Marsimik La!!!!!!!!

Discussion in 'Travelogues from North India' started by yogiraj, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. bunnypunia

    bunnypunia Member

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    Pune!
    Congrats! Welcome to the club of the selected few.

    This is in reference to http://www.bcmtouring.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5926&page=4

    Me and one more guy reached Phobrang at 8:30am on 27th August, just a few days after you. We too got a nod from the guys at the ITBP post to ride ahead. The sky seemed clear, but it did start snowing when we were just a km away from the top.

    All other passes seem like a piece of cake after doing the M-Top!
     
  2. Yogesh Sarkar

    Yogesh Sarkar Administrator

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  3. Salil

    Salil Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Congrats! Must have been a dream come true ride for you!
     
  4. yogiraj

    yogiraj New Member

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    @All
    The travelogue is ready with me.
    Can somebody help me out regarding how can I include the pics inline with the write up.
    If I click on Insert Image button, it asks for an URL.
    Does it mean, I'll need to upload the images on some site and then only I can use those images?
     
  5. Yogesh Sarkar

    Yogesh Sarkar Administrator

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    You can upload the photographs to another site and then post them here or you can upload the photographs directly here through the attachment function, here is a FAQ on how to use attachments
     
  6. yogiraj

    yogiraj New Member

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    Foreword:
    CBZ Xtreme's punch line is what I guess describes any bikers mindset perfectly....

    "Thinking Is Such A Waste Of Time"

    Go ahead and do it.....


    The Journey:


    Day 1, Independence Day (15th Aug):
    8.28 am. We boarded Swaraj express for Ambala.
    All 6 of us were meeting for the first time. Only I was knowing each of them personally...
    Myself, Satish and Kaustubh from Pune, Swapnil and Avinash from Nashik and Nebu from Mumbai.

    For me and Swapnil, this was our journey towards the Journey Of Our Dreams. The dream we had almost three years back when we were doing our masters.....

    L To R: Avinash, Nebu, Kaustubh, Me and Satish.
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    Nothing exceptional happened during the journey, except for some really bad PJs on each others.


    Day 2 (16th Aug): Ambala-Chandigarh-Bilaspur(140 km)
    Alighted at Ambala Cant. station at around 8.00 am. Our bikes had already reached Chandigarh. Went to transporter's office located at Chandigarh industrial estate to find out that our bikes had some damages during the transport. The weather conditions were overcast and it was too hot and humid out there. And we were there, outside the transporters office trying to fix our bikes. My RE had broken rear number plate. Nebu's Karizma had broken clutch lever, but thankfully he had one spare clutch lever. Kaustubh's CBZ had broken front mudguard. He thought that won't make much difference only to discover later at the end of the trip that it does, when the mudguard completely fell off the bike to give him a taste of mud from Jawahar Tunnel.
    Made a claim of Rs. 1500/- for the broken parts and gave it to the transporter. Yet to receive the amount though.
    Loaded the luggage onto the bikes. Swapnil along with satish went to fuel station, only to find out a Cop just outside who caught hold of them for the pillion wasn't wearing a helmet. First challan of the trip!!!!
    Packing was done and we were planning to leave when we discovered some thing rubbing against Karizma's chain cover from inside. Opened it up to find out a packing strap with steel ends caught up in between the chain and sprocket.

    Fixing Karizma's Chain.
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    Somehow managed to remove it, but now it was time to get the chain tightened once again. Went to fuel station, tanked up, checked the tyre air pressure and got Karizma's chain fixed.
    It was time to get going. Only then we got a call from our Manali's hotel manager saying that the road to Manali is closed to traffic due to landslide near Swarghat. He suggested to take some other route to Manali via Kalka. But that only added to our confusion. And to our surprise, nobody at Chandigarh had a slightest idea about what the road status was, not even the cops.
    It was pain getting out of Chandigarh. Nobody seemed to have correct idea as to which road leads to Manali. And lot of people were pretty much keen on sending us to Mohali!!!:confused:
    Finally at 2.00 pm. we were out of chandigarh heading towards Manali.
    Had our lunch at 3.00 pm and resumed the ride at 3.30 pm towards Manali.

    Lunch Break
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    It was so overcast at that time, that we were thinking it'll start raining like hell within no time. But thankfully, it cleared up. Stopped for a tea break near Swarghat.

    View from Swarghat.
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    It was already 6.00 pm. From this point onwards, we could find lots of trucks and four wheelers stranded due to the land slide. Our plan previously was to reach Manali on the same day. But looking at the delayed start from Chandigarh itself and this landslide thingy, Manali seemed too distant for that day. So we decided to push as far as possible for the day. The trucks and almost all the four wheelers were caught up in the jam, while we were trying to find our way through narrowest of the gaps we could see. Somehow we managed to reach Bilaspur by 8.30 pm. Got a room for 500 bucks for 6 people. Had our dinner at a hotel named Natraj Hotel. I withdrew some cash from the ATM which I missed at Chandigarh and went to bed with a plan to leave early morning the next day.

