When Shrikant Gai decides to travel for his first solo trip to Leh from Srinagar on a bike, it was sure that this would be a once in a lifetime kind of moment. Leh and Srinagar are the jewels of Jammu and Kashmir. The town of Leh is a mesmerizing tourist destination, popular amongst trekkers, bikers, adventure junkies and backpackers. The town of Leh is known for its mesmerizing landscapes, beautiful lakes, the snow capped peaks and attracts thousands of people from around the globe.
"I cannot really express the rush of emotions I experienced when I started the expedition. But every time I talk about it, I feel like I am back there traveling through the beautiful landscape. I have traveled to various amazing destinations before but none of them were as stunning and wonderful as this trip. We enjoyed the adventure, we shared our stories, we bonded, we made new friends for life and we lived to the fullest in these few days."
To enjoy the wonderful scenic routes of Ladakh, Shrikant made the choice to travel by bike with a travel group from Thrillophilia. This expedition was an adventure for all of them, and together they were ready to explore the challenging terrains of Ladakh. Shrikant met with the travel group in Manali and he got acquainted with his fellow passengers. The group enjoyed an overnight stay at Manali and the next day they left for Jispa, the first destination in their tour. They traveled through the Rohtang Pass, which was an amazing experience.
On their way they passed through the Lahaul Valley and their scenic view of majestic mountains changed to twisted roads and green valleys. After 140 kms, the riders arrived at Jispa and stayed there for the night.
"Our riding experience was beginning at the Jispa, and the road ahead was going to be amazing. We traveled to Sarchu, and the path was magnificent. Crossing the Baralacha La Pass and getting to witness the Suraj Taal that early in the morning was a beautiful experience. We covered the distance of 190km that day and when we reached our camp we all were too tired. So we immediately went into our tents to rest and freshen up. Spending the night under the open starry sky was a great way to spend the night. That day when we crossed the 21 Gata Loops, traveled across the Tanglang La and covered the Pang Pass, I felt a rush of adrenaline. The thrill of riding my bike through these routes was unmatched."
The group then continued their journey to the Nubra Valley via the Khardung La pass. It is one of the highest motorable pass in the world and taking that route was a thrilling experience for Shrikant and the group. The view that awaited them on the route added to their excitement. On one side stood the magnificent mountains, and on the other side was the moon shining its light onto the grounds of the valley. After covering the 130 kms, they stopped at the Pangong Tso Lake for some fun times. From there, they traveled back to Leh and rested for the night.
The First Experience
"Most of my vacations were planned to the beach so I have had my fair share of beach swim sessions. And that's how I know that I hate taking a dip in the water, be it anywhere. But during this trip, something took over me and I decided to go river rafting at the Zanskar Rafting in Leh. Despite the cold water and the personal discomfort I usually feel, I enjoyed every second of the ride. I sat in the middle, clutching on to my life jacket. Somewhere around the middle of the ride it hit me that I had done something adventurous and unexpected in Leh - I created a memory that will always live with me. And I do not regret it even for a second."
The Beautiful Ride Through Leh Passes
"From Leh we moved forward to Kargil and the beginning of this ride was a bit funny. One of our fellow travelers for some reason decided to complete the entire 100 km ride in one single go. While we took a stop at the petrol pump on our way, we could not contact him due to a bad network and he couldn't find us either. When we finally caught up with him in Lamayuru Monastery, all of us burst into laughter."
"We were all laughing and exhilarated on our journey to Kargil, but once we reached the Kargil War Memorial - all of it was replaced by a sense of sadness. We explored the beautiful terrains in Kargil and even met some army officers. But the best part was learning about the war, getting to know how our soldiers braved the attack and how they still spend every waking second protecting the border in the second coldest region of the word. We salute them and feel an immense pride to be a part of the same country as them."
The riders visited the famous spots along the way and ended the ride at Srinagar after 12 days of travel only to leave the keys of the bikes but carried a lot of memories, experiences and stories along the way.
"Along the way we stopped at many amazing places and tourist destinations, throughout the trip. When the tour ended twelve days later in Srinagar we handed our keys to the guides and traveled back home with lots of amazing memories."
“We traveled across all the famous ranges of Himalayan terrain, starting from the Shivalik, Karakoram & Pir Panjal. Took the midnight road trip from Jammu to Srinagar risking our lives while crossing South Kashmir, early morning (4 am) shopping at Awantipora, Dal Lake, Shankaracharya Temple, Srinagar Market. Then I had lunch at Lal Chowk, witnessed Eid Celebrations, Shalimar Garden, Noon & Kahwa Tea, Sonamarg, War Zone, Oldest Gompa Lamayuru. Later went for river rafting at World’s highest point (Zanskar river), Pathar Sahib Gurudwara, Leh Palace, grueling terrain & passes such as Zoji La, Namki La, Fotu La, World’s highest motorable road Khardung La, Nakee La, Tanglang La, Bara-Lacha La & Chang La. Took a crazy bath in Pangong Tso lake (-4 D°C), watch cute Marmot, Yak, Deer & Pashmina Goats at Changthang Wildlife sanctuary, snow-capped Karakoram Ranges, Sand dunes at Nubra Valley, Diskit Monastery, the Gata loops (22 hairpin bends) at 4190 m elevation on Pang Sarchu road, Suraj Tal, whiskey & brandy Nallah, picturesque Jispa, hiking at 4350 m Himalayan ranges and driving alongside the rivers across the two states are never going to fade away.”
Points To Remember
- Don’t carry a lot of outfits. You don't need them but only a few sturdy good warm pieces.
- Keep your luggage light, as that will leave space for the shopping and souvenirs you collect on the way.
- Carry hard cash with you at all times.
- The region does not provide a good network for all service providers. So choose the one which will keep you connected to your loved ones in the outside world.