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Old 24th August 2010, 11:53   #91
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Default Awesome !

Man...
After reading this.. I feel like buying my 4 X 4 asap and going on this trip.

I also have Tawang on my agenda in next 1-2 years.
It has been fun. I can imagine how much fun would it have been for you to experience this. I 'll make it a point to meet you in Delhi before i plan for this trip.

-Ajay
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Old 24th August 2010, 16:29   #92
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Just one word about this TLog. Awesome!

You had the best combination for The trip and the TLog.

Yourself and your wife along with The beautiful terrain, The 4x4 Safari, The Nikon, The Laptop and The GPS. Wishing you many many such exciting trips in the future.

OT: Seems the F5 key on my laptop stopped working since yesterday.
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Old 25th August 2010, 14:48   #93
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Excellent
Amazing
Awesome
Extraordinary
Marvelous

I have no more words than this. Your photography is amazing. Your trip is too good. Better than any other. You must have enjoyed it a lot. I wish i could get chance to do same trip in life.
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Old 25th August 2010, 15:24   #94
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Excellent write up & Excellent Pics.Many of the pics are the best on T-BHP.

5/5.
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Old 25th August 2010, 16:13   #95
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Thumbs up

Hey Harsh,
Came to know from a source that TATA Motors have agreed to put pictures of your kiyang on their website for promotion purposes.
Congratulations for that man!!

Regards,
Abhi
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Old 25th August 2010, 17:06   #96
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I have been reading and appreciating each picture quitely. Coz I was speechless looking at the wonderful captures. I really was at loss of words on what to say on the entire work by you and your better half.

But on hearing that TATA is utilizing your pictures for Promotional purpose, I could not hold back to say. WELL DESERVED ! ! ! !
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Old 25th August 2010, 17:13   #97
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velmurugan View Post
Vardhan,
Excellent.
A very adventurous drive , that too driving alone with absolutely no back.
The pictures speaks for itself.
Your composition on landscape,portrait are exceedingly superb, including the post processing.
I am really impressed & hats off to you & your navigator companion. I know in such drives, doing 2 things i.e. driviong(+enjoying the drive) & photography is not easy.
I am sure TATA guys should see this report & it will add a feather to Safari line-ups!
Great trip & Great coverage both your write-up, pictures etc!
I felt like leaving everything here & return back to home country. The pictures are just so powerful & expressing!
Thanks Velmurugan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dubeee View Post
This pictorial has wound up all our team for our long roadtrip next year. Thank you for a giving a real feel of your trip with both the lovely photos and of course the writing style. Now we just have to decide on which of our three options to exercise.

Cheers!
All the best for your roadtrip next year . We might meet on the road that time

Quote:
Originally Posted by akaush View Post
Man...
After reading this.. I feel like buying my 4 X 4 asap and going on this trip.

I also have Tawang on my agenda in next 1-2 years.
It has been fun. I can imagine how much fun would it have been for you to experience this. I 'll make it a point to meet you in Delhi before i plan for this trip.

-Ajay
It truly was fun. Cannot wait for next year to come to make another one. Sure i'll be delhi but i hardly know anything about Tawang region

Quote:
Originally Posted by MilesAndSmiles View Post
Just one word about this TLog. Awesome!

You had the best combination for The trip and the TLog.

Yourself and your wife along with The beautiful terrain, The 4x4 Safari, The Nikon, The Laptop and The GPS. Wishing you many many such exciting trips in the future.

OT: Seems the F5 key on my laptop stopped working since yesterday.
THanks MilesAndSmiles. Sorry for the delay in posting the next one. Was out of town and will post after office today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aniketi View Post
Excellent
Amazing
Awesome
Extraordinary
Marvelous

I have no more words than this. Your photography is amazing. Your trip is too good. Better than any other. You must have enjoyed it a lot. I wish i could get chance to do same trip in life.
Thank you aniketi. It was quite enjoyable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SILVERWOOD View Post
Excellent write up & Excellent Pics.Many of the pics are the best on T-BHP.

