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Old 2nd August 2010, 15:55   #1
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Location: Sakleshpur, Hasan
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Default Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!

Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!

It all started one day when one of the guests at our homestay asked us what we do when we shut for the monsoons during June/ July. It triggered off a series of discussions on what to do. For driving enthusiasts like us it had to be a road trip. Where was the question. Various places were debated on and finally Ladakh it was.

The first step was to get the routes in place. We did our bit of research and planning. But if it wasn’t for our very own ‘Walking Talking Atlas’ (as I call him) – Mr. HV Kumar, this trip would have been extremely difficult for us to plan. HVK sent us his logs and travelogues and our trip began there itself.

The route that was finally decided was – Bangalore to Ladakh via Srinagar and back via Manali.

Excitement and nervousness bundled up; my husband Chandan, I and our Getz set off from Bangalore on 27th June 2010 at 05:30 am.

Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-car_sarchu.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-us-pangong.jpg

Bangalore (840 mtr above msl) – Pune (675 mtr above msl)
We reached Pune, 835 kms in 12 hours. Enroute we met our fellow BHPians,Siddu,Venky & Robin who were returning from the AKC/ Examm offroad event. The roads all through were great, except for the Harihar – Ranibennur stretch which has been the same for a long time. On entering Maharashtra, the first thing we noticed was the two wheeler traffic on the highways and the endless town and villages. We settled in a friend’s place for the night.

Pune (675 mtr above msl) – Ahmedabad (150 mtr above msl)
We set off from Pune with one thought playing in our minds – clearing Mumbai. HVK came as a savior here. With him on calls continuously, Mumbai was a breeze through for us. We cleared the town in 1hour 15 minutes. Gujarat has amazing roads and sign boards but what is most amazing about this state is the traffic sense of people on the highways. One does not need to use the horn here; flashing of lights is well understood. People are in no hurry to get anywhere. They stick to their lanes and let the faster vehicles pass by. I guess Mr. Modi has a role to play in this too.

The Baroda – Ahmedabad expressway, an 84 kms stretch was cleared with ease in 42 minutes, a good 120 kms/hour. I think this is the only place where one can do such averages. We did 675 kms in 11 hours. Settled for the night in a hotel on the highway itself. One thing worth mentioning here is the amazing gujju thali that we had in this place. For Rs. 80/- a thali, the varieties and quantities served just wouldn’t stop. J

Ahmedabad (675 mtr above msl) – Udaipur (650 mtr above msl)
A beautiful drive on four lane ghat roads took us from Ahmedabad to Udaipur, 230 kms in 4 hours. It was on this stretch that we spotted India’s largest truck (among the ones we’ve seen). At 74 wheels, this monster was carrying the Delhi metro engine. There was a guy sitting at the rear of the truck in the open. On enquiring we got to know that he just sits there through the journey and supposedly gets paid Rs. 25,000/- a month. Any takers for this job???

Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-truck.jpg

Udaipur is the city of lakes but unfortunately for us, we visited this city in peak summer when the lakes were devoid of water. But the consolation was the jeeps we saw. YES! Udaipur is also the city of Jeeps. Jeep lovers can spend days here as there are garages in every street restoring old jeeps and the workmanship is impeccable.

Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-jeep-udaipur.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-jeep-crowd-top-rajasthan.jpg

Udaipur (675 mtr above msl) – Jodhpur (330 mtr above msl)
We did Udaipur to Jodhpur via Raunakpur which houses a beautiful Jain temple. Including an hour’s stopover in the temple, we did this stretch of 270 kms in 5 hours.

Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-jain-temple.jpg
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Jodhpur as a city is extremely dirty and crowded. The only place we visited here was the Mehrangarh fort. What caught my attention here was that in the fort’s compound there were Rajasthani villagers singing their folk songs and a few meters away there was a Muslim ceremony going on – both cordially. It was a nice sight!

Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-mehrangarh-fort.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-near-mehrangarh-fort.jpg

Jodhpur (330 mtr above msl) – Bikaner (330 mtr above msl)
This stretch truly portrays Rajasthan as the land of arrow straight roads.
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-rajasthans-arrow-straight-roads.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-car-dune.jpg
240 kms in 3 hours and almost no traffic. We headed straight to RTDC Hotel Dholamaru. The place is great with its old world charm and excellent service. Junagarh Fort was the only place we saw here.
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-junagarh-fort.jpg

Bikaner (330 mtr above msl) – Amritsar (330 mtr above msl)
545 kms in 12 hours – reason – heavy traffic in Punjab. From almost no traffic and no noise zone, the state of Punjab welcomed us with city like traffic, noise and pollution. The fields and Kinnow plantations on either sides of the highway are a big relief though.
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-punjab-roads.jpg
Ironic but true, we found no Punjabi dhabas on the highways of Punjab. Though we’ve tasted the best Butter Chicken, Tandoori Chicken and Rotis here in the restaurants of Amritsar. Every dish here comes with dollops of butter.

