about my case. But, if I would give him 600 Rs., he would arrange the things for me. It was the most funniest at the same time a ridiculous thing for me. Finally, I had to get the octroi stamp from the concerned officer. She helped me telling that I would have to write an application stating that I had carried my bike for trip. So, I need not have to pay the octroi. It took me one and half our to resolve this problem.

Thus, eventually, we got the bike and started our journey back to Pune.
Our journey to Pune was nice other than the raining for most of the time.
Actually, it was a big trouble especially at night when there was merely some visibility.

End of the day, we were at home at around 10 pm while our dream trip came to an memorable end. We enjoyed it like never before. It was a journey of a place not less than heaven.

Day 20, 9 July, Kullu - Kalka

This was the last day of our journey on bike. The distance from Kullu to Kalka is around 300 Kms. So, we started quite early at 6.30 am.
Roads were in pretty good condition. So, the pace of journey was quite good. Around 9 am, we had our breakfast at a dhaba after crossing Mandi.
Soon, we passed by Bilaspur. However, there was one twist at Swarghat. As we were climbing up in the ghat region suddenly it started raining heavily. Although, we were prepared for rain, the rains could have easily drenched us in a few minutes. So, we stopped in a temple at the roadside.

It took very long time around one and half hour. We could see the clouds passing by us coming from the valley. Sometimes, it was raining a few meters away from us while there was no rain where we were standing :). Overall, we enjoyed the halt as well even we were worried about reaching to Kalka.

Once the rain stopped, we continued towards Chandigarh. Some kms ahead, there was no rain at all. Before entering in Chandigarh, we had our meal at a roadside dhaba.
Around 3.30 pm, we left for Kalka via Chandigarh. Chandigarh is really a nice and well planned city. Roads were wide. We could notice trees and gardens on the way. Overall, it was very much different from a normal Indian city, I had seen before.
Around 6 pm, we arrived in Kalka where we had to board into the train for Mumbai.
First, we enquired the booking officer about the booking of my bike. He told us, there was no one to pack our bike and we had to do it ourselves. So, we went into market to buy all necessary things. Fortunately, we could find it easily.
Finally, we were in the hotel room after dinner.

Day 19, 8 July, Keylong to Kullu

Today, we started a little late at 8 am. Our planned destination was Mandi which is 110 kms away from Manali.
Roads were in pretty bad condition till Rohtang pass other than some portion before Kokhsar.
Kokhsar is around 66 Kms from Keylong. Road passes through some of best beautiful scenery. Green mountains with snow peaked tops in background, were making the scenes amazing.
Ride was not so good as road was full of mud, water passages and dust. Among all this, we reached Kokhsar at around 11 am. We had our breakfast cum lunch here.
Soon, we headed towards Rohtang La, situated at 13,050ft. Within an hour or so, we were on the top and it was awesome. It was completely covered in the clouds.
Also, after so many days, we were seeing so many people together. It's a complete tourist spot.

After taking a small halt, we continued towards Manali. While descending down, road was in bad shape and the traffic was making it worse. After 2 hours of drive, we were in Manali at around 4 pm without much trouble.
Road conditions were improved very well. So, we proceeded towards Kullu after a small snacks break. Around 6 pm, we were in Kullu. Hence, we decided to stay here instead of continuing to

Day 18, 7 July, Pang to Keylong

From Pang, we started at 6 am. Weather was cold. The water at the drinking place was frozen because of freezing temperatures. Just after leaving Pang, we came across first pass, Lachulung La situated at an altitude of 16,616 ft. Ride was good through beautiful scenery. A few Kms down after Lachulung La came another pass Nakee La, 15,547ft. Roads in this part were not so good as compared to before.
Next came the famous Gata Loops, it is the collection of 21 loops taking us down from an altitude of 15,302 ft. Roads from Gata loops till Sarchu were in good condition. The structures created by the river in the mountains were amazing. Later, we reached Sarchu at around 9.30 am.
Sarchu has also a collection of tent hotels / restaurents run by Ladakhi / Nepali people. Also, we saw some groups having their own tents.

