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Old 31st July 2013, 12:24   #16
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

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Originally Posted by parsh View Post
We first tell ourselves, no panicking. We have the oxygen canisters with us but those are not going to help him as he has no knowledge of forced breathing. Luckily, my better half being a doctor too helps.
Fantastic trip there Parsh. Your writing and pics complement each other well . The initial post clearly gives the tough side of the trip and also the importance of getting assimilated.
I have a doubt here Parsh. We are making this trip this year in August end. There is a person in our group who feels he might require oxygen canisters. We checked out in Chennai and found that there are people renting out oxygen cylinders. It is sufficient for 5 hrs and the refill charge is 500. most importantly the size is 3 ft. I feel that it is bit big. Is it necessary to carry that big?
The information I need is, what was the size of oxygen canisters you carried and what was the cost of rent/outright purchase? A picture of the canister would be of immense help.
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Old 31st July 2013, 13:21   #17
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

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Fantastic trip there Parsh. Your writing and pics complement each other well . The initial post clearly gives the tough side of the trip and also the importance of getting assimilated.
I have a doubt here Parsh. We are making this trip this year in August end. There is a person in our group who feels he might require oxygen canisters. We checked out in Chennai and found that there are people renting out oxygen cylinders. It is sufficient for 5 hrs and the refill charge is 500. most importantly the size is 3 ft. I feel that it is bit big. Is it necessary to carry that big?
The information I need is, what was the size of oxygen canisters you carried and what was the cost of rent/outright purchase? A picture of the canister would be of immense help.
Thanks narsi.

What is the specifics of this person, age, background, healthy/trim, exposure to such environments before e.g. Sikkim etc?

An adult can easily cope whatever be the situation if the mind is kept stable without panicking and quickly adopting the long and deep breathing immediately upon any such feeling occurring. I can safely say this having seen my father at 70 yrs gone through it all without posing any major issues, yet without any need for oxygen canisters for him.

IMO, just to be on the safe side if the person is too hyper about it, a couple of small canisters should be enough just in case required. I will try get pic of the canister soon. The 3' one is an overkill. Tell you frankly, we had that one too but never came to use it at all and it returned back as it is.
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Old 31st July 2013, 13:30   #18
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

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What is the specifics of this person, age, background, healthy/trim, exposure to such environments before e.g. Sikkim etc?
Thanks Parsh for your quick reply. He is around 40 years, well built and healthy. The only thing he is concerned about is that he has BP and wants to be cautious. Anyways, I will update this to him and try to get canisters. Are there any helpful pointers for procuring oxygen canisters?
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Old 1st August 2013, 11:44   #19
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

Very good start, with all the nuisances of planning and details captured. Thanks Parsh!

Please complete it by 8th as 9th is the date when I start on my journey to Ladakh!
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Old 1st August 2013, 12:22   #20
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

very well written and detailed writeup so far.... eagerly waiting for more to come..
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Old 4th August 2013, 22:45   #21
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

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Thanks Parsh for your quick reply. He is around 40 years, well built and healthy. The only thing he is concerned about is that he has BP and wants to be cautious.
Sorry I could not turn around a little earlier. Hope this helps you in anyway.

He is at good young age and if does not have any other ailments, is decently fit and fine, then should not worry too much. My father at 70 also has BP problems and it is must for him to take medications first thing in the morning without fail everyday. But he sustained extremely well. Just ask him to be little carefree, without tension at the same time not to panic in case he does face such a situation, it is easy to manage for a healthy adult.

Quote:
Are there any helpful pointers for procuring oxygen canisters?
This is one image of the canister I have

Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013-20130804186-oxy-canister-1.jpg

It is pretty small and handy, aluminum make, costs Rs 375/-, manufactured by Noble Fire Fighting Industries, Bhayandar. The cap itself becomes the inhaler if you observe the depiction on the bottle.

The cylinder was 3' aluminum make with control, rented @ Rs 2800/- plus security deposit of Rs 8500/-, from a Kotla based company.