5/5.
Thank you silverwood.

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhijeetsng View Post
Hey Harsh,
Came to know from a source that TATA Motors have agreed to put pictures of your kiyang on their website for promotion purposes.
Congratulations for that man!!

Regards,
Abhi
Waiting for TML to actually use it. It's still not confirmed yet. Will be wonderful boost to the ego if they do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rastapopoulos View Post
I have been reading and appreciating each picture quitely. Coz I was speechless looking at the wonderful captures. I really was at loss of words on what to say on the entire work by you and your better half.

But on hearing that TATA is utilizing your pictures for Promotional purpose, I could not hold back to say. WELL DESERVED ! ! ! !
Thanks Rastapopoulos. TML is a recent development (hours ago). Hope they use it. It would be nice.

Last edited by vardhan.harsh : 25th August 2010 at 17:14.
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Old 25th August 2010, 19:27   #98
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Dear Harsh,
Im just speechless. Trust, all my praises seems to be less for: The Man (You), The Machine (Your Kiang - TMSafari), The Road (Travelogue), The Art (pics). Simply Outstanding, 5 from my side.
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Old 25th August 2010, 22:41   #99
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This is one of the best threads I have read on T-Bhp. And your photography is superb! I am sure you would have won photography competitions!!

OT: Can you tell me your flickr handle?
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Old 26th August 2010, 17:32   #100
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vardhan.harsh View Post
Waiting for TML to actually use it. It's still not confirmed yet. Will be wonderful boost to the ego if they do.
They will use it buddy.. give them some time. they surely will.

Cheers,
Abhijeet
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Old 26th August 2010, 21:25   #101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puneet8796 View Post
This is one of the best threads I have read on T-Bhp. And your photography is superb! I am sure you would have won photography competitions!!

OT: Can you tell me your flickr handle?
thanks puneet8796. And no i have not won anything yet for photography :(. the flickr link is: Flickr: vardhan.harsh's Photostream

Quote:
Originally Posted by pcpranav View Post
Dear Harsh,
Im just speechless. Trust, all my praises seems to be less for: The Man (You), The Machine (Your Kiang - TMSafari), The Road (Travelogue), The Art (pics). Simply Outstanding, 5 from my side.
Thanks pcpranav. do not forget the most important one : The Woman.
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Old 26th August 2010, 21:50   #102
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Default Day 9 (18th June): Hanle - Loma - Tsaga - Spangmik : 210 km - 10 hr

The plan for the day was quite straight-forward - leave Hanle at leisure, reach Pangong Tso by evening, and stay at either Man, Merak or Spangmik, depending on the distance we cover.

We left from our guest house at Hanle at 9 am, made a couple of calls, and were soon back on the road. The road to Loma from Hanle is quite interesting. Imagine a larger, straighter version of Moreh plains. There are no rules, drive where you want to, but preferably stay close to the main track. The tarred road begins about 20 km away from Hanle and one can really fly on that road. By 11 am, we were able to reach the bifurcation from where one road goes to Loma and the other to Dungti and Koyul.

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Flat road to Loma from Hanle

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Tarred road begins

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Looking back towards Hanle

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A lone truck on the route

We had wrongly mapped our way to Tsaga La before the trip as below:
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In reality, it was something like this:
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According to the map, we had to take a right turn towards Dungti from the bifurcation and then take a left towards Chushul. Little did we know that we actually had to cross the river first and then take a right. So we took the right at the bifurcation and happily proceeded towards Dungti. However, a short while later, we sensed that something was wrong, since, as per our map, the road should have been moving North, but we kept going South. Before we realized what exactly was wrong, we'd reached Dungti, and were at the receiving end of some amusing stares from the guys at the check-post there. Civilians are not allowed till Dungti, and the ITBP guys were understandably pissed at us for being there. We apologized to have arrived there without permits, and quickly took a U-turn to return to the bifurcation.

