North by Northeast ‘11 – Pang To Grampo’

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Pang – Sarchu – Darcha – Grampo campsite

Distance this period: 237.68 km Total Distance: 2439.77 km

Pang – 0 km
Sarchu – 79.16 km
Darcha – 79.22 km
Grampo – 79.30 km

From Pang, the charm of Manali – Leh highwayturns pale. Bad road starts, the rain made it worse. Now that Tanglang La was closed, traffic coming from Leh was stopped too. So it was a good ride. Made it to LachungLa top, then down to Whisky Nallah, had maggie then uphill to NakeeLa. Then downhill, 21 loops of Ghata Loops started. Loved it. Touched the riverbed, then a bridge, broken. BRO was working, even though peoples were walking on that bridge, the main guy didn’t allow me to pass through. Wasted an hour, he made me first to cross, everyone was clapping, nice.
Then flatish ride to Sarchu. crossed a bridge and officially entered into Himachal Pradesh. One guy from tid shed shouted stay dinner daru here, so here I was sipping a bottle of bear in my tent. Adios J&K. Camped
Total KM – 79.16 kms
Total expense – 310/-

One day of rest makes a lots of different.. good ones.

Early morning heard peoples talking about God; well I am in HP now.
Flattish ride to Kilingsarai BRO dett. uphill starts, Bharatpur. Lunch time. Met 2 cyclists going in same direction, then met Worldbiking couple (going opposite, to Leh), some chat, then 2 more Spanish cyclists going towards Leh. Baralacha La Top, again got a chance to salute entire army convoy. Zingzingbar. Tea Chana at Patseo. Made it to Darcha. Room for 100/- rs.
Total KM – 79.22 kms
Total expense – 470/-

Good road continued all the way to Keylong. Had piranha. Then a bad patch of road, Tandi Bridge, THE famous Tandi bridge heard a lot this bridge before now here I was. Two rivers Chandra and Bhaga meets here. Then dusty uphill to Gondala. On this dust met Ahmedabad family of Pang stay. Tanglang La was still closed so they turned back. Luch at Sissu. Koksar, a bridge, the starts the horrible dirly climb of Rohtang La. Dragged myself to a spot where I could camp. Found one, as soon as I opened the tent, a guy comes and enquires what am I upto. Nice guy from Nepal. Invited me to camp next to his camp other side of wallah. He made a nice dinner for me, how lovely.
Total KM – 79.30 km
Total expense – 90/-

first pass of today.. LachungLa
Whisky Nallah at the bottom. Lunch point.
Inside view of the temporary tents..
Sleep is 45 kms away..
2nd pass of the day.. NakeeLa
HP roadways runs a daily bus Delhi to Leh..in 2 days. First stop Keylong. Only during the season.
Well, its time to park The X and salute the braves…
Ghata Loops starts, Thank God, I’m going down..
Sarchu approaching
They look pretty, but quite dangerous to cross. Chilly, fast and too many holes in there…
Baralacha La Pass… Way too windy to breath..
Road is freshly tared and smooth like a skin..
Darcha approaching
Keylong..
from campsite..

North by Northeast ‘9 – Tangtse To Nyoma’

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Tangtse – Spangmik – Chusul – Nyoma Camp

Distance this period: 180.85 km Total Distance: 2062.20 km

Tangtse – 0 km
Spangmik – 43.94 km
Chusul – 48.08 km
Nyoma – 88.83 km

Tangtse is the first place for inner line permit check point. There is a bridge before you enter the town, just after the bridge you park your vehicle and go inside a tent. One punjabi aryman was funny enough to make me smile. He told me to be on my right side for the next two days journey. Its a short ride to Pangong Lake. yes, THE FAMOUS PANGONG LAKE. So great to be here. Food was too costly, too windy to camp; so moved ahead to the next settlement called Spangmik. Got a room for rs. 200/- rained whole night.
Km covered – 43.94 km
Total expense – 410/-

So the touristy thing ends here. I was heading to a barren land today; to CHUSUL. It was one hell of a ride, and a memorable one. Along the beautiful Pangong Lake. Started as early as 0830 am and made it to Chusul by 0400 pm.
Lonely road along the lake, so much in love with its water and sorrounding air. Merak, a police check point, here deposited a copy of permit. Didn’t see any food joints, however the policeman told me to ask any villager and they will be happy to serve you one. One motorbiker from Mumbai was turned back, riding without permit.

Alongside the lake, downish ride, just one small hill before Chusul. Rocky, sandy, water you get everything but no proper road.

