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Old 14th October 2013, 01:49   #61
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Default Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

"No No!! Absolutely out of the question!! You cannot go..its too unsafe!!"

"But..im sure i can do it" the teenaged boy said feebly.

"No means No!!..and that is the end of it!!" his father replied.

"But you hitchiked all the way to Europe from Bombay when you were 18 dad!! All i want is to cycle to Khardungla!" his tone grew defiant

"Those times were different..You are not going. End of discussion" his father said as he walked out.

The boy slumped back onto his bed. All the excitement of revealing his plans to his unwitting parents had come crashing down. The fire in his belly was all but extinguished.

But not completely.

"Someday I would stand upon Khardungla..someday."

Then life took over.

Priorities changed. The world changed.

His dream was lost now somewhere. Buried deep in his subconscious under the weight of everyday drudgery.

Then came the Internet, Teambhp and Travelouges. His world changed some more.

The spark of wanderlust was reignited. Inspired by what he read and the travelogues that took him along "virtually" to these long forgotten places, he decided that sooner rather than later, he was going to go and keep that long overdue date with the Highest Motorable Pass in the world.

He had been denied 26 years ago.

He had been denied again yesterday.

Today there would be nothing that would hold him back.

Leh-Khardungla-Hunder-Leh The journey continues..

Ready to leave for Khardungla!!
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Finally after the longest wait of my life..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-2.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-4.jpg

Thank you for this opportunity..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-3.jpg

Now that I was at Khardungla finally..Khardungla would not let me go. Do you see those track marks in the ground next to the Fortuner?
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-5.jpg

The BRO decided to start work on the road at the very moment as I approached for my descent towards North Pullu. A Long Army convoy had been allowed to pass. Soon after that they got to work blocking my path for another hour and a half.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-6.jpg

We parked up and waited patiently in that rarefied atmosphere. We did not feel breathless but kept the Oxygen canisters handy..just in case.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-7.jpg

After 90 odd minutes we sneaked through behind a BRO truck and raced down to rejoin the Pajero who had been minutes before us at the top of the Pass. They were nowhere to be seen at North Pullu and we concluded that they must have gotten tired of waiting and driven ahead.

The lack of cell phones really made its presence felt now.

"Sir have either you or the Mrs. seen a blue Pajero go by?"..No reply. Very odd.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-8.jpg

Soon the Valley opened up and the Shyok River came into view
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-9.jpg

We soon caught up with the Army Convoy just before Khalasar. Each truck moved out of the way one by one as soon as it could and gave us way. I waved a heartfelt thank you to each one..and it wasn't only for letting me pass.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-10.jpg

The Shyok River flowed along the road for a while. The scenery was truly sublime. It was almost as if Mother Nature was showing off.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-11.jpg
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Soon we were at the "turn off" for Diskit. Don't ask me where the turn is.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-13.jpg

A little ahead a proper board and an actual road. I noticed the Siachen Brigade board. The Base Camp was 110 kms away. I would have driven there just to shake each brave soldier by his hand.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-14.jpg


We drove on the River Basin for a while. Fifth gear came up after 8 days on the road.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-15.jpg

We climbed and i stopped to see the valley below me..the Right and Left
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-16.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-17.jpg

We soon crossed Diskit and 8 kms ahead were almost at Hunder our destination for the day.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-18.jpg

The famous Sand Dunes of Hunder
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-19.jpg

The road that led to Hunder was barricaded from each side. Maybe to prevent the Bactrian Camels from jumping onto the road.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-20.jpg

We soon got to "Karma Inn" our Hotel http://www.hotelkarmainn.com/
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-21.jpg

After a sumptious vegetarian lunch we went up to our rooms and lazed around for a bit in the balcony. The view was.. (at the risk of sounding repetitive) ..sublime!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-22.jpg

Headed off in the direction of the Dunes for a bit of fun.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-23.jpg

Parked up side by side the brothers seemed to be enjoying their adventure
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-24.jpg

Let the fun begin!!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-25.jpg
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After a while the novelty wore off and we parked up so we may enjoy this quiet peaceful place..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-27.jpg
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..in a reflective mood.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-29.jpg

As the sun set behind the mountains it brought to a close a day i waited a long time to see.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-30.jpg

Soon we were back at the hotel and played Uno and laughed long into the night.

