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Old 2nd October 2009, 01:42   #106
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Day 4 Continued.

We reached Rangdum by 13:30. The 5 star hotel had rice, dal, omlettes and Maggi. We stuffed in every hot thing made available. We left from here at 14:30PM to Padhum. Near Rangdum we have the Rangdum Gompa, where roughly 25 monks live. Due to lack of time we could not visit them


The views from the 5 star hotel at Rangdum
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Ground Hog. Saji has a better picture with his hifi Zoom lens
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The roads through river bed
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Immediately after Rangdum comes the Pensi La pass. The road to Zanskar follows the Suru Valley till we reach the Pensi La pass which is at a height of around 4400m.

The roads to Pensi La.
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After crossing Pensi la the Zanskar valley begins. We reached Penzi La at 16:00PM. It was already dull, and heavy winds started. It brought with it some snow fall, and fog. Pajero wanted to turn back to Kargil. He was worried if the snowfall continued through the night, the pass would be closed the next days and we will be stuck at Padhum. Since it was not a seasonal snow, the guess that it would get cleared in the next days sun, and the proximity of Padhum than Kargil from there pushed us further to Padhum

Foggy roads and snow after Penzi la.
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It was snowing moderately at the Zanskar Valley. Glenn's Scorpio in snow
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Played in the snow fall for a while. For some of us it was the first snow fall we saw in our India

We reached Padhum by 19:30PM. Padhum had internet connection!! We met a couple of guys who drove an Innova from Bangalore there. They were doing trekking there.

Saji and HVK tried braving the cold windy night in photographing the Milkyway.

Tragedy was Diesel was not available at Padhum, and the Scorpios have done nearly 270KMs, which means on return it's a dangerous stretch goal to achieve a drive till Kargil. Atleast 40Km worth of diesel is a must. Pajero had stock of 30 litres can, and that was the relief. But things were not to be smooth the next day.

Last edited by laluks : 2nd October 2009 at 01:48.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 01:51   #107
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Saji, Please update the photos for Day 4, especially the sun rays and ground hogs. After that I'll update the narration for Day 5
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Old 2nd October 2009, 07:22   #108
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Originally Posted by jack33 View Post
@HVK and the team, Another great trip!!!.At Kargil, did you try Hotel Siachen for food.I happened to be there two times, both after 10 pm and luckily they had some nice food.Allowing trafiic through jawahar tunnel in the night is a good move, hope they keep it that way.
No, unfortunately, we missed Hotel Siachen totally and stayed at Hotel Greenview next door (does not have a restaurant). On the way back from Padum, we stayed at Hotel Zoji la which is a great place with good food.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 08:25   #109
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MY TAKE ON Day 4, September 15th, 2009
Kargil - Panikhar - Rangdum - Pensi La - Padum (250 KmS)


Here's to our first full day in Ladakh, the journey really begins. Of the 6 cars assembled in Kargil the previous night, 2 decided to skip Zanskar Valley - one of the least visited and forgotten trails. No more the speed runs and "no-break" policies - the photographers reigned supreme from hereon.

Petrol pumps are more unusual than greenery in Ladakh, and we were surprised to hear from the Kargil PP that there was a new pump in Padum - besides, he said, the tanker had just gone the previous day and replenished supplies. So we were lulled into filling up our tanks but keeping our spare fuel cans empty.

The first few kilometres out of Kargil (8,847 feet) were great tarmac, the only decent road of the entire sector. For most, the Kargil-Padum road is dirt track with lots of rubble and enough spring to break your car's springs (which I did, but that is another story!). Facilities are very poor.

We managed to trundle out by 545 am into the rising sun to the first tea break at Sankoo at 745 am. Sankoo (9,904 feet) is the largest town en route (50 kms) in the 250-km long drive to Padum, the main town in the Zanskar Valley.

No permits are required to visit Zanskar Valley, although there are 3 Police Check Posts where you need to register your car/passengers and foreigners have to show their passports.

But, as laluks said, we follow the Suru River from Kargil into the Suru Valley till the Pensi La which allows you into the Zanskar Valley and the road traces the path of the Zanskar River from thereon.

JKTDC has lots of resorts en route - Sankoo, Purkichey, Panikkar, Parkachik and Rangdum - but please be warned, the only one we checked out (at Rangdum) was closed, and I am sure that is also the same situation at the other resorts too. This is one more in a long series of JKTDC resorts which appeared abandoned - so don't bank on them unless you have called up and made an advance reservation!

The towns of Purkichey (10,502 feet), Panikkar (10,691 feet) and Parkachik (11,751 feet) all flit by. As lalu mentioned, the Zanskar Valley is cut off during winter due to the snows in Pensi La and KS tells us that the road ends at Parkachik, which is where the real climb begins. None of these towns have anything to claim, except that they are small (populations under 200 people), unspoilt and bereft of any facilities whatsoever. Cows graze in the sprinkling of grass, children walk to the nearest primary school, old grandmas huggle on thier walking sticks and the blue skies look even brighter and bluer.

