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Old 17th September 2013, 10:14   #31
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Thanks so much Anurag for the detailed information. Do keep updating.
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Old 17th September 2013, 10:19   #32
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Originally Posted by Insearch View Post
Just so that you know: None of the photographs have been processed in any way. No brightness or contrasts changed or colors highlighted. What you see is exactly how the camera picked up these images.
You said it .
On my TL too, I have been uploading pics as they were captured (except for adding minor shadow wherever there was excess glare).

I have been seeing quite a lot of Ladakh threads wherein the pics are clearly over-processed for extra excitement, but that's not how Ladakh really looks...

Cheers!

EDIT: And lovely title - Biker's Anthem!
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Old 22nd September 2013, 20:38   #33
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We woke up at 5 a.m. next morning and were greeted by fresh snow on the mountain tops.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-fresh-snow.jpg


Today we planned to go from Pangong Tso to Pso Morriri, Via Chushul. These days, very few tourists take this route as the army is generally avoiding issue of passes for it. Though we did have the passes for this route, the army could still refuse clearance. If this happened, we would have to ride back to Pangong Tso and take an alternate route. So an early start helped.

The sun shines on the lake and off our helmets.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-reflected-lake-bikes.jpg

Waiting for the Innova
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-dirt-road.jpg

As seen from the Innova
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-innova.jpg

Moving alongside the Lake
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-bikers-lake.jpg


There was no real road, just a dirt track that passed through many dry, sandy river beds, running next to Pangong Tso. The tracks would lead upto the river bed and then disappear within it. As we would navigate out of the river bed, it was sometimes difficult to find the track and we would almost get stuck in the sand, before coming back to the track.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-complete-dirt-track.jpg

A Lone duck in the lake:
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-lone-duck.jpg

We kept riding parallel to the lake, until our track separated and headed towards the right (in the picture below), and away from the lake. We bid the lake a sad adieu.

Last view
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-goodbye-pangong.jpg


We saw many Kiangs or the wild Ass. It is a nervous animal and takes flight easily. Though it does not look elegant, it runs very gracefully with it's head held high, so that it may keep an eye on what is going on behind it. Pretty large too.

Kiang
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-kiang.jpg

We were thoroughly enjoying ourselves but at the same time wondering if we were headed in any meaningful direction, since there was no way to tell whether the dirt track had any sense of direction. And we were simply following it. In the middle of all this, Harinder's Clutch cable broke. Luckily he had expected this as the cable had been hard from the very beginning and we were carrying an extra one. Hats off to him, for he not only changed the cable there and then, he did a very professional job of it as he was carrying all the required equipment.

Soon after this event we arrived at Chushul Village and were glad to spot roads, around it.
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-chushul.jpg

A little further on from the village was the army check post and we got down to show our permits. The Check post incharge informed us that we were not allowed to go beyond this point. Rajan requested the officer, if he could speak to an officer in the North Block (Delhi), from the army's internal telephone. Let me mention that our mobiles were not working and the only contact with the outside world was through the army comm. Rajan called up his contact and we were told to wait as the chain of phone calls eventually had to reach the commanding officer in Leh, who would then call the check post and give the green light. While we waited and chatted with the soldiers, we came to know that the reason for closing this route had been the objections of the Chinese army. It is said that in flag meetings, the Chinese had shown our Army, video footage of Indian Tourists, going off the track towards the Chinese areas. Due to the recent incursions by the Chinese and heightened security, these (Tourist mis-adventures) were seen as unnecessary events with the potential to flare up the disputes. Hence the restrictions.

After waiting for an hour, we were finally given the go ahead with very strict instructions to not take out our cameras, once we crossed the check post. In addition the more strict instructions were, " always turn right at any fork in the road". Simple reason being that the ridge on the right of the valley was controlled by the Chinese army and hence their territory.
Since they had educated us how sensitive this area was, we took this advice to heart. The only two photographs I have are shared below:

Sign at the Army Checkpost:
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-chushul-board.jpg


STICK TO THE RIGHT!
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-keep-left.jpg

It was a wonderful feeling to be doing this route. There was literally no traffic, at all. Again the road vanished from underneath and all that was left was a track. We had many river crossings on this stretch, some very long and some 18 inches deep at their deepest. Our riding pants got drenched upto our thighs and we learned that our pants were not completely water proof. .

