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Old 22nd January 2013, 16:01   #226
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Nice shots of the smaller Morey plains, hows the accommodation scenario during early Sept in Tso Moriri?
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Old 22nd January 2013, 16:41   #227
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

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Nice shots of the smaller Morey plains, hows the accommodation scenario during early Sept in Tso Moriri?
Slightly better, but the accomodation is expensive at Tso moriri all year around if you see the value it offers.
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Old 24th January 2013, 00:13   #228
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Default Day 12 #1: From the Cold Moriri to the colder La

Thanks to the Tarp, the white elephant starts on front crank. Its -10 at 6:30am. The white elephant is idling, but can't say the same for us. We barely manage to get out of bed, and get ready. After a quick tea its time to march on.

7:30am.
A fog obscures the lake. Its all black and white
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6741_lrxl.jpg

However, its mostly fog. No snowfall here. Just some light sprinkling on the mountain tops
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6745_lrxl.jpg

We move on. The streams are frozen solid, and the weather is opening up a bit now. Our last glimpse of the Moriri
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6747_lrxl.jpg

A shot from the plains
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6748_lrxl.jpg

The sky is now turning blue
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6749_lrxl.jpg

Our stop and go means its past 8:30 when we reach Kiagar Tso. Time to stop. This is one lake you cannot miss
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6750_lrxl.jpg

Towards the south are clouds, but towards the north, its all clear
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6751_lrxl.jpg

Its been 12 days, and we have not encountered a single western disturbance. Must be a new record for october.
But its cold, very cold. The Kiagar has started freezing on the edges
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6752_lrxl.jpg

Maybe a month more, and you can skate here
The duck family however does not seem to be bothered by the cold.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6753_lrxl.jpg

As we climb towards Namshang LA, the sky clears further, and we goodbye to Kiagar Tso
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6761_lrxl.jpg

Eleven lakes done. 13 passes done, but we had a long long drive ahead of us. I put my camera to rest, and pushed on.
A group of domestic yak
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6763_lrxl.jpg

We are approaching something called the Polokong La. A very interesting name. Well the landscape is interesting, and the road is back breaking. We have not crossed even a single vehicle since we hit this road
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6766_lrxl.jpg

And little past 10am, we are at the Polokong La, or 14th pass!
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6767_lrxl.jpg
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Old 24th January 2013, 00:16   #229
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Default Day 12 #2: Thirteen Fourteen

Its our first time at Polokong La. Like many less done La, it has a steep climb, and a bad surface. For the past hour we have been pushing on in 1st gear. Not as bad as Wari La, but nevertheless, not a pass to be taken lightly.
So we decide to rest the whtie elephant. We are going to visit the Tata service in Leh, but I want to check up the engine bay.

Thankfully, everything is holding fine. No leaks, no drama. The fans work fine, and the engine is not overheating.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6770_lrxl.jpg

The top here is a table-top, quite rare as far as La are concerned.
The grass is all brown here. I wonder how it will look in green?
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6768_lrxl.jpg

We move on, towards the lakes, and get our first glimpse of the twin beauties.
Yes, its not just Tso Kar, but also Starsepuk Tso. A lake far from the road, and not noticed by many. It lies the south of the bigger Kar, and is hardly approachable, even on foot due to the marshes.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6772_lrxl.jpg

Zooming in
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6774_lrxl.jpg

Time is short, we are hungry, and frankly speaking, very tired. So this is the closest we get to the Tso Kar. Giving it a skip and heading towards the village, for some rubbish food
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6775_lrxl.jpg

The road has become Tar now, but is actually worse, thanks to uneven surface
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6776_lrxl.jpg

With camera packed, we make good progress. No stopping at Tanglang La. The goal is to get to TASS leh before they close for the evening.

Our only pit stop? A natural car wash somewhere near Rumste
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6779_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6786_lrxl.jpg

And as we approach Leh, Stakna presents itself in a different light. Every day you look at this monastory, it will look different
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6790_lrxl.jpg

Its around past 3 when we march into a dilapidated workshop. A couple of Sumo Grands are sitting there with engine heads opened, and a few workers are sitting and chatting.
Not a good feeling. This workshop seems dead! Good I listened to my wife and got the elephant fixed.

Anyways, as expected they did not know whats de-gassing(as expected). Well I knew what it is. But coolant...? they did not have coolant. We got the air filter cleaned, but a replacement would have been better. But no air filter in stock. The techs told me that the vehicles with heads opened are the ones awaiting parts for over a week.

Lesson. If you own a Tata make sure you do not require spare parts in Leh!