A few links
http://www.imperialgasesandsurgical....lhi_India.html

http://www.ajaymedicare.co.in/

Last edited by parsh : 4th August 2013 at 22:48.
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Old 10th August 2013, 17:06   #22
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

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Oh, that battery. Actually it did not miss the checklist. We knew the battery was weak but still thought it will live through,

You will just need good tyres and good maneuverability. Check my specific comments in TSK's Zanskar and Ladakh Ultimate Guide also.
hi Parsh
These are two of the topics at the top of my mind.
My Innova is from October 2009. "Exide" Battery and "Goodyear". Tyres are the same ones that it came with when I bought it. Kms done: ~ 35 k to date. Yes it is a low mileage car.
Tyre wear is normal for its age- decent tread left

I know the following are likely stupid questions- but thought to ask a fellow Innova driver (one of the few ones on T-BHP) who has done this trek to Ladakh and back - that too with two innovas.



a) Since I am planning this trip for 2014, and new Tyres particularly will pinch the pocket - want to know if I should risk with the original tyres and battery...



b) Secondly, do you recommend any anti-freeze in the diesel?

c) Thirdly, did you have to cover the engine in a tarp or blanket to keep it warm for the night- to ensure quick start the next morning - of course in excess of 12000 ft.
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Old 10th August 2013, 21:56   #23
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

Parsh, no new episode after 24th July!:(
Hope you find more bandwidth soon.

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Old 11th August 2013, 15:54   #24
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

Day 2: Sun, 2 June 2013 – Katra – Reasi Trek – Katra – Patnitop

Last night we slept with early rise thought to start trek at 6 AM. Today morning brought nice hues in the sky though over the bus-tops range instead of clear mountain ranges

Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013-20130602-05.53.36.jpg

Little did we know that finally we will end up starting the trek at 8:30 AM. Well, small children, breakfast and overall getting ready in the morning takes its toll. Nevertheless, we are there and we had arranged for a VIP pass through acquaintance so when we reach the top we will end up in the much shorter queue.

There are 2 options of palkis or horses to ride one-way or both ways. There is also the 3rd option of helicopter ride which can be booked in advance on the VaishnoDevi portal if you are sure of the time you are going to be there (not sure if it can be bought on time at the helipad) and it costs way less than the other 2 options and also saves time if you are in a hurry. We were ideal candidates for the helicopter ride but had missed the bus for the tickets due to last minute planning.

With children, ladies and an elderly with us, we charter a few palkis for up and down. The rates for the palkis though stated low differently on the outside board actually turn out to be Rs 4500. Additionally they ask for Rs 500 for their meals en-route totaling to Rs 5000 per palki. Whatever and how much you haggle for, they don’t seem to budge. Fortunately, upon reasoning they agree to accommodate a few children with the ladies and father. So that gives us some relief as a little less of our wallet weight is lessened which throws our further planning in further travel to budget limits. Well, we get them and while going up, see what an effort it takes to take those palkis up the slopes, and this is not to justify the costs. There are quite a few shops on the trek/stair route for food and water but we felt the need to carry a couple of bottles and packs of biscuits all along on self, and the additional stock did come handy en-route especially with children in the caravan.

Bro and me give the horses and palkiwalas and also the helicopter a break and start on to test our trekking skills which had been left in attic since ages. But then, this is no true mountain trek too, having paved roads all the way to the top

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It is immensely interesting to observe how these palki guys carry the palkis up and down the slopes. While we generally put our heels first while walking and which only causes painful heels later, these guys put their entire foot flat at respective upward or downward angle and at the same time bend their bodies precisely in tune with the angle of their foot to balance the body weight. Also it is interesting to see how all 4 of them sync the footfalls left-to-left and right-to- right. We tried walking their walk and it seemed immensely comfortable but being not used to that kind of walk our body takes back to our usual style.

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There are also stairs half-way through at 2 places and rest are under construction at various places. But, after having done them, our frank advice, DO NOT take the steps, atleast while going up, even if just for adventure too, they are killing for the faint hearted, literally. There is also board that says so, though not specifically for climbing up or down. We did the 500 odd steps part while going up and ran out of breathe at quite a few places. The slow incline trek road is easiest for going up. For going down, be free to choose either steps or the road. We did take the steps for going down and reached bottom pretty earlier than the palkis.

But it was only I who was out of breath, bro as agile as ever reaches the top by the time we hit halfway and keeps troubling us with frequent calls on how far we reached etc en-route, oh yes, Vodafone works there except for some small parts of the path.

With slow progress upwards, a few amusing things about that place turn up en-route

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At about 5.5 km from top, you are at a bifurcation. One road goes straight to Bhavan via Himkoti and other (fork) steeply rises on other side towards AdhKuwari, Helipad route and then to the final destination. The later is the original route which has been now eased into new route to go straight via Himkoti to Bhavan.

