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Old 11th September 2009, 13:23   #61
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Wonderful, travelogue, excellent pictures. Nice to hear that the Vista had gone thorugh incedent free. All the hardships endured would make better memories for a long time
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Old 14th September 2009, 02:36   #62
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Default Sorry for being tardy in updating the travelogue!

Day 06: Tuesday, Aug 17 : LEH – KHARDUNG LA – LEH – THIKSEY – LEH

We woke up after a good bout of rest only to realise that the bathroom of one of the rooms is unusable whilst the other was also quite shoddy. We decided to move out of the BSNL IQ & check into a hotel though that would cost us little more than expected. We had our teas & were feeling alright after a long time. The garlic & ginger last night must have helped.

A handy tip: Get your own tea bags, milk & sugar cubes if you are very particular about your tea (am quite choosy). All you have to do is just ask for steaming hot water. Nobody charged us for hot water & cups

3 of us proceeded to the DC office for the ILPs whilst the others packed up stuff, settled bills & found a very decent hotel & checked in & got refreshed. It took us almost about 2 hours to get the ILPs (half the time spent in photocopying forms & stuff!). By the time we left for Khardung La we were pretty close to the traffic closure from Leh. But we were fortunate. The drive to Khardung La appeared much placid because of good roads. As a result while descending we decided to venture a little off the road (the video link of which I pasted in my last post).

One of the reasons we hired the Innova was put into action throughout our stay in Leh. We left the Vista & the driver back at the hotel in order for all 7 of us to be travelling together which was so much more fun!

Next we were bound for Thiksey for the monastery. We met with a German couple driving their truck all the way from Germany to Leh!

We came back to hotel late in the evening just to wash & freshen up before going back to the market for dinner but laziness got the better of us. We ended up having our dinner in the hotel (much expensive option!!) not before a few swigs of the aged monk in the vast airy balcony of the hotel.

Let the pics tell you the proceedings of the day:

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0481.jpg
Pic 56 | One the way to Khardung La

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-p1020127.jpg
Pic 57 | The whole gang together again, at Khardung La

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Pic 58 | Venturing off the road

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Pic 59 | Between Shey & Thiksey - the picture did not come out as good as the real view

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0522.jpg
Pic 60 | View from the Thiksey monastery

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Pic 61 | Another view from the Thiksey monastery

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Pic 62 | View from the Thiksey monastery

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-picture-536.jpg
Pic 63 | Grey clouds welcome us back to Leh

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-picture-538.jpg
Pic 64 | But it didn't rain (Parikrama would be disappointed!)

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0609.jpg
Pic 65 | The flaming sunset

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-p1020248.jpg
Pic 66 | Amazing vista of the sunset

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0611.jpg
Pic 67 | Says it all!

Last edited by abk : 14th September 2009 at 02:38.
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Old 14th September 2009, 09:20   #63
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amazing photographs!

waiting for more
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Old 14th September 2009, 10:06   #64
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abk, what a marvellous travelogue!
I tuned in a bit late but am enjoying the splendid pics and lively narration!
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Old 15th September 2009, 15:55   #65
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abk, wonderful pictures and excellent narration, was just mesmerised by it. Fantastic photos especially the Sunset.Cheers
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Old 15th September 2009, 16:47   #66
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Default Now how did I miss this?

And how did we miss you guys.,
Don't tell me that you guys did not spot a Safari with Live to Drive stickers in Leh!!

Amazing pictures honestly. One of the best that I have ever seen!
We also took the Gata shortcuts. Taxis take them downhill, and we tried uphill.
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Old 17th September 2009, 02:26   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
And how did we miss you guys.,
Don't tell me that you guys did not spot a Safari with Live to Drive stickers in Leh!!

Amazing pictures honestly. One of the best that I have ever seen!
We also took the Gata shortcuts. Taxis take them downhill, and we tried uphill.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Majic View Post
abk, wonderful pictures and excellent narration, was just mesmerised by it. Fantastic photos especially the Sunset.Cheers
Quote:
Originally Posted by anupmathur View Post
abk, what a marvellous travelogue!
I tuned in a bit late but am enjoying the splendid pics and lively narration!
Quote:
Originally Posted by rajesh1868 View Post
amazing photographs!

waiting for more
Thank you folks for your generous appreciations! However, now that am working VERY late nights & alongside planning trip to Shoja & the Great Himalayan National Park this weekend, further narration of this travelogue will get held up, unfortunately But as soon as I can get around to it I will keep on updating. Meanwhile, thanks for your patience!

