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Old 15th January 2010, 14:51   #136
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Default Something about the walkies

I read somewhere about the walkies yes certainly the walkies. Now what was it about the walkies? Thanks Yamraj enjoyed reading your posts, entertaining and very creative.... RulerofSun
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Old 15th January 2010, 19:06   #137
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Originally Posted by rulerofsun View Post
I read somewhere about the walkies yes certainly the walkies. Now what was it about the walkies? Thanks Yamraj enjoyed reading your posts, entertaining and very creative.... RulerofSun
Thanx . I plan to write a little more about the walkies in the next day's write up .
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Old 18th January 2010, 02:46   #138
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Day 15 - September 25th 2009 (Part 2)

After following the bumble bee around, I was called into another part of the monastery. There were several lamas seated outside a room. Some of them were have some pepsi which somehow seemed incongruous to the image of a lama that I had always had in my mind - ascetic, abstinence from worldly pleasures etc etc. Went inside the room and saw that some monks were making a Mandala. The paints that they use are natural paints. Apparently the glitter in them is because of natural stone. We took some photographs there and then moved outside. Just then we came to know that another temple (Protector Temple) had been opened up for a few minutes to let some folks see inside. We went in (an weren't allowed to take photographs there) and saw that the faces of the 4 gods were covered. Apparently, it incurs the wrath of the gods if their faces are uncovered normally. I guess there were certain rituals that needed to be followed at specific times for this to happen. This was one amazing thing that we saw that we were sure was kept closed for most of the visitors. Happy to be able be a part of this special thing, we walked out and towards the top of the monastery. Took some snaps of a sleepy Sheru on the way up. The view from the top was expectedly beautiful. We took several snaps there before I got the idea that I could use my sunglasses as filters for my camera. I did try a couple of snaps with the glasses held in front of the camera but didn't get any great shots.




Twins?


The Colour For The Mandalas


Temple of Protectors (In Case You Couldn't Guess It From The Picture Above )



You Look Through The World Through The Filter Of Your Eyes. Goggles. Whatever.


Split By The Diagonal

After taking some photographs, we headed back downstairs. I saw my favourite bum again and decided to follow it some more. After several unlucky moments of trying to get it to hover still, I managed a couple of shots before it headed off home tired of all that posing (and probably wanting to tell all its family and friends of its chance encounter with a great photographer and how it was packing up and moving to Mumbai to be a part of bollywood and how it was going to be the main character in the next Bhanwara song!).





The Next Star Of Bollywood


Close Up (Not The Toothpaste!)


Yet Another Macro


This Flower Always Reminds Me Of A Cauliflower!


After spending some time shooting the flowers, we headed out. While Jiju and I explored the museum, the others did some shopping. From there, we headed out to Shey palace. The palace has this steep climb followed by a sharp U turn and a steep climb to the bottom of the stairs. I very smartly drove up the incline, took the U turn and drove up all the way up the second incline to stop at the bottom of the steps. Very happy at my driving skills, I turned around to look at my handiwork and was reminded of the age old shairi :
"Khud ko kar buland itnaa..
Ke' Himaalay ki choti pe jaa pahunche..
aur khuda tumse puche..
'Abe gadhe... ab utrega kaise '"




Taking A Photo Or Posing For One?


Today's Blog Is About The Birds And The Bees !

Yeps, the incline was steep and there was no way I could turn the car around right there! I would have to slowly reverse till the U turn and then carefully turn the car around. Ah well. Will do that on my return. For now, parked the car and went up into the palace. Went in, took some snaps and then returned. Slowly inched the car down (there was a couple of slightly tense moments when the car seemed to be losing traction) and then carefully turned around at the U turn. Luckily, the curve was pretty wide allowing me to turn around completely before attempting the next descent head on! At the bottom, I heaved a sigh of relief at my escapade.

From there, we headed back into Leh, chatting on the way. Headed into the market area where mamaji and jiju decamped to go buy some apricots. From there, we went back to the AFS, packed and got ready to leave. We had already cleared the bill earlier that day so there weren't any formalities left. We wanted to go to the city and have some Laffa again but didn't have the time. We headed to the mess instead where we were served stuffed capcicum, alu sabzi, dal, rice, roti and custard. Along with the salty apples! Man, the only thing I was glad about leaving Leh was those damn salty apples! I mean, think about it. We were in the middle of apple country. Great apples to be had. And all we ever go there was old, tasteless, salty apples!

