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The Great Escape - Ladakh: A Journey beyond Reasons!

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  • Finally finished with reading logs till Day 5. Very good stuff and like Ken's album Zozilla looked deadly. We just got a km of bad stretch in Zozilla.
    Your comment on the fact that ZMR is bad on cross winds points to the fact that probably the weight distribution is not good(Even ZMA is pretty bad in countering crosswinds).

    From Drass to Leh you guys really took a lot of time. We started at around 10, got screwed between a army convoy (lost an hour and half), something happened(more on our log) army convoy overtook us and we again got screwed(lost another hour), punture (lost another hour), meet up with Mumbai group but still we reached Leh at around 7.
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    My photography page: Gourab Das Photography

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    • Originally posted by MG_Biker1806 View Post
      Finally finished with reading logs till Day 5. Very good stuff and like Ken's album Zozilla looked deadly. We just got a km of bad stretch in Zozilla.
      Your comment on the fact that ZMR is bad on cross winds points to the fact that probably the weight distribution is not good(Even ZMA is pretty bad in countering crosswinds).

      From Drass to Leh you guys really took a lot of time. We started at around 10, got screwed between a army convoy (lost an hour and half), something happened(more on our log) army convoy overtook us and we again got screwed(lost another hour), punture (lost another hour), meet up with Mumbai group but still we reached Leh at around 7.
      glad to see that you enjoyed the log. waiting to read your experience as well. the zma is not good during crosswinds but this time with the ceat tyre combo , it was barely noticeable and the bike was very stable even in heavy crosswinds. the zmr had issues as it had a full fairing and this did not help with cross winds and water crossings.

      the journey from drass to leh took us about 10-11 hours. couple of reasons for the delay

      1. we were exhausted crossing godzilla the previous day with heavy rains.
      2. we never pushed ourselves - our initial target for the day was to stop about 100 kms before leh and when we were close to leh we decided to push it.
      Leh
      http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/tourer/1...d-reasons.html

      The Southern Sojourn
      http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/best-tra...-remember.html

      Munnar - Kodai
      http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/tourer/5...-page-6-a.html

      Goa
      http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/tourer/6...ers-8days.html

      Comment


      • Finished reading till Day 10.

        Reading the condition of Steve at KhardungLa I think it was very risky that he get down alone but glad to know he did that safely.

        Nubra is a very special place and one of my favourites from the trip. After looking at the pictures of Shyok route I'm cursing myself that we didn't take that route, seems more like a homeground for me but at the end we had to be sensible at that time.More on that when our log comes.

        MLa was seriously some effort and kudos to you for doing it on the ZMR which is not the easiest bike to ride.

        ChangLa pictures made me smile. Finally a place where we had more snow than the rest of people and a story to tell.

        Waiting to read the rest of the story.
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        My photography page: Gourab Das Photography

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        • @Ananth and Steve: Amazing Bro....the pics....I can't find a good enough word for them.....boy...the feeling you get from looking at pictures of such places/scenes..., I wonder how it would feel to be actually there.....only one way to find out....., Thanks for putting this up....

          Comment


          • Originally posted by MG_Biker1806 View Post
            Finally finished with reading logs till Day 5. Very good stuff and like Ken's album Zozilla looked deadly. We just got a km of bad stretch in Zozilla.
            Your comment on the fact that ZMR is bad on cross winds points to the fact that probably the weight distribution is not good(Even ZMA is pretty bad in countering crosswinds).

            From Drass to Leh you guys really took a lot of time. We started at around 10, got screwed between a army convoy (lost an hour and half), something happened(more on our log) army convoy overtook us and we again got screwed(lost another hour), punture (lost another hour), meet up with Mumbai group but still we reached Leh at around 7.
            Glad you took your time off & read the logs, Thanks

            And ZMR was literally horrible on cross winds, it should be due to the abrupt big full fairing or may be i was too light for blocking the wind

            Originally posted by MG_Biker1806 View Post
            Finished reading till Day 10.

            Reading the condition of Steve at KhardungLa I think it was very risky that he get down alone but glad to know he did that safely.

