Exploring Ladakh  

"We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are. " - Tobias Wolff, 'In Pharaoh's Army' Below is a writeup of my 2007 July Ladakh Expedition. I am publishing this after a span of 4 months since i returned from this trip. I have recorded most of the events as much as i remember. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as i have enjoyed writing it. Do leave your valuable comments at the comment section which could be found at the bottom of every page. It will help me in improving my future write-ups.

We were 7 people exploring Ladakh in 5 Royal Enfield 350cc Bullets. I would like to list down the names of the 7 people.. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Abhijith (My pillion rider) Sarvesh Dwivedi (Servo) (Pillion to Vijju) Ravi (Riding the RE Thunderbird) Rajesh (Riding the RE Thunderbird) Murali (Riding the RE Thunderbird) Vijendra Singh Purohit (Vijju) (Riding the RE Thunderbird) Myself, Rajith (Riding the RE Bullet Electra 5 speed)
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Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya   

Day 1 : The Excitement Begins...
Bangalore to Delhi - 30th June 2007 My flight was on time. We left Bangalore at 11:30am. This was my second flight journey after a span of over 10 to 12 years. I was not disappointed one bit, although i missed the free burgers this time :) We reached Delhi at 2pm. Stepping outside the flight, the weather confirmed me that i am in Delhi alright. At 39 degree centigrade, i felt like burning all my winter gear inside my rucksack which was waiting to see the light of the day. Since we were warned about the ripping taxiwallahs, we managed to catch hold of a prepaid taxi and after paying the fellow an extra 100 rupees, we dumped ourselves at Karol Bagh. Since we had decided that we are going to hire bikes from Madaan Motors, we hired a lodge near Madaan Motors and off we left for lunch. I was so damn hungry, i hardly had any energy to push myself even to the next galli (starvation courtesy, Spicejet). But to my own displeasure, but in the name of team spirit, i dragged myself to Cannaught place. i must mention the Beautiful Metro that connects the various places of New Delhi. The system has shaped up marvelously. it took about 10-15mins to reach Cannaught place. After some hoopla surrounding the decision about zeroing on a place to have lunch (all this when i am almost half dead :-( ), we finally settled for the India Coffee House. Back in Karol Bagh, we were given 4 somewhat decent Royal Enfield Bullet Thunderbirds and one Bullet Standard in hopeless condition. I had to ride the Bullet Standard. Looking at the Bullet Standard, my confidence of doing this trip shattered that very moment. Let alone taking it to the trip, it was not in a condition to take it to the nearest petrol pump. Add to that, the bike has no insurance. All the bikes looked like, as if they were assembled at the last minute with cheap local parts. All the Bullets had one common problem. Kick starting each of them. Some bikes had starting problem and some others expected some real Bullet kicking experience on the rider's part. Later that night, we filled up the tanks of all the bikes. The Thunderbird holds approx. 16 litres of petrol while the std holds nearly 22 litres !!! The std Bullet started leaking Petrol and we discovered that the brakes of one of the Thunderbirds were absolutely of no use. So we were left with no option but to get the bikes fixed (or replaced) in the morning and start around 12 in the afternoon. We stayed in a decent lodge in Non-AC rooms for 1400 rupees (for 7 people, 2 rooms). The day ended with lots of uncertainty, anxiety and frustration.

Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya   

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Day 2 : The journey begins...
Delhi to Ambala- 1st July 2007 I woke up to the loud ringing sound from the room telephone. it was a call from the reception. The voice on the other end drops these words on my jibberish head, "Sir, Aap ke gaadiyon ko raste se hataakar parking mein lagaa deejiye" Bloody Hell !!! Pushing those Thunderbirds is such a pain. Grunting & Groaning, I parked all the bikes in arbit parking (or no parking) locations. The day continued with the great activity of persuading Arun (of Madaan Motors) to replace the Bullet Standard and fix the other Thunderbirds. To my surprise, i was provided with a 2006 model Bullet Electra 5 Speed. My confidence meter rose to an all time high & everything started falling in place right on. :-) The time was 2pm, we started from Delhi (even though some bikes had trouble starting) and we hit the Kariyal Bypass which took us to the Chandigarh Highway. Slowly our riders started discovering that the bikes have no brakes, no stability, no acceleration, and engine vibrations no less than a tractor. The highway was quite peaceful. I rode the Thunderbird for most of the journey in this highway. One thing i can remember from this ride is that we were bombarded with flies which hit our visors badly, hindering the visibility partially. We had a very sweaty ride and managed to cover 200km to reach Ambala. Although, as per schedule, we had to be in Chandigarh at the end of the day, we were able to push only up to Ambala (Distance from Ambala to Chandigarh is 50 km, by the way). Later that night, we had Veg Pulao, a few curries and lots of lassies.. and we hit the bed at 12:30am. We had plans of waking up at 6am in the morning & make it to Manali by the end of next day..

Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya   

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we moved towards Manali to make it by the end of the day. Ambala to Kulu . At this time. One thing i noted during this day's journey is the faulty milestones. Murali went missing. For example at one place it read 264kms to Manali and the next milestone reads 275km to Manali !!! We caught up with Murali after sometime and upon his & Vijju's recommendation we stopped for another shot of Lassi. He managed to pass by the dhaba without stopping. Handling all these bikes takes lots of patience & persistence. it had an extra can of Petrol in it. Ravi had some problems with the Disc brakes of his bike. But we had no clue where the other guys are. while the other has braking problem. I could not agree more :-) I exchanged bikes with Murali and we moved towards Manali.. In fact. The day from now on starts with kicking the bikes (read beasts) . He was riding my Electra. Thank god. My Electra was in good condition and i hardly had any problems with it. I got a couple of kick-backs from these beasts. one has problem starting. Since we did not start at the scheduled time of 6am or 7am (we started at 9:40am). we had a tough task of covering 370km to Manali.. we stopped by another bike mechanic somewhere close to Kulu. we did get a glimpse of the well-planned city. the disc brakes were not fixed at all. Thumping and Vrooming. Later in the evening Ravi's bike had an accelerator cable problem and after getting it fixed. It happened such that he ran out of fuel too. The Lassis according to Vijju was God-level. we stopped by a dhaba.2nd July 2007 This time i wake up to my alarm at 6am to another hot day. we reached Chandigarh in the afternoon. He had entered Chandigarh city.-) The four Thunderbirds are just some unique pieces. It was getting dark and we started getting our initial suspicion of not making it to Manali by the end of the day. Abhijith & Vijju were in the front. Although we did not enter the beautiful Chandigadh city.. Just a few kilometers ahead of chandigarh. After hogging on Parathas & lassis.Day 3 : Taming the Thunderbirds. Me. After a quick discussion and calculating the logisitics Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 4  . He was saved from the impossible task of pushing it.

I managed to shoot some night shots of Kulu from our Guest house. our efforts went in vain. we decided that we will put up at Kulu. We did make some attempts to find food for dinner but as it was late in the night. I loved the view here.about the rest of the journey.               Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 5  . Kulu is a small city and i loved the serenity of the place.Found a good guesthouse in Kulu.

All this time.3nd July 2007 We woke up quite late in the morning and started towards our destination for the day (Sarchu???? .Rohtang Pass . I stopped by for a snap. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 6  .Keylong Sarchu We reached Manali and after having our Brunch. After a long journey of climbing down Rohtang to the other side. Kulu to Keylong . Rajesh had a fall on the road who was riding right in front of me.Day 4 : Embracing the Terrains and Mountains. The ride from Manali started getting better as we started ascending the peak.which looked impossible . This is where i caught the first sight of snow. Somewhere near the middle of the peak. i had the time of my life and got my shot of a lifetime..... we had a tough time explaining him to make use of his legs for maneuvering in such slippery roads.. I was all energized by the very sight of snow. There were people skiing and Parasailing at Rohtang.. We passed Rohtang. but as my luck would favor me..Tandi . There was quite some traffic on the way to Rohtang as it is a homeymoon destination for most Indian couples. we started from Manali (Nothing much to write about Manali..but we were all slowly getting used to chasing impossible targets and failing miserably :D) We had to cover the following route : Kulu Manali . as we did not spend much time here) after purchasing Empty cans for filling up at Tandi. Melted snow flows through the road filling up the potholes and making the road slippery.. Although Rajesh says it was the bike which was responsible for the fall... all of us met up at a small dhaba where each of us had our experiences to share A fellow traveler traveling towards Manali informed us that the roads ahead are worse than what we just saw. we started getting the feel of the cold weather.It was late almost evening and our chances of making it to Sarchu looked bleak. The roads started getting worser. the only worry i had was to reach Sarchu. Abhijith & me witnessed it in awe. Abhijith spotted a Vulture which was quite far. As we ascended the peak. the vulture rested on a perch right next to me at a small height.

