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Old 2nd September 2012, 13:55   #391
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 5
27 - July - 2012

A small waterfall
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It was muddy road throughout the climb from this side
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Old 2nd September 2012, 14:01   #392
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhijitvp View Post
It’s ok as far as driving is concerned but in one of the pics I have seen you writing the logs while driving. It’s really difficult to write while driving especially when you are on highway. Do you write all the logs yourself?
Let me clarify with respect to that picture in question. The scorpio was still when it happened. I was clicking the herds grazing down and while I was at it HVK penned the details down. I found him an interesting subject then and clicked that picture.

In this drive whenever I was at the navigation seat, I was writing the log book, and clicking pictures too.

Additional clarifications on the subject had been given by HVK a few posts back in this very own thread.
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Old 2nd September 2012, 14:08   #393
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 5
27 - July - 2012

There are lose stones all over the place
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A glacier here too
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Madam Safari passing near the Glacier. The place looks like a sure shot recipe for landslide
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Old 2nd September 2012, 14:17   #394
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Wow !! Wonderful photos. Car of any make Safari, Scorpio or Tavera does get dwarfed by this beauty Himalayas have to offer ...

Hooked to this thread ...
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Old 2nd September 2012, 15:15   #395
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 5
27 - July - 2012

We drove on
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Where the roads are carved on the green mountains as seen
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Old 2nd September 2012, 15:29   #396
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 5
27 - July - 2012

Somewhere in this road, a stone punctured HVK scorpio tyre
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Fitting the new tyre
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It was green all around
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This dog had hunted down some bird
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Old 2nd September 2012, 15:37   #397
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 5
27 - July - 2012

We drove on
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We could see Sinthan top far away

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We reached Sinthan top by 09:00AM
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It was in this route that a Gypsy fell to the valley during a rally killing the occupants of the same.

continued...

Last edited by laluks : 2nd September 2012 at 15:41.
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Old 2nd September 2012, 15:46   #398
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 5
27 - July - 2012

Sinthan Top ahoy!
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Altitude of 3785m
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Green Meadows everywhere
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We had our breakfast of Omlettes and Maggi here

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Old 2nd September 2012, 15:54   #399
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 5
27 - July - 2012

HVK Scorpio at Sinthan Top
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Madam Safari arrives at Sinthan Top
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HVK Welcomes Agent Vinod to Sinthan Top
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The legends at Sinthan Top
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Old 2nd September 2012, 15:59   #400
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 5
27 - July - 2012

The te
am rushes to get clicked with the legends
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Team Photo

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After breakfast we moved on by 10:00AM
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Road seems to be done well on this side of the pass

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Old 3rd September 2012, 10:45   #401
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
Day 5
27 - July - 2012

The te
am rushes to get clicked with the legends
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Team Photo

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After breakfast we moved on by 10:00AM
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Road seems to be done well on this side of the pass

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continued...
Did you guys fix the punctured tyre yourself, or did you drive with a flat spare tyre? Did you carry with you that small 12 V compressor to inflate the tyres?
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Old 3rd September 2012, 10:50   #402
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverikMahesh View Post
Did you guys fix the punctured tyre yourself, or did you drive with a flat spare tyre? Did you carry with you that small 12 V compressor to inflate the tyres?
The tyre had a bad tear in its sidewall, hence the puncture (and had to be replaced in Srinagar later that day). I fitted the stepney. I don't carry a air compressor. I dislike wasting time on the road fixing punctures & always get it fixed in a puncture shop, although I do carry tubeless puncture kit in my car.
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Old 3rd September 2012, 11:02   #403
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
The tyre had a bad tear in its sidewall, hence the puncture (and had to be replaced in Srinagar later that day). I fitted the stepney. I don't carry a air compressor. I dislike wasting time on the road fixing punctures & always get it fixed in a puncture shop, although I do carry tubeless puncture kit in my car.
Ok.

