A journey to Ladakh with Royal Enfields: Welcome back, It is Shahriat again and today we are going to Ladakh! It is always a dream of most nature-loving persons to visit Ladakh at least once in a lifetime. For an adventurer, travelling to Ladakh on a bike is way more than a dream.It was during my first visit to Ladakh in 2009 when I saw people travelling on bikes, especially in Royal Enfields. At that time we were on a four-wheeler, but to feel the place, the landscape, the atmosphere a bike trip was necessary. We had hired a couple of bikes in Leh & roamed around visiting a few places, but that small trip on the bikes had created inception. More than 2500 kilometres, 13 days, 2 friends and 2 Royal Enfields.This is how it began. It took us nearly 5 years to get our plan materialized. Initially, all members of the previous trip(total 6 friends) signed up but as the date was fixed, most of them backed out gradually. It was me and my childhood buddy Manoj who decided to make the trip, no matter who was ready to join us.
The route was meticulously charted. After countless hours of research over the internet (the time there was no 4G, BSNL 3G was considered to be blazing fast), the must-have items on a bike trip were bought. And after days of planning and packing, the moment finally arrived. Though we were nervous to do this trip without the help of any tour agency, the excitement of the unknown pushed us forward.Our journey began from Asansol, as we started for Chandigarh, our “ground zero”.Day 1: From the Plains to the MountainsWe reached Chandigarh pretty early in the morning by Kalka Mail. We tried to have a good night’s sleep before the big day but as you know sleep has a mind of its own…We had planned to start our day as soon as possible so we headed to the premises of Mr Rajiv Yadav, proprietor of Royal India Bikes, from whom we had rented our bikes.
We reached his farmhouse at around 5 in the morning to find him already up and busy in getting our vehicles ready. After an hour or so of packing, we were finally ready to start our trip. Our destination for the day was Patni Top, some 450kms from Chandigarh. We were new to 500CC bikes(Royal Enfield Desert Storm) but it was a different feeling altogether to drive them. So much power and stability. After an hour or so, it was time for breakfast and as we were in Punjab the choice was straight Alu Parathas! After the quick breakfast, we were again on the road travelling across the lush green fields of Punjab. As we took a small break on the road we saw that people were taking a keen interest in us. A local guy came to us and asked us as to where we were heading.
He seemed to be taken aback when we mentioned Ladakh & his first reaction was, “It’s very far, yaar” in typical Punjabi accent. We chatted with him for some time and even got an invitation to have lunch at his place, but as we had to cover a lot of ground we kept the invitation for some other time. We had our lunch in the city of Pathankot & at around 6 PM we reached Patni top, very popular during winters, but as we were there in the off-season it was kind of deserted. The journey was overall comfortable as we were transitioning from the plains to the mountains. We found ourselves accommodation at the J&K tourism lodge in Patni Top. After dinner, we called the day off.
Day 2: The Journey to SrinagarThe journey was expected to be smoother and shorter than the previous day as we had only about 200kms to cover. We started quite early and very soon we entered the magical province of Kashmir. There was some rain early in the morning which made us wonder if the weather was going to test our riding skills, but fortunately, the weather cleared up with bright sunshine. We reached Srinagar at around 2 pm. After having lunch we took some rest and evening was spent riding the “Sikara” at Dal lake followed by dinner at a local restaurant and strolling around the markets of Srinagar. It was the eve before EID and there was a feel of festivity in the air.
We had made some friends in the area during our previous visits so we met some of our acquaintances before calling the day off. It was more or less a day to get ourselves charged.
Day 3: The Journey to Kargil For the first 2 days it was like a flashback journey as we had travelled to Srinagar 3 times before this. From this days ride, it was venturing into the unknown. A tough day’s journey through the treacherous “Zozila Pass”, described as one of the most dangerous roads in the world. We started early as we wanted to cover as much distance as possible before noon. Our Destination, KARGIL. As expected after crossing Sonamarg, the route of Zozila pass began. As we started moving up the mountain the road conditions started deteriorating. At some point, there was no road. Track made of dust and rocks with a steep mountain on one side and thousands of feet deep valley on the other. While we were at the top we took a break to feel how the world looks from the top.
At we saw two bikers looking quite worried. We greeted each other and found out that they were running low on petrol & the nearest petrol pump was miles away. We had a canister of petrol tied to our bikes for exigencies and this seemed like one. We happily shared a litre or so and then we were on the move again. Before noon we crossed the pass and entered the Ladakh region. Drass was about 10kms away when one of our bikes broke down. No matter what we did, it simply refused to start. We changed the spark plug, air filter, this that but it didn’t budge. Many fellow bikers stopped to help us but nothing happened. Okey Okey, I think I must stop now. We will back again. Till then chill at your home. #stayhome #staysafe
Is corona a Chinese virus? Read the new blog.