But it turned out that the roads were not really bad and we reached Tandi by 7pm. The station was closing for the day and we made it just in time. opening the fuel tank was not easy) were filled and the cans were filled too (The next Petrol station is at Leh which is about 700kms from Tandi). Murali left with a localite to locate the Royal Enfield showroom in Keylong... All the bikes except Murali's (Murali had misplaced his bike keys. is a small village called Keylong. We were supposed to meet him later in the night as we decided we would put up Keylong fo the night. Me & Ravi ventured into the streets of Keylong to take some night shots. We put up for the day in Keylong as our bikes needed repair before it can do the much difficult Sarchu Leh journey.Although he could start his bike with the other bike's key. Around 8km from Tandi. After dinner. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 7  .

It was really cold outside and i managed to sleep only at around 1am.. I loved this place.Day 5 : The Bike Repair Day Keylong to Darcha . At the same time. The stay at Darcha costed us Rs.4th July 2007 This day was a total waste as we spent most of the time at Mechanic Yogesh's garage getting Ravi's bike fixed. Yogesh tried his best to fix the bike but no matter what. We were grounded in Keylong till 3pm with no hope of reaching Sarchu by the end of the day. i got my bike handle replaced as it had a major bend. Darcha is a nice place between the mountains with a few tents(read Dhabas) put up to facilitate the regular truck drivers. I took out my tripod and we spent lots of time shooting the night skies. Ravi's bike suffered from major problems with the engine as his bike would not cross 2000rpm. The unforgettable thing about darcha was the moonlit mountains and the open skies hosting a zillion stars. 500 totally for food + stay for 7 people (can you beleive it???It was decided that we are going to make up for all the unexpected delays by waking up at 4:30am the next day :-D Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 8  . Murali rode back to Tandi to fill up fuel in his bike We got the bike carriers welded. We finally started from here and kept on riding till we reached Darcha. the bike would not rev beyond 2000rpm.

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Before Tanglang La pass. I hoped against all odds to make it during the day. We crossed the second and third pass. Rajesh made the the journey upto Pang in the bus. Even kicking the bike was tiring. During the day. The Bright Blue skies and the white snowcaps on the mountains were a common sight. The 3 bikes started and we started towards Tang Lang La (i was a bit freaked about the idea of crossing the peak in the night. It was sometime in the afternoon when we crossed Lachulung La. I decided i have to slow down on all activities. everybody woke up at 5am and we were up and ready by 5:30am and we kissed Good Bye to Darcha and shot our Bullets to Leh (which still looked impossible).. The whether was very bad on the pass.5th July 2007 To my surprise. We somehow reached Sarchu by afternoon.. Although I managed to shoot enough pictures at the pass. In fact i even shot Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 10  . From here.Day 6 : A long cold night.. We followed the bus to some distance and after sometime Ravi's bike's clutch wire snapped. We started from Sarchu towards Leh. The view from the place where we stopped was awesome.. The objective at this point of time was to cross the dangerous Tanglang La pass during the day as it will become extremely cold in the night making it impossible to cross it. After lunch we decided to load Rajesh's bike by a bus and send it to Leh as it had air filter problem and was not performing well even with a single rider. I felt the low oxygen level here as i was hardly able to breathe. we started witnessing the Beautiful Ladakh Landscapes. Roads were Good with small river streams crossing the roads at some place. Nakeela and Lachulung La. but it somehow looked impossible). Darcha to Rumtse . we crossed the Baralachala Pass (Our first Pass after Rohtang)..

The Moore Plains proved to be very scary. to my horror i remembered that i had slept only for 4 hours the previous night (Thanks to that night photograph yat Darcha). After a hot cup of Tea. And no sign boards and no people to ask directions. Finally we followed one path and sighted the other bikes and with great effort escaped from the deathly Moore Plains. But facing reality was the toughest task at that point of time. I just wished i get to a comfortable place where i could cuddle up with a heavy blanket. At this point we were seperated from the group. each of them gave different directions which confused us even more. i was out of petrol. We followed the bus until we hit the infamous Moore Plains. And calamity struck. The time was around 9:30pm when we arrived at a place a few kilometres below Tang Lang La. We lost track of the other bikers too. This is the only civilized place before Tang Lang La. We moved from here to avoid delay and reached Pang. It was pitch black and we could hardly see anything. The temperature was less than 5 degrees or somethin. Ravi had lost his Bike papers as he had unknowingly kept his backpack open and everything inside has fallen off. we welcomed the other two bikes. It was late in the evening and it was getting dark and we are stuck in the middle of this desert. We decided that we would do Tang Lang La at any cost and continued our journey. And hence I was quite hesitantabout doing Tang LangLa in teh night. Vijju & Servo had followed the bus and had ventured into the Lachulung La. The 3 bikes moved with uncertainty. Abhijith was with me as a pillion. and we had no option but to cross Tang Lang La. I was riding my bike half asleep :-( We reached the pass and it was unimaginably cold.. Although we met some truck people. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 11  . And then.some pictures for a foreign couple whom we met at the pass. All along. There are n number of roads on the Moore Plains leading to different directions. We lost the sight of the bus. Abhijith was pillion. So they were nowhere to be seen. The time was 10pm. There was an Army tent nearby and we just rushed inside.

