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Old 23rd August 2011, 22:12   #1
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Default An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mumbai

I've been waiting for Jay (JaySmokesLeaves) to start this travellogue, as its been 10 days since we returned. However the man is missing in action so here goes my first attempt at a travelogue. Jay please add to this whenever you are online again

Rewind 2010: This trip was originally scheduled for departure on Aug 28, 2010. However days before the scheduled departure yours truly ended up with the Gypsy upside down in a ditch on NH4 thanks to a drunken JCB driver. Some pics below. Post the accident everyone and their mum insisted that I should take the Vitara with me next year when I planned the trip stating the usual stuff; its safer,has ABS, is more comfy. has a roof, bigger car etc..Not that any of that mattered to me as I was convinced that the Gypsy it would have to be.

An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mumbai-crash-1.jpg

An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mumbai-crash-2.jpg



Jul 2011: After nearly a year of restoration, repair and mods it was time to do the trip this year before the weather gods rendered the region shut for another 6 months. Most of the planning for the trip was managed by Jay with a lot of help from HVK, ADC and a few others on TBHP. There was me and a friend Nitin in the Gypsy and Jay had 3 colleages join him of which 2 retired and flew back from Leh.

Here's the route we took

Day 1: Mum - Vadodra (12.15pm start)
Day 2: Vadodra - Sardarshahar
Day 3: Sardarshahar - Udhampur
Day 4: Udhampur - Srinagar
Day 5: Srinagar - Drass
Day 6: Drass - Kargil - Zanskar (Purtikchey)
Day 7: Chill out around Panikhar
Day 8: Purtikchey - Leh
Day 9 & 10: Leh
Day 11: Leh - Khar dungla - Diskit - Hunder - Diskit
Day 12: Diskit - Warila - changla - Pangong Tso
Day 13: Pangong Tso - Marisimik La - Karu - Upshi
Day 14: Upshi - Tso Moriri
Day 15: Tso Moriri - Tso Kar - Sarchu - Baralachla - Jispa
Day 16: Jispa - Keylong - Tandi - Rohtang - Manali - Bilaspur
Day 17: Bilaspur - Chandigarh - Gurgaon - Behror
Day 18: Behror - Bharuch
Day 19: Bharuch - Mumbai


Some highlights of the trip

- Kishangarh bypass was a mess, got killed with the dust and no A/C in the Gypsy.
- Stayed at the amazing Kuber palace hotel that has the largest indoor hall in asia . The owner has also built a beautiful Hanuman Temple opposite the hotel.
- Rear shocks gave up at Udhampur - Replaced all 4 with Monroe OEs at the Udhampur MASS
- Nearly overturned the Gypsy outside the Hotel @ Srinagar
- Rear springs (OME) collapsed - Replaced the main leaf @ Mysuma, Srinagar
- Bonfire at the JKDC resort in Purtikchey, Zanskar was amazing. It was a new moon night and the milky way was very visible
- Fuel Cap was nicked @ Leh; had a spare that was pressed
- Climbed Zojilla by the dirt track at night
- Visited the Maitreya Buddha temple tucked away 7km away from the main track in Zanskar
- Caught out in a simultaneous sandstorm, Mud slide and Landslide @ Hunder
- Wari La proved to be the steepest pass to climb, esp if you stop for photos at the wrong spot. For the first time I had to engage 4wd Low on tarmac to takeoff. This was also the only place where we encountered snow along the road
- Offroaded down a hill near Marsimik La
- Rohtang was an absolute Slushfest, felt sorry for the smaller vehicles that were stranded due to low ground clearance

Pics of the crash last year

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Old 23rd August 2011, 22:52   #2
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Ouch man.. starting a T-log with accident pics! You should have added some pleasing vistas first. Anyways, carry on with the narration, but why is this pair unlikely?
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Old 23rd August 2011, 23:08   #3
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

wow thats quite a start with some Amazing pics for the first post! Mark of true Satan!

Gonna keep an eye on this thread!

Cheers!
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Old 24th August 2011, 09:24   #4
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Satan,
Full masala trip. Nice start. I am hooked to it.

Last year crash looks freaky. Where did this happen. Looks like after Udhampur !

