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Old 13th July 2014, 10:22   #1
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Default Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

Ladakh, Once again, a laid back trip

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-37.jpg

Six trips to Ladakh in past, this was different, this was with my daughter and wife. They need to see the reason for my so many trips to Ladakh in past.

First time in the Ladakh trips, there was no booking or no firm plans. We will plan as we go and stop as we feel.

There was nothing much to buy, everything was in house, thanks to previous trips, but there were few things required.

Most importantly, the beast, SX4 needed some care, before another big one

There is not much to write in this trip, not many pics as well, as the focus was to just enjoy the trip with family.

As a teaser, few pics

A lake I can not just miss to stop, Dal Lake
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-1.jpg

A breathing space after crossing Zozila
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-2.jpg

Thats US
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Lovely Rangdum
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The Beast
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Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-7.jpg

Marsh Land of Suru
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Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-9.jpg

Penzi La
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-10.jpg

one family foto
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On the way to Leh
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-12.jpg

Lamayuru
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Nimmu
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Gurudwara Pathar Sahib ji
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A full moon night, at Shanti Stupa
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-16.jpg

And a lovely morning again at Shanti Stupa
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-17.jpg

Shattered Leh Market, hoping for better
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-18.jpg

Changla Once again
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-19.jpg

Painting Land
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Yours Truly
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Shades of the lake
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-25.jpg

Luxury at your disposal, but who cares when you are at disposal of Nature
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-26.jpg

A fine evening
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-27.jpg

Lake the Grande
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-29.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-31.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-33.jpg




Last edited by Rehaan : 13th July 2014 at 19:31. Reason: Removing bold from main text
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Old 23rd July 2014, 22:38   #2
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Default re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-1-12.jpg
Ladakh with family was planned for long time, but for some reason or other we could not execute it, meanwhile we kept travelling to keep the flame alive. 2014 was the target and I was sure to get 2 weeks off, which is not possible otherwise mostly.

Talked to few friends for the convoy, but most of them backed out a month before the trip. But we have done many trip alone as a family and we decided to do Ladakh the same way, and I had the experience of 5 trip to Leh already, so it should not
be difficult.

The other thing I was working for this trip was, getting a used Grand Vitara, here again, could not find a good sample. So what, SX4 has done it in past, this is just another road trip to the ladakh for SX4.

Couple of weeks before the final day, posted on FB for any family to join in and heard back from a friend Vipin as he was interested in the trip, though unfortunately he could not manage to get 2 weeks off. But true to his driving spirit, he decided to join us for a week for the Zanskar part. This was one of the best thing that happened to us in this trip. It was really a pleasure to have such a wonderful family as a company and awesome friends for Nandini (my daughter).

It was time for Vipin to get his XUV Five Oh Oh ready for the first trip to the land of passes. We had few conversations on the plan and finally we decided that Vipin will start on 6th of June from Jaipur and will take a night break somewhere near Rohtak. I started from Guragon on 7th Morning, while Vipin started at same time from Rohtak.

We were in touch on phone but could only meet together around Lakhanpur. While I was waiting for Vipin to join, I saw a black SX4 with few very known stickers at back, and this guy took a U turn and came back to us. Turned out to be another friend heading to Ladakh with family. World is so small and my SX4 I guess is so famous .

Talking about small world, another friend Amit was also on his way to a grand trip to Kashmir with family and we met him just before Pathankot. It was kind of multiple meets on first day .

My first trouble came in the form a puncture, and a big one. Luckily there was a puncture repair shop near by and the guy fixed with great patience. I was little worried as I missed the tyre tube this time and I was not very confident driving on a tyre with big puncture surgery. Started searching for a tube shop while Vipin was still trying to catch us. Though the puncture repair managed for the whole trip and brutal Zanskar tracks.

From Lakahnpur onward, we had a smooth drive, going via Jammu bypass, except of few small traffic jams, it was all fine.

Our day ended with two rooms at my all time favorite Kud JKTDC, which luckily was available, despite of peak season.

