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To Ladakh on Bike [Part 5]
by Tejas Mayure
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Back in Manali, we had heard that the best tourist attraction nearby is Rohtang Pass, to where the tourists come from Manali to spend time in snow. Here we saw the reason why. The road to Ladakh is full of ups and downs. And it is the ups on this road that are famous. Every up is a pass that goes from the peak of a snowy mountain. Rohtang Pass was the first on our route. Despite of our delay, we halted at Rohtang for a while. The flocks of tourists and the fun activities that they were participating in around us were too enticing to just pass by.


Though we did not participate in any of the fun activities such as skiing or riding the snow scooters, we did enjoy the bowls of hot Maggy and a cup of tea while we sat and watched the fun others were having. In the freezing temperature of Rohtang, 2 points below zero, the meal was a joy that made us forget our packed food which we let remain in the bags. But soon the cold and the pressing time made us move on. We left Rohtang after a halt of nearly 30 minutes and started climbing down.


It was a relief to get down the mountain and into a region where we could remove our jackets and mufflers. It alarmed me that I was relieved getting rid of the freezing cold, because the cold was going to be a frequent visitor throughout our journey ahead, like a vehicle that keeps catching up with us every now and then on a highway.


The further road was not really a joy to ride on. It was in a bad state and hampered our speed beyond our expectation. But slowness was not the only problem. Passing through the chill of Rohtang and all the riding on steep slopes had surprisingly knocked out our stamina within hours. The only person who looked lively at this point was Nilesh. He kept our spirits high in his ever joking manner until suddenly we came to a settlement of considerable size. At the first chance that we got here we parked our bikes and stretched ourselves, then entered a tent-like restaurant where there was more Maggie and tea. I remember, I ate two whole omelets with warmed up slices of bread and enjoyed the meal like never before. It was nearly 4.30 in the afternoon by the time we left the little restaurant. If I am not mistaken, this was the town called Sissu. Tired and irked by riding already, I had started not keeping the notes.


Within next hour, we raced despite of the bad state of the road, thanking the rare patches of decent surface, and reached the confluence of Chandra and Bhaga Rivers, a point from where the rivers become one - the Chandrabhaga River. Here there is the last petrol pump you would meet until Leh. We filled our fuel tanks to the fullest and even packed some more petrol in bottles, just to be safe.


Within minutes after that, we reached Keylong, a beautiful town of considerable size, where we had booked a nice hotel and managed to reach on the same date as the booking.


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