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The bifurcation towards Dungti, which we should not have taken

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An ITBP jawan chugs along in a dozer or something similar

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The road ahead turns right towards Dungti, beyond those mountains is China

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Ducks in the Indus

Our permits were checked for the first time at the check-post in Loma. The Officer-in-Charge at the post was quite surprised to see us since he did not remember allowing us to proceed towards Hanle. We had to then explain our entire route to him, upon hearing which he was quite taken aback. We also told him about the wrong turn we took to Dungti, and he sure was not happy to hear that. He told us about an incident when a couple of days before a group of bikers coming from Chushul had been warned not to go towards Dungti, but they had done so nevertheless, pissing off the officer big time, who'd hence decided not to let anyone proceed towards Chushul, even if they had the required permits. It took us an hour of some serious persuasion before he finally let us pass towards Chushul. However, I must add that the guy was extremely kind and offered us lunch, which in fact was pretty tasty .

With our permits checked and approved, we proceeded towards Chushul. The drive was quite desolate with only a village by the name of Tsaga enroute. The climb to Tsaga La was relatively straight forward. We were moving parallel to the Indo-China border and we could see a lot of bunkers to our left. It was an eerie but great feeling to drive knowing that we were being watched by our soldiers.

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View towards Fukche/Dungti

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The road to Tsaga La

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Tsaga village boasts of homes with Dish TV & an STD booth as well!

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Construction work enroute Tsaga La

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That's Tsaga La

By 3:30 pm, we had managed to reach the Rezang La war memorial and a little while later the Chushul War Memorial.

Quote:
The battle of Rezang La, a ridge overlooking the strategic Chushul plains, is one of the most glorious chapters in the history of the Indian army. In the unequal war of 1962 against the Chinese ,the Ahir Charlie Company from 13 Kumaon, led by Major Shaitan Singh, decided that until they were alive the Chinese weren’t going to have a look-in on Chushul, at 17,000 ft. Of the 120 defenders, only three survived, seriously wounded. The rest, including Major Shaitan Singh (who was awarded Param Vir Chakra posthumously), were discovered after the winter, frozen, mostly holding their weapons but with no ammunition. This was a genuine ‘last man-last round’ defense.
Salute!

The war memorial at Chushul commemorates the action and sacrifices of other battalions fighting an outnumbered battle against the Chinese in 1962. A wave of patriotism hits as one enters these memorials.

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Rezang La War Memorial

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Enroute Chushul from Tsaga, we were spying on him with our zoom lens, he was spying on us with his 'better' zoom lens

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Lots of bunkers enroute Chushul

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The war memorial at Chushul

We soon landed in Chushul, and were surprised to see that it was in fact quite a big village. Stocking up on our wafer supplies, we moved on towards Pangong Tso. After a brief climb, we were greeted to the first view of this beautiful lake. The route after this was right next to the lake all the way till Spangmik. And what a drive it was! There are some roads which are simply indescribable, and this one would sure be somewhere on the top of that list! The road continues to cling on to the edge of the lake for about 45 km till one reaches Spangmik. Simply an amazing stretch to drive on!

We reached Spangmik by 7 pm, our destination for the night.

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The La after the brief climb from Chushul

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The first glimpse of Pangong Tso

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That's China beyond the lake

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Weird formation made solely of horns

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Posing next to the lake

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The beautiful Merak village

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Night shot at Pangong

The next day would be a simple drive, only 100 km, to Marsimik and back!
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Old 26th August 2010, 22:05   #103
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Default Day 10 (19th June): Spangmik - Marsimik La - Tangtse : 124 km - 9 hrs

Every traveller to Ladakh dreams of conquering Marsimik La, the highest "motorable" road in the world, and we were no different.