After a long ride on the dirt track, we finally hit the roads again. It was a very wide valley and breathtakingly scenic. In some places the plains would rise very mildly and we could only see the mountain crests, in front of us, with the lower parts hidden by the rising flat of the valley.

I remembered that as a very young boy, in the art class, I would paint a green field with snow capped mountains as the backdrop. I had finally seen that drawing in real, but this one was made by God.

We had brought along packed lunch and stopped at a very scenic spot for our midday meal. After this our ride was mostly downhill as we got closer to Pso Morriri. Again the last few kilometers were without Tar. But this was an amazing dirt road. In places as wide as an 8 lane expressway, we were actually moving across flattened mountain tops, or so it seemed.

The small dot ahead of Harinder is a Safari
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-sonu-safari.jpg

Last edited by Insearch : 22nd September 2013 at 20:43.
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Old 22nd September 2013, 22:18   #34
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Super coverage of your travelogue. Great reading!
Every time I see various travelogues on Ladakh, I see change in light and its effect on landscapes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Insearch View Post
Just so that you know: None of the photographs have been processed in any way. No brightness or contrasts changed or colors highlighted. What you see is exactly how the camera picked up these images.
What was your camera mode if I may ask? I see lot of images with pretty flat sky and light. That's a bit surprising for August.
At the same time, this year monsoon is very differently behaving.
Quote:
Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
but that's not how Ladakh really looks...
Ladakh has no one look. It depends greatly on three things:
1. Time of the year.
2. What time and where with sunlight direction. Sky/clouds of course play a big role here.
3. Spending enough time at one place you like and wait. Perhaps something interesting may happen.

I'm sorry, it's not to start any debate on photographing Ladakh. Don't get me wrong here.
Waiting for more description from Insearch.
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Old 23rd September 2013, 10:21   #35
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Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
S
At the same time, this year monsoon is very differently behaving.
Ladakh has no one look. It depends greatly on three things:
1. Time of the year.
2. What time and where with sunlight direction. Sky/clouds of course play a big role here.
3. Spending enough time at one place you like and wait. Perhaps something interesting may happen.

I'm sorry, it's not to start any debate on photographing Ladakh. Don't get me wrong here.
Waiting for more description from Insearch.
Sure. The same place looks different in the morning and evening. And in different seasons. That's not the point. If what I see in the picture is way different from what I saw through the naked eye just before clicking (not at different times of day, etc), it's unreal :-)

Of course, camera technology is far behind compared to human eye, so some post-processing can help (to some extent) to bring the picture close to the naked eye quality, but people clearly go overboard to make it all look spectacular - that was the point. But to each his own...
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Old 23rd September 2013, 18:39   #36
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Originally Posted by Insearch View Post
Today we planned to go from Pangong Tso to Pso Morriri, Via Chushul. These days, very few tourists take this route as the army is generally avoiding issue of passes for it. Though we did have the passes for this route, the army could still refuse clearance. If this happened, we would have to ride back to Pangong Tso and take an alternate route. So an early start helped.
Nice!
We also did this route and this post brought those memories back.
Good that you got some sort of a reason from the army for the restricted access to this area. There has been a lot of speculation about it. BTW, we were allowed to go through after checking all the documents.

Cable snapping in such an isolated area must have been an experience by itself :-)
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Old 23rd September 2013, 22:08   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
Super coverage of your travelogue. Great reading!
Every time I see various travelogues on Ladakh, I see change in light and its effect on landscapes.
What was your camera mode if I may ask?....
Hi Rudra, I was using a Panasonic FZ200. I do have a DSLR, but still have not learnt to use it properly. :(

My camera mode was automatic and I hardly, if ever, tried to change the settings on it.

