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Old 5th September 2013, 12:20   #1
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Default The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti

Prelude

There are plans and then there are plans. We named our small group - Yayawar.

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-0.-yayawars.jpg

Little did we know that the name would tower upon the future of our trip. After all, if you have a firm plan and you follow it to the hilt, what's being Yayawar in that? A Yayawar is the one who has no plans and no destinations... Ours was a solid plan, thanks to the guidance provided by various threads here, including that one of Tanveer and multiple reviews by HVK, all the destinations were marked and itinerary fixed. But only if the plans could remain...

Our plan was smashed and washed out by various factors, including bandh, curfew and breakdowns, got extended by 3 days, missed by quite a couple of destinations and we were literally forced to become Yayawars with no plans, no destinations, no dates...

And so it happened... the making of Yayawars

The Yayawars crossed these…

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Pass # 1. Zoji La Pass -Altitude 11649 Feet – The gateway to Ladakh, Highest point on Srinagar-Leh highway

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Pass # 2. Namik La Pass – Altitude 12198 Feet

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Pass # 3. Fotu La Pass – Altitude 13479 Feet

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Pass # 4. Khardung La Pass – Altitude 18379 Feet – World’s highest pass on highest motorable road (or claimed so!)

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Pass # 5. Wari La Pass – Altitude 17300 Feet – Tough ascent from Agham side, challenge to the driver and the machine!

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Pass # 6. Chang La Pass or the Mighty Chang La – Altitude 17586 Feet – World’s Third Highest Pass

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Pass # 7. An unnamed but peculiar pass between Merak and Chusul along Pangong Tso. Lots of Horns!!! And it’s not Polakang La.

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Pass # 8. Tanglang La – Altitude 17582 Feet – World’s Second Highest Pass – Highest point on Manali Leh Highway

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Pass # 9. Lachulung La – Altitude 16616 Feet

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Pass # 10. Nakee La – Altitude 15647 Feet

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Pass # 11. Baralacha La – Altitude 16040 Feet

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Pass # 12. Rohtang Pass – Altitude 13051 Feet – Relatively low on elevation, but dreaded due to muck and slush


The Yayawars saw these…

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Dal Lake at night. The pic should have been dark, I guess!!

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Zansakar Indus Sangam near Nimmoo

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Tso Talk – Much Before you reach Tangtse from Leh

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Chagar Tso – en-route to Pangong, but no one stops in a tearing hurry to reach Pangong Tso

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The “Three Idiots Lake” – The Pangong Tso – Saltwater lake at an altitude of 14270 Feet

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Unnamed lake on return from Chusul to Tangtse route

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Suraj / Vishaal Taal near Baralacha La. Sweet water lake formed of glacial waters. Third highest in India and 21st highest lake in world. Source of Bhaga River.

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Deepak Tal enroute to Baralahca La. Man made small lake.

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Of course The Chandra Taal, situated at an altitude of 14100 Feet in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. The crescent beautiful lake has no visible glacial source!!!


The Yayawars were greeted by these…

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Honeybees with their song...

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Birdie.. which one is this?

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Another birdie!

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Yet another birdie!!!

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-26.-birdies.jpg
They brought their entire family...

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-27.-butterfly.jpg
Butterfly came looking for juice, we told them juicy stories

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Chickens – No! We didn't bar-be-queued them!

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-29.-cow.jpg
Cow went back grazing in meadows...

CONTD...

Last edited by Nonstop-driver : 5th September 2013 at 17:07.
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Old 5th September 2013, 16:52   #2
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Default The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti - Prelude Continued

Further we met...

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-30.-dog.jpg
The poser doggie!

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Doves met with a peace message

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The Ducks went crakalacking on meeting us!

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The muttons (Oh Sorry! the Goats), just met and ran away. Their life was in danger…

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Horses were plenty, both wild and domesticated

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The Ibex family came visiting

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The Khardung La frog remained stationary

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The Kiangs were curious

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The marmots were cute

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The molluscs and jelly fish also said “Hi”

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The "King" Snow Leopard also came meeting, he was swift and evaded papparazzi!!

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The goats brought their kinsfolk sheepishly

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The native Yak also met us…

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-43.-donkeys.jpg
And so did the migrants - the donkeys!


The Yayawars slept here…

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Jammu - Hotel Vivek

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Katra - Trikuta Bhawan

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Kargil - Hotel D'Zojila with some tasty apricots and sumptuous food

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Leh - Hotel Jorchung with good apricots, apples and homegrown veggies

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Turtuk – Turtuk Holiday Camp's tented accomodation

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Serthi / Sarkti / Sakti – JKTDC – avoid!!!

