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Old 10th August 2012, 18:30   #76
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

Hey Columbus, really enjoying your T-log. Beautifully composed pictures and narration. The best are your pictures of Maximus. Simply superb.
The month of July when you drove on this odyssey appears to be a little problematic in terms of weather, however the landscape is a lovely mix of green, brown and the white of snow. We saw nothing but a patch near Changla, the rest was on the distant slopes of far away mountains.
How was the traffic after Rohtang and thereafter in the remoter regions past Pangong Tso in July ? How about the power loss in the Maximus at higher altitudes?
Regards,
Manmohan.
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Old 10th August 2012, 19:38   #77
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Great write up - simply fantastic - I'm on a somewhat slow connection right now that limits downloads, but the wait (while the pictures were downloading) were absolutely WORTH IT! I'm going to join the swelling number of people that have given this thread a 5 star rating.

I too thought about doing Delhi-Leh in my Zen (don't have it any longer though). This car has effortlessly done long trips before to the hills (the latest one being a 650 km or so trip to Dalhousie in one day), so the distance is no problem. The low ground clearance was what I thought COULD be an issue, but then again, the vehicle seems to plow through the flooded streets of Delhi and Noida - though it does seem like a boat at times - the roads like rivers - but I thought I could make it, though it might be tough.

Definitely easier doing it in a 4WD vehicle. . .anyway, I experienced the low ground clearance problem on the return leg of my last trip - ended up driving over a larg'ish stone which I thought I could just smooth over, but no dice. Thankfully no major damage was done though, just some minor dents to the silencer - so I drove home with a roaring exhaust, and no other issues!

I do have the same question that the poster before me has - how did the vehicle cope with the higher altitudes - was there any noticeable power loss? Or change in mileage from what you normally get in the hills? I'll bet my Zen (dont know why I keep saying that even though I've sold the car off!) would give me lower mileage in those sort of conditions than it would at normal elevations (say until Manali) - but just wondering what your experience was on this one.

Thanks again for the write up - truly enjoyed reading it!

Cheers,
Rahul
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Old 11th August 2012, 16:20   #78
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HI columbus
Fantastic account of the Leh Journey. The narration & photography is simply excellent.

They surely bring back memories more so because me and my friend also did the Leh Circuit starting from Delhi on the 24th of June 2011 and returning back on the 03rd of July 2011. I believe you were just a day or two behind us. We departed from Leh on the 30th June morning and you I believe must have reached on the 29th night. Talk about it being a small world.

I also have to ask something (which you may have clarified at some point and I might have missed it) Sometimes you refer to your vehicle as the MAXIMUS and other times as the FORT. Its just two names for the same vehicle or they mean something which I am missing
Please continue with your TL.
Cheers
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Old 13th August 2012, 00:43   #79
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Day 8

K-Top, Nubra Valley, Turtuk


Our moment of truth was today when we will drive on the heighest motorable road in the world. However its an alltogether different thing that once you have faced Rohtang then rest of the La's are piece of cake . After a sumptous breakfast of Aloo parathas and omletes we were off to K-Top. The climb begins the moment you leave Leh. Due to the road widening work the road was non existent between South and North Pullu. The good thing is that it is now pretty wide and you have enough room to manouvere around slush and ditches.



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Our permits were checked at South pullu and before we knew we were on the Top. We were on the roof of the world . The weather played a damp squib with fog and poor visibility of the vista around.




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Did our customory photosession amidst 100 bikers of the Royal Enfield odyssey. Purchased lot of souvniers from the Army shop, had tea and pushed off to Hunder.



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Please do note here that me in the red is wearing spects with transition lenses. These are sensitive to UV radiations. As you can see they have turned jet black even though its very cloudy and fog around. These do not turn this much black even in peak summer in Bhopal. So you can imagne the amount of UV radiations present there. Moral is carry loads of sunscreen.


The greens of the Nubra Valley are a refreshing change from the brown mountains of Leh. We had lunch at a road side restaurant in Diskit and decided to keep the Diskit Gompa for return.


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This flat stretch was a hoot to drive on


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Mirror Mirror on wall.. who is the most beautiful of all..


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The first sightings of the Hunder dunes..



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Hunder is a place which can put a balm on the most troubled souls. Sitting on the bridge with the rivulet playing the notes of a Piano was an experience itself. Absolutely magical.


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Bactrian Camels


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There were very few tourists. Maximus enjoying the solitude.



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We were not intersted in a camel ride. I had one at Jaisalmer and the experience was rather shaky.