Chusul was silent like hell. Asked local about staying accodomation, one fellow offered his house, accepted his offer but camped outside in his courtyard. Dinner with them was nice. One policeman came to check upon me, took a copy of permit, a long chat.
Kms covered – 48.09 km
Total expense – 210/-

The Stay was nice, good and honest people. Only man in the house, taking care of his lady and four daughters, a camper jeep. Food supply comes from Leh, little bit of farming, have a small shop, lady runs it. Men & women both do hard work, BRO hires them for road work, and things like that. God! how much for survival. I felt very bad, was worried how he gonna marry his daughters.

Said my goodbyes and kept on the bad road. Very bad till Tsaga village.

Chusul is the point from one road goes to Pangong Lake, another one goes to Tangtse directly, another goes all the way up to Kaksang La and HorLa, and then one goes along the China border which I was going to ride today.

I was out of my emergency food supply. But kept riding. One army convoy passed, I chased the last truck, it happens to be a food supply truck. The man sitting at the back was kind enough to through some dry fruits and a tetra-pack of real juice. wow, felt like rescued from a fight.

20 kms from Chusul is 13 Kumaon War memorial. Strong headwind, bad full of stone road, slightly elevated up road leads to Tsaga La top. There’s army camp at further up and one helipad. Downhill starts here and then tarmac road. Great to be back on proper road. Tsaga Village, then CRPF check point, submitted a copy of permit. Met a jawan from my own land, got hot tea, snacks and some warmth inside the camp. Tarmac continues on downhill. Then Loma Bend, a roundabout, and CRPF checkpoint, another copy of permit, another hospitality from CRPF jawans. From here left goes to Hanle (~ 50 kms), Hanle is the place where you get to see stars in amazingly different way; like the whole of milky way galaxy comes to visit here.
I took right to Nyoma. Barren land again, not a single soul along the road, just army camps at distant places. Nyoma, camped.
Km covered – 88.83
Total expense – 60/-

Another day of no proper food.

From Tangtse I am headed to the famous Pangong Lake
And then here it is. Smiling beatifully
Relaxing water, relieved after so much of intense riding..
Another view
Found this map in Spangmik hotel room..
Along the lake you move on, snow filled hills another side..
And then there was some photographer, national geo I gues,
Selfie to bantaa hai with Pangong Lake..
Small but bad climb towards Chusul..
Lovely lady at Chusul, my host..
13 kumaon War memorial, RezangLa.. tribute to heroes who died for our better future… 114 out of 120 Jawans laid down their lives in the battle here with China. details available here https://www.facebook.com/notes/indian-air-force-fans/unforgettable-battle-of-1962-13-kumaon-at-rezang-la-by-col-n-n-bhatia-retd-court/595886010448427/
These kids came running all the way from their homes, see at far corner, just to say hi…
Tsaka top.. too windy
Yes, I was here.. hahaha
Approaching food and some talks…

North by Northeast ‘7 – Leh To Khardung La’

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Leh – North Pullu – Hunder – Khardung Village

Distance this period: 186.01 km Total Distance: 1693.41 km

Leh – 0 km
North Pullu – 56.91 km
Hunder – 80.44 km
Khardung Village – 48.66 km

Leh stay was mesmerizing, would love to be there again for a long stay there. Such a charming place.
Kms covered – 0.00
Total expense – 960/-

It was time to conquer the Top, KhardungLa. Started 0530 am, its easy climb to start. Gentle climb and good tarred road upto South Pullu. Check post. Some tea, food stalls there. Then starts bad road, water crossings, and road work never finishes here.

I was in good company of cyclists all the way up, everyone loves challenges I guess.

I pushed last couple of kms, was damn tired and exhausted. Had Maggie at the top. And The Top. What a feeling!

Then I pushed some downhill too, it was too scary to ride on such boulders, potholes and cold. Some terrible water crossings other side. Lession learnt – no riding after 3 o’clock in hills. North Pullu, Stay at some hotel.
Kms covered – 56.91
Total expense – 390/-

Look at the climb, the sunny day, the surroundings, what else you need to finish your challenge!

 

South Pullu at the first curve and dirt road starts. Your eye balls are dancing, don’t they?

 

The TOP!!… So called highest motorable road, and I did it without a motor; on a cycle. Proud moment. but lonely. Felt kind of sad, remembered the movie ‘Into The Wild’

 

This is what the other side look like from the top. So clear

It was all downhill ride today, road is tarred, smooth like a skin, loved the spinning. A Junction, straight road goes towards Agham, I was loving spinning by now so took the left turn, Khalsar, then flattish road to a junction; right ride goes to Panamik, I took the left one to Diskit and then to Hunder. Found a nice hotel.
Kms covered – 80.44
Total expense – 880/-

The dancing road. Nearing Khalsar…

 

The straight road goes to Agham, another route for Pangong Lake via Shyok village or via WariLa. I took the turn.

