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Old 31st October 2009, 19:04   #76
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Default Dras War Memorial

We reached Dras at 1.10PM and everybody in the car was hankering for a break but I wanted to see the Dras War Memorial first before doing anything much to the chagrin of others. DWM is about 5 Kms from the town centre and one crosses the Tiger Hills and Tololing Ranges enroute. The mountain ranges opposite the DWM are marked in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Operation Vijay. The Message Boards outside and the Commemoration Wall got us all choked up.
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The complex also houses a War Museum which was closed on account of Lunch and was to re-open at 2pm . We decided to go back into Dras town (much to the relief of my passengers) for some lunch and stop again enroute Kargil. Even though Kargil is only about 50 odd Kms from Dras, I didn't want to drive after sundown, so we decided to spend no more than 10 minutes in the Museum.


Dras town centre is about 500 metres long with only 2-3 decent places to eat and after some stringent selection by my fellow passengers, the one next to JKTDC Huts was chosen. Lunch was a simple Roti - Chawal - Dal - Subji affair followed by kahwa which was also on offer. We enjoyed the unique delicate yet robust taste of the bevarage and it provided some warmth in the chilly waether.

Lunch done, we were back at DWM to be welcomed by a Gurkha Regiment Officer into the War Museum. Harivansh Rai Bachchan's inspirational poem "Agnipath" adorns the entrance to the museum along with a bust of the Indian Soldier. There are also various newspaper clippings of the about along with newspaper clips of the Kargil War.
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A bit OT: If anyone is interested in knowing a bit more behind the scene diplomacy and politics about Kargil War "Guns and Yellow Roses" by Sankarshan Thakur is a must read.

The officer explained us the various battle strategies adopted using the feature/relief maps and models present in the museum. The walls are dotted with various pictures of our Army during different stages of the war and made the whole atmosphere very poignant. I was deeply touched by a picture of an Army Major accepting a posthumous gallantry award for her
husband and also learnt that the Indian Army at the end of any war honours opposition's bravest soldier with an award.

We came out 40 minutes later with an eternally indebted feeling to our Armed Forces who serve in inhuman treacherous conditions with a smile so that we remain safe in our houses.
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Old 1st November 2009, 15:53   #77
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Default congrats

AB
great one. The effort shows. wonder though where were the other cars in the final pics?
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Old 14th November 2009, 23:39   #78
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Default Dras to Kargil

Dras to Kargil is about 51 odd kms on the NH1D which follows River Dras all the way to Kargil. This is a regulation run through the single lane winding mountain road and was pretty much uneventful except the small memorials of sooldiers dotted all along the landscape. There is a point before Kargil where River Suru flowing in from POK joins River Dras. Smitha had been wanting to try her hand on the wooden bridges and we saw one such thing before this point. Few pictures taken enroute.Name:  IMG_1517.JPG
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Finally we reached Kargil town just after 5.30 and headed straight to the JKTDC Tourist Bungalow, but as our luck would have it, all the rooms were blocked/booked by a contingent of travelling bureaucrats.
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Kargil has only 3 good hotels and they operate a cartel and refuse to reduce their rates even in off-season. After searching and negotiating with all 3 hotels, we finally settled with Hotel Caravan Serai for a Rs 1000/night bare basic room, the most expensive one of the entire trip.

Since we had stayed a day longer in Srinagar, we were expecting to meet up with the remaining gang at Kargil that night but our run through the town till 7 pm didn't show us any sign of them and we retired to our hotel to few gulps of the old favourite and some Tandoori Chicken.

Finally it was an end to an eventful day and were happy to have reached Ladakh. Time to hit Leh tomorrow!
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Old 15th November 2009, 07:13   #79
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Default

AB, long time.
Been terribly busy? It seems.

Lets start reliving the trip again
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Old 15th November 2009, 13:58   #80
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
AB, long time.
Been terribly busy? It seems.

