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Old 17th August 2010, 13:16   #16
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Excellent photos! Tata Motors may be interested in some of the snaps to be used as promotional material for the Safari.

However, please refrain from scaring animals (atleast the photo said so)
Thanks jeep. I was skeptical of sharing the photo in question, since it was not a proud moment for me as well. In my quest to get the beast snap with our vehicle, we had to chase it. The poor herd had to bear with us for a while for our selfish interest without getting anything in return! Not even a snack.

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The pic on saspol (143_Post Saspol.JPG) reminds me of drive through Nevada; and 207_Chasing Kiyang at Tso Kar.JPG looks like you're driving in a African safari. Wow, what a diversity in one country. Rated ***** already.

Excellent to hear & kudos to the effort.
Thanks aargee. A friend recently told me that the road cuts through Bazgo Thang (Plain).

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Good to see you here Harsh! Bring it on.
Good to be here. Finally i've shaken off the laziness and decided to share the travelogue here as well. . Another selfish interest behind it though (which should not be shared in the public domain) ;-)

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It was a 5* TL from the beginning. All the Leh TLs are like that, but, yes, just like Sapna-Chandan TL, this is different.

Excellent pics and courageous journey. Waiting to hear the story in detail plz.
THanks LongDrive lover. Would not make you wait more. Will be posting updates quite soon.

Last edited by vardhan.harsh : 17th August 2010 at 13:34.
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Old 17th August 2010, 13:27   #17
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superb stuff man. Bring it on
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Old 17th August 2010, 13:35   #18
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Amazing photographs and crisp write-up. Bring it on!

BTW any particular reason for choosing to do Manali -Leh in the first place as the rapid ascent does produce AMS symptoms?
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Old 17th August 2010, 13:38   #19
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Awesome some of the best snaps i have seen.

Great trip as well. keep it coming.
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Old 17th August 2010, 13:38   #20
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superb stuff man. Bring it on
thanks phamilyman. Adding another post in a bit.

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Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
Amazing photographs and crisp write-up. Bring it on!

BTW any particular reason for choosing to do Manali -Leh in the first place as the rapid ascent does produce AMS symptoms?
thanks Milecruncher. We wanted to do the Manali-Leh highway desperately since the other route is not so "adventerous" and had not planned to do the Srinagar - Kargil - Leh route at all. We had to include it though, due to the prevalent weather conditions. We were not too worried about the AMS symptoms since, thankfully, Aarti & I have been immune to it so far.
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Old 17th August 2010, 13:44   #21
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Default Day 2 (11th June) : Manali - Kangra - Pathankot - Patnitop : 490 km - 15 hrs

With a heavy heart, we abandoned all hopes of doing the Manali - Leh highway on our way up to Ladakh. All we hoped was that we could do it on our way back. The good part about the new itinerary was that we would approach Leh via a different route and come back by a different one. Hoping that the Srinagar - Leh road was as beautiful as the Manali - Leh one, we set-off. And we were not disappointed at all! Although a little less difficult, the road offered some spectacular vistas along the way.

But first things first, we had to come up with the best route from Manali to Patnitop. The ideal route seemed to be Manali - Mandi - Joginder Nagar - Palampur - Dharmasala - Pathankot - Udhampur (via Jammu bypass) - Patnitop. Although it did not look very interesting, we were nevertheless excited since this would be our first ever foray into the Kangra valley.

The route turned out to be exactly what we'd expected - a boring drive. The few highlights were the shivering monkeys at the Pandoh Dam and the breathtaking first view of the Kangra Valley. However, the population density in the valley and the traffic was quite a mood-spoiler. A good break from the monotony of the drive was a flock of eagles circling over a carcass right next to the highway, which gave us an opportunity to play with our new zoom lens.

4500 km, Two Idiots & a Wild Safari in Ladakh-005_monkey-pandom-dam_day-2.jpg
The poor guy was freezing!

