Digging deep: KTM 390 Adventure in Ladakh

© Rishabh Bhaskar Pangong Tso’s deep blue waters stopped us in our tracks.
© Rishabh Bhaskar Digging deep: KTM 390 Adventure in Ladakh

It all started with a phone call. “I’ve got good news for you. You’re going to Ladakh with KTM,” said Rishaad. Although I’ve been lucky to have visited Ladakh in the past, this would be my first time on a motorcycle. To say that I was jumping with joy would be putting it lightly. But then came the caveat, “There’ll be a number of off-road sections and I want you to learn how to get comfortable on an adventure motorcycle through such terrain,’’ he added. I suddenly considered backing out, but hesitantly agreed and hung up the phone.

© Rishabh Bhaskar Digging deep: KTM 390 Adventure in Ladakh

You see, I’ve always been a tarmac-bred rider and I don’t enjoy riding off-road. Hence, while a part of me was elated about the trip, the fear of crashing the KTM 390 Adventure had me in its grip. Did I just sign up for an insurmountable challenge?

© Rishabh Bhaskar Digging deep: KTM 390 Adventure in Ladakh


The question lingered in my mind as I landed in Chandigarh and got the keys to a spanking new KTM 390 Adventure at the hotel. I was surrounded by a motley bunch of KTM 390 Adventure owners, most of whom had ridden down from various corners of the country. Kedar Deo, from Pune, was the odd man out; the only one on a KTM 250 Adventure. Representing our neighbours were Bijay Moktan, the general manager of KTM Nepal and two of his customers, all of whom made it to Chandigarh from Kathmandu on their respective 390s. I guess the fact that everyone was astride similar KTM machines was a common thread that bound them together from the first day itself.

Moments before flag off, on a balmy Sunday morning, the excitement in the air was palpable. Thirty odd riders, in a convoy led by three KTM trainers, Nilesh Dhumal, Varad More and Sangram Patil, made their way out of Chandigarh towards Manali via Bilaspur and Mandi. It was quite a sight to see us rolling down the highway, support vehicles in tow.

© Provided by Autocar India

I’ve always held the 390 Adventure in high regard for its highway mile-munching abilities, and it delivered here too, making for an effortless day of riding.

On entering Manali, we were greeted by a lovely nip in the air amidst the lap of the mountains.


As we set off to higher altitudes the following day, everyone got into a rhythm with their motorcycles. The roads leading to Jispa, our halt for the night, were winding and smooth, giving us a chance to revel in the willing, but neutral handling of the 390 ADVs. The highlight was the ride through the 9km long Atal Tunnel. An unparalleled engineering feat, the hours of travel time that it helps you save is incredible.

The scenery also takes a stark turn as you exit the giant hole in the mountain. Lush green valleys, crisp blue skies and towering mountains abound, all the way to Jispa.

© Provided by Autocar India

While we stood mesmerised by the vistas around us, the trainers decided to take things up a notch later that evening. The plan was to ride up to Shingo La pass, to give us a taste of water crossing on a motorcycle. While the trepidation I felt was evident on my face, I decided to resist fear and go with the flow – no pun intended!

Upon reaching the spot, I did exactly what the trainers told me to do. Standing on the pegs, I gripped the motorcycle between my legs, held the handlebar as loose as I’d dare and kept the throttle steady. “Look up and ahead, you’ll make it,” adviced Nilesh a.k.a. Nelly as I entered the deep end of the water body. The rocks underneath were invisible and while the bike did get tossed around, I maintained a steady momentum up the incline. It was all that was required to make it to the other side, without falling. This drill certainly came in handy the next day, en route Sarchu, as we crossed the Pagal Nallah that consisted of shallow water, but heavier flow.


Sarchu is infamous for being a windy and cold place to stay at. It was here where Acute Mountain Sickness reared its ugly head, with some people in the group falling into its clutches. Drinking copious amounts of water and faith in the Diamox pills we’d been popping since Manali is what got many of us through the seemingly long and sleepless night.

To compound matters, the next day’s ride from Sarchu to Leh was long, with over 250km to cover over myriad terrain. From talcum powder-like sand to rock strewn mud paths, the first 30km from the Sarchu checkpost were nerve-wracking, to say the least.

© Provided by Autocar India Such magnificent rock formations abound in Ladakh.

