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Old 9th March 2012, 22:55   #46
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Wadwan/Warwan Valley of Kishtwar: From Daksum to Wadwan valley is another 45 kms through Margan Top/Pass. Inshan in the main village of Warwan and that's where we were headed to
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Quote:
From Nowapachi onwards, the bridal path towards Warwan ascends through dense forest, thick plantation and lush green pastures. Horse riding is enjoyed by many on this path as its plain and suitable for such ride. After traveling a distance of about 24 kms we reach Dassbal, a village better called 'The Gate way of Warwan Valley', at an altitude of more than 7000ft from sea level. The village is inhabited with Shia Muslims who have migrated to this place from Zanskar area of Kargil district. They have their own customs and traditions, quite in contrast to the majority Sunni Muslims of Warwan valley. 6 kms. ahead of Dassbal is Inshan, the headquarter of Warwan block.


About the verdant and the smiling valley of Warwan words fails me to describe its natural beauty. In fact Warwan valley surpasses all other beautiful places located in this tourists circuit. The 15-20 kms stretch of Warwan valley from Inshan to Sukhnai is plain with lush green meadows on either side of the river 'Mariv Sudir', which meanders through the valley in a zig-zag manner, forming beautiful natural parks where tourists can pitch their tents during summer months and enjoy their stay in the serene, cool, soothing and pollution free atmosphere.

The famous mountain peaks of 'Nun' and 'Khun', 7135 mtrs and 7877 mtrs high respectively, can be reached easily from tthe Sukhnai village of warwan by crossing 'Lanwilla' pass. From Inshan the ascending motor able road leads us to Margan top at a height of 4470 mtrs above sea level and thence from the descending road takes us to Anantnag in the Kashmir valley.

Source: Kishtwar-Ek Jannat: Warwan




As we leave the main road and take the turn at Daksum, we soon go through some small rural Kashmiri village.
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And soon the last of the villages go by as we take the track towards Margan Pass, all gravel it is now
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Beautiful hills, meadows, and whatnot. This track towards Warwan valley is one of the most scenic places that i have seen

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But we cannot halt much as it is still 3 hours journey, plus Margan pass has to be crossed and before dark we have to reach Inshan - remember we have to find out a place to stay for the night - there is no homestay even, leave alone a private hotel

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We catch up with a local Sumo, localities travel from Daksum to Inshan by the very few Sumo taxis [2 or 3 a day] that are available.

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The track slowly and surely becomes a steep incline as we approach Margan pass

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And it becomes rocky too

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Finally we approach and cross Margan pass
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Now we are towardsWarwan Valley, headed towards Inshan, the main village of the valley
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Owing to its strategic position and remoteness, the picturesque valley of Warwan has been very important to militants as well as the Indian Army, and even till very recently was totally out of bounds for even people from Kashmir

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JK govt is slowly building infrastructure for tourism out here, but the PWD signboards have come up first rather than the actual road!

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Most of the pics taken while going was from the vehicle itself, since as much as we wanted to stop we had to go to Inshan by at least some sunlight to search for the chowkidar of the govt hut, request a night stay, that doubles up as anything from a PWD to a FRH


As we enter Inshan of Warwan valley, it is late evening

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Just in time we located Abdul Rehman, the chowkidar of the govt hut. This FRH hut was inaugurated just some 4 months back by Dr Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of JK, and was still being made though the interiors were done.


What followed next was an quite interesting conversation with Mr Rehman, we pleading to let us stay, that we did not have permission as we did not even know that there is no place to stay, and Mr Rehman rightly saying that he has been strictly ordered by DFO Kisthwar that no one should be allowed in without their permission.

And he was right to deny us, since these remote areas are just opening up and there have been no travellers for the last 20-30 years or so.

But again, here comes hospitality from the most common local person that we had encountered all through this travel. He does allow us to stay, seeing how much we have come from Kolkata just to visit Warwan, to know more about this land and people, where even Srinagar citizens do not travel . Finally thus we got a place to stay overnight and thus narrowly missed the ultimate option i.e. of staying overnight in the Safari itself!


