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|5th April 2013, 12:07||#1|
Distinguished - BHPian
We ran out of road!
*Kothi" in Kannada means "Monkey"
I was a 10 year old sitting in the geography class. Our teacher was showing us the map of India and explaining the borders of our country. “India spans from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh” she said. My dream was ignited on that day 18years ago, a dream to travel from the top to the bottom of our country.
The Dream finally came true in August 2012. 4 men and a mean machine got together as if they were destined for this.
On the pleasant morning of August 10th 2012, our journey started. The journey which would cover 10 states, 10000kms, diverse terrain lasting 18 days but a lifetime of memories, a road trip from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
Its now close to one year since we completed this mega trip of ours.
It has finally sunk in,
skin tan has faded,
facebook likes and comments have stopped,
Photo album made and I have shown it to everyone I could,
spoke about it umpteen number of times with friends and colleagues,
and wrote a small travelogue for the company magazine.
Now finally its time for the detailed travelogue. This is a travelogue of our trip where WE RAN OUT OF ROAD!
Before writing any further, I would like to start by thanking all people who helped me realizing this dream. My belief is that if I thank them at the end, their names will go unnoticed (like in movie screenings).
This old print ad for Tata Safari pretty much sums up my feelings.
Last edited by hemanth.anand : 25th July 2013 at 15:47.
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|8th April 2013, 15:30||#2|
Distinguished - BHPian
Re: We ran out of road!
HITS AND MISSES
The first time I came to know about Khardung La was in 2008. The mere phrase “highest motor able road in the world” was enough to excite anyone. One day when riding pillion on BHPian avinashsg’s bullet I told him my thoughts of going there. Although he was interested, the plan just didn’t take off apart from that thought
2009 was the year of weddings...every one of us were so much engaged in getting wedded; we knew that we couldn’t do this. However one of my colleagues went to Leh on his Thunderbird. That’s when I collected some useful info about the place.
2010: Married people will connect with me better in what the first year of wedding will be like-Hectic! plan your 1st trip as a married guy, visit relatives, visit friends etc.
Added to that, I ('WE' rather) purchased a new car and the budget constraints made it more tough for us to make a trip of this scale.
Also that year, as everyone knows, flash floods had hit Leh and things were not in good shape there.
Although we could not make it, two more of my friends covered there places in their motorcycles in separate expeditions.
The flash floods made their expeditions that much more difficult and because of that they could give us some good worst-case-scenario information.
In 2011, I was watching “perilous journeys” on National Geographic. The episode where the host Marsh Mokhtari driving a Scorpio to Khardungla was being broadcasted. That’s when I decided that I’ll take my car there; come what may. Immediately, I sent an SMS to my friends.
4 guys; BHPians avinashsg, pumpy_raj and I met up for a "Cuppa" coffee and soon we decided that we’ll drive one Punto and another Ritz-Both Petrol.
We caught up with the friend who had come back after facing the flash floods.
He scared us so much that one of the guys backed out immediately. But more importantly we also found out that we people were really under prepared for this kind of a trip.
After this, I seriously started to collect all information, read all Leh travelogues in TBHP and other forums, posted queries and everything else that could prepare us for this drive.
tsk1979’s post were of real help here I must say. And 1 year was ample time for preparing our families to let us do this.
With family planning pressure increasing on us, we knew that it will be a case of "now or never". We had to do it in 2012 in any case.
The initial plan was to take my Punto and a Ritz. Come September 2011; avinashsg gave us a really good news. He had decided to buy an SUV after retiring his age old M800 and Santro
Although my heart told me to drive my Punto, My head said that an SUV was a better choice. Moreover, 4 drivers in 1 car would be a better situation than 4 drivers in 2 cars.
Apart from choosing my wife, my heart has hardly won over my head!
Anyways as a consolation I took this with me
Happiness lies in small things
From the outset, avinashsg’s family was not very keen on him spending more than a million rupees on a car.
But he had stood firm on his decision and went against their opinions and booked his SUV. He was a like Sepoy who started a Mutiny in his house
It was that time when the XUV 5OO was launched. Before that, we test drove Scorpio, Safari, Bolero and Xylo.
Safari impressed us the most followed by Bolero. Scorpio and Xylo was a disappointment. No offense meant to Scorpio or Xylo owners
The sales executive in the XUV showed us his driving skills and the XUV’s capabilities. We were IMPRESSED to say the least. After this, the booking amount cheque was ready within no time.
In came the shocker. M&M had decided to go for a Lottery. As soon as it was announced, avinashsg told me that he isn’t lucky enough but still went ahead with the application.
As was expected, he was not lucky enough for an XUV. In a few days he got the refund amount from M&M. M&M’s loss was Tata’s gain.
Straight away he went and gave the booking amount to Tata. A Pearl white Safari EX was booked. On March 23rd, some 5 months to our trip, the Vehicle arrived. We called it “Airavatha”: Indra’s white elephant.
As a coincidence to what had happened, the registration number he got for his vehicle was 1857...the year when Sepoy mutiny started.
That’s when we christened ourselves “Sepoys”
It has arrived!
On the day of delivery, avinashsg's sibling presented him a set of Neo Alloys. In two hours the OE steel wheels were sold (for peanuts) to make way for a glittering new set.
The old wheel cover became a mere tub in the garage.
2 hours later...
How's that for a wheel
Lo main aa gaya
After the Alloys were done, Live To Drive sticker was pasted on the rear Bumper!
Looking at our company holiday calendars, we decided that mid August is the best time where we will get maximum time. 10 days of leaves would give us 18 days for this trip. It was a short time and here we found one disadvantage being Bangaloreans. I decided to give maximum time to Ladakh and stop for sightseeing in other places just to give rest to our bodies. In Ladakh My main intention was to cover the most important destinations.
I charted out 4 days in Ladakh, 2 days for Emergency, 2 days for going around other cities (Amritsar and Srinagar) and remaining 10 days for driving to and fro Bangalore
Leh expert and BHPian hvkumar also gave a green signal to this route with some minor tweaks. (The grey rows were alternate plans)
Shown below is the initial plan I made
Then we spoke to the second friend, who made this in the year of flash floods and based on his suggestions, We changed our plans.
Most of the route remained same except for the stop-overs. Below is the Plan B.
To be frank, we were a confused lot for a few days with too many suggestions. So we had decided to be dynamic and were open to changes depending on the situations during the actual journey.
I’ll reveal how the actual route changed later in the travelogue.
We also visited BHPian J.Ravi; How should I explain him to you? Whatever comes to your mind when you think of a 60 year old retired-from-duty person, He's just opposite to that
His passion to explore, interest in modern technologies, Strength and courage to drive a car over long distances...not often do you find such people. To put it in one word; he is our inspiration for this trip.
My thought was "when he can do it a sedan, we can definitely do it in an SUV".
After a long chat, he provided us with all the maps, invaluable inputs and then his navigator, "his wife" gave us a cup of coffee in the FIAT mugs.
One sentence he told us summarized the whole meeting "Don't think too much JUST DO IT"
Since the Airavatha was delivered to us 5months before our journey, we thought it was good time for us to prepare not just the vehicle but the men driving it as well.
We did a couple of small drives around Bangalore over weekends. But we also felt the need to test our ability to cope up with long drives.
We decided to visit a friend of ours in Hubli, which is 400kms from Bangalore and come back the same day. One day we started by 6AM and reached Hubli by lunch. After lunch we started by 4PM and reached Bangalore by 10PM.
The acres of leg room in the Safari compared to my hatchback ensured that our legs were not tired. The owner BHPian avinashsg made sure that he gave most of the driving to us 3 so that we get used to the vehicle. The results were really good. The other 3 of us being hatchback drivers got used to driving the beast
Although this being a 4 lane highway, it would give us a feedback on how the men and machine perform individually and also in tandem.
So everything was falling in place nicely. But Murphy had to strike!
BHPian pumpy_raj who was excited and all in readiness had to face some unfortunate situations at home. The situation was such that he had no option but to drop out.
We started to search in our friends’ circle for a person as the fourth member. Many were interested but nobody confirmed. Although we were looking for the fourth member we had decided that we will continue even if we are only three people. Our calculations would be a little different with one less person but there was no way that we would cancel the trip this year.
One fine day in office while having tea with my colleagues I was discussing this and told them that one guy had cancelled.
Suddenly one of them told me that he will come.
Enter Sushruth... a guy who has not traveled outside Karnataka. He had recently purchased a car but was still learning how to drive. I was initially not sure if he would come, but finally he made it!
I introduced him to the other 2 people and we spoke in length about our plans and everyone got along very well. Murphy didn't affect us too much after all.
Then we showed him the Vehicle. As soon as he saw the beast, he decided that he'll not drive
Although he didn’t want to drive, he made up for it by sitting in the passenger seat when others wanted to take rest. He made sure that he kept the driver in check. He also maintained the accounts and was our "Cashier" for the trip.
So two BHPians; hemanth.anand(Hemanth), avinashsg(Avinash), one of my friends (Vishwanath) and another colleague of mine(Sushruth) were ready and raring to go.
