3623kms in Ladakh on a Farm Tractor

So last year we went on a rather unusual journey. We took a farm tractor 3623 kms across Ladakh through the most dangerous roads, highest passes and random rivers. In the end it also got two of my team members a Limca World Record (not me as I didn’t have a tractors license) after we completed the journey in just fourteen days. Unfortunately, the journey could not be documented properly as I had an accident at Drass were my right shoulder got dislocated while climbing the tractor. I used my phone to take most of the pictures.

The Vehicle

65hp 3065DI tractor by Indo Farm
65hp 3065DI tractor by Indo Farm

We were given a brand new green colored 65hp 3065DI tractor by Indo Farm Equipments Pvt. Ltd. They also sponsored fuel and other expenses as this expedition would prove that their machine in capable of running in extreme conditions and can take severe weather variations.

Two days before the journey, Indo Farm gave us the tractor so that our trailor caravan could be attached to it. The caravan, designed by Jazzy Paji ( Jaibir Singh Virk) had two compartments divided horizontally. The top part could be used for sleeping while the bottom section was used for storing 150lt of fuel and other stuff. The caravan had a waterproof softtop and two fans. We later attached a Belkin AC Anywhere to power our devices.

The Team

1. Jaibir Singh Virk – Works as an Advocate, is a hardcore adventurer, started traveling at the age of 16. Did many expeditions on car, bike and bi-cycle. Holds a limca world record for a Solo Tractor Ride in the Himalayas at Highest Altitude, where he traveled 3174 kms across the Himalayas in just 18 days. He is also the President of Fox Adventure Club.
2. Amit Chaudhary – Traveler, Adventurer, Hardcode biker. Holds a Doctorate in Naturopathy. He is also a founding member of Fox Adventure Club. He works as a teacher in Kurukshetra.
3. Me.

The Route

Google Map of the Longest Tractor Expedition

The Journey

The expedition was full of so many amazing experiences that I can write a book on it, but for this post I’ll just share the notes in my diary chronologically. So here we go.

Introduction

iPhone Photo - Amit Chaudhary using his phone in the caravan
iPhone Photo – Amit Chaudhary using his phone in the caravan
  • Started from Kurukshetra to reach Baddi.
  • The temperature must be above 40 Degree Celsius.
  • Impossible to sit in the caravan.
  • On Delhi – Chandigarh Highway – Max Speed 37km/h
  • Haryana Roadways is a luxury if compared to this tractor.
  • Reached Indo Farm Facility in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh.
  • 08:00 – Flagged off officially.

Day One ( Started at 8 pm )
24 May 2012

iPhone Photo - Jazzy Paji standing with the tractor at Dasua McDonald's
iPhone Photo – Jazzy Paji standing with the tractor at Dasua McDonald’s
  • Drove alternately.
  • 04:00am – Breakfast at McDonald’s Dashua. Amit still sleeping.
  • 01:00pm – Crossed Pathankot and reached Udhampur via Thein Dam.
  • Dry hot air blowing straight on our face.
  • Dinner at Patni Top. Best Rajma Chawal I’v ever had.

Day Two
25 May 2012

Tractor approaching ZojiLa Pass
Tractor approaching ZojiLa Pass
  • Early morning breakfast of Rajma Chawal. 
  • Temperature dropped to around 20 Degree Celsius
  • The road got interesting and we crossed interestingly named places like, Khuni Nallah and Shaitani Nallah.
  • Further drop in temerature. Jackets out.
  • Srinagar still 50 kms away. Started drizzling.
  • Reached Srinagar. Heavy Rain. Impossible to drive. Front tyres showering us with water.
  • Parked. Having juices and snacks in our caravan as the rain gets heavy.
  • The rain stopped. Started moving again.
  • Reached Kangan at 10.30pm. Had dinner and slept in the caravan.

Day 3
26 May 2012

Amit Chaudhary driving through Zojila Pass
Amit Chaudhary driving through Zojila Pass
  • Left Kangan after breakfast. 
  • Towed a Force Traveler full of tourists for 14kms till Sonmarg.
  • Parked at Sonemarg. Raining again.
  • Crossed Zojila Pass. Covered with Snow.
  • 4:00PM – Agyam
  • 10:00pm – Reached Drass – Had dinner – Dislocated my shoulder while climbing the tractor.
  • 2:00am – Reached Kargil – Hospitals closed – Slept in the caravan.

