Joy of Solo Bike Ride to Ladakh 2014…Day (14) Hanle-Tso Moriri!!!

24th September 2014, Wednesday………………Hanle-Tso Moriri, 190 km.

Morning at Hanle was bright and sunny. After a tiring ride, had a fabulous sleep the previous night. Food, stay at Padma guest house, Hanle was wonderful.  I needed some patrol which was provided by our host at a premium.

Both, the host and the hostess at Padma Guest House, Hanle were very good natured and helpful. They served me wonderful breakfast while sitting in the kitchen of the guest house.

The day was clear and the weather was wonderful. After breakfast I rode to Hanle village and then to the observatory. It was nice to watch Kiangs galloping in the vast grasslands of Hanle. Yaks were either sitting quietly or walking lazily. Dish antennas on the rooftops and cars parked outside homes meant Hanle has a touch of urbanity too.

Missed visiting Hanle monastery, could click picture only.

The ride to Indian Astronomical Observatory Hanle perched on Mt Saraswati was a steep ascent. The observatory is one of the highest optical telescope in the World and is remotely operated via satellite link from Bangaluru. The views of vast Changthang plateau and nearby mountains are stunning from the observatory.

Galloping Kiangs is another amazing site in Changthang plateau. They are big asses and are a very curious kind of creatures. They are usually a mix of red brown and white color. Usually seen in groups, they keep looking at you until suddenly they feel scared, wheel around and dash, often running in circles.

I did not feel like going to monastery or anywhere else, road is the best thing I like. The beautiful tarred road, vast vistas and stunning landscape around is a heaven for bike lovers. So more than anything else I wanted to be on the road.

The 50 kilometer or so ride from Hanle to Loma bend, like Morey Plains, is a paradise for bikers. Stunning landscape around makes you feel like you are riding on the moon. Loved this ride and even today it makes me feel heavenly while I remember this sitting at my home in a crowded city.

Clicked this selfie on reaching Loma, the toning of my skin tells the whole story.  While my face might have gone black and torn with continuous thrashing by Sun and wind, the spirit and mind is filled with freshness and enthusiasm. The happiness and joy is oozing out of the face, for face is the index to the mind.

The color and texture of the mountains are so amazing and unique to the area. It was stark beauty all around.

Just see the road, remoteness and landscape, absolutely amazing, lifetime memories. I was riding and stopping every now and then to inhale the beauty of the place and capture pictures to recall the memorable moments spent in Ladakh.

Landscape continued to amaze, the beauty and vastness of the place can not be described in words. Frankly I had never expected it, while roads like Manali-Leh, Srinagar-Leh, Khardungla, Pangong Tso may be more popular, but to me, this was the most beautiful and amazing part of the trip, may be because very low number of travellers make it beyond Pangong.

Since I did not have a dslr nor had a car, I feel like going there again better equipped with a dslr and home on wheels, my Lalpari (Ford Figo), spending more time and exploring the area more freely and in a better way.

And this one was a real surprise, came across a GRPF canteen near Nyoma and the menu said ‘Jalebi’, and ‘Kerala Parota with veg stoo’, boy these items never tasted so much than on that day in one of the remotest parts of the World, so a bundle of thanks to the Indian defence forces.

Wow! amazing menu in one of the highest and remotest parts of the World.

Nyoma milestone, giving clarity to the travellers.

From Nyoma the road is all along beautiful Indus river which enters India through Changthang plateau after originating near Mansarovar Lake in Tibet and flowing through northern India and then the whole of Pakistan and finally merging with Arabian Sea, is one of the longest rivers in Asia and is associated with one of the oldest civilizations in the World, Indus Valley Civilization.

It is hard to describe the beauty of the place and the river that runs through it. The water of the river is so pure and clean and the landscape around so stunning, only lucky one’s get to travel in this kind of heavenly setting.

The whole stretch in between Loma and Nyoma and then till the bend to Tso Moriri Lake is so stunningly beautiful. I am finding it hard to describe the beauty of the area. This feeling can only be had by personally exploring the area.

