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Old 9th July 2012, 15:29   #31
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Default Re: A journey through Leh & Ladakh – Barren beauty at its best

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
Awesome TL, the pictures do most of the talking and the running commentary is like cherry on the cake.

Did any of you felt altitude sickness or heaviness in the head? How did the beast performed? I did not see any mention of any problem that you faced so assuming it came out in flying colors.
Mayank - Thank you for your comments

I think I did feel a bit of altitude sickness at Pangong, though not sure if it was because of the altitude. The day we were going to leave Spangmik, I had a headache in the morning which continued throughout the day (for no reason at all). Next day it was a bit better, though not completely gone. It was only when we were somewhere near the More Plains that I felt much better. Other than that, no major issues. But lack of breath is something which you will definetely realise - try walking around, or climbing even a decently mild slope and you will be panting soon.

The Beast performed really well through out the trip. However, the day we were going to leave Tso Kar, the Beast refused to start. I guess it was because of the cold weather (it was very very cold that morning and to add that to that the winds were extremely chilly). Cranked a couple of times, but it refused to start. Only after about 15-20mins did it crank up with black smoke being emitted continuously. After we drove for about 15-20mins, the engine was back to life.

However, you will definetely face power loss at such high altitude. It was difficult for the Beast to climb certain slopes even on 1st gear. But this is normal so no complaints. Other than this, the Beast performed extra-ordinarily.

Roy - Thank you for your comments. You are most welcome to ask me anything, and I will help you as best as I can. Trust me there are more experienced people on this forum who can answer your questions much better than me.
And by the way, what was the hilarious thing on the spreadsheet? The toilet paper, soap, deo thing? I suddenly thought I might have posted some wrong file.
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Old 9th July 2012, 19:17   #32
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June 25th
This day we were going to try and reach Manali. Woke up on time, packed our stuff, freshened up, and we were ready to proceed at 7am.

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Thats me waiting for the car to start

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Santanu waiting too

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Early morning view from the Camp

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Another early morning view from the camp. It was cloudy all around. And there were snow flakes falling on us.

Shammi and gang decided to visit the lake first and then move on. We decided to proceed straight anyway, since we had gone to the lake the day before. It was very cold in the morning and above all there was strong chilly wind. The Beast refused to start. Realised that its too cold outside. Cranked a couple of times, but the engine refused to continue idling. Soon after starting, it started coughing up and stopped. After about 15mins or so, the engine finally came to life. We let it idle for another 10mins, and then proceeded. The road towards Debring was smooth, but with a lot of uneven surfaces. I don’t know how many times we were jumping up in the air and almost scraping the car bottom. It started drizzling also, and there were snow flakes (they call flurry) descending on us. On the way, about 8-10kms out of Tso Kar village, we saw a camp in the middle of nowhere. It was most likely a tourist camp. One had to take the dirt track to reach the camp. It was in quite a beautiful setting.

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View on way from Tso Kar towards Debring.

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Flat stretches all around

Soon we reached the More Plains which was an absolute joy to drive. They have laid tarmac on the entire stretch, with minor deviations once in a while. Out here we decided to use the last 20ltrs of extra fuel for refilling. Though we were certain that we would have reached Manali with a full tank, we just did not want to take the risk. We decided we will buy some extra fuel at Pang. Lots of photography done on the way.

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More Plains now laid with tarmac - had heard that this was a dirt track, but unfortunately none of it exists anymore

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Camera strap flying away

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Clouds had gathered on More Plains. You could actually make out that it must be snowing on top of the mountain ranges around.

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Beautiful roads to drive on. Just sit, relax and enjoy the beauty

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Man and the machine

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A single shot

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I had finally reached this place I used to dream of

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The sky had turned amazing with blues, and grays and blacks

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Side view of the dirt tracks. By the way, I did notice a lot of dirt track which means people have been using them and not the tarmac, once in a while.

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Soon we were passing my a gorge. It was a sight to behold

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The gorge. I can pass of this picture as that of the Grand Canyon!

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Another view of the gorge

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We had to take photos here

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More single shots

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On way to Pang. Beautiful views. What more can I say?

We reached Pang at about 10am I think. Had bread and omlette for breakfast. There we bought about 15lts of diesel from a shopkeeper who had got it from GREF. We decided not to use the fuel, unless extreme emergency arises, since we had heard about such fuel being adulterated.

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Pang army base. I think this is their fuel depot. Lots and lots of tankers, and fuel barrels all around.

