Jammu & Kashmir
On day 3 the Mojo mountain trail entered the beautiful Kashmir valley. A 261 km long ride took the riders all the way to Sonmarg passing some lovely sights in the process. The riders also crossed the famous 2.5 km long Jawahar tunnel, the gateway to the Kashmir valley. The next day presented one of the first big riding challenges on the mountain trail. This was a day when the riders would cross their first high altitude pass of the journey. The Zojila is also known as the gateway to Ladakh and the bikers had to encounter some bad roads along with high altitudes to cross the pass. It led them to Drass ,the second coldest habitable place in the world. The day ended on a high as the riders paid tributes to martyrs of the Indian armed forced at the Kargil war memorial. Day 5 of the ride took the gang from Kargil to Leh a ride of 225 kms. The riders crossed two mountain passes during the course of the day and also crossed some beautiful monasteries. With some breathtaking landscapes for company throughout the ride, not for a moment did bikers feel bored of the ride. Because of some good quality and arrow straight roads it wasn’t too long before the trail hit Leh, the capital of Ladakh.
Leh & around
Over the last few years, with improved connectivity Leh has turned into a popular tourist destination. The bikers enjoyed their only rest day of this two week long ride to soak in the sights and sounds of this beautiful town surrounded by the Himalayas. Some of the attractions in Leh not to miss include the Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace and the war memorial. Next day was the day every single person on this trip was looking forward to from the day they started the ride. They started the climb towards the highest motorable road in the world Khardungla. Riding their bike to a height of 18,380 feet was a dream these bikers have been nurturing for a long time now, and the mountain trail helped them achieve the distant dream. The next destination on the ride was the lovely Nubra valley. This is a place like no other as you get to see the desert sand, snow clad mountains and wide open rivers all in one frame. The bikers also paid a visit to the lovely Diskit monastery one of the hundreds of gompas located all around Ladakh.
Day 9 on the Mahindra Mojo mountain trail promised another major milestone on the journey. The group left Leh for a 135 km ride to the Pangong Lake nestled high up in the Himalayas. But before that the group had to take on Changla, the second highest motorable road in the world. The roads were bad and there were some challenging water crossings, but the riders were determined to cross all the hurdles. At the end of the day what they got was a just reward for their efforts, the beautiful Pangong lake, one of the most stunning sights the Himalayas have to offer. Riding along this 130 km long lake was one of the most satisfying moments for the group. The same route took the gang back to Leh the next day.
It was day 11, a day which would turn out to be the longest day of the ride in terms of distance covered. The riders would hit the highway to Manali, a ride that was full of challenges. The first big task was crossing Tanglangla, the third highest pass in the world. The bikers would cross two more passes during the day. Then there were the More plains, a long flat stretch of land up in the Himalayas where the bikers could hit the top gear and enjoy a high speed ride. And before they reached the destination for the day Sarchu, they got down the famous Gata loops, a series of 21 hairpin bends, truly a sight to behold. There were still a few more mountain passes to go before the group could reach Manali. First of these was Baralachla which is located at an altitude of 16,500 feet. The efficient work of Border Roads Organisation ensured that it was a smooth ride as despite the high altitude the road was in a very good condition. The Rohtang Jot was the final hurdle that was to be crossed before the ride would reach Manali and get back to civilization. But this wasn’t an easy task at all. Frequent landslides mean it is always a task to cross this pass and the riders had to show real character to get down from here and reach Manali. A largely uneventful ride took the riders from here back to Chandigarh where the glorious two week long journey ended. The gang concluded the ride with nothing apart from beautiful memories and stories that would last a lifetime. They bid goodbye to each other and to the Himalayas with the promise of coming again, to relive those lovely memories.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars