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Old 23rd June 2015, 23:57   #1
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Post Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback

Plan:
We all have a “To Do List” in our life. In my “To Do List” Ladakh drive was on the top but never knew that in 2015 I will be able to accomplish it.
Winter vacations were spent in Rajasthan and during summer my plan was to drive to Spiti and Lahual but due to the recent earthquakes in Nepal my plan was getting unsure. The Himalayan range from Himachal to Sikkim was being affected with lot of landslides.
I did not want to sit back at home and wait to see what happens next. Discussed my plan of Spiti with my family and they said it would be too dangerous to venture into Himachal. Finally my mind said “Why not ladakh?” Did some study about the Karakoram range and found that it was not affected by the recent earthquakes. Called up HV Kumar Sir and he backed the plan. “Driving a low GC car to Ladakh that too as a solo driver in May would be a challenge” he said.
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Route Plan

The itinerary was set and after making some minor changes it was approved by Kumar Sir.
Day 1: 23rd May,2015 Asansol to Agra 1106 kms
Day 2: 24th May, 2015 Agra to Jammu 840 kms
Day 3: 25th May, 2015 Jammu to Srinagar 296 kms
Day 4: 26th May, 2015 Srinagar to Kargil 202 kms
Day 5: 27th May, 2015 Kargil to Leh 211 kms
Day 6: 28th May, 2015 Leh to Nubra Valley 150 kms
Day 7: 29th May, 2015 Nubra Valley to Leh 150 kms
Day 8: 30th May, 2015 Leh to Pangong Tso and back to Leh 320 kms
Day 9: 31st May, 2015 Leh to Kargil 211 kms
Day 10: 01st June, 2015 Kargil to Srinagar 202 kms
Day 11: 02nd June, 2015 Srinagar to Jammu 296 kms
Day 12: 03rd June, 2015 Jammu to Agra 840 kms
Day 13: 04th June, 2015 Agra to Asansol 1106 kms
Day 14: 05th June, 2015 Buffer
Day 15: 06th June, 2015 Buffer

The plan to drive to Spiti was cancelled and Ladakh drive was finalized on 3rd May . We had only 20 days to prepare ourselves for the life time trip. Purchased the Ladakh 951 plan from HvK store. It helped me a lot in getting the hotel booking done on the go. I would like to advise everyone to purchase the Ladakh 951 plan before venturing into Ladakh.

I discussed the whole plan with Team-bhp members of Kolkata and HvK East group. They readily shared all the information they had about the road conditions and weather. Few of those members are about to drive to Ladakh in August.
As days passed by the excitement increased. The terrain was difficult so did not insist my Mother and Mother in law to join us. My wife and I decided to do it alone.

Revised the Travelogues mentioned below to gather as much information as I could.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...so-moriri.html (The XUV Face-off: Chennai to Leh Ladakh! Turtuk, Pangong Tso, Hanle and Tso Moriri)

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...akh-linea.html (How hard can it be? Bangalore to Ladakh in a Linea)

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...ate-guide.html (Leh, Ladakh and Zanskar - The Ultimate Guide)

The list of essential Tools is attached below:
Car tools and essentials.xlsx

The list of essential medicines is attached below:
Medicine List.xlsx

Got my Car thoroughly checked at Banerjee Ford, Durgapur on 22nd May. The smooth drive from Asansol to Durgapur and back re-affirmed that my Figo was ready for the trip.

Some introductory photos:
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Welcome to Leh

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At the World's Highest Motorable Road, Khardungla

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At Nubra Valley

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Enroute to Chang La

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At Pangong Lake

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View from NH 1D

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Leh to Kargil Highway

Last edited by lovecars21 : 27th June 2015 at 18:49. Reason: Grammatical error
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Old 25th June 2015, 23:39   #2
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Day 1: 23rd May 2015 Asansol to Agra

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As per our plan we were to leave for Agra at 3:30 AM but unfortunately due to some fault in our colony’s lighting transformer there was loadshedding since 10:00 PM. The much needed sleep just vanished due to the heat and we were so frustrated that we decided to leave for Agra immediately. Finally after loading the rest of the luggage we hopped into the car at 2:30 AM.

Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-1.jpg
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It was comfortable in the car than in the boiling bed of my room. After crossing West Bengal-Jharkhand border my wife decided to sleep in the rear seat. It was difficult for me to drive on without sleep but the excitement of driving to Leh added the extra energy.
I started cruising at a steady speed of 90-100 kmph. Reached Topchanchi at 4:10 AM. It was too early for breakfast so decided to move on. Next we reached Barhi at 5:15 AM. There was a huge traffic jam due to trucks queuing into the check post. It took around 25 minutes to clear and we were back on the highway. Again as usual there was a jam at Dobhi More and it slowed down my pace badly. Crossing Dobhi check post took 45 minutes. Our first halt for Breakfast was at Chandauli BP Petrol Pump Dhaba at 9:45 AM.

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The Dhaba was clean with AC. The temperature outside was already boiling. We ordered some light food and coffee. We packed our lunch so we don’t waste further time in searching for dhabas.

At 10:30 AM we headed straight towards Allahabad bypass. At 12:30 PM we were cruising on the 4 lane concrete bypass.
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Our next halt was for lunch on the Allahabad bypass. We had our lunch inside the car. At 4:00 PM we crossed Kanpur. The six laning job was almost complete between Kanpur and Etawah. There were one/two diversions near Etawah. The road surface near Auraiya was uneven.

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Tea Break

Finally reached Agra at 8:00 PM. On the move we had planned a Pre-anniversary dinner party of my brother-in-law, Sabyasachi who was in Agra with his wife for a two day visit from New Delhi. We met at Pinch of Spice Restaurant. Had a sumptuous dinner and headed straight to our Hotel. We had booked Hotel Safari for our stay in Agra through MMT website. It was a budget hotel with no restaurant but the location of the hotel was good.

Total Distance Travelled: 1,106 kms
Toll Taxes Paid: 90+85+85+60+85+45+45+70+170+60+80+120+75+75+70= Rs. 1,215/-
Stayed in Hotel Safari, Agra
Room Tariff: Rs. 850/- AC DBR
Travel Time: 18hrs 30 mins with 2 hrs 45 mins break.
Fuel Fillings done at: Asansol and Handia


Day 2: 24th May, 2015 Agra to Jammu

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We left from Agra at 07:00 AM and headed straight towards Yamuna Express Way. We were on the expressway at 7:20 am. The speed limit set on the expressway for LMV is 100 kmph. Had our breakfast in the road side restaurant on YEW at 8:10 am. The restaurants are clean and the price of food is reasonable.
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Reached Noida at 9:40 am and drove straight across Delhi. It was Sunday and traffic was less compared to other week days. Took the Noida Link road and then Outer Ring Road to connect to NH1. Took exactly one hour to pass through Delhi. At 10:40am we were driving on NH1. It’s a six lane highway till Jalandhar.

Had our lunch at Puran Singh Ka Dhaba which is on the right side of the road near Ambala.
Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-2-3.jpg

At 2:30 pm headed towards Ludhiana. HV Kumar Sir had suggested driving through the city as the bypass was in a mess. It took only 15 minutes to drive taking the Clock tower road.

Reached Jalandhar at 5:00pm and took the bypass and then at a four way junction took the right turn to connect to NH 1A. The straight road heads to Amritsar. The right heads to Pathankot, and left heads to the city of Jalandhar. All through NH 1A there are lots of KFC and Mc Donald’s Drive thru. Had our afternoon snacks in one of them.
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The NH 1A is a four lane highway with a speed limit of 90 kmph. Reached Pathankot at 6:30pm and at 7:15pm we were at the Lakhanpur Toll Plaza.
Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-2-5.jpg

Finally reached Jammu at 9:15pm and checked in at Hotel New India Pride which we had booked through Cleartrip website.
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My Figo parked infront of the hotel with another sibling

The road all through was smooth with few diversions between Ambala and Ludhiana. After entering Jammu and Kashmir the number of food joints decreases and they have dirty washrooms.
Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-2-6.jpg
In one of such dhaba

Road between Ludhiana and Jammu is bumpy so had to be careful. Ghat roads had started after Pathankot.

Total Distance Travelled: 840 kms
Toll Taxes Paid: 360+30+111+117+70+75+70= Rs. 903/-
Stayed in New India Pride, Jammu
Room Tariff: Rs. 1,500/- AC DBR
Travel time: 14 hours with 3 hours of break
Fuel Fillings done at: Agra and Ludhiana


Next day we were to drive till Srinagar but unfortunately came to know from HV Kumar Sir that the Jammu-Srinagar highway was closed due to some problem near Ramsu. Called HV Kumar Sir and made an alternate plan to drive via Mughal Road if the highway doesn’t open tomorrow.
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Old 26th June 2015, 19:36   #3
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Day 3: 25th May, 2015 Jammu to Srinagar

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Woke up early and headed straight towards the taxi stand. Asked the drivers whether they could take us to Srinagar and enquired about the rate. They asked for Rs. 400/- each in a shared cab. They even confirmed that the highway would be operational till 9:30am on that day. That was all I needed to know. If I had approached them directly and enquired about the highway they wouldn’t have helped me.
Walked back to the hotel and informed the same to my wife. We both got ready and by 7:00 am we were back on the highway.
Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-3-1.jpg

The road till Katra is a four lane highway with some breath taking views. After bypassing Katra as we headed towards Patnitop the road became 2 lane with lot of truck traffic.
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First view of Snow

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First view of Kashmir Valley, Titanic View Point

The road between Patnitop and Ramsu was overall good but one has to be careful as the area is marked dangerous due to shooting stones.
The highway was closed for the last three days as blasting for road widening was done at Ramsu. The road near the blasting area was in a mess.
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Scenic view after Ramsu

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Rear Right tyre got punctured after Bannihal, refilled the tyre with tyre inflator so that we can drive till the next tyre repairing shop. Unloading the luggage and changing the tyre would have been a tedious job after lunch.

