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Old 12th November 2011, 09:12   #961
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

When we sit in the comforts of our rooms reading something from a lcd screen, we are entitled to many opinions. I would have done it, you had done this, etc.. End of the day we had an issue, and we had come out of it also.

If one feels they can do it, it is finally their confidence and risk taking abilities. I rest the case and pray we move on with the logs.
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Old 12th November 2011, 09:38   #962
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HVK Scorpio
Aug 12, Bombay-Behror, 1402 kms
Aug 13, Behror-Rampur, 692 kms
Aug 14, Rampur-Chitkul, 144 kms
Aug 15, Chitkul-Pooh, 207 kms
Aug 16, Pooh-Kaza, 178 kms
Aug 17-19, Kaza, 291 kms
Aug 20, Kaza-Jispa, 236 kms
Aug 21, Jispa-Leh, 374 kms
Aug 22, Leh-Kargil, 343 kms
Aug 23, Kargil-Padum, 248 kms


Aug 24, Padum-Kargil, 275 kms


CHAPTER 6 – Mission Sankoo ends, What a Relief, the drive from Sankoo to Kargil

CHAPTER 5 – Will we have to build a Samadhi for the HVK Scorpio in the Suru Valley?

CHAPTER 4 – The cars are feeling the pinch

CHAPTER 3 – Sleeping Check Post Policemen, White Glaciers & Maggi Noodles again

CHAPTER 2 – Yawn – and this is Karsha Gompa?

I like the Karsha Gompa – not because I am particularly religious or a cultural aficionado, but because Gompas in Ladakh always are the best vantage locations – usually a hillock – where you can be treated to some spectacular landscape views. Remember Ke Monastery & Dhankar Gompa in Spiti Valley? Well, Karsha Gompa is one such gompa in the Zanskar Valley.

Karsha is part of the triangle for the Padum-Sani/Soo-Zanskar Bridge-Karsha-Padum road, so my plan was to drive out of Padum towards Kargil after dropping in on Karsha, which is just 10 kms away on the other bank of the river. We left Padum at 715 am (quite late by our standards, after the hearty breakfast). In a region where there are no roads, did you expect sign boards? And I have this healthy respect for people at work (even if they are simply walking on the road) so I never stop to ask for directions, simply trusting my homing pigeon instincts (and I had also been to Karsha before) and steering by visual navigation techniques. But that flopped a little and we found ourselves crossing the Zanskar River to the road to Strongdey GOmpa/Kilma/Chilling, looks like my sub-conscious instincts took over, much was my desire to explore the new road under construction towards Chilling/ Nimmu. But with the day’s Kargil target firmly in mind, I got back to the Karsha road and soon we were climbing up the steep dirt track to the Karsha Gompa, surely one of the best look-out points.


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I don’t think anyone had an appetite to go into the Gompa itself, but lots of mandatory Zanskar Valley view photos and idle conversations on how to buy land in Padum – anticipating the coming boom in the Valley once the Darcha-Padum-Nimmu road is built. The bachelors in the lot were the most excited – they speculated on the legal implications of marrying some local damsels (definitely very pretty!) and gaining rights to acquire land! Now that the business discussions were over, we all felt like visionaries, but had to move on. The entire village of Karsha was gawking at us as 3 dirty SUVs sneaked their way through the narrow cobble-stoned streets at around 815 am.

HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)-305353_2533670387894_1437590672_2881977_264797917_n.jpg

CHAPTER 1 – Happy Birthday, Anku – what present do you want today?

DEDICATION – To all 2WDs who are driven like they are 4WDs

Last edited by hvkumar : 12th November 2011 at 09:51.
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Old 12th November 2011, 11:08   #963
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

HVK Scorpio
Aug 12, Bombay-Behror, 1402 kms
Aug 13, Behror-Rampur, 692 kms
Aug 14, Rampur-Chitkul, 144 kms
Aug 15, Chitkul-Pooh, 207 kms
Aug 16, Pooh-Kaza, 178 kms
Aug 17-19, Kaza, 291 kms
Aug 20, Kaza-Jispa, 236 kms
Aug 21, Jispa-Leh, 374 kms
Aug 22, Leh-Kargil, 343 kms
Aug 23, Kargil-Padum, 248 kms


Aug 24, Padum-Kargil, 275 kms


CHAPTER 6 – Mission Sankoo ends, What a Relief, the drive from Sankoo to Kargil

CHAPTER 5 – Will we have to build a Samadhi for the HVK Scorpio in the Suru Valley?

