Ladakh Diary... a trip report of an amateur biker
prasun.mondal
India > Jammu & Kashmir > States in India > India Travel > Ladakh & Zanskar
#1
| lost in transition

Ladakh Diary... a trip report of an amateur biker

A trip report of 14 extremely adventurous and tenacious days

After long months of planning and booking 2 500 cc RE Desert storms from Royal India bikes Chandigarh, the day finally arrived when we started our dream trip of Ladakh on a bike.:D:D:D

Day 1. we arrived at Chandigarh at 4:30 in the morning, after freshening up and roaming about here and there started towards royal India bikes owners farm house at 5:30. he had kept two similar RE Desert storms ready for us will back carriers In both the bikes.
After packing all our luggage in the back packs and tying them in the carriers we finally started our journey at around 8am. Filling the tanks full at the nearest station we marched ahead, stopping after an hour for breakfast at the outskirts of the city.:)
We stopped for lunch at Pathankot at around 3 pm. After a half hour break we again proceeded towards Patni top our resting spot for the day.
We took the Udhampur bypass, through mansar lake. The road condition in this route is horrible. It took us about and hour to cover 25-30 kms.
Finally after a long days drive we arrived at Patnitop at around 7:30pm. We took rooms at JKTDC Alpine hotel. The condition of the rooms is ok-ish but very badly maintained.
After dinner we took the day off. We covered around 420 kms in day 1.:cool::cool:

Day 2. After a light breakfast we set off for Srinagar. The road conditions were fairly good with few bad patches along the way. We filled the tanks at a petrol pump Ramban. The rest of the journey till Srinagar was uneventful and we reached there at around 3:30pm.
After having lunch at the hotel (Hotel Dawn, boulevard road), we had a small nap. At around 6 we went out for a Shikara ride. I had already visited Srinagar twice and this was my third time. So we decided to see the other side of Dal lake where all the local live and few tourists visit. The Sikara owner’s name was Muzaffar, a young lad, very soft and well spoken. He took us to the other side of the lake, we were having a very good time when suddenly the skies broke and it started pouring like anything.[cry] We tried everything inside the shikara but could save ourselves from getting wet. Seeing our condition Muzaffar offered us shelter at his house which us very nearby and then when the rain subsided we continued and at around 9pm our ride ended. Day 2 185 kms.

Day 3. The journey to Leh begins today. We started at around 8 am for Kargil. After having breakfast at a dhaba on the way we reached the Zozila pass. The road conditions here were horrible, but we managed to cross it without any problems as such. As we were nearing Drass, my bike suddenly stopped and did not start.:confused: There were two more biker who stopped for help. We did everything we knew, changed air filter, spark plugs but the bike wont start… after spending an hour we decided to tow the bike to Drass where we might find some mechanic. So we tied the bike to the other one and moved another 10km or so, the rope broke twice on the way but we did reach Drass. But as it was Eid no mechanic was to be found. So I sat down and tried everything I knew, after an hour or two finally found out that the battery was dead ! there were no battery shops in Drass,[shock] for that we had to go to Kargil. But it was around 6:30-7 pm and as it was Eid there was no surety about the shops being open, so we called off the day and stayed in Drass. Day 3 150 kms

Day 4. We had to get the battery so started for kargil at 8 on a single bike visiting Drass war memorial on the way. We reached there at 10:30 and started looking for a battery shop. Luckily we found one very soon and bought a new one. We returned to Drass at around 12:30 and fitted the battery and the bike started. After lunch we started for Leh at around 2:30pm. The road conditions were top notch and we cruised through. We reached lamayuru at around 6:30pm. It was still sunny and Leh was another 110kms from there so we decided to push through. The journey at high altitude at night is one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen, as it became dark, the sky was lit up with millions of stars, I was seeing the milky way for first time with my eyes… there was no empty space in the sky… stars everywhere…we reached nimmu at 8:30 pm , leh was 34kms away when my bike again started giving trouble, miss firing every now and then and tending to stop and I accelerated[Blush][Blush]. It was a big gamble whether to stay at nimmu or go for Leh, if the bike breaks down in midway there was nowhere to go:confused:. We took the risk and started for leh with my handicapped bike.:mad:
At around 10pm we finally reached leh. And it was a huge relief. Day 270 + 120 kms

Day 5. We did not wake up early and slept till 9am. We had this as a rest day, day for permits and getting the bikes repaired. After asking the locals we came to know that Mohan Sharma is only good mechanic in Leh. So went out looking for him and took the bike to two more repairing shops where it could not be repaired. Finally Sharma ji found out that the fuel injector was jammed with debris, took it out cleaned it and and bingo the bike and roared. In the mean time I went to the DC office for the permits to Chusul and Hanle. I got it very easily.
In the evening we went out for some local sightseeing of leh and went to Thicksey monastery.