    Contact Details of the Hotels.

    Name of the hotel:

    Hotel Nilam.
    Rs. 80/- per person.


    Day 3 (17th Aug): Bilaspur-Manali.(179 km)
    We all got up early in the morning at 7.00 am.
    But today, we only had to reach Manali, so it was okay even if we are a little late.
    Left Bilaspur at around 9.00 am. The roads from here onwards seemed to be in a good shape.
    Reached Mandi at 11.00 am. Waited for each one in the group to arrive. Had a couple of photos clicked. And then resumed the journey.

    Somewhere between Mandi and Kullu.
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    The Aut tunnel is a really good one. Initially I found it really difficult to adopt myself to the low lighting in the tunnel until I discovered that I forgot to get my sunglasses off . Reached Kullu at 1.30 pm. Had a nice lunch at one of the sweets shops there and reached Manali at around 5.00 pm. Got two rooms for Rs. 400/- without parking for our bikes. Decent enough. Had tea and off we went to do some shopping including the Petrol cans. To our surprise, it was sunday and almost all the market in Manali was closed.

    Ha ha..!!
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    Somehow we managed to find the cans and some nylon ropes to tie our luggage/cans. Had parked our bikes on the bus stand for the nights and hence we were not sure in what condition our bikes will be the next day morning.

    Contact Details of the Hotels.

    Name of the hotel:

    Hotel Kashyap, Opposite to Manali bus stand.
    Rs. 66/- per person.


    Day 4 (18th Aug): Manali-Darcha.(147 km)
    Got up early in the morning, checked out from the hotel. Packed the luggage/cans on the bikes.

    Packed Up!!!
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    Had tea and went to fuel station to tank up/can up. 7.30 am in the morning and we were out of Manali heading towards Rohtang Pass.

    Road to Rohtang Pass.
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    An hours drive and..... once again we were behind long queues of trucks, cars waiting for the road to get cleared. Found some gaps through which we could once again manage to escape the traffic jam. Stopped for tea at 9.45 some 12 km before Rohtang. The road here onwards seemed deserted initially and we were thinking of doing some lightening speeds when we were stopped by a guy saying that the BRO guys will be blasting some explosives to clear the land slid portion of the mountain off the road. We parked our bikes and stood next to a truck, so that even though some stones fly off from the blasting site, we should not get hit.
    Within 10-15 minutes the blast was done and we were let go ahead. At 11.00 am we reached the stalls at the Rohtang top.

    Rohtang Top.
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    Had Maggi, Omlet and Tea here. Our plan for the day was to push upto Sarchu/Bharatpur if possible till the end of the day. But looking at the traffic jam we encountered at Rohtang, reaching Sarchu for a night halt was quite difficult.

    Stunts by Satish.
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    Reached Tandi at 3.00 pm, topped up the bikes at the fuel station and headed to Keylong for Lunch.

    On the way to Keylong from Tandi.
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    View from Keylong.
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    Reached Keylong at 3.30 and had our lunch at Hotel Tashi Deleg. The roads from Khoksar to Keylong and even all the way to Darcha are really in bad shapes, except few good stretches. Decided to halt at Darcha at 6.00 pm.

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    Got two rooms at Rs. 50/- per head with beds and blancket. Had dinner and went to sleep.

    Contact Details of the Hotels.

    Name of the hotel:

    Tashi Deleg Hotel & Restaurant.
    Ph. +91 1900 222343.
    Cell: +91 94180 63677.
    Fax: +91 1900 222450.

    Name of the hotel:
    Hotel Leh.
    Rs. 50/- per person.


    Day 5 (19th Aug): Darcha-Pang.(156 km)
    Decided to leave early since we had decided to reach Upshi by the end of the day, but.....
    in the morning,I checked the oil level of my TB and...... What the hell..... It was close to its bottom mark.....
    Topped up with the spare one liter oil I was carrying. Got another one liter oil from the mechanic there as a backup. All done, we left Darcha at 9.00 am. Had to cross Baralacha La and Lachalung La today. Roads in this section seemed a lot better than what we rode the day before. Reached Baralacha La at 11.30 am. Kaustubh's CBZ was giving him a hard time. The carburetor setting seemed to have gone terribly wrong. It was not at all pulling over the ascents. So Kaustubh and Satish decided to head ahead of rest of us while we were having some photo shoot at Baralacha La. Till this time, I used to lead the group and swapnil used to be the last one to ride in the group. And thats the reason we never used to decide where exactly to take a break since I normally take a break at regular intervals of 1-1.5 hrs. But today, it wasn't supposed to be that way. After Baralacha La I stopped to remove my hand gloves and Nebu and Avinash also went ahead of me. Till Bharatpur, I could spot Nebu and Avinash ahead of me, but then, I got stuck behind an Army truck and ahead they went. Hence I decided to ride slow so as to ride with swapnil.

