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Old 12th December 2012, 12:43   #151
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

The TL is getting really exciting and the sights are just out of the world with every pass covered. Pangong lake is just so surreal and pristine!

This is one write up that we will reference on our journey to these places (yes we are firming up the plans and hopefully make it next year).

Great stuff! Keep it coming many more pics at a time!
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Old 12th December 2012, 12:52   #152
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

From the photos, it looks like driving by the road (rather than on the road) would have been better. Did you try that?
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Old 12th December 2012, 12:56   #153
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Excellent Travelogue Tanveer- Coudnt stop reading it.

Waseem.
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Old 12th December 2012, 18:29   #154
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

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Originally Posted by smartcat View Post
From the photos, it looks like driving by the road (rather than on the road) would have been better. Did you try that?
There was no space on the side. The climb was quite narrow. At just a couple of places we took the offroad track since the road was blocked
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Old 12th December 2012, 19:14   #155
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Default Day 9 #7 : Kakasang La... and beyond

My name is KakaSang La.
I stand tall.
Quite tall.
Taller than most others, and taller than the one who claims to be the tallest.

My signboard is pretty modest. for I am young.
I was cut by BRO, and my signboard, accurately mentions my height. 5446m, or 17868 feet.

This is true for all of us new passes. The older ones were cut before the age of GPS, so often their height claims are very overestimated.

Not for us new ones.
I may be higher than the Khardung, but if you want to cross 18000 feet in reality, you have to go to Photi La, or the Marsimik La.

I was not cut on a whim.
I was not cut just because there was a pass to be cut.

I was cut due to a special need.
Along the LOC, our troops man the long border with China. To get there, a very common access route has always been the Chang La.

But Chang La is wild.
He is one who cannot be tamed.

And he loves to call the snow gods.
So often, there are avalanches, road blocks, and many lives are lost.

So I am the alternate.
I am dry.

The clouds rarely come here, and I see sun througout the year. Even when I am graced with snow, its just a few inches.

The road over me is still being made. Its a pile of rocks now, but hopefully, within a year a black top will grace me, and then I will be a proper motorable road, open for all those who care or dare.

I may not be the highest in the region, but I am the most beautiful.
Standing on me, you look east, you will see the lovely Mirpal Tso. Look west, and you will see the marks of a long dead glacier.

If you are truly adventrous, few hours of mountaineering will take you to the top of the mountains around me, which offer views which only a handful have seen.

Come visit me, you will visit two jewel like lakes, and if you dare, you will see two more

In early october, I got a visitor. And here she poses with me, and my jewel lake

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6519_lrxl.jpg

Yes, we were at Kakasang La, our 11th pass, the highest, the toughest.
We just stood there, watching, and I let the white elephant cool down. Such a climb deserved rest.
It had taken us less than two hours from Chushul, but these two hours had been full of wonder and pain.

I inspected the tires, their were nicks and cuts all around, but the sidewalls had held up. The contis had not given up. They had lived up to the A/T tag in their name.

From here the going was easier
It was downhill, and the going was not rocky now. There was also a sense of security, as down below we saw 124RCC making the road. Our first sign of civilazation.

I looked northwards, and saw this
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6520_lrxl.jpg

What do you see? Imagine it in white. Yes, its a dead glacier. See the lines on the mountain, Once upon a time a huge glacier adorned this mountain.

Now its gone. In a few years, the ones who still defy the warming will be gone too, and we will be left with bare mountainsides.


The road ahead is smooth, and we can make good speed. Snow still clings defiantly to the mountain tops, waiting the winter
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6521_lrxl.jpg

And then its down, down and down. Its barren and brown
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6522_lrxl.jpg

We trudge on. If only we had started two hours earlier, I would have loved to park here, and climb the mountains, to go higher and higher, but the days are short in october, and we wanted to make haste
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6523_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6524_lrxl.jpg

But this is ladakh. Here you do not decide what you do. the road decides. The terrain is king here. The mountains rule. you go when the mountain wants you to go.

