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- Mountain Biking
Destination : Marsimik La, Ladakh (World’s Highest Motorable Passes)
Route : Chandigargh – Manali – Leh- Srinagar
Speciality : Riding her on World's highest passes
Distance : almost 3000 km
Himalayas are known for their majesty and mystical appeal! The place is certainly comparable to heaven on earth. The beauty of Leh and Ladhakh will surely leave the onlooker spell bounded. The change in the landscape and terrain as you ascend through hills will mesmerize you with its magical beauty. This will without doubt appear as the highway to heaven.
The best part about the bike ride at the Leh Ladhakh highway is that you cross the most serene and popular tourist spots of Himachal Pradesh like Manali, where the river Beas follows you along the highway and you can hear the sound of the rapid water of the river. You also pass through one of the highest passes that Himachal boasts of and the most serene and calm Pangong Lake. The surroundings make you believe that you are in heaven.
Numerous cuisines can be tried all through the highway as multiple options at all sorts of food joints are available for the travelers.
Sometimes it can be challenging for the most experienced of the bikers as well. If you travel to Ladhakh on big four wheeler vehicles, it means getting stuck in the jam for hours for very trivial of the reasons. It could be because of the poor condition of the roads at certain stretches especially during the rains or simply a truck or car breakdown ahead of you. This gives bikers another advantage over the other. Though, riding on the rough roads especially on steep ascends is challenging.
One of the most important things to remember is refueling at the place called Tandi. Another tip is, your prepared phone would not work once you reach Leh. It is advisable to carry a post paid phone along which might work. The road will test your patience at time because of the conditions and the terrain. This is the reason why it is imperative to be prepared for the journey in all terms.
These breathtaking highways are the real highway to paradises that can only be described when you are on your wheels on highest passes in the world.
One day prior, you need to reach Chandigarh & report us with your motorcycle, (it can take half a day to release your bike which is in railway cargo, depends on how you negotiate with coolies & officer in charge) our head mechanic will check the bike & assist you with the maintenance for the trip, essentials riding kits like puncture repair kit, spare clutch cables & accelerator cables and some good carriers (to hold luggage) for the trip, even you can purchase ridding gears & helmets from him, those who don’t have bikes don’t worry you can get it for rent, for that you need to pay Rs.10000 – 20000 as security deposit & Rs.1000 per day as rent, we will assist you with best bike rental providers (even SUV's are another option). Deadline for reporting with your bike will be 6 p.m, those who come late will be considered as cancelled.
DAY 1 : CHANDIGARH – MANALI 547KM/11 HRS
After breakfast a small briefing will be given by the senior rider, head to Manali. There is nothing much to explain in this route. 6 hours ride to Manali, Via Kiratpur Sahib NH 21. The roads are good but are of blind corners, hairpins and short straight stretches,in between you can see so many Apple estates, don’t ever dare to pluck one, seeing your hand 5-10 danes or shepherds will jump on you. Now your acclimatization to high altitude started. Reach Manali by late evening. Over night stay in Manali.
DAY 2 : MANALI - JISPA (3150 M) 140 KM / 7 HRS
This is the day that you have been waiting for. You wake up early in the morning to ride on the world's highest road - the Manali-Leh highway. As soon as you leave Manali, after about 52 kms of continuous ascent amidst lush green Himalayan mountains and roadside streams, you reach Rohtang Pass, the jaws open from Rohtang pass through the steep curves of Keylong to the starkly barren landscape of Lahaul & Ladakh. Don’t forget Tandi is the only place in the Manali-Leh highway that has a petrol pump, its 32 km before Jispa. Reach Jispa by early evening. Avoid strenuous activity but go for a short acclimatization walk. Stay overnight in a campsite on the river side of Bhaga River.
DAY 3 : JISPA - PANG (4253 M) 84 KM / 170 KM/ 5 HRS
This day with bad roads, streams, freezing temperatures, small mountain lakes and breathtaking landscapes. The whole Manali-Leh highway experience is about riding up and down from one high-altitude Himalayan pass to another. Ride past Suraj Tal over Baralacha La which illuminates you with the beauty to reach Sarchu in the afternoon. Stay overnight in tents at a campsite . Please note: the combination of high altitude and the cold winds that set in by late afternoon, can make you victim of AMS(Acute mountain sickess) or its called Altitude sickness if you spend too much time(Don’t Stay much time in Sarchu) The best ride starts after Sarchu , negotiate the hair- rising Gata Loops - 21 hairpin bends that lift you to another 300 meter to be on the top of high altitude pass on this highway, Naki La (4740 M) & Lachalung La (5060 M) which is in the list of highest pass. Reach Pang by Evening. Overnight stay in Camp in Pang
DAY 4 : PANG - LEH (3505 M / 11500 FT) 180 KM / 7 - 8 HR
After a delicious Breakfast head to Leh. This route is the last leg of Manali – Leh Highway. After sublime rides through spectacular mountain terrain, cross Tanglang La – another highest pass(5355M) and a slow down descent to Rumste, the another proper village arrive, crossing a very large Army base to reach Chuchot Village, another 2 km deviation opposite to Chonglamsur on the bank of Indus River is our campsite which is 7 km before the busy city of Leh. After a delicious dinner(instead of Parathas and maagis). Overnight stay in the campsite.
