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Old 27th September 2013, 12:12   #121
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Default Re: Day 10 - 1st Sept

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Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
I heard about you guys having to literally push the car, wow, I didnt know the car was that troublesome for it to stall twice. I guess the white whale was missing its owner
Ah yes, the white whale was missing its owner. First instance was when we misjudged an incline and the vehicle was in 3rd gear. Here there was no problem in gaining momentum as only a stone behind the back wheel was enough. The next instance was the killer one. While trying to give way to an army convoy we went into loose gravel and the wheel got stuck and we could not gain the required momentum. We had to reverse for some 20 meters at-least to regain the momentum and cross that place.
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Originally Posted by @Chaand View Post
Sorry to make you guys walk, but there was no option. Although I did enjoy driving he white whale, the problem of losing momentum in ranges still baffles me.
Hey no issues buddy. Team work is essential at these places to come out safe and sound. We understand fully about what happened.

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Old 27th September 2013, 15:14   #122
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

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Originally Posted by shipnil View Post

Well, after not finding a place in the Sumo, I thought of doing it with my car. Visited Ladakh in mid sept along with a friend. The road conditions were much better compared to what I see in your pics, especially the slush part. Also, I think you guys took a little more time to reach Leh. I could see 5th day in Patnitop. Ours was not stop till Pathankot, then Sonamarg, and then Leh. We were there on the 4th day itself.
Which car did you do it in and what dates? And did you do the full circle of Kargil - Leh - Manali or a half one.
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Old 27th September 2013, 15:33   #123
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

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Which car did you do it in and what dates? And did you do the full circle of Kargil - Leh - Manali or a half one.
I did it in Figo diesel. I was in Leh from 12th to 16th. Like you guys, I went by Srinagar Leh highway and returned by Leh Manali route. But trust me, you don't miss much even if you return by Srinagar because the constant fear of getting stuck (in a hatchback) does not allow you to enjoy the Manali highway to the fullest.
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Old 28th September 2013, 12:46   #124
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Default Re: Day 7 - 29th Aug

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Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
That’s the end of this post where we conquered Zojila, coming up the rest of the journey. Just breaking it as there are a lot of pictures
And here is a short video of the LEC team climbing the great ZoZilla pass.

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Old 28th September 2013, 16:01   #125
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

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Originally Posted by shipnil View Post
I did it in Figo diesel. I was in Leh from 12th to 16th. Like you guys, I went by Srinagar Leh highway and returned by Leh Manali route. But trust me, you don't miss much even if you return by Srinagar because the constant fear of getting stuck (in a hatchback) does not allow you to enjoy the Manali highway to the fullest.
OMG, Leh'd on low GC Figo. Hats off to you man.
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Old 28th September 2013, 20:49   #126
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

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Originally Posted by rkhare View Post
OMG, Leh'd on low GC Figo. Hats off to you man.
Well, I am not the first to do in a low GC car. You might see quite a few travelogues here in similar cars and frankly, more than GC, we were troubled by less torque at low rpms which was unable to pull the car on inclines. It was not easy to take the rpm to 4k and let go the clutch. Most of the times it resulted in wheel spin and tyre burning. I used to get rubber burning smell at these times. Lost a tyre too.
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Old 1st October 2013, 13:26   #127
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Default Day 11 - 2nd Sept

DAY 11 – Top of the World!
Sept 2nd 7:00am
Location: Leh
Destination: Diskit/Hunder
Route: Leh – South Pullu – KhardungLa – North Pullu – Khardung – Khalsar – Diskit – Hunder – Diskit – Khalsar – Khardung – North Pullu – KhardungLa – South Pullu - Leh


So we were to depart from the hotel by 7:00Am towards the world’s highest motorable road. There are arguments that the measurement is wrong but what the heck! We will follow what the BRO has put.

Woke up by 6AM and was feeling much better after yesterday’s sleep and light eating. Was further refreshed by the warm water bath. Since there was no driving today as we were taking the taxi, I took charge of Venkat’s camera. I was quite happy to hold a camera for the entire day for the 2nd time in this trip. Now that I had got used to how the Nikon works it was easier.

