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Old 7th October 2013, 16:33   #1
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Thumbs up Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

100,000 Kilometers together. That is a milestone for sure.

What makes it even more special is that they have been 100,000 pleasurable and trouble free Kilometers.

I look back on the last 4 years and the many good memories that Obelix has been a part of. Various excursions with friends, business trips, road trips to Himachal, Rajasthan and Kumaon among other places.

All the while i have been quietly confident that Obelix would never let me down and was infact enjoying these trips and relished them as much as i was.

Over the past years ever since I joined this Forum in Feb 2009 i have read multiple reports and TL's on Leh posted by HVK, TSK, Coolcat21, Laluks and the legendary ADC. The IPHE expedition and the TL posted by Coolcat really whet my appetite to an almost painful degree.

I longed to drive those roads and breathe that rarefied air.

In December 2009 Obelix came into my life and on countless times i shared that dream with him. The years and miles rolled by and many road trips were undertaken. Rajasthan, Himachal and Kumaon were explored to the fullest. But we both felt quietly incomplete..and we both knew why.

We hadn't been to Leh.

At the start of 2103 I expressed my intention to drive to Leh to my family at home and work. September was the month that I intended to undertake this drive and i put aside 15-20 days for this adventure. In the meantime I poured through those magnificent and inspirational TL's once more.

The names of these faraway places fascinated me ZingzingBar, Nako, Tabo, Kaza, Sarchu, Killingsarai..

This year had to be the time I visited these places and saw them from myself in 4D High Definition instead of on the saliva stained screen of my Dell XPS.

HVK's IPHE expedtion and Coolcat21's TL's really got my attention as this was a part of India that i had never explored and I wanted to visit Kinnaur, Sangala and Spiti Valleys also.

The route was loosely formed in my mind. We would go to Leh via Simla-Narkanda-Rampur-Chitkul-Puh-Nako-Tabo-Kaza-Keylang and Jispa. The return would be through Kargil, Sonmarg, Srinagar, Jammu and Pathankot to Jalandhar from where i would take the Grand Trunk road back to Delhi.

I asked a few friends in May and it soon turned into a problem of plenty and I part confirmed with them all knowing fully well that many would back out eventually due to various reasons.

I only wanted 4 people in my car so we could all travel in comfort. By July most had tendered their excuses and apologies and the list was down to 4 people including me. Things were falling in place. A friend of mine for 16 years Gaurav and his Icelandic girlfriend Eva confirmed alongwith another friend of mine called Udit.

The Quorum was complete.

Nilanjan and Guderian also expressed an interest to go in their Bison and Admiral but had to postpone their plans to next year.

August rolled by we moved the date of departure to 15th September in order for Eva to go back to Iceland reapply for a visa and return to Delhi in time for the trip.

Then our first stroke of bad luck struck us.. Udit had to cancel as an important interview for a lucrative consultancy job with a Europe based company coincided with the dates of the trip. He wrestled with the idea but he knew also that the interview could not be missed. With a heavy heart he bowed out and we were left reduced to a party of 3.

Gaurav asked me to do all the route , ration and stay planning as he was unfamiliar with these areas. I was unfamiliar too but i had an excellent and unbeatable tool at my disposal. Team-Bhp.

With its vast bank of knowledge on route planning, accommodation options and every other conceivable nugget of information that you would need neatly laid out by the legends I have named above.

I read them all again and downloaded HVK's Logs from the IPHE expedition. These logs are brilliant to use just one word. Every City, Town, Village, Petrol Station, Hotel, Restaurant, Dhaba and mileage clearly and legibly marked out one page after another. I took printouts of each section and poured through them.

September rolled in and on the 8th morning Gaurav went to IGI Airport to pick up Eva as she was flying back home to Delhi today.

Disaster!! She had missed her flight! All other flights were fully booked up from Iceland to Holland till Oct 28th! This was a body blow to our plans! The whole expedition looked like it had derailed..First Udit and now Eva?!

How would we recover?.. would we recover?

We decided that we HAD to go. I told Gaurav i would even go alone if he wasn't up to it.

But he though a little upset was still keen to go.

Then a ray of sunshine pierced the clouds. A couple that Gaurav knew were also planning to go up to Leh on the 16-17th from the Manali route.

We set up a meeting and they were excited about taking the Kinnaur Spiti route once i showed them some pictures from T-bhp.

It was decided that we would take the Kinnaur route up and the Manali route down back to Delhi. Kargil/Zojila and Padum would have to visited on my next visit to Leh.

The other couple Abhimanyu and Chandni were going to take their Pajero and Gaurav and i would be taken by Obelix.
.
This was a good turn of events. There was a back up car in case of any eventuality.

All kinds of things were discussed and a shopping list prepared. I bought a Car Inverter so we could charge our mobiles and laptops on the go.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-img2013091303489.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-img2013092003586.jpg
I hunted for a Car Kettle and zeroed in on one made by Tropicool in Pune. I called their factory in Pune directly from numbers i got on the net and thanks to the to express service and efficiency of the staff there i had it in my hands three days later.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-img2013091603505.jpg
I already had a Steel tow rope and Electric Air Pump for the tyres.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-img2013091303486.jpg
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-img2013091303488.jpg
I bought Injector cleaner and Pyroil tyre Inflater for both cars incase of an emergency. Pyroil releases a sealant and air into a deflated tyre and repairs the puncture from inside. The injector cleaners were to deal with the low quality of diesel that we may have had to deal with.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-img2013091303485.jpg
Gaurav's father lent us his portable stove that runs on Kerosene/Diesel or petrol
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-img2013091803519.jpg
We bought many Packets of Cup Noodles, MTR Meals, Baked Beans, Canned Tuna, Canned Ham, Juices, Chips, Water, Chocolates, Snacks etc as emergency rations enough for 4 people for 7 days.

A new leakproof double capped 35 litre Plastic Can was sourced for carrying extra Diesel also. This was not really going to be needed we felt as both vehicles had large 80 litre fuel tanks.

Medication and a first aid kit was stocked up and i even bought 4 disposable Oxygen Cylinders incase of any emergency.

By the 15th everything was in Order and Gaurav and i decided to leave on the Tuesday the 17th for Simla and meet up with Abhimanyu and Chandni at Kufri the next day.

This ensured us an easy start to the expedition as Simla was just 7-8 hours away at most and we had made this trip umpteen times.

They were going to leave directly from Delhi and meet us at Kufri so we could drive ahead together to Sarahan our destination for the night.

The flexible itinerary for the drive up to Leh was:

Day 1- 17th September Delhi-Simla: 370 kms
Day 2- 18th September Simla-Sarahan: 151 kms
Day 3- 19th September Sarahan-Chitkul: 104 kms
Day 4- 20th September Chitkul-Puh: 115 kms
Day 5- 21st September Puh-Kaza: 152 kms
Day 6- 22nd September Kaza-Jispa: 207 kms
Day 7- 23rd September Jispa-Leh: 340 kms

This ensured a leisurely and easy drive each day on roads that we knew would be in bad condition due to the recent flooding and landslides in Kinnaur and Spiti.

We would take each day as it come once we were in Leh and had not made any firm plans for visits to areas around there.

Here is a traditional teaser
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-735.jpg

I shall let the pictures do the talking now from my next post for the rest of this report.
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Old 7th October 2013, 18:17   #2
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Default re: Obelix goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!"

Wow! A very attractive teaser pic I would say. Waiting for more.

Some interesting tools you have had handy for the trip, thanks for sharing.
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Old 7th October 2013, 18:50   #3
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Default re: Obelix goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!"

A 3000 km, 15 day Road Trip to the worlds most beautiful landscape through the worlds most treacherous roads. A place where every twist and turn of the road presented one breathtaking view after another.

We soon reconciled to the fact that no amount of pictures could justify the majesty and magnificence of what lay before us. All the same..we clicked away.

Here is a selection of photos with which i shall attempt to take you on this Journey which i know i am bound to undertake again.

