The Ghost Of The Gata Loops
Located in a region known for its stark and beautiful surroundings and ancient religious traditions, the Gata Loops, set on the Leh – Manali road, have a very different spiritual history.
The riders on the 2023 Trans-Himalaya will certainly be enjoying the view as they descend the 21 loops spread over 10 km but as they approach the 19th loop they might glimpse something out of the corner of their eye. Something that might make them slow down and stop. Something known as the Ghost Temple. It might appear as just a messy collection of plastic water bottles but this is actually a shrine, set up by local villagers to appease the Ghost of the Gata Loops.
The story goes that many years ago a truck with 2 men in it was driving towards Manali late in the season. In fact, they were the very last vehicle on the road before it closed for the winter. Suddenly it began to snow. Heavily! The truck struggled on but as it approached the 19th loop, it broke down and no amount of effort on the part of the drivers could get it moving again. Apparently, they were worried about the contents of the truck being stolen so they decided that one of them would walk to the nearest village for help while the other would remain and guard the cargo.
The first man did, indeed, manage to reach a small village but the storm got worse and worse, stranding him there for 3 days. When he and the villagers managed to make it back to the truck, the other man was dead. With no water, food or heat, he was unable to survive. His body was buried beside the road where the truck broke down, the same spot where the Ghost Temple now stands.
In the years after his death, travellers began to report strange stories from the Loops. They often mentioned encountering a man begging for water but who vanished when they approached him. Concerned that the area was being cursed by the ghost of the dead trucker, the locals set up a small brick shrine at which they deposited water bottles to satisfy the thirst of the spirit. Soon, other travellers along the road joined in this tradition and the Ghost Temple was born.
The story goes on to say that travellers who do not offer up some water at the Temple, will suffer misfortune in their lives, so perhaps the riders on the Trans-Himalaya should pack an extra water bottle on their bikes…just in case!
This ride will take cyclists from Leh in Ladakh, India to Kathmandu in Nepal. Along the way they will pedal over passes as high as 5,000m, spin past...