Ladakh travelogue in pictures

Hi friends,


Ladakh travel season is coming close and many of us might have started planning for the trip. I am a adding a list of pics I had taken during my last year's ladakh trip. I hope this post encourages more people to travel.

Starting from few pics from patnitop and gulmarg...


Early morning ride in the hills of from patnitop.
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Approaching Gulmarg
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Gloomy but green evening in Gulmarg

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Beautiful houses in Gulmarg.
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Gulmarg has one of the most beautiful twistys.

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Next route was from kargil to rangdum. It was already 5 in the evening when I reached kargil. I wanted to reach parkachik today which was still around 80 kms. I thought I will make it and reach there till 7-7:30 pm, but I didn't knew what was ahead... The scenes were beautiful but It started getting gloomy along mild rain with and snow. At Suru valley gate a elderly person asked me "Kaha jaana hai bhai".
I said: "Parkachik".
He paused for 3 seconds and asked me politely
He: "Aaj he jaana hia kya" ?
I : yes..(confidently)
He : "Aapko pata hai kita door hai parkachik".
I was too energized by today's ride along beautiful vistas. I said ..
I: "Haa 70-80 km "
He again told me politely
He: "Aaj kargil me in hi ruk jaaiye kal chale jaana. Mausam bahut kharaab hoga aage aur pahuchne tak raat ho jaayegi.."
To this I just nodded... and said
I : "I will try"... (I was so confident..)

He just raised his hand said "ok"

When I reached Saliskote some 20 kms from kargil snowfall and rain intensified and along with it cold also. At this point I realized that this was a big mistake and I should have listened to that wise man stayed back in kargil.

Yes my confidence was shattered into pieces... and I decided to go back to kargil but It was a good decision.. Rain/Snowfall followed me till Suru vally gate and after that it was just cold but no rain. Took a hotel in Kargil and enjoyed nice food there.

Next morning I started for Rangdum... It was very cold even in the 0 degree gloves I was wearing. My fingers tips were getting numb and I had to take some heat from my duke's engine in-between few times.


Beautiful Suru valley


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It was still gloomy and drizzling in patches in Suru valley.

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I came from somewhre behind those mountains.

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After this there was no trace of tarmac. and it was only muddy rough trails...

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Between Parkachik and Rangdum this was the only man made structure I found and a proof that there are people living ahead, otherwise it was a truly solo ride since hours.


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Since parkachik It was a rough ride and I had to ride standing on a stone filled track. At around 12:30 I saw Rangdum monastery and I had to rush as rain was about to fall anytime

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I took as break and had some dal roti in rangdum. I discussed the possibility of seeing drangdrung glacier and coming back which was further 35 km and around 2-2.5 hrs ahead. Weather was getting bad but I didn't wanted t miss this glacier as this was one of the main reasons I had came for this trip. Still remembering yesterday's experience about weather I gathered myself and decide to make a run for it. While going towards this glacier there are many off road tracks made by trucks. I followed a trucks and almost got trapped in the deep streams in between. I wasted 15-20 minutes maneuvering those streams as bug trucks easily crossed those streams by my duke's tires were sinking in those. If you are going from rangdum to padum just follow the route which goes just from behind the hotel in rangdum It is a bit longer but safe.

Once Rangdum was out of sight it was all clear weather

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Saw zanskar vally board. Took a pic

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Next was penzi la. Highest point on rangdum-padum road(or trail I must say).

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And then cam the moment and I saw drang drung glacier.


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Sat there admiring the beauty for half an hour and decided to head back as it was already past 3 pm and in hills it gets dark early. As I turned my bike to my surprise it felt very very heavy, not because of luggage but the rear Tyre lost air pressure probably due to constant hammering against the rocks in this terrain . Initially it looked like puncture but thank god it was just low air pressure. I had the air pump but it was connected to bike's battery so I had to unload my tail bag to access it. Filled air and also petrol as the meter was showing last bar. All this took more than 30 mins.