A day ended event-less and meeting wonderful people. No Pics on this day, as always

8th June: Plan was to start late as we only had to reach Sonmarg. After morning stuff we left Kud around 9 Am. The first challenge was to cross the Ramban-Banihal section which was already in news because of bad roads, and true to the news, it was a big mess, mostly because of slow traffic and wrong overtaking by taxis.

Reached Qazigund toll at around 1 Pm and had our lunch at a local dhaba, crossed Anantnag, got stuck in jam for more than an hour due to an accident and finally reached Dal around 6:00 Pm. I knew that from Dal to Sonmarg can easily be done in max 2 hours, we decided to take a short break at Dal for quick pics. Left Dal around 7 Pm, meanwhile wife started calling few hotels and got a very good deal at Hotel Devine Inn.

Reached hotel by 9 Pm, and finally felt the chilled air for the first time in the trip. Checked into the hotel with lovely rooms, TV and wonderful food.

Tomorrow will the tough day, and indeed it was.

Vipin and family who gave us a great company for the first half of the drive. We missed them in the second half. Nandini was literally crying when we parted at Kargil.

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-vipin-1.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-vipin-3.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-vipin-4.jpg

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Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-vipin-10.jpg

And few pics from Day 2:

Early morning at Kud

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-1-1.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-1-2.jpg

Lawn of Kud JKTDC
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-1-3.jpg

On the way
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-1-4.jpg

First View of Kashmir
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-1-5.jpg

And the lovely Dal
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-1-6.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-1-7.jpg

Sun sets as we move towards Sonmarg
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-1-8.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-1-9.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-1-10.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-1-11.jpg

Last edited by manson : 2nd August 2014 at 18:14. Reason: EDIT 2:Team-Bhp protocol prohibits mentioned of alcohol. Removing 2nd image as per rule #11.
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Old 23rd July 2014, 22:48   #3
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Default re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

Day 3 : Sonmarg to Kargil - a very interesting and tough day


Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-day-3.jpg

I have crossed Zozila 5 times, 4 times driving my SX4, and I never felt as restless as I was today.

Hotel staff confirmed that checkpost will not release vehicles from Sonmarg to Drass before 2 PM and we should checkout late, which was a very honest suggestion. We had our wonderful breakfast and were ready by 10:00 Am. While I was talking to couple of Taxi drivers, some of them mentioned that BRO might leave cars even before 2 PM. I was confused, and hence decided to checkout from hotel and find out things at checkpost, only to find all the vehicles parked at the checkpost. Hotels staff was right and we should have stayed and enjoyed hotel and around. But now there was no way we could turn back, we parked cars just near the post and tried killing time, precious time .

Its only by 1:00 Pm when they got green signal from Ghumri and allowed cars to leave. It was like opening of jail gates and prisoners asked to run if they want free life, CHAOS in one word.

Quite alot of the initial part of this section was tarred this time and I starting feeling better, unaware of the mess waiting for us ahead. Lost almost 1.5 hours in a traffic chaos created by overtaking taxi drivers and reached the rough part of the section. Though it was dry but multiple landslides. One of the section was really bad and had stones all over, SX4 started slipping and spinning, had to stop and find a different path, only to be stakked again. Meanwhile I saw gypsy in front of me driving in panic and in full speed. On close inspection I was shocked to see stones falling and big ones, I waited for few seconds but then just pushed the pedal to metal to cross that section, waiting there was more risky. It was scary, true face of Zozila.

Reached Zozila Pass around 5:30 Pm and clicked few pics for the memory.

We still had to cross the bad section between Top and Drass, which was infested with huge car eating pot holes full of water. Reached Drass by 7:00 Pm. Checked JK Tourism Guest House but it was full, I was expecting in considering so many cars reaching drass so late. Checked few hotels and all were full. Kids were getting little impatient and wanted to get into anything. Vipin and myself checked one more hotel, filthy and strange, guy asked us 2500 INR for a room and warned us to decide soon as it will sold out soon.

