“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light,”
Allen Meshach aptly uses Dylan Thomas’ words to describe his Manali -Leh -Manali bike trip, which holds a special place in his heart.
Hailing from God’s own country – Kerala, R. Allen Meshach gets the “adventure genes” from his father who would go on long trips on Bullet. Having inherited the adrenaline from him, Allen was not going to hold back his passion to travel for professional commitments. The Gurugram-based thrill-seeker had made several bike trips to various parts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in southern India. However, it was always the mountains in the North which enchanted him, which made him take a trip to Ladakh through Thrillophilia.
After making successful overseas trip to Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Switzerland, Italy, France and Germany, he decided to conquer the highest mountains in the world, on bike, and zeroed in on the Land of High Passes, Ladakh.
He was realising his twin passions—biking and photography—on this solo trip to the majestic mountains, and boy was he excited to roar like never before!
Solo trips had been a great learning experience for Allen. The perks of meeting strangers and turning them into unforgettable friends made him eagerly look forward to his sojourn to Ladakh.
Ready, Steady, Dug-Dug-Dug!
Allen had his Royal Enfield beast with him, and he had longed to find himself a part of this setup. He, along with the fellow riders whom he met in Manali, set off on a 140-km journey to Jispa. Zigzagging on the most beautiful roads was now a reality he could not believe. The riders passed through impeccable surroundings and the popular Rohtang Pass. It was at the gorgeous Rohtang that Allen saw snow-clad mountains for the first time on his trip, and he right away knew that IT HAD BEGUN!
The road to Jispa was not easy owing to the rains and dangerous curves, but they managed to reach the place against all odds. Camping at Jispa was a memorable experience as the riders shared life experiences and got to know each other better, preparing themselves well for the 340-km ride the next day.
The riders woke up energised the next morning, roaring to conquer the long distance in the mountains to reach Leh. En route to Leh, they crossed several places of tourist attractions such as Darcha, Baralacha La and Lachung La. The bumpy ride at Gata Loops ensured that the riders were wide awake and embracing adventure on their off-road riding experience.
The bumps continued as the riders reached Pang, a small village which served Maggi, butter tea and some time for Allen to take a nap before resuming journey to Tanglang la, the third highest motorable road in the world! Sighting the good condition of the roads, the riders raced their machines up to a defeating 100 kmph, filling the skies with dug-dug sounds in unison.
Patriotism, Spirituality and Shopping in Leh
Leh had much more in store for Allen than he had imagined. It was a quaint yet big city, and the Tricolour fluttering under the limitless skies gave him a sense of patriotism. His chest filled with pride on realising that it’s “Nation First” for the Forces surviving in the toughest conditions, solely to protect their motherland.
They headed to the Patthar Sahib Gurudwara, where they breathed an air of spirituality and felt tranquil. After a satisfying meal, they drove through the popular Magnetic Hill. The evening had in store the most exciting part of the day: exploring the markets of Leh. The bustling markets lit up at the sight of the tourists, and the riders obliged by buying pashmina, dry fruits and souvenirs to carry back home.
Excited, they woke up the next morning to conquer the mighty Khardung La, a journey which turned difficult due to frequent rains and snowfall but tickled the adventurous bone of the riders. Reaching Khardung La was a top-of-the-world feeling for Allen, literally, as he recalls the unforgettable moments he spent there with fellow riders.
He did not want to let go of this feeling; however, the riders had to march to explore the astounding Himalayas inside out. Heading towards Nubra Valley, the riders passed by Khalsar, Diskit Monastery and Hunder. The cold, silent desert offered them a joyful ride on the double-humped camels before they reached Nubra to be enchanted by the white sand deserts of the land of high passes.
The night was cold and conversations never-ending, and both were satiated with some warming rum in the freezing-cold desert, making the camping a memorable experience.
Journey to the Picture-Perfectness Named Pangong
The night provided a much-needed rejuvenation as the riders geared up to head to the picturesque Pangong Tso. The stretch was every rider’s paradise as it had it all—serene surroundings, dangerous curves, dramatically changing weather and a bumpy ride to assure that the riders do not forget their expedition anytime soon.
Braving the difficulties was worth it, as the first sight of the majestic Pangong Lake took away all the weariness and revived their body and mind. For Allen, Pangong Tso was a fairy-tale destination that he was witnessing right in front of him! The changing hues of the lake against the backdrop of majestic mountains was a sight to behold.
The journey had a lot left to explore. After visiting the highlights of the trip, the riders passed through Chang La to reach Upshi village, where Allen explored the village life and fell in love with the place less human-interfered.
As Allen rode back on the Jispa-Manali route, moments spent on the trip flashed in front of his eyes. He was not ready to let go the ups and downs that made the journey memorable. Allen also made lifelong friends in the riding fraternity who rode along on this trip with him, making it an unparalleled experience.
As he signed off from the Land of High Passes, the idea that it was truly the Heaven on Earth only reaffirmed itself. With unmatchable memories from the Himalayas, the adventure junkie now aims to check Everest Base Camp Trek, Fuji Trek and activities like bungee jumping and deep-sea diving on his bucket list.