    Before Sarchu.
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    I was expecting other members waiting for both of us at Sarchu, but was surprised to find nobody there. I thought the gang might be waiting at some point after Sarchu, so thought to go ahead and take a look. I went ahead only to find Nebu and Avinash riding almost 10 km away from me, on the opposite bank of the river. Hnece I decided to wait for swapnil. Waited there for almost 30 minutes. Had all kinds of thoughts in my mind right from whether Swapnil's bike had picked up a puncture, an accident or whether Swapnil also had gone ahead of me and I was waiting there, in middle of no where, thinking that he was behind me.
    At 1.00 pm I decided to move on to catch up with the rest of the gang to find out what exactly had happened.

    Gata Loops.
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    I was expecting the rest of the gang at almost each turn I encountered hereafter. The puncture kit that we had was into two parts. The compressor was with me and the spanners were with Satish, so I was a bit concerned. Finally I caught up with rest of the gang some 30 km before Pang, but Swapnil was still not there. Reaching there, I first of all swore at the rest of the gang for not waiting at Sarchu and then had some chocolates they offered to me. We waited there for around 30 more minutes. Finally Avinash decided to head backward to Sarchu to find out what has happened. Our plans to reach Upshi seemed to be shattering by every passing minute since it was already 3.00 pm and we were still 30 km short of Pang and yet there was no sign of Swapnil. Avinash headed towards Sarchu and we saw both, Swapnil and Avinash, coming towards us within next 10 mins. Thank god, nothing had gone wrong. What happened was, while I was waiting for Swapnil just 1 km ahead of Sarchu, at the same time Swapnil was waiting in Sarchu, having an omlet and wondering why the hell rest of us didn't stop at Sarchu!!!!

    On the way to Pang.
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    We crossed Lachulung La and reached Pang at 5.00 pm and decided to take a halt there itself. Got the accommodation for Rs. 50/- per head.

    Tents at Pang.
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    I ordered an Omlet since it I had eaten almost nothing throughout the day and probably that caused the whole problem for rest of the day. Started feeling lot of cold suddenly. Normally, I am the last to be affected by the cold. So this was something out of context for me. Tried to sleep in the tent, but scarcity of oxygen was making me feel out of breath. Kaustubh, was carrying a wound from his Mauritius adventure. He was also suffering from headache. Could not eat much in the night for dinner. Only half plate maggi and some electral and went to sleep.

    Nice one by Swapnil.
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    Contact Details of the Hotels.

    Name of the hotel:

    Hotel Tanglang.
    Rs. 50/- per person.


    Day 6 (20th Aug): Pang-Leh.(177 km)
    Got up in the morning, was feeling much much better.

    Result of Condensation followed by Freezing.
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    Packed the luggage on the bikes. Had tea and breakfast and started for Tanglang La at around 9.00 am.

    Highest Transit Camp in the World by Indian Army.
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    The roads ahead of pang were mostly in good shape. So we were a bit relaxed for the day. Reached Tanglang La at around 11.30 am. Had some photo shoots at TL.

    Tanglang La Top.
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    The road down from TL had some repair works going on, so had to wait for some time. Stopped for lunch at Rumtse at 1.30 pm. And started towards Leh after lunch. Reached Leh at around 3.30 pm. Straightaway went to DC office to see if we can get the permits on the same day itself so as to save next days time. But some photocopying was needed to be done for the permits and also, a local address was required to be mentioned on the permits. Headed to Fort Road to Hotel K'Sar. It costed us Rs. 400/- per a double bedded room. The rooms were decent enough. It was time to have a bath after three days once we left Manali. Went to do some shopping and the photocopying stuff that would be needed for the permits. Photocopying is a hell expensive item in Leh @ Rs. 2 per copy. Decided to try something new for dinner and went to Chopsticks resto. Items I liked at the resto were Mo-Mo and Prawns Crackers.
    Do not try something called Pad Thai.... It was a first hand Popat!!!
    Came back to the hotel. Plan for next day was to get the permits and visit Khardung La.
    So played cards till late night.

    Contact Details of the Hotels.

    Name of the hotel:

    Hotel K'Sar Palace, Fort Road, Leh.
    Ph. +91 1982 252348.
    Rs. 200/- per person.


    Day 7 (21st Aug): Leh-Khardung La-Leh.(80 km)
    Got up late in the morning. Swapnil and Kaustubh went to DC office to get the permits. Me, Avinash and Satish went to get Avinash's Ambition's oil changed. We had missed the breakfast, and Satish started feeling dizziness. Got the oil changed and came back to hotel. The permits were ready. Had our lunch. Satish was not willing to drive for the day and decided that he would instead be pillion on Nebu's Karizma. The roads are in a good shape upto south pullu. Reached K La at around 4.00 pm.

    Khardung La Top
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    Road To North Pullu and Nubra Valley.
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    This marked achievement of half of the objective of our ride. What remained then was M La. Bought some items from the souvenir shop and started back from K La at around 5.15 pm.