The one thing that caught our attention here was that all the discontinued models of Indian vehicles still ply on Punjab roads. From the three wheeled tempos of the 70’s to the old Zens, LML Vespas to Premier Padmini Fiats and some rickety rackety rickshaws (probably the Lambretta ones) can all be spotted here.
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-garuda.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-tractor-punjab.jpg

Except for the GoldenTemple which is a ‘hallmark of peace’, the city of Amritsar is extremely dirty, loud, smelly and chaotic. Finding directions in this place was extremely tough for us as there are very few signages visible in the state and these too are in Punjabi.
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-golden-temple.jpg
At the Wagah border, supposedly a symbol of Unity and peace, the cops itself encourage civilians to shout slogans and challenge the Pakistani side with patriotic songs. The feeling of patriotism takes a whole new meaning here. There were over 10,000 people clamoring for space to watch the retreat ceremony on our side whereas we could see only a handful on the Pakistani side of the border. The retreat ceremony too is more about the soldiers yelling and showering kicks in the air at each other on both sides than bringing our flags down with honor for the day.
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Amritsar (330 mtr above msl) – Manali (2050 mtr above msl)
Our original plan was to take the Srinagar route to Leh from here on. Fortunately for us there were serious issues going on in Srinagar and we decided to take the Manali route. Fortunately because, we would not have been able to come back via the Manali route from Leh due to the route being closed indefinitely.
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Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-entering-manali.jpg[/ATTACH]

It was welcome relief to enter Himachal Pradesh as it gets less crowded here and the sinages are back on the highways and in English & Hindi. However, just another hill station, Manali is extremely crowded due to its close proximity to Delhi and Punjab. We covered this stretch of 418 kms in 11 hours which included getting stuck for an hour at Baijanath due to a military convoy that blocked the roads.

Last edited by Samurai : 2nd August 2010 at 16:35. Reason: removing font tags
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Old 2nd August 2010, 16:30   #2
Join Date: Jan 2010
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Default Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!! - Part II

Manali (2050 mtr above msl) – Jispa (3200 mtr above msl)
From this point on our averages fell. 140 kms in 9 hours (we were informed of the same by HVK and had thankfully kept buffer days).
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-sumo-near-rohtang.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-jispa-building.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-boulder-road.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-damaged-bridge.jpg
Roads were terrible and rains were heavy, something uncommon in the area. We managed to pass Rohtang with a few difficult river crossings in between. The funny thing was we reached this stretch with beautiful roads for a kilometer or so. Having passed it we realized it was Rohtang pass – No board, no sign, no traffic, forget about jams & absolutely no people!!