BTW, i did go in for Yoko C Drive 225/60/R15 for my Innova. Yet to go on a long drive to test them. Planning on a weekend trip to Ooty to try them out.
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Old 3rd September 2012, 12:38   #404
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

BHADERWAH-KISHTWAR-SINTHAN TOP


The road from Bhaderwah to Kishtwar looks superb.

Absolutely a cracker of a road. We enjoyed the fast drive back to Kishtwar. 90 kms took us a little over 2 hours, which is fantastic on these twisty roads where we did not really drive very fast.


Back to Kishtwar – you did not stay in JKTDC?

Although the JKTDC rooms were good, had ample car parking, the non-functional restaurant and the desire to try a new hotel made us go to Hotel Kishtwar this time. New hotel. Food is great, but rooms are so-so. Car parking in front of hotel, but no compound.


Why this unconventional route to Srinagar?

Eh? Why not? Have road, will drive!
THis is the latest road to Srinagar.


Sinthan Top – isn’t that the Mughal Rally route?

Yes, it is, the very same Sinthan Top that one has to cross to go from Kishtwar to Srinagar via Anantnag. The Rally happened less than a month ago before we were there. There was a tragedy too when one of the Gypsies lost control & went off the road into the Valley just 4 kms before the Top killing both the drivers.


Mughal Rally vs Mughal Road – I don’t understand, are they the same thing or different?

The Mughal Rally runs on the following sector:
Jammu-Doda-Kishtwar-Sinthan Top-Srinagar-Shopian-Bafliaz-Rajouri-Jammu, of which the latter part is the “Mughal Road” – the road which was used by the Mughal Emperors, notably Akbar, to travel from Delhi/Lahore to Srinagar in those days.
The Sinthan Top route is not part of the “Mughal Road”, but the Mughal Rally runs this way.

I will show you a map later.


The road to Sinthan Top does not look like a rally road at all!

Exactly. The Mughal Rally has been one of India’s exciting rallies & it has grown with the building of the Kishtwar-Sinthan Top-Srinagar-Bafliaz-Rajouri-Jammu road. I had scanned anxiously photos from the Rally that had happened just a few weeks ago and concluded that I need not have worried, the roads looked fine enough for my Scorpio too. Seeing the Rally photos actually gave me the confidence to drive on this route.


I can see some superb tarmac, and then suddenly mud road?

Till Chingam (no relative of the “Singham” ), the roads were simply outstanding. But the last 30 kms to the Top were dirt road and in a few places were all-slush, which made it tricky for any 2WD, but I forged on and got through. Going down from the Top, roads were even more superb. The roads were very wide and I guess in the next year’s time or so, one can see good roads all the way. Poor Mughal Rally organisers, they will have to search for a new route...


Did your tyre burst?

The Yokos tyres have soft sidewalls and cuts are quite common in my Scorpio. Looks like one of the cuts got enlarged & finally burst the tyre. Happily, the sudden air loss was noted immediately and we were able to stop safely even as we were in steep ascent mode up to Sinthan Top. I had to retire this tyre & later on buy a new tyre at Srinagar.


Some more info about Sinthan Top?

Not very high, if one were to go by Ladakhi standards, but still 3800 mtrs is no push over. Coniferous tree cover on all the surrounding mountains below. The Top itself is a small ridge with spectacular views all around. This is the marker dividing the Jammu region & Kashmir Valley. Equivalent to the Banihal Pass (under which Jawahar Tunnel runs on NH1A) & the Pir ki Gali on the “Mughal Road”.


Maggi noodles at the summit, is it?

The usual. Nothing can be better in the Himalayas than hot Maggi noodles even if the weather is not cold. Very friendly people in the lone dhaba at the very top. I was surprised they were there that early in the morning!


Would you recommend the Sinthan Top for those going to Srinagar instead of the regular NH1A highway?

