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Old 10th September 2015, 15:09   #1
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Default Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata

A drive to Ladakh in his own car is a dream for many automobile lovers and travel enthusiasts. We were a part of them. We dreamed to do a Ladakh road trip for the last few years and 2015 finally made our dream come true.

We were moderately a big group with 6 cars and 12 people. Yes 12 people can very easily accommodate in 4 cars but every one wanted to drive there own cars so we ended up taking 6 cars! For the past one year, to make plans for our Ladakh road trip we ended up doing several small to big road trips and a drive to North sikkim was a part of it too! http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-page-4-a.html We just needed some reason to go for road trips and we made Ladakh the scape goat!

Our trip itinerary went like this with approximately adding 6,500kms to our driving experience-

19th August - Kolkata- Kanpur
20th August- Kanpur- Delhi
21st August- Delhi - Jammu
22nd August- Jammu - Srinagar
23rd August - Srinagar - Sonmarg
24th August - Sonmarg -Leh
25th August - Leh sightseeing's.
26th August - Leh to Diskit/Hunder
27th August - Diskit - Leh
28th August - Leh- Pangong/Tangste
29th August - Tangste - Leh
30th August - Leh - Hanle
31st August - Hanle- Tsomoriri
1st September - Tsomoriri- Keylong
2nd September - Keylong - Manali
3rd September - Manali - Karnal
4th September - Karnal- Kanpur
5th Spetember - Kanpur - Kolkata.

An introduction to the team and the vehicles we traveled in-

Team Etios. Samba Sengupta (Team Bhp handle-Samba) with Mr Samya and his wife Debaleena.
Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_7715.jpg

Team Figo. Mr Arav Jalan (Team Bhp handle -Aj-Got-Bhp ) with his friend Mr Vinay and his wife Ekta.
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Team Punto. Mr Rana Adhikary. Solo
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Team Swift. Mr.Souradeep Choudhury (Team Bhp handle- Sourac) With Mr Nasim.
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Team Thar. Mr Avrendu Majumdar (Team Bhp handle-Avrendu) Solo
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Team Scorpio. Mr Indranil Chatterjee and Mr Arghya Pan.
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Fianlly a teaser pic at Pangong with the cars and there owners.
From left to right.
Mr Indranil Chatterjee
Mr Arav Jalan
Mr.Souradeep Choudhury
Mr.Samba Sengupta
Mr.Rana Adhikary
Mr.Avrendu Majumdar
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And a teaser video on the way to Khardungla.


The preparation's for the trip.

We got many helps regarding the planning of the trip. The way Hv Kumar sir helped us with the hotels and route maps were just out of the world. Few teambhpians who helped us a lot were SS-traveller, predatorwheelz, papabravo, ghostrider28, lovecars21, blackpearl, 1100D, Himadrimondal, psurelia, xetaglgrocks and few others. A lot of thanks to each one of you from the whole Ladakh team. And of-course not to miss out on the awesome team bhp travelogues which gave us many useful pointers.

Things we carried as precautionary measures -

For cars-
Extra fluids like engine oil, coolant, brake oil
Tow rope
Jump start cable
Tyre inflator
Puncture repair kit
Extra tube
Volt meter
Spanner and screwdriver set
Extra fuse
Emseal
Torch
Apart from these just before the trip i got all my 5 tyres changed and replaced the old battery with a new one.

For us-
Medicines prescribed by doctor.
An oxymeter to monitor the pulse rate and oxygen level at high altitudes.
Portable oxygen cans for AMS.
Loads of mineral water bottle and extra food for 2-3 days in case we get stuck.

So as the initial preparation's are done lets get into the travelogue..!

Last edited by Samba : 15th September 2015 at 22:49.
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Old 11th September 2015, 20:44   #2
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Default Re: Sailed through the land of high passes in sedan, hatchbacks & suv's- Our Ladakh chapter from Kol

Day 1

Kolkata - Kanpur
(Approximately 1000 kms in 18 hours)
Our meet at Dankuni was scheduled at 4am in the morning. Every one wanted to have a small sleep before the drive. But when a Ladakh drive is knocking the door how can any one sleep before that! So by 3-30am the luggage was put into the Etios boot and i was all set to move out with my trusted steed.

