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Old 28th July 2013, 02:09   #1
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Default Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue

This travelogue must start from zero km:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-ahirdham.jpg

And this zero km stone is special, extra special. It is the memory of Major Shaitan Singh and the 114 men of the Kumaon Regiment, who fought to the last man, last round against the hordes of Chinese on 18 Nov 1962. It's the men like these who made this and all such Ladakh trips ever possible.

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In fact, this stone was the most important reason for me to go to Ladakh.

Ever since I was a child, I had always wanted to go to Kashmir, because of the praise I had heard that it is "Dharti ka swarg" (heaven on earth), because of the snow, and because of the stories my father told me about the wars we had to fight to save it... As I grew up, I learnt more and more – about Kashmir, about Ladakh, about the 1962 war, the tough terrain, the hostile conditions, the scarcity of resources in spite of which our soldiers had to operate and the inevitable that followed – the highest sacrifice!

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-kumaon_memorial.jpg

Then in 1999, Kargil happened...the entire nation was once again humbled by the courage and sacrifice of our soldiers...I felt my naukari was worthless compared to what they were doing. And I decided that one day I must to go there - not because I would be able to make a difference, but because the least I can and must do is salute...

Then a couple of years ago, I met Mrs. Anuradha Prabhudesai, of Lakshya Foundation (http://www.lakshyafoundation.co.in/AboutUs.html), an organization that works to bridge the gap between the civilians and army. I attended one of their presentations on the Kargil war and the life of the soldiers...the urge to visit the place became even stronger.

Finally, this June, I could actually get around to do that. While I was in Bangalore in February to meet Digital Vampire for remapping my Tucson, amongst other things, we talked about Ladakh and how wonderful it will be to drive there. He mentioned that in view of his career plans, this summer seems to be the last opportunity (in near future) for him to go to Ladakh, and I made up my mind that this summer it will be! Unfortunately, Digital Vampire could not make it and the Tucson ended up going alone. None of my close friends or relatives seemed to be able to make it either, but 2 of my colleagues showed interest and we set off on Friday, 14'th June 2013.

Before I begin, once again A BIG BOTE OF THANKS to:
- Our Armed Forces (Army, ITBT, BSF) and Border Road Organization: Those are real men. It’s only because of them that we are able to go to this part of our country.

Also, a thank you to:
- Digital Vampire for making my Tucson more powerful
- HVK sir for his guidance on route planning, round the clock support and the last minute accommodations.
- Members who have already been to Ladakh and have written some very beautiful and informative threads: tsk, J.Ravi, Shutterbugger, rohittunga, anshuman, debuda…especially Shutterbugger whose excellent document sort of kick started this year's Ladakh season…

The training:

On the way from Chang La to Pangong Tso is Tangste – home to Chushul Warriors:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-chushul_wariors.jpg

who believe in:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-trainhardfighteasy.jpg

And this is exactly what we did for this trip:

The man:
I have been running Men’s half marathon for last 2 years. The daily routine consists of either:
1. 21 Suryanamskars + 21 dips
2. Two km of running
3. Half an hour of swimming
And it’s been almost 2 years that I have stopped using the lift (unless I am running for a meeting or something). My office is on the 4’th floor and parking is in the basement, so I effectively get to climb 5 floors. So even if I miss my routine (which happens a couple of times a week, quite honestly), I get to climb good number of steps. Even when leaving office, I walk down – it may not do much good to the body but it certainly makes me feel good that I am using that much less electricity…

So when the topic of AMS and Diamox came up, I did not want to be careless or sound arrogant, but I had sort of made up my mind to try and survive without any medication. Of course, one of my colleagues had already been to Ladakh a few years back with a tour operator and his experiences and inputs were also available to us.

The machine:
Tucson was now more than 8 years old and around 1,20,00 km!

So, from March to June, I spent more time at Kothari Hyundai than at home, getting the Tucson ready. The following was done:
1. Turbo was leaking oil on the intake side – the oil seals and bearings were replaced
2. Front suspension overhauled (lower arms and shock absorbers replaced)
3. Timing belt, idler and tensioner replaced
4. Water pump developed a leak - replaced
5. PCV valve was leaking oil into turbo inlet – replaced
6. Transmission oil, transfer case oil and differential oil replaced
7. A full service done just a couple of days before the trip

The details are here:
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/long-t...ml#post3051602
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/long-t...ml#post3129324

I also made a trip to Goa in April to meet Digital Vampire to review the remap and the smoke situation. We determined the map was OK and the reasons for smoke were mechanical. Turned out we did the right thing. After the water pump and PCV replacement, oil consumption stopped, the hesitation in 2500-3000 RPM zone disappeared and so did the smoke on sudden acceleration.

