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Old 17th August 2010, 19:31   #31
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The photo of the woman rowing the boat is a prize catch. One of the finest photos in T-BHP!
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Old 17th August 2010, 19:53   #32
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Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
The photo of the woman rowing the boat is a prize catch. One of the finest photos in T-BHP!
.

Harsh, a clean travelogue.

Nice data maintained. Bring it ON buddy.
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Old 17th August 2010, 20:33   #33
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Very Very nice snaps! They are really alive.
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Old 17th August 2010, 22:17   #34
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Amazing pics.

You have conquered Leh through one of the most adventurous route.
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Old 17th August 2010, 22:36   #35
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Harsh, wonderful travelogues, liked all the photos. I liked the one where your Kiyang is chasing the other kiangs, it truly represents the adventure you guys undertook.
Kudos to you and your wifey!!
Please do post the log quickly.
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Old 17th August 2010, 23:16   #36
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Nice photographs and narration. Simply awesome stuff...

Btw, where in Patnitop did you stay? On the contrary to your experience, I have had some good memories at Patnitop. I think it is the only place this side of the Jawahar tunnel towards Jammu where you can get to the snow scapped mountains in the winters. Though due to the ongoing turmoil in the state it is priced way over than other hill stations but still I would not mind spending a day or two in the JKTDC huts even now. Dont know much about the private hotels etc.
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Old 18th August 2010, 00:20   #37
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Wow, Great travelogue guys, Its TL's like these which make me yearn to drive to Leh. Oh and i so want to get a safari 4X4.
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Old 18th August 2010, 09:05   #38
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Nice Travelogue. The photos are superb and so is the narration.
Rated 5 Stars.
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Old 18th August 2010, 10:05   #39
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Originally Posted by StarVegabond View Post
Hi Harsh

fantastic pictures, your narattion is also very easy read.

clicked on 5 star rating

looking to read/see more.
Thanks StarVegabond. Will be posting more updates pretty soon.

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Originally Posted by Irish View Post
An excellent way of narrating the story and amazing photgraphs. Waiting for the next installment.
Thanks Irish. Next installment coming up in a jiffy.

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Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
The photo of the woman rowing the boat is a prize catch. One of the finest photos in T-BHP!
Thans mx6. She suspected that i was shooting her, however was not sure since my wife, Aarti, was sitting beside me.

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Originally Posted by PAVAN KADAM View Post
.

Harsh, a clean travelogue.

Nice data maintained. Bring it ON buddy.
Thanks Pavan

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Very Very nice snaps! They are really alive.
Thanks ampere.

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Originally Posted by Fordmanchau View Post
Harsh, wonderful travelogues, liked all the photos. I liked the one where your Kiyang is chasing the other kiangs, it truly represents the adventure you guys undertook.
Kudos to you and your wifey!!
Please do post the log quickly.
Thanks Fordmanchau. The snap with where our Kiyang is with the other kiangs was a pre-meditated shot. The idea cropped up for the first time when we were in delhi and implementation strategies were discussed in delhi itself. All we needed were some kiangs who were brave enough to either let us come close, or a place where kiangs and Kiyang could run together. We found the latter, later.

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Originally Posted by Dragonov View Post
Nice photographs and narration. Simply awesome stuff...

Btw, where in Patnitop did you stay? On the contrary to your experience, I have had some good memories at Patnitop. I think it is the only place this side of the Jawahar tunnel towards Jammu where you can get to the snow scapped mountains in the winters. Though due to the ongoing turmoil in the state it is priced way over than other hill stations but still I would not mind spending a day or two in the JKTDC huts even now. Dont know much about the private hotels etc.
Thanks Draganov,
We stayed at a hotel name "Vardaan hotel". I guess we did not like the place since we reached the place at 9:00 pm, dead tired and searching for hotels. We had to venture into 8 different hotels before settling on this one. If you compare the prices of hotels at Patni top and the ones next to Dal lake in Srinagar, Patnitop i guess would come out more expensive.

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Originally Posted by Viper21 View Post
Wow, Great travelogue guys, Its TL's like these which make me yearn to drive to Leh. Oh and i so want to get a safari 4X4.
Thanks viper21. You should plan a trip to Leh soon, and if you yearn enough it will happen.

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Originally Posted by sen2009 View Post
Nice Travelogue. The photos are superb and so is the narration.
Rated 5 Stars.
Thanks you sen2009.
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Old 18th August 2010, 10:34   #40
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Default Day 4 (13th June): Srinagar - Kargil : 200 km - 11 hrs

Having read earlier on another forum that only one-way traffic was being allowed on Zoji La, and that there are timings too to cross it on some days, we decided to leave Srinagar early in order to have enough time on our hands. The drive towards Sonamarg was breezy, with good quality, although narrow, roads.

