Solitude of Manali – Leh Highway | Ladakh Mega Meet

The Journey so far…

Night was very cold up at Pang which is usually the case at Manali – Leh Highway in September. My feet went freezing even inside the sleeping bag and inside that temporary room. I was thanking god that we did not sleep in tents 😀 … No no, the prime reason of frozen feet was my legs were at the side of the door of that temporary room which was actually just covered with a thin cloth rather being a door. Hence, it just marginally stopped the cold wind from coming inside 🙂 …

The Majestic Views on Manali – Leh Highway near Sarchu
Day 9 | Pang – Sarchu – Baralacha La – Jispa – Keylong – Sissu

Anyways, we all were awake by 6.30 AM in cold conditions and started to look out for daily bio – routines in wide open. Finally, everyone was ready by 7.30 AM as we ordered the breakfast. Tapan ji had to reach Manali on that day so he had left for the day early morning with Benjamin. Gagan and Neha came back and told us that they don’t want to miss the Moore Plains and Tso Moriri lake. So, they decided to go back to Tso Moriri and come back after couple of days later 🙂 🙂 … Wow, lucky they were !! We had plans of hitting Chandratal tomorrow which meant we will be heading to Jispa for overnight stay on this day. Filling our tummies and settling the bills with aunty at Pang, we bid adieus to her team to march into solitude on Manali – Leh Highway. I am so very much in love with the journey between Pang to Sarchu to Baralacha La Pass over Manali – Leh Highway. Well, it gives a kind of a different feeling when traveling on this section of the route and in fact this is the prime reason I am madly in love with the journey of Manali – Leh Highway. The skies were also clear to help us live those magical views of this high altitude terrain.

The Temporary room where we stayed at Pang
Inside view of the room at Pang
The Majestic Views on Manali – Leh Highway near Pang

Dhabhas at Pang
Strange Structures seen near Pang due to Soil Erosion Effect
An Ibex on Manali – Leh Highway

As we drove besides the river, the views of barren landscape around Pang kept getting beautiful and beautiful. We passed through Kangla Jal nalla and then ascended to Lachulung La Pass at an altitude of 5059 Mtrs. It was the 13th Pass of our trip and the cold winds were hitting the face ferociously but that did not let our spirits down. We enjoyed good 20 minutes rest over there before descending towards Whisky Nalla After reaching the base at Whisky Nalla, we again started our ascend to Nakee La Pass, 14th Pass of our trip at an altitude of 4750 Mtrs. At Nakee La, you can actually see the views towards Lachulung La which were quite amazing with deep blue skies on offer over the top of barren-scapes. The natural beauty makes you insane over there midst extreme solitude 😉 …

The Majestic Views on Manali – Leh Highway between Pang and Kangla Jal

A Strange Rock Formation near Kangla Jal on Manali – Leh Highway
Nabeel riding ahead of us

No wonder Manali – Leh Highway is a Dream Road to Ride or Drive
Views from Lachulung La Pass
Lachulung La Pass on Manali – Leh Highway
Sun and Shades – Playing Together towards Nakee La Pass

Nakee La Pass on Manali – Leh Highway
Lachulung La Pass in distance, as seen from Nakee La Pass

The wind was harsh so we rolled down and were soon greeted with Gata Loops. Gata Loops are quite famous for its stories 😉 but for me it is well known for its lovely views specially I love the direction from Leh to Manali on them. While coming from Manali, these 21 Hair Pin Bends known as Gata Loops takes you from an altitude of 4190 Mtrs to 4630 Mtrs just on the base of Nakee La pass. There are loads of shortcuts in between, so one should be careful and respect his/her drive before moving on to those shortcuts else enjoy the serpentine like I do 🙂 🙂

Gata Loops – The First Views
Gata Loops on Manali – Leh Highway

The Majestic Views on Manali – Leh Highway at Gata Loops

Gata Loops – As They End

As soon as the Gata Loops end, Sarchu remain about 20 odd KMs and we had planned for lunch over at Sarchu. However, none of us was able to resist clicking the beauty of Manali – Leh Highway. Hence, every other turn we were kind of stopping, clicking and stopping again :D… Soon we reached Sarchu where we crashed onto a dhabha to fill our tummies. We ate aloo paranthas and someone just ordered couple of Red Bulls. When we got the bill, we were shocked to see that just two Red Bulls at Sarchu cost us almost equal to the price of lunch for 12 people 😯 😯 😀 … Nevertheless, we crossed the border into Himachal Pradesh and followed the dark clouds in distance over Baralacha La Pass range. There was a minor landslide as we crossed Killing Sarai but thanks to BRO guys who were working there to clear it.

