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Old 7th January 2013, 12:46   #1
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Default Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

During end-Dec 2012 and early-Jan 2013 my wife and I drove from Jamshedpur in our 2-month old XUV-W6 to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung and Yumthang in Sikkim, India. It was an awesome driving experience. The total distance covered was 1925 KM out of which about 550 KM were in the hills.

The route we took to Siliguri while going was : Jamshedpur - Chandil - Purulia - Dhanbad - Giridih - Bengabad - Madhupur - Deoghar - Hansdiha - Bhagalpur - Purnea - Dalkhola - Islampur - Siliguri (total distance 700 KM).

While returning, we took a slightly different route : Siliguri - Islampur - Dalkhola - Purnea - Bhagalpur - Hansdiha - Basukinath - Jamtara - Mihijam - Purulia - Chandil - Jamshedpur (total distance 630 KM).

Let me share my travelogue with you through some pictures.


At Dhanbad, we passed through 'Randhir Verma Chowk'. Randhir Prasad Verma was a daring IPS officer. He and I were good friends and studied in the same class together at St. John's School, Ranchi for a few years in the early 60's. Some information about Randhir can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randhir_Prasad_Verma. Also note illegally mined coal being carried on a bicycle.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv.jpg



On the way to Deoghar.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv001.jpg



Crossing a shallow river bed near Deoghar. This was a cakewalk compared to the terrain the XUV would have to negotiate in North Sikkim.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv002.jpg



A lane near Baidyanath Dham in Deoghar.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv003.jpg



Poster at a cinema hall near Baidyanath Dham.
Attachment 1035190



A lane near Baidyanath Dham.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv005.jpg



Holy pond (Shiv Ganga) near Baidyanath Dham.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv006.jpg



Inside Baidyanath Dham temple.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv007.jpg



Shiv Ganga aarti (6:45 PM daily).
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv008.jpg



The XUV passing through dense fog on the way to Purnea.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv009.jpg

Last edited by moralfibre : 7th January 2013 at 15:40.
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Old 7th January 2013, 13:08   #2
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

Camels pass by the Cheetah on a foggy morning near Purnea.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv010.jpg



I captured this silhouette at Rangpo.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv011.jpg



At M.G. Road, Gangtok.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv012.jpg



M.G. Road at Gangtok is like a City Centre, with walkways, benches, shops and eateries. No vehicular traffic is allowed there.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv013.jpg



To go to Nathu La and North Sikkim, even Indian citizens need a special Inner Line Permit from Army and Police Authorities. Here is my North Sikkim permit issued by Sikkim Police.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv014.jpg



On the way to Nathu La.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv015.jpg



Tsomgo Lake along the road to Nathu La.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv016.jpg



Landslide being cleared on the road to Nathu La.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv017.jpg



At Baba Harbhajan Singh temple near Nathu La.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv018.jpg



Road to Nathu La.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv019.jpg
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Old 7th January 2013, 13:33   #3
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

From the time you had mentioned about your planned travel to Sikkim in your other posts, was awaiting eagerly to hear and much more see it through your words and pictures.

Sikkim especially holds a special place for us since our trip in 2011 to West Sikkim and Nathu La hence looking forward to see it all over again through your eyes and in your ride especially the North Sikkim part (which we missed due to the earthquake then). Just curious did you do Gurudongmar bcos thats our must do in our next trip for sure!

So let the journey begin!
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Old 7th January 2013, 14:25   #4
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

Standing on a frozen lake near Nathu La.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv020.jpg



There are many small lakes near Nathu La. Most were either fully or partly frozen.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv021.jpg



Near Nathu La.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv022.jpg



The Indian Army conference hall at Nathu La (14,300 feet).
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv023.jpg



Flag meetings between Indian and Chinese military authorities are held in this conference room.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv024.jpg



Snow-capped peaks on the Chinese side of the border.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv025.jpg



A Chinese border post at Nathu La.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv026.jpg



Posing in front of the Nathu La border Trade Gate.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv027.jpg



Returning from Nathu La.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv028.jpg


At Tsomgo Lake.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv029.jpg
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Old 7th January 2013, 14:47   #5
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

While returning from Nathu La to Gangtok we had to stop again as another part of the road was being cleared. Subsequently, during the drive to Lachung (North Sikkim) and back we had to wait for road clearing activity on a couple of occasions.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-xuv030.jpg



View of Kanchendzonga from Tashi view point in Gangtok.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang.jpg



Many snow-capped peaks are visible on the way to Chumthang.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang001.jpg



One of my two horns packed up during the drive to North Sikkim. A wire had broken and I fixed it myself.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang002.jpg



Roads in North Sikkim are far worse than the Nathu La road. Roads were badly damaged due to the earthquake in Sikkim. Also, mountainsides became brittle, leading to more frequent landslides and boulders breaking loose.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang003.jpg



There are many waterfalls on the way.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang004.jpg



At Lachung valley.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang005.jpg



Mountains such as these surround the Lachung valley.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang006.jpg



Driving to Yumthang.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang007.jpg



The old girl throwing snow-balls!
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang008.jpg
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Old 7th January 2013, 15:08   #6
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

Too good. I am sure now the XUV will cover all those terrains hidden and known in the eastern and north-eastern parts of India. Thanks so much for the wonderful pictures, excellent subject selection and framing. Did the fact that you were in the navy help you with the permissions to travel right up to the trade gate in your own vehicle? As far as I have heard the Sikkim administration is hands in gloves with the local taxi operators such that they won't allow private vehicles (including 4WD ones) to go to these areas even if there are no army restrictions. Waiting for the rest of the pictures.
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Old 7th January 2013, 15:18   #7
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

Great travelogue.. reminds me of my stint at Nathula (Escape to Nathula)
Nice pictures and narration.

