Crossing Rohtang was a cake walk when you consider that we were going on towards the Second Highest Pass in the world at a height of 17,582 feet. After Pandoh we inched upwards through bad dusty roads, dry barren mountains, winding roads and scenes of absolute beauty.
We climbed a steep mountain with 22 hair pin bends called “baies mod”. As we looked ahead we saw majestic peaks. As we looked below we could see the serpentine road snaking away down the valley.
Our next halt was at Pang. And there, for the first time, I had real problems. The rarefied air was not something we were used to. Lack of oxygen made even walking few steps a laborious task. At night I felt as if I could not breathe. I was awake the whole night simply waiting for dawn when we could move on.Here I thought Pang at 15,000 feet was terrible but I was about to climb higher. From Pang we wound higher to Lachulungla at 16616 feet.
And then came the most amazing sight. Here we were at such amazing heights amidst towering mountains and deep valleys and there was before me a flat land stretching on as far as I could see. Between two tall mountain ranges was a valley floor that was so wide and flat that you could easily accommodate about ten stadiums there. And running through that flat land was the highway, flat and straight. We raced along for about 10 odd kilometres amidst this flat land.
Next came Taglangla Pass, the second highest pass in the world. There is a small temple there where each passer by stops and prays for a safe journey. At this attitude you step out of the car amidst howling winds. Lack of oxygen makes you totter and you simply want to get back into the warmth of your vehicle.
And after that it was mostly downhill. Well not that we went down a lot because Leh is at a height of around 11,000 feet…pretty high by any standard.