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Old 16th August 2011, 23:32   #1
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Default Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

As I sat in a dhaba in Rangdum, a village in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of strangers, talking about nothing in particluar, happy and at peace with myself, I couldn’t help thank God for bringing me to Zanskar. Ever since our trip to Ladakh last year, we had every intention to return to the land of high passes. The beauty of the vast Changthang plateau haunted us, and we’d planned to visit it again this year. However, as this year’s trip came closer, a doubt crept into our minds - although there was no questioning our love for Changthang, visiting it again this year might make our trip too similar to the last one. Chanthang was not going anywhere, and we could always go back to it later. We decided that this year we would explore another part of Ladakh - the wild wild west. The plan was to restrict ourselves to everything west of Leh - explore under-construction roads, trekking routes with motorable/ jeepable tracks, and most importantly, the remote Zanskar.

The travellers: Aarti & Harsh
The machine: Our very own wild as$ - Tata Safari 4x4 - affectionately called Kiyang
Total distance covered: 3850 kms.

A taste of things to come:
Day 1 (9th July): Delhi - Manali (580 kms, 12 hrs)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0023.jpg

Day 2 (10th July): Manali - Jam - 10m ahead - Jam - 10m ahead - Rohtang - Jispa (140 kms, 14 hrs)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0074.jpg

Day 3 (11th July): Jispa - Darcha - Detour - Darcha - Sarchu - Moreh Plains - Panginagu (260 kms, 13 hrs)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0231.jpg

Day 4 (12th July): Panginagu - Tso Kar basin - Debring - Leh (220 kms, 9 hrs)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0380c.jpg

Day 5 (13th July): Leh, friends, dinners & permits. (20 kms)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0182.jpg

Day 6 (14th July): Leh, hospital, medicines, rest (50 kms)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0189.jpg

Day 7 (15th July): Leh - Nimmu - Detour - Nimmu - Basgo - Likir - Sham Valley - Khaltsi - Hinjoo - Lamayuru (260 kms, 13 hrs)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0455.jpg

Day 8 (16th July): Lamayuru - Fotu La - Khangral - Chitkan - Dha - Batalik - Hamboting La - Kargil (150 kms, 6 hrs)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0623.jpg

Day 9 (17th July): Kargil - Rangdum Gompa - Juldo (150 kms, 10 hrs)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0768d.jpg

Day 10 (18th July): Juldo - Padum - Karsha Gompa - Padum (140 kms, 8 hrs)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0977_stitch.jpg

Day 11 (19th July): Around Padum - End of Road beyond Zangla, fort and Stongde (130 kms)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_1105.jpg

Day 12 (20th July): Around Padum - Dzonkhul, End of road beyond Reru (135 kms)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_1196.jpg

Day 13 (21st July): Padum - Kargil (230 kms, 11 hrs)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_1257.jpg

Day 14 (22nd July): Kargil - Srinagar (230 kms, 10 hrs)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_1317.jpg

Day 15 (23rd July): Srinagar & around - Wular lake, Gulmarg (200 kms)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_1193.jpg

Day 16 (24th July): Srinagar - Jalandhar (475 kms)
Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_1374.jpg

Day 17 (25th July): Jalandhar - Delhi (400 kms)

Last edited by tsk1979 : 17th August 2011 at 09:34. Reason: Removed references to cognac
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Old 17th August 2011, 07:13   #2
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Nice start Harsh. We too missed Wular lake due to shortage of time. Beautiful snaps and looking forward to lots more.
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Old 17th August 2011, 07:44   #3
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

f5 f5 f5

Wow what a teaser of things to come. Please do include GoogleEarth screenshots of the route you took daily.
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Old 17th August 2011, 07:49   #4
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

What a teaser! You making me miss the beauty of La-Dag. Bring it on!

Oh and yes I hate Delhi/NCR walllahs as they can head off to the mighty Himalaya's whenever they want


Cheers
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Old 17th August 2011, 12:09   #5
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

At first i didn't realize you again went to Leh, Ladakh, and thought you are posting a different route of the trip you did earlier. I had already read the earlier thread of "Kiyang" and idiots trip to Ladakh and have a feeling that this TL would also turn out to be one of the "must read TL".

Excellent start of the thread, and the pictures are amazing, i see you are already turning pro since i read the last Leh trip cover-to-cover.

Awaiting more posts, I am sure you would come to other details like preparation, Google map routes, weather, and dos and dont's for travelers wanting to explore this region as well, and how the Kiyang behaved on the second trip. A well deserving 5* TL.
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Old 17th August 2011, 12:47   #6
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Hey Harsh, Lucky you both for doing Ladakh again and as usual fantastic start. Looking forward to moonscapes of Lumayaru from your D3000. That should be mindblowing. I bet. Rated 5*
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Old 17th August 2011, 15:48   #7
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Awesome start to the travelogue!
And yes, I know you'd do it but don't miss updating us, less fortunate souls, with the Google Map references of your route.

