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Old 1st October 2009, 08:19   #316
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post

After that it was around 8:40 we were in Leh, exactly 5 hours since we had started from Tso Moriri. Earlier than expected!
So far so good.
But the lousy food at Korzok had left us hungry, and so it was time to find a place to eat. We decided to steer clear from the expensive places, and search the bylanes on foot.
Actually, in the market place, near yaktail lodge, there is a super tibetian vegeterian place (named after a sherpa i think, i forgot the name, will dig it up) and that food was the best that i ever had during the trip. And the prices were very very reasonable. In fact, very cheap considering what other places were charging.
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Old 1st October 2009, 11:09   #317
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Default The second last night, and Last day in Leh

As I had mentioned earlier, a big troupe from WB had come to the hotel.
Apparently when they got to know we were out for few days, they demanded that they be given our room for that duration.
Since they were leaving tomorrow morning, no issues thought the hotel owner. But we came back one day early.
No issues for us also, one night only, tomorrow morning most of them will leave.

Moreover they seemed to be in an exceptionally grumpy mood.
I asked Sunny, and he told me it had rained 18 hours non stop in leh, and the passes(Chang La and KhardungLa) got snowed out.
So most of the troupe were returning back without seeing Pangong Tso or K-Top. Only 5 retired gentleman had extra time and they had postponed their air tickets.
Thats why so much tension in Air.
Well its understandable, you come so far, and end up seeing just Leh city, which actually has nothing to see!

Anyways we lazed around, and then slept, with intent of not waking up before 11am!

But out of habit, the waking up was early, and we decided that since Leh festival only had stuff like some traditional dances etc., no point braving the crowds.
It had rained in the night, so we thought why not catch snow at K-Top?

So up and ready I first decided to click a few hotel pics.

For 600 a night, this place was actually a steal I will say!
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After that it was time for a drive upto Khardungla!
And boy, what a shock we were in for.
Today being the first day of Leh festival, YHAI had flagged off a bike and cycle expedition to K.Top.
Most of the bikes were KA/AP with some MH being thrown in, and from their driving, it seemed it was their first hill driving trip for many of them.
So imagine, a very scared biker, climbing slowly in the middle of the road.
Infact while giving way, few of them went to the right side of the road, since left side was the drop down.
One almost got creamed by an oncoming taxi, as he was driving on the right side of the road around a blind hairpin because he was scared of heights I think?

So the motto was go slow slow.
The cyclists were no better. You see many foreigners who cycle up Khardung La, but they are like professionals, and they know what they are doing.
But these guys, most of them were panting, and stopping in the middle of the road to take rest!
Now when you climb up a steep incline, if you stop, you have to burn clutch to restart.
We were slow, so no issues, but the taxi guys were literally honking them off the road.
Pretty stupid of YHAI, taking people to the narrow road to K.Top without asking the basic question "Have you ever driven in the hills before?".

Some exceptionally intelligent samples thought its some college party and were driving parallel to each other chatting. Imagine if a car or truck is coming down from opposite side!

But thankfully without any incident, we were at K top around quarter to two.
Unfortunately, not much snow up there
The climb had been a big waste of time I guess, we could instead have made a day trip to P.Tso? Well maybe not.

Anyways, a few pics

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Far down below, the Leh city
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After the same torturous climb down, dodging a million bikers and cyclists, we were in Leh.
First we decided to eat, same Dogra Dhaba! Finally cheap good Rajma Chawal.
Next what?

We decided to check out Hall of Fame on Anups recommendation.
Now no interior pics allowed, so I have just external pics.

But to give you an idea, this is the Army museum.
Various wars in Ladakh, dating from the Dogra Assault by Zorawar singh in late 1800s are showcased here.
There is also historical info about first airfield, the BRO and like.

Most interesting is the Siachin room. If you were grumbling about how expensive your nike sneakers are when they cost only 200rs to make in china, wait till you see how much the army pays for snow boots.
Tell you what, this room is the untimate showcase of how your and my hard earned money is wasted and contractors are given astronomical sums for silly stuff, better quality of which can be bought in Europe at 1/10th the price.

There is a joke prevalent in the west, about how contractors make money of defence contracts. They will sell the hardware for cheap, and then sell things like nails, hammers etc., for 100$-500$ a piece. So if you want to see how defense contractors make money, go visit this room.

