A clichéd IT job does not necessarily house a non-adventurous geek. Abdul Salam KA, a coder by profession, is a person who thrives on traveling and calls it his passion. Road trips are his go-to way of traveling as it brings him the closest to the local land, nature, and people.
With a lot of road trips under his belt across this beautiful country, this next travel to Manali-Leh- Srinagar proved to be a major success. It was his and his friends’ dream to do a road trip to Kashmir, the heaven on earth as many would proclaim. The excitement of riding through the beautiful valleys and passes of Kashmir was enough for him and his friends to choose this trip.
The other adventures trip that he had done and remembers as another epic adventure trail was the Roopkund trek. Salam loves to make solo trips as well as trips with friends who share a similar travel vibe and are conscientious about nature preservation.
Friends & Lifetime Memories on the tour-
Abdul Salam travelled with 6 of his friends from Kochi and on the way met up with a few more travel mates on the tour. With a common interest in travel and a love for adventure, these people bonded and made the trip even more memorable.
When asked to describe his fellow travel mates, Abdul provided one-word description synonymous with their personality.
For him, Sidharth was the ‘leader’, Jeffrey the ‘childish’ one, Mike and Khushboo the ‘calm and composed’ ones, then there were the ‘Selfie guys’ named Adish, Leena, Divyangana and Sushanth, Jithu was the ‘crazy’ one, Akhil the ‘speedster’, Vineeth the ‘photographer’, and the ‘backup gang’ was comprised of Subheesh, Adil, Mahesh, and Salam. This tells you the easy comradery that strangers form on a journey to the same destination.
The epic journey- Manali-Leh-Srinagar
Abdul Salam and his 6 friends took this trip in September and enjoyed the journey in the lovely winter cold. They all travelled to Delhi from Kochi and from there they were booked on a comfortable Volvo bus for an overnight trip to Manali. Abdul remembers the trip like it was done yesterday and in avid detail. Here is his version of those fantastic 10-12 days-
“After reaching Manali in the morning we soaked in the atmosphere after freshening up and eating our fill. Met our fellow travellers and got our awesome bikes. Seven of us were sharing 5 bikes between us and much to our surprise got an upgrade on the package given to us. Got 3 classic 350s and 2 standard 500 cc bikes. We took our bikes for a test run within Manali and for us the journey started once we left Manali on our bikes the next day with tanks full of fuel and a thirst to explore.
Click Here: Leh Ladakh Tour packages
The roads in Himachal are surrounded by lush green and are well maintained. We crossed Rohtang Pass and stopped to have lunch at Sher-e-Punjab dhaba which was mouthwatering and a well-deserved break. We reached our campsite by the beautiful riverside at Jispa by evening and relaxed after the long ride on day one. This was the best campsite of the whole trip.
Next day we rode to Sarchu Campsite, which we covered by afternoon itself. We enjoyed the two beautiful ‘clear water’ lakes- Deepak Taal and Suraj Taal and the Baralacha la pass was an amazing experience. We relaxed at the campsite and played cricket near the beautiful canyon. Our highest altitude game of cricket so far. Later we just enjoyed the peace and calm surrounding the canyon and enjoyed that in silence for a long time.
The next day we rode on to cross the Himachal Jammu border passing through 3 of the highest altitude passes to descend onwards to Leh. We also crossed the second highest motorable pass known as the Tanglang La. Surrounded by high ranges of the Himalayan, we kept riding on the never-ending plain regions of the Pang covering almost 250 kms, the longest distance covered in a day during the trip. We finally saw habitation and the busy town of Leh and stayed at a hotel overnight.
The next day with J&K registered bikes we made our onward journey towards Nubra Valley. Enroute we stopped at the mighty Khardung La, the highest motorable road in the world and what a beauty the sight was to behold. From Leh, our journey got steeper and steeper. We took breaks to play with the snow and chat up with the brave army soldiers at our border and took lots of pictures. We salute all our real Superheroes of our country who ensure our safety while experiencing the harshest of climatic conditions. With spirits in our hearts we then headed to Nubra, which was a contrasting terrain with desert and sand dunes on the way. We saw a lot of double humped Llamas too and walked on the sand dunes.
We started towards our camps at Pangong Lake and most of our ride was on by lanes and off the beaten paths. The moment we reached Pangong, we were struck by the sheer blue crystal clear water and was so much better than in the pictures. We walked along the shore of the Lake and I sat in solitude soaking all this beauty in. I was awestruck by the magnitude of our Mother Nature. In the night we all got together in the Kitchen tent and ate and sang until late into the beautiful star-studded night.
