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Old 4th December 2014, 20:13   #16
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Default Re: The Northern Expedition - Mumbai to Ladakh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajain View Post
All Leh TLs have a story, an experience and above all a feel. The Leh circuit is something of a cult status. There are two kinds of men (and women) in this world - one those who have done the Leh circuit and those who have not! Congratulations on crossing over to the other side.

Having done the Leh circuit a few times (most recently in July 2014) I can say every single person who braves the mountain roads and reaches there will have that extra air of confidence whenever he/she sits behind the wheel again.

Your opening is lovely, the pictures nice and the narration gives us all a lovely feel of the journey. Keep it going. I am glued.

Cheers

Rajain
what u spoke is so very true with respect to the feeling of having driven into Ladakh ...


Quote:
Originally Posted by rav11stars View Post
Nope, you've not gone overboard with the visuals. The more the better. The snaps from Udaipur were excellent and the ones from Ladakh added more beauty to the post. By the way, what camera and lens are you using?
thank you for the kind words. I use Canon 70D and primarily three lenses ( 18-135,70-200L,10-22 all from Canon )
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Old 6th December 2014, 06:42   #17
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Default Re: The Northern Expedition - Mumbai to Ladakh

# DAY VII: @Leh

#48. The day was to be spent doing primarily administrative stuff and couple the same with a visit to Leh Palace and Tsmego Namgyal Gompa and Shanti Stupa. Accordingly we were up and headed for breakfast by 0830 hours at Gesmo Resturant on Fort Road. The breakfast was up to the mark and after a hearty meal we decided to reach the DC office near Polo Ground. The charges I found were when all the fees paid to travel around Leh amounting to close to Rs 800 which I consider to be a bit on the higher side. The permits were issued without any hassle except for Photi La. I really had a tough time trying to convince the clerical staff where this pass was situated and in absence of a map I just could not convince them. Finally the matter rested if I could convince the army for the journey to Photi La. The permits made by me beforehand were of no avail as any kind of correction in the form which depended on their way of looking at the places written resulted in one having to make a new form. The entire process took me around a hour to hour and half and by lunch I was done. Thereafter we proceeded to the motivation Hall of the army on the Kargil Leh Road followed by lunch.

#49. The afternoon was spent shopping followed by visit to Leh Palace and the Namgyal Gompa. Soon evening approached and after clicking some night clicks we were on our way to the Hotel in anticipation of tomorrows journey to Nubra Valley. The next day was scheduled to be a kind of traffic strike hence it was told that it would be prudent to depart Leh by 0530 hrs prior to commencement of the strike.

somehow i managed to lose all the clicks of this day in the transfer of the same to the laptop. I realized this only when i was back from the trip :(
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Old 6th December 2014, 06:52   #18
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Default Re: The Northern Expedition - Mumbai to Ladakh

# DAY VIII: Leh-Deskit

#50. The road strike ensured that we started the day while the sky was still dark and no sign of the pre dawn. Leh town was in deep slumber as we made our way through the streets towards the exit from the city. The period before the onset of the dawn is the blackest of the entire night and so was the case here with the sky black as ink. On the way as we passed a few home stays we encountered individuals standing in the dark with rucksacks and other gear which gave indication of fellow travelers who were also getting out of the town whilst it was still open.

#51. Deskit though was quite a way off, first coming up was the famous Khardung La, the pass of the million flags. He definitely made the list of being amongst the celebrity passes in this country. The climb started almost immediately after Chagspa as we exited the town. The winding road lay ahead shrouded in darkness and in between flickering moving lights gave us the indication of similar travelers who were on their way towards Kahrdung La.

#52. South Pullu was reached soon enough and a quick check with the TCP and we were waved through. The predawn had come up by now and we were thankful that we had made the best of the situation and what a sight it was. The first rays of the sun soon struck gold on the towering peaks of the Himalaya and mortals like us stopped in our tracks to gaze in awe at the creation of nature being unfolded.

#53. The climb was relentless as the INDOMITABLE moved in first gear or second gear all the while. I was conscious to give way to all the 4WD vehicles who came up from behind so that we did not hinder their approach as we continued in a more sedate pace by not pressurizing the Indomitable too much. The photographic breaks were numerous where ever I could get an opportunity to stop the vehicle.