Don't make us wait for updates.
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Old 24th August 2011, 09:34   #5
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Hey Satan

how on earth did you manage to topple that one last year. it was not even an offroading setup!

waiting for more, and waiting for some pleasing pics
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Old 24th August 2011, 16:36   #6
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dry Ice View Post
Ouch man.. starting a T-log with accident pics! You should have added some pleasing vistas first. Anyways, carry on with the narration, but why is this pair unlikely?
Dry Ice, The pair is mismatched given the vehicle dynamics ie cruising speed, suspension set, creature comforts etc.

V&V the crash happened outside Pune

BigVishnu this happened on the highway at 70kph when the JCB driver lost control and hit the rear left of my vehicle as I was overtaking him, lifting both the passenger side wheels. After that happened no amount of vehicular correction helped and the rest is history
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Old 26th August 2011, 10:10   #7
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Wanted to share a couple of the Gypsy's mods prior to the trip some of which were actually deterimental to the performance in hindsight as mentioned earlier
1. Had OME springs fitted on all 4 wheels - Front are still very comfortable and in use, the rear ones gave up after the shock collapsed. Have to get them re-cambered
2. Removed the OE shock abs and replaced these with much more beefy looking Ranchos that I had lying with me from my previous Gypsy. This was a very dumb thing to do
3. Removed the rear seats and fixated a lockable cast-iron trunk to the rear of the vehicle wherein we could safely keep the food stock + spares. 4. Also added tie down straps through the sides of the back to hold the 20lt jat of water, bags, tents and other items in place
5. Also bolted on a plastic 50l jerry can for additional petrol that would be required if we were to do the original circuit of Ladakh which would include southeast Ladakh
6. Then there was the usual complement of extra lights that were fitted upfront to enhance lumination for night and fog driving
7. Added an extra power socket near the back door to transfer petrol from the jerry can into the fuel tank using an electric fuel pump
8. Added hard roofs over the driver area and the cargo area made from a combination of Marine Ply + Heatlon encapsulated in Rexine - This sits below the soft top and also ensures zero flapping of the Gypsy's roof allowing you to converse without yelling at each other
9. Added an electric fan to help force cool the vehicle - this was very handy esp when we spent 7 hours to cover 65 km in Zanskar and the radiator was covered with a layer of dust
10. The snorkel was originally fixed as a nice to have, but that got us out comfortably thru waist deep flooding outside Mandi that night on the way to Bilaspur
11. Affixed rally type dust flaps to prevent water and dust from hitting the screen when driving
12. Sealed off the sides of the soft top with monsoon tape and that really helped
13.Added windscreen washer nozzles into the bonnet from a Honda Civic to help spray water across a wider area of the windscreen

Mixure of pics and a video to start this travelogue, some of which are from my BB so pl excuse the quality of snaps, better ones to follow



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Old 26th August 2011, 11:04   #8
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Day 1: Mumbai - Vadodra
Pretty un-eventful day. We left Mumbai around mid-day with a plan to stop over at Ankleshwar for the night. we had heard of horror stories about the traffic jam on the Narmada bridge and wanted to ensure that we crossed that before dropping anchor for the night that so that we had a head start the following day. Met up with a friend Danny at Thane who had sweetly carried half a dozen Samosas from some famous place nearby. The previous week he was also gracious enough to pull off the window visors from his personal Gypsy and lend them to me for our trip. These things are worth their weight in gold in a non A/C vehicle when its raining as they allow you drive with your windows down a third of the way. I took a detour to Udvada to seek blessings of the divine for a safe trip and man did he help!!! Caught up with Jay and his gang outside Navsari, had tea transferred some of their luggage into the Gypsy and we were off. Special mention here about Jay. He carried a sack full of toys, coloring books, color pencils, crayons etc for the kids up in the hills. How many of us would think of or actually do something like that??

As luck would have had it, we made some good time as the bridge although jammed as expected, had the left most lane open for light traffic and we managed to squeeze thru. A lot of respect due here to the discipline followed by the truckers in not clogging the LMV lane. Once we crossed the bridge it was past 9pm. We did not get a good place to stay on the highways and decided to continue driving until we found some place. we filled up at a reliance pump and proceeded and before we knew it we were at Vadodra.
Checked in at Hotel Riya around 11.15pm and set ourselves a target 4.30am departure.

