You must have heard the word – Majestic, have you seen it? stood near it?. You can see it and stand near it, but you can’t speak. The Himalayas will make you speechless.
This is part of the story of two childhood friends, who were continents apart. They came together to ride their puny motorbikes on the mighty Himalayas, India and thus have an adventure of a lifetime. Venkat & Keshav in May 2008.
This is one of the events of the 5 day trip to Leh, Kashmir. More details will be covered in future posts.
We motorbiked on the highest motorable road in the world
We faced black ice – the worst hazard to a biker.
We were invited into the bunkers of Indian army jawans.
I saw snow for the first time in my life.
I was inches from the edge of the mountain
We lived to tell you this tale.
At the foot, 13K feet
There we were outside our hotel, Venkat (85kg) on his 150kg Bajaj Pulsar and me (60kg) on the 350kg Enfield thunderbird, to all others it would appear that we were supposed to swap bikes. It was a complete mismatch of biker and rider. But this was our very own personal choice when we rented these bikes.
We get ready for a few snaps, all the gear attached to the bikes. Behind us, the mountain holding “Khardung la” pass gleams in the sunlight. With a roar, I start my 350 cc bike. Venkat starts his 150 cc pulsar with a gentle purr (now you know why I opted for that bigger bike). We then set off to the foot of the mountain. A short ride through the streets of Leh brings us there. It was early morning.
We faced a beautiful road winding through the mountain range, going above in to what seemed like sky itself. This was said to be the highest motorable road in the world.
Reaching for the clouds
We were speeding up the mountain and except for an occasional truck the road was virtually empty. Leh was stretched below us, dotted with trees here and there, other than that, this land was virtually bare. As we went higher, we saw the mountains running around all of us, tipped with snow at the peaks. From up here, the Mountains looked very different, it was almost as if we were coming to equal terms.
Leh was a tiny oasis surrounded by a gigantic picket fence.
The sight was too beautiful to just keep riding on and on. We stopped to take pictures. Thank god we had digital cameras, you can never take enough pictures of this spectacle. We were speeding up the winding road, the T-Bird had amazing comfort and power, its thud-thud-thud sound waking up the heavens.
The occasional truck from the opposite side reminded us to be careful at least at the blind corners. But soon caution was swallowed up by the Mountains and we were racing through the wind with the early morning sunshine bathing us.
This was just perfect!
My favorite color
Very soon we glimpsed the first snow/ice covering the mountain side. I stopped to touch it, for the first time in my life!
We reached our first checkpost – South Pullu, manned by Indian army. This division is responsible for maintaining these roads.
Reaching South pullu, we were in for some bad news. The road from here to Khardung La pass and to the other side is too narrow for two-way travel.
Monday was the day when vehicles from Nubra valley side pass through Khardung La and reach Leh and now we were stuck on this side. We had two choices – go back or plead with the army jawans to let us go ahead. The army was in contact with Khardung La and North pullu (a similar post on the other side). The officer told us to hang around while he tries to bend the rules.
We were the only bikers. The rest were tourists who used taxis or came in their own transport. I found a Army major who was on his way to Siachen, the highest battlefield in the world. He talked about the India-Pakistan standoff. It was an interesting conversation.
Finally there was a go-ahead from the army officer. We had permission to not only go to the top, but also to go beyond into Nubra valley.
Going above, now everything was covered in snow. It was getting cold. Even the sun was ducking behind the clouds (later we would know that these were snow clouds)
Edge of Beauty
It was 14 kilometers to the top. As we climbed up, the road became very narrow and rocky.
We stopped to take some amazing pics (this blog’s header pic included). Unfortunately took more time then expected and trucks from the top started coming down towards south pullu.
The road was too narrow, and both of us had to hug the edge of the road. Venkat stopped on the right-side with the mountain wall on his side.
I was stuck on the left side, my front tire 3 inches from the edge.
There wasn’t much to do until the convoy went away. So I decided to take pictures from my very unusual vantage point. After 20 minutes the convoy rolled away.
Now the last few kilometers to Khardung La were very bad, the road condition deteriorated. Probably because there is a constant snowfall and landslides.
We were crawling at 5kmph speed and then just like that, we were at the top!
Part 2 is done
Part 3 (the concluding post on Ktop) is also ready for your pleasure