Samar journeys through the high Himalayas of Ladakh and presents his eternal adventure in photographs.
There used to be (still is) an adage in North India in Pre-Independence era – "Jisne Lahore Nahin Dekha, Usne Jeevan me Kuch nahi Dekha", if you haven't seen Lahore, you haven’t seen anything in life. If it were upto me, I'd replace Lahore with Ladakh.
Ladakh invokes a paradoxical feeling of infinite serenity mixed with excitement and adventure. Ladakh is, on record, the biggest region and Leh the biggest district of all of Asia. As a teen raised by a farmer's family, my mind's landscape was moulded by the earth and found refuge in Ladakh's pristine beauty. In Ladakh, you don't capture beauty; the beauty captures you and captures you absolutely.
1. Khardung La
This is the world’s highest motorable road at over 18,000 feet. Your feel your first sense of achievement when you click yourself at that milestone. Khardung La alone can easily be done in a single day.
|Proud to reach Khardung La.|
2. Nubra Valley
After Khardung La comes the beautiful Nubra Vallley, where you must spend atleast a night. Double-humped camels in India are found here. If you start early, you'll have plenty of time to explore Khardung La and reach Nubra valley by evening.
3. Pangong Lake
Beauty, beauty, beauty. It falls on a different road than Khardung La, almost 80km from Leh. Of the 145km long lake, 45km are in India and the rest in China; that's how close you are to the Chinese border. Spend a night in your tent, a night you would never have experienced before in your life, and you would want to stay there for a week. It is such virgin beauty, famed by Aamir Khan's "Three idiots". The famous song "Satrangi Re" from Shahrukh Khan's "Dil Se" was filmed here and if you came to know, Shahrukh would bathe in the lake everyday!
|Golden mountains on the way to Pangong Lake.|
|Pangong Lake, a photographer's paradise.|
4. Sindhu Darshan
The Famous Sindhu river passes through Leh, and a special cultural festival is celebrated on its banks every year for tourists. Don’t forget to be part of it.
|The River Sindhu keeps you company from Leh to Srinagar.|
5. Magnetic Hill
On the Leh-Sri Nagar highway, you can witness the magical Magnetic Hill, where your vehicle is pulled forward naturally. Geographically, these hills are at such an incline that a magnetic force is created. Don’t forget to take blessings from the 500 year old Gurudwara Sri Pathar Sahib. It's hard to imagine that Guru Nanak tread on such rough terrain some 500 years back, with no infrastructure whatsoever.
|May the force be with you, at Magnetic Hill.|
6. Kargil, Tiger Hill, Drass & Amarnath boot Camp at Sonamarg.
This is where bikers could take a halt for a night at Kargil, since it's not possible to reach Srinagar in a single day from Leh. We camped just outside the Kargil city. This highway was the target of Pakistani intruders during the Kargil war.
|A Ladakhi village.|
The valley of Kashmir is lush green and divinely beautiful. It homes a completely different culture than the Ladakh region. Try to communicate with the village folk in the Drass area and you'll hear amazing stories of the Kargil war.
When you finally reach Sri Nagar, rest for the night and explore the beauty of Dal Lake. You can head from from Sri Nagar to Jammu, Pathankot and finally Chandigarh.
When to Go: When the road is declared open after the snow is cleared. Keep an eye on Himachal Pradesh Websites or Leh City Website for information updates. Generally it opens in the last week of May, until the last week of September.
|Kudos to the guys who make a visit to Ladakh possible each year.|
Chandigarh - Manali - Leh or Sri Nagar - Leh.
Either way, the entire journey is 2,500-3,000 km, Chandigarh being the starting and end point.
There are three ways to reach Ladakh:
By Bike: Advisable for those who think and believe that they are tough! Mind my words; this road is the grand daddy of tough roads in the world.
By Four Wheeler: Hiring a driver is a better option than driving yourself.
By Flight to Leh: It saves time, but leaves you vulnerable to altitude sickness. From Leh city, you can hire a motorbike or a four wheeler to explore the region.
Author Bio: The author is the founder of Sufis Discovering India - a bike adventure club to explore India. He also consults adventure bike trips to Ladakh & is an adventure consultant with Vagabond International Ltd, New Zealand. He can be contacted at email@example.com.