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Old 29th April 2012, 18:33   #91
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Magnificent pics and excellent narration, Harsh. Just awe-stuck with the beauty of Zanskar. Your black beast looks spectacular. Kudos to you to have done this all by yourself.
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Old 30th April 2012, 15:31   #92
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

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If you're not kidding join us in June; there's a gang of 3 4x4s aiming for Changthang then! One more 4x4 would be fun. But it is a hard driving/camping trip.
Thats great Shyam. Thanks for the invite. But I'm actually serious. Aarti & I are heading off in July on our bike. Just the two of us. That would be a different kind of adventure this time. Are you planning to go deep into Changthang ? Hanle/Chumur/Demchok ?
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Old 30th April 2012, 16:16   #93
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Those have to be amongst the most stunning set of pictures that I've come cross. I'm usually scampering across the Himalaya using my hands and feet. Your travelogue really made me think about making the drive there. I felt like I was transported to the mountains while I was going through your travelogue. Thank you so much for this!
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Old 30th April 2012, 17:19   #94
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

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Thats great Shyam. Thanks for the invite. But I'm actually serious. Aarti & I are heading off in July on our bike. Just the two of us. That would be a different kind of adventure this time. Are you planning to go deep into Changthang ? Hanle/Chumur/Demchok ?
Our dates are fixed (June 9 - June 24), but let me see about July. Chances are quite low to sneak out again in July. Which side are you guys trying to cover?

Yes, we are doing the Hanle/Chumur area. Focussing only on Changthang, keeping about a week only for it.
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Old 30th April 2012, 17:22   #95
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

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Our dates are fixed (June 9 - June 24), but let me see about July. Chances are quite low to sneak out again in July. Which side are you guys trying to cover?

Yes, we are doing the Hanle/Chumur area. Focussing only on Changthang, keeping about a week only for it.
Nice. We are going up the Manali - leh and coming back via it. The idea is to stay only in Changthang and not go in the direction of Nubra or Zanskar. How much we are able to cover in Changthang remains to be seen on a lot of factors. The call can only be taken once we manage to reach Leh and see if we can do more on a bike. After all the luxuries of an SUV are not there on the bike and the zest of exploring more can go down
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Old 30th April 2012, 17:26   #96
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

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Originally Posted by vardhan.harsh View Post
Aarti & I are heading off in July on our bike. Just the two of us. That would be a different kind of adventure this time.
What about rain Harsh? Isn't July is the time for occasional heavy downpour?

Fantastic coverage here Harsh! Pictures are superb. I'll try out this section only next year. This year I'll have a very short trip with my sister.
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Old 30th April 2012, 17:31   #97
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

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What about rain Harsh? Isn't July is the time for occasional heavy downpour?

Fantastic coverage here Harsh! Pictures are superb. I'll try out this section only next year. This year I'll have a very short trip with my sister.
Yes, July is a period of occasional heavy downpour but it is limited only Rohtang. Once we enter Lahaul the precipitation level decreases dramatically and once we cross Baralacha La there's hardly any. We're well prepared with rain gear for our bike so rain should not be a big hassle. (hopefully).
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Old 1st May 2012, 12:50   #98
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Default Day 13 (21st July): Padum - Kargil (230 kms, 11 hrs)

The day began very early at 5 am. It was the day we were supposed to bid adieu to Zanskar for sometime to come. We were on our way back with Kargil being the destination for the night. We left our hotel by 6 am, admiring the beauty of the barren landscape in the morning light. We were a bit stressed about the car’s condition, and thus wanted to reach Kargil as early as possible to see if something could be done to repair it. Although it was unlikely that any repair work would’ve been possible there, but still, as a wise man once said, “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things”.


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Bidding adieu to our hotel Gay-skit

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The main Padum bears a deserted look so early at 5am

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The initial 20km is all tarmac! Not bad to begin with.

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The road turns into gravel and stones immediately.

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Pedestrian bridge over Stod at Ating.

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Stod spreads wide near a village

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A sleepy village

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One of the few last settlements before barren lands begin.

