Every Biker's Ultimate Guide to Ladakh - Part 1
Adventurist enthusiasts await the month of June. Some consider it to be the time for an annual pilgrimage. And for some, it is time for a yearly dose of adventure and solace.
Ladakh is a land like no other. It exceeds every expectation that one can muster, leaves you spell bound with its beauty and enthralls you with the sheer sense of adventure that you will experience by being on that land.
If you are a biker, planning your very first ride this season, we’ve compiled an ultimate itinerary for you. From places to visit to the most mind-blowing motor-able passes, this guide will take you through it all.
Let’s start with the basic itinerary –
Day 1: Manali to Sarchu
Day 2: Sarchu to Leh
Day 3: Leh - Get your permits done and visit Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, Shey Palace, Hemis Monastery and Thikse Monastery
Day 4: Leh to Nubra valley, via Khardung La - Visit Hunder Desert and Diskit
Day 5: Nubra to Leh
Day 6: Leh to Pangong Tso
Day 7: Pangong Tso to Leh
Day 8: Leh to Kargil - Stop for sightseeing at Mulbek, Lamayuru and Patthar Sahib
Day 9: Kargil to Srinagar
Day 1 : Manali to Sarchu via Rohtang Pass ( 232kms)
Once you get your permits made at Manali for Rohtang pass, start your trip and head for Sarchu. This 51 km drive from Manali to Rohtang can take about two to three hours. The road to Rohtang is a steep climb, the road quality is below par and traffic can halt at places due to landslides or broken down vehicles.
Once you cross Rohtang, tank up at Tandi (about 9 km before Keylong) as the next fuel station is only 40 km before Leh. (It is always a good idea to carry some extra fuel in a jerry can in case Tandi is closed or out of fuel, or you decide to take some detours). You can stop over for a meal at Koksar or Keylong along the way.
Sarchu, located at about 14,200 feet, is a strongly recommended stop to get acclimatized to the subsequent higher altitude regions you would be staying at in Ladakh. Expect extreme cold weather. Tents are the only accommodation and Sarchu is the only place between Manali and Leh where you can get organized accommodation. Other options being - pitch tent or crash at any of the shacks on the way who provide a bed for Rs. 50.
Day 2: Sarchu to Leh ( 260 kms)
The road from Sarchu to Leh is quite exciting. You have to ride through the famous Gata Loops - a series of 21 hairpins that take you up some 2000 feet within a few kilometers. Then comes Pang, where you can stop for some refreshments and sleep.
Once you cross Pang the landscape changes drastically as you enter Moore plains - about 48 kms of sand trapped between mountains on either side. Riding through these 48kms will make you feel like you are participating in the Dakar rally, through fine sand - be careful here and don't get your tire stuck in the sand.
The next bit en route is the towering climb to Tanglang La Pass at an altitude of 17500 ft. One can see the remains of trucks and jeeps deep in the valleys that look like trash, this is sure to send bolts of lightning through your brains – a warning of caution. After this, the ride is all downhill to the little village of Upshi from where the road to Leh is quite good but with less dramatic scenery.
In the next piece, we take you through the rest of days and give you a realistic idea of what to expect on this challenging ride.