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Old 3rd September 2011, 09:41   #61
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Last set of pictures that day
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Old 3rd September 2011, 09:44   #62
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

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Originally Posted by Sabby-069 View Post
Super duper TL guys ; hooked onto it.
Very well written and amazing photos to go with it!!

Rated a well deserved 5 starts!!

Waiting for the next update

Thanks for the kind words Sabby
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Old 3rd September 2011, 09:52   #63
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

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Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
Top class guysKeep the TL coming.

Your drive through Sardarshahar reminded me of my desert days in Fauj in these areas. Did you guys go for a dune bashing there? Since you had Gypsy, could have done that. BTW, Sardarshahar is also famous for a sweet called "Pheni" and streets have shops selling them!!

Which is this giant rock cut statue in your post #7? Looks like Hanuman. Am i correct? Where is it located in Ladakh?
Thanks Fauji. nope we did not do any dune bashing at Sardar shaher as we were on a fairly tight schedule and anyways trailing behind the Safari by a couple of hours each day. So diversions werent on the menu unfortunately.

That statue is of Maitreya Buddha near Kartse Khar 7.5km from Sanku town on the Zanskar circuit
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Old 3rd September 2011, 18:39   #64
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

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Originally Posted by genesis View Post
The 'FOB' Group: 'Flying Offroad Bawaji's' dont need no driving lessons
Brilliant travelogue. Thanks for taking the time to share.
Thanks Soumya, thats a real compliment coming from a writer like you. And yes I liked the FOB tag
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Old 3rd September 2011, 19:25   #65
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Day 12: Upshi – Kumdok – Mahe Bridge – Puga – Karzok – Tso Moriri
The sun was up by 6am that morning and we packed up and left from Upshi by 6.30. That morning we crossed the bridge that was shot for the movie 3 Idiots. Stopped at an army camp and had tea with bread pakoda and home-made hot and sweet chilli sauce. Today was Aug 10 and I needed to be home by the 15th given commitments at work. Jay wanted to proceed further and complete the full circuit ie do Dungte, Fukche, Hanle, Churmur etc before hitting Tso Moriri and Tso Kar. While I was very tempted to attempt that too, I knew a.) it would be cutting it too fine in terms of a return date of the 15th with no room for contingency and b.) we were looking at covering another 400+ kms of not so good roads within 2 days in the hills which was pushing it towards the end of the journey. So finally at Mahe bridge we decided to part ways and proceeded towards Sumdo village, where the locals flagged us down for a lift. I explained there was no seat in the rear and we had our stuff scattered all over the back. He however insisted that the passenger who was an old man had been waiting there since 2 days to reach the Karzok monastery and would not mind sitting on the floor of the Gypsy. I shuffled the luggage in the rear to make space for our man. This chap was around 70 years of age with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Surprisingly no one had stopped for him over the past 2 days given that this was the main route to Tso Moriri. We got chatting and he turned out to be a real cool dude who had seen it / done it all and was now reconciled to spending 4 months a year at the Karzok Gompa. The road started to disintegrate quickly after a while and there was only a corrugated section leading upto Tso Moriri which in a Gypsy meant speeds of 5-10kmph. I felt bad for the guy sitting on the floor behind so we stopped and made him a makeshift seat with tents and rubber mats to sit on. After that it seemed like we were driving forever as we made some painfully slow progress despite taking all possible shortcuts thru sand. Here we encountered pink gravel alongside the road and also passed a group of local cowboys who knew our friend in the back. We finally reached Karzok at 3pm. The place was pretty nippy and we checked into tented acco available there. The manager Lavi was a very interesting guy who would run the show for the 6 months during tourist season and then organize biking tours in Himachal and Nepal. We were also advised against taking a bath there as apparently the night temp fell very dramatically. We had stopped popping diamox since the last 2 days and that was telling on us for the first time on this trip as every action caused breathlessness. Anyways, we were too tired from a very late previous night, so just had lunch and crashed at 4pm. Woke up at 9pm had dinner and crashed again to wake up the next morning by 7am. Some pics from that day..
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Old 3rd September 2011, 20:07   #66
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Day 13: Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Lachlung La – Baralach La - Jispa
Today was another long but uneventful day. While leaving the hotel at Tso Moriri we ran into two families from south Mumbai who had driven down in a Honda CRV. They had climbed up via Manali and I was keen to get an update on the status of the road given the recent cloudburst there. He mentioned that roads were pretty poor and there was slush everywhere. He also mentioned that he felt that he had bought the wrong vehicle up there and had damaged it at Rohtang. We left post breakfast and braced ourselves for the journey ahead. I am not sure if its just a psychological effect, but for me the return journeys are always quicker than the journeys in. Anyways we made good time and crossed Tso Moriri by noon. Now this is important as I do not recollect having read about this shortcut in any of the logs. There is a non-descript T-junction where the road from Tso Moriri meets the main Manali – Leh Highway. The approach from Tso Moriri (Vertex A) towards the T-Junction (Vertex B) is like traversing one side of an equilateral triangle ABC. The second side starts from the T-Junction towards Manali. Most importantly the third side is a small but very distinct dirt road that joins Vertex A with Vertex C which a point on the Leh Manali highway that is around 5 km from the T junction. I know its had to comprehend what I am stating but i feel one can easily shave off 45 mins of drive time if you take this short-cut. We weren’t aware of where the dirt road led so took the entire loop. We immediately hit the More plains after that and were surprised to see a Tar road being built in bits and pieces. Once the plains got over we started descending into Pang. Stopped enroute for this magnificient view of a castle shaped rock and stopped at Pang for lunch of Maggie with veggies and cheese. The lady owner of the dhaba gave nitin a sermon on how he should return to Ladakh in a largish vehicle with high ground clearance. I was also quite startled by the fatalistic attitude that she had in telling us that we were lucky to be rich and to be able to do what we wanted ie trip around Ladakh. She mentioned that their life was like a matchstick that would burn out within a defined period of time without accomplishing much (ie just trying to make two ends meet) given their poverty. After that we moved on with a plan to camp at Sarchu for the night. We reached Sarchu by 7pm after descending the Gata Loops and I was upto driving for another 2 hours so we decided to cross Baralachla and camp at Jispa for the night. Reached Jispa by 9.30pm checked into a Lodge by the road and had the best omelette of the trip for dinner before signing out that night.
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Old 4th September 2011, 18:30   #67
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Some snaps of the drive between Tso Moriri and Jispa.
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Old 4th September 2011, 18:45   #68
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Day 14: Jispa – Keylong – Rohtang – Manali – Mandi – Bilaspore
This was another very long day we started off from Jispa post breakfast and were soon at Keylong where we received cellular reception after 3 days. Made calls home and were surprised to see Jay’s sms that he was actually ahead of us, had crossed Manali and was in Mandi. We later learnt that the safari had developed some noise from the rear differential. We passed Tandi and stopped for snaps outside the small but famous petrol Pump. I was actually surprised at how small this pump was given that the next fuel station was 365km away. The scenery was truly breathtaking and we saw the maximum shades of green on this route. The climb up Rohtang was fairly un-eventful and I was wondering what the fuss was all about, given that we hadn’t encountered too much heavy traffic all of yesterday and even today. Once we reached the pass it got very foggy with constant drizzling. We did not stop there for pics and tea as I was keen to clear Rohtang as we had a long day ahead of us. Within the next 5 mins we encountered a couple of Sumos and Scorpios coming up with slush upto their sideboards which was a good indication of the terrain we were heading into. Sure enough after a couple of bends there were nearly 2 feet deep ruts of slush on the road caused by upcoming Army trucks and other regular truck traffic. One thing was clear, we had to straddle the ruts to maintain traction as falling into them meant beaching the Gypsy. After a couple of loops the ruts disappeared as it was raining and the entire road was a huge slush pit with the upcoming traffic swaying left and right fighting both the incline and for traction. We soon reached a point where all upcoming traffic had lined up on their side of the road and cops were releasing traffic in small batches. I felt sorry for some of the smaller vehicles that were still stranded in the muck. Hats off to the local Sumo drivers that navigated their heavily loaded RWD sumos on bald tires up and down the slush filled pass, very often with their passenger side wheels catching air in the valley.
Once we cleared the slush we were greeted by real thick fog which forced even the local Sumo cabs to come to a complete standstill. We waited for a while and then started to descend slowly with all lights on to warn upcoming traffic. Once we came lower we crossed a really beautiful town Gulaba and soon reached Manali by 2pm where we decided to break for lunch. Nitin had heard of wooden oven pizzas at Johnson cafe where which was in the heart of the really quaint Manali. After that we headed off towards Mandi which we reached after driving thru some truly breathtaking vistas as we approached Mandi after crossing a huge tunnel. I forget its name now, but that was one of the only tunnel I’ve seen that has blind corners and two way traffic inside it. We reached Mandi by 6.15pm in the evening. Jay was still at the Tata workshop getting his safari checked so we decided to drive another 80km odd from Mandi. It turned out to be a long drive as it began pouring heavily heavily and the outskirts of Mandi were completely flooded stopping all vehicular traffic in its tracks. Here’s where the investment in the snorkel paid of and we were able to get thru some wheel arch deep water carefully, without worrying too much. Once it became dark and continued raining incessantly we decided to start tailing a fast vehicle so as make good progress. So we picked up on a local white Zen as the pilot that overtook us and sat on its tail. After a couple of mins we had the guy spooked and he started driving even faster to shake us off unsuccessfully. So beyond a point he took a detour towards the right and left the main road. We continued driving and in the next 15 odd mins we were suddenly back on his tail. I think he would have taken a local shortcut and had re-surfaced on the main road ahead of us. I think the combination of our 4 driving lights in his rear view, again, completely freaked him out this time. He stopped at a place that was lit up and had a couple of other cars parked and people standing around. I am fairly certain he had mistaken us for some goons that were after him.. After a hearty laugh we continued and reached the HPTDC hotel Lake View at Bilaspore by 10pm. We checked in, had dinner and called it a day. Some pics and vids from that day to follow
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Old 4th September 2011, 22:19   #69
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Day 15: Bilaspore – Chandigarh – Gurgaon - Behror
Pretty non-eventful day. Jay was stranded in the morning at Mandi as water logging had shut off the highway. So he had to take a detour thru a lesser known route and there too had his share of adventures that I’ll let him elaborate on. We stopped for lunch at Chandigarh, not sure if it was sector 34 or 43 D, at a Nandos and waited to catch up with Jay and Suraj there. Once they arrived we exchanged stories of Rohtang and Mandi over lunch. Post lunch Jay’s battery had died so we jumped his safari in the parking lot after failing to push start it. From there again a pretty straight drive into Delhi although as mentioned earlier Gurgaon completely blew me away. I mean Mumbai is light years behind that town and i don’t think with our existing politicians we will ever be anywhere close to that in terms of infrastructure and planning.
After Gurgaon the Gypsy was heating up given that we had been continually driving since 6am that morning and ir was now close to 10pm. So we took halted for Dinner around 50 km outside Behror in a revolving restaurant in the middle of nowhere. To quote nitin ”India is truly an amazing country”. After a quick dinner we set off for the JKDC resort at Behror and reached there by 11pm. Jay had already checked in and we discussed plans for the next day. He wanted to do a non-stop run to Mumbai and I was ok with taking it easy and reaching Mumbai the morning of Aug 15 as planned. Some pics from that day.
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Old 4th September 2011, 22:39   #70
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Day 16: Behror – Ahmedabad – Baroda – Bharuch
Day 17: Bharuch – Mumbai
The only highlight was the continuous heavy rain once we crossed into Gujarat and all the way into Bharuch. We reached Bharuch at 10pm that day and left early by 6am the next morning to beat traffic on the Narmada bridge. We were lucky to that completely empty and we made good time to reach the Parsi Dairy Farm outlet near Amgaon by 9am for breakfast. After that it was a straight run to Amchi Mumbai to be greeted with dust and pollution at the Dahisar check naka. It being Aug 15 the western express highway was empty and we were home by 12.15pm, incidentally the exact time that we had left Mumbai 17 days ago.

