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Old 1st July 2009, 23:54   #256
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Originally Posted by suman View Post

Sleepless in Sarchu
the naming reminds me of feluda's "kailashe kelenkari"
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Old 2nd July 2009, 09:17   #257
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Superb travelogue in all aspects.. Went through once again completely. Though a distant dream, have set myself a target of making it there by own mode of transportation within my lifetime along with my kids.. oh still lot lot more years left to sharpen my skills and pocket Would love to bring those bright smiles on my kids face too... Thank you for presenting in such a nice fashion..
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Old 2nd July 2009, 10:13   #258
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Superb travelogue in all aspects.. Went through once again completely. Though a distant dream, have set myself a target of making it there by own mode of transportation within my lifetime along with my kids.. oh still lot lot more years left to sharpen my skills and pocket Would love to bring those bright smiles on my kids face too... Thank you for presenting in such a nice fashion..
Thanks, I can relate to your feelings. It was a distant dream for us as well, finally managed to make it a reality this year. It wasn't easy setting things up on the Domestic front, particularly in respect of making arrangements for my octogenerian mother who is partly immobile (so we couldn't leave her alone for 2 weeks). In fact, till mid-April, we weren't even sure whether we'd be able to make the trip!

Finally, things started to fall in place & we made it! This trip was probably the latest that I made our Hotel bookings & that too with quite a few changes. Normally, I like to wrap up accommodation etc well in advance but this trip was different!
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Old 2nd July 2009, 10:44   #259
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Suman,

Superb narration and pictures. Have been following the thread since you started writing. Am sure you inspired quiet a few readers to plan a trip to Leh in their own mode of transport. And I am one of them you bet. Already contours of timings, plans are coming up in my mind. Am still skeptical about my front wheel driven sedan though.Do you think a Corolla can take these terrains easily?

On a side note, there are quiet a few such travelogues on Leh being done by folks. I am just an idiot for having been ignorant so long about such fantastic places.

Thanks for the writing Suman. And keep writing.

Nainar
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Old 2nd July 2009, 10:59   #260
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Default Day Twelve Part One: Farewell Sarchu, Hello Baralacha La!

Slowly but steadily, the longest & coldest night of our lives passed & the dawn broke on Day Twelve (10th June) at the usual time. At 7am, I decided to rise & shine. Threw off the quilts, put a jacket on & was ready to face the world. A nice day had broken. First on my list was to start the Safari. (I had heard some Sarchu horror stories from a very close friend who had stayed here last year. On the way up, his Scorpio just refused to start the next morning & it took innumerable cranks and his battery almost died before it finally sprung to life with thick puffs of oil & black smoke from the exhaust. On the way back, he didn't want a repeat so he actually started up the vehicle 3 times between dinner & early morning just to make sure - he & his driver took turns. Now, that was an overkill I thought & no bloody way was I going to get up in the middle of the night to have various parts of my anatomy frozen! I cranked once after dinner & The Beast started first try. Good! Should be fine the next morning). So I opened up, put the key in the ignition & cranked gingerly. The Beast started up at the second crank! Hey, good going, sub-zero temperatures & all!

I guess the nice clatter woke people up & gradually everyone started filtering out in the open. The hot water buckets arrived & after some idle chatter, we went in to freshen up for breakfast. We'd gathered some water in the buckets at night - they were frozen! Washed up with the fresh hot water. Obviously no question of taking a bath - are you nuts or what?????

Breakfast was ready in a while & then Roshun & his group were ready to leave. They were going down the road to the Army Transit Camp where they had some work to finish on Anil's vehicle before leaving for Manali. We gave them a ceremonial send-off, little realizing that we'd meet sooner than expected!
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Our plan was to leave around 8.30. A few clicks of the warm surroundings (it was difficult to believe that the night could have been so cold) & we were ready to start our journey to Manali
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Turned out that it was one of those days where delays & little stumbling blocks keep coming. So, as we were moving out at 8.36am, we saw Roshun & others were still there, just down the road! They needed some assistance in getting hold of a mechanic that they'd left at the Police Check Post. So off we went (with Subhashish), picked up the guy & came back towards the Camp. First obstacle - you'll recollect me mentioning the nasty water crossing just before we reached Himalayan Saga? Now, in the short time that it took us to fetch the mechanic, a Bulldozer had swung into "road repair" mode just after the water crossing - had dumped piles & piles of loose earth & mud right across the road and was busy levelling it.

So, Subhashish got off & gesticulated from across the water - no response. They kept telling us to take a detour & no way we were going to waste further time. So we crossed over & waited. Subhashish thereafter had some heated exchanges with the Bulldozer guy - pointed out that it was a 4x4 Beast etc etc. After a while, the BD guy finally relented.

The place was a mess with the loose earth & mud etc but nothing that 4L couldn't take care of - The Beast contemptuously trundled through! Thanks Subhashish for convincing that what-cha-ma-call-it of a Bulldozer guy!!! Dropped Subhashish & the mech off at the Camp & at 9.47 am, we were finally on our way!