It was almost clear that we are not staying in Drass, hence decided to drive further to Kargil, after getting good feedback on the road condition. When last time I drove between Drass and Kargil in 2011 September, there was absolutely no road. But as we headed towards Kargil, what I saw was driver's delight, black tarred road with reflectors to mark the edges. cruising at 60-80 Km/Hr, we reached Kargil by 9:30 Pm, only to get another painful surprise, most of the hotels were fully booked.

Called couple of friends for help, but I guess it was very short notice to arrange anything at Army or somewhere else. It was already 10 Pm in the clock and we were still on the road. There was no option to move any far ahead.

Then I remembered a Doctor friend I stayed with last time at Sankoo, while he was posted for NHPC. A call to him, and I heard the sweet words in 5 mins, "Stay arranged at NHPC guest house". That was one of the great help I received ever while travelling and in need. Alone, I would have bothered least and would have slept in the car, but with family it was different. Checked into the guest house by 10:30 Pm, and caretaker prepared wonderful tasty dinner for us.

As I said, a very interesting and tough day:

Result of uncontrolled development at Sonmarg
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-1.jpg

SX4 resting before the tough day
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-2.jpg

Our stay last night
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-3.jpg

A lovely morning
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-4.jpg

Daily routine picking up
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-5.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-6.jpg

Killing time at Sonmarg Checkpost
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-7.jpg

On the way to Top
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-8.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-9.jpg

People waiting for the traffic jam to clear
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-10.jpg

While I clicked few pics around
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-11.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-12.jpg

Finally reaching the top
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-13.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-14.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-15.jpg

Happy me
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-16.jpg

Happy everybody
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-17.jpg

Snow Wall
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-2.jpg

Last light of the day
Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-18.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-19.jpg

Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip-ladakh-day-3-20.jpg
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Old 24th July 2014, 17:19   #4
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Default Re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 24th July 2014, 21:00   #5
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Default Re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

Let me have the privilege of being the first one to congratulate you on this beautiful travelogue. The pictures are as-usual breathtaking. Good to see your Sx4 performed really well in this terrain which is mainly dominated by muv's and suv's. This speaks a volume about your driving skills too. Plus your sx4 once again proved its bullet proof reliability.

I would really like to here the challenges you faced driving a sedan instead of a suv, although the higher ground clearance of the sx4 is definitely a boon for you.

Last edited by Samba : 24th July 2014 at 21:10.
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Old 24th July 2014, 21:06   #6
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Default Re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

Fantastic pictures @rk as usual. The only only thing I found today is there is not one but 2 crazy photographers in there!

All the best for many more of those drives.
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Old 24th July 2014, 21:32   #7
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Default Re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

Wonderful

Because of you I have stopped traveling to Ladakh, you have given me all possible views of the place in all possible seasons.

Cheers RK

and 5 *****
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Old 24th July 2014, 21:39   #8
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Smile Re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

5th time!! You make it sound like a regular drive to the mall.

I guess it was in 2010 that I had enquired with you about Ladakh routes since I was planning a drive. Unfortunately that did not work out, hope put the plan to execution sometime and I know whom to ask then.
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Old 24th July 2014, 22:35   #9
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Default Re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

Awsum pics as usual Rajiv, was a pleasure meeting you the other day at Drass Memorial. waiting for more pics to come up !!
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Old 24th July 2014, 22:42   #10
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Default Re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

@rk just wonderful wonderful wonderful!
Couple of quick questions
1) why did you not book a hotel in advance at Drass or Kargil - considering family was with you?
2) I notice you have one of those square filters (Cokin?) - but since you are shooting digital may I ask the rather noob question - why use the filter?
and sorry, I can't resist a third question:
3) Did you come back the way you went - or was the adventure continued in the direction of Manali as well?
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Old 24th July 2014, 22:49   #11
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Default Re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

did not read anything, was just mesmerised with the photos.
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Old 24th July 2014, 23:46   #12
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Default Re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

7 trips to Ladakh!!! Amazing, I have been thinking and thinking to plan a trip and you make 7 trips just like that?!?

