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Old 3rd October 2009, 20:21   #136
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
deky, quite heartening to see that there is still some snow left in these times of the frightening climate change syndrome. But I guess there could have been more snow when we went since there had been fresh snowfall the week before we travelled to the region.

Tell us more of your trip - must have been fantastic, given that Ladakh itself was little-known and am sure the Suru/Zanskar Valleys must have been obscure places even in the district administrative maps!
Sir, my dad was posted in Kargil and we could only visit him 2 months in a year. This 5 day long trek was organised by the army for the kids on holiday there. Ofcourse we had army personnel and a local guide to help us.

Apart from the trek in Zanskar, we also visited Dras, K-Top & beyond, Most of the monastries around and the Aryan Village. I dont remeber seeing any tar roads anywhere except in Leh City.

Also I dont remember much of the places we visited so every time I see a travelogue on Leh its like a flash back and I start scanning through my old photographs and try to reconstruct.

But there are 2 incidences that have been etched in my memory for ever.

1. Going to the LOC and receiving a bowl of brilliant Biryani from the other side.

2. There was a snow cutter clearing a snow slide and my sis and I decided to have a snow shower, with in seconds my sis was buried till neck in the snow. It took us more than 30 mnts to dig her out, luckily no frost bites or anything.


In Kargil we used to get up early every morning to see if the Nun Kun Peaks had recieved fresh snow fall or no, days were spent playing Video Games, Afternoons were spent horse riding and evenings were spent playing hockey with the Army Jawans.

So much about my trip, I have some scanned photos that I will put in the end of your travelogue if you allow me to do so, till then please continue with your trip log as I am re-living and enjoying every moment of it.

And congrats on successfully completing this beautiful journey.
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Old 3rd October 2009, 22:30   #137
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deky, Ladakh was truly the unknown frontier those days!

We saw some brilliant views of the Nun & Kun peaks during our Kargil-Padum run.
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Old 4th October 2009, 01:27   #138
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Originally Posted by laluks View Post
Day 5, September 16th, 2009 Continued

Pajero asking us, "Diesel Mila Kya"
Attachment 201877

Continued...
Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
Day 5, September 16th, 2009 Continued.

HVK went ahead fast so as to find any places to get Diesel, and we trailed behind slowly.

Glenn coming up from the valley after a diesel fill of 5 litres. Additional 5 litres is still short.
Attachment 202064
Liked the way both snaps being described - Diesel mila kya? and Glen coming up from the valley. It shows how much you guys were worried for the diesel.
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Old 4th October 2009, 08:31   #139
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Lalu, HVK, saji - Guys you made me stuck to this thread. Just read it at one go. Superb. And that Hotel in Ahmd, bring back my memories of my first meet of Ramky and the GQ drive. Thanks.

Go ahead. Waiting for the rest too.
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Old 4th October 2009, 11:21   #140
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Originally Posted by mjothi View Post
Lalu, HVK, saji - Guys you made me stuck to this thread. Just read it at one go. Superb. And that Hotel in Ahmd, bring back my memories of my first meet of Ramky and the GQ drive. Thanks.

Go ahead. Waiting for the rest too.
Thanks Mahesh. We missed you for the trip.
Undertaking the travel was easy. Writing the log seems to be tougher
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Old 4th October 2009, 12:29   #141
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Originally Posted by laluks View Post

Writing the log seems to be tougher
I can just imagine that!!!. I have travelled much but never once penned a travelogue because i am just not the type. I really have to appreciate the patience and perseverance of the likes of you and your ilk that pen these wonderful travelogues for us and for posterity <doffing my hat>.
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Old 4th October 2009, 15:53   #142
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Undertaking the travel was easy. Writing the log seems to be tougher
Again, do you really think its easier then travelling as a co-passenger in chief's car
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Old 4th October 2009, 16:05   #143
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Day 6, September 17th, 2009
Kargil - Mulbek - Namik La - Fotu La -Lamayaru - Khaltse - Nimmu - Magnetic Hill - Leh


After a much deserved good nights sleep in a decent hotel at Kargil, we were ready to roll by 06:30AM. Kargil is around 2500m above sea level as mentioned earlier. Kargil is the second largest town in Ladakh! The destination for the day, Leh is around 3400m above sealevel, and we must pass two passes Namik La around 3800m and Fotu La around 4100m.