I've seen that an unplanned delay often throws up more delays down the line. So true, yet again! 12 kms down the road, we see a queue & guess what? Obstacle number Two - Broken bridge, LOL!!! Anyway, walked down & saw there was place for another vehicle right up in front. So, in typical NCR style, sneaked the Safari into that slot!
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Preliminary conversations with the guys on the spot revealed a lot of blame game & "passing the buck going" on. The plates had arrived but apparently it was a missing wrench or other such tool that was stalling the process. We offered to help with our toolkit but the reply was "Truck ki tools chahiye sirji". After 15-20 minutes of buck-passing, some senior guy arrived & things were sorted out somewhat. The repair work had begun!! Apparently the damage had taken place around 8 pm the previous evening so our leaving earlier that morning wouldn't have helped.

We were at the spot for almost an hour & a half, gathering first hand experience of how such a bridge is repaired. Was fascinating watching them put the bits together though the wait was frustrating. There were quite a few bikers waiting, struck up a conversation with one of them ( a student from Pune). The next problem anticipated (as you'd have gathered from the pics) was the chaos that would erupt when traffic from both sides would try & get through first!!! But we were lucky - a PWD or some such junior officer was on our side of the bridge. He got hold of a police guy & walked across to the other side. In a matter of minutes, they'd got the traffic on the other side to park neatly & leave space for the vehicles from our end to get through first. Three cheers!!!!

At 11.38am, we started up & crossed over. There were a few cannonball cabbies behind me, I let them go. I wasn't going to be rushed, pushed & shoved up Baralacha La, that was for sure. What amazing views. The color of the day was, obviously, WHITE!!!
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The approach road to Baralacha La was one of the worst that we encountered on this trip. Water was gushing down over the broken path, the bikes were having a tough time - the biker in the 3rd picture slipped & almost stalled right in front of me when I was merrily chugging along in 4L. Had to brake sharply & change my plans!
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As incredibly bad as the roads were, what was more incredible was the repair work they had done closer to the Top, on both sides - JET BLACK TARMAC. We reached the top at 12.13pm. Didn't get off because the roads were narrow due to the snow walls & because of the broken bridge just having opened up, traffic volume behind us was very high. Baralacha La - WOW!!!
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Old 2nd July 2009, 11:20   #261
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Originally Posted by anainar View Post
Am sure you inspired quiet a few readers to plan a trip to Leh in their own mode of transport. And I am one of them you bet. Already contours of timings, plans are coming up in my mind. Am still skeptical about my front wheel driven sedan though.Do you think a Corolla can take these terrains easily?
Thanks mate! Now, to answer your question - its not going to be a cakewalk for a sedan but I think if you select the time of year judiciously, it is definitely do-able. I would say - early to mid August; perhaps you won't see Nature at its best but whatever you'll see will still be worth it!

Maybe a coincidence, but do check out the first car waiting on the other side in the broken bridge picture in my post below & tell me what you see. Heck, we even saw a new mud-spattered Civic braving the More Plains so why not a Corolla? Good luck!!!
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Old 2nd July 2009, 11:56   #262
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Suman,

I have been going throgh your travellogue religiously. It is better entertainment than any Jeffery Archer novel I have ever read. The pictures simply take your breath away.

Jab humre desh mein dekhne to itni khoobsurati hai to log Europe kyon jaate hain?

BTW which camera did you use?
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Old 2nd July 2009, 11:59   #263
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Hmm so scorpios also break down. But finding a mechanic for a modern engine at that place... amazing!
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Old 2nd July 2009, 12:18   #264
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Default Day Twelve Part Two: Onward towards Rohtang La!!

Baralacha La was simply out of this world. Words really cannot do justice to the sights. White, white & white as far as one could see. Huge snow walls. Frozen water bodies way down below. Boy, this is what the good life is all about!!!!
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Another water crossing somewhere during the descent
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more of the gorgeous backdrop
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DeepakTal
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and then, there in the distance was Darcha
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We decided to break for lunch at Darcha
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We had the packed stuff from the Camp (Dinner, Breakfast & packed Lunch was included in the tariff) which the kids weren't interested in (apart from the Juice & chocolate bars) so we ordered some Momos, Rajma & Rice for them. After a 20 minute break, we were on our way once again. The next restroom break was planned for Keylong, which was almost 30 kms away. Roads were, by & large, in pathetic condition though there was repair work going on. We approached Keylong & took the detour to the magnificent Chandrabhaga, arriving an hour after we left Darcha
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A short pitstop of 7 minutes & we pushed on. Reached Keylong Town & I made the mistake of going through the town instead of taking the bypass. Now, who would have expected that the Bypass would originate at the Bus Station!! There was a sign pointing to the Bus Station which I'd ignored & carried on. Anyway, the road through the town would have probably been quicker had it not been for the fact that at the end of the town, in front of the Hospital, they had dug a huge trench across the road. End of story. Had to reverse The Beast in a space that was barely wide enough to accommodate it & then head back towards the bypass. Waste of precious time, you'd think they have a signboard somewhere.
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Once we were back on the main road, we saw the Scorpios of Roshun & Anil ahead of us in the distance (thanks to the delay at the broken bridge & our Keylong town episode, they had caught up & gone by). We caught up with them at Tandi, where they took a short break. We crossed Tandi at 3.51pm & although I didn't need to fill my tank, we found out that for the second day in succession, they had no stock of Diesel!!! So much for all the hype about "last pump" etc etc. Somewhere around Sissu
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Another water crossing a little before Koksar
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Waterfalls in full flow & the river way down below
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And then, we were climbing again, towards the last Pass of the day (and the trip)........Rohtang La!!!

