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Old 15th July 2013, 17:50   #1
akp
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Default Ladakh Trip Photologue

Ever since I became a member of tbhp, the travelogue section is the one that I have frequented most, and every summer, the Ladakh travelogues are the ones I would eagerly look forward to, much like the special Puja issues of various magazines I used to look forward to way back in my childhood in Kolkata.

Finally a plan was in place this year, for us to venture out to the region. Initially it was a 15/16 day plan, which we had to shrink to a 12-day one due to work pressures and such, and eventually ended up executing in 11 days. Here was the final itinerary that we followed:

Day 1: Delhi - Kud
Day 2: Kud - Srinagar - Sonamarg - Kargil
Day 3: Kargil - Leh
Day 4: Leh
Day 5: Leh - Hunder
Day 6: Hunder - Leh
Day 7: Leh - Spangmik (Pangong Tso)
Day 8: Spangmik - Leh
Day 9: Leh - Upshi - Chumathang - Mahe - Sumdo - Korzok (Tso Moriri)
Day 10: Korzok - Sumdo - Tso Kar - Debring - Sarchu - Jispa
Day 11: Jispa - Manali - Delhi

At various stages of planning and execution, I got tremendous help from SS-Traveller. He was always available, just a phone call away with whatever advice I needed. Also borrowed a few crucial items from him for the trip.
The maps prepared by Harsh Vardhan and tsk1979 were extremely useful too. So was v&v's Ladakh thread giving break ups of distances and time taken between various places. Also got updates about road conditions etc from HVK through his fb forum.
A big `thank you' to all of you, and possibly many more unnamed ones in this forum from whose threads I have benefitted.

In what follows, let me share some pictures from this land that we took during our trip.

Days 1 & 2:

The travellers.
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The vehicle, bought specifically for this trip and possibly more similar ones in future:

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Day 1: We start early, at 4 AM. After Ambala, this road through Banur and Kharar takes one towards Pathankot. First night's halt was to be Kud:

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Next morning, again it was a 4 AM start. It was to be a long day - plan was to cross Srinagar-Sonamarg-Zoji La and enter Ladakh before the security situation or the Amarnath Yatra traffic can play havoc with our trip.

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Banihal-Qazigund tunnel - an 11km tunnel that connects the Kashmir valley to the Jammu region - was to be inaugurated by the PM on this very day. There was heavy security throughout the entire route and several stoppages including baggage checks etc, but thankfully no major delays.

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Entry to Jawahar Tunnel:

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Inside the tunnel:

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Driving towards Dal Lake:

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After Sonamarg, towards Zoji La.

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Approaching Zoji La

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After Zoji La, you enter the Ladakh region.

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Less crowd and traffic, wider vistas, beautiful landscapes all around - a heaven slowly unfolds over the next ten days.

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Last edited by akp : 15th July 2013 at 18:11.
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Old 15th July 2013, 19:03   #2
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Default Ladakh trip photologue: Day 3

Day 3: From Kargil towards Leh - weird colors of the mountains:

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As you go further, the landscape gets more and more barren - but you have these occasional green patches.

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Natural formations, those.

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Lamayuru on the right.

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Somewhere before Khaltse.

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After Khaltse, it started raining a bit, and the road was mostly flat - we did not stop much in this stretch.

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Old 15th July 2013, 20:18   #3
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Default Ladakh trip photologue: Day 4

Hotel Kidar - our stay in Leh. It was a nice comfortable stay - not too much option as far as food is concerned, but very good in every other respect.

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After two cloudy days, it was bright and sunny today. Enjoying our breakfast in the garden.

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After breakfast, we set off for Leh Palace. There is a small lane at one corner of the main market that leads to a shortcut to the Palace...

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that ends with this climb.

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Part of Leh city from the Palace.

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We take the same shortcut back.

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Have a small lunch in the market, then back to the hotel room for a small nap. In the evening, we decide to go to the Indus river bank.

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Old 15th July 2013, 20:58   #4
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Default Ladakh trip photologue: Days 5 & 6 (Leh - Nubra valley - Leh)

On Day 5, after breakfast, we set off for Nubra valley. Plan was to reach Hunder, and if time permits, visit Turtuk and be back in Hunder for the night. As it turned out, we did not have enough time left when we reached Hunder.


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About 15 km before Khardung La, you reach South Pullu checkpost. Till here, the roads were nice. From here the bad road starts and continues for about 30 km till North Pullu on the other side of Khardung La.

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Approaching Khardung La. There was a landslide earlier which was being cleared and here we are, stuck at 5200 mtrs for over an hour.

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People getting impatient while the JCB doing its job.

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Contrary to what the sign board claims, K La is only about 5360 meters and is NOT the highest motorable road. I can accept that there was an error in measurement in earlier days, but no idea why they have not changed the sign board despite this being well known now, and thus helping spread misinformation among the unsuspecting tourists.

