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Old 30th September 2009, 14:12   #76
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Route Plan:

- We planned to reach Kargil in 3 days of flat-out driving from Bombay (2600 kms).
- That meant an early morning start from Bombay and a blitzkrieg across the GUjarat plains and Rajasthan desert to teh doorsteps of Delhi.
- That would have helped us navigate Delhi/NCR easly in the ealy morning before traffic thickens and hit either Udhampur or Patnitop just before Jawahar Tunnel to enter the Kashmir Valley.
- When we started planning the trip, Jawahar Tunnel was oprn only 730 am - 530 pm, and that meant that we planned to reach the TUnnel at 730 am (However, from Sep 1 onwards, the Tunnel is now open throughout).
- The second obstacle was the conventional 2 pm time for trucks at Sonmarg towards Kargil. We had to be there before 2 pm to beat the long line and the trucks that would belch diesel and block the roads once released.
- WE consciously decided not to take the "shortcut" from Rewari to Panipat via Rohtak, instead passaging through Delhi.

For 2.5 months, the members of the mailing group were bombarded with a day-to-day account of what to expect from the drive. These tales are summarised in teh following link:
HVKumar's LEH-TOUR-SEP-09 Daily Summary Plans - Google Docs

Last edited by hvkumar : 30th September 2009 at 14:16.
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Old 30th September 2009, 14:17   #77
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Default Great Stuff...!

Hi Lalu & Saji,
Great narrative and pictures...felt was driving past all those spots with Guderian.
It was great meeting Glenn, Ganesh and both of you on Sunday.
Planning to go back there in 2010 ? Hmmm - well that reminds me - a long overdue trip to those parts !
Shabash...well done and keep those words and snaps flowing !
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Old 30th September 2009, 14:20   #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Lalu, can you upload the images of the T-Shirts and Stickers?
Here it is. Designed by Venkat. Don't know his TBHP id. Venkat post a few lines

Tshirt.
HumbLeh’d-oleh-2009tshirt.jpg

Car sticker
HumbLeh’d-carsticker_option2.jpg

Last edited by laluks : 30th September 2009 at 14:29.
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Old 30th September 2009, 14:23   #79
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Default Planning - 2010.

And the planning for Rep-Leh 2010 starts now !
After seeing all the action here I am almost tempted to drive off right away - but for the warning from HVK that the roads would close, the Pakis would chase you, the militants would seek you out and what not...well almost as though he doesn't want me to go there at all !

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Old 30th September 2009, 14:37   #80
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Originally Posted by laluks View Post
Here it is. Designed by Venkat. Don't know his TBHP id. Venkat post a few lines
It is RedLiner. I'm sure he is reading this. T-shirts and Car Stickers came out really well. I intend to have them on for quite some time.
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Old 30th September 2009, 14:41   #81
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Thanks HVK for jumping in. No one else can give the very specific details about schedules and what to find where.
I remember him saying, every travelogue has so much story and pics, but ignores details like what time a mountain pass closes and where to find fuel etc..
I am sure, the google docs prepared by him in conjunction with this thread would be a complete reference for people planning for their trips.

HV Sir, Would you write a bit about the geography of Padum before I am Lalu can add the narration and pics. I was actually thinking of borrowing your words from the daily dose paragraphs written by you.
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Old 30th September 2009, 14:52   #82
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Wonderful Travalogue and some great pics.
Im sure all of you conquered your minds in the end,which is the greatest achievement.
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Old 30th September 2009, 15:07   #83
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Originally Posted by sj_koova View Post
Thanks HVK for jumping in. No one else can give the very specific details about schedules and what to find where.
I remember him saying, every travelogue has so much story and pics, but ignores details like what time a mountain pass closes and where to find fuel etc..
I am sure, the google docs prepared by him in conjunction with this thread would be a complete reference for people planning for their trips.

