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Old 22nd June 2010, 20:02   #1
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Default Planning Gurgaon-Manali-Leh-Srinagar in Ford Fiesta 1.6Zxi: How much Feasible?

Mod Note : Please continue the discussion on TSK1979's excellent Leh & Ladakh Guide at this link (Leh, Ladakh and Zanskar - The Ultimate Guide)



I have been planning to do Gurgaon-Manali-Leh-Kargil-Srinagar-Pathankot-Gurgaon in my Ford Fiesta 1.6Zxi.

Duration: End-August to Early September.
Total Planned Days: 12 Days

Itinerary:
Day1: Gurgaon to Manali
Day2: Manali to Sarchu
Day3: Sarchu to Leh.
Day4 & 5: Leh - Nubra Valley - Leh. Overnight stay at Diskit or Sumur.
Day6: Leh – Pangong Tso – Leh
Day7-8: Leh – Tso Moriri - Leh. Overnight stay at Korzok
Day9: Leh - Kargil
Day10: Kargil - Srinagar
Day11: Srinagar - Pathankot
Day12: Pathankot - Gurgaon

My concerns are:
1. Can Ford Fiesta will be able to negotiate with its ground clearance? Do I need any under-body protection?
2. How many persons will be ideal? I am going with a friend and we both can drive. We have 2 more friends who are interested to come along. I read somewhere that to get passes for Tso Moriri 4 persons are required.
3. Will there be any problem with cranking the engine at Sarchu? I don't have any problem with the car so far.
4. About stream crossing along the road, how deep are these streams? I hope they are not deep enough to get into engines.
5. I have another doubt, which might be funnier to you. In case of major break down (hope it won't occur), how will I able to take back my vehicle?

About driving I am quite confident about my driving in mountain terrain. I have good experience in driving muddy roads (I have learnt driving on those roads only).

Any advice to change itinerary is welcomed. Also, please mention local attractions in Leh, Kargil, Srinagar and Jammu which I can fit into the itinerary without making it too hectic. I don't prefer to see the tour providers site, as their choices in most cases are worthless.

Also let me know expected the total cost of the whole trip.

Cheers,
Hriday

Last edited by GTO : 31st May 2013 at 10:34. Reason: Link to Guide
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Old 24th June 2010, 19:09   #2
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Hi Hriday,

Your plan looks Ok.

The fiesta should be able to do the route. If you are able to source underbody protection, then well and good. Otherwise, if you drive carefully, you shouldnt have any issues.

3 or 4 people should not be a problem. The "passes" are called Inner Line Permits. Issued by DC Office at Leh. The rule of 4 persons is applicable only for foreigners. NO rule for Indian citizens.

Around Aug / Sept, you shouldnt be having any major nallahs overflowing. Otherwise also, no major issues would be observed if you cross them carefully.

You think rightly when you mention breakdowns. Usually, a lot of trucks pass by on the return from Leh and you could get your car towed by them in case of any extreme breakdown. To be on the safe side, carry some basic stuff with you.

While staying at Korzok, return the next day via Tso Kar and TanglangLa pass so that you dont miss out on Tso Kar.

If you're the adventurous types , you can also revisit the route that Tanveer has recently completed. Refer his travelogue for the same.
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Old 24th June 2010, 19:14   #3
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Try to do Nubra Pangong Direct if route is open. Its just 4 hours of driving.
Also try to keep one rest day when you reach leh for permits and acclimatizing
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Old 25th June 2010, 00:04   #4
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Thanks Bapu.
I won't mind going to for some adventure till my car permits. What could be more cheerful to me! Got a reply for non other than tanveer!

I would definitely try to do Tso Kar, thanks for suggestion. I am sure you can help me with in finding out more on the way destinations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Try to do Nubra Pangong Direct if route is open. Its just 4 hours of driving.
Also try to keep one rest day when you reach leh for permits and acclimatizing
thanks tanveer! that will be an excellent idea! It would let me to try a new road. More importantly it will save a day for me.

Few more quarries:
1. Accommodation costs? Best places to stay, I don't prefer to stay in crowds.
2. How FE drops in such terrains? My car gives 12+ in city and 15+ on highways.
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Old 25th June 2010, 02:54   #5
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To be honest, Fiesta will scarp from bottom, not matter how careful you are, so be prepared for that. make sure you know the side of sump and safe it as much as possible

Also You can do Leh-Srinagar in a day if you start very early and save a day.