            Nubra is a very special place and one of my favourites from the trip. After looking at the pictures of Shyok route I'm cursing myself that we didn't take that route, seems more like a homeground for me but at the end we had to be sensible at that time.More on that when our log comes.

            MLa was seriously some effort and kudos to you for doing it on the ZMR which is not the easiest bike to ride.

            ChangLa pictures made me smile. Finally a place where we had more snow than the rest of people and a story to tell.

            Waiting to read the rest of the story.
            Ladakh, is such an amazing place that every minute tells a story. Glad that you too had a different experience all over.

            And Shyok was a must do, thats why i asked you to skip any other place and try the Agam - Shyok - Pangong route.

            It seems like the roads are washed away with floods now, and it doesn't seem like it is easy to pass through for now.

            IMG Source : BCM Touring

            http://www.bcmtouring.com/forum/atta...128d1280422914

            Originally posted by kingkong View Post
            @Ananth and Steve: Amazing Bro....the pics....I can't find a good enough word for them.....boy...the feeling you get from looking at pictures of such places/scenes..., I wonder how it would feel to be actually there.....only one way to find out....., Thanks for putting this up....
            Thanks! Ladakh is such a exquisite place. Do visit the place when ever possible
            Last edited by Ananth; 08-03-2010, 02:37 AM.
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            • Day 11: Pang - Lachulunng La - NakeeLa - BarlaChaLa - Keylong

              Day 11: Pang - Lachulunng La - NakeeLa - BarlaChaLa - Keylong

              *Few images are whitened out too much due to excessive snow around, sorry for poor quality images*

              I wake up on the sound from the Kitchen. The caretaker and her daughter were buy preparing something. It was still cold outside. Steve had woken up before me. We were still on bed, carrying so much pain on the shoulders and not having much energy to get up from the bed. The caretaker's daughter happened to peep into the tent and She asked if i want Tea. I signaled yes. I woke up, drank the tea and rested on the bed again. I was so darn tired, so was Steve.

              Steve went out for nature calls, got refreshened and asked me to get ready.It was already 8 AM, I took some more time to get up from bed. 8 30, I had one more chai and started up. We had to cover three high altitude passes for the day. Lachulung La, NakeeLa and the Mighty BarlaCha La. There were so many bikers saddling up for the day. We started on, the roads were a mess - battered roads, not frequented this year and so much gravel / boulders / slush on the road making things worse.

              Also, One thing amazed us was the amount of snow in these parts. I agree, We are still above 14000 feet, yet the amount of snow doesn't decrease. Stopped by for a few photo's I was still feeling sleepy & tired. Met a group of Bulleteers from Mumbai, Road Shakers i guess they called themselves as. I was tagging behind them, when they left a huge amount of smoke (from the exhaust) and I was blinded. Steve went through as he had his visor opened up & his tyre not playing any Spoil Sport.

              When the smoke cleared up, I realized that i was in the middle of a small slush pit and the front tyre was giving away, forcing me to slip the Bike & fall. I shout asking Steve to Stop, No respite. I honk and thankfully he heard & stopped the Bike. It took us a while to life the Bike up, The incline , The altitude made it tough. Kudos to Steve for his every effort, as you know I couldn't have lifted it on my own. I still don't know how i lifted the Bike in Marsimik La.








              I rested for a few minutes, washed off the dirt in the saddlebags. Steve asked me to start up & move on as it is getting late. Steve wanted to cross BarlaChala as soon as possible. The road climbing up as said, wasn't in a good shape & so we didn't push much. Our next stop was at Lachulung La, At 16600 feet - It wasn't considered one of the toughest passes around, but it did give a few concerns like black ice on road, quickly melting ice (stagnant / water puddles) on road.


















              Sarchu is just 55 Kilometers! But it took more than a couple of hours















              We actually didn't feel like that we were on a pass, It acted just like one another photo stop. We moved on, The climb down was a little different. It wasn't the usual black ice thing, but the loose gravel on road. I didn't want to have a fall again, for the last fall itself left some nerves.





              We reached the valley after climbing down from Lachulung La, the place is called Whishy Nulla. Just like More Plains there is just a tent here, which offers food & accommodation. I had a tea & maggi. Steve had some mango juice. Enquired about Barlachala with some truckers, they said its quite bad. Our only concern is to cross BarlaCha La before it becomes worse. The climb up was filled with black ice and we were careful, the sun was up & so the ice were melting fast.