Sissoo is a small town that comes before Keylong. The road through Sissoo however was closed due to landslides. All the vehicles were forced to take a diversion and it turned out to be one crazy adventure. A couple of kilometers on the road, we saw a Tavera parked on the side of the road, stuck in almost two feet deep slush. With no one ahead and behind us, we were wondering if we could do it. We went ahead and obviously got stuck in the same slush. But what helped us here was our off roading skills. With a little bit of effort, we managed to cross it. Another 10 kms ahead we came to a standstill. The scene in front of us…. A rivulet which had over flown its boundaries and with had brought down a part of the mountain. Right in the middle of this on the non existent road, was a Verna stuck because of the boulders that were flowing with the water on to the road. By the time we had reached this spot, the smaller boulders had flown and settled below the Verna, making it impossible to move the car. But since we couldn’t stop trying, we took our tow straps and shackles and fastened it to the Verna and a Mahindra Pick up in front of us. After an hour and a half, we managed to pull the fellow out. Surprisingly, we cleared the stretch in a jiffy too. What a relief!!!
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-verna-stuck-1.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-verna-stuck-2.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-verna-stuck-3.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-verna-stuck-4.jpg
We had lunch at Keylong and our plan was to reach Sarchu and stopover for the night there. On reaching Jispa we got to know that Baralachala has been shut due to heavy snowfall. We settled down in Jispa in a camp called – Jispa Journeys. They have Swiss tents with basic facilities. Jispa is a small quaint town with a few houses, 2 hotels, a camp and two shops. Its set in a valley with a view to snow capped peaks around. We could not go back to Keylong due to landslides which had occurred just then. We also learnt from a few cab drivers that Rohtang was shut too due to snowfall. In fact a group who had flown in to Chandigarh from Bangalore and hired a cab from there to Leh was staying over at the same place as ours. On speaking to them we learnt that their cab had been damaged due to the landslides. A huge boulder had fallen right on the engine of the vehicle. Sitting in our tents, we could see landslides happening at a distance & all through the night, we could hear them. It was scary.
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-jispa-journeys-tent.jpg
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Jispa (3200 mtr above msl) – Leh (3500 mtr above msl)
2 days passed in Jispa and on the third day morning all the vehicles stuck at Jispa were awaiting news of Baralachala opening up to traffic. Rohtang had not opened up either. At around 07:30 am, a few trucks passed by and they informed us that we could proceed and the Baralachala pass had opened up. Baralachala was filled with fresh snow which looked like dollops of Vanilla ice cream on either sides of the road. But in spite of the heavy snowfall, the roads here were good and we cleared it smoothly. We decided to reach Leh once for all. Rohtang still remained shut for the 4 day in a row.
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-baralacha-la-board.jpg
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Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-sapna-chandu-sarchu.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-sarchu-canyons.jpg
Jispa to Leh is the most scenic drive we have done so far. From snow-filled Baralachala to mountains changing colors at every turn and the flat More Plains where you can rev up to 100 kms/hour, the views are breathtaking
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-painters.jpg

Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-more-plains.jpg

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Attached Thumbnails
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-sunrise-jispa.jpg  

Last edited by Rehaan : 25th May 2012 at 15:56. Reason: Removing some duplicate images.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 16:49   #3
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WOW. This log is wafting around like a zephyr.
Amazing thread for the title - Bangalore to Sakleshpura through leh! Women are creative.
Kudos to you and chandan who managed to sneak in a trip without much fanfare in t-bhp. And your travelogue is also very refreshing and low key! More like been there, done that, great memories is all we have!
I'm hooked on to this.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 16:57   #4
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WoW!! Looks like its raining ladakh travelogues this monsoon. Catchy title by the way
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Old 2nd August 2010, 17:15   #5
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Lovely. You definitely have an eye for details. The red Getz is looking awesome in some of the pics, especially the one below the tree.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 17:33   #6
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Default Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!! - Part III

Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-bikers.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-getz-down-lachung-la.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-lachung-la-down.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-lachung-la.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-canyons-lachung-la.jpg
We reached Leh, 335 kms in 13 ˝ hours. Leh is a beautiful and extremely clean town. There are no touts here who surround you with various hotel options and sight seeing tours. The people are extremely friendly and welcoming and food here (Kashmiri, Tibetian, Chinese or Indian) is great. It’s a town with maximum SUVs and MUVs too.
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-gompa.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-hemis-monastery.jpg
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Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-buddha-shey.jpg
Some of the places worth visiting in Leh are the Hemis Monastery, the SheyPalace and the Shanti Stupa.

Leh (3500 mtr above msl) – NubraValley (3300 mtr above msl) – Leh (3500 mtr above msl)
117 kms in 6 hours. Traversed the highest motor able road in the world – Khardung La.
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-chandu-khardung-la.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-khardung-la-top.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-khardung-la-top-madras-sappers.jpg
Multi colored mountains, dried up river beds, snow capped peaks, raging rivers, green and yellow fields and white sand dunes. Except for a beach, NubraValley has it all. The views are unbelievable. We also went for a camel safari on the dunes. It was a wonderful experience.
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-getz-tangalang-la-2.jpg
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-chandu-near-yellow-fields.jpg
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Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-himalayan-marmouth.jpg
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Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-india-gate.jpg

Last edited by Jaggu : 2nd August 2010 at 18:59. Reason: Avoid creating multiple threads on same topic, await a mod approval so that you can continue posting in the original thread.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 17:33   #7
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One thing more difficult than the trip is getting a suitable title for the travelogue - and I think this one takes the cake!

Like the title itself, your route plan itself is innovative, departing from the usual routing via Delhi, instead going from low-altitude hot deserts in Rajasthan to high-altitude cold deserts in the Himalayas.

The Jispa tent camp looks interesting - and new. Any further details on tariffs, contact details, etc?

Needless to say, the photographs are fantastic, and I liked the one in the Rajasthan desert with the car and tree the most.