@Tanveer: I suppose you went to Leh after we returned. OT: In fact I wanted to put TBHP stickers on our cars but on trying to purchase realised more than sufficient credit card info is solicited for the purchase!
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Old 17th September 2009, 02:51   #68
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Brilliant write up and pictures ABK , waiting for more to come. Enjoy your trip to Shoja.
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Old 17th September 2009, 04:25   #69
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Default Pagal Nullah!

Day 07: Tuesday, Aug 18 : LEH – PANGONG TSO – LEH

Although we were supposed to get ready & get going towards Pangong lake early in the morning but the translation of the idea of getting up early into reality continued to remain a dream. Eventually we got moving at 10 AM only to be warned by the hotel lady that Innova is not the right vehicle to cross THE Pagal Nullah. I must confess during the preparation of this trip Pagal Nullah wasn't there on my mind. After more enquiries & advices from local drivers we decided to go ahead. After we reach Pagal Nullah we would anyway know if it would be unconquerable on Innova. If it were we would park the Innova before the nullah & proceed, on our feet or look for alternative arrangements. We were also told that we could be lucky as the day was overcast so the water level in the nullah may not be too formidable. We headed out rather believing weather was on our side.

At Karu a BRO jawan (do we call BRO staff "Jawan"?) waved at us with 2 women standing alongside him. I thought those women needed a hitch-hike so stopped by. Instead it turned out that the BRO staff himself needed to be dropped at Sakti. We obliged. Late as we already were, soon we were confronted with BRO people asking us to pull over and stop as road repair (actually new roads laying) work was going on. The BRO bloke in our car seemed to be very well networked with the BRO guys involved in the road work. Leveraging his network we managed to work around the road closure after a delay of about half an hour whilst the other vehicles stood their grounds

We were greeted with excellent views of the lush green valley with lumps of clouds dotting the clear blue skies until we reached Sakti, where the BRO bloke got off. The journey from Sakti until Pagal Nullah was mostly uneventful but the roads were brilliant - new & plain. We left Chang La behind - glancing around the Indian Army's invitation to tourists on that road to have a cup of tea with them displayed on a large signpost grabbed our attention. This warm hospitality & gesture was echoed and evident throughout the Ladakh region all the way up to Joji La as per our experiences. Very heartening indeed!

The sharp left to Pagal Nullah caught me by surprise so asked Yash to step out of the car and walk ahead to establish that indeed is the road to Pangong Tso. Much to my disappointment it turned out to be the road! Whilst Yash was leading I kept following him until we actually saw the Pagal Nullah. I kept thinking it did not look too treacherous with the water level being at most knee deep at a few places. A scorpio returning from Pangong Tso crossed it quite effortlessly. I drove ahead, very cautious, but with a soft foot on the accelerator pedal. This was my undoing. Before letting Yash cross over to the elevated part of the Nullah from where he would a better view of Nullah depth & stones underneath, I drove my car in to the water. No sooner than the front wheels of the Innova were out of the water on firm rocky ground than I felt one of the rear tyres spinning free. I got a little nervous and pushed the accelerator pedal hard but in vain. This is when it dawned to me that Innova is a rear wheel drive. Couldn't have been more stupid than this, could I? Tried the same manoeuvre a few more times without the car moving ahead. On the other hand, the wheels sank in deeper. I thought that's it! The misfortune that was waiting to happen had finally gripped us.

Fortunately, there were local men (suppose they are actually SUV drivers) who came around to inspect the gravity of the situation. With their help we removed a few big stones that were obstacles around the wheels. One of those guys took control of the car from me. And boy-o-boy what an amazing stunt that he did. He floored the pedal and let go the handbrakes in such a vicious jerk while on the reverse gear that the Innova not only pulled herself out of the pit but rushed back madly & extremely rapidly all the way up from where we descended cautiously. The Innova stoped precariously balanced on the edge of the stream and a big lump of stone overlooking the gorge. This is by far the wildest driving stunt that I have ever seen either in real life or real life videos!! Absolute madness! But effective. Yash sensed that the guy was a little nervous himself as the car was very precariously balanced over a big stone with virtually nothing to land on an inch further to his left! He engaged the front gear and floored the pedal viciously again to recklessly drive forward past the nullah (2 streams) clearing out of all mess, in no time whilst splashing water all around. My experience of wildest driving stunt was just replayed!