Said good bye to our rooms, packed the cars and headed out of the station with a last look at the runway. Tanked up our cars and headed out to Lamayuru. Luckily for us, the roads all the way to Lamayuru were pretty well paved except for a few mandatory bad patches in between. On the way, we stopped at Gurudwara Pathar Sahib to pay our respects. There, we bumped into a family who seemed to have come there on the search for something to eat. All they wanted to know from us was if there was something to eat available there! Guess they must have been tired and filled up with all the maggi by now!

Post Pathar Sahib, we sped along pretty fast as the roads were really awesome and straight. I guess I must have crossed 100kmph easily on those roads. The next mandatory stop was at magnetic hill. We stopped there for a while, got amazed at the phenomenon, took mandatory photographs and moved on. I had taken out my compass to see if there was any anomaly but couldn't find any. I guess it's all an optical illusion of sorts. After freeing ourselves of the magnetism of the magnetic hill, we continued on our way crossing several beautiful green villages amidst barren land. We climbed up onto a plateau, got stuck in a minor jam, and felt extremely sweaty and hot. I wanted to remove my thermals but didn't want to stop or take the risk.

A little later, we came across a village where fresh apricots were being sold on the roadside. We stopped and bought some for ourselves. From there, it was a run towards Lamayuru with a few photo stops in between. Somewhere near Lamayuru, we came upon a fork in the road and somehow both roads seemed to go towards Lamayuru. A little confused, we turned back a few 100 metres to a place where we had seen some truckers and some shops. We asked and then following conflicting instructions from different people, decided to take the top road which though not so good was easily motorable. By now, dusk was turning into night and all we could see was the few metres of earth ahead of us and nothing at all in the surrounding hills. Sometimes, we would see the lights of some trucks in the distance but most of the time, it was pretty much us alone!




Gurudwara Pathar Sahib


The Camera Took This Photograph Due To The Magnetic Field - I Didn't Do Anything!


T Junction? Nah, Thats The Confluence Of Indus And Zanskar!


Our Constant Companion - National Highway One Delta


Into The Gap


Valley View


A View


Meditating? Or Looking At My Reflection Far Below?


River View


Another River View


Yet Another River View


Ummm... River View Again?



Anybody Wants Some Apricots?


A little later, we saw our first view of Lamayuru monastery. It was a beautiful sight like an oasis in the desert! There it was all well lit up in an ancient movie sort of way amongst all the darkness that was surrounding it. It was a little surreal, that view. We continued towards the monastery and chanced upon an Omni. We were lucky to have met the guy and asked for directions as otherwise, we would have missed the turning for the village and would have ended backtracking later! We followed the car into the village turning and then I asked him for a suggestion for a good place to stay. We were doubly lucky when it turned out that his brother ran hotel moonland. He called up the person to enquire about the availability of the rooms for Indians! Since the rooms were available, we headed to the hotel only to find that its entrance was blocked by an alto the keys of which had been lost! Somehow managed to squeeze Shararat into a gap and enter the gate. Here we came upon the most amazing sight! Men playing cards! No no, it was not that in itself that was amazing. What was amazing was that these guys were wearing head torches to see the game!

With a smile on our lips and a chuckle in our hearts, we parked ourselves in our rooms and soon headed for dinner. Despite a consolidated order of Thukpa and Spaghetti, dinner was pretty late in the coming. During that time we cracked jokes about the late service amongst ourselves. Jiju got to know that some mutton was being made in the kitchen but despite his several tries couldn't lay his hands on any as it wasn't ready by the time we had polished off our meal! I must mention here Dorjee, the guy who ran the hotel. A nice chap who didn't get hassled despite so many people landing up in his restaurant that day with some of his staff on leave.

After the meal, we headed for our beauty sleep. Rashi and I quickly reviewed the photographs and then she fell asleep. I had to wash my socks so went and soaked them first and a little while later went to wash them. At the right moment, with my hands dipped in the cold water, the electricity decided to take a walk into the other parts of the country! Drenched in darkness, I tried to locate masterji's torch. But it would appear that masterji didn't really forgive us for flicking his torch and had cursed it into unavailability! (Hey masterji, it was a cheap torch which some cheap people took away unintentionally. Why waste your curses? We will post it to you later. If we can find it that is!). Since I couldn't find the torch and since I just had to finish the task at hand, I ended up washing the pair of socks in the light of my cellphone!