Also, got the following stuff for the trip:
1. Two solid wooden planks – to get the Tucson out if it sinks somewhere
2. Air compressor
3. Tool set (wrenches and screw drivers of various sizes)
4. Multi-meter
5. Spare fuses of all required capacities, relays (one of each required rating), bulbs. I also got myself hands-on training on how to replace the headlamp bulbs.
6. Heavy duty jump cables (The Black and Dekcker Jump starter+ compressor kit I have, has been used to jump start many cars in last 2 years. But once when my Tucson’s battery was completely rained, it just failed to jump start it. Also, once I used it to inflate a flat tire on Tucson which took almost half an hour. I also had a doubt it the built-in battery of the kit would survive the cold nights of Ladakh. If it won’t, then we would end up having 2 dead batteries in the car. So decided to drop the kit)
7. Steel tow rope
8. Tape, sealant, wires, ropes,etc
9. Oxygen cylinder and CO2 Fire extinguisher
10. Two steel steering locks – more than steering lock, the idea was to use these for self-protection, breaking open the glasses in case of emergency, assessing the depth of water crossings, etc.
11. Two plastic cans for extra diesel (one 35L and one 10L)
12. Tucson specific spares: 2 OEM air filters, 1 green cotton OEM replacement filter, 1 fuel filter, 1 oil filter, 1 accessory (outer) belt - only timing belt was changed prior to the trip as the SA was confident that the accessory belt was perfect, so I insisted that I will carry it along so that someone can replace it if required.
13. OBD II Bluetooth adapter, OBDScope for Nokia Symbian phones (installed E63) + Toqrue for Android phones (installed on Samsung), Hyundai specific plug-in for Torque (installed on Samsung)

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-toolset.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-planks.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-equipment.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-spares.jpg

The Fight:

As the training was hard, the fight was easy.

I did not take Diamox at all and survived the quite OK (the night in Tso Kar was a strange one, I did not feel any breathlessness, but could not sleep for hours, felt some tingling in my feet and was wondering if this is AMS…got a couple of hours of sleep towards the end and woke up fresh. In the morning, found out that most of the people in the camp experienced the same! So stopped thinking about it and it never happened again).

For Tucson, there was no fight at all. It came, it saw, it conquered:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-the_conquerer.jpg

Tucson just went about the entire trip without any hick-up (except for 2 punctures which couldn’t be avoided). Of course, because of the altitude, I had to burn the clutch to get going on the inclines and it smoked quite a bit on acceleration, but most of the vehicles were doing the same.

The Run-up:

For me, the mission would really start only when we hit the mountains. Till then, it was just a run up - to get rid of the plains as quickly as possible:

Part 1: Pune – Mumbai – Udaipur (overnight):

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-1route_pune_udaipur.jpg

Start of the trip, from the office parking:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-start.jpg

Express way...

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-eway1.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-eway2.jpg

After getting out of Mumbai, we stopped for dinner and then I went back for a nap while my colleagues took over. This is when I sat/slept in the back seat of the Tucson for the first time in last 4 years and discovered how comfy it was!

Sometime in the early hours, we entered Rajasthan...

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-rajasthan.jpg

We stopped at Udaipur for breakfast. The night drive revealed the wiper blades were not in the pinkest of health, something I should have replaced before the trip! So I decided to look for a fresh pair of wipers for the Tucson. Wasn't sure if the Udaipur dealer would stock the Tucson spares, but they had those, way to go Hyundai!

Part 2: Udaipur - Kishangadh - Sardarshahar - Hisar (whole day):

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-2route_udaipur_hisar.jpg

After Udaipur...

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-img_5428.jpg

Rajasthan's lovely tarmac stretches...

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-img_5434.jpg

Ladnun: We stopped for diesel at this pump run by the family of a Kargil Martyr - Shahid Mula Ram. I casually asked who all are in the family, but the staff did not say much. Hope the family is doing OK.

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-img_5444.jpg

Soon we came close to a lot of Peacocks:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-img_5445.jpg

Kishangadh to Hanumangadh road is absolutely magnificent. Thanks to HVK sir for sending us on this path .

BTW, why is Kishangadh spelled as Kishangarh? Same story with other towns as well. The Brits had some difficulty with the pronunciation of our words so they messed them up, why are we following them when we can actually pronounce accurately??? SO I stuck to the "d" instead of "r" throughout the trip.

