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Thread: Chronicles of LADAKH

  1. #1
    Addicted raakeshchauhan's Avatar
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    Default Chronicles of LADAKH

    In the month of June 2015, @raakeshchauhan and @siddheshparadkar went on a lifetime adventure consisting of riding a motorcycle on 3 strategically important national highways covering 2500 kilometres through Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh in North India. They came across 10 high altitude mountains passes and also rode on the Highest Motorable Road in the World as part of their Roadtrip to Ladakh.



    INDEX

    Prologue
    Inception
    Bible for a Biker
    What I Ride??
    Planning & Preparations
    Itinerary
    Essential Things to Carry on a Roadtrip
    Safety Gear
    Practice Rides



    Day 0 - Pune to Mumbai (Ride to Mumbai)

    Day 1 - Mumbai to Amritsar
    (By train)

    Day 2 - Amritsar to Patnitop (Visit to Golden Temple)

    Day 3 - Patnitop to Srinagar (Via Jawahar Tunnel and Titanic View Point)

    Day 4 - Srinagar to Drass (Shikara Ride at Dal Lake, Ride to Drass via Sonmarg and Zoji La)

    Day 5 - Drass to Leh (Visit to Kargil War Memorial, Ride to Leh via Namika La and Fotu La)

    Day 6 - Leh local sightseeing (Visit to Hospital, Bike wash, Carburettor setting, Local sightseeing)

    Day 7 - Leh to Khalsar (Via Khardung La)

    Day 8 - Khalsar to Pangong Lake (Via Shyok)

    Day 9 - Pangong Lake to Upshi (Via Chang La)

    Day 10 - Upshi to Jispa (Via Tanglang La, Moore plains, Pang, Lachung La, Nakee La, Gata loops, Sarchu and Baralacha La)

    Day 11 - Jispa to Manali (Via Keylong, Rohtang La)

    Day 12 - Manali to Amritsar (Via Mandi, Una, Hoshiarpur and Kartarpur)

    Day 13 - In and around Amritsar

    Day 14 - In and around Amritsar (Bike loading in train)

    Day 15 - Amritsar to Mumbai (By train)

    Day 16 - Mumbai to Pune (Ride back home)

    After Notes










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    Last edited by raakeshchauhan; 08-05-2016 at 02:00 PM. Reason: Index updated.
    Dream. Dare. Discover. - Travelogue of my solo bike trip to Badrinath & Mana
    The Chronicles of LADAKH - A factual written account of my dream roadtrip to Leh, Ladakh
    The Chronicles of LADAKH [Video Chapters] - Video series
    International Roadtrip to Mustang, Nepal & North India on Yamaha R15 [Video Chapters] - Video series


    www.facebook.com/IamTravelancer


  2. #2
    Moderator The Monk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chronicles of LADAKH

    Travelogue Approved

    Waiting for the rest now
    raakeshchauhan likes this.
    Biking is not about what you have between your legs, its all about how well you use it!!!!!!!

    Give your details here if you want to help your fellow xBhpian stranded in your city

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  3. #3
    Keyboard Warrior chaosaddict's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chronicles of LADAKH

    Beautiful; expectations are high here!!
    raakeshchauhan likes this.
    BENEATH THE REMAINS.........
    Instagram - chaosaddict666 (follow for atypical uploads on heavy metal, bikes, alcohol, chakna, life, fashion yada, yada)
    YouTube - chaosaddict666 (Disclaimer: crappiest uploads ever, viewer discretion is advised)

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Chronicles of LADAKH

    Superb pictures in the Menu. Waiting for the main course.
    raakeshchauhan likes this.
    Pulsar 150 DTS-i(2005-present)
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  5. #5
    Addicted raakeshchauhan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chronicles of LADAKH

    Quote Originally Posted by The Monk View Post
    Travelogue Approved

    Waiting for the rest now
    Thank you for the approval! Rest is on it's way..

    Quote Originally Posted by chaosaddict View Post
    Beautiful; expectations are high here!!
    Thank you, I won't let you down.

    Quote Originally Posted by koolsantosh22 View Post
    Superb pictures in the Menu. Waiting for the main course.
    Thank you!
    Dream. Dare. Discover. - Travelogue of my solo bike trip to Badrinath & Mana
    The Chronicles of LADAKH - A factual written account of my dream roadtrip to Leh, Ladakh
    The Chronicles of LADAKH [Video Chapters] - Video series
    International Roadtrip to Mustang, Nepal & North India on Yamaha R15 [Video Chapters] - Video series


    www.facebook.com/IamTravelancer


  6. #6
    Rusted krishna77's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chronicles of LADAKH

    Nice start. Waiting for the rest!