CHAPTER 4 – The cars are feeling the pinch

CHAPTER 3 – Sleeping Check Post Policemen, White Glaciers & Maggi Noodles again

The Police man at the Abran Check Post was sleeping at 10 am when we went through, he simply waved us past when I went to wake him up in his “bedroom”. It was a bright sunny day, but there were some ominous black clouds in the sky as we started the ascent to Pensi la. There was a distinct change in the weather as we stopped again at the Darang Durung Glacier around 1100 am for some group photos, especially with the cars silhouetted against the Glacier.

At midday, we were approaching Rangdum, and we decided to go see the Rangdum Gompa some 5 kms before the camp. This is where our third unpleasant encounter with the Army (this time it was again the ITBF) took place (I suppose you have not forgotten our previous encounters with the ITBP CO at Recong Peo and “captain” Gowri at Pooh).

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I was ahead of the rest of the pack and I turned into the steep road that leads up to the Gompa when some jawans – who apparently were washing their underwear and cooking their aloos – stopped us. One of them – a local man with a name plate that read Sclering or something of that kind – started interrogating us:

“Where are you going?”
Gompa, saar
“What for are you going?”
We are tourists, saar, going to see the Gompa
“You are Indians? And you want to see the Gompa?”
Yes, saar, we are Indians and we want to see the Gompa too”
(the jawan is beweildered, he appears to have expected “Indians” to be running around half-naked and gibbering something or what! Indians are supposed to be seeing only film-chucker spots – especially the ones in 3 Idiots, and there are none of that in this region – so why are they seeing Gompas??)
“Show me your ID”
Here is my PAN Card, saar.
“Why do you Indians all have only PAN Cards as ID proof?”
Saar, in India, PAN Cards are normally accepted as ID proof across India, Saar.
“Can’t you Indians have any other ID proof?”

He then imperiously ushered us to go, still perhaps wondering at the temerity of this bunch of “Indians” who wanted to see a Gompa in “India” and had only “Indian” ID cards (perhaps we should have had our Passports?) and the Indian (is he Indian?) ITBP jawan is flummoxed that we are not pink-skinned, speaking in German or generally simpering before him.

If Rangdum had not been cosily placed inside the Suru Valley far away from the border, I may have thought that the stories of Chinese incursions were really true and we may have unwittingly driven into Tibet! But here was Indian ITBP jawan – paid out of our tax-payers money – arrogantly calling us names, talking as though he was a UN peacekeeper from Slovenia posted in Zambia! Do you think this man will defend our borders and keep our country safe? Or will he collaborate with the Chinese & Pakistanis and commit treason? Think it over!

Just to add to your thoughts – we were not driving rashly (as you can imagine, the max speeds you can do in these “roads” is 20 kmph), we were not drunk, we were not playing any music, we slowed down as we saw the ITBP post, none of us looked like punks, and we definitely looked like tourists with some 5 cameras in action.

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Rangdum Gompa itself was deserted, all the important rooms deserted, very obviously one of those Gompas where some Lama or the other would have popped out of some cubby-hole had we been “gora” tourists but on seeing the brown sahibs must have shut the window and remained indoors. So we could see nothing there inside, except that we were treated to some lovely views of the wilderness & plateau around Rangdum – and also the other 2 cars raising dust in their wake.

We arrived at the Rangdum “camp” at 1245 pm for another Maggi/Omlette lunch.

Even as we sullenly bit away at the Maggi noodles, the weather was changing rapidly – the sun was now completely gone and the black clouds were advancing in a menacing manner from the East.

JC's video of the situation in Rangdum Camp




CHAPTER 2 – Yawn – and this is Karsha Gompa?

CHAPTER 1 – Happy Birthday, Anku – what present do you want today?

