River Rafting in Ladakh.

Watch a short video of our rafting experience in Ladakh.

 

River Rafting in Ladakh is a combination of  both thrill and exhibition of alluring landscape. Bouncing on the freezing rapids of the Indus river surrounded by mighty barren mountains makes the rafting experience in Ladakh a unique one.The majority of travelers visit Leh to take on the treacherous roads or to witness the beauty of the place but If you want a bit more adventure you must definitely go rafting.

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Rafting trips are organized by a many tour operators in Leh. With the help of the owner of our guest house we managed to get a package of 700 Rupees per person including pick up and drop.

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If you are planning to take a camera make sure it’s waterproof.I used a Garmin Virb which according to me is one the best action cam available. The guides are qualified and all the safety measures are taken.

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At one point our raft crashed into a large wave throwing me out into the cold river. Fortunately, I was holding the rope tight, which avoided any further unfortunate accident.

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Just before falling into the freezing river.

Read my next blog to read about our excursion to World’s highest motorable road –  The Mighty Khardung La.

 

DAY 6 – First day in Ladakh!

Finally, we were in Leh, the prime destination of our trip. Luckily we even got a decent guest house to stay at a reasonable price. It was the sixth day into our expedition to Ladakh. Getting up early was an exception for that day as it was allocated for rest and some sightseeing. Extremely tired and deprived of sleep, we were lying in our rooms like lazy crocodiles. Suddenly I woke up to the noise of a landing aircraft. The airport was very close to our guest house and you could clearly hear the aircrafts taking off and landing. Struggling to leave the bed, somehow we all were up around 11. Quickly getting ready, we left our guest house to spend some leisure time in Ladakh.

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Ready for Leh!

Getting on our mud-spattered and dusty motorcycles we headed towards the main bazaar. It was afternoon and the fierce heat of the sun was unbearable. Dying of hunger we went to a small eatery in the main bazaar to have some food.  After gobbling some delicious Chole Bhature we advanced towards Shanti Stupa, one of the most eminent places in Leh.

Sitting proudly on a hilltop in Leh,  Shanti Stupa is a white domed Buddhist stupa located 5 kilometers from Leh on a steep hill facing the Leh Palace. Situated at a height of 3,609 meters (11,841 ft), this magnificent stupa can be reached by a motorable road or on foot by climbing a series of 500 steep steps.Unaware about the motorable road that leads to the hilltop, we parked our motorcycles at the foothill and took up the challenging task of climbing the stairs.

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Under the scorching sun we started to climb those countless steps. As we started to ascend higher, the view became more stunning. Climbing at a slow pace we took a couple of breaks to catch our breath before reaching the top.

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Our friend taking rest after giving up to the back-breaking climb.
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The Stunning view as we climbed higher.

Nearly after 20 minutes of making strenuous efforts we finally reached the hilltop. There was a quaint little restaurant on the top. We ordered tea to get refreshed and to celebrate our victory of climbing to the Shanti Stupa. 

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Energizing tea on the hilltop.

The Shanti Stupa was built to promote world peace and prosperity and to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism. The feel of that place was very unusual. The atmosphere was filled with peace and tranquility.

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The Beautiful Stupa

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The panoramic view of the city from the top was totally mind boggling. IMG_20150816_141000.jpg

The panoramic view from the top makes it a popular tourist attraction.

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While getting down.

It took us close to 15 minutes to get down. The steps were steep and we had to be extra careful while getting down.

It was 4 pm when we reached down. We were exhausted. Starting our motorcycles we left towards our guest house. On the way to our guest house we saw a small fort. “Zorawar Fort” was written on the main entrance. Parking our motorcycles we went inside the fort.

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Motorcycles parked outside Zorawar Fort.

It was sunset when we left the fort. We went to a restaurant called LAMAYURU to have dinner. The only reason to eat there was free Wi-Fi, otherwise the food was mediocre. Post dinner we directly went to our guest house. After a brief chat session we took off to our respective beds. The next day was going to be packed with fun and thrill. Adventure awaits till the next day.

Read my next blog to know about the thrilling and deadly experience we had on our second day in Leh.

Srinagar to Dras : The Gateway to Ladakh

The morning was warm and pleasant. Sitting on the verandah of our houseboat I was awed by the beauty of Dal Lake. With Shikaras rowing all over, Dal Lake looked magnificent early in the morning. The milieu was so calm that I could clearly hear the splashing of water as the Shikaras rowed. Suddenly I realized that in some time we would leave this beautiful place and continue our journey ahead to reach our dream- Leh!

