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Old 13th June 2013, 11:59   #31
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Thank you Debuda for the beautiful post . As you rightly said, the Journey to Leh itself is the destination !!!

I have spent countless days reading Leh posts on this forum and just waiting my turn to come. Cannot plan at least for a couple of years for some personal reasons. But i think 2015 June it should be.

Between, I reckon we need 'PERMITS' to visit some places. Where do we get these permits?
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Old 13th June 2013, 12:32   #32
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Just one sentence sir - MIND BLASTING PICTURES!

Really splendid pictures. Fascinated with the pictures clicked near the Pakistan border. Surely, your's is among the best pictures that I have seen here.

Thanks for sharing,

Regards,
Saket
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Old 13th June 2013, 14:19   #33
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
Sir a small question, why didn't you consider the other side (Leh - Manali) to come down?
I had originally planned to descend via the Manali route but it opened later than expected. I did not want my XUV to be one of the first private vehicles to negotiate this route after the official 'opening'. I had been cautioned by my Army friends that it is advisable to wait for at least 10 days after the official opening of the route.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SDP View Post
Debuda, the pace at which this travelogue is going, I am pretty sure that you have intentions of completing it before the weekend! That's actually a fantastic way of putting up a travelogue rather than dragging one on for months together and flooding it with a few thousand pictures, which all seem to look similar beyond a point.

Lovely narration and absolutely brilliant pictures. Loved the deep blue sky. Was wondering, were you using a polarizer or is the sky indeed that deep blue?
  1. I indeed intend wrapping up this travelogue in a day or two.
  2. I did not use any polarizer. The sky (and even lakes!) in Ladakh actually appear more blue. As a photographer, though basically I belong to the old school which believes in presenting pictures 'as clicked' and not 'as created' (by Photoshop or similar software), I do use software for cropping and a certain amount of digital enhancement (brightness, contrast and saturation). During the process of digital enhancement sometimes the colours do become a bit unreal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudhalaipatti View Post
Lovely pictures and great narrative. I presume a detailed report on how XUV handled the heights is coming just around the corner. Especially it's water wading capability considering the low air intake point for XUV. Also how did the filters manage the dust storms.
  1. My technical report is here (Debuda’s Silver Mahindra XUV500 W6 @ Jamshedpur).
  2. I did not have to take my XUV through more than 150 mm water during my entire trip. So I won't be able to comment on the XUV's water wading capacity. All I know is that a little bit of water washing of the engine compartment is good enough to completely incapacitate a XUV!
  3. After my return to Jamshedpur when I took my XUV to the ASC for replacement of the engine bottom guard (officially called stone guard), I asked them to clean the air filter. But they said that the XUV uses a 'gel type' air filter which can't be cleaned, only replaced. But I did not get my air filter prematurely replaced as there are no symptoms of it being clogged. So I should think that the filter is doing its work pretty well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PassionateDrive View Post
Thank you Debuda for the beautiful post . As you rightly said, the Journey to Leh itself is the destination !!!

I have spent countless days reading Leh posts on this forum and just waiting my turn to come. Cannot plan at least for a couple of years for some personal reasons. But i think 2015 June it should be.

Between, I reckon we need 'PERMITS' to visit some places. Where do we get these permits?
Permits for various destinations in Ladakh are issued by the DC's office in Leh. If you are ascending by the Manali-Leh route, then you need to get permits at Manali. Many travel agents also arrange the permits for a fee.
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Old 13th June 2013, 15:16   #34
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Sir,
A brilliant Travelogue you've put up here, thankyou! I did this sector in August last year,and I have to say that it looks so much more beautiful because of the amount of snow that one can see in June! Also, if you happen to come back to Leh, I would definitely recommend you to do the Leh-Manali road also if possible, because its worth seeing for sure. Someday, I too hope to drive up to Leh like you, in our Xylo.

Cheers and wishing you many more happy miles in your XUV,
Varun
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Old 13th June 2013, 15:45   #35
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Quote:
Originally Posted by PassionateDrive View Post
I have spent countless days reading Leh posts on this forum and just waiting my turn to come. Cannot plan at least for a couple of years for some personal reasons. But i think 2015 June it should be.

Between, I reckon we need 'PERMITS' to visit some places....
Sorry for this OT post on this thread!