Wari-La should be open by then, Do Leh-Nubra-Wari-La-Sakti-Changla-Pangong

There is nothing at all in Kargil and should be avoided completely

3 person is ideal, 4 is uncomfortable, and 5 is problem

there is no fix depth of water crossing, but it can get bad, specially in August when it rains in Manali-Leh road.

I am not sure if there is any Ford ASC in Leh, but in any case you can take to Maruti ASC on Airport Road, they will help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hridayjyoti View Post
I have been planning to do Gurgaon-Manali-Leh-Kargil-Srinagar-Pathankot-Gurgaon in my Ford Fiesta 1.6Zxi.

Duration: End-August to Early September.
Total Planned Days: 12 Days

Itinerary:
Day1: Gurgaon to Manali
Day2: Manali to Sarchu
Day3: Sarchu to Leh.
Day4 & 5: Leh - Nubra Valley - Leh. Overnight stay at Diskit or Sumur.
Day6: Leh – Pangong Tso – Leh
Day7-8: Leh – Tso Moriri - Leh. Overnight stay at Korzok
Day9: Leh - Kargil
Day10: Kargil - Srinagar
Day11: Srinagar - Pathankot
Day12: Pathankot - Gurgaon

My concerns are:
1. Can Ford Fiesta will be able to negotiate with its ground clearance? Do I need any under-body protection?
2. How many persons will be ideal? I am going with a friend and we both can drive. We have 2 more friends who are interested to come along. I read somewhere that to get passes for Tso Moriri 4 persons are required.
3. Will there be any problem with cranking the engine at Sarchu? I don't have any problem with the car so far.
4. About stream crossing along the road, how deep are these streams? I hope they are not deep enough to get into engines.
5. I have another doubt, which might be funnier to you. In case of major break down (hope it won't occur), how will I able to take back my vehicle?

About driving I am quite confident about my driving in mountain terrain. I have good experience in driving muddy roads (I have learnt driving on those roads only).

Any advice to change itinerary is welcomed. Also, please mention local attractions in Leh, Kargil, Srinagar and Jammu which I can fit into the itinerary without making it too hectic. I don't prefer to see the tour providers site, as their choices in most cases are worthless.

Also let me know expected the total cost of the whole trip.

Cheers,
Hriday
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Old 25th June 2010, 10:45   #6
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Leh Srinagar invariably takes around 15-16 hours due to traffic jams and such. Pushing hard, you can probably do it in 14 hours
Regarding places to stay, most hotels in Leh(budget esp) are sort of "dens" with no car parking. However we found one "Hotel thongsal" on Shanti Stupa road which was reasonably isolated, and had its own car parking.
Only problem, the hot water is wood fired, and is actually lukewarm, not hot. But I heard thats the story of all budget guest houses. However, they do give buckets at no extra cost.
You can take my reference, and you will get a room for around 750rs/night since its peak season.
If you are interested, I will PM you their number.

As for FE, expect around 10-11 on your entire route.
So do carry Jerrycans if you plan to do Nubra Pangong Direct. 20 liters to spare should be enough(40 lit tank in your car I presume)

Speaking of adventurous sections, better avoid Pangong-Chushul and other stuff. A high GC vehicle is a must, though you can get by without 4x4 as long as you do not stop in the sandy patches.
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Old 25th June 2010, 11:09   #7
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See if you can make provision of carrying the fuel jerry cans outside the vehicle. Any leak inside will spell uncomfort.
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Old 25th June 2010, 13:31   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
Also You can do Leh-Srinagar in a day if you start very early and save a day.

There is nothing at all in Kargil and should be avoided completely
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Leh Srinagar invariably takes around 15-16 hours due to traffic jams and such. Pushing hard, you can probably do it in 14 hours
Leh-Srinagar in one day looks OK to me. What are the places that can be done en-route?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
You can take my reference, and you will get a room for around 750rs/night since its peak season.
If you are interested, I will PM you their number.
Thanks, that will be very helpful. What about Srinagar, Nubra and Tso-moriri? Do you have contacts there as well? Please PM me if you don't mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
do carry Jerrycans if you plan to do Nubra Pangong Direct. 20 liters to spare should be enough(40 lit tank in your car I presume)
Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderernomad View Post
See if you can make provision of carrying the fuel jerry cans outside the vehicle.
I think I would need to carry extra petrol for Manali to Leh itself. I am thinking of 45lit tank + 20lit spare.

