Published: September 18th 2012July 27th 2012
Not being a person to choose comfort over adventure; taking the road to Leh was a decision that came naturally to me. I wanted to enjoy the scenary and since I was travelling alone; I took the bus.
The bus left Manali at 11 in the morning. The ride was comforting in the beginning and the scene outside would have charmed anyone's eyes. But as we moved on, the road started to get narrower. There were several instances when I looked down from the window and saw a gorge several feet deep, just inches away from the bus.
We got caught up in a traffic jam for a couple of hours as we got closer to Rohtang pass. Moving sluggishly as we were, I realised that the topography around us had changed. While Manali had a lot of mountains with thick growth of trees; as we got closer to Rohtang pass, the trees disappeared and were replaced by smaller vegetation.
When we reached Rohtang pass, it was foggy, windy and
very cold. I got out of the bus to take a look around. Standing at a spot, I was enjoying the view of some beautiful mountains across the valley, but since it was very windy; the view soon got blocked by some clouds.
A few minutes later we were off. The ride from Rohtang thereon was incredibly beautiful. However, as we travelled further northwards and crossed Koksar, all the small vegetation started to disappear. All I could see was mountains with patches of green grass.
By nightfall we were at Keylong, close to the border of Himachal Pradesh and J&K. Our tents were ready for us, so was our dinner. Since there were so many foreigners travelling in the bus, the food was prepared with no spices and no flavour at all. I still had my dinner and ensured that I took in a proper amount of carbs, for the next day was going to be very long.
The next morning the bus left for Leh at 4 in the morning. It was still dark outside and I slept till dawn, when we reached the checkpost.
Once we crossed Baralacha pass, I saw snow for the
first time on the trip. The sun was just up and the light was being reflected off the snow, at the top of the mountains.
As the bus crossed Sarchu, I could see some very unusual structures on the sand. The view started to change from there on. There were barren mountains all over, with no grass whatsoever. Barring for a few army trucks that would cross our way once in a while, there were no other vehicles. At some places there was a proper road, while at some other places there was none at all. There was not a single soul in sight.
We crossed Taglang La, the second highest motorable pass in the world. While I got out to take some pictures, all the other people stayed back in the bus itself, perhaps in order to avoid the sun. Soon after that, we stopped at a make shift cafeteria, on the highway, to have our lunch. I stepped in and greeted the lady with a 'Juley'. She smiled and wished 'O Juley', back to me.
It got hotter and sunnier as the day progressed. I looked at my water bottle and saw that it was totally disfigured due to the sudden fluctuations in temperature and pressure. The bumpy ride, the extreme heat and fluctuations in oxygen level, made the ride challenging. I made sure that I kept myself hydrated at all times so as not to fall sick.
By evening, we had covered a major portion of the distance. As we approached Leh, we reached a place where there was just a narrow road to travel on, with mountains on both sides to it. It was as if, a road had been cut right through the mountains. It was a pity that the battery of my camera had run out of power.
Around an hour later, just before sunset, we reached Leh.