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Spangmik / Pangong – Padma Shop & Restaurant – good sunrise view!

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Upshi Lodge – The room where we stayed is at the far end, first floor.

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Keylong – HPTDC Chandrabhaga – nice hotel and nice hospitality!

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Chandratal – Jamaica's is the best!

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Batal – Our shelter for four nights. Windproof and comfy.

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Batal – The Chacha’s Chandra Dhaba – our shelter during the day-times.

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Ummm… we did spent a night on the road, on this tow truck, after the descent from Rohtang, between Marhi and Gulaba. Courtsey – the truck driver #@#$%$#^@


The Yayawars went like this…
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-56.-went.jpg
Fully loaded we went!

Did this...
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-57.-displayed-guts.jpg
We've got Guts!!

and returned like this...
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-58.-returned.jpg
Notice any difference between the two car pics??

via of course the pic you saw earlier… yes! via the tow truck!!!

What a journey it had been! A great experience which we shall cherish forever.

More and details to follow soon.

DISCLAIMER: All the pics are just re-sized and without any processing. If time permits, the processed pics may be reproduced.

Last edited by Nonstop-driver : 5th September 2013 at 17:25.
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Old 6th September 2013, 11:23   #3
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Default Day 1 - 09 August 2013 - Start from Noida/Delhi

Day 1 - 09 August 2013 - Start from Noida/Delhi

Here's the plan we intended to follow:
Day1 - 09 Aug: Start from Delhi
Day2 - 10 Aug: Reach Srinagar
Day3 - 11 Aug: Srinagar - Kargil/Sankoo
Day4 - 12 Aug: Kargil/Sankoo - Penzi La - Sankoo/Panikhar
Day5 - 13 Aug: Sankoo/Panikhar - Leh
Day6 - 14 Aug: Leh local, Permits
Day7 - 15 Aug: Leh - Turtuk
Day8 - 16 Aug: Turtuk - Hunder - Deskit
Day9 - 17 Aug: Deskit - Pangong Tso
Day10 - 18 Aug: Pangong Tso - Mitpal Tso - Tso Moriri
Day11 - 19 Aug: Tso Moriri - Tso Kar - Sarchu/Keylong
Day12 - 20 Aug: Sarchu/Keylong - Batal - Chandratal
Day13 - 21 Aug: Chandratal (Full Moon Day)
Day14 - 22 Aug: Chandratal - Kaza - Nako
Day15 - 23 Aug: Nako - Chail
Day16 - 24 Aug: Chail - Delhi/Noida

As per plan, started at 1400 from home at Noida. Dropped wifey and li'l daughter at Terminal D1 at 15:20 and bade bye (people still ask me how do I managed to do this!). Reached Dwarka Sector 12 by 1600 hrs where the Yayawars had to group. Called Tony and they just reached from their shopping spree at CP, Avi got a new shoe! A Wifey called at 18:30 to intimate that she has reached her hometown - Patna. Went to McD to have some burgers.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-1.jpg

Let me take this opportunity to introduce the Yayawars.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-2.jpg
From left to right, 1. Your's Truely, 2. Cheena, 3. Tony, 4. Avi - a motley groupe with age ranging from 23 to 39 years! Youngest being Avi - an Mechanical Engineering student and the oldest being your's truely - a typical IT guy with a hige tyre around the waiste The rule was, the elders have to order and the order passed in a typical "sarkaari office" fashion to the youngest. So you know who ended up doing all the physical work. Also, whoever would do any mistake, it was the youngest who had to immediately say "Sorry!".

After Cheena reached around 21:30, we started packing bags and loading them on the carrier. Everything was arranged as per HVK's checklist, or so I was told (the checklist has an important part to play in the story, be tuned). The spare tyre occupied most of the space on the carrier and apart from that, only the gas cylinder, jerry cans, sleeping bags and tents were tied on the carrier. Rest of the lugguage had to be dumped in the last row, which seemed like a full family going on a 2 months trip.
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Within a group of 4 persons, we were carrying 8 cameras!!
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started from Dwarka sharp at 23:45. The odometer reading was taken. The idea was to reach Jammu, take Mughal Road to Srinagar and reach as far as possible.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-6.jpg

No traffic on the way and soon we crossed the Singhu border. Stopped at Sukhdev dhaba, Murthal for emptying the ever-charging bladders and then proceeded forward.

CONTD...

P.S.: Apologies for the bad picture quality - phone camera in action.
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Old 9th September 2013, 12:25   #4
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th September 2013, 17:50   #5
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Default Day 2 - 10 August 2012 - Jammu - stuck in bandh!

Day 2 - 10 August 2012 - Jammu - stuck in bandh!

