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Old 23rd October 2009, 16:15   #61
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beautiful pics, finally it stared rolling
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Old 23rd October 2009, 16:18   #62
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Some more pictures till SonamargName:  IMG_1353.JPG
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Finally we were at Sonamarg
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Now climb to Zoji La starts - our first pass of the Journey
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Old 23rd October 2009, 17:45   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
beautiful pics, finally it stared rolling
Was waiting for the other one to get over.
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Old 24th October 2009, 16:19   #64
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Default The Zoji-La Climb

From various travelogues read on the forum, I had learnt that one needs to reach Sonamarg before 10 am to get onto Zojila, after which the road is blocked for convoy from Kargil side. We reached Sonamarg at 9.42 am and but didn't see any check-post controlling the traffic. We later learnt from Army guys that the route during the day time has become two -way. We crossed Sonamarg but weren't sure whether we were on the right path ( at the fork one road headed towards somewhere near Amarnath, I was told) so stopped at an Army check-post for re-confirmation. Since this was our first "La" I had a little trepidation about the road and the climb.

The road between Srinagar and Sonamarg was 80% good and even the initial stretch of the climb also was good but slowly it started getting "La" type - Kutcha Roads with stones. The roads narrowed to single lane and we were behind a truck which was slowly trying the climb. I waited patiently behind it till a Hairpin bend when it gave way for me to pass. I overtook it but on the climb felt that the Storm was losing power. I down shifted to 1st revved to 3k and was able to muster power for the climb. But thereafter didn't have any problem even on steepest of the climbs. I guess the "Storm" was taking time to adapt to the high altitudes. Since I was driving for the first time in this kind of roads, I was being overly cautious and going slow (20kmph) on the uphill and had piled up two taxies behind me. Finding the nearest crevice on the hill side, tucked my car in and they blazed past me to become invisible within no-time.

The terrain was slowly changing from green to brown with glaciers and signs of avalanche aplenty. We also saw some black-ice had it snowed only a week back there. Anyways slowly we reached the "India Gate" at Zoji La at 10.30 AM, 45 minutes after having started from Sonamarg barrier and heaved a sigh of relief on crossing the first pass. Few pictures taken enroute.
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At the "India Gate" we had our first encounter with hospitality of the Indian Army.

To be Cont'd
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Old 24th October 2009, 17:28   #65
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HI MC,

As mentioned by many already, me too just echoing same impressions. Excellent account of a memorable trip. Hoping to be there some day> Following it closely, continue as soon as you find time.

cheers
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Old 24th October 2009, 21:37   #66
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MC, the photos of Zoji La are so scary!
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Old 25th October 2009, 08:06   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
MC, the photos of Zoji La are so scary!
Why scary Chief?

It would be just another road for you, isn't it ?

Last edited by MileCruncher : 25th October 2009 at 08:08.
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Old 25th October 2009, 08:15   #68
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The earlier 2 occasions I drove Zoji La, it was in pre-dawn light and the condition of the roads were such that you have only an eye on the road ahead and not on the deep valleys below. And I never managed to take any photos. Over the years, Zoji la has improved tremendously, earlier it was all stone and mud.
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Old 25th October 2009, 10:08   #69
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Stunning images, my friend. I've got to be there. HVK, please shed some light on the best time of the year to do this. Also, is it essential to use an SUV or a car would do?
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Old 25th October 2009, 10:14   #70
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Akadian, Sonmarg is open almost throughout the year, although there are temporary dislocations in the road thanks to snowfall beyond Kund in Dec-Feb. Zoji La is open only between mid-May and end-Oct after which snowfall shuts it down. If you fly into Leh, you can always drive the Indus Valley to Kargil, Pukachik (road to Padum in Zanskar valley) and even Pangong.

I like travelling to the Ladakh region in September the best - off season, less crowds, good roads, pleasant weather.
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Old 26th October 2009, 17:19   #71
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Default The Zoji-La encounter

All of us wanted to soak our moment at the Zojila Top and hence decided to stop for a few photo opportunities. The area was manned by two Army guys and the one managing the traffic, asked us to park on the road going up so as not to block the flow. This is where we parked.
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Bidisha was very overwhelmed by the whole place and on seeing the other soldier speaking on the mobile also wanted to speak to her dad who was in upper reaches of Uttarakhand at that very point of time. But unfortunately our phones were not working due to no network. Seeing us, the gent on mobile disconnected his call and came towards us to enquire about us. We learnt from him that it was only BSNL from here onwards till Leh. Realising that we wanted to make a call, he offered his phone, which we politely refused initially. But he wouldn't have any of the refusal and insisted that we make the call. Bidisha on his insistence made a short call while we chatted with him.