But before we proceeded from the hotel an issue cropped up with Sathya who was wanting to go, not being able to find a place. Plus he was also not wanting to drive alone for obvious reasons for height and medical condition. It was not the best of moments that morning but we had no other go but to ditch Sathya at the hotel. I know it was bad on us but we each had our own reasons. Well what happened to him, you will find out in due course.

So finally we were away, with me taking the front passenger seat and Manoj reluctantly moving to the 3rd row. The driver was Rizgin and during the course of the drive we found out that he has almost 30 years of driving experience. He was driving for the army for 17 years and then past 13-14 years was driving tourist taxi. He is a really good driver and we never felt worried on the road. If any of the group has his number we can post it here.

Early morning empty Changspa Road
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Sun peeps out from the clouds
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Since it was early morning Leh was just waking up from its slumber and we quickly got out of the city. As soon as you get out, you start to climb as Khardungla is just about 35kms from the city center. The morning was cool and sometimes cloudy but we got nice views of the Leh city and its different attractions on the way.

That is the Leh Palace
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Clouds covering the Leh city
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Distant Shanti Stupa, this structure cannot me missed if you are in and around Leh
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We were gaining height quickly. As usual we had the water supply that we had taken from the hotel to help keep us hydrated all the time. Once you start to climb you can gauge the height you have gained by looking down and seeing how small most of the things become.

Leh city becoming smaller with each turn
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The idol sitting in the Innova protecting its occupants
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We were nearing South Pullu, the first check post where one needs to write their name and deposit one copy of the permit. Since it was early morning around 7:37AM, the roads were clear but it had started to become cloudy. Not your usual fancy white clouds but dark and gloomy ones.

The roads were still good but narrow with dark clouds over head
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After a few turns Rizgin stopped at the view point for us to take a break and pictures. Being a routine road for him he knew where to stop. We got out and the first thing that everyone does normally is to take pictures, but we were not normal and definitely not in a normal place so first thing we did was loo. After taking the usual leak, we got down to some pictures. It was a pleasant surprise to know that Rizgin did not mind taking a group picture and he was pretty handy with the camera. While we were fooling around, the Sumo went ahead. It was now becoming funny that we won’t stop till be reach the destination, no photo breaks in between. I guess if Jaswant & I were driving we would have done the same and not stop.

Check that road on the left of the picture, that’s the road which we came some time back
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Why are we living in the concrete jungle?
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The 5 of us, all packed except our iron man
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View of the switch backs that we used to climb and stand at the view point
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Moving ahead, we reached South Pullu, it was empty without any other cars, only ones were the Innova & the Sumo. The road after South Pullu gradually starts to lose its tar, in fact that is the norm of all passes and we were not surprised by it any more. But what was mesmerizing were the clouds that were so low down that we could almost touch them. Or maybe we were so high up. With each turn the cloud cover grew and we started to see drizzling. At that moment we were given the most exciting news that we all probably wanted to hear. Rizgin emphatically announced that since it is drizzling down here, it will be snowing up at KhardungLa.

Driving in the clouds, I was missing driving the white whale among the white clouds
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Slight rain and few flakes of snow
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They don’t call the Himalayas the highest mountain range for nothing
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The way that we came
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That is the India Gate of Ladakh, once you pass this gate, you are just a few switch backs from the top
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Finally after a few more turns and some sections of bad road we reached the highest pass in the world where you can drive up. And the best part was there was snowflakes falling from the sky. Though not a huge amount but still got to touch snow for the first time in my life before it touched the ground. The altitude was huge and it was a labor to walk a few meters, plus the added zero temperature made it worse. But still we were happy to have achieved the 2nd biggest agenda on this trip. The Sumo joined us a little while later, they were climbing slowly. Rajesh’s long fulfilled dream of taking his own vehicle and sitting on top of the world finally became true.

The board says it all. Date: 2nd Sept. Time: 8:33AM
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Excitement all around, if you noticed Jaswant, he was finally packed with jackets and gloves, indicating how cold it was up there that morning.
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Yours Truly quite elated to be here, The Manza would have been an icing on the cake.
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Quote:
To keep myself motivated to complete this dream trip this year, I had actually photo-shopped my Manza along with me and wife in front of the previous KhardungLa board and stuck it all over the house. Though the Manza and my wife did not actually witness the Ktop in real but it would have been the best situation to come true. Nonetheless as they say there is always a next time. In Arnie language “I will be back.”
The entire gang standing tall and breathless at Ktop
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After some 10mins Rizgin, started ushering everyone to move ahead as any longer and there would be chances of AMS hitting you. So we obliged though grudgingly and the small convoy started moving ahead to our next destination, Hunder Sand Dunes.