If you will excuse my ignorance, I am not sure what you mean by a "Flat sky". Please explain for my benefit.
Regards.


Quote:
Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
Nice!
We also did this route and this post brought those memories back.
Good that you got some sort of a reason from the army for the restricted access to this area. There has been a lot of speculation about it. BTW, we were allowed to go through after checking all the documents.

Cable snapping in such an isolated area must have been an experience by itself :-)
Yes it was quite an experience. Though I did not take any photographs of it, in the next post I am going to share my experience at the memorial for the 114 soldiers of the Kumaon regiment.
And yes the cable snap was quite an event. Our first instinct was to quickly look around and see if we could get help, but the barren landscape stared back at us, so we got ourselves busy fixing the bike. It would be a very complicated situation if the bike needed a trained mechanic in that terrain. We would probably have had to abandon it for the immediate and plan to come back for it.

Regards, again.

Last edited by Insearch : 23rd September 2013 at 22:17. Reason: Adding comments
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Old 24th September 2013, 14:22   #38
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My camera mode was automatic and I hardly, if ever, tried to change the settings on it.
Your camera has two automatic settings (Intelligent Auto and Program). I do not know which was the one you were using. That said..
Quote:
If you will excuse my ignorance, I am not sure what you mean by a "Flat sky". Please explain for my benefit.
Any metering calculation (normally) would greatly depend on how much of darkness/brightness zone occupying the frame roughly in terms of percentage. If your frame has more of dark zone (read less bright) and less of bright zone, meter will take dark zone into consideration. As a result your bright zone (sky in this case) will look washed out. Examples in this case are:
Crossing Diskit
And Harinder enjoyed the place and rested
The sunrise reaches the valley
Do you still see the barracks? I am sure you can spot the Gompa: (They are just behind it)
.

Flat sky according to me is a sky without any character, which I found very unusual in August.

As mentioned before, I donít want to get into a camera/exposure discussion in this great travelogue. However, feel free to shoot private messages if you have questions.
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Old 24th September 2013, 22:06   #39
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Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
Your camera has two automatic settings (Intelligent Auto and Program)..
Wow! when did you take a peek into my cupboard?And did you like what you saw ?
It was on Intelligent Auto.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
Flat sky according to me is a sky without any character, which I found very unusual in August.

As mentioned before, I donít want to get into a camera/exposure discussion in this great travelogue. However, feel free to shoot private messages if you have questions.
Thanks, I will take up that offer, soon.
Regards.
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Old 28th September 2013, 02:33   #40
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Apologies for the long gap in posting. Our company's financial year ends in September and I was busy with the related tasks pertaining to my function.
Before taking you to Pso Morriri, I would like to share my experience at the the memorial for the 114 soldiers of the Kumaon regiment, on the outskirts of Chushool. The 114 soldiers fought the Chinese invasion of 1962, to the last man. (Due to army orders we did not take any photographs. You will find many on the web, though.)
As I stood in silence at the memorial, closing my eyes, I could feel the strong vibrations of the place, as if there was a multitude of Bhagat Singhs in the vicinity. These men had the conviction to give their life for what they stood for. I prayed that someday, may I too have similar conviction for something in life and beyond. With my head bowed, I sought their blessings, and thanked them as a citizen.

Coming back to PSo Morriri:
We arrived at the lake as the sun peeped through the clouds, on to the mountains, and highlighted them. It was very beautiful, but not as vast and wide as the views at Pangong Tso. To those, who wish to travel to these parts, I recommend that you first come to Tso Morriri and then move on to Pangong Tso. This way, your "high" will get higher .