DAY 5 : EXPLORE THE ANCIENT CITY OF LEH
Today you take a breather from the grueling ride you have had. After a half day rest you explore various parts of Leh, such as the Namgyal Palace, Tibetan market & many. Later enjoy a Ladakhi meal at a traditional home in Stok Village. In between don’t forget to get the permit from Leh for Marsimik La(World’s highest motorable pass) What about 32 km long River Rafting in Zanskar river encountering rapid beasts...
DAY 6 : LEH - HUNDER, NUBRA VALLEY(3048M) 140 KM / 5 HRS
A stunning ride over the mighty Khardung La (5602 M) brings you to the verdant Nubra Valley - a unique landscape of desert, rivers, snowcapped mountains and farms, now you feel like you are on heaven. Spend sunset at a vantage point near Diskit Gompa, reach Hunder late evening Stay overnight in a hotel or campsite at Hunder.
DAY 7 : HUNDER - LEH(3048M) 140 KM / 5 HRS
Hunder town in Nubra valley lies amidst big sand dunes and small streams.. Do have a ride on the double-humped Bactrian Camels in Hunder and spend some time in sand dune then ride back to Leh upon mighty Kardungla before afternoon.
DAY 8 : LEH - PANGONG TSO (4260 M / 14000 FT) 150 KM / 5 HR
Leave post breakfast on a great drive over Chang-La (5,475 M / 17950 ft) another highest pass to reach the grand Pangong lake by late afternoon. Pangong Tso(Bolly pagal calls it 3 Idiot lake), Pangong Lake is the largest brackish lake in Asia and is 134 km in length extended to Tibet and 2-3 km average in width. Situated at a height of 13940 feet, it is photographer's delight as the clouds and the sky make the colours of this lake change to different shades of blue. Enjoy spectacular views of the mountains of the Changchenmo range to the north, their reflection shimmering in the ever changing blues and greens of the lakes brackish water. Stay overnight in tents at a campsite on the lake shore.
DAY 9 : PANGONG TSO - MARSIMIK LA(5777M) (20KM) – LEH 180 KM/7 HR
Enjoy morning tea by the lake. Leave after breakfast and ride another 30 km northeast via Phobrang encountering tough and loose tracks on the Chang Chemno Range on an elevation of 5681 metre is the world’s highest motorable pass, even if Kardung la(5602M) is widely believed to be the highest motorable pass, this pass is another 100 metre on the higher side.
We are always thankful to BRO(Border Roads Organisation) for providing us access to kiss world's highest passes and we adore their creative sign boards, but ITBP(Indo Tibetan Border Police) are not far behind constructing this world's highest pass which is less than 20 km away from China where you can see 2 lane highways of China.
If you don’t want to become victim of AMS(Acute Mountain Sickness) because of Low Oxygen and freezing wind, don’t spend much time here, kiss the world’s highest pass, take few snaps and ride back to Leh upon Changla. Reach Campsite by late evening, have delicious dinner and over night stay in Campsite.
DAY 10 : LEH - KARGIL (2820 M) 211 KM / 7 HRS
Enjoy morning tea by the lake. Leave after breakfast and drive past Leh on the Srinagar Highway to reach Ulleytokpo in Sham Valley. En route stops at Hall of fame – Army Museum, Magnetic Point(Do park your bike at magnetic point and check the power of nature) and Nimo - confluence point of Indus & Zanskar Rivers.
En route stop at Lamayuru after a descent through Hangro Loops, the 18 hairpins are fast yet sharp loops with steep gorges, ride carefully here. At Lamayuru to see the moonscape terrain and perhaps have a bite at the quaint cafeteria beside the ancient gompa(There are many Gompa in this route). Carry on over Namika La & Fotu La to reach Kargil in the evening. Kargil – the name itself bring goose bump to every Indians ‘Kargil War’, so many brave men sacrificed their life to safe guard this scenic beauty around under control. Overnight stay in a hotel. OPTION: an interesting variant would be take a deviation from highway after Fotu La and drive via Chitkan to reach the Dha-Hanu region – check out the unique lifestyle & traditions of the Indo- Aryan Drokpas who inhabit this region. Later drive via the little explored & scenic Batalik sector to reach Kargil. Of course this route is longer at 220 km / 9 hrs but it is a really off-beat experience. This can be done considering majorities opinion.
