Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ladakh Bike Trip - World's highest motorable pass, Khardung La (18,380 feet) and Nubra Valley expedition (Day 6)

Late risers started the Day 5 at 8:00 AM in Leh. The day marked was for the most important milestone of the trip, world’s highest motorable pass Khardung La with 18,380 feet altitude. For later in day we had plan to reach Nubra Valley, explore Hunder Village and Sand dunes of the valley.

Me riding towards Rohtang Pass

Bikes were relatively less loaded as we had left major luggage at Leh. I was carrying some petrol for on the way thirst of my Royal Enfield Classic 500. In the middle of thin and ignorable clouds we started uphill ride to conquer world’s highest motorable pass “Khardung La”. Cruising on curves of South pullu we were surrounded by Himayalan Odyssey Biker. We stopped on the way before south pullu to let Himayalan Odyssey Bikers go ahead of us so that we enjoy the ride in thump of our bikes only.

Roads filled with Bikers

South Pullu is the place wherein anyone driving/riding beyond it need to carry permission. We submitted the permission and decided to ride rather than taking a break. The weather was turning cold and clouds had become darker and thicker than earlier. By this time Himalayan Odyssey’s most of the bikers had gone way ahead of us and roads were calm and empty. Before we could see the first glimpse of Khardung La top, snowfall started around Himalayan peaks and soon it did not spare us as well.

Riding through moderate tough roads with big rocks on it never felt tough and challenging because of two reasons, the first was that we had ridden way tougher roads in last 4 days and second was the excitement to write a history of our bike trip by touching world’s highest motorable pass, Khardung La top. I had lot of memories of Khardung La from my 2010 Leh trip, so I had an predefined image in my mind. But this did not dilute my excitement of registering my presence there again.

Mission accomplished

Soon we reached at our key milestone of the trip. Khardung La top had a surprising view stored for us. All the Himalayan Odyssey bikers and other two biker groups had made entire top overcrowded. Some lazy people travelling in cars added more spice to the view and left almost no place to park bikes. All the boards of Khardung La top had queues of riders for photographs. We manage to get some photographs of all of us but not even single picture was satisfactory due to unwanted people’s appearance in one or the other photograph. It was really an important milestone for us and all of us wanted quality photographs here.

After a halt of fifteen minutes at Khardung La top, we started towards Nubra Valley with downhill ride on the other side of the top. We four bikers were again lost in the crowd of around 100 bikers. The roads were very bad and clearly that was evident from our speed as well. Steep downhill ride for me had proven always heavy on me. In an hour ride we reached South Pullu, a second check post where travelers need to submit the permission copy. We needed a break here. Maggi and coffee was much needed at this time and tasted delicious. It was well deserved break. This place again was filled up with bikers everywhere.

The road ahead of North Pullu was very easy and enjoyable till Hunder, which was our last stop for the day. After crossing all bad roads and riding in first/second gear, it was the time to pull throttle to extreme. However the fascinating terrains and beautiful mountains of Nubra valley made us stop at many places to capture some memories. All of us loved every moment of the ride and it was evident on our faces.

Khardung Village

To our surprise Mohit caught us on the way. He started his ride at 11:00 AM from Leh. He covered the distance in 3 hours which we had covered in 5 hours. Mohit did not even bother to stop at Khardung La top for photograph.

Anticipating petrol stock out at the only Petrol Pump at Hunder, we decided to fill our bikes first. By this time we were riding ahead of Himyalan Odyssey and we took advantage of this at Petrol pump. In few minutes, a long queue formed up behind us for petrol. Unlike other petrol pumps it was not an automatic pump and looked more like hand pump with manual pumping of fuel from storage tanks. Since it was not electric petrol pump, the measurement of petrol was also done in standard 5 liter container.

The only petrol pump at Hunder

Few kilometers ahead of petrol pump was Hunder village where we had the plan to stay for night. After scouting few streets of village we manage to get a good guest house where we were the only guests for night. Some snacks and coffee and we were all charged up for exploring Hunder village. Anurag, Sudhir and Me manage to climb to the monastery right on the top of the village. The whole valley looked serene from this point. All three of us made most out of this place with some epic photographs. We returned happily jumping down like monkeys. On the way down, Mohit was waiting for us whereas Akshay was missing. Later we came to know that he was relaxing at Guest house.

Birds eye view of Hunder Village

An evening with calmness of village, noise of flowing water stream and chirping words was soothing after 5 hectic days of ride. The dinner was planned in lawn with bonfire. The warmness of bonfire after dinner made us sleep early.



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