Around 7:45, when we’d started feeling really hungry, we took Kiyang to the banks of the Suru, took out our little stove and heated the only ready-to-eat packet we had left - gajar ka halwa! It was pretty windy, and the stove had to be kept inside the car to keep it from getting extinguished. So, at 8 in the morning, on the banks of the Suru river, in the remote Zanskar region, the two of us, all packed up in sweaters and jackets, had a breakfast of piping hot gajar ka halwa! And as someone rightly said: “Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin asto”. (Loosely translated: If there’s paradise on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here). Tasty breakfast at such a picture perfect spot... it felt as if things really could not get any better. Well they did - Aarti allowed me to smoke a cigarette without shouting too much ;-).


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Some chortens mark the road

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Parking spot next to Stod for breakfast.

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Away from windy valley, the stove burns

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To prepare an exquisite Gajar ka halwa

Thereafter, back on the road, we did not stop for too many photographs, and just kept going. We were doing very good on time, and had reached the Drang Drung glacier already at 10 am. Now that is a sight which you cannot help but photograph, and so we spent a few minutes there, again taken in by the grandeur of the scene before us.


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We march on towards Drang drung glacier, populace thins out now

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Few lake formations near Drang drung

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The ever fascinating Drang drung

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Winds blow over a peak

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Lakes at Pensi La.

The descent to Rangdum was easy, and we were there by 11:30. We stopped at our friend Tashi’s dhaba for an early lunch, as we’d promised him we would three days ago. Then, after making another promise of sending Tashi his photograph, which, by the way, Rajiv Bharat (rkbharat) was very kind to have hand-delivered on his trip there in September, we hit the road again.


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Rangdum Gompa, we meet yet again

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Marmots start to appear again, this time they fail to excite us.

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A shepherd on his daily chore near Rangdum

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A beautiful white horse rests near Rangdum

On we went, our bodies now used to the constant rattling of the car on the un-tarred road, happy that we would make it to Kargil by 4 if we maintained our current speed. And then, jwhen were were about an hpur away from Parkachik, it happened again. Kiyang sputtered, and we looked at each other, not knowing what to do now. The only thing that could be done was to drain the sedimenter, and so I got out out the car and readied myself to perform the now familiar drill of lying down on a mat near Kiyang’s exhaust and unscrewing the sedimenter to drain the water that had accumulated in it. Only this time, in my frustration maybe, I screwed back the sensor with a little more strength than required, and it came off! The bloody design is so flawed, I mean who in their right mind would make a plastic screw of a metallic component? That’s cost cutting my dear friends, and that’s how Tata Safari is cheaper than let’s say a Toyota Fortuner (of course, there are many other factors as well and not just a plastic screw ;-) ).

So there we were, stranded at 3500 m above sea level, beneath a glacier with diesel leaking through the sedimenter, and the only thing stopping the leak was my finger which was shoved up the sedimenter. And I, of course, was lying on my back on the ground. I stayed there for about 10 minutes, panicking and kicking myself for not carrying M-Seal or some adhesive that would’ve got me out of such a sticky situation. In this remote part of the world, help could be another hour or two hours away. I was resigning myself to be in the uncomfortable position when I heard the roar of a taxi. Aarti tried to flag it down, but the guy did not stop!

Now let me take a break here to explain, as I perceive, the difference between people on the Manali - Leh highway and those on the Leh - Srinagar highway (or in this case Padum - Kargil highway). Had this been the Manali - Leh highway, the taxi would’ve stopped without Aarti even having to flag it down and would’ve asked if he could help. However, on any other highway, people just pass through and don't even stop! Such is the difference between camaraderie on different highways in India.

