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Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

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  • [Photo Feature]: Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

    I've did Zanskar Valley ride as part of my solo Leh trip and this is just covering Zanskar ride alone.

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    I was in middle of my Leh solo trip and was walking on the shores of Dal lake at Srinagar. I suddenly remembered the name Zanskar Valley and felt like want to visit there. Zanskar is infamous for its chilling temperature in winter and referred as Death Valley in the book ‘When The Road Beckons’ written by Ravi Manoram. That couldn’t stop my wish and the very next day after servicing my KTM Duke 200 I’ve headed to Kargil from where we can go to Zanskar Valley. I couldn’t reach Kargil by evening since the Zojila Pass gave me tough competition with broken roads and roadblocks made by heavy vehicles. I thus stayed at Drass village, the second inhabited places in the world. Next day I’ve headed to Kargil to get my cans filled with petrol and started to Zanskar by 10.30 AM.

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    Zanskar is a cold dessert and we must cross Suru valley first to reach the Zanskar vally. Suru valley is a lush green valley unlike Zanskar. Once Suru valley has been crossed you will see Penzila Pass, which not a tough one and is the entry point to Zanskar Valley. Sankoo and Panikhar villages in the Suru valley showed me greenish paddy fields and mountains which provoked me to stay there, but I could not stay there as my focus remains on Zanskar. Around afternoon I’ve reached Nun-Kun glacier view point where I have seen one small hotel after Kargil. I had my lunch there. One family was staring at me as my bike is of Kerala registration.

    “How did you reached here?” they asked me out of curiosity.

    “Pure madness”. I’ve replied with smile. They also smiled and started asking about my trip.

    After a short break I’ve resumed my trip. I’ve lost my way in between and there were no one to ask. There is no signal on my mobile and finally I met one who showed me the right way. That costed one and half hour and I’ve dropped plan of reaching Zanskar. Instead, I’ve decided to stay at Rangdum village which is the end of Suru valley. Soon the valley felt like a still image without any birds or trees or any other living creatures except a squirrel kind of animal.

    Roads started becoming bad to worst and the solitude started conquering the valley. Sometimes taxi drivers looking me like they saw an alien in the planet. Couldn’t blame them as a thin guy with couple of luggage is spotted alone in the valley.

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    Rangdum is a small village without much facilities and without even mobile connectivity. I took a room on a homestay. I have met couple of local guys from the homestay while having my dinner and they were excited after seeing a Kerala bike standing in front of the room. We started discussing about my trip and finally we started discussing about socio-political issues in Kerala and Kashmir. Had a wonderful night there and had rice and aloo for dinner which was terrific in taste. If I had went with my friends surely, they would have opted to go back since the road were literally broke my body joints.

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    Next day morning I have started to Padum village which is the main village of Zanskar Valley with couple of home stays and a market. We should not miss breakfast from Rangdum as on the way the next destination where we can get some eatable is on Abran village which is around 5 hours away from Rangdum. I had to report to the army check post which is 5KM away from Rangdum. Spotting a KL bike one soldier from Kerala talked to me with curiosity. I have then started climbing Penzila Pass which is the highest point in the Kargil-Zanskar road having elevation of 14000 feet. The snow-covered peak is fun to ride even though there were no sign of people. But I have met an army truck driver who stopped as he found a KL registered bike. These kind of meeting gives us lot of confidence.

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    The Penzila Pass gave me breathtaking views. The road started to become horrible from worse, but I was never worried about that. My bike was moving with speed of 10-20 kmph all the time and it dropped to single digit speed very frequently. Thanks to the roadless roads which tested patience of myself and toughness of my bike. The valley filled with loneliness. I felt the valley is like scrambled black forest cake sometimes, due to white snow covered the peak of mountains. Except the iconic sound of my KTM Duke 200 I hardly heard any sound. Taxi’s coming from Padum and moving army trucks broke that silence but other than that I was in love with that solitude.

    I had met a Bengali family who were traveling in 3 bikes and 2 taxi’s coming from Padum village. We stopped and had a small conversation.

    “Aren’t you afraid?” they asked me.

    “If I feared something will happen, then I will never see any places and will end up sitting in my home all my life” I replied with a smile. They cheered me and moved away. Dry fruits and hot water which I carried is the thing which gave me energy all the time and for hours we will not see any shops or homes. Around afternoon I have reached Abran village and had my lunch. The little shops have very less verities of food, but I wasn’t expecting anything much. I have crossed Skyagam, Shimiling and Phe villages and finally reached Padum village. On crossing those villages people were waving hands at me as they spotted the tied Tibetan prayer flag on my bike.

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    I took a room in tourist information center and had a nap. Since the ride was tiring, I slept hard. After a good sleep next day Gulsar bhaiyya who is the manager of that hotel, welcomed with a tea. Gulsar bhaiyya talked about Zanskar and I talked about my trip. I then wanted to go out thus took my bike to go to Zangla village which is 35KM away. They started building roads around Padum and thus I could ride 10-12 KM on tarmac road. Zangla is the village where Zanskar river originates. I had spent some time with some locals and went back to Padum. Before reaching Padum there is a hand operated petrol pump and I had filled fuel from there. While reaching bazar my bike again gained attention due to the KL registration. I had a tea from a bakery to have a tea. It run by Rahman and was excited to hear my story. I have shared my travel stories and he cheered me with some sweets. Gulsar bhaiyya offered Ladakhi mutton dish and expressed his wishes to do an all India trip. It was a fantastic night to stay at a place which is in my dream.

