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Old 8th October 2009, 12:10   #361
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Originally Posted by smsrini View Post
I almost shed a tear, reading about those brave warriors!

I dont know if I will ever visit this region or this memorial, so thru your travelouge, I salute their brave spirit and their sacrifice.

Jai Hind.

Srini
Absolutely, this was really emotional and feeling of pride what our brothers doing at the border. Each and every soldiers having Lion's Heart. We salute them. One of my best friend who left luxury IT job (luxury salary, luxury environment) and joined Army through SSC and he was posted in all these extreme areas for 2.5 years. Where there is no electricity no phone and nothing is there only soldiers. Yet he always tell the story with pride and big smile "Those 2.5 years of my posting in these extreme areas for discharging my duty was wonderful years of my life. I would like to go again and again". I say nothing just my respect to my friend increases many times.

tsk, If you have more pics of these war memorial do post.

Thanks for posting.

Last edited by anujmishra : 8th October 2009 at 12:12.
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Old 8th October 2009, 12:13   #362
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anuj, I did not take many pics inside. At places like these, you don't really have much heart to take pics!
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Old 8th October 2009, 12:31   #363
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Default To ... Kashmir!

The Valley! Thats what it is called. To be frank before the trip I had decided we will not come back via this route.
We had originally planned to go to Padum, and go back via the manali Leh highway itself due to security concerns and like.
But lot of people, like Anup, Hitanshu etc., told me do not miss this opportunity. Its once in a lifetime thing.

Due to more time spent in Changthang, we were little short of time too, and this fully tipped the scales towards a Kashmir return.
After the Padum fiasco, we had 2 more days, and therefore we were going to Kashmir. Not just pass through Kashmir, but really savour Kashmir.

So little before 2 PM, we began the journey to Zozi La pass. Since Kashmir was never planned, I did not have the maps in my GPS, so this leg of the journey will have to be done without GPS.

However, we were not daunted. Roads in Kashmir are well marked, and well paved.

And so was the Road to Zozi la, well initially. Twisty tarmac, well paved, and a delight to drive.
The scenery was same Bleak Ladakh moonscape, but we knew all this will change after the pass, when the valley starts
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The road
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More road
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The dirty white elephant. the rains meant lot of clay like red mud on roads, and now she was thoroughly dirty. A lot of people ask me whether I get down and clean her now and then? Well no. Its the angle and light and the color which hides dirt. However with so much mud, no color can hide the dirt!
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An mountain ink blot test for you. What does this thing remind you off?
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A glacier
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I was told by people of the one way thing, and when we reached the checkpost before the pass, the police waved us forward after taking down things like vehicle details etc., Looks like we were lucky!

On the way there was a small waterfall also and I backed up the safari into it to wash the rear. It was so dirty that I could not see anything through the rear mirror

And then... The roads vanished, and we knew we were close to the pass.
There was some road work going on, and the track was with ruts on both sides with raised center hump. Due to rain there was lot of slush too.

And soon we were at Zoji La. The 12th pass of the journey. there were no prayer flags or colorful stuff to welcome us. Infact I barely noticed when the pass passed.

However when you enter Kashmir, you do not need a signboard or prayer flag to tell you you are in Kashmir.

You can tell from the green. There is no brown only green.
However I did not even notice the green

So how did I know we had crossed the Zozi La.
Well first of all Guns.
Lots of guns.
Two soldiers, with bullet proof vests standing guard with automatic vehicles every few hundred meter.
We had entered Firdaus, and Guarding the pearly gates were hundreds of soldiers, with lots of guns.

Also waiting were hundreds of trucks, for the one way to get the other way. We were very lucky that we did not have to wait!

Small mercies eh?

The road down the pass was even worse, but somehow we managed, and then everything changed.
The truck line ended, and we were in green. It was drizzling and cloudy, and instead of the red/blue/white/brown bare mountains, all we saw was green all around.
Green deodars, green grass, horses.