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Now I had to race back towards Rangdum as it was already quite late. and rain gods can arrive very quickly in these mountains.

On the ride back to Rangdum I almost lost my front while speeding on a downhill but dukes ABS saved my life. No clicks on the way back as weather was getting dangerously clod and mils snowfall had also picked up as I closed up on Rangdum.

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I had to stop just 100 meters before Rangdum to put on my rain gear to avoid just the wind and mild shower entering my riding gear. It was unbearably cold that day.

Stayed in the same hotel where I had my lunch. Had tasty dinner and that was end of the day.

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Next destination was Leh


It was my first night at such considerable height so had some difficulty in sleeping. As last evening it was very cold in the morning also. Today I started late at around 10 am as I knew once I cross Kargil roads will be wide and empty mostly.



First view of dry and arid landscape after kargil. No signs of life or water around, but I could see some biker ahead of me.


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Stopped by in between to take a bum break and take some pics.



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At Fotula top at around 2:30 pm. These riders were from Mumbai.



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Next came Lamayuru monastery. I went up there but frankly speaking somehow I was not so much interested in monasteries. Sat there had a chat with other riders there and started again.


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Rough and dusty terrain after Lamayuru


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Sun was playing hide and seek during that day. Closing in on Leh

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Finaly Welcome to Leh at 5: 30 pm in the evening

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I stayed at Mr. Lings house at Leh. This is a simple house with enough facilities for your stay at Leh. Nothing exceptional like the starred hotels but it is very homely place and Mr. Ling makes you feel comfortable. He is a very generous and helpful person. He has very good experience in this mountainous region and can guide you for your further rides to pangong, diskit, hanle or karzok. I had nice time talking to him.

One more thing I would like to mention is that they cook really tasty food.. Here again don’t expect some flashy dishes. They cook normal dal rice, roti-sabji which we are normally used to along with some local dishes, but the taste is just too good. Each and every dish I had reminded me of my mom-made food..Believe me I had a Ratatouille moment when I pushed a morsel for just plain sabji in my mouth. He can also help you in getting permits.

All the time I spent there I felt like home. I will surely visit again whenever I go to Leh again.


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Simple ans tasty food.

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Next day was a break day. So In the morning I got my permits. Jigmeth, the guy who helps Mr. Lings to serve his customers showed me where to get the permits and also helped me in the process.

Rest of the day as spent roaming around Leh market. I did visit Leh palace and the stupa. Leh palace was so-so , but the stupa is very beautiful and definitely not to be missed by anyone who visits Leh.


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Last night I slept late and also woke up early at 4:30 am just because of excitement. Did my daily chores and got ready by 5:30 am. After that some time for discussion with Mr Lings over tea and by the time I started my ride it was 6 am.


I wanted to reach there early to avoid the crowd.


View of Leh city from the route to Khardungla.


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It was a very-very cold morning. Road was gone after a climb of few kms and it was a mud track filled with soft snow. I was huffing and puffing in my helmet . This was probably because of less oxygen.

I was wearing my normal leather full gauntlet gloves but halfway somehow my best fitting gloves started feeling so tight on my hands. I thought It is just temperory and It must be because of on this bad road and I had to hold my handlebar tightly but after half an hour the tightness crossed the limit and I had to stop and check. When I saw my hands I was stunned. My hands colour was changed to darkish blue and my fingers had swelled by half their size. I immediately wore my 0 degree gloves I had in my bag. Took a break for 5 mins and things started to ease out and I felt comfort in my fingers. For a moment the thought came to my mind “Is this the end of my trip”. You never know how someone’s body will react to this kind of height. Some get headache, some get blood from their nose, everyone’s body reacts differently. I had also taken AMS tablets with me but luckily I never got to use them. Whenever anyone comes to ladakh he/she must be in best of their health.