Load Up!! Leh or Bust..The Journey Begins!!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-1.jpg

An easy 11 Am start from Gaurav's house as our first destination was Simla only 7 hours away.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-2.jpg

Early warning to drive safe!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-3.jpg

Our last bit of junk food (for a fortnight atleast) Zirakpur just before the turn for the Himalayan Expressway to Simla.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-5.jpg

The Himalayan Expressway and Hills for the next 15 days!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-7.jpg

The Mall at Simla the next day.. another Lazy start as our destination was the picturesque hill station of Sarahan 150 kms away via Kufri , Narkanda and Rampur.
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Waiting for Abhimanyu and Chandni to join us just outside Kufri.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-9.jpg

Beautifully crisp and sunny evening. Our first break just ahead of Narkanda.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-10.jpg

The full Moon lit up the night sky just before Jeori where we would take a right U turn and climb towards Sarahan which was at a much higher elevation.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-11.jpg

Cool fresh air and hot tea in bed..a mighty good start!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-12.jpg

An not too early start and beautiful view from the balcony.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-13.jpg

HPDTC Shrikhand Sarahan. So named after the tasty Potato and Coconut dessert that is served only in this Hotel! Friendly and Courteous staff. I would return just for that dessert!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-14.jpg

The Bhimkali Mata Temple at Sarahan. The former summer capital of the Bushahr kingdom, Sarahan is dominated by the fabulous Bhimakali Temple, built from layers of stone and timber to absorb the force of earthquakes. There are two towers here, one built in the 12th century, and a newer tower from the 1920s containing a highly revered shrine to Bhimakali (the local version of Kali) beneath a beautiful silver-filigree canopy.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-15.jpg

A break at Sarahan before we leave for Chitkul the last village in Kinnaur before the international border with Tibet. It was another easy start as Chitkul is just 105 kms away. The leisurely pace of the trip was one of our main aims..No waking at 5 AM and 12-14 hour drives for us. This is a holiday after all!!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-15a.jpg

On the way from Sarahan to Jeori where we would rejoin the main road upto Karcham.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-16.jpg

Back on NH-21 from Jeori to Chitkul via Karcham and Sangla Valley.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-17.jpg

NH-21 is quite a road!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-18.jpg

Say AAAHH!! The Pajero emerges..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-19.jpg

A canopy of stone
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-20.jpg

Landslide!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-21.jpg

Karcham Wangtoo Power Sataion on the Baspa River
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-22.jpg

The reservoir at Karcham.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-23.jpg

The road surface is very different after Karcham.. a lot more fun and exciting now. Its a good feeling to be on these roads.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-24.jpg

World famous Sangla Baba! Happy and Serene!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-25.jpg

Blessings for a safe journey.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-26a.jpg

Abhimanyu and Gaurav with me in the center.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-26.jpg

The road to Sangla
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-27.jpg

The small hill town of Sangla. Many Campsites, Hotels and Homestays here to suit all pockets.. Our destination was Chitkul 23 odd kilometers ahead.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-28.jpg

to be continued..
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Old 7th October 2013, 21:00   #4
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Default re: Obelix goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!"

Looks like an interesting travelogue. I especially like the fact that as you mentioned, no early starts or 12-14 hrs drive. A very leisurely trip.

Would you say a 4x4 is a must on this route to Leh?
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Old 7th October 2013, 23:39   #5
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Default Obelix Goes to Leh!!

After Sangla we entered a protected Forest all the way to Chitkul The narrow road had some amazing expansive views and hardly any traffic on it. It was a leisurely drive as we took in all the views and clicked away..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-29.jpg

Maize Fields..no Solitary Reaper..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-30.jpg

We crossed a brook with crystal clear and sweet tasting water.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-31.jpg

The Pajero also caught up with us and we took some time to take in the views around us..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-32.jpg

The road ahead..Chitkul isn't far now
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-33.jpg

The road we leave behind
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-34.jpg

Chitkul is just around the corner..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-35.jpg

We checked into the simple "Panchali Resorts". It was cold at 11300 ft above MSL.. Moonlight bathes the Valley and the snow capped peaks above. We had a quick dinner and chatted for a while over a game of cards. Abhimanyu and Chandni were tired and it had become pretty cold suddenly so we retired for the night.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-36.jpg

Sunlight bathed our room and the whole valley in the morning. The view from our hotel room at "Panchali Resorts" Cheap accommodation and below par service. We had a quick breakfast and packed our things back into the Cars.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-37.jpg

Chitkul, on the banks of Baspa River, is the first village of the Baspa Valley and the last village on the old Hindustan-Tibet trade route. It is also the last point in India one can travel to without a permit. Of particular interest at Chitkul are its houses with either slate or wooden plank roofs, a Buddhist temple and a small tower.

