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Old 5th July 2010, 15:00   #1
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Arrow Leh-docked

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"To go or not to go" has been gonging in the bell-fry every waking day throughout last year. The pain of watching so many close people and many others drive-by was eating away all exposed neurons, the gong has become a toll, the dull pain has ripped loose firing all 6, this can't wait for more. Decision time, let everything else freeze for now, I need to drive to Leh, come what may and ASAP.

Been planning for 2 years, stydying the blogs, books and what have you, almost made it with HVK convoy last year but it was not meant to be. So started quietly with few know people, there were 8 people in the prospective list in my Scorp for a June Drive. Slowly, as is the ususal practice, people dropped out and I was left with Jignesh Patel from Rajkot, a medical student. He was ever enthusiastic, keeping in touch constantly, so that makes two of us. Sometime around April, Prajesh from Faridabad, a very old friend also said he's keen thought we had some scheduling problems. At last, around June first week, everything fell into place, the D-Day was 16th June, return around 3rd July, so things looked set.

The exhaustive check list was being ticked off between 3 of us, I was preparing the scorp (I call it WOLT, aka Wide Bold) paprallely. ICE was upgraded with a FLY amp and BP components in the front, a custom made bull-guard to mount the Hella Comet 500's, a general check up of the beast and we were ready. The Hellas and bull-guard turned out to be a project by itself but after a burned out fuse console and adjusting the focus many times, we got a beam of 300 mtrs which made a huge difference in ease of driving in the dark, flip it on and you would have most cars in front giving way in a hurry.

Me and Jignesh met at Ahmedabad around 11th to run the check-list, the difficult items turned out to be a small shovel, toe-rope and planks. After lots of hunting, got a toe-strap from a crane operator, found a decent shovel from a hardware store and hijacked some left over planks form the basement of my apartment and we were ready to the gill on 15th.

The broad plan was to go thro. Srinagar in order to acclamatize and also cover Padum form there and if Manali opens up then to come back on that route. The bookings were done well in advance, only a couple of places were open. The Plan;
16th-Ahmedabad-Behroor
17th-Udhampur
18th-Srinagar
19th-Kargil
20th-Kargil-Padum
21st-Buffer
22nd-Padum-Kargil
23rd-Kargil-Leh
24th-Leh
25th-Leh
26th-Leh-K-Top-Nubra
27th-Nubra-Pangong
28th-Buffer
29th-Pangong - Tso Moriri
30th-Tso Moriri - Sarchu
01st-Sarchu-Manali
02st-Manali Buffer
03rd-Manali-Delhi
04th-Delhi-A'hmedabad.

We changed this as the situation evolved, more of that as we go on..........

On 15th night, sleep was difficult, I could nod-off only around 12 midnight, we shifted the 3AM start to a 5 AM start, managed to get up @ 5, pick up Jignesh at 545 and we are onto the first mile of the 5K kms adventure. The run was a regulation one, having done Delhi many times. The Scorp was singing a tune, we zipped past Himmatnagar, Udaipur, Bhilwara and were on time at Hotel Panghat @ 610 @ 110 PM; good timingins considering the stops for diesels, b'kfast and toll gates. We did not spare the fuel and whipped the WOLT till Behroor for the day, Jaipur flashed past, we were in Behroor bang on plan and target at 6 PM, covered an impressive 842 kms. Someone asked, "Can a CRDe Scorpio move", we would like to say a resounding "yes" and exhibit the metrics. RTDC Behr.oor is a nice place for a break and the restaurant is pretty good.

17th July: An early start, Jignesh is pretty good with the alarm , got up at 3AM (even Count Dracula would not be afoot around this time if he was thirsty)!!!! Jignes (can we cally him Jiggy from here on) was unrelenting and cracked the whip, move or else!!!! Once I was behing the wheels, I am more or less like being possessed by Black Bear's Ghost and let rip, we were at Ashram, 143 kms in 100 mts, DND flyover pick up point of Prajesh, our 3rd partner in the adventure from Faridabad.

Got loaded and were again off in 10mts towards distant Udhampur, nor really knowing what waits us on the roads. We had the best Parathas ever at Gulshan Dhaba, before Paniput; I should record here I am a poor eater. My quota ends with 1-2 Parathas and a chai for breakfast while my younger partners were competing with each other, before my googling eyes I saw about 8-9 Parathas disappear with 2 generous tall glasses of Lassies, don't know what happened while I went to the wash room, there was time enough for a couple of more. Throughout the trip, Jiggy never spared the calories at all times, while Prajesh gave him hot chase, it was a treat treat to watch !!!