Just a kilometre ahead of Jawahar Tunnel there was a Police check post where they stopped our car. First they wanted to check the car, I readily agreed but then as I got down from the car they said “Bangal se aaye ho Sir, kuch chai pani ka kharcha de dijiye and jaiye” Gave them a hundred rupee note and moved on. There was no checking after that. The Tunnel was guarded by a bunch of army men. It is a 2.5 kms long tunnel badly maintained.

Traffic increased three times after crossing Ramsu. Got stuck near Anantnag Railway Station junction due to traffic jam. Came to know from locals that it’s a daily issue and will become worse when the Amarnath Yatra starts in mid July.

The entry road to Srinagar was in a bad shape due to last year’s flood. Work was being done by blocking one way in many places. Reached Srinagar at 5:00 pm.
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Gave my Figo a much needed wash while entering Srinagar, charged Rs. 150/-

Our plan was to search for a hotel near Dal Lake and stay for the night. After searching for hotels we found Hotel Diplomat which was within our budget.
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The rooms were clean and the view from the window was beautiful. Checked into the hotel and after getting fresh we went for a walk beside the Dal Lake.
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An evening walk beside Dal Lake

We had been to Srinagar in December 2012 and had stayed in a House Boat. That trip was a package tour of Kashmir through Make My Trip. My wife wanted to have Kashmir special Butter Chicken for dinner. Went to a restaurant beside Dal Lake and ordered our dinner, Roti with Butter Chicken. Just after having our dinner it started raining heavily. We got completely drenched in an attempt to reach the hotel. It was very cold. Got back to our rooms and took a hot water bath and then retired for the day.

Total Distance Travelled: 296 kms
Toll Taxes Paid: 75+70= Rs. 145/-
Stayed in Hotel Diplomat, Srinagar
Address: Behind Boulevard Road, Nehru Park, Ghat No. 15, Srinagar 190001
Contact Nos. 0194 2458987
Room Tariff: Rs. 1,200/- DBR
Travel time: 9 hours with 1hr 30mins break
Fuel Fillings done at: Jammu




Day 4: 26th May, 2015 Srinagar to Sonamarg

Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-srinagar-sonamarg.jpg
I was very excited as today I was to drive into Ladakh region. Woke up at 7:00am but as it was very cold, could not get out of the quilt. HV Kumar Sir had advised to drive as early as possible to Sonamarg and queue ahead of as many cars as possible. At 9:00 am we checked out of the hotel and headed straight towards Sonamarg.
Sonamarg which is 97kms from Srinagar has some excellent scenic beauty. Since last night it had been raining so we expected fresh snow near Zoji La but kept our fingers crossed and prayed so that the weather gets cleared and we can head straight to Kargil. Reached Sonamarg Check Post at 10:45am.
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The queue for Kargil had started and we were number seven. We took out our Portable Gas Stove and cooked our breakfast. The view was beautiful and our excitement was high. We walked around the place and found a Youth Hostel just near the check post. Went to the Youth Hostel and had a chit chat with the Manager. The Manager was a nice person and gave us an offer to stay for the night in the Hostel.
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They offer dormitory beds for 500/- each. I told him if the road doesn’t open today we will surely check in. The weather had started to clear and by 11:00 there was bright sunshine. Checked my car thoroughly and dismantled the front mud flaps. The Mud flaps are moulded ones hence they are prone to get damaged in bad roads. Topped up the tyre pressures using my portable tyre inflator.
As we were getting ready to conquer Zoji La it was declared at 2:00pm that the road was unsafe for cars to ply due to fresh snowfall and hence declared closed for the day. JK Police announced, “If the weather is better tomorrow then the road might open”.
With a heavy heart we went to the Youth Hostel, the Manager offered us a double bed room with the best view for Rs. 1,500/-. We accepted the offer. In an hour’s time the whole hostel was bustling with human voices. After getting fresh headed towards Sonamarg Market and called up Kumar Sir and informed him about the status.
Vodafone postpaid had stopped working after getting out of Srinagar. Had a heavy supper and then enjoyed in a nearby park. After sunset we went back to the hostel and retired for the day.
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Total Distance Travelled: 97 kms
Toll Taxes Paid: 50/-
Stayed in Youth Hostel, Sonamarg
Room Tariff: Rs. 1,500/- DBR with common bathroom
Travel time: 1 hours 45 mins without break
The road between Srinagar and Sonamarg is good with few patches where repairing was being done.
Fuel Fillings done at: Srinagar
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Old 26th June 2015, 19:54   #4
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Day 5: 27th May, 2015 Sonamarg to Kargil

Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-sonamarg-kargil.jpg
Woke up and prayed to the weather God. It was a bright sunny day. Cranked the engine and it started after two attempts. Minimum temperature records in my car was 2 deg C.
Went to the Police check post and asked them whether I could drive directly from the hostel without standing in the queue when the road opens. They allowed us.
Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-1.jpg
The hostel campus is also a safe camping area

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View from the hostel premises

