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Old 8th March 2012, 17:33   #31
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Another Mega Travelogue in the making. It'll be great to see Gurez/Bandipora etc thru your log, not many have travelled these places.
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Old 8th March 2012, 17:55   #32
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Super pics !

Thanks so much for sharing this with us
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Old 8th March 2012, 20:16   #33
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

What a superb hair raising travelogue. Amazing pics to accompany it as well.

Thank you very much for sharing! Look forward to more.
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Old 8th March 2012, 20:28   #34
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Dear ADC Sahab,
Was waiting for a long time for this travelogue to come, when I came to know that you made this trip. Excellent pictures too. Please continue at your leisure and convenience.
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Old 8th March 2012, 21:04   #35
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Quote:
Originally Posted by adc View Post
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.
Hi,
As of now, with a SUV, would suggest Srirampur. Then if you are sure of your roads, turn right after Gossaigaon (the road to Fakiragram), and navigate your way to Kokrajhar and then to Bahalpur (NH31). Then Jogigopa and South Bank road.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 8th March 2012, 21:32   #36
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Amazing write up. You have taken the "Road not Taken". As always your pics are amazing. Bambi has become quite tall now.
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Old 8th March 2012, 23:52   #37
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

How do you even think of these roads and then research it ? truly amazing.
Hats off to you, your family and your trusted steed.

Thanks for treating us to an absolute gem
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Old 9th March 2012, 01:30   #38
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Bravo ADC!

Mighty Safari is the truck to drive to such hostile places.

Did you research about the current situation with regards to Terrorism before embarking on this journey?
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Old 9th March 2012, 07:24   #39
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

ADC Sir..what a travelogue. Thanks for sharing the beauty of such remote locations with us. The pictures of those roads are hair-raising and kudos to you on completing the journey with young family.
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Old 9th March 2012, 09:33   #40
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Just WOW !!!!!! What a travelogue !!!! We should do it as we don't get life a second time.... this awesome travelogue... Much appreciated for sharing this...
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Old 9th March 2012, 13:01   #41
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Simply put, one of the best travelogues out here. The distances, the destinations and the journeys, everything is gorgeous. Bravo Sir
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Old 9th March 2012, 13:57   #42
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Kisthwar - Chingam - Mughal Maidan - Chatroo - Sinthan Pass - Vailoo - Margan Pass - Inshan [Warwan valley]



People of Kisthwar can go to Srinagar through two routes

1. The most common route is the roundabout way and followed by 99% of the people till now. It goes through Doda and then connects back to the Jammu-Srinagar highway. This route is also the only way to go to Srinagar when the Sinthan Top [pass] closes down.

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2. Now this is the uncommon route but a much shorter route, because this road goes through desolate forest tracks and that includes so no backup for vehicle problems. Also no one ventures into this route in the night and it was very militant prone even till a couple of years or so. But again this being remote is the most scenic route

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The time taken by the longer route and the shorter route is more or less the same, since the remote route goes through hills and a pass and thus the average speed is much slower, while the longer route goes through good black topped roads roads and through towns and with traffic.


And of course this being an exploratory travel, we know which route to take, i.e., we are going towards Srinagar through the Sinthan Pass route.


Quote:
Kishtwar district situated amidst snow-capped mountains, emerald valleys, fruit orchards, whispering deodar and pine forests with their rich flora and fauna, gurgling streams meandering through lush green meadows, sprinkled with colorful natural wild flowers, create a grandeur that is hard to match.

The valleys of Chhatroo, Dachhan, Marwah, Paddar and Warwan in particular have an enchanting and mesmerizing natural beauty which has a great potential for adventure, pilgrimage, Eco, health, rural, cultural and film tourism. Unexplored and unexploited due to scarce road connectivity, these areas, having lush green forests, humming heights talking to the sky, green meadows and alpine pastures in the lap of high rising mountains where sight of neighing horses, bellowing cattle, bleating sheep and goats which have ascended from hot plains, display an absorbing view in summer months and remain under a white blanket of snow during the winter.

Source: Kishtwar-Ek Jannat




After a relaxing start next morning and thanking much to our hotel host, we start out from Kisthwar towards Srinagar which goes through virgin forested tracks most of the time.

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And as we leave Kisthwar surroundings, our progress is slow as we stop for short pauses to fill our senses of an beautiful land

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Quote:
Chingam is en-route to Kashmir, middway between Sinthan Top and Kishtwar/Chatroo. Chingam is most beautiful small valley picturesque spot, with lush evergreen forest surrounding the corners from Top to bottom hills merging into crystal clear river flowing at the foot. Chingam valley has amazing array of Terraced Paddy fields, can well remind of you famous Bali (Ubud). This is a must visit place. A number of small villages surrounding Chingam are deep embedded into forests, just awesome. Chingam is connected to Jammu via Kishtwar all around the year but Srinagar route shuts down in winter due to heavy.



At Chingam, a tourist hut is being constructed. These places are just being opened up for tourism after being much disturbed till even recently

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And the journey continued up towards Sinthan Pass/Top through virgin forested tracks
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And then we reached the most beautiful Mughal Maidan, amazing place with only couple of local tea stalls

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Quote:
Mughal Maidan

About 24 km from Kishtwar is named Mughal Maidan as it is claimed that Mughals had suffered heavy casualties at this place when they attacked Kishtwar via Synthan and Singhpora. One of the beautiful treks starts from here which go to Kashmir valley via Singhpora. It passes through at a height of 11,570 feet and culminates at Wello near Kokarnag. Mughal Maidan is situated on the bank of Chhatroo river. The slopes adjacent Mughal Maidan are full of thick forests which are rich in wild-life.
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Naturally a stop at such a place is a must, and we stopped for some tea and biscuits - our lunch for that day

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This area has just a couple of small tea shops where the few local Sumo drivers halt for those taking the no. 2 route, as they are going into some of the interior villages and as long as Sinthan top is open.