An hour later, the all-inviting tarmac of the iconic 21-hairpin Gata Loops appeared as a welcome relief. This was followed by my favourite section of the Manali-Leh highway. The entire stretch from More Plains to Leh via Tanglang La, Rumste and Upshi is a motorcyclist’s delight. It consisted of smooth tarmac, tight and technical corners, and stunning mountain faces as companions.

This is where I was reminded of why motorcycling and Zen are spoken of in the same sentence.


The rest day in Leh was spent surfing through marketplaces and savouring the local cuisine. It was that essential recharge pill that we needed before embarking on the tougher leg of our journey.

“Remember, you don’t conquer the mountains, they let you pass,” said Varad More in a stern tone as we gathered to leave. It was a warning for us to respect the mountains and ride cautiously as we made our way up Khardung La, the highest mountain pass on our trip. Cresting the summit, it was all uncharted territory for me as we rolled down into the stunning Nubra Valley.

Compared to the rest of Ladakh, this place has a contrasting mix of greenery and sand dunes, with the Nubra river running along. The trainers thought of this as the perfect place to pitch a high-altitude off-road training camp and teach us to ride on sand. Talk about diving into the deep end, eh?

© Provided by Autocar India Falling off the bike while riding on sand is inevitable but shouldn’t hurt.

Unlike the other off-road sections we’d ridden on so far, sand was a completely different ball game. Firstly, there’s barely any traction as the front tyre keeps getting deflected on hitting mounds of sand. The handlebar sways wildly from side to side and one needs to let it do its thing while keeping the upper body loose and staying on the throttle. The best part is that even if/when you fall, sand doesn’t hurt a lot. That said, it was tough and my nerves were all over the place, as I nearly fell off on multiple occasions. I somehow managed to complete the first level, but it wasn’t enough to convince the trainers to allow me to step up to levels two and three. That involved deeper sand, followed by riding up a dune. For the ones who did manage to try them out, it was a huge learning curve. Dusting the sand off our gear, it was time to call it a night in our cozy tents, for the next day was the one we were all eagerly looking forward to.


Being an active war zone, the Siachen Base Camp is off limits for the general public. But, with special permissions in place, we were the lucky few who were granted access to the “The highest battlefield in the world”.

No amount of books or documentaries can give you a sense about the harshness of Siachen. The route to get there is largely desolate, with the hamlets of Sasoma Panamik and Warshi falling along the way.

As we approached the hallowed gates of the base camp, there was mild rainfall, showing us how quickly conditions change in the region.

After a warm welcome by the Indian Army, we proceeded to pay our respects at the OP Baba shrine inside the base. Later on, over cups of tea, the officers regaled us with tales of Siachen.

© Provided by Autocar India Unfurling the tricolour at the Siachen Base Camp was a proud moment for everyone.

The arduous conditions that our soldiers face on the glacier is unfathomable. Firstly, they have to hike up to their posts on the glacier, which takes about a week from the base camp. In the winters, temperatures fall below -50deg Celcius and then there’s the endless ordeal of shifting their tents as new crevices force relocation. All of this while keeping an eye out for the enemy! It is said that a soldier who serves 3-4 months on the Siachen Glacier, loses about 7 years of his average life span. That’s the very definition of sacrifice.

It’s no wonder that on hearing this, our hearts were filled with pride and patriotism as we chanted “Bharat Mata ki Jai” along with our Jawans.

For the riders, it was a momentous occasion as they could proudly state that they had ridden their KTM 390 Adventure to the Siachen Base Camp. How’s that for bragging rights?

© Provided by Autocar India

With a swell of emotions within us and immense gratitude towards our armed forces, it was time to head to Pangong Tso, undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. We took the proverbial ‘road less travelled’, as our gaggle of riders made its way into the Shyok Valley and onwards to Tangste and Pangong Tso.

The azure sky paled against the deep blue and turquoise waters of the endorheic lake, leaving us mesmerised by its sheer sight. As if that wasn’t enough, we then set course for another lake, after a few hours.


Saving the best for the last, the ride to Tso Moriri was ultimate, both in terms of the terrain and vistas. The smooth blacktop from Karu onwards allowed us to let our bikes loose, with the raging Indus river alongside the road making it a surreal experience. This coupled with the varying colours of the mountains, from brown to purple, makes you think that mother nature lavished a great deal of her attention towards painting this part of the world.