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Basking under the sun

We waited within the hostel premises and at 11:00 am we could see the cars and trucks coming downhill. It was the first sign that the road through Zoji La had opened. From 9:00 am to 01:00 PM it was one way traffic coming from Kargil to Sonamarg and at 2:00PM we were allowed to move towards Zoji La. Just when the road to drive up was getting cleared I tried to crank the engine but the battery was down. To my bad luck I had not brought the Jump start cable as it was not available in the market. Asked help from the other travellers who had stayed in the same hostel. They helped me start my car by pushing it. Kept the car’s engine start so that the battery gets charged from the alternator. In high altitudes it is very evitable that battery might fail, so an advice to everyone, please carry jump start cables along with your car.
We headed towards Zoji La and for the first few kilometres a Highway Patrol Gypsy guided us then advised us to drive slowly and carefully as the road was not in a good shape due to yesterday’s snowfall.
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As the Patrol Gypsy returned back to the check post the local cab drivers started honking behind us as if they had a flight to catch. The road was stiff with water and slush. The most important thing while driving there is to keep cool. I gave way to the local cabs and they rushed pass us. My car is dearer to me so carefully drove upto to Zoji La.
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After crossing Zoji La the condition of the road deteriorates with huge water filled craters. It was not advisable to tell my wife to get down and check the depth of water as it was freezing outside so monitored the movement of the cars ahead of us and accordingly negotiated through those craters.
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After Dras the road condition improves. Reached Kargil at 8:00PM. Checked into Hotel Suru View and retired for the day after having a heavy dinner.

Total Distance Travelled: 130 kms
High Altitude Passes enroute: Zoji La 11,649 ft
Toll Taxes Paid: 80/-
Stayed in Hotel Suru View, Kargil
Room Tariff: Rs. 1,500/- DBR.
Travel time: 6 hours with many photo stops.
Total underbelly hits: Two light hits.
Fuel Fillings done: Nil
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Old 26th June 2015, 20:12   #5
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Day 6: 28th May, 2015 Kargil to Leh

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As we had a light day ahead so woke up late. After breakfast checked out from the Hotel at 10:00 AM. It was a bright sunny day. My Figo was ready to conquer two more passes today, Namika La (12,198 ft) and Fotu La (13,479ft).
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At Namika La
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At Fotu La

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Live to Drive

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The roads are good all through. They looked like freshly laid tarmac amidst picturesque landscape. Took some photos and headed towards the next landmark, Magnetic Hill.

Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-12.jpg
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We parked our car on the place marked and turned off the engine. Lowered the hand brake and car started moving up hill. At first look it seemed that the car was moving uphill but when closely monitored the landscape seemed so but actually the car was rolling downhill.

Today’s drive was the most scenic with excellent views. We halted after every 10 kms to enjoy the beauty and tried to capture it through my camera lens.
Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-15.jpg
Reached Leh at 4:30 pm. HvK Sir had booked our stay at Ling’s. Took me 45 mins to search for the Hotel. Finally when we reached the hotel Mr. Dorje, the owner gave a warm welcome. The rooms were clean and the view from the room was beautiful. After unloading our luggage we went for a walk and found a Nice Roof top restaurant, “Cross Roads”. We were hungry so walked into the restaurant and ordered for Dry Chilli Chicken and Fried Rice. The food was very delicious. The owners Mr. and Mrs. Subba were very nice and helpful.
They helped me with a map of Leh and told me about the places of interest in and around Leh.

We walked back to our Home Stay and Mr. Dorje was waiting for us. We had tea together and he shared some tips on driving around Leh. He is a very nice person and a co-Hvkian. He also goes for adventurous treks around Leh every two months. According to him there are “n” number of places that one can visit in Ladakh.

At 7:30 PM we drove to Shanti Stupa and took some photos. The view from the stupa was beautiful but it was too windy and cold. It stays open for tourist till 9:00 PM so we had an hour to enjoy. Then we drove to Leh Main Market and did some shopping.
Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-16.jpg
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View of glittering Leh from Shanti Stupa at Night

Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-18.jpg
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Shanti Stupa, Leh

Due to beautification of Leh City going on most of the roads within the city is one way. I had to be careful as following Navi Maps in the city were most of the roads were one way it was difficult!

After driving back to Ling’s we had our dinner. Mr. Dorje had prepared Rice, Chapatis, Dal Fry and Mixed Veg for us. The food was excellent and we ate until we were full.

Total Distance Travelled: 211 kms
High Altitude Passes enroute: Namika La (12,198 ft) and Fotu La (13,479ft)
Toll Taxes Paid: Nil
Stayed in Ling’s Homestay, Yurthung(Lingtse), Leh-194101
Room Tariff: Rs. 1,500/- DBR.
Travel time: 7 hours with many photo stops.
Total underbelly hits: Nil
Fuel Fillings done at: Leh
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Old 26th June 2015, 23:52   #6
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Day 7: 29th May, 2015 Leh to Nubra Valley

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To drive to Nubra Valley one needs to fill a form and submit it at the check post of South Pullu. I have attached a copy of the form.
Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-form.jpg
The form needs to be filled up and atleast 2 copies of it should be ready and handy. The same form is required to be filled while driving to Pangong.

