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Old 10th June 2013, 23:48   #1
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Default Kashmir & a Scorpio!

1st June 2013
I had the alarm set for 3am , was awake already at 2am , excited ?, i wouldn't mind adding "too much" before exited .Our Hyderabad to Delhi flight was at 6:10 in the morning.It was a pleasant experience till Delhi , indigo now calls the chairs XL and thereís enough leg room and take a power nap if needed . The connecting flight to Srinagar was at 12:30 pm , was a hopping flight through Jammu.

Delhi Airport---
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-0.jpg

We were told that security would be extreme at Delhi to Srinagar, but yes there was huge rush but security check was similar to those of other airports, nothing special.[Wouldnt say the same while returning from Srinagar, it was 5 levels and was huge every time]
My waking up at 2am was starting to show up now, so took a power nap and woke up to see the flight had arrived at Jammu. Now let me talk about the specific 747 we had boarded. This was like travelling in a Cab. I had a chewing gum stain in the front seat looking at me smiling blatantly throughout the trip , but the awesomeness we were about to graduate into made me look over that .One more thing while i am writing , i had asked this hostess to give me a glass of water....still waiting.
I was woken up by a strong thud of rubber hitting the concrete; yes it took the sound of the plain to land to wake me up. Coming to the Jammu airport , all the buildings were arc like and shaped in the form of temples , was looking quite secular . Got a chance to stay on Jammu soil for a very short time, but it did feel it was ours, part of India

Jammu Airport----
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-1111.jpg

We started from Jammu to Srinagar at 2:34, at around 2:50 pm we got the preview of the eternal beauty Mother Nature holds, yes we were crossing the mighty Himalayas. I will be frank with you guys , I wanted the window seat to take some beautiful snaps of the snow dripping from the head to the tows of these mountains. It was breath taking and I was amazed with this majestic view.

Areal View of mighty Himalayas----
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-00000.jpg

Rubber hits the concrete again but this time in Srinagar. The conveyer belt made us wait for a solid 20 minutes , no complains as the airport was sparsely staffed. We were not even worried about our baggage , busy admiring the scenic beauty the airport was surrounded with. Went out and the guy was standing with a board with my name on it, he had it written on a green graph paper.
Went outside the airport, the person had a brand new Scorpio waiting for us, I was happy to see my partner for next 7 days and the hotel guy was a Graph paper guy and I was a happy man, and i gave a 5/5 to myself, I donít know why I even did that. Started the vehicle and the rambling of the diesel beast was instantaneous.

My Roadway Partner for next few days----
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Roads were narrow and driving was tough, was trying to understand the road physiology. It was a 38 min drive from the airport to Dal lake where we would be staying, stopped the car at lake gate #17 and left it there, we were guided to the house boat, it was named Lighthouse, it was a safe safe name in the water!

The Houseboat----
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-houseboat.jpg

At around 6 in the evening we started the 2 hour tour of Dal lake .
1. It was elegant
2. The water was crystal clear, could see the water plants very clearly and detailed, as if the pair of spectacles I had was in "macro mode".

Dal Lake----
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Every thing was floating, there were mobile vendors showing jewelers to my lady and then there was a guy with the local dresses , trying to convince her with the dress and a photo shoot , He was able to convince my wife and he took some snaps. Photo shoot was over and bargaining was in full swing , I told the guy that out of the 20 odd snaps he took we would take print out of 4 at 150/copy and pay him extra for copying over the SD card , he said he would come in the late evening after we returned to our houseboat , he never came back :/ .I had also taken some 15 odd snaps and I didn't regret. It was an amazing slow ride over the lake , lots of scenic beauty all around. Saw all kinds of shop from vegetables to expensive watches, all in floating house boats. I asked, they didnít have any special names for those shops.

Floating Shops----
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Had a very early dinner at 8:30 pm and strolled off to our room# 2 .We were dead tired and I was about to declare myself Cyborg with just 2-3 hrs sleep in last 48 hours .


2nd June
Had breakfast at 8am, i remember having tea , but i was not sure of the rest , I was still booting up, my tongue drivers didnít load yet and I donít clearly remember what I had. Arrived at Dal lake gate #17 and the grill of the scorpio was grinning at me , are you ready Human ?

Adieu Dal Lake----
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-6.1.jpg

Started early from Srinagar heading for Sonmarg , the road was pretty well , narrow but well built. There was major traffic bottlenecks on the was but the local people were very helpful and every one of them were skilled in traffic management , well thats what i thought. Crossed several beautiful mountain ranges , crossed the Sindh river now and then. The drive was pretty decent and did not involve any harsh braking and sharp turns , even though the road was abnormally narrow and very wide at some places , thats how the dynamites made them.

NH1 Also called AH1----
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Reached Sonmarg at 12. in the afternoon , has to quickly get over with lunch as we were late and needed to head over for the Tajiwas glacier . The road was beautiful along the Sindh , the altimeter read 2860 m above sea level . The engine response was excellent and the gear ratios made it just the most appropriate for these regions of our country. The locals did not allow private vehicles to go past a particular point and pony was compulsory , charging around 850 per pony. Boarding the pony was bit jazzy and involved some help .