Our homestay in Spangmik was wonderful. The food was delicious, and our hostess was very nice. Her mother was not feeling well the night before, so we'd agreed to drop her off at Phobrang on our way to Marsimik. We were quite surprised later to find out that she was really scared of the narrow winding roads! Hard to imagine a native of Ladakh being scared of such roads! We left for Marsimik by 8 am, and reached Phobrang in about 45 minutes..

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Our hosts at Spangmik

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The beautiful Pangong Tso

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Customary shot of the entrance to Phobrang village

We were almost certain of being denied our attempt to Marsimik La, having heard a lot of negative comments about the ITBP guys posted there. Soon enough, we crossed a camp, which seemed like a check-post. Surprisingly, no one came out to stop us! I did not want us to be scolded again, so went to ask for directions to Marsimik La, and about the check-post. The guy there simply pointed out the road going towards M top, and went back inside the check post. Err, excuse me, hello! Wasn't he supposed to check our permits! Not knowing what to do, we went on towards Marsimik, without having permits checked or depositing our camera.

The climb began almost immediately after the check-post. After a little 4L action, we were soon atop the small climb. The road ahead had a relatively gentle gradient for the next 12 odd kms. At times Kiyang was doing speeds of upto 40 kmph! But the real danger for 4 wheelers was the danger of toppling over, since the path is quite angled, and one has to be careful in a vehicle with a high center of gravity.

The real climb to Marsimik began soon thereafter. We must've done the last stretch of about 10 km almost entirely in 4L mode. We had to be extremely cautious and many times had to get down from the car to first gauge the path to be taken, carefully avoiding the big rocks waiting to scrape the under-carriage of Kiyang. There of course was also lots of loose sand to be taken care of to ensure that Kiyang did not lose traction on a 30 degree incline!

The final climb took us about 20 minutes to complete, and the scene ahead was disheartening. Right below the top, the snow had yet to melt and there was no way we would be able to make it to the pass in Kiyang. Nevertheless, we decided to move ahead and try to get as close as possible to the top. Further up, we could see two Stallions parked, but not a soul in sight. We trudged on, only to find that it might not even be possible for us to reach those Stallions since there was a huge rock in the middle of the road waiting to rip apart the under-belly of our car, but not huge enough to trouble the Stallion. The road was narrow because of snow on either side, and the only way to proceed was to take out our shovel and make way for Kiyang to proceed. The next 15 odd minutes were spent shoveling snow, and at an altitude of more than 5300 m, it's not an easy task I tell you! It was quite a workout!

With the road cleared, we proceeded to cover the remaining 500 m and parked our car next to the Stallions.

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The "gentle" gradient post the short climb at Phobrang

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Looking back towards Phobrang

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Stallions parked at the point beyond which it was impossible to go

We went around to see if there was anyone inside the two Stallions, and saw an Army jawam sleeping peacefully in one of them. It was a bit odd, to find two vehicles parked in the middle of nowhere and a guy sleeping soundly in it. We were still looking at him when he suddenly woke up, and was totally taken aback at the sight of two tourists (or should I say travelers) staring at him. He explained that he was waiting to pick up some soldiers who were on their way back from a post 60 km away from Marsimik. He suggested that we walk to the top and then come back for some tea.

So we begain our trudge up to the pass. It seemed close, but we must've taken at least 45 minutes to climb to the top. At that altitude, the hike was quite difficult, with us having to stop every few minutes to catch our breath. Thank god that before the trip we'd both tried to increase our fitness level a bit. Eventually, Marsimik La was conquered! The sad part was that it really did not offer amazing vistas as some of the other passes in Ladakh do. While we did some time pass, clicking stupid pictures of ourselves, the soldiers trekking from the other side too reached the top. The Officer-in-Charge (OiC) was quite pissed off at the sight of tourists (again travelers) at the restricted area. He asked us for our permits, and questioned us if we had our permits checked at Phobrang. We thanked our stars to have stopped at Phobrang for our permits and reiterated the whole story to the OiC. He soon broke into a smile and we had some pleasant conversations thereafter. Soon enough we all started climbing down to our respective vehicles in the "parking lot". The soldiers were kind enough to offer us some tea, juice and biscuits.We then began our climb down. The descent I believe was more difficult than the ascent, and generally I think it always is.