With the Ride, Riders and the Routes ready, lodging was the next step. I booked most of the hotels through www.makemytrip.com.
Hotel selections in Kargil and Leh were done on recommendations from Souravdebiswas and hvkumar. Other places, the user reviews on the website helped me.
None of the hotels I booked in J&K had online booking facilities. I called them up and they gave their bank account details through email and I paid them 50% advance and then got back a confirmation through email.
I booked the hotels only for my onward journey because I didn’t expect (or hoped) that anything would play spoilsport till Leh
For the return journey I had shortlisted some hotels but didn’t book it just so that we could be flexible. I had planned to get the bookings done by a Tata photon dongle (which was useless after all)
We had a big checklist courtesy again to Souravdebiswas and hvkumar. We started shopping for all the items a month before the actual date of departure.
One weekend we purchased all the necessities for the car. Important ones being
The 4 of us spoke over phone and had a final check at the checklist and everything was in place. we had not missed anything.
We took 4 copies of our itinerary, the hotels we had booked and their numbers, our telephone numbers and other such details and gave one copy each to all of our families...for their information and consolation.
The evening before the journey, I wrote down the details of all my email accounts, bank accounts, other websites and their passwords and gave it to my wife just in case...this one for my consolation.
I slept early that evening but actually fell asleep very late.
Last edited by Rudra Sen : 27th July 2013 at 12:44. Reason: removed extra smileys
|14th May 2013, 14:43||#3|
Distinguished - BHPian
Re: We ran out of road!
Day 1, 10.Aug.2012: Bangalore-Pune
Within no time the D-Day had arrived.
Two BHPians; yours truly hemanth.anand(Hemanth), avinashsg(Avinash), one of my friends (Vishwanath) and another colleague of mine(Sushruth) were ready and raring to go.
It was a strange feeling; a feeling of apprehension, a feeling of joy, a feeling of disbelief and all these mixed with a pinch of fear as well. But..."Darr Ke aage Jeet hai"
It was 6AM on Friday August 10th 2012, the alarm started ringing.
I got up and got ready in half an hour.
Called up the other guys to wake them up...but every one were already getting ready.
Avinash's mother had got a pooja done to the vehicle and a flower garland decorated the vehicle.
Avinash cranked up the engine at 06:45 and reached my house at 07:15
The ODO was displaying 6011kms. In his enthusiasm he memorized the number but forgot to take a picture of the reading
We loaded up the vehicle with all the luggage. I said all the good-byes to my family members and in another half-an hour, The security guy opened the gate and out went the Airavatha
Next we went to Sushruth's house. He had two huge luggage ready for us. The monster gulped it all and filled its stomach...err boot. Understandably for a guy who hadn't traveled outside Karnataka, his family members wore a worried look. it took a little longer to depart from there.
Then we reached Vishwanath's home at 09:00. Contrary to what we had seen earlier at others' homes, there was nobody at his house to give him a farewell...poor chap
We packed the Safari's boot, and we were finally ready to hit the highway!
to the brim!
At 09:30 we reached the Bangalore-Pune NH4. We opened a Pack of dairy milk chocolate and made a "Shubh aarambh"
This would keep us safe it seems
Long way to go
We didn't want to disturb them...he he he
Avinash drove for 300kms. After some 100kms, Something grabbed our attention. A yellow light. Ah! there it was, the "Engine Malfunction" light.
It was a problem from the day 2 of the vehicle. The TASS guys checked it two times and told that we can drive on till the car doesn't stall. the SA had advised us not to worry about the light.
Avinash had prepared himself for such experiences before buying his vehicle and so he was not too surprised with the response he got.
Avinash stopped the vehicle. switched off and switched on...it was gone! he drove on. He had actually registered this malfunction light as a "Tata standard feature" in his mind.
This way he never felt that there's something wrong with the vehicle. on the contrary, in the coming days, he started to worry if the malfunction light was off.
Apart from this standard feature, the other one was the extra chilling AC. It was so chilling that the AC vents were letting out smoke!!! See the video below
Apart from this and some small stops for nature calls, we didn't stop anywhere.
Nothing better to drive on
first of the 11-16
After 300kms, Vishwa took control of the steering.
He being a M800 user, took some time to adjust and by that time, we reached Hubli by around 2:30PM. A steady 400Kms in 6 hours.
We visited Vishwa's in laws to see his newborn baby as well as to have lunch.
By the time we finished lunch we had spent 2hours.
It was a lot more than what we had planned for...anyways we left Hubli at 16:30 after our first refill. We expected another 8 hours to reach our destination for the day.
38.34lts for 400Kms. ₹45.08/- and ₹45.06!
I took the wheel and stepped on the pedal. We had to cover a lot of distance and the next day was also supposed to be an early start.
By 18:30 sun had started to set and the light had started to fade and we were still in Karnataka!
And he was cruising at 80kmph at least
Duplicate Vidhana Soudha!
its rainin' men
Just before I could switch on the Headlamps with the new 100/90s, I stopped for a breather, both for me and the vehicle. I had covered 130 kms in 2 hours.
After a 15min break with water and biscuits I continued at the wheel...with the lights on.
We had reached the Karnataka-Maharashtra border at 19:30 and paid the last toll of Karnataka at Kognoli, Belgaum.
In 5 minutes, I saw one of the worst traffic in my life, the two wheeler traffic of Kolhapur. Although it’s a 4 lane road, one lane is always occupied with two wheelers leaving only one lane for the trucks, tractors, buses and cars to drive on. Add to it a wedding baraat and you have a hellish experience. For me it was the most irritating traffic ever. In between all these, I saw the famous yellow “M” logo with on a red background, I saw the McD outlet near a place called Kini.
Without asking anyone, I turned the wheel leftwards and went straight into the drive-thru counter. Just after coming out of the exit I stopped the vehicle on the roadside and munched on a few crispies. We didn’t want to waste time going inside but that 5 minute break gave me a much needed respite from the 2 wheelers.
By this time it was 8 and I put my complete concentration on the road.
In the next 3 hours we crossed the following cities in a span of an hour between them non-stop (Timings from toll tickets).
We reached the apartment at the stroke of midnight. The ODO read 6925; 914kms and close to 17.5hours.
I realized that I had been driving for 7.5 hours and had covered 514kms without any long breaks. I was tired obviously.
End of the day-914Kms
Our friend had cooked some rice and sambar for us. All of us had our stomach fill and hit bed by 1AM and planned to leave by 6am. The plan was to catch up with sleep in the vehicle, two persons at a time.
I usually take 20 minutes to get into sleep but on that day I may have taken 2 seconds.
So that ended the first day. 17 more days to go...
Last edited by Rudra Sen : 27th July 2013 at 11:23. Reason: removed extra smiley
|The following 23 BHPians Thank hemanth.anand for this useful post:|
|11th June 2013, 17:13||#4|
Distinguished - BHPian
Re: We ran out of road!
Day 2, 11.Aug.2012: Pune-Jaipur
Some sound waves started striking my ear drums. It was the sound coming out of the small speaker at the back of my mobile phone.
It was the alarm tone. It was just 5 minutes back that I had slept. I switched off and slept again cursing the phone.
But then I heard some voice calling my name. Then someone shook my shoulder. It was not 5 minutes, it was 5 hours and the remaining 3 had got up.
I somehow lifted myself from the bed and all four of us were ready in a jiffy and we hopped onto the vehicle by 6:45.
This was the longest day for the vehicle we had planned in our entire trip. We started the day with Vishwa at the wheel. By 7AM, we passed through the Dehuroad cantonment and then on to the Mumbai-Pune expressway.
It was raining the whole night and also it was still raining. I was the only one to have been on this highway before while it was a first time experience for the 3 remaining guys. I chose to sleep till the next pit-stop.
Yashwantrao Chavan Mumbai Pune Expressway
Numerous small waterfalls
YCMPE in MMI
Its rainin' menAfter some 35 minutes we drove into the Sagar drive inn restaurant attached to the HP fuel station.
After having some hot idlis, vada pavs and coffee and tea at the restaurant.
We had last filled the vehicle at Hubli and the tank was close to empty and so we went to the fuel station.
The fuel station had some power problem and he told it might take 20 minutes.
We didn’t want to take chances of going to the next fuel station. So we decided to wait till the station solves it s problem.
Fortunately for us, in 10 minutes they were ready. After getting the tank filled, we restarted our journey.
the beast drank 44lts
There is always light at the end of a tunnel
By 8:15 we entered the Khandala ghat. We soon realized that commonsense was so uncommon here.
There was a huge container truck trying to take a right at this place where the Expressway goes below a flyover and hatchbacks were squeezing through all possible gaps.
No, we will not be a developed country until we stop all these.
Just before Kalamboli we got off the expressway.
Vishwa took over the driving seat from Avinash and we traced our path through Mumbra, Kalwa, Eastern Express highway and then onto Ghodbunder road. We reached NH8 at Varsava by 9AM and after having driven in small roads of Thane (worsened by rain), Vishwa decided to take rest.
