Wriju Bhaduri is a ‘follow your heart’ person, and his heart always asks him to follow the road. He is a traveler, trekker, and backpacker with an interest in making a career in outdoor adventure activities. Last year, while on a backpacking trip to Bhutan, he happened to meet a group of trekkers. After that encounter, an idea struck him and he added that to his bucket list – a Ladakh hiking.
Due to his job and other busy schedules, his Manali to Leh hiking bucket list didn’t happen for almost one year. Last May, Wriju quit his job and was at his home. At that time, he got a call from his friend Shiben Roy, with a proposal – a Ladakh hiking; a walk from Manali to Leh! Wriju agreed to it at once since it was already on his bucket list,
He straight away left to Himachal Pradesh to join Shiben. And, in one week or so, they started their journey. Even though they didn’t have any physical preparation, the budget, ration, and travel were well planned. The journey started on July 2nd.
The first day is always difficult. They reached the Manali – Leh highway at 10.30 am by a car, and started the walk from there. They reached Gulaba from Manali by evening after covering almost 22 kilometers.
On the second day, since it was raining heavily, they hitchhiked till Marhi. From Marhi, as the rain subsided, they went to Koksar via Rohtang pass. It was a long tiring day as they covered 50km. But Wriju was happy as they successfully crossed their first high altitude pass on the journey.
Keylong, 35 kilometers away, was the destination of the third day. They started early and took a break for refreshments at Sissu. They reached Keylong by 6pm, passing Gondla and Tandi.
Visiting Shashur monastery
The fourth day was the rest day. Wriju visited Shashur monastery which was nearby. It is the most famous monastery in Keylong and was 45 minutes inclined hike from the market.
They started a little late the next day as the destination, Jispa was only 25km away. They reached there by 2.30pm and then they visited the beautiful river nearby.
On the sixth day, they started early. They reached Patseo via Darcha. From there, they hiked and reached Upper Zing-Zing Bar by 4.30pm. They spent the night in a Dhaba as it was too windy.
6 Hours to Hike Just 12 Kilometers!
From ZZ Bar, Baralachala (their 2nd highest altitude pass) was 12km away. The hike was tough. It took 6 hours for them to cover that 12km. After waiting there for 40 minutes, they left to Bharatpur and reached in 2 hours.
Sarchu was the destination for the 8th day. The road was bad and they reached Sarchu at 4.30pm, covering 27km. As they were resting in the tent, a group of bikers reached there. Wriju helped them in cooking. They all spent the day together.
They took rest on the 9th day.
On the 10th day, since the route was deserted, and they had to undergo more troubles, they decided to hitchhike to cover the next 88km. They got on a truck and reached Pand by 3.30pm, by covering Nakeela and Lachungla, the other two high altitude passes on the highway. They pitched the tent near a Dhaba and spent the day.
The Beautiful More Plains
The journey started a bit early on the 11th day. They passed More plains, which was one of the most beautiful places they saw on the journey. They reached Debring which was by 5.30pm, covering almost 42km.
The Toughest Challenge
On the 12th day, they were crossing the world’s second-highest motorable pass and the highest in this Manali-Leh highway that day – Tanglangla.
“I knew that this stretch would prove to be the toughest. Mentally I was preparing myself but physically I was on the verge of giving up. After a certain point of time, it became a complete mind game.”
The physical condition and weather were pulling Wriju down. At one point in time, the destination seems impossible for him. But somehow, he made it to Tanglangla by 4pm. They somehow pitched the tent and slept.
Since it was snowing heavily, they decided to rest in the tent itself the next day and roamed around a little bit during the day time.
The 14th day’s destination was Rumptse which was 30km away. Since the road was all downhill, they reached there at 2.30pm. They spent the day at a homestay.
They reached Karu on the 15th day, at 6.30pm via Upsi. Since the road was flat, without much up-downhills, the hiking was not that tiring. They booked a hotel room and celebrated as the next day was the last leg of the journey.
The Final Leg
On the 16th day, they started early. Wriju was desperate to finish the journey and they reached their final destination, Leh, at 4.30pm via Shey. They felt ultimate happiness and emotions. They celebrated the victory and slept.
As Stok Kangri Called, Unexpectedly!
One of their friend, Arnab picker Wriju and Shiben on the 17th day and took them to his guest house. He told them that a team left to Stok Kangri that day forgot their kitchen tent and oxygen cylinder. Finding that as a golden opportunity to summit Stok Kangri, Wriju and Shiben readily agreed to deliver the things.
Next day, as agreed, they reached Stok Village by around 7am and started the trek right away. By the time they reach Mankorma at 1pm via Changama, Wriju was exhausted due to the heavy luggage. From there, a porter took the kitchen tent, and they reached the Base Camp by 4.30pm.
Day 19 was their Summit Day. Wriju took rest the whole day and prepared for the climb. The expedition team gave the basic tips to him and thus, they started the push at 11.30 pm. There were 6 members of the team, and the weather was clear. The climb was progressing gradually. The unavailability of oxygen and the tiredness from earlier hike was affecting Wriju badly. By 4.30am, the situation becomes too bad and Wriju decided to descend back when they were only 600m away from the top. The remaining team finished the summit though.
“It is the journey that matters, not the destination!”
After breakfast, Wriju descended from the Base Camp on the 20th day. They reached Leh by the noon and stayed in a guest house.
They took rest and explored the market on the 21st day. And, on the 22nd day (July 23) they returned, and thus the journey came to an end!
“I got to meet new people and culture. The journey made me more strong and confident. It also taught me that ‘happiness’ matters more than anything else in the world!”
Wriju’s next bucket list is an Uttarakhand trip, which will start on September 23rd. He is going to explore a new route to Kedarnath, where he will be crossing three high altitude passes. And in 2018, he will summit Mount Stok Kangri.
“You don’t have to follow the crowd. If you have a passion, follow it with hard-work. Success will be yours!”