#54. Khardung La was reached by 0730 hours and it was super cold and empty, we were thankful for the empty place. We were met by few army jawans who were present and had a pleasant discussion with them. After paying homage to the Lord Shiva temple out there and with the customary clicks we were ready to move ahead. The road stretched ahead all the way through the snowy white carpet on the mountain as the sun gained strength with each passing moment.

#55. North Pullu was our next stop and after the necessary verification with the TCP and a cup of hot tea we made our way towards Khardong village. The path till North Pullu was better than the one from South Pullu till K Top. After North Pullu the tar reappeared and we were able to sustain a good speed. I was very happy with the performance of the Logan and it instilled with me a lot more confidence for the paths that lay ahead.

#56. Kahrdung village has plenty of options to stay as well as eat. It’s a pretty village tucked away amongst the high mountain ranges. After Khardong the next stop was supposed to be Khalsar, which was a good 63 km away and just before the town was bifurcation point for the entry into the Agham/Shyok sector. Our path this day lay straight ahead northwards. The beauty of the valley ahead was unfolding as the blue sky sparkled against the brown earth which was interspersed with the golden cover of vegetation.

#57. Khalsar, a small village with a sprinkling of shops was reached by 1130 hrs and thereafter we took a turn towards Deskit instead of heading on the northern arm which lead to Panamik and Siachen Base Camp, more on that route in the next post. As we stopped at one location admiring the pretty Shyok river I was having a talk with one of the local taxi drivers who was mentioning that the road ahead to Turtuk been closed few days back on account of heavy rainfall. As I digested this bit of news I was approached by one fine gentleman who very enthusiastically introduced himself and we shared a lot of light talk subsequently. Why I am mentioning this is because that light talk has been the start of a wonderful friendship and I am glad to have made some very fine friends on the roads including the gentleman in question, Mr Sunil Arora.

#58. Soon we proceeded ahead and reached Deskit by 1300 hours. As soon as we approached Deskit, we were astounded by the beauty of that place, the serene and pristine atmosphere was so inviting. We crossed Deskit and gunned the vehicle ahead towards Turtuk, but then something within made us question the reasoning of leaving such a place behind and in such hasty a manner. Looks exchanged I just turned the vehicle around and decided to stay a while and see the place.

#59. The scenic beauty was so captivating that we ended up staying the entire day out there , found a great Home stay named Sonam GH. The afternoon was spent in the village of Deskit followed by a visit to the Deskit Monastry where we were fortunate to enter into a conversation with one of the senior Lamas which ended up with an invite to this place within the monastery for the evening tea.

#60.In the fading light we went to the sand dunes of Hunder and relaxed ourselves amongst the towering mountain ranges above us and the cold desert beneath our feet. I think staying back was a very good decision as we got the opportunity to experience many moments which otherwise would have been lost . Dinner time was spent in the company of our hosts as we talked on a lot of topics and came to know many a fact about Deskit and the people who stay there .ODO for the day stood at 75073.

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EARLY MORNING SUNRISE

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THE DAWN BREAKS

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PRAYER FLAGS AT K TOP

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HOMAGE AT K TOP

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ON THE ROUTE TO K TOP

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INDOMITABLE AT K TOP

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K TOP FINALLY

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INDOMITABLE POWERS ON

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COLOSSAL VIEW

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THE MAGIC OF LADAKH

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THE BEAUTY THAT LADAKH IS

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SHYOK SHIMMERS

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PICTURESQUE
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Old 6th December 2014, 07:07   #19
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Default Re: The Northern Expedition - Mumbai to Ladakh

# DAY VIII: Leh-Deskit

The visuals continue as Deskit appproaches

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AT DESKIT


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DESKIT CAPTURES ME


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CLOUDS PLAY



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BACTRIAN CAMELS AT HUNDER



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CHORTENS STAND GUARD


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CLOUD FORMATIONS


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EARTH AND SKY


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GOMPA AT DESKIT


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EVENING LIGHT AT HUNDER


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FUTURE BUDDHA IS AWAITED


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SAKHYA MUNI BUDDHA


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HELLO


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INDOMITABLE AT DESKIT


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LANDSCAPE TO ENTHRAL


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REFLECTIONS


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SANDS OF TIME


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SCENIC


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SHADOW PLAYS


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TOWARDS KHALSAR


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Attached Thumbnails
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Old 6th December 2014, 21:21   #20
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Default Re: The Northern Expedition - Mumbai to Ladakh

Amazing visuals, great detailing. Looking at the blue skies in every pic it seems that you chose the best weather to do this once in a lifetime drive. Its really amazing to see the Logan do this tough terrain which is considered to be a SUV/ 4X territory.