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The drive towards Sonamarg is in a wide valley, with the Sindh river running beside the road

It had been two days since Kiyang had shifted it's transmission to 4x4 mode, and it was aching to do so! Since we were doing good on time on our way to the Zoji La check post, when the opportunity for some off-roading came, we grabbed it! A narrow kuchha road led off the highway to the river, and although not very challenging, the detour was super fun.

We rested beside the pretty river for a while, clicking the beautiful horses grazing around, which in fact is a common sight in and around the Kashmir valley. Soon it was time to proceed towards Sonmarg.

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Kiyang posing next to and not actually crossing the river!

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Posing again!

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Had to clean the 4x4 sticker before taking this one!

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Beautiful horses grazing on green pastures are a common sight in Kashmir

A couple of twists and turns later we reached Sonmarg. And what a sight it was! Lush green hills and meadows all around! However, the sight of a gazillion tourists littering the place with plastic bottles and wrappers put us off and we decided not to stop. We tried to offroad on a hill as well, but were stopped by the locals who conduct horse rides there. According to them, one has to pay a fine of Rs. 500 for off-roading, which was pretty surprising. I remember wondering that if the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) decided to do the same, a lot of people on BCMT would lose a lot of money!

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The beautiful Sindh river before Sonmarg

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Lush green Sonmarg (and it's not the saturation effect!)

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A lone tree on a lush green slope

We then started the dreaded climb to Zoji La. It was quite a bumpy ride, with lots of pot holes on the road. The greenery suddenly vanished and gave way to a landscape of brown and white. We could see a path sticking to the river and running parallel beneath us. We wondered where it went, and it was not long before the tents answered the riddle. It was apparentely the campsite at Baltal from where helicopters take pilgrims and tourists alike to the Amarnath cave.

It took us about 1.5 hours to climb the pass from Sonmarg. At last, after 3 solid days of travelling, we were finally on top of a high altitude pass, and were totally enjoying the feeling.

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Baltal, base camp for the trek to the Amarnath Cave

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The rocky climb to Zoji La

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Climbing Zoji La

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What lay ahead!

Although the climb to the pass was quite treacherous, the pass itself was interesting and pretty long! The road on the pass was cobbled and in perfect condition. However, that lasted for only about half a km, beyond which the potholes resurfaced. After paying homage to the soldiers of the 1948 war with Pakistan at the war memorial there, we started our descent. That is when we came across the tallest snow walls we'd ever seen in our lives! The biggest one that we'd seen yet was on the way to Spiti last year. But this was mammoth! It must've been close to 25 ft in height, if not more. The road was in a mess, full of craters. I was feeling bad for the Swift Dzire driving ahead of us, as I could hear his underbelly being scratched at plenty of places. I kept my speed at a crawl and negotiated the craters at my own pace, and thankfully no harm was done.

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Cobbled roads at the top

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Kiyang at Zoji La

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The war memorial at Zoji La

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The huge snow walls at Zoji La

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The wall must've been at least 25 ft high! Kudos to the BRO who maintain this road

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Kiyang needed a shower after the dirty track

After a while, the descent became easier, with the roads becoming smoother and the valley opening up. The green started to disappear and the scenery started to become more brownish. A couple of bends later, we saw a board pointing to a hill which said 'Tiger Hill'. Since we were the only ones there, and the arrow was pointing to a hill quite close to the national highway, we got a little confused since we were not ready to believe that Pakistan had managed to capture a hill so close to the main highway between Srinagar and Leh. Soon an Army jawan ambled along and he reconfirmed that what we see was indeed the Tiger hill. Although we'd read it in the newspapers, standing there and actually seeing the hill right next to the highway really does send shivers down one's spine. It is very unnerving to realize that our enemy had actually come this close. At that moment, the pride and respect one feels for the Army for having re-captured the Tiger hill cannot be expressed in words!

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Told you, these horses are everywhere!

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The winding roads relent

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These straight roads are a pleasure to drive on!

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An unzoomed shot of Tiger hill from the highway

We reached Drass by 2 pm just in time for lunch. As soon as we got down from the car, I saw that the front right tire was losing air pressure! Damn! In no mood to fix the puncture myself, I started searching for a puncture repair shop in the local market. Meanwhile, Aarti gave it a closer look, and by the time I came back, unsuccessful in my attempt to find a puncture repair guy, she'd figured out the source of the puncture. It was quite conveniently located, and we decided to fix it ourselves. We took out the puncture repair kit, and after reading the instruction manual, the tire was repaired in 10 minutes flat. This was my first experience of fixing a puncture myself, and the fact that the tyres are tubeless of course helps a lot. The best part was that we didn't even have to remove the tire! By the time we were through with fixing the puncture, lunch was ready and after a good hearty meal we proceeded further towards the war memorial at Drass.