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    I started my return journey on next day early morning 6.15 as my plans is to reach Sankoo village near Kargil. It was born chilling to ride on that early morning, but I wasn’t worried about that. But I frequently stopped to warm my fingers as I couldn’t apply clutch and break lever with ease. I have reached Abran village and had my breakfast from there. After hours and hours of off-road ride I have crossed Penzila Pass and reached the Army check-post near Rangdum village.

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    My KL bike got enough attention as the army officer who is from Kerala welcomed to have lunch with them. After having lunch, I said thanks and resumed my trip as I need to cover a lot. At times I felt my bike is running like a horse as it keeps jumping on stone filled roads. After riding 195KM including 175KM of off-road I have reached Sankoo village around 7PM. You should imagine how bad the road was as after riding around 13 hours I could just cover 195KM. This terrific experience helped me to ride in Leh with ease. I wasn’t sure how my bike will react to such roads, but he stood like still. The terrific partner for the terrific trip..
    Last edited by xBhp; 09-14-2019, 12:10 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

    Thread approved.

    Beautifully penned and the photos are just fantastic. It must have been a very very difficult ride. Kudos to you for taking it up and seeing it through.
    “If I feared something will happen, then I will never see any places and will end up sitting in my home all my life.” This was a thing of beauty.
    The solitude and the silence... we can only imagine how that must have felt. It is an unsettling, yet fulfilling amalgamation of serenity and dread.
    It is travelogues like this that make you want to pack your bags, kiss your bike, slot the key, thumb the starter and just... go.

    Beautiful travelogue. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Keep riding and ride safe.


    • #3
      Re: Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

      Beautiful ... awesome ... i am sure you would have had a trip of lifetime.

      A Biker who .. race the rain, ride the wind & chases the sunset ...


      • #4
        Re: Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

        Lovely pictures and narration. I love those solo rides
        KTM RC390 - Current
        Yamaha R15 v2 - Sold
        Hero Hunk - Sold
        An IT Engineer by profession and a rider by soul.

        Delhi to Sach Pass -
        Delhi to Mana -
        Delhi to Munsyari -
        Spiti circuit -



        • #5
          Re: Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

          Loved it... Post some more pics if you have them!
          Once I have donned my black helmet, I become anonymous. My face ceases to identify me. My black visor shields others from the rigours of my passing glance while shielding me from their attempts to peer into my soul. I am an anonymous rider shrouded in black. I am no longer a specific self. I am a passing Traveller.


          • #6
            Re: Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

            Nicely put!
            A bike on the road is worth two in the shed.

            Weekend Rides Around Kolkata
            My Ride To Sunderbans -
            Hemnagar & Samsernagar
            Saagar Kinare - Bakkhali Calling


            • #7
              Re: Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

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              journey to Padum is a special one with snow and with very less persons on road
              Ride from Cuttack to Manipal University , MahendraGiri- Odisha ,
              Dream > Explore > Discover =Zanskar & Ladakh Bike Ride,
              Deomali -highest peak of Odisha & Duduma Waterfalls
              S3=Sikkim, Sandakphu & Sohra , Ride to NEHAsthan , RIDE TO KISS


              • #8
                Re: Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

                Wow. Just Wow.! I am speechless reading your thread. Wonderful pictures and narration. I can only close my eyes and imagine the scenes of landscapes with solitude. You must have planned a lot for this trip. It would be great if you can share a brief insight about preparation, riding gear used and also expenses.

                Keep riding and rocking.!


                • #9
                  Re: Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

                  Amazing T"log with excellent photographs.


                  • #10
                    Re: Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

                    Originally posted by Anirudh0211 View Post
                    Wow. Just Wow.! I am speechless reading your thread. Wonderful pictures and narration. I can only close my eyes and imagine the scenes of landscapes with solitude. You must have planned a lot for this trip. It would be great if you can share a brief insight about preparation, riding gear used and also expenses.

                    Keep riding and rocking.!

                    I did as part of my Leh roadtrip and for this trip alone expense is somewhere 3-4k from Kargil. Here are my riding gears.
                    TBG ADV Breed Jacket
                    Cramster Drifter Knee Guard
                    Rynox Delte EVO Gloves + Pro Biker Gloves
                    HJC CL ST 2 Helmet
                    Quechua MH 100 Shoes

                    Well regarding the preparation, I have prepared for Leh but not for Zanskar. But when I was at Srinagar since snow is less at Gulmarg I decided to include Zanskar. I have read about the route earlier thus the route wasn't an option. I decided to take some adventurous routes before staring the ride and thus this was one of the surprising path I have traveled.


                    • #11
                      Re: Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

                      Pics are just WOW!! Nice write-up..

                      Ride Hard.. Ride Safe..


                      • #12
                        Re: Solo Ride to Zanskar Valley

                        Fantastic going.
                        Deja vu feeling of my trip last year..
                        Link below-
                        Dad's Bajaj Super-1983-1989
                        Hero Honda Sleek-1989-1992
                        Rajdoot Yamaha RD350-1990-2017
                        Royal Enfield Bullet Std 1970 model-1991-1997
                        Bajaj Pulsar P220EFI-2008-2011
                        Bajaj Avenger220-2011--------
                        Harley Davidson XG750 Street ABS 2017---
                        KTM Duke390 BS3 2016-2020
                        RE Himalayan BS4 2020-