Sindh Following us parallel y.
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-9.jpg


Now coming to the specification of the pony i rode.
His name was Raju and was 8 years old , the owner told me that he was one of the best in the lot and had won several races , needless to say Raju was and expert in these terrains. the ascend started and i was amazed to see how he was capable of doing 5-10 kmph with me slung behind him and road was atleast 20-30 degrees tilted . The rocks were like crossing a hump on my punto , easy peasy . The most excellent was the ground clearance of Raju

Raju----
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-raju.jpg

It was a 1 hour trek and we reached at 2890 m .The glacier was visible and I was just virtually offloading inside my brain.Reached a decent altitude walking 3008m was what the watch read. The snow was indeed slippery and i gave up counting how many times I fell . There was an excellent view from the top of the mountains .It was already 5:30 and we started to descent . Getting up was burning but not the same while coming down , we hired a wooden sledge and it took us hardly 3-4 minutes to come to the foot of the glacier . I was probably doing 30-50 kmph , it was awesome your legs were your steering wheel , abs , traction control and sometimes even a buggy gearbox . No there was no suspension and my back felt numb .Got back on the pony and started climbing down the hill . The owner was very friendly and gave me a crash course on managing a pony. I wanted to take a test drive of Raju , turbo charged. It was pretty smooth , steering was way too easy , stopping , braking and accelerating were equally wonderful . I thought to my self if i make enough money before my retirement i will get on of these one day.

Returned to the hotel at 8:30pm ,was dead tired and i dont remember anything after that.

3rd June
Sonmarg-Pahalgaon
The journey involved a 153 km drive from Sonmarg to Pahalgaon, we would need to cross Srinagar again.
The road till Tral was not the best, after crossing Tral we were back on wide winding roads. The NH ran parallel to the mighty Sindh river , it was a pleasure driving on that road . There were traffic bottlenecks at few spots but just turn your head to the left and you are isolated from the chaos. Huge security was evident at multiple locations and of course I felt safe. Coming to the road sense of the people who were driving there , it was decent and they were skilled , most people who drive in the hilly regions are skilled. Reached Pahalgaon at 2pm .The roads are pretty straing forward , although the Scorp was fitted with a Garmin nŁvi 50LM, had to follow nh1 throughout .Pahalgaon is commonly known as the village of shepherds.River Lidder was welcoming us into Pahalgaon.

Lidder River----
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-lidder.jpg
The evening at Pahalgaon was spent in local shopping and then sleeping hard.

4th June
Next day we started for Betab valley and Kolahoi Glacier. It was a spectacular site there and you could literally measure the thickness of the ice covering the river that is flowing beneath.Since this city is also associated with Amarnath Yatra , there was huge security in the entire area. The return journey was brisk as i knew the roads , hopefully . Was a stretch and did 70 , I was impressed with MnM !

Betab valley----
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The evening was dull and it was about to rain , however the locals advised to finish off the "mini Switzerland" or Baisaran . The only option was horses , not pony this time. Flat rate 750 / person no bargain was written on the board.This time my companion was Badal , a well built horse in its early 10s. It was not a very familiar site and was indeed breathtaking. There were horses roaming independently and they were running wildly as if I was in the middle of some movie that was about to get shot.We had Kawa wherever we could have and it was fabulous every time , getting better with the height .

Baisaran----
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5th June
Journey starts at 8 am from Pahalgaon to Srinagar.We stopped by at Ananthpur ruins , not much was left of the place but whatever little remained was well maintained.

Ananthpur ruins----
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-ananthpur-ruins.jpg

The road was well known , had crossed it earlier . The locals had some issues with the police as the ruling party wanted to widen the roads , some shops were being broken down.Enough Army and police were recruited on the spots of demolition .Entered Srinagar at 12 in the afternoon .The hotel was Grand mahal and it was huge .We had some time in hand so thought of visiting all the local Gardens , Mughal garden being one of them. It was beautiful however could have been more clean.Even after finishing off with the gardens there was enough sunlight left on the soil , so went Carpet shopping


Hotel Grand Mahal Lobby ----
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-grand-mahal.jpg

Mughal Gardens and other Gardens with Holy fountain----
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Carpet shop----
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-carpet-shop.jpg

6th June , the journey was almost to an end....
Gulmarg was the target , 57km from Srinigar , was a dul day , overcast sky and it rained , it rained bad.
On the ride up the hill was dead slow , was doing around 30-40 although there was no traffic from opposite direction.We arrived at Gulmarg and was astonished to see the croud, there were almost 20k people there all waiting in the queue for the Gandola ride. We too had to wait but again , not very long and the first step Gulmard to Kundoor started 1.5km on a single rope .
It was built by a French construction company in 2 phases , first one being completed in 1998 and the last phase was done in 2005.
Inside Gandola or Rope way .