How do you rate the accommodation you stayed in? Pune, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Amritsar, Manali, Jispa?
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Old 2nd August 2010, 17:52   #8
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Superb title to a superb travelogue, the pictures are top notch, waiting to read more.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 17:57   #9
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Superb title as every one said. I think the snaps repeating.
Each attachment shows up twice I think.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 18:07   #10
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Default Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!! - Part IV

Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-india-gate-_-alto.jpg
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Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-us-camels.jpg

We stayed overnight in Olthang guest house in Diskit. The drive back to Leh was covered in 4 hours. On the way back we stopped to speak to a few Indian cyclists who were there to conquer Khardung La and Zanskar valley. The group was from Pune.
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Leh (3500 mtr above msl) – Pangong Tso (4500 mtr above msl) – Leh (3500 mtr above msl)
We covered this stretch of 155 kms in 6 hours while going and 4 ˝ hours while coming back. Pangong is undoubtedly the most beautiful place we’ve seen so far. It is unfortunately on the verge of getting spoilt, thanks to the movie 3 Idiots. Places to stay in Pangong and Spangmik (a small village close to Pangong) are either too basic or too expensive (Rs. 3500/- for a tent). We did not find accommodation there and decided to head back the same day. On our way back, we spotted a Bengali movie crew setting up equipment for a shoot at the same spot where 3 Idiots was shot.
Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-3-idiots-spot.jpg
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Bangalore to Sakleshpur via LADAKH!!!-us-pangong.jpg

Roads to the lake are amazing all the way except for the mighty ChangLa. It was 13th July 2010 and our Getz completed 5 years. The mighty ChangLa decided to test our nerves as well as our car’s on this very day. Our return was at around 05:00 pm. With no other vehicles heading back and the snow having melted through the day, we were a little worried. I was driving on the return leg. The climb to Chang La began and we were doing fine until we came to this particular spot where the road had caved in. On either side were two small boulders on which the tyres had to be balanced to move forward, the snow had melted and water was gushing all over the road. To add to this, the area was heavy avalanche prone area. This was the area where the avalanche in the month of May had killed two people, one of them being my ex boss. Chandan got down to guide me so that the tyres were balanced on the boulders. The only way out from this had to be momentum. I tried twice but gave up when for the first time, my hands started shivering holding the steering wheel. Chandan reversed and stopped to give the car a short break as we could smell the clutch burning. A few minutes later, he revved, gathered momentum and thankfully cleared the stretch. Here again, off-roading skills came to our rescue.

Last edited by Jaggu : 2nd August 2010 at 18:51. Reason: Removing [Font] tags, please avoid copy pasting from external font editors. Also do a Preview before Posting. Thanks
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Old 2nd August 2010, 18:16   #11
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WoW!! Congratulations and this is certainly a feat achieved.

What a run on the tarmac and amazing captures there.

You've traversed south to north via west and am sure the distance covered itself would've give you enough tidbits on the driving styles.

I completely agree on the 2 points you've mentioned.
The Increase in 2 wheeler traffic and town/village density after Kolhapur and the driving manners in Gujarat.

I was bowled over by the fact that overtaking happens only from the right with just a flash of your lights. Good hint that they look at the RVMs while driving! It is always pleasure to drive on Gujarat roads.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 18:21   #12
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I agree with MX6. Though we have seen several Leh TLs on this forum, but, this one is really different. Not only for its unique/creative title, but also for that low key factor as MX mentioned. Both of you have done this great trip without any fanfare! And, giving the circumstances, this was very bold initiative . Narration and pics are also very good. I'll follow it closely.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 18:37   #13
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Default Good One

Nice narration and very good photographs. Waiting for the next episode.

Originally Posted by sapna gurukar View Post
Ironic but true, we found no Punjabi dhabas on the highways of Punjab.
Did you use NH 15 for Bikaner to Amritsar?

Originally Posted by sapna gurukar View Post

The one thing that caught our attention here was that all the discontinued models of Indian vehicles still ply on Punjab roads. From the three wheeled tempos of the 70’s to the old Zens, LML Vespas to Premier Padmini Fiats and some rickety rackety rickshaws (probably the Lambretta ones) can all be spotted here.
You can also spot the latest models of all type o vehicles in Punjab. Ludhiana is also known as merc capital.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 18:52   #14
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Very nice narration. This thread has given me the hope that we can traverse Ladakh without a 4X4.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 19:01   #15
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This is good - keep it coming. I like the way you've presented your journey using hieght above MSL.
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