DEDICATION – To all 2WDs who are driven like they are 4WDs
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Old 12th November 2011, 11:34   #964
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
One of them – a local man with a name plate that read Sclering or something of that kind – started interrogating us:

“Where are you going?”
Gompa, saar
“What for are you going?”
We are tourists, saar, going to see the Gompa
“You are Indians? And you want to see the Gompa?”
Yes, saar, we are Indians and we want to see the Gompa too”
(the jawan is beweildered, he appears to have expected “Indians” to be running around half-naked and gibbering something or what! Indians are supposed to be seeing only film-chucker spots – especially the ones in 3 Idiots, and there are none of that in this region – so why are they seeing Gompas??)
“Show me your ID”
Here is my PAN Card, saar.
“Why do you Indians all have only PAN Cards as ID proof?”
Saar, in India, PAN Cards are normally accepted as ID proof across India, Saar.
“Can’t you Indians have any other ID proof?”

He then imperiously ushered us to go, still perhaps wondering at the temerity of this bunch of “Indians” who wanted to see a Gompa in “India” and had only “Indian” ID cards (perhaps we should have had our Passports?) and the Indian (is he Indian?) ITBP jawan is flummoxed that we are not pink-skinned, speaking in German or generally simpering before him.
BTW if you do not know the story about why a force camp right at the base of a gonpa? This is because few years back terrorist killed few of the monks of Rangdum gonpa taking shades behind Shepard.

They were literally shocked to see an HR number sedan going to the Gonpa. Offered us lip smacking Fish Pakodas and even offered tea
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Old 12th November 2011, 11:41   #965
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Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
BTW if you do not know the story about why a force camp right at the base of a gonpa? This is because few years back terrorist killed few of the monks of Rangdum gonpa taking shades behind Shepard.
Here is the full story of that incident which happened in the year 2000 from Tourist's kidnap signals worsening of Kashmir strife | World news | guardian.co.uk:

"Where is Harfurth Rolf? On July 11, the German backpacker checked out of his hotel in the Zanskar valley in Kashmir and set off on the road towards Kargil. Ahead of him the spectacular twin peaks of Nun and Kun towered over the monastery, or "gompa", at Rangdum.
Like many other tourists in the remote region, Rolf decided to hitch a lift. Somewhere outside the town of Padum, he flagged down a truck and climbed on board. What happened next is the stuff of nightmare.

Soon afterwards the truck was hijacked by five militants, three of them armed. The separatist insurgency which has raged in Kashmir since 1990 had - until that moment - not affected the predominantly Buddhist region of Ladakh. The militants were not supposed to be there.

As the truck approached Rangdum gompa, its horn blaring, four monks came out to see what was going on. The driver, the monks thought, might have lost his way or be in trouble.

They were wrong. Minutes later, the Muslim gang opened fire from the truck. Three monks, Tashi Motup, Zoolpa Stanzin and Lama Kunchok, lay dead on the road, ripped apart by more than 30 rounds from an automatic rifle fired at point-blank range. One monk, Stanzin Tsering, survived by diving into a mountain stream, where he concealed himself until help arrived. The killings - of Buddhists by Muslims - marked a new and sinister chapter in the ethnic strife which has beset Kashmir.

Leaving behind a scene of carnage, the gang then forced truck driver Nazir Ahmed to continue along the glacial highway. At a sheep farm near Panikhar they got out. They took Rolf, 48, with them. He was last seen being led off into the mountains. "They told him, 'You come along,'" Ashok Kumar, inspector general of Kashmir police, said. "The other passengers on the truck protested. The militants replied, 'No, we will take him away.' It is difficult to say whether he is still alive."

Rolf's gunpoint abduction has a chilling precedent. Five years ago six trekkers in another part of Kashmir were captured by al-Faran, a previously obscure militant group fighting against Indian rule in the province. One American hostage escaped. The other five, including Britons Paul Mangan and Keith Wells, were less fortunate. For several weeks negotiations continued. Photos of the hostages, looking dazed and tanned, were released.

Then negotiations then broke down. The decapitated body of one hostage, a Norwegian, was discovered soon afterwards. The bodies of the other four have never been found. Al-Faran boasted: "You won't even find their ashes."