All relieved, Amit Mangal, in particular (as he almost fell down while running over the stones through the water to hand the driver a Rs. 100 note as a thank you gesture!) we got into the car again, exclaiming & exchanging our experiences & our gamut of thoughts that went jumbling through our heads in the last half an hour. Ah! Btw - the time then was 3 PM. Manu Phaaji took charge of the wheels from me from then onwards. The smart project manager that Amit Mangal is, he ensured that the local help was handy during our return. They advised us to return before 5 PM as the water level would increase later. Having fixed the appointment we left until the sight of the bay to the Pangong Tso welcomed us much which was so very heartening.

Lucky that we were because the day was overcast so the water level at Pagal Nullah wasn't too high for us, however, that denied us the glorious views of the Pangong Tso under the brilliant sun. Despite that, we seeped the beauty in much to our hearts' content. Had maggi & tea there before we left knowing that we aimed to cross the nullah at 4:30 PM. Alamrmed that we were because of the last experience, we were we back at Pagal Nullah at 4:45 PM. Lo & behold! Just as we thought we steered clear of the Nullah the rear wheel got stuck again. Though this time it did not look too bad as 3 of the tyres seemed on firm ground. The local saviours kept their promise & turned up in no time. They helped us in removing a few stones (by that time the water was ever more chilly!). With right pressure on the pedal the Innova pulled herself out without further tantrums. That was the moment of intense relief. We knew one of the worst/scariest moments of this trip was behind us.

Much of the return journey was uneventful save the snowflakes which were getting worse. But by sunset we descended safely to altitudes where they disappeared. Much of what followed in the rest of the evening isn't worth narrating here (except, may be, we learned that 3 of us got promoted at work!).

Now let the pictures complete the day's narration..

Note: On a hindsight, the crossing of the Pagal Nullah in our circumstances was relatively tamer than what some of others did. Since that was my & Manu Phaji's first attempt on anything of this sorts, we were alarmed more than it warranted. Besides, it was our mistake that had us got stuck at the first place. Lessons learned. And learned quite well!

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0638.jpg
Pic 68 | View from Sakti

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-p1020362.jpg
Pic 69 | Trapped!

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0567.jpg
Pic 70 | The rear right wheel sinks in further whilst the rear left wheel is also free

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-dsc05306.jpg
Pic 71 | Views of the Pangong Tso

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0648.jpg
Pic 72 | Pangong Tso views continued..

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0581.jpg
Pic 73 | Pangong Tso views continued..

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0589.jpg
Pic 74 | Pangong Tso views continued..

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0569.jpg
Pic 75 | Pangong Tso views continued..

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0685.jpg
Pic 76 | Pangong Tso views continued..

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-p1020393.jpg
Pic 77 | Pangong Tso views continued..

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-p1020429.jpg
Pic 78 | Pangong Tso views continued..

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-picture-719.jpg
Pic 79 | Pangong Tso views continued..

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-p1020417.jpg
Pic 80 | Peace yet fun & togetherness!

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-p1020446.jpg
Pic 81 | The placid sleepy bay to Pangong Tso

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-p1020447.jpg
Pic 82 | Much relieved that Pangong Tso is finally behind us (the water was freezing though!)

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-p1020346.jpg
Pic 83 | Sting's Desert Storm?

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-p1020452.jpg
Pic 84 | Mirage?