Looking forward to a cracker of a travelogue.

Rated this thread as a 5 star as the photographs in the opening post itself deserves that.

Last edited by aryasanyal : 17th August 2011 at 15:50.
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Old 17th August 2011, 16:45   #8
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Amazing I simply so like the "roads to nowhere" pics... Absolutely mind blowing... I am in search for words to describe the beauty and I am thinking you have faced the same issue as well. Hats off to you for simply having the thought to undertake such an enterprise.

Waiting for more...
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Old 17th August 2011, 16:58   #9
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Hi Harsh,

Amazing start to the TL, one of the best teasers I have come across. Initially even I thought that this was your old TL but then re-read the title and realised that its a new adventure altogether. The only flip side to this is, the wait for the next update, its really painful. Please update at the earliest. Yeh Dil Maange More.
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Old 17th August 2011, 17:12   #10
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Quote:
Originally Posted by vardhan.harsh View Post
As I sat in a dhaba in Rangdum, a village in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of strangers, talking about nothing in particluar, happy and at peace with myself, I couldn’t help thank God for bringing me to Zanskar.
Very interesting begining... i am glued to your TL.. Pictures are beautiful.
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Old 17th August 2011, 18:35   #11
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Now, thats what I call an Epic of a Thread slowly unfolding. Detailed pictures with detailed information. Keep them coming.
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Old 17th August 2011, 18:45   #12
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Heck, are those pictures or what? Truly mesmerizing!!

I am left speechless man, nature truly at it's best
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Old 17th August 2011, 23:26   #13
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Default Day 1: Delhi - Manali (580 kms, 12 hrs)

Quote:
Originally Posted by v&v View Post
Nice start Harsh. We too missed Wular lake due to shortage of time. Beautiful snaps and looking forward to lots more.
Thanks vinod. By the way, you did not miss much, Wular was not a pretty sight this time around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
f5 f5 f5

Wow what a teaser of things to come. Please do include GoogleEarth screenshots of the route you took daily.
Thank you sudev sir for appreciating my prologue. Will try to include snapshots of GE as well, although would keep it limited to the lesser-known-routes. In any case, the rest of the route is quite obvious and is now marked on many online maps as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
What a teaser! You making me miss the beauty of La-Dag. Bring it on!

Oh and yes I hate Delhi/NCR walllahs as they can head off to the mighty Himalaya's whenever they want
Cheers
I will not contest your statement on Delhi wallahs. True. Very true. But i for one get personally jealous of our kinds in Chandigarh!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
At first i didn't realize you again went to Leh, Ladakh, and thought you are posting a different route of the trip you did earlier. I had already read the earlier thread of "Kiyang" and idiots trip to Ladakh and have a feeling that this TL would also turn out to be one of the "must read TL".

Excellent start of the thread, and the pictures are amazing, i see you are already turning pro since i read the last Leh trip cover-to-cover.

Awaiting more posts, I am sure you would come to other details like preparation, Google map routes, weather, and dos and dont's for travelers wanting to explore this region as well, and how the Kiyang behaved on the second trip. A well deserving 5* TL.
Thanks Mayank. The last log to Leh was our first attempt at writing a log and our first attempt at post-processing of photographs. We have tried to learn and apply bits and pieces of information from online communities and improve ourselves as much as we could. Would move forward soon with the log.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
Hey Harsh, Lucky you both for doing Ladakh again and as usual fantastic start. Looking forward to moonscapes of Lumayaru from your D3000. That should be mindblowing. I bet. Rated 5*
Thanks Fauji. Will try not to disappoint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aryasanyal View Post
Awesome start to the travelogue!
And yes, I know you'd do it but don't miss updating us, less fortunate souls, with the Google Map references of your route.

Looking forward to a cracker of a travelogue.

Rated this thread as a 5 star as the photographs in the opening post itself deserves that.
Thanks Arya, Will try to include as much as route maps i can. Also i made a custom map of the west of leh region for our reference. Would be sharing that as well, as soon as i am done with the final touches after the trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by figo_mba View Post
Amazing I simply so like the "roads to nowhere" pics... Absolutely mind blowing... I am in search for words to describe the beauty and I am thinking you have faced the same issue as well. Hats off to you for simply having the thought to undertake such an enterprise.

Waiting for more...
Thanks buddy. Adjectives are difficult to come by when one visits such a beautiful barren place. One is typically found speechless by the beauty around oneself. I know of friends who have shed a drop of tear or two!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sami316 View Post
Hi Harsh,

Amazing start to the TL, one of the best teasers I have come across. Initially even I thought that this was your old TL but then re-read the title and realised that its a new adventure altogether. The only flip side to this is, the wait for the next update, its really painful. Please update at the earliest. Yeh Dil Maange More.
Thanks Sami. Will try to keep up as much as i can. Would you believe it, i had almost written the first day, but something happened to the connection and i could not upload. Office was hectic and it's only now that I've got the time re-upload the material, which thankfully was not lost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Night_Hawk View Post
Very interesting begining... i am glued to your TL.. Pictures are beautiful.
Thanks buddy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by traveloholic View Post
Now, thats what I call an Epic of a Thread slowly unfolding. Detailed pictures with detailed information. Keep them coming.
Thanks budd.y

Quote:
Originally Posted by sachinj12 View Post
Heck, are those pictures or what? Truly mesmerizing!!