After spending our regulation 10 minutes, as we were about to go, both the soldiers "insisted" that we have tea with them. Not one to refuse their hospitality, we answered in affirmative. Out came their ration and bunsen burner from behind the rock while took out biscuits and plastic glasses from our ration. The tea was poured into the glasses without strainer and even though it was a little too on the sweet side, it felt heavenly. He told us with a sheepish grin " Aaj Cheeni thoda jyada pad gaya hai". (If this was their thoda, god knows what is their "Zyada"). Having tea with Army guys at that height was a surreal experience. We chit-chatted about their schedule and how strategic Zoji-La for both India and Pakistan. They also told us about their family life and how much they enjoy meeting people from various parts of the country. We also got to hold the INSAS rifle which was surprisingly light and were told its benefits over the AK-47. Finally after spending close to 45 minutes, we bid them good-bye with an indescribable feeling in the heart about our "contribution" to the nation.

This was one of those "Will Always Remember" encounters and was a curtain raiser to what the day held for us.
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Old 26th October 2009, 18:23   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
After spending our regulation 10 minutes, as we were about to go, both the soldiers "insisted" that we have tea with them. Not one to refuse their hospitality, we answered in affirmative. Out came their ration and bunsen burner from behind the rock while took out biscuits and plastic glasses from our ration. The tea was poured into the glasses without strainer and even though it was a little too on the sweet side, it felt heavenly. He told us with a sheepish grin " Aaj Cheeni thoda jyada pad gaya hai". (If this was their thoda, god knows what is their "Zyada"). Having tea with Army guys at that height was a surreal experience. We chit-chatted about their schedule and how strategic Zoji-La for both India and Pakistan. They also told us about their family life and how much they enjoy meeting people from various parts of the country. We also got to hold the INSAS rifle which was surprisingly light and were told its benefits over the AK-47. Finally after spending close to 45 minutes, we bid them good-bye with an indescribable feeling in the heart about our "contribution" to the nation.

This was one of those "Will Always Remember" encounters and was a curtain raiser to what the day held for us.
Excellent narration!
I could feel the warmth, seating so far from the place.
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Old 27th October 2009, 18:01   #73
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Hi Mile Cruncher,

This is undoubtedly one of the most well written Travelogues I have come across on Team BHP. And to top that the awesome pictures that you have posted. Please keep them coming. Yeh Dil Maange More!!
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Old 28th October 2009, 17:24   #74
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Default The Zoji-La Descent

Before starting off, our Army Friends requested us to give way to the convoy. We nodded and moved on.BRO is trying to double lane the whole Zojila route and it is not the usual tar but with these concrete slabs that are used in foot paths. Hopefully with the progress of construction and as per various boards the Srinagar - Leh highway is targeted to be completed.
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The Army Convoy at a distance
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Thisis how the road will be in the future
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The Army Base Camp at a distance
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We had a quick descent and were at the Zojila Base Camp by 11.30, where we stopped over for a quick bio-break in the Armmy Barracks and a dekko of the Zojila War Memorial. The War memorial is a standing testimony of the bravery of our soldiers who fought Pakistan Incursion at Zojila in 1948. We again got chatting with the Army Chaps and one of them turned out from MH but was posted in Secunderabad for a long time. We exchanged stories of Bawarchi & Paradise Biryani apart from location of Pakistan Bunker in the far away hills. We were again invited for tea but had to turn-it down. Since the fog was building up in the mountains and wind had also become quite chilly, we decided to move forward without any further delay.

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Bolero at the Base Camp
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Old 28th October 2009, 19:29   #75
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Default Zojila - Dras

The run from Zoji-La Base Camp to Dras through Matayan was breathtaking as we were seeing various ranges and unique rock features. We also encountered a small lake/pond with a board "Draupadi Kund". We finally reached Dras market at 1.10 but decided to push onto Dras War Memorial.
Few Pics taken enroute
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