I was riding my bullet almost automatically. :-) It was obvious that we will not make it to Leh by 1am. i had just pushed myself to the limit. Somewhere near the peak i fell asleep while still riding my bike.The sight of moon light illuminating the snow on the sides of the road. Once again we had skipped dinner. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 12  . We crashed in the half layed down beds in Vijju & Servo's room. I stopped my bike to catch some sleep :-o And then Murali came to my rescue.. We spotted the bus and Vijju's bike parked at a small town called Rumtse. Abhijith was sent in a Truck which was in front of us as he had his jacket in the bus and he was freezing sitting pillion to me. He took over my bike and i sat pillion and dozed off to glory. What an adventure. my half dead brain not functioning and my body battered by the cold. Rumtse is about 3 hours from Leh. I could not believe i had just survived all this..

. Leh is a small town and its maintained quite well. Surprisingly.2k) We had taken 6 days to reach Leh from Delhi.. In the evening we went for a stroll. There are couple of good lodges in Leh. me & Abhijith decided to enter Leh city and search for accomodation. we dumped our bikes at a repair shop. It was decided that we will be going to Pangong Tso lake the next day. Reaching Leh sure was an accomplishment for all of us :-) While the other guys waited at the Repair shop. The drive from here was smooth and we reached Leh by afternoon. the bus fella did not ask for extra money. we decided to go for a not-so-expensive lodge. Had good breakfast and we started towards Leh. Since we had about 3 days t ospare in Leh.Day 7 : An Accomplishment. The lodge was good and we settled for the day. Everybody had their stories to share. (we had decided for 1. It was decision time. Rumtse to Leh . Once in Leh.6th July 2007 The next day. we woke up late to compensate to the Tanglang La nightmare. Abhijith went to collect the permits for visiting the rest of the destinations. We had to cut down on the places decided earlier to be visited from Leh. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 13  . I was happy that i had my share of sleep..

After he left. Pangong Tso is about 140km from Leh. We had plans of visiting Pangong Tso and returning back by night. The climbing down of the peak to the other side was easy but somehwhere near the base. Vijju has had an accident and fortunately nothing happened to both of them. But everything went wrong during the day. there was a army camp nearby. We somehow reached Tang Tse and after dumping the bike at the mechanic shop. my bike had a puncture in the rear tyre. Since we were done with the puncture job. I was shocked to find Vijju's bike in terrible shap. We had left the hand-pump back at the lodge in Leh. We left Ravi's bike in Leh and decided to make the journey with 4 bikes.Day 8 : The day when everything went wrong. Leh to Pangong Tso . The roads were quite dangerous and the roads were not safe as tiny rocks from the mountains settle in the middle portion of the road. They offered us their hand pump and we gave them some petrol as they were going low on fuel. but the bike was totally out of shape. vijju & Servo left the place to stop Rajesh from getting the mechanic. We waited for Rajesh to come back.7th July 2007 Pangong Tso is a lake shared by India & China.. We managed to find a Mahindra pickup and persuaded him to take the bike to Tang Tse for a jolly 1k. The army people fixed my tyre puncture in no time. But thankfully. The scenery is amazing and we reached Chang La peak by noon or so. we met a Biking group who were returning to Leh. Initially we did not approach them for help and so Rajesh was sent to find a mechanic in the nearby town which was about 30km from where i was stranded. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 14  . we had to plan our next course of actions. but later i started towards Tang Tse to find Rajesh... As we proceeded further.