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A little after crossing Khardung La.

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The views just keep getting better once you cross K La.

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Shyok river - a tributary of Indus

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Old 15th July 2013, 21:24   #5
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Default Ladakh trip photologue: Days 5 & 6 (Contd)

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Day 6 morning: Goba Guest House in Hunder, where we stayed the previous night. Many such guest houses/home stays have sprung up in the small village.

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Sand dunes.

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Sand dune festival, at a height of 3200 meters!

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Double humped camels.

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A stream on the way.

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Back to our hotel in Leh, had a hot cup of tea with pakoras, a bit of rest. Late in the evening, decided to visit the Shanti Stupa. The place was nearly empty when we reach there. It was nice to just sit there in total silence.

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Old 15th July 2013, 21:50   #6
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Default re: Ladakh Trip Photologue

akp,

Awesome pictures and crisp narration. Way to go!

Thoroughly enjoyed the picture details and the information.

Thank you!
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Old 15th July 2013, 22:15   #7
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Default

Some superb pics there akp.
Did you try Patisa @ Kud ? It was simply awesome.
How was the overall driving experience ?
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Old 15th July 2013, 22:30   #8
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Default re: Ladakh Trip Photologue

Quote:
Originally Posted by v&v View Post
Some superb pics there akp.
Did you try Patisa @ Kud ? It was simply awesome.
How was the overall driving experience ?
Thanks, v&v. We did of course try Patisa in Kud. We had it during the trip, and even managed to bring back home some!

Overall driving experience was very nice. Most of my previous trips to the mountains were in a hatchback, and as soon as the terrain became rugged, I had to pay more attention to protecting the car and its underbody than to the surroundings, where as this time I was more relaxed and pay much more attention to the landscapes all around.
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Old 15th July 2013, 22:40   #9
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Dear akp,
Beautifull pics. You rarely come across such detailed and crisp photos. When did you make this trip?
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Old 16th July 2013, 02:40   #10
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Default re: Ladakh Trip Photologue

Superb and crisp travelogue with some awesome sets of photographs. Eagerly waiting for more to come. Your condition was pretty similar to mine, that you used to search travelogues on Leh & Ladakh on Team bhp (Which i still do)! The only big difference is you made the trip and am yet to do it!
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Old 16th July 2013, 09:36   #11
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Default re: Ladakh Trip Photologue

Quote:
Originally Posted by getsurya View Post
akp,
Awesome pictures and crisp narration. Way to go!
Thoroughly enjoyed the picture details and the information.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanjay1707 View Post
Dear akp,
Beautifull pics. You rarely come across such detailed and crisp photos. When did you make this trip?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
Superb and crisp travelogue with some awesome sets of photographs. Eagerly waiting for more to come.
Thanks.

Hoping to finish the rest of the thread by tonight.

@Sanjay: We had gone during the last week of June and first week of July.
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Old 16th July 2013, 12:28   #12
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Default re: Ladakh Trip Photologue

Nice photologue with crisp narration. Thanks for sharing about the preparations you did, and about the people you consulted before the travel. Could be useful to many.
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Old 16th July 2013, 14:16   #13
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Default re: Ladakh Trip Photologue

Lovely pictures akp especially the ones where you have a shot of your scorpio approaching Khardung-La and the other one of the road which is titled near Khaltse.

Waiting for the rest of the travelogue !!

Cheers
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Old 16th July 2013, 15:53   #14
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Default Ladakh trip photologue: Days 7 & 8 (Leh - Spangmik - Leh)

Our initial plan was to go to Pangong Tso and on the next day, go to Tso Moriri straight from there. For a couple of reasons, we changed that and decided to come back to Leh the next day: one, even though we had permits for Chusul and Tsaga, we could not get any definite information as to whether tourists are indeed being allowed beyond Chusul. Two, this would have involved leaving Pangong early in the morning. But we wanted to spend more time there.

After breakfast on Day 7, we leave for Spangmik - plan was to not stop too much on the way so that we can spend reasonable amount of time in the afternoon and evening at the lake.

The road till Karu and beyond was fantastic.

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Customary ORVM shot.

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Chang La.

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It was cold at the top. Had a hot cup of tea at this cafetaria.

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Tsoltak - about 12 km ahead of Chang La.

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There was this nice little stream adjacent to the road. Even though we had decided not to `waste' time on the way, we just could not resist spending a little time here.

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Old 16th July 2013, 17:01   #15
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Default Ladakh trip photologue: Pangong Tso - I

Next few posts are all going to be full of just pictures of Pangong Tso. Photos do not really do justice to what you actually experience. Let me make an attempt nevertheless to share what we saw.


The first view, as you approach Lukung.

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And then, for the next few hours, the lake just takes over - you forget that you are hungry, you forget that you are running out of breath if you try to exert even a tiny bit, you forget everything else.
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