Dinner was served in our room and we all tucked in hungrily, since we were famished again. The fresh mountain air really can whet up an appetite.

We then discussed our plans for the coming day.

Sadly for me everyone was keen to get back to Leh and I was outvoted on visiting Turtuk.

I did not mind too much as Pangong Tso was next on our agenda after getting back to Leh. I guess i'll just have to make another trip next year to visit Turtuk

We decided to wake up early. This was so we could make it to North Pullu before 10 AM.

After 10 AM they would stop traffic from going up to Khardungla again till 3 PM and we did not fancy being stuck for so long.

What occurred was another matter altogether.

to be continued..

Last edited by Manuuj : 14th October 2013 at 01:55. Reason: grammar, spelling.
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Old 14th October 2013, 02:09   #62
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It just keeps getting better and better and better. I am currently on my way to Delhi, returning from Kolkata and believe you me when i say that i have been kept busy with a healthy dose of fun, entertainment and adventure.
Again, intriguing pictures, have been stalking this thread since the last 19 hours now & still glued, keep 'em coming.
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Old 14th October 2013, 02:19   #63
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Default Re: Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manuuj View Post
The first European account of Ladakh, by Portuguese merchant Diogo d’Almeida by just before 1600 mentions Basgo

Stay tuned for more
Manuuj its been really fascinating to be part of this incredible and mind enriching journey

Not only is your journey a Travelougue its a lesson in history as well. . i was pleasantly surprised to learn that a Portuguese merchant Diogo d’Almeida was the first European to reach there. It is indeed a long way from Goa to Ladakh.

As you may be aware Goa was the main Portuguese Base in Asia and the Portuguese rule over Goa lasted for 451 years that is from 1510 to 1961.

Please do keep us updated with some more fascinating insights and gorgeous pictures.
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Old 14th October 2013, 13:21   #64
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Default Re: Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

The actual trip may have been a leisurely one, but the travelogue is relentless in its pace, exhaustive in its coverage and a pleasure to read; that is even after having read at least a thousand Ladakh travelouges. It has become a routine on this thread to read, smile and press the 'thanks' button on each update.

We did manage to drive all the way up to the Siachen Base Camp last year. The route is surreal in places and hostile an environment all the way through. The camp itself is both a tribute to man's abilities and an indictment of man's stupidities. People have no business living there in the lower camps, forget the upper ones. The underground bunkers in which the soldiers live is terrible.
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Old 14th October 2013, 20:16   #65
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Default Re: Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

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Originally Posted by Manuuj View Post
Do not underestimate the Pajero Sport buddy!! It is a very very capable machine with a superior suspension and brake set up when compared to the Fortuner.

Toyota After Sales is far ahead of Mitsubishi in India though.

The Pajero Sport also has the added advantage of an option to drive in 2wd mode when 4wd is not required.

I prefer the interiors and looks of the Fortuner though.

Im not helping am I ?

P.S Thanks for your kind words and encouragement. Stay tuned for more
Don't mean to digress from the travelogue but you are right Pajero Sport may be a superior m/c but after sales support has ruined its prospects in the country. You would like to go for a brand which is there to support you.
Another debate for another day. Right now I am reveling in your tale!!
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Old 14th October 2013, 21:15   #66
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Default Re: Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