If you thought that Toyota Land cruiser at 80 lakhs is expensive, wait till you see how much does our army pay for an ATV which is open from all sides, just has a tubular frame.
Any guesses? 1.25 crores! Yay

anyways, here are the pics.
There is a memorial for the brave soldier
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This is the most humbling part. Every battle you read about reminds you again and again, how the state has failed the brave soldier, and all he does is die here. Basic necessities become luxuries, and soldiers have to make do with very basic equipment and clothes. The irony is that the money spent on them if properly spent can given them the best equipment in the world...

Hall of fame done, we decided to go to Polo ground to see polo players, again 30 minutes wasted for nothing
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But no issues, we had a whole day to kill.

So what to do for late evening?
Well go to Shanti Stupa!

I wanted some Leh night shots, glad they came out decent

The only problem was clouds, otherwise, a star lit sky would have looked much better!
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The stupa
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More Leh
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A slightly longer exposure, thats why the city has blown highlights
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After that it was time to go back to our hotel, get nice sleep.

Tomorrow we go to Kargil, without crossing Fotu La, or loops,
But unknown to us, the trip would be far more adventurous than we bargained for!

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Old 1st October 2009, 14:44   #318
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Default To Dha!

Today was September 3rd, and today is the day we say goodbye to Leh.
We had to get to Kargil.
Normally this route goes through Fotu la and the loops, but we were not going that way.
We would branch off near Lamayuru, and head on the narrow road to Dha.
Dha is an Aryan village, and is known for its Aryan Inhabitants. There are few other villages also, but Dha and Hanu are the most famous.

It is said that the villagers have preserved their Aryan heritage over centuries, and their features are distinctly anglo India.

So we started on our journey, albeit a little later than usual, and around 10:30am we were filling up the white elephant on the outskirts of Leh.
The FE we got was 10.21 .The good road sections on Hanle circuit were probably responsible for offsetting all that off road driving.

Like the past few days, today morning also the weather gods were generous in their pourings, and on the smooth highway, we raced to Lamayuru.

Met a log of YHAI bikers on the way, who were braving the rain, and many of them could be seen driving parallel to each other. Some times there were 3 bikers going parallel, occupying more space than a truck.

We managed hardly any shots on the way to Lamayuru, thanks to the rain

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Finally at Lamayuru, the road degraded, but thankfully, we would leave the main highway after showing our permits for Dha.

The road to Dha was pretty decent. Smoothly tarred, but narrow, with rare potholed stretches.
Due to the narrow road, we had a tough time whenever an army convoy would come, but finally, around 2:20pm we came to a bridge, with lots of soldiers and guns.
Showed them Dha permits, and they told us to park before the bridge, and walk up the trail.

Well so far so good. But slight problem. Its raining still, and the trail looks very tough.
Camera packed in bag, we start trekking up the rocks. There is a torrential river going right next to us, and its a very very scary trek. Infact I doubt we have trekked on such a trail ever.

The river is on full blast, thanks to 3 days of incessant rain, and we both have our hearts in our mouths. Its no trekking its mountain climbing!
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Soon our path is blocked by lots of bushes. There is no way to go forward.
Time to turn back, and slowly slipping and falling we manage to reach the bottom in once piece.
Again asked the army chap, who is grinning, seeing our predictament.

"Raasta wahin se hai" says he.
We have to go through the bushes.

There is no trail, but lots of bushes.
We again attempt the climb, and somehow crawling like reptiles, we manage to cross the bushes.
Its wet, its cold, and its raining.

Soon we see a mountain wall in front of us.
Time to climb.
But its slippery.
It takes us almost an hour and we are not going forward, just slipping down, and once I almost tumbled into the raging torrents.
This will be no go.

We try try again, but its a vertical mountain wall, and neither of us is even remotely related to Edmund Hillary.
We have to turn back.

Slowly and slowly, we crawl back. Going down is more difficult, and the rain does not let up,
However we reach the bushes in once piece, and then we see a villager coming down.
He is flying on the rocks with a grace which would put Legolas to shame.

"Pathar gir raha hai" jaldi karo is his cry as he runs.
Well we aint running down.

I would take Girte Pathar anyday to the raging torrent of a river.

Finally, praying and slipping, we reach the bottom, and the villager is waiting.
We ask him where is Dha and he laughs

"Army walon ko kuch nahin pata, sab tourist ko yahan se bhejte hain, aur ek do hi pahunchte hain".

Army goes do not know anything, send tourists from here and hardly anybody reaches.

He tells us to drive back 2 kms to the doordarshan board, and walk up the stairs to Dha village.

Well its that simple eh?

We have wasted more than an hour trying to do mountain climbing in rain. thankfully the canon bag is waterproof.

