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Old 2nd October 2009, 10:06   #46
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Default The Zozi La Challenge and Night at Drass

From Kangan we drove in to Sonamarg. Whoever said it - Firdaus, gar baroye zameen hast, hameen ast hameen ast hameen ast. "If there is heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here", was so correct. The meadows of Sonamarg are pristine. The river, the slopes, the beauty, I can go on and on. The place is so beautiful.

We drove past it and reached a point where road disappeared. It turned to a muddy trail full of rocks. Rocks did I say? I was incorrect, they were boulders. The incline was steep. Mud loose. Rocks and boulders in abundance. As we gained height, the drop on one side became deeper and deeper. I was driving. We reached a point were we were to cross a small chashma (rivulet). I slowed down to ensure the under body doesn't get scrapped. Icebeg did not move after that. The turbo lag was seeming too much. I tried pressing the accelarator pedal to floor and with tacho redlining released the clutch. A jerk, and it stalled. My hands were begining to sweat. Will Iceberg be able to go beyond this?

Got back to basics. Apply handbrake. Shift to first. Revv the engine. Release clutch in one swift motion. Grrrr... thud. It did not work. We rolled back a few meters. My mama who was very patiently watching all this, offered to drive. We swapped places. Applied handbrake. Shifted to first. Revved the engine. Released clutch in one swift motion. Iceberg roared and moved on. WOW! It is not to do with the car. It is about driving skills.

We hit many more difficult spots but mama ensured Iceberg came out comfortable. I was learning hill driving. Hill driving? Mountain off roading it was. Iceberg was being tested. And it cleared it in flying colours, or flying mud should I say. The white of Iceberg was not be seen.

We stopped by the Zozila war memorial. Army does a commendable job by manning and maintaining such difficult to reach places. The road reappeared. And this time it was one of the best stretches of tarmac we drove on. Couldn't believe the contrast.

It is a constant fight between nature and BRO. All places where the road is right on the edge of a mountain, it gets washed of by snow fall. All places where it is a little off the edge, it survives. One cannot fight the might of nature.

On our left we saw, Capt Batra Camp. Capt Vikram Batra, PVC, I had a feeling of respect instantly as I read it. This place should be close to the place where the 1999 was took place. I told mama lets stop and ask if the famous Tiger hill, Tololing, etc can be seen. We had only heard these names on TV. It was dusk. We had another 60 odd km to cover to reach Kargil. Our dsetination for the day. He was not in a mood to stop.

I requested him. We stopped on the road and asked to army officers coming from the opposite direction about Tiger Hill. What followed in the next few minutes was amazing. Those two officers explained us the details of the battle of Drass. Showed us Tiger hill, Tololing. I didn't expect these peaks to be so close to road. They told us that the road we were driving on and the bridge we were about to cross were the main targets of enemy. There is long and high wall built to camoflauge the bridge and parts of road.

The officers insisted that we stay back and spend the night with them. They almost dragged us. It was difficult to refuse the warm invite. We decided to move on keeping in mind the destination - Kargil.

As we drove past the town of Drass and onwards to Kargill we crossed a board reading - Kargil War Memorial. I wanted to see it. It was 7:30 in the evening. The only way we could have seen it was in morning. That meant we had stay in Drass. We turned back. Drove to the JKTDC guest house. Checked in. Rs 200 for a decent room for two. It is criminally cheap. They should at least charge Rs 500 for a twin sharing room.

Right outside the guesthouse is a board that reads - JKTDC Welcomes you to Drass, the second coldest inhabited place in the world. Wow! it is going to be a cold night. Yes it was a very cold night. The water is liquid ice. Untouchable.

The morning was the most pleasant one. The mountains, some snow covered and all very high looked magnificient as the sun rays kissed the peaks. We clicked a lot of pictures. Saw the Tiger hill in its full glory. Drove to Batra camp. Met the officers, who on knowing that we had spent the night at guesthouse were almost furious. Enjoyed a lovely breakfast of hot paranthas and omlette.

