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Old 21st September 2013, 04:40   #46
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Originally Posted by NannuBhai View Post
motomaverick,

Amazing. Saw the link to this write-up on Team-BHP's FB page. Followed it down here. And have been glued to it. Sadly, I had to break up the reading, as I had to go & get ready for work. But, soon as I reached office, I followed up the story on my Android app.

A few things - the drive itself has been done very beautifully....to have taken a couple of vehicles with comparatively low ground clearances and to have driven all the way, with just one hit to the under body, that is very nice driving indeed.

Very nicely written. Waiting for the remaining part of the story!! Do try and put in all the details....you've definitely captured a number of readers....!!!
Many thanks for those kind words. That one underbody hit was in reference to the Duster. The Sedans did get quite a few underbody hits especially my Manza had countless. None of them were dangerous though so it was fine. The metal engine guard took most of the beating.
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Old 21st September 2013, 09:28   #47
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

You know something? Your this thread appeared on the first page when I clicked on the New Posts button.

Clicked, but didn't go through it as wanted to read other threads & save this for last...was disheartened to not see an update since yesterday.

I wanted to comment at the end of the travelogue, but you forced me to comment Now, please let the travelogue flow without much interruption.

And NannuBhai isn't exaggerating, your travelogue has created that effect.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful log with good pictures & very captivating narration, please continue It is a ***** (5 star for the uninitiated) material already.
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Old 21st September 2013, 10:50   #48
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Originally Posted by Sheel View Post
You know something? Your this thread appeared on the first page when I clicked on the New Posts button.

Clicked, but didn't go through it as wanted to read other threads & save this for last...was disheartened to not see an update since yesterday.

I wanted to comment at the end of the travelogue, but you forced me to comment Now, please let the travelogue flow without much interruption.

And NannuBhai isn't exaggerating, your travelogue has created that effect.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful log with good pictures & very captivating narration, please continue It is a ***** (5 star for the uninitiated) material already.
Don't worry aim is to update upto Leh today. Just a little tied down with household work since its a weekend. Thanks for following up. :-)
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Old 21st September 2013, 16:55   #49
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

I am a long time lurker here, Just decided to tell you how much I am enjoying this thread. Waiting eagerly for updates.
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Old 21st September 2013, 18:32   #50
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

Well, what can I say, been leached onto this thread since yesterday, waiting keenly for updates, and I have a question, during the slush fest, how did the manza really perform? No underbelly scrapes? No close calls?
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Old 21st September 2013, 22:17   #51
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

Waiting for the updates..
Fantastic write up. Makes the reader live your adventures.
A question for the grande guys..How did the brute perform on steep inclines? I drove a sumo grande in meghalaya hills last winter and found it sluggish on some of the inclines.
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Old 22nd September 2013, 00:18   #52
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

The Grande was a breeze to drive everywhere.She performed flawlessly through all that was thrown at her,power was amazing so was the torque nowhere did i feel the lack of grunt ,at places where you could smell the Duster's clutch burning the Sumo just surged ahead like a locomotive.
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Old 22nd September 2013, 09:16   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heatednemz View Post
I am a long time lurker here, Just decided to tell you how much I am enjoying this thread. Waiting eagerly for updates.
Thanks so see that you enjoyed the logs. More coming soon..

Quote:
Originally Posted by createrkid View Post
Well, what can I say, been leached onto this thread since yesterday, waiting keenly for updates, and I have a question, during the slush fest, how did the manza really perform? No underbelly scrapes? No close calls?
Slush was not a problem for the Manza, because of more torque it was able to pull out easily, but if there are stones in the slush then under belly scrape is inevitable. My funda was simple, if a under body hit has to happen then make it happen at a place where it will not pose a serious damage. In fact after the slush-fest the engine guard was bent and it was straightened out in Srinagar.
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Old 22nd September 2013, 09:52   #54
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Thanks for a candid and detailed description, not just of how the vehicles fared but also how the people fared.

It's interesting to observe how people behave under various situations and that gives a rare insight into this particular trip.
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Old 22nd September 2013, 20:42   #55
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Default Day 6 - 28th Aug

DAY 6 – Group Drive
August 28th 8:30am
Location: Patnitop
Destination: Sonmarg
Route: Patnitop – Anantpur – Srinagar - Sonmarg


Morning folks, it was first morning which was cold, misty and we had to wear jackets. In fact it was a lovely morning to wake up and drive. I was all ready within 20mins of waking up. We were supposed to drive off by 7.30AM but then there is always a star mark at the end of these timings. Which is Indian Standard Time. Nonetheless just to get the outside ambience I was ready by 6.45AM itself.

