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Old 22nd June 2009, 12:46   #136
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Hi Suman, This is super stuff, very happy to note you have accomplished this successfully. Let me see if I can bite this pie next year.!
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Old 22nd June 2009, 13:03   #137
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Sumanji,
I envy you to the core, this really has been my dream for quite sometime now... It really is the journey of a lifetime... and great pics.
Thanks for showing us how beautiful mother nature can be.
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Old 22nd June 2009, 13:16   #138
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Default Day Four: Kargil to Leh continued........

Amngst all the places we visited, Fotu La was probably the only point where the GPS altitude came closest to what was stated in the milestones!
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2417.jpg

A "local" from around those parts
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2419.jpg

A few kilometers down the road from Fotu La, we encountered the Hangroo Loops. Fresh BLACK tarmac & we were excited no end. We could see Lamayuru Monastery in the distance as well
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2421.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2423.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2424.jpg

We took the short detour from the highway to reach the Monastery at 1.50 pm - the views from the Monastery were awesome. There was even a Hotel next door that had a restaurant with a decent Menu. And a washroom! We decided to have lunch there (even though Mr Iqbal had suggested that we stop at Khalse which was a further 20 kms from here).
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2426.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2428.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2429.jpg

The Beast in the shadow of Lamayuru
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2431.jpg

Lunch over, we resumed our journey, expecting the Black tarmac top to accompany us. No such luck!!!! A few kms down the road, we were greeted by the now-familiar site of loose stones etc & we suddenly saw a Sumo stopped just ahead. We could see a Bulldozer up on the mountain side as well. We realized that our man (in the name of road repair) had created a mini-landslide of sorts & had dropped quite a few boulders on to the dusty road. As a result of this, we were held up - a few trucks on the other side and a few vehicles on our end.

It was not a good spot to be held up in - just dust & a lot of loose stones etc on the mountain side. Every few minutes or so, there would be a huge gust of wind leading to a dust storm that reduced visibility to zero. We had no option but to keep the engine & AC running while the Bulldozer took an agonizingly long time to straighten out the mess that had been created
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2433.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2434.jpg

Finally it was cleaned up & we waited for the three trucks on the other side to come through so that we could thereafter proceed. SURPRISE, SURPRISE!!!! What we hadn't seen was an Army Convoy that had gathered on the other side. No guesses about who got priority!!! For the next umpteen minutes we sat & counted umpteen army trucks trundling by. Punctuated by bouts of severe duststorms. Every time that happened, the army trucks ground to a halt. At the end of this, we were a bundle of nerves

We finally escaped from this spot at a little after 4 pm, 45 minutes since we arrived there. In hindsight, having lunch at Lamayuru was the smartest thing we'd done since we finally crossed Khaltse only at 4.38 pm!! After Khaltse, we found black top again
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2435.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2440.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2444.jpg

Loved these displays of light & shade!
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2438.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2442.jpg

The regrettable bit about this delay was that we had no option but to skip halting at Nimmu - everyone was tired and on a short fuse; we did see the confluence of Indus & Zanskar from way up, it was beautiful but somehow I wasn't in the mood to stop & click. Sorry about that.

A couple of kms up the highway was the sign proclaiming Magnetic Hill but guess what?
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2451.jpg

There was no box marked with white paint & we really weren't in a mood to search high & low. So we kept going down that wonderful tarmac top, arrow straight road.
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2446.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2452.jpg

We were getting closer & closer to our destination
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2454.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2463.jpg

A gorgeous view from Indus Point (IIRC)
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2460.jpg

and then we were finally close to the Leh Airport & then into the City. Called up the Hotel Omasila and got directions from Mr Nawang. Turned out the Hotel was in Changspa (a nice neighbourhood) and we found our way & parked there at a little after 7 pm. It had been a long & tiring day & it eventually took its toll on all of us.

Total Distance Travelled - 231 kms; Total Driving Time - 7hrs 30 mins. As you may have noticed, the frustration was more on account of the unproductive "waiting" time, particularly the "unforeseen" one after Lamayuru.

Omasila is a lovely Hotel & he'd given us a Family Suite which had great views on two sides - the snow clad mountains in front & the Shanti Stupa on one side. Decided to have a really early dinner & grab some sleep. Next day was complete rest, something that all of us were looking forward to!
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Old 22nd June 2009, 13:46   #139
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Originally Posted by suman View Post
During the course of that fortnight, as I'd mentioned, we traversed varied terrain - bad roads, no roads, good roads LOL. However, if you ask us individually or collectively as to which we'd classify as our worst drive, we'd say "Kargil-Leh" without blinking an eyelid!
Hey Suman, those are some great pics man and an interesting narrative too. Need some info from you; request you to provide me with an update on the road conditions on the Manali-Leh route. Specifically where are the real bad sections, and how bad they are.
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Old 22nd June 2009, 14:03   #140
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Suman, those pictures of the dry valley and sun playing hide & seek look like a landscape drawn by some great artist.

