After a early morning tea at Khardung village in Nubra valley we headed towards the checkpost. It was closed since morning due to landslides and snowfall in the Khardung La. After 3 hours the road opened and we finally headed towards Leh. On the way back we faced repeated road blocks and snowfall. This time we hardly stopped for a photo in the world’s highest motorable road. Late in the afternoon we reached Leh and settled in a newly constructed hotel near Shanti Stupa in Changspa area.
After a sumptuous dinner we decided to head to Pangong Tso via Chang la the very next day. Our remaining team from Nubra team- Prashant, Chaitanya and Deepak decided to stay back and rest.
We started around 7 am the next morning. We had to cross Chang la (the second highest mountain pass in the world) which was known for its steep ascent. It has a rapid gain in altitude as compared to Khardung la and Zoji la which we had crossed earlier. We took the Leh Manali highway and crossed Stanka, Thiksey and Hemis monasteries. On the way we met several mountain bikers who were cycling all the way from Leh to Manali. In around 40 km we diverted towards Pangong from Karu crossing. After verifying our Inner Line Permits and IDs to army personnel we headed towards Chang la. In next two hours we rode on the dusty patched, met a few locals on a roadside café and started the ascent towards mighty Chang la. The roads were much peaceful and devoid of tourist traffic. After a series of snow patches and rocky roads we made our way to the second highest motorable road in the world. It had several water crossings on the way. The top had a temple of Chang La baba surrounded by a panorama of snow clad peaks. After a short break we headed down and stopped at a roadside café. A frozen lake just behind the cafe caught my attention. A crowd of tourist had gathered there to inspect a rider who had slid on the road and had probably fractured his collar bone. After giving pain killers and assurance he was sent to Leh hospital. His bike was towed away in a rescue van. We had maggie, tea and soup.
Changthang wildlife sanctuary is a unique high altitude biosphere with mix of deserts landscapes and grasslands. The barren landscapes with occasional greenery was a treat to the eye. We came across herds of Pashmina sheep and farms for producing the Pashmina wool. The premium quality wool was the primary source of income for majority of the locals. Being in close proximity to the international border security was tight. We crossed Durbuk and Tangste village and headed towards Pangong. Around 4 pm in the evening we came across the first view of the majestic Pangong lake in on of the bends of the mountain. In the next half and hour we reached the renowned Three Idiots point. The 135 km high altitude lake extended from India into China. At an altitude of 4300 meter above sea level it remains frozen during the winters. Being a tourist hotspot the hotels were charging absurd prices for one night halt. After a photo session we headed ahead. After riding a kilometer along the lake we came across a tent accommodation facility who agreed to host us for the night at a reasonable rate. It was just across the lake. We unpacked our gear and went out to experience the surreal nature. It was almost dark and cold. Post dinner with Alu paratha I dozed off in a flash. It was very windy at night. Two layers of blanket was making life comfortable inside the tent.
Read the Khardung La story here:http://www.wandererdoc.in/2018/01/nubra-valley-story-highest-motorable-road-bad-weathers/
Eid breakfast with a Baluchi family at Kargil- http://www.wandererdoc.in/2017/11/eid-breakfast-with-a-baluchi-family-at-kargil/