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Old 8th March 2015, 19:36   #1
Join Date: May 2014
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Default Ladakh through my eyes

I did an amazing journey to Ladakh in August 2014. A 20 days drive from Mumbai in my Innova with my friend and photography guru Mitesh. I am not very good in writing so I am not going to write an impressive and detail travelogue but yes I want to thank TSK for his amazing Ultimate Travel Guide to Ladakh (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...ate-guide.html (Leh, Ladakh and Zanskar - The Ultimate Guide)). If it was not for his write up I would not have done this trip. It was not just motivating but also in such a detail that you never feel being in a new place. So thanks again @TSK1979. These pictures would not have been possible without you. You are an amazing photographer and this is my tribute to you. I am not that good a photographer but with my photography guru being on my side I learned a lot and got these shots which he approved as being of good quality (out of approx 3000 shots that I took).
Attached Thumbnails
Ladakh through my eyes-2014081020140810dsc_2673.jpg  

Last edited by anupamtiwari : 9th March 2015 at 21:53.
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Old 9th March 2015, 21:08   #2
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Default re: Ladakh through my eyes

The preparation of this journey was equally dramatic and interesting as it took quite an effort to put the group together which at the last moment lost one of its three members. Mitesh my partner in the trip and my photography guru was very keen to do the trip in his bike and I was not ready for it as I have a slipped disk. My memories of those 17 days in hospital undergoing traction and then 3 months at home 4 years ago is still fresh in my mind. However I started the research on this topic somewhere in December 2013 and two prominent sources were used - team bhp and bcmtouring. Initially I was very skeptical of undertaking this journey due to difficult terrain, my physical condition etc. I was also not sure whether my innova would be an appropriate vehicle for this journey or not. In fact our first plan was to hire a taxi for whole journey and I called up couple of tour guys in Leh and in Manali to get quotes but the quantum of money they quoted made it impossible. We wanted to do a good trip with lot of time for photography and with a hired taxi it was quite expensive. Then I started reading lot of travelogues in these two websites and also came across TSKs Ultimate guide and guess what - by June I was confident that I can do this trip in my own car. Now the only problem was convincing Mitesh and my home minister. We went through lot of discussions and we realized that Mitesh is ok doing this trip in car provided he can do it with his budget. He had a budget for this trip and it was not 50% of expected total budget, and he was not willing to contribute less than 50%. I gave an idea about finding a third person and he agreed. So search started and I called up one of my friends and guess what - he agreed immediately. Now the bigger task ahead was convincing my home minister - after little bit of persuasion and telling her again and again that I will drive very carefully etc etc, she agreed.

Now preparation started - buying lot of stuff - tent, pump, car inverter, new camera, arranged sleeping bag from my friend and eatables, gas stove etc were left for last few days before leaving. Around third week of June the third partner opted out and we were in trouble. Finally some how I convinced Mitesh about it and we decided to leave on 26th of July. All the planning was left on me as Mitesh is real nomad. He has done 14000 km in his bike in one single trip of all the Maha Jyotirlings and never made a plan. He believes in on the spot research and planning. However I was keen to have some basic plan about route and dates etc as I wanted to be back by 19th of August (as promised to my boss). I also realized that making a day by day plan is not such a great idea so we just made certain rules and left everything open. The rules were like this

1. we will only drive during day, we will start early and end our driving by 8PM. ( we never followed this Mitesh is a night creature - could not get up before 8AM.
2. we will go via Srinagar and come back via Manali - Mitesh didn't even bothered to ask reason for it.
3. we will do everything in cheapest possible budget - we followed it to the core. There was not a single place where we didn't engage in looking out for 3-4 options before finalizing and that too after hell lot of negotiations except in three places - Drass, Lamayuru and Sarchu. The reason for this was already low pricing which made it really difficult for us to ask for anything more.
4. we will enjoy, there will be not target for the day and where ever we like we will stay and there is no compulsion to cover certain number of places and rush for it - we followed it to core and really enjoyed our trip.