Stopped at McD, Doraha for some McEgg Burger and coffee at 0255.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-2.1.jpg

As the daybreak was about to happen, our stuffed stomach demanded to be emptied.
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Next stop was at McD, Phagwara where we freshened up and then had some Ice creams.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-2.3.jpg

After Phagwara, we drove continuous to reach J&K Border, Lakhanpur at 0900 hrs. There had been heavy rains last night and the road was witness to it with many small landslides and puddle across the road.
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Further to Samba, at 1000, just when we reached Vijaypur, traffic was at complete halt and we encounter the first problem of the trip - we notice this:
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-2.6.jpg

Further about 200mtrs ahead, heavy smoke was enmating as tyres were being burnt on the road, completely blocking it.
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On enquiring, we learnt that Hindus all over in Jammu valley are protesting and agitating against the firing by Pakistani troops in which 5 Indian troops were killed. To complicate the matter worse, there had been communal violance at Kishtwar and shops and establishments of Hindus were burnt, government establishments were fired upon and there were rumuors of two people getting killed. In retaliation, BJP and Hindu groups had called for a 2-day bandh in the valley.
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The heavy deployment of the riot police was no deterrant to the agitators and in fact the police were advising vehicles to go back!
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We waited for a while in anticipation that the crowd will disperse.
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After stopping for over 1 hour, we decided to take the Sambha-Udhampur route and went back to Sambha. The police personnels also advised taking the Udhampur route, however, just after 100mtrs, a sentry stopped us and directed not to go towards Udhampur as the route was clogged with demonstrations.

HVK communicated that the roadblocks and bandh were Jammu valley wide, however, he also informed that this would be more of a nuicenance in Jammu and once we're through on to the Mughal Road, there was no problem as in fact one of his known person - Rohit right now was on Mughal Road. He also informed that yesterday there were some landslides on the Mughal Road, but most likely they were clear now, with the major landslide happening at Bhamla.

Had our lunch at a dhaba at Sambha and then decided to go back again to Vijaypur. What we noted that the protestors were allowing "Yatra" vehicles, those going for Amarnath (probably) to pass through and stopping every other vehicle. We also decided that we would pass on the same pretext. After waiting for about half an hour, we passed through the agitating crowd around 1230 hrs. Some politician was giving a heated speech. Further, we came across many such burnt tyres, but the agitators were absent. Perhaps the leader finished his speech there and the work was finished. Thereafter, the drive into Jammu city was uneventful.

We took the road to Akhnoor to get on to the Mughal Road.
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And then the nightmarish drive started again. At every settlement around the road, there were people agitating with burnt tyres and everywhere we had to give this excuse that we were going for the "Yatra".
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The vistas, in the meanwhile changed colour to lush green. We tried to enjoy the views, but the mind was getting anxious at every nook and corner. Whenever we saw a couple of people or some smoke in distance, we would jump in our seat - there is another roadblock!!
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As updated by HVK, at Bhamla, there had been a major landslide which was cleared only about 0900 hrs for one vehicle to pass at a time.
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Further drive till Sundarbani was beautiful!
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We reached Sunderbani at around 1530hrs and just after Sunderbani and before Naushera BP when we were to take a right turn towards Rajouri, a huge gathering of agitators blocked the way, with some of them jumping over the bonnet and having sticks and rods in hand. They individually asked the name of each of us. We passed the same excuse that we were going for "Yatra", but this time they would not hear it. They said that if we were going to Baltal for Amarnath yatra, we should go back to Jammu and take NH1 to Srinagar. Apparantly, there is a "Boodha Amarnath" somewhere on this road and till this time, everyone thought that we were going there. The agitators and even the police personnels advised against taking the road further and go back to Jammu as apparantly the area ahead was Muslim dominated and they'd burn our vehicle and kill us. Seeing no way to go, we had to turn back to Jammu. Talked to HVK and he informed that Rohit has been able to cross the Mughal Road, however, now there was some disturbance at Rajauri.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-2.20.jpg

On way back to Jammu, again found the agitators and explained them that we are returning. On the outskirts of the city, had to ask for directions and a gentleman on scooter was so helpful that he showed us the way by driving upto 3-4 kms. Reached Jammu around 1755 hrs and checked in Hotel Vivek.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-2.21.jpg

All this while, we forgot to take out the DSLRs to capture the vistas and it was a nerve-wreking day for us in totality. Since everyone was tired by a continuous journey of about 19 hrs, we decided to stay for the night and start early morning around 0400hrs to beat the agitators as the bandh call was extended for another 48 hrs. Were glued to the TV and were glad that we didn't went to Rajauri as a curfew had been imposed in the afternoon following some communal clashes. Had our dinner early and retired to bed.
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Old 10th September 2013, 17:15   #6
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti

Thats a great start to the travelogue. Waiting to read the rest of it. An unusual start; lots of politics into play but as they say 'the best laid plans do tend to go awry at times'

Btw, is that a HVK sticker on the rear of the XUV?