Kashmir & a Scorpio!-gandola1.jpg

The second step was from Kungdoor to Aparwath 2.8km . Had booked the tickets last night online . thanks to hotel Wifi , complementary
Puwa was the name of the French Construction company----
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-gandola2.jpg
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-gandola3.jpg

Glaciers Nearby----
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-glaciers.jpg

Officially the trip came to an end, vacation over time to drive to office and forth .But it was an exciting drive always and the most important think I took back was that Kashmir was safe if you are safe.

Last edited by ARAY : 13th June 2013 at 23:49.
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Old 13th June 2013, 21:01   #2
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 13th June 2013, 21:30   #3
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Default re: Kashmir & a Scorpio!

Crisp travalogue and gorgeous pictures. Its good for the people of Kashmir that tourists have started regularly visiting, that will keep the economy rolling.
Was your scorpio self driven? Can you pass on the information on its rental ?
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Old 13th June 2013, 22:59   #4
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Yes the Scorpio was self driven , however a local guide accompanied us , he never got a chance to drive .
It was not rented , belongs to a close family friend .
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Old 13th June 2013, 23:11   #5
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Default re: Kashmir & a Scorpio!

Nice little travelogue. One can never be tired looking at those bluish sky and snow capped peeks. Please do share more pics of Pehalgam, if you have any.

Just out of curiosity. Why this steering wheel on the Scorp, on the left side? (Pic inverted?)

Please do share the route details to Betab Valley and also the places you stayed/cost etc.
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Old 13th June 2013, 23:19   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aviorp View Post
Nice little travelogue. One can never be tired looking at those bluish sky and snow capped peeks. Please do share more pics of Pehalgam, if you have any.

Just out of curiosity. Why this steering wheel on the Scorp, on the left side? (Pic inverted?)

Please do share the route details to Betab Valley and also the places you stayed/cost etc.
I was playing with the pictures , editing as some say
And i think i uploaded and posted the wrong one for Scorpio.
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Old 14th June 2013, 00:20   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aviorp View Post

Please do share the route details to Betab Valley and also the places you stayed/cost etc.
Pahalgaon to Betab valley was 8Km drive over KP Road ,from the Hotel where I stayed, First 2-3 Km was through the city itself . roads were on the narrower side. Being part of Amarnath Yatra had heavy security and scouts all around with checking on few public transport vehicles leading to a some what thick traffic.
Once out of that the Hair pins started was a steep climb probably rose 200m in another 3 km , the Valley is however deep down and situated in between mountains .

I stayed at Hotel Hill Top View , Suits were decently charged ,but again it hugely depends on the season , we went in June , kind of the peak season.

Some more pics to sooth the eye----
Kashmir & a Scorpio!-dsc00595.jpg

Sindh River flowing by----
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Thats where the actual movie shooting took place they say----
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Old 14th June 2013, 10:14   #8
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Nice TL aritraray, love "Areal View of mighty Himalayas" photo.
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Old 14th June 2013, 12:00   #9
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Hi Aritray,

This was a nice little TL you got here. Initially I thought that you went all the way to Kashmir in the Scorp. Anyways, I have been there 3 years back and yearning since to go back again. The pics are amazing, waiting for some more pics.
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Old 14th June 2013, 23:04   #10
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Hi Aritray,

The pics are amazing, waiting for some more pics.
Thanks

The clarity of the water in Dal lake was just amazing , it was crystal clear.
In congested and shallow parts of the lake they had people hired to clean the lake. In deeper parts I spotted 8 LnT moss grabber some big cranes to clean the lake.

More Pics of Srinagar.Will post some more of other places day by day..
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Old 15th June 2013, 13:55   #11
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Default Re: Kashmir & a Scorpio!

Beautiful pictures man. For once, I thought that you traveled all the way in a scorpio, but a real nice crisp travelogue with amazing pictures.
Thanks for sharing them.

Regards,
Saket
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Old 16th June 2013, 02:03   #12
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The most priced click of my trip

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Old 18th June 2013, 14:31   #13
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Default Re: Kashmir & a Scorpio!

Nice and crisp travelogue Aritra. Loved the pictures. Specially loved the pictures of the Dal lake.

You did Kashmir that's fine but dare not to go to Leh, Ladakh without me all the way from home by car!
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Old 18th June 2013, 15:31   #14
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You did Kashmir that's fine but dare not to go to Leh, Ladakh without me all the way from home by car!

Etios will tow punto if needed...i wont take that road without some expert like you to guide me
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Old 18th June 2013, 19:55   #15
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Originally Posted by aritraray View Post
Etios will tow punto if needed...i wont take that road without some expert like you to guide me
This is like modesty redefined!

What all i can say is we will have fun! So lets plan it out and do it! I have gathered a lot of information from Team Bhp regarding Leh Ladakh. Anyways we are going off topic over here from your beautiful Kashmir travelogue so the rest we will decide over phone.

Last edited by Samba : 18th June 2013 at 19:56.
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