The JKTDC Alpine Guest House
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Came out of my room and was walking up towards the ground floor. Well to someone wondering how can I walk up to the ground floor? Am I not supposed to walk down? Well the guest house was clinging to the mountain side and hence, all the guest rooms were -1 or -2. Ok, so I was walking out when I saw the room where Sathya was staying with Venkat open and Rajesh sitting inside. Curiously I went inside and saw that there was a early morning counseling happening with Rajesh, Sathya, and Nariman. Though I was not purview to the entire conversation as I reach after it was almost over but I got the gist of why it was happening. For this I will explain in the para below as we will need to go into flash back to the previous day.

Well this para is not intended to show case any limitation of anyone but when in the land of lamas if you don’t know or not very confident of driving up there, it is always good to owe it up especially when there are two other lives at stake. Apparently what happened was there were a few close shaves with the Duster last evening when traveling to patnitop and those saves it seems were pretty close. One of them I had mentioned in my previous post but for the rest I think Narsi would be able to better elaborate.

So ultimately, the two folks Narsi & Mohan totally lost confidence on their partners driving in the hills and the counseling was all about relenting the steering to someone else until Sathya feels confident of handling the car. So it was decided that he would travel with Doc in his Sumo while Chandrakant would ride shotgun with Narsi in the driving seat of the Duster for today. I know it is a mental blow if something like that happens to us but on a long journey we need to use each other’s strength. Yes, it is easier said than done but that morning we did sort it out to certain extent. Or that was what we envisioned.

Sumo ready to rumble for the day
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Duster looking rested
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SX4 all smiles for the mountain road
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Suzuki might want this photograph
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The early morning re-counseling session outside again
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A group picture before we enter the Kashmir valley today
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Some artistic touch by Venkat
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Finally, after the counseling and round of chai’s we finally set sail at around 8.30AM. It was the perfect start in one of the best settings you can ever get. The formation was Sumo leading, SX4, Manza, and rounded up by Duster.

Our resident superman having a cuppa before the light off!!
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The outside temperature was around 16-17deg with complete mist & fog surrounding the mountains. There was so much mist, that we had to switch on the lights as well as tail fog lights.

B&W perspective to the misty morning
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Glass cleaning completed
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Sumo also getting a clean windshield by Mr.Cool
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He is having the coolest naps
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The misty departure
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Overtaking was carefully done since you could not see much, adding to the mix were a few trucks driving without lights so they would suddenly zoom into our sight from the mist. With a sedate pace, we finally climbed down Patnitop and after crossing some line of parked trucks, we stopped for breakfast at a Vaishno Dhaba at around 9.30AM. With just a chai it was a welcome break to fill our hungry tummies and everyone hogged on 2 big sized Aloo Paranthas with rajma and dal fry. Everything flushed down with a round of chai.

A video of the misty start


See no headlights while the SX4 has everything lighted up
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Mist became thicker and hence the rear fogs came about
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Straight out of Ramsay Brothers
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The Manza in the mist(pic from Manoj)
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The drive till the breakfast point of around 25kms, Manza giving the max mileage of 25kpl
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Once the mist cleared the pace increased
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River Chenab rushing down below in the valley
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We would have probably spent around 45mins at that place after which we progressed a little faster as the mist was clear. But after an hour’s drive we had to stop again as we reached the scene of a landslide. Not exactly sure which place was this but it was exactly 2 hours after Patnitop. Somewhere between Ramban & Karmeel. The traffic pileup was not too big so indication was that the slide was early morning. However, we had the BRO cleaning the rubble quickly and thankfully allowing the upstream traffic first. Since we had skipped some line of trucks and joined in the middle we were able to quickly clear the bad patch. After this incident it was a clear run towards Srinagar.

Our breakfast stop at the Vaishno Dhaba
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That’s what we call a neta salute
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View from the breakfast table
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Waiting for the Paranthas to arrive
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Here we go, wild hogs
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No looking back or anyone else
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The blockage just getting cleared
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That’s the fellow who cleared it all, doesn’t he look like a transformer
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Some dilapidated bridge being crossed by us, hopefully it was only a rock that went down there
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reached 30 picture limit. Continuing on the next post

Last edited by motomaverick : 22nd September 2013 at 20:44.
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Old 22nd September 2013, 20:57   #56
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Default Day 6 - 28th Aug

Continued..

Banihal was crossed in a breeze where Manza, SX4 had stopped for some chai. Post Banihal it was a climb up to one of the most famous and most guarded tunnel in India, the Jawahar Tunnel.