              Nakeela, the pass didn't have much snow / ice - descent was pretty evident, the pass was at an altitude of 15500 ft (16xxx as per GPS). Strange that all passes in Leh - Manali road were above the highest pass on Srinagar - Leh road.











              I was taking a few pictures around and Steve has already left the pass (As usual). The descent of NakeeLa saw the beginning of the famous Gata Loops. Steve was speaking to a Bulleteer, whom i had spoken a few times before online. Saw more bulleteers coming up, The group was head by Ladakh Way round, which was supposed to start on the day we started from Delhi. Bid them good bye, got some inputs about Barlachala & moved on.













              We didn't stop any where on the loops, nor did i see any easy shortcuts to try. Everything seemed too tough & steep (for me). Steve was feeling tired, ate some chocolates and it was time for lunch. But Steve was very focused on crossing BarlachaLa more than anything else.

              Restaurant in Sarchu:



              Soon, we Reached Sarchu. Steve went ahead skipping all the restaurants, i was amused why he didn't stop, later he told me he was looking to stop on the side of Himachal Pradesh. Just then i realized we had left Jammu & Kashmir and now into the state of Himachal Pradesh. Went into the restaurant there, had some nice & hot aloo parathas. I was so hungry that first time i finished eating two or more parathas & for a change we ordered pickle instead of sabji :P

              spent some half an hour there in the restaurant, i was feeling so sleepy, Steve was like i would kill you if you don't start in 10 minutes. I had another cup of tea, refreshed myself and got back to the bike.

              The board read 782 to Delhi But the more valuable information was : 32 Kilometers to Barlachala.



              The roads from here on were WORSE! The bridges weren't in a good shape too, with many loose sheets that could cut the tyre anytime. The loose gravel, cross winds, water crossings, cold wind, freezing feet, slight head ache made things worse! The landscape kept changing vastly in Himachal, from snow to gravel to unknown shapes of rocks / sand.

              Interesting shapes..









              After some 10 kilometers, We come across a big water crossing. A bulleteer was struggling to pass through it, and another one after the crossing with his shoes and jean half wet. It seemed like a Huge crossing.



              It only seemed tough for us, but it really wasn't. We passed through without any fuss. Saw another foreigner trying to cross and struggle through it. May be we have become good over days or was it just luck? I kept guessing and moved on. 15 more kilometers to Barlachala, the amount of Snow started increasing. The incline too was a bit steep at places, I was as careful as i could, not wanting a fall anymore.

              I could not focus on the road, the landscape was so beautiful, snow all around and it was like seeing heavens in a different form. Met a huge gang of bikers, some 10 - 15 relaxing around. Steve stopped ahead for some pictures. Rested for a while, the traffic seemed to increase a bit. I wonder how long it will take for these snow to melt up, If it does, the roads should be flooded!













              The roads kept climbing on & the roads were getting smaller & tougher. Few water crossings and the traffic started to pile up more & more. We were constantly tagged behind by a couple of pick up trucks. We let them pass by, and after a while i see so many cars stagnant. I crossed the last van that was stationary, Steve was going ahead of me. Steve stops by ahead and I get stuck in the middle of a Huge water crossing!

              The amount of water crossing through us was enormous and it was freezing cold. Immediately both my foot were well submerged and i was shivering in cold. Nothing else to do, there was a traffic jam ahead and not much space to move around. Steve some how stuck to some where higher up & saved from getting his feet wet. I was stuck and had nothing else to do than wait for the jam to clear up. It was tough, But i was kinda enjoying it









              The traffic cleared up and the next challenge was to ride on top of ice! heck yes!! I'm not kidding, there was a brief section where we had to ride on top of ice, but there was a truck track and Steve got on to it, I took the other track and it took me on top of ice, I didnt get traction to even get back to the truck track. I kept moving on, it was skidding, no grip, no traction, no place to land the foot also - it was scary but fun.