Final preparation started - we bought a gas stove (which was never used as we got food in all the places when we needed), lot of water (60 litres, as Mitesh said its really cheap in Mumbai to buy in bulk and it really was), lot of maggie, soup, utensils, tow rope, puncture kit etc etc. took print outs of important part of TSKs guide (map) and we were ready to roll.

On 25th of July first problem came - Mitesh went down with stomach infection and extreme weakness, he kind of resigned however I kept my faith and told him to not to worry. Get well first and we will take a call. My leaves are flexible so I can postpone it by couple of days. Finally we can leave on 29th of July once Mitesh started to feel well and his doctor gave a go ahead. However we agreed that if anything happens during our journey, we will head back.

Mitesh came to my home on 28th of night and we started loading our stuff and man - we realized how much we have accumulated - from rice, dal to water, tool kit etc. Innova was full pack on the back side after sliding last row seats and our camera bags etc captured the middle row. So only two front seats were left and we realized its good that there are only two of us as third would have found it really hard to sit in this chaos.

Last edited by anupamtiwari : 25th May 2015 at 21:41.
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Old 9th March 2015, 21:33   #3
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Day 1

we started around 830 from my home and it was raining cats and dogs. Route was Mumbai Ahmedabad highway and we were thinking of reaching till Udaipur however as decided there was not fix target. It was raining heavily till Baroda and it helped in maintaining speed as two wheelers, Autos etc normally do not come into road when it rains like hell. So around 5 we touched Ahmedabad, We took two tea breaks and lunch was not needed yet. My elder brother stays in Ahmedabad and I decided to meet him. We reached his home around 530pm and started again around 7pm towards Udaipur. The traffic in Sarkhej Gandhinagar highway was pathetic and we reached just outside Himmatnagar around 10 where we stopped in a small dhaba to have food. this was our first food stop. It was very small place but food was amazing. Then we decided to stay in Himmatnagar as it was already 11 and we decided to call it a day. So we reached Himmatnagar and talked to almost 5-6 hotels on the highway. finally settled in a new hotel as it was cheapest and best hotel in the area - Rs 850 for AC room (hotel was built 6 months ago and really good room service - Hotel Evening Post). The hotel was so nice that we really felt good about staying in Himmatnagar. In fact while returning we stayed in the same hotel again.

Day 2

Route - Himmatnagar - Udaipur bypass - Chittorgarh - Kuchaman
( i am sorry about not counting miles as both of us believe journey is neither for miles nor destinations, Its just about journey itself)

Started around 10 after a heavy breakfast. Weather till Udaipur was good but once we crossed the Udaipur airport it started raining like hell, visibility was not even 10 feet and lot of trucks were there ahead of us. Another thing which I felt after a long time was lightening, yes it was really scary lightening. However we soon crossed the rain stretch and near Bhilwara weather became really good. We reached Kuchaman around 830. Did our research on hotels and found no good option is available on highway. we were not in a mood to get into the city, so we stayed in an average but expensive hotel, no where worthy of money that it charged us. Hotel name - Sharda palace. We took a walk around the hotel and went to sleep around 10 post dinner. We didn't take any lunch break today as breakfast was too heavy and too late.

Day 3

Route - Kuchaman - Hanumangarh - Moga - Jalandhar - Pathankot

It was longest day for us. Left Kuchaman around 9 am in the morning and the mega highway was best drive in this trip as of now. Good road and even though there is no divider speed was good as there was hardly any traffic on route. We reached Hanumangarh around 4. The view during the drive is really nice. Mostly empty roads and scenic beauty around you, would suggest every one to take this route. We turned towards Bathinda from Hanumangarh and reached Moga around 645. I had to meet a friend in Moga. We left for Jalandhar around 8from his home. Reached jalandhar around 930. The road was good but no divider so speed was quite slow. crossing Jalandhar to reach NH1A for Pathankot was a pain as we had to cross almost entire city with heavy traffic and dealing with young bikers with no driving manners was a tough task. We reached Pathankot around 12 in night, initially we missed the city and went ahead on the highway but then realized the mistake after a while and came back. City was sleeping so took lot of time to do the research (we only saw 4 hotels). Finalized hotel Comfort near bus stand and slept. We had already taken dinner in a dhaba before Pathankot so quickly went to sleep.

