The ideology that traveling and music are the two things that can save the world is deep seated in Somnath Mukherjee, a musician based in Bangalore. He recently traveled to Ladakh with the help of Thrillophilia.
“Every now and then, I manage to carve out some time from my busy schedule to explore new places. Travelling allows me to unwind and rejuvenate my soul and body. Whether I am travelling alone or with a group, it's always interesting to discover new destinations and capture them in my memory with my camera” says Somnath.
Somnath went on a bike trip to Ladakh. “Ladakh is the jewel crown of India. I wanted to feel the rush of driving on the highest motorable roads in the world. In addition, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see Sonamarg, Kargil, Nubra, Pangong Tso, Khardung La, and Tso Moriri.”
Sounds thrilling, doesn’t it? Lets dive into his exciting adventure.
A Peaceful Beginning
Dubbed as the ‘Earth’s Paradise’, Srinagar was the first city that welcomed Somnath on his journey. He went river rafting in the Sindh River on his first day itself! Then he headed over to Sonamarg and spent the remainder of the day surrounded by the beauty of the snow capped mountains, the gorgeous valleys and glistening rivers. Knowing that morning was just round the corner, Somnath and his companions retired for the day.
Bikers in Town!
It was time to go on the most important phase of the expedition, which included 20 Royal Enfield 500cc motorcycles. Just seeing the bullets parked in front of their stay the next morning energized Somnath and made him excited for the day. Over the high altitude routes, with the Himalayas as their company, their hearts filled with joy and excitement as they started their trip to Kargil. They traveled via Zoki La and paused at Zero Point on their 120 kilometer bike trip to Kargil, arriving just about in the afternoon. When he saw the magnificent view of the mountains and the river from his room, his exhaustion evaporated, leaving him content and at peace.
The next day, they all set out for Leh full with enthusiasm and energy.
“It was enjoyable to ride on the smooth and lovely route. We made a few stops to see the Kargil Memorial, the Indus Zanskar confluence, Magnetic Hill and the Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, which are all pretty famous. We arrived in Leh late at night, checked into our hotels but then went straight to the Shanti Stupa. Its architecture, as well as the view of the entire city from the top, let us forget all about our exhaustion,”
Adventurous Ride In Natural Bliss!
The party said their goodbyes to Leh and continued on their trek, excited for what lay ahead. The most exciting part was on the winding and steep roads. With temperatures in the minus, Somnath and his friends made their way to Khardung La.
They made it to the summit safely, but the joy didn’t end there. It began to snow when they reached Kharsung La, making the ride considerably more difficult. But that was not enough to stop these thrill seekers. Against all odds, they made it to their next stop at Nubra Valley, the valley of the double humped camels.
“The scenery along the route was really magnificent, so we pulled over every now and then to try and capture those moments on our cameras”
Pangong Tso, with its turquoise lakes and breathtaking surroundings, was waiting for them next. After stopping at Diskit Monastery along the route to pay their respects, the party arrived at the lake to bask in its unparalleled beauty, where they posed to take several photographs. With tents just beside the lake, Somnath had a wonderful night stargazing in the aura of the night.
More To The Trip!
Leaving the beauty of Pangong Tso behind was tough. But the genuine path entails always pushing ahead. They had to leave for Hanle where they had planned to try astrophotography. Hence, after traveling for 200 kms, they arrived at their destination and took in the sights of the gorgeous Milky Way with their high tech cameras.
The next day, they started their motors and drove to Tso Moriri, another gem in Ladakh’s crown. The sight of yet another lake wasn’t surprising to them at this point in their trip, yet they were mesmerized by it. They were delighted to have finally arrived at the lake after a rough trip of about 160 kilometers.
“The magnificence of Tso Morriri is beyond words. With its crystal pure blue lakes and massive mountains in the background, it’s simply impossible to get enough of it.”
Now, the trek back to the starting point has begun. They left early in the morning because Sarchu, their next destination, was a long journey from Tso Moriri. They went through a route that was both awful and smooth in order to get to Sarchu. But their struggle didn’t go unrewarded. Beautiful scenery awaited them on both sides of the road. Even though completely exhausted, they tried to took it all in. They arrived in the evening, completely exhausted from the trip. But in their hearts, they knew that they had made some beautiful memories up in the mountains which would remain with them forever.
“We left the next day for Jispa, which took us the least amount of time as the route was smooth and the distance was very short. We arrived in Jispa after travelling through various water streams, stopping at Deepak Tal and Baralacha La for photos and resting in the tents we had rented.”
Their final days with the Royal Enfields were spent in Manali. The green verdant valleys and snow capped mountains all made it worth the return journey. They visited the famed attractions as well like Hidimba Devi Temple, Mall Road and Old Town.
Somnath was still lost in his emotions, reminiscing all the time he had passed in the journey, although it was coming to a close. His regular life awaited him after the voyage, which was diametrically opposed to the one he had experienced during this trip. He would surely miss the unpredictability and surprises of life in the mountains. But he was grateful that life had provided him with the opportunity to enjoy and develop lifetime memories and friendships.
Somnath claims that the entire journey was breathtaking and that every passing second they spent in Ladakh would be remembered fondly by everyone in the group.
“I don’t have a specific favorite memory. When you’re riding continuously for 9 days, you cannot select one particular event. Every moment is to be treasured, But if I had to choose one specific memory, I’d say that it would be the time when we made it to Khardung La. It gave me a sense of accomplishment and seeing the immaculate Pangong was simply wonderful as well.”
“Our (the group’s) moments were filled with laughter. There were many funny memories we shared together which we would fondly remember. One time, I slipped off the bike twice!”
After having ticked off Ladakh from his bucket list, he now has North-East India, Munnar, Kashmir and Europe on it. Thrillophilia wishes him a safe and wonderful journey.