Going by some of the recent aggressive moves by China, we might need 'VISA' to visit some of these places in 2015. :(
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Old 13th June 2013, 17:48   #36
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

As usual, a clinically precise travelogue with crystal clear pictures. Enjoyed reading it. Indeed, North Pullu to K'La is a tough, narrow and steep road that is prone to black ice at times. What are your comments regarding the gradeability of the XUV500 on this section? How a heavy front-wheel-drive SUV behaves on such a road is something I am curious about.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
Sir a small question, why didn't you consider the other side (Leh - Manali) to come down?
Quote:
Originally Posted by debuda View Post
I had originally planned to descend via the Manali route but it opened later than expected. I did not want my XUV to be one of the first private vehicles to negotiate this route after the official 'opening'. I had been cautioned by my Army friends that it is advisable to wait for at least 10 days after the official opening of the route.
I believe the Leh-Manali route opened unofficially on 25th May and officially on 3rd June this year, which would have been after you started back from Leh.

Mulbekh looks like a tempting place to spend a night, rather than just drive through.
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Old 13th June 2013, 19:00   #37
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Hats-off to you Debuda!! One amazing and inspiring travelogue, that too in 4x2 XUV. The new line should be "Life starts at 60!".

Lovely photographs and i am now itching to go there soon. Like someone also mentioned, I will start planning for a Bangalore-Ladakh trip. You have got one brave team with you .
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Old 13th June 2013, 19:23   #38
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Mulbekh looks like a tempting place to spend a night, rather than just drive through.
Actually no. It doesn't have any proper accommodation. Some 15-20 km stretch looks nice after Mulbekh village. It's OK to spend some time there. One can leave Kargil very early in order to do that.
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Old 13th June 2013, 20:23   #39
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Lovely T-Log with wonderful pictures. You have captured the glory of ice and white very well. I think it was wise to skip the Manali at that time, would have really tested it on icy stretches, steep climbs and slush.

Went through every line, looks like the XUV needs does scrap bottom and needs to be nursed on the hills. Also curious about the sensors and gizmos, did they act up any time?

--Ramky
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Old 13th June 2013, 21:39   #40
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Day-18 (24 May 13) : The 3 men had said goodbyes to the 2 girls the previous evening as far as this driving expedition was concerned. The girls were going to take a flight from Srinagar to Delhi as they needed to get back to work. The men, being retired and vela, were going to visit Gulmarg and Pahalgam and return to Jamshedpur via Delhi.

So on the morning of 24 May the 3 men checked out of their hotel in Srinagar (where they had used the ceiling fan throughout the previous night!) and drove to Gulmarg. The road to Gulmarg was wonderful, especially the last few kilometers of ghat section which climbs through beautiful pine forests. As a matter of fact, this drive through the pine forests was the best part of our trip to Gulmarg as there was nothing much to see or do in Gulmarg (we did not want to take ponies and ride up the hills). The last time I had visited Gulmarg was 30 years ago with my wife and because it was in winter, Gulmarg was covered in snow.

BTW, the elevation of Srinagar is 5,300 feet and that of Gulmarg 8,700 feet.

After spending an hour or so in Gulmarg we started our return trip to Srinagar. We had no intention of doing any further sightseeing in Srinagar but wanted to proceed directly to Pahalgam where we intended to spend the night.

We bypassed the crowded Srinagar town and the highway brought us straight to Pantha Chowk (near Badami Bagh) from where we took the Jammu highway. At Bijbehara we left the highway and took the road to Pahalgam.

Our plan was to look for a hotel in Pahalgam but when we reached a place called Langanbal (7 km before Pahalgam) we came across a small lodge (Lucky Lodge) on the road with the Lidder river flowing noisily right in front of it. All the 6 rooms in this lodge were available and we immediately checked in (tariff was just Rs 300 per room!). We were so thrilled with the location of this lodge that we ended up spending 2 nights instead of the originally planned 1.

Muzaffar, the owner of Lucky Lodge, prepared some basic dal-roti-subzi dinner for us and we had a wonderful night’s sleep soothed by the music of the gushing Lidder river. The elevation of Langanbal is 6,700 feet and we needed blankets, unlike last night at Srinagar where we had to use fans.



On the way from Srinagar to Gulmarg.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-1.jpg



Near Gulmarg.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-2.jpg



Near Gulmarg.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-3.jpg



At Gulmarg.
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Lidder valley near Langanbal.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-5.jpg



Lucky Lodge at Langanbal.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-6.jpg



View from my bedroom window at Lucky Lodge.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-7.jpg



Day-19 (25 May 13) : After having breakfast prepared by Muzaffar, the 3 of us drove to Pahalgam, 7 km away. Except for shopping and eating there is nothing much to be done in Pahalgam and so we continued driving up till we reached Betaab Valley, 6 km beyond Pahalgam, at an elevation of 7,900 feet. This is a grassy valley adjacent to the fast-flowing Lidder river, surrounded by mountains. A Hindi film named ‘Betaab’ was shot there many decades ago and this made this spot very popular. So much so, that one needs to buy a ticket to enter Betaab Valley!

We spent an hour sightseeing at the Betaab Valley and thereafter decided to drive further up the mountains to Chandanwari, one of the starting / finishing points of the Amarnath Yatra.