I was rejuvenated by then and took the wheel. I drove for 100 minutes and then stopped at an empty lay-bye for some refreshments. We had some chips, biscuits and cool drinks.
I also took out my Abarth and did a small photo session.
Size does matter
After this last photo, we got onto the truck and left the spot. After some 5 minutes, we met with an Accident!
Before you are like , Let me explain what happened. I was driving and a Red Punto overtook us.
It looked like a TBHP sticker and I asked Vishwa to take a picture using the 75-300 and check what the sticker was. It was another Forum’s sticker but then seeing that Punto, Avinash asked me where my Abarth was.
I initially thought he is pulling my leg and told him to stop doing it and told him that he was the one having it.
But then he told me he was serious. He indeed was serious and it was not inside our car!!!
If you have not guessed it by now, none of us bothered to take out the model and I had run over the Punto kept on the Safari's tyre!
I took a U-turn at the next available median-break and came back to the same spot where we had stopped.
There it was...the shattered remains of a beautiful model. Avinash got down and crossed the road while I went ahead and took a U-turn and came back.
I had expected small pieces and debris which would be beyond recognition. But to my surprise, the shell was intact and only the bumpers and the headlights were damaged and separated from the body.
Avinash had almost thrown it when Vishwa and I stopped him. We collected all the pieces in a plastic bag and kept it inside the vehicle.
I don’t know about my Punto, but the model was definitely built like a tank
After this “Accident”, we started from the same spot for the second time.
Very soon we were at the Maharastra-Gujarat Border and the rains also stopped as though they were not permitted in Gujarat.
The road turned to the better (the Maharashtra roads were not bad by any means) and I pressed on the accelerator and were started to cruise at 3-digit speeds. Since we also had to go a long way, we kept good pace.
999 to go-yeah only 3 digits
Somewhere on the Surat bypass at around 2PM, we stopped for lunch. By this time, Sushruth’s notebook was out of charge. We inserted the Belkin’s AC Anywhere and as per the instructions on it, connected the Laptop for charging.
We heard a faint “tap” sound and we knew it was the fuse. We left it there and charged our Laptop inside the restaurant and ordered Lunch. It was a delicious Vegetarian lunch (Obviously, considering we were in Gujarat). Then we ordered sweet lassi and it was the most wonderful sweet lassi of the trip.
Best lassi of the trip
We had spent 45minutes and then came back to the car. I replaced the fuse and then again connected the charger. Again it blew out. I replaced again and put the Belkin adapter in the rear left door pocket as it proved useless.
I continued at the wheel...
The land was barren and our cameras were bored...I drove, drove and drove.
Straight, smooth and fast; I’m talking about the road...I drove, drove and drove.
It was all expressways and they were all tolled...I drove, drove and drove.
It was not just plain talks, Gujarat has truly improved...I drove, drove and drove.
they were all tolled...
I drove, drove and drove.
After another 3 hours of non-stop drive, we had bypassed Ahmedabad and just around 17:30, I stopped for refueling
It was 17:30 in the evening and we had covered some 700kms on this day and it was only half the distance for that day!
3rd Refill at 7605
We called up the hotel in Jaipur that we had booked and told him that we were in Ahmedabad. He was shocked and asked us if we wanted to cancel we told we will come there late in the night.
We knew that we would only reach there the next day. While refueling we discussed if we want to change our destination or just go ahead. 3 of the drivers voted to continue and Sushruth had nothing more to say.
Finally I went back to the rear seat and slept...only as a preparation for the night out. A night out was something I had only done some 10 years ago watching Lagaan 2 times..he he.
I never did it for studies and here I was gearing up myself for an overnight-er.
Vishwa took to the wheel again. All these while we were taking turns at driving at some round figure for example 100 or 150 or 200. But now I went back and changed my turn at Ahmedabad because I had already driven 555 kilometers (A fancy number nevertheless). My second 500+ in as many days, this time in 9hours
Some 10 minutes later we crossed the tropic of cancer.
...and his ride
Vishwa continued till it was completely dark and he decided to change after 136kms as it was 7:30PM by then.
I decided to drive again till we have dinner which we planned for around 9PM. Somewhere near the Border I stopped for Dinner at a Dhaba.
It was packed with people and even after waiting for 15 minutes, nobody came to serve us and we didn’t want to waste more time. We left the place and then stopped at the next available Dhaba at around 9:00 after having driven 94kms.
It had a family room and we had our dinner there. We didn’t have too much just so that we don’t feel sleepy.
One of the BHPian friends called me and inquired if we had reached our destination. When I told him that we were still in Gujarat, he was astonished and asked me if we were stuck in any traffic jam?
I told him that we were also surprised that we were still in Gujarat considering the speeds we were cruising at and no traffic jams.
After some 30 minutes at the Dhaba/Restaurant, Avinash sat in the driver’s seat while Vishwa and I slept in the rear seat. After some 100Kilometers, Avinash stopped the car on the highway close to Udaipur in a tea stall. We had some tea, biscuits and omelets. In 5 minutes we had some 40 Bolero Maxitruks coming to the same tea stall. They were new vehicles and headed to the dealership it seems.
there were 40 of them at least
We started a small conversation with one of the drivers. After he asked where we were headed to, he suggested us to take Kishangarh route as it was better and less of truck traffic.
We decided to take his suggestion and I started to drive after I was refreshed with tea. The road was wonderful and empty and I could maintain a healthy pace even in the night.
Long night ahead
23 hour drive
But just as we reached Kishangarh, we encountered heavy truck traffic near Kishangarh and a 10km road without any median took me 45mins to cross
After this traffic, I felt some concentration loss and immediately stopped the vehicle at another tea stall/Puncture repair shop for another break. It was around 1AM
Black and white
We were now taking turns at driving every 100 kilometres. We did not want to take any chance by stretching our bodies over the limit.
After this break, Avinash took over from me and started driving.I was in deep sleep within 5 minutes.
After some time (must have been 2 hours), I felt that something was not right, I got up. I saw that the car was going in reverse! I took some 2 seconds to understand what was happening.
Avinash was actually parking it by the roadside to take a saade saath minute ka power-nap and he didn’t want to wake me up. Time was around 3AM
I asked him how far was our hotel in Jaipur. As per the GPS, it was 99Kms!
In these 2 days, seeing so many kilometres, a double digit figure was already feeling like a stone’s throw away. Being so close to the destination, the call from the cozy bed of the lodge pulled me out of the rear seat and I was back to the driver’s seat. I asked Avinash to take full nap instead of a power nap.
By this time we had driven 500kms from the last refill at Ahmedabad. Airavatha needed to drink diesel. We got the beast filled with diesel...
...all 49 litres of it.
This is where Sushruth must be appreciated for his efforts. He was awake the whole night sitting in the navigator's seat talking to the drivers just to keep a check that the driver doesn’t sleep. He more than made up for not driving by being in such supporting yet important roles.
After another 90 minutes, when the time was 5:30AM, Finally we reached the hotel. Hotel Kesar’D Villa in Jaipur.
One of us checked in & filled up some forms and informed that receptionist that we will leave by 11:30 AM and asked him not to disturb us for breakfast and others. And we hit bed setting the alarm for 11AM
The Second day finally came to an end after 23hours and 1342Kms at a steady 58.2KMPH and 4 tired bodies!
Last edited by Rudra Sen : 27th July 2013 at 11:20. Reason: extra smiley removed
|12th June 2013, 17:17||#5|
Distinguished - BHPian
Re: We ran out of road!
Day3, 12.Aug.2012: Jaipur to Amritsar
The 3rd day was again a driving day. Yes it’s the 3rd continuous day of driving. But on this day it was 750kms. In normal circumstances we would have thought 750kms is big but with 2200Kms under our belt in two days, it was looking small.
At 11:00AM we were in the reception area. The bill was ready and we paid the amount. The complimentary breakfast was not available as it was close to lunch time. We decided to have brunch out on the highway. And at 11:15 the Truck rolled out of the hotel.
Hotel Kesar'D Villa
Kesar'D Villa logo
Jaipur world trade park
A common vehicle in this city!
By 12:45PM after 100kms, we stopped at a big Dhaba on the Highway and had sumptuous food. The Rajasthani cuisine that we are used to in Bangalore is nothing compared to the Rajasthani food in Rajasthan (quite obviously).
Since we didn’t have breakfast also, we ate to our heart’s content. Also it was a relief having some spicy food after having the sweet Gujarati food.
By 1:30 we bought some refreshments at the dhaba and we were on the road again. I started my driving for the day.
We always wanted to avoid the country’s capital city to save time. Everyone told us that we would waste our time if we go even closer to Dilli. The plan was to by-pass Delhi by getting off NH8 and join NH1 (Grand trunk road) near Panipat and then continue on NH1 till Amritsar
After crossing Shahjahanpur (the first toll of Haryana I suppose) we deviated from the highway and then it was Rewari > Rohtak > Panipat
Some 5 minutes into the road, a huge line of trucks had stopped and everyone felt that it would be 2 hours for some movement. The first jam we encountered till now.
Every cloud has a silver lining doesn’t it?
