Tales of a Solo Traveller [Ladakh '18]


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So, after planning for over a year, I finally got to do this trip. This trip was supposed to be an experience in itself and I believe this has mostly been fulfilled. Even though I was able to do only a fraction of what I had planned, it still was a new experience for me.

Last year I did many trips to Kashmir and visited many popular places and a few less visited places. Then in September, I did a solo trip to Sach Pass. This trip gave me immense confidence in terms of doing solo rides.

Come 2018 and I picked my Ladakh planning thread and started reading/researching more. I settled on quite a general itinerary, something which was more realistic for a solo rider on his first trip to this region. Many thanks to Yogesh and other members for pitching their comments and guidance.

I took help of this list- things to carry. In terms of bike spares, I only took a spare clutch cable and a puncher repair kit with me. I got the bike serviced last month, changed the air filter and brought chain lube.

11th May, 2018
A day before leaving.
Brought medicines, toiletries etc and loaded up the bike for a trial run. Tanked up in the evening.

Day 1..
12th May, 2018
Jammu to Anantnag 226kms

I have travelled on this route over a dozen times in the last 6 months and after a first few rides, I skipped taking pics. I left home at 6:20am and reached Mattan, Anantnag at 12:55pm. I took a couple of chai breaks in between. Since there is a lot of construction going on in many sections, the route is extremely dusty. Couple this with heavy truck traffic, it becomes difficult to ride/drive on it.

It started raining heavily around 2 pm and would continue throughout the night.
I decided to stay in Mattan for a day or two and let the wet spell pass.

Day 2..
13th May, 2018

The day spent lazily in Mattan, doing nothing. Though the weather remained calm throughout the day.

Day 3..
14th May, 2018
Anantnag to Kargil 278kms

Woke up early and the first thing I did was look out the window for signs of rain. It was cloudy, but luckily not raining. Freshened up, loaded the bike and left at 7:30 am. It was a quick run till Srinagar on the new road. Army presence was quite visible, the most I have seen in many months. Maybe since the PM was to visit a few days later, security forces were on their heels.

I took the Dal lake road which was fun to ride early morning.

Boulevard road.. :whistle:

Char Chinar..

Few kms before Sonmarg, it started drizzling which will continue on/off till the climb of ZojiLa.

Enroute Sonmarg..



The number of tourists and ponys increased exponentially around Sonmarg. The main Sonmarg area smelled like horse shit and I didn't even slowed down there. Now I know why hotels in Sonmarg cost so high, the number of tourists is amazing.



See how beautifully water is flowing through the natural snow tunnel :heart:

Goats doing what they do best.. :grin:

Duke was fun to ride on the smooth tarmac.. :heart:

What was earlier a drizzle, was now full on downpour. The climb to ZojiLa has started. It wasn't easy riding here in these conditions. Slush was everywhere, but the foggy views compensated for everything.
All pics here are from my mobile.


Snow walls :heart:


At ZojiLa in rain :finga:








The rain continued till well below the pass. I stopped at a small tea stall at Maitan village and had tea and omlet.

Maitan Village







Continuing further, I crossed Drass without stopping.
The scenery changes a few kms before kargil. Green colour becomes prominent and the tall trees look amazing.





Beautiful mosque on the other side of the river :heart:

As I was riding, I saw an old bridge off the main road and decided to check it out.
There were a few abandoned bunkers on both sides of the bridge.

Harka Bahadur Bridge
Built-in Record Time by 12 Engineer Regiment.
May-Sep 1969


This bridge was named after Sub Harka Bahadur Rana MC of the 1st Battalion The 5th Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) who captured the bridge on 23 Nov 1948.
The bridge is dedicated to the memory of those gallant sons of the battalion who made the capture of the bridge possible by laying down their lives during operations in ZojiLa and Kargil in 1948.





I had contacted a distant relative in Kargil for my night stay. But the whole BSNL network was down and I couldn't contact him and also, there aren't public booths. I asked about 6 people for directions, but it looks like people in Kargil really don't want to help. :mad:

I checked a few places with parking and all were over Rs. 1000 a night, which was much more than I would have liked. I finally found a place for Rs. 800, Afzal Guest house. It had a parking space and the room was clean with hot water.

View from the hotel room :heart:

[For Umba La, there is a clear marked board in the road in Dras. Road/track is mentioned on the board.]

Next Part - Kargil to Leh
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