Last edited by Zappo : 10th September 2013 at 18:08. Reason: Please stop making these dotty posts. We have edited out all the dots for this while.
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Old 10th September 2013, 18:12   #7
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti

Hello Non-Stop Driver,

Congrats on compelting this once in a life time journey. Also four people from different walks of life executing the plan as a team is an achievement in itself.

The story is unfolding at nail-biting pace & indeed the situation at Jammu during those days was really scary. Eagerly waiting to hear your next day's story over onward journey from Jammu.

Also desperately waiting to know the reason behind the picture of your car on flat bed tow truck & your statement in the opening post: "we did spent a night on the road, on this tow truck, after the descent from Rohtang, between Marhi and Gulaba"

I too was a part of similarly exciting group going to Leh - originating from Chennai, Bangalore, Pune & Mumbai but I had to drop my plans due to personal commitments. Travelogues like these only motivates me to definitely undertake the journey to Leh next year.

Thanks,
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Old 11th September 2013, 10:16   #8
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahul4321 View Post
Btw, is that a HVK sticker on the rear of the XUV?
Indeed that is the HVK sticker. My own beast (scorpio) sports the LTD sticker and the Team-BHP keychain adorns the keys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jignesh View Post
Also desperately waiting to know the reason behind the picture of your car on flat bed tow truck & your statement in the opening post: "we did spent a night on the road, on this tow truck, after the descent from Rohtang, between Marhi and Gulaba"
Let the story unfold, this comes during the last part of the journey. If I disclose it right now, the fun part will be missing later.
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Old 11th September 2013, 12:01   #9
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Default Day 3 - 11 August 2012 - Jammu to Udhampur on way to Srinagar

Day 3 - 11 August 2012 - Jammu to Udhampur on way to Srinagar

Woke up early in the morning around 0330 to get an early start to beat the band. Switched on the TV and learnt that a curfew has been imposed at Jammu, Udhampur, Old Srinagar, Rajauri and some other places. Senior BJP leaders were arrested at airport as they were planned to visit Kishtwar. All these meant that the day will be dramatic and violent. This took out Mughal Road out of equation. The only route that we could have some hope on was NH1D. For now, Mughal Road has to wait, we are getting delayed and so if we still want to be on our original plan, we have to rush through today and cross Srinagar and if possible, Zozilla too. Settled the bill at the Hotel which was 3505 for two rooms, two rounds of tea, veggie sandwitches and simple veggie dinner.

Started at 0400 hrs from the Hotel, which was just next to the bus stand. While coming out of Jammu, we encountered police check posts at various places and at every point, we were asked to turn back and go back to the hotel. We pleaded that we are going for the yatra and our group has already left about an hour earlier. Luckily, a huge group for yatra had left about the same time and they were allowed as they were already in a convoy. Upon much pleading, the police personnel stated that we may be allowed to go, but on our own risk as there is curfew and barbed wires may have been deployed at the outskirts of the city, and that in that case, we would not be allowed to enter Jammu either! We agreed to take the risk as it was highly unlikely that anyone would create a rukus so early in the morning. There was no barbed wired fencing at any place. Quickly, we were on NH and started towards Srinagar. All seemd well, but was it?
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-3.1.jpg

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-3.2.jpg

Another blow to the plan was made when we reached Tikri border (Udhampur district) at around 0555 hrs. There was a huge line of trucks and ahead to it were cars and taxis, stopped there by police personnel. The police were advising everyone to go back. Go back? Where?? Jammu is now out of questions!! We talked to the police personnel and they informed that a car has been burnt at Udhampur last night and the road was blocked. Further, there were chances of agitators creating further disturbance today and hence no traffic was being allowed.
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When we talked to the police personnel, we were flatly told "Saari Yatra band ho chuki hai, Jammu waapas chale jaao" (The yatra has been closed, go back to Jammu). We told the situation at Jammu and that we can't go back there too, to which he replied "Katra jaao, Maata ke darshan karo aur teen din baad aana" (Go to Katra, Visit Vaishno Devi and come back after three days)! What?? This would mean that our entire plan goes for a toss! We pleaded further with the personnel and told him that this would mean cancellation of the entire trip. On this he asked us to come again late evening around 2100-2200 hrs and "maybe" that we'll be allowed to go.