A Yak close by before North Pullu
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Suddenly we start to drive on proper roads just before North Pullu
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The sign board with information about all the places from North Pullu
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As you can see from the picture above, we were going to come down some 10,000 feet which was a relief in a way as we were all adjusted well to a height of around 9-10k feet. But before we reach Hunder, we need to fill our tummies as we have started with just tea in the morning. Here again Rizgin comes to the party as he knew a nice little restaurant in Khardung village. Not a big place but they had a nice outdoor sitting and fresh food.

Nice and smooth after the judders of the road near Ktop
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The perfect mode of travel if you have your own wings
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We raided the small café, in fact Hari & I were inside the kitchen, talking to the chef
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Proper outdoor seating and the nice atmosphere made for a good place to have breakfast
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Caught this fellow howling a lot
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Something caught my eye and beng a lover of abstract pictures, I could not resist this
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Reached 30 post limit. Continuing in the next post
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Old 1st October 2013, 14:53   #128
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

Finally the wait is over. Thanks much for this installment.

I am so awestruck with the picture "Clouds covering the Leh city"
The little town with the huge mountains in the backdrop.
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Old 1st October 2013, 15:00   #129
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What an update dude... Well worth the wait. Leh is heaven on earth and your thread and pictures are just proving this point tobe cent percent correct. I hope I am able to get leh'ed next year. Will you post the different permits and permission that you guys needed for leg and issues that you guys faced during the drive. Aiming for a trip somewhere may end next year. Hope it happens
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Old 1st October 2013, 15:25   #130
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

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Originally Posted by HillMan View Post
Finally the wait is over. Thanks much for this installment.

I am so awestruck with the picture "Clouds covering the Leh city"
The little town with the huge mountains in the backdrop.
Got tied up with annivarsary and looking after the kid

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Originally Posted by kailashnj View Post
What an update dude... Well worth the wait. Leh is heaven on earth and your thread and pictures are just proving this point tobe cent percent correct. I hope I am able to get leh'ed next year. Will you post the different permits and permission that you guys needed for leg and issues that you guys faced during the drive. Aiming for a trip somewhere may end next year. Hope it happens
All the best for next year, yes, will be posting all the details at the end of the log so that it is in one post.
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Old 1st October 2013, 15:52   #131
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

The last time i did Mumbai Leh drive was in 2010 in my Scorpio,call it foolishness or whatever all three in the car were severely affected by AMS .I was affected the most and had almost visited the pearly gates . That incident climbing from Keylong to LEH was so dreadful that a fear of the mountains set in .With great disappointment we had to come back after seeing only Pangong.
Ever since i wanted to conquer my fears and go back there drive all across the highest passes and come back in one piece.
Thanks to HIRAK aka motomaverik who conceptualized this drive and all others who participated i did it ''In my own car driving myself". For me it wasn't about the photographs the scenes or anything else it was about facing my worst nightmare and coming out a winner .
Thanks all once again.
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Old 1st October 2013, 16:33   #132
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Default Day 11 - 2nd Sept - Part 2

Day 11: Part 2

Some biking group also came in to the restaurant, their bikes parked identical nearby
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A couple heading back to Leh probably
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The mountains on the other side of KhardungLa, probably after Khalsar village.
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The road towards Hunder was pretty straight forward and well-marked, so one cannot get lost here. Nubra valley was all green as expected. After sometime we were driving alongside the Shyok River. Apparently this river apart from vegetating the land does not have any value and just flows towards Pakistan from here. Stopped for some time at a view point of the river, its spread looked massive from the road.