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We halted here for breakfast.

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The shop where we bought the extra diesel. Charged me 750 buks for about 15ltrs

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Pang - pretty high

We proceeded towards the first pass thereon, which was Lachung La Pass, and then proceeded towards Naki La Pass. The climb up these passes were difficult, but not as much as we had encountered earlier. On the way, we also came across the Tata Motors Full Throttle team which was conducting the Himalayan Experience expedition. It was a group of almost 20 to 30 Tata Safari’s and Aria’s.

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Cross this bridge right after Pang

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Climb towards Lachung La

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Roads towards Lachung La (average to bad)

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Gaping holde in the rock face. As per SS Traveller's log, it may have been carved by wind

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Roads towards Lachung La again
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Old 9th July 2012, 19:31   #33
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Another view of the gaping hole

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Still climbing - see that bridge we just crossed?

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The views were amazing.

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Almost reached Lachung La

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Ok. Reached Lachung La. Done

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On way down from Lachung La. Average roads

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Heading to Naki La. It was close by. The distance between these two passes is not much. Cover both in an hour's time.

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Heading to Naki La - drivers view

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Still proceeding

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Reached Naki La

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Naki La it is!

Soon after Naki La, the Gata Loop starts
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Gata Loops ahead

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Heading to plains

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Look at the landscape. You can only dream of it.

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Still descending to the plains

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Gata loop starts

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Close up shot of the stone

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Gata loops down there. There are a lot of shortcuts between loops through dirt track. I did not dare as they looked quite steep.

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Another view of the Gata Loop

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View of the stream flowing below the Gata Loop

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Gata loop ends

We reached Sarchu by about 1pm I guess.

After that we approached Baralacha La which was quite a smooth sailing. We encountered a lot of snow and snowfall near the top. The beauty of this place was much more mesmerizing than all the other passes that we had crossed until then. About 5kms before the top, we had stopped for some tea and refreshments.

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Heading to Baralacha La. This pass and the drive towards it was the most beautiful among all the passes. It was not a trecherous climb at all.

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Plains. But wait, lots of ups and downs on this road. And lots of diversions on and off through dirt.

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Twing Twing what? Was it a nallah that had to be crossed earlier without the bridge?

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Roads towards Baralacha - initially rough, but smooth later

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Roads again

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Roads again. Pretty bad at some stretches

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Another weal bridge to cross

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Bad roads on the initial climb

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It was snowing lightly. We had to stop
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Old 9th July 2012, 19:46   #34
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Default Re: A journey through Leh & Ladakh – Barren beauty at its best

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Beautiful views around with snow flakes falling. And with the weather being cloudy, it was even more beautiful

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Had to take a picture of myself

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Road conditions again

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Looked scary. But it was adventure

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Still climbing

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Carpet of snow around baralacha la

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beautiful sight all around. Trust me it was the best of all the passes.

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Good roads towards the top

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Another view of the road

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Streams to cross

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Baralacha la covered with snow

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Finally reached Baralacha La

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Me and Santanu celebrating

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Single shot of me

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The Beast enjoying the weather

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Lake ahead

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Good roads while descending

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Frozen lake

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Cloudy weather, drizzling, flurry, and roads layered with melting snow. What a beauty it was.

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The lake looked lovely from afar

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It was called the Suraj Tal

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Suraj Tal...here it is

Right after crossing Baralacha, there was a stream over which a bridge had been built. There was a truck which had got stranded on the bridge, and the bridge had collapsed partially. We saw a dumper trying to pull the truck out. This must have happened about 30mins before we reached since the traffic from Sarchu side was not too long. The stream below the bridge was flowing very rapidly. Saw a truck stranded on the stream. I was having thoughts about crossing the stream in the Safari but was a little scared. Saw army men trying to get the truck out of the bridge. I knew this would take a long time. Immediately saw a Bolero pick up truck cross the stream with full throttle so as not to get stuck. No one else was daring to get onto the stream. I knew the 4 Low gear would definitely help. I slowly approached the stream. Some local driver told me to keep momentum. And so I did. Moved into 4 Low second gear and gently crossed the stream. I realized that the water level was quite high since water splashed all across the windscreen. We were so excited that we did not capture this on camera or video. But that was the most difficult water crossing that I made through on the entire trip.

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Image of the dumper trying to take out the truck. This was from the other side of the bridge after we had crossed the stream.