Car Statistics:
Distance covered: 184 kms
Time: Didn't note!
GPS stats:
Trip odometer: 171km
Moving time: 04:55 hours
Stopped: 1:52 hours
Max speed: 100.0 kmph
Moving avg: 34.6 kmph
Overall avg: 25.1 kmph

Coming next:
Zojila
Walkies (yes, finally!)
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Old 19th January 2010, 15:30   #139
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Day 16 - September 26th 2009


What's the time? Is it time to wake up yet? Why is my watch showing 5 am? Oh! Looks like Rashi is fidgeting around for some cough medicine. Maybe I should sleep again. What are these sparks? Oh thats the static electricity between my fingernails and the blanket. Streaks of sparks. Lightning and thunder in our room. Yawn. Let me just get some more sleep.

After the above to mini episodes, I finally woke up around 6:30 and wandered out into the garden with my camera. This was a delight with lots and lots of flowers around. This kept me busy for a while while mamaji and Rashi had some tea. After that, mamaji plucked some fresh apples from the trees in the garden. They were simply yummy to say the least and was a superb start to the day. Downed some apples, took some more photographs and then went and took a bath and got ready to go.


Bharat Bhushan Style - Half Light, Half Shade





Fresh Apples Anyone?


Bud(dy)


Side Pose


We found out (from the same guy who had guided us to the hotel yesterday night and who was present there again today) that hotels in Sonamarg would be pretty expensive and should try and go to Srinagar instead and stay at the Dal gate area. Armed with that piece of advice, we left the place around 8:15. The road upto Fotula pass was pretty decent. From there, we descended into Mulbek where we had breakfast at a non descript place. We had Alu paranthas and plain paranthas. The dal given along with the paranthas was very tasty while the mixed veggies was oily and a thing to be avoided. Rashi and Mamaji had tea there as well. Just outside this place, a group of people had stopped and on talking to them we were told that Zozila would be closed in this direction today and that we would have to most probably stop at Dras tonight. Unhappy at that thought, we decided to carry on and find out in Dras about the latest situation.

From there, the roads turned from bad to worse. There was a lot of sand and mud on the roads and a lot of it would keep flying around as and when any vehicle came along. At some places, we had to stop and let the dust settle as we couldn't make out the way ahead! This happened all the way across Namikla and then onto Kargil as well. We didn't have the time to see the war memorial at Kargil and decided to give it a miss. Stopped at the Kargil petrol pump to tank up. It took a long long time to get the tank filled as there were quite a few vehicles around. Tank up done, it was time to go get the petrol bill. I had to run around from one guy to the other to get the bill! And in the meantime witnessed the stupidest person on earth. This dude was tanking up his sumo standing with a lit cigarette right next to the dispenser! I wanted to tick him off but unknown country and unfriendly faces around made me think twice. Somehow, the landscape was changing and the people didn't seem all that happy or forthcoming.



Carefull - Jagged Teeth. Does Not Bite Though.


Twisties


Rollong Mountains


Roads And Rolling Mountains


Fotula Par Fotu Le




We Almost Missed This!




From Kargil, we headed to Dras sometimes on good roads, sometimes on bad. On the way, we came across the well know board stating that we were being watched by the enemy. We asked some soldiers about the location of the enemy observation post and saw it through the binoculors. Flipped a couple of birdies at the enemy and moved on towards Dras . Spent some time at the war memorial just before the city and were impressed by the memorial. The displays and the short lecture by the attendant makes one feel extremely patriotic. Not wanting to go but forced to do so, we moved on. At the exit, a taxi guy informed us that we could do Zozila as the pass would be open both ways.

We entered Dras and the coldest inhabited place on earth turned out to be very hot and sweaty and extremely dusty. And we couldn't even get a pepsi or a bisleri bottle there for some reason! We didn't stop much but continued on our quest for Zozila. We crossed a police checkpost where we were supposed to register ourselves. On chatting with them, we were told that we had sufficient time to cross over as the pass is closed at 6 pm and we still had a couple of hours left to do the pass. Soon, the BRO project Himank ended and another one started. This had some sort of interlocked paving stones instead of tarmac on the road. And the road was pretty bad in most places. Lots of dust, lots of potholes and only a dirt track of sorts to go up on. Somewhere on the way, we saw a foreign national cycling up the pass and were pretty much amazed by the stamina these guys possess.


You Have Been Warned! If You Flip Birdies, Expect Your Finger To Be Shot!


We Felt Humbled


War Memorial At Dras


We kept climbing up for quite a while and then came across a fork in the road. Unsure of which one to take, I flagged down a truck climbing up from the other side. He told us to take the upper road as otherwise we would jam up the road below as there were several trucks coming up that way. We followed his advice and took the upper cut. Unsure of the way still, we turned a corner and saw several military guys standing near the road. They were each in a different corner of the road with a cellphone attached to their ears! I guess this was the only place where those poor souls could get a signal and so we promptly named the place signal point . I asked one of the guys there if the road led to Zozila and moved on when he nodded in the affirmative.