A couple returning from the ride.


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A pano of Hunder.


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Day 8 to be contd.
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Old 13th August 2012, 17:33   #80
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

ok, now that does it. i am going to NOW begin my planning for a trip to Leh... And, you fantastic, mind-blowing travelogue is to blame for it! Great work! Waiting for your next day's report!
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Old 14th August 2012, 08:17   #81
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshuakeys View Post
Indeed its paradise for Photographers. Lovely Scenery's & Lovely Landscapes.
Thanks Joshua


Quote:
Originally Posted by manmohanmaan View Post
How was the traffic after Rohtang and thereafter in the remoter regions past Pangong Tso in July ? How about the power loss in the Maximus at higher altitudes?
Regards,
Manmohan.
July is difficult till Rohtang. After that its a rain shadow area. And with the change in wind patterns the chances of Western Disturbances hitting Ladakh becomes less. We generally got blue sky almost all days.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Zenster99 View Post


I do have the same question that the poster before me has - how did the vehicle cope with the higher altitudes - was there any noticeable power loss? Or change in mileage from what you normally get in the hills? I'll bet my Zen (dont know why I keep saying that even though I've sold the car off!) would give me lower mileage in those sort of conditions than it would at normal elevations (say until Manali) - but just wondering what your experience was on this one.

Thanks again for the write up - truly enjoyed reading it!

Cheers,
Rahul
Thanks Rahul.
As i have written earlier the vehicle coped well with rarified air. I did not feel any power loss. Probably its ECU is tuned for those heights. The key to driving in the hills is to use the correct gear and know what RPM band you have to stick to. During uphill you will invariably use correct gear otherwise the vehicle won't climb. Its downhill where you have to be careful. Most of the time during downhill i did not touch the accelerator and the brakes and the car returned fantastic mileage. My mileage in Ladakh was 10.5+ and this included the numerous 2-5 minute photography breaks where i let the engine idle for fear of damaging the Turbo.

So i guess the car did great in those environments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by harjeev View Post
HI columbus
Fantastic account of the Leh Journey. The narration & photography is simply excellent.

I also have to ask something (which you may have clarified at some point and I might have missed it) Sometimes you refer to your vehicle as the MAXIMUS and other times as the FORT. Its just two names for the same vehicle or they mean something which I am missing
Please continue with your TL.
Cheers
Thanks Harjeev
Do share your accounts of Leh. It would be interesting to read.

Maximus is what i call my 'Fort'uner or in short Fort. Both are same .

Quote:
Originally Posted by driving always! View Post
ok, now that does it. i am going to NOW begin my planning for a trip to Leh... And, you fantastic, mind-blowing travelogue is to blame for it! Great work! Waiting for your next day's report!
Thanks driving always. If you can find time then September is a great time to go there. Ladakh festival begins this year on 1st September.
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Old 14th August 2012, 17:12   #82
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

Day 8 contd.

Nubra valley - Turtuk

Maximus was bored after he was'nt made to sweat in climbing K-top and was wanting some action. Time to do some dune bashing...Land cruiserish shtyle ..



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After the dune bashing amongst the looks of disbelief on Taxi drivers it was time for some pet puja. Had some delicious Dosa and Idli at the Army Canteen at the entry to the Hunder dunes. Bless you guys .

At 4:30 we rang Turtuk Holiday Camp and after a bit of negotiating we were on the road to Turtuk. THOISE (Transit Halt of Indian Soldiers Enroute) is a forward base with an Airstrip. However we did'nt see any fighter planes. They were concealed very effectively. The route to Turtuk was opened last year. Till then THOISE was also beyond the reach of civilians. We did'nt shoot any pictures of the Airstrip.

The road to Turtuk is mostly metaled and in decent shape, there are no high passes to climb.


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You cross number of these beautiful streams on 5 kmph bridges.



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United Colours of Nubra Valley



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Appears to be simple...but No.. The road gave us some of the most erry feelings. Ofcourse the road via chushul was a different ball game where actually there is no road . But this one was different..

1. After THOISE there is hardly any traffic.
2. The huge number of Army units stationed enroute.
3. A careful eye sees hundreds of bunkers on the mountains.
4. Some really narrow sections.

5. The road has numerous shooting stones zones marked by the BRO. The size of the stone in the sign indicating whether small stones fall or boulders. Through out these zone you have to constantly watch the mountain for falling stones. Something reminded by the fact that the kilometers of road has small stones lying in the middle of the road.

