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Old 21st June 2018, 13:51   #1
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Default Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one

Five minutes and thirty seven seconds.
Including a few seconds of credits.
This is the length of this video


Days of Ladakh, in 5 minutes.

However, it does not really tell the story. The story of how, where and what and the why.

Like why am I clicking the Kullu valley and Bhuntar airport from Bijli Mahadev:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160823dsc00054x3.jpg

Now, lot of people do it, but not many do it on a Ladakh trip.
Now I am not really complaining. I would like to tell you that it is a delightful side trip on a rickety Tata bus up a narrow mountain road followed by a refreshing trek.

However, we weren't up there because it is a delightful side trip. We were up there because the day before, or was it two days before, my memory fades, I lost power on the uphill climb just after kothi, as the service light blinked. We drove, or rather limped all the way to Kullu, at a very new Tata workshop.

As we rode this rickety bus to Bijli Mahadev, another rickety bus was coming all the way from Pathankot, or is it Jalandhar, with an ECU.

Yup, our 10 month old ECU had given up the ghost, and so we were doing side trip to Bijli Mahadev, and making timelapse video of some very nice clouds:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160823dsc00057x3.jpg

And trying to replicate windows XP wallpaper. I am told its called Bliss:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160823dsc00039x3.jpg

Even the horses are totally in Bliss, unmindful of anxiety. Today ECU, tomorrow...?
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160823dsc01255x3.jpg

But did I tell you that every cloud has a silver lining?
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160823dsc01264x3.jpg

See, due to a breakdown we came here. In our countless trips to this area, we had never come here. With this being our last Himachal trip in a very long time, it was destiny.

Last edited by Aditya : 4th July 2018 at 11:34.
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Old 21st June 2018, 23:07   #2
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Default Manali Leh highway

I have never taken so many pics on the Manali Leh highway. And never taken so less. Such is the beauty of timelapses. A lot of pics while not taking pics because its a video.

That said, I did go crazy in the post processing thing. The pics below were taken around Baralacha La:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc03731x3.jpg

Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01291x3.jpg

This particular pic took a lot of my time. Well not really taking the pic, but location scouting. I was visualizing the composition for the night sky. Not that it mattered. The day we shot the milky way here it turned out to be a moonless night:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01298x3.jpg

The said, a very cloudy August. Monsoon like. Great for day, but ruins your night timelapse chances:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01299x3.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 4th July 2018 at 11:35.
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Old 21st June 2018, 23:25   #3
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Default Manali Leh highway B&W

The high contrast landscapes near Sarchu make very nice edgy B&W candidates. If you are not a fan or overprocessed B&W I would say run right to the bathroom, get a towel, and wrap it around your head such that it covers your eyes, with a slight opening from where you can peek while scrolling to make sure the edgy ones go away.

That said, if you are not wearing the towel, you will realize that the sheer variety of landscapes near Sarchu in an extremely short distance span:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01303x3.jpg

Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01305x3.jpg

There are places with a lot of sky real estate, with enough room to watch the Milky way rise and set for a long time in July August:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01312x3.jpg

Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01314x3.jpg

Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01312x3.jpg

Especially along the straight. The South has a really incredibly sky view. With a 2 day old moon towards NE, you could do magic:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01314x3.jpg

I will throw in a color pic here:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01317x3.jpg

I also feel I need to do a Leh trip and stay just at Sarchu, and go back. So a Leh trip which is not a Leh trip.

Last edited by Aditya : 4th July 2018 at 12:32.
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Old 30th June 2018, 14:14   #4
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Default The narrows

After Sarchu, all the way to More plains comes a very unassuming, or rather plain section of the route. I call it the Srinagar Leh section of the Manali Leh highway.
Potholed road which is rather boring and bone jarring. Similar landscapes devoid of anything interesting except for a couple of Arches photographed to death, and some bridges with names which get old after a while.
Like someone tried to be clever, but then the joke got old. However, the passes are nice, rising above the narrow valley, with flags fluttering:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc03742x3.jpg

Arch:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01344x3.jpg

We made few stops, heading all the way to a place called Pang. If Sarchu is Hauz Khas, Pang would be Ber Serai. Its dusty, crowded and lacks the feel. But its a good lunch stop for those who start early from Keylong.
Moreover it lacks a fancy name, or Salutation, unlike Sir Bhum Chun.

However what comes after Pang is really nice. The More Plains. Once upon a time the road here was a series of dirt tracks, but now arrow straight tarmac runs through. To get really nice pictures, you have to get on a Dirt track:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc03745x3.jpg

The views are truly stunning:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01346x3.jpg

Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01347x3.jpg

It is here when you can transcend, find the limits of your soul, or go on a Journey of discovery. Some discover god, some find themselves, some find the meaning of life. As for us, I found that there was something wrong with the brakes of our white elephant:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01350x3.jpg

On the fast black tarmac, the photo stops made me realize, that the pedal is not behaving as it should. I feel, discovering such things can a have more profound effect on your mood than discovering the limits of your soul.