Moving ahead slowly on the slushy snowy road my rear tyre got stuck in a slush hole filled with snow while trying to come out it my bike’s tyre skidded sideways and the unavoidable happened…I dropped my fully loaded bike. I tried lifting it but because of snow and slush it was sliding further. I was not able to lift it as I still had not overcome those swelled fingers. By god’s grace there was a avengers group alongside me and a couple riding in duster. One of the bikers and the guy from Duster helped me pick my bike.

I sat on my bike and took it to the side of road and sat for a while to ragain some energy. While sitting I was checking my bike for any damages and I thought that under the weight of fully loaded bike the dukes leg guard would have crashed taking the radiator along with it but to my surprise the leg guard was just slightly bent and radiator was scratchless.. Big Reliefff….

It was not yet over though. Khardungla top was probably 3-4 corners ahead and I got a patch where it was completely covered in ice. The couple in duster had gone way ahead and the avenger group was also not coming from behind . Probably one of them might be stuck. At places where the Ice sheet was thin and water was flowing under it, I broke it with stones and after 10-15 mins of struggle I managed to make a 6 inch water lane in that ice sheet. I drove through that with some struggle, but I knew that is the best path as there will be small stones under the small water stream and also that traction required to cross the ice.

In the below image the patch on the left side is where the Ice was there
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Then came the gateway to Khardngla top. I had seen in many forums and videos that the top is around 1 km from here. I was feeling very proud and pumped up after crossing the ice sheet patch . I raised my hands to the sky and shouted yess… A guy passing by in a Maruti Breeza saw me doing that gave me thumbs up and waved at me. I waved back and smiled.


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And finally when I reached the top… I don’t know why but got tears in my eyes and my throat was a bit choked. When I reached here one of the members of the avengers group was already there and offered me to take my pic next to the board and asked me to take my helmet. I didn’t wanted to as was still full of tears which I didn’t wanted to show. We kept talking for few minutes. He was also waiting for someone to com whom he could talk to. After few minutes of talking I eased off and then I took off my helmet and finally the pose next to Khardungla board. The eyes were still red :).

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The tin sheet hut in the pic below is army canteen where 2-3 army persons stay all day and night. We both had two rounds of tea and discussed about common things. Where are you riding from .. which route…what all places you are planning to see… After 10-15 mins his other group members came and he got busy with them. I also roamed around for some 10-15 mins shaked hands with him and started my bike to leave for diskit.


When I put my key in my bike’s dash showed low battery warning and when I turned the key it sounded… khhh…kkhh…kkhh and I said…. What is this… how is it possible, but after 4-5 attempts it started and I started my decent towards diskit.


Some pics during descent. I did not shut down the engine while clicking the pics as I was afraid that bike will not start again.


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Once I reached khalsar the low battery warning was gone. I met some fellow riders from Ludhiyana there. They were coming from panamik-diskit

We discussed the route and other general rider’s talk. I had my lunch with them and as I had good amount of time left in the day I decided to checkout panamik. I asked them if there is anything good to see towards panamik and they said hot spring. SO I went in search of hot springs towards panamik.

I was not able to find the hot springs. I was getting farther the temperature was also rising. So I turned back just after panamik village and started towards khalsar from where I had to choose other way too Diskit .

Some pics enroute panamik


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After the turn from khalsar to diskit, I got my first water crossing if the trip. I was a wide calm flow of water on the road, I didnt knew how deep it was. I looked around and nobody was there, so I waited for ant passing vehicle and looking at the dip of their tyres it looked like my 17 inch wheel will be fully submerged. I again waited for some backup and when I saw a jeep coming I attempted to cross the water, somehow I stayed on the bike and crossed, but I had water in my raiding pants almost up to my knees.


Some pics enroute diskit.


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Waterfall in the barren rock

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The most beautiful and colorful structure in this region.



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It was around 4-5 pm and I wanted to get into a hotel and settle down fast as ICC champions trophy was going on and we had Ind-Pak ODI today. But when reached hotel there was no electricity. Everything was on generator and I couldn’t watch the match. It happened for good as India was beaten very badly that day.

I had my dinner at around 8:30 pm, chit-chat with fellow travellers there and end of the adventurous day.
 
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