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As scheduled 4 cars met at Dankuni toll booth at 4am. Etios, Figo, Scorpio and Thar had plans do to Kanpur in day 1 and swift and Punto had some other commitments so they did Kolkata- Delhi in one go and caught up with us the next day at Delhi. Our very own Kolkata Bhpian JKDS had some work in Delhi so for the drive till Delhi he joined us with his wife in his Bolero 4x4.

The initial meet at Dankuni Toll booth. The Bolero was yet to arrive.

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The morning traffic was less and we cruised along in a decent pace. We entered Jharkhand by 7am and stopped for our first break after crossing Topchachi at Hotel Ashok. Its 330kms from Dankuni and we reached there at 9am. After having an hour break we kept on driving and crossed Varanashi by 2pm. After Varanashi the road till Handia was a single carriage lane as the other side of the road was closed due to some pilgrimage walks to Varanashi from Allahabad. This 87 kms stretch took us 3 hours. By the time we reached the Allahabad bypass it was 5pm. We crossed the bypass and stopped for some snacks in a road side dhaba. It was raining heavily and we enjoyed our alu-paratha and hot tea! It was really refreshing.

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We started from Allahabad by 7pm. It was still drizzling and the out side weather was very pleasant. I was driving solo till Delhi as my friends joined me from Delhi. So driving solo in such pleasant weather was leading to some drowsiness but a can of redbull did the trick. Was feeling energized again and we reached Kanpur at around 9-30pm. By the time we could find out our hotel and check in it was nearly 10pm. So day one ends with 1000kms and 18 hours drive.

Day 2

Kanpur - Delhi
(Approximately 500 kms in 8 hours)
This was going to be an easy day for us. Kanpur to Delhi is just 500kms with excellent roads. So we woke up late and started lazily around 11am. Plus we were in no hurry as the Punto and the Swift will catch up at Delhi and the next day all the 6 cars will go towards Jammu. As expected without any fuss we crossed Etawah and reached Agra by 2pm. For a long time i wanted to drive my own car through Yamuna express way and i was happy! The drive was super smooth and hassle free.

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On the way we stopped for some food and reached greater Noida by 5-30pm.

My Etios cruising through greater Noida.
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We were supposed to stay at Tivoli resort at Karnal road. But i never knew there was another Tivoli resort at Chattarpur and i set my gps as Tivoli! In the Delhi peak traffic i drove till Tivoli in Chattarpur and found we have no bookings over there. In Delhi traffic the other three cars also got detached from one another. By the time i was at Tivoli Chattarpur it was 8pm. I asked them for the direction to Tivoli Karnal and it was 43 kms from there! Driving 43kms in Delhi peak traffic already after a 500kms driving is any day tiring but i had no options! So again got my gps set and started following the local Delhi Cabbies which saved some time for me. Finally reached Tivoli resort Karnal road by 10pm after a full Delhi sightseeing!

Day3

Delhi - Jammu
(Approximately 580 kms in 10.5 hours)
Today morning my friends took a cab to Tivoli and they joined me in my car and as scheduled the Punto and the Swift also joined us. We left Delhi by 11 am and headed towards Jammu. The roads were awesome with a speed limit of 90km/hr. We maintained the speed limit and kept on driving. The drive was boring so to spice things up took a selfie with the Team Bhp kolkata chapter tshirt when we stopped on the road side for some refreshment.

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Had our late lunch at Jalandhar by 4pm. The drive from Jalandhar to Pathankot was exciting. It was raining cats and dogs with near zero visibility. We crossed Pathankot by 6-30pm and entered Jammu and Kashmir by 7-15pm. From the boder at Laxmanpur to Jammu city was approximately a 2 hours driv. By 9-30pm we checked into our respective hotel rooms.

We all were excited as the drive through the plains were over and from the next day we are going to hit the mighty Himalaya's!

Last edited by benbsb29 : 21st September 2015 at 05:56. Reason: Corrected pm to am on Day2, as per Reported post.
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Old 13th September 2015, 00:45   #3
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Default Re: Sailed through the land of high passes in sedan, hatchbacks & suv's- Our Ladakh chapter from Kol

Day 4

Jammu - Srinagar
(Approximately 280 kms in 10.5 hours)
When hills beckon no one sleeps late! We all were up by 5-30am got ready and hit the road by 7am. The Jammu - Udhampur stretch was an one way road which is very uncommon on hills. The road surface was excellent with great scenic beauty. We reached Udhampur in an hour and continued towards Patnitop. Truck traffic was moderate and local cab traffic was on the higher side. By the time we crossed Patnitop it was 10am. By 10-30am we stopped at Batote for a heavy breakfast.