Fantastic pics Manuuj! K-La looks so different without the snow! Usually BRO guys are quite helpful, and wonder why they blocked you on the top! Considering you seem to be the only personal vehicle there? Or was there a queue behind you?
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Old 14th October 2013, 21:38   #67
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Default Re: Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikhil_Kapil View Post
It just keeps getting better and better and better. I am currently on my way to Delhi, returning from Kolkata and believe you me when i say that i have been kept busy with a healthy dose of fun, entertainment and adventure.
Again, intriguing pictures, have been stalking this thread since the last 19 hours now & still glued, keep 'em coming.
Thanks again Nikhil. Im glad you are enjoying the thread! I noticed you are a new member to Tbhp. Welcome! Do search for threads by ADC and HVK. They will blow your mind. It is they who inspired me to undertake the journey.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapeco View Post
Manuuj its been really fascinating to be part of this incredible and mind enriching journey

Not only is your journey a Travelougue its a lesson in history as well. . i was pleasantly surprised to learn that a Portuguese merchant Diogo d’Almeida was the first European to reach there. It is indeed a long way from Goa to Ladakh.

As you may be aware Goa was the main Portuguese Base in Asia and the Portuguese rule over Goa lasted for 451 years that is from 1510 to 1961.

Please do keep us updated with some more fascinating insights and gorgeous pictures.
Can you imagine travelling to Ladakh at that time? Crossing those high mountain passes, making roads where none existed. Now that is what one calls an adventure! Hats off to these pioneers!

Quote:
Originally Posted by codelust View Post
The actual trip may have been a leisurely one, but the travelogue is relentless in its pace, exhaustive in its coverage and a pleasure to read; that is even after having read at least a thousand Ladakh travelouges. It has become a routine on this thread to read, smile and press the 'thanks' button on each update.

We did manage to drive all the way up to the Siachen Base Camp last year. The route is surreal in places and hostile an environment all the way through. The camp itself is both a tribute to man's abilities and an indictment of man's stupidities. People have no business living there in the lower camps, forget the upper ones. The underground bunkers in which the soldiers live is terrible.
I agree with you completely! Writing the TL sure is taking up most of my days!! Haha!

Jokes apart.. It truly is inhumane for our soldiers to be exposed to such conditions. Our neighbour to the West isn't helping matters though with their yearly antics.

Thanks for your kind words about the TL. More coming up today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiteshs77 View Post
Don't mean to digress from the travelogue but you are right Pajero Sport may be a superior m/c but after sales support has ruined its prospects in the country. You would like to go for a brand which is there to support you.
Another debate for another day. Right now I am reveling in your tale!!
Yes i agree. On certain key points the Fortuner does pip the Pajero Sport. I for one have one simple rule when buying cars in the future. It can be any make as long as its a TOYOTA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dry Ice View Post
Fantastic pics Manuuj! K-La looks so different without the snow! Usually BRO guys are quite helpful, and wonder why they blocked you on the top! Considering you seem to be the only personal vehicle there? Or was there a queue behind you?
I did not understand that either. Mine was the only car. If he had only waited 3 minutes i would have been through. Maybe he did not like the Delhi registration. I'm not kidding. A lot of people don't take kindly to Delhites..and they have good reason not too either.

Sadly a few bad apples have given us all a bad name.
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Old 15th October 2013, 01:37   #68
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Default Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

I awoke suddenly as a window crashed loudly outside. The room was still dark and my hands groped for my spectacles by my bedside. They found my phone instead and it lit up my face in a luminescent glow.

7:15 AM it blinked at me.

I turned to look at Gaurav. His bed was empty.

A strange whistle came in through the balcony door which was locked from inside. I sat up in bed as my elbows supported me with a confused look upon my face.

The whistle grew louder and the door seemed to shake a bit.

I sat upright now and my feet searched the tiled floor for my slippers, but only succeeded in pushing them further under the bed. I hopped on the cold floor towards the window and with one swift motion drew open the curtains, keeping my eyes half closed to protect them from the bright morning sun.

But there was no sunlight. Only a dark grey mass that swirled around above us fighting the sun rays back defiantly.The trees were bent over almost double as if in supplication to some invisible entity. The wind loosened its grasp and they sprung upright again only to be sent backwards down the opposite way.