The war memorial evokes quite a strong feeling of patriotism. One can see the Tiger hill at a distance, and the Tololing range just above. The peaks which the enemy had captured were so very close, and it was obvious that the highway must've been their prime target. The security threat was grave. The peaks looked unscalable, and it was difficult to imagine how our soldiers managed to climb those mountains with the enemy firing at them! The list of lives lost in the war had filled up a huge wall, and the pictures of our troops during operation Vijay threw some light on the adversity faced by them.

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The war Memorial, with Tiger hill in the background

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The long list of soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Kargil war

Soon it was time to leave the memorial and we proceeded towards our final lap of the day. I guess it took us another hour driving along the Suru river to reach Kargil. We checked into the hotel D'Zojila for the night, had our dinner at the main market and called it a day. Tomorrow we would finally reach Leh...

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Spent 15 min chasing this bird for a good shot, only to realize later that this is the most common bird in Ladakh!

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Drive to Kargil along the Suru river

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Drive to Kargil along the Suru river

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Typical patches of green begins, nearing Kargil town
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Old 18th August 2010, 14:21   #41
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The pictures look so crisp, fresh and clean...

waiting eagerly for the updates
cheers!!
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Old 18th August 2010, 16:58   #42
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An excellent travelogue, Harsh! Really loved the snaps as well as the writing style.
Looking forward to the rest of the journey's writeup.
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Old 18th August 2010, 19:16   #43
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Originally Posted by schitre05 View Post
The pictures look so crisp, fresh and clean...

waiting eagerly for the updates
cheers!!
Thanks schitre05. Another update coming up in a jiffy.

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Originally Posted by benbsb29 View Post
An excellent travelogue, Harsh! Really loved the snaps as well as the writing style.
Looking forward to the rest of the journey's writeup.
Thanks benbsb29. Another update coming up.
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Old 18th August 2010, 20:00   #44
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Default Day 5 (14th June): Kargil - Lamayuru - Alchi - Leh : 240 km - 12 hrs - Part 1

Today would be the day when we would finally reach Leh. Needless to say, we were super excited! The day had to begin a little early, given the amount of distance we had to cover, and so we left Kargil at 6:30 am sharp.

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Kargil Panorama

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The roads straighten out temporarily post Kargil

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The spurts of green in between the otherwise barren landscape are fantastic

About an hour later, we stopped at Mulbekh for some breakfast. We discovered a nice guest house there, where we could've also stayed the night before, had we known about it. We met some fellow travellers there, who too were moving towards Leh. There was a family of expats settled in Delhi in a taxi, and a group of people in a Scorpio and a Safari. We kept criss-crossing the latter during our visit to Ladakh and they too started back towards Manali on the same day as us. I later found out that the guy in the Safari was Duke from TBhp.

After a hearty breakfast of omelette and pancakes, we moved ahead for the next pass on the route - Namika La. The landscape already had changed to a lot of brown, and the pass was the icing on the cake. The road was in a marvelous condition, and had it not been for the altitude, the curves and the gradient, one could've gone at 150 kmph on it. It was so fantastically smooth! The pass itself was very windy and cold, and so we did not stop for long.

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The panorama at Mulbekh

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A Gompa at Mulbekh

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The road through Mulbekh

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The climb towards Namika La

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Curvaceous road towards Namiki La

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Have a look at the tarmac! So damn smooth!

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Namiki La Panorama

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Finally we reach the pass!

On our way down from Namiki La, we saw a fox running in the middle of the road. Aarti screeched to a halt, and I immediately put on the zoom lens. The fox, however, was in no mood to oblige, and ran up the hill. I too was in no mood to give up, and ran after the fox. It kept going and so did I. About 10 minutes later and after gaining some height, I finally caught up with it, chewing on something. The shot below was the best I could manage. Running at that altitude really takes it out of you, and it took me some time to recuperate before going back to the car and moving on.

The climb to Fotu La was similar to Namika La. Fantastic roads, similar landscape and cloudy weather. While descending from Fotu La, it became very foggy, and we sadly missed the first view of the Lamayuru Gompa.

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Fox found during descent of Namika La

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Descending from Namika La

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Some village before the climb of Fotu La

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Looking back at the climb of Fotu La

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Approach to Fotu La

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On the edge

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A very cloudy Fotu La

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Dramatic landscape post Fotu La

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Fantastic highway towards Lamayuru

The road so far from Kargil had been smooth, scenic and colorful (brown, pink, orange and at times green), but Kiyang was aching again for some off-the-road action. We had to oblige, and a km before Lamayuru we started to climb a mountain and went up as far as we could...

To be continued....
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Old 18th August 2010, 20:39   #45
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Harsh, seriously man, fantastic log - 5 stars without a doubt!

The photos are so crisp and vibrant - sheer quality, dude!

Do you post the photos in High Res somewhere (like flickr)? Some of them would make great wallpapers!

cheers
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