Carrying the jerrycans outside won't be possible. Can you suggest me a place in Delhi/Gurgaon where I can get good Jerrycans which presumably don't leak?
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Old 25th June 2010, 20:27   #9
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Need more Information:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bapu View Post
While staying at Korzok, return the next day via Tso Kar and TanglangLa pass
What will be the total distance and how much time it will take? and where I can get the driving directions, I don't think MapMyIndia GPS has these roads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
Wari-La should be open by then, Do Leh-Nubra-Wari-La-Sakti-Changla-Pangong
Can Nubra-Wari-La-Sakti-Pangong-Leh be done in one day?

Getting a feel, I'm thinking too much, but a new plan hitting my head! What about doing
Leh-Nubra-Wari-La-Pangong-Tso-moriri- Tso-Kar - Leh

staying at Nubra, Pangong and Karzok.
Now, we might have to carry 40 odd lit of extra fuel, but major concern is the road conditions. I hope it is good enough for a 165mm GC sedan to move along!
Need some light on it
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Old 3rd August 2010, 18:59   #10
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Dates are almost finalized; we are going to do it from 4th to 14th September, 2010. 3 friends together, anyone can fit into driving seat. Itinerary also changed, not going to Srinagar, due to the current disturbances; we don’t want to take risk. Rather we will go to Sonmarg and come back. Here is the new itinerary:
Day1: Gurgaon to Manali
Day2: Manali to Sarchu
Day3: Sarchu to Leh.
Day4: Leh - Sonmarg
Day5: Sonmarg to Leh
Day6: Leh – Nubra Valley
Day7: Nubra Valley – Pangong Tso - Leh
Day8: Leh to Tso Moriri
Day9: Tso Moriri – Tso Kar - Jispa
Day10: Jispa – Kullu
Day11: Kullu – Delhi

Asking for few suggestions as always:
a) Don’t want to stay in Manali. Is there any accommodation beyond Manali nearer to Rohtang?
b) Is it worth to go to Sonmarg or we should come back from Drass?

Cheers!!
Hriday
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Old 4th August 2010, 11:43   #11
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Sonmarg to leh is around 14 hours of driving. So you will start in the morning, reach by dark, sleep in sonmarg, and then come back next day.
I suggest you stay in a 5000rs/night hotel in leh if you want to blow money on fuel!

Secondly, are you getting permits in advance or via your hotel. If not, you will have to spend a day in Leh.
Apart from that, Nubra to pangong you will do via Wari La(50% chance it will be doable), in 8 hours, and then you will drive around 8 hours back to leh... Thats a lot of driving. I presume you plan to spend around 15 minutes at pangong?

Out of curiosity, why do you want to go to Drass?
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Old 4th August 2010, 12:28   #12
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Hi Tanveer,

Why Drass? Well, that was not in my initial plan. Two of my friends (one of them been to Raid last year) said that it is really scenic. That's why! Now, I am confused. Is it worth going there or I should have leisure day in Leh? In that case, we might try a day trip to Alchi. Please give your opinion (you've already given one though!).

Regrading permits, I am thinking of asking hotel guys to get it for us. Don't want the hassle of administrative office.

Regarding Nubra-Pangong, I got your point. That will be too much drive. In one of your earlier reply you mentioned it Nubra to Pangong is 4hrs drive! If it is 8hrs, then we must have to stay in Pangong for a night. After all, we don't want crack our bones. And that's looks fine for me, a night in Pangong and get back to Leh.

P.S. Please PM me the number of "Hotel thongsal" on Shanti Stupa.
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Old 4th August 2010, 12:49   #13
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All I can say looking at the itinerary is that it's gonna be hectic, especially in a sedan! Driving down to Sonmarg the day after you reach Leh is not a good idea IMHO. You won't enjoy the true beauty of Kashmir while rushing through the place. Actually, it seems you'd be rushing through most of the places in your itinerary!

Secondly, do keep in mind that the track from Tso Moriri till the junction where it meets the Manali-Leh highway is very rocky and also has sandy sections. One needs to be very careful not to damage the tires. Though it may sound like an overkill, I'd suggest that you carry an extra spare tire with you. Or get your tires Slimed at least.

There's a govt. rest/guest house in Marhi. But getting accommodation there is another thing. Also there are some hotels after Manali on the road to Rohtang. Don't know the specifics though.

EDIT: Please make sure that you're carrying an air compressor/foot pump with you.