Day 4
27 May 2012

iPhone Photo - Ramdo Village - Zanskar
iPhone Photo – Rangdum Village – Zanskar
  • 6am : Kargil Civil Hospital – No Doctor. Obviously.
  • Found the address of the hospital Orthopedist, Dr. Abdul Zalil, an amazing person. He relocated my shoulder and tied it. Have to not move it for 2 weeks.
  • Enjoyed Ladakhi Bread and tea at his home. Thanked him and moved on. He didn’t even accept any fees for his early morning services.
  • Refuelled  at Kargil. Took the Kargil-Zanskar Road to reach Padum. It’s a 240km stretch of dirt road and would be longest and bumpiest one.
  • Average speed – 5.8km/h.
  • 25km before Rangdum – Exhausted.
  • Luggage, equipment and caravan full of dust.
  • Covered our faces and slept.

Day 5
28 May 2012

Descending PensiLa Pass, Zanskar
Descending Pensi La Pass, Zanskar
  • Started early in the morning. Crossed Pansila at 10.30am.
  • Beautiful Road. Small natural lake, barren landscape and huge mountains.
  • Darang Darung Glaciar – What an awesome glaciar!
  • Reached Phey Village.
  • Stayed at our friends home. Tashi Choptup.
  • Slept like logs.

Day 6
29 May 2012

Tractor at Pensila Pass - Zanskar
Tractor at Pensila Pass – Zanskar
  • Breakfast with Yak Milk Curd.
  • Got back on the same road to reach Kargil.
  • Kargil – 238 kms away.
  • Tied our luggage with ropes. Increased our speed to 18km/h and made our journey more uncomfortable.
  • Maggie Lunch at Rangdum.
  • Reached Sangkhoo at 10pm and had dinner.
  • Crossed Kargil. Now Parked on Kargil Leh road.
  • Slept.

Day 7
30 May 2012

iPhone Photo - Magnetic Hill, near Leh
iPhone Photo – Magnetic Hill, near Leh
  • Crossed Namkila Pass.
  • Maggie + Tea breakfast.
  • Smooth Road. Average speed 30km/h
  • Reached Kaltsi at a Punjabi Dhaba.
  • Had Paranthas after days. Now I know why Punjabi Dhabas are so popular everywhere.
  • Getting late for permits.
  • Stopped a Taxi and Amit went ahead to get the permits ready for the route ahead.
  • Reached Leh, refueled our tanks.
  • Not allowed to cross Khardung La Pass after sunset.
  • Parked at Leh. Tractor attracting a lot of attention.
  • Having awesome food after days.

Day 8
31 May, 2012

iPhone Photo - Tractor on Nubra Road
iPhone Photo – 2 kms to reach Khardung La on Nubra Road
iPhone Photo - Rinchin Cafe - World's Highest Cafe
iPhone Photo – Rinchin Cafe – World’s Highest Cafe
  • Started climbing Khardung La.
  • Paji and Amit got off to take the natures call. Left Amit behind. He took a lift to reach the tractor. Amusing experience.
  • Reached the mighty Khardung La Pass. At 18,523 ft, it is the officially highest motorable road in the world. The highest being Marsimik la, (18,634).
  • Kawa and Maggie Noodles at the world’s highest cafeteria, Rinchin Cafe.
  • Low oxygen level.
  • Got down and reached Khardung Village and had Lunch at Phunsuk Wangchu cafe, named after a character in the famous Bollywood movie, ‘Three Idiots’.
  • We reached Diskit at 6:45km. Serviced the tractor. Slept in the caravan.

Day 9
1 June 2012

iPhone Photo - tractor crossing Shyok River
iPhone Photo – tractor crossing Shyok River
iPhone Photo - Himanshu Khagta and Amit Chaudhary with Mr. XYZ at GREF unit at Shyok
iPhone Photo – Himanshu Khagta and Amit Chaudhary with Mr. Dinesh Kumar, the unit head of GREF unit, Shyok
iPhone Photo - Tractor near Durbuk
iPhone Photo – Tractor near Durbuk
iPhone Photo - Tractor approaching Chang La Pass
iPhone Photo – Tractor approaching Chang La Pass

 

  • Started on the road to Wari La Pass. It was still closed. Disappointed.
  • Took the road to Shyok via Agham.
  • No Road – Driving on the river bed. Crossed 1 ft deep river.
  • Back on the dirt road.
  • Problem – Found a crack in the trailer.
  • Temporarily secured it with chains.
  • Reached a GREF unit at Shyok
  • Mr. Dinesh Kumar helped us weld the crack.
  • Had tea and coffee. Thanked him for helping us.
  • Saw our faces in the mirror after days. Tanned and burned skin. Messy hair full of dust.
  • Repaired our trailor and left for Durbuk.
  • Took the road to Karo via ChangLa
  • Weather getting dark and cloudy.
  • 08:45pm – Reached Changla Pass (17,586 ft) at 8:45 pm. It is the second highest motorable road in the world.
  • Started snowing.
  • Phone batteries died because of the freezing temperature.
  • Snowfall got heavy and we kept moving. No other choice. The snowfall continued for 30 kms till Sakti.
  • It is drizzling there. We reached Karu at 11pm.
  • Exhausted and cold. Had to refuel the tractor but the Petrol Station was closed.
  • We parked our tractor there and slept. Rain continued till morning.