Couldn’t go further ahead of Hunder. Return back journey started. At Khalsar had lunch. One army van was stationed there, walked up to the young officer sitting at the front seat and saluted him. Bad news – Agham route is blocked. I asked him how he joined forces and all. On the status of road he said local can’t be trusted better check with the chowki stationed before the junction. But a bad day today. What this means – I will have to climb back to the top. Damn!

Then I did, but found myself uneasy on the climb back and camped 10 km short of Khardung Village. Camp
Kms covered – 48.66
Total expense – 100/-

Hunder is famous for camel riding, I wasn’t aware about this fact.

 

Funny, I was so happy to cross this blockage. I packed everything again just to find out another big blockage about 100 meters ahead. So embarrassing! on my stupidity. I wasted some 2 hrs to figure the way out on first blockage.

 

Khardung Village; from the campsite. I was out of food but just couldn’t ride.

North by Northeast ‘4 – Rest day at Sonmarg’

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Distance this period: 0.00 km Total Distance: 1152.74 km

Sonmarg – 0 km (forced rest of 2 days)

I was enjoying watching tv after a long time while it rained outside. I checked-out pretty early in the morning and to my surprise a barrier was put up there by police; no vehicle was allowed to pass. Damn! What to do now? I was out of the hotel already; roads were blocked from both the sides and there was no estimate of clearance!

I locked The X near a chicken shop and walked some 2 km to check out the landslide; sure enough it was massive. Yatris were struck too. Army came to our rescue; they put up some tents for stay and arranged food.

Hotel prices went rocketed high; the room I was staying previous night for 500 bucks was already booked for 1500 today. A perfect business opportunity.

Police was no help, Army allowed to camp the other side.

This is what landslide looked like. continous rain and slush made it impossible to even walk.

 

So i joined the queue for food. offered by army.

 

Army came as a big help, camped there for two beautiful nights.

 

Beautiful Sonmarg.

 

And the evening was lovely.

 

Then I was surrounded by lots of trucks and drivers and their horrible stories

 

Last day @Sonmarg it was beautiful stay of 2 days farewell shot from my camp.

North by Northeast ‘3 – Roadside Dhaba Near Udhampur to Sonmarg’

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Roadside Dhaba – Udhampur – Ramban – Toofani Nalla Camp – Kangan – Sonmarg

Distance this period: 343.51 km Total Distance: 1152.74 km

Udhampur – 24.37 km (Day 11)
Ramban – 84.98 km (Day 12)
Toofani Nalla Camp – 55.06 km (Day 13)
Kangan – 134.90 km (Day 14)
Sonmarg – 44.20 km (Day 15)

It was a rainy night at the dhaba, my bags were wet but then it was going to be a short ride today. Found a hotel in Udhampur, washed The X, cloths, myself and rested whole day, it was raining anyway. Stay – Hotel Sasan.
Kms covered – 24.37
Total expense – Rs. 765/-

Laundry day at Udhampur.

It rained on n off and in the morning too. I went out to have tea, owner tells me about the blockage after Patni-Top and traffic wasn’t allowed to pass from here itself. I saw an opportunity to have fun on the empty roads. I started in the rain, passing the long line of vehicles.

It was a yatra season (Amarnath Yatra) so traffic was heavy and continuous rain made it worse. I was gaining elevation as soon as I left Udhampur. But the good thing was no traffic, pleasant weather, and roadside Bhandaras. Made it to the top pretty early, so decided to continue on the downhill; a bad decision. Traffic was blocked for two days from both the sides due to a landslide; as I was enjoying the foggy breeze on downhill, something worse was waiting for me. Traffic was open by then, a huge jam, slippery slush, and long array of bloody trucks honking shouting like they just got released from prison or something. One hell of a ride, made it to Ramban. Booked one unmaned hotel.
Kms covered – 84.98
Total expense – 610/-

On the way to Patni-Top. a beautiful gentle climb.
When you get tired on a climb, all you do is experiment with various stuff. Trying photoshoot.
After the slushy ride on Patni-Top downhill. Dangerous yet fun.