              I got stuck at the end of it, there was a stone in front of me and i had to rev around 8000 RPM to get the damn machine go over it :P The rear was spinning around, front wont have traction to move around so i had to manually push it and rev hard and get it moving. Steve had passed ahead & was waiting for me.



              I was still on top of Ice on this pictures



              The huge gang of Royal Enfield's Himalayan Odyssey was ahead of us. some 50 bikers atleast, good to see a huge group ahead of you. They were supposed to head to Sach Pass, I was told. The difficult part of Barlachala was almost over, up next was the pass. I could sense the excitement going through the nerves. The shoes were wet & I was shivering, yet the eagerness to climb up the pass beat it all. The traffic was piling up in the small & narrow ice walled roads.



              And we have to wait when something like this happens



              View around:



              We are still climbing up..







              The roads





              The narrow roads means literally one way traffic. So the progress was slow, but we eventually took every gap possible and maneuvered through. The cagers / truckers were pissed up that we are brushing through in the small gap available, so be it - we had to move on & there is space for us to move on

              Couple of more water crossings, wasnt tougher as the one we crossed before. I wet my shoes as usual while crossing the small stream, the woolen socks in bought in Pang is messed up. I had to remove & throw it ASAP or atleast dry it a bit. Soon, We reached the pass - Infact my GPS was showing the pass a few meters before itself, yet there was no board around. We were hunting where the board was. Almost when the climb down starts, we see the board.

              Steve told that the other board should have been covered with Snow & should have been a little further up. Anyway, It wasn't that cold - the huge ice walls were so pleasant to watch. There is just snow everywhere, so much snow that you get bored of it on a second look. The camera could not identify which is light or which is snow, I was getting disastrous photos. No time to change the settings, did what the P Mode could take.

              I saw a couple of tal (lakes) been displayed on GPS, but there was no sign of lakes around - Its all frozen up. The famous Deepak Tal / Suraj Tal are all frozen up.















              After crossing Barlacha La, the roads became too narrow & the traffic started piling up more & more. A few trucks had broken down & parked on the edge of the cliff and that left not much space for other vehicles to move by. The traffic jam was huge! collapsed the RVMs & zipped through every small gap available. The roads were excellent, kudos to the BRO / Army. The roads were well maintained, with almost 90% tarmac all the way.

              Stopped by after coming down from BarlaCha La. So many trucks,Jeeps, cars were rushing through. Removed the woolen socks and dried it a bit on the rocks. Didn't see many Bikers till now, for i guess they would have started before us, 8 30 AM is still late a time to start i guess. Spent some 30 minutes, just resting here, drank water, ate some snacks and clicked a few photos. A big sign of relief, BarlaChala Successfully crossed (not conquered )







              We rode on towards Jispa, another few kilometers and we come across a HUGE HUGE water crossing. It was a bit tricky, needed more concentration and focus. Saw some bikers pushing their bikes to the other side of it. From the looks of it, It looked as though it would wash my Bike off. I went ahead first, the bulleteer on the other side signaled me to come in the same direction. I took the left most track and landed up on the right most side of the stream.

              The water literally pushed me off, the full fairing the culprit to blame. Steve followed, I parked the Bike and came back to see if Steve needs any help. He made thorough without any fuss either. Steve didn't stop, he went ahead towards Zing Zing Bar. I was feeling a little tired, So asked Steve to stop by Zing Zing Bar, which had a restaurant of sorts. The crowd a little more and the caretaker was rude. I got my tea after 20 minutes and didn't get the maggi we ordered.

              Steve finished off some 6 packs of lays by then :P Still my maggi didn't come, got pissed up & left the place, of course after settling the bills. My feet again was wet from the last water crossing.. I was catching cold & somehow the headache started to relieve a bit. People advised us to stay in Darcha / Jispa instead of riding to Keylong. We were just around 60 kilometers before Keylong & It was just around 3 30 PM. Steve said we will ride till we could or stay just before Keylong.

              We didn't stop much after it, the roads were of decent tarmac, the only thing to stop us were the small water streams & the huge group of goats







              We some how crossed Darcha, Jispa & After Darcha the roads up a head were worse. The speeds reduced gradually & eventually we had to stuck on to 1st & 2nd gear all the time. This is where we could sense the transformation from snow bound mountains to the greener side of it! The roads turned to just gravel & I was struggling for balance more or less. It was tiring, a lot tiring to ride on such terrain for a long time. Both of us were literally worn out.

