Tour de Ladakh [Day 5-Part 1] : Tanglang La

Two days. Two close calls. Still rolling. We expected this to be tough. We were prepared for almost everything. But Ladakh keeps on throwing you new challenges. Anyway, we weren’t complaining much. Otherwise what fun would be getting Leh’D if it was a cakewalk! Still, after two nights of staying in bone chilling cold tents, the sense of excitement of staying in tents had worn off a little. Secretly we all were longing for a cosy room with warm a bed and a proper bathroom. We were now a day behind schedule. And we were out of cell phone networks since the last three days. Our folks also must be getting worried back home. Leh isn’t far now. Just 140 kms from Debring. Shouldn’t take any more than 6-8 hours.  Yet again, this is going to be a two parts post just because of the sheer number of photographs we took today!

Right Outside our Tent. Funny how the map makes the Manali-Leh road seems so straightforward. It certainly does hide the tough 4 Day struggle with the Roads and Weather.

We woke of sort of early today. Yeah, 8 am is early for us. Robin and Neha were preparing to leave by the time we woke up. They were planning a little detour to Tso-Kar before hitting Leh. It was a shot in the dark for them as they didn’t have the permits, which are issued only in Leh. We didn’t have breakfast; or rather there was no scope for breakfast. Bade goodbyes to the caretaker of Dipling’s Tent and her kids and we started off in the dusty roads to Tanglang La.  

That’s Dipling’s Tent. After the tiny tent in Sarchu, this felt like a luxury suite.

BRO, The Border Roads Organization.

Not an easy task to construct roads in this terrain, at this weather with minimal logistical support.

Just play some good old school soft rock and ride away. Bliss!

JULEY!

Tanglang La is the highest point in the Manali-Leh route and is the world’s second highest motorable road. We were well weathered by all the four high mountain passes before and were ready for any challenges that Tanglang La might throw us. Technically we were still on the far end of the Morey Plains and the ascent to TL(Tanglang La) started within 5 kilometres. It was a long accent. Some 24 kilometres to TL-Top. The roads weren’t too tough; Or it were and we were too weathered by the roads we had encountered till now to appreciate the challenges. During the initial stages of the accent we came across  around a dozen road-construction-workers. It was pretty fun, when on seeing us all of them left their work and shouted ‘Juley’ gleefully with hands up in the air. ‘Juley’ is a form of greeting in the Ladhaki language. The energy was infectious and we ‘Juley’d back at them and moved on. Good start to the day so far. 

Surreal

The Accent to Tanglang La Begins.

THE ASCENT

A couple of kilometers down the road, the roads started throwing more challenges. Now there was ice and slush on the road. No there was no grip of the tyres on the road. We had to ride real slow for a few kms. Soon, we came across an abandoned Tata Sumo on the middle of the road. It didn’t look much old. We presumed it must have broken down here in the middle of nowhere and its occupant must have taken a lift from a passing truck. More often than not, if a vehicle breaks down in these roads, it is gone for good. There is no towing service for 100s of miles. There is no car mechanic till Leh. If it breaks down, you can do nothing more than abandon it forever. Moving ahead, we saw the ice walls starting to appear along the road. There was a good amount of snow but it wasn’t particularly cold. The sun was bright and the scenery beautiful. The brown mountains topped with snow on the peaks were in perfect contrast with the blue sky. 

Ice and Slush. Goodbye Grip!

Some BRO workers. Juley!

I almost dislocated my jaws by gawking at the amazing landscapes all around.

That unlucky Tata Sumo. Broken down and abandoned forever in the middle of nowhere.

These roads are more fun to ride on than they look.

Witnessing views like these almost made me a believer from an agnostic.

Rahul’s Ear-to-Ear smile blocked by the Balaclava!

ON THE WORLD’S 2nd HIGHEST MOTORABLE ROAD

In less than two hours we reached Tanglang La Top. As expected it was completely deserted. Rahul’s knee protectors had lot another bolt and he was repairing it and we were exploring the small temple on TL-Top. Moments later we heard the thumping sound of a bullet and the smooth Japanese sound of a FZ. Two riders arrived on TL-Top from the opposite side. It might sound funny, but moments like these are much revered while touring in Ladakh. The roads are so lonely that the moment anyone sees another human being, you become elated. Seeing another living being during the start of the touring season in Manali-Leh highway is rare. Very Rare. Anyway, they were as happy to see some fellow Homo-Sapiens and one of them introduced himself as Mukesh. After taking a few photographs, exchanging tips on the road conditions ahead and promising to add each other on Facebook it was goodbye time. We had planned to have Coffee at the World’s 2nd highest motorable pass, but that tea stall was no in ruins and abandoned and in ruins. Mildly disappointed we started our descent.

More slush and Ice Walls. Tanglang La Top mustn’t be far now.

Rahul and Sukesh with Mukesh and his friend on  Tanglang La Top.

Rahul trying to repair his Knee Protector while Sukesh sitting down admiring the beauty of the moment.

The Temple on Tanglang La Top.

Sadly probably the 2nd Highest Cafeteria in the world is in ruins.

THE DESCENT

During the descent, the ice walls were much larger and the valleys much more spectacular. Barring the first few kilometres, the roads were superb. Apart from a few rough patches, thankfully these great roads continued all the way till Leh. But due to the steep gorges and cliffs we didn’t risk much speed and relished the roads which were completely shadowed from the shun by Tanglang La. This leisurely drive would be soon broken hardly 15 kms later when we meet yet another couple of stranded bikers. More on that on the next post.

My Duke, all set for the Descent.

One for the Proof that i was there on TL Top. Been There Done That!

The Ice Walls were bigger and much gorgeous during the descent.

Views like these would cause more delays in your schedule than a dozen punctures.

The last of the Bad roads.

The excellent roads begin!

Change the playlist to Pop-Rock to enjoy these roads.

But be careful of sudden patches of bad roads though.

The Pulsar and The Duke, both to eager to rip through the black top!

Dreamy Asphalt!

TO BE CONTINUED…

7 thoughts on “Tour de Ladakh [Day 5-Part 1] : Tanglang La

  1. Pingback: Tour de Ladakh [Day 5:Part 2]: Getting Leh’D ! | Tour de Ladakh

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

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

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