Day 4

Pathankot - Jammu - Srinagar

we started the day around 10 post breakfast which has now become kind of daily routine for us. I decided to check and use my newly bought coidco pump here and it was a big mistake. First I put it into wrong socket - charger instead of lighter and it fused and when I tried to use it in lighter socket it started heating up and smelling like burning rubber so we stopped. Now we had both the sockets fused. Search started for electrician which was nearby but it took time. thankfully when we needed to use pump again to inflate the tyre, a mechanic was nearby with a local lighter pump (cheaper than coidco) and it worked. So our journey got completed without needing it though we had a flat tyre in Manali. More about it later.

All this took lot of time and we started around 12 so we were quite late. This was real start of our journey as tough terrain was starting. We took our supply of Diesel in Jammu (20 litres, never used it till Manali). Given delayed start from Pathankot, stoppage in Jammu for fuel, tough terrain of Jammu Srinagar Highway (it was in bad shape) and lot of traffic in most of the places we could reach Srinagar only around 1 in night. It was kind of scary. Just at the beginning of city we stopped in front of a fuel pump to look for someone to ask about hotels and a voice came from dark - Aage badho (move ahead). we could not find a single soul in direction of voice, it was all dark. suddenly one torch flashed and voice said again - Idhar khade hona allowed nahi hai, aage badho. (its not allowed to stay here, move ahead). now we realized its security forces and they are apprehensive about our stopping in front of a closed fuel pump at 1am in night. we asked where are hotels and he said go straight for 4 kms. We started again and reached near Dal lake, found two young boys who asked us if we are looking for hotel. we went with them to two hotels and decided on one of them. Not very good (name Hotel Dawn) but we were tired and really wanted to sleep. today Mitesh again started feeling uneasy, he threw up couple of times and started feeling better. I was kind of worried about his health. However it was all fine from here onwards.

we didn't shoot anything till crossing jammu as we were not getting good shots. This is one of the problem when you travel with an excellent photographer, for him most of the shots are below average so why waste time and he doesnt believe in writing a TL.

Day 5

We started late as usual, around 9. When we went to top up fuel the guy at petrol pump told us that locals are throwing stones at tourist vehicles in Sonmarg. We were worried but we had to go so we kept this thing off our mind and started. In Srinagar our GPS (nokia maps) gave us our first nightmare. So we started on the direction given by it and when we reached a roundabout in the city the road that it was asking us to take was quite crowded so we asked one person about the road to go to Sonmarg and he said go back and take the road just along side Dal Lake, its longer but will take less time due to very low traffic. So we started back again and took a turn along side Dal Lake. it was continously applying its mind (the GPS) but guess he was not able to understand what we want so after almost 30 minutes it finally arrived at a conclusion, which was going to cost us almost 3 hours. In normal circumstances it understands that you have taken a new route and it has to think in similar direction but guess what - it was very angry at us because of not following its route in the first place itself so it decided to bring us back to the point where we left its original route and direct us to original route. Because there were lot of turns and we were not familiar with the city we didn't realize that it is taking us back. After around 45 minutes we realized that we are going back, what to do - ask some one and we did that but it took lot of time for us to figure it out. Finally we took out my Ipad and fortunately its data was working and we could see a comprehensive map in google map and could cross Srinagar but it took almost 2 extra hours for us.
BTW - the beauty was amazing en route and we started shooting, so now you will get some shots from here. We also shot some short videos but I have not been able to convert Nikon format to a more common format so no point in posting. If someone can help me on that it would be great.