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A panorama in the Kangra valley

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The Kangra narrow gauge

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Lunch time: An eagle circling over a dead cow

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Siesta after a heavy lunch

Lunch happened at a roadside Dhaba an hour before Pathankot, and we were happy with our progress so far. However, an early end to the day was not what fate had in store for us. We hit a huge traffic deadlock as soon as we entered Jammu from Punjab. It took us about an hour to get out of that rut. Also, the highway till Jammu was under renovation, lowering our average speed.

As we approached Samba, we started looking for the detour towards Udhampur, which would lead us away from the ugly traffic heading towards Jammu. It was a good decision at the end, with the detour being quite scenic and running along the newly constructed rail line from Jammu to Udampur. The rail link become operational in 2005 , and has some of the most dramatic rail bridges I've seen in the country so far.

4500 km, Two Idiots & a Wild Safari in Ladakh-016_train-track-jammu-srinagar_day-2.jpg
Operational: The bridge on the rail link between Jammu & Udhampur

We managed to reach Patnitop by 9 pm. I must now digress to say that Patnitop must've been the most ridiculously priced "hill-station" I've ever been to! The ugliest of hotels, with the ugliest of rooms, fleece the tourists by charging a bomb. The standards are abysmal, the service extremely poor and the rates obnoxious. And the icing on the cake is that Patnitop really isn't that beautiful! I would not suggest any fellow traveler to ever plan a night halt there!

Finally a long day came to an end! Tomorrow was going to be a peaceful short drive to Srinagar. My first foray into the fabled Kashmir valley. The drive, however, had it's own share of stories, with our towing cable getting into some serious action... I hadn't expected it to be used so early into the trip...
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Old 17th August 2010, 14:06   #22
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Harsh, This travelogue is what many of us look forward to. Images that speak for themselves.

Hooked to hear more of the details.

Please do post some images in higher resolution. Many of them are desktop background worth.
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Old 17th August 2010, 14:12   #23
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Amazing pictures. If the teasers are anything to go by then this should be one of its kind travelogue. Bring it on mate. It seems that the Ladakh wilderness has become a teambhp backyard of late. Way to go people. I love the spirit and enthusiasm here on the forum.
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Old 17th August 2010, 14:18   #24
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Good One, let the narration and pics flow. your stastistics rock, many can refer it for their trips.
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Old 17th August 2010, 15:00   #25
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Railway track looks amazing. Thats the route for Kangra valley express, right?
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Old 17th August 2010, 16:27   #26
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Hey Harsh, great stuff man. The opening post was simply fantastic. Awaiting more.

It just sucks when one plans to do the Manali-Leh highway only to find it closed. And the traffic on the alternate route is a big time drag. Good to know that you did do Leh-Manali though. And thanks for mentioning about Il Forno. The next time I'm in Manali, gonna go there for sure, being the pizza lover I am.

Your comments about the planning starting after visiting Binsar in April very much coincides with what had transpired for my Ladakh trip last year. Even we (wifey & myself) had been to Binsar in April '09 and afterward had started planning for Ladakh trip in July '09.
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Old 17th August 2010, 17:30   #27
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Please do post some images in higher resolution. Many of them are desktop background worth.
Thanks IronWolf. Uploading a higher resolution might increase the upload time and i would have to resize all over again :(. But thanks for the compliment.


Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderernomad View Post
Amazing pictures. If the teasers are anything to go by then this should be one of its kind travelogue. Bring it on mate. It seems that the Ladakh wilderness has become a teambhp backyard of late. Way to go people. I love the spirit and enthusiasm here on the forum.
Thanks wanderernomad

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Originally Posted by somu_john View Post
Good One, let the narration and pics flow. your stastistics rock, many can refer it for their trips.
Thanks somu.

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Railway track looks amazing. Thats the route for Kangra valley express, right?
I guess so, though i am not a 100% sure about it.

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Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
Hey Harsh, great stuff man. The opening post was simply fantastic. Awaiting more.

And thanks for mentioning about Il Forno. The next time I'm in Manali, gonna go there for sure, being the pizza lover I am.

