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Old 24th February 2018, 11:10   #16
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We started getting down from Baralacha Pass, practically it wasn’t “getting down”. We were going to drive on 4000+ Mt altitude till Upasi. After Baralacha top road was in bad shape.

After some 20 minutes of the drive, our NRI friend started complaining about some smell. We ignored him and kept moving but he was right. We had 20ltr of fuel can in our boot, due to bad roads it was leaking. The smell our NRI friend was talking about was due to spilt diesel. We stopped and checked it & decided to get rid of it. We were about to spill it out but I suggested to sell it to some of the truck drivers at Sarchu.

We kept moving with long photography stops. We were enjoying our drive. We spotted some wildlife. After killing Sarai road was in good condition.

Getting Down From Baralacha Top.
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Frozen Road. We kept a hammer with us to break this kind of surface, but we tried AWD and crossed it.
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Some Sunlight.
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Checking the leakage of fuel Can.
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Spotted Some wildlife...Ibex?
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Our next stop was Sarchu, a small village of tent accommodation and dhabas. We planned to have lunch at Sarchu, if we get something. Otherwise, we had some boiled eggs and sandwiches packed from Padma lodge. We were not that hungry as we kept eating chocolates & dry fruits all the time.

To Sarchu.
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We were having fun.
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The road to Sarchu.
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Last edited by SJM1214 : 27th February 2018 at 11:54.
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Old 24th February 2018, 11:31   #17
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We reached Sarchu at 1130. Other two guys started emptying our boot, and I went ahead to search a potential buyer for our fuel (600/-). I finalized a deal with a local minibus driver at half price. He emptied it into his bus and paid 300/-.

We had a nice tea and some light snacks. It was surprising to see many dhabas were fully functional. Tent accommodation guys were wrapping up their setup.

We spent some nice time at Sarchu. We cleaned our boot, talked with Locals, talked with people came from Leh. One solo rider was stuck there with his Rented RE due to clutch wire issue. I replaced his clutch wire.

We were in good mood. We enjoyed our drive. We enjoyed amazing views and did Jispa to Sarchu without any major obstacle!

Good Bye HP, Welcome to J&K.
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Sarchu Village.
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Welcome to J&K. Half Journey finished on Manali- Leh HW.
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Sarchu! We spotted a wine shop here, may be highest wine shop in the world.
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I started searching a potential buyer for our fuel! We had more than enough in the tank to reach Leh! Closed a deal with this Red mini Bus driver.
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We even gave him that yellow can, which we brought all the way from Gujarat! We cleaned our boot.
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Dhabas at Sarchu. I replaced clutch wire of this RE.
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We spent two hours at Sarchu. Our NRI friend had a problem with BRO’s tagline “The Mountain Tamers”. His argument was you can't tame Mountains, you can't tame the Himalayas at all. Building roads on the mountain can't be called as Taming of Mountains. We agreed with him. I assured him, once we are back to civilization, I would personally mail BRO to change their tagline.

While we were discussing this, mild rain started at Sarchu. Locals said that this rain can convert into snowfall anytime. Oops, we had to drive 251 Km more, crossing three more Passes & it was 1330. We immediately packed our luggage and started from Sarchu. Fortunately, the rain stopped.

Last edited by SJM1214 : 27th February 2018 at 11:56.
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Old 24th February 2018, 11:50   #18
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Sarchu To Pang.

Road after Sarchu was in good condition. We were maintaining a nice speed of 50 to 60kmph. After half hour’s drive, we found some trucks standing in front of a bridge. Truck drivers were trying to do something under the bridge. We stopped behind that truck and went to check what’s happening. One of the iron plates from this bridge was bent. We helped those drivers. One of the truck took the initiative and crossed that dangerous bridge. We followed that truck and crossed that bridge.

We left Sarchu.
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Nice Tarred Road.
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Some Wildlife Spotting.
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Damaged Bridge.
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Truck Driver trying his best.
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Broken Iron Plates.
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We crossed that Bridge.
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We kept moving ahead. After some time, I suddenly realized that we were climbing up. We crossed three or four sharp bends & I stopped! I said oops,... "these are famous hairpin bends of Ghata loops, let’s get back and count them, it should be 21 hairpin bends"

My NRI friend killed my excitement saying...
“chupchap gadi chala. Hame leh bhi pahochna hai”(Keep Calm & keep Driving)

It was fun to tackle those sharp hairpin bends. There were some nice off-road shortcuts but sensing our NRI friend’s mood we didn't say anything.We negotiated those 21 hairpin bends easily. Duster was amazing, full marks to our ride. We stopped for some photography with “god’s eye”. Read this term “ god’s eye” in many Ladakh blogs!

Ghata Loops
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Ghata Loops.
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Counting the bends at Ghata Loops.
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Notice those off-roading tracks.
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God's Eye.
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Our Duster.
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Moving ahead, we were now approaching one more pass named “Nakee La (4740 Mt)". Stopping at these passes and clicking pics with this yellow boards was obvious.

At Nakeela.
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Stone towers.
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We moved ahead.
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One more pass named “Lachung La (5079 Mt.)" was waiting for us. A quick photography session at this pass and we kept moving ahead.

Lachung La.
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Lachung La.
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Last edited by SJM1214 : 27th February 2018 at 11:59.
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Old 24th February 2018, 19:29   #19
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After climbing these two passes (Nakee La & Lachung La) there wasn’t any getting down. We were constantly driving on more than 4500 Mt altitudes. There wasn't any vegetation, water streams were frozen even at 3 pm. The road was in bad shape.

All three of us were feeling dizzy. We wanted to have some tea. We wanted to have some rest. We were waiting for Pang. One more natural carving named “India gate” came. Earlier I decided to stop and walk all the way to this carving and get a photograph but when we stopped, I was in no mood to walk. We clicked some photographs and move ahead.

Pang …Pang…come soon Pang!

Bad road, extreme cold and high altitude were taking their toll. We were tired. We wanted to rest.

Frozen Water Stream.
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India Gate.
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Frozen Water Falls.
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Our ride.
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Rough road
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Natural Sand Carvings.
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Yes! We wanted to rest but we could not afford a longer stay at Pang. We reached Pang, had tea and within 20 minutes we were again on the road. We were still 178 Km far from Leh and had to cross the highest point on Manali –Leh highway, Tanglang LA (5328 Mt.).

At Pang.
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Pang
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Old 24th February 2018, 19:55   #20
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Pang to Leh.

From Delhi our British Driving License holder NRI friend wanted to get on the wheel! We were politely denying it by saying..." you have experience of better roads and Automatic cars in London. Driving on Indian road can be dangerous for all of us". He kept convincing us by saying that he is an Indian at heart and can easily drive on Indian roads.

At Manali, I personally promised him that... " after Pang, there is a flat terrain of 40Km named “Moore Plains” and you can drive on Moore plains." I was thinking that he already forgot that promise.

After some 20 km of driving from Pang, We were at Moore Plains. He reminded me my promise. We didn't have any excuse. We gave him the wheel. Moore Plains road was nice tarred surface but with frequent rough patches to pass water. I warned him not to go beyond 80kmph but he kept pushing it till 100kmph. However, he drove nicely. We allowed him to drive till Debring, after Debring climbing for Tanglalng La started.

We started from Pang.
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Gave wheel to Our NRI friend.
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Moore Plains.
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He drove till Debring.
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Debring to Tanglang La was a stiff climb. There wasn’t much bends on roads, due to that drive was a bit tough. Duster was feeling a bit underpowered. I kept driving in 2nd or 3rd gears. Moreover, my head was spinning & I was feeling dizzy. I sipped some more garlic water but finally gave up. I asked my other friend to drive. He was feeling the same but he took the responsibility.

After Debring, We started climbing Tanglangla Top, notice the stiff climb!
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Notice that road without bends, Our duster felt little underpowered.
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We Reached Tanglang La Top, highest point of Manali – Leh highway at 5328Mt. None of us was feeling well. I was in worst condition. I wanted to go to that yellow board and get a photograph but it was like climbing Mt.Everest. It was not AMS, but at this height headache & dizziness is normal. We were not acclimatized properly. We decided to get down as soon as possible. Of course after some photographs.

Smile Missing. I was not feeling well.
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Tanglang La top, Only one tourist Vehicle. October is an Off-season!
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Tried to Smile for Camera! but couldn't!
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View from Tanglang La Top.
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Last edited by SJM1214 : 27th February 2018 at 12:02.
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Old 24th February 2018, 20:11   #21
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We wanted to get down, we wanted lots of oxygen to fill our lungs. Road after Tangalang La was nice. We were some 100 Km far from Leh, but our immediate target was to reach a small village name Rumtse which was at the altitude of 4260 Mt.

We reached Rumtse at 1645. Rumtse was 80 Km far from Leh. We dropped our plan to stop at Rumtse. We were feeling far better now. We were back to Civilization but we wanted to reach our Hotel before Dark. We kept pushing ahead. The road was amazing, I was able to maintain speed more than 70kmph.

We reached Upashi (3480 Mt). We spotted many yaks, vegetation & water. Vegetation means Oxygen, Water means Human habitation. We kept moving.

Finally, we Reached Leh at 1830. We booked a suite at Hotel Ladakh Himalayan Retreat. We were welcomed by nice lemon tea. We checked in! My other friends got in the bed for a nap!

& ME? I got in the car & headed to Leh market to buy some "essential items" for the night!

Getting down from Tanglang La top, notice that Road.
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Approaching Rumtse Village.
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Yaks At Upashi Village.
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Upshi Village
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We checked in. Hotel Ladakh Himalayan Retreat.
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Well deserved rest for our Duster at Hotel LHR.
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We had enough rest and a nice booze session at Hotel. It was time to plan for our next day. It is advisable to spend at least 24 hours in Leh for acclimatization. We were going to spend the entire night, so it was fine to start exploring Leh and surrounding area from next day. Our initial plan was to do local sightseeing on the first day, but it was already 11th October and high passes can block anytime due to snowfall. We deiced to cover Nubra valley and Pangong first and then do local sightseeing.

We inquired about Nubra to Pangong Route, which passes through Shoylk River. As per Hotel owner’s personal sources at Nubra, the road was blocked due to a landslide. Shoylk Agham route can save traveller’s one day. Travelers can go to Pangong directly from Nubra without coming back to Leh. But in our case, it was not possible. We decided to drop Nubra. We decided to visit Khardung LA next day and cover some local sights.

We decided to leave for Khardung La (5359 Mt) at 0630 and slept!

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Old 24th February 2018, 22:45   #22
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Day 6: Leh to Khardung la & Local Sightseeing.

At 0600 in morning, outside our hotel. We asked one of the cab drivers the way to Khardung La.

He was angry and said...
“ khud aye ho khud hi dhudh lo or khud chale jao”.

I understood his anger. Leh Taxi Unions don’t allow out of state rented Vehicle in Leh. That cabbie, whom we asked about Khardung La, thought that ours was a rented car.

I replied…
"chaccha, khud ki gadi hai, Gujarat se aye hai”(Uncle! This is our own car. We are from Gujarat)

He was happy to help after knowing that it was a private vehicle all the way from Gujarat.

He guided and warned us...
"Shhhabji( with two extra “H”), Rat ko snow giri thi, sabhal ke jana”(Yesterday there was snowfall, take care)

We thanked him and started for Khardung LA. We crossed Leh town and started climbing on Khardung La. Our Next stop was a small military village called South Pullu, where we had to register our vehicle. There wasn't any snow, but the temperature was -7.

View from Road to Khardungla top.
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Amazing Views.
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Road to South Pullu.
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We reached South Pullu, the road was in good condition without any snow. Heavy snow and clouds were clearly visible on upper part of the road. All of us were excited. Finally, we were going to drive in fresh snow. I wanted to play with Duster’s AWD.

I went to South Pulu CP. We needed to submit a self-declaration form and register our vehicle at this Check Point. We did all the research, we were aware of that, but we forgot to bring that form with us!

What a blunder! Now what? Should we go back to the hotel and bring those forms. I decided to try my luck.

I went to Army man posted at CP and explained our situation. It was -7, I was literally shivering! As always Army man was co-operative.

He gave me a blank page and said …
“is pe nam, address and gadi ka number likh ke de do”( Right down your name, address and vehicle number on this paper)

But my hand was shivering. I showed it to that Army man saying…
“hath kamp rahe kaisie likhu?”(I am shivering, I wouldn't be able to write)

He smiled took that paper and said…
"details bolo mai likhta hu". (Give me details, I"ll write)

After that, finally, we got a go-ahead from South Pullu. Once again we were the first private vehicle going towards Khardung La.

Approaching South Pullu.
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South Pullu, A Small Military village with Army Check Post.
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At Army Check Post.
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We got Go-Ahead from Army.
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We were the first timer for driving in fresh snow. Our NRI friend asked to drive saying he has vast experience in driving in all kind of snow.

We said...
"wow!! That’s amazing. But now it’s our turn to gain some experience!"

Duster was brand new, so we didn't know its strengths and limits. We were scared! And that was the fun part of our drive! We loved driving on that fresh snow. It was not that hard. We were gaining height and quantity of snow on road was also increasing.

Road after South Pullu.
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Expert checking the quality of snow. Your's truly
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Owner of Duster
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Our ride.
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White Khardungla.
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The road to Khardungla Top.
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Last edited by SJM1214 : 27th February 2018 at 12:06.
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Old 24th February 2018, 23:13   #23
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We drove slowly & tires got stuck in the fresh snow. We tried to drive fast but when we braked at one of the sharp turns our car skidded. And then Eureka!! Our Vehicle was AWD.

We just put it in auto AWD and let the vehicle take care of the road!

It was Fun! Duster did an amazing job! We started taking long photography stops on slopes of Kardung la Road. Trucks and other vehicles started coming from Leh town, all those vehicles had snow chain on their tires. All of them were shocked to see A Gujarat private Vehicle at Khardunga la Slopes that early in the morning!! We were enjoying that Drive.

This Place is called Nubra gate.
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Approaching Nubra Gate.
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Drive in fresh snow.
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Entering Nubra Gate.
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AWD Zindabad.
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Road to Khardungla Top
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To Khardungla Top.
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One last turn and you are at K top.
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Some videos of our Drive to Khardung La.









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Old 24th February 2018, 23:45   #24
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At Khardung La(5359 Mt).

We Reached Khardung La (5359 Mt) top. Which is wrongly claimed as “Highest Motorable Road of the world”. There are many "Passes" higher than Khardung LA (5359 Mt) but this was the highest point in our Leh trip . We were excited.

The temperature was -14(as per my watch). We clicked many photographs with that famous yellow board. No one was there, entire K top belonged to us (after 10mins Army guys & some locals came). We talked with them, shared their smoke, they offered us tea and hot water to drink!(K top cafe was not open).

One Army Jawan approached us and asked...
“Gujarat se ho?”(Are you guys from Gujarat?) He was from Rajasthan.

He asked for a ride to Leh. We said yes …Anything for Army.

He told us that he was posted at Khardung la Top from last 5 months and this was his first trip down to Leh. Tough life!!

& Why was he going down?
Some of their Colonel (Commanding Officer) were visiting them, & he was travelling 56 KM down to Leh town to bring some Pastry for him!

We clicked some photographs with him, he requested us not to post those photographs on Social Media!

That was my third Visit to Khardungla top & K top always welcomed me with Snow.

Thanks, Khardung La !!!


Approaching Khardung LA Top.
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At that Famous Yellow Board. No!!! Khardung La is not the highest motorable road!
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So, what? At 18380 ft it was the highest point for us during this trip!
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We played with Snow!
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We spent more than an hour at K top!
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Khardung La top Belonged to us!
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Good Morning to Indian Army!
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K top without any tourists.
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We conquered it.
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We were enjoying.
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Top of the world.
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Some Old Photograph of Khardung La from my July 2009 Leh trip

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Last edited by SJM1214 : 27th February 2018 at 12:09.
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Old 26th February 2018, 09:54   #25
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Default re: Ladakh in a Duster AWD

We got down from Khardung La. It was a sunny day. We decided to visit some local sights likes Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, Leh market.

We parked our vehicle at one of the parking plots near Leh market, had breakfast and headed for Leh Palace. The palace was built in the 17th century by King Sengge Namgyal and was his former residence. Palace offers the marvellous view of the of the whole Leh town and as well the mighty Himalayan ranges of Stok Kangri and Zanskar mountain ranges giving this palace a strategic position.

We walked all the way to this place from Leh market. Tourists have ruined this historical place. Even after heavy snow earlier night at Khardungla top, it was hot. We had to remove two layers of cloths.

Just 4 hours back, we were at -14c and then it was 28c.

Getting down from K top.
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Tourist Less Leh market in offseason.
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Walking to Leh Palace.
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Leh Palace front view.
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View From Leh Palace.
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After Leh place, we moved to Shanti Stupa.

Shanti Stupa is a white-dome structure dedicated to Buddhism. It is one of the major tourist attractions of Ladakh not only for its religious significance but also for its splendid views of the surrounding mountain ranges that it has to offer. We spent one hour here, did a lot of photography. There wasn’t any tourist rush, perks of travelling during offseason.

Shanti Stupa.
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View From Shanti Stupa.
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A 2009 pic from the same place!
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Leh town from Shanti Stupa.
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View From Shanti Stupa.
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View From Shanti Stupa.
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We planned to cover some more sights on Leh-Srinagar road. We reached Magnetic Hill.

I was excited about this place because there were some amazing off-road tracks. Our NRI friend was against the idea of Off-roading but we used our VETO and went for off-roading. He took revenge by not taking any pics of our adventure.

The popular Magnetic Hill of Ladakh is said to be a gravity hill where vehicles defy the force of gravity and move upwards on the hill when parked at the marked location. The hill lies at a distance of 30 km from the town of Leh, at an elevation of around 14,000 feet above sea level.

Magnetic Hill
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Magnetic hill.
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Some Small Temple.
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Notice those tracks.
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Road to Srinagar.
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We moved ahead from the Magnetic Hill, our next stop was Confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers. One was a shining blue river. The other was dirty green. Both these Himalayan Rivers join at a scenic setting near the town of Nimmu in Ladakh. This is one of the most beautiful places in Ladakh.

Some of the tourists were going for River Rafting but in my opinion, during October water flow was not that thrilling. We didn't go for water rafting. We had a flying visit to Nimmu village and started back towards Leh Town. It was 1515 and the temperature was 31c.

The confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers.
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The confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers.
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The confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers.
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Nimmu Village.
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The road to Nimmu Village.
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Cycle Rally by kids.
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Back to Leh.
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En route Leh, We visited The Hall of Fame Museum. The Hall of Fame, located near the Leh Airfield, is a museum constructed as well as maintained by the Indian Army in the memory of the soldiers who had lost their lives during the Indo-Pak wars. It is also termed as a memorial for the war heroes.

We spent good two hours at museum understanding everything about Kargil war, Siachin post, equipment used by our brave Army Men at Siachin post, etc.

Standing Ovation to Indian Army and ITBP.

Hall of Fame.
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Hall of Fame
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Hall of Fame
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Hall of Fame
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After buying some essentials from Leh market, we got back to our Hotel. Problem with these hotels is they don’t have WIFI in rooms, but only at reception waiting area. We ordered some tea at reception and started communicated with our family (none of us had a BSNL sim, our Vodafone and Idea Postpaid didn't work in Leh).

There was a Message on GJ/RJ HiVayking (HVK) WhatsApp group saying, Raid De Himalaya is cancelled.

What?... Why?...
They (Raid) were about to reach Leh on 12th October, which was “today”. Why was it called off? Road blockage? Snowfall at the high passes? Some accident? We wanted to know! We wanted to know because we had to go back via Manali- Leh highway and if any of that pass is blocked, we had to go back Via Srinagar which was a conflict zone.

Luckily Hotel manager at Ladakh Himalayan Retreat was following raid from the beginning. Some of the press guys had booked rooms at LHR. He was not aware of that news. I called up HVKumar. He told me that some rider in Raid’s Extreme Category has died somewhere around Gramphu.

I asked Hotel Manager to inquire around. The news was true. An Extreme category motorcycle participant named Paul Subhamoy died and Raid De Himalaya was called off!

News Links:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/other...o1ASwzlZL.html

RIP Paul Subhamoy.
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We went back to our room, had some booze, had food and called it a day. I asked hotel manager to wake me up when those press guys, covering raid, arrive at the hotel. They didn't come. Late night manager called me and informed that Rohtang Pass was temporarily blocked due to snowfall.

There wasn't any news of other Four passes of Manali – Leh Highway.

NO...! We can’t go back Via Manali–Leh highway way.
We had to go back by Leh–Srinagar highway!
We had to cut our trip short!!

Last edited by SJM1214 : 27th February 2018 at 12:11.
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Old 26th February 2018, 12:10   #26
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Day 7: Leh To Pangong Lake & Back.

It was decided that we had to cut our trip short and head back via Leh- Srinagar highway.

Ok fine, But without visiting Pangong Lake?

Not At All.

As per the Initial plan, we were going to stay for a night at Pangong Lake. Our booking was done at one of the wooden cottages at Spangmik village. We decided to visit that property, have lunch and come back to Leh. As usual, we started for Pangong Lake at first light. Pangong Lake was 150kms from Leh. Roads were good. We had a flying visit to Takthok Monastery at Shakti village.

Takthok Monastery.
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View from Shakti Village.
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Milestone at Sakti Village.
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Road to Sakti Village.
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To Chang La, notice that tiny truck.
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After Sakti village, our next stop was Chang La.

The Chang La (5,360 Mt) is a high mountain pass in Ladakh. It is claimed to be the second highest motorable road in the world. Which is wrong.

Roads were fine but we faced heavy traffic of military supply vehicles. We stopped at each and every turn to give passage to these trucks. It was tiresome and irritating, our progress was very slow. We reached Chang la after 4 hours. The temperature at Chang La was -9 c.

We had our breakfast, hot thupka and momos at one of the cafés, clicked many photographs and headed towards Pangong lake.

Famous Z en route Chang La.
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Chang LA.
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Breakfast at Chang LA.
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Chang LA.
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Chang LA.
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Chang LA.
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Chang La to Pangong Tso road was in worst condition, thanks to October that there wasn’t any major water crossing! Once again we were the first vehicle of that day going towards Pangong Tso. Entire road belonged to us.

Avalanche zone En route Pangong Tso.
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We stopped at Tangste, registration of Vehicle was required. Again the same mistake, we didn't have self-declaration form & again Army guys were co-operative. They gave us blank form and we wrote down details.

(Advice: Keep at least 10 photocopies of Self-declaration form in your vehicle when you are in Ladakh region)

Tangste Village.
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We spotted some wild yaks, some wild kyangs, but those famous Himalayan Marmots, crazy for crackerjack biscuits were missing.

Wild (??) Yaks.
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Wild(??) Kyangs.
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Amazing View.
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We stopped 4 km ahead of the lake, at that famous viewpoint, the first view of Pangong lake. We took our sweet time to make ourselves ready to see one of the most amazing and beautiful places on earth.

First View of Pangong Tso.
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Approaching one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
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Last edited by SJM1214 : 27th February 2018 at 12:15.
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Old 26th February 2018, 12:45   #27
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Beautiful Pangong Lake welcomed us!

Yes, it is one the most beautiful place on earth. The one well-known factor which makes this lake beautiful, that it keeps changing colours. We wanted to witness all the colours of this beautiful lake. It was very much cold out there, but we were excited.

Pangong Lake, also known as Pangong Tso is a beautiful lake situated in the Himalayas and is 134 km long, extending from India to China. This Lake is situated at a height of 4350 m. The lake is a long stretch, the one-third area of the lake lies within our country and the other two third portion lies with Tibet. It has saline water and even then the water freezes and also because of this the lake cannot have any kind of vegetation or even aquatic life.

We stopped at Lukung, which was a starting point of the Lake. After 3 Idiots movie, Leh and Pangong Lake came into limelight. Earlier this region was considered as an adventure circuit, but now it’s a tourist place. Cafes and dhaba are highly influenced by 3 idiots movie. We spent some time there, had our breakfast at a dhaba named “Rancho’s café” and left for Spangmik.

Welcome to Pangong Lake.
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3Idiots movie's influence.
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Different colours of Pangong.
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Beautiful Lake.
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Playing with Pangong.
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Going to Spangmik.
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We were driving parallel to Pangong Lake. It was an amazing experience. Some of the locals were practising Archery. We stopped there and tried our hands on Archery. It was tough.

We talked with those locals. They were from a small village from Zanskar and operating a small dhaba at the bank of Pangong. As per them, it was already offseason and they"ll go back to their village after 15th October.


I asked...
what after that?... What do you guys do during winter?