The last set of kilometres to Tso Moriri are completely off-road and everyone managed to carry a fair clip over these sections. Because, by this point, our faith in the KTM 390 Adventure had grown manyfold, with no broken rims or damaged suspension to report. And we weren’t exactly nursing them in the first place!

Upon reaching Tso Moriri, Varad decided to present one last challenge for us to conquer. After all, from here onwards we would pretty much retrace our way back to Chandigarh, via Tsokar and the More Plains.

He lined up his 390 Adventure and pointed it to the summit of a hill that overlooked the lake. First gear engaged, traction control turned off, he made a dash to the top. We followed suit, putting all of the off-road training to practice, and took our bikes to where he’d parked.

© Provided by Autocar India The Tso Moriri looks ultra gorgeous, especially from the summit of a hill that we rode up to on our KTM 390 Adventure.

Atop that cold and windy hill, the sight of the Tso Moriri left us spellbound. Relatively untouched by the evils of tourism, its waters were pristine while the enchanting, snow-capped mountains glistened in the setting sun. We were possibly the only motorcycle-borne riders to have made it up to this viewpoint. That’s when American actor Danny Kaye’s words struck me, “To travel is to take a journey into yourself”.

This trip to Ladakh has been nothing short of a revelation for me and several others. Did I become an off-road specialist in the two weeks that I spent here? Not really. But yes, I was happy that I could let go of my fear of riding off-road and have an adventure of a lifetime.

More importantly, I had the pleasure of experiencing this on a hardy and capable adventure motorcycle, with like-minded people who’d forged indelible bonds over 2,590kms. The camaraderie we shared, the experiences we underwent and the words of encouragement that flew whenever one felt bogged down by the challenging terrain. It was all that made this trip unforgettable. Come to think of it, I’m so glad I said yes on that phone call.


Photography: Abhishek Raina, Parvez Ahmed, Rishabh Bhaskar

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


EXCLUSIVE: 'One Mic Stand' creator Sapan Verma plans to rope in sports stars like Sachin Tendulkar, PV Sindhu

© Provided by Pinkvilla The popular show One Mic Stand offers a unique concept of bringing influential people from different walks of life under one roof to try their hands ... Read more »

Prince Jackson was traumatised by Thriller video

© Bang Showbiz Prince Jackson Prince Jackson was traumatised by the ‘Thriller’ video the first time he saw it. The iconic music video was released by his late dad Michael ... Read more »

Our Instagram Dancing Dadi Dancing To Sridevi's Navrai Majhi Is Goals

A saying goes around, ‘Age is just a number’ and truly it is! A 63-year-old Instagram influencer, Ravi Bala Sharma proved it time and again. Here we are with her ... Read more »

Tanzeel Khan on creating his song 'Khwahish' from debut album

© IANS Tanzeel Khan on creating his song ‘Khwahish’ from debut album Mumbai, Oct 28 (IANS) Singer and songwriter Tanzeel Khan has released the second song from his debut album ... Read more »

Imlie, 28 October 2021, Written Update: Imlie counters Anu's plans

© Provided by Pinkvilla As the episode starts, Dev arrives at Tripathis along with Anu and Meethi. Tripathis give them a warm welcome for them. Imlie comes running to meet ... Read more »

Mohammed Shami: A relaxed yet exciting and passionate Indian cricketer

© Provided by Hindustan Times India’s Mohammed Shami (AP) Mohammed Shami is one of the most approachable cricketers in the Indian team. Those close to the fast bowler often describe ... Read more »

‘Met with Sourav Ganguly, Jay Shah': PCB boss Ramiz Raja on resumption of India-Pakistan bilateral series

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Ramiz Raja believes the cricketing ties with India can improve if “politics” is kept away from the sport. Commenting on the resumption of bilateral series ... Read more »

Marcus Stoinis Reveals MS Dhoni's Advice Which Was a Filter For Him in Training

© Provided by News18 Marcus Stoinis Reveals MS Dhoni’s Advice Which Was a Filter For Him in Training Australia all-rounder Marcus Stoinis opened up on his conversation with the former ... Read more »

Over 90% people in Delhi have antibodies against COVID-19, shows sero-survey

© Provided by DNA While the coronavirus cases in Delhi have come down significantly, more than 90 per cent of people in the national capital have developed antibodies against the ... Read more »