Can you share details on how the car behaved on the high altitude roads, also details on how you prepared it for this expedition.
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Old 7th December 2014, 11:31   #21
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Default Re: The Northern Expedition - Mumbai to Ladakh

Quote:
Originally Posted by ADI_77 View Post
Amazing visuals, great detailing. Looking at the blue skies in every pic it seems that you chose the best weather to do this once in a lifetime drive. Its really amazing to see the Logan do this tough terrain which is considered to be a SUV/ 4X territory.

Can you share details on how the car behaved on the high altitude roads, also details on how you prepared it for this expedition.
Hello ,
thanks for the appreciation. The time chosen for the trip depended on a lot of factors and primarily on the Logan being able to do what i intended to .. In the upcoming posts it will be scaling Siachen Base Camp and Wari La.

I will be putting the car performance and preparation at the end but in short it performed exceedingly well , and gave me a lot of confidence but yes pre trip preparation was the key to it .

regards
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Old 7th December 2014, 15:42   #22
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# DAY IX: Deskit-Siachen Base Camp-Sumur

#60. This day was one of the red lettered days in the whole trip. This day we were supposed to go right up to the Siachen Base Camp. However whether we would be allowed to reach one of few elusive places within Ladakh Sector, that would be decided when we reached the TCP @Sasoma.

#61. The morning was not very encouraging as I was able to see a huge dust storm in the horizon on the mountains and the cloud cover was grey and dark like it was snowing in the general direction of where I was supposed to be travelling. The GH owner assured me that the day would be a clear one and these occurrences were common.

#62. Accordingly we moved towards the Deskit Gompa where we wanted to take part in the morning prayers .We assembled in the main prayer hall by around 0615 hours and took our predetermined place normally reserved for the guests. Soon the monks started coming in and each had its own determined place. Each monk firstly payed his respect to the idol of the Padmasambhava and thereafter took his place. The seating was in line throughout the length of the prayer hall with a desk in front on which the sutras were placed which was supposed to be read collectively.

#63. Once everyone had assembled, the butter lamps were lit and placed in front of the idols of the various forms of Lord Buddha .Young monks distributed salted tea to all including us which was really delicious .The prayers started soon after and the hall reverberated with the deep throatings of chants and the glow of the butter lamps, a sublime atmosphere indeed.

#64. We left the prayer hall at around eight back towards the GH where we had a delicious breakfast of Ladakhi bread and eggs. Finally close to nine we were ready to roll for the day. Soon on empty roads we reached the cut of Khalsar and thereafter turned left towards Panamik, sumur. This road I believe is much more picturesque than the one towards Deskit.The villages of Sumur , Panamik were crossed soon which are around 18 and 30 kms from the cut.

#65. As we travelled on the road ahead there was hardly any traffic and after Panamik we were all alone on the narrow road extending into the mountains ahead. The village of staksha was soon crossed as we continued ahead. The landscape was truly awe inspiring now as there were towering mountain peaks all around and the narrow lonely road snaked its way through them. The road had experienced heavy rock fall for almost two weeks and the devastating result could be seen. Soon we were at the Sasoma TCP where after few discussions and phone calls we were permitted to move ahead . That was the major bottleneck and I was literally grinning as I crossed it.

#66. The road deteriorated even further thanks to the recent rock fall and snow and grew lonelier by the metre. The solitude was truly epic and with towering mountains on either side I felt very apprehensive driving through with the fear of imminent rock fall was ever present. Till date I have rarely been apprehensive or worried with fear but yes on this road I was.. The fear of the unknown and getting stuck in one of the loneliest stretches ever seen. The vistas were truly inspiring with raw power and beauty. Base camp was reached and there we visited the various troop formations stationed, payed homage to the shrine of OP Baba, the guardian angel for the troops who trek to the glacier. The visit to the Siachen War Memorial will remain etched in memory and so will be the visual of the glacier from where the trek starts for the troops. The black ice melting in the afternoon sun forming rivulets of glacial streams was quite a relevation.
#67. Base camp was truly a different world, sadly not everything can be written down in public forums but a visit to a place like this is worth something much more tangible. By early evening we were ready for our journey back and we were cautioned to drive soon through the mountains and not stop often for the winds were building and so were the dangers on the lonely road. By the time we left a huge sand storm could be seen on our right and I gunned the Indomitable on the road.