Rolf's fate is similarly unclear. And several questions remain unanswered. Why, for example, did the truck driver wait almost a week before informing police that a German tourist was on board his truck at the time of the hijack? And what did the Muslim gang hope to gain by abducting him?

Indian detectives have little to go on. In the truck they discovered a small bag belonging to Rolf containing a diary, but no other clues. A team from the Germany embassy which flew last week to Srinagar has been unable to shed further light on the mystery.

Rolf's disappearance also has ominous implications for tourism in Ladakh. The narrow mountain valleys - only passable after the snows melt, between June and October - are full of young backpackers during the summer months. These days, few western tourists venture up to Dal Lake in Srinagar because of the insurgency, though Indian tourists are gradually returning. Instead, most trek up to Zanskar via Manali or - if they are lucky enough to get a seat - fly directly to Leh. Unless Rolf turns up alive soon, with a intriguing story to tell, Ladakh may suffer the same fate as Srinagar, with its eerily empty houseboats and ghostly lake."



However, that cannot excuse an Indian jawan's contempt towards Indian tourists, and his sniggering at our ID cards.

Quote:
They were literally shocked to see an HR number sedan going to the Gonpa. Offered us lip smacking Fish Pakodas and even offered tea
They growled at us! Looks like you packed more charm

Last edited by hvkumar : 12th November 2011 at 11:43.
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Old 12th November 2011, 11:47   #966
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
However, that cannot excuse an Indian jawan's contempt towards Indian tourists, and his sniggering at our ID cards.
Agree 100%
"Don't you Indians have any other ID than these PAN cards?" That really made my blood boil.
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Old 12th November 2011, 11:49   #967
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They growled at us! Looks like you packed more charm
My Army/ITBP experience in this region is really 50-50. at places there were super helpful and other places very very rude.

At times they get provoked for a very little mistake you do
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Old 12th November 2011, 12:03   #968
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HVK Scorpio
Aug 12, Bombay-Behror, 1402 kms
Aug 13, Behror-Rampur, 692 kms
Aug 14, Rampur-Chitkul, 144 kms
Aug 15, Chitkul-Pooh, 207 kms
Aug 16, Pooh-Kaza, 178 kms
Aug 17-19, Kaza, 291 kms
Aug 20, Kaza-Jispa, 236 kms
Aug 21, Jispa-Leh, 374 kms
Aug 22, Leh-Kargil, 343 kms
Aug 23, Kargil-Padum, 248 kms


Aug 24, Padum-Kargil, 275 kms


CHAPTER 6 – Mission Sankoo ends, What a Relief, the drive from Sankoo to Kargil

CHAPTER 5 – Will we have to build a Samadhi for the HVK Scorpio in the Suru Valley?


CHAPTER 4 – The cars are feeling the pinch

Lunch was a short affair I am sure you understand that if you can cook Maggi Noodles in 2 minutes, you can surely eat it in 4 mts, and we were done in less than 30 minutes.

HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)-dsc_07862.jpg

But having arrived at 1245 pm, we could leave only at 220 pm, a very long break indeed.

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As I had mentioned before, there are no petrol pumps between Kargil & Padum and the round journey is over 500 kms. So we had carried spare fuel with us in cans, and we decided to top up at Rangdum even as lunch was being cooked. Now the Scorpio & Bolero tanks had enough diesel in them to get back to Kargil safely.

BolBolero discovered that his Bolero was in bad shape – a simple underbody check revealed that some suspension components – the link rod bushes and balancing rod bushes – had taken a severe beating in the bad roads and the rubbers were completely gone. He had some spare bushes, I think – but there was not much we could do beyond tightening them a little – and assuring ourselves that they would not lead to breakdown of any sort. This meant that the Bolero had to reduce its speeds drastically and trail behind us throughout the entire return journey to avoid putting too much of stress on the suspension.

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My Scorpio looked OK. I think JC’s Bolero also got a good check –up and was cleared to go.



CHAPTER 3 – Sleeping Check Post Policemen, White Glaciers & Maggi Noodles again

CHAPTER 2 – Yawn – and this is Karsha Gompa?