Signing off this travelogue now. Hopefully Jay will start posting his share of the trip soon. Thanks all, for the ratings and encouraging words

Regards,
Neville
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Old 4th September 2011, 23:17   #71
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Thumbs up Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Hey Neville!! An awesome, awesome, awesome and awesome TL and narration. Loved it to the core. For all those days I was longing to comment but did not want to interrupt the flow of the narration. It was such a nice read.

The lodge at Jispa seems to be Padma Lodge from the pics. Has nice clean rooms and the restaurant is good too.

And yeah!! Nando's is in sector 35.
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Old 5th September 2011, 18:18   #72
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Awesome Travelogue. Truly amazing... 5 star.
Jay seems to have picked a few kilos before starting the journey, which receded in the journey..
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Old 6th September 2011, 08:19   #73
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

My Bangalore friends are doing this trip in their Endevour , started on 3rd of September, they have glided through the country side since the last 4 days and have reached Shimla yesterday afternoon.

Its a wonderful feeling to have conquered the mighty himalayas, sad i could not live that moment as there was space only for 6 people in the Endy.
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Old 7th September 2011, 16:04   #74
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

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Hmmmm dont see your point Mr Urban Nomad but feedback taken. There are certain things beyond your proposed "Driving Lessons" .
Arrey? I guessed you missed the smiley. No need for "taking the feedback" mate, there was none.

Keep posting. I love the pics. Camaraderie at its best.

Accha and same question as before - how young is the Gypsy? Apologies if I missed your response in previous posts.
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Old 7th September 2011, 16:24   #75
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

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Arrey? I guessed you missed the smiley. No need for "taking the feedback" mate, there was none.
You missed the smiley too buddy. No worries, its cool.

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Originally Posted by Urban_Nomad View Post
Accha and same question as before - how young is the Gypsy? Apologies if I missed your response in previous posts.
The answer's there in all my posts within the signature, sir..Its a 2008 model
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