Rangdum (13,177 feet) is quite a relief with its "5-star" hotels, and we were 2 hours late when we arrived there at 115 pm (135 kms in 7.30 hours). Carry your own Maggi noodles along, since these small places often run out of food provisions. The 1-hour lunch break was a godsend. At this altitude, the sun bites the skin and even the sun-block creams are inadequate to protect you from being scorched.

The climb up to Pensi La, the highest in this road (14,743 feet) is gradual and by the time we reached the top, it was gloomy weather and the views were all hidden from us - by now, we were quite anxious to reach Padum before it became too dark, late that we already were. The Pajero awaited us at Pensi La, at 350 pm.

The snowfall lasted till we descended the pass, and any fears of being stranded due to snowfall (fears emananting from the Pajero) were unfounded. Signages are poor and before Sani you can take a wrong turn and take a longer route to Padum.

Nearing Padum, the countryside was lit up by only the stars in the sky, hardly any light otherwise. We reached Padum (11,769 feet) t 715 pm, having completed 250 kms in 13.30 hours! A little bit of searching around and we found some nice rooms in the Marq Guest House, with its friendly owner who organises treks in the region. Cold winds blew across our faces when we arrived, but happily they subsided and we settled down to enjoy some sub-zero temperatures that night.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 09:30   #110
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Very detailed write up Lalu and HV. Nice pics too. Now I am feeling humbled
Anyways I will add some of my collections too. Few of them may be just a repeat of what Lalu has posted as he used to click 4 snaps when I did one.
I am sure he hasn't missed anything at all.
Just wanted to share what I have got through my eyes and lens.

Little ahead of Kargil towards Padum
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Gelnn's Scorpio taking a sun bath at Suru Valley
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HVK approaching our Scorpio.
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Morning rays at Suru Valley
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The road ahead. We are still in Suru Valley.
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Freshness of Suru river
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Reflections on grass
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Started seeing some of the snow clad mountains closer
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Some green and bushes still around
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The team near Suru river. We just crossed a bridge to get Suru on our left side for our further journey.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 09:45   #111
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Amazing pictures and wonderful compositions, Saji! Congrats!!

Two pics, in particular, I liked a lot are: "freshness of suru river" and " reflections on grass".

Also liked the framing-compo of "HVK approaching our Scorpio"
.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 09:54   #112
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Few more clicks of Day-4

Paddy fields?
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Someone tell me which bird is this
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More snow clad mountains.
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Pajero team on banks of Suru river
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Wide view of Suru river
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What trees are those?
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A majestic peak
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Team get a chance to chill out. It was great fun to wet the foot in ice cold water
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Ladaki Ladies collecting the cow dung to prepare for Winter
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Marble rock?
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Its not over yet

Glenn's Scorpio making its way
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The Parkachik Glacier
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Banks of Suru river
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Red color bushes. It was a real wonder
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Suru Valley
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Reflection on Suru river
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Reflection on Suru river
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Did god come and scratch these mountains at Rangdum
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Buffet lunch at Rangdum's 5 star hotel
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Rangdum valley
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Last few of Day-4

Cool lineup
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Close encounter with he ground hog. He just shown face for few seconds and ran away.
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One crazy bull
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Little ahead of Rangdum, just before the climb for Penzila
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Visibility reduces at Penzila
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And we are there
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Lalu and Ganesh enjoying the surprise snowfall
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My failed attempt to capture the Milky way. I and HVK tried for 30min standing the in ice cold wind and give up with this.
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Night was horrible. No electricity, no hot water, sleep on floor and deadly cold place.
With this I am done with Day4. Over to Lalu bhai.

Last edited by Dippy : 5th October 2009 at 11:47.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 11:10   #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sj_koova View Post
Last few of Day-4
Night was horrible. No electricity, no hot water, sleep on floor and deadly cold place.
With this I am done with Day4. Over to Lalu bhai.
saji,
fantastic snaps! looking at these fotos, i actually realized how much i missed by not joining on the trip to zanskar! and what makes it worse is you guys got snowfall!!!
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Old 2nd October 2009, 13:10   #114
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Hi Saji,

It's very difficult to judge which is the BEST snap. Amazing snaps. I would say every scenery is a masterpiece.

Very descriptive text written by HVK and Lalu.

I would say a great team effort in this travelogue too.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 17:03   #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish View Post
Hi Saji,

It's very difficult to judge which is the BEST snap. Amazing snaps. I would say every scenery is a masterpiece.