Its little over minutes since we left Kakasang La, and then, its time to stop. The road is gone....
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Old 13th December 2012, 11:10   #156
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Amazing adventure Tanveer. Great to know that white elephant has been holding up so well so far. Hope you aren't gonna pop surprises about it later in the thread .

I had actually not followed this thread for almost as month since your progress in posting has been slow. It was worth coming back here after a month and reading it all in almost 1 stretch. Good amount of working man hours spent fruitfully .

Lovely pics and write up as always. You seem to have had luck on your side during this trip. First with the ADC lady at Leh and then with the CO of punjab regiment, couple from Ludhiana definitely helped matters.

Last edited by supertinu : 13th December 2012 at 11:11.
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Old 13th December 2012, 11:27   #157
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Quote:
Originally Posted by supertinu View Post
I had actually not followed this thread for almost as month since your progress in posting has been slow. It was worth coming back here after a month and reading it all in almost 1 stretch. Good amount of working man hours spent fruitfully .
I am doing 1-3 updates a day . And you say its slow!
Wait till you get to Sonata Europa. Thats what you call... Slow!
Quote:
Lovely pics and write up as always. You seem to have had luck on your side during this trip. First with the ADC lady at Leh and then with the CO of punjab regiment, couple from Ludhiana definitely helped matters.
Yes, we were very lucky. Doors opened for us, and almost everything went like clockwork. Well.... almost. Read on for more.
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Old 13th December 2012, 14:03   #158
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
I am doing 1-3 updates a day . And you say its slow!
Wait till you get to Sonata Europa. Thats what you call... Slow!
Yes, I agree Tanveer. We're still stuck in Salzberg. It is quite a long stay there considering we had that in the itinerary mostly for returning the car with its grunting ninety donkeys and catching the train to Budapest .

Last edited by shipnil : 13th December 2012 at 14:05.
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Old 13th December 2012, 14:58   #159
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Default Day 9 #8 : Bumblebee

The road is blocked.
A smallish bridge with wet cement has been constructed, and now an offroad paths goes by the side of the road.

However, unlike most offroad paths, which are doable on a prayer... this one looks formidable

Quite formidable.
So we step out and wonder. What to do.

Time to engage 4L.

My wife guides me, and I gingerly put the front wheel on the rocks. Then its time to get out and inspect the front.
No Go.
The front left lower suspension arm is touching the rock, and any miscalculation here will disable the vehicle.

We cannot proceed further
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6525_lrxl.jpg

Even after removing rocks from the still wet cement, a far bigger obstacle lies ahead of us
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6527_lrxl.jpg

Those rocks are big, and nothing short of a dozer can go over them.

Now its time to rummage thorough our tool kit. We need something which will help us get by.
And under the rear seat is a Tata product. Its a metal shovel, I bought from noida for 379 INR. Its not very big but its strong.

So armed with the shovel, we begin trying to remove the big rocks. However, minutes later we are panting, with the rocks not even budging.
My mistake, should have carried a bulldozer under the rear seat.

So is this the end of the road? We sit and wonder
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6526_lrxl.jpg

And then from far away, half a km away as the crow flies, we spot something yellow.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6528_lrxl.jpg

The BRO is working, and I guess, only they can save our hides now.
As I sit and wait, my wife goes down by the short cut, and reaches the dozer. Few minutes later she is back, and the big yellow thing starts ambling towards us on the road.

Its slow. Very slow. Maybe 6kmph top speed, and it slowly but surely rumbles into view.

Reminds me of the transformer Bumblebee as it comes near.
With tracks for mobility, and a big metal paw, the BRO guy gets to work

Whack
Whack
Whack
Whack

Rocks? What rocks?

The road is clear
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6529_lrxl.jpg

Bumblebee does in 30 seconds what we could not have managed in 30 hours.

Whew! We do not have to go back all the way to Chusul now! We can proceed to Mahe. We share our food with the BRO driver. He tells us that road ahead is fine, and we will find ample help in case of any blockage, as their camp is barely few kms away.

Coming up that 1km path has taken him 10 minutes. Yes, thats the slow pace of this machine. But he left what he was doing and came for our help.