Now I was in a territory where you see army everywhere. Banihal. Then on my way to Jawahar Tunnel, I met one guy on cycle going to Amarnath cave. He started from Jabalpur and in 25 days he made it here, he was staying in temples, Lungers/Bhandaras. So it was going to be my first stay on Lungers/Bhandaras at Toofani Nalla camp meant for Yatris, just before the tunnel. Though we tried to pass the tunnel but army turned us back; it wasn’t possible to hold the heavy traffic for us.
Kms covered – 55.06
Total expense – 50/-

I wanted to skip the touristy Kashmir & head straight towards Kangan, but the view of Dal Lake was so inviting that I ended up circling the entire lake.
Beautiful sunny day towards Banihal. Sky so clean, lovely.

Next morning we crossed the tunnel, beautiful Kashmir Valley was waiting for us other side. One could clearly feel the difference; Jammu side was bright, sunny and Kashmir was cloudy, a little bit warm. Downhill starts just after the tunnel, again a huge traffic was there. At Anantnag (he called it Chhota Pakistan) departed from the guy and continued to Pampore, then Srinagar, circled the beautiful Dal Lake. Made it to Kangan for the night.
Kms covered – 134.90
Total expense – 630/-

Its been 9 days of ride without a rest day, so it was going to be a short ride to Sonmarg today; where I decided to spend one extra day, resting. but it took ages to cover those 44 km. In between the ride, I washed my bike ‘The X’ on a small river, took a nap by roadside; a sunny day today. I needed a rest now, 9 days of continuous ride was no fun. Finally Sonmarg, booked a room for bloody rs. 700/- after much bargaining.
Kms covered – 44.20
Total expense – 890/-

It rained again, the owner tells me road is blocked from both the sides of Sonmarg. A disaster waiting for me.

Washed The X on this chilly stream.
And after the wash, rested and got bored pretty soon so experimented with the camera.
Nearing Sonmarg. And so tired and messed up.

North by Northeast ‘1 – Delhi to Kangra’

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Delhi – Karnal – Ambala – Nalagarh – Amb – Kangra
July 2nd to 6th 2015
Distance this period: 490.68km Total Distance: 490.68km

Original plan was to leave Delhi on 1st but then planning is like journey itself. Couldn’t leave on 1st, there were so many memories to leave behind. Finally 4 o’clock next morning I was all set to leave.

First day first show, made it to Karnal on flat road, rode 145.53 kms (longest, record of the tour) in about 8 hrs on a damn hot day. At Karnal bus stand found one hotel, called Hotel Dreemz. It was a long ride today and crashed after dinner.
Kms covered – 145.53
Total expense – Rs. 990/-

Second day; flatish road continued. nothing unusual. Before Ambala cantt. witnessed something cheary, army mens going and coming out of the bushes. On close inspection found some ladies down there doing their business. 😉 LalKurti is the area in Ambala Cantt where you get cheap hotels, I found one, Hotel Sunstar.
Kms covered – 74.49
Total expense – Rs. 600/-

On third day I was riding on foot of the hills, which was pleasant. In Himachal, you must try tasty kadi-chawal on a local dhaba or roadside tin-shed eateries manned by a woman. Made it to Nalagarh, Hotel Shrikant.
Kms covered – 93.00
Total expense – Rs. 660/-

At Nalagarh, got news of Sach pass being open for traffic and also came the first change on original route plan, instead of going towards Swarghat, wished to visit Nangal Dam. So, continued towards Anandpur Sahib, famous Gurudwara. Had lunch there, the lady at the counter was not happy that it took me 4 days of cycling to reach here. Nice. Then it rained heavily. Found one raodside dhaba at Amb and a night stay there.
Kms covered – 96.21
Total expense – Rs. 370/-

Today was 5th day of riding. Lots of ups and down, the killing climb of Mubarikpur, had fruit chat at the fruit chat corner. Skipped Bharwain; I had promised a friend that I will meet him at his home but his nummber was not reachable so skipped. Made it to Kangra. Hotel Jai Maa.
Kms covered – 81.45
Total expense – Rs. 670/-

After 5 days of continuous riding, took a rest day at Kangra. Its my Birthday today.
Kms covered – 0.00
Total expense – Rs. 575/-

Photo-shoot of the gear
One of my such nights to come. for RS. 200/- it was a deal. The best way to find a cheap hotel room is to ask around for Bus stand or Railway station.
After two days of humid and hot ride, now I was headed to foot of HP hills.
First change, headed towards Bharatgarh, to Kiratpur Sahib. Placed nice parantha at dhaba, the lady at the counter offered it for free.
The X resting.
Some Gurudwara on the route
After crossing the Nangal Dam, some climb and back to HP. Crossed the border and entered Una.
Roads were beautiful, so was the scenery.
Tunnel Time zz
Litchi time. Refreshing after such a hard ride.