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Old 29th May 2018, 10:41   #1
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Default Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500

In my 2016 travelogue of Ladakh, I wrote the below prologue.

Quote:
Prologue: We four friends are planning/ discussing a trip to Ladakh region by an XUV 500 during the first week of May 2018 (or whenever Rohtang and Zoji La are open). This discussion reminded me of my last trip to Leh during Oct 2016. So, here is the story of my last Leh trip.
Our road trip to Ladakh by XUV was successful.
This is the story of four Idiots & One XUV going to Ladakh.


Let's start with some teasers.

Talking to the Mountains.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-t2.jpg

At the top of the world.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-t1.jpg

A Frozen Lake.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-t3.jpg

A Lonely Lake.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-t4.jpg

& the Largest Lake.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-t5.jpg

A far away village.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-t6.jpg

A fight with ice.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-t7.jpg

Destination without A Road.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-t8.jpg

A Frozen River.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-t9.jpg

Ice Walls
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-t10.jpg

And we won!
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-t11.jpg

Last edited by SJM1214 : 30th May 2018 at 11:34. Reason: Typos corrected
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Old 29th May 2018, 11:07   #2
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Default Re: Four Idiots & one XUV : Ladakh May 2018

We did Ladakh circuit back in October 2016 in a Duster AWD. We planned that trip after reading all the travelogues on different travel and automobile forums. All those travelogues were very helpful in planning our trip back then. We got all the inputs and necessary details from the write-ups of some of the best writers and travellers.

After completing our Ladakh trip in October 2016, I wrote my travelogue.
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...uster-awd.html (Ladakh in a Duster AWD)

I forwarded my travelogue link to friends and family. Some of them came back to me, asking for help in planning their trip to Ladakh. Everyone wanted to go to Ladakh. Everyone wanted to experience the ups and downs we faced. Everyone wanted to experience the adventure.


One over-enthusiastic WhatsApp group immediately changed its name to "Let's get Leh'd " back in December 2017 and started discussing a plan. I am an ex-employee of Vodafone Gujarat. Some of us are still in touch on a WhatsApp group. We are a total of 9 guys in that group. Initially, we all were ready to go to Ladakh and offered our cars to make this trip possible.

We kept discussing. Months passed by and the big news of Idea taking over (or merging with) Vodafone came. Some of the current top Vodafone employees had to back down from the trip. The Group name changed back to its original name. We all forgot about the Ladakh trip and got busy in our routines.

But then, this is Ladakh...

It never leaves you that easily. Three of us were still in touch via a separate Whatsapp group named... "Ladakh???". One evening, back in March 2018, two of them came to my home city, Anand. We had a small family get together at one of my friend's farmhouse. The topic at our farmhouse meet was Ladakh. One of them offered to take his brand new Petrol Jazz. The third guy rejected the idea of Jazz and offered his three years old XUV W6.


...And this was how the Idea of going to Ladakh was reborn in the minds of we three guys. The Idea was to plan a budget trip to Ladakh during mid-May. I asked other two guys to leave all the planning and booking responsibility on my shoulders. I proposed to involve one more person to make the trip more economical.

I asked one of my Anand based friends. He checked his schedule and immediately gave an affirmative response.

So finally in April 2018, we were four guys with an XUV ready to explore Ladakh during May 2018

Last edited by SJM1214 : 30th May 2018 at 11:44. Reason: Typos corrected
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Old 29th May 2018, 11:29   #3
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Default Re: Four Idiots & One XUV : Ladakh May-2018

Planning & Preparation.

Vehicle: XUV500 W6

I started planning the trip. I asked XUV owner to do necessary servicing and replacements in the car. XUV's tyres were 58000 km old and due for replacement. He replaced it and got a basic service checkup. We bought a tyre inflator, towing rope, jumper cable, some quantity of all kind of fluids ( coolant & oils). I took a 200km test drive of XUV to some of the hills in Gujarat. I was satisfied with the car. XUV was ready.

Stay arrangement and Advance bookings:

My idea of the budget trip means a trip without any advance bookings. We could reach the destination and search for possible stay options. In proper cities like Leh, Srinagar, Kargil, that's easily possible. We were four guys (average age 33), looking for an adventurous experience and not a comfortable luxury vacation. I proposed to consider dormitory stay options or hostels with four beds wherever its possible.

I googled for dormitory stay options and got an amazing deal at JKTDC Sonmarg, 200/- per bed.
I got in touch with Zaltak Guest House, Leh. We got a room with four beds with attached bathroom at 250/- per head.
This time, I wanted to stay at Merak village (Last village on the banks of Pangong Lake). I got in touch with a friendly Homestay owner (Peaceful Home Stay) at Merak and booked it at 1000/- per head( including food).

That was it. We were going to have 12 days long trip and booked for only three nights. My other travel mates were worried about that. I convinced them by saying, I would not let them sleep in the car.
I assured them that they would get a soft bed, a pillow and a (or two) warm blanket at the end of every day.