Now this posed a dilemma. I did not want to push till Zanskar without buying coolant. Thankfully, from the open market I could buy some. Also bought some engine oil to be on the safe side. Zanskar was going to be totally uncharted territory.

And with stocks loaded, we started on the brilliant NH1-A, stopping just at the Gurudwara for some help from the almighty.
This time, we had decided, we weren't going to return midway from Zanskar!
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Old 24th January 2013, 09:43   #230
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Default Re: Day 12 #2: Thirteen Fourteen

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Now this posed a dilemma. I did not want to push till Zanskar without buying coolant. Thankfully, from the open market I could buy some. Also bought some engine oil to be on the safe side. Zanskar was going to be totally uncharted territory.
Good to see that this travelogue is ticking for the last few days. "Zanskar", this name sounds very different. It seems to be a mix of two words "Zankar", which is sound on some instrument & "Sanskar", which is like moral values. Am I reading it right or is there some different history behind this name?
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Old 24th January 2013, 10:44   #231
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Default Re: Day 12 #2: Thirteen Fourteen

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Good to see that this travelogue is ticking for the last few days. "Zanskar", this name sounds very different. It seems to be a mix of two words "Zankar", which is sound on some instrument & "Sanskar", which is like moral values. Am I reading it right or is there some different history behind this name?
Its a ladakhi name, and has nothing to do with Sanskar. It has to do with "Copper"
Zangskar is what appears in older texts. Read about it here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanskar
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Old 24th January 2013, 18:52   #232
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Default Day 12 #3 : The Ghost town of Lamayuru

Its little past 5pm as we reach the Magnetic hill, where an optical illusion makes you believe that magnetism is at work. Add to that old wives tails of helicopters and aircrafts being pulled to the ground.
The compass behaved normally, and the rubber ball also rolls uphill, dissing theroies of aliens and magnetic sorcery.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6792_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6793_lrxl.jpg

Towards the southeast of the point lies this hill. See those tire tracks. Our record of 2010 still holds!
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6794_lrxl.jpg

The road has been improved a lot. Gone are the landslides and the rough patches. Only few remain.
A view of the Confluence
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6795_lrxl.jpg

The river Zanskar. In a few years, you will quickly get to Padum along the river, but for now, you have to take the long long route.

Some clouds gather, pounding the mountains with snow. But no snow our way!
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6798_lrxl.jpg

This is what you call a road!
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6801_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6803_lrxl.jpg

Clouds
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6805_lrxl.jpg

At Saspul Gompa we take the last shot of the day
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6807_lrxl.jpg

And continue our Journey. Due to one hour in Leh, we have been slowed down a bit. Reaching Kargil is not a possiblity. However, Lamayuru is, and its dark, though not too late at around 730pm when we roll into the town.

Cold icy winds blow dust clouds, and dogs bark and howl. We cannot see a single soul here. It seems as if the entire town has run away.

We drive on the narrow lanes, looking for something resembling a hotel. Find a few too, but all locked, with not a soul in sight. Its not even mid october, and I guess once the tourists go, the town also runs away.

Finally, after around half an hour of roaming, we spot a house with somebody living in it. Some knocks later, an old lady comes out, and points us to a door in the opposite lane. Thats one GH which is open.

And it turns out to be a mighty fine one. The owner lady gives us a room for 600, and the best part? The room has a hot shower.
We are heading to Zanskar tomorrow, so we make the most of it.

The food is economical and delicious. In the region I guess, the best places to stay are the Guest houses. Good price, good food and excellent amenities!

Sleep comes easy. Last few days have been hectic.
Where will we go tomorrow.

Zanskar, yeah, but I have not idea till where will we reach. Anyways, tomorrow is tomorrow, for now, its time to sleep
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Old 24th January 2013, 18:54   #233
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Default Day 13 #1 : Escape from Ladakh

7:00am
Its cold. But -3 feels so warm and nice after the previous few days. The elephants bonnet is open, and I am trying to follow the instructions to a T.

Open radiator cap.
Start engine
Start putting in coolant.

Wait till it comes to brim
Rev engine 1200-1500rpm

Add more coolant

Repeat till no coolant can go in.

We decide to skip breakfast in the interest of time, and simply move ahead. Maggi on the way will suffice.