We headed down to the river.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-38.jpg

The Road ends a few hundred meters from here..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-39.jpg

Picture Perfect Chitkul
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-40.jpg

We spent some time here by the Baspa bouncing rocks and taking gulps of the crisp fresh air
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Time to head out.. next stop the village of Puh 113 kms away. We would cross Sangla, Karcham, Powari, Recong peo and Spello on the way. Puh would be our stop for the night. These are the kinds of roads that we would drive on till we reached Karcham.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-42.jpg

We left the beautiful Valley behind with hopes to return someday.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-43.jpg

The Road to Sangla
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-44.jpg

Baspa Valley
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-45.jpg

NH 21 from Karcham to Powari.. this tarmac would not last long and soon we would be on narrow rutted roads caused due to Landslides and nature taking back from Man what Man had appropriated for himself.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-46.jpg

to be continued

@Amrisharm: 4x4 is not needed for about 98 percent of the route and people have done it in everything from Landcruisers to Alto's and Nanos but yes the 2% that is tricy is easily negotiated with 4x4. If the weather turns bad and the roads get very slushy then 4x2 vehicles may get stuck in some places alaong the way.

Last edited by Manuuj : 7th October 2013 at 23:50.
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Old 8th October 2013, 09:03   #6
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Default re: Obelix goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!"

Manuj

It was about time you and Obelix got Leh'ed . The guy must have been tired of making Menhirs !
I think i missed you by a whisker. Me and Maximus were fighting some raging battles on Spitian highlands in the same period . From 16 sept to 21st was in Spiti. My plan was rather sudden.
A pajero and a fortuner .. superb combination. Bring it on !
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Old 8th October 2013, 09:49   #7
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Default re: Obelix goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manuuj View Post
After Sangla we entered a protected Forest all the way to Chitkul The narrow road had some amazing expansive views and hardly any traffic on it. It was a leisurely drive as we took in all the views and clicked away..
Wow! This is what I call a good use of 4X4 monster. Sad of see, quite a significant proportion of Fortuner owners use it strictly for mall runs on the weekends.

Look forward to the remaining part of travelogue. Glued to the thread.
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Old 8th October 2013, 09:56   #8
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Default re: Obelix goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!"

What a start,and Chitkul is one of my Favourite getaway's.
Btw its NH-22 and not 21;21 is the one that goes to Manali
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Old 8th October 2013, 11:41   #9
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Default re: Obelix goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!"

Lovely. Was waiting for this. Too bad I couldn't make it finally.

Rated 5 stars. Do also cover how the two vehicles performed - would be nice to know.

Edit: Good that you didn't use the title "Obelix gets Leh'd" :-)

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Old 8th October 2013, 11:52   #10
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Default re: Obelix goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!"

Lovely to drive your vehicle the way it ought to be.

Any camping sites at Chitkul?
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Old 8th October 2013, 12:34   #11
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Default re: Obelix goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!"

Hi Manuuj,

Beautiful pics man, the roads & scenery are breathtaking indeed. Also crisp narration with the pics is a good touch

BTW, how are the Yoko Geolanders performing now ?

Thanks for sharing this experience with us, awaiting more pics

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Old 8th October 2013, 13:28   #12
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Default Obelix Goes to Leh!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by columbus View Post
Manuj

It was about time you and Obelix got Leh'ed . The guy must have been tired of making Menhirs !
I think i missed you by a whisker. Me and Maximus were fighting some raging battles on Spitian highlands in the same period . From 16 sept to 21st was in Spiti. My plan was rather sudden.
A pajero and a fortuner .. superb combination. Bring it on !
Oh! would have been great to meet there! hope you had a fantastic trip. Where all did u visit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gotham_City View Post
Wow! This is what I call a good use of 4X4 monster. Sad of see, quite a significant proportion of Fortuner owners use it strictly for mall runs on the weekends.