Inner Line Permit:

I wanted to cover Tso Morir(Korzok) from Tso Pangong and Manali- Leh highway from Korzok Via Tso Kar. There was lots of confusion going on at Leh for permits. Even locals were not sure about what is allowed for normal tourists and whats out of reach for them. I wanted to do Merak- Chusul-Loma-Nyoma-Mahe-Korzok route. I talked to the homestay owner at Merak. He told me that, if I have a stamp for Chususl on a permit, I can go to Korzok from Merak. I can go via Tsaga la but not from Kaksang la. It was all confusing.

I discussed the same with Zaltak Guest House owner Teswang Nurboo. He asked me to send him all the documents, within two days he sent me a permit.

ILP for Chusul Village.

Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-1.jpg

Plan (Itinerary):

Our plan was hectic. I knew we would be driving for more than 28 hours without any night stay. However, It was hectic only in plain terrain with well maintained six or four-lane highways. For Example, I proposed to drive all the way Ahmedabad to Pathankot or even Jammu without any stop in 24 hours. It was tough but surely possible with four proven drivers. After Sonmarg, my plan was very much moderate as far as driving was a concern.

Day 1. (11/05/2018) Start from A’bad at 2100. Keep driving. Night driving.
Day 2 (12/05/2018) Reach Pathankot (1350 KM). or Jammu
Day 3 (13/05/2018) Reach Sonamarg.
Day 4 (14/05/2018) Sonamarg to Lamayuru.
Day 5 (15/05/2018) Lamayuru to Leh.
Day 6 (16/05/2018) Visit local sites including Khardung La.
Day 7 (17/05/2018) Leh to Pangong Tso- Merak .
Day 8 (18/05/2018) Merak to Korzok.
Day 9 (19/05/2018) Korzok to Jispa.
Day 10 (20/05/2018) Jispa to Bilaspur.
Day 11 (21/05/2018) Bilaspur to Jaipur
Day 12 (22/05/2018) Jaipur to Ahmedabad.

Distance Vs Time:

I created one more reference sheet to keep a close eye on distance vs time factor. I noted down google map suggested time between two points. Same way I wrote down my time, which included all kind of stops and time spent at toll plazas. I instructed other guys to keep a close eye on D&T sheet during the drive. It was very important to do so during initial days because reaching to Sonamarg on 13/05/2018 evening was very important for the entire plan.

Distance & time sheet.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-2.jpg

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 6th June 2018 at 19:32. Reason: ID numbers masked
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Old 29th May 2018, 12:21   #4
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Default Re: Four Idiots & One XUV : Ladakh May-2018

Day 1 (11/05/2018): Start from Ahmedabad at 2000.

We were talking about this trip from almost last six months but real planning started after 20/05/2018. Three of us are family men with other commitments, so till 10-05-2018, we were busy with other stuff. I wanted one relaxing day before D-Day to get everything done. On the D-Day (11-05-2018) morning, I went to the market to buy some essential things.

Moreover, on 09/05/2018 I got sick with heavy fever and unbearable cough. My family physician asked me to cancel the trip and take rest. I clearly told him that it's not possible. I asked him to give tablets for two or three days.

So, finally at 1900 on 11/05/2018, we were ready to go. My bags were packed. I kept my SLR and weatherproof shoes in a small duffel bag which was very old. I decided to throw it away(duffel bag) once we get in XUV.

My Luggage.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-3.jpg

We are from Anand, other two travel mates are from Ahmedabad. Our XUV was at Ahmedabad. We were starting our trip from Ahmedabad. We asked one of my friends to drop us at Dastan Auto World Museum at outer ring road of Ahmedabad (Anand to Ahmedabad 70Km).

We reached outer ring road, Ahmedabad and started waiting for other mates with the vehicle.

Joy with Luggage at Ring road, A"bad.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-4.jpg

Other mates arrived after 15 minutes. We stuffed our bags in XUV. Thanks to XUV's 700ltr boot space (after folding last row seats). All the luggage accommodated in the car nicely.

Luggage in the XUV.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-5.jpg

A mandatory Selfi, before starting our trip.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-6.jpg

Let me take the chance to introduce my other travel mates.

The Guy in Pink tee is Dilesh.
The person in the black tee with glasses is Vicky.
Grey tee with the writing "life is short to stay mad" is yours truly.
I think we already met Joy in another photograph with luggage.


Oh, and by the way my name is Shreyas.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-7.jpg

So there we were.
We started out drive sharp at 2000 from Ahmedabad to ...?
Well, Let's see...
Ahmedabad to Pathankot or maybe Jammu or maybe Sonamarg...Without a night stay. Brave! ain't We?

Last edited by SJM1214 : 30th May 2018 at 12:13.
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Old 29th May 2018, 12:34   #5
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Default Re: Four Idiots & one XUV : Ladakh May 2018

Once we were in the car, we had nothing to do. We made some odd rules.
  • The guy sitting at co-pilot seat cannot sleep.
  • Each one should drive at least 300kms at one go.
  • Other guys seating at back seat can do anything.
  • Driver and co-driver should be a predefined pair. They"ll have to remain at the front seats for minimum 600km.