Having no other option, we decided it to be better to spend the day at Katra as it was just about 18 kms from Tikri, and then come back in the evening after resting during the day. So we went to Katra. Just before entering Katra town, there is a checkpost. A young policeman aged around 25 waved our car to stop. He asked the general questions, where are we coming from and where are we headed and whether we are carrying any contraband. We explained everything to him. He was satisfied and said "Jai Mata Di" while shaking hands with Cheena who was driving and then he kind of itched on his palms asking for "kuchh sewa". Though I am dead against this practice and we weren't doing anything wrong, I'd not have given to his demands. But then everyone thought of the hassle of unloading all the lugguage and getting it checked and then decided to give a 100 rupee note to him. Unfortunately, the car dvr went full and overwrote the recordings for the day and hence I'd not be able to post the pic unlike thought earlier.
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In the meanwhile, HVK updated that Rohit had reached Srinagar yesterday and he has started for Zozila. He also informed that there had been a major landslide between Srinagar and Sonmarg and probably the roads were closed. At the same time, talked to Vishwas, who would be coming from Pune and would have reached Srinagar last night. Vishwas intimated that everything is absolutely fine in Srinagar and they are roaming the market!

Reached Katra and straightaway went to Trikuta Bhawan to see if we could get some dormatory for the day. Luckily, they were available and booked four beds. Had something to stuff in our empty stomach in the market - tea and buttered buns. Came back, and had breakfast in the no profit no loss based run canteen - Poori-Chhole, and slept for a couple of hours. At around 1400 during lunch in the canteen(customery kadhi-chawal), Cheena suggested that we leave early by 1500 to reach Tikri just in case they allow to leave early. I opposed the idea, knowing fully how the system works and advised to leave around 1800. Voting done and we decided to leave at 1600 hrs.
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We started as decided at 1600 hrs and just as we were about to get out of the Katra town limits, a Policeman at the checkpost waved his hand to stop. Again the same questions, where, why and all that. And then he said that we can't got to Srinagar as it's all blocked. We tried to reason with him that Police personnel at Tikri had assured us to release the traffic. On further discussion, he grew angry and said "main samjha raha hoon aapko, aaplog samajhna hi nahin chahte. Yatra cancel ho gayee hai aur route band hai. Aap Jammu waapas jaao. Idhar se nahin jaane denge"!

Again the entire plan seemed to be going down the drain. And then my mind clicked. I kind of consulted everyone in a loud voice so that he can also hear and said that now that we've lost 2-3 days and the yatra is not happening, our leaves are also finishing, lets go back to Delhi. Let's go as the gentleman is suggesting - afterall he is doing his duty! Everyone agreed to me understanding that I had some plan. I then pleaded the policeman to let us go now as we were going back via Jammu. Now another volley came from him - "Jamme jaana hai to idhar se mat jao. Peechhe ek raasta hai, wo pakdo aur seedha NH pe nikal jaaoge Jammu ke taraf". What the hell? We didn't noticed any road? Where would that road lead? Afterall I didn't planned to go back all the way to Jammu! Further enquiry yielded that the road is internal village one and would lead eight kms ahead towards Jammu on NH. What the heck! Let's take the road, at least we will pass this checkpost! What if there would be another checkpost and this one would wireless them? Will see what happens, but at least lets go from here. We also decided that we would not be taking the pretext of Yatra anymore and straightaway tell that we're going to Ladakh.

