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Old 20th July 2015, 09:47   #1
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Default If not Ladakh, what are the options?

It was my dream to drive across Ladakh in an SUV -- if I'm able to buy one or rent a suitable vehicle. Or maybe even take my sedan there.

This seems to be threatened (temporarily, I hope). I have changed my plans considering the locals' tolerance levels towards visitors and self driven vehicles. When self driven vehicles are allowed across the world, why should we Indians be bereft of the privilege? If they don't need us, we'll go elsewhere.

What are the other equally high range driving options for you in India? Living in Bombay means that we have to go much further. I for one, am looking at options in the North East, Darjeeling to start with. Driving down to, and across Bhutan is yet another option under research.

Where do you plan to go if not Ladakh? It will be great to hear your thoughts.

In case you are not familiar with the Ladakh situation as yet here are the threads:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...axi-mafia.html

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...e-rentals.html

Last edited by anilp : 20th July 2015 at 09:51. Reason: Added related threads
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Old 20th July 2015, 10:05   #2
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Default re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

Why not Uttrakhand. There are hidden places like Neelong valley. If you go in October all pilgrim Rush is gone too. You can do a west-east full UK circuit in about 10-12 days.

Some of these places require permits, but if you are serious, I can put you in touch with the people organizing self drive tours to these remote valleys.
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Old 20th July 2015, 10:08   #3
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Default re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

Reading about 1 Ladakh episode should not deter anyone from going there.
Pull out a topographical map of India and you can see mountains in all corners. Every mountain is unique. Answering your query, the entire North East is full of mountains almost everywhere you go. It takes the same amount of time to reach the Guwahati by road as it takes to reach Srinagar from Mumbai.

Here is my Arunachal TL - ARUNACHAL BECKONS (Arunachal beckons! Road-trip with a Tata Safari to North Eastern India)

Search the Travelogue section and you will find many more options in the North East. Goodluck.
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Old 20th July 2015, 10:42   #4
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Default re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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Originally Posted by anilp View Post
Where do you plan to go if not Ladakh?
Plan A : Mughal Road>Ladakh>Keylong>Sach Pass>Dalhousie [Rohthang Pass/Manali avoided]

Plan B : Pathankot>Jammu>Rajouri>Bafliaz>Shopian>Srinagar>S inthan Pass>Kishtwar>Killar>Sach Pass>Dalhousie>Pathankot

For both these plans in this September, the co-operation from the mafias, hooligans, terrorists and the weather god is required. As of now, I am planning for these two options, keeping my fingers crossed.

Last edited by J.Ravi : 20th July 2015 at 11:05.
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Old 20th July 2015, 10:50   #5
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Default re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

Valley of Flowers is a spectacular option in Uttarakhand and June-Aug (or even very early Sept) is the time to go there. It has some challenges, of course: landslides (which can delay travel), rain (which can go on for a few days) and effort (the trek is slightly strenuous, esp for young kids and the elderly).

Here's my TL from our trip a few years back.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post2497822 (Soaking in the freshness in the midst of a blossoming Valley of flowers and Badrinath)
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Old 20th July 2015, 11:47   #6
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

Uttrakhand is definitely something you should consider starting off with touristy Nainital , one can head towards almora, kausani, visit baijnath - Old ASI protected temple -pass through some of the smaller beautiful towns and villages of india, get a view of the distant snow capped Himalayas enroute and loads of beautiful coniferous trees. Come back via ranikhet- spot some wildlife at corbett - visit sita bani experience some mild off roading in a sedan. The roads were excellent when we covered this circuit. While coming back we took the shorter route between kausani and ranikhet on a whim and it was one of the most beautiful, scenic albeit winding mountain roads that I have ever travelled on. The traffic was sparse but the turns were never ending and consequently the progress was slow but the view was breathtaking.
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Old 20th July 2015, 13:14   #7
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Pithoragarh district in kumaon is another hidden gem in Uttrakhand. Munsiyari is a nice place to spend a couple of days. Then there are places like khirchu and chopta (on the kedarnath badrinath road) which are small villages not on every tourists radar and are very beautiful. GMVN KMVN accommodation can be found at these places. Although these places are beautiful but ladakh's scenery is entirely different. The untouched beauty and lack of civilization also adds to the charm. Spiti valley may be the closest to ladakh but not having been there can't really say. Uttrakhand is mostly full of lush green valleys with flowers and chopta is in fact referred to as mini switzerland for the same reason.
Nelong valley as tanveer has suggested is a cold desert in uttarkashi district having great tibetian scenery. It opened for tourists this year after 1962 so might be a good place to visit. Only problem is I am not sure if ones own vehicle is allowed there. I read that only 4 jeeps with 6 people each are allowed there daily as of know with no night stays. Maybe someone can give more information.
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Old 20th July 2015, 15:53   #8
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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. You can do a west-east full UK circuit in about 10-12 days.
Thanks a ton for the tips and contacts, TSK. Neelong's a great find which I was not aware of. UK is definitely on my list now because of this. I'll ping once the time's fixed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves View Post
It takes the same amount of time to reach the Guwahati by road as it takes to reach Srinagar from Mumbai. Here is my Arunachal TL - ARUNACHAL BECKONS (Arunachal beckons! Road-trip with a Tata Safari to North Eastern India)
Thanks, Jay. I went through your Arunachal travelogue. Really neat plan schedules, an amazing journey and great pics. You've mentioned bad terrain in many places. Will a Tata Manza be able to tackle the bad roads there? Or should we take a proper SUV?

Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
Valley of Flowers is a spectacular option in Uttarakhand and June-Aug (or even very early Sept) is the time to go there. It has some challenges, of course: landslides (which can delay travel), rain (which can go on for a few days) and effort (the trek is slightly strenuous, esp for young kids and the elderly).
Thanks, Libran. I missed Valley of Flowers the last time I was in UK. A friend of mine are planning a trip that side in 2016, God willing.
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Old 20th July 2015, 22:46   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anilp View Post
.......You've mentioned bad terrain in many places. Will a Tata Manza be able to tackle the bad roads there? Or should we take a proper SUV?
......
I'd take the liberty to answer this. The roads mostly are good in the common tourist circuits. Only the roads leading to and fro the less traveled areas are bad, mostly due to the heavy rains and military vehicle movements, but are 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.
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Old 21st July 2015, 10:35   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankk View Post
To the thread:
Chopta, I was thinking of doing an overnight at Lansdowne, and heading over. Coming back, how long does does chopta to delhi take? Or is another overnighter suggested at Lansdowne?
I did an overnight stay at khirchu while going to chopta but was able to manage the return leg in 12 hours to Meerut. So 13-14 hours to Delhi depending upon location. When I went there there was no electricity in the village solar panels provided the necessary charging points and a cfl light. But this was 3-4 years back maybe things are better now. There is not much to do after sunset and with limited accommodation options its better to reach there in the afternoon (possible only with a stop from Delhi). There are lush green meadows around chopta with splendid views. One can even take the 4km steep trek to the tungnath temple. The views from there are magnificent. Hope this helps.
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Old 21st July 2015, 10:57   #11
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

Spiti and Zanskar are 2 places that spring up immediately. There was some road work ongoing to connect Padum with Jispa and Nimmu. Wonder how much progress have they made. Once completed, you could technically bypass Leh, but still be able to enjoy parts of Leh-Manali Highway.
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Old 21st July 2015, 10:58   #12
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankk View Post
To the thread:
Chopta, I was thinking of doing an overnight at Lansdowne, and heading over. Coming back, how long does does chopta to delhi take? Or is another overnighter suggested at Lansdowne?
Chopta to Delhi is about 15 hours. It used to be 14 hours max, but the roads are in a bad shape. So even 16 hours is not out of question.
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Old 21st July 2015, 22:13   #13
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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Spiti and Zanskar are 2 places that spring up immediately. There was some road work ongoing to connect Padum with Jispa and Nimmu. Wonder how much progress have they made. Once completed, you could technically bypass Leh, but still be able to enjoy parts of Leh-Manali Highway.
They're making good progress from both ends, from what I hear - generally referred to as Darcha-Padum, I think; Still some km's in the middle that are yet to be completed, which some people do by trek. Think the road's supposed to be opened within another year or two at most according to residents. Of course, that's no help right now. And anyway, you would NOT see any of the more dramatic (IMO best) parts of the Manali-Leh road going that way - nor cross any of the several high passes.

If the taxi trouble is centered around Leh (vs. Kargil, etc), then approaching Padum from the Srinagar side may be fine (via Kargil - and even Kargil can be bypassed via another road, which I've not been on).

And if you're not dead set on a personal Ladakh boycott, AFAIK the union doesn't seem to mind people arriving / leaving Leh by whatever means. Leh's nothing so great anyway, so simply passing through, perhaps with a night's stayover, would seem an option: Manali-Leh(or outskirts)-Kargil-Padum-Kargil-Srinagar or vice-versa.

Zanskar is definitely stunning - biked there in 2007; We're friends with a few Manali-based Zanskaris, and hoping to get out there with the family one of these days.

As H.P. goes, Spiti also wonderful, but the roads - especially Gramphoo to Kunzum Pass - are really in horrible (or delightfully challenging?) condition - not for the faint-hearted or drivers of sedans. Same goes for Killar/Sach Pass, which can be absolutely treacherous.

Bharmour has been on my list awhile, as has Sangla Valley. Kinnaur is beautiful in parts (the parts not defiled by endless hydel projects), though not much tourist infrastructure. Lots of folks mentioning Uttarkhand - huge area geographically, with lots of far-flung places in the upper reaches worthy of exploring. I've only scratched the surface.

-Eric

Last edited by ringoism : 21st July 2015 at 22:42.
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Old 22nd July 2015, 09:25   #14
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

Drive to North East Himachal, Spiti Valley. Its my dream to visit Tabo Monastery, its the oldest continuously operating Buddhist Monastery in the entire Himalayas. On Youtube, there is a series called "Way Back home" presented by a dude named Rohan Thakur. Its the best documentary I have seen on Himachal. Just go through it.
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Old 22nd July 2015, 10:27   #15
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Default Re: If not Ladakh, what are the options?

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It was my dream to drive across Ladakh in an SUV -- if I'm able to buy one or rent a suitable vehicle. Or maybe even take my sedan there.

This seems to be threatened (temporarily, I hope).
Small clarification : They were against self driven, rented cars only. [ZOOMCAR etc.,] I took my Fortuner from Bangalore right up to Turtuk [we actually took 5 vehicles] 11 months ago and there was no issue. We weren't even aware that such issue existed.
They were against rented vehicles as they think a third party is getting into their business, neither the car owner nor the cab driver but some company that just rents cars.
You can safely take your car there and sedans - YES. 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.
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