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Himkoti comes up to give me some solace that destination is just about the corner about 3.5 kms or so

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And then Bhavan makes its presence through the mountains giving some more incentive to speed up

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Finally at Bhavan the crowd starts to make the presence of devotees felt

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It is also interesting to see how so many elderly and couples, ladies with infants in arms doing the trek out of devotion. They do it with many halts and slow walking. It still seems quite a task for them.

With the VIP pass in hand we are allowed into the quick entry lane which joins the other common lane soon but the lane is much shorter travel upto the end from there but becomes crowded through narrow step corridor that goes up and down, which is also netted on stair railings to make it completely closed corridor. But atleast, one thing strikes clearly here, there is a lot of discipline and breathing room here than Shirdi where there is utter chaos in the lane and one easily get crushed, the management there also seems to need some lessons from here.

A little walk further we soon find us at the entrance of the cave. But wait, there is supposed to be a cave entrance as we have been hearing. Instead we find the cave entrance sealed for no entry with barricades and have to move to another entrance created ahead. This entry is actually through an all-around marble tiled tunneled cave entry and leads directly to the point of darshan. The darshan is allowed not even for a second when we are pushed (are told to move) aside, as soon as we are there, by the security and pundits there towards stairs going down taking out of the cave swiftly. Sorry to say but that’s a grand darshan one is allowed for so much of trek and efforts. Sincerely felt that there should be some leniency to allow atleast everybody to a 10-15 seconds stop that should do justice to everybody’s plights to climb that mountain with so much devotion.

The most important thing I remember while coming down was being hurtled downwards by the gravity and literally being on the run having to brake at quite a few places, hoping not to bump on the barricades and land at the main gate below directly, definitely did not want that swift touchdown to end the trek. But the downward run on that paved road causes such knee jerks that one has to resort to controlled walk soon.

Again, bro eats the cake first and announces his touchdown while I am still about a third of route to go, just at the end of the 500 steps. Soon, we all touchdown one after another at the main gate and pay the palki guys.

By this time, the Sun had washed the ambiance in orange and reminds that it is going to be his time of the day soon

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We do a quick math, again, Patnitop, our next probable stop for tonight, is about 80-90 kms and better stop to drive later to Sonamarg, our next probable stop for tomorrow which again is bound due to need to cross Zoji La earlier the day after that. At about 5:45 PM now at the main gate, going back to JKTDC Yatri Niwas, getting fresh, snacks and tea for evening could get us ready to hit the road and settle in Patnitop for night. Just that we don’t know how good or bad the road is though and how long it is going to take.

Forget the road for the moment, we did not know how good our legs were going to be with the 26 kms trek we had just finished. We had to keep the legs moving constantly to stop them from shaking and jamming even after we finished the trek and we knew if we stopped anywhere that was the end of the day. That’s for keeping the trekking skills in the closet since ages now. So there was also a doubt if we were going to be able to drive or should we just stop here for tonight.

One more thing about the trek road. There are quite a few shops selling bamboo sticks for trekkers. If you are game to Ladakh or some such place, buy one of those, would be handy to poke in places or even trekking up mountains. Otherwise, the sticks are just some fancy things to carry and make noise to showcase unless it is elderly I guess. We pick up 2 for Rs 10 each, but not while trekking up, instead while trekking down and that too when the trek was nearing its end just as the thought strikes us.

The tour manager with the stick guides us to our decision to head onwards to Patnitop

Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013-p1160616.jpg

We bite the bullet and push off to Patnitop after the refreshments at Yatri Niwas.

Today’s drive is Katra to Patnitop about 81 km as per gmap

Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013-2-katra-patnitop-81-route.jpg

We zip by as the road is good and the traffic is ok making for a nice lax drive. The worry about the jamming legs starts to wear off a bit as they become active on the pedals, yet with the jarring feeling still lingering down there

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We find a decent hotel, Hotel Singh Axis, en-route in Udhampur for dinner and have a decent meal. My worry now grows to if I am going to sleep on the drive although I had only a little of rice but decent meal otherwise.