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-p1020474.jpg
Pic 85 | Flaming sun & rising dust

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-p1020484.jpg
Pic 86 | Riot of colours finally greet us as the day folds to an end

Last edited by abk : 17th September 2009 at 04:31.
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Old 17th September 2009, 11:29   #70
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Wow! These pictures keep getting better and better. Keep them coming ABK.
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Old 17th September 2009, 13:31   #71
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The last few photos are absolutely fantastic, keep posting more pcitures
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Old 23rd September 2009, 02:07   #72
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Brilliant pictures i must say , I like the one in which innova is making the escape from the water. If i remember correctly it kind of got stcuk and struggled to come out.
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Old 23rd September 2009, 10:10   #73
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abk, updates please! Long time no updates! You are back from tirthan, better start the new travelogue too!
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Old 24th September 2009, 02:53   #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iceman7 View Post
Wow! These pictures keep getting better and better. Keep them coming ABK.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Majic View Post
The last few photos are absolutely fantastic, keep posting more pcitures
Thanks iceman7 & Majic for your generous appreciations! Will make my best attempt to keep the travelogue running fast till the end, but then there are too many distractions

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
abk, updates please! Long time no updates! You are back from tirthan, better start the new travelogue too!
Dear Tanveer, have covered the Sojha trip in a photologue (much easier!). Besides am more glued to your thread on Ladakh than to update mine
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Old 24th September 2009, 03:56   #75
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Exclamation Another misfortune - this time a freaky incident!

Day 07: Tuesday, Aug 18 : STRANDED!!

We woke up late, yet again, & went to Leh market to have our breakfast (food in the hotel was too expensive!). Those of us who were not quite yet done with shopping thought it to be a good venture for the last minute shopping. After all we were due to embark on our return journey in couple of hours via Kargil, Srinagar.

As soon as we reached Leh market we realised that the whole of the Leh town had gathered along the road. We learned Dalai Lama was due to be in town shortly. Hastily we did what last bits needed & queued up along the road to catch a glimpse of Dalai Lama. After waiting patiently for more than an hour we were eventually greeted with his sight, not before heavy sandwiching in the crowd!

Soon after we returned to our hotel to check-out. That is when, while few of us relaxing in the balcony before the planned drive, were dumbstruck when somebody broke the news that the rear windscreen of the Innova had been smashed! We thought it unbelievable because 10 minutes before when we walked into the hotel we saw the glass intact. We went out to check. Alas! As luck would have it, indeed the windscreen glass was smashed with evident signs of two distinct sources of stress – each towards the edge (vertically between), right behind the two 3rd row passenger head rests. Our initial impression were:
  1. A truck or a similar tall vehicle must have hit the car from behind
  2. A burglar might have tried to break in to whisk away stuff from the Innova

However, the people in the shop & in our hotel in front of which the car was parked denied of seeing any suspects. Strangest of all, nobody heard any sound of the break-in! We inspected the car & realised much to our relief that nothing was missing. After probing a little more I came to the conclusion that:
  • No truck or similar vehicle could be responsible for the undoing because the bumper of the car bore no brunt of any rear ending. Neither the car seemed to have moved even an inch from where it was parked!
  • The windscreen glass would have cracked because of the combination of:
    (a) the car was parked under the intense sun
    (b) the reckless driving stunt performed by the local guy in the Pagal Nullah yesterday might have stressed the glass way too much or actually cracked it along fine hairlines

We enquired locally & drove to a workshop only to be told that replacing the windscreen would take at least 8 - 10 hours for the glass to set fully until which we can't drive the car. The alternatives were (a) attach a plywood board or, (b) cello tape a thick polythene sheet

After racking up our brains we decided to get a new windscreen glass installed & arranged Pasha & his wife to fly to Delhi from Srinagar (they HAD to reach Delhi by Saturday evening). This meant we could stay the day in Leh & start our return journey the next day. Pasha & Reena would reach by Saturday afternoon whilst we would reach on Sunday. This freaky incident left us feeling rather gloomy. That is when whilst most of us were sitting outside the hotel stairs facing the road we witnessed the wild chase of an ***-on-steriod for his mate, the wildest animal chase that I could have ever imagined, that had all of us breaking into loud and hearty laughter & rolling with it. The day never looked better than then

We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing in the hotel balcony & then going to the Leh market again..

Unfortunately, not many pics of the day :(
The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0721.jpg
Pic 86 | Lazy afternoon

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0738.jpg
Pic 87 | A speck of cloud adorns the clear blue sky

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Pic 88 | Yet another view of the hotel balcony

The mother of all trips: Exploration Ladakh, destination Leh-img_0765.jpg
Pic 89 | Isn't it the King's palace in Leh?

Last edited by abk : 24th September 2009 at 03:58.
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