I reached for the switch on the wall by the door.

"Click"

Nothing.

"Click Click Click" I repeated and then stopped feeling suddenly silly at my actions.

"No power buddy" a voice said behind me as Gaurav exited the bathroom "No hot water either.."

I unlatched the thin plywood door to our 2nd floor balcony and it flew back at me stubbing my toe as it did.

"@#%&" I yelled shutting it hurriedly against the intrusive unrelenting wind and hopped back to the bed with my toe cupped in my hands.

Another crash was heard from below.

"We better get a move on the weather is quite nasty today" I grunted walking towards the bathroom and Gaurav nodded back almost apologetically.

"Il go wake up Abhi and Chandni" he said through the bathroom door. I heard the door slam shut behind him as the wind pushed against it.

In a short while we were all in the lobby. A potted plant lay broken by the door. The wind had pulled the tall plant and shattered the heavy Pot that had anchored it.

The plaster from a wall was strewn about the lobby floor. The slamming of the heavy door repeatedly upon its frame had proven too much for the plaster to take.

We made our way to the restaurant which was accessible only from outside the lobby and through the garden path clutching our clothes and bags as we did so.

A German couple and their guide were inside having breakfast.

They looked up at us as we entered and the door again made a loud noise as it raced toward the wall when i opened it.

We sat by them and ordered.

I asked the guide what his views were on driving to Khardungla today. He looked up and smiled..

"No problem" he said as he went back to his fried egg on toast.

After a quick bite i walked to the car to load up the luggage while Gaurav (the cashier for the trip) settled the bill. There was a man lying under the Pajero as I walked up to it.

Only his ankles were visible.

He hurriedly slithered out when he saw my feet standing by his and smiled at me ingratiatingly. He was the taxi driver of the German couple and noticed my quizzical expression.

"4x4 system check kar raha tha Saab" (Was just checking the 4x4 system sir)

I smiled back.."Yeh bhi 4x4 hai" I said motioning with my hand that it was okay while tilting my head towards the Fortuner. (This too has 4x4)

He walked up to me looking at Obelix approvingly and started to help me load up the bags.

I half expected him to dive under Obelix too.

I offered him a cigarette but could not light it in the strong wind. He pulled out a matchbox from within the folds of his fake "North Face" jacket and in one motion lit the matchstick and the cigarette cupping it within his hands as he did.

After a deep puff he looked up, smiling at me with his weather beaten face and deep friendly eyes.

I asked him what he thought about driving to Khardungla in this weather

Nodding his head from side to side in quick small motions he said..

"Big problem.."

We were not to worried as we had capable 4x4's and the insurance of low range also and were soon waving our goodbyes to the friendly staff at Karma inn.

We raced towards North Pullu. The skies were nothing like the deep blue that had welcomed us into the Nubra Valley yesterday.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-1.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-2.jpg

There was evidence of fresh snowfall all around us as we got to North Pullu
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-3.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-4.jpg

We were not waved through but asked to park up by the side of the road.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-5.jpg

We were the first two cars here it seemed. I got off with our permits so i could make the required entries.

"Aage nai jaa sakte..Pass bandd hai..do Gaadi bhi neeche aa gaya" (You cannot proceed..the pass is shut..two cars have also come down)

"Matlab crash ho gaya!!" my eyes widened as i said so. (You mean they have crashed!!)

"Nai Nai wapis aa gaya" he said pointing to two cars behind me.

I turned to look. An XUV and an Alto stood by embarrassed.

I turned back to him again.

"Hamari gaadi 4x4 hai, aaram se jayegi" I said showing him Obelix and the Pajero (Our cars have 4x4 and will go easily)

"Nai nai teen baje...teen baje" (No no 3 pm only) he said and hurriedly walked away from me towards his warm room, wanting to get away from pesky tourists and sub zero winds.

