Mojo to Leh
Mahindra organised ‘Mojo – The Mountain Trail 2017’ between 8 and 21 July. With this second edition of the mountain trail, Mahindra continued their mission to tackle some of the most challenging and adventurous terrain in the country: Leh. This ride gave
The 300-cc mahindra proves its mettle up top
STORY: GIRISH SHET PhotograPhy: MAHINDRA 2WHEELERS
MOJO – THE Mountain Trail 2017’ was flagged off from Chandigarh. The journey started with 24 other riders from all over the country for a 14-day ride covering over 2,460 kilometres. Three people from Mahindra had joined us for the ride: Anish Thakkar, Sarath Shenoy, and Hemant Singh. We also had a doctor with us for any emergencies.
We embarked on our journey on 8 July from Guneet Wheels Pvt Ltd, a Mahindra two-wheeler showroom in Chandigarh. As a token of good luck and strength, the showroom owner presented each of us with sets of Punjabi pathkas, and a chain with a
kanga, kara and kirpan from the Gurdwara. The chief guest, Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha, flagged the ride off at 11.30 am and we were off to our destination, Pathankot, 245 km away. The only downside to the otherwise picturesque ride from Chandigarh to Pathankot was the weather. Dehydration due to the extreme heat was common to all which inevitably led to a couple of stops en route for lime juice. After about eight hours on the road we finally reached Pathankot and paid a visit to the Mahindra two-wheeler showroom there where evening high tea awaited us. Although Pathankot is known for military-grade goods such as bags, shoes and winter clothing, we settled for a sumptuous dinner at the Unite Hotel and called it a day.
As we started from Pathankot the next day for Patnitop it was time for us to gain altitude. It was a nearly 182-kmlong ride comprising both winding roads and straight highways. The weather was no different and we were as dependent on those juice shops as we were on day one. The highlight of the route was the nine-km-long ChenaniNashri tunnel which was a unique experience. We had to cross Jammu to reach Patnitop. As we crossed the tunnel and exited Jammu, a traffic jam involving a number of trucks made us look for an alternative route, thus giving us riders our first taste of off-roading on this journey. We reached our cosy and comfortable rooms at the Maharaja Hotel at Patnitop at 5.30 pm. There was fog everywhere and warm clothing now made its first appearance.
Our next destination was Sonmarg. We started at 9.00 am. The distance we had to cover was about 261 km and, to make things a little more challenging, we encountered rain. We crossed the 2.85-km-long Jawahar Tunnel, which has been operational since 22 December 1956. A few kilometres from the Tunnel we stopped at a place called Titanic View Point for lunch. The weather suddenly changed and it was warm again. After lunch we entered Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, to visit the famous Dal Lake. The Lake, the second largest in the state, is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir, and is called the ‘Jewel in the Crown of Kashmir’ or ‘Srinagar’s Jewel’. It was a balmy afternoon. We spent about 30 minutes around the Lake. The weather changed once again and became cold as we came closer to Sonmarg. This route was a mix of highways, city roads and no roads. We reached Sonmarg by 8.00 pm.
The next morning all of us were eager to ride from Sonmarg to Kargil. It was a distance of 130 km but we had planned a number of stops en route for sightseeing. Our first encounter with snow was at Zojila Pass where a lot of snow-related activities like sledding and snowmobiling were on offer. Most of us made the best of them and tried our hand at sledding. Our next stop was for lunch at Drass, the second coldest inhabited place in the world, and then went on to pay a visit to the Kargil War Memorial. Listening to the local stories about the valour, determination and patriotism of our soldiers gave us not just the goosebumps but also the will to carry on.
The Kargil-Leh highway ride was more of a climb to acclimatise ourselves for the big passes to come. There were two passes that we had to cross that day: Fatula Top at 13,479 feet and Namikla Pass at 12,198 ft. Some of the riders showed symptoms of AMS (acute mountain sickness) when they stopped at these passes due to the low oxygen levels there. This condition typically occurs at about 8,000 feet or 2,400 metres above sea level. Dizziness, nausea, headache, and shortness of breath are among its symptoms.
The most awaited destination on this route was the magnetic hill, a phenomenon that defies gravity. There is a patch where one can park one’s vehicle in a box marked with paint on the road to experience the wonder. The landscape and surrounding slopes create an optical illusion making the downhill road seem uphill. Objects and cars on the hill may appear to roll uphill in defiance of gravity when they are in fact rolling downhill.
Five days and 1,000 kilometres later we reached Leh and a day’s welldeserved rest. We knew we needed it badly as we had a lot of off-roading to do over the next few days.
Our next destination was Sumur, Nubra Valley. The ride from Leh to Sumur, which included crossing a beautiful valley, was treacherous. The biggest challenge was the Khardungla Top (K Top) which is the world’s
highest motorable road at 18,380 ft. This was where a few people faced problems. The altitude really took its toll on the riders, one of us being hit hard by AMS. Since we had a doctor with us, he immediately came to the rescue of the sick. We visited the Diskit Monastery, also known as ‘Deskit Gompa’ or ‘Diskit Gompa’, the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery has a statue of Cho Rinpoche (Crowned Buddha) in the prayer hall, a huge drum and several images of fierce guardian deities. An elevated cupola on the monastery depicts a fresco of the Tashilhunpo
The Mahindra Mojo team did a wonderful job of ensuring that all the riders were safe. The route was planned carefully so that all the riders could prepare themselves well
Monastery of Tibet. After the monastery we visited a camel safari in Hunder Sand Dunes. About 12,000 ft above sea level, 150 km north of Leh, lies Nubra, one of the highest cold deserts in the world. Seeing the double humped Bactrian camel in Hunder and Diskit travel over the Ladakhi sand dunes was a feast for the eyes.
From Sumur we came back to Leh and stayed there over the night. On our itinerary the next day was Pangong Tso, which is not an easy trip to make because we were required to pass through streams of melting snow which made the road slippery and tricky. If this wasn’t enough, we also had to pass the Chang La, the second highest motorable road in the world. Pangong Tso is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 metres. It is 134 km long and extends from India to China. This lake has been made famous by Bollywood as well; you may recall the last few scenes from 3 Idiots. We stayed for the night at the Ladakh summer camp inside luxurious and spacious tents. However, a few of us continued to be dogged by loss of sleep due to low oxygen levels. The tents facing Pangong lake helped us put this discomfort behind us and gave us a memorable experience with its stunning and panoramic view.
The experience was breathtaking and the Mahindra Mojo bike handled the varying terrain very well. Its suspension took all the beating of the off road and the Mogrip tyres were a perfect match for the bike to ensure the riders had the best experience.
The Mahindra Mojo team did a wonderful job of ensuring that all the riders were safe. The route was planned carefully so that all the riders could physically and mentally prepare themselves before actually taking on the highest motorable roads in the world. As someone rightly said, ‘It’s all about the journey, not the destination’.
The Mojo Tribe pay tribute at the Kargil War Memorial
The matriarchs of the Mojo Tribe: Sneha Kulkarni (left) and Alefia Kapadia The Mojo Tribe at the Diskit Monastery in Ladakh
The Mahindra Mojo convoy getting ready for the journey at Guneet Wheels, Panchkula The men behind the scenes: Mahindra Mojo service team with the Mobile Service Van
A grand flag-off by Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha (Retired) in Chandigarh
Surrounded by the beauty of Pangong Tso
The tricky Magnetic Hill that creates an optical illusion