Started from Batote around 11-30am and continued towards Srinagar. Soon after Batote we crossed a landslide zone with some bad roads and slush. We got the first real feel of the Himalayan drive! Soon we raced towards Banihal and crossed the Jawhar tunnel and stopped at Titanic view point for the first view of the Kashmir valley. It was around 3pm.

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By 5-30pm we reached our hotel beside Dal lake at Srinagar. Me in my car beside the legendary Dal lake.

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We got freshened up and decided to have a Shikara ride for a couple of hours. The Shikara ride was scenic and refreshing specially after a whole day drive.
Sharing few pics from the Shikara ride.

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After the ride we decided to have some authentic Kashmiri dishes like Waswan, Mutton Roghan juice and few other items at Mughal Darbar Srinagar. Must say the food tasted awesome. Soon after the dinner we headed back to our hotel and retired for the day.

Day 5


Srinagar - Sonmarg
(Approximately 90 kms in 3 hours)

This was more or less an relaxing day for us. After 4 days of heavy drive our target for this day was a leisurely drive till Sonmarg. I knew Srinagar to Sonmarg drive was very scenic. In the morning we spent some time roaming around Srinagar and post lunch we headed out for Sonmarg. The drive through the hills with breathtaking beauty was something we will never forget. On the way we stopped numerous times to take photographs. Reached Sonmarg around 5pm. After checking into the hotel we went out to explore some nearby places.

Sharing few pics of the beautiful Sonmarg.

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After a more or less rest day we hit the bed keeping in the back of our mind that we will be entering Leh the very next day but before that we have to cross the mighty Zojila pass in the very beginning of the day!

Last edited by Samba : 15th September 2015 at 02:26.
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Old 13th September 2015, 00:49   #4
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Day 6

Sonmarg - Leh
(Approximately 340 kms in 13.5 hours)
Finally the day arrived when we were destined to get Leh'd! The first thing which arrives in a drive to Leh from Sonmarg is we have to cross Zojila and its a very unpredictable pass. No one can predict what surprise this pass will have in store for you!

We woke up by 6am and stared by 7am. It was raining moderate to heavily with some drizzles in between. So it was clear we have to cross Zojila in rain! It sounds thrilling to read but in practical situation it was a deterrent! We kept on driving steadily and got the first surprise. I saw the road is blocked with a huge hump. Got down from the car & inspected it, concluded that if driven from the extreme right by taking up the car in an angular way we can cross it. All our cars crossed the first hurdle and we were happily marching forward. The roads were slushy with small to big boulders and were negotiating through them. Till then it was fine. But just after a turn we saw a water crossing in a steep incline. In one side it was big boulders and on the other half of the road water was gushing down in full flow with few big size boulders! Again got down from the car judged the exact scenario kept cool and negotiated the up from the left side with the car fitting just between the water flow and the boulders! Luckily in the first attempt we were able to cross it! After these two hurdles Zojila had no more surprises for us apart from the broken roads and slush. To add to the thrill we negotiated these while it was raining! At places roads were narrow & i had to reverse on those narrow stretch to give passes to the bigger trucks.

Took some pics while i stopped to give pass to the bigger vehicles.

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A small video to reveal the condition of Zojila.


Soon we reached the Zojila top and the welcome to Ladakh board greeted us!

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After entering the Ladakh territory we took our first break in the super scenic Cafe Gumri for some hot tea and Samosa while it was still raining heavily!

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After the breakfast our next target to stop was the Drass War memorial. The road till Drass was bad with full of potholes but the road was scenic.

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Soon we reached Drass around 11am.

Few pics from the Drass war memorial.

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Our next target for stop was at Kargil to have our lunch and then continue till Leh.

Again the road from Drass to Kargil offered some breathtaking views and this time on contrary the roads were excellent !

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Reached Kargil around 1-30 pm and we stopped for Lunch.

A view from Kargil army camp canteen.
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Post lunch we kept on driving towards Leh. The breathtaking beauty and the awesome roads never failed to surprise us. Stopped for photo-breaks several times. Crossed Namikla and Forula without any issues.

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Reached Lamayaru the moon land around 5pm. The landscape of Lamayaru was truly exceptional!