HV Sir, Would you write a bit about the geography of Padum before I am Lalu can add the narration and pics. I was actually thinking of borrowing your words from the daily dose paragraphs written by you.
I have intended to give all the intricate details given to the team by HVK as a summary to the travelogue, so as to have all the details at one go and not to break the daily flow.. But wherever required the details were provided like Jawahar tunnel and Kargil PP. Now my job is easy. I can do more story telling wiithout worrying for such details. Thanks.

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Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
It is RedLiner. I'm sure he is reading this. T-shirts and Car Stickers came out really well. I intend to have them on for quite some time.
You bet. The design is wonderful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hillram View Post
Wonderful Travalogue and some great pics.
Im sure all of you conquered your minds in the end,which is the greatest achievement.
Hey, nicely concluded. Thanks.

Last edited by laluks : 30th September 2009 at 15:21.
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Old 30th September 2009, 15:20   #84
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MY TAKE ON Day 1, September 12th, 2009.
Bombay - Surat - Vadodara - Udaipur -Jaipur - Shahpura, 1273 kms


We prepared for this day on a war footing since much would depend on our timely execution of Day 1 to set the tune for the rest of the trip.

There were 4 cars from the South of the Vindhyas - HVK (hvkumar), Glenn, Doc Mandar (kaiserketkar) and Anirudh B (MileCruncher). Doc decided to take a little more leisurely drive up north (not exceeding 1000 kms a day!), and AB decided to brave the jungles, ravines and terrible roads of Central India to reach the nation's capital, which was to be the common rendezvous.

At 300 am on Sep 12, 2 cars (HVK & Glenn) left simultaneously from 2 different parts of Bombay - HVK + 2, Glenn + 2 - to converge at Ghodbunder at 320 am to proceed together therafter. Both the Scorpios - HVK's non-crde and Glenn's crde had been fully tanked up the night before which meant no wastage of time for refuelling.

A target of 1370 kms sounds forbidding a distance for a day’s drive, but it is possible thanks to the fast GQ roads and a no-break drive policy. Our Day 1’s target is Behror, which is just 100 kms short of Delhi border. Besides, there is a decent RTDC motel – with reasonably-priced rooms and good parking – at Behror. The advantage of Behror is that we can get through Delhi the next day before the city traffic starts after 7 am.

We proceed on NH8 jostling for space amidst heavy outbound truck traffic. Roads are good although the initial 50 ksm are pock-marked thanks to the recent rains, but after crossing the town of Manor, the roads smoothen out. Our first target is Surat (260 kms) which we must ideally crossed bang on schedule at 640 am (260 kms, 3.30 hours).

All the Surat bypass 3 flyovers are complete (had been big pains in necks till recently) and the 6-laner from thereon was fantastic. Ankleshwar town is finally turned a good egg, both flyovers complete and in immaculate condition - traffic jams in this town are now a thing of the past. We refuelled at Ankleshwar.

After Ankleshwar, the drive ascends to a new plane of pleasure on the L&T-built new 6-lane road all the way to the Baroda-Ahmedabad expressway which is again a high-speed section. We do not touch Ahmedabad at all (take the Sardar Patel Ring Road via the Ramol and Ranasan circles). We met Ramky in the SP Ring Road at 955 am (and spent 30 minutes with him there) and we are straightaway onto the Udaipur road once we leave the expressway and hereafter, it is a great drive. Breakfast was on board, the parathas and idlis packed by our wonderful wives being consumed with gusto.

If there is one thing that was consumed faster than the miles of highway, it was the loose change that we had kept to pay toll! It sure is expensive to drive on Indian highways.

After crossing the Gujarat border, we go up the Aravallis and although it is hilly road, the banking on corners is good and makes for a fast drive. We cross Udaipur at 300 pm (773 kms).

The road becomes better and better and we settle down to some faster-paced non-stop driving. All towns are bypassed – Chittorgarh (we stop by to squint in the bright sunshine to spy the Victory Tower atop the Chittorgarh Fort which Rani Padmini made famous), Bhilwara and Kishangarh. The Chittorgarh bypass is truly brilliant, saving at least 15-30 minutes of time, and there are petrol stations at the end of it.