Leh is a small touristy town with Hotels, Restaurants, Pizzerias, Internet access, Airport, etc.. Leh is accessible by flights year round. By road the accesibility from Srinagar and Manali depends on when the high passes are closed due to snow. Normally the roads are closed from Mid October to May.

Kargil - Mulbekh

Views from Kargil to Mulbekh
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Some discussion between both the cars.
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The first stop for the day is Mulbekh by 07:45AM. Here is the tiny Chamba Gompa, where there is a 8m high rock cut statue of Maitreya Buddha dating back to AD 700.

Sorry for this angle, that was the only possibility to get him in one frame :(
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One of the very few incidents where you get to find GK. Normally GK has the habit of disappearing at any pit stop - blame it on his passion for high altitude jogging.
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Continued...
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Old 4th October 2009, 16:32   #144
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Day 6, September 17th, 2009 Continued

Mulbekh - Namik La - Fotu La - Lamayuru

Mulbekh to Namik La

Look at the freshly tarred roads - what a luxury!!
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The D&B La
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Some views from Mulbekh to Namik La
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We cross over the Namik La pass by 08:45AM.
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Namik La - Fotu La

Discussion on whether to climb the huge looking sand dunes!!
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Views from Namik La to Fotu La
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The Pajero resting after the F1 run.
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The winding roads between the two passes
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Hey we find GK again
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An hour later we cross over the Fotu La pass by 10:30AM, which is the highest pass on the Srinagar Leh road.

The cars at Fotu La
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Fotu La - Lamayuru
The winding roads from Fotu La till Lamayuru
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Continued ...
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Old 4th October 2009, 16:49   #145
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Day 6, September 17th, 2009 Continued.

Lamayuru

After Fotu La, we reach the beautiful Lamayuru (does it sound a bit like Bengal-uru ? - Lama -uru ?) by 11:00AM. Lamayuru is around 3500m above sealevel.

RoadRunner viewing Lamayuru.
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Glenn and his RoadRunner at Lamayuru. Our RoadRunner is all mucky. He'll get a wash in Leh.
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Lamayuru Gompa is the main attraction here, which dates back to 10th century. Here you can see statues of buddist saints (bodhi satvas), some ancient masks, murals etc. Masked dances are famous here in July.

Some views of the Lamayuru Gompa.
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Just behind the monastery is the Lunar Landscape. It looks spectacular, it is almost unimaginable how among all the dark mountains such a lighter formation exists. There are some geological explanations as well as mythological explanations. According to myth this place was once the bottom of a lake and a Buddhist saint prayed and the water drained away. Geologically presence of a lake was confirmed, drained by a Glacier. The silt of this lake formed into this landscape by the effect of wind and rain.

Some views of the Lunar landscape
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I could gather this information from the nearby hotel.

"The Lamayuru Yungdrung Gompa is remarkably built on a rock. Lamayuru belongs to the Digumpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. The history of the monastery begins with the visit of Arahat Nimagung to this place when there was merely a lake here. It is said Arahat made a prophecy that a monastery will come up at this spot and he made offerings (prayers with grains of corn) to the Naga Serpant Spirits. The corn mixed with the earth and formed in the shape of Swastika (yungdrung), later it came to be known as Yungdrung Monastery. The great translator Rinchen Zangpo constructed a temple here in the 11th century."


We had a brunch break here. The restaurant near the Gompa, seemed to be only interested in foreigners, and when we asked roti and dal - we got some wild looks and a second grade response. Did he expect steaks, pizzas and burgers - well may be?

Just as we left Lamayuru to Leh, we got a glimpse of the Bolero which left the convoy at Udhampur coming towards Lamayuru.


The winding roads that go away from Lamayuru to Leh. By now all winding roads look the same to me. WRS (Winding Road Syndrome )
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Continued...