Just as we were feeling that we did a mistake taking this route and contemplating going back, our silver lining came in the form of a goods auto just behind us. It was an industrial area and he knew every road of it. He wanted to take a deviation and we had blocked him. He came up to us told us to take a deviation and asked us to follow him.
Some more vehicles along with us followed him. We were taken through some internal roads and some slushy dirty slum roads and some 20minutes and we were back on the same road but past the jam! Wonderful.
The auto vanished even before we could thank him. From here it was all half completed four lane road with lot of deviations but nice green fields on both side of the road but hot at the same time. It was like this for the next 4 hours which I drove covering a little over 200kms.
Whats the number?
Blessing garland still with us
Then I spotted a nice place for photograph and stopped the vehicle it was a paddy field with lot of slush. There was a tiller coming in that slushy road with people in it.
I drove the Safari till it could go in, and took out the 3 SLRs and started taking pictures.
we were shooting...
One gentleman came to us and asked us what we were doing? He was dressed in a white Kurta and had a bag on the side. He didn’t seem to like what we were doing and asked us if we were from any news reporters or anything. We were casual in answering him until he removed a pistol from his bag!!! We then explained him slowly that we liked the place and were just taking some photos of our car and nothing else.
Maybe seeing the KA plate on the vehicle, he was convinced and after a little conversation, he gave a pose with the gun for a picture and later he walked into those fields. Whew!
Vishwa then wanted to drive till Sunset (he is more confident during daytime). After this it was one single road without median but still better without any construction.
Tractor-Farmer's best friend
With some small stops he drove till the Haryana-Punjab border and it was around 7PM by then and we stopped for a cup of tea. We were about to enter the third state of the day.
Some curious boys!
do dooni char!
After some tea, Avinash was at the wheel again. With the night fall, there was no work for the cameras and it was only driving. At around 8:45PM we had just crossed Sirhind. The fuel had reached half of the tank. Avinash never likes his tank to be on the lower side and hence he stopped at one of the 100s of fuel stations on this road.
Cheapest diesel in the trip
We had not spotted any good restaurants till then so he inquired the pump attendant about any good restaurant. He suggested that we go to Ludhiana and we will get all options. It had been 3 days and Avinash’s taste buds were craving for some chicken and so he decided that we will go to Ludhiana. We roughly estimated that we would reach there by 10:30 and agreed. We were there by 10:45 and As soon as his eyes caught up with the Colonel, we drove into Avinash's favourite - KFC.
We were the last customers and so our choice of the menu was limited to only a few items. The guys at KFC made up for it by giving free Pepsi!
After his stomach was filled, Avinash was not in a mood to drive further for he had already driven 180kms till there.
He called it a day and gave me the keys. After a special Maghai paan, With close to 150Kms remaining, it was 11:30 by the time we left Ludhiana.
A special Maghai
15mins and we were out of the city. But a Honda City kept me company till Amritsar. He looked like a regular on the route. The road was not fully complete and had lot of deviation owing to widening.
But still he was driving real fast but still safe. I decide to follow him and in an Interesting drive, I never felt that I had driven 150kms in 2 hours.
Just before Amritsar, we reached a toll plaza named Jatt toll plaza and then the road was awesome. Lit by Sodium vapour lamps and empty and smooth roads, we could have easily done without headlamps.
We followed our GPS set to our hotel (just beside the Golden temple). As soon as we approached the Golden temple, we saw a flyover and looked like our GPS was also pointing to the same road. I climbed onto that and after driving on that it went and reached a multi storey Parking lot. The attendant told that if we park there, we will have to walk to the hotel. We didn’t have energy to do that since we also had confirmed that the hotel had parking space.
We came back and went below the flyover and close to the Golden Temple; Police had blocked the main road with barricades. By this time the GPS told us that we had reached our destination! None of the police knew where the lodge was located. We roamed around the miniscule roads around the temple. But we didn’t find it.
We were simultaneously calling the hotel guy and he was directing us. After some 15 minutes he sent a small kid on a Bicycle to one of the places and he led us into the hotel through further small roads. The roads were small but fortunately the room was good. We were suggested to go to the temple which has a special event at 4AM. We checked in and got fresh and went to the temple.
We were given those orange scarfs to wear and then washed our legs before entering the main complex.
I generally don’t like to Visit temples, but I must say, this was the cleanest temple I have seen in my life time.
People were cleaning the floor of the temple with the pond water. I was told that these are not temple staff but normal people do it as a service.
Within no time the floor was washed, wiped and carpets were laid. All this in a beautiful background music of prayers.
This was telecast live on some channels as well.So many people at this odd hour showed was a nice thing to see.
We then entered the Golden temple which is like an island in the pond. It was golden everywhere; fans, walls, barricades and everything. It was a wonderful sight.
OH MY GOLD!
After some photographs around , we returned back to the Hotel.
The far tower
The temple gate
We all knew that the next day was a sight-seeing day and it was like a rest day for us.
We slept around 5:30 for the second consecutive day. With no definite timeline to wake up we all had a nice sleep
We had driven in 3 states again for the second consecutive day and so ended day three with 722kilomters more added in 15hours.
Last edited by hemanth.anand : 23rd July 2013 at 15:05.
|13th June 2013, 17:19||#6|
Distinguished - BHPian
Day 4, 13.Aug.2012: Amritsar Sightseeing (Part 1)
We got up at 9:30 in the morning the next day to take some photographs of the golden temple from our room Balcony during day time.
After taking the photos, we slowly got ourselves ready for a very relaxed day.
By 11AM we were out of the hotel. There was no way that our Airavatha could make its way out n those small roads during daytime. Its buzzing with activity.
Just wide enough for our truck
Luckily Jallianwalabagh was at a walkable distance from the hotel. We went by walk to Jallianwalabagh.
I had seen this place till today only in my imagination and depictions; in black and white sketches in my school text books and in Rang de basanti and a couple of Bhaghat Singh movies.
As soon as we entered the lane, my imagination started coming into life. The narrow lane where General Dyer guided his troops was the only entry/exit point between walls of adjacent buildings.
Past this lane, we saw a huge area. There is a tall rock memorial on one side and a ever burning flame in respect of the martyrs. In one corner was the martyrs well now closed with a concrete structure and windows.
The canons went through here
A page from history
The firing place
The martyrs' flame
The martyrs' well
The sad story of the well
Just beside the well is a wall bearing bullet marks telling a story of thousands of people were killed inhumanely. Every brick had a story to tell.
This massacre ground, now turned into memorial shows the sacrifice that people have done to get the freedom; the value of which we hardly realize unfortunately.
No matter how many times we read about this incident, only when we go there, we gain respect to those people and the freedom which they gifted us. I don’t know how to describe the feeling, but you get a different vibe when you are there.
Around this area there are a lot of sparrows and squirrels. This gave us an opportunity for some photographs.
"Give me some please"
After all this, we slowly moved out of the area passing through a museum with photos and reports of the massacre and independence fight in general.
Some more shots around the area:
Once out, we headed to a hotel just beside the Bagh and had our Punjabi lunch. This was the first meal we had without worrying about time.
After lunch we slowly walked around the market area and then two of us again went inside the golden temple for some daytime snaps inside the temple.
The other two made the herculean effort of getting the Airavatha out of the market area.
GT by the day
fish at the temple pond
By around 2:30PM, we left this busy area and headed outside and went into the Tata-Fiat service centre. Airavatha badly needed a wash.
With all the dirt, the rear number plate was almost invisible. Also this would be a general health check-up for the vehicle before starting the upward journey the next day.
"Daag achche hain"
The Service adviser came to us and seeing the KA registration and our request for a quick check-up started work immediately. In 45 minutes the washing was complete.
They checked all oil levels, filled air in the wheels and just inspected the vehicle once.
I caught up with some sleep
Yes that's where we are headed to
We still have the blessing with us
He also was in army for a few years it seems. So we were asking him many questions as to how the terrain will be and how the vehicle will behave.
He just said one sentence.” Kuch nahi hoyega saab isko..befikr chalo” meaning “nothing can happen to this vehicle...don’t worry just go”. The vehicle has not been around for 2 decades for nothing hasn't it?
Meantime we also met another Gentleman who had bought his vehicle for service and was waiting. We started a conversation with him and he asked us where we were headed next.
He told that although we were going to Leh after the wash we will go to Wagah Border to witness the salute.
He then explained that he didn’t like whatever they do out there. Simply put some emotional songs, ask people to cheer loudly, dance, forget everything the next day and remember and maintain enmity between the two countries.
He had a point. In between the discussion, we saw a vehicle very similar to our safari standing outside. A guy came out of it called us. He handed over the key.
It was our own Airavatha!!! We had almost forgotten the colour of our vehicle. There it was, gleaming and shining...ready to head towards the mountains on the morrow.
After the bath
To be continued...
Last edited by hemanth.anand : 24th July 2013 at 20:12.
|13th June 2013, 23:37||#7|
Distinguished - BHPian
Re: We ran out of road!