Although towns are few and far between on the Udaipur-Kishangarh road, several new petrol stations have sprung up (including a BPCL Ghar outside Chittorgarh) that provide the hungry and tired traveller some succour. And some clean toilets for those who wish to fill up the septic tanks instead of fertilising the brown countryside.

By now, the mirages on the road provoke the Ray Bans to work at their peak capacities and it is difficult to say which brown looks better - the one on the left hand side of the road, right hand side or on the road! Or the dust strewn across the bonnets of the cars. Happily, the ACs kept us all cool and the snacks on board kept sleep at bay.

Remember that we are driving without break (except for the Ramky interval at Ahmedabad) and by the time we reach Kishangarh before schedule at 553 pm, we had covered over 1,100 kms in 15 hours.

From Kishangarh, we take the 100-km expressway to Jaipur, where we stop awhile so that Glenn can meet up with one of his pals - Glenn, did you say that you had the same nanny who changed your nappies when you were tiny tots? - and we refuel at the brand-new HPCL petrol pump - hospitality, clean furel, sparkling toilets and some flattering comments left behind in the visitor's book.

I call up RTDC Midway Behror which was to be our destination for the night, but alas, they had no rooms to spare, but then we hit the jackpot at RTDC Shahpura which blocked our 4 rooms immediately. So, the day ended quickly at 850 pm at RTDC Shahpura, where we found some clean rooms and hot running water to soak ourselves in.

Through the day, both Glenn and I rarely exceeded 120 kmph and kept steady safe speeds.

What of the others? Doc Mandar was way ahead, having crossed Delhi, having had tea with other Scorpions in CCD Dwaraka and berthed for the night at Karnal, while AB was driving his second night out of Hyderabad, braving the 50s heat (his AC having failed temporarily near Nagpur) and counting potholes on the roads leading to Gwalior (reached Delhi at 230 am eventually, to sit and post in the forum at 357 am's!!!)

Last edited by hvkumar : 30th September 2009 at 15:23.
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Old 30th September 2009, 15:57   #85
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MY TAKE ON Day 2, September 13th, 2009
Shahpura - Behror - Gurgaon - Delhi - Ludhiana - Jalandhar - Pathankot - Kathua- Udhampur - Patnitop. (885 Kms)


We were in a long Q of friends driving to Ladakh - Dushmish was 1.50 days ahead of us and SMSing us conditions in J&K, followed by Rohit Mehdidatta/Rajiv K Bharat and Rohit Bhogle/Subodh, all of who were giving us updates on road conditions and their own progress.

Keeping in view that we had to stop earlier than scheduled at Shahpura (instead of Behror further ahead), it was another 300 am start for us on Sep 13 from Shahpura. We had been warned of the terrible road sections after crossing over into HR, but happily we did not face any traffic and were able to nudge the pot holes to the centre of the road (we ourselves sticking to the extreme right shoulder close to the divider), and we managed good speeds to reach the Gurgaon-Delhi expressway at 545 am. Rajiv Menon and AB scrambled on our alerts since we had scheduled the convoy's first gettogether at IGI at 630 am. We were dot on schedule at IGI Domestic - meeting point the BPCL petrol pump outside the domestic terminal - and it was quite an assemblage - HVK (Scorpio), Glenn (Scorpio), Rajiv Menon (Scorpio), Rajuvinder Singh(Pajero) and AB (Bolero). Doc Mandar/DJ must have been getting out of his bed in Karnal as we sped through the empty roads of Delhi under the able guidance of Raj to our first breakfast halt in a dhaba outside Sonipat at 800 am. Irt was a well-deserved hour's break for all of us, as many of us introduced ourselves to the others - by now, we also had 3 Latvians in our group. Anyone wanting to cross Delhi/NCR must do it before 7 am to avoid being clobbered by city traffic and our plan worked to perfection.

The NH1 - with its vast rice and wheat fields on both sides - was quite a sight to most of us, for whom this was the first drive into Punjab/Haryana, and we were all driving at good pace as we tried to outdo each other. Raj and his Pajero are very experienced on this route and he disappeared into the horizon. While we trundled along in convoy and munched soggy bread sandwiches, he managed to have lunch at Jalandhar' Haveli!