Moonscape land near the river, showing that the entire area has been formed very recently when compared to other continents, no wonder they call the Himalayas the youngest mountain range.
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The Shyok River
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Another set of mountains in different deep maroon color
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With the scenes before us, everyone was busy soaking it all in
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After coming down from the ghats, we were now driving on the dried up river bed, this is the section of the road which is arrow straight. But don’t let the tarmac and the road fool you, it has bumps that can unsettle even a fully loaded SUV, so drive at controllable speeds.

The arrow straight but pretty deceiving road
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We stopped on this section for loo break, while Hari took the opportunity to collect some family of berries that is apparently used to make a juice.
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After the drive on the river bed, we climb again towards Diskit. With Diskit fast approaching the scenario changes again and this time it is gradually turning into a desert with sand dunes.

You can see the sand dunes near the horizon
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Though we missed the spot of the first few of the dunes, this is what I was able to capture from the moving car
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3 colors in the same frame, green, gray, and dark brown
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Where can you find a snow peaked mountain looking down upon a desert, only in Ladakh
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Look at the number of options that one has to stay at Hunder
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Reached Hunder which is just 7kms from Diskit in a short while, as soon as we entered the road towards the sand dunes, there was a deluge of sign boards announcing stay options, now the fellows in our car were kind of thinking of staying back, at least I was.

Now here an interesting and somewhat out of the blue thing happened, the event was so shocking that no one was amused but appreciated. When driving towards the parking lot, Manoj commented that a car from far was looking like Sathya’s Duster, the rest of us were laughing at him but as we came closer for sure it was a black duster and it was a “TN” registered one. To tell you the truth everyone was surprised to see the car and that too ahead of us since, we did not see any car overtake us. The conclusion was that either Sathya drove alone and overtook us when we were having breakfast or he came with a driver. Well as they say, sometimes anger can be channeled in a proper way to show others what can be done, unfortunately we all were the others that day.

Anyhow we moved towards the camel area to see and if anyone wanted take a ride. I was expecting the place to be all smelly but it was pretty ok with the Bacterian camels all sitting pretty, some asleep while some were munching away. We all chose to have a 15 min ride which costed us 180 bucks a piece. That was pretty cheap we felt as normally these kind of touristy things costs a bomb.
Quote:
The Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) is a large, even-toed ungulate native to the steppes of Central Asia. Of the two species of camel, it is by far the rarer. The Bactrian camel has two humps on its back, in contrast to the single-humped dromedary camel. Its population of two million exists mainly in the domesticated form. The domesticated Bactrian camel has served as a pack animal in inner Asia since ancient times. With its tolerance for cold, drought, and high altitudes, it enabled travel such as the caravans of the Silk Road. The wild form has dwindled to a population estimated at 800 in October 2002 and has been classified as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Camel 4x4 parking area
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Checking out his new ride
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This fella was oblivious to the picture that was being taken. Give me a smile you will be on the Internet
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Manoj likes this fellow, but he is vary of the animal
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Finally, our resident doc belled the cat and quickly sat on one of the camel
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Giving you the customary neta salute from his throne
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With everyone seated, the camels were tied to each other one after the other and the 9 of us set off for a ride in the sand dunes on the lap of the mighty Himalayas. At first it was pretty awkward to sit on the hump, but since these camels are double bumped we did have back support. Plus the way these fellows walked it felt like we would fall at any moment. Gradually the trick was to move your body as per the motion of the camel and stay relaxed. The camel I was sitting on was probably from Bangalore, because it was constantly trying to overtake Neeraj from the left and increasing its pace every now and then. Then I had Hari whose camel was trying to clean its nose on my shoes. It was funny and pretty amusing 15mins of this trip. While we were going on our lap, we heard a shout from far and it was Sathya who probably mocked at us and went away.

Yours truly found the perfect remapped camel
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So Superman has a new vehicle, what happened to his flying powers?
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Our resident Lawrence of Arabia
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All smiles at having 1 camel power ride
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If he had ventured on his in the desert, no one would have questioned him
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The sands were for real and quite a lot in quantity
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The smiles show how wonderful the experience was
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A group picture taken by the camel herder
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We are the Desert warriors
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The 5 of us had a nice few minutes near the open Buddha, again the place is serene like other holy places here.