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Raging stream. Not the one we crossed earlier

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More streams

After Baralacha La, we crossed a lot of small villages, including Jispa and Keylong. It was about 4:30pm or so by then. We decided that we would hit Tandi and enquire if Rohtang Pass could be crossed at that time. If we got negative answers, we always had the option of going back a few kilometers for the night halt. We reached Tandi at exactly 5pm and refueled.

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Moving towards Tandi

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Towards Tandi - good roads all the way

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Beautiful waterfalls

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Lots of twists and turns on the road

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It was getting cloudy and the sun was going to set soon
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Old 9th July 2012, 20:00   #35
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A journey through Leh & Ladakh – Barren beauty at its best-89-good-roads-initially.jpg
Good roads

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Some bridge again

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Another stream we had to cross

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Reached Tandi

Enquired with two local taxi drivers at Tandi petrol pump about the route condition. They said it would take about 2 hours to reach the top. And another 2 hours to reach Manali. The uphill climb was supposed to be really bad as per them. And they also mentioned that there would not be any traffic jams at that time. Since there was no uphill traffic that time, I was a bit hesitant to try the ascent. But then after deliberating with Santanu and Bro-in-law, we decided to go for it. And so started the climb. The beauty of climbing Rohtang Pass from Tandi side is really amazing. Lots of waterfalls all around, greenery and generally the atmosphere was very lively (unlike the barren mountains we got used to all this while). But the road conditions were really really bad. At one point during the climb, there was a cut. A road was going straight up, and another road was towards the right which was snaking its way up. We were confused about which route to take to the top. And on top of that there was no one to ask for directions. There was not a single vehicle around us. Luckily we spotted a truck higher up which definetely would have taken the snaking route and we were sure it had to be heading to Manali. So we followed that route and realised that we were on the right track.
Closer to the top, we came across tarmac roads. We finally reached the top by about 6:30pm or so. There was very little crowd on the Rohtang Top at that time (though not completely empty). And luckily no traffic jams. None of us liked Rohtang Pass. The snow was all black with dirt and pollution. Lots of slush. Lots of car exhaust fumes. It was quite horrible. We refused to stop even for a photoshoot.

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Scenic drive with lots of greenery around and lots of waterfalls could be seen all around

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Beautiful waterfalls - we actually came much closer to them while climbing up

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Good roads initially, which turned bad very soon. It became a tough climb thereon with steep slopes and acute turns

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Bad roads, mud and slush all around.

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We followed the truck quite a long distance. Roads were narrow, so the truck helped us in making way against oncoming traffic

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Good roads towards the top again

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Amazing views.

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Driving through the clouds

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Thats Rohtang Top. Crowded, black snow, slush, cacophony, traffic!!!


As we proceeded down about 2kms, we encountered traffic. There was a small landslide earlier which had just been cleared. Traffic was being allowed one at a time. Thank god there was no uphill traffic except for trucks. So we waited for about 30 to 45 mins before being given a go signal. Thereon, the roads all the way to Manali was absolutely smooth with lots of twists and turns. It became dark by the time we crossed that zone, so driving was much slower. We reached Manali town at exactly 9pm. Since we were to stay for one night only, we did not want anything expensive. Finally on the highway itself, we checked into a hotel called Nandini Palace. Large and decent rooms. Running hot water. They charged Rs. 1700 for three persons for 1 night stay. We were pretty hungry and desperate for a drink. There was a very good posh hotel right next to this one called River Country Resort. So we just kept our luggage and got freshened up and headed out to the next hotel. After having a lovely dinner with drinks, we got back and went off to sleep.

June 26th

Ok. This was the final day. We checked out of the Nandini Palace hotel by about 10am and wanted to reach Delhi by midnight. Stopped at a Dhaba on the highway for some breakfast. Lots of river rafting opportunity on the way. The road is lined with rafting camps.

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Nandini Palace at Manali. Its on the highway, just outside of Manali.

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Our breakfast halt. Sad parathas.

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Bought Safida and ready to move on

Thereafter not much stopping until Chandigarh. Roads were good all the way, except that we encountered a lot of truck traffic on the downhill drive. This got to my nerves after some time. Anyway, the weather also started getting warmer.

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Moving towards Chandigarh via Roopnagar. We thought of taking the Shimla route (just to buy some fruit wine), but it would have been more time consuming (though not much longer).

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River view was nice on the way. We followed this river quite some distance

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Some tunnel we entered which was really really long. A hydroelectric project is built around it. Forgot the name of the place.