But the night drive turns out fabulous and Patnitop arrives finally by midnight. We wake up the sleeping caretakers of the Hotel Alpine, JKTDC and ask to open the last 2 available rooms for us. The rooms are 2 floors down the ground level into the valley, without any lift, but the caretaker, though a slim chap turns out pretty sturdy and helps gladly to take our luggage down as we carry the sleeping children in arms. It is damn chilly there with heavy wind and it starts to rain too soon later. The rooms are absolutely chilled out and it takes quite some time for the beds and duvets to warm up and warm us up. We crash out for the night sometime after midnight with the dose of Combiflam starting to take its effects on our trekked legs and body hoping for a good and early drive tomorrow morning to seek the end of tomorrow at Sonamarg, but it remains to be seen if they are indeed mid-night dreams.

The log of the day came to

Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013-2-katra-patnitop-81-route-log.jpg

Last edited by parsh : 11th August 2013 at 15:57.
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Old 11th August 2013, 16:51   #25
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

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I know the following are likely stupid questions
Seriously? Don't bother about that thought also.

Quote:
- but thought to ask a fellow Innova driver (one of the few ones on T-BHP) who has done this trek to Ladakh and back - that too with two innovas.
Shoot anytime!

Quote:
a) Since I am planning this trip for 2014, and new Tyres particularly will pinch the pocket - want to know if I should risk with the original tyres and battery...
2009-2014 = 5 yrs approx.

Goodyear GT3. They are very nice tyres generally, I also ran on those stock ones for quite some time for 5 yrs through rough and smooth terrains without issues.

The experience and feeling I have about Goodyear GT3's is they harden pretty early and even if tread looks good, they may not turn out good for such expedition. It was becoming quite visible with unstable ride quality even on tar or concrete roads when I drove on them in their last year before changing over. IMO they would be better earlier in their life for such trysts than when they will be 5 yr old with about 45k run. Hardened rubber on these terrains may not turn out to be a good idea. I will be wary of taking such chances. They will be nearly at the end of their usable life although you may be able to stretch on them for a year or so on normal roads.

Additionally, this terrain will eat up a good tread of your tyres too unless a lot of it is tarred by the time you venture there.

In this trip, I ran on Yoko Cs run about 35k without any issues. Additionally, I ran on 4 tyres with a defunct/unreliable spare all through without any puncture.

What I will suggest is watch out until some time before trip. Take a call to change at that time. My suggestion, get them changed definitely and to better grip tyres on wet and muddy roads. Other Innova has run 50k on Bridgestone B390, 2.5 yrs, which are nearing their tread depth but still performed well. I would not have been confident on my GT3 like that.

Also need to watch the health of your battery being 5 yr old at about 40k+. If it starts giving trouble before going there, needing push starts etc, get it changed as TASS. Else if by chance you get symptoms en-route, get it changed at TASS, Leh surely.

Quote:
b) Secondly, do you recommend any anti-freeze in the diesel?
Not at all atleast for the summer/rainy season. I gather normal diesel would be okay in winters too.

Quote:
c) Thirdly, did you have to cover the engine in a tarp or blanket to keep it warm for the night- to ensure quick start the next morning - of course in excess of 12000 ft.
Now, you said 2 doubts and there are 3 questions, is that allowed? Stupid me! Just kidding!

Nope. Did not need to at any place. But this was only summer/rainy time there. Although must say it was pretty chilly at Panikhar and Pangong in the night somewhere at initial ranges of sub-zero. Still, it came to life without worries at all places at first crank. The other Innova's battery died in Pangong and we parked it on slope for easy rolling start and it started without fuss. The battery was replaced later in TASS, Leh.

Would just put another advice, to have necessarily engine oil and oil filter replaced before starting on journey.

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Parsh, no new episode after 24th July!:(
Hope you find more bandwidth soon.
Thanks SDP for waiting for the episode. It was just getting ready while you got worried and was able to post a few minutes earlier.

Last edited by parsh : 11th August 2013 at 16:53.
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Old 12th August 2013, 12:34   #26
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

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The darshan is allowed not even for a second when we are pushed (are told to move). Sincerely felt that there should be some leniency to allow atleast everybody to a 10-15 seconds stop that should do justice to everybody’s plights to climb that mountain with so much devotion.
Hello Parsh,

I did Vaishno Devi trek as a part of my honeymoon package way back in 2005 & we started walking at midnight, to reach the Bhavan in the morning. What you said about Darshan being is not allowed for even 1 second is absolutely true. After walking / trekking for 13 kms if a devotee is not allowed to pray even for 30 seconds, I feel this is gross injustice to the faith & efforts he / she has spent to visit the shrine. But probably this is due to the security concerns & large number of people that visit the place.

Also it is really commandable of your & your brother to chose to drive after 26 kms trek. Did you pushed yourself very hard or you actually had energy left to drive 80 - 92 odd kms to Patnitop?

Thanks,
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Old 12th August 2013, 14:20   #27
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Also it is really commandable of your & your brother to chose to drive after 26 kms trek. Did you pushed yourself very hard or you actually had energy left to drive 80 - 92 odd kms to Patnitop?
Thanks Jignesh.

No we did not have to push very hard to stay awake and drive after the trek, somehow it seemed that the body was with mind. The legs were definitely giving signs of exhaustion and pain but not to the extent of dampening our spirits. On other thoughts, we could have even deliberated to staying back at Katra for one more night but that seemed waste of time. Whereas we thought that we would be able to do it whatever time it took afterwards and primarily we also had a target to meet to pass Zoji La early in morning the day after.
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Old 12th August 2013, 21:18   #28
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Day 3: Mon, 3 June 2013 – Patnitop – Dal Lake, Srinagar – Sonamarg

We woke up in the morning with the place showing its true colors which were hidden when we landed here in the midnight

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Early morning start! No harm in dreaming but how can we tell what lay ahead. Well, we have been both early as well as late risers and starters at times. But thinking or getting up early and ready just can’t get us started early, especially when we have cars to depend upon, leave aside us or the kids getting ready early.

The night’s chill and rain is gone leaving coldness and wetness around and the Sun shows that it is not going to be merciful soon too though pretty mild right now. As we get ready and load the cars, bro’s Innova shows a flat tyre. Not the one mended while leaving from Noida, but the exact opposite LHS front one this time. That too it seemed to have happened in the drive of short distance from the driveway entry to the porch of the hotel. So begins the exercise to mend the puncture parked right in front of the hotel’s porch with open sky and Sun just starting to show its brilliance.

We take out the flat tyre which doesn’t seem to be much of a problem and inflate it with the LIMI inflator I had. This is the first time we inflated a flat tyre and I don’t remember the exact time it took but well within 10 minutes I guess, the tyre is full upto 35 PSI. We inspect the tyre visually and a nail seems to have done its job perfectly well, but alas it must have not known this was neither wood nor a wall.

We have about 3 puncture kits with us, one in bro’s car, 2 in mine. Later I profusely thank our dear friend who had gifted one to me from ebay.in quite sometime back, even when I had one with me. The same friend could not join us on this adventure in his XUV500 due to his commitments. Otherwise, this would have been surely a test for XUV500 too with the kind of routes to come, especially Zanskar.

Now, this is the first time we do a tubeless tyre puncture repair DIY in all these years. Instead earlier, we have changed tyre to spare whenever puncture happened and getting the puncture repaired later, while the kits have been mere hidden ornaments in the cars till now. Well, here there was nowhere to run to and no surety of where and when will we find repairs shops and we were better ready with the puncture repairs ourselves for further drive.

We take the kit out from bro’s car for the job, and fortunately, it is not too old and the strips seem good, still usable.

Easiest part turns out to be getting out the nail using the Rasper and we drill it in to make the hole hopefully fit for inserting the strip. And then dawns it is indeed not a joke as it takes some power, huffing, puffing and lot of sweating. Don’t know surely if it had anything to do with it being a Bridgestone B390 though, or it being just the weather effect, or we being amateurs.

Ok, so we begin, and now we have to put the strip in the Needle. Oh man, it just doesn’t go in. Lets squeeze the strip a bit with pliers. Yes trying, doesn’t go still. Lets split the Needle hole and clip a bit with a screw-driver and try. Yeah, lets try. Get out that screw-driver and put in the Needle clip. Yes, trying.

Tuckkkk! What’s that? It’s a broken Needle!

What? Yes. Blimey! What now? Wait, I have 2 more kits in my car, let me get Needle from one. 2? Yes, I had one and our friend gifted me one. Sahee, usko thanks bolna padega. Yaa.

Ok, here is the Needle from another kit. Good, no splitting now. Ok. Squeeze the strip a bit more and try insert, yes, it is going in now in this Needle. Cool, push it in…pull it out. Cool, we got it through. Kya, yaar!

The Rasper is out of the tyre and the tyre starts to sing its hissing song. First go and the needle doesn’t go in, the air pressure is too strong to keep it out maybe or the hole too small. What? No, it is not going in. Now with 2 hands. Oh man, still no. Hold the tyre straight and tight yaar. Yeah I am holding, ok, try again. Hmmm, yeah, its going in but not yet in completely. More force and more and even more and the Needle is pierced in with the strip.

Now lets go for the twisting and taking out the Needle. Yeah, you have to twist it while taking it out, yeah twist it little harder, ok lets take it out now, fine done, the strip is in place just need to cut it to level.

What’s this? That’s a twisted Needle!

Yeah, ofcourse they are Chinese. Oh man. But it did not break. Take out the pliers from toolkit and let us try to straighten it. What if it breaks? We will see. Fine, we have one more kit anyway, but that’s the last one. Slowly, very slowly, yeah done. Cool, we have a decently straight Needle and we can use it still. This Chinese thing is ok, it didn’t break. Yeah. Good show.

Lets check the tyre for additional punctures. We rotate the tyre pouring water from bottle. I keep a 1.25 ltr Slice empty bottle since long, its pretty hard nut to crack, which I always keep it filled specifically of use for travel purposes only. Everything seems ok.

Oops, bubbles, roll it back a bit, yeah there at the edge of that old puncture repair. What puncture in the puncture? Yeah, damn. Take out that puncture and put new one. Are you mad, won’t work that way. We will have to drill besides it from where it is bubbling. Okay lets go, we are pros now.

Push, with one hand, both hands, with full body weight, the Rasper doesn’t go in. Yeah, there is no nail hole to drill in. But we have to get it repaired whatsoever. Lets try again. A lot of huffing puffing and sweating after the Rasper goes in. But just so tight that it is just impossible to drill a good hole for putting in the strip. Taking it out is little less pain while another strip is easily put in the now UnTwisted Needle.

Another round of push & pump, with one hand, both hands, with full body weight, the Needle doesn’t go in. Lets try again. Yet another round of lot of huffing puffing and sweating after the Needle with the strip sinks in. Whew! Man this is something. Now take it out. No twisting, well a little and slow twisting. Yeah ok. Cool, this Needle is out a wee bit twisted, but it is still not broken and looks still usable. Yeah Cool. Paisa Wasool! Haan yaar.

Chalo. Kambakht itna time waist ho gaya. Band baj gaya morning start ka. Kitna baja hai. 10:15 AM. Kya? Chalo 2 min mein bhago jaldi. Breakfast baaki hai upar, thanda ho gaya hoga. Ok, lets have the breakfast and then 2 min mein bhago jaldi.

While all this is going on, a tourist from the hotel is standing-by and watches us huff puff and sweat wondering and asking, bhaisaab, yeh machine hawa bharta hai, haan, yeh puncture repair kit hai, haan, aap khud hi puncture repair karoge, haan (bhai haan), karna hi padega aage lamba jaana hai. The guy later introduces himself to be from Delhi only and has good small talk afterwards.

If only it was filmed, it would have made for a nice short film.

Maybe the Patnitop morning brought in the hint of uncertainties to follow. But that was a good start looking back and a good learning and a damn good exercise to get more than warmed up in that colder weather. Yet at the end of that ordeal we wondered if we just took another bath as sweat poured down our bodies which was also cooling us in the now prominent Sun reclaiming its territory.

While my bro’s Innova had gotten us 3 punctures in the 3 days, I had some other story with my tyres back in Mumbai when I was getting ready my car for the drive. There had been frequent tyre pressure imbalances faced before sometime. As it turned out, 3 of them had shown water bubbling all due long glass shards from someone’s windshield finding their way deep in them as I may have treaded on them sometime in the dark which I try to avoid at all costs otherwise. It was just unimaginable to see that 3 good Yoko C tyres had to be treated with punctures, one with 4, one with 3 and one with 2. Thankfully none on the shoulder and all pokes were not consecutive but at decent far off distances and none drastically cut or damaged. And I was going to run with them in the terrain to follow. I had thought whether I will need to replace them or not. But decided to go with them in the end. I also got all the tyres pulled out, checked in-depth inside out, refitted and rebalanced, balancing seemed to be needed too but no alignment, alignment had been fine. They had treated me very well till now. But seeing bro’s car’s tyres facing such things in these early days that too on good roads, I was becoming skeptical of how well they were going to carry us forward. It surely remained to be seen.