In terrains like this, you can always count on BRO. They will selflessly help you without any expectations.

This is our first encounter with 124 RCC, and it has been a wonderful one.

We big goodby tto bumblebee and proceed forward.

The road is easy now. Mostly going down, and then the climb starts again. There are few minor slow patches, but going is good and fast, and then quarter past three, we reach yet another pass.

And as I read the name, I burst out laughing. The name sounds quite vulgar when pronounced fast.
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Old 13th December 2012, 22:36   #160
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Default Day 9 #9: The twelfth pass, and the seventh lake

Its called
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6531_lrxl.jpg

HORLA

Thank goodness its not in the west... the signboard would have gotten some extra characters added by the tourers.

Horla is not very high. It stands barely 17000 feet tall. But it stand proud, because it also has a ace up its sleeve.

The majestic Yaye Tso.
From here onwards, smooth black tarmac leads us on
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6532_lrxl.jpg

Yaye Tso is barely 15kms from the main road. A round trip from the Main road near Mahe takes barely 30 minutes, yet few visit it.

No... it does not lack beauty
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6533_lrxl.jpg

Far from ut. This lake is wonderous like all the mountain lakes of Ladakh. Its just that, in quest for the destination, most often forget the journey.

Today., we would also do something we don't want to. We skip our picnic.
The days are short, and the sun will set in a couple of hours. We had originally planned to take the road down to the lake, and have lunch there, but with the road block, and the slow progress delaying us, we would have to skip Yaye

So its time to bid goodbye
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6534_lrxl.jpg

And say hello to the valley down below
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6535_lrxl.jpg

We race downward on the smooth tarmac. One day, such a road will run all the way to Chushul
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6536_lrxl.jpg

As we reach the bottom, vegetation appears again, and a grazing horse gives us an annoyed glance
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6538_lrxl.jpg

Its not even 4pm, when we hit the Main road, the Road from Mahe to Nyoma
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6539_lrxl.jpg
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Old 14th December 2012, 18:54   #161
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Default Day 9 #10 : Mayday Mayday Mayday

Red mountains, yellow grass blue skies and a deeper blue indus. These are the sights which await as we barrel down the excellent Tarmac
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6540_lrxl.jpg

The sun is going down. We have about two hours of light left. However, now the road goes all the way to Hanle, so no worries
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6541_lrxl.jpg

More sights
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6542_lrxl.jpg

The striped hills of the stretch. Nyoma is near now

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6550_lrxl.jpg

By four thirty we are at Nyoma, and here near the turnoff into the town, we have our best maggis. The price is right, and the tea is excellent too. We have recharged, and the sprits are high. Hanle is over 80kms away, but the excellent Tarmac should have us there within two hours

As we cross Nyoma, the vast changthang starts to show itself. Its a desert, and a big one. A really big one
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6551_lrxl.jpg

The road is smooth, and bumpy in only some stretches. We make good time here. However, this time, there are hardly any kiangs roaming here
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6555_lrxl.jpg

The sun plays hide and seek with the clouds
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6556_lrxl.jpg

And near Loma checkpost, it shines bright again
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6558_lrxl.jpg

The shadows get longer, and such amazing sights await us. Its not even 5:30pm, and we are almost at Loma.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6561_lrxl.jpg

Time to click the white elephant
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6562_lrxl.jpg

And more
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6563_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6564_lrxl.jpg

Here the road takes a bend, and right before Loma checkpost, I click some reflections
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6565_lrxl.jpg

Its gotten cold now, very cold. The sun is shining, but the temperature is close to zero already. Changthang desert starts freezing up pretty soon, and even in the middle of summer, sub zero is not rare.

We show our permits, and quickly move along.
As light fades, I pack up the camera, and we trudge along.

We keep a keen eye open for Kiangs, but even after Loma, none show their face. Where have they all run away?

By 6, it starts to get dark, but the excellent road remains our companion. We should be in Hanle by seven by my guesstimate.