But for the next few hours, there is absolutely nothing. So you take a picture an move on:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160825dsc01598x3.jpg

Next comes Tanglang La, a very nigh pass, and as we zoom downhill, the white elephant loses its brakes.
If you have never pulled the handbrake at high speed, that seems like a good idea. However I have done so. So I do not. Instead I just kick down to second gear, and the brakes come back.
The brake tank has a vacuum leak.

Gata loop shortcuts? Flying rock at Rohtang? Pang?
It could be anything. Getting under the vehicle with a flashlight reveals a mangled brake vacuum tank with a tiny puncture. Some extremely brilliant engineer decided that its an excellent idea to put such a critical component at one of the lowest points of the vehicle, making it more like "when" it will get damaged instead of "if".

However she has taken worse, so at 2500+ RPM, more pressure is being built than its being lost. Driving mostly in 2nd and third, we hit Leh close to 9 pm, and she happily turns on the service light complaining about vacuum leak. Talk about delayed reaction.

Next day is permit time and also fixing the vacuum tank time. It takes us about a couple of hours at the Tata workshop in total to get it removed, welded and fitted. Fifty rupees well spent. Its also a good time to get another check up done. Where we are going, there is no civilization.

I did takes a few pics in Leh, but you have seen enough, so don't bother about them.
We will talk about the next day. When we go to Zanskar.

Last edited by Gannu_1 : 7th July 2018 at 10:03. Reason: Typo.
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Old 30th June 2018, 14:56   #5
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Default Why Zanskar

National Highway 301? Have you heard of it? I hadn't.
Until I was actually there. Its the old wine in old bottle with a new sticker. Come to think if it, its turned a little bit to vinegar now. Inspite of the National highway tag.

Well I digress. This is the Zanskar highway, from where you view the Drang Drung glacier, due SSE

And this means you can shoot the Milky way over the glacier.
So to shoot the milky way over the glacier we decided to go to Zanskar, for one night. Camp at the Glacier, or around it blah blah.

Well obligatory confluence picture:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160827dsc01618x3.jpg

Till not many years ago, you could click this picture without cropping, there were no man made structures there. But no longer. So you see cropped confluence. I say guys and gals, go to Pangong, before the luxury high rise apartments start blocking the view.

But I digress again. We are not going to Pangong, we will not. We wasted too many days getting an ECU, and it was not part of the plan anyways. So its not like it got sacrificed like the Mirpal Tso, at the alter of time.

Anyways, the drive there is not very interesting. This is Sringar Leh highway. Better tarmac, worse views:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160827dsc01634x3.jpg

From Kargil you hit Suru valley for some lovely views, but luck wasn't on our side:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160827dsc01650x3.jpg

Yup, its cloudy. That's the Parakchik glacier. And we kind of know, we won't be looking at many stars tonight.

Bortle Sky class 1 means you don't actually see the clouds. You only not see the STARs. As we camp for the night near Rangdum, this is the only shot I manage, before it starts raining:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160827dsc04018x3.jpg

Guess what no Drang Drung tonight. And tomorrow we drive back.

Last edited by Gannu_1 : 14th July 2018 at 14:36. Reason: Typo.
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Old 30th June 2018, 16:54   #6
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Default Zanskar... more

The beauty of a totally unplanned trip with your own tent is that there is no worry about bookings and reservations.
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc01664x3.jpg

However it also means a cold uncomfortable night. A gloomy cloudy day and a very long drive ahead make it worse. So you need a mood lifter.

So we head up towards Pensi La, a not so high Pass with a bone breaking track, the national highway 301. As if its not enough, there are dead cattle heads perched on stakes, warning you about the gates of hell or something:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc01670x3.jpg

But this is not hell. This is Heaven. Drang Drung Glacier. Truly Majestic. Every single time you take that turn, it hits you. This is magic:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc01673x3.jpg

Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc02160x3.jpg

This time of the year, red shrubs and flowers frame the glacier perfectly, and I put 200mm to good use:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc02161x3.jpg

Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc02163x3.jpg

I shoot a few frames at this place and soon clouds move in, time to head back:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc02174x3.jpg

We have a long journey ahead of us. While most people from here head to Padum, we will head back to East Ladakh
Shooting a few pics on the way of course:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc02176x3.jpg

Last edited by Rehaan : 6th July 2018 at 10:43.
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Old 2nd July 2018, 03:10   #7
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Default A cloudy Suru valley and the Srinagar Leh highway again

Suru Valley has its charms when sunny... and when cloudy. We stick around Rangdum for views and Rajma Chawal.
I can't give you Rajma Chawal, however I can give you pictures.

Of wide open pastures, with mountains. This is magic:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc02189x3.jpg

Of the Rangdum Gompa, which is on not so small hill, but seems so as the towering mountains dwarf it:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc02194x3.jpg

Framed by light, this sight defined Rangdum. If you are here on a summer night with a sliver of the moon, maybe 2 days old, do not forget to click it with the Milky way:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc02197x3.jpg

Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc02198x3.jpg

The Clouds part some, and the play of light starts:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc02203x3.jpg

The Mountain glows in the Sun's warmth:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc02204x3.jpg

This view makes it all worth it. The dust, the bone jarring 301, the long cold night...
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160828dsc02205x3.jpg

But now its time to head back, to Mulbekh. This will be our halt for the day. Goodbye Zanskar. Though we never really went to Zanskar, still goodbye Zanskar.