Well, we got upstairs and finished the breakfast left out on table for us by family and got refreshed with a nice hot cup of tea, which gave a splendid boost after all the ordeal. Coming downstairs and some quick snapping after, we finally hit the road at about 10:43 AM.

Today’s drive is Patnitop to Sonamarg, about 268 kms as per gmap

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With a probable detour via Srinagar for a Dal Lake Drive and a short boat ride if we could squeeze it in because this side of J&K was not on cards for this tour

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Later, the drive more than makes up for the lost time, huffing, puffing and sweating as we leisurely take upon to enjoy the vistas that follow.

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The Baghlihar hydal dam on Chenab makes up for a nice sight too

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Chenab keeps spirits high en-route all the way, initially right besides below

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Later still right besides, but now down below in the valley looking from up above

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The Jawahar Tunnel comes up soon after

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And we get Tunnel Vision zipping through it

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The tunnel vision turns into wide angle soon after the tunnel ends, opening up new vistas and as it is called, the first views of J&K Valley, the Titanic Point where the J&K platue just starts to show up

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We come to a toll near about lunch time before Quazigund. We are however spared from the toll. A police at the toll wants a lift upto a town ahead and assures us we will not have to pay any toll for both cars and so we drive him to the next town without any toll. The guy also advices for a small hotel further ahead in the town, as there are not many around and we are hungry by now. We find that small Hotel Zum Zum which is pretty small but decently neat, very limited food options, in fact just one subji and dal with roti and rice, but ok to satiate our need for the time at very reasonable rate.

Dirving onwards after lunch, the roads are nice and sometimes find company of tall bodyguards to shield from the scorching Sun

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continued...

Last edited by GTO : 16th August 2013 at 16:11. Reason: Please avoid using inappropriate words (e.g. bloody). Thanks
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Old 19th August 2013, 17:22   #29
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

Day 3: Mon, 3 June 2013 – Patnitop – Dal Lake, Srinagar – Sonamarg ...continued...

The J&K platue arrives and the twisting and winding roads seems thing of the past, even arrow straight on some parts. It seems like the mountains were never there except for some distant scenery which reminds of the terrain.

We drive on and touch outskirts of Srinagar around late afternoon. As we find way around inside town from the bypass, the traffic is an utter mess. It turns out to be quite a tedious time finding way around to the Dal Lake while asking and negotiating through the traffic. But some simple scenery of nice buildings lining up the busy roads at times makes it worth driving.

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At the same time thoughts crowd up on whether we should make the Dal Lake stop, already running late into afternoon rather evening, thanks to about 2 hours of puncture ordeal in the morning. We had not realized that much time just flew by while at it, which would have been great help now. I particularly keep reminding bro not to halt and to proceed straight ahead. It is also nearing evening snacks time, so there is need to stop and freshen up. Inspite of my worries of getting late and a probable midnight drive-in again, we drive around inside towards Dal Lake with the greed of atleast taking a small bite of its pleasure. Later I heartily thank my bro who made this particular Dal Lake drive and stop happen inspite of my worries.

After much driving around, we get pointers to directions and drive onwards to come to the starting point of Dal Lake. Looking back, I even forgot how the road wound around in the town to get here.

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The Dal Lake drive is immensely pleasurable from start to end and takes away all the pains it took to drive upto there through the tedious traffic. However, the road is pretty narrow for the two way traffic there, mainly because of tourist’s private and taxi cars and vans parked on the lakeside clogging the road at numerous places. There are lots of hotels and boat ride points here but the mood dampens looking at the mess on the road, non-availability of easy parking and swarming crowd. We give most of this road a miss while enjoying the passing beauty of Dal Lake and just drive on through the tedious route which eats most of the time than the drive. Quite a few parked shikaras, houseboats and people taking their boat rides make a different kind of scenery at this narrow stretch of Dal Lake

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The messy road is passed by to a clean open road much further down, although same as narrow as earlier. Things start looking immensely beautiful as the scenery changes drastically, where the lake lounges to become into a sea stretching till horizon backed by the lovely mountain-scape. We need the evening’s boost too by this time and further ahead find Hotel Centaur Lake View with its huge expanse. Nice fresh tandoori kebabs, sandwiches and tea at the restaurant serve us good refreshment.