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Getting ready we were all set to start our journey towards Dras. Loading all our luggage in the Shikara we left our houseboat. Reaching the shore we carried all the luggage from the Shikara and arranged them at one corner. Making two of our group members to stand near the luggage, we went to take our motorcycles from the parking spot.

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Arranging our luggage on our motorcycles we left to have some breakfast. Riding for a couple of minutes we found a decent snack corner near Dal lake. Finally, after fnishing our breakfast, it was time to bid a goodbye to Srinagar.

Our plan was to complete the ride till Ladakh in 2 days. Starting from Srinagar we decided to reach Dras and stay there for the night. Next morning we would continue our journey from Dras and reach Leh by evening. The reason for staying at Dras was that you can easily get cheap and nice hotels at Dras which is hard to find in Kargil.

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The only road that takes you to Dras is the Srinagar-Leh highway. The distance of Dras from Srinagar is around 150 kms, which is not very much but the risky roads and never ending traffic will surely make this journey a tough one. We all knew it was going to be a tiring day.

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The Route from Srinagar to Dras.
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Entering Sonamarg.

On your journey from Srinagar to Dras you’ll surely be fascinated by the stunning beauty of Kashmir. After riding a couple of hours we reached Sonamarg, a famous Hill station and tourist spot in Ganderbal district. Sonamarg which means Meadow of Gold is around 80 kms from Srinagar. The Roads connecting Srinagar and Sonamarg are truly scenic with a beautiful river running along the way. Apart from passing through some breathtaking sceneries, the roads from ” to Sonamarg was in excellent condition with very less traffic.

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12789678_1053119901413442_1247088734_oAhead of Sonamarg, starts the dangerous Zojila. Riding around 9 kms from Sonamarg we reached Zoji La or Zojila pass. Running at an elevation of around 3528 meters (11575 fts), it is surely one of the toughest road you’ll be riding on your entire journey. The road looked like a thin like passing through the mountains. My hands were all sweaty  as we slowly started riding on this mighty pass. The road was rough, rugged and narrow. I tried to look straight and keep my eyes on the road as the view down was quite frightening. Absence of proper roads makes riding on Zoji La more of an off roading experience.

Zoji La

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It came as a relief to complete Zoji La and enter the Dras Valley. As soon as we entered the Dras Valley,we made a halt to have something to eat as we all were too hungry.

Dras Valley.

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Met these two riders from U.S at the end of Zojila pass.

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The much needed break after completing Zoji La pass.

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After visiting Zoji La War Memorial we finally entered Dras, the coldest place in India. We got 2 rooms for Rs.300 each to spend the night. The climate of Dras at night was too cold.

It should be kept in mind that your cell phones will not get network coverage when you reach Dras. It would become functional once you reach Leh.

Read my next blog as we celebrate independence Day at Kargil War Memorial and reach Leh, our ultimate destination.

Doodhpathri : An Unexplored Wonder of Kashmir.

“AGAR FIRDAUS BAR ROO-E ZAMEEN AST, HAMEEN AST-O HAMEEN AST-O HAMEEN AST”.

It means “If there is a paradise on earth, It is this, it is this, it is this”

Due to the tiring journey from Jammu to Srinagar, we got up a little late in the morning. After having our breakfast we were ready to explore Srinagar. But the question was where should we start from.

“We will start with Doodhpathri” our Kashmiri friend said.

We all were puzzled. None of us knew that there was a place called Doodhpathri in Kashmir.

Finally we started our ride towards Dodhpathri.

Watch the full video of Doodhpathri here:

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Doodpathri” which means Valley of Milk is situated 42 kms from Srinagar. It took us around an hour to reach this heavenly place and trust me reaching there we were enchanted by its pristine beauty. It truly was a Heaven as said by our Kashmiri friend.

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Parking our motorcycles we went towards the river which is only a 5 minutes walk from the parking spot.

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Doodhpathri is a charming meadow having lush green grass spread all over with a milky river flowing in between.The wooden bridge on the river adds to the overall appeal of the place.

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Doodhpathri is less popular among tourists as compared to Gulmarg, Sonmarg etc, but in terms of beauty it is no less. It definitely is an unexplored gem of Kashmir. We all were mesmerised by that place. The atmosphere of Doodhpathri was so tranquil that you could  sit near the melodic river for hours. Doodhpathri is quite popular among shepherds who visit this beautiful place from different areas with their cattle’s and stay here together for days. It is a must visit place if you are in Srinagar.