We made our way back to Leh from the off-roads again and covered a really long stretch and stopped in between at Thiksey Monastery which was closed for renovations. In Leh, a few of us walked to a close by market at night for window shopping.
This was our rest day and we engaged in our own activities at Leh based on our individual interest. We rested and shopped a little.
On our way back we rode on the beautiful NH1 moving towards West and enjoyed our smooth ride on the highway. Enroute we visited Lamayuru Monastery, one of the oldest in Ladakh region. We reached our last campsite at Mulbek by evening and were dulled by the realization that our journey was almost over. But, what a beautiful journey it was!
This was our last on-road journey on bikes continuing on NH1 where we stopped to visit the Kargil War Memorial at Dras, the second coldest inhabited place in the world. This was an unexplainable experience. You are overwhelmed with feeling of pride and awe at the sacrifice of so many Indian soldiers. Seeing the Veerbhoomi, standing in front of the Tiger Hill, the pictures during the war and the letters of soldiers and their families was heartbreaking and a matter of deep pride at the same moment.
You get a briefing of the whole war by a soldier and it makes you so emotional picturing what it would have been like. In silence, we continued our journey towards Srinagar. Here, we crossed Zojila Pass, a must for adventure lovers. Riding through the Zojila was an adrenaline rush for us all, with deep cliff on one side and muddy roads to try our confidence levels. We reached Kashmir region after Zojila and were left in wonderment at the beautiful place that is Kashmir, truly a heaven on Earth.
We stopped at Sonamarg for lunch and had the best mutton biryani. Although a short break Sonamarg really had a lot to offer and needs yet another trip to cover every inch of it. As we trudged along towards Srinagar, the roads were getting narrower and the traffic started increasing, which the herds of sheep didn’t help with either.
We finally reached our hotel after sunset and suddenly all went sad with gloom at the end of the journey. The ride, camping, incidents enroute was all we could think about in the last 2 weeks. The thought of leaving the paradise on Earth behind was very saddening. But, we would like to thank Thrillophilia for an excellent organizing, planning, Leh and execution of the entire trip.
The only input I would like to give is that we wish we could have stopped at the Indus-Zanskar Sangam.
Abdul Salam’s high point of the journey-
Salam describes the entire journey as an all-time high, and says
“I loved the different terrain during our trip, so far removed from the busy city world. The lush green of the Himachal, the sand dunes of the Nubra Valley, the blue crystal clear waters of the Pangong Lake, the breathtaking ZojiLa, the beautiful Kashmir with its many passes, by lanes and greenery surrounding us was how I would describe Paradise.”
Salam’s list of what you should know before starting on this trip-
According to Abdul Salam, keeping low expectations always sets the right tone during the travels. He says travel light especially on a road trip and keep in mind these few things-
- Be aware and prepared in case you suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness. Carry some medicines and take it easy and breathe.
- Also be prepared for a change in the weather at any time during the ride.
Most memorable moment of the trip-
Salam narrates an embarrassing moment, where he says- “At Thiksey Monastery, we all walked through the temples even though it was closed for renovation and being calm and peaceful we decided to rest there a little and fell asleep after the heavy meal. Some of the crew members came searching for us since we had to make an onward journey. We all felt so sheepish at the inconvenience to others.”
When asked if he would recommend this trip to others, without hesitance he said,
“Ofcourse one hundred percent. I was mostly awestruck at the difference in terrain at such close quarters and am waiting to get back to the Valley again so as to discover the rest of the places like Sonamarg.”
Some unforgettable moments for Abdul Salam-
Abdul Salam was most nostalgic about the calmness and serenity of the place. He Said, “At Sarchu campsite I sat alongside one of my friends at the canyon in absolute silence without having the need to say a word. That’s how powerful the beauty is of that place.”
Some unforgettable trips for Abdul Salam and his must to do list-
For Salam the trek to Roopkund and the mystery lake is one of the best travelled places. When asked about his bucket list, he says, “I have a long list with North East on the top followed by Nepal, Norway, Bhutan, Rupin Pass trek, Valley of flowers trek, and ride to Tawang etc.”
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
This best describes our ambassador traveller who likes to seize moments in time to make them into memory.