Aww! Kareena Kapoor Khan captures an adorable moment of baby yogi Jeh Ali Khan; says 'yoga runs in family' – view pic

© Provided by BollywoodLife.com Kareena Kapoor Khan‘s Instagram account is indeed a boon for all her fans. The actress shares several sweet pictures that give her fans a glimpse into ... Read more »

South Australia stay afloat after Green and Cartwright engineer big lead

© Getty Images Cameron Green latches onto a short ball © Getty Images South Australia 128 and 0 for 68 trail Western Australia 299 (Cartwright 78, Green 61, McAndrew 5-84) ... Read more »

IPL retention rules: old teams can keep four players ahead of 2022 auction, three early picks for new teams

© BCCI MS Dhoni and Eoin Morgan with the IPL 2021 trophy © BCCI A maximum of four players can be retained by the eight existing IPL teams while the ... Read more »

'Kohli, Dhoni, our players sent strong message': Saqlain Mushtaq says India vs Pakistan T20 WC final will be 'great'

While it was a one-sided win for Pakistan in their opening T20 World Cup match against India last week on Sunday, Pakistan coach Saqlain Mushtaq feels if the two teams ... Read more »

Odisha | 10th-century shrine unearthed near Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar

An Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) team on Wednesday, October 27, unearthed the remains of an ancient temple. The temple is said to be a 10th-century shrine. The remains were ... Read more »

T20 World Cup: I will consider Ishan Kishan ahead of Hardik Pandya if he is not bowling, says Sunil Gavaskar

Cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar suggested two changes to the Indian team ahead of their crucial encounter against New Zealand in the Super 12s of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 ... Read more »

Bombay HC resumes hearing on Aryan Khan, others' bail pleas

© Provided by The Statesman Bombay HC resumes hearing on Aryan Khan, others’ bail pleas The Bombay High Court on Thursday resumed the hearing of Aryan Khan, along with others’, ... Read more »

PM Modi to be in Rome from Oct 29 to 31: Foreign Secy Shringla

© Provided by The Statesman PM Modi to be in Rome from Oct 29 to 31: Foreign Secy Shringla Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Thursday informed that Prime Minister ... Read more »

Aryan Khan drugs case: Sameer Wankhede's wife Kranti Redkar writes letter to CM

© Provided by Hindustan Times Actress Kranti Redkar, wife of Sameer Wankhede, at a press conference in Mumbai on Tuesday. She wrote a letter to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, seeking ... Read more »

6 Brilliant Gifting Ideas To Make This Year's Diwali Extra Special

Diwali is just around the corner, and shops are now running out of really good gifts. People are going to go for the generic mithai ka dabba once everything else ... Read more »

WATCH: Tiny tot adjusts her crown on ramp like a boss, video goes viral

© Provided by DNA The viral video of a little girl adjusting her crown on-ramp like a boss has won the hearts of many netizens on social media. In the video ... Read more »

Bajaj Pulsar 250 India launch highlights: Pulsar F250 and N250 revealed, priced from Rs 1.38 lakh

© Provided by Firstpost Bajaj Pulsar 250 India launch highlights: Pulsar F250 and N250 revealed, priced from Rs 1.38 lakh 14:16 (IST) All-new Bajaj Pulsar F250 and N250 launched in ... Read more »

Nykaa IPO opens: Issue subscribed 1.35 times so far on first day of bidding, retail portion booked 3.29 times

© Sunil Matkar Nykaa IPO opens: Issue subscribed 1.35 times so far on first day of bidding, retail portion booked 3.29 times The public issue of FSN E-Commerce Ventures, backed by ... Read more »

Here Are Some Trending Kitchen Floor Designs That Will Elevate The Look Of Your Cooking Space

The most popular part of the home is surely the kitchen. From grandpa to the little one, everyone surely visits the kitchen at least one time in a day. Therefore, ... Read more »

Carabao Cup: Manchester City's League Cup domination ends after defeat vs West Ham

© Provided by WION Holders Manchester City were eliminated from the League Cup by West Ham United after a penalty shootout at London Stadium on Wednesday. The game went to ... Read more »

Man Creates Video Job Application Grooving to 'I Will Survive', Gets Dozens of Offers

© Provided by News18 Man Creates Video Job Application Grooving to ‘I Will Survive’, Gets Dozens of Offers COVID-19 pandemic has been a tough time not just for the public ... Read more »