  7. #7
    Addicted Ravikiran's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chronicles of LADAKH

    Amazing....don't keep us waiting for long
    raakeshchauhan likes this.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Chronicles of LADAKH

    nice.
    Waiting for the rest.

  9. #9
    Addicted raakeshchauhan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chronicles of LADAKH

    Quote Originally Posted by krishna77 View Post
    Nice start. Waiting for the rest!
    Quote Originally Posted by dichkaun View Post
    nice.
    Waiting for the rest.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ravikiran View Post
    Amazing....don't keep us waiting for long
    Thank you, yes I will start posting now.
    Pictures take time you know. Let me start with pre-ride context.

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    The Chronicles of LADAKH
    A factual written account of my dream roadtrip to Leh, Ladakh


    Prologue


    It was difficult for me to put on the shoes and tie laces. I was successful only after few failed attempts. Did my hair, picked up helmet, short jacket and got ready to ride. I had already washed my bike and it was glittering like newly wedded bride. I was so excited to ride my bike but to do that I had to get on it and that seemed like a herculean task. My tiny brain suggested me an idea, brought a stool near the bike, stood upon it and jumped, the only way to get on my bike you know. Thank god the bike had starter button else I would need someone to kick-start it. I was over-confident about my riding skills and I had a huge smile on my face, of course, I was riding in mountains.

    The sun shone brilliantly and water in the river flowing on my left glittered invitingly. Fresh air filled my lungs and I felt refreshed and exhilarated. As I rode through small towns, serpentine rivers and snow-capped mountains all through the day, the beautiful day turned into a cold grey evening. The sky above was full of dark and ragged clouds. It was time to call it a day. I was sailing smooth without any difficulties, the problem emerged when I had to stop the motorcycle and get off it. For a school going kid with little height, getting off the motorcycle was a cumbersome task. Thunderstorm came marching from the east and it started raining in no time. I was all wet and soaked in water the very next moment.

    It took me good 5 minutes to absorb the fact that I was not riding in the mountains, but in fact I was sleeping right on my bed at home. It was one of the most beautiful dream I've ever had. Plus it wasn't the thunderstorm, but a glass of water that my mum splashed on me to wake me up. Yes, mum tried to wake me multiple times but only a splash of water did the trick. I was riding in the mountains and I was brought back to reality in a fraction of second. I was a small kid that time but I still remember every bit of that dream even today. I had a long schooling session in front of me that day, having such a beautiful dream last night, I passed the whole day thinking about it. Since then I always wanted to turn that specific dream into reality.

    ----consecutive posts auto-merged-----

    Inception
    So here is how the idea of "Roadtrip to Ladakh" was incepted in my mind. It was year 2005, I saw this ad on TV and I was struck by it.

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    It featured Bajaj Avenger, and the tag line said "Feel Like God". The whole ad was shot in Ladakh, I believe. I was stunned by the beauty of terrain captured in that ad, and yeah by bike as well. I knew somehow this feeling was connected with the beautiful dream I had in past. I was too small to have such a big dream and at that time it seemed like impossible. I told myself, One day for sure!!!

    Bajaj launched its cruiser style motorcycle, Bajaj Avenger. I fell in love with it. It was the first time I fell in love. No wait, it was second time I think, may be third as well. Aaahhh just forget it. So I decided to get Avenger as my first motorcycle, but for that I had to wait for 8-10 years more.

    As time passed, my love for Avenger grew, and same for the place that featured in that ad. I used to go mad whenever I saw any movie or a song featuring such mountains, such roads, such terrains. Ladakh had made a permanent place in my mind, and I couldn't get it out, didn't want to actually.

    During college years, I used to narrate this dream of mine of a motorcycle ride to Ladakh to fellow buddies, who used to say “Yes we will take this ride once we are done with college”. Time flew, college was over, all of us placed in different domains, different companies, and different cities. Interests changed and no one was thinking about it, except me, alone. Then one fine day I put this thought in front of all friends about living the dream. The dream of motorcycle ride to Ladakh. And response was too bad. As I said, interests changed. Other than me, no one ever was as excited as me about this ride. So I stopped asking them about the same.


    Bible for a Biker
    I used to Google about the ride. How to reach there? What is the best time to ride? What is the best route? and what not. While searching for all of these, I came to know about this online forum www.xBhp.com. A dedicated forum to bikers. "Of the Bikers, By the Bikers, For the Bikers."