Went down the road, which was kind of single road, broken at multiple sections. Reached NH1D and took right again towards Tikri. No checkpost and we passed the area without any issues. Hurray!! Or not yet!
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Reached Tikri at 1800 hrs to find a long queue of vehicles and trucks. Seems that reasonable sense prevailed and cars and smaller vehicle were allowed to reach to an open area before the checkpost and trucks were asked to form a queue alongside the road. The police arrangement was more stronger than the morning and we met people who were there from early morning waiting for the traffic to be opened. Talked to the policemen and they said that they wouldn't open the traffic unless they have orders from the top.
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What a situation it was! There were children and ladies, waiting from the morning, at a place which didn't had even one dhaba to provide food or even tea. People started agitating and complaining about the same. And then the authorities arranged for free food for everyone who was willing to take it - roti, chawal, daal and pickles.. tea too! I observed that most of the people, taxi drivers were not even going for the food - strange! I thought to try the food myself and then I realised the reason. The people distributing food themselves were religious fanatics and shouting "Bam Bhole" at everyone who came for food. I talked to some taxi drivers and they appeared to be too frightened. Reason being they belonged to Srinagar and were Muslims and had to pass through Udhampur. What they stated was frieghtening as well as shameful in a free and secular country. They said "Saab. aap log to nikal jaaoge, bahar ki gaadi hai. Ye raat mein jhuk ke number plate pe torch maar ke gaadi select karte hain maar-peet karne ke liye". I assured some of them that we will be ahead of them and they can follow us to quickly pass through disturbed area.
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In the meanwhile, Cheena called up his office at NDTV to provide the update live from the spot and see if a voice over can be done.
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Time passed by and there was no sign of traffic being released. What we saw that the police were allowing local numbered cars to pass through. Then came the DSP and ordered deployment of barbed wires on the road so that no vehicle would cross. The barbed wires were deployed and it was announced that the traffic will not be allowed at all for next couple of days. On talking with him separately and informing that one of our guys was working for NDTV, he updated that the traffic is likely to be open later in the night, but they are not announcing it right now. So all in all it's a wait and watch game.
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Finally at 22:25 hrs, the borders were opened and vehicles allowed to go with strict instructions to be in a convoy and not to break it. And then everyone seemed to be in a tearing hurry to cross Udhampur as soon as possible.
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Quite at couple of places, we observed that the fear with the Srinagar taxi drivers were not unjust. What we noticed was some hooligans at isolated places, with sticks, rods, hockey sticks and even torches in hand. They appeared to be fully drunk and trying to leverage the tensed situation to vent out their own frustration over some unknown. At one place, one of them tried to smash the windscreen, but fortunately he was drunk and we were in speed, so by the time he swayed his hand, we crossed him. Phew!!!

CONTD...

Last edited by Nonstop-driver : 11th September 2013 at 12:12. Reason: fixed broken images
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Old 12th September 2013, 12:17   #10
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti

Coming back to the Katra incident, This was the planned route that we intended to take

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Red circle denotes where we were stopped and sent back.

And this was the route that we were forced to take.
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Old 18th September 2013, 18:34   #11
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Default Day 4 - 12 August 2013 - Udhampur - Srinagar - Kargil - Part 1

Day 4 - 12 August 2013 - Udhampur - Srinagar - Kargil - Part 1

Finally, we crossed Udhampur around 0030 hrs and took left for Srinagar. Reached Jawahar Tunnel at 0238 and while we were trying to take some pic at the entry point, a security personnel came and advised against it. We paid heed to the instructions and drove forward in the tunnel, crossing it by 0315 hrs to be welcomed by the "Welcome to Paradise on Earth" board.
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We reached Srinagar early in the morning around 0420 and as decided, pressed the pedal to cross at least Zojila and then break for the day in Ladakh valley. We crossed Dal lake and it was barely visible in the darkness, except for the lights in Shikaras hence couldn't take any decent photo (the DSLRs were still in the bag as the stress to cross J&K valley was still on mind).
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Finally were able to cross entire Srinagar by 0510 hrs.
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The daybreak was about to happen at 0540 and the first ray of sun hit the mountain tops at 0612 hrs. It was then that we were able to soak in the green and white vistas of Kashmir valley.
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We reached the landslide area before Sonmarg at 0634 and oh boy! What a major landslide it was! The road for around 300 mtrs has disappeared and it was mud, slush and water all across.
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The BRO were still working and by the time we reached, they were somehow able to create one lane of clearing so that one vehicles can cross at a time.
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Even with the high GC, out XUV took two underbelly scrapes while crossing the stretch. Thanks to BRO, we were able to cross it. Later I learnt from HVK that yesterday Rohit had to return from the landslide site back to Srinagar. I communicated the status to HVK and in turn he informed Rohit that the site was now open so that he can also start.
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For the first time during the trip, we saw turquoise water flowing besides the road - it was River Sindh flowing in all it's glory.
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Just before entering Sonamarg, I also captured an interesting formation of ice deposit on the mountain. I call it "Eye in the Sky"!
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At around 0700, we were welcomed by a board announcing that we have entered Sonamarg.
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True to it's name "Meadows of Gold" it had huge meadows and horses can be seen grazing.
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We came across a group of Army cadets undergoing their practice, true to the name of the "School" - HAWS or High Altitude Warfare School.
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And then of course we saw the Thajiwas glacier. Pity that the snow this season seemed to be too less. Probably an effect of the heard mentality that tourists like us have - let's go in hoards to any place which has become accessible.
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Soon after, the ascend started and the road condition started detoriating. After crossing the Baltal base camp approach road, the road (or was it?) condition worsened and we learnt why Zoji La is also called the Godzilla of passes.
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A recent landslide had taken the road with it and a water stream was gushing through the make-shift path. We thought that our vehicle with relatively large GC would be able to cross it without any issues. However, one mistake by our driver at the moment - Cheena, sent shiver waves down our spines. He decided to splash some water and took the car between the ditch. The car took an underbelly hit and as he slowed, the fornt right tyre spinned slightly skidding to right and Cheena had to reverse. With a path that was makeshift and the stones shifting, reversing on a curve on gradiant itself was dangerous. We all stepped down to ease the load and cheena somehow reversed the car. I receed the appropriate hard surface that the car can take and guided Cheena to drive through in a single go. We made it!!
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Further ahead, the road appeared splitted with one fork appearing going a slight uphill and the another one, with stones all over, had a steep climb. Not sure which one to take, we sought the opinion of a truck driver whom we had crossed earlier and he advised of taking the left fork, the gradual ascent one stating that the right one was full of landslides. We abided and driving through the rocks/stones/water/slush we approached a board announcing that we were at Zojila. Damn! It seems that the stone marker for Zoji La was on the other route!! No problem, some other time. Oh yes! and by this time, the gravel route changed to a road made of cement blocks. The watch read 0850 hrs.
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I looked in all directions and was disappointed - not a single peak had snow whereas I've seen pics of the place being full of them :(