Is Orange the new Black? Shilpa Shetty to Deepika Padukone: 6 Times Celebs decked up head to toe in orange

Celebrities have tried and tested all colours as they continue to experiment over seasons and with upcoming trends. Although bright and colourful shades are always equivalent to summer and spring, ... Read more »

Instagram makes Link stickers available to all users: Here's how you can add them to your story

© Provided by Firstpost Instagram makes Link stickers available to all users: Here’s how you can add them to your story Instagram’s Link Stickers will now be available to all ... Read more »

Cryptocurrency prices today: Meme coins take charge as Dogecoin, Shiba Inu surge

Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin and Dogecoin price Popular cryptocurrency prices have weakened over the past 24 hours due to heavy profit booking by investors. While popular virtual coin prices bounced back ... Read more »

Centre Extends COVID Restrictions Till Nov 30 to Prevent Further Spread of Pandemic | Details Here

© Surabhi Shaurya | India.com News Desk Image for representational purposes New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday extended the covid-19 restrictions across the country till November 30 ... Read more »

OPSC PGT Recruitment 2021: Bumper vacancies announced, apply at opsc.gov.in – Check salary, eligibility

© Provided by DNA Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) has issued a recruitment notification for the posts of 335 Post Graduate Teacher (PGT) Vacancy. The application process will begin on ... Read more »

Aryan Khan Case: Ethical hacker approached to obtain SRK's manager & others' call records for Rs 5 lakhs?

© Provided by Pinkvilla Mumbai’s cruise drug bust case is coming up with new twists every day. While it all started with Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan’s arrest by ... Read more »

Did You Know? Before Aryan Khan, this member from Shah Rukh Khan's family was put behind bars and tried in court

© Provided by BollywoodLife.com Aryan Khan‘s case has become a matter of national scrutiny, with the spotlight falling heavily on his multiple denials of bail and how unjust it all ... Read more »

Sherlyn Chopra Seeks Rs 75 Crore From Shilpa Shetty, Raj Kundra For Allegedly Mentally Harassing Her

© Vineeta Kumar | India.com Entertainment Desk Sherlyn Chopra Seeks Rs 75 Crore From Shilpa Shetty, Raj Kundra For Allegedly Mentally Harassing Her Mumbai: Sherlyn Chopra has accused Bollywood star ... Read more »

Samantha deletes ALL pictures with Naga Chaitanya on Instagram after their split

Samantha deleted all her pictures with Naga Chaitanya on Instagram. It has been three weeks since Samantha announced her separation from Naga Chaitanya. Today (October 28), he removed all her ... Read more »

Tahira Kashyap didn't feel instant mother's love at son's birth, says 'kuch aaya hi nahi'

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Writer Tahira Kashyap, in an Instagram live with actress Neha Dhupia on Tuesday (October 26), revealed interesting and vulnerable details about her pregnancy and ... Read more »

World's Lightest Electric Car, India's Ekonk Is Lighter Than Maruti Suzuki Alto

© Provided by Indiatimes India’s Vazirani Automotive has revealed its upcoming “Ekonk hypercar”, which is India’s fastest and the world’s lightest electric car. With attainable speeds of up to 100 ... Read more »

Bajaj launches the fastest Pulsar twins in India, the F250 and the N250

© Provided by The Financial Express After numerous teasers and getting fans on the edge of their seats, Bajaj has launched the Pulsar 250 twins in India. The new Bajaj ... Read more »

Recipes Using Kale; The Superfood By Chef Kaviraj Khialani

Kale, or leaf cabbage, belongs to a group of cabbage cultivars grown for their edible leaves, although some are used as ornamentals. Kale plants have green or purple leaves, and ... Read more »

1,000 Years of Joys and Sorrows by Ai Weiwei review: a rebel walking in his father's footsteps

Ai Weiwei – Laura Lezza/Getty Images “I gather you’re a celebrity.” So began the interrogation of Ai Weiwei by a Chinese state security official, file open on the table before ... Read more »

Party like a Russian: Moscow goes wild on final night out before Putin's lockdown

‘Feast in a time of plague’: Moscow parties like there’s no tomorrow as coronavirus lockdown begins – Valery Sharifulin /TASS Russians hurried to bars for a final taste of freedom, ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic