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Old 27th December 2017, 15:47   #1
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Default Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Introduction

Back in October last year, during the Durga Puja holidays in Kolkata, we went to Sandakphu. The trip then was short and we did not spend a night at Sandakphu. We did not even get to see the Sleeping Buddha due to the cloud cover, in short it was a trip to gauge my driving skills and test my parent's patience as they accompanied us.

After that trip, we did the old silk route and south Sikkim in June, 2017. Three months later, in September, we went to Darjeeling (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-our-thar.html). On these occasions too we were unlucky to sight the peaks due to the cloud cover.

This time however, we were lucky:

Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time-k-zoomed.jpg

The members, the steed and the plan

Like the previous two trips, I was accompanied by my wife, Bhavneet and our Thar, the Red Rhino.

The planning for the trip started with a passing thought.... Don't we have a better chance to spot Kanchenjunga during winter? We thought it should be. I asked Sumitro (Blackpearl) if going to Sandakphu in winters was a good idea. He gave a positive response on the condition that it does not snow. We thus thought that we would do the trip during the Christmas holiday.

A week before the trip was to begin, both Bhavneet and I fell sick, there was fever, cough and cold. Also, as Bhavneet's work schedule was not certain there was a possibility that the trip had to be scrapped. Like our previous trips, we had thought of leaving on the evening of the last working day, which should have been 22nd, Friday, so that we could drive through the night and reach Manebhanjan by noon. However, our plan was not revived until the afternoon of 22nd. We had not packed the day before as we had called off the trip. So we improvised, we planned to go home and pack to leave at 3 AM on 23rd. We reached home, packed our bags and necessary car stuff, kept it ready to load it next morning, had dinner and slept.

Day 1 - 23th December - Kolkata to Mirik

We were woken up by a call from my dad at 3:15 AM who wanted to know our status, as they would bid us good bye. I thanked him to wake us up. We got ready quickly and were loading the luggage into the Thar at 4:00 AM. The process to finally leave home took another 20 - 25 minutes as I kept recollecting things to be carried, last minute preparations. My parents decided to see us off from Azad Hind Dhaba (AHD) on NH2.

We reached AHD at 6 AM, breakfast halt for an hour, saw the sunrise and finally departed.

The drive was smooth via Burdhaman, until we reached Kuli Chowrasta, much before Khargram. The roads from the Chowrasta were in a bad shape. While going along the road, we almost reached Sherpur where we saw a fellow R.O.A.D member (Abhijit Sinharoy) coming from the other side in his Innova Cryta. He informed us about standstill traffic ahead due to broken down trucks and suggested we take a detour. He was on his way to Meghalaya with family. The detour set us back by 1.5 to 2 hours due to the longer route and traffic. This route should have taken not more that 40 minutes through the usual route via Moregram as the road from Panchgram was good.

After our usual night travel during the last few trips we were disappointed by the time it was taking us to drive during the day. We got a lot of traffic at Malda, Farakka and Islampur. A mix of soft roading and wrong way driving helped us through the mess. We were targeting to reach Mirik by 9-10 PM and called Hotel Jagjeet to ask for availability. They confirmed that they had rooms so we thought we would reach there and book.

We reached Hotel Jagjeet at 9:30 PM and saw the restaurant shutters down and lights at the Hotel lobby off. Due to goods getting offloaded and transferred into the Hotel Kitchen/Bar the staff was working and I asked them for accommodation and food. They refused for a room at first but later asked me to come to the reception again when I went out to inform my wife regarding our bad luck. She simultaneously called the number she tried earlier for the booking and requested for a room. The gentleman on the other side asked her to hand over the phone to the receptionist. I did the needful and was happy to know that they would give us a room. They then informed us that the kitchen was closed and they could not serve food. On pleading and requesting they could only offer us rice and chicken curry. Which was exactly what we wanted. We were extremely happy to hear this and went to our room to freshen up and wait for our meal to arrive. After having a very light lunch and snacks during the trip, dinner was amazing. We saw some TV and finally slept.

Halt at a fuel station on the way
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Manager's Bunglow at Gayabari, once home to Dad
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Food at Jagjeet Hotel
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Clean and cozy rooms at Jagjeet Hotel
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Hotel Jagjeet - 5/5
Amount spent - Rs. 3100 (including dinner and breakfast)

Day 2 - 24th December - Mirik to Sandakphu

We got up, got ready and went to the restaurant for breakfast at around 8:30 AM. We had got our luggage ready and loaded the same in the Thar to leave as soon as we could. We finally pushed off at 9:15 AM. We reached Manebhanjan via Simana and made our first short halt at the Chitrey Monastery. The drive was pretty easy this time till Garibas as the road till there have been made (cemented). They were now working on the side rails and drains. The road on the Indian side is being worked on and we therefore missed the shortcut to Tumling through the Nepal side. We stopped at Tumling as we saw the Mountain range clearly and took pictures, we also had Wai Wai and coffee at the lodge in Tumling before we moved further. From Kalipokri we again continued with the Indian route which was worse this time. The last 3 kms from Bikeybhanjan were in a bad state with a couple of switch backs having too many loose boulders lying around. 4L during this time and you unleash the other world. Slow and steady we reached Sherpa Chalet.

We had not made a prior booking but had discussed availability over call. Took a risk but lucky enough to get a room for three (which was available 2 days back as well). We had egg fried rice first as we were hungry and then asked for tea which we sipped while sitting in the Thar staring at the mountains in front. It was petty cold with temperature ranging between 6-8 degree C. We went to our room which was on the second floor, and sat on the bed which was close to the side facing Kanchenjunga. As the sunset, we clicked pictures. Slowly the breeze started increasing. We tried sleeping for an hour or two before dinner time. The rooms were clean with basic facility, two blankets per bed, a warm water flask which we got after dinner, no wash basins in the bathroom, only a WC and two buckets of water. The rooms were not well insulated probably due to ventilation requirements and the cold breeze easily gets to you while you are trying to warm yourself inside. Lights in the room are switched on from 6-9 PM. Dinner time is between 6:30 - 7:30 PM. We went to dine at 7 ish. Had some rice, dal and mixed veg as we were still full from the late lunch. After dinner we chatted with Pemadhendu, the owner of Sherpa Chalet. He owns a Land Rover and due to common Kolkata Offroader friends, we had a nice discussion of the trips and trails they made recently.

The sky was clear and one could see the sky full of stars. I was exhausted and did not have the enthu to shoot the sky. For the next eight hours we tried our best to sleep but were not very successful. I was able to sleep only from 2-5 AM peacefully. We could hear other tourists as well, through the night as it was difficult to sleep in the weather. Night time temperature was -1 - 0 Degrees.

Mirik Lake as we left Hotel Jagjeet
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The first milestone to our destination at Simana, this was after taking the U-turn
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Chitrey Monastery
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A check post enroute with another Monastery
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The stop on the way at Tumling
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As we cross the forest gate
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A random stop for a few pictures
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Lake at Kalpokri
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Milestone for Red Rhino on the way
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Destination - Sherpa Chalet, now visible
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Over the top view
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Egg fried rice at Sherpa Chalet
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Tea in the car, facing the Mountain peaks
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Kanchenjunga during sunset
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When your eyes fall towards the left of the above peaks
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Explained
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Sherpa Chalet - 4/5
Amount spent - Rs. 3000 on the room and Rs. 1000 on food/tea etc

Last edited by navsjab : 30th December 2017 at 13:06.
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Old 29th December 2017, 23:17   #2
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Default Re: Red Rhino, our Thar goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Day 3 - 25th December - Sandakphu - Sabargram - Sandakphu - Kurseong

At 5:30 I got off the bed and prepared myself to take pictures of the sunrise. That kept me busy for quite sometime and we then went to have breakfast and left for Phalut, after which we would head to Kurseong. Cochrane Place, Kurseong was the only accommodation we booked in advance.

Our plan was to leave Sandakphu to Kurseong at 12 PM. So we had to do Phalut and back within this time. We started at 8 AM and drove along the road full of boulders. At one point, while the Thar was on 4H and descending, there was a sudden shift to neutral and the vehicle started rolling, before it caught speed I was able to get the vehicle to stop and got down to check for any issues. I was not able to find any possible cause and assumed it was the vibration that caused this. Any insight anyone? Both 4L and 4H worked fine after re-engaging them.

On the way to Phalut there was a particular stretch where the boulders were not placed evenly and caused us to stop to smooth out the route. My spotter, Bhavneet did a wonderful job and we moved on slowly. We reached Sabargram at around 9:45 and decided we would start the return journey after photography from this point. Pemadhendu at Sherpa Chalet suggested that we could get back from Sabargram in case we were tight for time since the sight from Phalut would be similar as well. We got a good spot to click pictures and then started our return. We were back at Sherpa Chalet at 11:30, had tea and started our journey to Cochrane. This time we took the Nepal route as suggested by Pema, the route was much easier. On our drive we saw a Land Rover coming from the opposite side. But this was different from the ones at Sandakphu, it had a tyre mounted on the bonnet and a registration plate that was not Indian. Yes, it was a Defender!! It stopped for us to pass and I stopped next to them to ask them about their trip. They were a smart couple traveling from France. The Defender was looking superb and to my loss I did not click any pictures. We stopped at Tumling on the return as well to have Wai Wai and coffee and continued. The road after Garibas gave us relief. Once we reached Manebhanjan we were happy to drive on the wider roads. We refueled and continued till we reached Cochrane place.

We checked in, freshened up and went to the dinning room to fill ourselves. There was a Christmas special menu, bonfire and live music playing. We had our meal and then stood by the bonfire for a while. We relaxed, caught up with social media and retired for the day, planning to leave as early as we could so that we were home by late evening.

As the sunrises
Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time-01.jpg

Explanation
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The sunrise
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The peaks as the sun rays fall on them
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The view from our room
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We bid goodbye to Sherpa Chalet and Pemadhendu
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Pictures from Sabargram
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The roads on the left lead to Phalut, 6 kms from this point
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Birds
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Three sisters peak, this is between the peaks of Everest and Kanchenjanga
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Chamlang and Baruntse, towards the left of Nuptse
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A close up before saying bye to Kumbakarna, Kanchenjanga and Pandim
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Jigar ka Tukda (our dear one)
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With a handbrake cable that broke on the way :(
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The road back to Sandakphu from Sabargram
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Made many short stops on the way back due to road work
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Christmas decoration at Cochrane
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The room
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Waiting for dinner, catching up on social media
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Cochrane Place - 5/5
Amount Spent - Rs. 3200 (including dinner)

Last edited by aah78 : 1st January 2018 at 08:14. Reason: Typos fixed on request.
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Old 30th December 2017, 10:25   #3
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Default Re: Red Rhino, our Thar goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Day 4 - 26th December - Kurseong to Home

We got up and got ready, we were about to set off at 6 AM but the sight of Kanchenjunga and the sunrise delayed us by half and hour. We took the route via Pankhabari-Longview tea garden-Dudhia-Bagdogra. There was quite some fog on the way before Islampur. We made a breakfast halt at Islampur and went on with the Botolbari-Dhantola Route. We crossed Raiganj smoothly, encountered a bit of traffic at Kaliachowk. There was a lot of traffic at Malda becuase for which we took a detour into the town to cross the truck traffic on the highway. We did not loose much time at Farakka and through Moregram-Khargram-Burdhaman we reached AHD on NH2 for snacks at 5:30 PM. After a good halt of 45 minutes to an hour we started to reach home, in South Kolkata at around 8:30.

Kanchenjunga at sunrise from Cochrane place
Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time-dsc_0270.jpg
Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time-dsc_0272.jpg

Got some fog on the way back
Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time-20171226_073102.jpg

Somewhere at the Botalbari-Dhantola route
Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time-20171226_093543.jpg

A very nice trip thus coming to an end. Cheers, till the next TL. Thank you for reading.

Last edited by GTO : 1st January 2018 at 08:36. Reason: As requested
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Old 30th December 2017, 13:24   #4
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Default Re: Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 30th December 2017, 14:01   #5
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Default Re: Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Blackpearl, Samba, mi2n and SSda and u (nasjab), (apologies of missing others as I have not interacted with them personally) -the kind of TL's you guys churn out are par excellence.

After posting my first TL, I have come to realize, so many a gaps are needed to fill up to complete the entire picture.
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Old 30th December 2017, 22:39   #6
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Default Re: Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Thank you for a wonderful travelogue.
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Old 30th December 2017, 23:38   #7
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Default Re: Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Wonderful travelogue, kolkata bhpians really rocking. In april I had stayed a night in jagjit hotel too, the space between the reception and the restaurant just fits a thar !
For Sandakphu, is there any need to obtain permits for a non WB registered car?
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Old 30th December 2017, 23:53   #8
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Default Re: Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Superb pics of the Kanchenjungha along with those of Red Rhino. Everytime someone goes to Sandakphu I feel like going along!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pyrodrive View Post
For Sandakphu, is there any need to obtain permits for a non WB registered car?
Separate permit is not needed for any vehicle. Everyone has to get tickets for entering the Singalila national Park and thereafter one has to enter vehicle and driver license details at each of the army check posts on the way. The rule is same for WB and non WB registered vehicles.

Last edited by BlackPearl : 30th December 2017 at 23:56.
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Old 31st December 2017, 07:36   #9
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Default Re: Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Great Travelogue.

How far would a XUV Automatic (FWD) go safely on the sandakphu route?
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Old 31st December 2017, 21:42   #10
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Default Re: Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Excellent Travelogue. Been there myself 2 times but still couldn't put it down on papers. You did my job; thanks mate! Loved the photos and cudos to your spotter. Next time lets plan a meet for Rhino and Monster in Sandhakphu.
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Old 1st January 2018, 09:01   #11
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Default Re: Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Man! Those photos of mountain peaks during golden hours just brilliant. And the explanation just nailed it. Supperb to say the least! Will surely help us to make plan if one want to visit the places.

Thanks for sharing & happy new year!
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Old 1st January 2018, 09:23   #12
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Default Re: Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Being from Bangalore, driving to and among the Himalayas has always been a pipe dream. I've enjoyed the many travelogues here on visiting the Himalayas. I'm happy that people like you allow me to see glimpses of these majestic mountains occasionally. I know it is nothing compared to actually being there, but hey sometimes you have to make do with what you get! But someday...
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Old 1st January 2018, 11:22   #13
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Default Re: Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Superb Navtej. The views from Sandakphu are unmatched. Red Rhino along with you two look great in the pictures.

Well written supported with awesome photographs !!

Regards,

Pawan
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Old 1st January 2018, 19:48   #14
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Default Re: Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

The first thing which came to my mind after reading your travelogue is- Why i don't have a Thar! What a looker it is! Specially the pics of your Thar with the Kanchenjunga in the background looks stunning.

Lovey travelogue with awesome pics Navtej. Wish the trio (you ,your wife & the Thar) many more such happy trips.

Rated 5*
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Old 2nd January 2018, 12:27   #15
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Default Re: Red Rhino goes to Sandakphu for the second time

Quote:
Originally Posted by ALTIMAed View Post
Blackpearl, Samba, mi2n and SSda and u (nasjab), (apologies of missing others as I have not interacted with them personally) -the kind of TL's you guys churn out are par excellence.

After posting my first TL, I have come to realize, so many a gaps are needed to fill up to complete the entire picture.
Thank you ALTIMAed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammer & Anvil View Post
Thank you for a wonderful travelogue.
Thank you Hammer & Anvil.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pyrodrive View Post
Wonderful travelogue, kolkata bhpians really rocking. In april I had stayed a night in jagjit hotel too, the space between the reception and the restaurant just fits a thar !
For Sandakphu, is there any need to obtain permits for a non WB registered car?
Thank you pyrodrive. BlackPearl has already answered your query.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Superb pics of the Kanchenjungha along with those of Red Rhino. Everytime someone goes to Sandakphu I feel like going along!
Thank you BlackPearl. I wish that happens sometime in future.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sumannandy View Post
Great Travelogue.

How far would a XUV Automatic (FWD) go safely on the sandakphu route?
Thank you sumannandy. Since the road work is almost over till Garibas, going till there should not be very difficult. Though some turns may be a bit tricky, also, I am not very sure of how will the Automatic perform in those sort of inclines. May be a bit of a risk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lovecars21 View Post
Excellent Travelogue. Been there myself 2 times but still couldn't put it down on papers. You did my job; thanks mate! Loved the photos and cudos to your spotter. Next time lets plan a meet for Rhino and Monster in Sandhakphu.
Thank you lovecars21. That would be a good idea. Next time a group drive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cp171185 View Post
Man! Those photos of mountain peaks during golden hours just brilliant. And the explanation just nailed it. Supperb to say the least! Will surely help us to make plan if one want to visit the places.

Thanks for sharing & happy new year!
Thank you cp171185. A very happy new year to you

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stryker View Post
Being from Bangalore, driving to and among the Himalayas has always been a pipe dream. I've enjoyed the many travelogues here on visiting the Himalayas. I'm happy that people like you allow me to see glimpses of these majestic mountains occasionally. I know it is nothing compared to actually being there, but hey sometimes you have to make do with what you get! But someday...
Thank you Stryker. I hope you get enough time off sometime soon to do it. It is something really worth it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaBravo View Post
Superb Navtej. The views from Sandakphu are unmatched. Red Rhino along with you two look great in the pictures.

Well written supported with awesome photographs !!
Thank you PapaBravo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
The first thing which came to my mind after reading your travelogue is- Why i don't have a Thar! What a looker it is! Specially the pics of your Thar with the Kanchenjunga in the background looks stunning.

Lovey travelogue with awesome pics Navtej. Wish the trio (you ,your wife & the Thar) many more such happy trips.

Rated 5*
Thank you Samba. The angles and photography that you come up with make any car a looker. I get a handicap in that aspect.

Last edited by navsjab : 2nd January 2018 at 12:29.
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