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Old 22nd July 2015, 10:38   #16
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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Originally Posted by wanderer4x4 View Post
nothing that can't be traversed in a sedan or a hatch. Just be prepared for some underbody hits and occasional wheelspin. Keep in mind that the Alto is the vehicle of choice in many of these areas, so Manza would also do okay. Ah, ofcourse, a high GC SUV is always preferable, but not essential.
Thanks, Libran. That's good to hear.

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Originally Posted by FORTified View Post
In fact, on my drive from Jispa to Manali, I was chased by an Alto loaded with 4 adults 2 out of our 5 cars were Ford ecosport, a car that looks like a SUV.
Thanks, FORTified. But till some clarification is obtained (I'm hoping that efforts by people like Waseem with the PIL succeed) on this front, I plan to avoid going to Ladakh. It's more a matter of principle than anything else.

Last edited by anilp : 22nd July 2015 at 10:46. Reason: Avoided back to back multiple posts
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Old 24th July 2015, 17:10   #17
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

Though I am not sure of the expectations, I would say Sikkim is a very picturesque place and in certain sense better than Ladakh. Please note I have seen both Sikkim and Leh and hence the comparison.

Advantages +++
-> Sikkim is virtually in the lap of Kanchenjunga , Highest peak in India and 3rd Highest in the world
-> Highest lake in India ,Cho Lhamu Lake is besides Gurdongmar Lake ( 2nd highest)
-> Sikkim is open full year round except the heavy monsoons triggering Landslides (Nov - Apr ideal season)
-> Any day safer than Kargil / Srinagar / Leh - No fear of International tension
-> Much more greener since East and NE gets good rain - famous for Rhododendron and Orchid
-> A paradise for Ghat / Hair-Pin bend lovers specially the Old Silk route (Dzuluk) or roads leading to Pelling / Yuksom
-> Can reach surrounding places like Darjeeling / Bhutan / Nepal in half a day
-> Easily reachable - Just takes half a day to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra Airport or NJP Junction

Disadvantages ---
-> Need ILP (Inner Line permit) for maximum places unlike Leh which has been relaxed but is easily available
-> A bit lesser altitude and lesser ICE if that's your criteria


My next itinerary for Sikkim (for anyone planning):

Day 1
Siliguri -> Gangtok (Via Kalimpong)
Day 2
Gangtok -> Permits and local sight seeing
Day 3
Gangtok -> Mangshila -> Mangan -> Chungthang -> Lachung -> Zero point -> (stay) Lachung
Day 4
Lachung -> Gurudongmar lake/ Cho lhamu Lake -> (stay) Lachen
Day 5
Lachen -> Nathula -> Dzuluk
Day 6
Dzuluk (Old Silk Route) -> Lava -> Gorubathan -> Siliguri

http://goo.gl/maps/CJISB

You can include Pelling / Yuksom for the best view of Kanchenjunga
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Old 25th July 2015, 14:56   #18
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Though I am not sure of the expectations, I would say Sikkim is a very picturesque place and in certain sense better than Ladakh.
Thanks a ton for the detailed itinerary, John. Sikkim is on my list too.
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Old 26th July 2015, 01:10   #19
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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Thanks a ton for the detailed itinerary, John. Sikkim is on my list too.
I find it very ironic that people want to go to a destination whose example ladakh union wants to emulate. In Sikkim, the admin and local taxi nexus ensures that you have to take a taxi to inner line permit areas, and only if you have army approach you can take your own vehicle with ease.
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Old 26th July 2015, 02:00   #20
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
I find it very ironic that people want to go to a destination whose example ladakh union wants to emulate. In Sikkim, the admin and local taxi nexus ensures that you have to take a taxi to inner line permit areas, and only if you have army approach you can take your own vehicle with ease.
Very true, Tanveer. In one of the threads, I had mentioned that when I went to Nathula, there was no way I could take my own vehicle, because the nexus between local admin and taxi operators just wouldn't let me. It was only after I got a permit from the army using a contact that I made the trip, couple of months ago.

