Leh to Nubra Valley via KhardungLa Pass - Ladakh Diaries Page 2 Skip to main content

Leh to Nubra Valley via KhardungLa Pass - Ladakh Diaries Page 2

Finally, the day had arrived that we had long anticipated. Climbing the Ladakh mountains with a motorbike and passing through the top of the world - KhardungLa. The ride should start from Leh and end at Nubra Valley. Around 10 AM, we were ready with our bags tied to the motorbikes and excited to press that self-start button. I had been looking forward to this 40km of ride since we landed in Leh. 

KhardungLa has always maintained a special place in people's minds because of its high altitude and a milestone that says "Welcome to the top of the world - the highest motorable pass in the world - KhardungLa". It feels like an achievement to be passing through a road where people sometimes need oxygen bottles to battle their shortage of breath. Down in Leh, travelers who had completed their circuit and were relaxing for a day warned us about the dangers of that road. In the last two days, we had heard all sorts of stories related to KhardungLa Pass which may or may not have happened with those people. Somebody vomited five times, somebody fell on the road unconsciously and somebody just returned from halfway. My friend asked me, "Do we need to carry an oxygen bottle in case?". I rejected this idea. If we have a positive mindset and climb gradually, I don't think anything severe can happen. Even though luck is not on our side, the Indian army is spread across KhardungLa with medical care to support people. 

If you missed Part 1, please read it here.

Climbing to KhardungLa was an adventure in itself. The roads from Leh to Nubra Valley via KhardungLa Pass are smooth except for a couple of hiccups, and the climb is steep. We were witnessing views for once in our lifetime. Since it was our first climb and the first day of the bike ride, we were more focused on driving than capturing the views. KhardungLa was the one thing that was on my mind. The milestone from Leh to Nubra Valley says KhardungLa is 20km, then 15km then 12km, and then I did not see any other milestone. Thankfully, there were no problems either with me or with my friend regarding oxygen. 

We made a turn and suddenly flocks of tourists clicked their pictures, an Indian flag, a building that has a plus sign on it, and snow falling from the sky appeared magically. Just like that, we reached KhardungLa. It was so sudden for me, I was a bit disappointed. I would not have felt anything if there were no signs on the road. "Do not stay here for more than 20 minutes", said a board just to my right. "Welcome to the top of the world - Mighty KhardungLa -  Altitude - 17982 feet," said another. 

I stood beside my bike and could see every happy face there. All of them feel they have achieved something. An achievement worth bragging about. All kinds of pictures are being taken at this point. Someone is climbing the pole and poses with one leg in the air. Someone is posing on their bike in front of the board. Someone is holding a ball of snow. To my left, while sitting on my bike on the KhardungLa pass, I see a military man. Utterly disappointed. He is not enlightened by what people are doing. He is standing with both hands in his jacket's pocket and looking directly at the posers. He is not impressed. Maybe he has seen enough of those. But he is not happy.

Leh to Nubra Valley via KhardungLa

On the way to Nubra Valley

After halting for 15 minutes and getting the proof of our riding on this road belonging to KhardungLa, I and my friend continued our journey to Nubra Valley. A journey that I will never forget and honestly, the only reason I want to document this post. As we climbed down the road to Nubra Valley from KhardungLa Pass, the scenery to my right captures my mind. The scenery I have never seen in my life and I believe there would not be any place like this anywhere. The most beautiful part of the journey from Leh to Nubra Valley was while going to the Nubra Valley from KhardungLa. I constantly said to my friend, describing it in words is extremely difficult. To my right, I had several feet of the valley, and across it were brown mountains looking like a green screen wallpaper from a sci-fi movie. No bird was flying anywhere. Time is subjective and it had slowed down to my right. If I were a director, I could feel the slow motion in the air. Down below, the sand is flowing with the wind trying to reach as much height as possible. I could not resist and stopped my bike frequently just to take a look and click a mental snapshot. I did not want this scenery to end. The mountains ahead seem too close and the patterns on them resemble the patterns of the cloud. Leh to Nubra Valley had already made the trip successful. 

We stopped at Khardung on our way to Nubra Valley to have some lunch and it was a nice place to just sit and watch brown mountains ahead. An alto car stopped at the same shop which had been around me since the North Pullu check post. A lady got out from the driver's side. She wore a pink scarf wrapped around her head and neck. A metallic frame on her eyes and a mole on her nose completed her face. Two kids got out from the other doors. Both are 7 to 10 years old. All of them were extremely happy. They all knew the owner of the shop in which we were eating. They started discussing something in Ladakhi and all I could catch was the word "result" frequently. I thought one of the kids had their results out. I am not sure though. 

We continued our journey to Nubra Valley from Khardung in between mountains descending towards a road in between a sea of sands on both sides. We arrived at Diskit which had a petrol pump, the first after Leh. The attendant came running towards our bikes and was very happy doing his job. Weak internet connection, no luxurious facilities, and no materialistic goals. A simple life and a simple smile are all fellow Leh people had. The journey was smooth till this point. We reached our resort in Nubra Valley and lay down for a while after we found out there is no wifi here. The mobile phones were of no use in this valley. We can only talk to each other here. A tent with basic facilities and a light bulb in between was all we had for two days. We were getting the gist of the life people were living here. We stared at the clear and starry night sky, we smiled, and within those slow moments, we dissolved into this life like salt in water.


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