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Old 24th September 2013, 11:40   #76
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Default Day 7 - 29th Aug

Quote:
Originally Posted by HillMan View Post
Guys it will be good if you can elaborate a bit on the various permit/licenses that are needed and government procedures for the trip as well. The Do's and Dont's.

For starters, I see a yellow strip on the left headlight of the vehicles. Got curious, did some research and found its a mandatory requirement in Gujarat. These little things go a long way to help people planning a trip.

Sathya_sc has posted his experience which brought these kind of questions to my mind. I feel should be shared in the forum from their own experiences for benefit of others.
Yes, we will share all these at the end of the travelogue, so that the flow is not disturbed. All the money spent, how much per person, rules, regulation, do's & don'ts plus what to be aware off.


Continuing from the previous post

After coming out of Zojila successfully it was an easy downhill run towards the next check post. After the check post, we stopped for some chai at Hotel Snow Hill Tea Stall, this is the first chai stop you will find after getting down from Zojila. The roads also improved till this point with some freshly laid tarmac.

Good roads give a respite after crossing Zoji’la
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We stopped for loo and forced SX4 to stop as well, it is contagious
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Overcast sky prevented us from viewing the blue sky
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Lovely roads and green mountains for a change in Ladakh
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Is that heaven or earth, amazing views
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The road again deteriorates after that brief break in fact some sections were so rattling that we had to reduce our speeds to under 50kph. However, after our adventures at Zojila we were not so much deterred with these bad roads and pushed on till our next loo break, which incidentally was pretty soon near to a place called Pandras. The break point was pretty good as it was bang opposite the River Drass (I am guessing).

Our chai stop
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Venkat showing off and stamping that I was here, background is a farm
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Not sure what it was growing but this machine was separating the husk from the plant
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Start of the bad roads near Pandras
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River Dras flowing along with the highway
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Stopped for loo once again, we were literally driving some 30 kms and then stopping for pee, all this was a result of increase in intake of water to combat AMS issues
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This photo of our blackboard says it all, we did not in fact rub off the previous writings but it was the drive.
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From Pandras the roads improve considerably up to Dras. Dras is a small town on this highway with a JKTDC guest house. Incidentally or rather due to Govt Legends, Dras is the 2nd coldest inhabited place on earth. Well I found it hard to believe considering how hot it was during that time. From Dras, the next stop that you get is the Kargil War Memorial in the memory of the heroes of the Indo – Pak Kargil war of 1999.

Army march just before Dras
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Finally some blue in the sky
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A make shift bridge just before entering Dras town, beware of the diversion as it is not that well marked and right after good roads there is a hump
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A customary pic with the supposedly coldest place
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Anyone short of cash can use the J&K Bank ATM here
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Taking a picture in front of his handy work which was further modified, please do not read the writings aloud
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We stopped at the memorial for more than hour, it was a very humbling experience to witness those hills where the enemy had encroached first hand and in a way scary as they could access the NH 1D very easily from those mountains. Let me showcase the Kargil War Memorial experience in pictures here below.

From Dras towards Kargil War Memorial
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As you approach the memorial you see this mountain range named Tololing
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The War Memorial Gate
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They have used the Indian flag to good effect, this is the main walkway
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No payment or fees, just a register to sign
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That’s a Pakistani sentry outpost captured once they fled their position
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These are not actual graves, but memorial stones from different war heroes in different era
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That is India’s largest flag. It is 37.5 feet x 25 feet and weighs some 15kgs when folded.
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Fire lighted in the memory of those who laid their lives
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Probably the highest concentration of India flags
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That is the bunker
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And that’s the Tiger Hill, the highest peak that our soldiers scaled to conquer
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Last edited by motomaverick : 24th September 2013 at 11:56.
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Old 24th September 2013, 12:18   #77
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Default Day 7 - 29th Aug

Visit to the meusum
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Some pictures of the war
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The food that was parceled to be eaten by the soldiers
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Kalash
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Blown out mortar fragments
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Finally we posted that LEC team was here
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We winded up the memorial visit by 3.30PM, also had something to eat in the canteen that they have on the premises. Post the memorial is was a uneventful drive towards Kargil along the River . The views and roads were really good barring some sections where it is prone to landslides. Otherwise the entire section is tarred and wonderful to drive. Entered Kargil town by 4.15PM and drove straight through without registering in the Police cehckpost. Incidentally the Duster which was the last car stopped and registered wherein the upon asking the Police fellow said your 3 other cars that went ahead did not register. But no harm done since these registrations are for security purposes only.