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The Majestic Views on Manali – Leh Highway near Sarchu
Dhabha at Sarchu where we had lunch
The Road towards Ladakh at Sarchu
Views towards Baralacha La Pass
A Small Landslide being cleared by BRO

Snow flakes started to roll down though very lightly as we reached the top of one of the passes that I love most, Baralacha La Pass at an altitude of 4890 Mtrs. It was 3rd pass of the day and 15th of the trip 🙂 … For the first time I saw it devoid of snow, so no point staying there and we rolled down to base of it to click Suraj Tal / Vishal Tal … Well, at this time of year with no snow around, it was unfortunate to see this lake (though for the number it was the 12th Lake of our trip :)). It lacked the beauty which it use to have when snow is around. Hence, just couple of clicks and we moved further down.

Manali – Still 200 KMs Away…
The Gateway to Heaven – Ladakh
The ascend to Baralacha La Pass
Baralacha La Pass on Manali – Leh Highway
Suraj Tal on Manali – Leh Highway

Roads were fantastic in this leg of journey and we reached Zingzing Bar for a tea stop. It was cloudy there too with very light drizzle. I was feeling very sleepy on these good roads so I decided to take a knap. As I woke up, we were at Deepak Tal (13th Lake of the trip) where we spent good time. Everyone tried their skills for popping stones over the water of the lake as much as possible. This is the time when roads are best in shape, so we were not worried of the rest of the journey and we had ample of time on hand too. So, instead of initially planned Jispa as night stay we decided to reach further ahead and stay at Sissu for the night. We passed by Darcha that looked quite lovely from the vantage points while rolling down and mobile signals were restored as soon as we reach there. Time to call home after a day as we rolled down to Jispa along the Bhaga River Jispa looked wonderful with black tarred road in the middle, lush green cover of high mountains at the back, Bhaga river flowing aside… just like a perfect countryside to spend your life. At one stage I thought let’s sleep here only but then we had to get our Scorpio’s shocker spring fixed at Keylong

Zingzing Bar Dhabha
Deepak Tal on Manali – Leh Highway
Darcha Village – A Vantage Point View
A Mountain near Darcha that collapsed into rocks as per history
The ever Beautiful Jispa on Manali – Leh Highway

There is a popular mechanic shop that comes on the left side while going from Leh after you cross Keylong town. We handed over the spring to him and 40 minutes all it took to get it fixed. The drizzle had not stopped yet but it was very pleasant to hike around outskirts of Keylong as our car got fixed. Sissu was just an hour, at max, away from Keylong and there was ample of daylight left. We started from Keylong went pass Tandi and reached Sissu to stay at Hotel Triveni that falls right on the road. We got an amazing price of Rs 500-700 depending on the room and number of people in it. But, it was a steal of a deal with comfort levels this Hotel offers. You can go in and refer DoW at Hotel Triveni and I am sure they will be happy to offer you a good price 🙂

Bhaga River flowing through Keylong

Anyways, I took a bath as cold conditions have turned out into pleasant conditions now and rested there for couple of hours before the dinner. At night a very sad news hit us as we came to know that Sonam ji (the Xylo driver) had lost his mother a day ago and because of no connectivity he was unable to know about it 😥 😥 … His mother was aged and was running ill for past few months BUT it’s always the most major loss in anyone’s life 😥 😥 … We all were very very sad and asked both Rigzin and Sonam ji to leave back early morning for Leh. Rigzin was feeling bad but our trip is not more important than the loss and he, being with his dear friend at this critical time of life. We are tourists, we come and we go but Sonam ji was his friend cum relative. We made him understand this so that he does not feel any guilt whatsoever for leaving us in the middle. We very soon managed taxis for rest of the trip from Keylong with the help of uncle at Hotel Triveni, that is to Sissu to Chandratal and back to Manali. This made him felt eased out a bit and they agreed to leave at 3 AM in morning. Finally, we had dinner together which tasted quite good and local to our tastes of North India after so many days 🙂 … We all gave both Rigzin and Sonam ji a tight hug, settled their bills along with tips and passed on this emotional moment to sleep for the night, praying for the blessed soul to rest in peace.

Have you taken this amazing journey of Manali – Leh Highway? If yes, do share your experience with me too.. Or if you have any queries feel free to share them in DoW Community or in the comments section of this Travel Tale of Ladakh.

The Journey ahead…

This post was last modified on May 31, 2019 08:25

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