Nitin had formulated a checklist of to dos for the Gypsy prior to crashing each night (we followed that for all of the first 2 days) and the last night of the trip to be honest. basic things like ensuring all chargers were removed, the peti was locked, our haversacks were removed etc. I think we got complacent in the hills given stories we've heard re the honesty of people up there.

Each morning we would remove the stock of food for the day from the trunk before we dumped our bags on it. In hindsight I feel biscuits, dry fruits and milk are a great combo for munchies along the route. We had a total stock of 3.5 kgs of assorted dry fruits that were packed into 200gm bags which could be eaten at a go. Maggie and cheese cubes also helped. We also carried a 20lt jar of bisleri which was only reserved incase we were trapped in a situation in the hills. We would pick up a case of mineral water every second day and use that.

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Old 26th August 2011, 15:09   #9
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Day 2: Vadodra - Sardarshaher
We were up and ready by 4.15am. Decided to get going as Jay would easily catch up with us in the Safari later. Took the road towards Udaipur and continued driving all day until we reached the outskirts of Kishangarh. Here we had planned on taking the Kishangarh – Bhatinda mega highway. The mega highway has really beautiful landscapes and wide sweeping corners which is any driving enthusiast’s delight. To add to that there were no trucks and the roads too were very empty. However getting onto this highway was another story altogether. We spent nearly 90 mins driving thru a lot of dust, dirt, dug up roads, under-construction flyovers and bridges, which was the worst 90mins for me in this entire trip, given there was no A/C in the vehicle.

We finally reached Sardarshaher around 7 in the evening and decided to break the day’s journey here. There was no second guessing that we would stay here, once we saw the hotel. We walked upto the reception and asked them the tarrif. While the manager on duty refused to budge from the Rs 2,200/- per room on twin sharing basis tarrif, he did mention that he would check with his superior. This gentleman happened to walk in just then and we explained our story to him too. Without batting an eyelid, the great guy he was offered us free dinner instead of the discount to which we said DONE!! He was a very nice chappie who showed us around the hotel and we were shocked to see an indoor hall nearly the size of a football field with awesome acoustics all in the middle of this small town. We checked into the very luxurious rooms had a bath and set off to check out a Hanuman temple which was adjacent to the Hotel. For the second time in an hour we were blown away; this time by the magnificence of the temple. We returned back to the hotel for dinner only to be really shocked. Dinner as promised was free, but it was Ala-carte.. we literally re-confirmed this with the very cheerful server and he simply smiled and said yes sir it is free and you can order whatever you want and how much ever. All of us were indeed touched by this hospitality. After some really delicious rajasthani food we crashed for the day again setting up a 4.30am departure target for ourselves. Not many pics taken that day.

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Old 27th August 2011, 11:58   #10
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues forum. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 27th August 2011, 12:24   #11
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Day 3: Sardar shaher – Udhampur
Up unto this point we had paid no toll at any of the booth en route. All we had to do was look stern and wave our hand confidently and we were thru. However the chaps here seemed to get smarter and asked for IDs after which we decided to stop cheating the government and start paying the toll.

So we started off by 4.30 am as planned. It was quite dark and having rained thru the night the road was wet. Despite having all driving lights on, I failed to pick up a huge puddle of stagnant muddy water that was atleast a foot deep and maybe 10 metres long. It wasn’t raining so the wipers were not working when we hit the puddle at approx 70kph and all of a sudden all hell broke loose as muddy water hit the windscreen, I slammed the brakes, the car went into a spin and I switched on the wipers. It must have lasted for all of 3-5 seconds but it seemed like eternity until we came to halt perpendicular to the road. Luckily there was no traffic at that hour and we continued shaken and stirred .

