22th September 2014, Monday………………Leh-Pangong, 167 km.
Got up fresh in the morning. After tea and cookies, bade goodbye to the wonderful hostess. Got permits for Chushul, Hanle, Loma, Nyoma and others in no time. Topped up the bike, bought a jerry can of 5 liter capacity, got it filled and off I rode towards dream land.
Took a little break at Choglamsar. Memory lane flashed back few images of yonder days when we had camped with YHAI in 1988, in the middle of a small island formed by the river Indus and used to reach there via a small bridge built on a small stream. There used to be two groups camping at a time, consisting of 20-24 members each, one going up, the other coming down from the trek. Every night there was campfire and competetion of songs and dance between the two groups. We used to win most of the time.
Next stop was Thiksey monastery, which resembles Potala Palace in Lhasa. The twelve storey gompa is the largest in central Ladakh and contains largest statue of maitreya.
The road was absolute beauty with amazing landscape all around. There were small villages and army camps on both sides of the road.
The landscape is dotted with number of monasteries perched on hillocks all along the route. Majestic snowclad mountains gave it a very beautiful and eerie look.
Serthi filling station at Karu is perhaps the last filling station enroute Pangong Lake, infact the route is same for going to Manali, Changthang, Hanle, Chushul, Tso Kar, Tso Moriri lakes till Karu. So topped up again here so that I may not run out of patrol anytime during the trip. As per my knowledge the next filling station would be at Tandi in Lahaul Valley.
Took lunch at a punjabi dhaba in Karu, it was good to see a punjabi sikh gentleman running the dhaba. At Karu the road to the left leads to Changla/Pangong, straight one to Upshi. At Upshi the straight road leads to Tso Moriri/Chumathang and the right one bifurcates to Manali.
From here, I turned left towards Pangong.
The landscape was unique, bare brown mountains all around, azure blue sky, unique Ladakh villages and monasteries perched on hillocks, which were visible from distance. Monastery in picture looks like Chemrey.
This is an important milestone at Serthi. From here one road bifurcates to the left to Agham via Wari la (67 km) and joins Pangong-Nubra road (via Shyok) which further joins main Leh-Nubra road just before Khalsar.
The road from hereon is a gradual ascent. The landscape around is one of its kind and absolutely out the world.
The road was tarred, single but good one. The mountains around were brown, devoid of any vegetation.
Soon I reached Zingral army camp.
From Zingral the road is a continuous ascent to mighty Changla one of the highest passes in the world, named after Changla Baba and the gateway to Changthang plateau and Pangong lake. A shrine devoted to Baba Changla is also located here. Army also runs a tea point for travellers here.
Changla Baba shrine in the picture.
Landscape around Chang la is absolutely mesmerizing, mighty snow clad mountains, no vegetation, thin air, no villages around, only army men and excited travellers all around.
Beautiful and unique landscape around Changla.
The road from Changla is a continuous descent and leads to large wide plateau type valley. The road quality deteriorates a little.
Yes, very true only the daring makes up to these places solo otherwise there are hordes of people reaching these places these days.
Fantastic view of the winding road from one of the vantage points of the road to Pangong lake after Chang la.
Only the people who never give up are the one’s who do things which matter the most in life. This signpost is a very thoughtful reminder as the thought of giving up might creep in to the traveller.
The next important milestone is Durbuk, another army post, where road to the left bifurcates Shyok which further leads to Nubra whereas the road to the right leads to Pangong Lake.
The road from hereon runs along a crystal clear stream, very desolate and eerie.
Evening was setting in, the road started looking very remote, the musically flowing stream was giving a wonderful look. At times I felt the stream was flowing upwards instead of downwards same as at Magnetic Hill.
As I drew closer to Pangong Tso the landscape became very remote and eerie. Except for few bikers crossing in between there was no soul around. Unlike other riders I was solo and riding at a leisurely pace enjoying each and every moment, stopping all the while for clicking pictures as after a long long time my dream of visiting Pangong Lake was about to materialise.
It was almost evening when I reached Spangmik the first village near the lake. There were lot of tents and huts available. I checked few of them, they looked bit overpriced to me. So I decided to head for a budget homestay in the village, just then I saw a biker from behind yell at me.
The biker, whom I had met at Khardungla Pass asked me to follow him. He took me to a beautiful hut where another biker was waiting. It was wonderful to know that these passionate bikers (Arony Ghosh and Sunit Chakravarty) rode all the way from Kolkata to Ladakh. They had rented the whole hut comprising two rooms and very kindly offered to share a part of it to me. I told them that I am a loner type and a budget traveler and may not be of any good for them. Somehow they convinced me to stay with them.
It was a chilly night. I wanted to go out and see the lake in the night but could not dare as bone chilling wind was blowing outside. Instead of venturing out we spent early part of the night chatting with each other. While Arony had many interesting stories to tell, Sunit turned out to be ex colleague of my daughter. Small world…thanked the due and went to sleep, another dream come true, sleeping in a cozy hut on the banks of PANGONG LAKE……….!!!