Manali To Leh is a 474 Kms long highway. It is called the ‘Biker’s Paradise’ for its amazingly adventurous conditions throughout the way. It has five high passes, the famous Gata Loops, and mesmerizing More Plains on the way. Every Year hundreds of bikers and many cyclists go to Ladakh via this road to live their dream. In recent years, especially after the release of popular Bollywood movie Three Idiots, Ladakh has become sort of an emotion for many travelers. The high mountains, vast plains, beautiful lakes, age-old monasteries and ancient Ladakhi culture attract a multitude of travelers from across the globe during summers. The Manali-Leh road remains closed from October to May due to heavy snowfall and opens in the last week of May or sometimes the first week of June.
Traveling is an exciting way of exploring the world, learning and growing with each new experience. It opens up new horizons for us, wipes out a lot of doubts and fears about the unknown and unexplored territories, people and their cultures. Traveling on bicycle gives me the opportunity to travel with patience and courage, to meet the locals and know their lifestyle and culture.
I have met people who would boast of the speed with which they had covered hundreds of kilometres in a single day and I only wonder why are they doing this and where do they want to go? We have to stop running after the destinations if we really want to enjoy the process of life.
Manali-Leh road trip offers so much beauty and diversity to travelers. You cross over five high mountain passes – Rohtang la, Baralacha la, Nakee la, Lachung la, and Tanglang la. The altitude keeps getting higher with every pass, the landscape also keeps changing after you cross a pass. More Plains is the most scenic and breathtaking place of land on the entire highway, it’s a 45 kms long stretch at an altitude of over 15000 ft above sea level. The huge dry mountains and vast plains make one feel like a tiny creature lost in the wilderness.
When you reach the top of a mountain pass and look at the infinity of the mighty Himalayas all around you, you turn speechless, this is one sort of a spot where speech looses its meaning and silence makes more sense.
When I was riding my bicycle in the remote regions of Ladakh, once in a day I would pass through a very small village of a few houses and that would keep me wondering the whole day. I would wonder about the people and life that are lost in time and space. In a world that’s moving on so rapidly, where life has become so fast and connectivity has surpassed all levels, there’s a tiny village thousand kms away from ‘civilisation’ where the only dominant sound is either of cold wind blowing or of the flowing river. There are so many things that keep me wondering, layers of thoughts erupt in my mind as this moment when I am passing through this place it looks so so far away into the wild , how would it be a hundred years back in time. I try my best to imagine life there a hundred years back and I find myself lost in some prehistoric epic.
After riding for days through stony roads and in silence and solitude I reached a surreal place called Tso Moriri lake and there is this village called Karzok right on the bank of the lake. This seemed so perfect to me that I felt like this was a place I was destined to reach all my life and reaching here after riding my bicycle for thousands of miles gave me a sense of accomplishment. Normally I don’t mind destinations, I just enjoy the process and my journey so I keep going on, but there I felt like I have reached somewhere, so I went a little ahead of the village and sat by the lake for hours.
If you’re a dreamer, a curious kid of imagination, a true wanderer then Ladakh is the land you must travel to at least once in your life. Ladakh will leave you speechless, take you deeper into the self and help you connect with yourself.