Pathankoat, Dayal Chak and Manwal we were at Udhampur at 0630 after 800kms, 2593 feets as per our chines GPS box. Through the trip, we recorded the heights with this Chinese Box, the roads and places were accurate, though the Alt readings were sometimes way off beam even when locked to 10 sattelites!!!!! Don't know why, maybe some of the Gurus here would throw
protons on the issue????

Repacking the Wolt every day morning was a chore, I had removed the last row and put in a fabricated frame in its place to hold the luggage and to secure it with hooks, worked wonderfully well for us. With a full load luggage, spares and foodies, Wolt was full, soon we got into the rhytm of packing and unpacking from 2 large ruck-sacks at every stop.

18th July: 0630 AM, check out, Diesel, Air and we were off. Got the first tase of what the roads can do at Batote, a tempo has run off the road, the salvage by BRO was on, the lone young driver was cut out from the cabin and taken out in full view of all 100's of people. The pall of sorrow was palpable, the incident screamed, "beware on curves, be alert, respect gravity and limits of the machine"!!! 40 minutes block and a resolve to be relentless in caution, saw us start off. In the next few curves, we saw a dhaba with a river and a dam, had to stop for breakfast anyway. Didn't know which river it was, but was beautiful.

We were slowly but steadily climbing thro. Ramban and stopped about 2 KM before the Jawahar tunner, lots of tea / shack shops around here and ideal to stretch the leg. Cleared the 2.7 KM tunnel, lower Munda Toll gate, small jam here (we were lucky, heard of big ones here), the road was bad one and off till Quazigund dry fruit market where we added to the food stock. We were at Srinagar, in front of Hotel Shangri La at 240 PM waiting for my colleague Irshad Ahmed, a local. Called him and he soon took us to Hotel Relax Inn, which was pretty good for 1200 for 3 beds, reportedly there was a huge influx of tourists in town and the rates have gone up around Dal Lake. Irshad, ever the good hoast, took us out to lunch and we were back by 4 for a siesta.

He came promptly back at 0530 PM and picked us in his Santro to the Dal Lake. Negotiated for a Rs.350/- ride on a boat arund the lake, we could have been had for much higher price. A beautuful 1 hour ride and a walk on the lake side and photos later we were dropped back around 9 PM. special thanks to Irshad, he know the language, people and setting so well, we have to mention his dirving skills too. Srinagar traffic is unlike any othere, you need to know the lanes and by-lanes well or get mired in serpentine blocks aroudn the lake. Irshad threw his Santro like an auto, he could come to a dead stop in the middle of traffic, take a full turn, show his hand and stop all incoming traffic and wriggle in and out any way he wants.... phew.. that was one piece of dare-devil driving, if ever I have seen one. Prajesh and Jiggey both had a jaw-dropping
experience from what I saw, I can bet they have never seen anything like this before

KP (short for Kevin Prajesh) & Jiggy, what say you?

KP, time to let loose with your photos hereon!!!

======
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Last edited by ramkya1 : 5th July 2010 at 15:17.
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Old 5th July 2010, 15:16   #2
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Thumbs up Think of the devil...

Ramkya Sir, I was just thinking about you a few minutes ago when I logged into Tbhp to post a quick travelogue. We followed your tracks and visited Adalaj, Modhera, Patan & Sidhpur last weekend...

I log in and see that your Leh trip log has been kicked off. Will be glued to this thread.
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Old 5th July 2010, 15:19   #3
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Happy that you finally made it to Ladakh & that's a classic picture to set the ball rolling

Let it roll, baby, roll!!!
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Old 5th July 2010, 15:34   #4
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Arrow

Some photos on the way.....

The one with "I am God" is Jiggy, the one with Red T Shirt and Shorts is Prajesh and the one with Blue shirt is Irshad Ahmed from Srinagar, the bald one........ do I have to spell that out out ???


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The one in Blue shirt is Irshad Ahmed, my colleague in Srinagar and one hell of a driver himlelf.