We woke up at 6:30 am as advised by Mr. Dorje and we were ready to drive at 7:00 am. Khardungla Pass is difficult but the roads are wide.
Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-1.jpg
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Reached South Pollu check post and submitted the form. They informed us that there was snow on the road and bikers were not being allowed. The day before few bikers were badly stuck after Khardung la Top. We were lucky that today the weather God had bless us again. As we approached Khardung la the roads became bad to worse.

Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback-3.jpg
At Khardung La Top

The excitement of driving on “The World’s Highest Motorable Road” cannot be described through words.

Reached Khardung La Top at 11:30 am. The place was crowded with tourist. Traffic had come to a standstill due to local cab drivers who had parked there vehicles in the middle of the road. There were around 50 cars on the top parked haphazardly. Army came to the rescue and cleared the traffic within 15 minutes.

As I switch on my car at Khardung La the malfunction light was on. I was worried as what might have happened and missed my Andriod Phone. I was carrying my ELM 327 device but had forgotten to bring my Andriod Phone in which the Torque Pro software was installed. Using that device I could have in a minute found out the location of the fault. Parked my car on the side of the road and checked the Engine Oil level, coolant level, brake oil level, steering oil and the bottom of my car to check for any leakages near the Mobil chamber. Everything was perfect. Went through the car’s manual and it was mentioned that even if the Engine Malfunction light gets on, one can drive but will get less power output from the Engine. So keeping our fingers crossed drove on.

After Khardungla Top the roads became worse with snow. Drove carefully with the slow moving traffic and finally reached North Pullu check post at 12:30 am. After North Pullu the roads are better all through upto Hunder.
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Reached Diskit and checked into the Sand Dunes Guest House at 3:30 pm. HvK CHD had booked the hotel for us. The hotel was clean and beautiful. The Manager Mr.Rajesh was waiting for us. We ordered for some snacks and tea. After supper we drove to Hunder. We enjoyed the afternoon at the cold desert amidst Sand dunes.

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Wikipedia: “Local scholars say that its original name was Ldumra (the valley of flowers). The Shyok River meets the Nubra or Siachan River to form a large valley that separates the Ladakh and Karakoram Ranges. The Shyok river is a tributary of the Indus river. The average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 ft. i.e. 3048 metres above the sea level.”

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We found Bactrian Camels which are popularly known as double humped camels. These Bactrian camels grow a thick coat of hair each winter. That coat of hair falls off every spring. This is to deal with the extreme variation of temperature in the desert where summer temperatures are high and in winter temperature falls below 0 deg C.
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View from Diskit Gompa

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After enjoying in the desert we drove to Diskit Gompa, which is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh. Took the some photos and drove back to our hotel. By this time the Malfunction light had automatically turned off. Thanked God and understood that due to less oxygen at high altitude the light had turned on.

After reaching the hotel to confirm that nothing was wrong with the car, checked all the wheel rotation by lifting each side of the car using jack. Then I checked the condition of the air filter and rechecked the tyre pressures. All was fine.

After sunset it was cold. There was no Electricity. Mr. Rajesh told us that they get electricity only for two hours from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. As there was nothing do we went to bed and rested for a while. At 9:00 pm dinner arrived. After dinner went to sleep but after an hour or so woke up to a lightening sky. There was a severe thunderstorm outside.

Total Distance Travelled: 150 kms
High Altitude Passes enroute: Khardung La Top(18,380ft)
Permit: Had to submit a form at South Pullu Check post
Toll Taxes Paid: Nil
Nubra Valley Dunes Entry Ticket: Rs. 20/-
Diskit Gompa Entry: Rs. 60/-
Stayed in Sand Dunes Guest House, Market Area, Diskit
Room Tariff: Rs. 1,000/- DBR.
Travel time: 8.5 hours with many photo stops.
Total underbelly hits: Once
Fuel Fillings done: Nil
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Old 27th June 2015, 00:02   #7
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Day 8: 30th May, 2015 Nubra Valley to Leh

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The morning was bright and sunny with no mark of yesterday’s severe storm. With a positive mind set we drove to North Pullu but to our bad luck there was a huge queue of vehicles. Came to know that the weather was bad near Khardung La top and one way traffic was being allowed. As we waited suddenly it became cloudy and “WOW!” there it was my first experience of snowfall.
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Within a few minutes the temperature dipped to 0 deg C. After 45 minutes the weather got cleared.
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We had reached North Pullu check post at 10:00 am and they announced that it would open for down traffic towards Leh at 1:00PM. We were hungry, so had toast and soup for lunch, thanks to our portable gas stove. At 1:30 PM down traffic was allowed. It was not easy to drive on snow. As we climbed towards Khardung La the beauty of the surrounding made it heavenly. “We were in Paradise!” The snow was fresh and glittered under the bright Sun.
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Snow bath

Reached Leh at 6:00 PM. Ordered our dinner and then retired for the day.