On the scenic stretch:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-img_5481.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-img_5482.jpg

We stopped for dinner some 50km before Hisar. Lovely Marwadi food:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-img_5489.jpg

After this the road turned into a no road for around 20 km, not that Tucson was bothered. Finally, by 11 pm we reached Hisar, found a hotel and retired...


To be continued...

Last edited by anandpadhye : 3rd August 2013 at 10:35.
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Old 28th July 2013, 16:33   #2
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Default re: Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue

Wow! I just finished reading Hemanth's T-log on Leh and here comes another. Excellent start and eagerly awaiting the rest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
[i]BTW, why is Kishangadh spelled as Kishangarh?..
Well atleast you knew it is pronounced 'gad' and not 'gar'. The first time, when I asked a guy the directions, pronouncing it as 'gar', he was like, does this place even exist . Yeah, wish they could change the spelling and make it easier.
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Old 28th July 2013, 22:53   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
...I felt my naukari was worthless compared to what they were doing.
Anand, till now I never could find a serious reason for planning a trip to Ladhak.

Now, you have given me and others like me a great and noble cause to visit this part of the country - TO SALUTE THE MARTYRS !

You are spot on when you say that our jobs are worthless when compared to them. I would like to extend it further to say our whole lives are really meaningless if we cannot appreciate what the soldiers are doing at the borders.

May be the least that we can do, as a token of appreciation - which may not be much - is to visit these places and see for ourselves the tough terrain and the conditions that our soldiers face in the fight for our countries safety and well being and then - bow our heads.

Thanks for the travelogue and looking forward for the next part.

- Sai
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Old 29th July 2013, 08:56   #4
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Default re: Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue

A good start to the travelogue. Looking forward to more pictures. Also I must say you really prepared for the trip well with all the spares and all.

I just have two queries,

1) the tool box in red that you carried seems to have everything one needs, can you give me more details of that please like brand name and price.

2) Also you seem to have carried fuel inside the car, did you have to deal with spillage in the boot and also what about the smell of fuel in the cabin?

Looking forward to your travelogue
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Old 29th July 2013, 11:05   #5
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Default re: Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue

Great start Anand, suddenly its raining Ladakh over here after a lull. So you utilized the remap power to your advantage in the mountains? Is the entire stretch towards Abohar along the same good roads?
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Old 29th July 2013, 15:11   #6
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Default re: Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue

Thank you everyone, I will post the next part soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aviorp View Post
Well atleast you knew it is pronounced 'gad' and not 'gar'. The first time, when I asked a guy the directions, pronouncing it as 'gar', he was like, does this place even exist . Yeah, wish they could change the spelling and make it easier.
Thank you.
I know, probably because I am in touch with our roots, if I can say that . And so are the people of Rajasthan and Punjab, where the original names and pronunciations are very much in use, which is good to see, unless Gudgaon for example - many of those who live there do not know that it's actually Gudgaon and not Gurgaon, and they probably don't care either. Brits messed things up and our people continued with their ignorance and lack of pride in our own culture and heritage. On the contrary, it's interesting that the same google maps make a point to display Urdu names for places across the border...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vihari View Post
Anand, till now I never could find a serious reason for planning a trip to Ladhak.

Now, you have given me and others like me a great and noble cause to visit this part of the country - TO SALUTE THE MARTYRS !

You are spot on when you say that our jobs are worthless when compared to them. I would like to extend it further to say our whole lives are really meaningless if we cannot appreciate what the soldiers are doing at the borders.
Thank you.
Absolutely. Ladakh is beautiful, has a lot of rare wild life, etc and it's fine to go there to appreciate all that. But the real life is tough in Ladakh, even more so for the forces. It's extremely hard for those working in the forces or the BRO. Harsh conditions, hard work, no family life...

Quote:
Originally Posted by amrisharm View Post

1) the tool box in red that you carried seems to have everything one needs, can you give me more details of that please like brand name and price.

2) Also you seem to have carried fuel inside the car, did you have to deal with spillage in the boot and also what about the smell of fuel in the cabin?
Thank you.
I will let you know the tool box details tonight. Yes, we carried 45L of diesel in those 2 cans. It spilled a bit and smelled in the car for sure. I did not mind it much but my colleagues kept getting upset by that. But it could have been avoided by putting a plastic packing to shut them tightly, which we eventually did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
So you utilized the remap power to your advantage in the mountains? Is the entire stretch towards Abohar along the same good roads?
Thank you.
Actually, I was afraid the remap may prove counter-productive at that altitude. A remap is essentially all about (judiciously) increasing the fueling for the given intake air flow (unless you are doing something to the turbo). So at 12,000+ feet, it was going to be a "more fueling, lesser oxygen" case. And it did smoke - way more than it does here in Pune. Once we got going, the extra power was always a boost. However, I must put this on the record that in Ladakh, what matters is the low end torque and there is no replacement for 4L.

