Monster & Warrior got Leh’d | Episode 06: Riding on the Shyok riverbed en-route to Pangong Lake and the extreme dirt trail to Tso Moriri


Hope you have read the previous episode, in case you haven’t, Click here to read episode 05

This episode takes our journey through the Shyok River route to Pangong Lake and taking the road less traveled via Man & Merak villages and to the beautiful Tso Moriri.

Day 08: July 06, 2018 (Friday)

Nubra to Pangong Lake: Approx. 200+ Km

We woke up at around 8 am as if it was a lazy Sunday.  We hadn’t taken off our luggage from our bikes the previous day, we walked out of our tents to witness a bright sunny day with clear skies.  Our tents were the last accommodation towards the sand dunes.  We hadn’t taken a shower since the last 2 days and the first time in this trip that we said no to hot water.  A quick cold water shower and nothing much to be packed, we were all geared up.  Sandwiches were served for the breakfast and we were set to hit the roads.

We asked the hotel owner; “Bhai, can we ride till Siachen Base?  The hotel owner replied; “No, civilians aren’t allowed to ride there.  You need to be accompanied by personnel from the Armed Forces and needs special permission to visit there”

We skipped our visit to Turtuk & Thang village, which was not a good decision to do so, and regretted it later.  Reaching Nubra; we still couldn’t visit the last Northernmost Village of India.

In case, any of my readers planning for Leh Ladakh circuit, ensure you spend 2 days in the valley so you can visit Turtuk and return back to Hunder.

We bid farewell to the hotel owner and as we were about to enter the main road, Atish bhai said his bike’s rear brake has a failure.  A local shopkeeper there said; “Bhai aapko Diskit mei garage milega” (Bhai, You can find a garage in Diskit town) which was around 15 km from here.

With the tent owner at Hunder – Nubra Valley


We stopped to refuel at the only petrol pump at Diskit and luckily it was operational.  The petrol pump had the traditional rollover numerical meter that displayed the fuel dispensed.  A full tank to our machines and we reached the main market or the town center.

Atish Bhai wanted a DOT 3 or DOT4 grade oil for his bike’s rear disc brake.  There was an oil lubricant shop nearby.  As Atish Bhai was picking up a can of lube for his ride, I was astonished to see oil leakage around my Warrior’s engine.  I didn’t want to risk the seizure of the engine in the middle of nowhere; hence decided to pick up a can of engine oil, in case I needed a top-up.

The petrol pump at Diskit



We soon reached the garage which was owned by a mechanic named Sonu Singh.  The shutters of the garage were half open and his number was written on the outside walls of the garage.

BSNL was the only network that was working there, I dialed Sonu bhai,  he said; he had been somewhere to repair few customer’s bikes and said he would return in an hour.  It was 10:30 am and we just rested at the verandah of a building there.  Sonu bhai took almost 2 hours to reach back at the garage, and as soon he was back he quickly started fixing our bikes.

Atish Bhai’s bike had a rear disc issue, the complete system had to be bled and get all the air bubbles out. This needs to be done very methodically else it will result in a soggy brake and sometimes the lever just plummets till the throttle, this is risky especially in the conditions we are riding in.

Sonu Bhai said; it would easily take an hour to do so. Phani and I quickly carpeted our blue tarpaulin inside the garage and slept for a while. Time for a powernap!!

Taking a power nap at a garage in Diskit


Sonu Bhai fixing my Warrior’s carburetor jet


As soon Atish Bhai’s bike was fixed, I told Sonu Bhai about the power lag issues I faced on my Warrior.  I explained about the jugaad the mechanic in Leh did on my bike and how it had gone even worse after that jugaad.

Sonu Bhai had a spare 115mm main jet that he replaced in the Carburettor, the stock one was a 135mm jet.  He quickly fixed my bike too.

Once our machines were ready, we saddled up all the luggage on our respective bikes and walked to the nearby grocery store to buy some chocolates and biscuits.  We met 2 people from the Air Force who were also buying a few things at the shop there too, and we enquired about riding to Siachen Base Camp, and both the personnel said; you can’t ride there.

It was already past 2.00 pm when we started from here.  Post the repair from Sonu Bhai, my Warrior was smooth and could climb any incline that came our way.

We came to a clearing where we could see the dry river bed of Shyok River, this was our next challenge – Riding on this very river bed!

This river was also known as the River of Death, because, in the past, this river had swept away many people and animals, this is not for the weak of heart and many travelers don’t opt to ride in this deadly stream. I don’t blame them! This was no joke!

There are a few videos of bikers trying to brave the Shyok river crossings; we excitedly waited for such sought of adventures.  We soon deviated and entered the river bed and reached a small stream crossing; probably the first one in this journey of Ladakh Circuit.  But, to our surprise, the water levels were drastically low, the river was dry as draught.

As we quickly crossed this small stream and continued ahead.  There were tarmac roads and small bridges which were constructed by BRO.  These were constructed to reduce the accidental risks of driving or riding here.

At a small bridge before entering Shyok river bed
Somewhere in the middle of Shyok River route


We had hit the roads with anticipation we would find dhaba or hotels en-route where we could stop for lunch, there were no hopes of finding any hotels or dhabas for another 100+ km.

It was around 5 pm in the evening where we stopped under a mountain’s shadow for a pit stop. We sat on a rock from where we could see the dry Shyok River.  We were astonished and with a question, did we take the real Shyok Route which we had seen on the internet.  Are we on the correct route to Pangong Lake?

We discussed; after the pit-stop let’s just keep following the road to where it takes!

We were starving, we were only surviving on the sandwiches we had for breakfast.  Thanks to the Parle G biscuits and a few chocolate bars which we bought at the shop in Diskit.  These biscuits and chocolates gave some relief to our growling tummies.


The dry Shyok River bed behind our bikes




The ride continued in the deserted terrain, riding the brisk single lanes & no roads, over stones and loose gravel.  We came across yet another water stream, an easy one again.  Atish Bhai went ahead, followed by Phani.  I saw a local trying to cross the stream at the same time as Phani. Since there wasn’t enough space for both; Phani stopped midway in the stream, he lost balance, slipped on the stones and fell.

I quickly parked my bike, walked towards Phani and lifted him and his bike with the support of the locals.  It was cloudy and we didn’t want to get stuck in the rain here and continued the ride until we reached a small town which had many hotels.  We stopped over for lunch where we had Maggie, off-course and some Momos along.  It was around 6.15pm and it was broad daylight.

From here, Pangong; was another 20 or 30 km.  We reached Lukung village at around 7.30 pm saw a signboard “Himank Welcomes You to Pangong Lake”

Finally, we were near our destination for the day and it was almost dusk.  We missed the customary picture of the board that read the distance in kilometers to places; Lasha, Hong Kong, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Shanghai, Taipei, and Tokyo.

We missed a picture here, we don’t know how we missed it and reached the place where a lot of tents were pitched on the banks of the Pangong Lake and booked a tent named; “3 Idiots Tent Stay”

Yet again, we didn’t pay heed to unsaddle our bags from our bikes.  Picking up only a few essentials, and walked into the tent and asked the hotelier to get some hot Thukpa, Aloo Paratha and Maggie for dinner and crashed for the night.

From the tent at Pangong Lake


Day 09: July 07, 2018 (Saturday)

We woke up early to the mesmerizing view of Pangong Lake, also famously known as the “3 Idiots Lake”.

Its always good to visit a place rather than looking it on the television screen

The vast blue lake that huddled amidst the snow-clad mountains, the yellow scooters on the banks and the 3 Idiots Bum chair was sighted on the lakeside.  And the best part; no crowd, barely less than a count of 7 to 8 including us.  What more can one ask for?  It was seldom solitude time.

We told the tent owner to get some buckets of hot water for bathe, but, to our irony, in the time taken by the tent owner to get the heated water from his kitchen to our rooms the water would lose its warmth, and furthermore it cooled down completely to room temperature in the time we took it to the bathroom.  Hence, none of us had a bath.

Post breakfast, we walked towards the lake for some photo session.


The tents and hotels as seen from the lake-side









With Phani, my best riding companion ever….!!



We decided to take the direct route from Pangong Lake to Tso Moriri riding on the lakeside via Maan, Merak villages.  This stretch was a complete off-road trail and hardly few bikers on this route.

At the very beginning of this terrain, my bike’s fork oil seal gave up and the fork oil started to bleed heavily and I had to ride very cautiously, that reduced my speed.  I could hear the weird rattling sound from the forks.

At some point, Phani yelled over the intercom; “Maga, I fell, come soon!”  I quickly rushed to the place; Phani’s bike slid on the rough terrain and he had fallen at the left edge of the road, the roads had no side railings, had he fallen half a feet more towards his left, he would have crashed into the lake.  I quickly got down from the bike and assisted him to pick him and his bike.  Luckily, he had no injuries and no major damages to the bike either.