Total Distance Travelled: 150 kms
High Altitude Passes enroute: Khardung La Top(18,380ft)
Permit: Just have to enter the details at North Pullu Check post
Toll Taxes Paid: Nil
Stayed in Ling’s Homestay, Yurthung(Lingtse), Leh-194101
Room Tariff: Rs. 1,500/- DBR.
Travel time: 9 hours with many photo stops and queued for 3.5 hours at North Pullu check post
Total underbelly hits: Nil
Fuel Fillings done at: Leh after returning from Nubra

Last edited by lovecars21 : 27th June 2015 at 19:08. Reason: grammatical error
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Old 27th June 2015, 00:22   #8
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Day 9: 31st May, 2015 Leh to Pangong Tso and back

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The most eventful day of our trip! We woke up at 6:00 am and after an early breakfast drove towards Leh Manali Highway. It was cloudy and raining. As we approached Karu the weather deteriorated. Took the left lane just before Karu and got on the Pangong Lake Road.

Chang La is around 42 kms from the check post near Karu. At the check post I had to submit the same form with the destination as Pangong Lake. The road from there was single and narrow with lot of hair pin bends.
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As we approached Chang La there was severe snowfall. Visibility decreased to 10 meters. Within few minutes everything became white. There was a huge queue infront of us. Few local cabs started turning around stating it was impossible to drive across Chang La in such snow. We waited and then seeing the intensity of snowfall I also decided to turn around and drive downhill. After driving downhill for 2 kms I parked my car and waited for the weather to clear up. Few more cars followed us and waited together. They were all RWDs and AWDs mine was the only FWD car.

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An Army Gypsy with snowchains came to us and informed us that it would be very risky to drive ahead without snowchains. Hearing this few more RWDs returned. I waited and told my wife that “incase we return now to Leh we have nothing to do. Its better we wait and if the weather clears then I would surely give it a try.” After an hour the clouds cleared. Local cabs started moving uphill. We followed them. Reached Chang La at 1:30 pm. Took some photos and moved on.
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The road after Chang La is bad at few places. One needs to be careful as there are dips after every kilometre. Rest of the road is good.
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Marmots
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Kiangs
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Reached Pangong at 3:30 PM and had our lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch we enjoyed near the lake and drove along it for some kilometres.
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At the famous Pangong Lake

As we had plans to return to Leh on the same day could not spend much time there but the place actually needs to be enjoyed and demands an overnight stay to view its beauty at night. There were local restaurants that provided tents at 300/- per person. It was cheap but I had no time to verify the quality of the tent. Few local tourist vehicles were leaving from Pangong for Leh so followed them. Sunsets in Ladakh region at 7:00 pm so I had only 2 hours to cross Chang La. I knew my car is FWD and it might get very difficult after sunset. Overtook them and reached Chang La at 6:30 PM and without wasting much time at the pass moved downhill and reached the check post near Karu by 7:30 PM. The roads were clear and traffic was less.
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At Chang La

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At Karu, tea break

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After sunset at Leh Manali Highway

Reached Leh at 8:30PM, by that time Mr.Dorje had informed HV Kumar Sir that we might have got stuck. So called up HV Kumar sir and informed him that we had safely returned to Leh.

Total Distance Travelled: 333 kms
High Altitude Passes enroute: Chang La (17,688ft)
Permit: Had to submit a form near Karu Check post stating we would return the same day
Toll Taxes Paid: Nil
Stayed in Ling’s Homestay, Yurthung(Lingtse), Leh-194101
Room Tariff: Rs. 1,500/- DBR.
Travel time: 13 hours with 1.5 hours at Pangong and queued for 3 hours before Chang La due to snowfall
Total underbelly hits: Thrice.
Fuel Fillings done: Nil

Last edited by lovecars21 : 27th June 2015 at 19:06. Reason: Grammatical Error
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Old 27th June 2015, 12:13   #9
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Day 10: 1st June, 2015 Leh to Kargil

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Ling's Home Stay at Leh

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View of Leh

We woke up late and relaxed till 10:00 AM. After breakfast we said good bye to Leh. With a heavy heart I drove on. We had just 251 kms to drive and the roads were good so enjoyed our drive.
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View of Lamayuru

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The weather was cloudy and we got snowfall at Fotu La. The drive was uneventful and we reached Kargil at 3:00 PM. We checked in at Hotel Snow View which is opposite Hotel D’Zojila.

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View of Suru River, Kargil
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Old 27th June 2015, 13:37   #10
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Amar Jyoti

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After getting fresh we drove to Kargil War Memorial and spend the afternoon remembering the sacrifice our soldiers made for our country. It is a drive of 53 kilometres from Kargil towards Dras.

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Total Distance Travelled: 251 kms
High Altitude Passes enroute: Fotu La (13,479ft) and Namika La (12,198 ft)
Toll Taxes Paid: 50/-
Stayed in Hotel Snow View, Kargil
Room Tariff: Rs. 1,000/- DBR.
Travel time: 5 hours with many photo stops.
Total underbelly hits: Nil
Fuel Fillings done at: Leh before start of our journey


Day 11: 2nd June, 2015 Kargil to Patnitop

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Today we wanted to drive directly to Jammu skipping Srinagar so that a day lost could be made for. Started from Kargil at 6:30 AM and headed straight to Zoji La. Last few days weather at Zoji La was good and sunny hence snow was comparatively less. The craters now seemed bigger and deeper. Tried to carefully negotiate through them but got three under belly hits.