These roads that high up in natures lap are a bliss to drive
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Curves that are banked properly
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Piercing through the brown mountains
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Mountains playing hide and seek with us
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You can almost touch the clouds is what you feel
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Tanked up the cars at Kargil and then we decided to push on towards Leh today. The decision was made as it was just 4.30PM and we would have sunlight till around 7 to 7.30PM by when we should be able to cross the next two passes and reach Leh.

Kargil town down below from the NH 1D highway
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Some cyclists near Kargil, hats off to their stamina
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Now here something interesting happened, well it might interesting to you folks but it was pissing me off. The Manza was the last vehicle to tank up and we also wanted to use the toilets. Once we finished all that, we did not see any of the cars, they had left some 10-15 mins. I didn’t mind at that time as I thought I would be able to catch up with them soon. But the road from Kargil to few kms before Mulbek is not the best as there are slush crossings and due to road expansion the unmade sections are pretty bad for a sedan. Here Venkat, Hari & I started discussiong on the whereabouts of the other 3 cars and how can they go so far ahead with just 15mins lead. Due to the roads we were getting slowed down a lot, coupled with the fact that the area we were passing is not one of the best sections for a lonely out of state car. I was thinking where the heck convoy driving went, after if we are late then everyone will have to wait for us to reach Leh, in the process they will also become late, so why not stop and let us reach the group.

Soon we reached Mulbek and crossed it but still no signs of the group, with the roads improving drastically, I started pushing the car as much as I could on those windings roads. After crossing Mulbek the next target was Namik’La which was some 15 kms, but with the road condition really good the Manza was hugging the corners, and maintaining good speed. I am not sure how confortable Venkat & Hari were at that time but they did not prompt me and neither did they say anything after that. It was not a rash driving but good amount of speed through corners. With the roads empty, no oncoming traffic I was able to hit the apex and speed off.

A different shade of brown nearing Namik’la
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If the electrical poles & that car was not in the frame, this picture could have passed off as Mars
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Speeding ahead
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Soon in the distance we saw a black car that looked like the Duster, within few seconds we passed them just as when they were about to join back on the road. We did not wait for them nor was our intention of doing so, within two turns the Duster disappeared from the OVRM. Next within a few more meters we saw the SX4, now being driven by Manoj, thankfully we did not have to wait long behind them as he galdy gave us way. I am sure he was thinking this guy means business and let them through. They also vanished from the OVRM in 2-3 turns. After a few mins and couple of more switchbacks, we reached the top of Namik’La where we saw the Sumo gang resting. Did not say anything to any of them but we stopped and took some pictures. Somehow the cool atmosphere calmed me down. After calming down I check My Tracks on the phone and it was all smiles to see that at most of the sections our speed was more than the height we were gaining. Namik’La is absolutely awesome to drive on. With a great handling car it will be even more fun.

Those are the roads that we just drove, on the other mountain now and climbing
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Sun covered by dark clouds
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Avatar anyone?
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Nature at its best playing with its toys
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Finally in Namik’la, our 2nd pass, and elated Jaswant
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We recorded more height than that board suggests
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The dress code does not go well with the ambience
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After Namik’La the next pass was Fotu’La. Before proceeding towards Fotu’La we stood at Namik’La for the customary photo session at the pass, while we were at it, Duster & Sumo slipped away. They slipped away so quickly to so much distance that we never saw them until Khaltse. Ok, let me not jump the gun here, so there we were at 12564ft about sea level Manza & SX4, two desi sedans starting their journey together. Now there were two cars that were pissed. It was funny and ironic that we were pissing and getting pissed at the same time. Nonetheless, both the cars drove together, up Fotu’La and down this last pass. Had tea after Lamarayu, and genrally had a good time driving together with the Manza leading & SX4 following. Finally, near the Khaltse market we saw the Sumo & the Duster parked on the side.