Today has been an amazing day. Its been more than 10 hours on the road, but we are not even fatigued. Ladakh has shown us wonders today, and we have seen two new lakes.

Its the perfect trip.

And then... on the lonely black road, under the dark ink blue of twilight, white hot steam erupts from the engine bay

Last edited by tsk1979 : 14th December 2012 at 18:55.
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Old 14th December 2012, 23:02   #162
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

I was silently reading through your wonderful style of narration and admiring the beauty you have captured with your camera. Just had to come in and say take a bow. That photograph capturing the shadows in the sands of the desert blew me away. Years later the visions of these beautiful places you have been to will remain in your eyes. Keep going with this captivating story and pictures.

Last edited by samarjitdhar : 14th December 2012 at 23:11.
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Old 15th December 2012, 07:04   #163
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

@tsk1979....leaving us at the brink yet again. Did you read too much of Alfred Hitchkok when you were growing up?
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Old 15th December 2012, 08:41   #164
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Amazing pictures . This is turning out to be the best travelogue on t-bhp. Fantastic pictures and write up. Wow ! No other travelogue covered these area's if i'm not wrong. Thank you again.
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Old 15th December 2012, 22:23   #165
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Default Day 9 #11: Steam Engine

One of my earlier childhood memories are that of standing at a railway station in Delhi. I guess, it must have been the old delhi station, since New Delhi is 'new'?

Anyways, I remember, standing on the platform with my parents. We are waiting for something call "Superfast" to take to Punjab. Its a spanking new diesel locomotive, capable of a break neck speed of 90kmph.

As we wait, something else ambles into the adjacent platform. Its not fast. Its not new. But its majestic.
Its horn is a toot unlike the shrill cry of the Diesels. Unlike the black smoke from a singular exhaust, this one snorts steam from its sides. Every stroke of its engine is majestic whistle, not like the rumbly clatter of the big diesels.

In the crowd of the diesels, its like the queen. For a moment the platform stands still, as everyone looks at the black steam engine with awe. This would have been last of the steamers.


Fast forward more than a quarter century.
The steaming white elephant does not really look to me like the majestic black steam engine. She reminds me more of Blain the mono, the deranged steam puffing monorail from Dark tower series.

As I stand with the bonnet popped open, she is really marking her territory. A time leak in a hose pipe is spraying coolant, with a throw of 2 feet!

The sky is quickly turning black, and icy winds are rising. Hanle lies 30kms ahead, and here we stand in the middle of nowhere. Not a single vehicle has crossed us from Loma, and there is slim chance of anybody venturing out this time.

And I have started to panic. Really panic.
Luckily my life partner is the balancer. As I rant and rave nonsensically, she calmly tells me, its just the coolant, and we have spare. There is no need to panic, lets get to Hanle.

And then I calm myself down, we sit in the car. Its time to turn on the heating full blast, and start driving.

Fifteen hundred rpm, 5th gear is approx 70kmph, a tad too fast for a lonely dark ladakhi highway, black top or not. But this is what we have to do if I am to reach Hanle without her overheating.

Outside the temperature is dropping even more, and our old comrade Changthang has decided to get colder, and get us to Hanle.
AS I pick up speed, the temperature guage actually drops a little below the half mark. Its working. The heating combined with the low rpm high speed run, along with the ice cold winds of Changthang as keeping the elephant cool.

Barely 10kms from Hanle, we encoutner an ITPB ambulance, who tell us there is a BRO workshop as well a small ITBP setup in Leh.

Things are looking up, and we race towards Hanle again.
Little past seven, we are there, and again my wife tells me that the trip will go on as planned. We will find a way, and right now I should do what I am supposed to do on a cold clear windy night

What is that you may ask?
Well its simple. Hanle is like Mecca for Astrophotographers, and its time to get the camera, and take some night shots

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6566_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6568_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6569_lrxl.jpg

I am supposed to do something else also, which I do not do.
And we retire to be Early.

We have two nights here, and our white elephant is bleeding. With panic, and worry, I go to sleep. What do we do tomorrow?

Last edited by tsk1979 : 15th December 2012 at 22:26.
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