Day 6: Journey to the highest motorable road at Khardungla. We started at 10am. It was just 40kms from leh. The roads are in very good conditions except a few patches here and there. We reached the Khardungla top at 12:30, had pakoras and tea , took some snaps and started back for leh. This trip was actually a test for our bikes , how well it was repaired. After returning to leh we decided to get the bikes checked again. After checkup as we started to go to our hotels we found that both the bikes were punctured!:mad:[shock] we had to push the bikes say around 100 meters to the repair shop and doing so we were totally exhausted[whoa]. The 500cc bikes were like elephants as long they are self sufficient they are good, but once they are not, god help you. Day 6 80kms

Day 7: after the incident the previous day we decided to scrap the journey to Chusul , Hanle and Tsomoriri. 3 days and 800kms without any kind of help was a big risk as we were only two. So we decided to go to Pangong and return from there the next day. The road till pangong is rideable with a few very bad patches around Changla. We reached pangong at 4pm booked a local homestay room and spent the night. day7 170kms

Day 8: the return journey was uneventful till karu, when the bike again started having the same problem:mad:[Blush][cry]. After lunch at Karu , we rushed towards leh with my handicapped bike, only to find mohan sharma’s shop closed for the day:p. We had nothing to do but to wait for the next day.

Day 9: the return journey. We were planning to reach Keylong this day if possible. I reached Sharma ji’s shop at 8am where he told that the battery was weak and needs replacement. I told him to check for short circuit in the electrical system, but he told me to replace the battery. Finding a battery for a bullet is a tough job in leh, none of the shops have them:mad:. Finally I got a shop who had them but he had to charge it before giving it. All this process took more than two hours and finally we were ready to leave at 11am. The bike was running good when after 60 kms from leh, it again broke down[cry][cry]. It was too much for us and we thought of dumping the bikes in a truck and taking them back, we talked to a truck driver who agreed at Rs 4000. We were about to put the bikes In the truck when I thought may be the new battery is not fully charged and decided to interchange the battery. Changing the battery started the bike and it ran smoothly. We decided to go till sarchu as keylong was not possible. We reached sarchu at 6:30 and called the day off. day 9 220Kms

Day 10 : the final push to manali. We started at 8 in the morning. The road conditions were horrible.
The bike again started giving trouble. But I was ready. As it started misfiring I changed the battery and was good again.
We reached rotang at 3pm after a small break we started again. But after a few kilometres we found a huge traffic jam. Two cranes were pulling up a truck that had fallen down the hill. We were delayed by more than two hours. And again even with the new battery the bike started troubling. I was really frustrated, and pulled the accelerator as hard as I could while clutching twice or thrice and to my surprise the bike started to work normally ! we reached manali at around 6:30pm.

Day 11. Final leg. We had only 300kms to go this day and thought we will have plain roads till Chandigarh, so we started really late at 11:30am. But we were very wrong, the road conditions were the worst, the traffic was even bad, some parts there were no roads at all, 200kms were hilly roads. When we realized our mistake it was very late. This was the toughest day of our whole trip. We drove 10 hours. Finally we reached Chandigarh at 11pm, the bikes somehow managed to run this day. The headlights were so weak , we were driving totally on assumption.
Anyways by god’s grace and luck we reached Chandigarh safely.

Though our trip was marred with bike problems, the experience of the trip was amazing. The feeling of riding through the high altitudes mountains, clear skies and mesmerizing views was a life time experience …. Just amazing…..

6 Replies

#2
| lost in transition
#3
| lost in transition
#4
| Maha Guru Member
'The 500cc bikes were like elephants as long they are self sufficient they are good, but once they are not, god help you.'

Nice turn of phrase!

Doubtless some lunatic is planning a trip to Leh by elephant as we speak.
#5
| lost in transition
#6
| Member
Ohh that was sad of it

I have a plan to hire a bike on rent there..

Well suggest me things to keep in mind before leaving leh to other places.

you are a best person to explain it because you actually have gone through it.
If Travelling was Free O:-)
You'd Never See Me Again..
#7
| lost in transition
@aMi .... yes it was kind of sad, but exciting as well... if we had had a smooth trip, we never would have had the experiences that made the trip all the more memorable.

well one thing to keep in mind if you are traveling alone is to have a post paid sim card. other than this you need some good sunscreen and good quality clothes to protect you from the chilly weather when you are at the mountain top.
you can let me know the specifics if you want some other information.

have fun !

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