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Old 18th June 2009, 18:46   #61
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Hey Suman... lovely travelogue! Heard abt your trip from Nitin.
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Old 18th June 2009, 19:09   #62
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Nice start dada,

and probably we all will have Insomnia too if you dont keep posting and i am feeling kind of greedy to see all pics and read the full travelogue at one stretch.

But guess i will need to wait for next lot of pics and story
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Old 18th June 2009, 19:24   #63
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Oldman's Wrath works wonder on this Forum

Good going Suman bhai would love to see picture of The King more in such kind of environments
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Old 18th June 2009, 19:37   #64
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Why do you stop? Finish it up soon!! So many BHPian heading to Leh, from different parts of the country in different vehicles!! Seems like Ladakh is catching up on popularity!!

Eagerly waiting for more!!
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Old 18th June 2009, 20:01   #65
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Suman, eagrly waiting for next part!
And hope you've taken an off from office work tomorrow
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Old 18th June 2009, 20:03   #66
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MAN!! He's still 728 kms from Leh. At this rate his coverage won't complete before September. SUMAN!!
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Old 18th June 2009, 20:22   #67
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Smile Lovely !

Lovely log, catchy title, great pics... Please try to post the forthcoming episodes asap!
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Old 19th June 2009, 00:16   #68
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Suman, thats a good thing you have started and adding to the vociferous request of other members, Take off and finish the Travelogue Tomorrow.

OT: Did you see Hari Singh's Place near the checkpost on Pic 1 on #58. I was there last year Feb on a friend's marriage and also went to Patnitop. Was quite surprised to see the amount of snow. Will post pics tmrw from work for want of better internet speed
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Old 19th June 2009, 09:14   #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
MAN!! He's still 728 kms from Leh. At this rate his coverage won't complete before September. SUMAN!!
Dada, 303 kms of the 728 already covered. So I hope to give you the complete lot by July
Quote:
Originally Posted by breezydrive View Post
Suman, eagrly waiting for next part!
And hope you've taken an off from office work tomorrow
My Boss may decide to give me a permanent vacation considering that I've already been "off" for two weeks
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Old 19th June 2009, 11:17   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suman View Post
We stopped at the Tourist Bungalow at Banihal for lunch - they were kind enough to open up a room for us to freshen up. Nice picturesque surroundings but we still had some way to go so we moved on after a 50 minute halt
Suman,

Can you give contact details to this place, do they take bookings?

This being closest to the Jawahar Tunnel, if it is possible to drive from Delhi to Banihal in a day (is it possible?) this has the best chance to pass through the tunnel early in the morning and reach Srinagar, which should be 70 kms, by 10 am.

=====
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Old 19th June 2009, 11:56   #71
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Default Day Three: Srinagar to Kargil

The Day (1st June) dawned bright & clear & we were up pretty early. A historic day of sorts on the personal front - conquering Zoji La! Anyway, there were others who were up early as well, taking a Shikara ride
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Got a daylight view of the fort up there on the hill
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We were ready to move in reasonable time. For the passes, the idea was to dress in layers with thick jackets bringing up the outermost layer. Caps, Mufflers & Gloves were kept handy (trust me when I say its bloody windy at most of these passes).

7 am & we rolled out of Heemal after checking out
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Time for Anecdote 1:
The plan was to turn left, go 200 meters down the road to the Pump, top up Diesel & then take the road to Sonamarg. All went as per Plan till we reached the pump. Deserted. Obviously closed. Called out to the Newspaper guy who was nonchalantly lolling on the sidewalk -

Bhaiyaa, aage Indianoil pump hain?
Pump to kaafi hain lekin aaj to Diesel milna mushkil hain....
Kyun? Pump strike hain?
Nahin nahin Sir, aaj to city mein hartal hain. Aapko kahan jana hain?

Holy mother! And the buggers at JKTDC had not even bothered to tell us. Despite my umpteen queries about pumps & diesel......

Sonamarg jana hain.....raaste mein to mil jana chahiye?
Han ji, koi problem nahin hogi - Ganderbal mein mil jayega.

So we turned round quickly, went back past Heemal & then on to the road to Sonamarg. There was heavy security deployment all along the roads but it was peaceful. Besides, it was bright & early so we didn't have any issues. Later on that evening, friends called up anxiously to enquire if we were out of Srinagar because they'd seen parts of Srinagar burning on the News Channels. That's when we realized that we had been extremely lucky.

Now, here's what amazes me - the Tourism guys didn't bother to caution us or advice us to get out early, despite them knowing about the Hartal and the possibility of trouble. I'd have expected them to have told me to fill up the previous evening itself. Lucky I had half a tank, what if I was low on fuel? Well, as the lyrics of the song say......People are Strange.

Anyway, end of Anecdote 1! Focussed on driving & found a pump just before Ganderbal (26 kms) and topped up. Total Distance travelled - 319 kms, Diesel filled - 33.76 ltrs, Mileage obtained - 9.45 kmpl.And then, we were back to mile-munching.

