Driving Our Passion

Lead Zippo

Adventure lovers Abhey Thareja and Bharat Seth talk about their five days of bliss, hardship but undeniable peace
in our series of Weekend Adventure with Zippo.

An expedition to Leh is not just an adventure. It is an endurance test for man and machine. We drove through picturesque mountains, barren, brown deserts and snow-capped peaks. We were on a tight schedule—we wanted to drive there and back in seven days. Our daily routine included having the radio ready, which meant settling into the car at 3 am. Leg 1 of our journey was from Shimla to Manali. We stopped about 30 km before Manali in Naggar, known for its famous castle and farm-fresh trout. We covered the 300-km stretch by noon and though it was relatively easy, tough terrain awaited us. Leg 2 was from Manali to Kaza (Spiti Valley), and we crossed Rohtang La, the first mountain pass, in the wee hours of the morning as we headed to the treacherous Kunzum La. En route, we passed two notorious water crossings—Chhota Dara and Pagal Nala. We managed to reach Kaza by midnight, and it was the third leg that took us through some unbelievable scenery. Kaza to Komik, one of the most scenic drives in the world, was full of sharp stretches and steep climbs. Leg 4 was to Keylong and by now, altitude and fatigue had taken their toll. Leg 5 was from Keylong to Leh, across the mighty Baralacha La, the Gata Loops and the Pang Valley—where we crossed more plains and rested a little right after Tanglang La, the second highest motorable road in the world. As temperatures dipped quickly, saving energy and oxygen was our topmost priority. The last leg was from Leh-K-top-Leh that not many have done. We stopped in a place called Agham. We ended our journey in Leh and as if on cue, the weather suddenly changed and it started snowing heavily. But it was an experience like none other and one we would gladly undertake again.