Last edited by lordofgondor : 4th August 2010 at 12:52.
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:10   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hridayjyoti View Post

b) Is it worth to go to Sonmarg or we should come back from Drass?

Cheers!!
Hriday
I dont see any point in coming all the way from Leh to Dras/ Sonmarg just to see the pastures and the greenery. I have never been via Manali route but I am sure you will see the same scenery around Manali too.

But, still if you feel like coming, IMO Dras side is as pretty as the Sonmarg side. If you do not cross ZojiLa, you will save good 4-5 hrs of travelling time. You could go to Ghumri TCP (before ZojiLa) and return back to Kargil
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:22   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hridayjyoti View Post
Hi Tanveer,

Why Drass? Well, that was not in my initial plan. Two of my friends (one of them been to Raid last year) said that it is really scenic. That's why! Now, I am confused. Is it worth going there or I should have leisure day in Leh? In that case, we might try a day trip to Alchi. Please give your opinion (you've already given one though!).

Regrading permits, I am thinking of asking hotel guys to get it for us. Don't want the hassle of administrative office.

Regarding Nubra-Pangong, I got your point. That will be too much drive. In one of your earlier reply you mentioned it Nubra to Pangong is 4hrs drive! If it is 8hrs, then we must have to stay in Pangong for a night. After all, we don't want crack our bones. And that's looks fine for me, a night in Pangong and get back to Leh.

P.S. Please PM me the number of "Hotel thongsal" on Shanti Stupa.
Sonmarg is scenic, no doubt.. But drass etc., is just run of the mill as compared to manali leh route. I have done srinagar route thrice, and manali leh route once. I would give the manali leh a thumbs up in terms of scenery.
Secondry, if you read my travelogue(2010 travelogue), you will realize the difficulty of the terrain. There is a swift video on that section. As of now, its doable only in a 4x4, and that too with great difficulty.
For Wari La route details, you can look at my 2009 travelogue. the Wari la is done by 2wd taxis regularly, but remember, if the 2 water crossings are running, you will have a very tough time.

So you can go to Pangong from Nubra.
Worst case it will be a 12 hours drive via leh. You can then spend the night in pangong, and start your journey back to leh around 1-2pm.

Lastly on your manali query, can you start your journey the afternoon of previous day?
In that case you can reach somewhere near Anandpur sahib (7-8 hours from gurgaon) and then start for Khoksar early morning.
You will cross manali around early afternoon, and reach khoksar by nightfall. There are a few budget hotels in khoksar.
As for thongsal, gimme a day. I will pm you the number.

If you want pics of sections, here is the complete gallery
2010 Changthang trip :
http://tanveer.smugmug.com/Travel/Ladakh-2010/
2009 trip - This was a very long trip and we did a lot of kashmir(Pahalgam gulmarg etc., too)
http://tanveer.smugmug.com/Travel/Ladakh2009

My advice, do not try to fit in everything. if you want to do kashmir, do it later. Situation will stabilize. Last year also July was a mess, but then in september, it was completely peaceful. We made trips to the lal chowk too

The fastest itenary I can think for you
1. Gurgaon - Anandpur Sahib area. Start around 4pm, you will reach somewhere near Swarghat/Bilaspur around 11pm. There is a HPTDC there. Book in advance.
2. Bilaspur - Keylong - Start around 8am from Bilaspur. You will be in Keylong by night
3. Keylong - Leh - A 14 hour drive, but then other option is sarchu, which has only tents, and believe me, it gets awefully uncomfortable at 4000m above sea level. Even after few days at that altitude, we were somewhat uncomfortable at night with mild headache etc., at Hanle, even though we had a good heated room
4. Leh rest day - Get permits yourself. It takes 30 minutes(go at 10am), and you will save money
5. Leh - Nubra (You can see panamik(I think its overrated) and diskit dunes easily
7. Go to Pangong Tso - Ask local taxis for inputs on Wari La and Agam route. Most probably wari la should be doable. Or you can play it safe, start from diskit at 7am, reach leh by 12pm, and then reach pangong around 6-7pm
8. Pangong - Leh
9. you can rest, its optional though
10. Leh Tso moriri - doable, but remember, last 20kms are sandy. you can get stuck.
11. Tso moriri - Tso Kar - Sarchu
12. Sarchu - Start early morning and hit kullu instead of manali
13. Kullu/Manali - Gurgaon

I reckon you have 2 weeks leave, right?

Last edited by tsk1979 : 4th August 2010 at 13:34.
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