Last edited by laluks : 4th October 2009 at 16:51.
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Old 4th October 2009, 16:52   #146
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Lalu, excellent pics. Esp the blue sky. They have come out really well. And those windy roads. Super cool pics.

I dont remember seeing such Buddha before. One with 4 hands. Our India is really rich in these. More to be revelaed. Good.
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Old 4th October 2009, 17:13   #147
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MY TAKE ON Day 6, September 17th, 2009
Kargil - Mulbek - Namik La - Fotu La -Lamayaru - Khaltse - Nimmu - Magnetic Hill - Leh, 258 kms


Doc Mandar, Rajiv Menon, Anirudh Basu and Vishal Bakhshi - the 4 Scorpios who had skipped the Zanskar Valley sector - were already in Leh. Raj Singh wanted to sleep a little longer in Kargil, and Glenn and I left Kargil at 630 am for Leh. What a relief it was - refreshed by a fitful night's sleep, full tankloads of diesel and some excellent roads ahead. The BRO has been widening the Kargil-Leh road and for most part it is complete and well-tarred, this also being one of the all-weather roads in the Ladakh region.

My car had taken a beating in the run to Padum and back and the previous day, I had lost a wheel cap and number plate (broke on impact with some stone), and as I sped to Leh, I heard a clink and there was a bit of Leaf Spring No. 3 on the road! The rubber bush and nuts on the LHS of the steering balancing rod had also come off.

Mulbek - the town with the giant Buddha Statue dating back to 1 B.C. - also marks the frontier between Muslim Kashmir and Buddhist Ladakh. Slowly, the masjids with thier unique tin roofs were replaced with prayer flags and chortens and the occasional gompas.

There are 2 passes that we have to cross - the Namik La (12,198 feet) and Fotu la (13,479 feet) - and the road is fringed by some exotic-looking mountain ranges, each one looking different and unique. At this height, the mountain slopes are shorn of any greenery. Dust swirls in the wake of the speeding cars and we pass several army camps. There are petrol pumps at Mulbek and Khaltse.

Descending from Fotu la, we arrive at Lamayuru (11,880 feet), the small town nestling under the shadow of the famous Monastery. This Monastery has some grand thankas and wall paintings, and the top floor affords you a panoramic view of the lunar landscape outside the town. This is surely one of the most unique geological phenomena anywhere in the world, and intriguing how these yellow-white coloured rocks with strange designs on them came to be sandwiched between the black rocky mountains that surround them.

We had lunch at the restaurant (can't remember the name) next to the Monastery. Service was terrible and the guys tried to over-bill us, but food was very good. We left Lamayuru at 1245 pm. And out of the blue comes a familiar Bolero - Anirudh is returning from Leh to check out the prayer flags in Lamayuru!

The one-way road betwen Lamayuru and Khaltse was closed towards Lamayuru, and the twisting roads led down to the bank of the River Indus. The Indus - originates in Tibet, already run 300-500 kms by the time it comes into Ladakh, is the main water source in the Ladakh Valley. At Khaltse, it disappears into POK, but we follow it all the way to Leh. All the rivers in the Ladakh region contribute to it - Dras, Suru, Zanskar, Stod, Shayok. From time to time,the dryness of the terrain is interspersed by the clumps of trees clinging on to the silt on the river banks. In some places, the road dips down low enough to the river bank.

Immediately after Nimmu town (10,682 feet), the River Zanskar joins the River Indus. That is one exciting route to take into the Zanskar Valley - remember, we had traced the Zanskar River to the source near Pensi La a couple of days ago - and that is exactly what the BRO thought too, they are building a brand-new road along the Zanskar River banks to Padum (expected to be completed in 2-3 years time).

For the first time, our speedometers touched 120 kmph as we hit some long straights approaching Leh, the horizon filled with tall snow-clad peaks.