Soon, the road turned from bad to worse to worst. There was no road to speak of and the dirt track had become narrow and danegerous. There were lots and lots of potholes, lots of dust and the road tended to narrow down to a car and a half width in several places. Rashi, on the valley side of the road was pretty petrified and refused to even take a photograph or a video of the road! I was pretty cool about it (I guess I was on the cliff side plus always knew how the car was behaving at each point and so was never really scared). We did encounter a couple of trucks coming down that narrow path and had to plan our path very carefully. A little while later, still on that treacherous track, we came across a Scorpio coming from the other side and flagged him down. On asking him about where Zozila was, he told us that we were standing on it! There were no markers or indicators so I thought that it would probably be around the corner. Went around the corner and the road started to descend. We were on Zozila at that time!

A few turns later and we could make out that Zozila was a watershed as the surrounding mountains had started to turn green with trees and bushes. We descended a little further and came to a place where the road joined back the main road that we had left earlier. Some truckers didn't see us and turned into our path. I had to back up for some 100 odd metres before we found a place for the trucker to pass. We headed a little further and got stuck in some truck jam. I turned my head right and saw the cyclist from the other side of the pass crossing us! What the hell! How did he manage that? Was he really cycling or when nobody was looking, did he fly?

Ah! The Walkies!

We were stuck in the jam for a while and then mamaji decided to go ahead and investigate with a walky in his hand! Aah the walkies. I must talk about the walkies. I suppose this would be the right place to talk about them. Superb things those. Very very very useful. We found them to be the only means of communication between the two cars. "Hello hello?" "Hello hello!" "Shall we stop at the next junction for a pee/tea/pepsi/food break"? "Sure!" "Hello hello?" "Hello hello!" "Where are you guys?" "Oh we got stuck behind a truck and should catch up with you in the next 5 minutes". "Hello hello?" "Hello hello!" "Where are you guys?" "Look above and you will see us". All this was done over the walkies that would keep the two cars connected through the ether all the time. It was like running a lifeline between two moving universes all the time. The walkies were pretty helpful otherwise as well when we would split up into two groups in the market or somewhere else. "You wanna go shop there while I go look at that? Okay, take this walkie and we will know when to meet up". "Hello hello?" "Hello hello!" "There is this bell in this shop that costs Rs. 600/-. How much is that guy quoting?" "450." "I will come down there". "Hello hello?" "Haanji bolo!" "Could you please change that song on the FM modulator? We don't like this one!"

The best use of the walkies was yet to come though. As I mentioned, mamaji had gone ahead with a walkie in his hand at the truck jam. He saw an opening coming up and stopped some vehicles. With the walkie in his hand, the truckers gave him some respect. He called us over the radio and asked us to cut lanes and come forwards while he told them "Ruko, sahab ki gaadi aa rahi hai"! The poor truckies didn't have an option but to wait for the Sahib's car to go through. Heh heh he. With that bit of deception, we were able to gain quite a bit of time and escape the jam . All thanx to mamaji and the walkies!



On The Way


Different Colours Of Starkness!


Zozila War Memorial.


The Treacherous Road At Zozila


As Wide As It Gets On The Track


She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain When She Comes...


The Bridge Across Forever


Yay! Treacherous Journey Over


Will One Of These Guys Clean Me?


From there onwards, it was a nice downhill journey. We stopped at Sonamarg and got a 50% off season discount at the JKTDC hotel. We parked ourselves, and went for dinner to the Narinder Dhaba situated on the main road. When we reached there, we saw our favourite cyclist with a lot of dust in his beard, finishing his dinner. I guess he was flying after all! Dinner at Narinder was the best that we had had in days now.Roti, butter roti, rajma, dal, shahi paneer, mutter paneer, kadi chawal all for 400/-. And tasty too! But with lots of oil in the sabzis. After the dinner, we headed back uphill for our cottages. We were using mamajis torch for the trek to the dhaba and back whirring away at it all the time. What fun! We had split into two groups and so when we came to our hut, we thought that jiju and Nandika would open the door for us. Imagine our surprise when somebody else opened the door! Who? What? How? While these questions were starting to spin in my brain, I realized that the answer was that we had come to the wrong hut in the night! Apologized and went over to the right hut.