Faith on the barren scape
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-souls.jpg

Contrasts galore
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-pastel-water.jpg

Ducks can be seen, on the lake
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-morriri-ducks.jpg

A Duck Feather
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-duck-feather.jpg

Silent waters run deep...
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-serene.jpg

Dear Sandhir's pose for the facebook update
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-sandhir-facebook.jpg

At dusk
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-earth-lake-sky.jpg

With a nice evening meal over the standard game of cards we settled down to brood over our progress. It had begun sinking in, that in a couple of days we would arrive in Manali and this great adventure of ours would be over. Next morning we filled the bikes from the petrol cans that we were carrying and headed out towards Pang and onwards to Sarchu.

We encountered a variety of landscapes on the way, like this salt water lake. You can also see a biker standing next to his ride. (Harinder)
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-harinder-speck.jpg


A shepherd and his goats
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-jispa-shepherd.jpg

Not sure if this is a falcon or an eagle
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-eagle.jpg

Definitely a Deer
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-deer.jpg


Finally at our camp in Sarchu. But full of visitors!
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-goat-camp.jpg

This one was pregnant and sat down to relax
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-goat.jpg

Next morning we got up late as we knew that Manali was not far and that this would be our last ride through the mountains (Past Manali we would eventually hit the plains). I will not bore you with the photographs of oft seen Gata Loops, Tandi Petrol pump and the likes. So let me move on to our stay at Manali. We reached the town in the evening. Sandhir and Rajan planned to leave early morning the next day and take a flight from Chandigarh to Mumbai. Myself and Harinder planned to get up late and spend the day in the town itself.
So next morning, we bid farewell to our friends and had brunch in our room.

View from our hotel balcony
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-waterfall.jpg

Our hotel was outside the main town of Manali, and we wanted to ride in to old Manali and spend the afternoon and evening there only. I am glad we did this, because it is very different from the rest of the city. It is full of foreign tourists, mostly Israelis. I learnt from a coffee shop that every person in Israel has to serve in the Army. After that, they come to India and enjoy the money that they had made in the service, before going back and starting their lives anew. The atmosphere was straight out of the early eighties, and felt like hippy land. Keeping in mind the restrictions of the forum, Cannot say more.

Over the past few days our eyes had had a lot to absorb. We were generally feeling detached from the world that we had come from, in the cities. So, we chilled and enjoyed the care-free and easy rolling nature of Old Manali. It was stimulating in a unique way and we spent time at a coffee shop catching up with Israelis, discussing their country's politics and India's History. An Indian Baba, also joined the discussion later. Quite an interesting fellow, wearing the robe of a sadhu, puffing on chillums and blessing us with BMWs.

Spot the leaf. This is very popular in Old Manali
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-famous-leaf.jpg

Actually this photograph is from a Restaurant where I and Harinder had Dinner. Run by an Israeli lady it had fantastic ambience. Every table had crayons and white sheets. You could paint what you liked and leave it on the table. If the hostess liked what she saw, she was free to put it up on the walls of the restaurant. So Harinder also decided to add some Sikh flavor to the potpourri.

Ek Onkar
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-sketch-only.jpg

I enjoyed the ambience and the food, while he drew
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-food-arrives.jpg

Finished work
A Biker's Anthem: Ladakh-completed-painting.jpg


It was a very relaxing night and we felt rejuvenated. There were no plans for the next morning except heading down towards the plains, towns, cities, jams and jobs. But we felt fresh like fresh young men, who are full of boisterous positivity and ready to take on the world...

There will be one more post on this thread to close and tie the loose ends.

Regards

Last edited by Insearch : 28th September 2013 at 02:49. Reason: Spelling and language
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Old 22nd November 2013, 10:57   #41
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Absolutely brillliant . What a splendid narration . Congratulations on making such a beautiful yet challenging trip , only that you leave the rest of us jealous of your Himalayan endevours .
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Old 22nd November 2013, 15:07   #42
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Amazing TL Insearch! Well done.
I'm glad that you had a great trip and TBTS500 behaved very well too.
I was planning for a trip this August which couldn't work out due to my overseas travel. I'm definitely keen to make it there next August for which your TL would be our guide.
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Old 14th January 2014, 14:17   #43
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Hello Insearch,

I am new to the forum and have been slurping your travelogue for sometime now. Inspiring pictures and write up indeed.