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    Reached Leh in an hour. Next day's plan was to head towards Pangong Tso. But before doing that we had to get the updates about the scene in the Kashmir Valley cause for the next two days we were going to be away from any kind of news/communication with anybody. The alternative was to ride via the same route back to Mandi, and go to Pathankot to board the train. But looking at the road conditions nobody was willing to take that road once again. Made some phone calls to one of Kaustubh's friend who is in Armed Forces and was posted somewhere near Srinagar then. After that, it was decided that there wouldn't be any change in the plan and we were to ride up to Pathankot via Srinagar. That was all for the day.


    Day 8 (22nd Aug): Leh-Pangong Tso.(153 km)
    Had to travel 148 km today and the road conditions were supposed to be good since the road was newly led except few patches on around Chang La and last 4-5 km before Pangong Tso. Checked out of the hotel. Avinash, Nebu and Kaustubh went to get the updates about the Srinagar highway from as many sources as possible including the bus stand and check posts. The signs were positive since nobody told us that the roads were closed. Tanked up the bikes at Leh and started towards Pangong at 10.00 am. Reached Karu at 11.00 am where we had a our breakfast. Conditions were looking overcast, so everybody geared up for the rains. The roads leading to Chang La, though in a pretty decent condition, have a terrific gradient, which was taking its toll on the bikes.

    Chang La Ascent
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    The Bird..!!!
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    Kaustubh's bike started giving some serious problems. He wasn't able to rev it beyond 6000 rpm. We reached Khangral post at 1.00 pm and Chang La at 1.30 pm. The weather was clear and bright. We met a group of bikers who were heading back to Leh. Enquired about the Pagal Nallah and were told that it wasn't running with its full flow. Had a tea break at Chang La and resumed the ride towards Pangong.

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    Reached Tangtse at 3.30 pm and decided to take a break for lunch. We had our lunch at Chang La Queen Eco Friendly Camping & Restaurant. The road ahead of Tangtse is a bikers paradise.

    From Tangtse to Pangong.
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    Nicely led, though with some broken patches at the stream crossings. We reached Pagal Nallah at 5.00 pm and crossed it almost without any difficulty and without getting ourselves drenched at all. 6.00 pm and we were at the banks of Pangong Tso. Got the accomodation for 100 bucks per head. Offloaded our bikes since we weren't suppose to carry any luggage to Marsimik La. Played cards for some time, probably this was highest altitude where we played cards, 15000 ft above the mean sea level. We decided to head for Marsimik early in the morning, at around 6.00 am and went to sleep.

    Contact Details of the Hotels.

    Name of the hotel:

    Chang La Queen Eco Friendly Camping and Restaurant, Tangtse.
    Cell: +91 94198 18263.
    email: [email protected]


    Day 9 (23rd Aug): Pangong Tso-Marsimik La-Pangong Tso-Leh.(225 km)
    6.00 am and we were still sleeping. So our plans of starting early were going to fail once again. We were so relaxed looking at the fact that we had the permits for one more day since we saved one day which we had kept for the premits. Got some snaps of Pangong Lake in the morning.

    Good Morning!!!
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    Since we were to start early, Kaustubh had decided to stay back at Pangong, as he wasn't sure whether he would be able to ride his CBZ to Marsimik. But then as our start was delayed, he also joined in to give it a try. 8.00 am in the morning, we started towards Phobrang from Pangong. Only luggage we were carrying was the puncture kit and the spares. Met the ITBP guys at Phobrang post at 8.30 am. The formalities of handing over the copy of permits and a round of questions. We were too fortunate to have a clear weather while we were at the ITBP post. The officer there told us not to go ahead if we encounter rains on our way up. We agreed and he let us go ahead. Had our breakfast at the only hotel at Phobrang. While the breakfast was getting ready, we tried our hands Kaustubh's bike's carburetor. But no success. He could not rev it beyond 6000 rpm anyway. Started for Marsimik La at 9.45 am. And hardly had we gone a kilometer ahead, Kaustubh's bike refused to pull anymore. He had to abandon there itself and decided to head back to Pangong.

    Symmetry!!!
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    Now there were five of us. Initial few kilometers were kinda okk since the gradient wasn't much. We were almost 10 km away from M Top when I took a short cut and shortly enough we were stuck for the first time. The gradient, the loose dirt, scarcity of air.... and off course the short cut..... Almost everything was against us except one thing, the weather. We pushed Avinash's, Satish's and Nebu's bikes and got them up on a comparatively plain surface. I and Swapnil decided to go downwards and take the longcut. No shortcuts hereafter!!!!!
    Satish was in a mood of backing out from there itself, but we somehow managed to convince him to come along. Here onwards, once again the gradient was not that steep and the bikes were running quite nicely. We could spot a herd of Wild Asses, but before we could stop to click them, they just vanished into the valley.

    Satish managed to get some photos of Wild Asses on his way back.
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    We had come almost 16 km from Phobrang and the M Top was almost 4-5 km from this point. We could spot one post of ITBP till this time after Phobrang, but there was nobody in there. The road ahead had gradient similar or even more than the short cut we took sometime back.

