Motorcycle diaries : Leh – Pangong tso

” If you want to be happy,
or a day,


If you want to be happy,
for an year,


If you want to be happy,
for a lifetime,

ride a motorcycle!”

Finally, I was there amidst the mighty Himalayas of ladakh with my 350cc beast(rented ofc ). It was the first time I got to try my hands on a royal enfield for a road trip.

It was the first day of our tour to ladakh, and as a part of our acclimatization we decided to ride to the pangong lake 150 kilometers from leh.

As per few people we were expected to have headaches as took a flight direct from Delhi to Leh, but we were not feeling even drowsy. So we decided to rent bikes and roll from the next morning. After nice ladakhi dinner and a 20 kms test drive (to paldan’s home) we were all set for a high altitude ride to pangong tso next morning.

We started from shey at 8 in the morning after a heavy breakfast courtsey paldan. The drive to karu was smooth and scenic along the Indus river. Then we had to start gaining altitude till chang-la pass. It was the time when the road started to dissapear and the bike started to feel the force. The first hour of ride was spent in getting the feel of the bullet. I dont know why, but I again was hungry only an hour after having a heavy breakfast. Might be I had nothing to do (except holding the accelerator and driving right on the road), and when I have nothing to do, I eat. So we had to take our first halt when the real slope began.

The first break.

Small and frequent breaks are relievers on any bike ride to your bums, monotonousness, legs, back and mind. We had out first still sight of the area around, had the amazing apples ( best till date) of ladakh, clicked a few shots and there were we again on road behind a few tourist buses to Chang-La pass.

The route from here started to become much like the ones to mountain passes with no roads, some gravel, loose soil, crossing streams, little little land slides here or there. But as our bikes were moving we had no problems at all. Then I realized that biking involves a lot more than just transmission shifting and accelerating, I realized when there is no road and only gravels and its a downhill slope never touch the clutch or neutral. Get the bike in first gear and let it move accordingly. I just escaped an accident learning the skill and then I realized that “this shit is real”. After that It was a tough time for me driving very cautiously till we reach chang-la.

Chang-la… the entrance gate of changtang.

After Khardung-la, chang-la is the second highest motor-able pass in the world. Besides this its chang-la we have to cross to enter the mysterious world of changtang plateau, this plateau starts from tibet and stretches 1600 kms to south eastern ladakh. The home of changpa nomads, this plateau is one of the most toughest yet beautiful places in the world.

At the pass there was a store operated by Indian Army serving free tea and selling various souvenirs. The green tea served there is just aweosme. Now the next part of the journey, getting down from chang-la towards pangong-tso was more of a downhill route and I was quite terrified by the terrain and slope, as it was the first time I was driving the RE and that too not a good one.  But as there was no option I changed my bike with vishwam and we moved  on.

Finally I mastered going down on a slope and we were there in the plain valleys in between huge Himalayan wonders.

on the way, in changtang valley

We were in a wildlife sanctuary, so there have to be Himalayan wildlife and we spotted one. They are called marmots and lived in the indefinite burrows along the road and it was not hard to spot them 🙂

A marmot

After that the route was straight and within an hour we were there at our destination, the majestic Pangong Tso. A 604 sq. kms beauty amidst enormous brown/white giants.

the pangong ride is successful

Reaching there we realized that we were damn hungry, maggi was the lunch. After lunch we moved ahead to explore the beauty of the place, which included taking the bike off the road and going to the next village spangmik, where there are less people and more of the nature.

This ride also included getting some photographs clicked, highlighting :

i did it!

the beauty of nature

the lagoons besides the main lake!

the two bikes in the desert.

nearby peaks

alone in nowhere.

Me, bike and the lake.

Me, bike and the lake.

By evening we reached spangmik and there the hunt for stay started. We got a home stay for about 500 per person including food and stay. The facilities provided at that place were amazing and so was the food.

It was the time it began to freeze as the night approached and the amount of cold the place experienced was clearly seen from the size of huge quilts we were given along with another layer of blankets inside a room with thick walls.

Next morning as we woke up, it was colder than the previous day and the snow covered nearby mountains answered the question. There was a heavy snow fall on all the mountains nearby. After breakfast we decided that we take an early leave as the matters can get worse as the day approaches.

Going back was one hell of a ride as the winds blowing were icy and we did not had anything to protect ourselves. Everything that was brown the other day had become white as we gained height towards Chang-la. We were shivering yet driving, reaching chang-la was a big relief as the hot tea provided there made our bodies a little warm from both outside and inside. That was the most amazing tea I ever had as the situations made it so important.  The whole chang-la was covered in snow then and we were too cold to get the pictures of the moment.

Then it was the straight ride back to leh and as I had got a good hold of the bike by then, it was an easy ride back to leh.

Reaching back leh was a sigh of relief and then the quest for good food and then I had the best thupka, momos, honey-ginger-lemon tea till date. Which was followed by shopping for the next 10 days of trek back in the mountains.

Yeah it definitely was an awesome kick start to my 18 day journey to ladakh.

BUt as this page is about the ride,

“thats all folks.” 🙂


3 thoughts on “Motorcycle diaries : Leh – Pangong tso

  1. James

    really a good read 🙂

  2. James

    which month did u go to leh, coz am planning a trip in Sept and just wanted to know if that is an ideal time

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