We realized that in our haste to get across Zozila, we hadn't had lunch today. Ah well, one of those days. Went into our hut and after some time realized what a run down condition it was in! The toilet seats were broken, the geysers didn't work, the rooms weren't too clean! Ah well, this was a tiring day and it was time to sleep.

Coming Next
The last day of the journey together....
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Old 19th January 2010, 15:33   #140
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Day 17 - September 27th 2009 (Sonamarg-Patnitop)

Day 17 of the journey. The last day that we would all travel and stay together. The end of the trip of a lifetime.

Yesterday had been a tiring day. The long journey, the hot and sweaty towns, the dusty roads and the trecherous Zozila had all taken a toll on us. We crashed in early (there was a match going on that jiju and Nandika watched for a short while) and slept like logs. I suppose I must have slept for more than seven and a half hours that night at Sonamarg! Woke up and realized what a dump of a place we were in! The toilet seats were broken, the geyser in our room didn't work, the bulbs were pretty pathetic 40 watt ones and overall the rooms weren't as clean as one would expect them to be. We waited for quite a while for the water to heat up but it didn't and so we had to take some from mamaji's room. Luckily for us we were staying in a hut that day and so were all within a couple of feet of each other! We had asked the caretakers to give us a couple of bars of soap but they took a long long while in coming. The towels that were provided were pretty dirty too. JKTDC Sonamarg - a must avoid hotel overall I would say.

After all of us had woken up and refreshed, we went back to Narinder Hotel for some breakfast. We had some yum paranthas for breakfast. Apparently the hotel was one of the cheaper places to stay at (I suppose it would have been better than the one where we stayed!). We saw our favourite cyclist again. I guess he was getting ready for his flight up the mountains again.

After breakfast, we walked back up to our hut, and while the others finished packing, mamaji and I strolled and chatted outside. It was around 9:30 by when we were all done and it was time to leave. We realized that there was a scam running in the JKTDC hotel as we were given a 50% discount for the stay and no bill! Before leaving for the onward journey, we filled some water from a little stream flowing down the mountain. The water was very cold and very very refreshing to drink! It was one of those WOW moments where you rediscover the freshness and the beauty of the Himalayas!



JKTDC Guesthouse At Sonamarg


From Sonamarg, we moved towards Srinagar. The roads were decent and passed through some very green mountains. After the barren lands of Ladakh, this was a welcome change. Some where along the path, we came across another one of those "Haste makes waste" boards. I saw that and read it out as "Hastey makes wastey". Rashi, lost in some thoughts didn't really get it. She asked me what hastey and wastey meant. Smirking away to glory, I tried to explain it by asking her to pronounce what was written on the board. She goes "Hastey makes Wastey". Now, how do I explain this? So, I say, "Rashi, read the words individually". And Rashi then goes, "Hastey. Makes. Wastey". Looks like my joke has fallen pretty much flat. Or maybe this would turn out to be one of those classic D-Uh moments! And then I ask her to spell the word and read it. A little soul searching later, I could see the bulb brighten. "Oh s**t! Thats haste and waste!" Heh heh he. Turned out to be a classic after all!

While on our way to Srinagar, we came across a couple of bikes with a KA registration. For some reason, that made me pretty happy. A little later, I realized that one of the riders wore a blue helmet with a message, "αQ" (alpha Q) printed on it. That somehow turned me off. A little while later, we came across a kid on the roadside who was shooting make believe arrows at all passing vehicles. Boy, was he having some fun shooting down all the adversaries on wild horses that were running wild in his kingdom!



Barren No More


Along River Jhelum


Sheep Crossing Ahead


Hastey Makes Wastey


Share The Joke Please


Karnataka Biker


On the outskirts of Srinagar, we decided to make an apple stop. Initially, mamaji bought a couple of kgs of apples. At Rs. 10/- a kg, they were a steal. And they were pretty yummy apples at that! He then decided to buy some more apples. Rashi and I were in our car while Nandika was waiting in the WagonR for the apples while both mamaji and jiju were shopping at the roadside stall. A few moments later, we realized that both of them along with the vendor had suddenly disappeared! A little distraught at this sudden happening, I went to investigate. Just behind the stall was were the vendor kept his goods inside a house. I could see that the three of them were sitting on a huge heap of apples sorting through the lot! Mamaji had decided to turn his couple of kgs into a whole crate! And after the crate, he picked up a few kgs for us to take as well! Those were some really delicious apples that we had. And at what a cheap price! Here, in Bangalore, half rotten apples cost more than 8 times as much! What a life!