CHAPTER 1 – Happy Birthday, Anku – what present do you want today?

DEDICATION – To all 2WDs who are driven like they are 4WDs
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Old 12th November 2011, 12:37   #969
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post

“Where are you going?”
Gompa, saar
“What for are you going?”
We are tourists, saar, going to see the Gompa
“You are Indians? And you want to see the Gompa?”
Yes, saar, we are Indians and we want to see the Gompa too”
(the jawan is beweildered, he appears to have expected “Indians” to be running around half-naked and gibbering something or what! Indians are supposed to be seeing only film-chucker spots – especially the ones in 3 Idiots, and there are none of that in this region – so why are they seeing Gompas??)
“Show me your ID”
Here is my PAN Card, saar.
“Why do you Indians all have only PAN Cards as ID proof?”
Saar, in India, PAN Cards are normally accepted as ID proof across India, Saar.
“Can’t you Indians have any other ID proof?”
Just want to make few things clear. Even if it is accepted as proof of ID it certainly does not prove that one is Indian. It does not carry nationality information on it and even a foreigner can get a PAN card. The only few authentic documents that come to my mind that can say you are Indian are Voter ID card and Passport

However the calling you Indians is certainly not acceptable. In a way he was not considering himself Indian. But have read in some other travelogues that Kashmiris refer to us as you Indians and themselves Kashmiri.
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Old 12th November 2011, 14:06   #970
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Originally Posted by shipnil View Post
Just want to make few things clear. Even if it is accepted as proof of ID it certainly does not prove that one is Indian. It does not carry nationality information on it and even a foreigner can get a PAN card. The only few authentic documents that come to my mind that can say you are Indian are Voter ID card and Passport
It was never a question of the genuineness of the documents, we were never called upon to prove that we were Indian, just that the Indian army jawan thought of us as "you Indians". Asking for ID documents - which he scarcely glanced through- was more of a perfunctory demand rather than a thorough check. A South Indian like definitely cannot pass off as a Kashmiri terrorist!


Quote:
However the calling you Indians is certainly not acceptable. In a way he was not considering himself Indian. But have read in some other travelogues that Kashmiris refer to us as you Indians and themselves Kashmiri.
The army jawan is not a civilian - he is "Indian" Army, he has to respect certain protocols too.

IT is not just in Kashmir, but also in places like Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram & Nagaland that they refer to us as "Indians" since there have been or are problems in their respective regions. I have had Arunachal cops call em "Indian" and chide me saying that "this is not India", and I have heard the same with even senior bureaucrats in Mizoram, so am not surprised about the janta talking that way.
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Old 12th November 2011, 17:54   #971
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Originally Posted by akaush View Post
Sunney,

Well I have driven with HVK for almost 9 days before returning back on this trip. And personally I don't know anyone who has more driving experience compared to HVK. JC is another off-roading stalwart that we know of. With all that experience (specially himalayan experience) they managed to get into a situation like this. Its never about "Who Dun It", with all that incredible experience "this still happened". It was a matter of a few seconds and they got into this situation........
Akaush,
I think you didnt notice the pure satirical value in my above posts.
I already mentioned few posts above that very rare drivers with exceptional skill only can even think of such routes. It is no 'driving' but 'Obstacle race' through out. Such drivers wont be upset on a ducking or two.

The saying "[COLOR=#777]When the going gets tough, the tough gets going...." is about this kind of skilled people. NOTHING can stop them...[/COLOR]
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Old 12th November 2011, 19:32   #972
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Quote:
“Where are you going?”
Gompa, saar
“What for are you going?”
We are tourists, saar, going to see the Gompa
“You are Indians? And you want to see the Gompa?”

I think the poor Jawan was using the rare opportunity of 'interrogating' a soul in those uninhabited wast lands...
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Old 12th November 2011, 23:33   #973
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....the Indian army jawan thought of us as "you Indians". Asking for ID documents - which he scarcely glanced through- was more of a perfunctory demand rather than a thorough check. A South Indian like definitely cannot pass off as a Kashmiri terrorist!
The army jawan is not a civilian - he is "Indian" Army, he has to respect certain protocols too.