IT was around 4pm when we parked into the courtyard of JKTDC Sonmarg, and found ourself a room

The evening was wet and young... And we would go exploring after a cup of nice tea and snacks at JKTDC

A new chapter in the journey had started. We were where we never imagined us to be, in Kashmir!

In Sonmarg!

TO BE CONT................
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Old 8th October 2009, 13:00   #364
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
I was told by people of the one way thing, and when we reached the checkpost before the pass, the police waved us forward after taking down things like vehicle details etc., Looks like we were lucky!
You're definitely lucky mate! Once those trucks start the ascent, it becomes such a slow progress. Many of them face the problem of traction climbing the steep incline. It'd taken us ~3 hours to descend from Zoji La and had to do it in dark, which was real scary considering the huge water filled craters en route. My sedan literally flew out of 2 of those.

On the other hand, we never saw any police anywhere during climbing/descending the pass.

BTW, which road from the fork you took, the one going down or up?

And your expression of our soldier brothers & their sacrifices is truly heartwarming. Kinda tough to prevent eyes from watering thinking about those selfless, courageous martyrs.

Last edited by lordofgondor : 8th October 2009 at 13:07.
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Old 8th October 2009, 13:05   #365
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Are there 2 roads? I did not notice any forks. It was all empty road, and we kept on driving
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Old 8th October 2009, 13:06   #366
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I see at least 30 great composition/shots in this whole thread. Super job!

Also some of them could be even better just by using (just murmuring..) lens hoods.
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Old 8th October 2009, 13:12   #367
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There are 705 pics in this thread You found 30 good ones only
So my score is little over 5%
As for lens hood, I need to find one which does not vignette when attahed to a polarizer!
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Old 8th October 2009, 13:18   #368
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Are there 2 roads? I did not notice any forks. It was all empty road, and we kept on driving
Yup, there was a fork with 2 roads, one downhill and the other uphill. This was a few Km after the pass. There was a huge boulder just before the fork.

The truckers use the uphill road to get to Sonmarg, that's what we're told by one of them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
I see at least 30 great composition/shots in this whole thread. Super job!

Also some of them could be even better just by using (just murmuring..) lens hoods.
Mods, please pardon if I am going !

Rudraji, I have coupla questions regarding the use of lens hood. How do you use the CPL once the hood in on? And won't they cause vignetting when going wide-angle?
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Old 8th October 2009, 13:23   #369
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
There are 705 pics in this thread You found 30 good ones only
When I said good, I meant potential to work on shadow/mid tones/high lights properly. All your shots are good except one (defective if I may say) which has shake.

From my 750 shots if I can manage 30 good one.. I'll be really happy.

As far as scoring is concern you've already scored a serious number.
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Old 8th October 2009, 13:29   #370
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
So how did I know we had crossed the Zozi La.
Well first of all Guns.
Lots of guns.
Two soldiers, with bullet proof vests standing guard with automatic vehicles every few hundred meter.
Wow, sounds like you saw a lot of action! We didn't even figure out that we had crossed till we saw the BRO boards......
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Old 8th October 2009, 13:30   #371
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Default Sonmarg - Evening

It was around 5 that we set out to explore the meadows and glacier area
There is a checkpost saying "no vehicles" but they allowed us through, and later we had to pay 50rs entry fee at another checkpost.
We learnt that at all tourist places in JK you pay 50rs/entry