While we were waiting for the apple saga to get over, some kids from the nearby houses came along and aksed us to take their photographs. We took a few and showed them the results on the LCD screen. That made the kids happy and us too. We had washed some clothes the previous night and they had refused to dry overnight. So, while mamaji and jiju were busy choosing apples, we got busy decorating the rear seat of the car with the wet clothes so that the sun could dry them out! The kids must have thought that we were a mobile laundry!



Crowded Backseat


Apples For Sale


Soon enough, we left from the place and headed out towards Srinagar. Rashi informed me that there was a fly in the car. I told her that it was probably hitching a ride with us and she got a little peeved when I asked her to collect some rent from it for the journey! That reminded me of the trip from Jaipur to Gurgaon. Somehow, quite a few mosquitoes had hitched a ride with us. And they were creating havoc on my legs while I drove. That particular stretch had been irritating to start with anyways. And the mosquitoes made it feel more of a hell ride than ever!

Soon we got into Srinagar and we seemed to be running a little late for our destination for the night. We had planned to go all the way to Pathankot as we had to attend a wedding the next day in Patiala. With that being on the top of our minds, the two of us wanted to speed away while the rest of the gang wanted to go see Dal lake ("its only going to be a half an hour diversion"). We gave in and went to the lake. I found the place to be pretty filthy and decided that I wasn't really going to get into a boat ride. No point in taking a ride through floating cigarette packets and weeds. Rashi didn't go for a ride either. While mamaji, jiju and Nandika went on the ride, we decided to take a video of the place. Out came the camcorder. And refused to work. Some sort of an error. I ejected the tape and put in a new one. That ran for a few seconds and then the error popped up again. Crap! Murphy was looking into our lives pretty closely! We took some photographs with the canon instead. What we were disheartened to see was that the folks who stay in the lake had made it dirty. While some people threw garbage into the water outside their houseboats, others washed their clothes in the water. No wonder it was filthy and dirty. Rashi called the place Dull Lake!



I Am Cleaning The Lake With My Dirty Clothes


Dull Lake


Greenery In Dull Lake


Shikara Ride


When the other three came back, they told us that further inside, the view was pretty good and nice. I didn't regret not going though. Once out, we looked around for a place for lunch. We didn't find anything suitable and headed outside the city. Somewhere on the way, we decided to stop at a place called Shamra Dhaba (note, it was not Sharma!). We had rajma, chawal, roti, kadi and dal. There wasn't any curd available. And the food was horribly spicy and had tons of chillies! None of us enjoyed the food there. The funny incident of the meal was when one of the waiters asked mamaji if he should serve Papad. Mamaji replied with a "Papad to hum Hapur mein jaa kar khayenge". That had us laughing and helped tide away the hot food!

Soon, we were heading towards the famous Jawahar tunnel. We came across a board that proclaimed the tunnel was 19 km away. After 4 km, we came across another board that said the same thing. Jawahar tunnel 19 km. What? Were we driving around in circles? Was that the distance as the crow flies and had we been travelling laterally? Did we go back in time? Ummm, probably some nincompoop was told to mark the boards, marked one, and then forgot he had marked it so marked the next one with the same number!

Soon, we crossed Jawahar tunnel. Went across the whole tunnel in a few breaths (I think 3). That was the fun part of going in the tunnel. I guess we were the last few to go from that side as there was a line of cars waiting on the other side that started moving as soon as we crossed! Lucky us! The view of the Srinagar valley some seemed more spectacular that that of Jammu. It just didn't seem the same. We also came across some pretty disparate drivers (one sumo had Irfan printed in bold letters across the back and was being driven extremely rashly, another black alto who just wouldn't give way, a white wagonR uncle who was much much faster than us on the hills..)

We had planned to go all the way to Pathankot that night come what may. It was already beyond dusk before we reached Patnitop. And while we were crossing Patnitop, we came across a faint mist on the road. Plus the view was really great and we were smitten by it. Slowly, one by one we all started questioning the need to go to Pathankot. Rashi, the staunchest supporter of Pathankot was one of the first ones to want to stay in Patnitop! (the fragrance from the pine trees did her in). I guess it was something to do with the fact that it was already night, the mist and the tall trees made the place beautiful and overall we were pretty wistful about having to leave the mountains and within all of us wanted to spend just one more night up in the clouds. A few phone calls to Patiala to guage the travel time for the next day later, we decided that Patnitop it was going to be for the night! Anyways, none of us really wanted to go forward so it was a good decision.

We went inside the town searching for a place to stay. The first thing we came across was the JKTDC huts. The hut that we saw was several 100 m inside and the path included an incline. We didn't feel like dragging our luggage all the way there and so decided to explore further. While some of us were looking at the hut, mamaji took the WagonR to explore the town further. He went a few km further but couldn't find anything and so turned around and came back. It somehow seemed that there weren't any hotels at all in this area. Which sounded strange as this was a tourist destination. We decided to explore further as one of the guards at the entrance to the town had mentioned a couple of names. One of them was some 5 star resort that threw attitude at us and so we threw a little attitude back and decided to explore further. I remember that this attitude place had freshly laid cement that we were so careful about going up and not so careful on our way out!

After about half an hour of searching (and accompanied by a couple of touts that kept following us around), we finally settled down on Hotel Holiday Inn. It was a decent place and we got some pretty good rooms. We unloaded the cars and dumped the stuff into the rooms. While we got ready, Rashi decided to wash up. Nandika came in from outside and banged away wildly at the door. Rashi came out, saw me and accused poor me of troubling her. When I told her that it was Nandika, she smartly escaped by saying, "It wasn't me. Aakhir aurat hi aurat ka dard samajh sakti hai!" Rashi fell for the cheap dialogue and gave me the bad hubby treatment .

We headed up for lunch and found out that it was Ram Navami so there would be no non veg. Poor jiju. He so wanted to eat some of the specialities but just couldn't lay his hand on them! After several dry days, we decided to celebrate a wonderful trip with some beer. Gave the camera to jiju and he looked into the viewfinder to realize that, "Mujhe kuchh dikh nahi raha!" "Arrey jiju, lens cap to nikal lo. Itni beer chad gayi kya?" Heh he he. That was fun. And then somehow, the camera setting changed in such a way that the photos came out a little blurred. We concluded that the camera had gotten drunk and it wasn't anything to do with us .



Drunk Camera!

After dinner, we all went off to our rooms to grab some beauty sleep. Tomorrow, we would have to wake up early for the long drive. While we nodded off to sleep, I realized that this was the end. We had finished off the long trip that we had begun. Our trip to Leh was over finally. Yes, we did have quite a bit of distance to go. Yes, we would have some more fun on the way, but the meat of the trip was over and we would be left with only stray pickings.....
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Old 19th January 2010, 15:34   #141
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Great pics...am sure you guys had good fun up there.
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Old 19th January 2010, 15:34   #142
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Epilogue


With the break of dawn came the end of our journey. Today, we split and go our different ways. From there onwards, it would only be a return journey home. Nothing but nothing would hold a candle to the journey we had completed. We did drive together for half the day but the six companions were split. No more mingling of luggage, no more chit chatting and stopping for photos. Just a rush to reach home. We travelled together till Jalandhar after which mamaji, jiju and Nandika went on to Meerut while we stopped at Patiala for a wedding.



Outside Holiday Inn - Ready To Leave (You Can See Rashi In The Reflection)


What Enchanted Us To Stay At Patnitop


The Last Of The Lovely Roads


Definitely Not Jaanu !


From there onwards, the return journey took us to Meerut where we stayed a couple of days and recuperated from the high of the trip. All we needed to do was to make the final push home now. Mom, Rashi and I started back from Meerut on 1st October with an aim of reaching Baroda in the night.

Somewhere along the way near Ajmer, Rashi took over driving while I did the navigation. There is a turn towards the GQ here that leads away from NH8 (old Bombay-Delhi highway) We missed the turn and landed amidst a convoy of trucks. Convoy? Seemed like the entire trucks of the country had lined up - you overtake 50 and see another 100 ahead of you! We realized that we had taken the wrong route and so decided to cut across the country side to go back to the GQ. From where we left NH8, the4 GQ was about 50 km away. And Udaipur 186. When we reached the GQ, Udaipur was 236 kms away! Dang! We did an over all additional 100 km just to get back to the GQ track. We did speed up a bit and Rashi took over in the evening for a while again while I power napped in the back seat but we were no way going to be able to reach Baroda. Stopped over at Udaipur instead. I crashed from the fatigue and vaguely remember that mom and Rashi tried to wake me up in the night as mom had fallen ill. I just couldn't wake up!


The Beautiful Roads In Rajasthan


The Story Of Gujarati Snakes Is True !

