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Old 22nd August 2011, 21:30   #46
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

lovely, fantastic, awesome, inspiring, I can go on and on but that would only show my limited vocabulary of English adjectives. All I can say is " there was a time I longed for the green flats, but now I pine for the lofty browns once again." Splendid travelogue you two. I must admit this stands out among all the rest of the trips. Sudev's idea and your effort in setting it up is splendid, it puts into perspective the narration and the pictures. I must stop ranting but again just one word Fantabulous!
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Old 23rd August 2011, 00:55   #47
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Default Re: Day 4: Panginagu - Tso Kar Basin - Debring - Leh - Part 1 of 2

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Originally Posted by vardhan.harsh View Post

Syncronized ballet of Kiangs - YouTube
A video of their synchronized ballet!

Dude!!! this needs to be circulated on the World Wide Web...has the potential to become a viral video!

Awesome pics.

The Himalayan Marmots remind me of Prairie dogs.

Last edited by Jayabusa : 23rd August 2011 at 00:56.
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Old 23rd August 2011, 01:26   #48
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Every time I read a log such as this, my resolve to get a 4x4 gets stronger! Fab photos from Tso Kar. Loved the panorama.

Too bad can't rate it a second time.
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Old 23rd August 2011, 08:13   #49
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Your thread is reawakening my latent desire to get the Thar - lovely kiang snaps there. Kudos boss - good stuff in there!
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Old 23rd August 2011, 10:32   #50
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

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Originally Posted by wanderernomad View Post
lovely, fantastic, awesome, inspiring, I can go on and on but that would only show my limited vocabulary of English adjectives. All I can say is " there was a time I longed for the green flats, but now I pine for the lofty browns once again." Splendid travelogue you two. I must admit this stands out among all the rest of the trips. Sudev's idea and your effort in setting it up is splendid, it puts into perspective the narration and the pictures. I must stop ranting but again just one word Fantabulous!
Thanks a lot buddy for your kind words. Sudev's idea to put on the snapshots of those places was brilliant and it really does help keep things in perspective. Pictures speak volumes.

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Originally Posted by Jayabusa View Post
Dude!!! this needs to be circulated on the World Wide Web...has the potential to become a viral video!

Awesome pics.

The Himalayan Marmots remind me of Prairie dogs.
Thanks Jayabusa. I had to google Prairie dogs to know what they are. They certainly dont justify their name "dogs", if you ask me. They look quite like Marmots and seem to belong to the rodent family at large. Wonder who gave them the name "dogs". Ok, i just read the wiki on it, they are called dogs because of their warning calls and habitat.

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Originally Posted by Dry Ice View Post
Every time I read a log such as this, my resolve to get a 4x4 gets stronger! Fab photos from Tso Kar. Loved the panorama.

Too bad can't rate it a second time.
Thanks Dry Ice. 4x4 does give one an option, and more imporantly a peace of mind, that unless the driver is too risky or too stupid (the line sometimes is very thin), things would hardly go out of hand.

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Your thread is reawakening my latent desire to get the Thar - lovely kiang snaps there. Kudos boss - good stuff in there!
Thanks buddy. A black Thar looks awesome, and had I not bought a Safari, i could've gone for a Thar. It's too late now i guess. Maybe the next time around.
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Old 23rd August 2011, 11:24   #51
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Default Day 4: Panginagu - Tso Kar Basin - Debring - Leh - Part 2 of 2

On the way back, from a very gratifying outing at the Tso Kar Basin, we touched the highway at about 1:30 pm, and soon stopped for lunch at our favourite dhaba in Debring. This was the third time we were stopping there, and the owner immediately recognized us. We’d taken some photographs of him and his friends last year, and had promised to send them to him, having noted down his name and address. Aarti had even got the photographs printed, but we did not send them after the flash floods hit Leh as we were unsure whether the photographs would reach them or not. But we’d remembered to carry them along with us this time, and when Aarti took the photographs out of her bag and gave them to the guy, the expression on his face was truly priceless! He could not stop admiring his solo snap, and soon called his friends from the other two dhabas there, some of whom were also in the photographs. They had a field day looking at their pictures, and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing them so happy. Those were some moments that both of us will cherish for a long long time. It is a wonder how seemingly small gestures can make people so happy.