Little before 4pm we reach the Dha village. Its a 15 minute walk trail, full of lush greenery, but its still raining.

At the village, its seems nobody is around. Finally I see an old lady. She is wearing lots of feathers, and is going into a building which has a freshly dead goats head on the door.
The lady also seems to be wearing lots of bones, and feathers and what not.
I am too scared to click her picture. This is no Aryan village, this seems to be the land of Saruman, and she looks like his chief sorceress.

Thankfully other villagers materialize, and yes, they do look different from Ladakh people.
The features are distinctly anglo Indian

Thanks to the rains, very few pics
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Moreover there are very few villagers.
But the experience has been great. Nestled in the middle of nowhere, a little village with a culture so different!

And their local farming!

Just take a look at the greenery!
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Rain played real spoilsport here. I would have wanted to take more pictures. But due to time wasted at the river, and heavy rain, few pictures

More pictures of the scenery
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The trail which we walked
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Where we parked our car
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Due to so much time wasted, we could not spend more time here, we had to reach Kargil.

It was finally around 4:30 when we made our start from dha!

Our route till now
5000kms and 12 Passes, a 20 day wild wild ride to the roof of the world!-dha.jpg

Last edited by tsk1979 : 1st October 2009 at 14:48.
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Old 1st October 2009, 20:03   #319
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Hey Tanveer, I so much hooked up on this thread that I havent replied to any of the emails (piling up now) for the past two days.Great Photophgraphy, Nice Writing makes for a very interesting read!! I loved the Rainbow snaps the most.

This thread has insipired me so much so that I am contemplating a trip for myself, don't know how far I will make it with my Swift/Santro!! Or else I think I should start saving for the Fortuner righaway
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Old 1st October 2009, 22:31   #320
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Originally Posted by gaganharsh View Post
Hey Tanveer, I so much hooked up on this thread that I havent replied to any of the emails (piling up now) for the past two days.Great Photophgraphy, Nice Writing makes for a very interesting read!! I loved the Rainbow snaps the most.

This thread has insipired me so much so that I am contemplating a trip for myself, don't know how far I will make it with my Swift/Santro!! Or else I think I should start saving for the Fortuner righaway
Glad you liked it Gagan.
Do not worry, your swift will go to most of the places, so get planning! Take srinagar route, its less taxing on your car!

BTW, tomorrow is a national holiday, so no updates tomorrow
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Old 2nd October 2009, 10:48   #321
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Not fair at all !!!, you are going to make us sweat it out for more than 24 hours for the next installment

We all are mesmerized - this is truly a masterpiece
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Old 2nd October 2009, 17:30   #322
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Tanveer i restrained myself to post at your travelogue until today, but today i could not hold it more so i had to post and say that please do not make us wait for such a long time leaving us in the middle of Dha & Kargil.

Tanveer liked the pictures and the travelogue a lot, by seeing your travelogue you are tempting me to visit those place and you bet The King is raring to visit those places in the coming year.

Now please do not stop your travelogue anymore and complete it before Diwali or man the crackers will start blasting in your thread itself.

I feel happy for you & your wife that you both have started reclaiming your life along with the White Elephant.

Enjoy and keep exploring more and more places.

Last edited by gowda79 : 2nd October 2009 at 17:32.
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Old 3rd October 2009, 00:33   #323
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Tanveer, just like a good wine gets better with years, your thread just keeps getting more and more amazing with every passing day! This has to be one of the top three travelogues of TBHP, if at all not the top one. Btw, I'd also suggest you to talk to some good publisher (maybe ask him to go through this thread) and bring out a coffee-table book with pics and text! Even if you price it at Rs. 5000 for a copy, it'll sell like hot cakes!!
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Old 3rd October 2009, 12:35   #324
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Sorry, TSK , went for a small weekend getaway and coming back i had what i wanted loads of pages to read through. Now i have to wait for the next posting, well as usual wonderful pictures and spirited narrations.
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Old 3rd October 2009, 13:59   #325
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Excellent Photos and wow!! an Aryan Village. You can find it all in India

And a Public Holiday for the thread? More like you have taken out the White Elephant for a drive
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Old 3rd October 2009, 17:48   #326
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Excellent Travelogue !!
I also wanted to drive to Leh, but living in Pune is a big hassle, as I just cant justify taking 4 more days off from work just to do Pune-Delhi-Pune stretch.