    What the hell...!!!!
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    But then, this time there was no alternative long cut for it. There was no option than to move onto the only road. I moved on and got stuck after the first turn and so did Avinash and he too got stuck. Looking at this, Satish decided to back out from that point. I somehow managed to push my bike upto the next turn. But still there was no chance to gain any momentum so as to be able to ride the bike. The only way I could see to gain the momentum was to move downwards... . I dismounted from the bike, put it into first gear and tried to take it further. But the Thunderbird's handle bar was making it difficult to push the bike in first gear due to its awkward shape. I was panting like anything after pushing it for some more time. Then Swapnil, Avinash and Nebu came down to push my bull all the way up. That patch was done and we rested for some time. Now we could spot ITBP's last post before the M Top which also seemed deserted. The last ascent had considerable amount of mud and our bikes were dancing like anything on that. Thogh there is some plain ground near the ITBP post, we really could not make use of it to generate the momentum since the road up from there was zig-zag shaped with two sharp hair-pin bends which were full of slush. I don't know how it happened, but all our bikes climbed the last ascent without a single push. Seemed they were also eager to top the M La.
    And..... there we were..... On the top of Marsimik La...... Despite of all the controversies, I believe Marsimik La is the highest pass, though its non motorable. Hence even Khardung La's tag of being Highest Motorable Road remains intact. And, I was standing right on top of the Highest Pass!!!!!

    Chak De Mandir.
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    The Machines....
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    And The Men Too...
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    What remains on the top,is only the Chak De mandir and a mile stone showing Phobrang 22 km. The marble plaque, that used to be there had been shattered into pieces, so many and so badly that we even couldn't make half of the plaque out of the pieces we found.
    It started snowing lightly when we reached M Top. Overdrive Magazine had done almost the similar route for their last year's anniversary issue, where they had planned to go Hot Springs which are located ahead of Marsimik La. And there is a story of ITBP patrol team associated with those Hot Springs.
    Spent some half an hour at the top and we started our journey back to Phobrang. We reached Pangong Tso in no time from Phobrang. Packed the luggage. I emptied my petrol can in my bike's petrol tank since I didn't want to carry it all over again and pack/unpack it every now and then and gave the can to owner of the room where we stayed. Had our lunch and headed to Leh. We left Pangong Tso at around 4.00 pm. The conditions were overcast and it even started raining after Tangtse. But it could last not more than 10 minutes. By the time we reached Tsoltak at 5.30 pm, it had started raining once again. I, Nebu and Satish were ahead while Kaustubh still had some problems with his bike's settings and Avinash and Swapnil were riding with him. We decided to ride ahead and wait for the gang at Chang La Top. We had to ride keeping the visors of our helmets open since the exhaled moisture was getting collected on the inner surface of the closed visor and making the already invisible road to disappear. We reached the Chang La top and took shelter of the hot room since it had started snowing now. Tested black tea offered by the army personnel in the hot room. It was 6.45 when everybody reached Chang La top and the officer at the post told us that we need to cross the Zingral post which was 10 km from Chang La top before 7.15 pm so as to be able to continue towards Leh, or else we would be forced to stay at Zingral iitself. So we hurried towards the zingral post. The whole Chang La was wrapped up in to thick fog and it was almost end of the day. Hence here too we had to ride with our helmet visors fully open.
    We reached Karu at 8.00 pm and Leh at 9.45 pm. Went to the same hotel. A hot water bath was must for me and I managed that. Avinash and I Ordered chicken fried rice in the room itself while the rest of the gang went to the restaurant. The next day was supposed to be rest day. Hence played cards till late night.


    Day 10 (24th Aug): Leh.
    Got up late in the morning. Lazed around for the day. Once again made a some phone calls to Kaustubh's friend who is in armed forces to get the updates. Nothing much worth mentioning.


    Day 11 (25th Aug): Leh-Kargil.(232 km)
    Checked out from the hotel and headed towards Kargil. We started from Leh at around 10.00 am. In light of the phone calls we had the day before, we were expecting some stoppages on the way by the armed forces. But thankfully we didn't encounter a single stoppage. The roads conditions were varying from nicely led smooth tarmac to the under construction roads at many places. The weather here onwards was pretty much dry and hot. We were expecting some showers as it was overcast in Leh when we left from there. But this time also it got cleared up and we were riding with all the rain gear on. But, that rain gear saved all of us from the dust coming off the road construction works going on everywhere.

    Hangroo Loops
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    Had to cover almost 230 km and we were warned not the drive in any condition after 6.00 pm. Reached Lamayuru at 2.45 pm and took a break for lunch at Hotel Niranjana.

    Lamayuru.
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    Since the morning itself I was not feeling well. Was feeling hungry all the time but still could not eat much. I knew, something is going to go wrong with me. Finished lunch and resumed our ride towards Kargil.