Read my next blog as we continue our ride towards our next stop Gulmarg: Meadow of Flowers.

Ride to Ladakh 2015

When someone says Ladakh we automatically start thinking about huge barren mountains, azure skies, colorful Tibetan flags, serene Pangong Lake and most important the beast – Royal Enfield. Also known as the Land of High Passes, Ladakh is an ultimate destination for adventure lovers. The trip to Ladakh was a long awaited trip for me and my friends. Ladakh was like a dream for all of us. It had become an obsession. The trip was being planned for more than a year. Getting delayed from May due to a friend’s marriage, it was rescheduled to August 2015. We were very excited for the trip.

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The plan was to reach Jammu by train and parcel our motorcycles from Bandra Terminus to Jammu two days prior to our departure. To be on the safer side Tickets was booked three months before the trip in the month of April. So Jammu was the starting point of Ride To Ladakh 2015.

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On the morning of 9th August 2015, our dream journey began. Swaraj Express departs from Bandra Terminus at 7.55 am and covering distance of 1952 kms it reaches Jammu at 14.40. This journey will definitely make you to witness some breathtaking landscapes and sceneries. We reached Jammu Tawi around 3 pm and directly rushed toward the parcel office. It came as a relief to see our motorcycles reaching there safely. Completing the formalities we took our motorcycles and started our hunt for rooms.

It was a hot day in Jammu. The climate was scorching and by the time we found a decent and convenient hotel we were dripping with sweat. After getting fresh we took our motorcycles to the nearby mechanic for some minor repairs. Post dinner we were ready for the much needed sleep as we were completely drained.

Itinerary of Ride to Ladakh 2015:

AUG  11  DAY 1    –  Jammu to Srinagar.

AUG  12  DAY 2   – Srinagar to Dodhpathri

Gulmarg.

AUG  13  DAY 3   – Gulmarg to Srinagar.

AUG 14   DAY 4   – Srinagar to Dras.

AUG 15   DAY 5   – Dras to Leh via Kargil War Memorial for Independence Day Celebration.

AUG 16   DAY 6   – Leh Sightseeing.

AUG 17   DAY 7   – River Rafting.

AUG 18   DAY 8   – Khardung La.

AUG 19   DAY 9   – Pangong Tso.

AUG 20   DAY 10 – Pangong Tso to Leh.

AUG 21   DAY 11 – Leh to Pang.

AUG 22   DAY 12 – Pang to Manali.

AUG 23   DAY 13 – Manali sightseeing.

AUG 24   DAY 14 – Manali to Chandigarh.

AUG 25   DAY 15 – Bikes transportation to Mumbai.

AUG 26   DAY 16 – Back to Mumbai from Chandigarh.

Here is a list of essential things one should carry for a Bike Ride to Ladakh:

  • Water: Dehydration can result in some serious health issues at such a high altitude hence having sufficient quantity of water is very important. Drinking water at regular interval is vitally important.
  • Documents: Drivers License, One Identity Proof and all the documents regarding the motorcycle like RC Book, Insurance, PUC etc should be carried. If you are not taking your own motorcycle or it is not registered on your name then you are required to carry a non objection letter by the person on whose name the motorcycle is registered.
  • Medicines: Having a proper First Aid kit is must. Medicines for AMS ( Acute mountain sickness) is must. Moreover medicines for headache, stomach ache, fever, cold and cough should be carried without fail.
  • Clothes: Riding Jacket of a high standard along with fine gloves and a balaclava is very essential. You should also carry proper woolen clothes, warm inner and clothes which can be worn in layers so you can easily adjust your attire according to the existing temperature. You will be crossing a couple of streams on your way hence, it is advisable to carry water resistant shoes.
  • A postpaid SIM as a prepaid SIM would be dysfunctional once you enter into the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Extra clutch and accelerator cables.
  • Extra Tyre tubes and puncture kits.
  • Tyre inflator and Air Compressor Pump.
  • A Proper Tool Kit.
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm.
  • Chargers, Extra Batteries and Memory Cards.
  • Sturdy Helmet and UV Sunglasses.
  • Extra key of your motorcycle.

In my next blog read about our journey from Jammu to the beautiful Srinagar which happens to be the first stop of Ride To Ladakh 2015, as we move a step closer to our dream.