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iXiGOers May 30 2013

What are the things to experience in Leh this summer?

Vineet Sharma May 30 2013
4 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Those sweltering days of summer are here again, when the sun shines and shines and shines some more. Now might be the perfect time to make your way to the snow-capped Himalayan ranges enwrapped in icy, frost laden winds. Closed for the better part of the year, from October to May, Leh, or Little Tibet, is where the rugged mountain landscape, punctuated with rocky cliffs, green valleys, age-old palaces and colourful monasteries will take your breath away, not least because it is situated at a height of 11,562 feet above sea level.

What makes Leh particularly delightful to visit in the month of June are the monastic festivals that colour the valley alive and the fact that India’s highest motorable pass, Khardung la, is finally open, and celebrating its opening are the plethora of biking expeditions that are held there. Kick-starting the biking expeditions this year, for the first time in Leh, is the Royal Enfield organised REunion North.

Khardung la pass, gateway to Nubra valley, is where biting, spine curling mountain air snakes through your layers of wooly comfort, where adventure and adrenaline pumping climbs up a notch, all of 17,000 feet above sea level, and reaches a plane few have dared to follow and tread. 

To know more about the fees, timings and other essentials, check out ixigo's page on Khardung la pass.

Come 30th June, the ice strewn, snow layered narrow paths of Khardung la pass will be tattooed with the tread marks of Royal Enfields and the mountain ranges will echo with the throttle of bikes that are as classic as the track they have dared to roar through. Celebrating the opening of Leh’s Khardung la pass that remains closed from October to May, in the only way that is fitting for one of world’s highest motorable passes, Royal Enfield is organizing its first ever REunion event in Northern India for all Royal Enfield biking enthusiasts and veterans. A biking extravaganza, the REunion will see owners of Royal Enfield bikes get together at Leh and then throttle their way through Khardung La pass.

Touted as the holy grail of all rides, keep in mind that when it says one of the most adventurous of all rides, it means just that. It is a ride that will take you through one of India’s most formidable regions on a path that is mostly loose rocks and dirt, mixed for a good measure with rivulets of snowmelt, for a distance of good 15 kilometers. 

However, the stupendous views that stretch around you and envelope you in their surreal folds, the feeling of riding on top of the world (which, in a way, you will be) and the exhilaration of simply being on Khardung la pass with your trusted two-wheeled companion is well worth every danger, sore and frostbite the pass will throw your way.

Coming to the technicalities, the Royal Enfield REunion North is currently open for registrations. You can visit http://royalenfield.com/rides/events/reunion-north-2013/register/ to register for the event.

Before registering, be sure to go through their Preparations  and Quick Facts sections. Even as we write this article, 17 riders have enrolled for the event. The plan for the event is for all confirmed riders to drive up to Leh on their bikes and get together there. Be sure to carry your basic driving gear- riding pants with knee guards, boots ankle high, gloves and full sleeves riding jacket. 

Most importantly, you need to have a Royal Enfield bike to be able to take part in the REunion. It could also be rented or borrowed, in which case be sure to carry all its original documents like registration certificate, insurance, etc. While accommodations are not arranged for, you can always contact their listed agent for accommodation options. Registration for Reunion costs INR 1000/person.

Now, biking through one of India’s most formidable passes may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially for those who jump off their bike seat as soon as it roars to life. But experiencing the spiritual divinity and natural splendour of Leh is must for all, and to witness Leh in its complete glory the best time, perhaps, is when the snow has just begun to melt off and the city is sparkling and blooming in the luster of the summer sun.

June is also when the monasteries of Leh virtually come alive and the baton of Leh’s cultural heritage is transferred to yet another generation. Celebrated annually, some of the more popular monastic festivals are the ones that will be celebrated at Hemis monastery, Hemis Tse-Chu on 18th and 19th June, 2013 and at Lamayuru monastery, Yuru Kabgyat on 5th and 6th June, 2013. Since the Tibetan calendar follows a lunar cycle, the dates of monastic festivals vary when the English calendar is taken into account.

While Yuru Kabgyat is Ladakh’s oldest festival, Hemis Tse-Chu is actually the celebration of Guru Rimpoche’s birthday, founder of Tibetan Buddhism, who is also known as Guru Padmasambhava. 

Known for their magnificent celebrations, a distinctive feature of both festivals is the chham performance held over the course of the festivals, wherein resident lamas in menacing masks re-enact sacred plays and legends and perform to the symphony of cymbals, long horns and drum beats in the courtyard of the monasteries. Interestingly, the masks, typically skull-themed, represent the guardian deities of the Drukpa lineage.

Make your way to Leh this this summer and discover the legends of Ladakh echo and chorus spectacularly through its snow clad peaks.

To plan your trip to Leh, check out ixigo's travel guide page on Leh.

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