Day 4, 13.Aug.2012: Amritsar Sightseeing (Part 2)
After this, we went to the Wagah border. The parking lot was a kilometre away and there were a lot of cycle rickshaws to take people to the border and we just hopped onto two, just for a different experience.
Since it was already 5PM, the border was full with people and we could not go in. Standing at the gate, we were thinking of somehow getting a glimpse at least.
Suvarna Jayanthi Dwar
Sarhadein insaanon ke liye hai
This is for our neighbors
Then we saw a small group of people nearby in front of a barricade marked as VIP entry. There was one jawan guarding the gate.
We were observing him from far away and every 5 minutes he was sending five people through that queue. So Sushruth and I also were just went and stood there.
Then we just asked him if he would let us in. He asked us to wait. Then after 15 minutes more, he let us in. Once inside the gate, there were 2 rounds of checking and frisking.
Then...guess what, we were in front of the VIP area just on the road which leads to the border gate. Although we could see all the activities from a close range, taking photos was a difficult proposition.
The 2 rows in front of us were blocking our view and we could not stand up and take photos since we were blocking the view to people behind us.
There was an Amitabh Bachchan’s relative “angry young woman” soldier who was making sure that we do not stand up. But we just managed some pictures.
Although personally I didn’t like the events there, I can just say that I’ve “been there seen that”
Aman ki asha
He was not interested...
...neither was he
Girls were given flags and let on the road and were dancing on various patriotic songs from Bollywood movies like “jai ho”, “suno gaur se duniya walo...” among many others.
Guarding our borders
A Picture worth a 1000 words
Patriotism in the air
Then there was the famous salute exchange where the soldier from both sides march by flinging their legs over their heads.
The gates of the border are opened and flags are brought down and salutes are exchanged.
The Pakistan side of the border was empty in the beginning but later it did fill up.
While we were watching all these, Avinash and Vishwa were happily munching snacks and other available outside.
After the events were over we slowly came out and joined them in having snacks. Light was slowly fading and we took some photos in and around.
We just sat on a bench and waited for the initial rush of people to reduce. We were in no hurry at all. Slowly we left the place walking to the parking lot.
Flying gold dust
It was around 6:30 PM and we headed back to Amritsar city.
We knew that driving near the temple would be difficult and hence we decide to go later.
We shopped for some mementos from Amritsar and bought the usual Kadhas and ornamental Swords.
We knew that Amritsar is very good for dry fruits and hence we had not purchased them in Bangalore. We went to the Bus stand area and started to look for some good shop.
After visiting some 3-4 shops we decided on one shop and purchased all combinations of Dry fruits.
Some to take back home and some for our trip ahead as a source of energy.
We stuffed this inside the vehicle and walked to a close by restaurant. The dry fruits shop guy had suggested that.
It was a very small hotel but the tandoori items were really good and especially the rotis were amazing.
We had our stomach fill and topped it up with lassi. I loved the lassi and ordered one more to finish it.
We came back to the hotel and settled the bill and informed him that we will checkout by 6AM.
Since we had booked this hotel room on makemytrip, we settled the small amount in cash
By this time it was 10PM. we drove to the hotel. The streets were easier to maneuver though not very easy.
We had planned to leave by 6 the next day. After some updates to the accounts excel sheet in the laptop, We slept by 11.
Last edited by hemanth.anand : 23rd July 2013 at 15:06.
|17th June 2013, 16:14||#8|
Distinguished - BHPian
Day 5, 14.Aug.2012: Amritsar to Srinagar (Part 1)
After the relaxed previous day and good sleep, our bodies were as fresh as a daisy. We got up by 5:30 and got ready.
at 6 PM, we were out of the hotel. There was a small sandwich shop just outside the hotel and we decided to eat there itself.
All 4 of us ate 2 sandwiches each. He had 2 litre Bisleri bottles with him and we purchased 5 of those and topped up our 25ltr water can.
By 6:30, we started the Airavatha and headed out of Amritsar. The shops alongside the streets were not yet open so it was easy to drive out of that area.
Top up the quencher
The destination for the day was the Capital of J&K, Srinagar. Total plan was around 500+Kms
Avinash started the day at the Driver's seat. From here onwards we had to forget 4lane roads and get used to median-less roads and winding Mountain roads; We had come all the way just for this and we were happy to say the least
By 8:30 we were at Gurdaspur. and the Safari needed To fill its stomach. We stopped at a diesel station.
We topped up and then for the first time, we opened the two 5ltr fuel cans we had.
They were aluminum cans purchased at Shell Fuel station in Bangalore with a sealed cap. I had paid ₹250/- per can.
The diesel rate was ₹40.25/ltr and we filled 51 litres in the vehicle and 10 litres into the cans.
By the time we reached Madhopur, our sandwiches were completely digested and we needed to eat more.
We spotted a Nirula's outlet. We stopped it there and went inside. we ordered some burgers and pizza among others
Life is cool fun...
...If it has Spice &...
...others in equal proportions.
Red and green
There were a group of school students and a family in there who had already ordered their food, so we got our order very soon.
After 6 days, for the first time, we heard some other voices, apart from ours, speaking Kannada. It is a nice feeling this.
So we just started a conversation with them and learnt that they were coming back from Vaishno devi trip.
When we told that we had driven all the way from Bangalore, he gave a smile...must have thought we were crazy
After this brunch, I started driving. In another 10-15kms, we were close to Lakhanpur.
For the first time, we were stopped by a group of policemen. They asked the normal "kaha se aa rahe ho?" "kaha ja rahe ho?" questions and asked all 4 of us to get down the vehicle.
After 4 of us got down, 4 people conducted a thorough search of the vehicle for 10 minutes.
Although we had expected this much earlier and more often, it was only this much.
For August 14th, it was a lot less than what we had actually imagined.
Soon, at 10:30AM, we saw this!
for the first time in over 28years, all 4 of us were entering the crown of our country, Heaven on Earth, Jammu & Kashmir!
Avinash was facing the toll collector side and I stopped. My concentrations was not on the toll fees. The toll collector without any questions gave just ₹70/- ticket.
After Avinash paid him the money I realised that we had to give ₹130/- to go to Srinagar.
When we again asked for it. he said "No problem sir, take it in Anantnag". We didn't talk further and just moved forward.
Very soon, the 2 Vodafone phones stopped working even though one was a post paid (pre-paids don't work in J&K I've heard)
The BSNL and 2 Airtel phones were our only contact numbers now
Airtel welcomed us as well
Just a beginning of a common sight for us for the coming days
The roads were being widened and improved every where and we were also shown where to expect unfinished roads/no roads
Read before you drive
We passed many small villages and reached a place called Samba. Here there was a road to the right which would take us to Udhampur which is shorter compared to the route via Jammu.
I had read in many travelogue that this route is really bad. So we continued straight towards Jammu.
With more stops for photography, we slowly made our way through gradually ascending the mountains.
Hope it doesn't fall down
By the looks of it, land must have slid here some time ago
Every time we moved up, the temperature started to reduce and for many Kilometres we also encountered mist.
After close to 200Kms drive, we stopped the truck at one such place to have some hot roadside hot Corns.
While we were eating, we also decided to empty diesel from the cans into the tank. We wanted to increase the range but we didn't want to keep fuel inside the car for safety reasons.
We cut the bottom portion of a Bisleri bottle and used that as a funnel. After filling, we used the same bottle as a storage for cotton waste.
The idea was that, this cotton waste would be slightly wet with diesel which would help us is wiping something or setting up fire if needed (I watch too much of Bear Grills)
10 litres refilling under progress
Very soon we left after having a hot baked corn. The roads were beautiful as we had hoped
Risky job it is to drive like how he was doing
To be continued...
Last edited by hemanth.anand : 24th July 2013 at 20:14.
|17th June 2013, 16:15||#9|
Distinguished - BHPian
Day 5, 14.Aug.2012: Amritsar-Srinagar (part2)
Then by 3PM, we were in Kud. We wanted to stop for Patisa, a famous sweet there.
The traffic was too much and all the parking areas were also filled up. Searching for a parking slot, we went past all the sweet shops.
Then everyone of us lost interest to walk back to the shops and decided to give it a miss.
I felt bad that I missed eating a different sweet, but later Googled and found out that it was nothing but the humble Sohan Papdi. Felt slightly better after that.
After sometime we reached a small dhaba and it was 4PM by then. This dhaba was serving only chole and rice and was catering to Vainshno devi pilgrims.
Since it was 4PM, there was not much of food left. he agreed to make us chapathis and some chole.
We didn't want to risk going further and in the end having no food. So we agreed.
One more reason to go for this dhaba was that it was directly overlooking the Baghlihar Hydel power plant dam.
All the gates were open (It seems they are not supposed to close the gates because of international agreement with Pakistan)
Having food(although not very good) with the sound of gushing water in the background was a nice experience.
Baghlihar Hydel power dam
Close up and we see the fury
After half an hour (Our standard time for meals), we left the place. We were now on NH1A which would be our road quite a few days to come.
This highway is what is called as "Hindustan Ki Gardan" (neck of India) in the movie Lakshya.
The road started to wind more and more and ascend higher and higher.
