A big salute to the Indian Army for helping us and many others that are in need. If you ever go through this road, make sure you stop here and thank them as they work really hard for us in the area where it’s almost impossible to live in. Three of our riders were sick and couldn’t ride so we decided to leave a bike there and move on three bikes and collect the bike while returning. This felt like a good decision as riding bikes there is hard. It took us another 3 hours and 2 breaks to finally reach Pangong Tso. The beauty of this road is immense. You go through snow and ice patches for a while and then it gets converted into a pure desert ride. The glimpse of the lake is as if you have seen in an oasis.
The lake is pretty huge and is shared by China and India. India owns just about 30% of the lake and rest is in China. This lake is a high altitude saltwater lake which is unique on its own. The specialty of this lake is that it changes the color with time. We reached here at 2 pm when the lake was lush blue but as time passed, the lake went from blue to grey in front of our eyes. This area here has no electricity at all. There are no hotels here but some tents that you rent. It has a bed and a toilet and that’s it. But the area is not for lavish living as it is. Though they have got huge visitors after the film ‘3 Idiots’ and is getting crowded day by day (article on how 3 Idiots spoiled Leh coming soon).
Stay here does cost a lot online but coming here directly without any booking would save you some cash. We got 2 tents for Rs.700 each which is cheaper than the online rate of about Rs.2000 per tent. The food here is not that great. But while you are here, try having ‘Tukpa’ which is the local dish and is amazing. A basic noodle soup with some vegetables. One portion is enough for a person to fill up. The owner was kind enough to bring us some wood for the bonfire. This experience is out of this world where you sit near a lake with a bonfire and no light what so ever. We slept off after 2 hours of bonfire fun.
Getting up to a blue lake and no people close by is once in a lifetime opportunity in India. This called for a lazy morning. We couldn’t get out of bed at all just coz we felt lazy. But we had a big ride in front of us back to Leh so we had to pack up everything and leave soon. We decided to stop by at some hotel (a small dhaba maybe) on the way for
brunch. After some photos and water refill, we started our ride back and we had to ride fast as we had no intention to stop by another night anywhere else. With minimal breaks and a fast but safe ride, we finally arrived at the military base where we left our bike. Here we decided that the people who had gotten ill will carry on and others will stay and try starting up the bike. Three of us stayed and rest carried on the road and would stop at a point where the main road starts.
We thought this day was easy and would be in our favor, but fate had some other plans for us. The bike got warmed up pretty easily and we started our descent. About 100 meters on the road, the clutch wire snapped. For our non-biker readers, the clutch is used for shifting gears and without that, the bike is hard to move. We had about 23km of the road to cover till the next mechanic. Luckily, we had some experience with bikes hence it took us about 2 hours and 2 near death experiences to reach the mechanic. But well we were all safe which was more important. We started towards Leh as soon as we repaired the bike as it was already 4 pm and would be dark in some time. The road was good but we had one more problem in front of us. Soon we figured out that there was sandstorm approaching. We had to go through the storm which swept our bikes from one end of the road to the other like paper. We managed to ride our way through it to our hotel rooms where finally we could rest.
Finding good restaurants here is a bit tricky but after an hour of roaming, we found two good ones. Lamayuru Cafe being one of them. Amazing food and good service. You can get both veg and non-veg food here.
It was a lazy day for us. We got up late and had breakfast in bed. Being tired was making us lazy. We decided to rest for the day as we had to ride a lot on next day. We had a late lunch at Lamayuru Café and headed for some local market just for shopping and for some oxygen cans for safety. The market here is amazing but closes early evening. We couldn’t get time for shopping but we had a few days here so we didn’t mind.
Getting up early was a task for this day. We had our bikes with us and got ready for a good ride. Packed and ready, we started off our sweet journey towards Khardungla Pass. Khardungla Pass is the highest motorable road in the world at the height of 18380 feet. We didn’t have breakfast so we decided to have a brunch on the way.
The road and the view were amazing. Riding on roads as such is a dream come true for a rider. But well its India and we have a reputation to maintain. A good road at such height seems a myth in India. And it came true after about halfway. It wasn’t a road to be exact but a muddy road with no proper construction. And it gets worse after some time as the roads get covered with snow. But we were ready so didn’t feel hard as we already had traveled through such roads before.
Reaching Khardungla pass seemed easy for us. After some photos and an amazing scenic view of Himalayan Ranges, we had to depart as standing there for too long can make you feel dizzy just because of the lack of oxygen. The return journey was lovely. The cold breeze, the sunset, and the view made it the most amazing ride we had ever done. We stopped at a Buddhist temple on the way. It was a temple which we all would love to visit. No one around, Calm and quiet and yet so close to the town. I see why Buddhism is such a calm and quiet religion.
We came back to the city pretty late so we decided to have dinner first and then get back to our rooms. We tried some sizzlers this time and they were delicious. Leh never disappointed us with food.
This is the end of part 3. Read part 4 here.