DAY 11 : KARGIL - SRINAGAR (1730 M) 203 KM / 8 HRS OR KARGIL - SONAMARG (2740 M) 120 KM / 5 HRS
After 50km & a few kms before Drass is the Drass war memorial, built in the memory of fallen soldiers in the 1999 Kargil war and a must visit for every traveler passing through this route !! A drive over Zoji Lawhich is one of the toughest pass in whole trip with continuos rock slides, muddy track(Don’t worry BRO will be there to assit) to reach Sonamarg. Stop for a bite, marvel the beauty of Sonamarg and carry on to reach Srinagar in the afternoon. Journey from Sonamarg to Srinagar will take you to magnificent vista of Kashmir, known for. Rest of the day spend in Kashmir valley. OPTION: spend the day & night relaxing in picturesque Sonamarg – the weather here would be much more pleasant than in Srinagar. Overnight stay in hotel.
DAY 12 : SRINAGAR – JAMMU 294KM/5 HRS
After Breakfast ride another 294km on Jammu & Kashmir NH 1A , through the famous Jawahar Tunnel that connects Jammu with the Kashmir Valley across the Pir Panjal Range falls en route. Reach Jammu by late afternoon. Jammu is also known as the "City of Temples" owing to the number of historical temples and domes of old mosques located within the city. Overnight stay in hotel.
DAY 13 : JAMMU - DELHI 589KM/10 HRS
Train tickets will be booked to Delhi, all the bikes has to be send by Cargo in same train and we will be busy whole day in railway station till the departure. Even you can book to your place if trains are available. OPTION : those who want to ride another 600Km back to Delhi can be done, considering the majorities opinion.
Things to watch out for when getting your bike serviced for Ladakh:-
Clutch Plates : It is essential to have clutch plates in good condition, before starting a ride to Ladakh, otherwise you can end up with a motorcycle, which refuses to climb steep hilly roads Ladakh has to offer. So make sure to get your clutch plates check and replace them, if they have little life left in them.
Piston Rings : If your bike has been consuming engine oil lately, it is best to get the piston-cylinder kit checked for wear and tear and replace them if necessary. Also get the valves checked as well.
Timing Chain : Another thing you need to pay close attention to is a loose/worn out timing chain, which can end up causing mechanical failure during the ride or make your motorcycle perform sub optimally.
Drive Chain & Sprockets : Check drive chain and sprockets for wear, if the chain and/or sprockets are on the last lease of life, change the entire chain-sprocket set. Else get them cleaned and lubricated.
Suspensions : Riding on the harsh terrain of Ladakh with a bike loaded with rider and luggage can take a toll on the suspension of your motorcycle. Get the front and rear suspension checked, and if the need be, get them repaired/changed.
Swing arm Bush : Get the swing arm bush checked for slackness, change if needed. Air filter/spark plug: If your air filter and/or spark plug is over 10000kms old or approaching that figure, get them changed. Don’t throw the old ones out, keep them as spares.
Clutch & Accelerator Wires: If your Clutch and Accelerator wires are over 10000kms old, get them changed and keep the old ones as spare. If they are not in need of a change then get them lubricated.
Brake shoes/pads : Get the brake pads and shoes checked for wear, if they can’t last for 5000kms, get them changed. Also get the brake fluid changed or top it up, if you had changed it recently.
Con Set : Con set is an essential part of the bike and if it’s loose or worn out, it can affect the handling of the motorcycle. At the time of service get it checked and change it if the need be.
Engine oil/filter : If the engine oil is over 500kms old, get it changed. Also change the oil filter. In case your bike uses an oil strainer, get it cleaned.
Electrical and Battery : Get all the electrical wiring checked, check all bulbs to see if they are functioning properly. Also clean the headlight seal beam and brake light to ensure better visibility. Also make sure your bike’s battery is performing well, this is especially important if your motorcycle does not have kick start.
Fasten all nuts and Bolts : Get all the nuts and bolts fastened properly, in case any is missing, get it installed.
Carburetor Tuning : Keep the Carburetor tuning as close to stock as possible. Running it rich will cause problem in high altitude areas and running it lean would lead to overheating in plains.
General Check : Give everything a once over, ensure that everything is working properly and all the fluids are topped up, i.e. battery water, engine oil etc. Ensure all fuel lines are intact and there is no leakage anywhere.
Tyres : Check both tyres for wear and signs of cuts and cracks. If either of them is nearing the end of their life, get them changed. If you need to change tyres, get dual purpose tyres, since they perform well on and off road.
Wheel Alignment: In case your motorcycle has spoke wheels, get them checked, and if the need be, get them aligned before your ride.