Narsi at Fotu’La
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Now let me narrate a little plan that actually did not materialize and only the SX4 folks know. Seeing the Sumo & Duster, my plan was to not stop at all, in fact while Neeraj was waving us to stop, Venkat & Hari telling that they are here, I just drove past them, with the intention of ditching them. I was hoping the SX4 realizes this intent and does the same but then I did not see it coming and after around a km I turned around the car and came to the group. There I got to know from Jaswant that Neeraj literally stood in the middle of road and hence, he had to stop otherwise he was also planning to drive on. Now thinking about it, brings a smile to our face seeing the surprised look on others when the Manza just went past. I am sure no one realized that the intent was to dump them.

Anyhow, we regrouped and then the final few kilometers to Leh we completed as a group. The Sumo leading, followed by Me with the SX4 bringing up the rear. We crossed the straight sections of Nimmo in the dark so missed all opportunities to take some good photographs with the cars. Having missed so many photo ops it was just a boring drive towards Leh. But how can it be boring when you are in this group. Well just after Nimmo (if my memory serves me correctly) there was a barrage of headlight flashing from behind, seeing it I stopped. The headlight flashing was from the Duster, apparently, there were two new symbols glowing in the dashboard, indicating some fault with the car. They already had the manuals out, so checking the manual, we deduced that the symbol was for injectors. Probably some bad diesel. So after switching off the car and back on again, the telltale lights did not come back again and we proceeded.

Finally after 20-25 kms of driving, we reached Leh. We entered Leh, and parked near the IOC petrol bunk. After parking and switching off the car, we realized that we had FINALLY MADE IT TO LEH.

Rajesh who was ahead of me, came out and gave a high five. In that moment all the issues were forgotten and we were celebrating as a team on the achievement.

So after driving 3500kms from Bangalore, 3950kms from Chennai, and 2600kms from Mumbai, we had finally arrived at the Mecca for traveloholics like us.

Here is the Elevation Profile from Good Tracks for today
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After waiting for some 10mins for a known person to guide us to a hotel, we had maggi after a futile attempt to look for eateries and went to satisfying sleep. We were lodged in Hotel Omasila on Changspa Road. Tonight we could sleep for a longer time as it was a complete rest day tomorrow.

Distance covered: 337 kms
Time Taken: 13 hours
Map:

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Tomorrow we take rest, roam around in Leh city.

Last edited by motomaverick : 24th September 2013 at 12:32.
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Old 24th September 2013, 12:46   #78
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Default Re: Day 7 - 29th Aug

Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
We stopped at the memorial for more than hour, it was a very humbling experience to witness those hills where the enemy had encroached first hand and in a way scary as they could access the NH 1D very easily from those mountains. Let me showcase the Kargil War Memorial experience in pictures here below.
This is one place in the whole trip which I will cherish visiting. The feeling when you enter the memorial and look at the towering peaks captured by Indian Army cannot be described in words. Just imagine the enemies at the peaks and firing at you, you need to fire back, climb up and capture the post. They fought for the country where even breathing is a luxury. SALUTES!!

I regret missing the briefing given by the Jawan.

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Some cyclists near Kargil, hats off to their stamina
Attachment 1142713
These guys were from some European country. Sorry I could not remember the name of the country. A conversation with them. It has to be noted that there were two policemen trying to start their bike just ahead.

Sathya: Hey guys where are you from?
Cyclist 1: xxx country.
Sathya: All the best!
Cyclist 1: Thanks!
Sathya: Need any help?
Cyclist 1: Nope, thanks. They are the ones who need help! (pointing at the policemen)



Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
Now let me narrate a little plan that actually did not materialize and only the SX4 folks know. Seeing the Sumo & Duster, my plan was to not stop at all, in fact while Neeraj was waving us to stop, Venkat & Hari telling that they are here, I just drove past them, with the intention of ditching them. ......
..
... Now thinking about it, brings a smile to our face seeing the surprised look on others when the Manza just went past. I am sure no one realized that the intent was to dump them.
Ha ha ha. Jaswant & Manoj revealed the intention when they got out from SX4 . If I remember correctly, Mohanan was blocking the road to stop you guys and I pulled him away when Manza came speeding. He was not in the line of fire anyways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
But how can it be boring when you are in this group. Well just after Nimmo (if my memory serves me correctly) there was a barrage of headlight flashing from behind, seeing it I stopped. The headlight flashing was from the Duster, apparently, there were two new symbols glowing in the dashboard, indicating some fault with the car. They already had the manuals out, so checking the manual, we deduced that the symbol was for injectors. Probably some bad diesel. So after switching off the car and back on again, the telltale lights did not come back again and we proceeded.
I was at the wheels after Fotula and when we were crossing these sections both the inmates of the Duster were asleep. Mohanan got up when I slowed the vehicle. We were driving with the symbol on for few kms. Once the light came on, I slowed considerably and lost visual of other cars. As soon as I saw SX4 and Manza I started flashing. I did not wanted to stop and check alone at that time of the night and hence continued till I met you guys.

