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Old 7th March 2012, 16:46   #16
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Superb travelogue as usual. You are becoming a legendary figure in East India and many people are enquiring about you. I proudly tell those guys that I happen to know you :-D
Wish you can go on traveling like this and get more funds from your projects for these travels.
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Old 7th March 2012, 16:47   #17
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Quote:
Some more of info of Khajjiar

Often called India's Switzerland, the exquisite glade of Khajjiar (1960m) has a circumference of about 5 km. Along its fringes, thick forests of deodar climb the slopes, the snow-line rests above these woods. At Khajjiar there is a 12th century temple dedicated to KhajjI Nag. Within the temple are life size wooden images of the five Pandav brothers.

ACCESS : Khajjiar is connected by road and is 23 km from Dalhousie and 26 km from Chamba. It is 520 km from Delhi. The closest railhead is at Pathankot, 120 km. The airport at Gaggal in Kangra is at a distance of 180 km. Taxis and buses are available from all these places.

CLIMATE : In winter, the temperature hovers around freezing point with snowfall and heavy woolens are required. In summer, the climate is mild and light woolens / cottons are recommended.
Amazing pastoral vistas. Great start to a travel!
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Khajjiar is highly recommended for paragliding
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And zorbing and pony rides are other activities, of course other than just walking and lazing around.
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Open spaces and fresh air -> happy and active children
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Quote:
Khajji Nag Temple: Khajjiar is famous for the popular Khajji Naga shrine dedicated to the serpent god from which the name is believed to have been derived. The temple dates back to the 10th century and is interspaced with different patterns and images on the ceiling and wooden posts. A curious blend of Hindu and Mughal styles of architecture is reflected in the wooden carvings on the ceilings and wooden posts. The image carvings are said to represent the Kauravas who were tied up here in the hideout by the Pandavas. The temple consists of a spacious congregation hall sufficiently enclosed by wooden supports. The dome-shaped shrine is made of slates locally extracted from limestone quarries. Adjoining are other shrines of Shiva and Hadimba goddess also. The age-old tradition of sacrificing a goat is still practiced outside the temple premises.
Khajji Nag Temple
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On 07-07-1992, Mr. Willy t. Blazer, Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India brought Khajjiar on the world tourism map by christening it "Mini Switzerland". He also put a sign board of a yellow Swiss hiking footpath showing Khajjiar's distance from the Swiss capital Berne-6194 kms. Khajjiar is among the 160 locations in the world that bear topographical resemblance with Switzerland. The Counselor also took from Khajjiar a stone which will form part of a stone collage around the Swiss Parliament to remind the visitors of Khajjiar as Mini Switzerland of India.
Khajjiar became one with the 160 places within the world that resemble the topography of Switzerland. Mr Blazer also erected a yellow Swiss hiking footpath signboard indicates the distance from the Swiss capital Berne up to Khajjiar as 6,194 km.
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HPTDC Hotel Devdar at one end of the meadow. PWD and FRH are also there.
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And this HPTDC cottage may be known as Bhoot Bangla[!], but nothing beats its location. A British era cottage residency situated at the opposite end of the meadow with dense forests behind. Never miss to stay in this place, if you can!



Fantastic Bhoot Bangla of HPTDC Khajjiar .

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contd...

Last edited by adc : 7th March 2012 at 16:50.
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Old 7th March 2012, 17:29   #18
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

We were on a strict budget due to the nature of this unknown travel, and such had to give a miss to the paraglidings [around Rs 2500 cost] or a stay in Bhoot Bangla.

However, as we drove in we did find a great budget hotel on a hillside, with a side view of the Khajjiar meadow. Clean and neat rooms and with the off-season October month we got a good discount too.
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And that inset is a copy of the "Switzerland certificate"
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Anyway, next day, October 5, 2011, after simple yet refreshing breakfast, we head off to catch some more moments of Khajjiar before we start the day's journey to Killar, Himachal across the most remote Sach Pass.

All fresh and ready for the day's experience and travel
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Early morning dew and nature
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and magical morning sun rays
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So after a brief few moments spent, we start our day's journey to Killar over Sach Pass
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contd...

Last edited by adc : 7th March 2012 at 17:31.
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Old 7th March 2012, 17:40   #19
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

adc saab,

Palpitations are bound to increase now that you have started writing the travelogue ! The 'chap rasta' video had started it all in December 2011 - had watched it when your travelogue was in the forum for a few hours.

Thanks for sharing. Please bring it on..

We too were in Ladakh region for 4 days ( October 12th to 15th ) though not as adventurous and daring as your exploratory expedition. It was our first drive to the region, but certainly not the last ! - its a different world out there, and man, its addicting ! Yes, the Raid de Himalaya rally was reason for delays on all the days we were there.