I was wearing crocs without socks and the wind pierced my toes like needles.

I walked to Obelix and told Gaurav.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-6.jpg

"We are stuck here till 3 it seems..they have shut the pass" we told Abhi and Chandni as they rolled down their window.

It was only a little past 10 AM yet. There was nothing more to do.

We went inside a building that looked like a restaurant and sat on a large wooden table. Hot tea was ordered and we started to play Uno as the wind howled outside and soft snowflakes glided down.

After a while the place started to fill up with taxi drivers and tourists. I went out to have a look. There were quite a few cars now.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-7.jpg

I saw the German couple (in the background)
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-8.jpg

Their taxi driver saw me and waved before he dived into the Innova again. I walked up to him and he told me to speak to the DSP and that he may let us go as we had 4x4 cars.

I walked to the guard room and knocked.

He was sitting by a small fire warming his hands and looked up at me expectantly. I asked for the number of the DSP so i could take his permission to leave.

He gazed at me with a mixture of disappointment and dismay. Then as though suddenly coming back to life he gave me the number telling me that it was of no use at the same time.

He was right.

I borrowed the Taxi drivers cellphone to make the call telling him i shall pay for it ofcourse. The DSP did not heed my pleas of 4x4, Low range, A/T tyres etc. and soon hung up. I returned the cell phone and reached for some money in my pocket but was stopped mid way by the taxi driver, he would hear nothing of it. I thanked him and walked towards the Dhaba.

There wasn't much else I could do now. We would have to wait like everyone else.

I went back inside to the Dhaba and looked at the happy smiling faces of my friends playing Uno and slurping hot steaming Maggi quite unaware of my futile exertions to rid us off this unplanned immobility.

"When life gives you lemons..you make lemonade" goes the saying. I joined in the fun and ordered some hot Maggi to warm up.

He though seemed untroubled by the snow and freezing wind..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-9.jpg

After a while we sneaked out quietly and took our cars to the front of the line. I did not fancy being stuck behind some waltzing Sumo or Innova on a narrow slushy road up a mountain pass.

Soon we were on our way again and as i predicted there was a mad rush as soon as everyone else saw us take off..

Obelix pulled away from everyone with the Pajero right behind it.

The road seemed pretty good at first
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-10.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-11.jpg

But soon turned slushy and bumpy too..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-12.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-13.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-14.jpg

I engaged 4L and locked the Center Diff to prevent any wheel slippage on the steep slushy track. I kept up the momentum and powered on.

We were now far ahead of the small specks below us.

We reached Khardungla but did not stop as i did not want to be stuck in any traffic jam if the other cars caught up.

That's Leh visible through the clouds
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-15.jpg

As expected the weather is always quite opposite on either side of a pass. The sun was out.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-16.jpg

Soon we were at Leh and went straight to Mahey. It had been another exciting day. I took a quick hot shower.

Gaurav and the rest had gone to the market for some more shopping. I drew back the curtains and lay in bed.

The peaks of mountains around us that were so clearly visible earlier were now shrouded in thick rolling grey clouds in every direction. The weather was changing all around us.

After dinner at "Summer Harvest" we went and spoke to some tour operators.

They all said that "Chang La Pass" on the route to Pangong may also have some really bad weather. There were reports of people being stuck there all day today and that traffic was being held up at Karu itself.

We would have to find out at Karu when we got there tomorrow on our way to Pangong.

To be continued..

Last edited by Manuuj : 15th October 2013 at 01:46.
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Old 15th October 2013, 08:48   #69
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Default Re: Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manuuj;3264957[I
Leh-Khardungla-Hunder-Leh The journey continues..[/i]


Finally after the longest wait of my life..
Attachment 1152430
Great going Manuuj.
Next time let me know when you feel like stirring out - so that I can tell you where exactly I want you to go so that I can see the place through your snaps and words. No point in wasting time and precious fuel doing it myself !