Now, the Srinagar-Sonamarg route is extremely picturesque and memories from our trip 22 years ago came flooding back. We were going "ooohh" and "aaahhh" as the river bubbled by and as we started to climb and as the greenery and the snow clad mountains started weaving their spell on us. Unfortunately, the kids were asleep at the back so they did miss some of the sights. Till we woke them up.......In the meantime, my wife continued clicking. Now, at this point, I must say a BIG "Thank you!!!!" to her because, if she hadn't continued to click from the moving vehicle, we wouldn't have got even a third of the number of snaps that we did. (The Corollary to this is - please excuse the quality of the pics taken through the windscreen!)
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We made decent time. Truckers & Buses on this route are very well mannered & they let you through at the earliest opportunity. A short distance before Sonamarg, we took a short break by the riverside and admired the snow that was so close to the road
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And then we continued on towards Sonamarg, soaking in the wonderful scenery on the way!
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Last edited by suman : 19th June 2009 at 11:57.
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Old 19th June 2009, 12:10   #72
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Default Day Three: Srinagar to Kargil.....continued!!!

I must apologize for uploading so many clicks but I just wanted to share all that we saw on the way. And it had been ages since we'd done this route so I guess we went overboard
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2192.jpg
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We reached Sonamarg in a little under two & a half hours and went straight to the Tourism Office & the Cafe for breakfast
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2210.jpg
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And then it was time for Anecdote number 2!

Based on information that I had, the traffic from Sonamarg to Zoji La is normally released in a convoy around 1 pm. So we were just relaxing, having ample time on our hands. While speaking casually to the Cafeteria Manager he advised me to check with the Police Chowki which was 2 minutes away - he said that they sometimes let private cars through without making them wait. "Wow", I thought & off I went.

I found the PS & was ceremoniously ushered inside. The second in comand was a young, energetic & smiling Offcer who asked me how many people we were, which vehicle it was. Told him. Asked him what next. He smiled and said -

Chai pi jiye, biscuit li jiye, ho giya aapka kaam
Matlab?
Matlab - aap ja sekte hain

I was like almost jumping with joy!!! Had a cup of tea, had a biscuit, met the Chief, said my profuse "Thank you"s to all & rushed back to the Cafe with the good news. It was a little after 10.30 & we decided to take a while, do a round of the restrooms and then leave.

Big Mistake (though we didn't know it)!!!!!!

At 11.45 am, we started rolling, stopped at the PS to introduce the family to this nice, young Officer and then we moved forward to the Army checkpost down the road.

Yeah, we're on our way!!! Zoji La, here we come

Army jawan waves us to stop, I wind down my window -

Sir, kahan ja rahe hain?
Kargil ji, phir Leh
OK Sir, aap gaadi right side parking mein laga dijiye
Sorry?
Abhi Zoji La side se Army trucks ki convoy chal chuka - pounchne ki baad hi is side ki gaadi chalegi
Lekin Police post mein to bataya ki hum ja sekte?
Sir, 10.30 tak to khulla tha

Oh no!!! We missed the bloody bus!!!!

To kitne baje pounchega?
Karib ek baje ki aaspaas

God, it was only 11.51, another hour!!!!!

Anyway, no way was I going to park inside the nominated area behind all the trucks, buses & other lesser mortals. So parked on the right side of the road, on the dust, ready to lead the convoy when it actually started off
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2221.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2225.jpg

Long, frustrating wait!!!! Made small conversation with the driver of a Sonalika Rhino who had parked next to us and figured out the reason behind the Hartal at Srinagar. Some protests against some youth's death in an accident with an Army vehicle. Lot of anger simmering under the surface against the Army from what I gathered.

The clock ticked on and we made frequent enquiries from the Army outpost about the progress of the convoy. They kept giving us updates - another half an hour, another 15 minutes, another 5 minutes and then, there in the distance we saw the first of the trucks approaching!!!

They thundered past in all their might, we jumped in & started our engine. The last truck (bearing the flag) stopped to report that all was clear and we were asked to go. No one needed any second invitation & we roared off. To keep our date with - Zoji La!!! The time was 12.57 pm
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2226.jpg

Last edited by Technocrat : 19th June 2009 at 13:32. Reason: Blanked out number plate.
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Old 19th June 2009, 12:18   #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
Suman,

Can you give contact details to this place, do they take bookings?

This being closest to the Jawahar Tunnel, if it is possible to drive from Delhi to Banihal in a day (is it possible?) this has the best chance to pass through the tunnel early in the morning and reach Srinagar, which should be 70 kms, by 10 am.

=====
Ramky, normally, from Delhi/Gurgaon, the furthest that one would push (and that would also be stretching it provided you left by 4/5 in the morning) would normally be Patnitop. The idea being to push directly to Sonamarg from Patnitop the next day and not halt at Srinagar.

Banihal was over five & a half hours driving from Jammu & I wouldn't recommend doing it in one day from Delhi, no way. Remember, Delhi-Jammu is twelve hours including a couple of halts.
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Old 19th June 2009, 12:55   #74
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suman pure bliss man !! Not everyone gets a chance to undertake such an epic journey. Am glued pal, continue posting.
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Old 19th June 2009, 13:01   #75
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Congrats Suman on successfully completing this epic journey.

Pics are just too good, keep them coming.

One question, did you encounter any hatchback also doing this trip or only SUV's ?
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