Quote:
This impressive 32 metre (106 foot) statue on top of a hill below the monastery, faces down the Shyok River towards Pakistan and, according to Mr. Tsering Nophel, chairman of the committee which organized it, most of the money came from local donations. The Head of the Gelugpa, Ganden Thipa (the reincarnation of Tsongkhapa), and Abbott of Rizu Monastery, gave 8 kg of gold for its decoration. It is the first time a Ladakhi monk has been the head of the Gelugpa sect. The statue's construction was started in April 2006 and it was consecrated by H.H. the Dalai Lama on 25 July 2010.
The Diskit Gompa, which we did not visit as it looked like a good climb from the parking lot
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continued in the next post
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Old 1st October 2013, 16:44   #133
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Default Day 11 - 2nd Sept - Part 3

Day 11 - 2nd Sept - Part 3

The Jampa (Maitreya) Buddha
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Close look at the gold decoration
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The dudes of the filmdom
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If you look closely you will see an interesting way of taking photograph by the lady
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Venkat getting his blessings from the Buddha
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Giving you a size comparison
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After this visit, we decided to have lunch again at the same Khardung hotel. So it was a uneventful run towards the lunch stop. Do not have any pictures from the return leg as it was the same route and after lunch we all slept. At KhardungLa, stopped again for a loo break and then proceeded back to Leh. We reached the hotel by 6PM.

Now here unfolds one of the most interesting situation of the entire trip. There were in fact two situations, one was the Hotel which did not have space for us today, so we had to shift to another hotel just opposite named Hotel Monghol. Since the Sumo gang arrived early, they booked the rooms for us, except for Manoj & Jaswant as they were planning to stay in Omasila. This situation was quickly settled without any hassles.

Now before I move onto the 2nd more interesting situation, let me tell you about the decision among Hari, Venkat, and I which was to stay in Leh tomorrow as today was quite hectic plus there was some shopping to be done which was pending. More than shopping it was the rest and a sense of holiday that we could have if we just stayed back one day. If we had continued this trip would have been like the Amazing Race, which we from the Manza unanimously decided it was not.

Now the 2nd situation was a discussion among Sumo & SX4 folks in the restaurant which then later became an argument. But ultimately the outcome was that the Sumo decided to leave tomorrow i.e. 3rd to Mumbai via Manali, while the SX4, Duster, and Manza decided to stay put and move on 4th via Manali. Now why did this argument happen? Well apparently, till yesterday all were in agreement that it was ok to reach by 8th Sept on time for Ganapati, now the decision changed and some of us wanted to reach by 7th itself. In the meantime thinking it is 8th, Jaswant had made up his mind of visiting Amritsar and then proceeding, to which the group was in agreement. But all that was shattered with the decision of the Sumo to move out tomorrow directly for Mumbai. So a heated discussion ensued with everyone frustrated on the plan being changed time and again. However, after a few outbursts the decision was made for Sumo to go tomorrow and the rest to stay back. In fact we decided that even if we move by 4th we could still get Jaswant to Amritsar as per plan. From Amritsar Jaswant & Manoj would then drive back non-stop from Amritsar as Manoj too had to reach for Ganesh Puja.

So with everything settling down and decisions taken, calm descended upon Changspa road along with the evening chill. We decided to freshen up and then take a stroll towards the market to have our food for the night.

Signing off this post with a panoramic view of Nobra Valley
25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013-lecktophunder68.jpg

Distance covered: 275 kms
Time Taken: 12 hrs
Map:

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So tomorrow we had another rest day, wherein we decided to hire bikes and ride in town or nearby monastery. SO how was the day with the new reduced group of SX4, Duster, and Manza? Find out in the next post
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Old 2nd October 2013, 15:02   #134
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This is going to be the mother of all travelogues written in team bhp. Every small detail is covered up. The emotions among the members have to be taken note of by future expeditors, even if they are close friends. Finished in three hours non stop. Pictures covered a lot of untold stories.
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Old 2nd October 2013, 19:54   #135
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vskesavan View Post
The emotions among the members have to be taken note of by future expeditors, even if they are close friends.

Glued to this logue and yes and the honest narration of emotions are sure to give Ekta Kapoor's scriptwriters, run for their money.
When you are travelling in group such things ought to happen. All is well that ends well, hope the ending of this logue would be like Bollywood Movie, happily friends ever after.
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