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After Lamayaru we didn't want to miss the fun at Magnetic hill, hence we pushed ours cars a bit so we can reach magnetic hills just before it completely turns dark. We managed to reach Magnetic hill around 7-15pm and it was almost dark but still had some light left!

Tried what every ones tries over here and got the same result!



And a couple of still pics at magnetic hill.

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By the time we left Magnetic hill it was completely dark. Leh was 30kms to go. We started from there around 7-30pm and by the time we checked into our hotel it was roughly 8-30 to 9pm. The whole day drive was a bit tiring. It was around 14 hours drive adding 340kms to the odometer. But at the end of the day we had a great feel of successfully reaching Leh!

Last edited by Samba : 14th September 2015 at 18:16.
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Old 13th September 2015, 01:41   #5
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Day 7 (Approximately 75 kms in 3 hours)

Leh Sighseeing

We kept this day in leisure to get acclimatized with the high altitude of Leh before we start our further journey. So we woke up late and decided to taste some nice food at Tibetian Kitchen which is a well renowned restaurant at Leh.

The morning view of Leh from our room.

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The Tibetian Kitchen
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After lunch we had nothing to do so we decided to go for a drive till Sangam as the last days drive from Sangam to Leh was almost driven in dark. So not to miss the scenic beauty of that stretch and see the confluence of river Zanskar and Indus we decided to go for a drive till Sangam which is around 35kms from Leh.

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We were happy we repeated the same drive once again in the day time! After reaching back to Leh it was around 5-30pm and we went to ShantiStupa. The view of the Leh city from Shantistupa is magnificent. One should visit this place during late afternoon to witness the view of the lit up Leh city.

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We reached back to our hotel by 8-30pm had our dinner and retired for the day. At the back of our mind we had, the very next day our target was Hunder and to reach Hunder we have to cross Khardungla pass (The worlds highest motorable road)! However we may deny but it still gives a reason of pride to cross Khardungla in your own car! No wonder why so many people take photographs in front of that yellow board at Khardungla!

Last edited by Samba : 15th September 2015 at 23:08.
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Old 13th September 2015, 14:36   #6
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Day 8

Leh - Hunder
(Approximately 220 kms in 6 hours)
With all the excitement to cross Khardungla we were on board in our respective cars by 7-30am. Another reason to start early was to avoid the maddening local taxi traffic. They generally start by 8am. The drive from Leh till South Pullu was scenic. We were climbing up the scenic road and stopped few times to take pictures.

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As we had to cross Khardungla and it was a very high pass we were drinking lots of water as a precautionary measure for ams. We even kept our portable oxygen cans handy in case any one face any altitude sickness. By 9am we reached South Pullu and submitted our self declaration form.

From here the road condition vastly deteriorated. We were driving slowly and carefully saving our cars from getting damaged.

A video in one of the better stretch towards Khardungla!


And in some of the bad stretches.


After one hour of drive from south pullu we reached Khardungla top by 10am.

The customary shot at Khardungla!
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It was not snowing but there were some snow around us.

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After some photo-shooting session we drove down towards North Pullu. Road condition was really bad till here. At North Pullu we took a short breakfast break and took some pics of the beautiful surroundings.

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From North Pullu roads were good and we continued nonstop till Diskit barring the photo breaks.

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We reached our hotel at Diskit around 1-30pm. Had lunch, took some rest and we were all set to explore the sand dunes of Hunder by 4pm. Its just a 8kms drive from Diskit to Hunder.

On the way to Hunder from Diskit.

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By the time we reached Hunder we were in the middle of a Sand storm! What an experience it was! We enjoyed it thoroughly!

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As the storm subsided my friends decided to have a ride on the famous double humped camel at Hunder.

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I decided to click some pics around Hunder instead of going on a camel ride.

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After witnessing the mesmerizing beauty of Hunder we returned back to our hotel by 8pm, had dinner and retired for the day.

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Old 13th September 2015, 15:17   #7
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Day 9

Diskit to Leh
(Approximately 205 kms in 5 hours)

It was an easy day we started from Diskit lazily around 9am and reached our hotel at Leh by 2pm. En-route stopped for clicking few pics.

Spent the rest of the day lazying around the Leh market and having some good food.

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We were all excited about the next day as it was the day planned to visit the famous Pangong lake!