#68. It was a literal race on a lonely narrow curvy road hugging the mountain floor with broken surface and boulders strewn all over and the sand storm breathing down on me. But somehow we kept the momentum going and with absolutely no stoppages crossed the designated area safely. Once I reached the diversion to Saser La I stopped for a breather and for a moment did consider taking the left towards the hair pin turns filled road climbing up the mountains to the elusive Saser La.However in view that the evening was fast approaching and I had a long way ahead and going up an absolutely militarized route in the late evening was like the perfect recipe for some hard questioning later , I reluctantly dropped the idea but am sure one day I will be on that road overcoming the hair pin bends 

#69. Soon I retraced my route and crossed Sasoma TCP and thereafter Panamik towards my destination of Sumur where I was supposed to stay for the night. Enroute we filled petrol from the military grade jerry cans that we were carrying .Sumur was reached by around six in the evening and in the fading light we located our guest house called Hotel Mansarovar, an absolutely delightful place to say tucked in the bylanes of the town. The lady host served us hot tea with a welcoming smile and that concluded the end to just about a perfect day in our Ladakh Odyssey. ODO stood at 75330.

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ON THE ROAD TO PANAMIK


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TOWARDS SIACHEN

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THE SIACHEN BRIGADE

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BLACK& WHITE STILL

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MIGHTY LADAKH

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ENROUTE ON LONELY ROADS

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EVENING IN SUMUR

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ICY PEAKS

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INDOMITABLE ON THE ROAD TO SIACHEN

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LADAKH

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BEAUTY OF LADAKH

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MAMMOTH ROCKS
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Old 7th December 2014, 15:50   #23
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# DAY IX: Deskit-Siachen Base Camp-Sumur

The visuals continue ...

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LAND OF THE BEST OF THE BEST FRIENDS OR GREATEST ENEMIES

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IN THE HEART OF THE NORTH

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OP BABA SHRINE

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PEAKS

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PRISTINE BEAUTY

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SHRINE OF OP BABA

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THE GUARDIANS

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SIACHEN MEMORIAL


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TOWERING ICE PEAKS

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THE ROAD AHEAD

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BLACK ICE

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THE SNOUT OF THE GLACIER

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ICONIC
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Old 9th December 2014, 05:44   #24
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# DAY X: Sumur-Agam-Wari La – Tang Tse

#70. The dawn of a bright beautiful cold day in Northern Ladakh and yet another challenge lay ahead of us .It is these challenges in the trip which made it so special when I look back into the past . Today was the climb to Wari La.

#71. So what is special about Wari La, well am sure many would definitely relate to this pass but then a greater number would actually not !!! Not much is written about this pass in the internet barring few accounts documented by those who have crossed it . For the uninitiated like me crossing this pass is like an act of self gratification and personal achievement. To have been to a place which has so sketchy mention and remains elusive even in this day, is worth more than numerous trips to places which are much more pretty and scenic but easily reached. Will the Indomitable, a sedan be able to make this pass, again I had no documented record of this so there was no comparison that I could draw. Only SUVs had done this or maybe bikes.

#72. So with these apprehensions on a glorious morning we set out from Sumur after bidding adieu to our hosts and dropping off their small daughter to the school. The point which struck me was the trust factor that is developed while interacting with the people who live out there, here we as a couple totally unknown to them, took their daughter in our car to drop her off to school .The magnitude of trust which they so easily put on us is immense, in the cities that we live in I hardly think anyone would dare to even think of taking such a step.

#73. So then we were on the road to Khalsar where we stopped for a quick breakfast which simply was just not up to the mark , after the breakfast we moved ahead and reached the cut where we took left to Agham and Shyok. The route was hugging the mountain all the way with the walls of the mountain just dropping off on the other side. The road was extremely narrow and I am sure that in the months following the opening of the route this section of the road would definitely be worrisome for all those who wish to reach Wari La.