Permits aside, in my opinion, a Sikkim drive doesn't hold a candle to a Ladakh trip. Having been to both Ladakh and Sikkim (twice), i'd prefer Ladakh any day over Sikkim, for reasons like:
- the drive in Sikkim was not challenging enough compared to Ladakh
- the terrain in Ladakh is so much more different, rugged, wild, beautiful and much more attractive to my tastes. Sikkim had more greenery and vegetation.
- compared to Ladakh, Sikkim seemed really overpopulated.

Again all this is my personal opinion.
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Old 26th July 2015, 09:35   #21
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
I find it very ironic that people want to go to a destination whose example ladakh union wants to emulate. In Sikkim, the admin and local taxi nexus ensures that you have to take a taxi to inner line permit areas, and only if you have army approach you can take your own vehicle with ease.
Thanks, TSK. I was not aware of this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.sinha View Post
Very true, Tanveer. In one of the threads, I had mentioned that when I went to Nathula, there was no way I could take my own vehicle, because the nexus between local admin and taxi operators just wouldn't let me. It was only after I got a permit from the army using a contact that I made the trip, couple of months ago..
Is there a specific number of ILPs or something issued per day? Can these be applied for in advance from elsewhere in the country? Are bikes allowed? Thanks for the detailed response.

Edit: Mods, I'm finding it difficult to multi quote from the app. It will be great if you can merge the back to back posts. Thanks.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 26th July 2015 at 09:56. Reason: Back to back posts merged
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Old 26th July 2015, 10:28   #22
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

I reckon many here are yet to visit Darjeeling and it's surroundings, so that is surely something that must be given a try. As a person who has lived there for 16 years, I can say with great nostalgia that it's a place that has a charm of it's own. I do agree that the town has it's own boisterous character, but then, you don't exactly stay within the town at all times during a tourist visit!

If someone does Darjeeling, he needs to make it a 8-10 day affair, for in this duration, you can touch and go places like Sandakphu, Dooars, Sikkim, Nathu La and Phuentsholing. If someone wants help with his itinerary, do PM me.

I myself am surprised that there are many here who just do lengthy and stretched Sikkim tours without bothering to include Darjeeling or the Dooars in the same itinerary, considering that Darjeeling is a 3-hour-drive away from Gangtok.

Basically, in my experience, Darjeeling is and should be the epicentre of anyone seeking to explore North Bengal and Sikkim. It has great and scenic routes to literally all the famous destinations, and within the town itself, there are many places and establishments that lucidly put, should not to be missed at any cost.
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Old 27th July 2015, 14:40   #23
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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Originally Posted by anilp View Post
Thanks a ton for the detailed itinerary, John. Sikkim is on my list too.
Glad you liked it - Anil.
Sorry I forgot about the taxi operators. I am more of a rider and hence lost the context.

Mostly ILP comes default when you book through a travel/hotel agent or taxi operator so you donít even bother- just 2 passport photo and id proof. Being a rider I had to do it myself.

Yes there are restrictions for private cars but not everywhere. For a rider itís a free state unlike recent Ladakh and all said and done nowhere they are as narcissist. Infact a Taxi driver once helped me and refused any alimony in return.


I agree with @barcalad, there are simply lots of option nearby (around half a day max)
- Touristy Darjeeling, Beautiful Mirik lake, Toy train from Ghoom and Kurseong , Kalimpong ,the Old Silk route via Rishab,Aritar, Dzuluk or Wild life in Gorumara etc. (Dooars) , rafting in Teesta near Mongpu

- If you want more adventure you can go to Sandakphu / Phalut which currently is the toughest road in India according to me and this comes from someone who was done Mersimek La, Tsaga La and Killad/Sach Pass . The last 2 kms to Sandakphu is not for the weak hearted with killing elevations and no perimeters. But the view from Sandapphu on a bright day with 4 of the 5 highest peaks in the world (Mt. Everest , Kanchenjunga, Lhasa , and Nanga Parbat) is in a word ď BreathtakingĒ . But please note itís a strictly low ratio-4X4-Land rover / Jonga territory.

- And I didnít even speak about entire Bhutan or Nepal. Bhutan permits can be arranged right in front of the border gate at Phunsoling but Nepal is still revitalizing.