Eagerly waiting for the next set of pictures
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Old 7th January 2013, 15:21   #8
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

Near Yumthang.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang009.jpg



Road to Yumthang.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang010.jpg



Road to Yumthang.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang011.jpg



At Yumthang (13,000 feet).
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang012.jpg



At Yumthang valley -- awesome combo of mountains and Teesta river.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang014.jpg



When will Indians get civilized? The most pristine tourist spots in North Sikkim are littered with trash.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang015.jpg



At Yumthang.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang013.jpg



At Yumthang.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang016.jpg



It was a heady feeling for me at Yumthang -- not because of the rarified air though; The realization of having 'conquered' Yumthang was the reason!
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang017.jpg



The Bridgestone Duelers of my XUV frolicking in the snow!
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang018.jpg



A kerosene fired radiator in our cabin at Lachung. We stayed with 14 Mahar Regt.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang019.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang018.jpg  


Last edited by .anshuman : 7th January 2013 at 18:40. Reason: Removed the last pic, please refer rule#11. Thanks
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Old 7th January 2013, 16:02   #9
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

Ice over my bonnet. Car was parked in the open overnight at Lachung.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang021.jpg



Windshield completely iced over. I (foolishly) first ran the wipers -- they didn't make any difference as the ice was frozen solid. Pouring hot water over the windshield was the only way out. Thank god the glass did not crack.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang022.jpg



Ice on wipers and windshield.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang023.jpg



It was minus 4 deg C when we left Lachung at 7 AM. God knows what the temperature was during the night.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang024.jpg



The Garmin navigator was used only for altitude. The Garmin maps were completely useless in Sikkim. Even in the plains of West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand the Garmin maps misled me many times. On some occasions I felt like throwing the Garmin on the road and driving my XUV over it. But I refrained from doing so as it is a gift from my daughters. I also hope that future map upgrades would be better.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang025.jpg



Descending from Lachung.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang028.jpg



Oh no! Another road clearing operation in progress. Time to click some more pics!
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang029.jpg



I have seen many many views of the Kanchendzonga massif from various places. But the view from Singhik (9 KM north of Mangan in North Sikkim) is one of the best.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang030.jpg



Descended to the plains.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang031.jpg



Reached Jharkhand after a wonderful driving holiday.
Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500-yumthang032.jpg
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Old 7th January 2013, 16:51   #10
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

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Originally Posted by debuda View Post
The Garmin navigator was used only for altitude. The Garmin maps were completely useless in Sikkim. Even in the plains of West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand the Garmin maps misled me many times. On some occasions I felt like throwing the Garmin on the road and driving my XUV over it. But I refrained from doing so as it is a gift from my daughters. I also hope that future map upgrades would be better.
Even the altitude reading from GPS devices is an approximation as I read somewhere. Sad to hear that Garmin maps for the eastern India is pathetic. Seems the best of the lot in the navigation devices seems to be Map My India though many a time my device has shown me driving through water or non-existent roads. Hopefully Garmin gets its act together here. Most GPS devices in India need to do a lot towards accuracy of their maps for India.
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Old 7th January 2013, 17:06   #11
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

Was eagerly awaiting your travelogue and had been checking the site umpteen number of times!
Simply brilliant in all ways!!
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Old 7th January 2013, 17:14   #12
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

Dada,Excellent travelogue and photography. Keep revving and do you take very well care of your selves and of the Cheetah too.looking forward to your update on this testing period for the machine in your ownership thread.
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Old 7th January 2013, 17:42   #13
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

Quote:
Originally Posted by debuda;3009117

At Yumthang valley -- awesome combo of mountains and Teesta river.
[ATTACH
1035309[/ATTACH]

Debuda, wonderful pictures. It must have been a wonderful experience. Sikkim is a place i love a lot and you made me nostalgic as if i was there yesterday. Just wanted to share one information i.e. Lachung river flows through Yumthang which meets Lachen river at Chungthang. Both the rivers meet together and form Teesta river at Chungthang.

BTW, how did your XUV perform in that terrain? Did you use any diesel antigen so that the diesel does not freeze or rather what was it like in the next morning?
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Old 7th January 2013, 18:20   #14
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

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Originally Posted by debuda View Post
Ice over my bonnet. Car was parked in the open overnight at Lachung.
Cdr, its amazing to see the places you managed to reach to. I had been to Tsongma myself, albeit chafferer driven in an Innova, in the summer of 2012 but most places remain out of reach for civilians despite summer time. The roads are virtually non existent in many places and the terrain unleashes the worst possible behaviour on your car.

I also note that your XUV isn't wearing snow chains in Dec whereas in June all the army trucks going further above Tsongma needed them in diagonal wheels! Even our Innova in that month was skidding when we would happen to hit a few meters of frozen road in between.
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Old 7th January 2013, 18:43   #15
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Default re: Drive to Gangtok, Nathu La, Lachung & Yumthang in my XUV500

Beautiful pictures Debuda!

Nice to see your XUV visit such beautiful places. I always wanted to visit Sikkim and Bhutan, will surely do sometime soon.
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