Last edited by suman : 2nd July 2009 at 12:27.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 12:42   #265
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rajneeesh View Post
BTW which camera did you use?
Thanks! Camera was Canon EOS 450D
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Hmm so scorpios also break down. But finding a mechanic for a modern engine at that place... amazing!
Well, that's a long story but the mechanic had been brought in by them the previous day from Keylong. It was basic stuff that had broken down - the fanbelt in Anil's case & part of the fuel pipe in Roshun's case.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 12:49   #266
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Lovely man, I'm so much missing Ladakh.. Wish I could go there this year too :-(
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Old 2nd July 2009, 13:37   #267
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Default Day Twelve Part Three: Rohtang La & Manali.....

If you asked us which Pass we thought of as the worst ascent/descent on this trip, I think we would say without hesitation "Rohtang!!!" Maybe it was the time of day when the water was at full flow or maybe it was the potholes themselves; whatever the reason, it was one hell of a ride!
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Daylight was fading when we reached Rohtang at 6.03pm. God, it was so much more dirtier than what we'd last seen in 2005. If there's one thing that depresses me, its Dirty Snow. And litter in such locations.......but that's Rohtang for you. Terrible. We had no intentions of getting off & wanted to press on to Manali
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One big plus about reaching Rohtang so late in the day was that all the tourists had gone & we weren't stuck in a jam during the descent. But wait! Perhaps I spoke too soon. LOL! Road conditions were pretty bad till past Marhi but we made good time I thought - crossed Marhi at 6.50pm, as dirty as you'd expect
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then Gulaba at 7.17, followed by Kothi. No pics now as it was dark already. We reached the entry point to Manali, just across Hotel Beas at 7.55 pm. Not bad - from Rohtang in under two hours! The celebrations were about to begin, the mood was getting more relaxed.

And then, in the darkness up ahead, we could see a mile long queue of tail lamps. OK, so, a jam, hopefully a small one. I will not elaborate further because I don't think I can express the feeling of frustration & helplessness that we went through for the next COUPLE of hours. Yes, it took us almost two hours to negotiate that less than 3 kms stretch to the Log Huts (where we were staying). Manali has really gone to the dogs.

The mood in the car had changed - there was dead silence as I navigated through side lanes, by-lanes, people, more people, dogs, cows & finally - a pack of horses!!!!!!! We arrived at the Log Huts at 9.40 pm. Didn't find a liquor shop on the way up so I was fuming - I could see hopes of a refreshing beverage fading away in the distance. We decided to freshen up & order Dinner immediately, poor kids were famished. A nice Chinese dinner & the world was looking like a slightly better place to live in.

But we still couldn't get over it! Imagine avoiding all the tourists at Rohtang & then getting killed inside Manali itself - Unbelievable!

Such are the quirks of life - sometimes when you think you know it all, God decides to spring a surprise on you. Anyway, a long day had finally come to an end. There had been interruptions & hiccups but we were all safe & sound at the end of it. Oh & before I forget, the statistics: Total Distance Travelled - 229.2 kms; Total Driving Time - 8hrs 25mins. It was 8hrs 14mins till Hotel Beas & it would normally have taken us another 10 mins max to reach the Log Huts.

Time to hit the sack, thank God there was no agenda the next day.......

Last edited by suman : 2nd July 2009 at 13:41.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 13:48   #268
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Log Huts is an amazing place. Feels more like home with its warm contours.

@Suman: Sir, awesome travelogue. This deserves a five-star rating.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 13:51   #269
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Typically this bridge at Kelan Serai also breaks down and the detour through the stream bed is where most of the two wheel drive vehicles get struck.
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/attach...e-img_3113.jpg

That said amazing how the minibus make their way through.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 13:58   #270
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Maybe a coincidence, but do check out the first car waiting on the other side in the broken bridge picture in my post below & tell me what you see.
That looks like an Esteem, unless I'm mistaken.

So did you need to engage 4x4 during ascending/descending Rohtang? And quite frankly, a Manali bypass is very much required.

I can empathize your frustration with Manali man. Experienced the same last year when I'd traveled to the place after spending a blissful week in Kinnaur. It felt like being thrown into a frying pan.

Last edited by lordofgondor : 2nd July 2009 at 14:14.
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