Look forward to the remaining part of travelogue. Glued to the thread.
The Low range and Diff Locks were used on many many occasions! It was a treat for Obelix and me!

Quote:
Originally Posted by akshay4587 View Post
What a start,and Chitkul is one of my Favourite getaway's.
Btw its NH-22 and not 21;21 is the one that goes to Manali
Yes you are right. I stand corrected!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
Lovely. Was waiting for this. Too bad I couldn't make it finally.

Rated 5 stars. Do also cover how the two vehicles performed - would be nice to know.

Edit: Good that you didn't use the title "Obelix gets Leh'd" :-)
Thanks for the rating Nilanjan. Would have been really good if you would have been able to make it. I shall cover how the vehicles performed for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Lovely to drive your vehicle the way it ought to be.

Any camping sites at Chitkul?
There are lots of camping sites in Sangla 20 kms before Chitkul. Chitkul has lots of Hotels and homestays but i did not see any camps maybe because it was off-season.

Quote:
Originally Posted by karan561 View Post
Hi Manuuj,

Beautiful pics man, the roads & scenery are breathtaking indeed. Also crisp narration with the pics is a good touch

BTW, how are the Yoko Geolanders performing now ?

Thanks for sharing this experience with us, awaiting more pics
Trust me Karan pics do not do justice at all to the place. They capture just a fraction of the majesty that this place exudes. I took about 1200 pics and shall be posting atleast 300-400 in this thread alone.

The Journey has just about started.

The Geolandars performed very well. Both Cars were running on Geolanders and sufferred no sidewall damage even though we had to really rush through Malling Nallah with really sharp stones and rocks in place of a road surface. I was sure that a tyre would blow as we crossed it in low range 3rd gear with the pedal almost too the metal for reasons i shall soon disclose. The tyres gave no cause for concern but both Cars had one puncture each but due to nails and not rocks.

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Old 8th October 2013, 14:41   #13
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Default Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Leh! the journey ahead...

To summarise, We had left Delhi on the 17th afternoon and after stopping at Simla for the night we left for Sarahan 150 odd kms away the next afternoon of 18th September, around 2 PM.

After a night halt at Sarahan and taking in the views, a visit to the revered Bhimkali Mata temple and a roadside picnic we left for Chitkul..just 104 kms away, on 19th September where the road would effectively end.

On the 20th we left for Puh which meant we were on our way to Leh now as Sarahan and Chitkul were both diversions on the route to Leh that we were taking.

We even discussed the possibility of halting at Nako ot Tabo to make up some time.

The road after Karcham seemed to be well metaled and good..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-46.jpg

The journey ahead..

Road surface started deteriorating. We would only see proper tarmac at Jispa now almost 480 kms away.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-46a.jpg

The "highway" from here on in..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-47.jpg

We were planning on stopping at Powari and tanking up as we had not filled up since we left Simla. There was still more than half in my car and about a quarter tank in The Pajero.

No fuel at Powari! This was unexpected!! We went up to Recong Peo also known as Peoh in these parts and got our cars tanked up. I decided not to fill up the extra tank as the Fortuner and Pajero both have large 80 litre tanks.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-48.jpg

These worried looks soon disappeared.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-48a.jpg

We were told at the petrol pump at Peo that the road ahead of Powari had been blocked due to Landslides and may be shut. This was indeed a rude shock after the relief of procuring the fuel. We thought of staying at Kalpa for the night but it seemed to early to give up and we decided to try our luck..