#74. I was on the lookout for any incoming vehicle who could tell me if Wari La is open or not for none of the people at Khalsar could give me a correct picture, such is the anonymity of this pass. Soon we descended from the mountain and reached the valley floor with the Shyok River flowing next to us on the river bed.The path was quite scenic as we moved ahead on a road in the middle of mountains ranges , soon after around 25 kms from the diversion to Agham we reached a bridge where the left turn after the bridge would take one to Shyok village and to the infamous path towards Tangtse which bypasses both Wari La as well as Chang La and meets up on the militarized route which leads to Daulat Beg Oldi. But on this occasion we were not interested in that, that is reserved for someday in the future for the moment we took a right after crossing the bridge and on to the climb toward Wari La.

#75. The scenic beauty of the route which lay in the shadow of the mountains was incredible with patches of yellow vegetation interspersed with green brown and blue topped with white snow. The climb had begun and I was moving along at a sedate pace conserving the engine temperature and making it steady preparing for the long steady climb ahead. The bane of this pass is the continuous gradual climb which is relentless and does not even out even one bit . Hence the difficulty in reaching Wari La.

#76. Soon we were crossing the cut for Thangyar Gompa and we had a quick visit to the gompa though did not enter inside much as the climb ahead was actually playing on my mind a lot . At one section we stopped for a quite a while as we came across a group of Himalayan Deer who were having a late breakfast on the shrubs growing on the mountain side . This route is so devoid of vehicles that they were literally on the path itself basking in the morning sun. We were delighted to have had a chance to observe them for close to 30 minutes. Thereafter we moved ahead , soon the climb began in earnest and I could see the road climbing into the mountains and at one section far ahead the path was in the entire snowed out section of the mountain. The INDOMITABLE was now in first gear all the while though I tried many a time to shift into second gear for ableast 3-4 minutes so that the engine rpm could be bought down. My one eyes was constantly on the engine RPM as I was trying to reduce the rpm as much as possible to avoid overheating the engine. The outside temp was quite low and the sun was hardly able to warm up the surrounding. We were totally alone and in the distance we did observe few yaks grazing so there was human presence but absolutely empty a road with nothing coming or going other than us and the sound of the INDOMITABLE as it moved ahead.

#77. The last ten Kms were the toughest with the road broken and water streams having created their own path especially in places where the road took a turn upwards and with the incline coupled with bad road surface it was quite a task moving ahead. The scenic beauty was worth the trouble that I was taking and the strain that the INDOMITABLE was undergoing and by 1130 we were at Wari La with the last 5 kms totally snowed out however the Michelin XM2 held up very well and with the extreme slow speed I was able to manage the traction to move ahead.

#78. The feeling of standing at Wari La slowly sunk in as I sat down next to the Indomitable and looked around at the snow covered mountains at all sides with the cold wind on my face. After spending some time and allowing the engine to cool down we started our descent towards Sakti. The going was totally downhill as we moved on a extremely narrow path hugging the mountain.

#79. Sakti was reached by 1245 and instead of turning left towards Chang La I turned right towards Karu as the reserves of fuel that I was carrying was coming down and there was no more fuel that I could be assured of as I headed into Eastern Ladakh towards Pangong and then Hanle.At Karu we had lunch followed by topping up of fuel and by 1400 hours we were on our way. We retraced our way and then turned right towards Zingraal. The Chemrey gompa was crossed and I actually wanted to visit the gompa however it was a long road ahead and the visit would easily take around an hour so we gave it a miss, there is always a next time when it comes to Ladakh 

#80. Zingraal and the famous Z of Zingraal was reached by 1500 hours as we sped on in the afternoon sun towards Chang La. The road to Chang La was quite decent and we were able to make steady progress, numerous army convoys were crossed and the afternoon sun bore down quite strongly. Chang La was reached by 1600 hours and we spent some time at the Chang La Baba shrine .Thereafter we were on our way towards Tang Tse and here we had our first casualty.

#81. The electrical supply was being provided using the power point in the car through a invertor and in a casual approach by me wherein a immersion coil for heating the water was connected which resulted in the fuse being blown off for both the invertor as well as the power supply point of the car. This was a bad news as now I could neither use the Navigator nor have the services of the mobile for long as both devices consume battery charge at a very high rate. The journey in the days ahead was at the extreme fringes of Ladakh and the services of both the devices was essential. I did have printed maps with me as a backup case which had now become the primary asset.

#82. I was pretty mad at myself for this development but then there was nothing to do.. I was carrying spare fuses and thought of looking into the matter when I reach TangTse. Soon we were on our way and reached Tangtse by 1800 hours and booked into the Chang La GH which was more or less the only place to stay. The evening was super cold and I tried to understand the signs of the various fuses in the fuse box to locate the one which indicated the power supply point however the ones which I indentified, replacement did not solve the issue and I did not tamper with the remaining fuses as I did not wish to compound the problem .ODO for the day stood at 75552.