              Steve wanted to ride on & reach Keylong before halting. With the hip bone aching at its will & but became rather next to retarded by now. All those crazy stones & boulder roads made the life of my butt harder! Some how managed to reach Gemur, still 18 more kilometers to go. Steve wanted to stop for making some calls, I asked him to do so at Keylong instead. Met a Army truck being driven by a guy from Tamil Nadu, matter of fact i didn't understand his proper Tamil slang for a minute.

              It took me a while to understand that he was taking in my own mother tongue I stopped for a while, Couldn't ride further - Steve wanted to push off, even i wish i could but my butt was aching so badly i couldn't sit on the bike. May be this is what a saddle sore is. 2500 kilometers of riding didn't let it happen, but the 200 odd kilometers through various terrain definitely left a sore butt

              From Snow to Greenery in hours



              Gravel roads towards keylong





              Wild breaks in the middle of no where, i wouldn't even bother sitting on the road for resting. For a moment the ride seemed to be irritating. Yes, I was irritated for the fact that i had to ride on such a terrain for this long. Well, the thought was running through for sometime now & realized how would SkSy_Biker would have managed to pull of Leh - Manali in One day! It could be that i should be mentally prepared about these conditions than crib about bad roads.

              We rode on, for another 15 - 20 minutes, saw a milestone 5 kilometers to Keylong. Felt a great relief, Steve didn't even bother stopping. I stopped to take a couple of pictures, some more water & moved on. 1 More kilometer to reach the town, we were stopped by an army of 200 - 300 goats The Army truck was honking at us to give way, where the heck will we move when you have 300 goats in front of you. It took some 5- 10 minutes for all those little goats to go past us.

              Almost there!



              Finally, We reached Keylong. Went around looking for hotels & I spot a good one on top of the road with some garden & stuff. So we climbed up the road, checked into the hotel, 300 bucks for an amazing room! Dirt cheap, as Steve calls it. Room had amazing view, cleaner beds n a lousy wash room. worth the 300 bucks a night. I untied all the saddle bags, dumped it on the room, sprayed some water to remove the dirt on the bags (from the fall in Pang).

              Steve got refreshed, and i finished speaking to near & dear updating where i am and how i reached Himachal Pradesh now. Took the menu card & ordered what ever we liked on the menu card, we were that hungry & you know how Steve eats when he is hungry Keeping that in mind, i ordered a little more since i was hungry to :P Had a cup of tea & we went upstairs into the restaurant. No one was there to serve us. We kept on waiting for some time.

              After a while we had our orders served one by one. Food was really really good, a bit costly but worth it. First time ever, I ate more than Steve on the trip We ate for some 500 Rs. Almost double the amount of the room's rent Went back to the room, plugged all the electronic stuff into charging. I just realized that the Canon 1000D was charged in Chennai almost 2 weeks before and has taken more than 600 shots and battery was still there!

              I refreshed a bit and went to sleep early, anyway it is going to be 110 kilometers to Manali tomorrow. The only concern is to cross the ever maddening Rohtang Pass, not that i hate the pass - i hate the maddening crowd who litter the pass like any other tourist place. Steve wanted to start around 8 AM, so didnt even fix any alarm, i crashed on around 8 PM itself. Scenic day, variety of landscapes & transformations, and we thoroughly enjoyed it!
              Last edited by Ananth; 08-03-2010, 02:39 AM.
              Photo Gallery[/B]

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              • I'm wondering how did that mint looking low GC Esteem (P6220573.JPG) made its way upto top? And you guys spotted someone from TBhp, that black Safari(P6220585.JPG).
                Skill is what keeps you on a Motorcycle
                Awareness + Skill is what keeps you out of harm's way
                ATGATT + Awareness + Skill means you might Live To Ride another day

                Comment


                • Originally posted by aargee View Post
                  I'm wondering how did that mint looking low GC Esteem (P6220573.JPG) made its way upto top? And you guys spotted someone from TBhp, that black Safari(P6220585.JPG).
                  P6220573 - Yes, the Esteem belonged to the restaurant's owner i believe. I saw honda city & numerous esteem on top of Tanglang La & BarlaCha La. And for Sarchu, the only hurdle will be the numerous water crossings & not the boulders.

