Sanket Mehta’s Travelogue of the Most Daring Bike Ride
“Everything I was, I carry with me. Everything I will be lays waiting on the road ahead.”
The bright blue colour of Facebook has never stopped troubling you every now and then when you see a traveler take a Royal Enfield 350 CC and ride across the daunting, high(est) passes spread across the rugged terrains of Ladakh. You have always wanted to do the same justice to your travel goals. You have just dreamt so far.
Welcome to Sanket’s reality of how he covered the challenging terrains of Ladakh, in a span of 11 Nights and 12 Days; and made it back more than alive.
The Royal Rider – Sanket Mehta
“Experience the world. You are not here just to make money,” said a wise, young man, one day after coming back from the mountains.
Meet the rider, Sanket Mehta, a software engineer based in Ahmedabad whose heart goes out to all the activities that involve wheels – viz. driving cars, riding bikes, and some, which don’t – treading feet on the mountains.
When we asked him as to why he chose biking tour in Ladakh, he was quick to say, “It’s the only place in India where I can get the thrill to drive a motorcycle in mountains.”
Kick-Starting the Bike – Planning Leh-Ladakh on Bike
Lucky are those who know that India has the highest motorable road in the world. Luckier are those who have ridden their bikes on those rugged roads. Planning a dream trip like this is never easy. It burns a big hole in your pocket, leaves are not easily approved and if you run a business, it suffers in your absence. But hey, there’s a saying which goes like: “Travel is the only thing which makes your richer.” So, why not?
Sanket started with the basic idea of researching about Ladakhi terrains, and how feasible was it to go for a bike ride in the month of July, what all were the booking platforms which he could consider, and the list goes on. Naturally, every vacation we take brings out the curious kid in us right from the stage of planning.
Sanket’s curious-kid mode was on!
After having gone through a couple of websites, read reviews and done his basic homework, he dropped in an inquiry with Thrillophilia. Within no time, emails and calls were being exchanged and seats were booked for Sanket and his friends for this once-upon-a-bike journey. Sanket mentioned in his post-trip talks with us, “The trip was amazing,” and we are glad he trusted us to plan it for him.
At the start of the bike trip, in Manali
At the end of the bike trip, in Leh
The Other Riders
All great journeys in life are characterized by a single man walking.
All great vacations are marked with a bunch of friends, not letting you walk alone. This is not out of a Bollywood or Hollywood flick; it’s out of sheer reality of what travellers tell us all the time.
Sanket’s journey was incomplete without the other riders. He describes them as a “bunch of amazing, helpful and jovial-natured folks”. Truly said, up above so high, in the amber flavoured mountains meet the azure coloured skies, your only friends are the bunch of folks that are travelling with you. Ladakh is known for being notoriously silent when it comes to the expanse of roads a traveller covers whilst on his way from Leh to Nubra, or Leh to Pangong! Here’s where it’s important to stick with your buddies while riding, and enjoying the changing terrains.
Of course, we are going to skip about the crazy-mojo fun these travellers had together. Let that one be suspense for you to find out when you decide to go.
A Royal Enfield 350 CC, Sanket and the High Passes of Ladakh – The Journey
When you leave a human being and a power machine such as Enfield 350 CC on the Ladakhi terrains on a journey of 11 Nights and 12 Days, magic happens. And that magic is known as adventure.
Sanket, 350 CC Royal Enfield and the Ladakhi Mountains
Sanket’s adventurous journey began on the night of 23rd July, 2017 when he boarded the semi-sleeper bus from Delhi to Manali. As the morning sun brewed, Sanket was far away from his hometown, and had comfortably been placed in the laps of Himachal Pradesh (picture below). In our post-trip feedback conversation with Sanket, we asked him to describe his journey, and all he had to say was, “I have never experienced this much adventure in life. I am not sure if I can explain the experience I had during that trip in words.”
Nevertheless, the story which needs to be told simply needs to be told.
The view from Manali
Bulleting through Rohtang Pass, Boarding at Leh
Day 3 of the journey marks the point when the group started off from Manali to the campsite at Jispa, This followed by another night of camping at Sarchu. In the next few days, the group noticed the Ladakhi terrains changing their clothes every few tens of kilometres. One cannot help but just slide in, soak themselves in the enchanting beauty of Jispa; and through Darcha, Baralacha and Zing Zing Bar, to reach Sarchu, and then through Nakeela River, Lachung La and Gata Loops unto Leh
The Bikers reach Rohtang Pass
While on the way to Leh, Sanket and his friend were mesmerized with the changing landscape. It seemed like God had simply kept this place as a mystery box for travellers to solve; a puzzle which mesmerized every travelling soul – Enfield-tramps, foot-tramps and rubber-tramps, all of them!
520 km and 24 hours later, on Day 5, they entered Leh as the night was turning young. After a quick briefing, they comfortably nestled inside the warm hotel rooms in Leh. It was time to call it a day, Sanket happily recalls.
The Ride to Nubra, Pangong, Upshi and back home to Manali
If you’re in Ladakh and have a bike, not going to Nubra and Pangong doesn’t make sense!
After a day of local sightseeing in Ladakh and having seen the famous Sham Valley, Hall of Fame, Gurudwara Patthar Sahib and Sangam, it was time for Nubra on Day 7. Sanket recalls crossing Khardung La as the best point of the entire bike trip. We guess, it is the dream of every biker to ride a two-wheeler at the highest motorable road in the world. After camping for a night in the white sands of Nubra, the group headed on to the blue-as-sky Pangong Tso Lake, which connects India and China through its water.
Click here: Camps at Pangong Lake
The group reached Khardongla Pass
The ever-changing landscape of Ladakh
Their return journey began and they crossed Upshi and finally reached Manali. Well, now was the time to hand over the bikes, pack their bags and bid adieu to the roads. The trip was over, and it was time to get back to the monotony of life.
“Until the next time,” said Sanket to Ladakh.
Are you the next Royal Rider? – Check out these pointers by Sanket!
Sanket was graceful enough to pat us on the back and to give certain suggestions to us, which we are already working upon. Nevertheless, he was kind enough to mention a few pointers to all those riders who have Ladakh on their minds. Here you go.
- It’s a bumpy ride. Do not expect smooth roads for most of the journey.
- Do not compromise on utility tools, at all.
- Do not exercise on the high roads, it will drain your energy unnecessarily.
- Overtaking is not required. Enjoy the journey at your own pace, and feel the mountains.
- Never try to be a hero. It’s all about helping yourself first, and then others.