Incidentally noticed that Obelix has had a bad hit on the left foot/running board. Where did that happen ?
Don't tell me a menhir fell on his foot during a delivery...
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Old 15th October 2013, 13:21   #70
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Default Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

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Great going Manuuj.
Next time let me know when you feel like stirring out - so that I can tell you where exactly I want you to go so that I can see the place through your snaps and words. No point in wasting time and precious fuel doing it myself !

Incidentally noticed that Obelix has had a bad hit on the left foot/running board. Where did that happen ?
Don't tell me a menhir fell on his foot during a delivery...
Hahaha..Thanks HG!! Any trip will be much more enjoyable if you and Admiral are there too in person. Your sharp wit and one liners shall keep us wholly entertained i'm sure!

The hit on the Left step ladder occurred on a trip to Rishikesh on a narrow broken up offroad track when i went over a large boulder. The left tyre went over it slowly and the then Obelix 'beached' on the boulder with its ladder and slid off toward the road.

I dont mind it though. Some scars add character.

P.S. Good catch by the way!

Last edited by Manuuj : 15th October 2013 at 13:23.
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Old 15th October 2013, 15:43   #71
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Default Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

Leaving Leh..

I could not sleep to well even though it had been a long day.

Missing Turtuk was not a big deal but Pangong?!! Could we really call our trip complete if we did not visit Pangong or Hanle even?

It was with these same thoughts that I awoke the next day after a fitful sleep. My eyes was firmly on the horizon. Unfortunately the weather still looked as ominous as it had done last evening.

None of the Stok Range peaks were visible under the thick grey swirling blanket that cloaked them.

We quickly showered and went down to the lobby. There was a strange silence now. It seemed that the trip may be cut short mid flight. The other members were a bit tired and did not mind heading to Manali if the weather did not permit us to visit Pangong today.

They hadn't held the dream as long as I had. It would be quite a blow to me.

I met the person who had arranged for the passes and asked about weather conditions up ahead. More importantly if traffic being allowed from Karu towards Chang La and further on to Pangong.

The news wasn't good.

He said there were reports of cars being held up for hours and as of now Chang La was still shut due to heavy snowfall.

We could still try our luck at Karu Check Post.

My mood had plummeted by now. After a light breakfast we headed loaded up the cars and wished the staff of Mahey Retreat goodbye.

By 11 we were on the highway that led out of Leh
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-1.jpg

The peaks were not visible, the clouds were dark and looked like they were here to stay for a while yet.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-2.jpg

I wondered silently where i would be headed to Pangong or Manali..Karu was 35 kms away.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-3.jpg

The sun came out and my hopes were raised
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-4.jpg

Near Thiksey..
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Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-6.jpg

We got to Karu and i got off and inquired from the check post.

It was bad news. Chang La was stil shut. A line of trucks and taxis bore testament to the long wait that they had endured.

Then came another blow.

"Aap jaldd hi Manali chale jayiye..ho sakta hai Rohtang bhi kuch dino ke liye band ho jaye!" (Its better you go to Manali as soon as you can..its possible that Rohtang may also shut)

So Hanle was also looking doubtful now. It was a group decision. I was really upset now but kept calm.

It wasn't anyone's fault.

We had been on the road for 12 days and the rest of them were weary of driving. They wanted the comfort of Manali and then to be home for various engagements.

I was very keen on visiting Hanle but it would mean 2 more days here and if the weather turned for the worse we could be stuck before Rohtang for much longer than desired.

With a heavy heart i relented and we began the return leg of our journey prematurely.

I got off at Upshi and made entries to the register..Hanle beckoned but i had promises to keep.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-7.jpg

We were soon on the way to Pang, Jispa and Keylang.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-8.jpg

No music played. I drove in complete silence. Gaurav intuitively left me to my thoughts.

