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Old 17th June 2009, 16:12   #1
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Thumbs up Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!

It was something that we'd been talking about for a long, long time. We had the equipment to do it in & we had the motivation. Flying in & out was no fun, it had to be experienced by road. And, given the fact that my daughter would be finishing her Class 10 exams in March, this was possibly the best year for us to take the plunge. After all, I would be doing all the driving & at 48, I wasn't getting any younger. So, enough said & it was time to plan & make the arrangements.

With multiple variables to be taken care of on the homefront, the period 30th May to 13th June was zeroed in on & Hotel bookings needed to be made. The initial plan was to avoid Kashmir & go via Manali both ways. Made our bookings with HPTDC (Manali & Keylong) and did innumerable google searches & read Trip Advisor reviews before finalizing Hotel Omasila at Leh & Olthang Guest House at Diskit. Pre-poned the Safari's 60k kms service to 58.5k kms & put together a few essential items like - Tow rope, set of spanners, tubeless puncture repair kit & tyre compressor. The Battery was in good condition even after two & a half years but I decided to put in a new one, given the fact that high altitudes & the extreme cold have been known to do funny things to battery life!

As D-day (30th May) approached, things were getting a little sticky because the Manali-Leh highway was yet to open! Came the 25th & things were still in limbo. A fellow member on BCM Touring left in his Pajero and when reports came in, he had been surviving for almost 36 hours at Baralachla on biscuits & water!

"Not a good idea with the family along" I told myself & decided to go with Plan B: Gurgaon-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh and return via Manali. Now, even that route was boiling due to disturbances in Punjab after the Vienna shootings. But we were banking on the fact that things would be brought under control by the end of that week. So, a few consultations with close friends, acquaintances & forum members and we were ready to take the alternative route. Opened up HPTDC onward bookings, made bookings with JKTDC in Jammu & Srinagar, called up a Hotel in Kargil and the gentleman promised to keep a couple of rooms for us, called up Omasila and told Mr Nawang that we would arrive a day early and we were more or less ready to start.

The numerous butterflies in my stomach kept up a cheerful crescendo as the last couple of nights passed with lesser & lesser hours of sleep - excitement was really high and the adrenalin was pumping away without any activity having started. LOL!! Till, finally, it was 30th May and at around 6.20 in the morning, with the luggage area in the Safari stacked to the brim, we were on our way! And what an unforgettable journey it would be for all of us -
  • From the plains of Gurgaon to the highest motorable road in the world - Khardung La at an altitude of 18,380 feet
  • From 42 degrees in Jammu to -4 degrees in Sarchu
  • From mundane daily routine drives in the NCR to engaging 4L to negotiate slushy slopes & tricky water crossings
  • To seeing white, pristine snow all around & narrow black tarmac between tall snow walls!
  • To seeing a beautiful lake at an altitude of 14,000 feet, changing colors each time you look at it!
  • To seeing a broken bridge across a raging mountain river being repaired
  • To experiencing snowfall up in one of the passes & then again a mild snowstorm in the middle of nowhere
  • To spending upto 13 hours in the vehicle over bad roads, broken roads, no roads, landslides & severe duststorms - Woh!!
I guess the bit about "trip of a lifetime" is now beginning to make some sense, what? Well friends, over the course of the next few pages, I'll be putting down whatever I remember along with some pictures that we took. A lot of them were taken from a moving vehicle so please do bear with me. I hope you enjoy this as much as I'll enjoy recapping it. And now a few random pics would be in order before I move on..........
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2307-large.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2644-large.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2720-large.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3138-large.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_3028-large.jpg
Better Leh'd than Never - a 3,004 kms round trip of a lifetime!-img_2784-large.jpg
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Old 17th June 2009, 16:25   #2
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Suman-da, wow!
Will be glued to the space.
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Old 17th June 2009, 16:27   #3
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Indeed looks like a trip of the life time
Leh is a place on my Must visit list, i eagerly wait for your next chapters
thanks for sharing
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Old 17th June 2009, 16:32   #4
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WoW, another thread on Leh, Just finished reading the thread on Leh by pramod and we have a new one coming up. Keep going!
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Old 17th June 2009, 16:34   #5
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Oh yeah. Bring it on Sumanji. Please ensure that lots of pics and videos (if any) are posted.
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Old 17th June 2009, 16:43   #6
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Wow.... This will be something called TOUR.

Was GD accompanying you as well ?
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Old 17th June 2009, 16:49   #7
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Waiting for more! Bring it on
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Old 17th June 2009, 16:53   #8
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Wow! Pic # 4 with the snow walls is just brilliant! Keep 'em coming Sir
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Old 17th June 2009, 17:05   #9
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Wonderful pics Dada,

This Lake looks so calm, so serene and i am totally in awe after seeing these pics.

Never wanted to do a LEH trip more than now.

Keep posting
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Old 17th June 2009, 17:05   #10
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You have given my dreams to travel that heights a new life !!!
please pump in some more gas by posting the details soon.
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Old 17th June 2009, 17:08   #11
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Awesome!!! Look forward to more pics and info about route, road condition and accomodation.

BTW will the snow walls remain in August ?
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Old 17th June 2009, 17:15   #12
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Quote:
From the plains of Gurgaon to the highest motorable road in the world - Khardung La at an altitude of 18,380 feet
From 42 degrees in Jammu to -4 degrees in Sarchu
From mundane daily routine drives in the NCR to engaging 4L to negotiate slushy slopes & tricky water crossings
To seeing white, pristine snow all around & narrow black tarmac between tall snow walls!
To seeing a beautiful lake at an altitude of 14,000 feet, changing colors each time you look at it!
To seeing a broken bridge across a raging mountain river being repaired
To experiencing snowfall up in one of the passes & then again a mild snowstorm in the middle of nowhere
To spending upto 13 hours in the vehicle over bad roads, broken roads, no roads, landslides & severe duststorms - Woh!!
That's what one needs when one has to get away from the city life! Waiting for more...
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Old 17th June 2009, 17:33   #13
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Must be an amazing drive, waiting for more.
By the way, what is the place in the last photograph. Looks stunning!
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Old 17th June 2009, 17:36   #14
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Nice pictures, good narration. We are waiting for the rest.
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Old 17th June 2009, 17:43   #15
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Amazing pictures Suman looks like you had a good trip, Please share more
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