Reached Sonamarg at 10:00 am. Our plan was to drive through Srinagar Bypass and then after crossing Mahjoor Chowk connect back on NH 1A. But to our bad luck as we approached the Chowk at 1:00 PM there was a huge traffic jam. All cars we taking a U turn and were heading back. One of them advised to drive through the city. Took a U turn and that was a big mistake . Headed back and then drove through the city to again reach the same chowk at 2:00 PM. This time we were badly stuck.

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Took us one hour to cross the chowk and get on NH 1A. At 4:10 PM reached Anantnag. Again we were stuck between slow moving traffic.

Reaching Jammu seemed impossible. Reached Ramsu at 6:30 PM. Alas! The road was closed. Again some blasting was being done. Walked to the point where the road was closed and asked the Police as whether the road would open today or not. They said in an hour cars will be allowed to ply. Got some relief as heading back to Srinagar or Anantnag would be a nightmare. The road opened after 45 minutes but traffic movement was slow thereafter.

Reached Batote at 8:10 PM. It was drizzling and it was becoming hard to drive after dark. Called HV Kumar Sir and asked for suggestion. He advised to stay at Patnitop for the night. He gave the detailed address and contact number of Hotel Alpine under JKTDC. Reached Patnitop at 8:30 PM and checked into the Hotel.

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Hotel Alpine, Patnitop

Today’s drive was very hectic it had taken the toll on me. After dinner slept like a log.

Total Distance Travelled: 335 kms
High Altitude Passes enroute: Zoji La
Toll Taxes Paid: 50+70+50=Rs. 170/-
Stayed in Hotel Alpine, under JKTDC
Room Tariff: Rs. 1,000/- DBR.
Travel time: 15 hours with severe traffic jams at Srinagar, Anantnag, Ramsu.
Total underbelly hits: Three times
Fuel Fillings done at: Srinagar



Day 12: 3rd June, 2015 Patnitop to Agra

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Today’s drive was also a challenge. Target was Agra. After breakfast at Patnitop we checked out from the hotel at 9:00am. It was still drizzling. Truck traffic seemed to be all time high.

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A Thar slipped into a drain due to bad visibility

Reached Udhampur at 10:45 AM. It took 30 minutes to cross Udhampur as it was busy hour. Finally got on the 4 lane highway. It was a relief! The last We had driven only 55 kms in the last 2 hours

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Decided to bypass Jammu and save as much time as possible. Reached Jammu Bypass junction at 11:50AM. Took us only 25 minutes to reach the other end of Jammu. After Jammu drove sedately and reached Pathankot at 1:40 PM. We had our lunch at one of the Mc Donald Drive Thru’s.
Crossed Ludhiana at 5:00 pm through the city. Agra was still far away. Sun had already set and we had just reached Ambala. It was 7:00PM.
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In three hours reached Delhi Bypass junction. Took the bypass, it was completely deserted. Decided not to stop anywhere in the bypass. After connecting to the outer ring road we took a break and packed our dinner. Kumar Sir suggested us to stay back in Delhi but requested him to kindly arrange for a hotel in Agra as I did not want to stay in Delhi. Staying in Delhi meant driving thorough the city next day morning. Yamuna Expressway is safe for night driving hence moved on. Reach Yamuna Expressway at 11:20 PM and decided to take a break at one of the rest areas and have our dinner. There were many families who were travelling at night and had taken a break there. After dinner we had a walk around the place. Kumar Sir messaged me the details of the Hotel at Agra and contact number of the Manager. Called the Manager of the hotel and informed him about our location and plan to stay at his hotel.

Mr. Chander Bhushan Sethi, the Manager said that he would inform the staff to keep the room ready. We reach Hotel Amar Yatri Niwas at 2:30 AM. The room was ready for us.

Total Distance Travelled: 951 kms
High Altitude Passes enroute: Nil
Toll Taxes Paid: 75+70+75+70+117+67+111+30+360=Rs.975/-
Stayed in Hotel Amar Yatri Niwas, 181/1, Tourist Complex Area, Fatehabad Road, Agra
Contact Person: Mr. Chander Bhushan Sethi, Mob No. 09756796598
Room Tariff: Rs. 1,400/- AC DBR.
Travel time: 17 hours with slow moving traffic between Patnitop to Jammu and 2 hours break time.
Total underbelly hits: NIL
Fuel Fillings done at: Ludhiana


Day 13: 4th June, 2015 Rested in Agra

Woke up late at 09:00 AM and decided to rest for a day in Agra. The room was luxurious. Ordered for breakfast and then decided to watch a movie at a nearby Multiplex. Purchased the tickets online and enjoyed the movie, Tanu weds Manu Returns.
We headed back to the hotel after the movie as it was very hot outside. Had our lunch and then rested for the day.

