Mixed bag of memories from Ladakh

Mixed bag of memories from Ladakh

W hen Thribhuvan started his journey from Delhi on July 13, he wouldn’t even have dreamt in his wildest dreams, what an exhilarating experience the mighty Himalayas had in store for him during the next 41 days.

Having completed engineering from Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering (SJCE) with a dream of travelling across rugged mountains routes of Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and the Kashmir Valley, Thribhuvan set out alone on his Royal Enfield from New Delhi to have the journey of his life time.

Travelling through Ambala, Bilaspur, Manikaran, Kasaul, Malana, Kullu, he reached Vashisht, a suburb of Manali, the resting place for riders before the ride to 434 km ride to Leh, the capital of Ladakh district.

The first experience of the freezing temperatures were visible at Rohtang Pass, with the temperatures hovering around two-three degree celsius.Continuing, he covered the other mountain passes including the Baralacha (La means pass), and the tough terrain on the way leading to Tanglang La, the second highest motorable road in the world.
Futhermore, he reached Leh, and then went on to ride towards Khardungla, the highest motorable road in the world. Later, he moved on to the Nubra valley, where he rode the double-humped camel in the highest mountain desert in the world in Hundar.

After travelling through Leh, he reached Kargil, which became famous especially after ‘Operation Vijay’ of 1999. Kargil is located almost midway between Leh and Srinagar and usually is used by riders for their overnight stay. Having settled down for the night, surprisingly it started to rain, because it rarely rains in Kargil. Pushing it across, Thribhuvan went to sleep, with rain being the last thing on his mind.

However, next when he woke up, he was in for a deep shock, the cloudburst in Leh had caused extensive damage all across the way to Kargil.

 With Kargil being home many army regiments, the busiest that day was the engineering regiment, trying to carry out disaster management activities.

“It was disastrous, but luckily Kargil had no casualties,” remarked Thribuvan. Having a background in civil engineering, led this 22-year old to assist the engineering regiment in whatever way he could. He contributed by carrying out surverys with the engineering regiments. “It was a wonderful experience,” he says.

 “Landslides were everywhere,” he recalls. “The local bridges and the bridges on the were all damaged. The roads leading to both Leh and Srinagar were both blocked,” he remembers.

 “There was nowhere else to to go,” he exclaims. The next four days were spent with the army, trying to clear the roads, replacing bridges that had been washed or which had been destroyed by the strong water currents, created by the cloudburst. This gave Thribhuvan the chance to utilise his skills, helping the engineering regiments with conducting surveys and helping them in their work by clearing landslides.

After the reconstruction work started, the electricity lines came up first he says, then the mobile network was brought up and later the roads started getting cleared, he says.
A couple of days later, he met three other riders who had managed to come from Leh to Srinagar. They were Paul from Australia, Micheal from England and Krishna from Bangalore.

If you thought that the cloudburst, would stop the youngster from continuing his journey, you are wrong. He went on with the four riders towards Srinagar.

“Srinagar was under curfew at that time,” he reminisces. From one danger to the next, Thribhuvan said that they gave the stone pelters the miss a couple of times. The security forces were very helpful, he says. Due to the curfew in place, we couldn’t go to the Dal Lake, but the Nagin Lake more than made up for it, he says

. “It’s ironic that one of the most beautiful places like the Kashmir Valley has such a lot of violence,” he says. Later, they went on towards Chamba, having to negotiate non-existent roads. “There were countless landslides in that region,” he says.
To add to his woes, his mobile phone stopped working after he entered the Ladakhi region.

Asked if he didn’t feel scared during his entire journey, he laughs and remarks, “What is there to feel afraid about? “ “When you are travelling alone, its easier to make decisons. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want,” he observes.

Having spent Rs 22,000 for 41 days with one flat tyre along the entire journey, the journey will linger on his mind for a really long time. 

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