We reached Drass around 8 and decided to stay there. Took a room in a small hotel. the food was amazing and night was too cold.

Last edited by tsk1979 : 26th May 2015 at 14:33.
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Old 25th May 2015, 22:17   #4
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Mitesh -

Ladakh through my eyes-dsc_0585.jpg

some shots taken during the day.

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we crossed Jojila and ....

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Last edited by Aditya : 27th May 2015 at 07:23. Reason: Spacing
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Old 25th May 2015, 23:07   #5
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playing with kids of hotel owner's family

Ladakh through my eyes-dsc_0081.jpg
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Old 25th May 2015, 23:18   #6
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Default re: Ladakh through my eyes

Day 6 - we started the day with trip to Kargil war memorial. The route from Drass to Kargil is amazing, very beautiful and road is too good.

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Tiger Hill

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Old 25th May 2015, 23:24   #7
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before kargil
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view of Kargil Town

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From here we entered Suru and Zanskar valley. Our plan was to cover till Padum but after reaching Tangole village (some 70 km from Kargil) we realized we can not go any further due to very bad road. So we stayed in Tangole village. Here we used our tent for first time. however we ate in the JKTDC guest house. The guest house keeper was not a very nice guy and looted us.

Some shots during the day

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some more shots. the peak in first photograph (in the middle with snow all around and top hidden in clouds) is Nun - 7135 mtrs.

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some evening shots

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The peak at the right side of the image is Kun

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our tent in beautiful moon light

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Last edited by tsk1979 : 26th May 2015 at 14:30.
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Old 26th May 2015, 21:28   #8
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Day 7

When I came out of my tent at around 7am in the morning, it was pretty cold outside. Even during night we were not very comfortable due to cold, though we had mattresses and blankets with us along with Sleeping bags, (thats the benefit of being just two people in Innova, you can carry full home with you). In this kind of situation you do only one thing - go back to sleep. We got up around 830 and after finishing ....., tea, breakfast we started shooting a bit.

During our stay in Tangole we met three mountaineers who were there to attemp Nun. Their full expedition team was staying in guest house. One of them Martin (from Prague) was really a nice guy. He later send me his video of summit. Here is the link of video made by him during his ascent to summit.


Some photographs taken during the day

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we left for Kargil around 1030 or so, we didn't shoot much till kargil. This was the day when I got my first top 20 shots at Namik la. We reached Lamayuru around 730 and decided to call it a day. We took a room at a road side home stay just at the beginning of the town. We had one of the most amazing food here which was made by lady of the house and her daughter. Though it was simple rice, dal, chapati and vegetable but taste was too good. I tried to shoot something in the night but moon was so bright that could not get anything. We went to sleep around 10pm. This was also place where we were getting hot water after Srinagar.

some shots during the day. First have a look at my one of the top 20 shots

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other shots during the day

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The road was very beautiful and well maintained, I guess this was the best road that we drove during entire stretch.

Day 8

we started around 9 and drove towards Leh. Magnetic hill is a waste of time so dont bother about it. Shots during the day. I had one more of Top 20 group this day. First have a look at it

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other shots during the day

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We reached Leh around 4 in the evening, getting a parking for car was a nightmare. After lot of effort we parked our car in a small road nearby main market and started search for a hotel. We saw our first hotel and fortunately were able to bring down price from Rs 2200 to Rs 700 after 30 minutes or so. The guest house was very beautiful with a nice garden and owner was also staying there with his family. No dinner or lunch was available in the guest house. Rooms were big and clean and hot water was available 24 hours.