We have a long long road ahead of us. Today we will escape ladakh, and enter a new sub region.
For now, its time to enjoy the road

The road has deteriorated a bit, but nothing compared to the torture we had endured earlier.
Our first pass for the day, number 15 is the Fotu la. Its the highest point on the Srinagar Leh road
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6810_lrxl.jpg

Soon after comes number sixteen. The pillar in the sky or Namika La
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6812_lrxl.jpg

Its 9am, and we are full of energy.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6813_lrxl.jpg

the barren gives away to yellow
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And as we approach Kargil, its even more Yellow
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6815_lrxl.jpg

ITs almost 11 as we roll into Kargil. This is our fuel point. The elephant is topped up, and I also get some in the can, so that we do not have to get fuel till Srinagar on the return from Zanskar.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6817_lrxl.jpg

Few minutes later, we are on the road again.... The road to Suru and Zanskar valleys, the Copper Kingdom!
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Old 25th January 2013, 10:04   #234
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Default Re: Day 12 #3 : The Ghost town of Lamayuru

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The road has been improved a lot. Gone are the landslides and the rough patches. Only few remain.
A view of the Confluence

The river Zanskar. In a few years, you will quickly get to Padum along the river, but for now, you have to take the long long route.
The view of the confluence is simply breathtaking. Which one amongst the two is the river Zanskar, & what is the name of the other one?
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Old 25th January 2013, 10:19   #235
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Default Re: Day 12 #3 : The Ghost town of Lamayuru

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The view of the confluence is simply breathtaking. Which one amongst the two is the river Zanskar, & what is the name of the other one?
Zanskar is the one coming from the top of the image. The one coming from the left is the Indus.
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Old 25th January 2013, 10:30   #236
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Default Re: Day 12 #3 : The Ghost town of Lamayuru

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Zanskar is the one coming from the top of the image. The one coming from the left is the Indus.
Thanks for letting us know the name of the other river. From the confluence downstream, is it called Zanskar or Indus? (I am guessing it would be Indus, because it is the well know river). Correct me if I am wrong here.
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Old 25th January 2013, 11:05   #237
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

Absolutely brilliant narration and equally marvellous pohotograps - I'm hooked and glued to this travelogue!

Travelling all these within such a tight timescale means no margin for much deviance from the plan, and with your love-hate relationship (again brilliantly described) with the White Elephant, I believe it is hell of a travelogue!

I demand a detailed plan and actuals, the way HVK makes, becuase that is something which will help many.

For me, Leh/Ladhak has been a dream so far, with plans made and then abandoned due to some personal engagements, but that's a dream I'm bound to make true some day, thanks to brilliant Travelogues posted on Team-BHP. The more you read them, the more you get attracted and tempted to get into the shoes.

Thank you! I'm looking forward to the onward journey (and of course consolidated details of the plan).
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Old 25th January 2013, 11:50   #238
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Default Re: 18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again

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Thanks for letting us know the name of the other river. From the confluence downstream, is it called Zanskar or Indus? (I am guessing it would be Indus, because it is the well know river). Correct me if I am wrong here.
Yes, its Indus of course
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonstop-driver View Post
Absolutely brilliant narration and equally marvellous pohotograps - I'm hooked and glued to this travelogue!

Travelling all these within such a tight timescale means no margin for much deviance from the plan, and with your love-hate relationship (again brilliantly described) with the White Elephant, I believe it is hell of a travelogue!

I demand a detailed plan and actuals, the way HVK makes, becuase that is something which will help many.

For me, Leh/Ladhak has been a dream so far, with plans made and then abandoned due to some personal engagements, but that's a dream I'm bound to make true some day, thanks to brilliant Travelogues posted on Team-BHP. The more you read them, the more you get attracted and tempted to get into the shoes.

Thank you! I'm looking forward to the onward journey (and of course consolidated details of the plan).
With every stage I am publishing a route. At the end I will put the exact date and plan day wise, with kms covered, route map etc., and time taken.
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Old 25th January 2013, 16:55   #239
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Default Day 13 #2 : The colors of Suru

220kms. Give or take a few.
Thats how far is Padum from the town of Kargil. At 30kmph average its little over 7 hours of driving.
If you were running the raid de Himalaya, you would achieve faster speeds, if you can complete the stretch with an intact suspension.

However, we were not running the Raid. This year nobody was running the Raid here, it ended in Leh.

So a realistic speed I could hope was 20kmph average, and that put our ETA at 9pm.

For now, its not half past 11, and the road is holding up. JK PWD has decided to construct something which looks like a road, and is pretty smooth too, till Panikhar.

Nevertheless, we decided to take it slow. After all who wants to miss the colors of Suru.
Many believe that the best time to visit Suru and Zanskar is september. With the yellow brown grass, and the blue skies, it can be called a photographers delight. Scenes which awe you, humble you and make you forget the road.

