Leh to Leh Bike trip - Part 4
Updated: Nov 17, 2020
In continuation from my previous blog series on Delhi to Ladakh bike trip, will be sharing the different experience of Riding Solo to the Himalayas. Before that check out my previous blog series.
Episode 1: "Leh Ladakh Bike Trip - Part 1"
Episode 2: "Leh Ladakh Bike Trip - Part 2"
Episode 3: "Leh Ladakh Bike Trip - Part 3"
After a great ride to Khardungla Top on my Delhi to Ladakh Motorcycle Trip, I decided to take a break for 1 day; the main reason is to sightseeing in Leh & some shopping as well. I woke up at 9.00 am & left the guest house for sightseeing & some minor repair to the bikes.
First I had breakfast at “Chaska Maska” hotel in Leh Bazaar, this is the only hotel in Leh where u will get South India Dosa for breakfast in 2010, now there are plenty of options available, and in fact, Leh has become a paradise for foodies. Soon after breakfast, I headed to “Hall of Fame” the Army museum at Leh-Srinagar highway, it gives you the glimpse of overall Ladakh region, the war history of Ladakh & how ladakhis helped Indian army during the wartime.
When u are at Leh, don’t miss to visit “German Bakery” in Leh Bazaar, the best doughnuts I ever had. And also Yak cheese pizza & some cookies. Also, I visited Shanthi Stupa & did some shopping. Don’t forget to take souvenirs from the Hall of Fame museum. All the products are made by the Indian Army.
And I know that tomorrow is another great day for me, because of
“Mighty Chang La”……
After spending quality time at Leh I Bid a goodbye & started riding towards Pangong Tso Lake on my Ladakh bike trip circuit. The actual plan was to complete the circuit “Leh-Spangmik-Man-Merak-Chusul-Hanle-Tso Moriri-Sarchu- Manali Leh highway” within 4 days; roughly it would come around 900km. I filled fuel to my bike & carried some 15ltrs of extra fuel for the entire stretch. I had breakfast at Karu village, where u needs to take a diversion towards Pangong Tso. Once I started ascending towards Changla I started to feel tiredness, headache and giddiness because of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). I felt Changla is more difficult than Khardungla to ride because of its steepness & bad road condition, even after riding for 10 years on these roads, Changla pass is a bit tricky. I reached Changla after 2hrs of the ride, the moment I reached the top it was cold. I spent some 15min there & headed towards Pangong Tso. Once u descends from Changla, this is beginning of Changthang region. For the first time a frozen lake called “Tsoltak”, it was beautiful & serene without any signs of souls. Further, I proceed towards Pangong Tso & reached Lukung at 4.00 pm.
What a view, Pangong should be another wonder of Mother Nature, truly & completely mesmerized. I had lunch at road ride Dhaba, on the whole trip I feel the tastier food is prepared at the banks of Pangong lake, just loved it.
Then I decided to stay at Spangmik, so I rode towards Spangmik. But after a few km, I stopped, guess what. Pagal nallah which is gushing like hell. The best time to cross this Pagal Nallah is before noon after the ice starts melting & the waters from adjacent mountains will gush like anything. I decided to cross it and I did… There are ample options for tented accommodation at Spangmik ranging from 500 to 5000rs based on your preferences. I took two rooms which cost Rs600 per room including dinner & breakfast. It was nice. I took a walk to the banks of Pangong & spent some 2hrs there.
After dinner I started a conversation with a hotel owner and I asked him about Hanle, he told he was born & bought up in Merak but he never visited Hanle till now and he also added shocking news that Chusul /Hanle route is denied as of now. Coz Chinese incursion into the border areas. And Chusul lies very close to China border, I was in dilemma whether to do this circuit or not. If they let me cross Chusul then ok, but if not then the entire plan will go havoc.
