Start Destination: Thane, Maharashtra 400601, India
End Destination: Leh 194101
Distance: 2,731 km
Bike: Royal Enfield , Thunderbird 350
Start Date: 05/17/2016
End Date: 07/21/2016
Thane-Surat-Udaipur-Ajmer-Jaipur-New Delhi- Chandigarh- Jalandhar- Srinagar- Kargil- Leh-Ladakh
We started planning for a bike trip and zeroed in on Ladakh. Apprehensive as we were, we talked to people who had already made the trip once, and started preparing. The initial plan was to fly to Chandigarh and start our journey from there, but who would want to miss the beauty we would encounter on the road? Deciding to take the road from Thane all the way to Ladakh, we set off at 3 a.m. on May 17. On our way, we were joined by another rider, Akshay D Jetla, who was on his way to Delhi. Since he was riding solo, he thought of tagging along with us till he reached his destination.
On the first day of our trip,we rode for 800 kilometres non-stop till we reached Udaipur. It was really tiring and we slept off the moment we hit bed. The next day we started early morning for Jaipur. On our way to Ambala, we found many roadside eateries. During our stop at Panipat, we met the Royal Riders of Panipat led by Mr Tajender Singh. At this point our bikes had started to give us some trouble, so we decided to get them serviced the moment we reached our hotel in Ambala. Unexpectedly, the people at Royal Enfield service centre in Ambala messed my bike up even more. I finally got the problem fixed at a local garage just outside of the border of Ambala. Surprised at the incompetency of the people in the showroom, I had good reason to generously thank the local mechanic who fixed my bike.
As soon as we reached the border of Jammu and Kashmir, we got a taste of what the roads ahead were going to be like. Cracks and rubble matting the surface made the terrain quite difficult to ride on. Chaotic as the roads were, we finally got some rest at Patnitop, where we decided to settle for the night.
We reached Jammu the next day and it was simply beautiful. We booked a lake house for ourselves in Srinagar and agreed to stay there for 2 days to explore the city. After our stay in Srinagar, we left for Leh-Ladakh at 4 in the morning. We were alternating between smooth and rough patches till we reached the Zozilla Pass. As we reached Leh, we checked into Oriental Hotel, which is right next to Shanti Stupa. We had plans to explore Nubra Valley and Pangong. The Nubra valley is breathtakingly beautiful. Driving between the sand dunes and river beds for about 30 kilometres was absolutely mind-blowing. Sadly, we could not explore Pangong due to a landslide.
Our tents were pitched between the mountains and right next to the river. We had our stock of food and drinks ready to be enjoyed around the bonfire. Some fellow campers also joined us and we had a great time together.
While returning back to Leh from Khardung La, we found the roads jam-packed with tourists. Eventually, we got back and went out to explore the market in Leh. German Bakery is where we got our grub and headed to The Lenchen Lounge for a round of drinks.
According to plans, we decided to take the flight and get our bikes transported back home on our return journey since there was a downpour and we were not sure if our bikes would be able to cope with the weather.
Ideal Time to Visit:
The ideal time to visit is from March to October.
We were a group of 5 bike lovers.
New tyres for our bikes, fuel cans fitted to the KTM390 Duke and a Ladakh I carrier attached to the Royal Enfield were some of the things we did, in preparation for the trip.
All we were using was the GPS on our phones to navigate our way around unknown ways.
Road and Traffic Conditions:
The road was smooth till we entered Jammu and Kashmir. After entering the state, the roads were very harsh and difficult to tread on.
Best and Worst Stretches:
The best stretch throughout the journey was the Zozilla Pass. The magnificent mountains and valleys are simple breathtaking.
As for the worst stretches? Roads on the border of Jammu and Kashmir are rough, broken at many places and not at all easy to ride on!
The weather was pleasant, but it rained on our return, which forced us to take the flight back home.
I believe that regular servicing is very important, especially if you are travelling. I had my bike looked over twice during the trip.
We stopped at Ambala for a regular servicing, but something went wrong. My bike started leaking oil and all my bike’s electricals were messed up. I couldn’t accelerate beyond 50 kilometres per hour. Finally, I stopped at a local garage after crossing Ambala and got the issue fixed.
While we were Srinagar, I was again disappointed at the Royal Enfield service centre. They said they didn’t have the spare part to fix my bike. I took it to a local mechanic who just changed the clutch plate gasket and my bike was as good as ever. The service centre in Ambala had put silicone over the gasket which was messing with the bike! These are problems one wants to avoid when on tedious, long routes.
The locals were very polite and helpful. We stopped at a number of locations to confirm directions and they never once directed us the wrong way.
Food Joints and Stopovers:
On the way to Ambala there are many eateries which offer great food.
We booked Oriental Hotel for our stay in Leh-Ladakh, and I’d be happy to recommend it as a good place to stay.