I read something that beautiful and most remote Warwan valley is somewhere after Sinthan pass but did not know the location or the route to take. I did ask a few localites about the remote village of Inshan and Warwan valley, but they also did not know and thus thought would inquire more about this place in Srinagar and then again come back for Warwan valley.


But what happened next was fantastic. The local driver [centre, cup in hand], knew about Inshan, said it would take at least 5-6 hours from and also the road through Margan pass is all gravel and desolate. Amazed all of them as they were seeing a West Bengal no. plate over here at this time in October, we too were much grateful to them for the exact information.

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Charged up we were now, very less time in hand we had to go to make the journey to Inshan, we cannot miss that whatever be the odd and out of the way it may be.


Thanks a lot for to the local Sumo driver for Inshan and Margan Pass info, just in time for another great detour to the unknown but not before some stops, who would not even though we were getting late now!
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And we reached Sinthan Pass, 83 km from Kisthwar, that took more than 5 hours of course taking into all the small breaks we had. Note also, how the road is blacktopped from Sinthan to Srinagar side but not from Kishthwar to Sinthan Top
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That said, and as said, people of Kisthwar do not take this route as being a forested track of a road, it takes much more time than the longer blacktopped route.

And still we were late as we are going for a major detour, not to Srinagar but to remote village of Inshan.


contd...

Last edited by adc : 9th March 2012 at 14:25.
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Old 9th March 2012, 16:06   #43
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Kisthwar - Chingam - Mughal Maidan - Chatroo - Sinthan Pass - Daksum/Vailoo - Margan Pass - Inshan [Warwan valley] --- contd...
Quote:

Sinthan Top or Pass:
- From Chingam onwards, we find an ascending road amidst zigzag road and forest cover; and we reach Synthen Maidan, 60 kilometers away from Kishtwar. 24 kilometers ahead of Sinthan maidan is the Sinthan Top at an altitude of 3784 meters from sea level. From Synthen top, the descending road leads to Daksum and then to Anantnag and Srinagar.

Distance from Sinthan Top towards Srinagar side in km Daksum 32, Vailoo 42 and Anantnag 72 km
As said, the road is macadamized or blacktopped from Sinthan to Srinagar side but not from Kisthwar to Sinthan Top which is more of a beaten gravel track.
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Quote:
The Sinthan Pass, at 12,450 ft., ignored as one of the barren passes until a few years ago, is all set to gain importance once the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for handing it over to a consortium is complete.


The ambitious project to bore a 5 km tunnel between Vailoo in South Kashmir and Singhpora in Kishtwar, once completed, will revolutionise road connectivity between the Kashmir Valley and the Doda region of Jammu.


The Pass closes soon after the first snowfall until April.


A traveller has to cover 290 km to reach Kishtwar via the Srinagar-Jammu highway, and the Srinagar-Sinthan-Kishtwar road reduces the distance by 200 km. Earthwork and two-laning have been completed from Batote to Chatroo on the Kishtwar side, but the middle stretch needs a lot more work.

Source: The Hindu : News / National : New road to bring Kashmir Valley, Doda region closer
Having spent some time on Sinthan Top, lovely and calm the surroundings are, not much time we could wait over here as there is that detour to Warwan valley that is at least 4 hours from here, it was already 2 pm here. We have to reach with at least by evening, we were not sure that there is a place to stay, at least no hotels are available that we were sure of, only hope was of finding and requesting the chowkidar of a still being constructed govt hut, that is doubles as a PWD to an FRH.



The road that we climbed while approaching Sinthan top
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And from Sinthan top the road becomes a wonderfully blacktopped, smooth and scenically curvy!

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For a perspective, again I resort to wikimapia since no gps. The orange line [Margan pass is crossed, that snow ridge] is what we are going to follow, leaving the yellow line at Daksum after Sinthan Top . The yellow line, NH1B, is regular route to Anantnag and Srinagar.
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One can take the turn even at Vailoo a few kms from Daksum. In summary, leave the main road at either at Vailoo or Daksum for the journey to remote Warwan and Inshan.




At Daksum, 32 km from Sinthan Top, we take the detour, as said by that local Sumo driver, for the village of Inshan, across a pass called Margan Top.
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contd..

Last edited by adc : 9th March 2012 at 16:35.
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Old 9th March 2012, 16:42   #44
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Incredible India, Incredible Passion, Incredible Expedition. Most of all, thanx for sharing your experience. Its so "Wow" much more than the Leh-Ladakh road trip I have experienced. Please let the Sharing go on.. and for many more wonderful trips!
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Old 9th March 2012, 21:12   #45
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

What can I say, overwhelmed we are even now by all the wonderful words. And of course, going through all the pics -reliving the travel experience again!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
Hi,
As of now, with a SUV, would suggest Srirampur.Regards
Sutripta
And so for going towards Tezpur [bypassing guwahati] directly from Siliguri, this route is a must by default?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Funda View Post
Bambi has become quite tall now.
He sure has! This does make me to go back to this flashback photo of October 2007, Bambi all of 2.5 years hardly up to headlights.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverado View Post
Did you research about the current situation with regards to Terrorism before embarking on this journey?
Nothing much - and after travel to disturbed areas whether maoist or these, I rely on the local drivers or the tea shops and then take a decision to go or not. Militancy was very much active even in the last couple of years in the interior Kishtwar and Warwan valley, as these are quite forested and of course remote. JK Govt is just about making quite an effort to promote these new areas of Kashmir as things have quietened down considerably.

Last edited by adc : 9th March 2012 at 21:32.
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