We reached Merak village and bought some water bottles from a house.  We only had to follow the tire tracks that were left on the sand.   At a point, we saw tire tracks diverging into different directions and we had to stop to figure out the route.

The climate was prickly hot and we had no confirmed path to ride ahead.  But we still continued straight hoping we would find some village or someone who could guide us to a village called Chushul.

Post some more kilometers deep in the deserted land, we found a Dump truck and asked the driver about the right direction to Chushul.  The driver said, Chushul would approx. be 25 km from here and told that there is an exit on the right side of this deserted land, that would lead to Chushul.

Somewhere, the terrain changed from sand to stones and mud and as my bike’s fork oil leak had spread all over on my bike’s front disk brake, I couldn’t apply the brake near a stone and I jumped off the stone and my front wheel was at least 3 to 4 feet above the ground and the moment it landed, it slid and I had a crash.

Phani and Atish bhai were right behind me and both of them assisted me to get back on my feet.  Had it not been for my riding gears, I would definitely have multiple broken bones.  Hence I always preach and Follow ATGATT – All the Gears, All the time. 

The setbacks on my Warrior now, a bent handlebar, a fully bent rear brake lever, and right footpeg, a bent disk brake lever and a bent front fork.  We knew we won’t find any mechanical support now until Manali.

We somehow made it to Chushul and stopped at a small hotel for lunch.  Maggie was the only thing available. The cooking gas here was over and the hotel guy was preparing it on a kerosene stove and 2 minutes Maggie took almost 30 minutes to prepare.  Meanwhile, we just slept on the bench.

At a small hotel in Chushul



Over lunch, we asked the hotel guy about the road’s condition ahead until Tso Moriri, to which he said, there are no proper roads ahead and be prepared for another stretch of off-roads.  Atish bhai negotiated and got fuel by paying some extra money to the hotelier.

The next stretch of the adventure was awaiting us.  The roads were a nightmare again.  After a few km, we reached the Rezang La war memorial.

At Rezang La War Memorial


After riding for another 45 minutes from here, we just stopped again in the middle of nowhere.  It was 4.15 pm, we were damn exhausted, we were riding from the past 7 hours and had only covered an approx. a distance of 110 to 120 km.  Our bodies were aching, we just sat on the ground, and we uttered; we will give up riding, we were that frustrated and exhausted.  Atish bhai used his bike as back support and rested his head on his bike’s front mudguard; it was a much-needed break to rest.

Riding a few km from here, we saw 2 cars coming our way, I was leading ahead and stopped in the middle of the road and signaled the cars to stop.  The driver said; Tso Moriri is quite far from here, another 100 odd km from here.  The first question everyone asked, how are the roads ahead, the driver replied; after few km, it’s a single laned tarmac road and we continued ahead.

The moment we reached the tarmac, Phani and I spoke on the intercom, let’s get some good speeds on the tarmac and cover more km which we actually did.  We were riding through the Changthang Region which was at close proximity to the Indo-China border.

We soon reached Tara – Tsaga La check-post, showed our Inner Line permits and continued ahead and made our way till the check post of Loma Bend.

At Loma Bend, there are 2 routes; a route to Hanle and another to Tso Moriri.  Though we had permits for Hanle, we decided to skip it and ride towards Tso-Moriri.

From here the roads were good till Nyoma.  We stopped for chai at Nyoma.  Atish Bhai bought some more liters of petrol from the tea shop.

It was around 6.00 pm in the evening and we foolishly decided to ride ahead.  In case, any of you reach Nyoma in the evening around this time, better lookout for any accommodation and stay for the night.

We foolishly continued riding on the under-construction roads ahead.  Some time ahead, the bungee chords that I had tied to my luggage were loose and one of my bags fell off in the middle.  Phani was behind me, so he picked up the bag and tightened the luggage on my bike.

We soon reached the check-post at Mahe; and, Phani realized that his tool-kit bag was missing from his bike.  That bag had all the tools we carried all the way from Bangalore.

I asked Phani and Atish bhai to wait here at the check-post and I went back in search of the tool-kit.  Because, when my bag had fallen, we ensured all our luggage was in place, so we were sure and confident that the tool-kit bag might have fallen somewhere close by.

I rode back looking on the road in search of the bag and reached the point where my bag had fallen.  But, the tool-kit bag was nowhere to be found and I decided to return back.  As I took a U-turn on the road, few construction workers there came and told, a bag from one of your bike’s had fallen and they had kept it safely in their hut.  Both Phani and my bike had Road Thrill flag on our bikes and confidently told that the fallen bag was ours as the workers easily recognized the Road Thrill Flag.

I thanked them for their kind gesture, tied the toolkit on my bike and started to ride back.  It was pitch dark and I knew I had to ride till Mahe check-post, which is around 20 km and would easily take an hour.  While returning, my bike’s battery issue started again.  I couldn’t switch on my bike’s fog lamp and honk at the same time.  When honked, the fog lamps would turn very dim, and thought, the lights were more important than the horn.

Almost, after 2 hours I reached back at the check-post to see Phani in tears.  He said, there was no sign of you since you left, there were no vehicles coming to ask the whereabouts of me and he rode back in search of me for few km, couldn’t find me in the dark and rode back frightened till the check-post.  After so many rides together, it was the first time I saw Phani frightened and in tears this way.

I told him; Bro, I am fine, what’s the plan next.  The security at the check-post told you will find a few houses in Sumdo village around 20 km from here.  He strictly instructed us not to ride ahead from Sumdo as the roads ahead from Sumdo are very bad and risky.  He confirmed us that the roads till Sumdo are ok and manageable to ride in the dark.

It took us around 90 minutes to reach Sumdo.  It was 10.30pm when we reached there.  Just at the start of the village, we saw 2 people walking down the lane,  we stopped and asked them if there are any stay and food options.

He said, “I just closed my shop; and, my daughter and I were walking back home” but quickly also said, I can assist you people with food and stay.

He opened the shop and asked his daughter to cook some food while he took us to his home.  He said, there is 1 empty room at his home and said, will show the room to you and if OK, you guys can sleep there for the night.  We said OK, we only need a place to rest for the night.  We followed him to the room, he said there are no lights here, and kept a solar operated lamp inside the room and said, there are 4 beds here on the floor and few blankets, you can use them all and said, let’s go back to his shop for dinner.

Upon reaching back to his shop, his daughter said, rice and dal are getting ready for you guys, it would probably take few more minutes and meanwhile you can eat some biscuits until the food is cooked.

We were stunned with their simplicity of life and their eagerness to help travelers.  Who would open their shop at 11’o clock in the night and cook food for some random bikers?  That too at this border region!

We were very lucky and happy to get food and stay there.  Especially getting rice and dal after having Maggie continuously 3 times a day.

Over dinner, the shop keeper’s daughter heard Phani and I speaking in Kannada, she asked; Are you guys from Karnataka?.  She said; “I can understand a few words of Kannada and continued, I was studying in a college in Mysore for a few days but had to return back to her village”.  She said she used to like the Idlis and Dosas of the South.

Post dinner, the shop owner told us, you guys ride to the room, while he and his daughter would lock the shop and walk back.

While returning back, we missed the building and rode ahead as all houses were looking similar.  At a point, we could see a skull of cow or yak and the area looked haunted.  We quickly turned back in search of the house, the shop owner assisted us with the torch and guided us to his house.

The girl asked us, if we wanted our phones or power banks to be charged, she can charge them through their solar operated lamps if kept for charging the whole night.

We left all our luggage on the bike, threw off all our riding gears and fell on the bed.

Our plan was to reach Tso Moriri, but we could only make till Sumdo that day.

To be continued in episode 07: Tso-Moriri to Manali and the journey back home.

A glimpse from the next episode:

Thanking Dorji Bhai for all the help he did to our team in 2017… Our Saviour


Until next time.



Gokool Kini

(Soul Warrior)

To continue reading Episode 07: Click Here

Monster & Warrior got Leh’d | Episode 05: World’s Highest Motorable Road and the Sand Dunes | Leh to Nubra Valley |


Hope you have read the previous Episode, in case you haven’t, Click Here to read Episode 04

This episode takes us on the next leg of our journey as we bid goodbye to Leh. Riding the World’s Highest Motorable Road, exploring Sand-Dunes of Hunder, where I ticked off the dream of riding a Double-Humped Camel.

Day 07: July 05, 2018 (Thursday)

Leh to Nubra: 160 km

I hardly slept the previous night since the excitement of riding on the World’s Highest Motorable Road kept me awake, the experience would be unfathomable and I just couldn’t wait for the sun to rise and for us to embark on one of the most monumental parts of this epic journey!