Kishangadh to Hanumangadh is AWESOME. From Hanumangadh to Abohar is also good but there are some patches where the surface is deteriorating.

Last edited by anandpadhye : 29th July 2013 at 15:13.
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Old 30th July 2013, 01:33   #7
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Default The Run up Complete:

Part 3: Hisar - Kaithal - Ambala - Banur (Banood) - Rupnagar - Bilaspur - Mandi -Manali (Full Day):

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-3route_hisar_kaithal_ambala.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-4route_ambala_banur_mandi.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-5route_mandi_manali.jpg

We slept very well after the non-stop 26 hours drive from Pune, so started a bit late in the morning. I decided to be in the back seat until the ghats begin. We stopped somewhere after Ambala for a quick anf forgettable lunch. Haryana also has some arrow straight roads like Rajasthan, but unlike Rajasthan which is mostly deserted, Haryana is densely populated so the scene is busy and one needs to drive with caution.

Another factor to be careful about is Haryana Roadways. This seems to be a group of professional rally rally drivers rather than a state transport organization! If there was a truck, there had to be a Haryana Roadways bus overtaking it and then another Haryana Roadways bus trying to overtake both of them...and whenever I could find some narrow gap through these things, almost invariably there was a similar trio coming from the opposite direction!

A picture of arrow straight road in Haryana:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc00784.jpg

Can someone shed some light on what this truck guy means (what's written on the bumper, not the faryad part):

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc00786.jpg

Then I saw this shop, I did not understand what business they are in (help please):

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc00791.jpg

Other than this, the journey through Haryana was quite unexciting. Sometime in the afternoon, we entered Himachal and the long awaited mountains started to appear. By the time light faded, We reached Mandi which seems to be a tech savvy place:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02636.jpg

Sometime after Mandi, we unexpectedly hit a tunnel. It was long, quite long and narrow. It was great fun to drive through:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02660.jpg

Had dinner on the way at some road side place. The tables were right on the bank of Bias river. The food was fantastic, weather was comfortably cold and sound of the flowing river added to the joy. Rached Manali by midnight, found a really pathetic hotel in the market, had to do a lot of circus to park the Tucson in a nearby 2 level public parking which was absolutely in shambles. Manali must b one of the dirtiest towns in HP.

We had the permit for Rohtang fo the next day (Monday, 16'th June), but we were told that corssing Rohtang is only possible if we leave by 5 or 6 PM. This looked challenging and one of my colleagues wasn't feeling well so decided to stay in Manali for a day which actually became 2 days as Rohtang is closed for maintenance on Tuesdays...So 2 of us spent the 2 days in and around Manali while the third rested.

The Hidimba temple It seems some scenes of Roja were shot here:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02664.jpg

And the first "darshan" of the Himalayas, what a pleasure:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02668.jpg

I ate a couple of those. They tasted nice even though they were not ripe. Any idea what fruit is it?

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The Manali garden:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02693.jpg

Another shade of the Himalayas:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02734.jpg

As the dusk fell, I decided to get out of Manali and stay somewhere else. From another travelogue, I had read about Naggar, which is some 10 km away. Luckily saw a homestay board (Mukul Homestay) at a shop. Asked the owner and he happily showed us the rooms. They were wonderful and clean.

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02753.jpg

The owner also offered to prepare dinner for us...apni to lottery lag gayi
Roti, sabji, dal, chaval - life settled! And then the home made achar and makkhan which was AWESOME:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02739.jpg
To be continued...

Last edited by anandpadhye : 3rd August 2013 at 10:37.
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Old 30th July 2013, 03:06   #8
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Default An unplanned air operation

Tuesday, 2 of us went to Solang valley. We had heard of the paragliding there so we decided to give it a try.