Last edited by anupamtiwari : 26th May 2015 at 21:55.
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Old 26th May 2015, 22:45   #9
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Day 9

we woke up quite late as this was our free day. We decided to stay in Leh for the day and visit only Leh palace. However Leh palace is not a very exciting place to visit and even if you leave it, you are not going to miss anything. During morning hours we did some photography in the beautiful garden maintained by wife of guest house owner. Shots during the day

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enroute Leh Palace

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View from Leh Palace

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Inside Leh Palace

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Old 26th May 2015, 23:24   #10
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Day 10

we decided to visit Thiksey Gompa, Mitesh was very much interested in these places as he is not a land scape photographer kind but loves shooting life and abstract. We spent almost entire day in there. While returning we saw a polo match. Though we took some shots but none of them are good enough to be produced here. Here are shots for the day.

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Day 11

We were very excited as we were going to Khardung La and worried at the same time as it was first time we will be crossing 5000 mtrs height. I was really nervous as I didn't want to get impacted by AMS at this stage. We had taken all the precaution in terms of staying at Leh, coming via Srinagar and I was also taking Diamox since last 4 days. However our day was great and it was really beautiful and amazing experience. We wanted to go to Nubra valley but could not do it as we wanted to be at Pangong Lake in a full moon night which was next day (Day 12 for us). Shots during the day

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Old 27th May 2015, 00:19   #11
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Day 12

We checked out of hotel as we were not planning to come back to Leh from Pangong but to drive towards Manali and stay at Karu or Upshi. The hotel owner told us to hurry as water crossing create problem post 1pm specially if you want to go to Spangmik (we wanted to go till man merak). So we did not stop any where for photography on the way and directly headed for Pangong Lake. It was 2nd Most scary drive that I have done till date (the first one came couple of days later). The road was too bad, steep and narrow and on top of that there was traffic. Some how we reached Lukung and had lunch at Army canteen and the food was amazing. During our travel except Leh everywhere else food was too good. After lunch we headed to Spangmik and fortunately were able to cross a big water crossing and reached Spangmik. Pangong is an out of world experience, no word can justify its beauty and you have to be there to feel it. Our plan was to stay there in our tent for the night, shoot the full moon and lake in night and drive back next day. We figured out a spot for our tent but as the evening approached we realized that its too cold for us to stay in our tent, so we negotiated with one tent person and took one tent with bed and toilet for the night. The rent also included dinner and morning breakfast so it was a good deal for Rs 2200. Shot from the lake

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Day 13

we started around 10 from Spangmik and while coming back did lot of photography as yesterday we didn't do anything. Couple of shots that you see above were actually taken on this day. We reached Upshi but a police guy (who was friend of guest house owner) advised us to go to Lato which was about 30 km down the road towards Manali and stay there. So we drove to Lato and stayed at Lato guest house. the food was once again amazing here.
some shots during the day

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Day 14

We started on the most difficult terrain of our journey and truly it was. Till this day our journey was absolutely smooth but now it was going to change. We reached Debring around 2 and stopped for lunch. I was kind of sleepy so we decided to take some rest and I slept there for one hour or so. The moment we came back to our car we realized that left rear tyre is loosing pressure. My coidco inflator was not working (it gave up at the first instance only in Pathankot, I lost my fuse also because of this), somehow we could find one old guy with a local inflator (hafl the price of coidco) and he put the air in tyre and we decided to check it again in Pang as our spare tyre was stuck and we could not lower it. So we had one tyre which was loosing pressure and a sprare tyre which was stuck in its chain thanks to Innova service center in Mumbai. When we reached Moore Plane a BRO guy asked us to take a diversion as road was being made. We took the diversion and I made a mistake in one turn and the car got stuck in dirt. Now you know Innova is not for these things. I panicked first time, however Mitesh was ok and he guided me to do something and after 15 minutes we got out of that mess. However I could smell something burning and I was sure it was clutch. Worried about both we rushed as in this we lost precious time. Enough light was not there so we decided to not to shoot and anyway we were quite worried because this tyre thing. We reached Pang around 7 and there was only one puncture shop. He was making puncture of a Scorpio so we waited and after he finished doing that we realized he had disappeared. We looked for him and after 20 minutes or so Mitesh found him at his home (it was a tent home) sleeping. It took time for us to wake him up (he was stoned). He came back and checked the pressure and said there is no puncture. One thought came to mind that we should stay at Pang as it was getting dark but all the stories of AMS forced us to move till Sarchu. First time we drove in night and we were quite disappointed that we will not be able to see this beautiful route. We reached Sarchu around 10. Here we met 4 amazing guys just before the tent town.