My name is Avinash, and I'm just a wanderer
This railway line was inaugurated by our PM MMS today (26.06.2013)
Driving above the clouds
Picked up some speed
After 2 and half hours of driving a SUV on this scenic high-roads, we reached one of the most significant landmarks of the day-The Jawahar Tunnel
This tunnel is a very important connection between Srinagar and Jammu. This 2.5Km tunnel establishes year round connection between these two places.
This is a heavily guarded tunnel and it’s a two tube design with one for each way.
Once past this, we reached the Titanic view point where we get to see the first glimpse of the “Greeeeeen” and beautiful Kashmir valley
It was 7PM and luckily for us sun had not set completely. We could see the colours and slowly the sun set as if he was waiting for us. We took the usual "Titanic pose" photos and also the orange sky after the sun set.
The Titanic Point
Have a break, Have a Kit Kat
This is the first view
The deck of the Titanic!
The classic pose gone wrong!
Sun is going down
With the sun gone down, it was only driving and driving. After 1 hour of driving, the tank was at the 1/3rd mark. Since the next day was August 15th, we decided to top up our fuels. In a fuel station in Anantnag, we stopped and topped up the fuel tank with 20 litres and also our cans with 10 litres of Diesel.
Preparation for tomorrow
Just as we drove a little further, we saw that the toll gate. People with the ₹130/- ticket were left with just a check.
Since we only had the ₹70/- ticket, we were guided to an office where we had to buy another ₹70/- ticket.
Lot of truck drivers had already queued up and it was not a well maintained queue to be precise.
With some jostling for space, Avinash succeeded in getting the ticket. It took a good 20mins of time.
To get a better picture, you can imagine a second class ticket purchase of a just released mass movie in a single screen movie theatre
After this nice exercise for Avinash, we headed towards Srinagar. By 10PM, we were in Srinagar, it was cold and we need to warm ourselves up.
We bought some sprite and other necessary liquids for warming up
With two phone calls and the GPS, we reached our Hotel by 10:30. We had called up the hotel and told him that we would want dinner.
Some people had suggested us to stay in houseboats on the Dal lake. We had stayed earlier on houseboats in Kerala and somehow didn’t like that. The smell of the lake dock, the mosquitoes are something we decided we better avoid. So we booked a hotel room on land!
After checking in, we ordered some Biriyani to our room and by 11 we started.
We were relaxed since 11PM was feeling like an early end for us now.
We caught hold of the room service guy and got the details of what security arrangements will be in place the next day.
He told us that the city will be closed till 11 till the Flag is hoisted...Even the mobile networks will not work. All tourist places in the city will be closed.
I had a plan B in place after having read Souravdebiswas's thread. We decided to leave early in the morning, say 6AM and visit Gulmarg. The plan was to come back to Srinagar by lunch time.
So with that, we wound up the day and went to bed, looking forward to the next day.
15 minutes to Independence
Last edited by hemanth.anand : 23rd July 2013 at 22:15.
|17th June 2013, 16:17||#10|
Distinguished - BHPian
Day 6, AUGUST 15th 2012, Independence day: Around Srinagar (Part1)
What better place to celebrate the Independence day than in Srinagar! Contrary to what people fear, I was of the opinion that Aug15th, Jan 26th and other similar days are safer than other days with lots of security.
I don’t know if it’s the right thing, but my thoughts were only reinforced with tight security and no untoward incidents that day.
At 7:30AM we were out of the hotel and into the car. We started the car and moved out of the deserted city.
The roads shown by the GPS were blocked and barricaded. At one junction we didn’t know where to go and we had to ask military soldiers guarding the barricade. Since we asked them, they came and questioned us a little bit but then guided us.
Once we were at the outskirts of the city, the roads were all clear. We stopped at the first open Restaurant. It was raining all these while but just as we stepped inside the hotel, it started pouring cats and dogs.
We had some nice hot Parathas with heavy rains outside in our window. We ate to our fill and by the time we could settle the bill, the rain had transformed back to a slight drizzle.
Waiting for the Parathas
With many stop overs for photos, we finally arrived at Gulmarg by 10:30.
Going up towards Gulmarg
The sight itself gave you warmth
Gulmarg is pretty similar to Manali with respect to people waiting to take you for a ride...On horses and on a fooling ride as well.
But this was much more beautiful than Manali. We tried to go around in our vehicle, but soon we ended at a check post kind of barricade.
We were stopped by a guard and told that we are not allowed to drive inside and we should park our vehicle at the allotted parking lot.
We returned and parked our vehicle and then we were crowded with guides ready to take us on horse backs. We sent back everyone.
Since it was drizzling, walking around was actually not an interesting option. We caught hold of one of the guides and struck a deal with him to take us around the places...in our own vehicle.
He agreed and then took us through the same gate where we were initially stopped! The guard stopped the vehicle again, but he spoke something in their language and we were let in.
He took us around some places and we spent time taking photos of the truck and finally he left us at the cable car counter. The ticket counter had just opened and there was a long line of people for the first ride of the day. We hence decided to go back.
Indian Institute of Skiing and mountaineering
We went back on the same route from where the guide brought us and since its wasn't allowed for general public, it was empty and beautiful. We stopped at almost every 10mtrs and took many photos:
Khilte hain Gul yahan...
Alone, but not Lonely
I would love to make this my office
The blue umbrella
You called me?
The path we tread
Protection for the camera
I'll get wet but keep you dry
This is why its called Gulmarg
Its play time!
Let's go back
Autumn is coming
Gulmarg is a place famous honeymoon spot but here we were; 4 bachelors (of which 3 were married) enjoying nature. Probably it was a good thing because we could enjoy the nature!
We spent 4 beautiful hours soaking in the beauty and after noon we returned back to the city which had by now come back to normal.
To be continued...
Last edited by hemanth.anand : 23rd July 2013 at 22:25.
|17th June 2013, 17:25||#11|
Distinguished - BHPian
Re: We ran out of road!
Day 6, AUGUST 15th 2012, Independence day: Around Srinagar (Part2)
On the way back, we stopped at a nice handicraft showroom shop for some nice Kashmiri stuff like Shawls, Stoles, Scarfs, Saffron among others.
All 4 of us put together had spent 20K in 2 hours!
That ensured that we could console our respective better halves whom we had left back home.
After shopping we were totally out of cash and hence went to an ATM and withdrew some cash, cash for lunch and also for the next days to come.
We went to Ahdoos restaurant on residency road recommended by the handicraft shop owner.
We ordered some nice Kashmiri dishes (Both Veg and Non-Veg) and they were tasty. After some 45minutes, we left the place.
We paid it in cash which was just withdrawn from the ATM and left some ₹20/- as tips.
But the steward was not satisfied, he asked us more!!! Not just asking, but literally followed us till the restaurant exit!
For the first time in my life we experienced such a thing in a restaurant. It was a good dining experience but it was not an out of the world kind which warranted a higher tip.
The lowest denomination we had was a ₹50/- note at that time and we gave him that and came out. By this time we had forgotten the good taste of the food.
After lunch, we headed to Shakaracharya temple. Unfortunately it was closed. We didn't know the timings and hence we had to return back from the barricaded and heavily guarded foothill.
2 of the 4 of us generally don't venture near any temples by choice, So not everyone was feeling bad after all for having missed a temple.
We then headed to the Dal Lake. There were a lot of Shikaras for rides, but none if us were interested in riding it. We didn't want to do it just for the sake of it.
We decided to do something different; we decided to measure the circumference of the lake!
We slowly went around the lake in our Airavatha, taking snaps of the lake form every side. We clocked 22kms to go around the lake.
Tareef karoon kya uski...
Fountain of Joy!
The famous Shikara
π . D
After this, we stopped at the famous Nishat Bagh. it is the second largest Mughal garden in Kashmir after Shalimar bagh; which is also located nearby.
The sight was nothing but wonderful with the mountains on one side and the big Dal on the other and the drizzle to top it up.
Our camera shutters were given some good exercise in the cold weather. we spent time there till sunset and later headed back to our hotel.
The Nishat Bagh
The first view of the garden!
Springs of joy!
Waiting for someone...
Where are you my Sun?
KF has indeed stopped flying!!!
but the ducks have started flying!
The day coming to an end
The Hari parbat Fort
Just before our hotel We also did some last minute shopping! Although we felt that we made a lot of shopping, we realized it was it was nothing after we came back home
But that's out of relevance here
After reaching our hotel, we again caught hold of our friendly room service guy Ram Singh and through him we spoke to a taxi driver who had just then returned from Kargil in an Innova.
We started to ask him many questions regarding the road. After answering all questions, he just told one thing "The roads are certainly not good but If I have come in an Innova, you need not worry at all having a Safari"
After this, had a leisurely dinner and packed our bags. We asked the receptionist to settle the bill and also ased him to make sure that no car is parked in front of our car so that it will be easy for us to leave early next morning.
He settled the bill and made arrangements such that our vehicle was the first at the gate. Having settled the bill, we decided to tip Ramsingh. he had helped us in giving us good information.