    Fotula Top
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    Crossed Fotula at 3.30 pm and reached Kargil at 6.30 pm.

    Kargil City.
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    Got a decent hotel and got our luggage moved into the rooms. Had our evening tea and Swapnil and Kaustubh went to call up Kaustubh's friend to inform him that we have reached Kargil safely. The news till this time was that one day curfew was going to be imposed in Kashmir Valley. I was having mild fever and hence took Crocin and tried to perspire myself. And then came in the news that 5 were killed in Srinagar during firing and a strict curfew had been imposed in all the ten districts of Kashmir Valley. We found out from our discussions with the hotel manager that there should not be any problem riding upto Sonmarg. We had our dinner and let me assure you, it was one of the best meals I have had. The chicken was awesome. Swapnil and Kaustubh were back from a long discussion with Kaustubh's friend. He too asked us to proceed upto Sonmarg and wait there till the situation improves. But even he could not guarantee us that the situation would improve in a day or two. Everybody was back to hotel and we were having many rounds of discussions as to what should we do. Nobody was willing to go back to Leh and travel back to Manali via the same route we took while coming, even I wasn't. The options we were left with were move on to Sonmarg and stay over there till the situation improves or move back to Leh and find a transporter who would ship our bikes to either Delhi, Manali or Pune. But we all were not very sure of finding a transporter in Leh. Whichever way had we gone, there were strong chances that we would be missing our train on 29th. For Leh option, we would have required to wait either in Manali or Delhi depending upon where exactly the transporter ships our bikes. And for the Sonmarg-Srinagar option, it might have got cleared up in a day or might have got delayed indefinitely. And off course, the risk involved was tremendous, anything from getting stranded in middle of nowhere to getting a beating from locals/policemen. Me, Swapnil and Avinash were willing to go back to Leh while the rest three were willing to move ahead. We closed the discussion for the day without any decision being made officially. But it seemed as if we were to ride back to Leh the next day.

    Contact Details of the Hotels.

    Name of the hotel:

    Hotel Niranjana, Lamayuru.
    Ph: +91 1982 224555.
    Cell : +91 94198 19552.
    email: [email protected]

    Name of the hotel:
    Hotel Kargil Continental,
    Near Main Market.
    Ph: +91 1985 232304, +91 1985 232320.
    Two rooms at Rs. 150/- per person.


    Day 12 (26th Aug): Kargil-Sonmarg.(124 km)
    We got up in the morning and Nebu and Satish went out to see if they could get any info about the situation. Nebu struk up a conversation with an amry guy who got the info from control room that the roads are open and we could move ahead. I was feeling better than yesterday but marginally. I and Swapnil went to the bus stand to enquire about the situation and to see whether the buses were pyling or not. To our surpeise and to add up to our confusions, we got all sorts of advices and suggestions, so much that some people asked us to move in the night. Filled up with all sorts of advices, we went back to the hotel where Kaustubh was already there after his call with his friend. Looking at all the situation and information, we decided to move on to Sonmarg for the day and there after rely on Kaustubh's friend's support to get us out of the curfew. We had our breakfast at around 11.30 and started for Sonmarg. On our way, we stopped at Drass for Lunch at 1.30 pm.

    At Drass.
    IMG_4495.jpg

    I once again started feeling something wrong with me, but since the distance wasn't much I pushed on. We reached Sonmarg at 4.30 and I once again had the fever. Swapnil and Kaustubh made the calls to Kaustubh's friend, who asked us to stay at Sonmarg for the night and start as early as possible the next day. He was going to make arrangements for geting us through the curfew. We were to start at 5.00 am in the morning the next day. So I had the night to take rest and recover myself. I took the medicines and slept. It really helped. I was feeling much much better when I got up for dinner in the night.

    Contact Details of the Hotels.

    Name of the hotel:

    Hotel Sunflower.
    Rs. 100/- per person.


    Day 13 (27th Aug): Sonmarg-Udhampur.(329 km)
    This was the first time in the whole trip that we followed the departure time which we decided on the previous day. We left Sonmarg at 5.10 am in the morning. Tanked up at the next fuel station and moved on. Kaustubh's friend, whose name also happened to be Swapnil( Capt. Swapnil Khalkar) had invited us to his regiment. Swapnil K. was supposed to meet us at Sumbhal Bridge. On our way to Sumbhal, we heard the announcement of the Curfew in Gandharbal. We were nearing the Sumbhal Bridge and suddenly few Army men stopped us and started enquiring. Right there, came in Capt. Swapnil K. And then we came to know, those Amry men were from his regiment only. Capt. Swapnil was waiting there for us, with almost 15 armed jawans and a 4x4 army truck. He greeted us and asked us to follow the truck upto his regiment. I really can't explain the feeling that we had riding right behind the Amry truck. Everybody was making room for the trcuk and ultimately for we people to move on. In a couple of minutes we reached his camp. Had a round of tasty Pakoras and coffee while the maggi was in preparation. Kaustubh and Capt. Swapnil were college mates and were meeting after 6 years. Chit chatting with us, Capt. Swapnil told us that he had made the arrangements for we people to get through Srinagar. He also adviced us not to stop anywhere except on being stopped by the concerned authorities and to stop for lunch only after crossing Jawahar Tunnel. We thought once we cross Srinagar, it should not cause any problem. We thanked Capt. Swapnil for being so helpful. Had he been not there, we might had turned back to Leh from Kargil.