Keep it coming
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Old 22nd June 2009, 14:19   #141
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Hi Suman,
A bit OT.
Does your GPS say No. of satellites 2?
Well in that case I suggest you go to service center.
Minimum number of satellites to get a fix = 3
If you want altitude information, minimum number of satellites = 4
Now to get decent error(within 50 meters altitude) you need atleast 5 satellites.

BTW, your travelogue took more time to get to Leh than you did. If you don't want to invoke the old mans wrath, I suggest you stop work this afternoon and keep posting!
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Old 22nd June 2009, 14:47   #142
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Quote:
Does your GPS say No. of satellites 2?
Well in that case I suggest you go to service center.
Minimum number of satellites to get a fix = 3
If you want altitude information, minimum number of satellites = 4
Now to get decent error(within 50 meters altitude) you need atleast 5 satellites.
Surprised about the one-satellite bit. When I was in Ladakh, my Garmin got excellent satellite reception (best in India) - 12 satellites - and I got within 1-3 feet accuracy (as per the GPS display).
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Old 22nd June 2009, 14:52   #143
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Does your GPS say No. of satellites 2?
Well in that case I suggest you go to service center.
Minimum number of satellites to get a fix = 3
If you want altitude information, minimum number of satellites = 4
Now to get decent error(within 50 meters altitude) you need atleast 5 satellites.
Tanveer, that particular picture was clicked after taking the unit off its stand & in the rear seat........the number of satellites would have gone down in that short time span (absence of clear LOS). There is nothing wrong with the Unit Here's a pic taken at another location with the Unit on its stand on the windscreen -
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2660.jpg

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
BTW, your travelogue took more time to get to Leh than you did. If you don't want to invoke the old mans wrath, I suggest you stop work this afternoon and keep posting!
It will take a few weeks more, old man's wrath or otherwise. Keep watching this space

Last edited by suman : 22nd June 2009 at 14:58.
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Old 23rd June 2009, 10:32   #144
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Default Day Five: Acclimatization!

Day Five (June 3rd) was a planned rest day, mainly to counter the effects of AMS that some of us were feeling. Nothing that major but a general feeling of being run-down. We had really not had a chance to acclimatize since, except for Kargil, the earlier night halts were really of no consequence as far as altitude was concerned.

Just lazed around in the room & out on the terrace after Breakfast. Some clicks of the morning - Shanti Stupa from our room & the snow clad mountains from the Hotel terrace & lawns
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2464.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2465.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2467.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2468.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2469.jpg

Our Hotel package included Breakfast & Dinner so we decided to walk down the road to a nice open-air restaurant called Wonderland for lunch. A multi-cuisine menu but the order of the day was primarily Momos & Thukpa!
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2559.jpg

After lunch, I decided to take The Beast for refilling & a much needed wash (it had actually changed color to a disgusting mix of dirt, silver & white). Filled up Xtra Premium this time as the Pump at the start of the town didn't stock regular Diesel! Total Distance travelled - 229.7 kms, Diesel filled - 26.7 ltrs, Mileage obtained - 8.6 kmpl. The overall road conditions & delays due to the Army convoy had taken its toll on the mileage. By the way, after the extremely dusty conditions that we'd been going through, I was fully expecting to see the Red band of the Air cleaner pop up but - nope, didn't happen at all. Went further down the road from the Pump to a TATA Motors washing facility (it catered to all vehicles) and had it washed & the interiors dusted off with a high powered air compressor. It was incredibly dirty
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-picture-023.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-picture-024.jpg

After that, it was back to the Hotel for a cup of tea & more rest! Once again, an early dinner was the order of the day. A click of the Shanti Stupa, lit up after sundown - it was a gorgeous sight!
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2470.jpg

Last edited by suman : 23rd June 2009 at 10:42.
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Old 23rd June 2009, 10:38   #145
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In Leh there is a Tata motors washing facility or a proper workshop too!?
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Old 23rd June 2009, 10:49   #146
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
In Leh there is a Tata motors washing facility or a proper workshop too!?
They have an Authorized Service Center ( by the name of National Garage) as well as a separate facility which is just for washing & Oil change (all makes, not just TATA). I went to the latter as I had no service need as such.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
Need some info from you; request you to provide me with an update on the road conditions on the Manali-Leh route. Specifically where are the real bad sections, and how bad they are.
Sure mate, but what are your trip dates? I will be updating my travelogue with the return leg soon but the point is - there will be significant variations depending on timing.