Day 10

Leh to Pangong/Spagmik (Approximately 160 kms in 6 hours)
Today again to beat the local traffic we started early by 7-30am. Reached karu by 8-30am. We were a bit skeptical about the local taxi union guys whether they will allow our cars or not. We stopped at Karu and talked with few taxi guys and one person who seemed to be there leader. They were nice to us and confirmed us that they only have issues with out side yellow board cars, any car with private number is free to go any where plus they assured us in case we need any help they will be at our service. We felt good and left Karu with a good note.

Soon we started ascending the mighty Changla. Roads deteriorated 10kms before Changla and it continued to be so even 10kms after Changla. But with careful maneuver any car can do it.

A video for reference.


After 10kms from Changla road conditions improved and we continued driving towards Tangste through the super scenic mountain roads.

A couple of pics en-route to Tangste.


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Reached Tangste around 1pm checked into our hotel, had lunch, got freshened up and we were all set to leave for Pangong. The road from Tangste to Pangong was so scenic that one will never forget the beauty in his/her life time.

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Marmots.

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Soon we reached Pangong by 3-30pm! Now i do not have to say anything about the speechless beauty and the color this lake offers. Have seen the pics of Pangong so many times but seeing this lake by ones own eyes give a totally different feel altogether. Rather than writing about the beauty of this lake its best to straight away share the pics!

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A drive beside the beautiful Pangong lake.


After having a gala time beside the lake we started to head back to our hotel at Tangste by 7pm. The 30kms drive through the moon lit hill road was an experience which i will cherish through out my life. At a place we stopped our car just to have a look at the starry sky, moon lit hills around us and enjoy the pin drop silence of the place.

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Soon we reached our hotel by 8-30pm had our dinner and retired for the day.

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Old 13th September 2015, 15:28   #8
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Day 11

Tangste to Leh
(Approximately 120 kms in 5 hours)
This was again a less hectic day for us. We started from Tangste at 8am. Reached the base of Changla by 9-15am. The assent to Changla was a bit difficult with few big boulders and lose gravels on few steep hairpin bends. But we kept cool and were able to negotiate the climb up with out much fuss.
We crossed Changla by 10am and reached Leh by 12pm.

Few pics on the way.

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We spent the rest of the day shopping around Leh market and having some nice food in the local eateries.

Locals at Leh do have some innovative thinking! A couple of pics to show there innovative thinking style!

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This was our last day at Leh. The very next day we were scheduled to leave for Hanle. So we roamed a bit late till about 10pm in the Leh market, interacted with locals and finally came back to our hotel and retired for the day.

Day 12

Leh - Hanle
(Approximately 270 kms in 7 hours)

By the time we got up it was already 7am. Had our breakfast and we left Leh around 9am for Hanle. For Hanle we had to take the Leh - Manali highway and from Upshi the road for Hanle divides. Here the terrain was rough and more or less we were cruising through land slide zones surrounded by the raw beauty of the nature.

A video for reference.


The terrain was rugged with rough dirt roads but we were enjoying our drive admist the beauty of nature.

Had many small stops to freeze the natural beauty and of-course how can i miss shooting our cars in such a splendid location!
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We kept continuing like this till we reached Nyoma. Once we reach Nyoma we were stunned seeing the color shades of the mountains and the valley! From now we were driving 10kms with 10 stops to enjoy and click the beauty! One has to see the color of the stones to believe the true colors!

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Old 13th September 2015, 21:37   #9
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Continuation of Day 12

Leh - Hanle

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After driving through this out of the world beauty or we may call it dream land we reached Hanle around 4pm. It was time to see the worlds highest space observatory and the places around it.

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Reached our home stay by 7-30pm. Had a cup of tea and pakoda and went out of the home stay to witness the beautiful night sky from Hanle. It was full moon that day so the view of the moon lit Hanle was beautiful but the night sky seemed less starry due to moon light.

Still managed to get few shots over there.

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The plan for our next day was to go till Tsomoriri. So thinking of the deep blue color of Tsomoriri we called off the day.

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Old 14th September 2015, 00:14   #10
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Day 13

Hanle - Tsomoriri (Approximately 160 kms in 5 hours)

Woke up and got greeted by the sunny clear morning of Hanle. We started from Hanle by 9am for Tsomoriri. The drive from Hanle to Tsomorir was again a picturesque drive.

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Few kilometers before the dirt road starts for Tsomoriri we came across this beautiful lake on the road side. We decided to stop and have our lunch enjoying the beauty of this pristine lake.

