We have been to Ladakh twice – once to see what Ladakh actually is. Why did travellers so like the place? That was way back in 2013. We went, saw and were stunned. Ladakh conquered us! The next time it was in January 2014 to do the Chadar Frozen River Trek. Since then we had this dormant itch to do a Leh-Ladakh bike trip. It is definitely on our bucket list! So when our dear friend Sujay informed us that he had done a solo bike trip from Kolkata to Ladakh, we were elated. We wanted to know about his journey and experience.
We asked Sujay all that was in our mind and here we are, sharing Sujay’s story of his bike trip from Kolkata to Ladakh and back (of course!).
Q1. What made you go for this epic Ladakh Bike trip?
A: Whenever I hear the word Ladakh, only two things come to my mind. The unending beautiful landscape surrounded by the rustic hills and my bike roaring on the pitch black roads towards eternity. I think it is the dream of every biker to traverse the rugged terrains of Ladakh once in their lifetime, to cross the highest motorable pass at around 18000 ft is the adrenaline rush all the bikers want to feel.
Q2: Tell us about your journey.
A: I started from Jadavpur, Kolkata on September 24, 2017 on my Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350. I had packed every possible thing I could think of. I started at 2 AM in the morning as I wanted to cover as much distance as possible. My plan was to reach Kanpur on the first day. But my bike got a major breakdown at Aurangabad in Bihar and I lost 2 precious days. On Day 7, I started from Sonmarg towards the journey of my lifetime.
I crossed the treacherous Zojila Pass towards Kargil. I had wanted to see the Kargil War Memorial, but the roads were closed, as it was Muharram on that day. I took a bypass and reached Leh at 6 PM in the evening.
The next day, I roamed around Leh city taking in the beauty as much as I could. I got the required permits and visited the Shanti Stupa in the evening. The next day was crucial for me, as I was preparing to cross the Khardungla Pass, the highest motorable road in the world. I reached Khardungla at about 9:45 AM, spent some time there and then started my journey towards the Nubra Valley. Nubra Valley is a beauty in itself. I quite enjoyed riding my Enfield on the almost empty roads with the cold desert on either side. At Nubra, I visited the Distik Monastery and enjoyed some time at the sand dunes.
The next day, I started towards Pangong Lake through the Shyok Valley route. This route is one of the most beautiful routes of Ladakh. I would like to say here, that most of the tourists and bikers avoid this route. They are misinformed that this route is dangerous and has no shops on the way. But what I experienced is quite the contrary. I reached Spagmik at around 2 PM and cozied up in my tent. I could see the blue waters of the Pangong Lake through my tent. It was indeed a surreal experience to stay near the Pangong Lake and see its changing colours.
It was freezing at the night. I had wanted to take star trails, but the moon shone brightly thwarting my efforts. The cold too played a part in it!
That was almost the end of my Ladakh trip. Now was the time to return home safely. I started from Pangong the next day, reached Pang, then Pang to Manali and finally, after travelling through Noida and Allahabad, I was back at Kolkata on October 8, 2017.
Q3: How was your experience at the Ladakh bike trip?
A: It was the experience of a lifetime. Ladakh is indeed a beautiful place with all the mountains and valleys. My night at Pangong Lake was quite a memorable one. May be more so because I was leaving the next day. Added to the beauty of the place, was the thrill of riding the bike at such difficult terrains. I felt as if I conquered the world!
Q4: Did you face any problems on the road?
A: There were no problems as such. Only my bike broke down on the 1st day at Aurangabad in Bihar. I lost 2 days there. And when I reached Kargil, the roads were closed, as it was Muharram that day. I had to take a bye pass.
Nevertheless, the journey was quite successful without much difficulty. The people were friendly and helpful. And getting the permits at Ladakh was no hassle. You don’t have to go to any agencies.
Q5: Any suggestions or tips?
A: The road before you is endless. Just put your helmet on and take the ride of your lifetime. I am sure you will not regret it.
Get your bike serviced properly. Carry your preferred bike oil as you might not get it in Leh as they have limited stocks. Also keep your documents and papers in order. Plan the number of days you want to travel and the route map beforehand. Take proper clothes and biking gears with you.
Spend a day at Pangong Lake. It is worth all the travel. You may also take the road from Nubra Valley to Pangong via Shyok. The roads are quite good.
Know the adventure junkie:
Sujay is from Kolkata working as Asst. Professor of Mathematics in a Kolkata college. He is extremely fond of his bike and loves to travel various places in his bike.
Follow his Youtube Videos at Sujay8202.
Here is Sujay’s day wise itinerary for the Ladak Bike trip:
Day 1: Started from Kolkata. Reached Aurangabad, Bihar where the bike broke down.
Day 2: At Aurangabad, waiting for the bike to get fixed.
Day 3: Aurangabad – Agra
Day 4: Agra – Chandigarh
Day 5: Chandigarh – Patni Top
Day 6: Patni Top – Sonmarg
Day 7: Sonmarg – Kargil – Leh
Day 8: Leh
Day 9: Leh – Khardungla Pass – Nubra Valley
Day 10: Nubra Valley – Shyok – Pangong Lake
Day 11: Pangong Lake – Pang
Day 12: Pang – Manali
Day 13: Manali – Noida
Day 14: Noida – Allahabad
Day 15: Allahabad – Kolkata
Did you enjoy Sujay’s journey? Tell us your views in the comments below and share your experience.