Post day break the mega highway ended and then began a nearly a full day of the worst roads in the plains. We covered village after village of potholed roads that had to be taken very slowly to preserve the car and more importantly our backs. We reached the base of Udhampur by 7pm and after a cup of tea started climbing the long winding road at night. On this stretch the rear driver side shock ab completely collapsed thereby causing a thumping sound of the leafspring bottoming each time we hit a pothole. I had carried one each of the front and rear OE shocks as a contingency, so the plan was to visit the MASS and check if they had new ones and replace all 4 and if they weren’t available then replace the broken shock with the spare OE that I was carrying.

We managed to find a dingy hotel (the worst hotel of the trip) where we checked in. We gathered for dinner at the hotel only to be told by the server that they had just wound up a large party at the hotel and so most of the food was over. We were too knackered to argue and just ate and slept. We decided to wake up late that morning as we would have to hunting for a MASS to get the shocks replaced.
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Old 27th August 2011, 12:27   #12
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Day 4: Udhampur - Srinagar
Next morning was even funnier at breakfast when the same guy (who we learnt was a one man show; cook + ordertaker + server) refused to take an order for eggs stating there were no eggs and these had to be bought from the market. Jay went and complained to the reception that immediately did the needful. Finally when the omelettes arrived he messed up Nitin’s order of an aloo paratha by serving him a methi paratha. And to add insult to injury he asked him to eat that anyways. We set off in Jay’s Safari by first visiting a small MASS next to the hotel that did not have the shock but directed us to a full blown MASS down the road. Very impressive set up for a small town again and they had all the 4 shocks in stock. I requested the works manager to spare me a mechanic that could come to the hotel with us, replace the broken shock and then I would get the car back and get the remaining 3 replaced as well. He agreed and we were off. Returned with the car in 20 mins, got the remaining 3 changed at the workshop. Note until this point the rear leafs hadn’t buckled and were riding at the strock height. We gave a quick pressure hose down and went off for a test drive. I found the car pulling to the right when braking so got out to check, only to find oil marks on the front passenger side wheel and tyre. I wasn’t sure what was the cause and how long this was going to take so suggested that Jay proceed to Srinagar and we would catch up. After we reached back, we dismantled the wheel and finally detected that the axle seal had ripped off, so got that replaced. Full marks to Mr Manish Sharma who prioritized my vehicle and put me back on the road by 2.15pm. He also suggested that we stop at Sharma’s Rajma and rice(cooked in ghee) enroute to Srinagar 20km outside Udhampur. We did just that given that I was really hungry by then and was that food awesome or what!! That too from a pretty non-descript dhaba tucked away into a side of a mountain. Fortified with that meal we left at 4.30pm to try and make Srinagar for the night. Something I forgot to mention was that we had picked up a shrill whistle from the Dhaba @ Navsari. Now a white gypsy in your rear view + a sharp whistle = instant side given to you whilst overtaking. Works especially well with errant truckers who sometime actually pulled over to the side and stopped completely.

Within the next hour or so we got our first glimpse of the mighty Himalayas as we started climbing. This was my first trip to the north and I was shocked and awed by the size and menacing nature of the tall mountains. We crossed Jawahar tunnel by 9.30pm and entered the outskirts of Srinagar. I was pretty disappointed by the tunnel as I had a preconceived vision of it being some really imposing piece of work. No checking for us again as it was a Gypsy and we were soon racing towards Srinagar. We reached Srinagar and called up Jay to check where they were staying. They had checked in at the Royal Khazir which was a beautiful hotel off the road where the Dal Lake ended. The hotel was at a height above the road with a the road curving into gate. I drove straight in and then decided to place the car in reverse against a wall so as to prevent access to the rear of the vehicle thru the rear zipper. As it was dark I could not see the rear on the passenger side and the rear view was useless since the plastic was covered in mud. Too tired to get out of the car to check I slowly reversed only to find the vehicle tipping towards the driver side in slow motion. Memories of last year’s crash came flooding back and at that moment I reconciled to myself that the trip was over as we were about to topple. Here’s where divine intervention helped as far as I am concerned. The gypsy stopped sliding and was precariously perched on the the driver’s side with the passenger side front and rear on higher ground and driver side wheels in a ditch. Just then the security guards and some staff from the hotel came out running and yelling and came over to my side of the vehicle and held that up. I quickly took stock and realized that it would be impossible to push the vehicle back on the road. Since all 4 wheels were on the ground it would be possible to engage 4wd and slowly drive her out of the ditch. I managed to sneak out of the driver’s door while the others were holding the car up ran out to the front locked the front hubs and came back in. Then engaged 4wd Low, selected 1st and with gentle revving managed to get her out of the ditch. Then reverse parked the car unloaded and caught up with the rest of the group who were having dinner in the basement, Blissfully unaware of the ordeal we had been thru. Now that I think about it, the softer OME springs broke our fall ie flexed completely and did not allow the vehicle to topple, but I guess that fall did damage them. Post dinner when I went out to check the vehicle for the night it did appear to sitting very low at the rear. Which is when I realized that the rear shackle was completely horizontal and the Primary springs had collapsed. I initially thought that it was a simple shackle inversion and that i would be able to pop the shackles back in place with some leverage, but that was not to be. Jay and I jacked up the car just to confirm this and the shackles returned to their original position once the load was taken on by the jack and the wheel was in the air. So for the second day in a row I pulled out the Maruti service book to check for the MASS/ Authorized dealers in Srinagar.