There is not much crowd this side and at the hotel too which looks like it is dearly waiting for guests always. There are absolutely none but us there and only one conference going on in an adjoining glass conference hall. However, the views of lake from here are amazing, clean and enchanting. The location of the hotel is amazing without doubts but yet without any tourists when there were so many tourists around in the starting part of Dal Lake

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Nice cordial talks strike with the management and kitchen staff there, which are only chilling out by the Dal Lake facing window side. They advice to go a little further where there are few much less crowded points for boat ride, Makki Point and others, and small boat rides possible for half an hour with negotiation. They advise to have dinner later in the night near Kangan than Gund, quoting it to be remote and unsafe region.

We drive around little further ahead and find the Makki point away from crowd and nice paid parking space on the roadside opposite it. There is crowd here too but much rare and bearable atleast now not crowding the lakeside. Although, this part is not in tour map of ours right now, our greed gets us small rides negotiated on 2 shikaras. The rides and the views for the short time makes all that time and effort worthwhile, while I had apprehensions as to how useful and good it would be for the short time. It serves us well as a glimpse of things to be enjoyed later in leisure when we will visit there next.

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The drive from Dal Lake onwards begins after the boat ride, already running into late evening, Sun having bid goodbye long time back. The drive in the darkness camouflages all that may be there, the scenery, the roads upheavals, roaring river on the way while hunting for a place for dinner late into that night on that remote but relatively straight road now. We are a little late to find a place for dinner with most of the dhabas en-route closed down for day.

Finally, we find the Hotel SnowLand Resort in Mamer still open with an about to overflow nallah in front and Sind river roaring in the background nearby most probably towards the backyard. The night is chilling already as we venture in the backyard to gauge the river’s whereabouts while the meal is readied. It surely makes the present felt though with its loudness only, it is far from visible with the darkness and trees camouflaging it. We get some decently freshly made delicious meals to gulp down.

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After the nice dinner we set out to seek the end of day’s drive in Sonamarg. The ghat road to Sonamarg seems easy with gorges barely visible on the side although they are very much there all the time. But even if the road is treacherous at times it passes effortlessly in the pitch darkness and Sonmarg arrives suddenly out of the darkness.

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The road drives into the Sonamarg town showing up the lighted road with army base, shops and hotels. It is nearing midnight as we find the Hotel Glacier Heights in Sonamarg located at one corner at the foot of a mountain with only the silhouettes of the mountains and snow on their tops visible in that darkness.

This time the rooms need to be ascended to and the caretakers take care of the porting luggage to the rooms as we carry sleeping angels in our arms again. The rooms are very nice with all the facilities and more so for the warming even if the cold outside is chilling the rooms. As it turns out they have electric warming blankets under bed linens with an easy control switch at the side of the bed, nice touch. Not to forget the legs still reminded of the trek just the day before, although they had got their dose of combiflam and warm water fomenting in Patnitop. The warm beds serve much needed comforts. We surely have plans to get out early in the morning around 7 AM, so as to be at Zoji La earliest and not land in the traffic mess, if at all. But looking at the progress so far and midnight dreams, it remained to be seen what lay in store for tomorrow morning, finally the much awaited day of our entry into Ladakh.

The log of the drive came to

Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013-53-3-1-patnitop-sonamarg-268-route-log.jpg

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Old 20th September 2014, 19:26   #30
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Default Re: Driving on the edge - Our Ladakh Drive of June 2013

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Originally Posted by parsh View Post
[left][left][b]Day 1: Sun, 26 May 2013 - Mumbai - Chittorgarh
Finally, we land at Hotel Nandan Palace, Chittorgarh, near station at 7:52 PM and settle down into a nice cozy room with 2 double beds for Rs 2200. We are hungry now and the tour manager duly places the order for the night at the hotel’s restaurant.
Hey Parsh. Nice TL bro. And pictures compliment the story very well.

I am going on a Mum-Del trip next month. And targeting to reach Chittorgarh by evening Day-1. I will be accompanied by my wife, 8 months old daughter, my brother and mom. I would be obliged if you could shed some light on your experience on comfort, safety and services level at Nandan Palace. I am planning to stay there.

Also is it safe to start at 4-5 AM next from Chittorgarh towards Delhi.

Appreciate your help.
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