My friends and I, 3 of us recently went to India to ride up through Rohtang Pass and a turn-around at the sleepy town of Keylong on Royal Enfield 500cc bikes. The trip initially was a impulsive decision made when the 3 of us realised we had a free full week at work and decided to take leave for 9 days. We made a few calls and liaised with a friend in India to help us coordinate the admin there.
[From Wikipedia; Rohtang Pass (Tibetan: Rohtang La) (altitude 13,051 ft or 3,978 m), is a high mountain pass on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas some 51 km (32 mi) from Manali. It connects the Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh, India.]
It was just a short 9-day trip in total with only three days set aside for riding. 1 day was specifically dedicated to ride around the town of Manali and getting used to the Royal Enfields (whose gearbox system are the opposite; gear-shifting on right foot and rear brake on left). Being an old bike, we also had to get use to the individual bike's whims and eccentricities.
Other than that, 2 days are set aside for travel from and to Singapore. Another 2 days can be set aside traveling from and to Delhi and Manali (inclusive of sightseeing and shopping). However, one can always take a flight to Manali but we preferred the road trip though. This part of the road trip was done in a chartered cab.
On the riding trip alone, we set out at about 7am in the morning from the town of Manali (1950m from sea level) towards the highest mountain pass in that area, Rohtang , which is also a tourist spot for skiing. At the time we went (early May), there are not much tourist as it's not a good time for skiing (snow was melting) but trust me, it was cold! The melting ice only made it more slippery, extremely muddy and created waterfalls and waterways for us to maneuver through. FUN!
Just note, we ascended 2000m in altitude within a space of slightly more than half a day! So the three of us experienced a bit of headache and slight nausea (AMS). But we had to rush to make it in time to head to Keylong which was 129 km away amidst the challenging terrain. The best thing though, as we descended towards Keylong, IT SNOWED!
I just had to open my helmet while riding to feel the snow fall on my skin. After 5mins, i somewhat regretted! The cold wind blowing was making my lips numb and my eyes dry. Hahaha...
Unfortunately though, the beautiful snow fall was followed ominously by rainfall and even though we had our riding gears on, we were somewhat unprepared. Our gloves got drenched. So did our pants and socks. Our boots collected water from the splashes and riding through shin deep waterways.
Braking became difficult as we started to lose sensitivity in our extremities. The headache was made worse by the bumpy rocky roads and when we finally arrived at Keylong, any guest house inn could do! We were shivering uncontrollably and could barely get off the bike. We were at the brink of hypothermia and so we ordered a portable heater to be placed in our room. Struggled to take off our clothing and boots and change to dry clothing. In the end, we huddled up and hid underneath 2 layers of thick blanket! It was an unforgettable experience of lack of unpreparedness.
The return trip next day though was memorable. The weather was great. It snowed again but it did not rain! The heavy snow fall the night before turned the landscape white and gleaming. There was also a road closure from the Manali way for periodic maintenance so the roads we basically clear! No big trucks and lorries! That was my first time rolling in snow with my shirt off.. haha.. experience of a lifetime!
We reached Manali in the evening that day.. satisfied.
So if you are planning a biking trip, Manali is a great place! U can pm me to get contacts in India.
Cost wise, i spent roughly 1.5k total inclusive of shopping, dining, lodging and rental. Now enjoy some photos!