First two guys on a bullet (yes two guys in one single bullet) were form Kerala, they started from their home one and half months ago and decided to travel till money in their pocket allows them to do so. One artist and another doing PhD in Sanskrit. The second guy has no idea in life about what English or Hindi is. They were true travellers.

Another two guys were on a Polo from Chennai. They wanted to see snow and some one told them in Mumbai (when they drove to a friend there from Chennai) that in Ladakh you can see snow all around so they started and came to Leh. They reached Leh in evening and realized there is no snow all around in this season but only in high mountains they were so disappointed that they started back next day morning. They never went to Pangong Lake or any other place. It was kind of weird but all of them were nice guys.

We bunched up together and decided to have a small celebration, so in Sarchu, in open air we sat at 11 in night and had fun. Celebration ended at 1 when the tent lady said food is ready. We had our dinner and went to sleep. It was really cold.

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Last edited by Gannu_1 : 27th May 2015 at 08:33. Reason: Reference to alcohol removed. Please go by the rules!
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Old 27th May 2015, 01:48   #12
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Day 15

This was the day which both of us will never forget in our life. We had near death experience in Rohtang. We started from Sarchu around 9 after a heavy breakfast and reached bottom of Rohtang around 6. The kerala team was there and they told us that fog is too much and its not wise to go up and try to cross. However we decided to cross Rohtang in dark. The ascent to Rohtang was like driving in moon rocks. it took us 3 hours to reach top and then the clouds struck us. It was pitch dark and so dense clouds that we could not see our bonut. we were stuck and in panick. We tried to follow a truck but then soon realize that the driver is in fould mood, the moment he got another truck driver on the way, he started behaving very badly. but then by grace of GOD one gentleman came ( in Alto with his family) and we asked if he can guide us and he said yes dont worry I will help you to cross this mess. We followed him and he was such a gentleman that he used to make it sure that we are following him whenever we were left behind. once we reached 12km before Manali my windscreen got condensed fog and I had to stop. We could not even say thanks to him. Any way we stopped in front of a house and decided to sleep in the car itself as there was no chance to drive in fog. When i woke up in the morning I saw the rear left tyre punctured. Thankfully we had got our stuck tyre opened near Keylong. We changed the tyre and proceeded to Manali. We decided to continue till Bilaspur and not stay in Manali. It was also a mistake as we could reach Mandi only by night due to damage to a bridge near Mandi. Journey beyond this was fairly unexciting.

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We left Mandi next day and crossed Delhi in night. Slept in car near Jaipur. Next day drove till Himmatnagar and stayed in same hotel. Next day reached Mumbai at 12 in night as we woke up at 10 and left from Himmatnagar at 1.

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Last edited by anupamtiwari : 27th May 2015 at 01:55.
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Old 27th May 2015, 08:06   #13
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Mod note: Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 27th May 2015, 12:23   #14
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One important thing that I would like to point out is about my skill in English. I have been educated in Hindi Medium through out my life and hence have only working knowledge of English. Readers will find lot of mistakes in write up but I am sure meaning would be conveyed. Please bear with me.
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Old 27th May 2015, 13:12   #15
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Speechless after looking at your snaps of Kashmir and Ladakh. Truly "paradise" on earth. Remarkable photologue, one of the best in Team-BHP. A million thanks, Anupam Tiwari.
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