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Light inside the tunnel

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Hurtling towards Chandigarh / Delhi

We finally reached Chandigarh at about 5:30pm. Entered the Chandigarh town in search of food. Reached Sector 35B. None of the restaurants were serving kababs. Finally settled for Pizza Hut!!! Also picked up lots of cookies from Nik Bakers. We started off for Delhi at about 7:15pm. Finally we reached home 30mins past midnight (with a stopover at around 10:30pm for dinner at the well known dhaba in Murthal).

WELL...THAT IS IT...THE END OF MY TRAVELOUGE. Will post a few videos in a day or two. The experiences are bright and fresh in my mind. It is like as if I returned just yesterday. No matter how many photographs or narrations I make, I know I may have skipped a lot of finer and smaller details that you should otherwise know. I can also tell you that pictures can never do justice to this place. Unless you visit this region, you will never realize what you have missed. This trip has opened my eyes to a whole new world, made me understand my own and my car’s limits, and gave me the confidence to weather through difficulties. It’s a trip of a life time.

If you are reading this and you have driven on this route, I am sure you will agree. If you have not driven, I strongly urge you to experience it yourself.

My personal advise to first time travellers would be to take a high GC car. I did see a lot of sedans and small cars, and you can definetely make it through this region in such cars (barring a few ofcourse), but you would simply be damaging the car. Why do you want to do that? I dont think your car is so worthless that you would like to take such risks. So be prepared. Plan in advance. It helps.

My sincere thanks to SS-Traveller for all his inputs (and escpecially his travelouge) and bearing my numerous and troubling phone calls. And how can I not mention HV Kumar, Harsh Vardhan and many others for their detailed travelogues, which gave me the encouragement to take up this trip, gave me an insight into the routes, what to expect on road, what to do and not do etc. And finally, a thanks to you for taking time out and reading this.
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Old 10th July 2012, 11:56   #36
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Default Re: A journey through Leh & Ladakh – Barren beauty at its best

Congrats Sourav for the most amazing journey of your life so far, if I may say so.

The photos and words given enough urge for people like me to buy 4x4 soon enough and hit the road

Do post about your return journey also. and a few more random pics of the mountains.
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Old 10th July 2012, 14:20   #37
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Amazing travelog souravdebiswas. It was short and crisp and well written. I liked your encounter with army major. The way you started it, I was thinking you ran into some corps commander.
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Old 11th July 2012, 14:09   #38
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Excellent travelogue and pictures! Congrats on completing the trip.

How far did it take to reach Tso Kar from Leh? Or what was the distance from Tso Kar to Manali, the distance that you drove the day you reached Manali? I heard generally people split the total distance from Manali to Leh half the way somewhere at Sarchu(?)

Vipin.
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Old 11th July 2012, 21:11   #39
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Originally Posted by Vipin Kumar View Post
Excellent travelogue and pictures! Congrats on completing the trip.

How far did it take to reach Tso Kar from Leh? Or what was the distance from Tso Kar to Manali, the distance that you drove the day you reached Manali? I heard generally people split the total distance from Manali to Leh half the way somewhere at Sarchu(?)

Vipin.
Vipin - I did not go to Tso Kar directly from Leh. I was at Pangong for 2 nights. From there we went to Tso Kar. Left at about 6:30am and reached Tso Kar at about 5pm (via Chusul, Nyoma route).

I did not note down the distance from Tso Kar to Manali, but then again, we left Tso Kar at around 7:30am and reached Manali at 9pm (including a 1 hr traffic jam just after Rohtang Pass).

If you are going from Manali to Leh, yes, Sarchu is a sensible halting point.
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Old 12th July 2012, 12:33   #40
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If you are going from Manali to Leh, yes, Sarchu is a sensible halting point.
Yes, that is obvious from the reports of many others who traversed the Manali-Leh route too. But what I am interested in knowing is whether one can practically drive (other than taxis) longer than Sarchu-Manali section while coming down from Leh to Manali, as against going up from Manali to Leh? Hope acclimatisation is not a problem in the Leh-Manali direction unlike in the Manali-Leh drive.

Another query (must be small thing for you as you drove all the Leh routes and mountainous territories): How winding and steep (and scary too) is the Mandi-Manali road for a person who has not driven much in the high-ranges? I am yet to drive in such places. The only high-ranges I drove are in Coorg, and of course they are nothing.


Vipin.

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Old 12th July 2012, 16:47   #41
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Fantastic travelogue Sourav.