                  P6220585 - It was a AP Registered T-Bhp car. The car was loaded with people & windows raised up - so could not speak to them.
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                  • Am just loosing track of the number of times you actually fell down!!! And my Saddles went thru' all that and returned without a problem is nothing less than surprising....
                    Democracy is when 2 wolves and a sheep meet to decide who is for dinner. Liberty is when the sheep has a gun.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Aparajith View Post
                      Am just loosing track of the number of times you actually fell down!!! And my Saddles went thru' all that and returned without a problem is nothing less than surprising....
                      Your saddle touched the ground just once, a pang - anyway, it took two Leh trips for your saddle bag to prove that it is worth the money :P

                      And one more: Nth water crossing, before Jispa. This water crossing was tough!

                      Photo Gallery[/B]

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                      • Amazing adventure guys, i have been silently following this up for a while, up until now, me and some of my friends are also planning a similar trip and your blog will be used as a guide.

                        We are planning to go via Manali and come back via the same route. Is it doable, how bad are the roads and different passes, and not to forget those water crossings?

                        And someone has posted that the road from nubra valley to pangong so through shyok is under water. Is there a way to check online, what all routes/ roads are closed, etc.?

                        Thanks in advance!
                        God bless!
                        GuRpReEt SiNgH

                        Ninja goes to Spiti 2011: http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/tourer/1...oes-spiti.html
                        Ninja goes to Leh 2012: http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/tourer/2...-goes-leh.html

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by GuRpReEt SiNgH View Post
                          Amazing adventure guys, i have been silently following this up for a while, up until now, me and some of my friends are also planning a similar trip and your blog will be used as a guide.

                          We are planning to go via Manali and come back via the same route. Is it doable, how bad are the roads and different passes, and not to forget those water crossings?

                          And someone has posted that the road from nubra valley to pangong so through shyok is under water. Is there a way to check online, what all routes/ roads are closed, etc.?

                          Thanks in advance!
                          God bless!
                          I would suggest that you take up the srinagar route for better acclimatization. water crossing can be challenge at times but definetly do able. regarding the shyok route - yes it is under water and not motorable.

                          to check updates on this route check this thread.

                          Road Nubra-Shayok to Pangong Tso blocked - India Travel Forum, BCMTouring

                          Nubra-Agam-Shayok-Pangong Route status - India Travel Forum, BCMTouring
                          Leh
                          http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/tourer/1...d-reasons.html

                          The Southern Sojourn
                          http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/best-tra...-remember.html

                          Munnar - Kodai
                          http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/tourer/5...-page-6-a.html

                          Goa
                          http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/tourer/6...ers-8days.html

                          Comment


                          • Thanks Steve!
                            GuRpReEt SiNgH

                            Ninja goes to Spiti 2011: http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/tourer/1...oes-spiti.html
                            Ninja goes to Leh 2012: http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/tourer/2...-goes-leh.html

                            Comment


                            • SO many water crossings.

                              I remember people saying that there used to be one such near Pangong lake. But I see no photos of that here. Is it still there or people have created a new route..?
                              CBZ Xtreme
                              "Live Extreme"

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by GuRpReEt SiNgH View Post
                                Amazing adventure guys, i have been silently following this up for a while, up until now, me and some of my friends are also planning a similar trip and your blog will be used as a guide.

                                We are planning to go via Manali and come back via the same route. Is it doable, how bad are the roads and different passes, and not to forget those water crossings?

                                And someone has posted that the road from nubra valley to pangong so through shyok is under water. Is there a way to check online, what all routes/ roads are closed, etc.?

                                Thanks in advance!
                                God bless!
                                Situation in Srinagar is a concern. Please do your homework before taking the Srinagar - Leh route. Far too many water crossings & battered roads on the Manali - Leh route for now.

                                For Nubra - Pangong, I would advice : Nubra - Leh and then next day got via Chang La - Pangong
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