On the way met our first (and minor) land slide. Also, the first "darshan" of the Men In Blue, the BRO:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02790.jpg

What a ride:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02793.jpg

Solang...
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02800.jpg

Solang was crowded. So we parked a good km or so before the top. And turned out to be a good decision. It was a mess at the top - an exhibition of social indiscipline! parallel parking, competitive u-turns, honking and burning the clutch simultaneously...and there was this typical couple who had come in a hired cab. It seems the driver had wisely parked some distance before the top and advised them to walk the rest and she had become quite cranky by all the walk, and was shouting at the husband for everything, he in turn started firing the driver for the perceived stupidity of parking safe!!! The couple gave him the example of the "ideal drivers" who were doing all sorts of circus at the top and how this fellow spoiled their day...ha! I remembered a joke by a famous Marathi writer:
A couple goes to Mahabaleshwar for their honeymoon. On the way up, she become sick and starts vomiting. And complains to the man: "why do they build these hill stations so high up in the moutains?" He says: "OK, OK, next time, we will choose a hill station which is right at the base..."


Anyway, it's time for paragliding. It's Rs.2500 for the gliding and Rs.500 for the cable car to the top.

The cable car mechanism:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02802.jpg

The scene from the top:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02806.jpg

Yours truly preparing for the take-off:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02823.jpg

The flight:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-picture-1177.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-picture-1179.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-picture-1184.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-picture-1185.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-picture-1186.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-picture-1187.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-picture-1188.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-picture-1189.jpg

The rolling balls we did not try:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02825.jpg

It was a pleasure to meet the Nano at those heights, in fact 2 of them:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02845.jpg

This was good fun. We head back for Naggar. Tomorrow we have to leave for Rohtang at 4am...

To be continued...

Last edited by anandpadhye : 3rd August 2013 at 10:37.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 11:01   #9
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Default The real trip starts- The Rohtang Pass...

Manali - Rohtang - Keylong - Jispa:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-6route_manali_jispa.jpg

We started from Naggar around 4:30 am thinking we need to beat the traffic. I wanted to get a dashcam so we could record the video of the entire trip, or at least some of those interesting sections like Rohtang. But dropped the idea as there were higher priority expenses lined up, viz. all the preventive maintenance and the stuff we carried. I thought I will use my Sony digital camera as a part-time dashcam. So I bought 2 high speed (class 10) 16 GB SD cards. The night before Rohtang, we fixed the Sony on the dash. It was quite an effort - to fix it in pace, to adjust the required height by putting some packing below and to find the perfect spot in between the 2 wiper blades. We commissioned the cam by midnight and it beautifully captured the Rohtang climb next morning:

The home grown dashcam switched into action at 5:15 am on the way out of Manali:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02869.jpg

As my camera was busy doing the dashcam duty, my friend's camera captured the Rohtang beauty:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02879.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02880.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02882.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02885.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02887.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02917.jpg

Wonderful road courtesy BRO:

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02895.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02916.jpg

BRO proposes, GOD disposes, BRO persists...

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02919.jpg

Approaching the Rohtang top...
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02928.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02931.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02954.jpg

At the top...
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02955.jpg

Last edited by anandpadhye : 4th August 2013 at 22:57.
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Old 4th August 2013, 22:56   #10
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Default Manali - Leh Highway

It's worth noting the importance of the Manali - Leh highway. There are 4 roads that could connect us to Leh:
1. Rawalpindi -Sardu - Gilgit - Leh
2. Sikkim - Lhasa - Leh
3. Srinagar - Kargil - Leh
4. Manali - Rohtang - Sarchu - Leh

Unfortunately #1 is under Pakistani control and #2 is under Chinese control. And in fact in 1947-48, when we had to undertake the first military operation to save Ladakh, #3 (Srinagar - Leh) was not really motorable and was already captured by the Pak intruders and they had secured positions across Zoji La all the way up to Kargil. And #4 (Manali -Leh) did not exist! It was merely a trek route. In order to strengthen the defense of Leh, a couple of companies of Gorkha Rifles were sent by Air, while the remaining part of the battalion trekked from Manali to Leh!!! It contianed two columns of supplies - one carrying rifles (codenamed as Arjun Column) and the other carrying 30 days of supplies (codenamed as Chapati column). These were carried on mules and they trekked for 3 weeks across the mighty Himalayan passes (the Rohtang, Barlacha La, Tanglang La) to reach Leh. The 1947-48 operation is famous for the battle of Zoji La (and quite rightfully so) but it's important to recognize this lesser known part of the operation an in fact it highlighted the importance of (creating) the Manali Leh highway.

Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milita...n_Ladakh_(1948)
Autobiography by Lieutenant General (Retd.) Srinivas Kumar Sinha: http://books.google.co.in/books/abou...d=vHglFDHJi78C

Today, we can drive from Manali to Leh in a day and when we reach there we have a guest house/hotel reserved for us to retire and wake up the next morning to talk about AMS and shower laurels on our SUVs for their supposedly AWD/4WD drivetrains. But it sends shivers through my body when I think how it would feel to walk across those mountains at 14000+ feet altitude on foot for 21 days in a row to reach a place where you are not invited for a party or a wedding, you are actually invited to fight and die if necessary. Hats off to the Gorkha Rifles!

And hats off to BRO for eventually developing this trek route into a motorway. It's maintained by BRO's project Deepak. Project Deepak played an important role in Operation Vijay by clearing the Manali- Sarchu Road ahead of schedule and keeping it open to unprecedented vehicular traffic.

It's sad that the government took so many years to give a go ahead to this development. Things seem to be improving and now BRO is constructing the Rohtang tunnel which should make the road till Keylong motorable even in winter. Of course, all weather connectivity from Manali to Leh needs a lot more work on the remaining passes...

Last edited by anandpadhye : 9th August 2013 at 20:35.
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Old 4th August 2013, 23:42   #11
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Default Rohtang - Jispa

We spent around an hour at the Rohtang top enjoying snow and then proceeded further. Most of the experienced people had advised us to go via Srinagar - Leh and coma back via Rohtang, and with de respect, I had been discussing with them our "need" to go via Rohtang and come back via Srinagar. We wanted to experience the Rohtang pass before it becomes redundant by the tunnel. And I had also read that Manali - Leh is steep compared to Srinagar - Leh which is gradual. To be honest, we were not so keen on something "gradual". Again, don't get me wrong, those who have been there before, definitely know better, but we were mentally ready for the inconvenience of Rohtang. And luck was on our side, we did not face any major traffic or landslides and made it to the top fairly easily. In fact, on the other side towards Keylong, the road was much worse with huge potholes and slush patches. Quite an anti-climax. If we had taken the advice and come back via Manali, we would have had more excitement while climbing Rohtang from Keylong....

Some pics of the other side of the Rohtang...
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02957.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc02978.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03000.jpg

A Jonga taking it in a stride...
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03018.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03073.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03135.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03137.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03156.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03168.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03157.jpg

The lodge at Jispa:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03188.jpg

Last edited by anandpadhye : 4th August 2013 at 23:50.
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Old 9th August 2013, 21:21   #12
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Default Jispa- Baralacha La - More Plains - Tso Kar

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-jispa_tsokar.jpg

We started around 7 am from Jispa and stopped at Deepak Tal. I tasted the water, it's a sweet water lake, though water wasn't very clean:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-deepaktal.jpg

We we moved further towards Baralacha La, slowly the terrain changed from green to chocolaty...
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03229.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03237.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03259.jpg

Well paved and cleaned road through piles of snow...Jay BRO
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03292.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03295.jpg

Tucson basking in Sun and Snow (please double click the picture to fully enjoy the panorama)...
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-barlacha_la_3.jpg

We stopped for pictures every few hundred meters:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-cockpit.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc03286.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc00836001.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc00840.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc00841.jpg

Soon we reached Suraj Tal:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc00844001.jpg

A panorama of Suraj Tal - it's much bigger than Deepak Tal:
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc00845.jpg

Not sure if it's sweet water or salty - unlike Deepak Tal, this one is this one is way below the road level, did not climb all the way down as we had to move on, but we kept stopping every now and then to admire the lovely terrain all along...
Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc00856001.jpg

Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue-dsc00858.jpg

We continued towards Sarchu and More plains...

Last edited by anandpadhye : 9th August 2013 at 23:19.
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Old 13th August 2013, 10:39   #13
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Default Re: Ahir Dham - Zero KM, Ladakh. A Tribute & Travelogue

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 13th August 2013, 19:41   #14
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Default Re: The Run up Complete:

Quote:
Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post

I ate a couple of those. They tasted nice even though they were not ripe. Any idea what fruit is it?
These are the famous Green Apples. They are sweet and great to eat.
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Old 14th August 2013, 00:32   #15
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Thumbs up Re: The Run up Complete:

Quote:
Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
[b]


Can someone shed some light on what this truck guy means (what's written on the bumper, not the faryad part):

Attachment 1118463
Excellent narration Anand!

This means "Nazar lagaavega joota khawega", which relates to the ėvil eye. Interesting to see it done with text + images mix :P

Looking forward to reading more. And awesome preparation for the journey

Cheers,
Sam
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