IT is not just in Kashmir, but also in places like Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram & Nagaland that they refer to us as "Indians" since there have been or are problems in their respective regions. I have had Arunachal cops call em "Indian" and chide me saying that "this is not India", and I have heard the same with even senior bureaucrats in Mizoram, so am not surprised about the janta talking that way.
[/quote]
EXACTLY.
It is a grave situation, which our politicians just ignore conveniently, rather they have no time to attend this problem leaving their business in scam-clearing and all.
More Rallies from S. India is a remedy, to help creating oneness among downtrodden Indians...
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Old 13th November 2011, 00:09   #974
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So you think that except from S. India people else where in the country are working to breakup the nation. If anyone is doing so it is people like you who spew such garbage and doublespeak it does not matter which part of the country they come from. You want to create "oneness among downtrodden" take a look in the mirror and start from there, maybe then you might be worthy of being an Indian.

More Rallies from S. India is a remedy, to help creating oneness among downtrodden Indians...[/quote]
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Old 13th November 2011, 09:03   #975
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HVK Scorpio
Aug 12, Bombay-Behror, 1402 kms
Aug 13, Behror-Rampur, 692 kms
Aug 14, Rampur-Chitkul, 144 kms
Aug 15, Chitkul-Pooh, 207 kms
Aug 16, Pooh-Kaza, 178 kms
Aug 17-19, Kaza, 291 kms
Aug 20, Kaza-Jispa, 236 kms
Aug 21, Jispa-Leh, 374 kms
Aug 22, Leh-Kargil, 343 kms
Aug 23, Kargil-Padum, 248 kms


Aug 24, Padum-Kargil, 275 kms


CHAPTER 6 – Mission Sankoo ends, What a Relief, the drive from Sankoo to Kargil

CHAPTER 5 – Will we have to build a Samadhi for the HVK Scorpio in the Suru Valley?

CHAPTER 4 – The cars are feeling the pinch

CHAPTER 3 – Sleeping Check Post Policemen, White Glaciers & Maggi Noodles again

CHAPTER 2 – Yawn – and this is Karsha Gompa?

CHAPTER 1 – Happy Birthday, Anku – what present do you want today?

DEDICATION – To all 2WDs who are driven like they are 4WDs

I have personally never bothered about what car you go to in Ladakh. I have myself taken a Matiz there twice - that too when roads were far worse than they are today - and lot of our friends like rkbharat and Bharat Patel have taken sedans & smaller cars too.

Lot depends on the time-of-the year and driver skills and the level of travel circuit that you take. You may be a hard-core offroader but when you do a OTR you are closer to home and with a good support team along, but that is not the case with a trip in Ladakh. Therefore, even a expert OTRian like Jeep Captain was quite subdued when it came to going off the road during the trip. None of our SUVS - my SCorpio & Boleros of Jeep Captain & BolBolero - were 4WD, but all of them did well. You have to adapt different driving techniques in such terrain. Someone saw one of our videos and commented why I was going at such "high" speed over a landslide spot where I was virtually flying over the fallen boulders. But what they did not probably see was that in both the ascent to the landslide spot and the descent from it, there was lots of slush where only brute power could dredge the car through - before the weight of the car and the lack of power in the front wheels pulled it down into the muck. In places where there was only dry rock or water crossings without mud, the SUVs could take it nice and slow and navigate carefully around the stones simply because it had the power. This is where the smaller petrol cars had to gun it regardless of the stones that could have torn heir underbody - this was a irsk we had to take. Where we felt that the small car could not take it at such speeds, we simply decided to tow them carefully across.

Driving on roads like Kargil-Padum-Kargl extracts a heavy toll on any car. During my last drive in 2009 on this road, I broke 3 leaf springs in my SCorpio and also found the stabiliser rod come off! As I mentioned, during this trip, this road alone damaged the BolBolero Bolero suspension badly and my SCorpio was to also eventually suffer lots of damage. But one has to commend these hardy SUVs which carried 5 people in each and managed admirably. The Sumo & Xylo taxis that ply on this route are loaded even more and they too manage the terrain well.
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