At the dhaba, we met a Brit with a fully tattooed body who was relaxing. As we started chatting with him, it became apparent that he was a cyclist on the Manali-Leh highway and resting the night here. The shock value came when we got to know that the dude began his cycling at Rishikesh, rode all the way to Rohru via Chakrata, rode further up to Narkanda, did the Spiti circuit and finally was now doing the Manali-Leh highway. Phew! He had been on the road for more than 5 weeks now, and still planned to move on towards Srinagar and probably Zanskar too! Now that’s called a truly adventurous road-trip. Respect!


Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0388.jpg
We meet flat roads again towards the end of Moreh Plains

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Urgain's solo shot from last year

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Urgain, second from right, and his friend in front of his old dhaba - Shot again from last year

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We met all of them again, apart from the Changpa (red t-shirt, 3rd from right), who being a nomad, was not there. - Shot from 2010

As is evident, lunch at Debring was very satisfying, and as we left, the dhaba owner, Urgain, said “Agle saal phir milte hain!” (we’ll meet again next year), and we did not have the heart to tell him that we may not come back the next year. So we simply said that we surely would meet again.

I was quite tired by now, and that feeling of being unwell, which had somewhat disappeared after breakfast, came back full on. I decided to get some rest, and Aarti took the wheel. The climb to Tanglang La was a bit painful, the road being very dusty. A dozer was clearing a landslide halfway up, and we had to wait for half an hour or so for it to clear. We reached the pass somewhere around 3 pm, and took a photography break. If you try hard enough and know where to look, you can actually spot Tso Kar from Tanglang La.


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The climb to Tanglang La is being double-laned these days

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The view from Tanglang La. Tso Kar can be seen in the distance.

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The switchbacks after Tanglang La towards Leh

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Being July, there was not much snow to be seen around, except on some mountains near Tanglang La

The descent from the pass was smooth, with the road being mostly tarred and pretty wide. As one enters the valley on the other side of the pass, the scenery changes dramatically, the barren mountains get a definite purplish touch, and the greenery returns. The road is nicely tarred, and villages reappear. Rumstse greets you with its white chortens and green fields, followed by the Gya monastery and Lato along with other small settlements. The sight of civilization after 1.5 days of wilderness was welcome. The road runs mostly level with the Khyammar river, and at many bends we could see the destruction caused by the flash floods last year, with parts of the road completely washed away.


Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0397.jpg
The plains after descending from Tanglang La, greenery returns

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Gya gompa is located on the other bank of Khyammar river

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A pretty farm next to the highway at Lato village

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Shades of purple start appearing on the mountains.

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Riding along the Khyammar river, till it drains itself into the mighty Indus

At Upshi, we said hello to the lovely Indus, and also to long, straight roads in a wide open valley, much in contrast to the narrow, purple valley that we had just exited. From here on till Leh, there is habitation throughout, and one gets to see army camps almost every 5 kms. The Stakna Monastery, perched on a hill to the left of the road, was a pretty sight in the evening light.


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The flat road next to Indus, all the way to Leh

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A canal runs besides the Indus here.

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Stakna Monastery

Our unemployed-for-two-days mobiles suddenly received full network at Upshi, and were soon flooded with smses from people concerned about our fate in the Rohtang jam. That is when we realized that nobody actually knew that we’d managed to free ourselves of that horrible jam the same day. Parents had to be called up immediately, and friends we were meant to meet in Leh also had to be contacted. Aarti took care of all this, while I took the wheel again, and we finally reached Leh around 6:30 pm.

We checked into our pre-booked hotel, Padma, where we had stayed last year as well. After quickly freshening up, which made me feel better, we set out for dinner with friends at Sunbeam Cafe on Fort Road. It was awesome to meet close friends in Leh - three college friends, one of them now my business partner, and his wife. We thoroughly enjoyed even the bad food at Sunbeam Cafe, and then walked down the road for some equally bad coffee and dessert. Our friends were planning to scale Stok Kangri, and were to leave the day after for their expedition. They were going to Pangong Tso the next day and asked us to come along, but we unfortunately had our permit work to do, so had to decline.
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Old 23rd August 2011, 11:51   #52
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Fantastic reading! Aarti and Harsh, you guys are one of our best travellers out there and do follow your travelogues for our own inspiration, particularly as we somehow think about Zanskar this October.

