Tour de Ladakh [Day 3 – Part 1] : The quest of Baralacha La

Day 3 unanimously is amongst the favourite legs of the trip for all three of us. So much beauty, So much Adventure, So much exciting things happening within a span of just 24 hours! It demands to be split into a two part post rather than the usual. And yeah, about the éclairs; Every single day, it melts to its gooey state during the day time due to the heat and by night it condenses back to is solid form. A lot of people think that, it’s always freezing cold in the Himalayas. But the truth is far from it. When it comes to Ladakh, the number of weather variations one gets to see in just a span of hours and dozen of kilometres is surprisingly high. One moment you would be dying to get out of your warm clothes and a few KMs later you would be freezing to death. This is mainly due to the variations in altitude and of course the sun is even more unbearable at higher altitudes. As the popular saying goes, Ladakh is the only place on The Earth where you can get a Frostbite and a Sunstroke at the same time!

 
Cadbury’s Eclairs! Melts in the day, Freezes in the Night!
The Morning view from the Llama Dhaba. You   an see the broken bridge and the stranded traffic on the bottom left corner of the photo.

IGNITION. THROTTLE. VROOM!

We were still running behind schedule and were determined to make up for the lost time today. So, we woke up kind of early at 9 am and the morning view outside the porch was exhilarating! And we saw a small line of trucks stranded on the other side of the bridge which we crossed last night to reach Khoksar. It seemed to have collapsed during the night. Phew! Close call. Anyway we had planned to ride 165 KMs to a camp called Sarchu so as to get back on schedule. We had a quick breakfast. Packing unsurprisingly is the most boring and the time consuming task of all. Have got to admit, the quality of rooms, food, amenities in Llama Dhaba had improved by leaps and bounds since the last couple of years. Ignition. Throttle. Vroom!

 
Khoksar is one of the corner most villages of Himalchal Pradesh. Beyond that, barring a few other villages, no civilization exists.
This unassuming stream is on a Break-Breaking Mayhem!
Life Goal Updated: Retire at 40. Settle down at Khoksar!

OF BROKEN BRIDGES.

Barely a couple of KMs down the road and there was yet another bridge with broken plans. Darn. We had to wait for around thirty minutes until the bridge was repaired and we set off. Shortly afterwards we came across the ‘Dangerous Water Crossing’ (Yes, due to yet another broken bridge), we were warned about the earlier night. Well, It didn’t seem much dangerous now in the day time and we crossed it with ease while Sukesh took a lift from a four wheeler to avoid getting his shoes wet. Cakewalk.

 
One end of the Rohtang Tunnel. The Rohtang tunnel which is scheduled to be completed in a couple of years will largely eliminate a hours long ascend to Rohtang Pass and make it a minutes long affair. Sure would make logistical sense but is a tragedy for Touring Enthusiasts for whom Crossing Rohtang Pass is an essential part of Getting Leh’D.
Finally a bridge, that’s not broken!
Mesmerizing! Jealous of the person who owns that hose on the hill.
Sukesh feeling like a badass after tuning up Rahul’s Pulsar!
Insert Appropriate Caption here to describe the awesomeness of those jagged peaks. I’m out of words.
One of the last places where we got to see grenery before the landscape turned to all Ice and Rocks.
The Main reason why we are always behind schedule is that we spend hours and hours admiring the beauty of the surroundings instead of riding!
Cheesy Pose Time!
Cheesy Pose Time For Moi Too!

VALVE PIN WOES.

The roads after Sissu were good. Rahul’s Pulsar’s rear tire was constantly losing pressure. On reaching Keylong we went to the lone mechanic and ‘got it fixed’. Little did we know that one Valve Pin is going to create havoc in the coming days. Shortly afterwards a loose stone hit my gear shift lever and damaged it. Now it wouldn’t shift beyond the first gear. Disaster! But somehow, I managed to fix it myself. More mechanical issues came when Rahul’s knee guards lost a couple of screws and rendered useless. Again we did some jugaad to fix it ourselves.

Approaching the Last village Keylong.
Rahul at the ‘Pulsar Clinic’ !

