Planning for this started quite some time back, as far as couple of months back. Shantanu, the lone ranger had been doing bulk of the research on the route with tentative dates fixed around June end, others had quickly forgotten about it after the initial discussion. Shantanu’s call that we would start on 5th July got everybody thinking and then everybody started collecting material. Few years back, when few colleagues from my company returned from this trip, this trip had been in my mind. Every year, something or other used to push things further. Finally this year it looked materializing.
For bikers in India, the Manali-Leh route is considered as one of the best and opens only during June to September every year. This route provides unlimited supply of nature’s beautiful scenic vistas, challenges of riding in the mountains and also easily is the toughest bike riding route. Internet and friends revealed lot of information, some scary some encouraging, and finally for the first time Leh looked a possibility.
Plan involved renting bikes, preferably bullet or karizma, from Delhi and ride via chandigarh – manali – keylong – sarchu – Leh limiting the distance to be covered on each days travel to 120-150 km's allowing ample time for acclimatization and sight-seeing, enjoying the ride rather than rushing through the route for the sake of its completion; but it was not be. We ended up revising plan again and again scraping the previous one. The starting point for ride kept changing constantly between Delhi, Chandigarh, and Mandi; and this must have been the most heavily debated topic of the plans.
Majority would certainly consider this as foolish but only those who embark upon such journey would know what it is. There is something in that, something hardwired, maybe wrongly, in the brain that keeps telling to do treks and newer and newer journeys.
Come July 5th, and I am off to the one of most memorable, hopefully, ride of my life, perhaps the longest and hardest, only one where I can say I am at the top of the motorable road in world. I am about to embark upon a journey to the Himalayas, the land of laddakh, through the river streams and passes to the place known as ‘Leh’, to the desert located at the highest altitude, and off course, the coldest in the world, to the lake which probably is also at highest altitude in the world.