Last edited by satan : 27th August 2011 at 12:30.
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Old 29th August 2011, 10:54   #13
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Some pics from Day 3 enroute to Srinagar
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Old 29th August 2011, 11:27   #14
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Some pics from Day 5 in Srinagar, Sonamarg and Zojilla
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Last edited by satan : 29th August 2011 at 11:37.
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Old 29th August 2011, 11:35   #15
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Default Re: An Unlikely Pair (Safari & Gypsy) do a 6600km circuit Mumbai – Srinagar- Leh - Mu

Day 5: Srinagar - Sonamarg - Zojilla - Drass
The previous night we had agreed with Jay that he should leave early morning to catch the 8 am convoy from Zojila and we would catch up with him at Zanskar as per plan. We decided to wake up late as we knew none of the Maruti authorised spare parts shops or the MASS would open up before 9am. So after a good breakfast we inquired with different hotel staff on where we would be able to find the replacements for the Patas. We were told 3 places; a truck/bus suspension set up near some bus station ahead of Lal Chowk, Suraj Auto spares @ Lal chowk and Apollo spares near Mysuma. The first place was a disaster to reach given it was a chaotic place and also very dirty. After we enquired there. No one had any spares for the Gypsy and we were asked to bring the material and they would be able to fit it for us. The next stop was Suraj Auto spares at Lal chowk which is a deceptively small shop with a very small entrance but huge warehouse inside including a mezzanine level. An elderly gentleman there who specialzed in Gypsy spares smile and told me that he did not have the patas but emphatically mentioned that Apollo spares near Mysuma would have those and that a Mr Ali Mohammed would be the right guy in Mysuma to fix the springs. So 2 places struck out of the 3; I thanked him and left from there and headed towards the Apollo. We asked a cop directions to the place and he gingerly told us that there had been a death of a Kashmiri youth the previous night in Police custody and that there had been riots in that area and we should avoid that if possible. I explained that we needed the parts for the Gypsy and he wryly replied that then don’t take the car there as they will mistake it for a police vehicle and pelt stones at it. Sound advice taken; I parked the car outside of a huge car park and left Nitin there to wait with the car and look menacing to anyone thinking of making trouble . As I quickly walked down the street towards Apollo one could sense the tension in the air. There was a group of approx 25 youngsters in a heated argument with each other while everyone from both sides of the streets were watching from their windows with animated interest. Apollo did not have the patas either and all he offered was the full set of leaf spring bushes which were of little use to me then. I asked him where I could find Mr Ali Mohammed the pata-walla and he pointed me to a small lane.