Saw the war memorial. It is a very nice place. Makes us feel very patriotic. Remembered my school days when I used to parade on Independence day in my NCC uniform. Clicked many more pics.

Drove onwards to Kargil.


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Last edited by dushmish : 2nd October 2009 at 10:20.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 10:46   #47
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Very good log Dushayant, here a little treat for you:

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Old 2nd October 2009, 10:56   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
Very good log Dushayant, here a little treat for you:
Thanks for the lovely pics. Can you mail them to me on dushmish@hotmail please?

Also Rajeev, please share the link of your travelogue.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 11:04   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dushmish View Post
Thanks for the lovely pics. Can you mail them to me on dushmish@hotmail please?

Also Rajeev, please share the link of your travelogue.
Sure buddy, I will send you the pics:

Here is the log, unfortunately I am bit slow on T-BHP because of photo upload issue :
Saying JULAY Bachelor style - Leh 2009 - India Travel Forum, BCMTouring.com

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...eh-2009-a.html (Saying JULAY Bachelor style - Leh 2009)
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Old 4th October 2009, 09:46   #50
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Default 3 Passes in 9 Hours

We reached Leh in the evening. Enroute we were delayed by three hours as the BRO people had blocked the road 20 km after Limayru, for blasting. We saw 4 explosions in a deep valley. We were not more than 200 meters from the explosions. Saw such a thing for the first time in my life. Have posted a picture of it. There is a video that I shall be posting later.

Next morning we went around Leh - the palace, Shey and Thakse Monasteries, Sindhu Darshan, Ladakh Festival. Slept early. I had a million butterflies in my stomach as I slept. We were to drive to Khardung La the next morning. It was a dream for me. Will Iceberg be able to do it? Will I be able to drive to the place? Lets see.

It was a lovely morning. Started early at 6:00 AM. We reached South Pullu by 6:45. It was cold. Iceberg's temperature meter was showing 0 degrees. This is a fun feature to have. It increases the thrill on knowing the outside temp. We were the first ones to reach here. Had to wait for 45 minutes. It started snowing. We were experiencing snowfall for the first time in life. So many firsts. Amazing trip it had been.

We had chance meeting with Rkbharat (aka Rajeev), Rohit from Delhi, while getting the permits. Also met Rohit Bhogle and partner from Pune. It was nice to meet fellow BHPians. I had never imagined that an online community can be so close knit. They were very helpful. Rajeev had been to Leh earlier. Many thanks Rajeev. Also thanks to Ramkya1 for the wonderful maps that he has made and shared with all.

Back to South Pullu. We were signaled to move. Iceberg rolled up. Rolled up? Nah, skidded up. Remember, it was snowing. With every kilometer that we covered, the layer of snow thickened. All my driving skills were put to test. It was so scary, everytime Iceberg skidded facing the gorge.

Engine was revving at 4500 rpm and the tyres were happily going round at the same place. Just when I thought, we will not be able to make it, we crossed an almost impossible steep climb to turn right and saw the board - Welcome to the highest motorable road in the world! We made it!

It was -4 C outside. Rajeev and Rohit were also there. No a soul except us. The armymen were all cozy in their heated huts. We had a quick photo session. 50 seconds is all we stayed there. The winds were so strong that a 5 year old would fall.

Mama took to driving on our way down. It was an amazing feeling to have driven past Khardungla. We drove to Diskit, Hunder and back to Diskit. decided to reach Thangtse for the night halt. The drive from Khalsar to Wari La was the most challenging one, mentally. Not a soul on the road or around. The road was tough too. By 4 pm we were on top of Wari La.

Got down to Sakti. Took a detour to Karu to get diesel. Moved on to Chang La. This was easiest of all passes. 6 in the evening we were atop Chang La. Three of the world's 4 highest passes in 9 hours! Drove onwards to Thangtse. Stayed at a lovely guesthouse - Chang La.