Very descriptive text written by HVK and Lalu.

I would say a great team effort in this travelogue too.
Thanks Irish. Ours is one great Team.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaiserketkar View Post
saji,
fantastic snaps! looking at these fotos, i actually realized how much i missed by not joining on the trip to zanskar! and what makes it worse is you guys got snowfall!!!
You missed it doc. The place was so untouched by humans.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sj_koova View Post
Last few of Day-4

With this I am done with Day4. Over to Lalu bhai.
My broadband is playing up. I'm typing this through my dialup. Please bear with me till I set the net alright. Sorry for the unxpected delay
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Old 2nd October 2009, 17:22   #116
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Laluks great travelogue and pictures, you guys have enjoyed a lot

Lalu you are enjoying to the max by visiting a place every month and putting up a travelogue and making others envy you.

Quote:
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My broadband is playing up. I'm typing this through my dialup. Please bear with me till I set the net alright. Sorry for the unxpected delay
Not only the broadband at your place is playing up, even the Team-Bhp Forum is playing up today and joined hands.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 17:28   #117
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sj_koova View Post
Very detailed write up Lalu and HV. Nice pics too. Now I am feeling humbled
Anyways I will add some of my collections too. Few of them may be just a repeat of what Lalu has posted as he used to click 4 snaps when I did one.
I am sure he hasn't missed anything at all.
Just wanted to share what I have got through my eyes and lens.
My camera was small enough to jump and click around, even while we were running. Hence you can see mostly roads on all of them :( But an appreciation from a good photo genius like you, made my day.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 17:52   #118
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gowda79 View Post
Laluks great travelogue and pictures, you guys have enjoyed a lot

Lalu you are enjoying to the max by visiting a place every month and putting up a travelogue and making others envy you.

Not only the broadband at your place is playing up, even the Team-Bhp Forum is playing up today and joined hands.
Thanks gowda. I am quite lucky this year to have done so much of travel. I am noting it down so as to help the fellow travellors, and also to see at a later stage about the trip.

Infact my dream one day is to become a travel writer. I know I have to work a lot for that. In which other forum than TBHP I would get the encouragement, criticism, corrections and information for the same. As an example - I am learning the difference in my presentation and HVKs. If you see HVK briefs everything required to undertake a road travel, where as I concentrate on what one could see around. Two very different ways on the same topic.
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Old 3rd October 2009, 10:38   #119
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Day 5, September 15th, 2009
Padhum - Kargil

Padhum is the capital of Zanskar. Mostly people come here for the trekks that are arranged from here. Most interesting one for me was the Chadar trek. This does not have any high altitude passes to climb. But this is a testing one and we need serious winter equipments.This trekk is done along the frozen Zanskar River. Starts from / Ends at Chilling (from Leh side)and continues for 7 days till / from Padhum.

We were told that a road is being constructed from Padhum till Nimmu to join Leh. Once this road opens you can access Padhum easily from Leh. Now the only way is to travel from Kargil through the horrible 235Km of road to Padhum. The sad part is that you have to travel all this road back to Kargil and then continue on to Leh / Srinagar. The new will road change the valley for ever. Currently Zanskar, predominantly Buddhist community is administered from Kargil. But by the opening of this new raod, probably the administration might shift from Muslim Kargil to Buddist Ladakh.

After a subzero night sleep, we started around 08:00Am. Diesel was still a mystery since the Pajero was insisting that he'd give only if the Scorpios run out fuel in the drive. He was worried about the fuel quality and his Pajero, and the stock he had was from a good pump in Srinagar. But the lack of enough fuel in the tanks really created a worry among the Scorpios, and the day was totally spoilt due to the unnecessary stress assosciated with that uncertainity. Had we got additional 5 litres for both the Scorpios at this juncture, the day could have been more enjoyable.

We took a surpirsing detour to visit Karsha Gompa. This monastery dates back to atleast the 10th century according to lonely planet. This trip added another 20Km to the existing shortage for the Scorpios - still can't figure out whether it was a wise decision or not at that point in time.

Some pictures from the journey to Karsha Gompa.

Houses on the hill
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Road with a bridge to cross Zanskar to reach the Gompa
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Stony narrow roads all the way up
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View of the valley
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Most of us stayed with a monk discussing outside the Gompa, while a few visited inside.
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Glenn and Saji discussing about the realities of life
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The cloud of dust is HVK's scorpio leading us. Most of the time we look at the dust kicked up by the lead car and follow.
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Continued.. [my broadband is still down, so please give me some buffer, I am still with my dialup ]
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Old 3rd October 2009, 11:01   #120
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Saji, beautiful photos. Perfectly in sync with laluks and HVKs detailed writeup. All the pictures are so beautiful, difficult to choose one as my wallpaper..
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