The towns of Punjab sped by, and at Jalandhar (220 pm), Doc Mandar joined the convoy. Kesri was lready ensconsed in JKTDC Patnitop (having got there by train/jeep from Bombay) and he blocked rooms for the entire enmtourage at JKTDC Patnitop, so that was to be our destination for the night.

The 4-lane road ends after Bhognipur (Jalandhar-Pathankot road) (looks like the contract has been cancelled) and the road widening construction activity slows us down as we approach Pathankot, which we cross at 415 pm (15 minutes late!). The roads through Pathankot town are terrible (flyover under construction), and at Madhopur the PB-JK border, we face some road diversions. Glenn has had some unlucky time with the PB Police, who stop him twice to inspect his documents and levy some sundry fine on him, delaying the convoy slightly. We are again stopped by JK Police who demand to see our vehicle documents but we all come through unscathed.

Once we cross into Kashmir, driving becomes restrained – read, slow, measured, vigilant – since the army is all over the place, and we do not want to attract too much attention to our convoy. Everone is famished by now and despite our best eforts we could not even get a cuppa tea. The road from Pathankot to Jammu – the “chicken neck” since the Pak border is less than 5 kms away at this point – is congested, but then we decide to take a short cut (to avoid Jammu) from Kathua (leaving NH1A).

We turn off at Dayala Chowk (no signboards) after Kathua but before Samba, and take the narrow winding road direct to Udhampur. Quite a relied that since we hit a nice small dhabba immediately and pose for our group photographs along with cups of steaming tea. This road appears to be popular with truckers who also want to avoid the hustle and bustle of Jammu, but the road is very narrow (1.50 laner) and can be lonely after dark. We reach Udhampur at 830 pm, where AB decides to stay back with family friends, and the rest of us go on. We reached JKTDC Patnitop at 945 pm, having covered 885 kms that day.
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Old 30th September 2009, 16:45   #86
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MY TAKE ON Day 3, September 14th, 2009
Patnitop - Srinagar - SonaMarg - Zojila - Drass - Kargil (422Kms).


Raj had a standard question at the beginning of every day - where to now? So you mumble something, and hey presto, the Flying Sikh is off in his Pajero only to resurface a few hours later - parked by the road side, hat on face (Gavaskar-style), having guffled innumerable cuppas chai, relished breakfast, brunch, lunch, high tea, "tiffin" and growling for appetisers! Commendable the way he handled the moster of the Pajero on those narrow roads, and his ability to outbeat us all the time!

Departure from JKTDC Patnitop was scheduled at 530 am, but come showtime and except for Rajiv stuffing is car, no one in sight. Birds twittering as sunlight filters through the tall pine trees make most of us ache for one more day here, but we have miles to go in Nehru's Kashmir.........not for us even the roses of Shalimar Gardens.

Finally left at 625 am. The Jawahar Tunnel has no time restrictions nowadays, and that meant no traffic jams, no frisking, no sniffer dogs. The lovely roads leading up to the Tunnel (with Chenab River views, as laluks has elaborated already), 3.2 kms long, and the halt at Qazigund for some oily poori bhajis and dry fruit/ apple shopping. The first views of the Kashmir Valley from Titanic View Point were indeed exciting.

Kashmir looks as normal as any other place in India, and we battled heavy morning traffic as we slowly wound our way towards Srinagar. Lots of petrol stations en route. Chinar trees lined the road as they have for several decades, and we did play some of Shammi Kapoors Kashmiri Kalis. The saffron fields of Pampore were barren, and the Badamibagh Cantonment quiet as we stopped by to admire the Dal Lake at Srinagar - 1200 noon. No curfews, no rapists, no army, everything absolutely normal - did someone say terrorism? We were desperately late already - by 2 hours - and I was howling for some more speed, as we took a nice leisurely drive around Dal Lake skirting the Shalimar and Nishad Gardens, espying the Hazrat Bal Shrine on the opposite bank of the Lake - and reached the Habak Crossing. Vishal Bakshshi and Liz (the White Scorpio from Chandigarh) were having a leisurely holiday in the houseboats of Dal Lake as we sped by.