I am left speechless man, nature truly at it's best
Thanks Sachin.

Last edited by Rehaan : 22nd August 2011 at 16:47. Reason: Removing the duplicate text that got left behind too.
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Old 17th August 2011, 23:35   #14
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Default Re: Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled

Bring it on, Harsh! Given your penchant for finding new roads and daring to travel off the beaten track, this t'logue is expected to be as (if not more) interesting as the previous Ladakh log. And I do need to sincerely thank you for the GPS tracks and details from your previous trip, which we have used to great advantage during our own trip (Hawk-On-Fours® (H-4®) Roadtrip: Leh(t)'s go to Ladakh & Srinagar with QuickSilver.) in June.

Edit: Could you please speed up the process of writing this? Like Sudev, my laptop's F5 button is also wearing out.

Edit 2: I like how your thread title and my avatar pic title match!

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 17th August 2011 at 23:38.
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Old 18th August 2011, 00:06   #15
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Default Day 1: Delhi - Manali (580 kms, 12 hrs)

The night before the beginning of a trip is always a short one. It is almost impossible to put an over-active mind to rest and one twists and turns on the bed to fall asleep. So with limited sleep of just 3 hours, we finally left our flat in Vasant Kunj by 4 am.

The high point of the drive till Bilaspur was the drive through Banur to avoid Chandigarh altogether. It must have shaved off at least an hour of our total drive till Manali. The road from Ropar till Kiratpur was also a pleasant surprise with the construction finally over and all flyovers complete. The lowest point, as is always, was the frustrating truck traffic between Kiratpur and Bilaspur.

After driving non-stop for 6.5 hours from Delhi, we decided to stop for breakfast in Bilaspur. Breakfast at our usual stop, the Lake View hotel, was decent. Aarti then took over the wheel while I settled for some shuteye. Without any further incidents, we reached Manali by 4 pm. It was a record run for us till Manali, bettering our previous best run by at least half an hour. I wonder if Manali would be possible in 11.5 hours after the construction work on NH-1 is complete.

As always, the next order of business was to reach Il Forno to have a late lunch. According to me, Il Forno serves not only the best pizzas in all of Himachal, but in all of India. Not to exaggerate, but the pizzas served even at La Piazza do not come close to the ones made by Roberta. You must give it a try when in Manali, if you love those thin crust non-oily pizzas like we do.


Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0003.jpg
It was cloudy when we reached Manali

Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0004.jpg
Clouds imply bad state of affairs at Rohtang.

Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0006.jpg
Truly yours, Harsh

Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0007.jpg
My wife, and co-traveler, Aarti

Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0008.jpg
The dog at Il Forno, quite old, not too active but still very affectionate

Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0011_stitch.jpg
The outside seating is better than the inside one on pleasant days at Il Forno

Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0020.jpg
A macro shot of a flower at Il Forno

Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0021.jpg
Dont remember these were tomatoes or something else!

The next course of action was to check in to “our” hotel, the Johnson’s Lodge at Manali. Since the HP govt. had decided to issue permits for non-HP registered vehicles to cross Rohtang, we had asked the hotel’s staff to arrange it for us. They had, thankfully, agreed to do so. That is when the owner dropped a bomb on us. She informed that Rohtang pass had been closed for a couple of days now, and that no vehicles had been crossing over. Our primary reason for doing a Zanskar centric trip via Manali, and not via Srinagar which would have made more sense, was to experience the Manali - Leh highway while going up, a thing that we had missed the last time around. Not ones to easily give up, we thought it would be best to speak to a couple of taxi owners on the Mall road before taking any further action. Meanwhile, as Aarti was busy checking in, I thought of making some good use of the light to capture the beautiful flowers in the garden near our room.


Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0023.jpg
Some purple flower

Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0029.jpg
Beautiful Petunias

Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0031.jpg
A cozy seating for two in the garden

Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0037.jpg
A bunch of whites

Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0039.jpg
The Johnson's Lodge, Manali

Ladakh & Zanskar: The road(s) less travelled-dsc_0041.jpg
A rose, ah, finally i got the name of one flower

A walk to the Mall road soothed our nerves a bit when we were informed that the pass is partially open with only jeeps able to make it through, and that too with much difficulty. What was reassuring was that it was at least POSSIBLE to cross Rohtang, although difficult. After arranging for breakfast and filling up the tank, we went back to the hotel to hit the sack as early as possible. We knew that we must push off from Manali early the next morning to beat the morning rush. What we did not know, however, was that we had a very long and frustrating day ahead of us.
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