It was lunchtime already and we stopped at this nice looking ‘Mentokling Restaurant’. They had a detailed menu, catering to almost every kind of nationalities! We ordered a North Indian heavy assortment. While waiting for our order to come, another group of road-trippers entered the restaurant. They were a group of eight with one Innova and two Motorcycles. Mutually curious we exchanged itineraries, plans, route maps and tips. Strangely they were all planning to do a cannonball run to Leh by the end of the day. For the uninitiated, The Manali-Leh road is one of the toughest roads in the world and takes three days to cover! So either they were super pros or were self proclaimed know-it-alls. We had our lunch and bade Goodbyes and Godspeed to the ‘Pro-Team’.

 
Not Bad!
Jugaad repair for Rahul’s knee hguard.
The view from the vindow of Hotel Mentokling
The neat interiors of Mentokling Restaurant.
Bid Adieu and Godspeed to the ‘Pro Team’!

According to the maps there was supposed to be an ATM in Gemur. Let alone an ATM, we never found the village Gemur itself.  Though on the way we passed Jispa, which was supposed to be our overnight destination from the previous night. The next stop was Tandi. The special thing about Tandi is that, it is the last petrol pump on the Manali-Leh road before Leh. If anyone misses this, then there is a stretch of 360 kilometres without anymore refuelling stations. And neither of our bikes could handle that. We had brought five 2.5L bottles with us. Tanked up in both the machines and filled up the backup bottles too we continued our ride.

 

FOOTPEG SCRAPING!

I know, I have said this before, but the roads after Tandi were absolutely heavenly! Freshly laid asphalt, the curvy blacktop was insanely seductive! Sukesh was riding pillion with Rahul. And this gave me the chance to test my Duke to its limits. Equipped with a now weathered Ceat Vertigo rear tire, my orange monster gave me the maximum control to do those twisties at breakneck speeds. Topped 100 quite a few times and managed to scrape the foot pegs during crazy turns. Hands down , it was the craziest one hour I have had behind the handle. Best riding experience ever. The roads were superb upto Zingzing Bar. It was sort of a base camp before starting the ascend to Baralacha La, The second high mountain pass on the Manali-Leh highway.

 
KTM: Ready To Race!
An overloaded Pulsar 150 with Rahul and Sukesh!
Duke Poses!
Duke Poses some More! On the way to Tandi.
Yes, These are the roads. The so called Roads.
The color of the mountains keep on changing as we went ahead.
Shows of clouds on Mountains!

We did encounter a couple of water crossings on the way to Tandi. The first one was kinda tough as the flow of the water was pretty strong. and the second one was relatively milder but colder as result of being direct glacial melts. Either way, getting our boots wet was inevitable dur to the knww dep water levels in both the water crossings. Soon, we stumbled across this beautiful blue-green lake. The lake was called Suraj Tal and it is said that it never freezes no matter how cold it gets (I don’t buy that though).  Shortly we hit the good roads and crossed a slick army camp. Wherever the’s an army camp, there are awesome roads!

Rahul Pant before the first water crossing!
Rahul Pant attempting the Second Water Crossing.
That’s the amazing Suraj Tal Lake.
Slick 100 kmph+ roads!
More water crossing. This one was huge and long. Still waiting for Rahul to come by!
Zingzing Bar finally!
Twisties!
All poised for Baralacha La!
Imagine doing these twisties at 80 kmph with foot-pegs and knee-guards scraping the asphalt. Been there, done that!
Grabbing a Quick Bite at Zing Zing Bar.

We had a small snack at Zingzing Bar and were really excited about conquering Baralacha La next, the mountain pass which makes even Rohtang La look like a pussycat. Little did we know that, Baralacha had kept quite a few surprises up on its sleeves for us… (To be Continued…)

 

5 thoughts on “Tour de Ladakh [Day 3 – Part 1] : The quest of Baralacha La

  1. Pingback: Tour de Ladakh : Prologue | Tour de Ladakh

  2. Pingback: Tour de Ladakh [Day 1] : A Sunny Start ! | Tour de Ladakh

  3. Pingback: Tour de Ladakh [Day 3 - Part 2] : Breathless at Baralacha La | Tour de Ladakh

  4. Pingback: Tour de Ladakh [Day 6]: A Lazy Day at Leh | Tour de Ladakh

  5. Pingback: Tour de Ladakh [Day 7]: The Mighty Chang La | Tour de Ladakh

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