Thursday, August 22, 2013

PANGI VALLEY 2013: The mother of all rides

When you ride a motorcycle, and you crave adventure, you are always looking for that special road trip that challenges you and your bike to the core - a ride that resonates within you long after the ignition has been switched off and your battle-scarred bike finally silent. The champion of all adventure road trips is the Helmet Stories ride through the Pangi Valley in Himachal Pradesh. This gem of a little-travelled route — first pioneered by Helmet Stories in 2012 — is book-ended by Rohtang Pass on one side and the almost mythical Sach Pass on the other as we ride along the ever narrowing valley of the Chandra-Bhaga river through some of the most naturally beautiful locales in India. 

The roads are unpaved and narrow, hewed out of living rock, sometimes so high that the river looks like a shimmering silver ribbon below. The ride includes forays into abutting valleys and meadows, a route of seemingly endless twists, turns and elevation changes turning each day into a most excellent adventure on two wheels. 

There are no fast food chains or 5-star hotels on this route and it is so much so better for that. We camp below a thick canopy of stars, sometimes next to the river, or high up in the mountains with a scented mattress of pine needles below our sleeping bags. Before dark, the bonfire is lit, the grill fired up, the bar is open and it's time to exchange irreverent banter about the day well spent. 

The toughest day is the ride from the idyllic meadow of Sural Bhatori that crests Sach Pass, a road that crosses over the Chandra Bhaga and ascends through forests of bhojpatra, pine and deodhar before the terrifying switchbacks that take you to the summit. Beyond lies civilisation and the idyllic hamlet of McLeodGanj, an easy two days ride away. 
Only riders with a lust for extreme mountain roads, thin air and great food need apply!

Day 01 (29th September 2013): Manali - Tandi
Day 02 (30th September 2013): Tandi - Urgos
Day 03 (1st October 2013): Urgos  - Raoli
Day 04 (2nd October 2013): Raoli - Tindi
Day 05 (3rd October 2013): Tindi -  Sural
Day 06 (4th October 2013): Sural - Satrundi
Day 07 (5th October 2013): Satrundi - Khajjiar
Day 08 (6th October 2013): Khajjiar - McLeodganj
Day 09 (7th October 2013): McLeodganj - Chandigarh

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Check out AutocarIndia's report on the Helmetstories Pangi Valley Ride last year