The situation seemed harsh as was the landscape.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-9.jpg

As we neared Tanglang La the clouds were back again
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-10.jpg

Manali was still some way away
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-11.jpg

The climb to Tanglang La began, The road was billiard table smooth. We had missed this on the way up as we had taken that shortcut.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-12.jpg

Looking at the changing landscape my mood began to brighten
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Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-14.jpg

We reached the point from where we had taken the shortcut down the mountain a video of which i posted
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-15.jpg

Tanglang La wasn't far now and the clouds seemed to be just within our reach
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-16.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-17.jpg

Tanglang La..i had not imagined i would be seeing you so soon again...
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-18.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-19.jpg

Half n hour later we were down near Moreh. We saw these horses, I stopped the car and stepped out.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-20.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-21.jpg

Soon we were at Moreh again.
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I had reconciled myself to the situation now. "Que Sera Sera" (Whatever will be will be). It was just another reason to come back again. I had too.

Letting these thought lie i began to enjoy the drive and the sights helped to do so as well. How can one not smile on a road like this
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-23.jpg
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Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-25.jpg

Nearing Pang we decided not to stop at the dhabas. We would stop somewhere on the way and make our own meal of cup noodles. This would mean saving quite a time saving as the water could be boiled on the move.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-26.jpg

The starkness of the valley between Pang and Kanglajal. A quiet hot meal was taken soon after on a rock in the valley. The quiet calm of the valley soothed me completely.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-28.jpg

Lachungla and Nakila came and went in quick time
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-27.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-30.jpg

Just before Nakila we saw this truck..I think Tata Helpline were a bit late coming..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-29.jpg


To be continued..
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Old 15th October 2013, 19:45   #72
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Default Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

After crossing Lachulung La and Nakilla we came down from Gata Loops and neared Sarchu.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-1.jpg

These Ibex were very well camouflaged and we almost missed them..it was only beacuse one had run right next to the road that we saw him and later when he joined the herd we saw them too!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-2.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-3.jpg

After seeing the Ibex the conversation turned to the best way to cook steaks, best beverage with steaks, best sauce with steaks, best post steak dessert etc etc for some reason.

The ethereal beauty of Sarchu was a sight to behold in the fading sunlight
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-4.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-5.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-6.jpg

Trucks stocked these areas up with supplies for the winter before the roads shut down..truck drivers are the unsung heroes of the world in my mind.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-7.jpg

Sunlight was fading fast and it seemd that Baralacha La had also received some snowfall..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-8.jpg

Goodbye Sarchu..till we meet again
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-9.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-10.jpg

The areas where snow had melted were darker and caused these artistic strokes on the mountain
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-11.jpg

The weather turned nasty once more. We had to slow down a lot due to the weather and oncoming trucks from time to time.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-12.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-13.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-14.jpg

We crossed Jispa in the dark and made for Keylang 20 kms ahead so we could be closer to Rohtang thus saving some crucial time in the morning. I wanted to cross Rohtang before the morning taxi rush started from Manali.

We reached Hotel Chandrabhaga by about 8:30 and had a quick dinner. I wanted to wake up early and leave by 7 AM so we retired early. It had been a disappointing day in a way.

I had expected to be sleeping at Pangong tonight but instead we were on our way back home.

Looking back it was probably for the best.

Ladakh should not be gobbled like a buffet but rather enjoyed like a fine wine one sip at a time.

Pangong, Hanle, Zanskar, Turtuk, Siachen, Tso kar, Tso Moriri all would be enjoyed at a later date.

There would be reason for excitement on our next trip to Ladakh because of these yet unexplored places.

To be continued..
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Old 16th October 2013, 13:40   #73
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Default Re: Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

18 hours and no post... Manuuj.. am waiting for more.
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Old 16th October 2013, 16:43   #74
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Default Re: Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

This page is always kept open in my iPad as tab. So I used to refresh once a while to know if new posts have been made
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Old 16th October 2013, 18:02   #75
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Default Re: Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

I have been checking for the next installment. Me too waiting anxiously. Lovely pics and narration must have been a thrilling experience living your dream.
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