Magnet Hill - 7 kms after Nimmu town, 30 kms before Leh - has a small signboard marking the spot and the strong magnetic forces emanating from the surrounding hills can pull a car up a slope for 50-100 metres with the engines switched off. You can try all combos - forward and reverse. For those looking for guidance how to do it, immediately after the sign boad, go down the slope and switch off the engine - the car will start climbing back in reverse. U-turn and the car will climb up the slope on its own. Watch out - with your engines off, your brakes won't work, and we had to pull our hand brake to restrain the car from going down the slope on the other side!

Leh - Past the gurudwara, Spituk Monastery and the highest airport in the world, you come to the round which claims to have the highest petrol pump in the world and the turn off to Manali. But before that, you have rows of workshops and spares shops, inclduing the Maruti/M&M service centre.

We reached the outskirts of Leh (11,038 feet) at 430 pm and I started searching for workshops to attend to immediate repairs to the leaf spring and balancing rod. Doc Mandar & Co had already booked themselves into the Sangay Lay Guest House in the Shanam For Road inside Leh town, close enough to the Leh market, but far enough to have a lovely garden and picture windown views from its rooms.

After checking into the rooms, I quickly turned around and returned to the workshop district to get the leaf spring replaced and balancing road bush/nuts fitted at Sonam Automobiles, who is a M&M stockist.
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Old 4th October 2009, 17:19   #148
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Originally Posted by mjothi View Post
I dont remember seeing such Buddha before. One with 4 hands. Our India is really rich in these. More to be revelaed. Good.
The Mulbek Statue - there are theories that it is really a Shiva statue mutiliated into a Buddha when Buddhism gained ascendancy in the region. Evidence of its hazy ancestry lies in the 4 hands, the rudrakshas around the neck (possibly the modification of the serpent around Shiva's neck), and the distinctive "Indian" looks in the eyes - most Buddhas have Tibetan looks!

Last edited by hvkumar : 4th October 2009 at 17:22.
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Old 4th October 2009, 17:20   #149
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Moonscape of Lamayaru
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Inside Lamayaru Gompa
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Inside Lamayaru Gompa
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RoadRunner team at Fotula
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Flying sikh
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Old 4th October 2009, 17:23   #150
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Day 6, September 17th, 2009 Continued

Lamayuru - Nimmu - Magnetic Hill

WRS again
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After Lamayaru we passed by Khaltse at 13:45PM. Immediately after Khaltse we saw the Historic Indus river. It was a wonderful feeling for me, since I only knew about Indus from my history lessons - and now I am seeing it in person. Indus was seen gracefully flowing towards POK. A calm and serene river as it seemed to me.

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The Bajra Battu Beach - a sandy beach on the river Indus. Beautiful isn't it?
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Some views till Magnetic Hill
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After a few hours drive we reached Nimmu 14:45PM. Here you can see the confluence of Zanskar river with Indus river. It is at this point the Chadar trek (Padhum to Nimmu on frozen Zanskar river) as mentioned earlier ends.

Indus flowing from Leh. Check the road on the opposite bank of Indus. This is the new road being constructed to reach Padhum from Nimmu. You can see a bridge over Indus also.
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You can see the new road winding along the Zanskar river. See the confluence.
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The confluence. The front river is Indus, the one joining from the left is Zanskar and then it flows down toward right of the picture. In the picture Indus flows from Leh from the left to POK towards the right.
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Immediately after Nimmu we reach Magnetic Hill by 16:00PM. By the magentic power of the hill there even your car can get pulled up the hill. We were not easily convinced.

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We evaluated the slope, we evaluated every other thing which breaks the theory. But IT WORKS - IT JUST WORKS. You have to be there to feel it. Leave aside all inhibitions - try it with a logical and open mind. No words can describe the phenomenon. We had our scorpios pulled up the slope the normal way and also in reverse. The speeds of around 20kmph was attained in this pull.

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I'll attach the video in the next post.

Unfortunately the Pajero could not believe and kept on telling it is not magnetism but slope etc. He did some 45plus degree climb up the mountains nearby at a tremendous speed to show off.

This is the mountain the Pajero climbed. Look at the tracks.
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I'll attach the video in the next post.


I must admit the Pajero is a capable beast at the right hands!!
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