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AT CHANG LA BABA


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AWESUM VIEW

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B&W STILL


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CHANG LA BABA DEV STHAL


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CHEMREY GOMPA IN DISTANCE


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CHORTENS


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CHORTENS STAND GUARD


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CLIMB TO WARI LA


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DIVERSION TO AGHAM AND WARI LA


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IN THE BACKDROP


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INDOMITABLE


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STANDING PROUD


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THE RIVER SHYOK


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ROAD TO WARI LA


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THE SHYOK AGAIN


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SIGNBOARDS BY BRO


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SOLITARY WARI LA


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STANDING TALL


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SWEEPING VALLEY
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Old 9th December 2014, 05:55   #25
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Default Re: The Northern Expedition - Mumbai to Ladakh

# DAY X: Sumur-Agam-Wari La – Tang Tse

The visuals continue ....

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THE ROAD AHEAD


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THE VALIANT INDOMITABLE


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WARI LA IN FULL GLORY


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THE ELUSIVE WARI LA


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THE ICONIC Z


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INDOMITABLE AT MIGHTY CHANG LA


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LADAKHI LANDSCAPES


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WITH 51 RCC


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LANDSCAPES TOWARDS SAKTI


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COOLING DOWN AT WARI LA


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LOOKING BACK ON THE ROAD TO WARI LA


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MAGICAL


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NO DREAM TOO BIG


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Old 9th December 2014, 09:36   #26
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Default Re: The Northern Expedition - Mumbai to Ladakh

One of the best travelogues with breathtaking photographs that I enjoyed going through recently. Driving to Ladakh in a 4-wheel drive/SUV/convoy is not great; but, doing the circuit in a sedan really is.
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Old 11th December 2014, 18:47   #27
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# DAY XI: Tang Tse – Pangong Tso – Spangmik

#83. The night was pretty cold and I realized the drop in temperature that we were goin to experience as we continued out path towards Eastern Ladakh right on the pheriphery of the International Border. The Guest House was very rudimentary and this was how it was going to be in the days to come. Morning we were up and by 0730 was ready to go .
#84. I had mentally composed myself to the absence of a proper navigating tool and had to now rely on the printed maps and local guidance. The electricity in all these places was only for 04 hours the entire day i.e. from evening seven till night eleven. Hence all the gadgets were to be charged in that slot and one had to get used to this kind of a schedule.

#85. Our route for today was along the Pangong Lake Road towards Lukung and then onwards to Pangong. I wanted to spend a complete day at Pangong including the night unlike a day trip for a couple of hours. Pangong had to be befriended in a stately fashion. So soon we were speeding on the road ahead and I missed the Tang tse Gompa completely having not realized its importance. The 800 year old Gompa clings to the walls of the mountains and is very colourful to look at . Also known as the Skoba Jigstan Gompa.

#86. The sun was up and the morning was splendid even by Ladakh standards , the golden vegetation on the mountains coupled with the multi hued coloured rocks and eternal blue sky provided a feeling that infused one with vitality towards life. In around an hour and half I was at Chiagar Tso. This jewel of a lake on the right side of the road is passed by many in their hurry to reach Pangong however it is prudent to spend some time here and soak in this beauty. The lake has the capability to mesmerize and I definitely suggest a stop here.

#87. After Chiagar Tso we continued our journey and soon were crossing the Pagal Nullah which was a mere shadow of its former self . I could see the power of the nullah when there was no bridge. It had the power to hold any traveler crossing it. If the bridge would not have been there the Indomitable would definitely have to deal with a stream crossing that was formidable and challenging. In the month of September however early in the morning the challenge were the rocks, for the water flow was manageable.

#88. At ODO 75590 I witnessed Pangong , the lake of ethereal beauty. There will be many lakes in this world which are far more beautiful than Pangong but when one is at Pangong he never remembers the image of any other lake existing in this universe; such is the pull of this lake.

#89. Pangong Tso which in Tibetian means the “ Long Narow Enchanted Lake” is a 134 km long lake which is situated in the border between India and Tibet. The lake is a disputed territory and the LOC passes over the lake.