    L to R: Avinash, Me, Swapnil, Capt. Swapnil K., Satish, Kaustubh, Nebu.
    IMG_3957.jpg

    IMG_4496.jpg

    We left his Sumbhal camp at 9.00 am with a target to reach Udhampur by end of the day. We had already came 80 km and were to travel 250 km more to reach Udhampur. The curfew situation in the Kashmir Valley was being controlled by three different authorities namely Army, J&K Police and CRPF. And this difference in the authorities made our life miserable from Srinagar onwards. We were to bypass the core Srinagar City and take a diversion to join the Srinagar Jammu highway, but we were stopped by the CRPF troop and were asked for Curfew pass. Then we recollected, Capt. Swapnil was saying something that he forgot to get the curfew pass for us on the previous day when he visited the Magistrate's office. But fortunately, there was one jawan from Maharashtra who let us go ahead. Successfully came out of Srinagar city and headed towards Jammu. We had hardly covered 20 km after Srinagar and reached Let Pora where we were stopped, this time by J & K Police and were asked for Curfew Pass once again. That unavailable piece of paper seemed to be getting increasingly important as we moved towards Jammu. When asked for the Curfew Pass the usual argument we used to start with was, "Sir, aaj bahut jaldi nikale the, to us time Magistrate ka office khula hua nahin tha. Isliye Curfew pass nahin banawa paye". At places, it helped us to get through, but at Let Pora, it didn't seem to be working. Kaustubh went in to have a talk with the incharge of the post and tried to explain him the whole situation. He even gave the referance of Capt. Swapnil and how we came upto Let Pora with his help and asked the incharge to speak with Capt. Swapnil. But then, Capt. Swapnil was in no way authorized to tell/ask the J & K Police personnel to let us go ahead because they both belonged to different authorities. He could only request the J & K Police to let us go ahead but even that didn't help. The incharge looked quite stubborn to keep us waiting at his post till the night. Repeated arguments with the incharge, countless phone calls to Capt. Swapnil and one more friend of Kaustubh, Major Dhiraj from Udhampur, that was all we were doing for almost 2-3 hours. Then the incharge told us to get the curfew pass from a village Pampora some 5-6 km behind. Swapnil and Kaustubh went there to get the pass, but the Magistrate was unavailable. So they approached the Police station at Pampora. The SP at pampora seemed a lot helpful and agreed to give an escort vehicle upto the next police station and to ask the next police station to provide their escort vehicle there onwards. We had reached Let Pora at 10.00 am and after 3 hours of wait, we got the escort vehicle from there upto the next police station. We thought that the worst part of the day was over when we got the escort, but.... it turned out that the worst was yet to come. Our main concern was to cross Jawahar tunnel as early as possible since the situation on the other side of Jawahar tunnel was expected to be a lot better. With a couple of stoppages from here onwards, we could manage to cross Jawahar tunnel and reach Banihal at 3.00 pm. Jawahar tunnel was one funny experience in itself. The roads are too slippery. Once again, the lighting wasn't appropriate, until I removed my sunglasses. Kaustubh got himself spray painted with the mud from Jawahar tunnel for free, thanx to the broken mud guard, which fell off completely earlier in the morning. We had not eaten anything after the Maggi we had at Capt. Swapnil's camp. So decided to have something at the next opportunity. We were around 40 km short of Ramban, where we expected to find something to eat when Nebu came speeding and told us that Satish is feeling sleepy and driving like a drunkard. We all took a break, Satish washed his face and he was feeling bit better. We continued and reached a small village Ramsoo in a hope to find a something to eat but were told that we would find it only in Ramban, 22 km from Ramsoo. Satish said, he was feeling ok and can continue upto Ramban. So we were off in a flash towards Ramban. I was leading as usual and riding with a decent pace. I could ocassionally spot the rest of the gang in the rear view mirror to confirm that the gap wasn't too much. I spotted mile stone " Ramban 4 km" and thought of waiting for the rest of the guys. While I was waiting, one scooter rider came from behind and told that one of our friend had met with an accident. " Ohh Shit....."
    I thanked the scooter rider for his kindness to inform me about the mishap and turned around to go back to the accident spot. Lots of things were running similtaneously in my mind. "Who might have met with the accident, How serious it would be..." Then I spotted swapnil riding behind a bus. He told me that Satish met with an accident and he was in the bus ahead which was taking him to the hospital. But he seemed to have no idea about how serious Satish was. We continued towards the hospital behind the bus. The bus driver drove the bus right up to the Govt Hospital and didn't even charg us a penny. Satish alighted from the bus and we took him to the casuality ward. He could walk on his own without any support, which was very much encouraging situation for all of us. Satish had to have two stitches on his right knee. Then came Avinash and Nebu. Nebu was the sole spectator of the incident. I literally mean sole cause Satish was sleeping while the accident took place. Nebu was right behind him when Satish, on a left turn in the ghat, went on to hit an oncoming Army truck. Thankfully the collision wasn't head on. He collided with the side of the truck. Satish, even today has absolutely no idea as to what exactly happened and how he fell down, so sleepy was he when the mishap took place. And he continued his sleep even after the accident and Kaustubh had to sprinkle water on his face to wake him up. The army personnel were really helpful, that they turned around one truck from the convoy, helped Avinash and Nebu to load the bike in the truck and brought it all the way to Ramban. The bike was damaged quite badly, the right side leg of the front fork had cracked and all the shock absorber oil had flown out. The rear brake pedal, right foot peg and the leg guard, all were leveled with the bike's engine. Looking at damage the bike had received, Satish was too lucky to survive such an minor injury. The bike was in no condition to be ridden.