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    I couldn't complete this dream ride if I wasn't introduced to this forum. It is bible for a motorcyclist. I quickly registered myself on this forum and started visiting it on daily basis. Need advice regarding bikes? This is the place. Need touring advice? This is the place? Any doubt regarding your motorcycle? This is the place. Planning a roadtrip? This is the place. Guys here are so friendly and co-operative, that you feel like home. Always there to help out. There is a dedicated place on this forum to share your travel stories. One can share his own or read others' for an inspiration. Since then I bypassed Google and used to log into forum directly as whatever info I needed was available here, that too from trusted sources, and full proof 100% true.


    What I Ride??
    Bajaj Avenger was love of my life. But I wasn't the guy who ride cruiser style. For these many years I used to ride one of my friends CBZ Xtreme as and when needed. Though I loved Avenger since childhood, I couldn't have it. I like to ride naked style or say standard style, and cruiser style was not my way of riding. So decided to get Bajaj Pulsar 180 for myself in the year 2014 as my first motorcycle as it fit in budget and also suited my riding style and it was the best bike in that range. So that is when and how Pulsar entered in my life and changed it forever. So yeah I ride P180 and I decided to take my dream ride with P180 itself.

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    Planning & Preparations
    It was January 2015 when I decided that this year I am going to do this ride. I now knew that the best time to visit Ladakh is from June to October. I had only 6 months with me to prepare myself. I had no partners to ride with me. Though I had done a solo ride to Uttarakhand last year, I was looking for partners for a safer side. I was prepared to ride solo if there were nobody to accompany. I posted my query for riding partner on forum and received many replies and calls. But almost all of them were riding late July or August or September. I wanted to ride in June in early season. One fine morning I received call from @Adilkadri123 from Hyderabad who also was looking for riding partner, but after failed tries, he registered himself with a touring group. Adil was so courteous that he called me up and informed about a guy from Mumbai, who also was looking for riding partner. So here he comes. @siddheshparadkar. Siddhesh lives in Navi Mumbai, is a software tester and an enthusiastic rider. Next day Siddhesh called me and asked about the same thing that I was going to ask him, about Roadtrip to Ladakh. His riding period matched with mine and we decided to ride together. We had 4 months left with us to prepare ourselves. There were many people who joined and left the riding plan and at last we both were left to take this ride on our own.

    We had done all sort of planning from travel itinerary, night stays, route to be taken, places to be visited, luggage to be packed etc. We also managed to get sponsorship for a part of the total budget. We had booked train tickets well in advance, serviced our bikes time to time, bought safety gears and luggage system etc.


    Itinerary
    Even after detailed study and reading travelogues on forum and concerning with experienced riders, we were still confused about our itinerary. We then finally decided to start our ride from Amritsar and end it at the same place, as it was convenient for us to transport bikes from Mumbai. Since the Manali - Leh highway was still closed because of continues snowfall, we had only one option, Srinagar - Leh highway. We went ahead hoping that Manali - Leh high will become operational by 14th June, the date we start our return journey, else we will have to return via Srinagar itself.

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    Here is the final itinerary that we followed throughout the ride. We had to make changes in the plan en route as and when required as nothing ever goes according to plan. We took it as part and parcel of the ride.

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    Essential Things to Carry on a Roadtrip
    Here is a screenshot of the list of essential things that we carried for the roadtrip.

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    Safety Gear

    With great power, comes great responsibility. Likewise, happiness of riding a motorcycle comes with great dangers. One small mistake, either your own or someone else's will have you sleeping on a hospital bed, or even worse. I explicitly emphasize on wearing basic protection while commuting in the city, but while on a roadtrip do wear a full safety gear. It's better to be safe than to repent later. Here is the list of safety gear that I used during the trip.

    Helmet: I was carrying an LS2-FF352-1 helmet, popularly known as ATMOS. Weighing 1350 gms, it didn't feel heavy at any point of time. It comes with removable inner lining. I had to face a major problem relating to visor holding mechanism on helmet during my roadtrip. I will not generalise for the whole range of this product, but the helmet which I got had poor quality screws used. LS2 need to look into the matter very seriously.

    Balaclava: I carried a cotton balaclava to wear inside helmet as I am used to it. It was very useful as it protected my face from wind-chill and maintained warmth all the time. It also stopped dust from getting in during off-roading sessions.

    Riding Jacket: I was wearing PGS riding jacket for the ride. Made of 600D polyester, partly mesh riding jacket turned out to be very comfortable. It has cordura on the front and back, and mesh on both the sides and at underarms. It kept me cool during hot weather rides, it did cause some dehydration as it is partly mesh but not as much as full mesh jackets. It comes with removable waterproof & breathable inner liner which helped big time during high altitude rides. Dual density shoulder and elbow protectors plus 8mm thick back padding is not the best in the market but it serves the purpose. I would have brought riding jacket from DSG, SPARTAN or CRAMSTER but none of them fit me and were short of height, only PGS fit me well.