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Last edited by ramkya1 : 5th July 2010 at 15:37.
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Old 5th July 2010, 15:36   #5
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Oh, someone going to leh ladakh again. Man I am jealous. Mera number kab aayega.
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Old 5th July 2010, 15:42   #6
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Hey Ramky, great that you've visited the places that "you'd been dying to be there"! Another Ladakh thread begins and I'm eagerly awaiting for the travels ahead.

In the words of Suman Da; "let it roll, baby, roll!"

PS: Had you made sure that there was no Maruti Swift around while you clicked the opening snap!
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Old 5th July 2010, 15:52   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
Hey Ramky, great that you've visited the places that "you'd been dying to be there"! Another Ladakh thread begins and I'm eagerly awaiting for the travels ahead.

In the words of Suman Da; "let it roll, baby, roll!"

PS: Had you made sure that there was no Maruti Swift around while you clicked the opening snap!
We made sure of that, the only Swift on the road was trapped in a water crossing way back, but an Innova came clipping out of nowhere, I think Jiggy stopped it on its tracks to take the picture !!!!!!
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Old 5th July 2010, 16:05   #8
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What an opening pic Ramkya sir! And amazing description of your trip plans.
And the bald one? Well shouldn't it be And the Bold one?
You look like the mahatma from the side while driving!
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Old 5th July 2010, 16:09   #9
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Ramky sir

Great trip - 'Mother of all road trips', just to quote your words only!
Looking forward to details of route and stay. Like you drive your Scorp, so you do your writing! I like your army style of writing in fast forward mode, it feels like words are moving with the speed of scorp!

Amazing pics, as usual, all Ladhak pics are like that.

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Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
Well shouldn't it be And the Bold one?
You look like the mahatma from the side while driving!
How well said these two remarks are! + 1 to both of these points.

Last edited by Dippy : 7th July 2010 at 22:31. Reason: Back to back posts
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Old 5th July 2010, 16:20   #10
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Wow Ramky... So after the last year recce now the actual game is it?
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Old 5th July 2010, 16:21   #11
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Default Udhampur --> Srinagar

Our 1st traffic jam of the trip
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One tempo driver overshot on the curve and lost his life. RIP
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Breakfast stop - Waiting for paranthas..
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Hot tandooori parantha with chai
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Our Navigator - Jiggy Bhai
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Road block being cleared up
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A chai stop before Jawahar tunnel which turned out to be an omelette hogging stop.
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Old 5th July 2010, 16:26   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
You look like the mahatma from the side while driving!
Thanks MX6, LDL, it must be some Osmosis working in Gujarat!!!!!
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Old 5th July 2010, 16:30   #13
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And so it starts! You did you trip only days after us. Its surprising to see such clear blue skies. All we had was grey
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Old 5th July 2010, 16:33   #14
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Qazikand - Known as a dryfruit paradise. They are imported (carried by mules) from Afghanistan, i'm told.
The dryfruits we got were just ordinary quality and even the prices were also at par with Delhi prices.

I found something more interesting than the dry fruits
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I have never seen so many cricket bats at one place. Kashmir willow i guess.
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Old 5th July 2010, 16:34   #15
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Obviously, you had a great time in Ladakh so please keep us enriching with information, anecdotes and loads of pictures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
In the next few curves, we saw a dhaba with a river and a dam, had to stop for breakfast anyway. Didn't know which river it was, but was beautiful.

======
You must have stopped at “Peeda” between Batote and Ramban. This Dhaba has balcony on the backside that gives you the majestic view of the breathtaking “Baglihar” Hydro Electric project being constructed on River Chinab. This Dhaba is famous for its “Rajma Chawal” and “Anardana Cheatnee”. The food standard has gone down a bit since the founder of the Dhaba died and his sons took over (Broke it into 2. Doesn’t it sound familiar). When on this highway, I always stop there.

I am very happy that you had great time at Kashmir. It does help if you know a local person.

I have seen many people in this form who are not happy with the kind of service they get in Kashmir (Tariffs etc) but I don’t think the place is costlier in comparison to other tourist destinations in India or world over. The Place unfortunately is going through turmoil since few years and its effect on economy (and thereby the mindset) of common people is obvious. I have traveled considerable places (right from Interlaken to Whistler to South America to Australia) world over and am still to come across a place which is as beautiful as Kashmir.
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