Tired we were but again a superb journey. We have successfully reached Inshan, Warwan Valley, a place where there have been no tourists for the last 2 decades. We have gone through some of most beautiful valley I have ever seen. The only regret I had that could not stop much while going towards Inshan, but anyway since the route going back is the same way, would be exploring it much tomorrow.



As night fell, in candle light we retire for the day and what a day of stupendous travel it was!

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And this image reminds of our night in the remote Changthang village of Koyoul, near Indo-Tibet border of Demchok, just a year back, in October 2010 [ Ladakh and Changthang travel ] (Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10).
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As said, Chief Minister of J&K inaugurated this place just 4 months back, and we inaugurated it by staying in it for travellers and tourists! And tomorrow we do intend to roam around Warwan to its maximum and meet the people of this wonderful land, a place that is just opening up to outside world healing its bitter wounds and past.

Last edited by adc : 9th March 2012 at 23:16.
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Old 10th March 2012, 00:28   #47
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Brilliant Travelogue & great pics, thanks for sharing

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Originally Posted by adc View Post
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.

That video looks sary, btw how did you shoot this? I see that video was taken from driver side, who was holding the camera?
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Old 10th March 2012, 00:35   #48
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

I like driving to places myself, but people always kept telling me, once you are married you cannot. Now they keep telling once you have kids you cannot. Know what everytime someone tells me, that I cannot drive with Kids, I refer to you as an example. One can travel with kids, just that you need to be prepared for it.
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Old 10th March 2012, 03:03   #49
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

ADC sir, I take my hats off to your passion for exploring places untouched.
There is not a travelouge you have written that has failed to inspired me.

There is so much to learn from your journeys, they are epics.
And all credits to such a wonderful family you have that can take any treacherous journey with such ease and patience.
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Old 10th March 2012, 10:25   #50
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

ADC, now this is outstanding too. Having read you Ladakh and Changthang Log, have high hopes from this log as well and I know that you are going to live up to it.

Marvelous is the word.

Also can you give a bit about the position of your safari before the start of trip. About the tyres, engine,etc.
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Old 10th March 2012, 11:39   #51
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Stunning! and inspiring

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 10th March 2012, 11:42   #52
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Spellbound & speechless.

You & only you can do this kind of exploration to unknown places. No words can express my true feelings. Keep up the spirit. Each & every travelogue of yours is an epic. Eagerly waiting for the next installment.

By the way, the video is really scary.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10th March 2012, 16:59   #53
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Your travelogues are like watching horror movies

Still its afresh in my mind...you getting stuck for 18 hrs or so with your wife and kid in your Oct'10 adventurous trip

I salute your courage in doing such isolated places at odd times without bothering too much & just enjoying whatever it throws. And no words to add doing such trails with your family

Terrific

Read elsewhere that Courage is not lack of fear, but not listening to it. How did you felt while driving on those roads? Are you in a relaxed state having usual conversation with your family?

My first thought looking at those roads were......what if, a heavy vehicle on opposite direction???
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Old 10th March 2012, 20:19   #54
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Quote:
Originally Posted by adc View Post
And so for going towards Tezpur [bypassing guwahati] directly from Siliguri, this route is a must by default?
No. Then I suggest sticking to the North Bank Route. ie. Srirampur - Rakhaldubi - Rangiya - Baihata Charali - Tezpur. (Mind you, the fact that you are driving a Safari is factored in. Would not be the suggestion if you were driving a hatchback. Also not factoring in your need for a nightstop.)

Incidentally, Google Maps seems to have revamped Assam. It is no longer the work of fiction it once was. However, they have removed most of the minor roads.

Regards
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Old 11th March 2012, 11:53   #55
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

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WARWAN - is a beautiful valley adjoining Dachhan. It spreads from villages Hanzi and Inshan. The valley has good spots like Tuiller, Nopachi, Marwah, Tata Pani, Dashbal and Inshan and it is connected with Kashmir via Margan top (13,000 feet) which leads to village Inshan and also a track that also goes to Pahalgam. These areas are rich in trout fish, having unique rainbow colour, each weighing 2kgs. to 6 kgs. Nopachi could serve as a base camp for expeditions to Nunkun via Tata Pani which has a hot water spring and is good to have bath in sulpher containing water for skin diseases and rheumatic pains. Marwah river passes just in the centre of the valley, which otherwise contains meadows. These meadows are used for grazing the cattle by nomadic Bakarwals.