We reached Baroda the next day afternoon. Spent the rest of the day there and then went to Lonavala from there the next day. Most of the time it was only driving on and on and on. Somewhere near Mumbai while Rashi was driving, we had a puncture. Fixed that and continued on our journey. At Lonavala, we met up with Amar and had a good evening together. Left early the next day and heard about the disastrous flood in north Karnataka. Luckily for us, the GQ was not hit and we continued on our mad rush home. Rashi took over driving again somewhere in between and to her bad luck, hit the worst highway stretch of the GQ!



Amar's Courtyard In Lonavala


Monsoon Greenery


Journey Completed


All Our Luggage


On the night of 4th October 2009, at 23:45, after completing 8298 kms, we reached back home. It was not just the kms that we had completed. Nopes, it was a little more than that. We had achieved what we had set out to achieve. We had completed a real life saga encountering adversities, challenges, adventures and lots and lots of fun. We had done what few think of and fewer attempt. And having successfully attempted the trip of a lifetime, we realized that although we weren't Lamas yet, we were no longer Gamas.....
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Old 19th January 2010, 15:35   #143
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Folks, that was the end of the travelogue.

Thanks a lot to all of you for travelling with us on this journey that took several years in the making and will be a memory of a lifetime for us.....

- Y
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Old 19th January 2010, 15:40   #144
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Originally Posted by KSM-Vtec View Post
Great pics...am sure you guys had good fun up there.
Thanx Kaushik. We had lots of fun. This would be a memory of a lifetime.
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Old 19th January 2010, 15:49   #145
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Folks, that was the end of the travelogue.

Thanks a lot to all of you for travelling with us on this journey that took several years in the making and will be a memory of a lifetime for us.....

- Y
Great log, was real fun reading thru. There is no doubt that it is a memory of a lifetime for anyone who visits Ladakh.
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Old 19th January 2010, 18:05   #146
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That was an epic journey.

Ably supported by extremely good narration and few of the best photos I have seen. Congratulations Yamraj.

I have been following your travel from Post # 1. Thanks for taking me all the way to my favorite destination.

And now ladies and gentlemen The booker prize of the year goes to...........Yamraj (aur uski sawari, in this case red not black of course)

Cheers.
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Old 19th January 2010, 21:03   #147
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What a travelogute by you. Excellant! I was hooked to this since the very begining. You took so much time and kept us guessing about what next. I loved the delay between 2 posts of your travelogue. A wonderful journey has come to an end today.

Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

Cheers!
IRISH
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Old 20th January 2010, 02:00   #148
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Great travelogue and some awesome snaps. Read the whole thing in one go. A GTX and a Wagon R = strange combination that seems to have worked. The GTX is an awesome car for looong drives and must have been fun in the mountains. Your travelogue gives me the courage to do the Ladakh trip in a car (not SUV). Perhaps next year, but not before a good warm beach holiday.

Cheers,
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Old 20th January 2010, 13:20   #149
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Lovely read. Thank god I kept postponing reading this earlier or else would not have kept up with suspense of waiting for the episodes.

The polo ground pictures of Leh - it is the army golf club. They have browns instead of greens as putting surface!!
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Old 20th January 2010, 15:38   #150
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KSM-Vtec View Post
Great log, was real fun reading thru. There is no doubt that it is a memory of a lifetime for anyone who visits Ladakh.
Thanx for the compliments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by advaitlele View Post
That was an epic journey.

Ably supported by extremely good narration and few of the best photos I have seen. Congratulations Yamraj.

I have been following your travel from Post # 1. Thanks for taking me all the way to my favorite destination.

And now ladies and gentlemen The booker prize of the year goes to...........Yamraj (aur uski sawari, in this case red not black of course)

Cheers.
Thanx for the wonderful compliment

Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish View Post
What a travelogute by you. Excellant! I was hooked to this since the very begining. You took so much time and kept us guessing about what next. I loved the delay between 2 posts of your travelogue. A wonderful journey has come to an end today.

Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

Cheers!
IRISH
Thanx for the compliment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravveendrra View Post
Great travelogue and some awesome snaps. Read the whole thing in one go. A GTX and a Wagon R = strange combination that seems to have worked. The GTX is an awesome car for looong drives and must have been fun in the mountains. Your travelogue gives me the courage to do the Ladakh trip in a car (not SUV). Perhaps next year, but not before a good warm beach holiday.

Cheers,
Thanx. A warm beach holiday beckons me too. Am off to Goa soon

Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Lovely read. Thank god I kept postponing reading this earlier or else would not have kept up with suspense of waiting for the episodes.

The polo ground pictures of Leh - it is the army golf club. They have browns instead of greens as putting surface!!
Thanx for the info. I was somehow under the impression that that was the polo ground (dunno how I got that impression though!)
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