KUDOS

Excellent photography. You have been blessed. How did your daughter and better half cope up with the heights?
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Old 25th July 2014, 08:52   #13
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Default Re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks GTO

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
Let me have the privilege of being the first one to congratulate you on this beautiful travelogue. The pictures are as-usual breathtaking. Good to see your Sx4 performed really well in this terrain which is mainly dominated by muv's and suv's. This speaks a volume about your driving skills too. Plus your sx4 once again proved its bullet proof reliability.

I would really like to here the challenges you faced driving a sedan instead of a suv, although the higher ground clearance of the sx4 is definitely a boon for you.
Actually higher ground clearance in SX4 is little help but the front overhang is a big pain. Though it preformed like a charm, Bottom scrapped only twice, once coming down from Chang La and coming back via Zozila, where it was so much slush that even trucks were struggling.

Not a single issue except the mess up by K&N filter. Luckily I was carrying a paper filter and it was sorted in time

Didn't required any visit to service station during the trip, and even after coming back, I haven't visited the service station yet

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Fantastic pictures @rk as usual. The only only thing I found today is there is not one but 2 crazy photographers in there!

All the best for many more of those drives.
Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
Wonderful

Because of you I have stopped traveling to Ladakh, you have given me all possible views of the place in all possible seasons.

Cheers RK

and 5 *****
Thanks buddy, missed catching up with you at MD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpksuhas View Post
5th time!! You make it sound like a regular drive to the mall.

I guess it was in 2010 that I had enquired with you about Ladakh routes since I was planning a drive. Unfortunately that did not work out, hope put the plan to execution sometime and I know whom to ask then.
Time to execute the plan, I am in ladakh in Sep, but flying :P

Quote:
Originally Posted by adi_sun View Post
Awsum pics as usual Rajiv, was a pleasure meeting you the other day at Drass Memorial. waiting for more pics to come up !!
Thanks and it was great to catch-up with you and team.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joybhowmik View Post
@rk just wonderful wonderful wonderful!
Couple of quick questions
1) why did you not book a hotel in advance at Drass or Kargil - considering family was with you?
2) I notice you have one of those square filters (Cokin?) - but since you are shooting digital may I ask the rather noob question - why use the filter?
and sorry, I can't resist a third question:
3) Did you come back the way you went - or was the adventure continued in the direction of Manali as well?
I have stopped booking anything in Ladakh sector now as I have got multiple resources to help me out
I had few backup options to be used in worst case scenarios . I knew people in Kargil who would have hosted us happily in their home. But that was the last option. So except of time, its was not much of a worry. I agree that with family a first timer should book well in advance.

Digital will still not give you that effect you get from filter. For example if I want slow shutter speed for water but I don't want overexposed sky. I use GND for that, so I get the soft river water dreamy flow but balanced sky. In post processing I will never get the effect perfect. Either it will over exposed sky or no soft water.

We came back via srinagar only, road was jut opened from Manali side and there was no point taking unnecessary risk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AtheK View Post
did not read anything, was just mesmerised with the photos.
Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by MAS View Post
7 trips to Ladakh!!! Amazing, I have been thinking and thinking to plan a trip and you make 7 trips just like that?!?

KUDOS

Excellent photography. You have been blessed. How did your daughter and better half cope up with the heights?
Absolutely no problem with my daughter, wife had little nose bleeding at Penzi La but that is normal at high altitude, she was fine as we came down to Rangdum.

Last edited by rkbharat : 25th July 2014 at 08:54.
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Old 25th July 2014, 11:07   #14
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Default Re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

Phew ! Breathtaking pictures !! Just inspires me more and more to go and enjoy the nature there.
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Old 25th July 2014, 11:21   #15
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Default Re: Ladakh, once again: A laid-back trip

Beautiful pictures. Which filters did you use for those landscape shots and number ?
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