North by Northeast ‘12 – Grampo to Chandra Taal’

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Grampo campsite – Chhota Dara – Chandra Taal

Distance this period: 70.24 km Total Distance: 2510.01 km

Grampo – 0 km
Chhota Dara – 36.01 km
Chandra Taal Camp – 34.23 km
Chandra Taal Camp – 0 km (rest day)

Now that I have officially entered the Spiti part of the Lahul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. Saying good bye to the comfirt of food and company was hard, started as late as 11 am. The guy made a farewell early lunch, shared some pics together, he took my hat and said he need one. As a gesture to his hospitality, gifted the hat to him and left.

As soon I took left turn from Rohtang road, I knew that this is not going to be a joy ride. The road is national highway and in such a bad shape that I could only cover 36 kms at the sunset. Chhatru is the first place where you get something to eat. Had just tea here and moved on. I should have known that reaching Batal for dinner was next to impossible on such road. Made it to Chhota Dara, saw HP PWD rest house but no one was there. Found a campsite nearby and camped.
Total KM – 36.01 kms
Total expense – 30/-

Next day, bad road continued. Batal was about 18 kms from here, nice kadi-rice lunch at the famous uncle-aunty’s place. Aunty welcomed me saying you have come from such a nice road, smile exchanged. Newspaper clips and articles of their brevity were posted all over. Loved the Kadi-rice. Then crossed the bridge and at some 2 kms there’s a cut to Chandra Taal. Narrow road, needed too much concentration on heavy wind. Camping not allowed near the lake. Campsite is some 2 kms below the lake, you can take your vehicle nearby lake, still need to walk about 10 min to reach the lake from motorable road. Rode back to the campsite and camped.
Total KM – 34.23 kms
Total expense – 200/-

Took a forced rest day, sick day, stomachache, loose-motion, headache, no food.
Total KM- 0
Total expense – 0/-

Grampo campsite with the Nepali guy
It was a beautiful stay
Green pea. Far from Nepal, his home he came here to earn fat. This is what he told me – every year during season which lasts about 6-7 months, the landowners lease-out these lands to such farmers. They provide all the equipments, all you have to do prepare the field, grow seeds, keep tight vigilance, cut and selling will be taken care by the landowner. You get your share. He aims to earn some 2-3 lakhs INR from this field, unless it snows.
Now this is going to be a normal routine till the time I am in Spiti valley
Go figure out the road and ride. Met and saw so many bikers with punctured tire or group of bikers trying to fix their bikes.
Madness is so much fun. isn’t it. This was the longest water crossing today, took some 20 min to cross this chilly water. In between saw a car, ladies standing in a stone away from water, guys fixing the punctured tire. They looked amazed to see me. Crazy
Chhota dara HP PWD rest house but I camped just below this stone, quietly.
This is national highway, can you believe? you dont even call it a road, let alone national highway.
Batal. It has good food points, a HP PWD rest house. Buses stop here to have lunch.
Diversion to Chandra Taal. its about 20 kms from here
Chandra Taal campsite below. This road leads to Chandra Taal.
First glimpse of the LAKE
I tried to look closely, if I could see any jalpari to come out and say hi to me!
Then sat there for like eternity, pleaded to the Jalparis to come out but no. they were to shy to come out I guess, or unhappy to see all the tourists invading their privacy.
Other side of the lake looked like this. anyone scaled those peaks? no idea.
I belive this is Chenab river. In full glory.

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 ‘10 – Nyoma To Pang’

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Nyoma Camp – Tsokar (Thugje) – Pang

Distance this period: 139.89 km Total Distance: 2202.09 km

Nyoma – 0 km
Tsokar – 79.23 km
Pang – 60.66 km
Pang (rest day) – 0 km

Nyoma has good home stays and hotels, food options available easily. But I was in no mood to spend money on leisure. So had some noodels and headed to a isolated place, camped and slept. It rained at night and continued in the morning. Gave a little window to pack my stuff and keep moving. The night was beautiful but felt lonely.

22 km to Nyoma is Mahe, right road goes to HorLa, KaksangLa to Chusul, I kept my left towards to Mahe bridge, Police check post. Permit and entry. Nice guy, gave me salty tea, I was hungry, wet, shaky completely drenched. Straight road goes towards Leh, I crossed the bridge to my left. 12 km is Sumdho, Before the town is a junction, left goes to Tso Moriri. I took straight to my right. A shop is there at Sumdho but no one was there.

Further 7 kms is Puga, just few houses. Some tarmac road and then starts the bloody rocky climb to Pologongka La. This 11 km to the top is damn nasty, pushed all the way up. 2 days of no food made it worse. It was already 5 pm when I reached the top. Found two guy drinking, continued, hurders camp, kids chased me on downhill. Then weather turned ugly, rained, crossed two dangerous water crossing, water was flowing like hell up my waist. wet pannier, wet cloths, dark, way to windy to handle the bike. Flaged down upcoming vehicle but he responded with a bad news, next town further 10 kms. He suggested to cross the watercrossing from middle of the road, smart guy.