Quote:
Jawahar Tunnel or Banihal Tunnel, named after the first Prime Minister of India, was constructed for round-the-year surface transport by Alfred Kunz and C. Barsel (both were German) between 1954 and 1960. The Jawahar tunnel has been operational since 22 December 1956. The length of tunnel is 2.85 km (1.77 mi), its elevation is 2,194 m (7,198 ft) and it has one lane road in either direction. It is situated between Banihāl and Qazigund on NH 1A that has been renumbered NH 44. The tunnel facilitates round-the-year road connectivity from Srinagar to Jammu.

Later the tunnel was renovated by the Border Roads Organization under the project BEACON in 1960. It was designed for 150 vehicles per day in each direction but the number of vehicles is now 7,000 in both directions. After renovations, the tunnel now has a two-way ventilation system, pollution & temperature sensors, lighting system and with emergency phones for any assistance from Border Roads Organization.

It is guarded by military round the clock, photography or videography inside or nearby the tunnel is strictly prohibited. Once the vehicle enters the tunnel, it has to maintain the same speed throughout the tunnel. CCTVs are installed in the tunnel for continuous monitoring.
A sneak peak at the Tunnel entrance
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Video of the inside drive in the tunnel


Inside the tunnel even GPS stops working and My Tracks of Google shows a gap in the way without a connecting line before and after tunnel. Though I do not seem to understand what is the use of blocking GPS as knowing the starting point of the tunnel on either side is quite easy. As soon as you cross the tunnel, we ended up at the hands of Kashmir cops who was routine checking done. The checking went smoothly after some chai paani gandhiji’s exchanged hands.

The checking over and we were ready to roll
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Once that was cleared we reached the “First View of Kashmir” point or also called as Titanic Point. The sumo did not stop here buit the rest of the 3 cars stopped to get ourselves clicked. After all not always you will get such a photo op.

The signboard that you cannot miss
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This is the view that greets you
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Manza and Duster at the Titanic Point
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A group photo, only missing are 4 occupants from Sumo
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Who says only trucks can have those lip smacking writings
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With the photo Op completed we proceeded towards Srinagar at around 1PM. The pace was good as we were now just 80 kms from Srinagar.

Aha! The first sign board showing distance to Leh
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While driving the Manza today morning I had already made plans of stopping at Srinagar TASS to straighten the engine guard which was bent due to last night’s adventure on the Samba route. It was touching the engine and vibrating a lot during acceleration. The same was conveyed to Doc who apparently also wanted to go to TASS for some fan noise issue that cropped up again after the Samba drive. So near Qazigund through Google search Hari was able to speak to Fair Deal Motors in Srinagar to let them know of these cars coming in.

Roads from Anantpur onwards are super cool with straight sections smooth as a tarmac but with a sudden narrowing of the road at certain sections. You will know you are nearing Srinagar once you see yourself driving amidst pine trees. Sorry no photographs with me on this section, if someone from our group has please post it.

We reached Srinagar at around 3.30PM and since two of the cars wanted to visit TASS, it was decided that the Duster & SX4 move towards Dal Lake for sight seeing while an empty Sumo & Manza will move towards Parimpore Chowk for Fair Deal Motors TASS. Now as soon as we entered Srinagar, my data connection stopped working and hence, we were without a GPS. Asking folks on the way, it became quite confusing but we were also constantly in touch with a SA from Fair Deals. After some 30 odd mins through Srinagar traffic, we finally reached the TASS.

Now let me dedicate this paragraph towards the attitude and service shown by Fair Deal Motors, Srinagar.

Quote:
I would like to quote and Rajesh will agree with me that the kind of attitude and customer service shown by Fair Deal Motors, Srinagar, an authorized Tata Service Center, was exemplary. In fact, I had the engine guard straightening plus wheel alignment to be done, while Rajesh had that fan problem. Despite coming towards the end of the day, both the cars were out in 40mins flat without any hassle. Plus, the way the SA was able to identify the root cause of the fan issue in the Sumo was lightning fast. No product pushing, no delays, no golmaal. I was simply amazed. In fact we made a new friend name Yousuf who was probably the head service technician there, he was kind enough to help us locate our fellow group mates when they were lost.
Here is a map of the TASS if any Tata folks traveling in Kashmir or towards Leh want to utilize.
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While we were winding our vehicle checks, the other half of the team were having a gala time at Dal Lake. Though it was overcast, the beauty of Dal Lake does not fade.