The steward at the Ahdoo's had set us a bench mark and hence we gave Ramsingh ₹100/-
He was not satisfied even with this though! But we didn't give him more.
Before packing, we took photos of our entire photographic equipments we had with us and slept by 9pm. (Tripod not in this picture)
The plan was to leave early next morning (around 5:30-6:00)
Independence day ended with 152Kms added for the day all of which was driven by Alemaari.
Last edited by hemanth.anand : 23rd July 2013 at 14:03.
|19th June 2013, 21:33||#12|
Distinguished - BHPian
Re: We ran out of road!
Day7 16.Aug.2012: Srinagar - Kargil (Part1)
We got up early and it was raining a bit. We were ready in some time and at 6PM sharp we left the Hotel. Ramsingh got another ₹50/- and we were off.
Slowly we ascended the mountains through NH1D. By 6:30 the light improved and we encountered herds of goats and sheep...the day had begun!
Bridging the gap
Far out on the mountains, we could see landslides which had swept pine trees along with it.
It was cold but other than that, the beauty was just amazing. its a sight to experience!
With many stops for photography, we reached Sonamarg at 7:45PM - that's close to 3 hours for 70Kms.
Rock climbing training camp
First view of Sonamarg
Waiting for tourists to ride
We stopped at a vegetarian dhaba and had some nice Parathas. Sushruth had slowly started to get himself used to the Parathas style of food.
Although he missed his south Indian food sorely, he had just started to accept the fact that he had another 10 days to go home
On the other hand I was experimenting with all different food like I always do and I was just loving it.
I was saying Live to drive and eat...he was saying eat to live and don't drive
Soon after we finished our Breakfast at Sonamarg by 8:15am, the weather turned sunny and we were also recharged. We set out to conquer THE ZOZILLA!!!
I desperately wanted to drive on the Zozilla so I snatched the Keys from Avinash Just after some 10Kms from Sonamarg, the road had vanished and we were left with a slushy path made up by the tyre tracks.
"You may make your own road, but I make road for others"
The first hurdle we encountered was a steep gradient. I was in third gear and then shifted to second gear. The vehicle climbed up half the gradient and started to struggle.
By the time I could change to the first gear we had lost momentum and the wheels started to slip and rotate in its own place.
All the other three were scared and silent. I applied brakes and then they started to speak.
Everyone started to give their opinions and suggestions. I took a breath and started to think instead of panic.
Slowly I released the brakes and since we were the only vehicle on the hill, came back for a sufficient distance.
Now engaged the first gear, released the clutch and let the torque take over for a small distance and then accelerated.
The path was not smooth but I didn't bother to slowdown. the truck climbed up the gradient this time without any fuss.
The 3 co-passengers were tossed a bit but they were a relieved lot. It was a good start to the adventure.
We saw the same road going high up into the mountains and no vehicles were spotted throughout.
After 2 more kilometers of such roads, we saw a broken down dumper truck with 3 people trying to repair it.
We asked them if we were on the right track since it didn't seem to be a road!
They laughed at this and said, "there is only this road and roads are always like this around here"
We also laughed at our stupid question and thought "if there would've been smooth and like-everywhere roads, it wouldn't be THE ZOZILLA"
The best of Zozilla!
Just wide enough for the Airavatha
Slowly in 2 hours from Sonamarg, we reached the top of the toughest pass of our trip; ZOZILLA - "The Godzilla"
Yippeeee we had Conquered Zozilla! and with it we had entered the Ladakh Region!
A view of what we crossed
Size does Matter!
He did it!
"Yes, I had lived to drive here"
Stopped the vehicle and took many photos. there were also some 3 Tribal girls there.
They came towards us and spoke to us "khaane ke liye kuch dedo saab". In the excitement of reaching the Zozilla top we happily gave them some chocolates.
They started to ask more and then we shooed them away. this was only the beginning of more such people we faced.
High altitude beggar girls
Slowly we headed forward with more photo stops. After 10Kms we saw snow for the first time in our trip, while it was the first time in life to 2 of them.
Cricket crazy country
Here again we spotted on small girl asking for food. We gave her a biscuit packet.
By this time, I was shooting a picture of my damaged Abath scale model.
It was like she asked a piece of my heart! I wouldn't give that...by this time I had decided to restore it and hence I asked her to leave.
Snow caps in sight
Lend me some words anyone
Still going strong
We spotted a convoy of KA registered bullet bikes and we just waved at each other...Not that we knew each other but just because we knew that coming from Bangalore was not an easy task!
After this, we drove along this stretch with more and more stops for photography. we were gradually seeing the transition of the mountains from green beauty to Barren beauty.
Size comparison for you!
Beauty and the beast!
Self explanatory picture.
In 2 more hours, by noon, we reached Drass...the second coldest inhabited place in the world!
What is he thinking?
Welcome to drass.
To be continued...
Last edited by hemanth.anand : 23rd July 2013 at 14:01.
|25th June 2013, 23:37||#13|
Distinguished - BHPian
Day 7, 16.Aug.2012: Srinagar-Kargil (Part2)
The sun was beating down on us but the temperatures were a pleasant 15-20 degrees. we saw some hard working people busy in their fields
Just after passing the Drass town we stopped at the War memorial.
As soon as you get down,you see the big Indian flag flying high in the winds.
The sight of an Silky Indian flag flying high with the Majestic Tololing range as the backdrop sends a shiver through your body and the skin is dotted with goosebumps.
No words can explain that feeling. We slowly moved towards the main memorial site taking pictures of the flag from all possible angles.
We entered the main memorial area and a soldier was positioned there to explain us the details of the war (operation Vijay) and the sacrifice of many of our soldiers in protecting our land from the enemy.
He told us that the temperatures in the area have gone to as low as -60degrees...-60, just imagine! I need a sweater just by imagining it.
We thought -60 was an exaggeration but later we found that the record low for this area is -50 degree centigrade (-58 degree Fahrenheit).
In 15 minutes he told us all about the war while the movie Lakshya was playing in my mind.
Seeing the terrain, you can feel the pain our soldiers would've endured to secure our borders. they deserve massive respect
A three and a half video of the jawan's explaination to us
Operation Vijay memorial
A saga of supreme sacrifice!
Shaheedon ke chitaon par lagenge har baras mele...
War here...it can't get tougher than this
Janda ooncha rahe hamara...
We went inside the museum which had photos from the war and the recovered shell and bomb remains.
Indian flag with the Army, Navy and Air-force flags
Later on we purchased some souvenirs at the attached souvenir shop
Since I entered J&K, my ATM was not working, I tried my luck in the SBI ATM in the complex. No luck again
We then decided to have some early light lunch at the attached canteen. Not much was available so we had some sandwiches and Maggi noodles! - The staple food of travelers
After spending a good 2 hours at the memorial, with a heavy heart and massive respect, we made a move. After having driven exactly 100 Kms till that point, I sat on the navigator's seat.
Since we left Amritsar, Vishwa had decided not to drive on the mountains. Since Avinash and I were more experienced drivers and he didn't want to take any chance.
So, Avinash started his second innings of the Day...50 more Kms remained to Kargil. He drove for a good 2 hours on a mixture of some of the very good and very bad roads of our trip.
Roads turned from this...
Guard of honour!
Please solve this for me someone!
Just when we were about to reach Kargil, we saw this Truck fallen in the river and half submerged.
Sad picture.A warning to us that we were at the mercy of nature!
AT 4PM, we were at Kargil. A call the reception at Hotel D'Zojilla and with the confused MMI device, we found the hotel.
We checked in and showed him the 50% advance transferred receipt and his confirmation mail and we were shown our way into this hotel room.
We were at the new wing of the hotel. The weather was pleasant and the carpeted passages were well kept. We freshened up and found time to speak to our family. Airtel and BSNL networks were great.
This was the earliest we reached any of our destination all these days and we were feeling very good about it.
"We are safe dad"
View from the balcony
Just below our room, we met a gentleman who was on his official duty. I don't remember his work but he told he comes to these places once or twice a month
Often he extends his official duty and covers places around. I just thought "how lucky can one get!" but also realized that its a risky option too.
In the conversation he asked us if we are feeling the symptoms of High Altitude Mountain Sickness(HAMS). We said we are ok and he told that just the previous night, his son had got symptoms and was taken to the hospital.
So we asked him about Diamox tablets and he told us that the doctor had instructed them that we can take one or two tablets a day with or without food.
An important information for the day. After an elongated chat, we returned to our respective rooms
We had a special Kashmiri tea at our room and by 7pm we ordered our dinner and asked the receptionist to settle the bill as we were planning to leave early again the next morning.
He told that the the dinner would take an hour and he told he'll get us the final bill along with that.
So we sat down relaxing. Vishwa and I started operation Abarth.
Operation Abarth Started
Work in progress, go slow!
In 30minutes, we were done with rebuilding my abarth back to its shape.it was not 100% perfect but it was back to 95% of its actual condition.
By this time, our dinner came to our room and we finished that watching TV. This was the most relaxed dinner in the past week for us.
When we came into the hotel we were the only one. but slowly by this time there was a Fortuner,a Bolero, one force Traveler and another Safari to give company to our Airavatha.