We left Sarchu after spending around 1 hour. Next came 3rd pass of the day, Baralacha La. It was the first place where we could see so much of snow. One more surprising thing was, roads were ultimate that too at an altitude of 16,500ft. Such good roads are even difficult to find it in a city :). Hats off to BRO .
One can see a frozen lake while going by this pass, the "Deepak Tal".
We captured some good snaps on the way. However, while descending down the pass roads were not constructed well. At one place, we had to pass through a stream where the bridge was broken. We removed our shoes to avoid getting them wet. However, the water was too cold that our feet were almost frozen while getting the bike across. After a few kms, the terrain started changing. We could spot small shrubs on mountains and as we went ahead it turned into dense forest.
Soon, we reached Darcha in Himachal Pradesh. Roads just before Daracha and further till Keylong were in worst condition as the road widening work was going on.

At Darcha, one can see a tremendous avalanche fallen in river bed. It's difficult to imagine what would have been the condition at the time of the avalanche. We can observe from here onwards people living up in
the mountains. I wonder, what would be their life in monsoon or snow fall seasons.

Keylong is 32 kms away from Darcha but it took one and half hour as the roads were full of dust, mud and water. We were in Keylong at around 4 pm. Keylong is a small mountain village with beautyful scenery.
We found one good economic guesthouse after a small search.
Later, the main task was to get carrier fixed as it was broken third time. One can imagine the conditions my bike would have passed through :). One boy from the owner's office helped me to get to a mechanic. He did quite a good job. I was assured that it would not break again.

In the night, we went to a small restaurent closeby. It was pretty cold at that time but the view at the night with lights glowing at the mountain houses, was extra ordinary. We had some good meal after a long time and went back to the guest house for rest.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 17, 6 July, Return journey begins.. Pangong to Pang

It was the starting day of our return journey. Our actual plan was to visit Tso Moriri and Tso Kar as well. However, the time left was very short so we had to cancel it.
We started pretty early around 6 am and it was damn cold. Especially, when we were driving the bike, we could feel our fingers were frozen. The clouds and chilling wind were making the matter worse. Around 8 am, we reached in Tangstey. We ordered for breakfast in a small restaurant. While we were sitting there, we were trying to get as much as sunlight on our bodies as they were almost frozen :).

Soon, we headed towards Chang La. Around 11 am, we reached there without much problems.
Between, we spotted some Himalayan Blue Ships and could capture some snaps. Again, here we had some tea. Also, we met a person from Mumbai who was coming in Ladakh every year for last 7 years. We exchanged some of our experiences. One more thing was that the army person told us that the temperature was in negatives which was really surprising for us.

Then, we continued again and passed by Sakti village to reach Karu. Now, we had to leave Ladakh region heading towards Manali. Before that, we had some good lunch and rest.
Around 1 pm, we started to move towards Pang. Road was in pretty good condition till Tanglang La, the third highest pass(17,582ft) other than the roads at the peak. After some time, we were on the famous More plains, a relatively flat piece of land, located at an altitude of 15,400ft.

In the beginning, road was in relatively good state. Later, we had to drive through soft sand along side the road as the construction of road was going on.
It was really hard to find path as the big vehicles has made long trajectories and it was not possible to drive bike on such path. Moreover, the cold wind blowing made the task really challenging.
We could imagine what would be the condition of this place in winters. We saw some cyclists riding on such route. I really wonder how they do it. B-)
Around 6 pm, we managed to reach Pang. We had thought, it would be a small village. However, it was just a small place with some hotel tents. As it was all open place, freezing wind was blowing making us impossible to step outside the tent. Also, these winds could give you a big headache unless you take care of your ears.
We could not have a good sleep at that night as it was not very comfortable.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Day 16, 5 July, Leh to Pangong Tso..