Lets start reliving the trip again
Yes Lalu got a little caught up in Bidisha's surgery and Bolero's Spine replacement. Now since things are returning to normal, will step up the pace. Please also add if I've missed out anything.
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Old 15th November 2009, 18:26   #81
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Default Kargil - Mulbek

Day 7 :
Start Time: 0805 Hrs, September 17, Hotel Caravan Serai, Kargil
Stop Time : 1820 Hrs, September 17, Hotel, Leh
Sector : Kargil - Mulbek - Namika La - Fotu La - Lamayuru - Alchi - Khaltse - Nimu - Magnetic Hill - Pathar Sahib - Leh
Starting Odo: 10633 Kms (Trip Meter: 3072.1 Km)
Closing Odo: 10895 Kms (Trip Meter: 3333.8 Km)
Distance Covered : 261.7 Kms

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Even though I intended to hit the road by 7 at the latest, my fellow passengers were not so enthu about starting early. The hot water in the hotel along with breakfast helped in their pursuit of leaving leisurely by 8.05 am. I had parked the Storm facing the wall instintively but had a problem starting. I think I might have used atleast about 7-8 cranks before the engine came to life. This was a shocker for me and made me worry about cold starts at much higher altitudes later on in the trip.

Caravan Serai is perched on top of the hill and especially the last 100 metre climb is a little treacherous. We rolled down slowly onto the main road and after passing the market, crossed the River Suru/Dras from south bank to north bank to head off to Leh. The road on the south bank follows the river onto the Zanskar Valley and further onto Rangdum and Padum.
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A little out of Kargil, the scenery started changing from brown with patches of green to an absolute dust bowl and moonscape. My wife had become click happy as usual and few snaps taken by her.




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Old 15th November 2009, 19:22   #82
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Default Namika La

Just after Leh, NH1D become full kuttcha and we were happily whipping up a dust storm. BRO is constructing this road to be a all weather 2 lane road and just before Namika La ( our 2nd pass at 12198 Ft) the road became a fanstastic black top. But the elation was very short lived for about 5 odd kms and we were back to standard kuttcha road all the way to Namika La top.
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Old 17th November 2009, 20:26   #83
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Default Namika La - Fotu La - Lamayuru

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We came down Namika La to this village (can't remember the name) that had JKTDC Tourist Bungalow and as everyone was keen on a bio break, stopped over.
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But the place was fully locked, so we just went to the back and did our ritual. We were at Fotula Top by 12.30 and saw the descent loop which was intresting in a certain way.
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We wanted to visit Lamayuru Monastery and at the place where the road turns right was blocked. So went straight. After about 10Kms or so realised that we had missed the turn. But reversing a Bolero which has the turning radious of a bus isn't easy. Anyways after 4-5 3 point turns, we see that a MH43 BLACK Scorpio heading towards us. We rendevouzed with them and HVK told us which Guest house everyone was going to stay. So back we went to the MOnastery but as luck would have it, we reached it just when it was getting closed. So we didn't get a dekko inside. But a few pictures of the outside and around of the Gonpa.
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Old 17th November 2009, 20:32   #84
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Default Lamayuru Monastery

Some pictures at the monastery
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Different hues in the rock
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Old 17th November 2009, 21:26   #85
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MC,
Good capture of the vivid colours at the monastery and near monotone landscape. Been following this since looong.
Great pair you two are.
Regards,
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Old 17th November 2009, 21:37   #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fazalaliadil View Post
MC,
Good capture of the vivid colours at the monastery and near monotone landscape. Been following this since looong.
Great pair you two are.
Regards,
Thanks Fazal saab. Had been wanting to do Ladakh for a long time. New car along with good company just made it a bit easier.
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Old 18th November 2009, 09:57   #87
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Default Magnetic Hill

After Lamayuru, the road improved quite a bit I was able to slot the Storm into 5th gear for the first time after Zojila. We had a few scary moments on bends as most Taxi fellows wouldn't bother honking. But on the other hand, the army guys are much more considerate on the hills and once they backed up to allow us to get into the lay-by. The NH1D follows the Indus River all the way to Leh and there are various Indus Valley View Points wherein we did our bit of photography.
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We were enjoying the nice black top for a change and while coming out of a hill climb suddenly saw the Magnetic Hill which we had forgotten about completely. There is a board erected by BRO asking to park the vehicle on a box on the road to feel the effect.
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I did as instructed but the vehicle was only going down a slope rather than climbing up. We had passed an Army Gypsy on the hill climb and they also stopped at the box to try out the phenomenon, but again no result. While we were trying to figure out various permutation combinations, I decided to do the hill climb trail to try out the off roading capabilities of the Storm.