It was pitch dark and I was not aware of what was on both the sides of the roads. Didn't know where the valley was and where the mountain was. All I could see was the tail light of SX4. This was another thrilling drive for me. I think we saw a wolf cross the roads?

Last edited by narsi_6989 : 24th September 2013 at 12:58.
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Old 24th September 2013, 13:00   #79
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Default Re: Day 7 - 29th Aug

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It was pitch dark and I was not aware of what was on both the sides of the roads. Didn't know where the valley was and where the mountain was. All I could see was the tail light of SX4. This was another thrilling drive for me. I think we saw a wolf cross the roads?
Oh yes, it was a fox actually, the Himalayan Fox. It was somewhere after Fotu'la or maybe Lamarayu. Since we were speeding could not get a picture.

Taken here from the Internet how the Himalayan fox looks like. Photo from Tripadvisor
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Old 24th September 2013, 16:51   #80
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Default Re: Day 7 - 29th Aug

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Now here something interesting happened, well it might interesting to you folks but it was pissing me off. The Manza was the last vehicle to tank up and we also wanted to use the toilets. Once we finished all that, we did not see any of the cars, they had left some 10-15 mins. I didn’t mind at that time as I thought I would be able to catch up with them soon. But the road from Kargil to few kms before Mulbek is not the best as there are slush crossings and due to road expansion the unmade sections are pretty bad for a sedan. Here Venkat, Hari & I started discussiong on the whereabouts of the other 3 cars and how can they go so far ahead with just 15mins lead. Due to the roads we were getting slowed down a lot, coupled with the fact that the area we were passing is not one of the best sections for a lonely out of state car. I was thinking where the heck convoy driving went, after if we are late then everyone will have to wait for us to reach Leh, in the process they will also become late, so why not stop and let us reach the group.

Soon we reached Mulbek and crossed it but still no signs of the group, with the roads improving drastically, I started pushing the car as much as I could on those windings roads. After crossing Mulbek the next target was Namik’La which was some 15 kms, but with the road condition really good the Manza was hugging the corners, and maintaining good speed. I am not sure how confortable Venkat & Hari were at that time but they did not prompt me and neither did they say anything after that. It was not a rash driving but good amount of speed through corners. With the roads empty, no oncoming traffic I was able to hit the apex and speed off.
Yes, that is i also my feeling many times with my manza. It is very decent handler in the corners and faster than the aam lot of vehicles around. Not that it is in ford fiestas & Fiat lineas league but still better than many other similarly priced cars. May be this trait is due to the weight and the hydraulic steering set up.
Couple of years into ownership i always felt this way but somehow there was no validating feedback so far until your post above.
(ofcourse you have those 120 horses under the hood (TOT) + spacer installed slightly stiffened suspensions. which must have further enhanced the experience)


I have been following this travelogue on a daily basis now. It is getting more exciting as it is moving ahead.
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Old 25th September 2013, 10:18   #81
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Hirak, we all are on tender hooks. Please keep it coming without breaks. Loved the pictures of Kargil War Memorial. Such places always give goose bumps and instills a sense of pride and love for the motherland. One can never get this feeling sitting in our AC corporate offices. Having quit the forces in 2007, I am so badly missing this all, both the trip and the feeling to be with the troops in the higher reaches.
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Old 25th September 2013, 10:30   #82
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Right now this is my most anticipated thread. The excitement builds on
Unlike most other travelogues, this one is going like a daily soap. Narsi's feeds are icing on the cake.
Keep it coming Hirak.

Cheers!

