90 Days Cycling in the Himalayas: Day 49: Khardung to Hundar

After climbing the mighty Khardung La, on the 49th day we descended to Hundar in the Nubra Valley. This was part of our 90 day ride in the Himalayas covering Spiti, Zanskar, Batalik, Ladakh, Nubra, Shyok, Pangong, Hanle, Tso Moriri, Garhwal and Kumaon!


Day 49 Khardung to Hundar

Riding from Leh to Khardung La was up, up and away. Down, down, down, was the order of this day…

Biker’s Woes!

Breakfast was with the two Germans and Mr Gupta. The Germans were economists, while the latter was an engineer working with NTPC.

The boys didn’t have any motorcycling experience and were saddled with Royal Enfields. Not the perfect way to be riding in Ladakh. They were surprised that the bikes struggled up Khardung La. To add to their woes the brakes were wooden, the bikes were stalling and handled like overfed pigs.

I helped them with kick-starting their bikes on a cold engine and adjusting the idling speed so that bike wouldn’t stall. The three left for Nubra on their Enfields while we chilled for some more time.

The view from Khardung of the Karakoram range
The Karakoram range

Downhill Day

The road from Khardung was almost completely downhill with the two of us barely having to spin the pedals. After the previous day’s climb, this was a welcome change.

There were a lot of serpentine roads as part of the descent and I took all the off-road shortcuts between the hairpins. It was far more fun than riding the paved road.

Cycling from Khardung to Hundar
As we headed out of Khardung Village

Khalsar

Lunch was at the village of Khalsar, which was filled with cars and tourists. This area of the world is very touristy and as such it is also filthy, with lots of trash all over the place. One is also burdened with the screaming and yelling of bus loads of tourists from certain parts of the country!

In the dhaba at Khalsar, we had a big group of Bengalis sitting at the table next to us. They brought their own food, ate and left without ordering anything from the dhaba. Though they could have been charged for ‘disturbing the peace’!

Cycling near Khalsar in Ladakh
Descending to Khalsar

Desert not so deserted!

Post Khalsar we hit the desert part of Nubra, with sand dunes and commercialisation. ATVs being ridden by people of all ages and stages in the sand at 3 kmph!

Camps advertising that some silly movie was shot there, and idiots getting pictures clicked along with the board!

The stupidity of tourists at its best.

Cycling from Khardung to Hundar
The flat road in the desert, exactly 9 km from Khalsar!

Diskit

We visited the Diskit Monastery where the massive statue of Buddha is in the maitrey form. The monastery was at the top of a kilometre long climb, which seemed unending for us exhausted cyclists. It was a nice place to spend time. Because of the size of the place, it never feels crowded.

The monastery also has a guesthouse which was 1500 rupees for a double room, quite expensive considering its a monastery. The same rooms in Tabo and Dhankar in Spiti were less than half the price. A good scale to see the element of commercialisation in Spiti vs Ladakh, affecting even supposedly spartan places like monasteries.

Buddha statue in the Diskit Monsatery complex
Buddha statue in Diskit
Diskit Monastery
Diskit Monastery atop the mountain
Welcome gate at Diskit Monastery

Motorcycle Rentals

On this section we also saw a lot of motorcyclists on rented bikes. They fly to Leh, rent bikes, leave Leh without acclimatising and ride like a bunch of jackasses in a hurry. Since they have to ‘do’ everything in very little time. Most don’t know how to ride and it is best to leave a wide berth for these wild hogs.

It is the scariest when they leave the handlebar to wave out to us poor cyclists, because then they unintentionally veer straight towards us. At such times I prefer an unfriendly biker to a stupid biker!

Cycling from Khardung to Hundar
Cycling away from the monastery and towards Hundar
Diskit Monastery
The red and white of the monasteries is so serene

Hundar

From Diskit we rode another 7 km to Hundar, where Akshay spoke to one of his college mates currently serving in the BRO and got us accommodation in the officer’s mess. The mess was five star luxury for me as I could wash my clothes in peace after ages!

The dinner was typical fauji fare. Food was served in copious quantities. And we did a stellar job of polishing it off. We were politely asked if we would like a drink. I stupidly turned down the offer!

Diskit Village. Aerial view
The village from above
Nubra Desert
Mountain desert!

Route Profile: Khardung to Hundar

The road from Khardung to Hundar is almost completely asphalt. Except if you choose to take the dirt shortcuts!

Khalsar is the first place you will get food and accommodation. Diskit and Hundar also have plenty of stay options for tourists.

Diskit is famous for the double humped Bactrian Camel. The animals are mistreated and made to work within an inch of their lives. A sad sight.

Elevation Profile from Khardung to Hundar

Expenses: Khardung to Hundar

Food and Stay for Two: 960
Food for Two: 260

READ THE 50TH DAYS BLOG FROM HUNDAR TO TURTUK

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