The engine was working. but it was not turning the tyres. We waited in despair for some help when we found the "India On Bike" group approaching us. he opened up the rear tyre of the bike and to everyone's disbelief. no matter what.We were left with just 3 bikes and we were 7 people. Ater a small distance. therewas no sprocket in the bike. After a small distance. This place was nice and we tried to put the sorrow behind and ease up for what has to be done the next day. Sleeping in my bed. We knew all that is not going to work out. Murali's bike broke down. These people had a mechanic accompanying them. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 15  . everything had gone wrong that day and i was waiting to see a better tomorrow. due to heavy resistence from their group members. He told us that the bike is beyond repair and asked us to dump it in Leh and ask Madaan to collect it from there. The moment he heard the name Madaan. The mesmerising beauty of Ladakh was the only motivation that kept me going. we were asked to put up at a stay house on the way. Teh break shoes were making contact with the tyres and were burnt out totally. It was decided that we check out Pangong Tso. I decided to take two people as pillion in my bike. After some persuation. The inn-owner had a jeep and hence we planned to visit Pangong Tso in his Jeep early in the morning next day. So the bike was left there and we proceeded towards Pangong Tso. i was thinking. he started abusing Madaan. he used to work for Madaan Motors. We had only 2 bikes now :-( The "India on Bike" guys made an offer to take our people to Pangong Tso so that we can get accomodated somewhere.

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i got ready. I could hardly move my hands as it was frosted. It was raining lightly and the whether was getting bad. We somehow managed to persuade a Truck going back to Leh to carry Vijju's bike. The others got ready too and we started towards Pangong Tso. The whether was getting worse. Climbing back the Chang La peak was difficult as the Bullets needed pushing. There were two tasks in hand. it was a very good sight. As we reached the previous day's puncture place (the army camp).Day 9 : My First encounter with Snowfall. Get Vijju's bike fixed (which was not possible) and tow Murali's bike to Tang Tse. After taking some shots. Abhijith & Servo were sent in the truck. Vijju's bike sprockets and brake shoes were installed in Murali's bike. it was snowing badly. We were put to comfort by the heater Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 17  . and hence we had 3 bikes in condition to make it back to Leh. me & Servo reached Tang Tse before the other guys to make an arrangement for carrying Vijju's bike. we came back to our inn. The temperature was -5 degree Centigrade. We rushed into the army camps where we were greated by the friendly army majors and jawaans. Pangong Tso is vast and has a calm environment making you all spiritual. Me. Breakfast was done and now we had to get the bike fixed.8th July 2007 Ravi woke me up early to catch the sunrise. The inn owner helped us by towing Murali's bike to Tang Ts in his jeep. Ravi.. Also. Drinking a cup of tea. Pangong Tso to Leh . Sunrise was over but still.. Meanwhile. Rajesh. I doubted a frost bite but thankfully nothing happened. Vijju & Murali started in the 3 bike.

we crossed Chang La peak in -5 Degree Centigrade. We had the task of getting Vijju's bike repaired which was not an easy job. There was still hope. It was getting colder by the minute and snowfall frosting every part of my body. A mechanic agreed to do his best. After a brief chat with the Major Pratap Singh. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 18  . An experience not worth forgetting. After a hot tea at the pass. we reached Leh by evening. We checked out Leh market and planned for our Kardung La visit the next day. we decided to leave the place and cross Chang La before night and reach Leh.and hot kichdi's and tea.

By 12pm or so. It was sometime in the afternoon. we somehow managed to sneak in. As we reached Thiksey.. Me. The mechanic informed us that it cannot be repaired i nLeh and insisted that the bike be taken to Delhi. Since we reached the entrance only at 15 min past 1pm. we started our journey back to Leh. We were alarmed by the news that the other two bikes had an accident on somewhere near the base. It sure is paradise out here.9th July 2007 Khradungla is the highest motorable pass in the world at an altitude of 18380 feet. Abhijith had his share of riding on the World's highest motorable road. Although we had some problems with the bikes. What an accomplishment!!! Also. After Rajesh's efforts to persuade the concerned person there. The accident was minor but they were Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 19  .khardungla . Leh to Khardungla and back . we left to Khardung La. abhijit and Vijju were in the lead and it was decided that all of us will be meeting at the Thiksey Monastery in Leh. We met some Whiteskinned cyclists on the way. we were greeted by hundreds of Army trucks.Day 10 : The easiest day. On the way. The ride to Khardung La was unforgettable. We tried our luck with another mechanic (his name is Juma. The Khardung La pass is open for tourists from Leh only between 9am to 1pm and from 1 pm to 5 pm for tourists from the Nubra .. we got a call from Ravi. He assured as that he will fix it by evening.Leh direction. A very good mechanic in Leh). we had the task of checking out the status of Vijju's bike. we were in trouble. We spent some time in Khardungla photographing group photos and everything. Khardungla is really beautiful. I must say. First thing in the morning. we somehow made it to the World's highest motorable pass. Khardungla is just around 37km from Leh. It can be covered in a single day.