On our way back from Kargil to Srinagar, October 16th 2011, around noon, outskirts of srinagar, we watch this safari fly past us !

Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October 2011-saagar-se-shikhar-tak-part-2-1291.jpg

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Today, as I read your travelogue, I exclaim - Oh my, we have seen this safari !

Blame it on lack of TBHP stickers on both cars, we could have shared a big hug !

Atleast, I am content that such a great 'wanderer' overtook us !!
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Old 7th March 2012, 18:12   #20
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Oct 4, 2011, early morning we were now headed towards Killar or Killad of Himachal in Pangi valley. However to cross over from the Chamba valley side to Pangi valley one has to go via a dreaded and remote pass, called Sach Pass. And this more true consider the late season of October.


On towards to Pangi Valley via Sach Pass and we stopped frequently to just see around.
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And we come across this small temple where local people were handing over delicious prasads.
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And the journey continued; without a GPS and with no-one around, these signages were much helpful
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But not without a few stops as we left these lesser travelled places; more so in October
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Proper road ended soon enough and the track of a road began.
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Satrundi check post is where the most reliable last minute information about Sach Pass is asked and it really great relief to know that Sach Pass is just about open at this late season of October
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Soon the ascent to Sach pass becomes much more steeper and the terrain in October was brutal, but then nothing like a drive in a remote land.
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As said, Surja, an architecture buff and an impulsive poet, who accompanied till Zanskar, penned this few lines as we made up the rough track

Quote:
this bumpy ride shakes up my inside
but spreads peace on my soul
this wondrous form of earthly love
these glorious hills behold.

And then finally at Sach Pass, at around 3 pm on October 4, 2011 we were on Sach Pass.
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All through this journey we never came across another vehicle. Complete solitude and calmness. A customary visit to the temple on top of the Pass, we descended on towards Pangi Valley.
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Quote:
Pangi Valley

Full of grandeur and tribal majesty is the land locked valley of Pangi, 173 km from Chamba via Sach Pass (4414 m). It is one of the sub-division of Chamba district surrounded by the Peer Panjal & Zanskar ranges. Killar is the sub-divisional headquarter of Pangi Valley. The native Pangwals and Bhotis are robust, hardworking, handsome people who keep the valley’s unique culture alive in folk songs, music and tribal dances. Beyond the reach of tropical monsoon rains, the valley is one of the off-beat challenging tourism destinations in the State. Approach to the Pangi valley is across the high mountain passes like Sach, Chehni and Rohtang Pass. The Valley is remained land locked for about six months due to heavy snow fall.




Towards Pangi Valley now after Sach Pass, for a stop at Killar
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then around evening we descended on to the greenery of Pangi Valley towards Killar.
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Killar, the headquarters of the Pangi sub division, is situated in a deep and narrow gorge of the Chenab River in Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh.

By the time we reached it was already dark. After some asking around and being denied a stay in the PWD, soon learnt that the only hotel that is open in this off-season is the Chamunda Hotel. Plus it had a restaurant which doubled as a bar too!- made good use of it celebrating this great drive.

Killar is of importance since it serves as a transit point for people heading towards Keylong, thus joining again on to the Manali-Leh highway after Rhotang pass. But then we were not headed towards that side - tomorrow we will be taking a track/road that few go through, a road that militancy used to rule even till recent year, a track where you could get stuck for days, whether be it a vehicle problem or landslides.




contd...

Last edited by adc : 7th March 2012 at 18:16.
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Old 7th March 2012, 19:24   #21
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

October 5, 2011, is the day when this self-drive travel goes into exploratory expedition mode. We are entering the Kashmir valley, not through the usual routes like that of Jammu-Srinagar highway via Jawahar Tunnel or by crossing Zoji la from Leh towards Srinagar - but we are taking the forest and mountain track that connects Pangi Valley in Himachal to Paddar in Jammu and Kashmir.
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post2706312 (Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October 2011)

A brief idea about the location of Killar, Himachal and Kishtwar, JK can be had from the maps and Wikimapia from the previous post. Map routes will show a very round about road through Chamba to Jammu and then to Doda to go to Kishtwar. However, as said, we are taking the most remote route via Gulabgarh and Tyari to enter Jammu and Kashmir.


Lets go through the maps again to get an idea. Getting Idea or whatever would be of no help as for most part of the journey being in remote lands, no mobile connection works. And without a GPS, wikimapia is used.



Quote:
Killar, Himachal - Dharwas - Luj - Tyari - Sohal - Gulabgarh- Kisthwar, J&K

From Killar towards Kishtwar via Tyari
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Tyari to Gulabgarh
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Gulabgarh to Kishtwar
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Let us know more about Paddar now.