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Old 12th July 2012, 16:49   #42
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I've been thinking about doing this trip for some time now. Your photographs have helped me convince my wife about the trip! Hopefully next year...

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Old 12th July 2012, 18:26   #43
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Magnificent pictures and some interesting incidents. Congrats on achieving M'la. The Safari looks at its best.

I believe the permits from the DC's office should suffice, to visit Marsimik. Glad to know that he let you visit the pass though. Just a few questions :

1. How bad is the road to Marsimik la, when compared to the road to Karzok (Tso Moriri)?
2. Do you believe its worth an attempt in a 2WD?
3. The plastic cans that you used to carry the fuel, cause any nausea inside the car? We carried diesel in a similar can and had too many problems with leakage and nauseating all the time.

Last edited by aviorp : 12th July 2012 at 18:28.
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Old 12th July 2012, 20:03   #44
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Originally Posted by aviorp View Post
Magnificent pictures and some interesting incidents. Congrats on achieving M'la. The Safari looks at its best.

I believe the permits from the DC's office should suffice, to visit Marsimik. Glad to know that he let you visit the pass though. Just a few questions :

1. How bad is the road to Marsimik la, when compared to the road to Karzok (Tso Moriri)?
2. Do you believe its worth an attempt in a 2WD?
3. The plastic cans that you used to carry the fuel, cause any nausea inside the car? We carried diesel in a similar can and had too many problems with leakage and nauseating all the time.
Aviorp - Thanks.
The road to Korzok is bad towards the final leg. But it is a cake walk compared to the Marsimik la climb. M La will challlenge you with the steep slopes (towards the last few kms), loose soil and lots of sharp stones and big rocks all around. And with rareified air, your car will run out of breath. Korzok roads are not steep at all, though it is on dirt track (the last few kms), and it is at much lower height.

I would not recommend attempting M La in 2WD. Your car will not have enough power to do the climb, and especially considering that the track is very steep, and rough.

There were no issues of leaking fuel with the plastic cans I used. I had put in plastic sheet, then the inside cap, then another layer of plastic, and finally the outer cap. My only concern was that the cans do not crack considering they were not very thick plastic materials. I made sure that the cans are placed around soft luggage so that there is no sharp edge leaning on the cans.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vipin Kumar View Post
Yes, that is obvious from the reports of many others who traversed the Manali-Leh route too. But what I am interested in knowing is whether one can practically drive (other than taxis) longer than Sarchu-Manali section while coming down from Leh to Manali, as against going up from Manali to Leh? Hope acclimatisation is not a problem in the Leh-Manali direction unlike in the Manali-Leh drive.

Another query (must be small thing for you as you drove all the Leh routes and mountainous territories): How winding and steep (and scary too) is the Mandi-Manali road for a person who has not driven much in the high-ranges? I am yet to drive in such places. The only high-ranges I drove are in Coorg, and of course they are nothing.
Vipin.
Vipin - I did not exactly understand your first query, but from Sarchu to Manali it would take you at least about 6-7hrs (considering you do not face traffic jams at Rohtang).

If you are coming from Leh, I think you can make it to Keylong/Jispa in one day definetely (not all the way to Manali). Though I have not personally crossed the Tanglang La and therefore do not know how much time it takes from that route, but from Debring it will take you about 4-5 hrs to reach Sarchu. Assuming it takes about 3 hrs to reach Debring from Leh, you would have reached Sarchu in about 7-8hrs time. From Sarchu till Keylong you can reach in about another 3 hrs max. Therefore if you leave early, you can defintely drive till Keylong in one day (from Leh).

Am not sure if the above answers your question.

Acclimatisation would not be a problem if you are coming from Leh towards Manali since you are descending.

Mandi - Manali route is quite easy. There are lots of twists and turns like any hill station route, but they are easily navigable. And the roads are very good too. Tarmac all the way. If you have not driven much on the hills, I would recommend you go slow. Nothing scary on this route.
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Old 16th July 2012, 14:26   #45
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Default Re: A journey through Leh & Ladakh – Barren beauty at its best

Awesome Leh-log souravdebiswas. For any traveller planning for Leh, the most recent travelogue is very very important.
Did you inquire at Agham regarding Wari-La route or at Diskit itself? We are planning to run from Nubra (Diskit) to Pangong, but are not sure about Wari La route, looks like it can be done in a day comfortably via Leh, right?
We will be doing this route in an Innova next month!

And, your narrations are extremely detailed and informative. Rated 5 stars.
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