Last edited by HillMan : 25th September 2013 at 10:33.
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Old 25th September 2013, 11:23   #83
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Hirak, we all are on tender hooks. Please keep it coming without breaks. Loved the pictures of Kargil War Memorial. Such places always give goose bumps and instills a sense of pride and love for the motherland. One can never get this feeling sitting in our AC corporate offices. Having quit the forces in 2007, I am so badly missing this all, both the trip and the feeling to be with the troops in the higher reaches.
Yes, the war memorial gives you different feeling. Especially once you realize that the place you are standing on was in 1999 used by the Bofors to bomb the various peaks.

Quote:
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Right now this is my most anticipated thread. The excitement builds on
Unlike most other travelogues, this one is going like a daily soap. Narsi's feeds are icing on the cake.
Keep it coming Hirak.

Cheers!
Haha, daily soap was a nice parallel. I hope unlike those serials we are able to present something good and meaningful. Next update coming up soon.
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Old 25th September 2013, 11:49   #84
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Hey Motomaverick,
Can you explain in more detail about the incident where because of the remap the engine did not deliver power to the wheels.

Did you loose RPM at that point, meaning with the accelator being pushed no gain in rpm as expected ?

Did you speak to TOT about it, is this a common occurrence. When I was last speaking to TOT they said the Manza's map needs to be adjusted to make it more suitable for high altitude and some stuff like that regarding rail temperature and pressure.
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Old 25th September 2013, 12:02   #85
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Hello every one. Its overwhelming to read the travelogue. Excellent work by motomaverick and the entire Team who took this journey of a lifetime.

Eventhough I have traveled to Ladakh-Zanskar region twice as a tourist between 2009-2011, I have never taken my car there. Can I do Ladakh in my Dzire?
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Old 25th September 2013, 12:06   #86
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Hey Motomaverick,
Can you explain in more detail about the incident where because of the remap the engine did not deliver power to the wheels.

Did you loose RPM at that point, meaning with the accelator being pushed no gain in rpm as expected ?

Did you speak to TOT about it, is this a common occurrence. When I was last speaking to TOT they said the Manza's map needs to be adjusted to make it more suitable for high altitude and some stuff like that regarding rail temperature and pressure.
I assume the problem of engine dying down is a common occurrence due to lower oxygen level at high altitudes. May be that coupled with the state of tune of Hirak's manza(torque band above 1900 rpms) made it further tough to breath in required air and oxygen to aid engine combustion. Hirak please correct me if I am wrong.
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Old 25th September 2013, 12:09   #87
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Default Re: Day 7 - 29th Aug

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Rajesh who was ahead of me, came out and gave a high five. In that moment all the issues were forgotten and we were celebrating as a team on the achievement.
It is moments like these that make all your issues worries go away. It is moments like these that make driving in a group all worth it.

I can imagine a very smilling Rajesh walking up with a cigarette in his hand celebrating the achievement.

All the planning, all the group chatter, all the excel sheets, the preparation its all worth for a single moment like this.
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Old 25th September 2013, 12:14   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by santoshr View Post
Hey Motomaverick,
Can you explain in more detail about the incident where because of the remap the engine did not deliver power to the wheels.

Did you loose RPM at that point, meaning with the accelator being pushed no gain in rpm as expected ?

Did you speak to TOT about it, is this a common occurrence. When I was last speaking to TOT they said the Manza's map needs to be adjusted to make it more suitable for high altitude and some stuff like that regarding rail temperature and pressure.
Have not spoken to Siddarth from T-O-T as yet. When he spoke about the altitude adjustment remap for Manza I think he spoke before the 260NM adjustment that he did. The car was just too to drive in the plains and normal mountain roads.

What happend was at some inclines was that the revs were just not picking up despite flooring the accelerator. This happened only up there at the mountain passes where we need to watch and drive and cannot drive in momentum all the time and it did not happen anywhere else. Once the pass is over the problem does not happen.

I have not spoken to TOT as yet about this for them to give some reasons, plus I am not sure if this will not happen with other stock cars.

So let us not assume that because of the remap this has happened. Let me investigate and then come back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by santoshr View Post
It is moments like these that make all your issues worries go away. It is moments like these that make driving in a group all worth it.