Our vehicle was actually blocked! By around 9PM, we settled the Hotel bill and told the receptionist to make sure that we need to leave early and make the parking arrangements so that we were not locked.
He promised that he will move any car if it locks our vehicle when we leave.
After this, we came and just slept. The next day was the most important day in our trip. We planned to leave by 6AM
Last edited by hemanth.anand : 23rd July 2013 at 15:08.
|26th June 2013, 10:47||#14|
Distinguished - BHPian
Re: We ran out of road!
Day 8, 17.Aug.2012: Kargil-Leh (part1)
We were up by 5:30 and we were out of our rooms by 6AM. As soon as we came down with our luggage,we were actually surprised to see that there was only our Safari and the Force traveler. all others had left before us!
Although the room boy asked us if he could wash the vehicle, Avinash didn't want a complete wash without the power spray; to avoid any swirl marks or scratches.
There was a tap nearby and we just washed the windshield with that. During this we also met with the driver of the Force traveler.
it was an MH registered yellow board vehicle but he also knew Kannada, so we built a quick rapport well with him. It was now 6:30 and we left the hotel without a long chat.
Avinash started the day and our first stop came very soon; the Fuel station. We filled up the tank as well as the two cans.
After this, we continued our journey on some nice hairpin bends. The sun slowly rose above the mountains by 7AM.
Hard day's work ahead
Rays of hope
we drove 70kms in 2 hours for our first stop; the Buddha statue of Mulbekh.
The tall Buddha is carved on a small stone hillock and a temple is made at its bottom.
Its not one of the most beautiful Buddhas around, but the sheer size and the background against which it stands gives you a wonderful feeling when you stand in front of it.
We went inside the temple, took some photos around and came out after some 20 minutes
I'll let the photos do all the talking...
Buddha at Mulbekh
carving on a stone hillock
Made for this territory
view from the temple
Once out of the temple, we just crossed the road and went to the restaurant just opposite to the temple.
We ordered, Maggi, Bread omelets and Sandwiches. We were there just in time because the Force traveler vehicle came in just as we were finishing our breakfast
The 13 people who came out of it actually finished the restaurant's stock of Maggi and eggs
The last of the omelets
here we spoke to the driver of that vehicle for sometime and he told us that the passengers in his vehicle were 45+yrs and most of them were in government organizations and they also had also got permission to Siachen.
The driver was excited since he had covered most of the places but going to Siachen for the first time.
He also told us that compared to all previous years, roads were good this year.
We left from there in some 30 minutes. By this time, all the morning cold had vanished and it was really warm and sunny. The clear blue sky above you and the beige/brown hills below you is pure delight.
Ah! what a Feeling!
I was there too!
In an hour, we were atop the Namikala top which is at 12198ft above MSL thats 3718mtrs above MSL. We stopped here for some photographs.
Live to drive on the Namikala!
12198ft above MSL
Dis anybody ski there?
Moving forward we crossed Saraks and then Heniskot. Somewhere after Saraks we saw that our water reserve was nearing its end.
We saw a Bore well by the roadside and we stopped there for a refill. We pumped out 25litres and had the can full of Mountain water.
borewell at 3430 mts
Seeing the beautiful roads, Vishwa couldn't resist sitting without driving. He wanted to drive.
The ODOmeter here was 9999
He took the keys here and after some 5 Kms, as luck would have it, the roads turned worse. there was no tar at all
Undeterred by the bad roads he drove for 2 hours covering 50 kms before handing it over to me.
Kargil to leh
The landscape of the clouds' shadows cast over the mountains is a treat for your eyes.
And those amazing sharp shapes carved out by sliding rocks going into the river basin is just awesome. This is where we start to realize how small we are in front of mother nature.
At one such place we dropped of Vishwa and Avinash and took the vehicle to a far away plateau to take a picture of the vehicle. The huge Safari is just a speck of durst in front of the majestic mountains
Spot the Safari!
Me and my ride
Once we parked the car and came out, me and Sushruth spotted some wild deers on the far away mountain.
Have a look at the videos by the handycam
to be continued...
Last edited by hemanth.anand : 19th July 2013 at 13:58.
|28th June 2013, 22:45||#15|
Distinguished - BHPian
Re: We ran out of road!
Day 8, 17.Aug.2012: Kargil-Leh (part 2)
Continuing our journey, by noon we were at the Lamayuru Monastery. by far the most picturesque monasteries of all we saw.
Its sitting pretty on top of a mountain with other mountains behind it. Blame my English, I'm falling short of words to describe it.
My first hand at HDR
We went inside the Monastery and took a tour around it. The peace and tranquility in this place can turn any person into a monk I guess.
I will not speak about it, I'll leave that to the pictures.
For everybody's well being
A strange lock
After a peaceful hour at the monastery, we headed further east in our Airavatha and its companion; the NH1D.
7 kms into the journey and we met River Indus for the time time, the river that our country has been named after.
View point view
Khandon se milte hain khande
We were along Indus on the left side till a place called Khaltse for an hour or so.
At Khaltse we saw a straight 2KM stretch after a long time. I pressed the pedal and we reached a top speed of 120kmph the first time in 4 days that the car reached a 3 digit mark
After this sprint, just at the end of the stretch, I saw a Dhabha and stopped there for lunch. It was around 2PM.
There were black clouds just behind us and the weather was pleasant. We sat on the cot and had nice and hot chapathis and rice. it was a nice and relaxing lunch.
Simple yet satisfying
The real Dhaba Experience!
By the time we finished our lunch it started raining. we now crossed over to
the other side of the river and started climbing up again
After selling his Ferrari, the monk bought a scooter!
Luckily for us the rain didn't last long. After driving for some 20-30mins, I saw a hill which was cut to make the road.
I noticed that the cross section of the hill had layers of sand compressed and they were sandstone formations.
Also I noticed that people had carved their names on these...So as a natural reaction, I too stopped there
Usually in sightseeing places I hate when I see people (mostly lovey dovey couples) who carve their names on walls of buildings.
Here, Since it was not damaging anything, I decided to carve something of our own.
I stopped off-the road and we started carving first with our own names and a message that "Sepoys" were there.
Then, we three married men started writing our respective better halves names just to show them that we missed them.
We then decided to move on
Remember, we had stopped off the road near the sand stone formation. Now, the fully loaded safari is not something very light.
Its weight is capable of forming sandstones on its own. So the inevitable happened...The wheels sunk a little bit in the sand.
I tried to move out by not revving it much, no success...Avinash tried it, no success. the tyres started sinking more.
We didn't want to take chance and hence got down, collected some stones from the river bed and placed it underneath the tyres
When we started again, we realized that even though our idea was good, it was not very well executed.
We had laid only one row of stones across the width of the tyres.
So what happened next was that the wheels did come out of the sand without further sinking; gripping on the stones.
Immediately after it crossed the first row of stones, it again went in and this time deeper, Avinash tried a bit more and nearly 40% of the wheel went it.
we then started diggings sand out from the wheels. We kept the safety triangle at some distance as well.
We also unloaded the boot to reduce weight and also removed the wooden planks that we had with us just for such scenarios.
Once some digging, we tried to place the plank, but we had to dig deeper
As we were digging, Vishwa thought that getting some help from another vehicle would be easier than digging.
So he tried to stop some Vehicle which could pull us out!
after some 4 to 5 vehicles, finally a Tata 207 pickup stopped and heard our problem.
He was a local guy. He asked us what resources we had, we pulled out the nylon tow rope which we had purchased.
He wanted try to drive out one last time before pulling out; since he had experience. We let him do that but the only thing that happened was the vehicle sunk more
So he stopped the vehicle in front of us and we connected both the vehicles. He started the engine and tried moving out, the vehicle didn't budge.
He tried harder and his tyres started to sink!!! before it could try harder, we stopped him and this time we asked him to try with his car on the road and not the sand; the vehicles were offset by the width
Now both the vehicles tried to their full potential. At first it was not coming out. Alemaari had kept the wheels straight.
But once he turned the Safari's wheels to wards the other vehicle, slowly the wheels started rolling out and finally it came out...Whew! that was some relief.
Take a look at the video below
Yes, we were there...longer than we wanted to
the truck finally came out!
By this time the clutch got hot sufficiently and we started to get burning smell from the bonnet.
We thanked the 207 guy and he suggested we open the bonnet and wait for some 45minutes before we make a move on.
So there it was, the Airavatha on the road with its bonnet open and cooling off with a safety triangle behind it.
While Avinash and Sushruth went down the valley to the riverside and spent some time there, me and Vishwa were sitting near the vehicle
In the next 15mins, our hands had turned its shade from beige to chocolate. It was like a bournville...we earned it
We quickly moved into the shade and continued our waiting game. After 45minutes, we started to load the boot again and then moved on.
A nice experience and the items planned for emergency did come in handy. A pat on my back for the planning and a kick on my rear for the parking
Moral of the story is: Don't write your wife/girlfriend's name on any wall
to be continued...
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Last edited by Rudra Sen : 27th July 2013 at 11:33.
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