Source: http://doda.nic.in/tourist/kishtwar.htm
Quote:
Lost quite a bit of pics as most probably did a overwrite on one of the SD card, and thus lost most of the pics while a return back. Most of pics are either low resolution or are from my friend, Surja.



A night of rest and early morning eagerly get out to have a look around, as last night reached late evening. But alas, the weather was cloudy and drizzling, it has changed dramatically overnight.
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Early morning, Army men from nearby camp come up to us. Having seen a vehicle from a distance, they just came to inquire.
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And soon enough we get into general talk and humour
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and a pose too...
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Army and civilian relations are quite good here now, conditions are peaceful here now after 3 decades of militancy. Army is also involved in activities like a establishing a hydel project and health camps in this remote land.
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On the net, while researching now for writing, found out this wonderful fictional book, based on the Warwan valley.
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Quote:
Folks who've read American army novels about teams like Delta Force or Navy Seals would have noticed they're often about the weapons and the technical wizadry of those units. The Seige of Warwan thankfully, doesn't really go that way.

It's more about people, about lives, emotions, decisions. It's about circumstances, that force different people in different directions. There's action all right, generous dollops of it. But it never swamps the brooding sadness of an achingly beautiful Kashmir.

The Siege of Warwan is an accessible novel, one that isn't jingoistic, one that everyone could love. And that, perhaps, is its biggest strength.

Source: 'Siege of Warwan' a lot like 'Mills & Boon' - Books - Book Reviews - ibnlive
The weather out here getting worse and that means Margan Top will have snow and this being a PWD road, this Warwan valley and Inshan side will be remain cut off till the snow again melts, which means anything like 2-3 days to a week.


Even the 2 local Sumos head off towards Daksum before the pass closes down.
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With muddy tracks, with a 2wd drive, and the caution looming that the pass may close down if weather further deteriorates, our plan of staying here for another day had to be cancelled. We too pack our bags in a hurry. But not before some good words in the new visitor book with a pierre cardin pen. It had a few official entries but the first tourist entry comes from us.

Abdul Rehman with the visitor register.
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And a few words of appreciation that comes so naturally after visiting such a wonderful land and its people

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So, it's time to move out of Inshan and Warwan Valley, and thanks much to the people of this wonderful valley all the hospitality. We will be back here again surely.

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And soon the last vistas of Warwan valley as we again climb up to Margan Pass. With drizzling the track was getting muddy now and which would much more up as we gain height.
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And slowly and surely the valley was swathed with a snow cover as we made up the muddy incline with a 2wd, slipping here and there a couple of times.
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Once again on our way out we are on Margan top, just the weather was becoming worse by the hour.

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And of course a stop at Margan top for getting some roaming around

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As in any other pass, once the height is crossed, the other side is as sunny as any beautiful Kashmir valley is

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And soon we reached the main road from where we took a diversion towards Marwah and Warwan valley

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And not before a stop here and there
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As said, most of the pics due to overwrite of SD card and thus a few pics of valley around Kokernag are missing too. Reached Srinagar comfortably around late afternoon after a great lunch at JKTDC restaurant en route. A little search and found out a very decent guest house near Badami Bagh Canntt. with own parking as well as having a tyre and alignment shop attached to it! Again clean comfortable rooms and a decent discount, Srinagar is where we stay for a day before we head off to Zanskar

Last edited by adc : 11th March 2012 at 12:22.
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Old 11th March 2012, 13:36   #56
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

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Originally Posted by Technocrat View Post
That video looks scary, btw how did you shoot this? I see that video was taken from driver side, who was holding the camera?
That I would not go into, that would be controversial.