It is very scenic and i loved shooting everything around this place. we would be leaving Leh. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 20  . I loved the monastery. Juma had done a good job. So we decided to visit the monastery and return back to our lodge. Had dinner at a nearby restaurant (Lassies i cant forget). the next day. we checked out Vijju's bike and i was amazed to see it all fixed. Returning back to Leh.not in a state of joining us at thiksey. After some minor bike repairs in the morning.

Leh --> Kargil Kargil --> Srinagar Srinagar --> Ambala (The critical day to compensate for all the delay) But we had the fear of not making it to Delhi in time to catch our flights.. (It was not working even after the replacement. The morning time was the best and i ended up shooting awesome shots at the monastery. We were back in Leh by 9am.. But i had got used to the absence of rear brakes. Leh to Mulbekh (40km to Kargil). we had avoided the last day from riding as our people had their flights from Bangalore to Delhi at 1pm. But then we just started from Leh. we were left with no option but do ride on the last day.. But since we were one day behind schedule.Day 11 : The longest journey. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 21  . Disc brakes are good enough). Leh --> Kargil --> Dras -> Srinagar --> Jammu --> Delhi According to our initial plan. So here was our plan.. I got my brakes replaced first thing in the morning.10th July 2007 I woke up at 7am in the morning as me & Ravi had planned to visit the Thiksey Monastery (Ravi had not come the previous day). Here was our routeplan.

We kept riding and riding. I used to be in the front leading the other bikes as i had very powerful headlights. I remember this for the long day & the long night it was. We crossed river streams. So we lost sight of Ravi.. small towns. The time was around 11pm and the night ride continues in the dark roads under very cold weather conditions.. and slept peacefully on the roadside. And at this time Ravi was in the lead and had not noticed the deviation. This place is called Mulbekh. passes. We moved towards Kargil with hope of making it in decent time. narrow roads. Initially he insisted to find some other place as there were no beds.. It was a long night and finally we spot a village. Its a very tiny town. To our surprise. There was a deviation to get to Lamayuru somewhere between the mountains. Ravi had parked his bike. The truck drivers were very polite. All this while i was very very sleepy and my bike was set into auto-pilot mode. at around 12:30am while crossing a deserted Mountain.. Ravi had waited for us for an hour at that place.right. And we take a turn to see if it is Ravi.The journey back was a bit hectic but i loved the landscapes as it was even more beautiful than the ones in the Manali-Leh route. After 3 hours of ride we started worrying for Ravi as kargil was still far away and there was no sight of Ravi. The four bikes continued on this scary road cutting through the mountains almost on the cliff. One thing i liked was the truck drivers. mountains. The truck drivers used to great us by stopping their vehicles. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 22  . Finally we locate a J&K tourism department guesthouse.All we could see is closed doors but no people. Abhijith sights a parked Bike and he asks me to stop. After a long night journey. slow down. But the chance of that looked bleak. Me & Abhijith check with the warden for some place to rest. switching off the headlight and turn on the left indicators to let us pass by them. We wake up Ravi and assure him that we will be halting at a nearby place which is about 30km from there and we continue. My carrier broke somewhere in between. Abhijith used to help me stay awake by guiding me to take left. The changing of gears and the applying of brakes were happening almost automatically.

I felt like i had earned that sleep. we were offered some space in a room and we dozed off peacefully.After assuring him that.. Never had i got that feeling before. :-) Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 23  . all we needed was a place to spend the night and all of us had sleeping bags and that we dont need his beds.