Morning was cold. Started at 6:30 for Pangong Tso. The drive was nice. Not a soul around. Pagal Nullah was not so bad as we had expected to be. The first sight of Pangong Tso was mesmerising. Unbelievable. It is beyond words. Check out the pics. Got friendly with an armyman. Requested for a boat ride. He agreed. Wow! To be in a motorboat on Pangong Tso.

Started back. Saw the milestone right at the edge of the lake - Delhi 1200 km. Decided, lets head for it. Lunch at Leh and Dinner at Drass. The drive back was smooth. Some amazing high speed driving by my mama. He is a damn good driver. VERY SAFE. I learnt a lot from him, as always.

From Drass to Shrinagar was another breeze. A quick break and we saw Chashme Shahi, Shalimar Garden. Onwards to Jammu. Wazwan for dinner. Hit the highway early morning. By 9 in the night we were at Jaipur. I stayed there for two day with my parents. Got the car washed. Air filter cleaned. Drove to Mumbai in 16 hours. A cruise it was.

What a trip! We are all set to do the Spiti Loop next year.
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Old 4th October 2009, 17:26   #51
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Wonderful pics dushmish, the dirt filled Dzire pics takes the cake.

Looks like Dzire came out in flying colours when tested into extreme driving conditions. isnt it?

Abhi
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Old 4th October 2009, 18:12   #52
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dushmish, this is a superb travelogue indeed! Being a DZire owner myself, I'm keenly following your journey. It's amazing to hear what this car is capable of .Do post your driving experiences with the DZire in the mountaineous terrain. Happy motoring!
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Old 4th October 2009, 19:52   #53
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Dushmish, Thanks for sharing a great travel experience and some unique pictures.
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Old 4th October 2009, 23:12   #54
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Thanks Kite Runner, AKRoy and Pearl Jam for the encouragement!

Dzire was a dream to drive on the mountain roads. It was very responsive - in steering, braking and accelaration. Except when we had to start from zero, uphill on a rocky terrain. The turbo lag needed to be managed. It was more about driving skills than the car.

Did a 600 km trip last week. Got a mileage of 20 kmpl. Getting it serviced this week. Starting on a trip to Rajasthan on 10th Oct. Planning to do 4000 km of driving. It is addictive.

Some more pics from the mountains.
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Old 5th October 2009, 16:38   #55
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wow dushmish, congratulations on your successful trip.Dzire came out flying colours in those terrain and yes as you said its all about driving skills then vehicle.Lovely pictures.Any problem encountered with iceberg, or anything needed to repaired during trip, after returning, and overall mileage you obtained during trip.
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Old 5th October 2009, 17:00   #56
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Unbelievable photos. absolutly scary terrain and a fantastic experience. kudos to you your mama and the iceberg.
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Old 5th October 2009, 19:11   #57
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Amazing buddy, what an experience! Cheers to your journey.
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Old 5th October 2009, 19:28   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
Wonderful pics dushmish, the dirt filled Dzire pics takes the cake.

Looks like Dzire came out in flying colours when tested into extreme driving conditions. isnt it?

Abhi
Haa, sleeping on the snowed out K-la road, inside Dezire, knock knock I did, and we were shaking hands second time

I was amazed to see there Dzire crossing the snowed out curves before Khardungla, more comfortably than Scorpios.

Last edited by rkbharat : 5th October 2009 at 19:29.
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Old 5th October 2009, 22:01   #59
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Good write-up and pics dude. Hope you enjoyed the trip!. How many Kms in total?
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Old 5th October 2009, 23:23   #60
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what, you guys just left back from where we shaked hands at chang-la. Amzing ride buddy, but honestly you missed the Manali-Leh. It was as good as Leh Srinagar, except Rohtang pass. Not a single water crossing.

BTW regarding that Spiti Loop, how about doing it in March end, with full of snow.

You must be very comfortable driving on snow by now
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