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The last 12kms stretch to Tsomoriri was a dirt track but it was fun driving over it. By then it was almost 2pm. Soon we got the first glimpse of Tsomoriri! What a blue it was! One have to see to believe the colors!



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The Tsomoriri village is very small. So i was expecting a good night sky from here too. Before the moon rose from behind the hills i was happy having the view of the clear Milky way and the starry sky from our hotel balcony.

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Day 14

Tsomoriri - Keylong (Approximately 320 kms in 13 hours)

This was going to be a tough day ahead. We had to drive on the dreaded Leh- Manali highway plus cross few high passes too. The first 100 kms from Tsomoriri to the point it will connect the Leh - Manali highway has no tarred road it was a full dirt track. Now doing this marathon drive in hatchbacks and sedan was going to be tough. So before the trip we pored the extra fuel we carried with us as we knew in our sector we had to travel almost 750kms with out any fuel bunk. As it was going to be a tough day in the chilly morning at Tsomoriri we didn't delay, we got up by 6am and we got ready and started by 7am in the morning.

The first 10kms drive beside the lake was breathtaking and in the morning light the lake was really looking beautiful. Soon we reached Sumdo and took the road which will connect us to the Leh - Manali highway. The drive through the dirt track was fun. At one point there was a bad water crossing and apart from that the road was more or less okay if driven carefully.

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By 11am we hit the Leh- Manali highway. At first we were stunned by seeing the road condition.

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I was thinking why people complain about this road! But after 10kms of driving on the excellent road i got my answer why people complain about this road! We were about to reach Pang and the road surface deteriorated drastically.
Kept on driving negotiating the bad patches and stopping the car in-between to not miss out on the beauty of this road. Specially the cravings on the mountains looked unreal. The Leh-Manali highway is like seeing what you have read in your geography book!

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After Pang was stuck for 20 minutes as a JCB was clearing a landslide.

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After the landslide a broken bridge greeted us where the iron path for about 2 feet's were missing. But instead of the iron path we could see the iron rod structure of the bridge. So very preciously we had to put both the wheels on the narrow iron path and cross that 2 feet distance. It was scary. We were relieved once all our cars crossed it.

A pic for reference.
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By then it was almost 1pm. So we stopped in a road side dhaba for some food. This was around 20kms after Pang.

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After lunch our next target was to stop for some tea at Sarchu. Saw this truck on the way. Just clicked this pic as i have seen the pic of this truck in many Ladakh travelogues! So i was like why should i miss clicking it!

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Soon we reached Gata loops and offered a bottle of water to the ghost of Gata loop and we carried on.

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As we were nearing Sarchu we started seeing some greenery. After spending so many days in the rugged terrains of Leh the greenery around us was a welcome change.

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By 4pm we crossed Sarchu and we entered Himachal. Himachal greeted us with a dirty surprise. As soon as we took the first hairpin we had to negotiate a water crossing where the water was flowing down in full flow and it was full of boulders. We had to climb that up. Noted the placement of the boulders and gunned the accelerator pedal. With few steering corrections to avoid the boulders and with one or two underbelly hits we managed to climb it up in one go with out damaging our cars. Our calculation was lets take the wheels over the small boulders and avoid going over bigger boulder. I knew where the oil sump, catalytic converter, gear box and silencer box are located in my car. I used to chose the boulders keeping these vital components in mind. If the running board or the mud flap or the bumper gets hit it wont stop the car from going ahead but a critical mechanical part can get us stranded. So keeping these in mind we used to negotiate the boulders and water crossings. At the end by gods grace there were no damage to any parts of the car.

Again we crossed one or two medium sized water crossing at killing sarai and after that we reached the Baralachala top.

Atop Baralachala.
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Some where near Zingzingbar
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By 7pm we reached Jispa and from Jispa to Keylong roads were excellent. By 8pm we reached Kelyong. Got a glimpse of the milky way somewhere between Jispa to Keylong.

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The target for the next day was to reach Manali. Drive seemed to be a easy 120kms drive but in between we had to cross the dreaded Rotang pass from the Keylong side!

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Old 14th September 2015, 01:24   #12
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Day 15

Keylong-Manali (Approximately 120 kms in 6 hours)

Just after crossing Keylong road condition deteriorated. There were landslide zones with full of dust. But after crossing Tandi roads were good till the climb up of Rotang. The road from Tandi till the Rotang climb up starts was very scenic and lush green with the Beas flowing on one side.
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At the very beginning we got stuck for more than 30 minutes twice due to land slides and JCB's working hard to clear them.

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Though the JCB's did a great job to clear the landslides, still it was difficult for the low ground clearance cars to cross that section. There were few big boulders left plus the ground was full of slush and lose gravels. So wheel spin was evident on a climb up in that kind of a scenario. Tried my best to manage with the least wheel spin possible by giving low accelerator inputs. Still the car fishtailed a bit and managed to climb up of its own. After this there were more surprises left. From here the climb up till the top was full of rocks and boulders that too on the steep hair pin bends. We slowly and calmly negotiated them and managed to climb up till Rotang top! Rotang pass is a place about which i have heard many stories since child hood. It was a nice feeling to be physically present over there with my own car.

Few pics from Rotang top.

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After crossing Rotang we stopped at Marhi for lunch and headed straight to Manali.

Few pics enroute to Manali.

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Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_8183.jpg

By the time we reached Manali it was 4pm. We checked into our hotel and went for a evening walk at the Mall road and had some yummy Trout at hotel Johnsons.

The mall
Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_0125.jpg

The Trout!
Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_0134.jpg

Got back to our hotel by 10pm. From the balcony we could see the beautiful Manali city.

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Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_8190.jpg

We were very happy that we successfully did the whole Ladakh circuit entering through Srinagar and exiting through Manali and our cars were just fine. Many people discouraged us saying doing this circuit without an suv is impossible and our cars will break down. But on contrary our cars performed in an excellent manner. We were very happy the way our cars handled these tough terrains. But some where at the back of our mind we felt a bit depressed as it was going to be our last day in hills. The very next day we were scheduled to leave for Delhi or any other place in the plains, so no more hills in this trip!

Last edited by Samba : 16th September 2015 at 00:11.
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Old 14th September 2015, 01:26   #13
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Day 16

Manali - Karnal (Approximately 420 kms in 12.5 hours)

It was a bright and sunny morning.The Manali town was looking great from our balcony. Our hotel was surrounded by apple orchards and the morning was so beautiful we were in no mood to leave the hills and get back to the plain land. So we kept on lazily clicking pics , chit chatting among ourselves and have our breakfast.

Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_8194.jpg

Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_8198.jpg

By 10am we realized Delhi is a long way to go so we should not waste more time and start our journey. By 10-30am we were on board in our cars and were heading towards Delhi. Just after crossing the Manali town the roads towards Kullu was very scenic and we were cruising along side river Beas.

Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_8200.jpg

We crossed Mandi by 1-30pm and the truck traffic increased significantly. We stopped for a late lunch by 4pm at Bilaspur. From there it started raining and the truck traffic got even slower. By the time we reached the plains it was already 6-30pm. Around 7pm we stopped for some snacks on a road side dhaba.

The Etios boot lit was used as a table top to have our yummy paneer pakoda's!
Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_4993.jpg

From there Karnal was about 3-4 hours drive. So by the time we reach Karnal it should be around 10-30pm and Delhi is another 100kms from there. So there was no point in pushing till Delhi. Instead we decided to stop at Karnal and next day we will have the famous chicken paratha in breakfast and then start for Kanpur/Allahabad. The pointer for chicken paratha was given by our very own SS-Traveler and no wonder he got a lot of praises from us for this awesome suggestion!

On the way to Karnal my car touched 50,000kms on the odometer.
Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_4996.jpg


Day 17

Karnal - Kanpur (Approximately 600 kms in 10 hours)

Some how at Karnal we got super lazy and woke up at around 9am! By the time we left our hotel it was 10-30am and we reached the famous Mayur Dhaba by 11am.

The super tasty breakfast we had!
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Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_5001.jpg

Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_5003.jpg

After the sumptuous food we started from Karnal at 12pm. We reached Delhi around 1-30pm. With a heavy heart i bid adieu to my friends who were with me for the whole Ladakh trip from Delhi. Soon we set our gps for Yamuna expressway and in the less noon traffic crossing Delhi was a breeze. By 2-30pm we hit the Yamuna Expressway.

Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_5004.jpg

Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-12011319_10153573918785768_834462769875716765_n.jpg

To spice up the rather boring solo drive on Yamuna Expressway i was doing- Eat and drive!

Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_0138.jpg

We crossed Agra around 5-30pm, stopped for some snacks at Etawah and reached Kanpur by 10pm. We called off a day at Kanpur.

Day 18

Kanpur - Kolkata (Approximately 1000 kms in 17 hours)

By now every one of us wanted to reach home as fast as possible! So without any delay we got up by 4-30am got ready and started by 5-30am. The roads were empty in early morning and we reached Varanashi in 4.5 hours. By 11am we stopped for some breakfast at a road side dhaba. After breakfast we got stuck at UP-Bihar border for around 30 minutes due to some traffic snarl. Few of us managed to get through the wrong side. From here the drive was boring. We crossed Aurangabad by 2pm and by the time we reached Mython it was around 5-30pm. Took a short break over there and resumed our journey by 7pm & reached home around 11pm! It was a great feeling of reaching back home safe and sound after such a trip in such unforgiving terrains. The smile from the family members and the sigh of relief they had on getting us back home was something really touchy.

This is how the engine bay looked after the trip!
Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_5006.jpg

The odometer reading after the trip! My car shows a bit less due to over-sized tyres. The trip meter on the other cars of our group showed around 6,500kms. We were happy that most of us were able to to complete the whole drive single-handedly without the help of any spare driver.
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The car looks happy to be back in its personal room!
Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_5011.jpg

Last edited by Samba : 16th September 2015 at 00:18.
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Old 14th September 2015, 14:59   #14
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Few small bits-

1) Ladakh is a high altitude place. Its not as easy as other hills station's. The lack of oxygen level is evident and one must take proper precautions. I carried an oxymeter with me. In plain land the normal reading is 99. In Leh it was between 85-90, at Khardungla it varied from 55-70, same at Changla, at Pangong, Hanle and tsomoriri its was between 70-85. So the precautions we took-
Drink lots of water.
Carry portable oxygen cans. Its available at any medical shop at Leh market. A can approximately costs rs 450. In case one feels a bit dizzy or slight head ache that's due to lack of oxygen. Its best to take 2-3 puffs of Oxygen as a precautionary measure.
Give a day or two at Leh to get acclimatized.
Never run or do brisk walking at high altitudes.

2) Take proper precaution for the car too. Cover up the battery or the engine bay at cold places like Tsomoriri or Pangong. Plus clean the air-filter time to time. It do catch a lot of dust.

3)Be polite and smiling with the locals. They are helpful and good to tourists.

4)In case of any emergency approach the Army. They are very friendly as well as helpful.

5) Local taxi guys are not bad. When ever we asked them for any direction's we got help from them. Most of them are good but there must be some exception's too. There are absolutely no issues to take your private car to anywhere in Leh. But you cant take a yellow board car beyond Leh, be it self driven or driver driven.

6)Any car can do the Ladakh circuit till its driven carefully. If you do not own an SUV it doesn't matter. Roads are wide in most of the places except few, so if driven with a cool head one can find a path for his car through the boulders. Never drive hastily in this region, one bad underbelly hit can make your car stranded. There is very little room for error in this terrain.

7) Do carry extra fuel, warm clothes and extra food in case you get stuck in a land slide or any other natural calamity.

8) Drive in day time. Crossing the high passes can be dangerous during night due to snow fall and sub zero temperature, plus you wont get much help after sun down in-case you get stuck. And most importantly if driven at night one will miss the beautiful landscape of Ladakh.

9)If you are taking an old car then get new tyres. New tyres will grip much better and will make driving much more fuss free and safer than older tyres. Plus its recommended to get a new battery too. As in cold, old batteries may give up early. A good clutch plate is also very important.

10) Places where we had to submit the self declaration forms-
At South Pullu, North Pullu on the way to Hunder.
At Karu and Tangste on the way to Pangong.
At Karzok on the way to Tsomoriri.

11)Places where we had to submit the inner line permits on the way to Hanle - Upshi, Mahe, Loma.

12)Lastly if any one want to see the real color of Ladakh, August-September is the best time and for snow June and July is the best time. It will depend on one's priority. If you have the plan to visit Ladakh do keep a couple of days more more Hanle and Tsomoriri, its worth it.

Signing off as of now with a pic of my car just after getting the service done after the Ladakh trip.

Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata-img_5063.jpg

For any queries on the trip please feel free to ask.

Last edited by Samba : 16th September 2015 at 02:32.
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Old 16th September 2015, 07:26   #15
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Mod note: Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing.
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