Not only the destination, but the interactions that you guys have in a trip makes it such a fantastic reading. Kudos to both of you again!
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Old 23rd August 2011, 12:23   #53
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Superb Pic and travelogue. Brings back fond memories :-)
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Old 23rd August 2011, 22:06   #54
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Default Re: Day 3 (11th July): Jispa - Darcha - Detour - Darcha - Part 1

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+1 to this. I especially love the captions that are put up by BRO on this route.
My Favourite is "Don't Gossip, Let Him Drive"
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Old 23rd August 2011, 22:40   #55
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

awesome TL... takes me back straight to June 2009, Himalayan Odyssey on my Prince (Royal Enfield Thunderbird 2002). KD was the organizer of that trip! it's a small world!
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Old 24th August 2011, 10:27   #56
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

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Fantastic reading! Aarti and Harsh, you guys are one of our best travellers out there and do follow your travelogues for our own inspiration, particularly as we somehow think about Zanskar this October.

Not only the destination, but the interactions that you guys have in a trip makes it such a fantastic reading. Kudos to both of you again!
Thanks adc for your lovely words. Coming from a wanderer like you, it's means a lot! You do love to go in the off peaks seasons, dont you! Do make it in early October though, Pensi La is quite notorious and sometimes gets closed a little too early. Unlike Leh, there's one egress route, out of Zanskar! Carry snow chains, if you dont have them, take it from me enroute! Trust you have not messed with your stock tyre sizes. I'm still trying to catch up on your much awaited log of last year visit in October. I've reached Dha till now (on your log), and I must say sir, What an adventure. I mean i knew it would be something out of this world and was waiting for the log for 6 months now!

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Superb Pic and travelogue. Brings back fond memories :-)
Thanks Locomotive.

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My Favorite: "If Married - Divorce speed, If Engaged - Go Steady, If Single, Watch for curves". They really do have a brilliantly creative man at the helm of it.

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awesome TL... takes me back straight to June 2009, Himalayan Odyssey on my Prince (Royal Enfield Thunderbird 2002). KD was the organizer of that trip! it's a small world!
Do you mean Nithin KD? Wow it's really a small world Vishnu. Yeshu must've been on that trip as well, if i remember correctly.
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Old 24th August 2011, 11:01   #57
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

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Do you mean Nithin KD? Wow it's really a small world Vishnu. Yeshu must've been on that trip as well, if i remember correctly.
Hey Harsh, guess we are talking of a different KD. i was referring to Kanwardeep Dhaliwal.. works for Royal Enfield and is a pro on those bikes, and around those locations as well. Guess there is something with the name KD and Leh
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Old 24th August 2011, 13:49   #58
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Harsh,

I just could not resist comment on the TL again!!!

Fantastic is the word. The wild *** snaps are mind blowing and worthy of framing!! I got Nikon D 3100 and 70-300 lens three months back. Now i am sure and relived that i did not err!!!

I am reliving our drive of Manali - Leh we did last year through your TL.

What amazes me is the minute details you have captured in the trip which makes it very interesting. Hats off.

As you rightly said, last year the complete stretch of mountains from Barlacha La to Sarchu was snow bound and was looking different from this year. Of course, i always tell my friends that the drive from Sarchu and beyond till Moreh plains through rugged terrain must be one of best and makes one feel like driving in cowboy country of old west in USA.

Keep it coming. We are loving it.
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Old 24th August 2011, 15:13   #59
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Default Two days of relaxation at Leh

Day 5 (13th July): Leh, friends, dinners & permits. (20 kms)

Our day of relaxation. We got up late and rushed to the DC’s office for our permits, only to find out that there was some local holiday because of which the office would only open after lunch. Disappointed, we made our way to the Pumpernickel German Bakery for some brunch. I was still not feeling totally fit, but did not give that much attention. After brunch, we decided to visit our favourite jacket shop to buy some new ones. Alas, while Aarti bought a new jacket, I couldn’t find the type I needed.