Chandanwari is 22 km uphill from Pahalgam. It is a small village with a nice glacier, a fast-flowing river and many shops catering to the pilgrims who go for the Yatra. It is at an elevation of 9,300 feet. We were told that the Yatra would be starting around 20 June 2013. But there were a large number of tourists there who were frolicking on the glacier.

After sightseeing at Chandanwari we descended to Pahalgam where we had our lunch and then returned to Lucky Lodge at Langanbal to spend a relaxed evening and night next to the Lidder.



Near Pahalgam.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-8.jpg



Note the number of tourist vehicles at Betaab Valley.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-9.jpg



Schoolchildren queuing up to visit Betaab Valley.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-10.jpg



At Betaab Valley.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-11.jpg



At Betaab Valley.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-12.jpg



At Betaab Valley.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-13.jpg



At Betaab Valley.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-14.jpg



At Betaab Valley.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-15.jpg



At Betaab Valley.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-16.jpg



View of Betaab Valley from the road to Chandanwari.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-16a.jpg



Glacier and river at Chandanwari.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-17.jpg



Glacier at Chandanwari.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-18.jpg



Trekking stick seller at Chandanwari.
Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500-xuv-19.jpg



Day-20 (26 May 13) : When we left Lucky Lodge at 5:30 AM, I realized that the sightseeing / fun part of our expedition had truly come to an end and all that was remaining was the long drive back to Delhi and then on to Jamshedpur. But being the compulsive driver that I am, I took the steering wheel with gusto! It happens extremely rarely that I find driving a boring activity.

While coming to Pahalgam we had left the Jammu highway at Bijbehara but while returning we took the other road (better and wider) which joined the Jammu highway at Khanabal. Incidentally, both these roads, i.e., the Khanabal-Pahalgam road and the Bijbehara-Langanbal road join at Langanbal, and Lucky Lodge is situated just 100 m from the small bridge over the Lidder where both these roads meet.

Having started early in the morning (as you may have noted, starting around 5-6 AM in the morning is my norm during long drives) we made very good progress and we were in Pathankot by early evening where we spent the night.


Day-21 (27 May 13) : Drove from Pathankot to Delhi.


Day-22, Day-23 (28-29 May 13) : Much needed rest and relaxation at Delhi. Pampered by my daughter Debashree for 2 days.


Day-24 (30 May 13) : The 3 of us left Delhi at 6:30 AM and reached Mohania in Bihar at 9:30 PM. It was a day of marathon driving for me – covered 861 km in 15 hours.


Day-25 (31 May 13) : First drove to Ranchi, where we dropped off Amitava and then Dhiman and I returned to Jamshedpur. A 25-day, 6,576 km drive had come to an end. It will certainly remain etched in my mind as one of the most exciting driving expeditions undertaken by me.


N.B. : As far as the performance of my XUV-500 during this arduous expedition is concerned, a detailed technical report may be seen here (Debuda’s Silver Mahindra XUV500 W6 @ Jamshedpur).
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Old 13th June 2013, 23:20   #41
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Arrow Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Read your technical report, very detailed and informative, thanks for takiing trouble to account it.

I had not read your technical report, but guessed it right. I see many XUV owners irritated / shouting at ASC for sensors going crazy, the bonnet open one being common.

My Mhwak is also behaving crazy after the rains, did not start last week, kept the bonnet open to the sun and pumped, started after some time. Now the oil, engine lights come on and off, but cranks on first click, will check the fuses for water tomorrow. My earlier Crde has no such problems, only a Exhaust Gas Return sensor malfunction after 50K kms!!

I agree with you on the timings, no such thing as the right time, just pack up and move, tomorrow never comes.

Enjoyed yr story, just about made my day.

--Ramky
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Old 13th June 2013, 23:31   #42
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Terrific travelogue to say the least, driving 6k plus kilometers alone takes a lot of grit and determination. Fantastic frames of the landscapes.
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Old 14th June 2013, 02:24   #43
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Debuda , beautiful and very descriptive travel log .
You did this on MnM in May 2013 , I did it in MnM in June 2013...
I wished I could do the Ladakh in same go , will scroll through your pictures and be happy for the time being.

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Old 14th June 2013, 08:52   #44
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

A 25 day trip-log wrapped up in 5 days, 3 pages and 180 images! Talk about crisp!

Needless to say, thoroughly enjoyed and day-dreamed about how a particular Tuscan Red XUV would look with those amazing backdrops.
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Old 14th June 2013, 10:23   #45
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Default Re: Drive to Kashmir Valley & Ladakh in my XUV500

Thanks Debuda for another fascinating TL with fantastic pictures.
Wish you could have done the Leh-Manali route.
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