Having coming thus far, it was time for some thanksgiving at the holiest shrine in Kashmir Valley - the Kheer Bhavani temple at Tulla MUllah near Ganderbal. This is an unique temple shrine dedicated to Mata Vaishno devi's sister, and the idol is placed in a small island surrounded by the temple tank, whose colours change with the different times of the day. We were blessed by the serene atmospehere and piousness of the place. Kashmir's famous Red Chillies greeted us in the small villages that we drove by skirting rice fields yellowed in hue. The road from Ganderbal to Sonmarg is indeed one of the most scenic and best maintained, and despite our best efforts, we could make it to the Sonmarg Check Post only at 4 pm (we wanted to be there at 2 pm to beat the truck convoys which start towards Kargil at that time). We did not find any time restrictions for light vehicles at this checkpost and I daresay you can go past even at night nowadays.

The road leading up from Sonmarg first goes via Baltal, which is the last motorable point for the Amarnath Yatra, and then starts the steep ascent to Zoji La. Luckily for us, the trucks had been detained and we were able to dart by before they started their slow movement upwards. The greens were left behind and the browns of the higher Himalayas started dominating. The skies turned deep blue.

The first of the high passes - Zoji La, at around 3500 metres - the roads were in much better shape than I have ever travelled in them, and although they were dirt roads, the surface was firm and free of gravel, stone and boiulders. No landslides anywhere, no snow in evidence. We did the 27-km ascent in under an hour to "India Gate" just before Matiyan. Dust storms swirled in the wake of the Yokos and Bridgestones as we descended into the Dras Valley, the roads being very good comparatively. We gawked at Tiger Hill in Dras just before the sun set for the day (635 pm), said Hi to a few Bulleters from Delhi and went on. The Dras-Kargil road is in good condition and we made good speeds, reaching Kargil at 800 pm. We were unlucky to miss the verdnant valleys and gorges of the Dras/Suru Rivers and could only hazard at the location of the Paki positions across the border, close to our road.

Reaching any Ladakhi town after dark is always an unpleasant experience, even the pie dogs are snoring away! The JKTDC hotel we first went to had lots of ghosts inside, and we eventually settled down in Hotel Greenland which does not have a restaurant. We were virtually scrounging for food that night in the streets of Kargil ("Bikshanti"), eventually settling for some measly rice plates and Cup O Noodles that we were sensible enough to have carried with us.

We also refuelled at the only petrol pump outside Kargil town, in preparation for the hard ride to Zanskar Valley the next day. Our speed run has truly ended here, as our leisurely holiday begins tomorrow. We had completed 2,580 kms in the 3-day run from Bombay, exactly as scheduled, and we smiled smugly to ourselves as we sunk into the soft pillows that night in our hotel rooms!
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Old 30th September 2009, 17:17   #87
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Some numbers (Altitude, Feet), courtesy my Garmin GPS - makes interesting reading:

780 ft - Jalandhar
2,005 ft - Udhampur
6,583 ft - Patnitop
7,266 ft - Jawahar Tunnel
5,215 ft - Srinagar
7,007 ft - Sonmarg
11,057 ft - Zoji La
10,171 ft - Dras
8,847 ft - Kargil
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Old 30th September 2009, 17:28   #88
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hey lalu/saji.....whrz the video of the pajero being pulled out by mahindras from the dune......dat was the perhaps the most humLEHing experience...
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Old 30th September 2009, 19:23   #89
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hey lalu/saji.....whrz the video of the pajero being pulled out by mahindras from the dune......dat was the perhaps the most humLEHing experience...
We are putting things in an order (day-by-day), and so the delay.
I plan to put them when we reach at Nubra valley stuff.
Also I have to re-size the video before I can post!
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Old 30th September 2009, 19:33   #90
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Sounds like quite a trip - interesting narration by all you folks as well! Following closely
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