    Satish's bike after the accident.
    IMG_2402.jpg

    Satish's bike with cracked fork.
    IMG_2403.jpg

    Satish after the accident.
    IMG_2404.jpg

    It was already 7.00 pm and I once again started feeling the weakness since we had not eaten for long time, almost 10 hrs. I was not at all willing to ride ahead, atleast in the night. But reaching Udhampur was equally important since we had to change our boarding points from Jammu to Pathankot and this was needed to be done atleast 24 hrs in advence of the train's departure from the originating station. Made few calls to Gati transport's offices at Jammu and Pathankot, to see if any of them can pick the bike up either from Ramban itself or atleast Udhampur. Jammu branch picks up the goods from Udhampur, but that was going to happen only after the curfew would get over. We hired a pick-up, loaded Satish's and my bike into it. He charged Rs. 1800/- to transport two bikes with their two owners from Ramban to Udhampur. Rest of the guys were going to ride from Ramban to Udhampur. They took a break at a hotel near Ramban and tried to eat their so called dinner and resumed the journey. We reached Udhampur at 11.30 and went to station straightaway. Offloaded Satish's bike from the pick-up and parked it there itself and came back to the Udhampur city. It was too hot, even in the night, that even after having fever, I had to switch the fan on. For the day, I ate Laddoo for my dinner after reaching the hotel.
    Thank god, we reached safely(??), where we had planned to reach by the end of the day!!!!
    I must say, this was the most happening day of the whole trip. Had the taste of almost all types of incidents.

    Contact Details of the Hotels.

    Name of the hotel:

    Hotel National.
    Rs. 150/- per person.


    Day 14 (28th Aug): Udhampur-Pathankot.(141 km)
    Kaustubh's one more friend, Major Dhiraj was there to meet all of us in the morning while we were still getting up. Actually, he had invited all of us for dinner at his home on the previous day. Swapnil and Nebu went to Udhampur station to get the boarding changed and managed that successfully without much hassle. Unsolved problem was about Satish's bike which was parked at Udhampur station. Dhiraj agreed to ship the bike to his residence and transport it to pune once the curfew would be withdrawn. We checked out from the hotel at 1.00 pm. Satish went to station and caught a train for Pathankot while we all rode to Pathankot.

    On the way to Pathankot, Near Mansar Lake.
    IMG_4498.jpg

    We reached pathankot at 6.30 pm, got ourselves a hotel right opposite to Chakki Bank railway station. This marked end of our bike expedition. Had our dinner, played cards for some time and went to bed.

    Contact Details of the Hotels.

    Name of the hotel:

    Hotel Sagar.
    Rs. 175/- per person.


    Day 15 (29th Aug):
    Nebu and Kaustubh had to board the train at 1.00 pm while rest four of us at 11.50 pm. Dropped our bikes at the transporter's office and boarded our respective trains.

    The duo who dreamed it, Swapnil and Me.
    1.jpg

    We were there...!
    2.jpg

    Nebu and Kaustubh reached Mumbai on 30th Aug while rest of us reached our destinations on 31st Aug safely.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2008
    sajalsheth and Adventure50 like this.
  7. yogiraj

    yogiraj New Member

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    @All,
    This is my first attempt to write a Travelogue. Experienced riders might feel it a bit lengthy, but I could compress it to this limit only.
    Comments/Suggestions/Criticism are what I am waiting for..... ;)
     
  8. tsk1979

    tsk1979 Reclaimed and Recycled

    Joined:
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    Amazing journey! Great pics too!
     
  9. Yogesh Sarkar

    Yogesh Sarkar Administrator

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    Nicely written travelogue and fantastic photographs, quite an adventure you guys had. Hope the bikes have reached safely including Satish's bike.
     
  10. hitanshu

    hitanshu Master of the OT Universe

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    Gooood stuff! :)
     

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