The first objective was, of course, to stop the leaking fuel. After a few minutes of panic, my brain started working again, and I remembered that the oil filter had a pretty similar screw to the one that had come off, minus the sensor for the sedimenter. Fortunately, I had kept an extra oil filter, and was thrilled to see that the part did actually fit. With the fuel leak stopped, I cranked up the car again to see to my horror that the sedimenter light went on! The sensor connecting the sedimenter to the engine ECU was dangling in mid-air. This led to a high RPM and the manual suggested the driver not to drive the car for a long period in such situations. I knew that there was no water there now, but it was only the sensor acting up. Upon closer inspection of the sensor it became clear that the two strobes were connected by a drop of liquid which was conducting the required electric signal to fire the ECU sedimenter warning up. I wiped the strobes dry with a piece of cloth and then bandaged it well with non-conducting tape (electric one). By doing that the signal for the sedimenter immediately went off and the RPM was returned to a normal engine beat. So after about an hour of struggle we were good to resume our journey.


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Pinnacle peak where we were stuck again

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This had become a usual sight during this entire trip. And it aint pretty ;-)

Another hour later as we were crossing the Gumri glacier close to Parkachik, it happened again. The sedimenter warning went up and the RPM went wild again. I went down, again, to check on the strobes, due to a water splash the strobe was wet again and was conducting. The tape was unwound, the strobes wiped dry, a plastic was tied to the strobe so that further water splashing does not effect the strobes and we marched on. And of course, since I was down there, I drained the sedimenter again!


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Gumri glacier near Parkachik

At Sankoo, 40 kms before Kargil, we managed to locate the road that goes directly to Dras through Umba La. This road branches off from the main market in Sankoo. Had Kiyang not been unwell, we would definitely have taken this road and then stayed the night in Dras. Well, some other time I say.

We managed to reach Kargil, despite all these delays, by 6 pm. The casualty of all this was of course, the peace of mind and photography. It’s difficult to shoot under such trying circumstances.

Aarti checked into D’Zojila, and I again went around to what seemed all the mechanics in Kargil to see if they could fix the sedimenter. But Safari spare parts are hard to come by in a small town like Kargil, and after several futile attempts, I returned to the hotel around 7.30. After a quick bath, we went into the market for a dinner of Kashmiri food.
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Old 1st May 2012, 13:54   #99
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

At the risk of repeating myself i must say what a fantastic TL this is!! The photography is just brilliant with an almost etheral 3D effect that makes me feel i am actually there.

Okay now i have a silly koshun.. What is a sedimenter and what does it do? Does my Fortuner have one too?

Please carry on with the TL Harsh. Its one of the best iv' e read.
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Old 1st May 2012, 14:02   #100
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

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At the risk of repeating myself i must say what a fantastic TL this is!! The photography is just brilliant with an almost etheral 3D effect that makes me feel i am actually there.

Okay now i have a silly koshun.. What is a sedimenter and what does it do? Does my Fortuner have one too?

Please carry on with the TL Harsh. Its one of the best iv' e read.
Thanks buddy. Will continue soon.

My knowledge of sedimenters was also limited and the got to learn the hard way around - after trouble started. And that too from the owner's manual that Tata safari comes with.

what i understand now is that the Safari's fuel line has to levels of filters. The first one (and closer to the fuel tank at the back) is the sedimenter which helps in accumulating any residual water that maybe present in diesel.

The second fuel filter is located near the engine in the bonnet and removes dirt. Both of them need to work in order for the car to work. I'm pretty sure that the Fort would have a similar arrangement but I'm not sure. Maybe others can provide more info. on that.
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Old 1st May 2012, 14:30   #101
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

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Originally Posted by Manuuj View Post
At the risk of repeating myself i must say what a fantastic TL this is!! The photography is just brilliant with an almost etheral 3D effect that makes me feel i am actually there.

Okay now i have a silly koshun.. What is a sedimenter and what does it do? Does my Fortuner have one too?

Please carry on with the TL Harsh. Its one of the best iv' e read.

Harsh & Aarti

A fantastic log as usual. Though I have read it on another site but no harm in leching at the scenery again .


Manuuj

The fortuner also has a "water in fuel" indicator. Draining out water is a pretty simple process done in the engine compartment. No need to lie down below. The manual indicates the water removal system in detail.