But without much ado, I will post the first pic of "green"
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At the glacier parking we were attacked by hundreds of horse/A$s drivers. Everyone wanted us to ride their beasts to the glacier.
First of all, with my bad back, it was a no go, and secondly, to me animals are for 2 reasons.
Poultry, Beef etc., for food or drink and others for wildlife shooting. No riding animals for me!
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These guys kept hounding us as we started climbing. Later we would experience this problem everywhere. But if they were stubborn, we were even more stubborn.
It was raining, but still we will do it on food.
So pardon the less number of pics. I had to keep wiping the camera due to rain
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What you see in these pics upwards is the Sonmarg Glacier. In June its truly magnificent, but now its was a sorry excuse of a glacier.
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The light was not really pic friendly, and the rain did not help either. A view downriver
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The path to the glacier. We did not actually go all the way. It was raining very much
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Near the bridge on the river
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The river looked appealing for tripod and ND filter, inspite of the rain
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As the clouds became darker, it was time to start walking down. The camera had survived drizzles, but torrential rain, I had my doubts, This was no K20D, this was the humble 350D, not weather sealed by any standards
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For river shooting, we decided to go below the parking lot to the bridge, and saw hell in paradise
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No its not the tourists littering. This is the Dhaba stall owners at the parking lot who put all their dump at this place below the bridge. Its like the local mountain garbage dump, probably one of the most scenic garbage dumps in the world. You can sure ban plastic, but can you ban Kurkure..? Or Maggi noodles?

It was over this bridge, and pointed away from the dump that I set up the cam. The light was very bad, but still, I managed a couple of shots.
I took quite a few more, but due to rain on the lens they were ruined.
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After loitering around some more, we decided to exit the glacier area, go back to main road, and hit the river for some photography before it became too dark to do anything

There were couple of tracks leading down, and then the tracks ended, and it became a rocky slope. Well 4x4 time

On low ratio I slowly crawled down, and mentally made note of the path we would follow up after it darkened more.
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To give the white elephant company, there were lots of sweaters
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Tell you what, its fun being in a herd of sheep, and as you try to catch them, they run here and there. The sheperds were pretty amused by our antics. and I tried some sheep sounds. To my delight, after every call I got answer back, and soon they accepted me as one of their kind

See how blissfull they are after accepting me as a sheep only
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The white elephant, watching over
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Since it was getting dark, time to head back
But not before a couple of car pics. I tried two angles, and both shots came out decent I think
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So what next?
Food of course. Luckily, here there was not much problem, and we had an early dinner. Our last meal had been a very late breakfast, and we were hungry.

We went back to our hotel, and decided to just chill out and relax. The staff was very friendly, and so were the locals. Sonmarg seemed like a swell place.
A place you want to keep coming back to!

Our Kashmir leg had started on a very positive note.. Yay

TO BE CONT.................
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Old 8th October 2009, 13:32   #372
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Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
When I said good, I meant potential to work on shadow/mid tones/high lights properly. All your shots are good except one (defective if I may say) which has shake.

From my 750 shots if I can manage 30 good one.. I'll be really happy.

As far as scoring is concern you've already scored a serious number.
Thanks! And let me know which ones. I will send you the RAW files. I am totally clueless when it comes to PP. Infact after you see the Kashmir leg, you will see how badly I suck at this stuff!

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Wow, sounds like you saw a lot of action! We didn't even figure out that we had crossed till we saw the BRO boards......
I think we came here around the time when the Lal Chowk attack happened. Security was beefed up, and literally, it was all guns and roses!
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Old 8th October 2009, 13:42   #373
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Wonderful Tanveer , I am reading this epic travelogue of yours since day 1. Posting comment only when it is coming towards conclusion.

I have fond memories of visiting Sonmarg in my early childhood , There was a spot at that time some distance from Sonmarg from where guide pointed towards POK. visible down in a Vally may be after the war things might have changed.
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Old 8th October 2009, 13:58   #374
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Thanks amit
Actually one JKTDC official told us that JK tourism is developing a valley close to PoK(forgot the name, sorry). Apparently, this will give Sonmarg, Gulmarg, and Pahalgam a run for their money. According to him, this is the most beautiful place in the valley, and in couple of years will be open to tourists once the infrastructure is in place.
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Old 8th October 2009, 14:49   #375
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Thanks amit
Actually one JKTDC official told us that JK tourism is developing a valley close to PoK(forgot the name, sorry). Apparently, this will give Sonmarg, Gulmarg, and Pahalgam a run for their money. According to him, this is the most beautiful place in the valley, and in couple of years will be open to tourists once the infrastructure is in place.
There is also a place where Farooq Abdullah is building a 18 hole golf course supposed to be one of the best in the world
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