I am designing the itinerary for my road trip on TB350 to the valleys and would really like your opinions/experiences. You will have to bear with all the queries though as this is the first time I am unleashing all my questions on this forum:

1) First & Foremost, is TB350 suitable for these terrains? Or you need a 500cc RE motor to conquer them?
2) I have designed my itinerary based on your route with the only exception of adding Zanskar Valley before Leh. So the route goes like Srinagar - Kargil - Zanskar Valley - Leh - Nubra Valley - Pangong Tso - Tso Moriri - Manali. Now my question is the route from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri via Chushul requires permits and you mentioned you had to get them to talk to somebody in Delhi to get it done. Is it always like this? Will it be possible to use this route on normal permits for Mahe, Nyoma, Tsaga, Rezang La, Chushul, Merak and Man? If not than what is the other feasible route to Tso Moriri that can be covered in 1 day?
3) How easy or difficult it is to get permits for these circuits? What is the amount of time and money spent on this activity once in Leh?
4) Could you explain your route from Tso Moriri to Manali? I read you headed towards Sarchu, is that the only route? Can you cover Moriri to Manali in one day? If not than what is the ideal location to halt for the day between Moriri and Manali?

These for now. Would really appreciate your help here

Regards,
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Old 19th January 2014, 17:18   #44
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Hello Insearch,

I am new to the forum and have been slurping your travelogue for sometime now. Inspiring pictures and write up indeed.

I am designing the itinerary for my road trip on TB350 to the valleys and would really like your opinions/experiences. You will have to bear with all the queries though as this is the first time I am unleashing all my questions on this forum:...

...
Regards,

Dear Ismail, sorry for the late reply. I was off on another Himalayan trip and returned yesterday evening. Now for your queries:

1. The 350cc versus 500cc debate: I saw many 350s doing the circuit quite comfortably. The only two places where the 350 may be really tested is Zojila and Khardungla. As long as you do not plan to have a pillion rider, it should be ok. Please do not expect the bike to roar to the top.

Regarding the route query: It is not enough to have a pass for Chushul and Tso Morriri. You need a permit for the direct route that goes from Chushool to Tso morriri. The army may argue that you have a pass for Chushul but not for the onward journey to Tso Morriri (Passing through Loma and Nyoma) and ask you to turn back and retrace your path back to another route. They did try to turn us back.
So what you need is not just the permit, but also the number for your contact in the army, so that you can reach him and request that he speak to the commanding officer who in turn, would ask the check post incharge, to allow you to pass. Please remember, no mobiles work in Chushul, you will need to have the army exchange number for your contact.

The other route from Pangong Tso is via Nama, Mahe, Sumdo, if I remember correctly.

Route and travel time from Tso Morriri to Manali:
From Morriri, you will exit towards More plains and arrive in Sarchu. The distance is less than 200 kilometres. It is another 235 Kms to Manali and I am inclined to recommend a night halt. Other than Sarchu, consider Jispa.

May I also recommend that you stay in old Manali... you will get a whiff of the '80s.

Please let me know if you need any further clarifications and once again apologies for the late reply.

Regards.
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Old 19th January 2014, 18:01   #45
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Another Himalayan trip?? Sir you either are one avid traveler or the valleys have some connection with you!! Hats off to the spirit...any pictures coming through of this recent quest?

BTW, Thank you for your responses Insearch, having no contacts in Army I guess will make me plan for the other route via sumdo :-( Are you aware of the difference between the 2 routes in terms of Landscapes, time required to cover this route and distance? Time & Distance is fine but I'll regret missing out on the landscapes.

Will definitely check out Old Manali - as it is, its not often that I think I'll get to travel to the region so might as well make the most of it!

Thanks for your help & awaiting more such expeditions! Regards.
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