One of them said...
“tin month ke bad agali season suru hogi, uski wait karenge”.(Next Season will start after three months, we"ll wait for that)

Three more months? How...?
"Leh tourist Season is May to September which is after 7 months."

He said...
“ nai nai Saab, Mai Chadar ki bat kar raha hu, Chadar trek January se chalu hoga” (No, no Sir. I am talking about Chadar trek season, It"ll start from January.)

All of them were working as guides of Chadar Trek on frozen Zanskar River.

WOW!
Chadar trek is one of my dreams, but I don’t consider myself fit to do that. We spent one more hour talking about Chadar trek. I noted down their number and promised to call him when I plan for Chadar Trek.

Driving with Lake.
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Locals Practicing Archery.
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We tried our Hands on Archery!
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Our Ride at Pangong TSO.
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Last edited by SJM1214 : 27th February 2018 at 12:17.
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Old 26th February 2018, 13:26   #28
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Default re: Ladakh in a Duster AWD

We spent more than two hours with locals talking about Chader trek.

It was already 1400 and we were hungry. Spangmik was 8 Km from that spot. 8km means one hour of driving in that region. We decided to drop Spangmik, drive a bit more with Pangong and head back to Leh. We wanted to get back to Leh before dusk.

Pangong was changing its colours. We stopped at many viewpoints to witness that.

Pangong Changing its Colours.
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Beautiful Pangong!
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Way to some View Point!
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Some Photography.
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Even our Duster was in good mood!
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We took a U-turn, got out of the tarred road and played with AWD. We drove all the way to the lake, spotted some more wild kyangs. We drove some more and spotted a sigh board saying not to drive in this area. Oops Sorry! We got back to the road and headed back to starting point of Lake.

Let's try AWD!
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Some mild off-roading!
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Some more kyangs.
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Enjoying Pangong!
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Pangong with a new colour!
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We had nice momos at one of the “3 idiots” themed Dhaba. There were many tourist Vehicles. It was 1600, time to head back to Leh

A local guy came to us and asked for lift till Leh.

Why not!
We started for Leh. We tried to talk to that guy about Life in Leh. As per him, taxi & hotel owners are at the top of Leh‘s socio-economical hierarchy. Car loans for commercial (tourism) purpose are very cheap and easy for locals (maybe perks of 370 Article in J& K).

He told us...
“shayad aap ke vaha youth ko doctor ya engineer banana hoga, yaha leh mai sab ko bhahot sari Innova leni hai and driver banna hai”(May be in your region young guys want to become doctors or engineers but in Leh, they want to buy a lot of Innovas.)

We all laughed at his statement. Maybe it's true. We all know that taxi rates are highest in this region.

Back to Lakung.
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Starting Point of Pangong Lake.
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Tourists, even in October!
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More n More tourists!
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Last edited by SJM1214 : 27th February 2018 at 12:18.
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Old 26th February 2018, 14:19   #29
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Day 8: What now? (Leh to Banihal)

We got back to Leh from Pangong around 1900. We settled down at our hotel, discussing what to do next day.

All of the major sights were covered, we didn't have any plans to visit Turtuk or Zanskar or Paramik. Some of the passes on Manali- Leh was blocked. We received news of light snowfall at Zoji La. We had to go back by Leh - Srinagar HW, no other option! If we delay driving back, chances were high that we get stuck at Leh with all the roads getting out of Ladakh region blocked!

We called up some of our contacts in Srinagar, they said that stone pelting was in full swing. They advised us not to cross Srinagar during daylight and that too on Friday! Some military officers suggested crossing Srinagar after 2300 Point noted! We decided to cover some pending sights in Leh & start driving towards Kargil at 1100, spend the night at Kargil. Next day, cross Zoji La, dinner at Sonamarg and cross Srinagar after 2300!

We woke up 0800 and started one of the longest days of our lives!

Our NRI friend wanted to visit “3 idiot School”. We were early so school was closed. Name of this school is "Druk White Lotus School". The school was damaged in August 2010 when cloudbursts caused flash floods that washed mud and boulders into many school buildings. Aamir Khan made a special effort to lend a helping hand. I found Nothing special about this school accept amazing views.

View from Druk White Lotus School, known as "3 idiots School".
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View from Druk White Lotus School, known as "3 idiots School".
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Thikse Monastery.