P.S. If you are a Tea lover you can try one the costliest Tea leaf in the World from Okiyati Tea estate in Indo Nepal border (near Pashupati market) or the best Green Tea at Pankhabari Tea estate (before Siliguri), sadly they are all exported and the best quality ones are rarely sold in India.
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Old 1st August 2015, 19:08   #24
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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Originally Posted by anilp View Post
...
Is there a specific number of ILPs or something issued per day? Can these be applied for in advance from elsewhere in the country? Are bikes allowed? Thanks for the detailed response.
...
If you are asking just about Nathula, there are 70 vehicle permits issued per day to taxi operators. Army quota and government quota come over and above this limit.
Permits are issued 1 day in advance for the next day's journey. Also, even if your tour operator gets a permit, if next day, the Army decides to close the route due to inclement weather or other conditions, the permits for that day get automatically cancelled/wasted, and a fresh permit required for another day, within the quota.

Bikes permit is outside this quota. For bikes, you have to get the permit from a special office inside the Sikkim Secretariat, which is a 10 minutes walk from the tourist office.

For ILPs for North Sikkim, there is a permit office in Mangan where you can get the permits for Chungthang, Lachung, Lachen, Gurudongmar, Yumthang, Zero Point etc. I think these permits can also be done from the Gangtok tourist office, however our homestay host near Mangan got ours done from there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johninflamez View Post
...

But please note itís a strictly low ratio-4X4-Land rover / Jonga territory.
...
You might want to add a " /Scorpio / Bolero" to the above sentence now
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Old 31st August 2015, 19:29   #25
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Why not Uttrakhand. There are hidden places like Neelong valley. If you go in October all pilgrim Rush is gone too.

In the news
http://www.thehindu.com/news/nationa...cle7232872.ece

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/c...w/47311768.cms

Quote:
[Dinesh Aggarwal, state forest minister] added that entry into the valley would be restricted with only six forest vehicles carrying a maximum of four visitors each being allowed daily, and no overnight stay would be permitted.
The Border Roads Organization (BRO), sources said, has initiated work to ensure that the roads leading to the valley are spruced up so that tourists are not inconvenienced. Shravan Kumar, divisional forest officer of GNP, said that the forest department would be facilitating the tourists' entry into the valley. However, a mandatory permit from the sub-divisional magistrate along with a fitness certificate would be necessary for the visit.
The closest roadhead to Nelang (31.100629, 79.001023) is Gangotri (30.995305, 78.937615).

There is a bit of lore attached to the Valley. Nelang valley was the scene of Austrian Heinrich Harrer's escape from India into Tibet after he was taken into 'protective custody' by the British, following his attempt on Nanga Parbat, and the outbreak of the Second World War. This escapade was later described in his book "Seven Years in Tibet". The book was adapted into the iconic movie of the same name (starring Brad Pitt among others) in 1997.


At least one tour operator , apparently is offering Nelang valley as a package tour option. However, it's unlikely they will be amenable to the idea of their guests driving up to Gangotri roadhead on their own.


A search for the process used by forest department to select passengers for the daily trip to Nelang valley - showed no substantial results. I wonder if the process is transparent?

Last edited by joybhowmik : 31st August 2015 at 19:30.
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Old 31st August 2015, 19:46   #26
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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At least one tour operator , apparently is offering Nelang valley as a package tour option. However, it's unlikely they will be amenable to the idea of their guests driving up to Gangotri roadhead on their own.
Our ADC da went to Nelang this year in his Safari and we are eagerly waiting for the travelogue.
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Old 31st August 2015, 20:01   #27
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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Our ADC da went to Nelang this year in his Safari and we are eagerly waiting for the travelogue.
Did you mean to say - that he's gone to Gangotri , and will take forest department transport for the ride to Nelang valley. That could be more possible than "ADC da went to Nelang this year in his Safari "

Of course, I will await his travelog.
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Old 31st August 2015, 20:34   #28
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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Did you mean to say - that he's gone to Gangotri , and will take forest department transport for the ride to Nelang valley. That could be more possible than "ADC da went to Nelang this year in his Safari "

Of course, I will await his travelog.
No, I meant he took his own vehicle to Nelang.
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Old 31st August 2015, 21:57   #29
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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A search for the process used by forest department to select passengers for the daily trip to Nelang valley - showed no substantial results. I wonder if the process is transparent?
You can contact Tilak Soni. He goes regularly on SUV tours(self drive)
Take your own vehicle. kind of tours
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