Quote:
History of Paddar

Paddar valley is the farthest corner of district Kishtwar on touching the Himachal Pradesh, Zanskar valley of Ladakh and Marwah-Wadwan Valley. On the South-Eastern side Paddar is known for sapphire deposits and other forest products like zeera and Guchhi. Although vast areas of the valley is under forest cover yet few villages are also known for producing green dry vegetables pulses such as Peas & Rajmash.

No concrete material is available about the early history of Paddar. However, it is said that there was no one in Paddar till 8th century. It was just a meadow. The people from nearby areas such as Bhaderwah, Lahol and Ladakh were attracted to see the fascinating grazing lands. So., they used to come here to graze their cattles. With the passage of time, they settled here permanently. Some historians say that it was known by the name ‘Palder’ in the beginning. Later the name was changed to Paddar.

Paddar is famously known for the Machail Yatra of Goddess Chandi. Maa chandi resides in the remotest corner of Paddar at an altitude of around 9500ft above sea level. It is a trek distance of around 30 kms on foot from the Gulabgarh Village. This is the last village connected by road.

source: Paddar

Beautiful sunny October morning start from Killar for Kishtwar at around 8:30 am
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And we paused often for beautiful vistas like this
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And we reach border police camp between Himachal, i.e., Pangi and Jammu Kashmir. Entry done, the policemen were pleasantly surprised to see travellers on a self-drive all the way from Kolkata on a fine winter morning. This road was militant prone till even recently
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From this check post we picked up a driver and his helper, as they Matador van broke down over here. They had to go to Tyari which is on the Kashmir side and was patiently waiting for a ride. Gladly gave them a lift and the journey continued hearing all the local stories.

Seen here one of the person with my friend
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Beyond that check post is the Sansari Nullah which actually marks the border between Himachal and Jammu & Kashmir
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Fantastic! Entering Kashmir through the most uncommon route, not from Jammu or Leh but from Pangi to Padar.
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Quote:
Pangi and Paddar though people in the two areas were one till 1836. It was in this year that Gen Zorawar Singh marched to Zanskar from Paddar and burnt the bridge over the Sansari Nullah thereby snapping the main communication link between Paddar and Pangi. Paddar became a block of the Kishtwar subdivision of Doda district and part of Jammu and Kashmir state while Pangi became part of Himachal Pradesh.
Seen here is the other driver whom we gave lift. Simple people, simple joys. Amazed were they that we had come out to here from Kolkata!
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And then we came to the Jammu & Kashmir side of the check post.
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The track climbs up and down as we go through virgin forests in this remote track. Not a single vehicle we have come across till now.
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The remote and lonely cliff edge, from beyond Tiyari towards Kisthwar, J&K
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That short video on first page, is for this journey from Killar to Kishtwar along the most uncommon route towards Kashmir valley.

It is no error part of the track! A mistake and you would fall down a gorge deep enough to make a call back home, of course if mobile signal would have been available in those parts. A host of "kaichis" or switchbacks and a 6-mt turning radius takes the Safari to end of the track.





As the cliff edge road continues, at a distance do see a birds, but wait they are vultures feeding on dead meat! With no vehicle on this remote road, they are on their leisurely afternoon meal
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And all that "uneasy" feeling gone, when clicked the majestic Himalayan Griffon Vulture.
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Soon we reached the small village of Tyari, Jammu and Kashmir
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Stopped at this small wayside grocery store whose owner doubles up as a photographer too!
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We dropped off the two localities whom we gave lift over here at Tyari and our journey continued along this uncommon route to Kisthwar, J&K
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contd...

Last edited by adc : 7th March 2012 at 19:53.
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Old 7th March 2012, 19:47   #22
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Absolutely mind-blowing pictures. Can't thank you enough for showing us the most remote & beautiful places of Kashmir/Himachal. That video from Killar to Kishtwar was a 'Killer' drive. Incredible that how you manage to find these places/routes. Hats off to you sirji. Truly inspiring. Eagerly waiting for the rest.
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Old 7th March 2012, 20:37   #23
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Quote:
Originally Posted by roamingrao View Post
On our way back from Kargil to Srinagar, October 16th 2011, around noon, outskirts of srinagar, we watch this safari fly past us !

Wow! what a coincidence - and to think that you clicked also.

I was indeed driving faster than usual - The "fly past" was due to the 30-hour driving of day-night-day from Padum to Srinagar at one stretch due to an almost kaput clutch spring. Tired I was too, after that long drive that made me lose way and go into all kinds of tracks in the middle of night in Zanskar.

And again, any travel is good travel whether big or small! There is no competition in travel and enjoying some good days and drive!






Quote:
Originally Posted by aviorp View Post
That video from Killar to Kishtwar was a 'Killer' drive.
That video more I see, the more I realize how close those turns were! But still this journey from Killar to Kisthwar is a must for all self-drive enthusiasts.