I can imagine a very smilling Rajesh walking up with a cigarette in his hand celebrating the achievement.

All the planning, all the group chatter, all the excel sheets, the preparation its all worth for a single moment like this.
yeah very true Santhosh, it is moments like these that actually washes away all the issues and culminates all the months of planning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nihilultra View Post
Hello every one. Its overwhelming to read the travelogue. Excellent work by motomaverick and the entire Team who took this journey of a lifetime.

Eventhough I have traveled to Ladakh-Zanskar region twice as a tourist between 2009-2011, I have never taken my car there. Can I do Ladakh in my Dzire?
Yes, you can very much take your Dzire, just take the necessary tools and know the underbody of car very well. You have to accept the fact that there will be underbody hits, all you need to know is where you can afford the hits to happen. All the best and I am glad we could give you the idea of taking your car up there.

Last edited by motomaverick : 25th September 2013 at 12:19.
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Old 25th September 2013, 12:36   #89
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Default Day 8 - 30th Aug

DAY 8 – Rest
August 30th 9:30am
Location: Leh
Destination: Leh
Route: None


Good Morning, today was the first day that we all woke up quite late. I got up by 9.30AM, was still groggy when I realized that Hari was already in the process of getting ready. Checked with him and he was emphatic in saying that he wants to visit Hemis National Forest to catch the Snow Leopard. Well I was keen to see the leopard but was not too keen on the trek that one has to do. So I let him go ahead.

By 10.30AM we had to give our ID proofs to the hotel fellow who was going to arrange for the permits. Now this is a big mistake that we did. Last night before sleeping we got a quote of 500 per person for the permits from one fellow, so when we checked with the Hotel guy he quoted 350, we somehow readily agreed as he informed all the area permits including Turtok & Hanle will be provided. But like I said it was a big mistake which we got to find out later.

Anyhow, what happened has happened and another lesson learnt. So the plan in Ladakh was slightly changed. There was one condition that was there right from the beginning of the trip, which was the Mumbai folks need to return home by 8th Sept in time for the Ganapati Pooja on 9th. Despite the condition the plan was pretty well laid out as given below.

30th Aug: Rest & Permits
31st Aug: Turtok or Diskit/Hunder
1st Sept: Leh
2nd Sept: Pangong Tso
3rd Sept: Hanle
4th Sept: Tso Moriri (Mumbai Gang Leaves)
5th Sept: Leh
6th Sept: Leh

However, considering the health for some of folks and altitude adjustments, it was decided to complete Pangong Tso first and so the revised plan looked like this:

30th Aug: Rest & Permits
31st Aug: Pangong Tso
1st Sept: Leh
2nd Sept: Diskit/Hunder or Turtok
3rd Sept: Leh
4th Sept: Hanle (Mumbai Gang Leaves)
5th Sept: Tso Moriri
6th Sept: Leh

Since the Mumbai folks especially the folks in Sumo did not want to see Hanle, they were ready to push off by 4th when the Duster & Manza would go towards Hanle. But like they say all well laid plans are well just plans. Read on to find out what happened.

So by around 10.30AM all the ID proofs for the 12 members was given to the Hotel chap along with the money and again reconfirming that we would get permissions for all the places. With that done it was time to get ready and have breakfast. None of us had anything particular in mind, so when Hari rode into the hotel with his rented Thunderbird things got a little exciting and I decided to roam around with Hari for today. For the rest, Nariman & Rajesh decided to rest at the hotel. Jaswant, Manoj, Chandrakant & Neeraj decided to proceed towards Magnetic hill in the afternoon, while Venkat, Narsi, Mohan, Sathya too decided to stay at the hotel.

So after a quick shower, came down to have breakfast. It was pretty late in the morning but they still had something to eat. Also, others were finishing up with their plates and some of us were sitting underneath the apple trees in the garden.

View from the back of the Hotel
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Outdoor garden sitting
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Stok Kangri range?
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Garden breakfast and tea
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Apple tree right inside the hotel garden
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Art work by Nariman
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Post a little breakfast and rest around the garden, me and Hari set the agenda for the day. Spoke to Venkat and since he was not going out, took hold of his camera for the day. So once again I was back with photography which I just love. Agenda for the day for us.