We [ Happy wheels and me ] had a very decent understanding conversation during our spiti loop travel on page 2 and http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post1025304 (Safari Dicor 2.2 VTT-TMT Grand One-Year Ownership Travelogue [Kinnaur-Spiti-Lahaul]) - but again as i say, this method of what may be inferred is best avoided and absolutely not to be encouraged or done.


.


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Originally Posted by Funda View Post
I like driving to places myself, but people always kept telling me, once you are married you cannot. Now they keep telling once you have kids you cannot. Know what everytime someone tells me, that I cannot drive with Kids, I refer to you as an example. One can travel with kids, just that you need to be prepared for it.
The simple thing has to be is that everyone should enjoy the travel, it not just that I am enjoying the drive or the place, we all, including our son, in each and every travel look forward to each and every day's experience with all the eagerness.



Quote:
Originally Posted by pushkark View Post
Also can you give a bit about the position of your safari before the start of trip. About the tyres, engine,etc.
Safari VTT-TMT is around 80k km and of that around 70k km was clocked on travel itself - and the only and only purpose of buying this vehicle.

As for the dents here or a footboard bend that you may see, just like in Cars2, Mater never has his dents that he has earned buffed out - some of the scars can be remembrances of challenges conquered and are thus there. Of course the main reason is also that the cost that will be incurred on fixing is best utilized on another travel! The VTT was bought for travel and just travel and as such all aesthetics and snow-powder and cosmetic stuff have taken a backseat.

As of now, this Safari VTT-TMT, one of the first batch vehicle, bought just around a couple of days after it was launched, is in the best of condition as it can be for a intensely travelled touring vehicle in all type of terrains for the last of 4.5 years.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Surprise View Post
. How did you felt while driving on those roads? Are you in a relaxed state having usual conversation with your family?
We are absolutely as relaxed just as any car family rides and a whole lot of animated conversations take place, with an active child and even after when he is sleeping, a lot of conversations do take place.

Have some interesting videos of all the activities that take, will post it when able, there are some laughable and memorable moments in there.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Surprise View Post
My first thought looking at those roads were......what if, a heavy vehicle on opposite direction???
I just don't think so much, and that does help in many of the critical situations! Anyway that brash words aside, for any of us driving when are in such a situation, things fall into place and a solution comes out in each and every occasion. Either you backup like or that person will backup, panicking never helps here or everywhere.

One thing I say for hill driving, when friends ask, can you go backwards for a let say a half km even seeing your wing mirrors, and not the incabin rear view mirror. A very basic test but this thing must come to you naturally, particularly if are just one-car team [and thus no one to guide or mark your position from outside] on a hill travel


But the scariest back up has been at Zojila Pass at 3 am night, full snowbound for 36 hours and we are backing up an ice incline as there was a truck heading towards us and it was slipping on ice and hurtling downwards for a frontal collision.

Things have somehow been okay with us till now!

Last edited by adc : 11th March 2012 at 14:06.
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Old 11th March 2012, 16:10   #57
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The simple thing has to be is that everyone should enjoy the travel, it not just that I am enjoying the drive or the place, we all, including our son, in each and every travel look forward to each and every day's experience with all the eagerness.
Well said. That's what I believe in, too. At first my wife was reluctant about road trips, until she went on the first road trip with me to B'lore. Now she looks forward to road trips just like me. Hopefully my kids do the same one day. Am glued to your thread. Keep them coming. Discovering places less traveled has its own charm. the experience is very unique, very different from what anyone else would have experienced in a similar place. I have read almost all your threads, each of them is better than the rest.
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Old 11th March 2012, 22:46   #58
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Srinagar - Sonmarg - Zoji la - Kargil - Sankoo


8th of October, 2011 is spent in Srinagar itself. This was our first proper rest after all the overnight travels and spending the night days in remote areas.

The clutch pedal after all this journey was not getting up. I had a talk with Harsh about Sach Pass and the road beyond, and on talking he directed me to have a talk with Tanveer. Most probably the reason Tanveer said was due to that the oil has become hygroscopic and told me to repeatedly press the pedal after starting the vehicle and keeping the oil filter cap open so that air goes out. That did help and we continued all through Sach pass, Margan pass, and of course now back to Srinagar.