Got a good sleep even at the height of 14000feet, but I started to think of Plan B... what if Chusul/Hanle is denied and how to complete this circuit. I can do it via Earath but what if Hanle also denied then I will be wasting a lot of time. With all these questions in mind, I went to bed…
Next day plan was to reach Hanle via Chusul…. Fingers crossed…
It was a blissful night, wind at Pangong lake is very harsh, throughout the night it was blowing like a storm. I woke up at 6.00 am & planned to do some off-roading at the banks of Pangong, I did fabulous off-roading; At around 8.00 am I came back to tents & started to pack all my pieces of stuff, suddenly a group of guys came near us & started a conversation they were travelling through Innova from Delhi, here goes.
Guy: Hi dude
Me: Hi boss
Guy: Where u from.
Me: Bangalore & u
Guy: Pune, tell me one thing why most of the bikers prefer Ladakh as their destination, what’s special in that.
Me: Bikers always love adventure, risk & they are freak outs... And For all of us love Ladakh coz of its terrain, uniqueness, mountains & finally the roads.
Guy: Why can’t you use 4 wheelers instead of 2 wheeler for Ladakh trip?
Me: Brother, it’s very simple. If u go for a movie for 3hrs & enjoy every scene & come back home happily this is what happens when u use 4 wheelers. But u go for the movie & imagine that you are the hero of that movie for 3 hrs, this is what u experience when u ride Motorbikes, suddenly all the guys started to laugh.
And I bid goodbye to Spangmik & headed towards Chushul. After riding for some 10 km I got army check post, it looked like a temporary check post. Then I proceed towards Army officer & submitted my ILP, but the answer was shocking. He completely refused to allow me further on this road & told you can’t even go to Hanle via Earth or any other route. Reason “Chinese “troops are camping very near to Chusul & Hanle. I can’t. To be frank, I didn’t have any point of argument with the officer, even after having a permit from Leh DC, army officials can deny permission at any time, that’s the protocol. I was in confusion how to do about it & somehow I started riding towards Leh again. Again I rode on the same route like Spangmik-Lukung-Tangtse- Durbuk.
I entered durbuk village & saw all the bikes, cars, army vehicles were standing in a line. I started to enquire about the issue, and then an Army officer replied….
After listening to the words of Army officer am under shock that what the hell is happening, first my permits got denied to Chusul now it’s a massive landslide, whether am I able to complete the trip as scheduled or I may miss some places. Till noon I waited there & got the news break from army officer stating that another 2 days is required to clear the landslide. And Leh-Pangong route is blocked from Karu itself.
All the bikers started to head back to Lukung, Spangmik for finding the accommodation facility for the next 2 days. But I decided to head till the place where a landslide has blocked the road, it was exactly 15km from darbuk village. When I reach, there is no sight of road & because of the landslide, all the boulders fell into the river which is flowing next to it. And the river water also gushing into roads created a lot of slushes.
Then I headed to Darbuk to find some stay option, it was 4.00 pm already so I headed to Army camp for some help, I met a nice young officer and he guided to some homestay at end of the village. Finally, I stayed at Changla Queen homestay at Durbuk.
After having a small Nap at the homestay, I thought to take a walk in the village. Durbuk is a beautiful village. The main attraction of darbuk is, it is the gateway to Daulat Beg Oldi region, from here DBO is exactly 233km. There are few villages Enroute DBO most of the villages belongs to Baltis. No civilians are allowed to cross durbuk check post towards DBO. As per the information from local villagers, BRO is constructing a motorable road to DBO, which may take 3-4 years for completion. (FYI, it’s the same road where Chinese and Indian Army had a reason to fight from June 2020)
Somehow I slept on that night. Even Darbuk is at 16000ft height AMS can give you shock any time.
After breakfast, I decided to check the condition of the Landslide, so I went to the landslide area.
After looking at the state of Landslide, I decided it’s not going to clear today. So I stayed back at Darbuk for today also without any ride. Anyway, I got an ample rest, but I come to know that I can’t make “Spiti Valley” this year since this landslide wasted my 2 days of the schedule.