As i walked down the lane asking for him, I was shown a really small shop all of 5 feet wide and perhaps another 5 feet deep, with no patas and no-one inside the shop. Seeing this my heart sank as this was my last hope of finding new patas. I was now certain that I would have to re-camber the OMEs and wasn’t too happy about doing offroading @ Marisimik La on these. Just then an elderly gentleman came in and introduced himself as Ali Mohammed. I explaimed my dilemma and he asked me where the car was and told me to get it there. I was very sceptical on him working on the road itself given that it was all of 12 feet wide. He pointed to a compound across the road and asked me to get the car there. He told me not to worry and he would have everything we needed, either new springs or re-camber the OMEs. I was still confused as i walked back thinking to myself where the hell was he going to procure new OE springs for the Gypsy. We got the car very quickly into the compound expecting a stone to come flying in as we drove thru the street. Once we entered the compound I met Mr Ali who then pointed to a shop in the corner. I don’t think I have felt so relieved and happy of late. This shop was nothing like I had ever seen. A shop that sold leaf springs of every conceivable motor vehicle and truck sold in India. That too tucked away in a compound in the middle of nowhere. Met the owner Mr Manzoor Ul Haque who was a gentleman & explained 2 qualities in the springs available. I picked the MGP TT branded ones and decided to replace the main leaf and the primary supporting one on both the rear wheels. Asked Mr Ali to accelerate the job given that we had to leave for Kargil that evening. He smiled and said don’t worry I will have you on the road within 2 hours max. We sat there chatting with Mr Manzoor who was a real gutsy entrepreneur and heard out his story about the strife in the valley and how him and others have coped with it.
One of my friends tracking me on Google Latitude was Rishad who used to write for Autocar India. He had suggested that we definitely make it a point to visit a restaurant called Ahdoos in Srinagar while we were there. Now this restaurant was a 15 min walk from where we were so on Nitin’s suggestion we decided to have lunch there. Also invited Mr Manzoor and asked Mr Ali what he would like us to get for him. That guy was very shy and declined stating that he was carry lunch from home. Anyways we reached Ahdoos and had the best food on the trip and some proper meat after 4 days. We had Tabak Maaz, Rishtaba, Gushtaba, steamed rice and phirni. I would have tucked in a lot more had I not to drive out of Srinagar that afternoon. Anyways lunch done, we got a Rishtaba packed for my friend that was fixing my gypsy and headed back. The car was ready and after thanking the two we left and returned to the hotel by 3.45pm. Met up with the manager who advised us not to move out at that time given that there would be the Ambernath yatra traffic until Sonmarg and more importantly warned us about the perils of crossing the mighty Zojila after sunset. We thanked him for his advice but were in no mood to stay back especially after the Gypsy was raring to go. On the way we tanked up and also filled up the 20l jerry can with petrol.

We finally loaded up and left by 4.15pm and by 6pm we were at the base of Zojilla ready to climb. We crossed no Ambernath traffic on the way and we really awed by Sonmarg’s beauty. 10 minutes into climbing Zojilla we came to a halt as there was a serpentine queue of trucks waiting in line to make it up. I got off and asked a bunch of truckers that were gathered chatting if there was an alternate route. They all took one look at the Gypsy and pointed to a small dirt track that was branching off the main road about 50 feet below us. He asked us to take that route, stating “Pahadi gaddi hai, chali jayegi”. Without a second thought we turned around and made our was up that. Within the next 2 minutes we were stopped in our tracks by a truck parked in the middle of the road. On asking the driver he replied that there was a tanker stuck up in soft sand on an incline up ahead and unless he moved, no one could make it. We started walking up to see for ourselves. This Indian Oil Tanker was full of fuel and was half way up a slope, when his rear wheels had dug into soft sand. He could not make it up on his own and he was very scared for reversing as the oil might splash to the rear of the vehicle suddenly and lift of the front end toppling it. After a lot of explaining and cajoling he finally agreed to try reversing his truck. I also promised to stand guard on the valley side of the road and chuck stone in the path of the rear wheel incase it started to slide that way. He gingerly went back and started his truck taking about 5 mins to build up pressure and then slowly reversed without any drama. So much for overturning the truck!! Soon we were on our way again and by then it was dark. The dirt track finally joined the main road and before we knew it we had crossed the mighty Zojila and were on our way to Drass. We stopped about 20 km outside Drass and for the first time put on pullovers as it was very nippy. Dug into our food supplies had a bite and then proceeded to Drass where we reached around 10.30pm. Spotted a JKTDC Dak Bungalow on the right of the road in the town and stayed there for the night at the end of a very interesting day.
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