After “3 idiots” school we moved to Thikse Monastery.

It is one of my favourite place and the face of Ladakh. It is located on a small hill in Thikse village 19 Kms from Leh. It is noted for its resemblance to Potala Palace, Lhasa. Tibet. Once again we were first visitors.

It is a massive twelve-story monastery complex with a number of stupas, statues, thankas and wall paintings. There is also a large pillar engraved with the Buddha's teachings. In its museum, many sacred items besides a royal sword among other precious objects are on display. As per tradition of Buddhist monastic orders, the successive Lamas are believed to be reincarnations of the original Lama. The successive reincarnations of the Skyabje Khampo Ringpoche act as Head Lama of this monastery. The main prayer hall has a 15 mt high seated Buddha statue. The prayer held in the early morning.

Thikse Monastery, The face of Ladakh.
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Thikse and our Ride.
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View from Thikse Car Parking.
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A than & now Moment at Thikse Monastery!.

A photograph of the same place taken back in 2009 & 2016.
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We spent more than two hours at Thikse Monastery admiring and clicking amazing views.

Our NRI friend wanted to understand Buddhism. He had a long talk with one of the monk. I was just chasing around kid monks and clicking pictures with them. We played/prayed with big praying wheels, explored entire monastery, bought some sovereigns.

Playing/Praying with Praying wheel!
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Exploring Thikse Monastery.
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Exploring Thikse Monastery.
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Talking with Monks.
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Clicking with Monks.
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Playing with kid monks.
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I wanted to click one particular kid monk but he was in a naughty mood. He was just running around and hiding in the monastery. I took permission of his caretaker and ran behind him, & finally clicked some pictures of that naughty kid.

That naughty kid monk who was not ready to face my Lens.
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He kept running away from me.
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& kept hiding in Monastery.
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finally, I caught him. That amazing expression of "oh mai pakada gaya
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NOTE: Permission to upload photographs to social media/forums was taken.

We had all the time to play with those kids.

After lots of photography, we started back for Leh city for some breakfast. This was my fourth trip to Ladakh & we decided to avoid Monasteries to save some time.

But Thikse Monastery will always be an exception.

I "ll surely come again!!


View from Thikse Monastery!
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View from Thikse Monastery!
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View from Thikse Monastery!
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Goodbye Thikse!
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Last edited by SJM1214 : 27th February 2018 at 12:21.
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Leh To Kargil (Leh- Srinagar Highway)

We reached Leh, had some tea and breakfast at outskirts of Leh. It was 1045.

Our plan was to drive till Kargil and stay for the night. Kargil was 216 km from Leh. As per locals, Srinagar to Kargil road was in excellent condition and we can cover that distance in less than 5 hours. We were not in any hurry.


We started from Leh, roads were really in nice condition. It was amazing to drive on those roads. We kept driving, enjoying nice tarred road and amazing views!

We started for Kargil.
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Leh-Srinagar Highway.
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Amazing Roads.
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Some Random milestone.
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Heavy Presence of Army.
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Beautiful Suru river.
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Point noted!
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After two to three hours drive, we witnessed some different kind of mountain formation.

I have noticed this kind of formation during my Spiti tour but it was new for me in Ladakh region. And why not? I was driving on Srinagar – Leh first time.

That formation is called Lamayuru Moonland. It is called moonland by the local due to its peculiar land surface which closely resembles the surface seen on the moon. Lamayuru is a small village and home to one of the oldest Monastery called Lamayuru Monastery.

Welcome to Moonland.
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Lamayuru Moonland!
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Different kind of formation.
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Lamayuru Monastery.
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Goodbye Moonland.
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We started our journey from Lamayuru after 20 minutes.

Once again we were on the road. We were enjoying the drive. The road was in the nice condition, where we could speed up. We stopped at many points for photographs. In my opinion views on Manali – Leh is “Brutally” Beautiful, but Leh –Kargil was “beautifully” Beautiful. I don't know how to explain this statement! But even after my four trips on Manali- Leh highway, I am always scared of that road at the back of my mind. It was not the case with Srinagar-Leh highway.

Beautiful views bundled with the nice tarred road.
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Nice road.
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Our Ride.
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Some View Point.
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Amazing Views.
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Last edited by SJM1214 : 27th February 2018 at 12:22.
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