Go and check Jorchung Guest House if they have accommodation for the rest of the days we will be at Leh
Check if Snow Leopard can be seen at Hemis National Park
Visit Shanti Stupa towards the evening as it was just 1km from the Hotel

Snow peaked mountains seen from the Changspa Road
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Shanti Stupa captured on the move from the road
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With this, we rode out of the hotel with me as a pillion passenger for the first time in this trip. I enjoyed it as I was able to take pictures on the move. I had checked in Gmaps the location of Jorchung and we found it without much difficulty. It is a nice hotel on Upper Tukcha Road, which is one of the quitter roads in Leh. We spent some 20 mins there, spoke to the manager in charge and got to know that this hotel is mainly frequented by HVK forum members and currently it was packed. They were nice in offering tea to us. Spoke about Hemis as well and got to learn that it was no use going there as the Snow Leopards would have moved to higher grounds during the summer months.

With one agenda scratched off there was nothing for us to do. So we decided to tank up the bike and then visit a few monasteries. For this we needed to get into a Internet center as data connection was not working. So off we went to the IOC petrol bunk near the main market. This is the only bunk in the main city with the other one near the airport.

Trying something abstract at the petrol bunk
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Hari wanted to get his pic clicked on the bike with the snow peaked mountains in the background
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Amazingly blue sky, taken from Yurthung Road, you can see Shanti Stupa in the background
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We came back again to Changspa Road and got inside an Internet café. After browsing through the places we can see in Leh, we narrowed down to Spituk Gompa (as it was above the airport) and Shanti Stupa. By the time we finished with all these research, it was already lunch time. So we decided to move towards the main market to have lunch and then proceed towards Spituk. But by then I also had an itch to ride a bike, so we rented an Avenger for me to ride for Rs. 600/-. It was quite cheap but the only problem was that the bike did not have lock. Here is a small conversation with the rental fellow about the same.

Me: Thinless your bike does not have a lock (Yes, the fellow spelt his name to us)
Thinless: Where show me.
Me: See I can only switch off the bike but no lock
Thinless: It does not matter
Me: I can park it without a lock? Is it ok?
Thinless: Yes, no need to lock, if it goes missing just give me a call.

With that sorted out, we went into the main market in search of a hotel to eat some good food. But since there was not GPS, we only managed to get lost and almost got out of Leh city. But finally after checking with a few people, we came back to Main market area and then onto Old Fort Road, there we spotted the famous German Bakery named Pumpernickel. So we stopped at this place to have a good lunch.

Pumpernickel menu card
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Some of the specialties of this restaurant
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After a lovely lunch of soup and momo’s (they were a little bit dry than what I like), we proceeded towards Spituk Gompa. Why we choose this Gompa over others nearby was that it was above the airport and offered some fantastic views of the same as seen in some of the Travelogues.

On the Leh – Srinagar road towards airport
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Hari looking like a true blue biker on a journey
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That is the first view of the Gompa from the airport road
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We had to climb up towards the Gompa, good thing was that it was motorable, hence, we did not have a problem. A little scare came when we saw some sand on the road and the bike fish tailed a bit but nothing dangerous as we were hardly doing any speeds.

View from the Monastery entrance of down below. Far left is the runway
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Once we reached the main entrance, we decided not to go inside as both of us were not interested in monasteries, instead we saw another small path big enough for one car going further up. We took that road and found a nice shade to sit and relax and do some photography.

That is the airport with its runway
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Hari with a pose in front of the awesome view. Photo is a little washed out as the sun was too harsh
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Royal Enfield do you want some pictures of your Thunderbird
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Another pose from the bike
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After spending some 30mins up there, came down and proceeded towards Shanti Stupa. It was already close to 4.30PM hence, we thought to wind up quickly and take some rest before tomorrow’s journey.

Yurthung Road, which runs parallel to the highway but has less traffic
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Entrance to the Stupa
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That is the view of Leh city that greets you once you park your vehicle at Shanti Stupa
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We spent close to 1.30 hours up there, it was serene and with less crowd the place was peaceful. Once could sit near the canteen and enjoy the view of Leh city. Along with rest, we clicked quite a few photographs. So let me present a short photo log of Shanti Stupa.

