Jay Kannaiyan and sanDRina - Jammin thru India

Day 32 - Manali to Darcha

After a few days' break, Jay's posts resume after his hard, steady climb into the high-altitude cold desert of Ladakh from Manali. Jay writes from Darcha, 147 km from Manali beyond Rohtang Pass

The snow banks at Rohtang Pass at 3,990 m (13,090 feet)

It was a bright morning in Manali as I began my journey to Leh. There were shops and kiosks selling all sorts of winter clothing for passing tourists heading up to Rohtang Pass, the first of five passes on the way to Leh. The climb started immediately and a series of hair-pin bends took sanDRina and me higher and higher. First, we passed through lots of green orchards and slowly it became too cold for the trees and there was only grass and then nothing but rocks. And then there was snow! Lots of it. The ride up to Rohtang Pass was chock full of tourist vehicles and at the pass it was a mela with tourists sliding down the snow and enjoying, probably, their first exposure to it.
Climbing up to Rohtang Pass with Manali down in the valley.

I was thrilled to see snow banks at least 10 feet high on either side at the pass but that also meant that all that snow was slowly melting and wetting the road. After the pass, things got quiet and for me, the real journey had begun now. Coming down from Rohtang on the north side was a bit tricky with lots of thick mud to wade through. The road wasn't paved on that side and the melting snow had turned the dirt into a muddy soup.  

Watch the video diary: 

Once down at Gramphu, the route followed a river valley on good tarmac and I got to Tandi, the last petrol station until Leh, 365 km away. Soon after came Keylong, the biggest town in the area, but I pushed a bit further north and got to the small dhaba junction of Darcha. There were no hotels there, only temporary dhabas built for the season that, along with serving food, had some beds in the back for travelers. I was told by other bikers that staying in the dhabas was part of the experience of the Manali-Leh journey. Dinner was mutton curry with rice and fresh rotis.
Sleeping at a dhaba at Darcha, one-third the way to Leh.

Jay apologizes to you for not being able to post videos - there's no broadband en route and the 2G networks are barely enough to post these very updates. The wait only adds to the excitement.

Do stay tuned for a post-trip chat with Jay Friday, June 14, 2:45 PM IST. Register to be reminded.

PREVIOUS: Day 31 - Chachyot to Manali  | NEXT: Day 33 - Darcha to Sarchu                                                                                                 


The Man. The Machine. The Story

There are love stories and love stories, but none tugs more at the heart than a tale of infinite departure. In March 2010, Jay Kannaiyan and sanDRina, his beloved Suzuki DR650, left on a great journey back home to India. Jay quit his secure corporate job, sold his Chicago townhouse and every household possession, and left with sanDRina on a journey that saw them through 94,933 km, 32 countries, and 1,150 days on the road through the Global South -- from the USA through Latin America and Africa, heading towards India. At the core of this seemingly mindless pursuit was Jay’s desire to raise awareness about sustainability and a unique sentiment best described by an archaic Greek term, eudaimonia – the search for things that are true, good and beautiful. 

Homecoming isn’t complete unless you experience the country you call home in all her varied terrain and temperaments. And so Jay and sanDRina will embark on a journey of discovery through India. 

Yahoo India Travel follows Jay and sanDRina on their exhilarating discovery of India with daily updates from the road in words, pictures and video. If you have questions to ask, or words of encouragement for Jay and sanDRina, follow Jammin India on Twitter (hashtag #jamminindia). Also visit JamminGlobal.com for comprehensive accounts of his journey so far as well as snippets and trivia.