Day 10
2 June 2012

iPhone Photo - Washing our faces in the river Indus
iPhone Photo – Washing our faces in the river Indus
iPhone Photo - Beautiful landscape on the way to Hanle
iPhone Photo – Beautiful landscape on the way to Hanle
iPhone Photo - Fixing our caravan at 24 RCC Nyoma
iPhone Photo – Fixing our caravan at 24 RCC Nyoma
  • 07:00 am – Refueled our tanks. Had breakfast and left for Hanle.
  • Changla closed because of snowfall. We were lucky to have crossed it on time.
  • Amit driving and Paji resting in the caravan.
  • Parked on the bank of river Indus to wash our faces. Water is too cold for bathing.
  • Reached Chumathang and spotted a crack on the welded trailer joint.
  • Again secured it with Chains.
  • Hoping to find another GREF unit as Chumathang has so welding shop.
  • Reached Nyoma. 24 RCC ( Highest in the world). Had a telephonic conversation with the GREF unit head. He was very happy to help.
  • 05:00pm : Work started.
  • 08:00pm : Crack successfully welded and we left for Hanle.
  • The Landscape looking beautiful with outline of the rounded hills and the vastness of the landscape.
  • Amit slept. Me and Paji kept driving.
  • No movement on the road.
  • 12:15 am – Reached Hanle
  • Exhuasted. No energy left. Parked alongside the road and slept.

Day 11
3 June, 2012

iPhone Photo - Landscape of Hanle
iPhone Photo – Landscape of Hanle
iPhone Photo - Crossing Tso Kar Lake
iPhone Photo – Crossing Tso Kar Lake
iPhone Photo - Village near Tso Kar lake
iPhone Photo – Village near Tso Kar lake
  • Hanle is the home to as one of the world’s highest sites for opticalinfrared and gamma-ray telescopes. It is currently the second highest optical telescope in the world.
  • We climed up and took few pictures. No time to go inside.
  • Reached Mahe Bridge took a left from Puga and crossed Sumdo with natural hot water springs.
  • Back on dirt road. Average Speed 8 km/h.
  • Crossed Polo Kong La Pass. Sunny but freezing cold.
  • Reached the most beautiful lake, Tso Kar. Too tired to enjoy the beautiful landscape.
  • Moon is added to the beautiful lake landscape.
  • Reached Debring and now on the Leh-Manali Road.
  • Reached Pang. Had food. Slept.

Day 12

iPhone Photo - A roadside cafe near Sarchu
iPhone Photo – A roadside cafe near Sarchu
iPhone Photo - Crossing Baralacha
iPhone Photo – Crossing Baralacha
  • Got up.
  • Crossed  Sarchu – Killing Serai – Baralacha – Darcha – Jispa and Keylong.
  • Having dinner at Keylong.
  • Kept Moving.
  • 01:00am – Crossing Rohtang Pass, covered in a thick sheet of snow. Moon light making the landscape a lot more beautiful.
  • Driving on ice.
  • Reached Marhi and stopped to refuel the tractor.

Day 13

iPhone Photo - Jalori Pass
iPhone Photo – Jalori Pass
  • Reached Vishisht. Paji went to take a dip in the Hot Spring water.
  • He is back with a new energy.
  • Crossed Manali. Had Breakfast.
  • Took the road to Banjar.
  • The temperature got warmer.
  • Reached Jalori Pass. Descended towards Rampur. Had dinner and kept moving towards Narkanda.
  • 03:00am – Stopping here for a quick nap.

Day 14

iPhone Photo - Tractor crossing Sanjauali, Shimla
iPhone Photo – Tractor crossing Sanjauali, Shimla
  • Started from Narkanda.
  • 07:00am – Reached Shimla.
  • Breakfast at Shoghi.
  • Journey Complete at Baddi.
  • A warm welcome by Indo Farm Team.
  • The End.

Conclusion

Farm Tractor to Ladakh

So we successfully covered the full circuit of Ladakh and travelled 3623 kms in 14 days. Experienced temperature variation from 42C to -5C. The brightest summer sun of the plains to snowfall at Chang La. Amit and Paji got their name in the Limca Book of World Records. We all got an amazing story to share. It was challenging but the humour kept us going through the barren and lonely roads of Ladakh. It was tough but it was one crazy experience.

29 responses to 3623kms in Ladakh on a Farm Tractor

  1. Panki sood says:

    Himashu brother this is really wonderful . Your pics make it more tentative … I did one like this in 1997 over kargil but my vehical was bit bigger ..it was 1612 lp truck …..
    Great story to be shared …
    Keep doing what you like in life as very few get to live life what they love …
    Pics as usual amazing and beautiful ..
    Hugs

  2. puneet says:

    great journey with great pictures ……….thanks for sharing……………

  3. Samir Azad says:

    Awesome and terrifying. Great Work.