Total Distance Travelled: 10 kms
High Altitude Passes enroute: Nil
Toll Taxes Paid: NIL
Stayed in Hotel Amar Yatri Niwas, 181/1, Tourist Complex Area, Fatehabad Road, Agra
Contact Person: Mr. Chander Bhushan Sethi, Mob No. 09756796598
Room Tariff: Rs. 1,400/- AC DBR.
Travel time: Rested whole day.
Total underbelly hits: NIL
Fuel Fillings done at: Agra for next day’s drive.


Day 14: 5th June, 2015 Agra to Kolkata

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Woke up at 3:00 am and got ready for my record drive. Till today the maximum kilometres driven by me in a single day was 1,106 kms and today my target was 1,328 kms. At 4:30am I cranked the engine drove off. By 4:50 am we were on NH2.

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Route taken to connect to NH 2 from Amar Yatri Niwas, Agra

Firozabad bypass 5:19 am
Sikhohabad bypass 5:38 am
Etawah bypass 6:17 am
Auraiya bypass 7:01 am
Kanpur Bypass 7:58 am
Fatehpur Bypass 9:35 am
Allahabad Bypass 10:30 am
Varanasi Bypass 12:15 am
Sasaram Lunch break at Zaika Restaurant just before Mohania Toll 2:15pm-2:50pm
Aurangabad Bypass 3:35 pm
Dobhi More 4:23 pm
Barhi More 5:10 pm
Topchachi Tea Break at Shan-e-Punjab 6:15pm-6:45pm
Jharkhand Bengal Border 7:50pm (Traffic jam had to take the wrong lane to cross the bridge)
Asansol Bypass 8:00 pm
Burdwan Bypass 10:30 pm
Azad Hind Dhaba for Dinner at 11:20 pm – 12:05 am
Got stuck at Santragachi traffic jam between 1:15 am to 1:50 am
Finally reached Jadavpur, Kolkata at 2:30 am

Total Distance Travelled: 1,328 kms
High Altitude Passes enroute: Nil
Toll Taxes Paid: 70+75+75+120+80+60+170+70+55+45+95+60+85+85+65+60+ 10=Rs.1,280/-
Travel time: Total time 23 hours. First 1,000 kms done in 13 hrs 36 mins with 1 hr 15 mins break rest Asansol to Kolkata tested my patience and stamina with unbearable truck traffic and jams at Panagarh and Santragachi
Total underbelly hits: NIL
Fuel Fillings done at: Mohania and Singur

Last edited by lovecars21 : 27th June 2015 at 19:11. Reason: spelling mistake
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Old 27th June 2015, 13:42   #11
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Trip summary:

Total Distance Travelled: 6,640kms
Total Days: 14 days with 1 day stuck at Sonamarg and 1 day rest at Agra
Total Fuel Cost: Rs. 21,565/-
Average Fuel Rate: Rs.55/-p ltr
Approx Fuel used: 392 ltrs
Mileage: 16.9 kmpl with 100% AC on plains and 10% AC on hilly roads
Total Toll Tax Paid: Rs.4,648/-

Phone Connectivity: Only Post Paid BSNL and Airtel work after Srinagar. It is advised to take BSNL as it has the best coverage in Ladakh.

Lastly I would like to thank my wife for enduring the journey and enjoying it as much as I did. I would also like to thank HV Kumar Sir for his continuous support.

Live to Drive!!
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Old 27th June 2015, 19:12   #12
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

Every account of Leh is a fresh account! Feels great to read each one of them!

Last edited by ampere : 27th June 2015 at 19:13.
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Old 27th June 2015, 22:37   #13
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Default Re: Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback

Congrats on taking a hatchback to treacherous region and returning safe. Kudos to Figo and you seem to inspire other low GC vehicle owners to take a trip to Leh.

This seem to be the first TL of Ladakh of this season.

Excellent pictures and crisp narration, thoroughly enjoyed your TL.
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Old 27th June 2015, 23:22   #14
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What a lovely travelogue this has turned out to be! While reading i was just thinking as if its a customized travelogue written only for me! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

You have shared all the required details. Its really crisp and very informative. The pictures are nice would be an understatement! They are fabulous!

And lastly hats off to you for driving your Figo with no back up driver or car and that too in one of the toughest season of Ladakh.

Rated a well deserved 5*.

Last edited by Samba : 27th June 2015 at 23:26.
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Old 27th June 2015, 23:29   #15
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Thumbs up Re: Conquered Ladakh in a low GC Hatchback

Hello Arun,

Have been hearing a lot about your trip from my friends Anirban and Sabyda! Now that the travelogue is up, I read it, showed the pics to my wifey as well and both of us were awestruck.
Trust me when I say, conquering Ladakh with a Figo, will be a huge booster for us. Driving solo in those treacherous roads itself, along with how well you documented each and every detail, will go a long way for future hatch drivers to Ladakh. Not to forget about the pics!
Definite 5 stars!
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The King who conquered Part of South India gowda79 Travelogues 99 22nd April 2009 20:45
Kalpa, Chitkul Conquered setuniket Travelogues 10 10th October 2008 12:48
Biking Adventure: Mangala conquered akroy Travelogues 5 20th February 2006 06:34


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