Seems like you post travelogues only from work place, since there are no updates on national holidays
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Old 3rd October 2009, 20:50   #327
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Simply Superb!!! Nothing else to say
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Old 4th October 2009, 20:54   #328
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Thanks for your comments guys. I had a busy long weekend. Thats why the long hiatus. I will try and drive from Dha to Kargil tonight, or do it tomorrow morning!
From there we will go on the Padum road(if you can call it that), and then we will see Kashmir, i.e. proper kashmir, not pass through
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Old 5th October 2009, 10:32   #329
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Default 21 Guns.. To Kargil

If you were to ask me, what was one of the scariest drives of my lives? I would say Dha Kargil.
The road was good, there were few bad stretches, no water crossings.
So why was it scary?
Well guns, lots of guns, everywhere.
After Dha comes the Batailik sector, and our first brush with "Guns" was at the bridge itself, from where we had attempted to climb to Dha.
At the checkpost, the army guy wanted a permit for Kargil.
Only when I looked at him funny, and told him in clear words that I have Dha permits, he let us go.
The ordeal did not end here.
Every now and then there would be a checkpost with 2 army men.
One would ask questions, and the other would keep his very big rifle pointed right at you. This experience was very much unlike Ladakh, where you show a permit to a sleepy guy, and he waves you through.
As we neared Batailik sector the guns became more numerous. It was not a tourist zone, it was a war zone.
Near the diversion to Batailik, I asked the army guys if we could visit the war memorial. No came the answer. Only Kargil DC can issue permission, and only after that permission we can visit that war memorial.
Well so no Batailik.
After that the climb starts. The climb to Hamboting La, the 11th pass of our journey.

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Its barren and the clouds put a dark hue on the landscape
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Sun is about to set, and fear factor also increases.
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Its time to literally race to kargil. We have not spotted a single vehicle, just lots of guns.
As the road snakes up, I push the white elephant to the max, engine howling near 3000rpm, and tires screaming on every hairpin. Have to get to Kargil before nightfall. This side of ladakh is creepy!

Finally we reach Hamboting La. but there are no prayer flags. There are no spirit motels. There is no temple or shrine to some Hamboting Baba(if there is one that is).
Only there are bunkers, lot of them. Forget photography at the la, its time to run. Kargil is near, and it looks like a war zone from here.
Finally, as the sun breaks out on the peaks, we spot a town way down below.
We are almost at Kargil, and we can take a breather.
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Finally, nerves relaxed, we enter the town of Kargil around 7pm and after getting lost a bit, we finally reach the "upper" JKTDC, but the ordeal is not yet over.

TO BE CONT.........
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Old 5th October 2009, 10:44   #330
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Default Paradise City....

Take me down to the Paradise city
Where the Grass is green and the Girls are pretty -

Croons a very charged up Axl Rose as we climb the hill road to JKTDC.
But the Grass is not green here, infact there is no grass, and no girls either.
There are just hostile scares, and a town that looks as if its in a curfew. The shops are closed, its dark and gloomy.

At the rest house, the caretaker tells us that the incharge has gone to lower JKTDC, and we need to go there.

So again, we drive around, and reach the other JKTDC, which is a dump. There is nobody here, no a soul to be seen.

A quick call to Suman, and he directs us towards Caravan Sarai.
After a very longish climb up the same hill road which goes to JKTDC, and further, we are at Caravan Sarai.
The manager is asking 1500 for a smelly room with a dirty bathroom. There is nobody staying here, and my wife does not get a good feeling from a place. From all these years of travelling in all the nooks of this country, I have learnt one thing, never ever ignore a woman's intution.
This will not do. Moreover 1500 is squarely out of our budget, infact twice our budget.
So again we drive down towards JKTDC, and thankfully the officer from JK Tourism is there.
But as luck would have it, YHAI rally has arrived here, and their officials have booked all the rooms.
We would have to go elsewhere.
We tell him the we did not like Caravan Sarai, and it was too expensive for what it offers.
He then calls up a hotel called PC chachas, and we go there, in the main market.
After some haggling we get a decent room for 950rs(again above our budget), but beggars cannot be chosers.
Car parking is a pain, so somehow we arrange the car, and its time to start looking for food.
Most hotels are closed due to Ramzan, and we find one guy selling kababs on the roadside.
What do do now?
Hog here, and then eat some light stuff at restaurant "Las Vegas".

There also the service is bad, everybody is giving weird hostile looks. Man, this place can give you the creeps any day.

But we have no choice, and therefore, its around 11 we retire for the night.
Tomorrow we have a 240kms journey ahead of us, to Padum.
The road is very bad and from local info it seems, it will take atleast 10 hours to do those 240kms.

But for now its Good night.....

TO BE CONT...........
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