We went to the small War memorial and paid our tributes. Had been reading stories of the tank invasion by General Thimaiyya, but it was altogether different experience being at the place. Overwhelmed. A lousy curse was transmitted telepathically to Pakistan!
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Having driven through the entire night, a small refreshment stall just next to the memorial was all that we needed at that point. Some samosas and cold drinks to be stuffed in some leathery bags secured by the worlds toughest material - enamel

We also took the opportunity to test our newly acquired Quechuas in the nearby rivulet - they stood up to their reputation!! And of course the crystal clear turquoise water - Uff!!
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CONTD...
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Old 18th September 2013, 18:43   #12
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Default Day 4 - 12 August 2013 - Udhampur - Srinagar - Kargil - Part 2

Day 4 - 12 August 2013 - Udhampur - Srinagar - Kargil - Part 2

By 0930, we started again, the target being some place to rest for the day and the logical place was Kargil. However, just after starting, we noticed the change in colours of the mountains and from green, it was now changing to various colours, primarily brown - the dominant colour of Ladakh. The vistas enroute also meant frequent photo-ops which ultimately meant slow driving.
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Some vistas enroute...
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We came across a huge army convoy.. we started counting and then lost the count after 50+ trucks. Later, Rohit (meeting shortly) confirmed that it comprised of a whopping 78 trucks!
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While we stopped at a place for photo-op, not too far from Zoji La, HVK informed that Rohit is approaching Zoji La in an MH numbered Safari.
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Couple of minutes later, we saw a safari and waved it to stop. Indeed it was Rohit accompanied with a friend. I introduced myself to Rohit and he immediately recognized as he also had been getting updates from HVK about me! A little chit-chat later, Rohit invited us for a cup of tea at Drass. We stopped at Drass for the cuppa (in fact two) and some "fane" bang opposite the tourist reception centre. Rohit informed that this time they are only doing the Zanskar valley. They enquired about a route that goes from Drass directly to Rangdum. Unfortunately they were told that there had been lots of landslides and the road is blocked at multiple places, thus they'll have to go via Kargil only. We said bye to each other and then started towards Kargil, Drass river giving us company alongside the road.
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We stopped at the Kargil War Memorial to pay our respect and tribute to the brave soldiers who laid their lives, aptly written somewhere "We gave our present for your better future". A second lousy curse was again transmitted telepatically to Pakistan!! We also had some maggi at the small canteen run by the army.
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CONTD...
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Old 18th September 2013, 18:49   #13
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Default Day 4 - 12 August 2013 - Udhampur - Srinagar - Kargil - Part 3

Day 4 - 12 August 2013 - Udhampur - Srinagar - Kargil - Part 3

After spending about an hour at the memorial, we started again around 1230 hrs and on way, we saw the board marking way to BhimBhat - a place where the supposedly stonyfied body of Bhim (from Mahabharata) could be seen. The legend says that all the Pandavas, except Yudhisthir fell down on their ascend to heaven and this was the place where Bhim fell. Being too tired by now, we decided to move ahead. We also missed Draupadi Kund as we didn't find any signage pointing the directions. This we realised only after we reached Kargil!
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The road condition further detoriated and it was pure gravel that we were driving on. Just before entering Kargil, we came across Harkha Bahadur Memorial. A third lousy curse was transmitted towards Pakistan!!! For those who do not know, Subedar Harkha Bahadur was the platoon commander of the gallant 1/5 Royal Gorkha Rifles who swam across the icy cold Shingo (Suru) river and forced Pakistanis to withdraw from Kargil to go beyond the LAC during 1948.
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Paying our homage, we moved forward to Kargil and reached D'Zojila Hotel - our destination for the day by 1415 hrs. The Suru river was now giving us company.
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After occupying the rooms and getting freshened up, the body started demanding refuelling. It was about 1500 hrs and when we asked the hotel guys and they said that the food was finished and it would take some time to prepare food for us. Never mind, we can have something to eat in the Market and so we started towards the market. The hotel is situated good 2-3 kms from the market and after a long walk, we started enquiring about the food. To our surprise, about the 15 plus restaurants and dhabas that we checked, only one had food available and the person running the restaurant was like "ummm.. I don't care whether you eat here or not. It won't cause me any damage". Even after waiting for about half an hour, we couldn't get a seat (and I thought I would try the wazwaan that I missed at Srinagar!). We tried asking him to provide seats but his apathy towards us led us out of the restaurant. Ultimately, we didn't find anything in any restaurants and most were like "khaana khatam ho gaya hai".