    Riding Gloves: I used a full gauntlet sport racing leather gloves from PGS for the ride. It comes with carbon fibre armour on the knuckles, soft interior, reinforced abrasion resistant palm and the most important thing that is an extra impact padding on the hand before the wrist. This padding was quite useful during number of falls and it absorbed the first impact all the time, be it snow, mud or an asphalt. In addition to riding gloves, I had woollen gloves for wind-chill and surgical gloves for rain.

    Riding Pants: I am very thankful to @Aurobindo, a friend from xBhp Pune chapter, who lent me his riding pants for this trip. The pants too come from PGS, made of polyester 600D, with removable waterproof liner, knee protectors and thick memory foam padding on lower back. It survived thru number of falls and saved me big time.

    Boots: I was wearing high ankle boots from MAGNUM for the ride. These boots are waterproof and comes with steel toe cap. It has foam padding which was quite comfortable. It saved my feet from falls and also kept them dry during light rain. It cannot substitute proper riding boots, but the features it comes with, it serves its purpose very well.

    Saddlebags: I used Stacker saddlebags from Rynox. With capacity of 46 litres, 2 outer pockets which can accommodate two 1 litre bottles, and straps to carry sleeping bags or tripod, these throw over waterproof saddlebags from Rynox were very much reliable throughout the trip. Loading and unloading it from bike was very convenient.

    I would like to thank @Aurobindo for lending me his riding pants. Auro, I can't tell you how grateful I am to you for this helping gesture. Thank you brother.

    I would like to thank Mangesh Jadhav as well for helping me in getting a camera for the trip.

    I would also like to thank @thunderRider (Anirban Das Deb) for lending me his amazing 70-300 Tamron zoom lens. Credit for the long shots goes to Anirban. Thanks man.


    Practice Rides
    I never have had any motorcycle ride and I was advised to get experience from few rides. That’s when I decided to have my first motorcycle ride. It was month of October 2014, when I did this Solo Bike Trip to Badrinath & Mana. It was one hell of a bike trip. It was my first long distance bike trip and I had managed to do it solo. Badrinath trip had ignited a fire inside me and had opened the doors for new adventures in my life. Then in the month of May 2015, with two other guys from xBhp Pune group - @prasadkool123 and @thunderRider, I did Pune-Baroda-Daman-Pune ride. By now I was pretty sure that I am good to take the dream ride.

    By May 2015, almost all the preparations were done, except one. Meeting the co-rider. We decided to have a ride together, to get to know each other and to know each other’s riding style. I from Pune and Siddhesh from Mumbai, Lonavala seemed to be a good place to meet up and have a short ride. Rajmachi is close to Lonavala, so we decided to ride to Rajmachi. There was a reason behind riding to Rajmachi. From the reviews heard about Rajmachi, it was total off-roading stretch. We wanted to experience some off-roading before actually doing it during Ladakh ride. Met up Siddhesh and had this small ride.

    Two weeks before the D day, this news flashed on TV that Gujjars in Rajasthan have blocked the railway track and they are not going to stop their agitation until their demands are met. It had been 5 days that trains were cancelled and diverted through different routes. Only a week to go and all preparations done and I see this. Gujjars wanted 5% reservations in Govt. jobs. I don't know how feasible their demand was, what I was worried about is, when will this agitation end and when trains will run according to their schedule. Luckily it all came to an end and everything was back to schedule 5 days prior to the D day.

    Time was passing by and I was getting restless. Number of friends knew about my ride and I was receiving well wishes from many of them. Few even met and wished me good luck for the adventure that I was going to be part of. I was feeling lucky to be doing this.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by raakeshchauhan; 12-21-2015 at 11:34 AM.
    Dream. Dare. Discover. - Travelogue of my solo bike trip to Badrinath & Mana
    The Chronicles of LADAKH - A factual written account of my dream roadtrip to Leh, Ladakh
    The Chronicles of LADAKH [Video Chapters] - Video series
    International Roadtrip to Mustang, Nepal & North India on Yamaha R15 [Video Chapters] - Video series


    www.facebook.com/IamTravelancer


  10. #10
    SCUBA Diver Shaktiv3's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chronicles of LADAKH

    Shaandaar, Zabardast, Zindabaad..
    raakeshchauhan likes this.
    Well-trained reflexes are quicker than luck.

    People Visiting the Andaman Islands. Ping me/Call me (9474208824) for any help/information.

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