No. Not comparable.
Firstly, this adds lots of extra distance to the Jammu-Srinagar route.
Secondly, this is not an all-weather road, it is closed during the winter due to snow fall. Moreover, if it rains hard, the road can become a sea of slush and non-motorable.
Thirdly, you will hardly find any traffic going this way.
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Old 3rd September 2012, 13:36   #405
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

SARTHAL-KISHTWAR
Jul 26, 2012


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We left Sarthal in pouring rains, but that did not dampen our spirits, it was exciting driving those mud roads up to the high Chatergala Pass amidst all the mist & flowing water on the road.
Green meadows and coniferous jungles all the way.

The jawan glowered at us & waved us on atop Chatergala Pass, they are on their toes here, having seen militancy of the most virulent nature at close quarters in these parts.

Descending towards Bhaderwah, we encountered lots of slush & the bull-dozers were at work clearing land slides and making the road. The 2 Maratha bull-dozer drivers were thrilled to see 2 MH vehicles out of nowhere.
Nalthi town – we saw this homestay & Romin immediately went in and enquired rates & other details, and came back pleased at this “budget” discovery.

Bhaderwah turned out to be a big surprise, we had expected a small village, we ended up seeing a huge town! Sprawling the entire Valley, we circled it from above and entered the town to find petrol pumps, bus stands, cyber cafes, busy markets......and I decided that I should take a back up on data from my GPS tracker and car camera, something which I normally do daily but could not ever since I left Delhi because my laptop was refusing to start up. The rest of the team sauntered around.

Once down – but not before having some delicious parathas in a small bhojanalaya in the market – we decided to see around Bhaderwah, choosing to go to Jai. Roads were good all along, the route reminded you of driving in the Kodai hills.

The tourist bungalows at Jai – igloo-shaped – were ugly structures spoiling an otherwise lovely landscape, and I think these JK Tourism guys need some crash courses in environmental conservation & aesthetics. Jai itself was not a great place, but some nice conversations accompanies by tea with the caretaker of the tea shop/ bungalows (which we also saw inside) made the place a little better. Apparently, you can trek around. The direct road to Kishtwar is being built, which will cut down distance by at least 30-50 kms.

Back to Bahderwah & a spanking new highway to Doda, these are all probably the outcome of the political stability & development of the last couple of years.

Back to Kishtwar. Hotel Kishtwar. Reasonably priced rooms. Good food.


KISHTWAR-SINTHAN TOP
Jul 27, 2012


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Next morning, we were off to Srinagar on the new road via Sinthan Top. I was not sure of this road and its condition, but everyone confirmed that it was very much motorable and the preferred road nowadays.

First the sangam of the Rivers Chandra Bhaga & Chenab, then passing through 3 army check posts – yes, this is definitely like getting back to the Kashmir of yester years, but the military presence was definitely muted. It was too early in the day as we crossed the village of Chingam from where the steep climb starts. The first 57 kms took us around 120 minutes (including stops for checks), but the next 30 kms were on dirt roads which took us 75 minutes (excluding the delay due to tyre puncture). The dirt road itself did not worry us, not even the small stretch of deep slush which we managed to gun the cars through. As usual, there was hardly any traffic.

Just before Sinthan Top, we were reminded of the tragedy in this year’s Mughal Rally when one of the rally Gypsies went off the road into the Valley, killing both the drivers. The road was not bad, I guess they must have been too fast round the curves.

Here are some photos shot by Nitin Yadavpublished in his FB – of the Mughal Rally, on this road.


Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts-mughalrally.jpg



I am sure Sudev Brar has lots of things to say about this road, I remember he participated in the first Mughal Rally, and it must have been a gruelling experience then. His drive was one of the big inspirations for us to do this route.

Sinthan Top was a nice place to stop over, breathe in fresh air at 3800 mtrs height & eat Maggi noodles...


...the day is not over yet, we still have along way to go

Last edited by hvkumar : 3rd September 2012 at 13:44.
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