  4. Maneet says:

    I did read about this journey of yours sometime back. How amazing and enthralling this adventure must have been ! Beautiful pictures and interesting notes…
    Keep up the crazy work !

  5. kudos guys…
    would have been more nice if Himanshu would have clicked amazing pics like he has been doing since years now 🙂

    last picture is KILLER !!

  6. Parveen says:

    Its sad to hear about your shoulder. Can’t believe you clicked the pics in such condition. Superb pics bhai. Was been waiting for these pics since long.

    Be safe Ride safe…

  7. Dr. Anil Gupta says:

    Dear Mr. Khagta,
    Hats off to the adventurous spirit of your’s and the team. Pics of Ladakh are just out of the world- for umpteenth time proving Iqbal Saheb right – Sare jahan se accha Hindostan hamara. And last but not the least i wonder if your hands and eyes can weave the photographical magic with an i-phone (thanks to your shoulder injury) what would you have produced with your regular camera had you been not injured ? I leave that to the imagination of your fans.

  8. Neeraj says:

    Awesome pics and what a feat!!, I am a biker myself and have done ladakh on my enfield and on a cycle, crossing this beautiful landscape at these speeds is a completely different experience. you see things you never noticed on your motorbikes. Kudos to your efforts, I can just imagine what fun road trip this must have been.

  9. Hey Guys,

    I love your travelogue and its sooooo amazing to see you guys travelling on a tractor so far off in Ladakh and other amazing places. I salute your spirits and love for adventure you should post the details to NG or Discovery channel… who know we will see you on TV soon 😉 Keep rocking and keep posting…

  10. Erica Chadha says:

    Himanshu, I just love love love what you do. It’s so artistic and fun…but most importantly very creative. Loved your journey..wish I could travel with you on one of these creative experiences, and when I return I think I’m going to do just that.

  11. David C King says:

    What an interesting journey. Was it difficult to drive without a windshield? I’m curious to know why you chose to make a long trip without one (windshield) … if you wanted one you could probably have retrofitted it, right?

    Did you consider moving the exhaust pipe so that the fumes wouldn’t be blowing into your faces?

    Back in the 70’s I drove my Jawa motorcycle up to Simla … at Sanjauli there used to be a very popular dhaba where the best omelettes were made ‘garam garam’ right in front of you!

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  12. Himanshu Khagta says:

    Hi David

    Thanks a lot. The tractor was released from the manufacturer at the last moment and we didn’t have much time left to install a windshield. It did create problems. We had to stop when it rained and it became really challenging when we were struggling with the snow while descending Chang La. Still it felt like riding a very slow bike and uncomfortable bike without helmets.

  13. Himanshu Khagta says:

    Hey Erica

    Thanks a lot. It is not the best way to explore ladakh, but then it was different and was creative for sure.

  14. Himanshu Khagta says:

    Hello Panki Bhai

    Sounds amazing. Kargil in 1997 would be different and beautiful. I would love to hear the story from you personally when we meet at Kullu.

    Thanks a lot.

  15. Ajay says:

    Amazing photographs. really touching……………………. ad beautiful

  16. Ankit Dagar says:

    hello dear, congratulations to one of the best achievements u achieved , may be this was not your whole story and were only notes but it was enough to give Goosebumps to me and my friends.. definitely hats off to u and our team man.. I would definitely like to meet you before I plan my trip to ladhakh.. salutesss..

  17. GURSHARANJIT says:

    Very dangerous ,adventurous tour

  18. vipul shah says:

    Really a great job buddy .feeling motivated. i think himalya is inviting me back after a sum of 8 years . well you did it really well . keep exploring keep living ……. and dnt 4gt to share 😉

  19. Prashant pawar says:

    This is so amazing.. so awesome.. we did the adventure on bike but Tractor and trailer is something out of world and even i would love to do such someday. An awesomely documented blog, though i came across this blog in 2016, but everything sounds so fresh as we can relate 🙂 Thanks a lot

  20. Gurpreet Singh Bajwa says:

    Really an amazing story with beautiful pics. It set up fire in body to have such kind of experience… Great….

  21. Himanshu Khagta says:

    Thanks a lot Gurpreet! It was really a back breaking journey 🙂

  22. Himanshu Khagta says:

    Thanks a lot Prashant! Yup everyone on the way was surprised to see three idiots with a tractor.

  23. Himanshu Khagta says:

    Thanks! Best wishes for your expedition. You guys are crazy! 😀

Leave a Reply

Pingbacks & Trackbacks