At the first light of dawn, we packed our luggage and went to the breakfast counter. To my astonishment Phani arrived at the table with a piece of sandwich in his mouth, holding his office laptop and says; “Bro, I have urgent office emails to be actioned!!!  With our adrenaline pumped up high; Atish Bhai and I sat with a facepalm, unknowing what to respond to this monkey…!!  While Phani was busy typing office emails, we concentrated on snacking bread omelet.

Phani working from Leh Guest-House


Meanwhile, Phani received an unexpected SMS from his sister informing us that “Phani’s parents had met with an accident in Bangalore”.  Phani dialed back home and enquired about his parent’s condition.  His parents were driving back from a family function and a drunk guy on scooter rammed their car.  Post the call, Phani said; luckily, the accident was a minor one, nothing to worry, we can continue the journey.   We finished the check-out and billing at the guest house and saddled up on our dusty bikes.

With the Guest House staff at Leh


The first thing everyone did; was tying the Ladakh Prayer Flags across the mirrors of our bikes!!  If at all our bikes could think or speak; they would think these Ladakh flags as a “Medal of Honour”

Next stop; the long queue leading to the Fuel Station, where we refueled our bikes and also filled up the jerry cans with fuel.   The Indian Oil Petrol pump was fully packed with Bikers from all over India, it took us almost 45 minutes to refuel here.  Leh was at 11,000 feet above sea level, and since we would be ascending another 7,000 to 8,000 feet within the next 60 km.  I kept the Oxygen Can within reach outside my saddle bag in case of emergencies.

The Leh city and markets were jammed with traffic, and we somehow maneuvered through small lanes and marked our way towards Khargung La.  We soon sighted a signboard that read; “You’re on the Highest Motorable Road”



We reached the check-post of South Pullu where we submitted a copy of the Inner Line Permits and moved ahead.





Somewhere, in the middle, my bike faced the same power lag issue yet again.  We stopped at the edge and quickly emptied the spare petrol from my jerry can into the one on Phani’s bike, thinking the 10-liter petrol added more weight on my Warrior, but nothing helped.

Phani and I swapped our bikes, even then we couldn’t figure out what the issue was?  I said to Phani, I will get back on my bike and throttle it out the hard way.

From here, the road was loose dirt and we could see a long line of vehicles from a distance due to a small landslide.


The JCB clearing a small landslide


Phani spoke on the Intercom, “Bro, somehow lets maneuver and outreach the long queue so we can quickly zoom as soon the road is cleared”.  We managed to zigzag through the minutest gaps between vehicles and reached at the start point of the queue, eagerly waiting and watching the JCB dumped the mud and boulders aside.

This got cleared in less than an hour and as the JCB driver signaled us to start moving, we quickly accelerated and moved ahead.   The road ahead was a mix of loose gravel and snow on edges of the mountains that touched the road.

Looking at the tranquil valley; the moving clouds above the snow-clad mountains, a tiny village habitat, and grassland that looked like a tiny dot from above.  We felt as if we were riding towards the horizon.

Few kilometers from here was the K-Top (Khardung La Top at 18,380 feet above sea level), and we could see mad rush here.  Everyone wanted to get their pictures clicked with the Signboard of the World’s Highest Motorable Road.  We patiently waited for our turn.

At the World’s Highest Motorable Road – Khardung La – Altitude 18,380 feet


Conquering this feat was a feeling of achievement, a long pending dream that was accomplished.  The Gut feeling of never giving up and braving all the challenges throughout the journey with a feeling we would definitely Win!!!

Our next destination was Hunder and we started descending downwards.  Somewhere en route North Pullu, we stopped aside when few Army trucks came from the opposite direction, we stood from our bike’s seat and saluted the Soldiers, and the Soldiers would salute to each and every person who saluted them.

As I write this blog episode after a very long time, I am nostalgic as I can still visualize this Salute scene and it has been one of the proudest moment of my life.

Very soon, we crossed North Pullu and stopped at a dhaba for lunch.  I felt breathless and had a headache.  My previous experiences helped me quickly realize the symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), I pulled out the Oxygen Can and inhaled slowly while rushing inside the dhaba.  I felt better in some time and avoided another nightmare. I ate the only food available here i.e. Maggi, and after having it, popped in half a Diamox Tablet with hot water and took a power nap for an hour on a bed inside the dhaba.  With refreshed energy, we were all set to ride ahead.

At a Dhaba after North Pullu


En-route to Diskit




Next leg of the journey; was towards Maitreya Buddha in Diskit, with the cool breezy wind coupled with sunny weather, the ride was pleasant and the smooth tarmac was welcomed by all after the slushy, loose graveled roads behind us, we racked up a lot of miles quickly on this section.


Few pictures at the Maitreya Buddha, Diskit










We had our evening tea at a small hotel nearby and I purchased some magnetic badges as a souvenir to take back home.

Magnetic Badges that were taken in Diskit


Another 25 km ahead, was Hunder, a place known for its sand dunes and double-humped camels.  We could see the twirling sands across either side of the road.

Sand-dunes of Hunder


From a distant far, we could see people taking Camel Rides on the Double Humped Camels (also known as Bactrian Camels), they are exclusively found in Nubra Valley in Ladakh region in India.  Outside India, they are found only in Mongolia.  I didn’t want to miss this camel ride and soon reached the place of the camel safari.  We parked our bikes and walked on the sand towards the camels.



I purchase the ticket that was approx. INR 200/- and in my riding gear;  hopped on a Double Humped Camel.  As the camel got up or sat down, it felt like a wheelie or a stoppie; that only bikers can understand this feeling.

As I sat on the camel and gazed at the beautiful view around, the miles and miles of desert, the wind hitting my face, the clear and bright blue skies, the giant snow-covered mountains, It was an epic view of nature’s wonderful miracle; sand under my feet and snow on the horizon.

I wondered, how these camels listened and acted as per their guardian’s commands.  Almost an hour of camel ride, it was a dream come true.  Way back in 2017, my friend Chidanand had once told me, “You don’t miss that camel ride, you will never get to see a double-humped camel again in your lifetime, you will only see them at Nubra Valley”  It was a nice and memorable experience altogether.

We went in search of accommodation for the night’s stay and booked a tent at Summer Holiday Camps,  and checked in.  We left all our luggage on the bike and picked only things that were required for that night’s stay.  We freshened up and walked on the dark streets of Hunder.  We were served with some delicious Punjabi styled buffet dinner and called it a night.

To be continued in Episode 06: Riding on the Shyok river bed en route to Pangong Lake and the extreme dirt trail to Tso Moriri.


A glimpse from the next episode:

Sleeping in a Garage while 2 of our bikes are down



Gokool Kini

(Soul Warrior)


To continue to episode 06: Click Here

Monster & Warrior got Leh’d | Episode 04: Reaching the Dream Destination Leh; and battling AMS | Kargil to Leh |


Hope you have read the previous Episode, in case you haven’t, Click Here to read Episode 03

Last night, both Phani and I were ill.  A dose of Diamox worked for me, and I was fine as I woke up in the morning.  Phani was still suffering from severe stomach-ache, so we had our breakfast in the room and told him to rest for some more hours.  Meanwhile, we packed up and were ready.  Phani woke up somewhere at 12 pm and said: “He is fine to ride now”.

Day 05: July 03, 2018 (Tuesday)

Kargil to Leh: 255 km

We wanted to visit the LOC (Line of Control), Hunderman village; which was approx. 15 km from Kargil town, it’s the last Indian village in this stretch and lies in LOC area.  We crossed the bridge of Suru River and started riding on the brisk single lane; a deep valley on one side and giant mountains on the other.  After riding the rough stretch of roads uphill, we found a binocular shop, and we rented a binocular there.

Through the binoculars, we could see the Indian Flag on the Indian side of LOC, a Mosque on the other side of LOC.  Deep in the valley, we could see the Suru river flowing towards Pakistan. A local guide there explained about the weather, he also said; this village was re-captured by India post-1971 and the villagers have their relatives on the other side of the LOC Border.  We could see the houses in the village that were made of mud and wood.  The local also said, the Border here is more friendly and peaceful. We didn’t take any pictures here.

Please Note: This is a LOC – Border Area and please don’t upload any pictures on the social media.

As we descended back, I took a detour and reached an unknown place.  A local lady guided me back to the main road to Kargil Town.  Atish Bhai and Phani waited for me at the bridge of Suru River.  We rode through the Kargil market; and stopped at a Medical store, to pick some medicines for Phani.

We refueled our bikes at the Indian Oil Petrol Pump on the NH1 and continued riding towards Leh.  The roads were proper tarmac; while the afternoon weather was freezing cold.   We wore multiple layers of clothing; inner thermal, two t-shirts, the riding jacket having 3 layers and a raincoat on top of the riding jacket;  Thermal gloves and a full gauntlet riding gloves on top of it; 2 layers of Balaclava and a Bandana inside our helmets; inner body thermal, riding pant and raincoat pant over it; though we wore many layers; we still shivered; the weather was that cold!!

Upon reaching Mulbekh; we visited a monastery here and walked to a dhaba; Tso-Moriri Dhaba.  We ordered food and sat at a table at the extreme end of the hotel.  Neither did we remove the thermal gloves nor the bandana until the hotelier cooked and served the food.

Post lunch; we continued the journey uphill, and my bike started facing the power lag issue once again.  I somehow managed to keep the throttle wide open for this entire uphill stretch.  We reached Namik La at an altitude of 12,198 feet above sea level.  We didn’t have to take off our riding gloves; thanks to the touch-sensitive riding gloves which helped to click pictures on our smartphones.

Enroute Namik La


At Namik La


Me, at Namik La


Phani at Namik La


Though the weather looks bright sunny in the picture, we were shivering with cold


None of us even bothered to remove our helmets for the pic; it was that cold. Around 40 km from here, we reached Fotu La; the highest point on Srinagar – Leh road at an altitude of 13,479 feet above sea level.  The cloudy sky and tiny droplets of rain made the weather even colder than what we faced in Mulbekh or Namik La.

At Fatu La, Highest point on Srinagar – Leh Road


Don’t be Gama in the Land of Lama


At the entrance of Lamayuru Monastery


The roads from here were downhill and could maintain good speeds on the twisty single lanes.  We reached Lamayuru village and stopped for chai at a dhaba; Shangrilla Temple View Restaurant.

The only reason for stopping here was the “Free Wi-Fi”


From the Dhaba’s balcony; we could see the Lamayuru Monastery nestled amidst the mountains.

From the Hotel’s Balcony


Get me some soup, you Hooman!!!


Come on you Hooman… Lets Fight…!!!


Enroute to Leh


Enroute to Leh


The climate was a mixture of bright clear skies and dark clouds in some stretches.  We missed seeing the confluence signboard of Zanskar and Indus rivers due to the dark cloudy climate; Hence missing the spot of the confluence and reached Magnetic Hill point.

Many people believe the magnetic force that makes the vehicle move ahead even though the ignition is turned off.  Few believe this theory as a Myth; we belonged to the latter.  However, the view was absolutely mind-blowing.

Leh was only 30 km from here and we continued riding.  It was an emotional feeling when I saw the board “Welcome to Leh!”  Finally, the dream destination came true.  From being so near; yet so far in 2017;  it took me exactly a year to reach this feat.  I waited for a year patiently though sometimes frustrated for not making it in the first attempt.

Welcome to Leh!!! That’s Phani

Welcome to Leh!!! Atish Bhai


While we planned for this Leh trip, I had once told Phani, “If I die, I will die in the mountains, but will not return with an unfinished Leh trip again”

I hadn’t even changed my Whatsapp DP for a year; The DP was the route map of Ladakh Circuit; every time, someone asked me to change my DP, I replied; I will change it once I reach Leh.  Every time I received a message to change my DP, it reminded me of my goal, the only dream, and goal for the year was to reach Leh; no matter what!!! All the erstwhile planning and dedication and the zeal finally paid off.

Dream Destination; Leh City!!! This went as my Whatsapp DP


At Leh Airport


The only accommodation pre-booked in advance was in Leh, thanks to Goibibo’s IPL offer; we got a nice deal in Rainbow Guest House, it cost us only INR 800/- for 2 days stay; that worked out roughly 130 per person per day (excluding food).

Phani had switched on the GPS map to the guest-house and we followed him.  At some point, I missed them and went ahead and reached the main Leh market. After enquiring for say an hour with many locals, I kept on touring the city again and again and again, but couldn’t find the guest house.  Though I had a BSNL postpaid sim, there was some problem with the phone’s network.  After dialing many times, I could connect to the guest house owner and she told me the landmark as Leh DC’s residence.

A Ladakhi conversed with the owner in their local language and he escorted me till the guest house.  As I walked into our room, Phani had already crashed to bed; shivering and wrapped in multiple layers of blankets.

Phani was hit by AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness). Luckily,  we had carried Oxygen Cans with us that helped Phani get some breath.  Quickly, I spoke to the owner and told her, my friend is down with AMS and enquired for the nearby hospital.  The landlord arranged a taxi for us who drove us to SNM Hospital in Leh.

Important Note: Please don’t forget to carry Oxygen Cans during your Leh Trip.  This Oxygen Can have mixed opinions from different people; Few say it is not required, while few have felt its importance.  When you’re spending so much for your Leh Trip, don’t hesitate to spend another INR 500 for this can.  In case you don’t feel the need to use for yourself, You might help some fellow traveler to breathe during emergency.  So whatever anyone says, please do carry this Oxygen Can.  I personally know its importance when I was hit with AMS during Leh 2017 trip as my Oxygen levels had dropped to 40 .

The Doctor examining Phani in Leh Hospital


Phani at Leh Hospital


The doctor told Phani’s oxygen levels were few points below the normal level, but he still felt breathless.  So, they put him on Oxygen for two hours.  The doctor advised us to take rest for a day before we continue our journey.

The taxi driver waited for us outside the hospital until Phani was discharged, and he drove us back to the guest-house.  We had our dinner and slept off, as our next day was a rest day as per our planned itinerary to get ourselves acclimatized before we ascend to even higher altitude, so we said to ourselves, let’s get some decent amount of sleep and wake up late.

Day 06: July 04, 2018 (Wednesday)

In Leh city,

We woke up late in the afternoon.  Over lunch, we met some bikers who were also from Bangalore and quickly got ourselves introduced.  We had to get our bikes serviced and we went out in search of a garage.  The guest house owner had suggested a mechanic Amarjeet; who has a garage in the main market nearby SNM hospital.

Our new friends from Bangalore wanted a rental bike to ride back to Manali. So we called up Rigzin Bhai who assists with Inner Line Permits and also has a bike rental business in Leh and apparently all the bikes were rented out.

He said; give me an hours time; I will look out something to help you.  One bike was loaded in a truck to send to Manali and the truck was about to move. Through his contacts; he connected to the truck owner and got the bike unloaded and called us and said; Gokool Bhai, bike ka Jugaad ho gaya.  We rushed to Rigzin Bhai’s office and asked our new friends to reach there.  We had to also collect our Inner Line permits from Rigzin Bhai’s office.  He guided us to his office in Changspa area.

Rigzin Bhai and his family had helped me a lot when I was struck with AMS during Leh Expedition 2017.  He and his family are my saviors.  It was a pleasure to meet him again, exactly after a year’s gap.

Phani, Rigzin Bhai and me


Leh city as seen from the Leh Palace


We had asked Atish Bhai to get his bike serviced; until we meet Rigzin Bhai and get our permits. Later, I dropped my bike in his garage and we went to Leh Hall of Fame which was on the outskirts of Leh City on Leh – Kargil road.

Amarjeet Paaji repairing my bike


This Hall of Fame is run by the Indian Army which looks like a hexagonal and semi-circular stone building from the outside; had 2 floors displaying the pictures of Kargil War, Siachen War and other achievements of various regiments of the Armed Forces.

The pictures of the Bravehearts who lost their lives in various battles were mounted on the wall.  Artillery weapons and equipment used by our war patrons are kept for display as well.  As you read through the war articles inscribed on the walls, it will give you an insight into the importance of few places on the border and the sacrifices and achievements of the various Regiments and Commands.  You can also see the various instruments and apparels used by our Armed Forces who guarded the Siachen in extreme sub-zero temperatures.

Few pictures from the Leh Hall of Fame









After a walk through the memorial, many of us eagerly waited for the Beating the Retreat or the Flag Lowering Parade which happens daily in the evening at around 6.30 pm.  We only watch such parades on TV especially only during Republic Day or the Independence Day, but getting to watch the Beating the Retreat Parade live was remarkable.

Though the weather was very cold and drizzling, the parade didn’t stop.  The soldiers marched proudly, lowered the Tricolor and marched back.  While we interacted with a soldier, He said; “For you bikers, Leh is an adventurous dream; but for us, it is our life and duty to safeguard our nation”.  He continued;  “No matter what the weather is, flag hoisting and the lowering of the flag happens daily at its stipulated timing”

Post the parade, we saw a war documentary that depicted about Kargil War and pre-dominantly about Siachen War and brief about Ladakh and its importance; which was telecasted in the amphitheater inside the Hall of Fame.

We picked up my bike from the garage on our way back to the guest house and purchased few Prayer Flags; Bikers call them Ladakh Flags!!!

At the Prayer Flag shop in Leh Market


Over dinner, we met few German tourists boarding there; they wanted to cycle from Leh to few other places including the World’s Highest Motorable Road.

A Ladakhi dish; Thukpa was served for dinner, which was mouthwatering and delicious. Please don’t miss this dish if you’re in Ladakh.

Me and Atish Bhai enjoying Thukpa….. But, can you remember the black laptop in the pic… haha!!


Two days in Leh passed real quick; we wished we could stay there for a few more days to experience the Ladakh culture and heritage to the core.

We missed visiting the Shanti Stupa and Leh Palace, Phani could manage to visit the Leh Palace, I couldn’t make it to the Palace as I had to get my bike issues fixed at the garage.


To be continued in Episode 05: The World’s Highest Motorable Road and the Sand-Dunes


A glimpse from the next Episode:

A Glimpse from Episode 05: Riding the World’s Highest Motorable Road



Gokool Kini

(Soul Warrior)


To continue reading Episode 05: Click Here


For more information on the Leh routes, permits, packing essentials please visit: Preparations for Leh Ladakh Ride


Also, read about the upcoming Itinerary of Road Thrill’s Leh Ladakh Ride: Season 04

Monster & Warrior got Leh’d | Episode 03: Udhampur to Kargil | The Heavenly Kashmir Valley, The deadly Zoji La Pass and our homage to the Fallen Heroes of the Kargil War


Hope you have read the previous Episode, in case you haven’t, Click Here to read Episode 02

Day 03: July 01, 2018 (Sunday)

Udhampur to Srinagar: 235 Km

We started the day early and went to the hotel rooftop for a cup of chai.  The morning view was beautiful and calm, behind our hotel; flowed River Tawi and right in front of our hotel we saw mountains and huge boulders that were fallen on the roadside. We assumed this was due to the landslide that happened a couple of days ago.

The Tawi River as seen from behind the Hotel


While we sipped tea on the rooftop watching the road, we sighted a pick-up vehicle that had fallen into a ditch. The driver; might have lost control of the vehicle while driving in the dark, and would have jumped off the road. Both of us gave an inexplicable look to each other and said; hope the driver escaped safely.

The pick-up truck in the ditch


We had bread butter jam for breakfast and we saddled up for the day’s ride towards Chenani-Nashri Tunnel.  We could see tempo travelers filled with pilgrims’ praying and singing devotional songs en route to Amarnath Yatra and we maneuvered through this traffic and reached the tunnel’s start point.

At Hotel Tawi View


All set to ride towards Srinagar


The well-illuminated 9 km straight laned tunnel is a classic example of India’s advancement in road infrastructure.  It had wide roads with properly marked lines and multiple emergency exits; we didn’t want to zoom here riding on high speeds and hence rode very calmly.  Both of us discussed its importance on the intercoms.  This tunnel cuts down the distance by 30 Km of the hilly areas of Patnitop.

Note: Please don’t ride recklessly here; there might be oil spills on the road and can prove fatal if you slide and fall.

After exiting Chenani Nashri Tunnel


Readers may remember my Warrior ’s main stand was broken (in transit) hence we were on the lookout for a welding shop to fix additional metal support to the main stand.  Every time I parked my Warrior I had to take the support of a small stone beneath the side stand so I could avoid it from leaning and falling sideways.

Meanwhile, a solo rider named Atish asked; Are you guys hitting Leh? He was riding solo and wanted to know if he could join us.  Phani and I both agreed on it.  Over chai,  we got ourselves introduced and continued our ride.

We reached Ramban, and luckily we found a Bajaj Service station and Phani got his Monster’s bent side-stand fixed.  I got busy looking for a welding shop near-by to weld an extra metal piece to my bike’s side stand.  With a long iron pipe; the welder also got my rear brake lever straightened out which was also bent in transit.

At Bajaj Service center, Ramban


Getting an extra metal piece welded to my bike’s side-stand


Crossing over the bridge on Chenab river; we rode the single lane that passed via forest uphills and the road full of bigger potholes, mud, and slush; and off-course the on-going traffic; we took more than 2 hours to cover a stretch of 30 km to reach Banihal where we stopped for lunch at Café NH44.

At Café NH44


Me, Atish Bhai and Phani


We had Maggie, Tandoori Roti, and dal in Lunch;  Café NH44 was also a Highway Delite verified restaurant.  Just 20 km from here, was the Jawahar Tunnel (located between Banihal and Qazigund), which we took another 90 minutes to reach.

Inside Jawahar Tunnel


Crossing the Jawahar Tunnel, we reached the town of Qazigund, and Phani spoke on the intercom; “Bro your bike’s top rack carrier is broken again!!” The top-rack was hanging on the support of bungee chords that were tied along with the tools and my saddle bag. We had to look out for a welding shop again.  The nice cool breezy weather and tiny droplets of rain called for a chai pit-stop.  The shop-keeper said; there is a welding shop few km ahead on the highway,  but he wasn’t sure if the shop is open at that time of the day.

To our blessing, we found a small welding shop on the side of the 4 lane highway and was open.  We quickly untied all the bungee chords and kept the saddle bag on the seat, and the welder started with the repairs.

The broken top rack carrier


Repairing the top rack carrier


The welder barely took 15 minutes to weld the top rack and as we were about to continue the ride; Phani misplaced his bike key.  All three of us; Atish Bhai, Phani and I searched for his bike key. He was playing with the keychain and the key had fallen into the shrubs on the side of the road;  We found it only after searching for an hour.

The ride continued towards Srinagar, on the nice and wide highway which had many Kashmir Willow Cricket Bat shops on either side,  looking at the green mountains between the vast lush green paddy fields, we reached the capital city; Srinagar.

At Awantipora, en-route Srinagar


En-route Srinagar


As we stopped inside the city of Srinagar, a local reached out to us and said, I have a boat-house if you guys are interested to spend the night floating on the lake. We agreed right away; who would miss such an awesome opportunity!

We reached his boat-house at Dal Lake and decided to stay in his boat named “New Jahangir”.  Atish Bhai negotiated the price for INR 1000/- for 3 people; that was hardly INR 350 per head excluding food and the full boat-house was ours. What a bargain for a night out on Dal Lake!

We sat in the balcony of the boat-house sipping refined Kashmiri Chai and the gorgeous view of Srinagar’s Jewel; Dal Lake.

From the boat-house balcony


Each one of us wanted to take a boat ride on Dal Lake, and soon after a cold shower; we ditched our riding gears and wore normal casuals; we looked like humans for a change and walked towards the main market in Srinagar.  As we walked on the ridges and footpaths, we saw many boats docked at the shoreline of the lake.

Boats docked at Dal Lake’s shoreline


We hired Sultan Bhai’s boat for a boat ride across the Lake. It was already dusk while we got into the boat and as Sultan Bhai rowed the boat; we were speechless looking at the fascinating view of the boats well lit with lights.  All of us, sat speechless looking at the vast water surface, dipping our hands in the water while we gazed those mighty mountains.

Few pictures below





Phani and Atish Bhai in the boat


None of us uttered a word, we were lost in its majestic beauty.  Sultan Bhai broke the silence and started guiding with the information of this touristy place.  We told Sultan Bhai, we wanted some snacks as we had forgotten to parcel it.  He said, kuch chinta math karo aap log, yahaan shikhar pe snacks waale aayenge; (Don’t worry bhailog, you will see boats carrying snacks and food).

We also asked if we could get a couple of beers; Sultan Bhai soon found a boat carrying chilled beers.  We grabbed a few cans and relaxed in the boat. What more can we ask for?  How big is this lake; we asked? Sultan Bhai said; this lake is around 24 km in radius, you might need a day or two to fully explore the lake on a boat.  Also, there were a few floating gardens on the lake.

He said Jaise aap log chal ke, ya bike pe market jaate hai, waise yahaan pe log boat le ke market jaate hai; (Just like, how you guys ride or walk to the market, people here row their boats to visit the markets here).  Soon, there was another boat with barbeque food items; we ordered some hot barbeque stuff for ourselves and watched how a tiny rowboat; was loaded with a refrigerator, a barbeque briquette and what not.  All the boatman provided heartily services to all the tourists that visited this place.

Barbeque stuffs being prepared on the boat


The sun had already set for the day and darkness had taken over,  our boats passed through other boats; few boats were canteens, few were clothing stores, few were luxury boat-houses; it all felt like we were in Venice.  Truly;  Dal Lake is known as the “Venice of the East”

Clothing stores on the boats


After a boat ride for two hours or more; we were back at the shore.  As we got off the boat, we could see the glimpse of flashback; we could still hear the sound of oars creaking and water splashing the boat, it all seemed like a fairy tale and a feeling of waking up from a dream.  Thank You Sultan Bhai for a dream come true boat ride on Dal Lake.

Me, Atish Bhai, Sultan Bhai and Phani


As Phani and Atish Bhai parceled food for us from Hotel Punjabi Haveli in Srinagar market, I saw a roadside shop selling toy boats.  So, I bought a toy boat as a souvenir to take back home.

The Wooden Toy Boat which took as Souvenir


The wooden toys sold in Srinagar Market – Irshad Bhai’s shop


With Irshad Bhai, a toy shop owner


Our bikes parked beside our Boathouse


It was an evening well spent in Dal Lake, we discussed our next day’s ride plan; we had the charming Sonamarg and the deadly Zoji La pass ahead of us.

Having dinner in the boathouse’s balcony


Day 04: July 02, 2018 (Monday)

Srinagar to Kargil: 215 Km

We were up by 6.30 am and saddled up quickly.  The boat-house owner; Khaliq Bhai got us some hot tea and post which, we continued our journey towards Sonamarg. We tanked up at an HP Petrol Pump at the city’s outskirt.  This probably was the last petrol pump which accepted card payments during our journey to Leh.

We crossed Ganderbal and reached a small village; Gund, where we stopped at a roadside hotel for breakfast.  While the hotel owner prepared Maggie and Paratha, we had few pictures taken at the banks of River Sind that was flowing just behind the hotel.

View of River Sind


Our bikes parked on the banks of River Sind



Post another 25 odd km ride; we reached Sonamarg, meaning; Meadow of Gold!! Nestled in the lap of Himalayas; a paradise for trekkers and adventurists, the roads passed through the dense forests with the towering pine trees.  We stopped for a while near a resort watching this astounding view of nature.

From a resort in Sonamarg


Atish Bhai and Warrior at Sonamarg


The Trio with our machines before entering Zoji La


Before entering Zoji La




Our curious and excited minds were eagerly waiting to hit Zoji La.   The nerve wrecking pass that tests the level of endurance for each and every rider at every turn.

A belief amongst bikers; You conquer Zoji La successfully, you will definitely reach Leh…!!!  We reached the base, knowing this pass can be a nightmare to anyone who is driving/riding this stretch, as this strip of rocks is definitely not a place for a relaxed Sunday ride.  One should have supreme confidence in his vehicle and excellent riding skills to tame this very narrow road; It’s amongst one of the World’s Deadliest Roads.

Somewhere amidst the Death Valley


As we crossed a place called Baltal which is another alternate road to Amarnath Shrine. On the muddy uphills; my bike; Warrior faced power lag.  How much ever I throttled, my bike struggled to cross 30 kph.  I was in the center lane trying my best to accelerate my bike; I saw a speeding truck driving downhill at a hairpin curve and I somehow managed to maneuver my bike to the left; narrowly escaping an accident.

Phani on the intercom yelled; Lo, ride safe, you just missed an accident. After 1 or 2 km; I overtook a truck and turned right on another hairpin curve; Phani shouted on the intercom again; Dude there is a small Shiva Temple here, take a U-turn and come back.  The truck which I overtook was blocking this small temple hence missing it as I rode on!

We parked our bikes to take blessings at this temple; we were also served with Satyanarayan Pooja Prasad here.  Phani and I, we’re happy and lucky to get Mahadev’s blessings,  that too in this deadly border road terrain.

At the small Shiv Mandir at Zoji La


We continued the ride and soon after a few minutes; the sun was engulfed by dark clouds and it started raining, the terrain turned in slush added another challenge to the ride.   Few stretches are made of cement paver blocks and are slippery when wet.

Even, when the sun shined bright and as there were no barriers on the sides; we could see the mind-numbing steep vertical drops of hundreds of meters and could see the valley which was a couple of thousand feet below us.  If you look through the sharp mountain edges; you can see a road which looks as thin as a thread.  Those thread lines were the crumbling dirt trails, it can be death waiting at every corner if you show up unprepared.

We sighted a small shop from a distant and a lot of vehicles had stopped; we had finally conquered this deadly terrain.  The death enthralled trail; though a distance of 10 to 12 km, we took approximately over 3 hours.

Note: This terrain requires persistent attention to the road and if you are a beginner in biking; please don’t attempt this.

After crossing Zoji La


Monster and the Snow-clad mountains



My Warrior with a snow-clad Mountain


While having chai, I sighted some people riding the snow-scooter and decided to get my hands on it.  Meanwhile, Phani and Atish Bhai rested there.

Me on a Snow Scooter at Zoji La


As we crossed, Zoji La; a green signboard read; Welcome to Ladakh!!! You are at Zoji La at an Altitude 11,649 Feet and a few kilometers from there, we were at Gumri check-post.




At Gumri village




Reaching Gumri also Welcomed us to Kargil sector.




We stopped for lunch at Heritage Cafeteria, it was a perfect place for lunch; looking at the charming valley and the gigantic mountains and the brilliant blue skies.

At Heritage Cafeteria, en-route Kargil


Lunch amidst the Heavenly Place… Wow, what a blissful Life!!!


This place was our most favorite place from the entire journey of Ladakh.  We were completely awestruck by the changing colors of the mountain.  As time passes in the day, you can see various color shades; the mountains here inherit.

Warrior 🙂









Another 25 km from here was Dras, situated at 11,000 feet above sea level and is also the 2nd coldest place on earth.  In freezing winters, the temperature would drop to -40 degrees.  This is the first village after crossing Zoji La and this village came to limelight only post the Kargil War of 1999.

We reached the Kargil War Memorial. We wished Jai Hind to the soldier at the registration desk; and he replied the same, with full josh. From the main entrance gate, we could see Indian Flag fluttering with Pride. We walked the walkway, named as VijayPath that leads to the War Memorial; Amar Jawan.

This memorial has a war museum, a Bofors gun and other artillery weapons on display and not to forget the Veer Bhumi having the epitaph with names of all the Bravehearts who were martyred in the war.  In the backgrounds, we can see Tololing Heights, Tiger Hill and Point 4875 also known as Batra Top.  Any Indian citizen would get goosebumps when you read the historical achievements inscribed all over and walk within the memorial’s campus. Atish Bhai, Phani and I were in tears while we stood at the Veer Bhumi.

Few Pictures from the War Memorial

At VijayPath



With the Bofors Gun displayed at Kargil War Memorial



Amar Jawan



At the Veer Bhumi


A soldier addressed the crowd and briefly explained about the  Kargil war.  Its importance in Indian history, the insights of the memorial.  It started to rain and the crowd was more worried about wearing raincoats and taking their umbrellas out, while the soldier didn’t make a move.  He stood firm as he kept on explaining about the war and the memorial.

Note: Please carry your Govt. ID while you enter this memorial and maintain the decorum and the respect here, and don’t miss the soldier’s explanation; which usually happens in the evening around 5.30pm.

We had some samosa and tea at the canteen inside the premises of the memorial and continued our ride to Kargil, which was approx. 60 km from the war memorial.

This picture was taken during dusk; At 7 PM in the evening


We searched for a lodge and got in.  The time was 7.30pm and we took an hour’s nap.  We told the hotelier to get dinner serviced to our room and post-dinner, we went for a walk in the town of Kargil.

As we got back to the hotel, disaster struck; I had a high fever and Phani was down with a severe stomach ache.  I knew that the normal paracetamol wouldn’t work as the fever was one of the symptoms of AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness) and hence took a Diamox tablet and dozed off.

An avid reader may remember a similar situation in my previous ride to Leh in 2017 and the huge disappointment I suffered.  Nostalgia struck and it all came back to me!  I know the pain and suffering caused by AMS which had struck me during my Leh expedition; back in 2017,  I didn’t want it to repeat again.  A sound 8-hour sleep was required for all of us and get some well-deserved rest and re-energize ourselves.


To be continued in Episode 04: Reaching the Dream Destination Leh, and battling AMS


A glimpse from the next Episode:

A Glimpse from Episode 04: Getting Phani admitted to a hospital in Leh



Gokool Kini

(Soul Warrior)


To continue reading Episode 04: Click Here


To read how I battled AMS during my Leh Expedition 2017: Dream Destination Leh: So near, yet so Far…


For more information on the Leh routes, permits, packing essentials please visit: Preparations for Leh Ladakh Ride

Monster & Warrior got Leh’d | Episode 02: Delhi to Udhampur | Through Haryana, Punjab and entering J&K |


Hope you have read the previous Episode, in case you haven’t,  Click Here to read Episode 01

In Episode 02, sharing our experiences as we ride towards Jammu & Kashmir.

Day 01: June 29, 2018 (Friday)

Delhi to Ambala: 255 Km

It was 4:40 am when we reached Delhi and we hurried to the conveyor belt to collect our luggage.  Amidst the crowded Delhi Airport, it took an hour to get our baggage and reach the airport’s taxi stand.  We quickly booked Uber cab till Pikkol warehouse in Chattarpur.  As soon we reached, I asked Phani to unpack our bikes while I went in search of petrol pumps.  In Delhi, petrol is not sold in cans or bottles; but somehow convinced the petrol pump attendant, he agreed to pour only 2 liters of petrol in plastic cans.

Meanwhile, Phani called me and informed about the damages to our bikes during transit. My bike, Gixxer’s main stand, and the top carrier rack were broken; while Phani’s bike (Dominor) had a bent clutch lever along with a bent side stand. We unpacked the cartons and fixed the jerry can holders and saddled our bike with all our luggage.  There was a Sintex water tank there inside the compound,  we grit our teeth and washed our face from the tank’s water and geared up in a factory warehouse nearby.

We freshened up near that White Sintex Tank in the background


We started from here and luckily as we exited the warehouse compound, we found a welding shop where we mended my bike’s top carrier by welding the repair points.  As my bike’s main stand was broken and had to be either fixed or removed; which we got it removed at a local garage near-by.  It was already past 10:00 am when we started from Chattarpur making our way to exit Delhi.

Somewhere, on the city roads, we saw an information board which read India Gate 5 km with a symbol turn right.  Phani spoke on the Intercom; bro let’s visit India Gate and flag-off the ride from there.  It was around 12 in the afternoon, we reached the India Gate.  Both of us had only seen the India Gate on television channel Doordarshan; which telecasts the Republic Day Parade every year.

At India Gate, Delhi


The cops allowed us to take pics of the India Gate along with our bikes which they had initially denied.  The cops also said that we can ride till the Parliament House and then continue your journey ahead.  While we rode on the Rajpath; I could visualize the Republic Day Parade in front of my eyes and it was a proud feeling to ride on this stretch of 2 km.

At Rajpath



At The Secretariat Building as seen from Raisina Hill.  Photo Credit: Delhi Police


The Parliament House as seen from Raisina Hill


Casual Talks with the Delhi Policemen


By 12:45 pm we started riding towards Delhi exit.  Somewhere, we saw a juice cart and stopped to have some mosambi juice.  We were fatigued and hence parked our bikes on the service lane there and both of us slept on the road-side footpath; turn by turn for half an hour each. The foot-path was the bed and the Blue Tarpaulin sheet was the bedsheet.

At the Juice Cart


Phani sleeping on the roadside footpath


Me sleeping on the roadside footpath


The best part of a road trip; you can interact with anybody on the road.  Looking at our KA registered bikes; few people excitedly conversed with us asking about our trip and general talks.

Casual Talks with few locals


The ride continued on the Delhi – Chandigarh, NH44 and we stopped for lunch at a highway-side dhaba at around 4:00 pm. It was a relief to our hungry stomachs and as we had cleared through the chaotic Delhi Traffic, we picked up good speed on the highway and as we crossed Panipat, heavy rains lashed on the highway.  Inside the shelter of an HP Petrol Pump on the roadside, we wore our rain liners above our riding gears and continued riding till Kurukshetra.

Lunch at Banku ki Rasoi Dhaba after exiting Delhi


I had spoken to Arun Bhai from Road Thrill Bangalore who along with the riders from Hyderabad chapter were returning back to Delhi from their successful Leh trip. They had stopped for chai at Mannat Dhaba on the outskirts of Kurukshetra. It was a pleasure meeting our extended biking family members as we exchanged greetings and memories from their Leh Journey.

Meeting Road Thrill Family at Kurukshetra, Haryana


The sun had already set for the day, we stopped for dinner at Sethi Dhaba and rode till Ambala and checked-into Hotel Surya which we booked upon reaching the city.

Day 02: June 30, 2018 (Saturday)

Ambala to Udhampur: 444 Km

Early morning, post chai and getting ourselves ready and saddling up our bikes; we continued our journey on the NH44 and we stopped for breakfast at Kiran Dhaba in Jalandhar.  The dal-tadka here was amazingly delicious.  You know you’re in Punjab when you’re served with a big glass full of milk along with the breakfast.

From the parking at Kiran Dhaba


Somewhere, before Pathankot, my bike’s battery started to give an issue.  The mobile charger on my bike wasn’t working.  We stopped at a roadside shop and Phani was trying some jugaad to fix this issue.  We stopped at Happy Paaji’s shop and Paaji helped us with his ideas and tools to fix the wiring issue.  Happy Paaji, served us chai that worked as energy boosters to our exhausted mind and body.  We took good rest here and continued our ride ahead towards Pathankot.

Phani trying his Jugaad with Warrior’s wiring


With Happy Paaji


Somewhere, few km from here on the highway; my bike’s horn started honking and didn’t go silent, Thanks to Phani’s jugaad, haha!!.  He goofed up with the wiring of the horn and it went crazy!  We pulled over on the side of the highway and Phani disconnected the incorrect wiring.

We soon reached the Jammu & Kashmir state check-post.  As it was Leh season for biker’s and Amarnath Yatra season for pilgrims, the check-post was heavily crowded.

Monster and Warrior at Jammu & Kashmir State check-post


Phani at J&K check-post


Me, at the J&K check-post



As soon as we crossed the check-post we stopped to have some lime juice and daal Wada (local Jammu snack). We stopped at Indian Oil Petrol pump for fuel, and one local suggested us a shorter route to Udhampur via the Sambha Forest and passing through Mansar Lake.

The chaat waala preparing daal wada


I am busy snacking daal Wada


We deviated at Sambha Forest check post; the twisty ghat section started from here with ascending hairpin curves, the roads passed through beautiful green forests but it was dotted with lots of potholes and patches.

en route Mansar Lake


We reached Mansar Lake which was 25 km from Sambha check-post and rested for a while in the garden near Mansar Lake.  The beautiful lake was fringed by forest-covered hills and the fishes would come to the shore where the tourists fed them.

Mansar Lake


People feeding the fishes in Mansar Lake


Though the place was crowded, we didn’t pay much heed to the crowd and took a peaceful nap on the lawns there. Post having some snacks and chai at the canteen nearby; we continued our ride towards Udhampur which was around 40 km from the lake.  The shortcut via Sambha was a by-pass for the town of Jammu. Riding through the dense forest ghat section and passing beneath many Railway bridges; we finally reached Udhampur by 5:30 pm

Over a chai, Phani and I had a discussion; whether to ride ahead till Ramban or to halt at Udhampur and decided on the latter and started to look out for a hotel on the highway outside the city.  Unfortunately, we took the service road on the highway and reached a dead end. The road was inclined and I stopped parallel to Phani and he lost balance on his bike and started leaning towards my bike.  Both of us, couldn’t control our heavily loaded bike and fell along with the bikes.  My bike’s petrol started spilling on the road.  Few locals near-by, assisted us to pick our bikes and helped us to get back on our feet.

Though the fall was very minor, the impact; my bike’s rear brake lever was bent and a bend on the flag rod on Phani’s bike.  Maybe, it was our bikes’ way of telling; Boss we are done for the day!

As daylight was engulfed by darkness and we had to ride on the under-construction road amidst heavy dust and heavy vehicular movement.  While on this dusty road, an insect hit my eye; I quickly stopped on the roadside, wiped my eyes and continued riding until we reached Hotel Tawi View. We quickly booked a room here and took all our luggage to the room.

Because of the highway construction; the hotel rooms were dusty, but that was ok, we only needed a place to rest for the night.  Post dinner; we met a couple of bikers staying in the same hotel; they were on their return journey and they said the road ahead is pathetic until Srinagar.

Our luggage was strewn in the hotel room


Dinner at Hotel Tawi


After a quick dinner, we crashed on the bed; it was a tiring 14-hour ride covering 444 km for the day.

The most excited discussion during the time between us was riding through the longest tunnel in India the next morning.


A glimpse of the next episode:

A glimpse from Episode 03: Visiting Kargil War Memorial and listening about Kargil War from a Soldier’s mouth


To be continued in Episode 03: The Heavenly Kashmir Valley, The deadly Zoji La Pass and our homage to the Fallen Heroes of the Kargil War



Gokool Kini

(Soul Warrior)

Click Here to continue reading Episode 03


For more information on the Leh routes, permits, packing essentials please visit:  Preparations for Leh Ladakh Ride

Monster & Warrior got Leh’d | Episode 01: Towards Delhi, The Start |

The complete Leh story; is split into multiple series of blog episodes, and is titled; Monster and Warrior got Leh’d.  The rationale behind the title is the names we have given to our bikes. Phani has named his bike; Monster, and I have named my bike Warrior.

After my unsuccessful Leh trip in 2017,  I was eagerly waiting to finish my long-pending dream ride.  Phani and I started our planning somewhere in the mid of March.  Every day, post the office hours, we caught up at a bakery near Phani’s office to plan the things.  Both of us got our leaves approved for the trip; and by mid of April’2018, we had our flight tickets booked to Delhi.

Once the flight tickets were booked, all other preparations would line-up accordingly.  We took assistance from Rigzin Bhai for the Inner Line Permits (ILP is required for few places in Ladakh).

The route we planned was Delhi – Pathankot – Udhampur – Srinagar – Sonamarg – Kargil – Leh – KhardungLa – Nubra Valley – Pangong Lake – Tso Moriri – Sarchu – Manali – Chandigarh – Delhi.

We didn’t have to shop for the riding gears this year as we had purchased all those items last year. This time we wanted to get the Ladakh carriers for our bikes, such carriers for a non-RE bike are not available in the market, hence, we decided to do some custom design work and get it fixed on our bikes.  To do so we enquired a couple of fabrication shops over the weekends and then I came across a small fabrication shop in JP Nagar, Bangalore.  Phani and I skipped office for a day and sat at the fabrication shop the whole day.

Since both our bikes’ (Gixxer and Dominor) have fiber parts, mounting for the carriers needed specific customizations and the first carrier we did here in JP Nagar looked like a box on my bike.  My bike looked like a workhorse.

Initial Carrier


Warrior looking like a Vegetable Seller’s bike


However, the hunt for a Ladakh carrier was still on!! Then, Phani came up with a design and we soon rushed to JC Road, Bangalore.  We purchased top rack which is basically used for Royal Enfield and rushed to Zakaria Engineering works (a welding and fabrication shop) in JC Road and got it fixed as per our bike’s requirements.  We also did a rough sketch for Jerry Can holder and the fabricator prepared the holder as per the sketch we gave him.  We wanted to make sure that the carriers could easily be installed or removed with few basic tools, such as spanners. A flag mount was also welded to the carriers so we could ride with the flags fluttering high.

New Carrier design fixed to Monster


We wanted to test the carriers on an off-roader. So,  Phani and I went for an off-roader ride to Kailasagiri. To test this out, we filled the jerry cans with water to check how the overall carrier and jerry can holder would sustain in those terrains. We also purchased helmet intercoms and tested their range in this short ride.

In mid-May’2018, I got a similar carrier and jerry can holder customized and affixed to my bike at the same place in JC Road, Bangalore.

at Zakaria Engineering Works


Phani specifying the measurements to the welder


We had to paint those carriers, so we purchased some black spray paints and on the road in front of Phani’s house, dismantled the carriers and painted them under streelights.

Carriers painted Black


Both of us got a message board done at the same place which read “Always give way to Ambulance, you cannot give life, but you can save a life”

Social Message on Monster


Social Message on Warrior


I also got the sticker of my Blood Group on Warrior


The next major thing was bike transportation and we started all the necessary inquiries.  We had bitter experiences in 2017 when we shipped our bikes by Indian Railways.  So, we wanted to look out for other logistic options.  During, the same time, one of my friends, Tejas, was moving to Pune and he had shipped his bike via Pikkol and he was happy with the services offered to him. Both of us enquired with Pikkol and got a quote and all the details for bike cargo.

During Leh’2017; we had carried all the tool-kit and riding gears with us in the flight and it was a real hassle to manage all the baggage, so we negotiated with Pikkol to give us 2 extra cartons so we could send our riding gears, tool-kits, engine oils, and all other lubricants along with the bikes.

Our bikes had to be serviced properly before we handed-over our bikes to cargo.  During the end of May and the first week of June, Phani and I had office work deadlines and we knew we wouldn’t find time for any ride preparations so we ensured most of the plans were fully executed. By the mid of June, we had to hand over our bikes to Pikkol for packing.

Just a week before the shipping, my bike’s carburetor float pin and the bike’s rectifier had to be replaced because of some issues.  Along with those replacements, I got my bike fully checked from a mechanic near my house and post a full service, we dropped our bike for packing.

Both, mine and Phani’s dad were more enthusiastic about our Ladakh ride than we both were.  My Dad started to read a lot of stuff about Ladakh on the internet and kept updating me with the current news and happenings there.  He also kept on following-up with me on my bike’s service and ensured I wouldn’t forget even the minutest thing. He said; last year you guys had forgotten the Oxygen Cans, so first purchase the Oxygen cans for both of you and then carry with the rest of your preparations. While Phani’s Dad grabbed a screw-driver from Phani’s tool-kit and helped him in fixing his bike.

June 14, 2018 (Thursday)

The time flew and the day of our bike shipping arrived.  All the riding gears, tool-kit, spares, cables, flag rod, jerry cans, oil, and lubrication were packed in the cartons and our bikes being fully packed with 3 layers of packing materials; plastic, bubble wrap, and cardboard.  Having done with all this, most of our preparations for Leh were all finished and executed.

From Pikkol Warehouse


Pikkol guys packing our bikes


Our bikes fully packed and ready for cargo


After all these major preparations, over the weekend,  I went to my hometown Belgaum and relaxed.  Initially, Pikkol agreed to drop our bikes and the cartons to one of our friends; Narayan Bhai’s house in Delhi (Narayan Bhai heads our Road Thrill – Delhi chapter). But, Pikkol refrained to deliver the bikes and cartons to Narayan Bhai’s house saying some road work issues and we had to collect them from their warehouse at Chattarpur, Delhi.

The only few things that were pending were a BSNL Postpaid SimFirst Aid Kit, Basic medicines and some minor shopping which we did from Metro Cash & Carry and from other local medical stores.

First Aid Kit

Wishes of Good-Luck and Safe ride started to flood in our Social Media handles. Thank you, everyone, for the good wishes.

Day 0: June 28, 2018 (Thursday)

After all the planning, preparations; the day to begin the journey had arrived.  Yet again, both Phani and I skipped work and packed our baggage.  Along with our baggage, only our helmets were to be carried which I packed it in a cardboard box and kept it ready.

Packing Scenes in my room


All set to leave to Airport


In the evening, we received a message from the flight operator which read; The flight is delayed by an hour!! (actual departure time was 11.55pm). One of my known drivers; Murthy picked me up at my room and we reached Phani’s house.

Phani all set to leave to the airport


We met JP Bhai at Esteem Flyover, Hebbal and collected a Road Thrill Flag for Phani’s bike.  Meanwhile, Road Thrill Bangalore and Hyderabad had successfully completed their Ladakh ride and had reached Chandigarh.

As we reached Bangalore Airport, to our surprise, Karthik and Hemanth Bhai had come to bid us good-bye.

Hemanth Bhai, Phani, Karthik and me at Chai Point, Airport Cafe


Post the initial security check and baggage scan, we got our boarding passes and the message on the display board read; “The flight is delayed for 1 more hour”.  So, technically the flight would take off at 2 AM.  The excitement, anxiety started thumping within us.

Phani and me at Bangalore Airport


Post the final security check at the airport, we rushed to KFC at the food-court to fill our tummies.  We had 4 more hours to spend at the airport before the departure gates opened and what do we do?

This monkey (Phani), logged into his office laptop and started office work.  I said: OMG!!! Work from the Airport in the middle of all the excitement, Have you gone insane?

Phani working from the Airport… Don’t be too workaholic bro!!!


How could I forget, it was FIFA World-Cup season and the big television in the airport, telecasted Belgium vs England football match and I was fully engrossed in the match.

Watching FIFA WC Belgium Vs England in Airport


As the departure gates opened, and people formed a queue; I realized; I had lost my Boarding Pass!!!! Phani got hyper on hearing this, He yelled; “All the luggage stickers are tagged to your Boarding Pass, You don’t giggle;  go search for it”.  I started searching for my boarding pass; I was like a sniffing dog searching for it here and there looking on the floor. I ran back to the table near the KFC counter and asked the housekeeping staff; if they saw a boarding pass there on a table.  To my luck, the staff had found the boarding pass and kept it safe at their counter. I sighed relief as I received the boarding pass and then thanked the staff for their kind act and rushed back to the departure gate.

At the Airport Terminal


Finally, we boarded the Air Asia Flight.  As we were the last in the queue to enter the flight, there was no space in the in-flight luggage compartments and we had to keep our backpacks and camera bag on our lap.  Looking at this, two of my co-passengers gave me a bizarre look, maybe, they thought it was our first time on a flight!!

Day 01: June 29, 2018 (Friday)

It was 4.40 AM when we landed at Delhi Airport.

Reaching Delhi


The big crazy and an adventurous ride was about to begin….


To be continued in Episode 02: Through Haryana, Punjab and entering J & K ….!!!


A Glimpse from the next Episode:

A glimpse from Episode 02: Sleeping on the roadside footpath in Delhi



Gokool Kini

(Soul Warrior)

Click Here to continue reading Episode 02


For more information on the Leh routes, permits, packing essentials please visit: Preparations for Leh Ladakh Ride