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The parking lot just below Marsimik La

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The trudge up to Marsimik

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Climbing up, it was quite sunny. Notice Kiyang and the Stallions way below.

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Almost at the top

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Chak-de-mandir at the top

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More snow on the other side of Marsimik La

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Marsimik La conquered!

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The trudge down with Armymen

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This snap, taken from my mobile, depicts more or less the descent/ascent at Marsimik

The moment we reached Phobrang, the jawan at the check-post hailed our vehicle signalling us to stop. He informed us that the OiC at the post wanted to have a couple of words with us. We complied and followed the jawan inside. The OiC, upon seeing us, started scolding us for not getting our permits checked before proceeding towards Marsimik La.

It took us some time to explain to him the whole situation that we actually had asked the jawan to check our permits before proceeding ahead, but he did not stop us, and instead signaled us to move ahead. The jawan in question was called and questioned on his reasons to do so. His reply was in fact quite amusing! He assumed that I was a GREF officer asking for directions towards Marsimik La. The reason he assumed so was the color (khakee) of the hat I was wearing, and also because we dropped off an old lady at the village. A similar confusion happened when we were climbing Khardung La!!! Anyway, things were sorted out soon, and we proceeded towards Lukung for lunch.

The plan for the next day had not been decided yet. We had managed to use up all of the 80 liters of diesel we were carrying and our calculations showed that we would not be able to do Pangong-Shayok-Nubra-Turtuk-Leh with the amount of diesel we had left. The only way that route could be done was if we managed to get an additional 25 liters of diesel from somewhere. We had asked the OiC at Phobrang but he had declined, saying that he himself did not have too much. But this time lady luck smiled on us and we were able to arrange for 40 liters at one of the tents at Lukung. Thus it was decided that we skip Changla and take the direct route towards Nubra via Shayok.

After a quick lunch at the Army cafe at Lukung, we set off for Tangtse where we'd planned to stay the night. Somehow the days' drive had been exhausting despite the small distance covered, and all we wanted was to check into a hotel and rest. I had my eyes shut when Aarti brought Kiyang to a screeching halt and hurriedly began switching from the normal lens to the zoom lens. She had spotted another marmot by the side of the road, and was trying her best to capture it on camera before it ran off, as all marmots do when they see humans. But this marmot was different, it was actually coming closer to us! We got really excited and started clicking like crazy. We had never seen a marmot so near to us, and it was wonderful to observe the cute creature up close. We had a packet of 50-50 biscuits with us, and threw a couple of them his way. Instead of running away, it started to come closer and before long was eating those biscuits. The little guy was quite enterprising and gave us at least half an hour of close-up shooting time. Eventually, it ran away after finishing off the entire packet of biscuits, and we carried on towards Tangtse, satisfied with the photo session. We checked in to a hotel at about 4 pm, the earliest end to a day so far on our trip.

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This board had us in splits!

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The enterprising marmot - Shot 1

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50-50 ka chaska!

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The enterprising marmot - Shot 2

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The enterprising marmot - Shot 3

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The enterprising marmot - Shot 4

The next day would be about the discovery of a new route from Shayok to Nubra...
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Old 26th August 2010, 22:52   #104
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Oh man. I'm just so lost for words. I'm absolutely dumbstruck by the beauty of the place and I'm just speechless by each of your photographs. Each pic deserves a 5-star.

Brilliant photography harsh. One of the best travelogues I'm come across in TBHP. Great stuff.
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Old 27th August 2010, 00:03   #105
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Great Narration,amazing pics,wonderful journey,mesmerising peaks,inviting terrain......

Thumbs up to you,partner and your kiang.

Shantanu
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