I hardly had anything. frustration and Adventure. The warden tried fixing it but our only option was to reach Kargil to get it fixed properly. We were there by afternoon. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 24  . Post lunch. We encountered signs which read "You are under Enemy Surveillance". We had lunch at a small restaurant. we filled our tanks and found a mechanic to fix Rajesh's Thunderbird. The Biryani that was served sucked big time.. Mulbekh to Srinagar . So the only solution was to keep filling up engine oil from time to time. We tried at a local petrol station but there were no engine oil in stock. This was noted the previous night. we started towards Srinagar. Maybe they just raised the prices for us as we were tourists. Whatever it was. I was pissed off totally.. Although we had a tough time with the morning activities because of the hopeless hygienic conditions there. The whole business of passing through Kargil was a bit risky but we had other things worrying us. And the Biryani costed a bloody 80 rupees.11th July 2007 The morning was fresh. Rajesh's bike had developed a new problem. we did not have the stamina to argue. Shelling had taken place on this very stretch as Kargil is situated almost near the LOC. We started towards Kargil.Day 12 : The day of uncertainity. There are no big restaurants in Kargil. The roads were good but nothing worth shooting. Getting to Srinagar by day-break. So Rajesh had to carry extra engine oil. We were served with good breakfast and tea. During the first part of the journey we passed through the Kargil-Dras road which boasts the popular Kargil war memorial and this is the stretch where the Kargil war had happened in 1999. But it was a much bigger problem involving welding the engine shell. Dripping oil from the engine. This journey was one of the most memorable journey of my lifetime. Upon reaching Kargil.

The view was spectacular. All minor ones (and one which was just short of a major fall down the cliff) I enjoyed the tea at Sonamarg more than anything. We kept riding to reach Srinagar. At one point. All this while we observed thousands of tents at the bottom of the mountain range. We found him after searching for him for half an hour. We had no idea what they were. There were too many of them. they come from the other side. after filling up petrol at a station. Once in Sonamarg all of us joined together for checking if everybody is safe. Srinagar was full of Police and the military. I had the time of my life passing through this town. Horses grazing around. We finally reached Sonamarg which happens to be at the base of the peak. Sonamarg was the most beautiful town i had ever seen. And then i realised that i was closeby to Amarnath. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 25  . about our bikes and everything. We somehow crossed the Zoji-La pass witnessing the beautiful Himalayas at its most scenic locations. We continued to Srinagar through Sonamarg. Servo went missing. Roads started detoriating. It was sunset time in Sonamarg. The pass is at a height of 11570 feet. there was checkpost who would ask us about our identities.. Roads were awesome upto some distance. I clicked some snaps. Every half a kilometer.By evening we were out of Kargil and we had the big task of crossing the Zoji La pass. Beautiful Greeery surrounded by snow-capped mountains. One thing that bothered us here was the trucks. The roads are so narrow here that trucks go in only one direction in the morning. Got the news that Rajesh had fallen down a couple of times on the road. The mountain range is very beautiful and quite dangerous because of the narrow roads. The journey continued and it was 9pm when we reached the city limits of Srinagar. In the afternoon. At this time i found out that the camps we saw were that of the Amarnath base camp fecilitataed for Amarnath yatries. We had a long journey climbing down the peak.

The hunt for lodges began. "Bund karo. We can do it if our bikes were performing well. Ravi's bike and Rajesh's bike had major starting problems. we will teach you how to start it") At this time I was totally pissed off with the bikes. How cool is that :D) After a fresh shower and dinner. About 30 kicks per bike . And then. all i can think of is "We are doomed". The distance from Srinagar to Delhi is 876 km.The problems with the bikes had escalated by this time. I remember stopping and kicking their bikes 2 or 3 times. I remember kicking 2 bikes one after the other. Some army people suspected us and started enquiring. my tiredness got the better of me and i fell asleep in no time. Wefinally settled for the night in a boat house which was a little far from Dal Lake. At one place near the checkpost. I was losing my patience by every passing moment. i was relieved from the entire trauma. I told them that we have problem with the engines. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 26  . (Total of 180kicks !!!) We reached Srinagar town and the tome was 10pm. Gaadi start karna Hum sikadenge" ("Switch off the engine. there is no way we are going to cover Srinagar to Delhi in 2 and a half days. Some people near the Dal lake promised us to find us accomodation in a boat house. we did not switch off the bike engines and we were asked to switch it off by the police. 3 times. The next day would start by finding a mechanic in Srinagar and leaving to Delhi as soon as possible. I left the place with those people to get dinner from a a nearby restaurant. I started thinking.. Th bikes would die one after the other. I had taken 2 of them on my Bullet (Riding trips in the middle of the night in Srinagar with strangers. I was struggling to start Rajesh's bike on the road right next to the Dal Lake. But looking at our bikes. and the army personnel tells me. I just wished we reach Srinagar somehow.

Photo courtsey : Wikipedia (I did not click shots here. as i was paranoid about getting to Srinagar as soon as possible)                     Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 27  .