#90. Lukung army canteen was reached at 1000 hours where we had a nice breakfast looking at the shimmering beauty of Pangong in the morning sun. Thereafter I went to meet up with the Army officers who were stationed there and after a nice talk with them I was provided with a escort who would take me to the Northern dunes of the Lake past the shifting sands where the INDOMITABLE could be trapped.

#91. The route for this lay on the way to Phobrong and after a while one has to take a detour eastwards towards the track which leads to the Army posts up in the mountains on the opposite side of Pangong. After some time I realized that it would not be prudent to take the vehicle further on tracks meant for stallions. We thereafter walked ahead and reached the shore of the lake. Out here we were in the confluence of Pangong with its water, sand dunes and towering mountains, a surreal feeling indeed of sand , water , snow and mountains of rock.

#92. After spending some time clicking some pics we made our way and thanked the army for their assistance and thereafter proceeded ahead towards spangmik where we then booked ourselves into the very first GH which came our way.

#93. The entire day was spent on the shores of the lake taking in the beauty of Pangong and admiring the vistas that kept changing. Lunch was done with the water of the lake lapping at our feet and gull flying overhead. ODO for the day stood at 75630.

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BIRDS AT PANGONG


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PANGONG IN A PERSPECTIVE



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FLOWERS BY THE PANGONG



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MOUNTAIN STREAMS



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MAGICAL PANGONG



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THE LAKE ENCHANTS ALL THOSE WHO VISIT


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FACETS OF PANGONG


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THE ICON
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Old 11th December 2014, 18:56   #28
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# DAY XI: Tang Tse – Pangong Tso – Spangmik

Its the eleventh day on the road and there is still wonders that are yet to be felt .. Mumbai feels some other world actually .. definitely not the one in which i am right now ...

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NORTH OF THE LAKE


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PARALELL VIEW


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IN THE DISTANCE THE BLUE WELCOMES


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PRAYER FLAGS FLUTTER


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PRESPECTIVE


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PRISTINE BEAUTY


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REFLECTIONS


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SANDS OF PANGONG


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Attached Thumbnails
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Old 11th December 2014, 19:03   #29
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# DAY XI: Tang Tse – Pangong Tso – Spangmik

few more .. cannot help not posting

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AHH .. THE BLUE !!!


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COLOURS OF PANGONG


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EVENING SUNSET BY THE ENCHANTED LAKE


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THE CHANTS FOR PEACE


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PANGONG TWILIGHT


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Old 13th December 2014, 17:37   #30
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# DAY XII : Spangmik-Hanle
#94. We were supposed to travel on the dirt gravel track from Spangmik to Hanle covering the villages of Maan, ,Meraak and finally Chushul before reaching Hanle. The route immediately after leaving the village of Spangmik deteriorated and was full of rocks and dried mountain streams. By 0730 we were on our way . The going was really slow as we had to chart the route very carefully considering the obstacles ahaead.The route was along the Pangong and by 0830 we were at Maan.

#95. Here we had to make a decision of whether to continue on the route ahead else turn back and move towards Hanle via the Erath route. Considering the time that we had taken to cover close to nine Kms and having a pre conceived notion based on inputs that the Erath Route was tarred and easy to cover , we turned back as reaching Hanle was more important. I was faced with many decisions out here for there were so many lakes to be seen in this region and also some iconic routes but whether we could see what we wanted to depended on time and space .

#96. Anyhow we turned back and retraced the path towards Spangmik. Afer Spangmik I gunned the INDOMITABLE towards Tangtse as we had to reach there and then turn towards Erath. I reached Tang tse by 1030 and for few minutes I just stopped the vehicle and debated whether to head back to Leh and then return via the Changthang route or to push on the Erath route . The decision had to be made at this crossroad for time and distance were playing a factor in this .

#97. Somehow we decided to move ahead on the Erath route towards Hanle. My vision of a tarred road disintegrated immediately as I passed throught a sector undergoing road construction and hence could absolutely make no speed for then the tyres would take a beating. After a agonizing 17 km I finally was clear of the under construction sector and came across something of a beauty – Harong Wetlands.This is a marvelous high altitude eco system and sustains multiple plants and birds who co exist peacefully.

#98. The beauty of this place was such that in spite of my tearing hurry I could not make haste and spent close to 30 minutes just soaking in the pretty picture of herds of Yak grazing on the yellow vegetation under the cover of snow cloud mountains while geese and other aquatic birds played in the glacial streams .It was the setting of a perfect idyllic morning and if I was not destined to cover such a large journey I would stayed at this place for the day itself.

#99. We had to leave such a magical place with a heavy heart and proceed ahead. The road condition had improved and we made good pace and soon reached Parma. The TCP out here allowed us to proceed only after we were able to show some proper documentation, hence it is important to note that maybe without proper permits this road too might not be accessible if one needs to reach Chushul . After Parma the road just disappeared and for the next 60 Kms it was a total dirt track under construction hence the progress was agonisingly slow . I had reached the limits of my patience as I desperately wanted to reach Chushul for the route to Tsaga La was still to be covered.

#100. The INDOMITABLE literally crawled on the heavy dirt tracks sliding sideways many a time on the heavy dirt that was present. The heat also kept building up and with no road markers or signs I had no idea about how far was chushul and had to increasingly rely on the GREF crews for references.Chushul was finally reached in the afternoon midday heat at 1400 hrs.

#101. After a short break of 10 minutes and showing our permits to the Indian Army personnel at the TCP we proceeded ahead towards Rezang La . Out ideas of visiting Mirpal Tso were totally shelved as I was literally clawing for time. This sector definitely needs time and patience and I was running out on both of them. I realized I need to be flexible but this was an afterthought and at that point I was just concentrating on Hanle.

#102. From Chushul the route to Hanle comprises of two sections , the first is the totally dirt track through extreme wilderness along the Rezang La and Spangur Gap which mark the fringes of the LOC with China. This sector continues till Tsaga La after which we reach the village of Chagga where we meet the tarred road which then continues all the way till Hanle.

#103. Firstly about the route till Tsaga La. This route is one of the few remaining total wilderness routes when it comes to tourists, with no road except a dirt track made by the vehicles which ply on these paths, one has to be careful while transgressing this route as there are no markers to indicate just about anything .One can see the bunkers of the Indian Army on the right who stand guard the safety and sovereignty of our country against possible incursions from across the border. On the left the Rezang La mastiff rises and acts as the natural barrier for the LOC. It was here that the 1962 war was so fiercely fought and lost. The memorials at Chushul and at Rezang La bear testimony to the sacrifice and valor. There are no grand monuments constructed by the grateful nation in recognizing the sacrifice, no wreaths laid by National Leaders to commemorate the sacrifices , its only the Indian Army who still remembers and honors those who were a part of the family and are no more . Very poignant thought but that’s the reality in this country of ours.

#104. The scenic beauty on this sector is simply awesome whatever be the season, teeming with wildlife this is a place that makes one realize the seclusion that Ladakh once possessed. There are one two streams that need to be crossed which are a challenge to the INDOMITABLE but we were able to move on. The trick is to stay in sight of the telephone cables which are your markers and they will show one the path ahead 

#105. Tsaga La was reached by 1550 hrs and thereafter we crossed the ITBP TCP and for the first time in many hours stepped on smooth tarred road. The Indomitable roared ahead and we were on our way and what a change of scenic beauty , multicolored mountains welcomed us as we sped on our way towards Loma Bend which was reached by 1700 hrs.

#106. The distance of Hanle from Loma Bend is 55 km and immediately after the bend there is a bridge , beyond the bridge there is a V junction. The left takes one to ****che while the right goes to Rhongo and then to Hanle . The road surface is as smooth as the More plains and we were speeding on our way in the setting sun as it has been a really long day and wanted to reach the village before the sun set.

#107. Hanle was reached by 1830 and the path to the village is different from the one which goes to the Hanle Gompa. The diversion to Photi La is also out here and is distinctly marked. The road construction is on at Photi La as per reports from the GREF teams who are at work out there.

#108. So here we were at the extremities of Ladakh away from the hordes of toursuts who come tripping to Ladakh , here we were among those who actually inhabit this wonderful land and live their lives in peace. ODO for the day read 75900.

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AT HARONG


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REFLECTIONS FOR THE MIND


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BIRD LIFE AT HARONG


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BLUE OF PANGONG


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CHUSHUL WAR MEMORIAL


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RALLY ROUTE THROUGH THE REZANG LA VALLEY


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FINALLY !! TSAGA LA


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FLIGHT ON WATER


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FLIGHT OVER THE HARONG WET LANDS


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HANLE GOMPA IN THE DISTANCE


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AT HARONG


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