In July and August 2013 I cycled through the Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Kashmir in the Indian Himalaya for a month covering 1200km across some of the highest roads in the world. The next set of photo posts document my ride through this scenic region of the Indian Himalayas. 

The ride started in Nupur (Himachal Pradesh) where I headed north over Sach Pass and into the Pangi Valley. From there I cycled east towards Keylong making my way up the Manali to Leh highway. Once in Leh I travelled across to Srinigar (Kashmir) to complete a traverse of the Indian Himalaya. The ride included a number of major mountain passes including Sach Pass ( 4420m), Baralacha La (4918m), Nakeela La (4937m), Lachulung La (5077m), Tanglang La (5320m).

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19th July - Delhi to Nurpur By Car

Approximately 550kms by Car.

From Delhi I hired a car and driver to take me into the foothills of the Himalayas. I decided on the town of Nurpur in Himachal Pradesh, not for any particular reason other than it looked small and geographically suitable for an ascent towards Sach Pass.

Video of ride  from Delhi to Nupur

20th July - Nurpur to Chamba

Distance - 111km

Ride Time - 7hrs 37mins

Average - 14.6km/hr

Total Ascent - 1827m

Total Descent - 1449m

First day on the bike was a tough introduction to cycling in the Himalayan foothills during Monsoon season. I spent most of the day cycling in the rain and had to change my route due to landsides blocking the ride (see video below). I arrived in Chamba in the afternoon and found a nice hotel, Chamba is a really nice town, very clean and reminded me a lot of Shimla.

On the way to Chamba - Monsson Season! 

A bit wet, but enjoying the ride. 

Video of Landside on the way to Chamba

The market in the town of Chamba

21st July - Chamba to Bhanjraru (1778m)

Distance - 69km

Ride Time - 5hrs 18mins

Average - 10.5km/hr

Total Ascent - 1488m

Total Descent - 675m

Slowly making my way up towards Sach Pass, which is the gateway into the Pangi Valley. Plenty of climbing today and the weather was much better with no rain. I stayed in a really nice homestay in Bhanjraru, which was a bonus as all my research suggested that there was no accommodation in town. 

Nice scenery as I climb higher towards Sach Pass.

The roads are in good condition at this point.

Video of Day 2 on the road (and I get chased by a dog!)

22nd July - Bhanjraru to Bairagarh (2184m)

Distance - 34km

Ride Time - 2hrs 45mins

Average - 10km/hr

Total Ascent - 874m

Total Descent - 449m

An easier day today as this is the last town before Sach Pass which is over 4000m. I needed to ensure that I gave my body time to adjust to the altitude so I spent the night in Bairaganth. Even though I only covered 34kms, it still involved plenty of climbing and I was delayed due to another landslide (see video). Bairagarh is a nice small town, which had a good homestay where I spent the night.

Plenty of small Hindu temples on the side of the road.

Video of Landslide on the way to Bairgarh

Accomodation for the night - Mannat Homestay Bairagarh

My room for the night.

The town of Bairagarh.

The town of Bairagarh

23rd July - Bairagarh to Killar (2640m) (via Sach Pass 4420m)

Distance - 75km

Ride Time - 8hrs 30mins

Average - 7.7km/hr

Total Ascent - 2600m

Total Descent - 2600m

From Bairaganth I climbed for 25kms to reach the top of Sach Pass at 4420metres. Sach Pass has only been open since 2007 and connects the Chamba and Pangi Valleys of Himachal Pradesh. When I crossed Sach Pass it had only been open for 15 days and will more than likely close again at the start of October. The last few kilometres of the climb where extremely strenuous due to the altitude and the fact that I was not fully acclimatised yet. Sach Pass is an unmetalled road so the surface was quite bad in places, particular as I approached the top. The descent into the Pangi Valley to Killar took the rest of the day. It was extremely tough as the road was rough and required constant braking and lots of concentration - shoulders and hands were very sore by the end.

The fog still clearing this early in the morning as I climb towards Sach Pass

The early part of the climb was through a forest area - nice!

As I gain altitude there is remnents of the snow which blocks this road for most of the year.

Army checkpoint on the way up. These guys thought I was crazy and even said "You take big risk!"

Getting closer to the top of the pass.

Top of Sach Pass

The road ahead on the other side of the pass.

Stunning views on the descent.

Lots of water across the road to wade through!

The only services for the day - a makeshift restaurant serving up Two Minute Noodles and Chai.

45km descent took it toll on my hands and shoulders by the end of the day!

24th July - Killar to Udaipur

Distance - 85km

Ride Time - 7hrs 32mins

Average - 9.9km/hr

Total Ascent - 1145m

Total Descent - 1006m

The road was nice and undulating today as I followed the Chandra Bhaga river towards Udaipur. The road was still unmetalled and quite rough., with plenty of obstacles including rocks, mini landslides and water.

Nice scenery following the Chandra Bhaga river today

Plenty of obstacles along the road. This makeshift bridge allowed me to continue without getting my feet wet.

The scenery dramatic for most of the day. Not a lot of traffic on the road.

The town of Udaipur was simple but nice. I was able to find basic guesthouse accommodation for the night.

A rock lifting contest in the town centre was a popular evening activity.

25th July - Udaipur to Keylong (3092m)

Distance - 55km

Ride Time - 4hrs 17mins

Average - 10.5km/hr

Total Ascent - 914m

Total Descent - 509m

Just a short ride today and my last day in the Pangi Valley. I finished today in Keylong, which is the last sizable town on the Manali to Leh highway and where I decided to have a rest day after a week of tough riding. As I got closer to Keylong, the roads improved and I came across some nice paved roads. The Pangi Valley has been quite remote and off the tourist trail. In fact I did not see one Western tourist for the entire time. Keylong is a nice town to have a break. It has some good hotels and guesthouses, as well as some great places to eat. It hadn't really changed much since I was here 8 years ago.

A quick Chai at the local Dhaba before hitting the road.

Heading towards Keylong.

You meet plenty of Sadhus on the road - doing there own pilgrimage. 

The road builders are always creative here.

Video of my departure from Udaipur

Welcome to Keylong

Down town Keylong

Lunch - Vegetable Momos

Dinner - Malai Kofta and Chappatis