6. And the spookiest of all..the mighty Shyok river. It flows with tremendous strength. Its muddy brown in colour. One has to see the force of the river, the anger in the waves, eroding, taking away anything that comes in it path. It flows as if it has only one purpose "Destruction". Crossing the river on those rickety bridges with speed restriction of 5 kmph surely gave us goose bumps..!!

So after a spooky drive we were at Turtuk. But before we reached Turtuk we were litrally mobed by some 15 odd girls in the age group of 4 -10. The village was i think 5 kms before Turtuk. These girls first blocked our way and then all of them climbed on the footrest and then started "Demanding" choclates, biscuits whatever you have. We gave them a pack of toffees, some biscuits etc. One of them demanded money. When I said i don't have change less than 500 I got to hear " Ye to Kanjoos hai... itni badi gaadi aur 500 ka note nahin de sakta.. ".
Finally we had to shoo them away before we could break free. Later we came to know that even the Army people fear these girls..!!

The Turtuk Holiday Camp was perhaps the best Tented accomodation we stayed in the entire trip. The tents were new, big, clean, windproof. The bed and linen were spotlessly clean and comfortable. Even a pair of slippers were provided so you don't have to take your spoiled shoes inside the tent. The host Rahamat was perhaps the most gracious host we had. The table in the tent had dried apricots waiting for us. The camp has a BSNL phone with STD fascility. The food is excellent and prepared to your taste. The only drawback is that toilets are not attached. They are few meters away but are very clean and equiped with all the modern amenities. But this should not be an issue. What more do you need at Pakistan border in a village which was in Pakistan before 1971 war. !!

We were the only guests that day so the cultural show was not organised. Maximus got a fantastic parking space and happily retired for the night. And after a fantastic dinner we too hit the bed.


Tomorrow a village called Turtuk and KhardungLa again.

Last edited by columbus : 14th August 2012 at 17:19.
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Old 14th August 2012, 19:04   #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by columbus View Post
THOISE (Transit Halt of Indian Soldiers Enroute) is a forward base with an Airstrip. However we did'nt see any fighter planes. They were concealed very effectively. The route to Turtuk was opened last year. Till then THOISE was also beyond the reach of civilians. We did'nt shoot any pictures of the Airstrip.

6. And the spookiest of all..the mighty Shyok river. It flows with tremendous strength. Its muddy brown in colour. One has to see the force of the river, the anger in the waves, eroding, taking away anything that comes in it path. It flows as if it has only one purpose "Destruction". Crossing the river on those rickety bridges with speed restriction of 5 kmph surely gave us goose bumps..!!

So after a spooky drive we were at Turtuk. But before we reached Turtuk we were litrally mobed by some 15 odd girls in the age group of 4 -10. The village was i think 5 kms before Turtuk. These girls first blocked our way and then all of them climbed on the footrest and then started "Demanding" choclates, biscuits whatever you have. We gave them a pack of toffees, some biscuits etc. One of them demanded money. When I said i don't have change less than 500 I got to hear " Ye to Kanjoos hai... itni badi gaadi aur 500 ka note nahin de sakta.. ".
Finally we had to shoo them away before we could break free. Later we came to know that even the Army people fear these girls..!!

Tomorrow a village called Turtuk and KhardungLa again.
THOISE does not house any fighters(to my knowledge). Moreso, its a base for as you said, Transit halts for Troops moving from base camp to forward posts or new regiments/units coming in. Its more of a helicopter and transport aircraft base. If you are very lucky you could see "Gajraj" landing or Taking off. You did the right thing by not taking any pics of the FLG.(forward landing ground).
P.S: You might soon see some "Hercules" operating from here.

Pt. 6: Hats off for BRO / Army Engineers for having managed a built a bridge over this nature's fury. These bridges are built to withstand those 4tonne/5tonne+ Army stallions and Tata 709's, no worries. I am shaking to even think of how the BRO/Army would have struggled to build the bridge.(although its comparitively easier using those tracked engineering vehicles) but still.. Remembering the sacrifices on the eve of the Independence.

Ill effects of tourism in its full glory! Spoiling the young girls of remote village of the country. Govt. of India - please! Its been 66 years post independence.

Waiting eagerly for Turtuk/Khardungla and the "pathar aa raha hain" incident and of course more and more beautiful images.

The fifth picture onwards in the sand dune bash - Toyota, I recommend to you to use these as your brochure material and in your website. (Better recruit our Coloumbus and his Maximus.)

Last edited by AlphaKilo : 14th August 2012 at 19:05.
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