We also met a group of guys from Hyderabad who had flown into Leh and were quite taken aback seeing a AP-9 registered car.

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While I was busy with my antics, Bidisha met this Army Major who had come with his family. He directed us to the point where there is a dip in the road. I did as he instructed and oh boy it worked. The storm climbed the hill in neutral and reached upto 60KMPH.



I had read about the magnetic hill phenomenon and was sceptical, but now I now it exists even though there is no plausible explanation to this.
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Old 23rd November 2009, 11:18   #88
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We headed out from Magnetic Hill thrilled that we had experienced the first of Ladakh's unique phenomenons. Our next stop was Pathar Sahib Gurudwara, which is managed by the Army. After the darshan and a cup of tea with prasad, we headed towards Leh. The road is smooth as butter and I was able to hit 140 in this stretch and were within the city limits within no time.

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HVK had told us about this guest house that Dr. Mandar had booked for us on the Fort Road, so we reached there by asking our way around and were met by Raghavendra and Sudhir. Discussion about accomodation done, we reached our hotel and dumped our luggage. The hectic travel over no roads over the last two days had made us exhausted and out came the Rum and Vodka bottles. By the time we were ready to go for dinner, it was already 10.30, but we still ventured out in the windy night. Dinner was a forgettable experience in a local restaurant and we were back in the hotel and tucked in bed a little after mid-night
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Old 25th November 2009, 12:04   #89
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Default Leh

Day 8:
Start Time: 0930 Hrs, September 18, Hotel Z-Kar, Leh
Stop Time: 2200 Hrs, September 18, Hotel, Leh
Sector : Leh – Thiksey – Hemis – Leh
Starting Odo: 10895 Km (Trip Meter: 3333.8 Km)
Closing Odo: 11013 Km (Trip Meter: 3451.9 Km)
Distance Covered: 118.1 Km


After a long time we had the luxury of getting up but my habit made me wake up at 6.30 am and after a long time watched some telly. Since this was the only day that was available to us, we decided to do some local sightseeing and shopping. Bidisha wanted to stroll to the market and we left the hotel at about 9.30 AM. The Tibetan Refugee Market was just getting setup and we got some deals in junk jewellery and CDs. Breakfast was at a small terrace restaurant near the hotel and we tasted Thukpa, Thantuk (1st for the journey) and some Momos.
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As the Storm was running low on Diesel, decided to go and fill up before heading out to Leh Palace and Shanti Stupa. We came to the hotel and I tried to start the car but surprise, surprise! The Storm wouldn’t start at all. Finally maybe after some 12-15 cranks, it spluttered to life and was belching out white smoke. I let it idle for about 5 minutes by which time the exhaust was normal and the engine was running smoothly. What flummoxed me totally was that the car not starting when it was bright and sunny with temperature no lesser than 15 degrees.

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We went to the IOC pump near the roundabout but they only had Premium. So decided to go looking for the next station and were guided towards one on the Manali Road about 5Kms from the roundabout. This fuel pump is at Choglamasar after the ITBP camp and we tanked up there with normal diesel (Avg – 9.97 kmpl ; Rs 36.47/Litre). After tanking up we headed towards Leh Market.
Some pictures while coming back
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Old 25th November 2009, 17:13   #90
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Default Leh Palace & Market

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On the way back, received a call from Naveen(NB) & Smitha(SB) who were waiting for us at the Hotel. Went and picked them up to head towards the market where we bumped into Mandar(DMK), Dhananjay (DJ). They also decided to come along with us to the Leh Palace, the road to which was from behind the market. It was a steep climb and after about covering 50% of the distance, NB, SB, DMK & DJ decided to take rest while we went to the top.

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After a slow and torturous climb, we did reach the gate and went to the ticket booth. The guy at the counter asked us our nationality and on hearing Indian, said “FREE”. The Palace is built over 9 floors and is undergoing a massive renovation. As me and Bidisha were almost out of breath, we only climbed upto the 2nd floor but the view of the valley was absolutely mesmerising.

While coming down, learnt that the gang was having lunch at a restaurant that was next to the German Bakery. Came across this innovatively named shop called “Same Same But Different” where a few of us bought T-Shirts and other small artefacts. We had to wait for quite a bit for our order but when it came, it was worth the wait.

After Lunch, the team with their offers
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