Quote:
Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed stupa (chorten) on a hilltop in Ladakh. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura . The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama himself . The stupa has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
I am not sure what they are called but these “diyas” are lighted at all the sacred placed in Ladakh
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That canteen wall built on top of that rock, probably also sacred
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Our favorite snow capped peaks in the far distance
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Up close look at the snow peaks, this is the max zoom the camera offered with its 135mm lens
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Another view of the Leh city while we were sitting in front of the canteen. A fish eye lens would have been nice effect
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This fellow was fast asleep, love the dogs of this region, so furry
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Continuing in the next post due to picture limit
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Old 25th September 2013, 12:46   #90
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Default Day 8 - 30th Aug

Here is an interesting incident that took place. Yes, this trip has not been without some anecdote to tell. From the base of the Stupa, one has to walk up via a road to the actual Stupa. The distance must have been just about 100-200 meters. But when Hari & I were walking up, midway, we were so out of breath it felt like our heart is going to come out of the mouth. No we were not suffering from altitude issues but even a few feet increase in height it was so much taxing. It took us some 7 odd minutes to complete this small distance of 100m, which Usain Bolt covers in 9 secs ofcourse on a flat surface. Up here I am sure Mr. Bolt would have also suffered and probably taken 2 mins, which was a consolation for us but shameful so to speak.

Up there near the Stupa there were markings for the view points, here is showing the way towards Khardungla
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The brown structure in the background is the Leh Palace
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Another view of the Leh city this time from the Stupa
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Here is the Shanti Stupa in all its glory
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A slight walk to the left of the structure presents a different agle. Mind you that you need to walk clockwise
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We appeared almost parallel to the peaks due to the distance
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Our resident pro photographer all decked up
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One of the peak reaches up the Sun
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Some abstract photography of the art on the wall of the Stupa
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Sun ending its lovely day
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Lovely play of light and dark by the sun rays, clouds, and the mountains
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Another abstract from my side of the setting Sun
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These prayer flags can be seen on all the passes and chortens
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Flying high in the wind
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While we were enjoying all the views up there, got a call from Nariman checking out our whereabouts, informed him that we were up here at the Stupa and asked him to join. He was not sure if the doc would oblige but he was going to try. After all you can’t be sitting inside the hotel whole day.

Finally we saw the Sumo coming into the parking lot
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The doc did not come up to the Stupa as there was walking involved in an incline, since he had suffered with AMS last time he visited Ladakh, he was taking it easy. However, the 3 of us Nariman, Hari and I spent a few more minutes up there. We wanted to take a photograph with the 3 of us and since the tripod was not there, we searched for someone to do the honors. Unfortunately we picked ona guy who had just climbed up some 300 steps to the Stupa. He begged us to let him catch his breath before taking out picture. It was funny for us but I am sure that guy was not amused.


Below are the two pictures that he was able to take
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L-R: Hari, Nariman, Me
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While we were taking pictures, got another call by Manoj checking where we were, so we asked them as well to come up to the Stupa. They apparently had just entered the hotel but still they came. By 6.30PM we wound up our 2 hours stay at the Stupa and came down to the parking lot. Not having seen Manoj, we thought they did not come, but then looking up at the Stupa from the Parking lot we saw Jaswant and Manoj. They quickly wound up their visit.

From it was decided that we go down to market, instead of taking two cars, the plan was to ferry people on bikes one after the other while they walk from the Hotel to the main bazar road. This task was given to Nariman and I since Nariman took fancy to riding the Thunderbird. I caught up with Venkat at the hotel on the way to the bazar and informed him to visit the Stupa as it is open till 9PM in the night. He had gone for a ride on a Pulsar which he had taken on an hourly basis. He eventually visited the Stupa and was quite amazed with the views he could see especially of the Leh city after dark.

View of the man bazar road in the evening
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Once in the bazar road, the some of the guys started to shop while the rest just roamed. Then we decided to have dinner at Summer Harvest, which apparently is quite famous and seeing the rush we could confer that is one of the frequented joints in town.

Distance covered: 40 kms
Time Taken: n/a
Map:

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So the day ended with some sightseeing and walking. Tomorrow it is going to be Pangong Tso and ChangLa one of the toughest passes to climb. Was it a smooth drive? Did we reach Pangong Tso? Find out.
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