My bike The X was in full mood today, rode it like running for my life and it obeyed me like a partner. I almost kissed it. At 8 pm a shop keeper offered a room for 300/- and warm food. Bargained for 200/- all. One hell of a ride today.
Its 16 kms to Manali-Leh highway! yay..
Kms covered – 79.23 km
Total expense – 550/-

Next day started as late as 11 am. Theres one short cut to the Manali – Leh highway but took a long one. Debring, 40 kms to Pang, Moore Plains, met one Irish cyclist solo and a guy from Banglore, both riding towards Leh. Weather turned ugly, strong headwind, some rain. Then Pang. A lady offered a bed for 100/- rs.
Kms covered – 60.66 km
Total expense – 615/-

Took a rest day at Pang, nothing much to do here. Borrowed some carosine from the owner lady and washed The X nicely.
Then met a family from Ahmedabad, they stayed at Manali for a day and rode straight here at Pang, complaining of headache. I advised to check with doctor and they did. Frightened whole family.

It rained and got a news of Tanglang La being closed.

Sumdho. Left goes to Karzok Tso Moriri.. I took right
Road is full of such stones and hard to ride uphill. Puched all the way up
At Pologongka La Top.. Those who say Cycling touring is easy; look at the face, its no sunshine all the time. I had no proper food for 3 days now… Previous day was just a plate of noodels, today not even water let alone food. Carrying just one bottle on such hills is a suicide mission. And I was in one.
It has started raining other side, I must hurry.
This man at Thugje, Tso Kar keeps oscilating between Leh and here. Entire family moves with him here for 4-5 months to help tourists like me to survive.
Good to see tared road after so many days of off-riding. Its gonna be smooth ride for rest of the day. Manali – Leh highway near Debring..
Moore Plains…
Weather turning bad.. Moore Plains.
Vastness has no limit
The X resting
Pang.
Now its time to rest and eat like hell. I really need to fill my stomach put some serious calories and other stuff.

North by Northeast ‘8 – Khardung Village To Tangtse via ChangLa’

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Khardung Village – Ganglas (upper Leh) – Zingral – Tangtse

Distance this period: 187.94 km Total Distance: 1881.35 km

Khardung – 0 km
Ganglas – 52.96 km
Zingral – 81.70 km
Tangtse – 53.28 km

Early morning; woke up without water or food, rode about 10 km to Khardung village for breakfast.

Then the nasty climb of that side up to the Top was killing. It was already 1 o’clock when I crossed North Pullu, continued, I could see sunny weather turning cloudy and 5 km short of the Top it started raining. I started pushing The X on slippery, watery, cold road.

And then a cabbie offered me a lift, couldn’t say no, looking at the furious weather. My plan was to camp just below the Top (~1 km), while coming down I saw one abandoned road workers camp but lift was there, they dropped me at South Pullu. Had some noodles there and rode towards Leh till I found a camp spot just before Leh town.
Kms covered – 52.96
Total expense – 215/-

The crystal clear milky chilled water.

 

Army convoy, a dream come true to salute the full convoy. Some smiled, some gave weired look.

 

Yes! thats the plan. all the way up to KhardungLa Top.
Leh again.

 

Leh again, but continued riding left on Manali road, met a cyclist from Israel. Little chat. Then late breakfast at Karu, packed emergency food. Straight road goes to TanglangLa, I took left turn. Made it to Sakti by noon. Junction; left goes to WariLa, some eating joints are there, had some food there and headed right to ChangLa. What a climb it is, killing gradient. Asked for shelter at Zingral army camp, denied. Then there was this guy called Shindhe, he pointed me to GREF campsite, other side of the road. Nice stay; got heater, some rum, chicken rice and lots of gyan. Zingral Camp
Kms covered – 81.70
Total expense – 250/-

At Sakti

 

The green Sakti.

 

The lonely climb to ChangLa

 

Pushing is normal here.

Had tea early morning there and left. It took 4 hrs to cover last 12 km of ChangLa top, road was pretty bad. At the top, tea was 30 rupees a cup, noodles 60 a plate, great.
But it’s THE TOP.

And WOW! Amazingly wow!! another TOP!!!
Maggie noodles was banned on lowlands but here, I paid 80 rs for this.

Downhill starts from the top, road are nice and tarred. Rained a bit, repeated same mistake of not breaking at the water crossing and fell off the bike. A puncture, left side of the break system broke, don’t know how will I survive with only rear breaking. It’s all down to Durbuk. Junction; left goes to Agham, I took right to Tangtse. A bad day.
Kms covered – 53.28
Total expense – 900/-

The road, other side of the pass.

 

The risky road, not so great for skinny tire like mine.
But vistas are great.

 

This is the curve I came screaming down and glitched the first bad patch but struck on second. got a bad hit, a distorted handlbar, broke front breaking system.