Your comments about the planning starting after visiting Binsar in April very much coincides with what had transpired for my Ladakh trip last year. Even we (wifey & myself) had been to Binsar in April '09 and afterward had started planning for Ladakh trip in July '09.
Thanks lordofgondor. You must visit Il Forno if you are a pizza lover. There pizzas are comparable to Le Piazaa at Hyatt, New delhi which is quite a pricey restaurant in a 5-star hotel.

Quite a coincidence uhh. Binsar followed by Ladakh for the both of us.
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Old 17th August 2010, 17:43   #28
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Default Day 3 (12th June): Patnitop - Srinagar : 190 km - 7 hrs

After the previous day's long drive, it was time for a short drive to Srinagar from Patnitop. So we decided to start off the day a little late at 9 am. A good rest was necessary for the 3 day haul from there to Leh.

As this was my first visit to the state, I was quite taken aback when I saw the amount of security. Stallions with soldiers and automatic machine guns mounted on top were everywhere, as were soldiers with rifles slung across their backs. I mean one reads it in the newspapers, but when one sees it, it is quite a different feeling altogether.

The first attraction of the day was the Baglihar dam that we saw from a distance from a view-point on the highway. With a convoy of Stallions to overtake every few minutes, we were cruising along the Chenab for a while. A little later though the weather turned for the worse and it started raining cats & dogs.

4500 km, Two Idiots & a Wild Safari in Ladakh-018_dam-near-ramban_day-3.jpg
Zoomed view of the Baglihar dam from the highway

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Crossing over Chenab

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Army men guarding and chit chatting

It was raining heavily, and after turning a corner we saw an Innova stuck on the side of the road with one tire in a ditch. With one rear tire stuck, the other tire was unable to pull the car out. We saw an opportunity to test our towing skills for the first time. The pelting rain did not make things any easier. It was difficult to coordinate, but we somehow got our cars tied together within minutes and I was on the wheel with the knob shifted to 4L mode. A while ago, I had read a blog about the "snatch" manoeuvre. With my legs literally trembling, I decided it was about time we put the theory to test. I pressed on the gas and with RPM at 3500 I let go of the clutch. Kiyang groaned and the taut rope pulled the Innova out of the ditch in one go, just like a cork is jerked out of a champagne bottle. It took me a minute to calm my nerves, and thus all in all in 10 minutes we were back on our way to Srinagar. We had not anticipated that the accessory we had not expected / hoped to use at all during the trip would be used so early on.

Moving ahead, it was not long before we crossed the Jawahar tunnel to reach the Titanic view point where we were greeted with the first view of the beautiful Kashmir valley. The road beyond the tunnel was a straight one, lined with Chinars, with rice fields on either side. We reached Srinagar early by around 4:00 pm, checked into a hotel and then decided to go on a longish Shikara ride in the Dal lake. It was a fun & relaxed evening, which ended with an authentic and delicious Kashmiri dinner at Ahdoos. The place is a must visit for all the foodies out there, turn your vehicle in the direction of Residency road and you should be able to locate it quite easily.

4500 km, Two Idiots & a Wild Safari in Ladakh-023atitanic-view-point.jpg
First view of the Kashmir Valley from the Titanic view point

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A farmer working in a field before Srinagar

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A beautiful woman rowing a boat in the Dal lake

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An egret on the Dal

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The colorful floating market on the Dal lake

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A Pond Heron on the Dal

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Dusk on Dal

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Colorful water fountains on the Dal

4500 km, Two Idiots & a Wild Safari in Ladakh-051_dal-panorama.jpg
A Panorama of the Dal Lake at dusk
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Old 17th August 2010, 17:58   #29
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Hi Harsh

fantastic pictures, your narattion is also very easy read.

clicked on 5 star rating

looking to read/see more.
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Old 17th August 2010, 19:15   #30
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An excellent way of narrating the story and amazing photgraphs. Waiting for the next installment.
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