Early morning on 8th, I left for the National Garage workshop on bypass and on seeing the clutch pedal coming up slowly, they just adjusted and tightened the clutch pedal screw or something and everything was okay. Though Tanveer told me to check it up on hill drive towards Gulmarg and should have followed that, I head off towards the guest house for the day's rest as it was already afternoon and frankly very hungry too! So in that condition we head off towards Zanskar, hoping that clutch thing is okay. And more about that latter.





On October 9, 20011, early clear and bright morning we head off towards Sonmarg and Zojila
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Reached Sonmarg quickly and learned that only after 11 pm they are going to allow traffic from this side.
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Great weather even in 2nd week of October and everyone making good use of the winter sun warmth

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While away some time at Sonmarg and again at 11 am started our journey towards Zoji la and beyond. Zoji la was what a contrast from that our Ladakh drive when we were returning around last week of October, that 36-hour stuck ordeal. Clean super weather, the best one can have at this time of "off-season" October

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And contrast that to our Zoji la experience during 2010 last week of October where we got stuck badly for 36 hours or so (Self-Drive Expedition Travel-Ladakh and cold desert Changthang in "off-season" Oct 10)- .

Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October 2011-img_7876.jpg

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We were making great progress and by 11:45 we have gone down Zojila but again we got stuck again before Kargil due to this landslide
Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October 2011-img_7743.jpg

We skipped the War memorial at Drass as we had been there on our last year Ladakh trip.


We had planned to go till maximum into Suru Valley of Zanskar [intended stop was attempting Panikhar and thus not stay in Kargil but due to all the late start from Sonmarg check post and the landslide, it was only by 6 pm we are Kargil petrol pump to tank up.
Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October 2011-img_7745.jpg



Soon it was dark, we had no intention of staying at Kargil and so in the empty cold winter night we drove on with a intention of still making it to Panikhar and finding the JKTDC chowkidar for a place to stay.


I called up Kshil, a great travel buff himself, and he very correctly advised me to stay in Sankoo JKTDC as the chowkidar lives in that same complex, rather than at Panikhar where we will have to go in search of him as he was some way off of the rest house.


The JKTDC rest house is just beside the PWD rest house at Sankoo. We drove up there and found the chowkidar named Hassan. It was completely empty, no one comes to Zanskar in 2nd week of October.

Got rooms for an incredible rate of Rs 200, a night! Sankoo JKTDC has around 4 simple but nice bedrooms


Hassan said that we should go down to Sankoo and finish dinner before the single eatery closes down and it was already 7:30 pm.

We found the restaurant just in time before closing down, they could only serve rice and eggs for dinner. That was enough for us!



The hotel owner was very friendly and we talked about a myriad of things from roads, to weather to their ways of life. The owner also doubles up as a egg wholesaler for the tiny village of Sankoo, Zanskar.

Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October 2011-img_7747.jpg


And Asmita and Bambi spent the night inside, I went out for some night shot, but soon enough came in - it was now quite cold -temperatures were now around 2-3 outside.
Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October 2011-img_7765.jpg

Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October 2011-img_7770.jpg



All in all, it was a great day's ride. We did not want to stop at Kargil and thus the objective of straightaway entering to Suru Valley of Zanskar was achieved. From tomorrow we explore Zanskar in the month of October, the last window for any travel to these mountain areas.


contd...

Last edited by adc : 11th March 2012 at 23:08.
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Old 11th March 2012, 23:21   #59
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

The last picture. Safari in moonlight is amazing. Am sure Tata Guys would want it for an Ad Lovely capture of the beast.
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Old 12th March 2012, 00:21   #60
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Default Re: Self-Drive Exploratory Expedition->Zanskar+Unknown Kashmir-> "off-season October

Quote:
Originally Posted by Technocrat View Post
Brilliant Travelogue & great pics, thanks for sharing



That video looks sary, btw how did you shoot this? I see that video was taken from driver side, who was holding the camera?
As far my knowledge goes with Anirban this driver normally uses his right hand other than driving sometimes and his partner in left seat supplies his tool (Still/SLR or Video Camera).

Sorry ADC for spilling the beans.
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