For ages, Ladakh has been the mecca for bike riders. Almost every travel rider has been there for at least once in their lives. Today, I am going to tell you about the magnificent journey from Manali to Leh.
The picturesque beauty of this climb is delightful to ride along. On a rainy day, Mom, this place becomes a heaven. The small village of Marhi marks the final ascent towards Rohtang Pass. Every turn brings you to something more delightful to look at.
The vivid colors of nature here makes you want to come back over and over.
We stopped at one such place to look at this marvel. This picture doesn't do half the justice to the scene, Mom. The clouds above added an appealing blanket to the already mesmerizing view. A few clicks later, we finally began the final ascent to Rohtang Pass.
Rohtang is almost always snow-covered, attracting a plethora of tourists. We thought to stop here for a cup of tea, only to find that the management removed the shops to conserve the place. The very gradual slope along the road was a sight to look at. The sun was shining partially on the peaks, through the clouds. And Mom, while coming back, a heavy mist of clouds surrounded us. The visibility was hardly a few meters. Just 51 km ahead of Manali, I was already in love with the journey.
Drive down to Darcha was quite good. Along the Chenab Valley, we stopped at Tandi. This place has an infamous board, saying "This is the last petrol pump in the next 365km". The two oil cans which you gave me Mom, were used here. We started at around 4 from Tandi, towards Darcha. Bhag River flows along Keylong, Jispa, and Darcha. We reached Darcha at around sunset and found ourselves a place for the night. Laal Singh Ji has a cozy little cottage with a row of beds in it. At a measly 150/per head, it was a pleasant night's sleep we needed for the dreaded ascent coming up.
We had to cross two water streams here. At the first one, my helmet, along with the GoPro attached to it, fell down towards a very steep gorge in the valley. I was lucky that it got stuck against a stone, almost halfway down to the river. A brave co-traveler went along that steep slope to retrieve it. We continued towards the tough Baralacha La. The higher we went, the colder it got.
It had grayish ice on the top with some fresh white snow in the middle. It was freezing cold. We stayed there for a while. Captivated. The ascent further was even tougher.
Though it's not the highest of the passes that we visited, it sure was rough when it comes to weather. Snow covered roads and water streams paved a way down to the other side of the pass. Two of my co-travelers had symptoms of AMS, so we had to take a break at Sarchu army camps. And then we entered the borders of Jammu & Kashmir.
After that, Mom, as if a switch was turned on. The Great Himalayas showed me their magic. The mountains were no longer just huge, they were giant and majestic. Along the Tsarap River, we soon reached the famous Gata Loops. The two pictures above, Mom, are from two different times I visited there. A total of 21 loops, take you from the banks of Tsarap at 4190m to a height of 4630m. It was one crazy ride. After a few stops later, we reached another pass called Nakee La. This was the easiest of all the passes we rode through. Nakee La also has Lachulung La in its vicinity, separated by a moderately wide valley.
Weather changes unpredictably in the mountains, Mom. The moment we started hiking Lachulung La, thick black clouds were hovering around the peaks. The descent of Lachulung La was rough, but a quick one. A snowfall in the evening could've been really painful. We rushed to the next destination. Pang.
I thought to write about Manali to Leh Mom, but this letter is getting way too long. So I'll write you another one, from Pang to Leh. And really really soon.
Your Stubborn Child,