However, I disagree. September is just the Trailer. IF you want to watch the movie, you must go there in October.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6820_lrxl.jpg

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6821_lrxl.jpg

A rare sight here, fresh black top tarmac. If only this existed all the way, its just a 6 hour run!
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Whatever green remains is sought after.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6831_lrxl.jpg

But even with this road, you cannot hold up the speed. For you have to stop, and stare and wonder
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6835_lrxl.jpg

This is the land of glaciers. They lurk in every frame. Some new, some old
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6839_lrxl.jpg

As we approach Tongul, the peaks come into view. I believe they are Nun and Kun. Obscured by clouds, but still magnificient
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6841_lrxl.jpg

The road vanishes, but the wonders do not. The worst stretch of the road is near Parakchik. But it is here you witness a glacier, right in your face, right on the road.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6844_lrxl.jpg

After Parakchik, we have a sense of urgency. ITs almost 3pm, and we are not even at Rangdum, the midway point. Its probably less than 20kms away, but kms have little meaning here. It can take 1 hour or 2.

Slowly and steadily we are gaining altitude, and the trees now vanish, giving way to the dead brown grass, and the barren alpine landscape for company.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6851_lrxl.jpg

Ladakh in october is barren, devoid of snow, a mix of brown and blue.
But not here. Here the white stays. The white fights, and never goes away. In May there is lot of white, in October there is less, but its always there.

For its the land of Glaciers. Durang durung you say? I saw many more. Not all are visible for the road. You have to stop and climb the hills by the side to "rise"
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6853_lrxl.jpg

This is our first break. Yes we are short of time. But this seems like a good place to rest. So we soak in the views, and the elephant also rests, with nothing leaking, only everything creaking
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6854_lrxl.jpg

The shadows have started. The days are shorter. And in 3 hours this light will go away
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6856_lrxl.jpg

As the days get shorter, these visiters will also go away. Who knows maybe this is their flight out of here?
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6858_lrxl.jpg

Its 3:30 when we finally hit Rangdum
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6862_lrxl.jpg

In September 2009, we turned back from here. Defeated by the road. today, we will march ahead. This is our lunch stop. I ask a lone trucker, how far to Padum, and he replies 5, 6 or 7 hours.

We know it will be dark when we reach Padum, but we hope that there will be enough light for the Durang Durung.

A delicious maggi, and a hot cup of tea later we are on the road again. Suru valley will end soon, and we will enter Zanskar.
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Old 25th January 2013, 17:09   #240
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Default Day 13 #3 : Towards the Copper Kingdom through the seventeen

Zanskar.
Or Zangskar
or Zangskyar

Many names. They all come from copper. Whether its white copper or copper or whatever, scholars don't agree. But then if they agreed they will not be scholars, right?

As for us, we agree only two things.
We need to hurry
We cannot hurry because the landscape is so very amazing

See, both things we agree on are contradictory. I guess that makes us Scholars too.

Well its past 4pm, and we have to move now

18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6863_lrxl.jpg

At Randum, this triangle mountain is the most imposing feature. It dwarfs the Rangdum Gompa, seen on the lower right.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6865_lrxl.jpg

Rangdum is also a wetland, hence the grass maintains its foothold here. But its gone all brown, thanks to the cold. The chinese thermometer says 10 degree C, but then the chinese thermometer is enjoying the elephants heating.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6866_lrxl.jpg

We move on a surface that is more like the moon and less like a road. 20kmph. Who am I kidding. It had taken us little over 4 hours to do Kargil-Rangdum, the midway point, but the road ahead... its a lot more ardous!
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6867_lrxl.jpg

The Sun is going down. And its getting cloudy. But then Pensi La is always cloudy, and thats where we are heading to
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6870_lrxl.jpg

The road rises, slowly but surely, and it gets darker and colder
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6875_lrxl.jpg

Glaciers send icy winds towards us. They are there, lurking behind these massive walls
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6883_lrxl.jpg

In the rush to Durang Durung, many forget the source of the Suru, or the source of a major tributary
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6885_lrxl.jpg

Can the road get worse? Well it does.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6886_lrxl.jpg

And as expected, it gets darker and colder. This is where one of the massive tributaries of the Suru start. The glacier is all but obscured
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6891_lrxl.jpg

Almost 6pm, and we are at Pensi La. Our 17th Pass.
18 Passes, 15 lakes and 2 breakdowns : Ladakh and Lahaul call again-dsc_dsc_6894_lrxl.jpg
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