The first view of the lake(pic courtesy Mohan/Narsi)
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A B&W perspective of the lake and its quintessential Shikara(pic courtesy Mohan/Narsi)
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Chaddi Dosts
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Man trying to go over board (pic courtesy Mohan/Narsi)
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An ice cream vendor on a Shikara (pic courtesy Mohan/Narsi)
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The above ice cream vendor picture has a funny little story which I learnt later. Apparently Manoj had some interesting conversation with him not sure about the complete thing. But the ice cream seller requested not to post his pic on internet as his GF knows him as a jeweler . He also wanted a cigarette and Manoj after giving one got an ice cream for free in the bargain.

With the Dal Lake party over, and after some haggling with the route to come to Parimpora, where Rajesh, Venkat and I were waiting for them, we finally got together to proceed towards Sonmarg. The reason for us not going towards Dal Lake even though out work got over early, was the fact that there was an easier way out of the city from where we were standing through Bandipora, Sumbal road that later on meets with the NH 1A.

However, as soon as we got together, all was not rosy. If you remember the earlier morning counselling session, well its effect was wearing off and plus it was not fair for Rajesh to keep Sathya in his car and acting as a counselor. So once Sathya got the wheels of the Duster for Dal Lake he was not about to let go. Now what ensued was a serious issue wherein we had two travelers Narsi & Mohan not willing to travel in the Duster if it was driven by Sathya and were ready to catch a flight back home from Srinagar. A lot of us tried to pacify and tried to arrive at a solution but the issue was spinning out of control. It was sad that due to personal issues there were folks ready to move back. But then the group was also delayed to move towards Sonmarg as it was already starting to get dark. In fact we spent some 1 hour trying to resolve the situation but to no avail. Finally, Narsi & Mohan came to say their byes, it was a sad moment for me as I hate for any traveler to go back like that but there was nothing we could do as only 3 of them could solve their own situation.

So the 3 cars Sumo, SX4, and the Manza slowly left the place leaving the Duster and its 3 occupants to decide. If Narsi and Mohan decided to fly back, then it was left to Sathya if he wanted to travel alone to Leh or turn back as well. However, there was a surprise in store of us after few kms of leaving that place.

Venkat’s phone started to ring after some 20kms inside the Bandipora road, it was Mohan, and apparently he was asking Venkat for directions of how to proceed to the Bypass as Duster was again restarting their journey with 3 on board. Well, the 3 of them trashed it out among themselves and finally after most of the things was clear they were back on the road with none having to fly back.

With that good news, we joined the NH 1A near Wayul Barsoo road and proceeded towards Sonmarg. The convoy had a uneventful and steady drive up the mountains in the dark towards Sonmarg. We reached there at around 10PM, took the first hotel we saw “Hotel Snowland”. Being off season it was not much of hassle to get proper rates. Rooms were nice and cozy with electric blankets. Dinner was at the hotel restaurant, consisting of Wazwan Chicken, dal fry, mutton and naan’s. It was a nice finish to a grueling day for men but it was a day where we stuck together for most parts and hopefully solved our ego issues for good.


Distance covered: 261 kms
Time Taken: 13.5 hours
Map:

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Next day was scheduled to start at 8.00am. It was a big day for us as we would be crossing our first and the most dangerous mountain pass “Zojila”. Did we have it easy? Did we reach Kargil our scheduled halt? Find out.
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Old 22nd September 2013, 21:39   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
Continued..
A sneak peak at the Tunnel entrance

Video of the inside drive in the tunnel
Great Story, glued to it.

However , isnt it banned to take photo around and inside Jawahar Tunnel, lets not post these in public forums as a respect to those guarding it. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 22nd September 2013, 22:11   #58
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Great Story, glued to it.

However , isnt it banned to take photo around and inside Jawahar Tunnel, lets not post these in public forums as a respect to those guarding it. Just my 2 cents.
I am not sure about the ban since wikipedia has pictures of the tunnel and there are quite a few videos in YouTube. But if mods feel the pics need to be removed then I don't have any issues. I have already reported the post.
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Old 22nd September 2013, 23:29   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
I am not sure about the ban since wikipedia has pictures of the tunnel and there are quite a few videos in YouTube. But if mods feel the pics need to be removed then I don't have any issues. I have already reported the post.
Forget everything, just continue with your story. I gave it a five star rating while on the first page itself. The way you write you should travel more frequently.
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Old 23rd September 2013, 12:04   #60
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

Want to hear the rest.. :((((((
Its like a freaking Bollywood emotional drama movie. I so regret not being a part of this group. Would have been super fun.
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