Adding to my series of adventure road-trips, one more story of hurdles, fun, adventure and hill stations. In 2015, we went for a road-trip to Leh-Ladakh. We were 7 members with 4 Royal Enfields and it took us 10 days to complete this trip. One most unfortunate thing that happened was, the route from Leh to Manali was closed during that time. This is something which we still regret the most.
Table of Contents
Day 1 – Samba to Patnitop
We started from our home town Samba, Jammu in the evening towards Patnitop, the most beautiful hill station and tourist destination, which is 95 km away from Jammu. The clock struck 11 when we reached there, so we decided to pitch our tents, collect dry wood and leaves for camp fire and prepared chicken and rice for dinner.
Day 2 – Patnitop to Srinagar
Next day, we woke up early and started our journey. We had Bread-toast with chai at Batote (a few km from Patnitop). Then we had our breakfast at the most famous place on Jammu Srinagar Highway that is Peerah (Rajmah and Chawal). It is advisable to stop here and enjoy this traditional Jammu cuisine.
We started moving on sides of Chenab River and reached Ramban. Deadly curves and dangerous roads are the specialty of Ramban. We took bath at a waterfall on the highway. Then we reached Banihal where we had our lunch. Banihal is the entry point to Kashmir valley. The most famous Jawahar Tunnel is situated here. After crossing it, we found a place called Titanic Point. From this point, we could see the tremendous and mesmerizing view of Kashmir Valley.
After enjoying the view and clicking some pictures, we drove on and reached Srinagar. Dal Lake and Rajbagh are two great places of sight-seeing here. We stayed at our friend’s home.
Day 3 – Srinagar to Kargil
Next day, we started early for Sonamarg. Here I realized why Kashmir is called the ‘Heaven on Earth’. Places like Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Sonamarg make Kashmir Valley exceptionally beautiful. After spending some time here we started towards Zojila Pass. Snow walls on both the sides of the road, water and water everywhere on road, slippery area all adds to the deadly nature of Zojila Pass (I suppose you get the picture).
Due to landslide we have to wait there for few hours and then we moved forward. After crossing Zojila we found a refreshing point known as Captain Mode. Here, we took some tea, snacks and also enjoyed ice skiing. It was the most snowy area I have ever seen in my life.
We drove on and reached Drass area. Here, we decided to go to Kargil War Memorial (Battleground where Kargil War was fought). At Kargil War Memorial, we saw the famous Tiger Hill and Tololing. One must visit this place and pay tributes to our martyred soldiers. This place is full of emotions and bravery. We spent nearly 3 hours here and saw Amar Jawan Jyoti and Manoj Pandey Museum. We reached Kargil in the evening and stayed at Tourism Reception Center.
Day 4 – Kargil to Leh
We left Kargil and drove towards Leh. We met a French guy, who was also on the road-trip and the most jaw-dropping thing was – He was 70 years old. He was so energetic and full of compassion.
Beyond Kargil the whole area is deserted – No vegetation, no markets, only few shops on the road. We reached Namik La Pass after few hours. There we met some more bikers from different parts of the country and some foreigners on cycles.
As I always say “Be ready for any kind of situation when driving on hills”. One of our bike’s brake shoes got damaged. Our team helped each other and got it somehow repaired temporarily. After reaching Kalsi, a few kilometres from there, we hired a load carrier for that bike.
Then we started our journey ahead and reached the confluence of Indus (Sindh River) and Zanskar River. It’s also the starting point of Chadar Trek (trek on ice). We paid visit to Pathar Sahib Gurudwara and Magnetic Hill then reached Leh at around 6 pm. Got our bike repaired and went for sight seeing and shopping at the Tibetan Market.
Day 5 – Leh to Khardungla Pass
To be honest, actual adventure starts here. We started our journey towards Khardungla Pass. On the way we started hitting each other with ice balls. We reached Khardungla (the world’s highest motorable road with height of 18380 ft). We stayed there for some snacks and maggie. But two of our friends started getting unconscious due to lack of oxygen. We immediately took them to Army camp nearby and provided them oxygen. We immediately moved downhill towards South Pullu. As it started getting dark, we decided to stay at a Home stay. We ate traditional Ladakhi cuisines.
Day 6 – Khardungla Pass to Pangong Lake
We moved towards Panamik and Hunder. We reached Panamik (the way to Siachen Glacier) and moved towards Hunder side. Totally deserted area all around! This is also the shooting place of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag movie. We reached Hunder and get refreshed. Then we enjoyed the famous Double Humped Camel safari. This species of camel is only found in this area. Also, there were many sporting events like archery, desert scooters, etc but we chose to play football.
Having enjoyed a nice game, we started towards Pangong Lake. There were two ways to reach Pangong lake, one is to move back to Leh city and move towards Pangong via Chang la and the other one is the shortcut via Shayok. We choose the second one and started towards Shayok. Guys, it’s totally off-road, full of water bodies and boulders. We did not see even a single person on that road. Somehow we reached Pangong at 8 pm. It was very chilly there. We pitched our tents, prepared food but the cold was unbearable. It can’t be expressed in words.
Day 7 – Pangong lake to Leh
We got up and saw the most amazing view in front of us. The most amazing Pangong Lake with blue sky on top and white mountains surrounding it. We reached the place where 3 idiots movie was shot. Then we started a bet to bath in this chilling lake. Guys you can’t imagine how it feels when your body freezes and one is rubbing his back on the sand for some heat. Unforgettable moments! We had some hot tea and coffee and left towards Chang La (third highest motorable road). On the way back one of our bike got slipped due to snow covered road. After getting some adventurous rides for two days finally we reached city of Leh. We got our bike’s repaired and serviced there.
Day 8 – Leh to Manali
8th day was the most unfortunate day for us. Due to heavy snowfall, the Manali-Leh highway got closed so we had to move back towards Srinagar. After spending some hours in Leh city we started our journey back. We were somewhat disappointed that we had to drive back from same side. We visited Leh War Memorial. We were on our way back and suddenly our bike got punctured. It took very long to repair it and we searched for a place for night stay. We got a place and placed our tents there. We prepared our dinner and got some rest.
Day 9 – Kargil to Srinagar
As we started from Kargil the weather was pleasant. On reaching Kargil War Memorial, we planned to salute the soldiers of our motherland. As we reached Zojila pass, there was traffic jam due to army convoy. Too much slippery condition, dust everywhere, not easy conditions to ride on such terrain. Next destination was Sonamarg. There we saw beautiful meadows, huge glaciers and relaxed seeing the natural beauty. We reached Srinagar in the evening.
Day 10 – Back Home
Last day started with rain. It started raining as we started our journey and rained until we reached our destination. On our way we visited Pampore, Anantnag, Qazigund etc, reached Peerah and once again ate the delicious Rajmah-Chawal, saw the Baglihar Power Project at Ramban. On way back we ate many special items of Jammu & Kashmir like Kalaadi Kulcha, Makki, Kud ka Patisa etc. Finally reached back home around 11.30 pm at night.
Things to remember..1. Planning is very important as far as the trips are concerned.
2. Always prepare for any sort of situation.
3. On trip to Leh-Ladakh save your skin from Sunburn. Always use sunscreen on these trips.
4. Always carry some oxygen with you when going towards Khardungla or Chang La.
5. Petrol is very important in this trip as there are very few petrol pumps on the road after Leh city. Always carry extra petrol.
6. Preserve the natural sanity of such places. Don’t spoil these marvelous places.
7. Itinerary is very important for these places.
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About The Author
Gulliventures is a group of riders and adventure lovers. They love to explore different places. Their group consist of people from different parts of India.