The Dream of Ladakh Realized

Day 5

Despite attending the late night party at Army Mess in Leh, we got up early in morning to start for Kardung La Pass. Kardung La Pass is also known as the highest motor able road in world. We decided to start early because as the day passes vehicle movement increases at Kardung La Pass and there are high chances of getting stuck in long traffic jams. We took our breakfast at Army Mess and started for Khardung La Pass at 8 AM. Distance to Kardung La from Leh is just 40 KMs but as it’s a steep hill and road conditions are not that good, driving time was around 2 hrs. We took a couple of breaks for photography sessions before reaching the Khardung La Pass. The pass was full of snow with just roads cleared. The pass was controlled and managed by Army, and they had setup the only tea and snacks canteen there. We had the tea and some snacks there. The height of the pass is 5359 mtrs and as we spent some time there, most of our group members started complaining about the head ache. This was the sign of high altitude sickness. We visited the medical assistance desk setup by Army for tourists and doctors there suggested us to get down from the pass as soon as possible.

We started getting down, but to the other side of pass. This is the road which goes towards Nubra Valley. On the way to Nubra Valley we crossed a couple of water streams flowing in the road. In order to cross the streams, we had to pull off the shoes and drive bike on bare feet. Because of the water current and big stones under the stream, it was a challenge to cross the streams without felling down. We reached Hunder village in Nubra Vally at afternoon. Nubra Valley is famous for its cold desert, sand dunes and double hump Camel. Just before Hunder village, we clicked a lot of photos and then the entered the village in order find a good place for lunch and may be for night stay. Visited a couple of camps there but no one had the arrangements for lunch. We all were feeling very hungry and to have the lunch, we had to come back a couple of KMs back from village. We had the lunch at a small restaurant and discussed about the plans for rest of day. Most of us thought it make not much sense to stay here and it’s better to go back to Leh and stay in our camp.

After having the lunch we started driving back towards Leh. The road between Khardung La Pass and Nubra Valley is one of most dangerous with deep gorges and blind curves. When driving towards Nubra Valley, we were at the hill side most of the time and not at the gorge side. But while driving back it was our turn to take the gorge side. In some places it was not easy to see downwards in the gorge. We drove very carefully by honking in every curve, waiting well in advance for the vehicles coming from other side. Once we crossed this deep gorge side road we had shy of relief.

Now we were on an easy to drive road. Towards our left side there were small hills and at right it was almost a plain land. A small Tempo was coming from the other side on a good speed and there was enough space for me to cross that. We crossed each other at a small curve but as soon as I crossed the Tempo, something hit me hard on helmet and chest, and the direction of my Bike changed towards the hill by this force. It was all of sudden and I had no idea of what happed. The Bike went out of control and started climbing on hill off road, fortunately if didn’t fell. There was darkness in front of my eyes for a moment. As soon as I got my senses back, I realized that if I try to bring the Bike back down in road, it may fell down badly. So, I hit the bike on a rock in the hill and fortunately the bike didn’t fell but somehow was stuck among stones and I was still sitting on it without hurt. Till this time I had no idea what exactly had happened. I looked back on the road and saw that the small Tempo was carrying Iron Rods (used for building construction). These rods were hanging well behind the Tempo and when the Tempo took the turn on small curve in speed, these rods flashed on me and hit me at helmet and chest. At least two to three Iron Rod bundles hit me on the helmet and chest while driving the bike on a decent speed. My friends coming behind me on Xylo car saw the entire incident in front of their eyes. They were stunned for a moment and ran towards me when saw the bike hit the rock off road in hill. We brought the bike back to road. There were some damages to bike. Headlight was broken, front shockers had the scratches, leg guard was turned and front wheel alignment was off. But it was really a miracle save. If it could have happened a Kilometer back where we were on the deep gorge side, it would have been the maximum damage. My helmet was damaged and had some injuries in chest but nothing major. Before starting the Trip we decided that we will not drive even a Kilometer without helmet. This rule paid off us here very well.

It was around 5 PM and we were still 20 KMs before Khardung La Pass. Now the challenge was to drive the bike without headlight as it was broken in the accident. We had no option but to rush and drive fast. We crossed the Pass when there was some sun light and after that I drove with the help of other vehicles light. Reached Leh at around 8 PM and then went straight to the Royal Enfield mechanic. He fixed everything and made the bike ready for tomorrow’s journey 🙂

It was indeed a life saver. We celebrated the new life with few beers in evening.

Distance Traveled on Day 5:

Leh to Nubra Valley: 120 KMs
Back from Nubra Valley to Leh: 120 KMs

Agenda for tomorrow is to visit the famous Pangong Lake and have night halt there. Distance to Pangong Lake from Leh is 160 KMs.

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