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Old 7th March 2012, 21:22   #24
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Arrow Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

ADC: Man O Man, You're the Man!!!

What a hair raising T log, wonderful pictures, maps and story, I am excited just to read the whole thing. To have done this family is one heck of an experience.

You have done two places I wanted to do, but failed to finish. Last year drove to Dharmshala - Dalhouse, drove up to Tisa - Nakrod and were stopped by police 23 kms before SAch pass due to a big land slide, we turned back. Year before that stopped at Rangdum on the way to Zanskar due to blocked Panzi La, I could at least do this through your posts.

Please keep posting what's left and thanks for starting this exciting thread.

--Ramky
========
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Old 7th March 2012, 21:55   #25
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Nice photographs and a good travelogue, of course.
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Old 7th March 2012, 22:22   #26
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

HI ADC,
Good to see you back in circulation.
What happened?

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 8th March 2012, 10:33   #27
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Fantastic travelogue and absolute treat for our eyes, when we see photographs here. Khajjar is like dream land with open vast grassland, pine trees, peaks at view and few houses in vicinity. I am imagining how would it feel staying is this beautiful place. Thanks for treating us.

I'm little confused, is this is same travel where you struck for 2 days in traffic jam (with engine running whole night for heater) while returning? If I remember this was also done in October.

Of course, you make so many travels, it is hard time for us to keep track.
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Old 8th March 2012, 11:09   #28
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
You have done two places I wanted to do, but failed to finish. Last year drove to ...--Ramky========
Thanks much, and surely do go through this route then next time! As I say again and again, this is an absolute fantastic self-drive journey for any driving enthusiast.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
Nice photographs and a good travelogue, of course.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
HI ADC,
Good to see you back in circulation.
What happened?

Regards
Sutripta
Nothing much, was absent from forum for sometime and with no writing coming up, determined to finish up all the pending travelogues!

If you would know, How is the upper road, i.e., the road through Alipurduar to Guwahati right now or still it is better to go through Cooch Behar and that huge jam at Bengal-Assam border.



Quote:
Originally Posted by anujmishra View Post
I'm little confused, is this is same travel where you struck for 2 days in traffic jam (with engine running whole night for heater) while returning? If I remember this was also done in October.
Khajjiar is fantastic. In fact the travel started with Khajjiar meadow in Himachal and ended with beautiful meadows in the unknown areas of Kashmir, and in between we had the ice and rocks of Zanskar!


That was in that October 2010, -> (Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10)Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" October 2010 and this travel was in October 2011.

Last edited by adc : 8th March 2012 at 11:19.
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Old 8th March 2012, 11:54   #29
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Quote:
Killar - Dharwas - Luj - Tyari - Sohal - Gulabgarh - Kisthwar contd...

And the journey continued along the cliff road towards Atholi and Gulabgarh, the two main villages of Paddar area
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As we neared Gulabagarh, came across some of the road widening works going and waited for 1 hour around here as the debris were cleared.

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And then again as we moved on, these remote vistas made this drive an absolute experience

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Gulabgarh ("Fort of Gulab") and its neighbor Atholi ("Eight Houses") lie on the confluence of the Bodnalla River, the "Buddhist stream" and Chandrabagah River, after which, the primary river-the Chenab-flows west and south into Pakistan to join the Indus.
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And still the journey continued

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Frequent pauses and stops, and it was around evening we reached the outskirts of Kisthwar, J&K.

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With no previous knowledge or booking of hotels, we asked as shop owner as we entered the town of Kisthwar, about a staying place and he pointed out that the central bus stand had quite a few of them.

As any central bus stand is in the most congested part of a city or town, asked something in the outskirts and he named a hotel near the parade ground.

Searched and was much helped by a localite who himself guided me in his vehicle to the hotel. We were overwhelmed!

Again a simple hotel but yet clean and spacious rooms, and a discount price, and we all reminisced about the great day's journey as we retired for the day.


contd...


PS: It's time to get up. It's time for a Bullet ride and Holi riot, great combination. Happy holi! Posting again later.

Last edited by adc : 8th March 2012 at 12:02.
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Old 8th March 2012, 16:28   #30
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

ADC and family just never cease to amaze me. And I am sure scores of TBHP-ians will back me up when I say that ADC & Co's four-year tryst with the Tata Safari has been far more rewarding for us than perhaps it has been even for them! What wanderlust and exemplary courage to pull this off—every six months.

And the pictures and the narrative(s) are as captivating as them. The video of the Safari's ride on the No-Error Road is hair-rasing and awe-inspiring.

Thanks ADC, Asmita and Bamba—for giving us so much, time and again. All the very best to this terrific troika and many, many more travels for them—for really, it will be us enjoying those travels far more than them!

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