But Mulbekh is not East Ladakh. After a quick pit stop, we decided to go all the way to Chumathang, This would put us in close proximity of our next destination, where we intended to reach with plenty of daylight left, even with lots of photo and timelapse stops. The two pics worth watching from Mulbekh to Chumathang for you:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160829dsc02234x3.jpg

Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160829dsc02239x3.jpg

What next you may ask? We its obvious. Clear skies, high altitude and in the middle of nowhere. This is where we were returning to. Our third trip to this destination, and no no no, we were not going to Hanle.

Last edited by Aditya : 4th July 2018 at 12:17.
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Old 4th July 2018, 01:16   #8
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Default Up

Have you seen Border? I mean not Indo China border, or Indo Pakistan border, or even a Schengen border, but Border - the movie. The one with Sunny. The male one.

In that movie there is a dialog which is something like "Breakfast in Pokhran, Lunch in Jaipur and Dinner in Delhi".

And then they met Sunny. The male one.
Well we had similar plans when we started a week back.
One day on More, another couple in Zanskar, another on Mirpal Tso, another at Hanle....

And then we met service light.

So we had to improvise. Barely couple of days left for our trip and just one Milky way shot, we definitely had to go to a high altitude place. In East Ladakh. Away from the clouds.

Hanle? Nope. Not high enough. We decided to "raise" the bar, and see what camping at 17000 feet looks like.

So started our journey.
After chumathang the road improved quite a bit. And it had yellow lines on the sides:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160830dsc02300x3.jpg

However the views were the same as I had left them back in 2012. No scooter or horses here:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160830dsc02302x3.jpg

The red hill was also there, nobody took it:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160830dsc02316x3.jpg

And then just before Nyoma, we turned right. On a very bumpy black tarmac which won't last for long:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160830dsc02322x3.jpg

This is the route which will take us "up". Up the on the Chumur section of the Changthang Plateau, where the twin lakes await:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160830dsc02324x3.jpg

The tarmac did not last much, and the dirt track started. As bumpy as ever. Last time we did this in 2010, I was truly terrified. And we were doing in downhill. Now it just seemed tame:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160830dsc02326x3.jpg

But I think, its because the "terrifying" section had not yet started:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160830dsc02327x3.jpg

It was still to come:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160830dsc02329x3.jpg

But with a welded brake booster, a new ECU and lot of spare fuel, we were ready:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160830dsc02330x3.jpg

With a lot of daylight left, we had enough time to stop, and shoot a timelapse section with clouds moving in, and have some snacks, and lost let the white elephant cool down a bit.

the views were quite nice I must say:
Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one-20160830dsc02336x3.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 4th July 2018 at 12:34.
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Old 4th July 2018, 14:33   #9
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Default Re: Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 4th July 2018, 15:18   #10
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Default Re: Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one

And the locals at Ladakh will wonder why the rush is a bit higher than usual this year, not knowing that a certain Tanveer wrote yet another Ladakh travelogue. Making people sigh sitting in their cubicles, and check their calendars. And then some of them said screw it, let's go

Awesome pics, awesome narration. Words truly fail!

As for the 'non Leh' travel involving Sarchu, certainly Keylong, Jispa and Sarchu will see a tremendous boost once the tunnel opens. Whether that's good or bad....well we all know the answer to that by now.
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Old 4th July 2018, 15:25   #11
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Default Re: Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one

Hi Tsk1979, one request please finish your travelogue in time. I have just scrolled through the pictures, without reading the words. Will do it only once you complete the whole thing....I know what happened to that Sonata Europe thing! (Though I read ECU somewhere )
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Old 4th July 2018, 16:01   #12
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Default Re: Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one

Quote:
Originally Posted by rrsteer View Post
Hi Tsk1979, one request please finish your travelogue in time. I have just scrolled through the pictures, without reading the words. Will do it only once you complete the whole thing....I know what happened to that Sonata Europe thing! (Though I read ECU somewhere )
I finished that, didn't I . Just took me 5+ years

Don't worry, this was a much shorter trip, and I just need to cover 2-3 mode days now
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Old 4th July 2018, 19:43   #13
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Default Re: Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one

Any word to define the pictures would be a blatent understatement, so ill leave it at that. I was about to quote avisidhu just wrote. You sir are definitely responsible for boosting ladaks photo and travel tourism. Keep traveling and sharing such wonderful experiences.
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Old 5th July 2018, 00:12   #14
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Default Re: Altitude - The PhotoLog. Ladakh, the wilder one

Brilliant !! What a photolog ; each time I see Ladakh mountain pics like this , I want to go there (sigh) !! , Thanks a lot for sharing .
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Old 5th July 2018, 05:35   #15
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Default

Can't decide which is better.... The pictures or the jibes. And oh the travails and travels of white elephant.

Welcome back story terrier on leash with white elephant. Shooting everything in sight and leaving bite sighed people lamenting on their day desks.
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