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Old 2nd May 2012, 12:30   #106
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Default Re: Day 14 (22nd July): Kargil - Srinagar (230 kms, 10 hrs)

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Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Was the fuel tank drained as well to get rid of the water contaminated fuel, at Srinagar?
No. The fuel tank was close to the orange mark and refuelled with high-speed diesel to dilute existing "adulterated" fuel.
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Old 7th May 2012, 15:43   #107
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Default Day 15: Around Srinagar - Wular lake & Gulmarg

The day began in anticipation. The plan was to circumnavigate the much heard of Wular lake. For the uninitiated,Wular lake is India's largest fresh water lake is located in Bandipore district. It is also one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia. The only concern was the strike that was happening int the districts around Srinagar due to some clash with the government and the army with the locals. Still we marched ahead.

The drive would be marked as one of the most disappointing drives of my life. With a high level of expectation set for Wular, what we saw was pathetic to be blatant. The entire lake was dry, despite being the month of July and was hardly visible from points along the road. The route was dotted by villages after villages which wore a deserted look due to the Bandh. There were certain points on the drive on which the lake was visible, but the view was highly disappointing. The entire lake was covered in weed, and was hardly visible. I had to convince Aarti that we were actually seeing the lake.


Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_1168.jpg
THAT is Wular lake, somewhere beneath those weeds

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A little zoomed out view of the same spot

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This was one of the few places, where the semblance of a lake was seen

A long 3-4 hours ride later we were finally back on the highway, heading back towards Srinagar. The day had been disappointing so far, and to make it worse further we saw the board towards Gulmarg and decided to head towards it.


Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_1171.jpg
Gulmarg

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It was a bit hazy there.

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The meadow could be beautiful, sans the swarming tourists!

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I believe winters here would be nice!

The drive towards Gulmarg is now a great highway which is 2 lanes on either side. The average speed was nice and the climb towards Gulmarg was also quite beautiful. However the destination itself was quite pathetic. The entire parking was swarming with tourists who were treating the whole place as their personal garbage bin. Throwing items left and right. We were also bugged by ghodi-waalahs who wanted us desperately to go around the meadow in their horses. Not to metion that the entire place smelled of horse-****. Disappointed again we decided to just have lunch at Gulmarg as quickly as possible and head straight towards Srinagar.

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Christmas tree, as i like to call this

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The view towards Srinagar on the climb down from Gulmarg

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The newly laid rail track in the valley.

Back in Srinagar by evening and had a decent evening alongside Dal lake. A shikara ride was call of the hour along with some kebabs being sold next to the lake (which were very pricey by the way).

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Love the name of the houseboat

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They do get trained early, rowing the boat.

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Lovely assortment of fruits.

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A lovely sunset

With the trip now almost over, the next two days would be spent on the highway back towards Delhi and a “normal” life. The magical two weeks had gone by, only to leave a 2 day "dry" run back home. But hopefully only to be revisited in 2012.
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Old 4th June 2012, 12:54   #108
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Default Day 16 & 17: The long drive back to Delhi

Writing the last days to conclude this already extended story :-

The flipside of coming back from Leh via the Sringar route is the LONG drive back home. The drive becomes more or less uninteresting the moment one leaves Srinagar valley. To keep it interesting we took out the "Highway on my plate" - guide book and made it a point to visit the Dhabas enroute.

An early start from Srinagar saw us having breakfast on the other side of Jawahar tunnel amidst torrential rain. The breakfast was heavenly of Warqi Parantha with freshly made Atta ka halwa in a tiny shackle of a dhaba on the roadside. We had to keep the breakfast light keeping in mind the next eating stop of Rajmash Chawal at Peera Morh.

The next stop was to pick up Son halwa at a village just after Patnitop. However we just had enough space to taste eat. The rest was left to be eaten later on. The gastronomical ride took a rest, and it was some dreary driving all the way to Pathankot. We thought of picking up "Palangtod" there but at the last moment decided against it.

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A collection of bats manufactured at Anantnag!

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The lovely drive through the valley.

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This bridge has always fascinated me, between Udhampur and Pathankot

The night was spent at a lavish 4 star hotel, i forget the name now, in the middle of Jalandhar. They were desperate to have us there, and the tariff was reduced from 6k to about 1.5k if i remember correctly now.

Being a nice hotel, and delhi not being far away. We started off lazily on the final day of the drive. A dhaba between Jalandhar & Ludhiana was to become our breakfast point, although not that great. And again i forget the name of the dhaba.

We had to give Puran singh ka dhaba (at Ambala) a miss, as we were pretty much stuffed with food by now.

The drive toward Delhi was uneventful, but as always such drives leads to very interesting conversation. This time the conversation led to another trip planning towards Ladakh, but this time on a bike.

Action has already begun on the planning and purchasing part of the next trip, which led us to buy a new tourer in the family, WanderB. A Classic 500cc... According to the latest revised schedule we leave for Ladakh by 3rd week of July on WanderB


Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-04.jpg
WanderB
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Old 5th June 2012, 18:58   #109
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Nice narration Harsh. Btw, did you have the "Patisa" (local sweet) at Kud after Patnitop ? That place is famous all over J&K state for it.
And yes congratulations on acquiring the WanderB - that's one fantastic touring machine you got yourself
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Old 5th June 2012, 19:10   #110
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonov
Nice narration Harsh. Btw, did you have the "Patisa" (local sweet) at Kud after Patnitop ? That place is famous all over J&K state for it.
And yes congratulations on acquiring the WanderB - that's one fantastic touring machine you got yourself
Yes. We did stop for patisa at kud. It was awesome :-)we also stopped for rajma chawal on that stretch
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Old 14th June 2012, 12:15   #111
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

I was curious about this bad quality fuel so I talked to some folks who would know about such things. the story I got was not a good one to hear.

The gist of it is this. Army personnel (including officers) in the area sell off army diesel fuel on the sly and show it in the records as having been consumed in routine army usage. Middlemen mix water into the fuel and sell it off to fuel stations who sell it on the customers knowing full well that the fuel is stolen from the army and has been mixed with water. In some cases, the fuel pump owners do the water adulteration themselves.

I was appalled at the idea that army personnel are engaged in such criminal corruption, and both my sources laughed at me. Apparently, corruption in army procurement, management of assets, etc is just as rampant as corruption in the civil sector.

They could not tell me how to ensure I get unadulterated fuel but suggested that one can always have some fuel put in a glass and observe if water settles to the bottom and not buy it if it does.

Last edited by Harbir : 14th June 2012 at 12:16.
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Old 14th June 2012, 12:33   #112
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Harbir,

It is indeed sad to hear about corruption in the army ranks. But it is prevalent sadly. I knew that army jawans pawn off diesel and claim it as being used. They just use up the entire quota that is allocated to them. So essentially i wont call it as pure corruption, just utilizing the perks that they get.

The very same thing happens in the corporate sector as well, see when a guy travels on a job, he/she consumes their entire spending quota, leaving nothing for the company sponsoring them, right? I see it as the same way.

What is sad, that even after selling it off, the water mixing part coming in. That is not only corruption, but does cause inconvenience to the people affected using it.
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Old 15th June 2012, 11:51   #113
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

A very inspiring travelogue supplemented with great photography ! The fruits you were wondering if they were tomatoes look like Apricots to me.
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