Last edited by columbus : 1st May 2012 at 14:33.
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Old 1st May 2012, 14:51   #102
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

From your phone call I got the impression that the sedimenter light did not come on. The safari was just losing power.
I guess only after you damaged the screw you had this light issue.

Fuel at kargil is always a problem. I also had to go through multiple sedimenter drainings.
Finally I tanked up at the chogmalsar IOC in leh and the problem went away.

So how is the vehicle behaving now?
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Old 1st May 2012, 14:57   #103
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

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The fortuner also has a "water in fuel" indicator. Draining out water is a pretty simple process done in the engine compartment. No need to lie down below. The manual indicates the water removal system in detail.
That's neat! I had to lie down on dusty roads all throughout my trip .

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
From your phone call I got the impression that the sedimenter light did not come on. The safari was just losing power.
I guess only after you damaged the screw you had this light issue.

Fuel at kargil is always a problem. I also had to go through multiple sedimenter drainings.
Finally I tanked up at the chogmalsar IOC in leh and the problem went away.

So how is the vehicle behaving now?
You understood right! The sedimenter light did not come on earlier, and came on only when I messed up the screw did the light issue came up. And this was after I called you.

Once we got "fresh" fuel at Srinagar, the problem disappeared and no troubles ever since.
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Old 1st May 2012, 18:42   #104
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Default Day 14 (22nd July): Kargil - Srinagar (230 kms, 10 hrs)

Day 14 was a race against time. We had to reach the Tata service station in Srinagar by 4 pm at the latest to give them enough time to repair Kiyang. Being a Friday, we knew we were in a tight spot. If the car could not be repaired today, we would be stuck in Srinagar till Tuesday, for the next 3 days. So yet again we got up early and were on our way by 6:15 in the morning.

The first photo op was the Harka Bahadur Memorial, at the point which is probably the closest that the Srinagar-Leh highway gets to the LoC. Here, the mountain across the river IS the LoC. The Suru river meets the Dras river here to form the Shingo river which then flows into Pakistan.

We moved on, and were, for a while, accompanied by laden apricot tress on both sides of the road. As we approached Dras, we came across the relic of the five Buddhas, which we’d missed the last time. About 5 kms before Dras, a signboard told us that to the left was some mythical stone which sounded pretty interesting. We decided to take the detour, but were unlucky. We did not find the relic, and to be frank did not try very hard to find it either. The detour re-joined the main road, but by then we’d surpassed the War Memorial.


Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_1281.jpg
The map next to Harka bahadur memorial, depicting it's closeness to LoC

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Harka Bahadur memorial

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Harka Bahadur memorial

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Apricot laden trees

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Fantastic signboard

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A mosque in a magnificent setting

We thought of going back, because we wanted to stop and pay our respect, but given that we were pressed for time, we decided to move on. At Dras, we stopped for a quick breakfast in a dhaba which had a direct view of the Tiger Hill. Dras definitely gives rise to intense feelings of patriotism.


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Dras river flowing towards Suru sangam

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Approaching Dras

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The relics of 5 buddha at Dras

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The road towards elusive, Umba La

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Tiger hill, wonder how they managed to scale it, despite all odds

Immediately after Dras, we found the Dras - Umba La - Sankoo road, and were again tempted to try it, but sadly we could not. As we moved on, we kept coming across memorials and stones dedicated to the soldiers who’d lost their lives in Operation Vijay and other operations over the years.


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Another war memorial before Zozi La

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Approaching Minimarg

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Minimarg

Thereafter, the climb to Zojila began. Just before the actual climb begins, there is a Sonamarg like meadow on the left known as Minimarg where one can always find a few horses grazing. The ascent to the pass wasn’t all that bad, and it took us about 40 minutes. Kiyang acted up again for a while during the climb, the first since morning but I was too tired of draining the sedimenter and now with no immediate climbs foreseen decide to give the activity of draining the sedimenter a miss. The Zojila War Memorial again reminded us of the amazing feat of the Indian Army who’s driven a TANK to the pass way back in 1948. Deep respect.