I remembered people referencing to an old guy in the main market selling Kebabs at Rs 20 a stick. Let's search for the guy. After lots of wandering here and there, we finally found him in the car parking and guess what - a dustbin was his stand for the bar-be-queue! We decided to ignore the dustbin for two reasons - one, we were really hungry and two, you discover real delicacies in such a places. We enquired the rates and indeed it was Rs 20 a stick. We decided to give it a try. Strangly enough, he took one stick of kebabs, put it on a "roti" kind of thing and powered some chutney. Then he asked us to go on the other side of road, sit on the steps of shops there and then eat. He kind of insisted!
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And then we discovered - there is nothing great about the kebabs, in fact they are pathetic! Urghh!!

Disappointed and with still empty stomachs, we came back to the Hotel and asked the hotel guy to prepare food. And guess what the answer was "sir ab to dinner ban raha hai, khaana nahin milega ab". We asked him if we can have some tea and pakodas, to which he agreed and then we noticed the lone apricot tree in the hotel campus, laden with ripe apricots. We asked the guy if we can have some fresh apricots. Now this was amazing! He climbed up the tree and picked up a lot of ripe apricots in a bag. Finally, we had some apricots, pakodas, some biscuits from our own stock and tea for luch at 1740hrs!
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Dinner was early and boy! what a sumptuous dinner it was!! We gorged on the chicken like we haven't had them in years!

Just as we finished our dinner and were having another cup of tea. Vishwas called. They had also reached Kargil and were at the JKTDC guest house. They were also not able to find any place to have dinner and he asked if he and gang can come up to our Hotel for the dinner. I enquired with the Hotel Guy "Sharma ji" and he told us the rates "600 per person". I conveyed the rate to Vishwas and also told him that the items on the menu were worth it. By the time it started raining and Vishwas told that since his driver was a local, he had gone to his home with the car and coming to the hotel meant being completely drenched. Plan cancelled!

Finally, we took stock of the situation of our plan vis-a-vis actuals. We had already spent the 3rd day and still at Kargil! 15th would be a national holiday and Leh DC office would be closed. This meant we have to take the permits on 14th morning, which evidently meant that we start tomorrow itself to Leh. Drang Drung and Suru valley will have to wait.. probably some other time. :(

Called up Vishwas and intimated of our plan to go to Leh the next day. Since our plans were coinciding, decided to meet in the morning at the Petrol bunk and then start together to Leh.

Having reviewed everything, plan re-adjusted and with stomachs full, we called it a day off and retired for the night.

CONTD...
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Old 20th September 2013, 09:36   #14
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti - Prelude Continued

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Originally Posted by Nonstop-driver View Post
The poser doggie!
Nice dog. Ladakhi dogs are super cute.

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Originally Posted by Nonstop-driver View Post
Keylong – HPTDC Chandrabhaga – nice hotel and nice hospitality!
The HPTDC hotel at Keylong looks good. We didn't plan any stay at Keylong anyway, but looks like a good option from your pic. What's the room rent? And how was the food?

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Originally Posted by Nonstop-driver View Post
DISCLAIMER: All the pics are just re-sized and without any processing.
That's a good thing actually. These pictures are natural. Excessive processing make them "unreal", which unfortunately seems to be the fashion these days.

Cheers!
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Old 20th September 2013, 11:07   #15
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti - Prelude Continued

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Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
The HPTDC hotel at Keylong looks good. We didn't plan any stay at Keylong anyway, but looks like a good option from your pic. What's the room rent? And how was the food?
It indeed is good. Nice and cozy, conveniently located so that you don't have to enter Keylong town/markets/bus stand. The room rent was 1600 for a double room and the rent included Dinner and breakfast. They have a provision to pack the breakfast for you if you're leaving early too!

The food was very good.

Overall, most recommended at Keylong.
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