We continued onwards back down to Powari and crossed it. But then as expected...
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-49.jpg

After a wait of about 2.5 hours where we made tea, played Uno and heard rocks and stones crashing down into the valley ahead of us we started to move forward slowly even as small stones often fell around us and even on our roof.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-50.jpg

We had lost a lot of time today. Nako and Tabo were distant dreams now. It was a scramble to get to Puh which though was only 70 odd kms away was still going to take a lot of time to get too as we moved ahead in 2nd and 3rd gear most of the time due to the road and traffic conditions.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-50a.jpg

Kassang bridge was crossed around 5 PM.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-51.jpg

Nature soothed our nerves somewhat..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-51a.jpg

Rocks occasionaly slid from the mountainside and we had to swerve to miss them. Luckily our speed was low. Even though it was a bit risky i still was secretly enjoying this experience.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-52a.jpg

..but for some reason i was driving with my head tilted to the right
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-52b.jpg

The road surface got a bit better and our speed increased..but there were many blind curves..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-52c.jpg

There was also a walk in shower..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-53.jpg

We soon got to Akpa Bridge
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-54.jpg

The view from Akpa Bridge..the Satluj roared below
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-55.jpg

One Vehicle at a time..just ahead of this Bridge is a checkpost where Foreigners must present their inner line permits and Indians must make an entry into the register.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-56.jpg

The Satluj meandered it was through the Valley..the road was just a dirt track now..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-57.jpg

Nearing Puh soon..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-59.jpg

We missed the Left U turn for Puh first as it was pitch dark and the road signs were confusing and reached the Army area on the main highway from where we were given directions. We soon got to it and stayed at the comfortable Om Hotel, Puh.
Contact: Tenzin 08988000009. Om Hotel has some Parking but no restaurant..They arranged for dinner to be served in our rooms though. Tenzin was very helpful and gave us a contact for a hotel in Kaza also.

Last edited by Manuuj : 8th October 2013 at 14:43.
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Old 8th October 2013, 16:35   #14
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Default Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Leh!

Puh to Kaza..Day 5

After a good dinner and a restful sleep we woke up to cold wet day in Puh. It started to rain around 3 AM and when we woke there was still a light drizzle. This worried us as it could mean more delays due to landslides and the infamous Malling Nallah lay ahead as per the Logs of HVK.

We decided to dress quickly and leave Puh in those wet conditions..It was almost 10 AM when we left Puh to rejoin the highway below
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-1.jpg

It was discovered that the Pajero had a flat and the Left rear was rapidly losing air. Luckily a puncture repair shop was on the main highway in Puh itself just before the Army base.

The chap quickly got to work. We were losing time but took it in our stride
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-2.jpg

I parked up ahead and suddenly the whiff of some rather tasty stuff hit my nostrils and like a bloodhound my nose led me to this place.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-3.jpg

He could give KFC run for his money! We had some rather tasty and hot fish and chicken Pakoras in the cold drizzle. We did not mind the wait now..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-4.jpg

Almost an hour later we moved ahead again and were on our way to Nako. The equipment of the repair shop was a bit damaged so he had taken time to repair the puncture and install the tyre back onto the car.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-5.jpg

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

Another view of Dublin Bridge
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-6a.jpg

We climbed and the Satluj seemed like a tiny stream below
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-7.jpg

The road surface improved greatly and we continued to climb
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-8.jpg

A roadside temple before Nako
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-9.jpg

We reached Nako and were keen to see the lake.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-10.jpg

The only interesting building there
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-11.jpg

Many small hotels and homestays here too
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-12.jpg

Nako Lake..Nainital need not worry just yet!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-13.jpg

We left Nako around one and proceeded to Malling Nalaah..things looked pretty ominous..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-14.jpg

There were Trucks parked up by the side of the road.

As we neared we met a man who said that the road ahead was blocked due to landslides and that he had just crossed Malling on foot as his bus was stuck on the other side since 10 AM. I twas now 1 PM. We had struck out again!

We reached the front of the que of trucks and we were the only cars there besides one Alto Taxi whose driver seemed pretty optimistic.

A couple of people tried to venture ahead toward the blockage
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-15.jpg

They soon ran back sheepishly as sharp rocks and big stones rained down from the mountain.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-16.jpg

It seemed like it was going to be another long wait. 2 landslides in 2 days. All the same we made some hot coffee with the car kettle and enjoyed the weather. There was nothing much we could do.

Soon reinforcements arrived in the form of the BRO

The GREF and BRO were ready to risk life and limb to get us through the infamous Malling Nallah
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-17.jpg

Temple at Malling.. very appropriate. One does need divine intervention to get through, Can you see the BRO JCB in the distance?
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-18.jpg

Malling Nallah gushed water and rocks down the steep slope
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-19.jpg

It was almost 3:30 PM now.