We then went to the DC’s office again, which was now open. I filed for the permit, which was to be collected in 1.5 hours. We then went back to Old Fort Road for some lunch at The Tibetan Kitchen. Thereafter, I dropped Aarti at the hotel, collected the permit, and came back to join her. By this time, I was feeling quite sick, and on checking found out that I had a mild fever. Visiting a doctor was the next logical move, given our long and hopefully strenuous journey ahead, and so we set out for the Leh hospital.

The hospital is run by the Government and is hence free. We had to pay a nominal charge of Rs. 2, and then went to see the doctor. She checked the oxygen in my blood and my blood pressure, all of which was okay. She then checked my fever, which had miraculously disappeared in the brief 20 minute journey from the hotel to the hospital. Since my stomach was also upset, the doctor concluded that I must have some stomach infection which caused the fever. What I definitely did not have was AMS, and both of us sighed in relief. The doctor advised us to stay in Leh for at least 2 more days before we pushed off towards Zanskar. She prescribed some medicines, which we bought from the chemist opposite the hospital.

I was feeling much better already knowing that it was not AMS I was suffering from, but just some random stomach infection. The doctor had prescribed antibiotics, and I knew they would take care of the infection. I felt as good as new, and was all set for leaving the next day as per plan, but Aarti would not hear of it. She wanted me to rest and take it easy for one more day. And as you know, there is no way of winning an argument with a woman. So one more day in Leh it would have to be.


Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0182.jpg
Stok Kangri at sunset

We went out for dinner again with our friends that evening, though I stuck to some simple soup and bread. After wishing them all the best for their Stok Kangri expedition, we turned in for the night.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Day 6 (14th July): Leh, hospital, medicines, rest (50 kms)

It was supposed to be a rest day, thus the day began pretty late. A lazy breakfast on the lovely rooftop restaurant at our hotel saw us eventually head out by 11:30 am. Our friends had left for their Stok Kangri expedition early in the morning. I was technically supposed to rest, but felt completely okay and wanted to move about. We knew of a car washing place in Choglamsar where we’d been to last year, and headed straight there to turn Kiyang into black again from the dusty brown it had become. The guy there asked us to come at 2 pm, and so we decided to spend the time in between by going to the Stok village.


Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0188.jpg
A cozy rooftop restaurant at Padma Hotel

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The view of Stok from the rooftop is actually pretty nice!

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They grow their own vegetables for the restaurant.

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A halo around the sun - formed due to ice crystals in upper atmosphere

We drove on on the Choglamsar road, and soon hit the road going to Stok. The view of the statuesque Stok Kangri right in front of us was stunning. What worried us though were the clouds on it. The peak could hardly be seen, and the weather around the summit seemed to be worsening by the minute. We knew that this could not be good for our friends, and hoped that they were okay.


Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0200.jpg
The Stok palace museum

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Stok village

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Driving around on the left bank of Indus

We went all the way up as the road would take us, took a U-turn and came back. Stok is a huge and very prosperous village, with abundant green fields and lots of Maruti 800s. After driving around for a while, we returned to Choglamsar to give Kiyang a good scrubbing. Thereafter, we went back to Leh, had a late lunch at the La Terrasse opposite the SBI ATM in the main market, and then eventually sat sipping tea on the rooftop of our hotel till late in the evening. With my health not acting up the whole day, we were pretty much set for an early departure the next morning. The real focus of the trip begins from day 7...


A feeble attempt at making a time-lapse video while we sat on the rooftop of our hotel sipping tea. The laptop allowed us to shoot it for about 20 odd minutes with an interval of 10 seconds between each snaps. Do the maths,we got 120 shots in all, thus a patchy video
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Old 24th August 2011, 16:25   #60
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Great travelogue Harsh, you helped me re-live the entire journey with your writing and needless to say fantastic snaps. Last time it was on 2 wheels, you are inspiring me to do it on a 4wd
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