Today, we started off at 8 am from Leh. Soon, we passed by Shay and Thiksey Gonpas.
We reached Karu at around 9.15 am. Karu is 40 Kms away from Leh. Road was in pretty good condition. From Karu, one has to take left turn towards Pangong Tso.
Before moving to Pangong, we had a small breakfast.

Soon, we reached Sakti village. From Sakti starts the ascent of Chang La. As usual, the road is curvious and as you approach towards the pass road conditions start getting deteriorated. Captions laid along the road side make the journey wonderful. Between, we were lucky to spot some Himalayan Blue Ships on our way.

Around 11.30 am, we were at Chang La top. It is the second highest motorable pass at height of 17,800ft.
The place was pretty cold. However, the hospitality by army was very warm to keep us away from the coldness. We had some tea and biscuits and after a small break of photo session, we headed towards our destination.

As we passed by Chang La, there was noticeable difference in terrain. We could see some greenery along the water streams. Also, the oxygen level was decreased making us feel dizzy.
Around 2 pm, we touched Tangstey. Here, we submitted our permits and we proceeded towards Pangong Lake.
Lukung is 32 Kms away from Tangstey where one gets the first glimpse of the lake. The journey was quite good with the beautiful scenery alongside. We could see wild horses and asses grazing around. Although, it was tough at some places to drive the bike through the sand formed by erosion of rocks. Also, there was a small portion of road difficult to ride because of relatively big stream followed by steep ascent and road similar to a dirt track.

After all this, we could get the first glimpse of Pangong Tso around 3 pm. Pangong is a high altitude lake, located at around 14000+ ft.
There is a small restaurant run by army. We had our much needed lunch. The food was not that good. At this place, one can do boating if you are relative of army person or have any recommendation.
Later, we headed towards Spangmik which is 10 Kms further. Road was not so good from Lukung.
Spanmik is located at the shore of lake. One can get beautiful views of blue water with the barren mountains in the background. They were really astonishing that the camera won't stop clicking ..
After reaching at Spangmik, we could easily find a guesthouse for 250 Rs. We took some rest and went for a walk along the lake. As we were walking around, we could feel it inside our minds. The views were breathtaking although we were shivering because of the cool wind.
It was one of the best days, we spent in Ladakh.
We walked around for one hour or so and returned back to the room. At night, the owner of the GH served us food and then, we went for sleep. At night, weather was really cold and windy.
Snaps on Picasa

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 15, 4 July, Back from Nubra..

In the morning, we went again to the desert to take a closer look at it's beauty. Actually, our motive was to check for any wildlife existence. However, we were short of time. After spending

an hour amid the sparkling sand and shrub forest, we returned back to our room.
Our first destination was Diskit monastery. It was built in 1420 AD and is located on a high hill and offers fantastic views of Shyok river basin. Here, we again met Mr. Ali. He said us that they had found the location of one unknown lake close to Panamik. I told him that we would follow their car.
Later, we continued our journey to Sumur and then to Panamik.
Road towards Panamik is a very well laid so the journey was pretty comfortable.
The road passes by Nubra river through some of the magnificent vistas of nature.
Between, we lost the track of their car. Ultimately, we reached at Panamik around 11.30 am.
We climbed up till the hot water spring. Although, there is nothing much to explore but again the height offered good panaromic view of the riverbed and mountains.

It was time to get back to Leh. Soon, we were at the bifurcation leading to Diskit. Here, we had our lunch. Menu was as usual maggie :). Actually, we could have stopped at Khalsar which has much better options of meal.
We reached Leh at around 6 pm with small breaks. We had some snacks at south pullu and a small halt at Khardung La. Journey was good other than a few kilometers at Khardung La.

Again, it was exciting and challenging to drive through such roads.
As, the agent had promised, he gave us the permits for Tso moriri making it for 7 days in total. So, we were not worried as far as the permits were considered.
The next day, we had to move to Pangong Tso.