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Zozila war memorial

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Kiyang atop Zozi La.

The road on the descent was good, and we soon caught a glimpse of the Amarnath madness below. The valley seemed to be made of tents of all colours, and instead of birds, we could see helicopters flying everywhere. If this was the situation in Baltal, we feared for Pahalgam, which is the main starting point of the yatra.


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The quintessential serpentine shot of the climb down ZoziLa

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The madness that is Amarnath Yatra

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Madness, i tell you

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Otherwise it's beautiful

Halfway through the descent, we were stopped due to some work on the road being done. We spent a good 1-2 hours there, constantly worried that we would get late to reach the service station. At 1 pm, we were finally allowed to move on, and we rushed. The Sonamarg valley is very beautiful but the smell of horse **** there is so overwhelming that we dared not open the windows of our car. We were hungry, but Sonamarg was swarming with people, and we just could not bring ourselves to stop there for lunch.

On the way, we also came across the proposed staring point of the Zojila tunnel, and were quite excited at the prospect of another tunnel! Now that Rahul Gandhi says that its construction should be given top priority, it should be complete in another 6 - 7 years.


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It's lush green, in Kashmir

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Another tunnel, we all would be waiting for!

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The proposed starting point of the tunnel

The entire road from Sonamarg to Srinagar was full of signboards welcoming the Amarnath pilgrims, and there was a crowd everywhere. So we did not stop for lunch, and just had some chips to wave over our hunger pangs. The road was good, and we cruised all the way.

At 4, we reached the Tata service station. The service manager immediately refused that he would not be able to help us at all citing his resource constraints. The next day the workshop was closed due to a planned Bandh call in Srinagar. Sunday the workshops were officially closed and he mentioned that he would be able to help us only by Monday. It was only after explaining our situation to him and that waiting till Monday was not an option for us, he relented to have a look.

Immediately after listening to all the problems going on for the past week, he came to the conclusion that the fuel quality can be the only issue. He did mention that in the past month a lot of cars were facing this issue in the region, specially on the Srinagar - Leh circuit. He mentioned that as soon as we switch to good quality fuel the problem should go away. However, we did have a problem of a broken sedimenter sensor. The only solution to that was to change the sedimenter, since he did not have a spare sensor with him.

The bloody thing costs about 4500 bucks, but we did not have an option. The change was not due for another 20,000km but we went for it nevertheless, buying a new sedimenter, taking out the sensor, installing it and keeping the new sedimenter intact with the spares, so that the “new’ sedimenter could be used at it’s scheduled change. So all in all the cash-flow was affected, but at least it was not an “expenditure”. With the new sedimenter and a trial run in which the manager himself took the car out for a spin and touched 140kmph, I was satisified that the issue has been dealt with once and for all. At about 6:30 pm we headed towards main Srinagar to retire for the evening.

Once in Srinagar, we spent some time looking for a hotel, and finally checked into Hotel Zamrud on the Boulevard. For dinner, we chose to go to Ahdoo’s, one of Srinagar’s oldest restaurants, and also our favourite there. The plan for the next day was to rest at Srinagar before giving a final push towards Delhi. We decided that Wular & Gulmarg should be worth our while to visit.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 11:01   #105
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Default Re: Day 14 (22nd July): Kargil - Srinagar (230 kms, 10 hrs)

Good to have the rest of the travelogue continue, Harsh. Unfortunate though, that you had to miss out on a lot of photo ops.
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...the fuel quality can be the only issue.
However, we did have a problem of a broken sedimenter sensor.
Even if you did not replace the sensor, the fact that you'd managed to trick the ECU into believing that all was fine by the lovely jugaad that you did, should have got you home without issues. Was the fuel tank drained as well to get rid of the water contaminated fuel, at Srinagar?
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The route less travelled...Alappuzha to Kollam in a double-decker boat! TKMCE Travelogues 22 8th January 2017 10:35
The road less travelled, in search of fresh air - Singoor Project / Manjira Dam ARAY Travelogues 5 2nd September 2014 19:19


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