Learn minor repair/servicing
If you have gone through the above routine, your bike should hold through for the entire trip, but it’s a good idea to ask your motorcycle mechanic to teach you minor chores like tightening rear brakes, adjusting clutch and accelerator play, adjusting chain, fixing puncture, replacing bulbs and changing accelerator/clutch cable/levers.
Final checks on the D-Day and beyond:
Now that you have prepared your motorcycle for Ladakh, and are ready to start your ride, there are a few checks you need to perform daily.
List of essential tools, spares and motorcycle documents to carry
Although it is recommended to learn basic repair of your motorcycle, even if you don’t know much, it is generally a good idea to carry necessary tools and spares. Since sometime even in the smallest of town, you can find a mechanic or someone who knows how to do basic repairs, but might not have the required tool or spares to go through it.
Essential Tools :
1. Tool kit: OEM tool kit that comes with motorcycle is an essential part of the tool kit that every tourer should carry.
2. Ring spanners size 8 to 17: Should come in handy for tightening nuts and bolts of various sizes.
3. Screw Driver set: Try to carry a screwdriver set which has multiple attachments; a set which also includes a set of Allen keys is a good choice. While purchasing screwdriver set, ensure you get one which is sturdiest of the lot and won’t break while you are tightening or opening something.
4. Steel wire: Can be used to tie together bike parts in case of any breakage.
5. Electrical & Scotch tape: Can be used for tying together various parts and insulating damaged wires.
6. Torch light: In case of break down in the evening or early in the morning you will need it to see your bike, even once you are off your bike it can prove quite useful.
7. Foot or Electric air pump: Since motorcyclists don’t have the luxury of carrying a spare tyre, an electric or foot pump combined with a puncture repair kit and spare tube can turn out to be a life saver.
8. Puncture repair kit: Puncture repair kit for tyres with tubes should consist of; rubber patches, solution for pasting the patches on tube and tyre iron for taking off the tyre from the rim. In case of tubeless tyres, purchase a tubeless puncture repair kit.
1. Engine oil: Carry at least half a liter of engine oil recommended by your motorcycle manufacturer, daily check engine oil level and top up if necessary.
2. 90w Gear oil: Can be used to lubricate drive chain, in case you prefer to use WD 40 or chain spray, please carry that.
3. Headlight and brake light bulb: Always carry spare headlight and brake light bulb.
4. Chain links: Carry couple of chain links, in case your drive chain breaks due to something, you can fix it and ride on.
5. Clutch and front brake lever: In case of a fall clutch/front brake lever can break, which can make riding motorcycle difficult. Hence it is best to carry each of these as spare, to ensure you can ride with ease.
6. Clutch and accelerator wires: Clutch and Accelerator wires have a habit of snapping in the middle of nowhere, so please carry a spare clutch and accelerator wire.
7. Spare tube for front and rear tyre: Carrying a spare tube for both the tyres will ensure that in case of a puncture you wouldn’t have to waste your time trying to repair the punctured tube and can simply change the tube and continue riding. In case your motorcycle has tubeless tyre, carrying a spare tube is still a good idea, since it can help you ride your motorcycle, even if the rim bends a little, causing air to escape from tubeless tyre.
8. Spark plug: Although spark plugs of modern motorcycles rarely give problem, it is a good idea to carry a spare one.
9. Spare key of your motorcycle: Always carry a spare key of your motorcycle and never put both the keys in the same place.
10. Spare Fuse: A blown fuse can leave your motorcycle without headlight and/or horn, so don’t forget to carry one with you.
11. WD40: Can be used to lubricate and clean various mechanical and electrical parts of the motorcycle.
12. Nylon Rope: Can be used for tying together various parts of your motorcycle or to help you tow your friend’s motorcycle or help someone else tow yours.
13. Bungee cords: Helps in tying the luggage, always carry couple of spare ones since they can snap under pressure.
14. Electrical wire: Can be used to replace faulty electrical wire in the wiring.
15. Few nuts and bolts of various sizes: Based on your motorcycles make, carry nuts and bolts which hold parts like exhaust, leg guard, foot pegs etc.
16. Petrol pipe: If you run out of petrol and come across someone who is willing to lend some petrol to you, you will need it to take petrol out of their petrol tank.
17. Coolant: If your motorcycle is liquid cooled, make sure to carry little bit of coolant with you.
If you own a CI Engine Royal Enfield Bullet, also carry 250ml clutch oil and a decompressor cable.
In case any of your motorcycles parts have a history of ditching you in the middle of nowhere, it would be a good idea to carry it as spare.
1. Driving license
2. Registration Papers of the bike
3. Insurance certificate
4. Pollution under control certificate
Carry two – three copies of the above mentioned documents; generally you should have photocopies of Registration certificate and Insurance certificate handy, while the original should be kept in safe yet accessible place. In case of photocopies, they would have to be attested by a gazetted officer in order to hold any value. You should always have your original license and PUC certificate handy as well.