Ladakh is a well-known resort for bikers, every year huge number of bikers tour around the mighty hills and majestic valleys of this region. This paradise for bikers offers more than you would expect at every turn and corner, the wide blue sky, gorgeous gompas and colourful monasteries are a ubiquitous site. Many bikers begin their biking journey to Leh from Manali; however, we decided to land in Leh by air and then hire a bike to tour at our own pace and time.
It was a month of June in 2017 when I visited the breathtaking Ladakh Valley. My friends and I boarded an afternoon flight which landed in about two hours. Throughout the journey, I was carried away by the snow peaked mountains, which enthralled me even more with the excitement. As we got out of the airport, we were welcomed by one of the staff members from the hotel with a big broad smile. On reaching the hotel, we were regarded with a traditional butter drink, sipping it we checked in and then headed towards our rooms, fitted with large balconies to admire the view. After a short session of relaxation, we were gathered for some essential tour briefings and introduction to our bikes. Lesser known, that we will start our bike ride from day one filled us with another pump of excitement. We picked our bikes and began to ride towards the well known white beauty of Leh “Shanti Stupa”, its outstanding architecture is finely detailed, clearly showing the amount of effort they made. It was merely out of the world to see the lit up stupa at night and the bird’s eye view of the illuminated city from the topmost point. It was a good idea to take a short bike ride on the first day to get acclimatise with the roads and terrain. We reached back to the hotel by nine at night, and after relishing over delectable food, we bid good night.
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we geared up to head towards the confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers, the Sangam point is situated 35 km away from Leh city surrounded by stunning mountains and emerald water body within, it was indeed a view to kill! Leaving the Sangam point, we advanced towards Gurudwara Pathar Sahib; situated quietly across the hillside. The next and the most awaited resort of the day was Magnetic Hills, the highest motorbike pass in the world. A bike ride on a long stretch of clear road cutting through the mountains was a great deal as I could mark a bike ride on Magnetic Hill off my bucket list. After a day full of all good things, we drove back to our hotel, where we enjoyed the delicious traditional meal and surrendered ourselves to sleep.
This morning was special indeed as an excursion to picturesque Nubra Valley was on the list. We braced ourselves to leave towards the quaint little place “Hundar” decorated with astonishing views and serenity, known for white sand dunes, and double-humped camel rides on our bikes, situated at the distance of approx 125 km from Leh. The bike ride to Hundar gets more electrified when the cool breeze and fresh mountain air touches your hair. Interestingly, these double humped camels are only found in the magnificent Nubra Valley. The next stop was the famous “Deskit Monastery”, embellished with colourful fluttering flags with Buddhist encryptions of high relevance, the main attraction of this monastery is the impressive 106 feet tall Lord Buddha statue facing the flowing Shyok river. It was already getting dark when we finally left the monastery to reach our campsite, where the overnight stay was arranged under the starlit sky.
There was magic in the air when I woke up the next day in the lap of uncomparable nature. The view of the campsite looked amazingly bright in the morning amalgamated with fresh mountain air. After grabbing a quick breakfast, we sat on our bikes to head towards the most awaited destination of the trip that needs no introduction, the well known Pangong Tso Lake. The lake is a perfect example of exceptional beauty, glorified with reflecting blue waters and chain of rugged brown mountains. Every site of the place was filled with tranquillity, no matter what your camera focuses on, the outcome will only be the gain. We captured the endless number of shots, to create memories which are not easy to fade. After spending the right amount of time to satisfy us enough at the pristine lake, we were back on our rides again. The final destination for the day was highly elevated and yet one of the easiest stretch, Chang La Pass; situated at the height of 17585 feet from the sea level. The Pass remains open throughout the year apart from the days of heavy snowfall. After a fun-filled day, we headed back to our camps to surrender for the day.
After waking up to a burst of bright sunshine and having a delicious portion of breakfast at the campsite for one last time, we started our bikes to head back to Leh via the same route crossing Chang La Pass. En-route, we stopped to see one of the largest and architecturally influenced Thiksey Gompa erected on the hilltop, resembling the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. It is the largest gompa in the region of central Ladakh, levelled as twelve story complex that adorns Buddhist arts such as statues, stupas and wall paintings etc. after collecting memories for the lifetime and capturing un-parallel natural views, we headed back to Leh on our bikes. On reaching Leh, we decided to shop for a while, where we picked souvenirs and some local delights, then headed back to the hotel for the final time.
This was the last time when I got up to natures surprise and the aura of the glaring sun to brighten the sight. We packed our bags and moved for the breakfast when every sip of traditional butter tea caught me tight with beautiful memories to be cherished for life.
By Ramneek Kaur.