The BRO gave the sign to go ahead but everyone was a bit reluctant as the wind was high and it was still drizzling. The taxi driver said it was a small window of opportunity and we must take advantage before the road shuts again as Rocks could come down at any moment.

"Exactly!!" I thought. "Rocks could come down at ANY moment. Even when poor Obelix was trying to negotiate the blockage"

I think a pretty lass in the back of the Alto taxi read my mind and smilingly said to me:
"Chalo Chalo Bhaiya.. Darr ke aage jeet hai!..aur mujhe bhook bhi lagi hai!!" (Cmon brother..conquer your fears!!..besides I'm very hungry now!)

We jumped in and gunned our engines. The BRO waved us through frantically..one man shouted "FOOL SPEEED FOOOL SPEEEED!!" I wondered if he was calling me a fool or asking me to go drive like a fool!

In any case we took of fast and screeched on our brakes just 20 meters ahead as there was no road. Just a pile of sharp rocks about a foot high, pointing in every direction, that the bulldozer had tried unsuccessfully to flatten.

Abhimanyu honked frantically behind me and the BRO waved their hands asking me to move ahead as fast as i could.

I rolled my window down and made a "L" sign with my thumb and forefinger. Abhimanyu and i both went into Low Range Diff Lock and we took off in 2nd gear.

Gaurav kept a lookout for falling rocks above.

I moved into third. All i could hear was the whine of the engine and Obelix doing the Samba on the sharp black rocks that blocked our path. It must have been no more than 4-5 minutes but it seemed to be taking too long.

A man on the Side of the road frantically waved us through.. "fooool spee" is all i heard him say..

We were out on the other side suddenly and saw a long line of people crowding the road..staring at us incredulously and then cheering loudly!

"Feels like i have just won the Le Mans!" i thought..

There were many Foreigners with backpacks, busses, Innovas, and Sumos all lined.

Soon the Pajero also emerged behind me..

We waited for the Alto but there was no sign of it. We heard rocks crash down and grew worried. My thoughts went out to the smiling taxi driver and his hungry passengers. The BRO prevented the traffic from this side to go towards Nako. Some personnel rushed towards Malling.

I feared the worst.

After almost 10 minutes we saw the Alto retreating back to the Nako side and heaved a sigh of relief.

Malling took no victims today..but indignantly blocked the path once more.

Obelix and the Pajero were the only ones who sneaked through.

We inspected out tyres for cuts but found no damage. I was impressed and relieved. The Yoko Geolanders withstood this test and emerged victorious.

I sat inside and patted the dash..letting Obelix know that he had done well.

After almost a 3 hour wait we got through to the other side.. Chango would be next and would mark the end of Kinnaur..Spiti Valley awaits!!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-20.jpg

The mountains took strange shapes
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-21.jpg

We were nearing the border of Kinnaur and Spiti
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-22.jpg

Chango the last village in Kinnaur District
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-23.jpg

These Asses escorted us out of Chango.. 3 Asses against my 170 Horses..they never stood a chance!!
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-24.jpg

Kinnaur ends soon..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-25.jpg

Spiti Valley was also battered by rocks.. Next halt is at Sumdo just as you enter Spiti valley to make an entry at the check post. Foreigners have to present their Inner Line Permits here as well just like at Akpa Bridge.
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-26.jpg

Near Sumdo all the Taxis that had been waiting near Malling to cross over to Nako Side cought up with us after turning back as the road had remained shut..
Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!-27.jpg

to be continued..

Last edited by aah78 : 8th October 2013 at 20:57. Reason: Images resorted on request.
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Old 8th October 2013, 17:48   #15
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Default re: Obelix (Toyota Fortuner) goes to Kinnaur, Spiti and Leh!

This is one hell of a travelogue.
Its page 1 and but adrenaline has already started flowing. How I wished you had the photographs during the 'Fool speed' but I understand.
The risk and tension was too much for photo/video graphy.
Away from the ordinary, the 'Kinnaur route' has made the writeup even more exciting.
Waiting for more.
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