We fell inside a 2.12th July 2007 The boathouse family served us with excellent tea and Bread-Butter toast. Rajesh's bike was troubling all the way.3km long tunnel. The road inside was slippery as oil had spilled all over... Rajesh had severe problems with his bike as it was not pulling on the terrains. Sometime in the evening i had my first bike. As there was too much traffic.fall had become a common misadventure. Patnitop is a hillstation and there are lots of resorts and lodges available. We found a decent lodge and with no options left. I had a couple of bruises while Abhijith did not suffer from any bruises. Murali & Servo had a fall.Day 13 : The day of reckoning. Later. It was a long journey tackling army traffic through narrow roads. 1 and half days left and we had to cover 600km. I later got my rear brakes repaired (but still it was not usable). We had the impossible task of making it to Jammu by midnight.. By this time bike. Srinagar to Patnitop. we rested for the day. We decided to put up for the day at a place called Patnitop. we were 110 km behind Jammu. Impossible!!! Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 28  . We started our packing and Rajesh went out to get his bike repaired.fall in my entire 13 days of bike riding. We started from Srinagar sometime around 11am.

Ravi's bike had no documents and this would be a problem as the railway authorities ask for the original documents. We (me & Abhijith) were not worried as our flights were at 5:30pm next day and we had ample time to freshen up. The train journey was comfortable. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 29  . It was a short journey and we reached Jammu by 12pm. he agreed to send it by his private parcel van which would be attached to the train. it will be just in time to collect the bikes. As our train would be reaching almost the same time next day. We had another problem... After enquiring about the trains. We booked tickets for ourselves in a different train and the bikes were loaded to go. I had a Masala Dosa at a eat-out. We were informed that the bikes will be reaching at 6am.After a small search. next day. we reached Jammu Tawi Railway station.13th July 2007 We started quite late from Patnitop as everybody was tired. return it to madaan and catch the flight. After dumping our luggages at the railway platform we took turns to have lunch. we were relieved to hear the news that the bikes can be sent to Delhi by a train starting sometime in the afternoon. Patnitop to Jammu . After negotiating with the officer of the parcel department. We had the entire afternoon to spare. We decided that we would reach Jammu as soon as possible and try to send our bikes to Delhi by train.Day 14 : The day when things actually did not go wrong.

I went back searching for ravi and i find Ravi pushing his bike. Servo & Vijju had a tough time bargaining with Arun of Madaan Motors for the trauma his bikes had put us in. After a lot of frustration and persuasion. It so happened that the parcel van containing the bikes had reached Delhi station but it has not come to the parcel delivery platform.. I got some more food to eat during my flight journey. I took the bike from him and boarded him on an auto along with the other two to the airport. We started riding towards Karol Bagh amidst the heavy Delhi traffic with the wildest hope. As time passed by and as I was recollecting the events of the day. Murali and me somehow made it to Karol Bagh by 12:30pm or so while ravi was nowhere to be seen. i was overwhelmed to see the city lights of Bangalore from the window. Those 15 days had taught me a lot of things. We rushed to the checkin counter and once our luggage got checked in. Abhijith. Later we found out that their flight got delayed. Rajesh & Murali had their flights departing at 1pm. we managed to get the bikes out on the road only at 12pm. rajesh & Murali made it to the airport just in time. Delhi to Bangalore . Now i know how to aim for the impossible. Meanwhile Me. Took a city taxi and made it to the airport just 15 min before departure. we had a sigh of relief and i saw a smile on Abhijith's face. The first task in hand was to find the status of the bikes. we were informed that it would be dispatched as soon as possible. now i now my limits. It was around 8am. Now i know the meaning of Persistence. which i think helped them to catch some breath. Ravi. Ravi. We had not eaten all day and we hogged like 2 beggars at the airport. He is a businessman and knows the game of the trade and we ended up paying heavily for the damages of the bikes. while we were taking the bikes from the railway station to Karol Bagh). Since we had booked our return tickets with Air Sahara. Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 30  . I bid goodbye to Abhijith and returned home to tell a long story to my bro and my mom who was waiting at home. Rajesh. The time was 4pm and i had to freshen up..14th July 2007 We woke up quite early because of the hot whether of Delhi. I had learnt to cope up with challenges.Day 15 : The Rush hour. we reached the Old Delhi station. the flight was on time. We reached Bangalore by 9:00pm. All of us were looking like rag pickers. Those 15 days had tranformed my mind to a different state. We rushed to our lodge (which was booked by Abhijith & Servo.

Now i know what it takes to do a 15-day bike journey through one of the coldest deserts in the world..   Copyright © 2007 Rajith Kalluraya    Page 31  .. The beauty of Ladakh will keep me in peace forever.

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