As I kept on riding, landscape continued to amaze with raw beauty and endless colors. The beautiful tarred road makes the experience even more comfortable and enables you to appreciate the beauty of the place more and more.

Just see the amazing landscape, beautiful smooth road and crystal clear Indus River.

In between Nyoma and Chumathang at Mahe bridge the bend to the left leads to Tso Moriri, Tso Kar and then onwards to Manali-Leh road. After exploring the area for a while I turned left to Tso Moriri, which is 60 kilometer from this bridge.

Suddenly landscape changed and instead of vastness, the road ran through a narrow passage, colourful shrubberies and small streams running through. Again It was a wonderful and unique sight.

The grass and shrubs were turning yellow and red signalling onset of autumn. It is here I met a group of travellers in a Tata Safari whom I had seen at Hanle and who had refused to accommodate me in their room. They were little bewildered to see a simple aged man riding solo on a simple machine with ordinary gear in these remote and rugged parts of Ladakh.

The road on the left of this place leads to Tso Moriri and Korzok while on the right leads to Puga, Tso Kar and onwards to Manali-Leh road.

The beautiful village Sumdo from where the road bifurcates towards Tso Moriri and Tso Kar.

I though how come Tso Moriri arrive so early, I was mistaken this one was Kyagar Tso, a lake on the way to Tso Moriri. The road till this lake was good one, thereafter it’s all rough dirt track to Tso Moriri.

Beautiful Kyagar Tso is located at a height of around 15000 ft and after crossing highest point Namshang La. It is around 20 kilometer before the more famous Tso Moriri, on the same road that leads to Tso Moriri and village with guest houses and homestays at Korzok.

A bridge just before the first view of Tso Moriri lake, beautiful yaks were grazing along a beautiful murmuring stream with crystal clear waters.

And this is the one I was talking about, the Tata Safari which had three travellers whom I had seen at the same homestay at Hanle and who were to meet me at Korzok and become facebook friends.

So much thanks to Manish Sharma, a wonderful person and gem of a photographer, who clicked this picture without even knowing me and before we met. He was one of the three travellers, travelling in that Tata Safari which crossed me on a number of occasions while being on the same route.

And the beautiful, calm and sacred Tso Moriri, while Pangong Tso may be more popular, to me this one is most beautiful. It is situated at a height of around 15000 ft and is the largest of the high altitude lakes entirely within india. While 400 years old famous monastery lies to the right of the lake in village Korzok, most of the left of the lake is occupied by defence forces as Indo-China LOC runs close to the lake. The lake also finds its place in the Ramsar Wetland sites under Ramsar convention. The lake is 7 km wide at its broadest point and 19 km long.

I was so mesmerised by the beauty of the lake that instead of going straight and on the right towards Korzok I continued riding few more kilometers to the left until I realised that I was going nowhere. Anyhow the ride was beautiful in the fading sunlight and the lake looked at its best in the late afternoon hours.

I turned back and rode to the village of Korzok and found many other travellers including the Tata Safari one’s. Luckily we chose the same homestay once again. Late in the evening I went little further and into the bylanes of the village to explore the area. Soon it was dark and shivering cold. So could not remain out for long and had to return to the room which was pretty cozy. Since the electricity in the village runs for only two hours that too through the village generator we all gathered at the common room of the homestay to charge batteries of our cell phones, cameras and laptops.

 

During this period I met the three travellers namely Manish Sharma, Ram Kumar and Mithun Chatterjee. While Ram was not feeling well and did not interact much, Manish gave me basic tips about photography, which later inspired me to buy a dslr. Mithun told me lot of stories about Arunachal Pradesh and lesser known Kashmir, which later inspired me to visit some of the places he told me about.

So not only learnt many things from these fellows infact did do many of the things that these gentlemen inspired me to do. So travelling is not only about destinations or food or the locals, it’s also about learning new things from fellow travellers and getting inspired…………..!!!

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