Last edited by tsk1979 : 23rd June 2009 at 11:14. Reason: merging back to back posts
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Old 23rd June 2009, 11:25   #147
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suman View Post
Sure mate, but what are your trip dates? I will be updating my travelogue with the return leg soon but the point is - there will be significant variations depending on timing.
Another set of nice pics mate.
I'm commencing my journey on 4th July. The itinerary till Leh is as follows:

Day1: Delhi - Manali
Day 2: Manali - Jispa/Darcha/Patseo
Day 3: Jispa/Darcha/Patseo - Sarchu/Pang
Day 4: Sarchu/Pang - Leh

Yeah you're definitely right about the variation thingy, just wanted to have a general info on the road conditions and the amount of snow at the passes. I've heard that there's snow/ice on the roads at Taglang La & Chang La. One more thing, a colleague of mine told me that the inner line permits are being given for a max of 7 days. In case you're there for more days, you gotta get another permit after the first one expires. Is that true?
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Old 23rd June 2009, 11:44   #148
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If you go to Patseo, you do not need to go to Sarchu, you can go straight to Leh.
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Old 23rd June 2009, 11:49   #149
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Default Day Six: Local Sightseeing

We woke up quite refreshed on Day Six (4th June) & decided to soak in a few of the local sights -
  • Old Palace
  • Polo Ground (drive by)
  • Shey Palace (drive by)
  • Thiksey Monastery
  • Shanti Stupa
The Hotel was already working on our permits for places like Khardung La, Nubra & Pangong Tso. K'top & Pangong were a must but I was having second thoughts about spending a night at Nubra. A few consultations with family, friends and forum members & we decided to drop the Nubra visit. Informed Omasila that we'd be spending an extra night at Leh (originally the 5th of June was planned for a Diskit night stay).

That decision out of the way, we set off on our relaxed sightseeing schedule. We had decided to keep Shanti Stupa for the evening and finish off the rest before lunch. The Old Palace & views from it (note the Polo ground in the bottom right of the third picture)
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2479.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2482.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2485.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2487.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2490.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2491.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2492.jpg

We moved on to the Manali-Leh highway
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2501.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2507.jpg

past the Shey palace
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2504.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2505.jpg

and arrived at Thiksey Monastery, an awesome work of architecture perched on top of a hill. Apart from the Monastery itself, the views from the top were simply spectacular
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2509.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2510.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2511.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2517.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2518.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2523.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2528.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2529.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2530.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2540.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2541.jpg

That's the huge statue of Maitreya
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2543.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2544.jpg

We finally had our fill & were ready to go
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2550.jpg

A couple of final glimpses
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2551.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2552.jpg

and we moved back on to the highway, towards Leh & lunch
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2554.jpg

By popular consensus, it was back to Wonderland for lunch (change of Cuisine today, Chinese for some & Continental for others!) and then to the Hotel for a short siesta! We'd covered 47 kms since we set out in the morning. I would never tire of these views from our room & the lawns
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2560.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2561.jpg

Last edited by suman : 23rd June 2009 at 11:54.
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Old 23rd June 2009, 13:10   #150
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
If you go to Patseo, you do not need to go to Sarchu, you can go straight to Leh.
I guess the distance from Patseo to Leh would be ~300 Kms? I plan not to do such long drives as I totally wanna avoid driving after sundown. Rather spend more time stopping frequently, taking in the scenery both with my eyes and the camera. That's the reason I'm breaking the Manali-Leh journey into three days, instead of the usual two. Also the fact that if I do Patseo-Leh, I'd cross four passes in a single drive, don't know how my action junkie (car) is gonna take it.

I also wanna take it slow, cause:

1. Traveling in an Esteem, gotta take it cautiously and slowly. Lotta slush, pathetic roads & water crossings. Wish I had a 4X4 beasty. <sigh>
2. Get more time to acclamatize.

What say you?

One more thing Tanveer, you'd stayed at Kothi sometime back. Are there any guest houses other than the PWD rest house? How does one book the PWD rest house? I would be grateful for any info/help you can provide for stays at Kothi/Marhi.

Last edited by lordofgondor : 23rd June 2009 at 13:24. Reason: Another question to ask
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