We started from Ahmedabad.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-7.1.jpg

We started driving from Ahmedabad. I wanted to cover maximum distance during the night. I started cruising on the well-maintained road to Jaipur. We were enjoying our favourite music and excellent roads. After a while back seat guys slept. We had some very small stops for tea and smoke. The drive to Jaipur was eventless without any problem. XUV was amazing.

Last edited by SJM1214 : 30th May 2018 at 12:24.
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Old 29th May 2018, 12:58   #6
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Default Re: Four Idiots & one XUV : Ladakh May 2018

Day 2(12/05/2018): Jaipur to Udhampur.

Early morning at 0600, we reached Jaipur. We took bypass for Delhi/Rohtak got out of Jaipur and stopped at a small dhaba. It was time for some tea, bio-breaks and if possible, a bath at dhaba.

A stop at Jaipur.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-8.jpg

Yes! I took bath at that Dhaba, truck driver style.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-9.jpg

Joy, aka Sunny started taking selfies. A bachelor symptom.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-10.jpg

Vicky's Dilemma. Bath or not to Bath?
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-11.jpg

After a quick break, we started from Jaipur. We wanted to avoid the crazy rush of Jaipur- Delhi highway and reach Rohtak as soon as possible. We kept driving and faced some oddly overloaded tractors.

On the way to Rohtak.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-11.1.jpg

We were maintaining our distance vs time ratio. After a while, I came back to the relaxing room of the car (back seat). Dilesh and Joy took the responsibility of cockpit. The back seat means that I could do anything. After all, I drove my share of the day, A'bad to Jaipur 799kms in the entire night, so it was time for me to chill in the back seat.

We reached Rohtak. I slept for more than three hours. I was feeling hot in the backseat, that woke me up. Dilesh and Joy were enjoying lassi at some dhaba. We were at the outskirts of Ambala. It was another driver replacement stop. I checked the distance vs time sheet. We were on time. We were doing great, exactly as I planned.

Somewhere At Ambala.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-14.jpg

I love it when everything goes as per plan. I was happy.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-15.jpg

Some Light moments.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-16.jpg

We started from Ambala at 1500. I was optimistic to reach Pathankot on time. We kept moving towards Ludhiana. The road was amazing. We were enjoying the drive.

After one hour of driving at 1600, it started getting dark. It was strange. We were approaching Ludhiana and It was getting dark like dusk. After some time it started raining.

Rain at Ludhiana at 1630.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-18.jpg

It was tough to drive.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-17.jpg

Last edited by SJM1214 : 30th May 2018 at 12:41.
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Old 29th May 2018, 13:25   #7
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Default Re: Four Idiots & one XUV : Ladakh May 2018

My plan of driving till Pathankot or up to Jammu was purely based on the availability of daylight. We are familiar with night drive on Ahmedabad to Jaipur stretch. Jalandhar-Pathankot-Jammu was a new territory for us.

At Jalandhar, we lost all the Sunlight. It was just 1730. I knew we could make it up to Pathankot (that was the plan) but then Pathankot to Sonmarg (next day) could be a long and tiring run for us. I was talking to myself and calculating Kilometers. I didn't want to stop for the night. I wanted to make it up to Jammu or Udhampur. But then after 24 hours of driving, asking others to remain in the car for 24 hours more was not practical.

We kept driving, after a while around Pathankot the weather got cleared. It was something 1900. We had a half hour of daylight. That daylight was bright enough to raise our spirits. When you are driving, daylight always gives you hope.

We kept moving and crossed Pathankot. Thanks to that half hour's daylight. It actually charged us up. We were back in the game. I was trying to motivate other guys by talking about the benefits of reaching early at Sonamarg. They were listening to me and ready to do it. We put Pathankot to Jammu in our GPS and kept driving.

Pathankot To Jammu was a nice road but with heavy traffic of trucks and busses. It took us four long hours to reach outskirts of Jammu. We stopped at small dhaba. We were hungry, even our vehicle needed a well-deserved break. We were 25km far from Jammu.

Somewhere Before Jammu.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-19.jpg

We were tired.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-20.jpg

and starving.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-21.jpg

At 2200, we were somewhere 25km before Jammu having our dinner at a Veshno dhaba. We were good, exactly as per our time and distance ratio. We were tired and our best course of action at that time was to get a room at Jammu and call it a day.

I was having tasty Zeera rice and Dal Makhani. Food was excellent, but my over-enthusiastic and somewhat greedy mind was talking to me... " You made it to Jammu, WOW. Why not Udhampur?".

I was scared of other travel mates and their reaction. I asked Dilesh, how was his mood and proposed to drive 100km more to reach Udhampur. All of them listened to my proposal and to my surprise they said...Chalo.

Chalo Udhampur.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-21.1.jpg

We finished the dinner.
I got on the wheel and started driving.
There was only one thing going on in my mind.
Udhampur...Udhampur...Udhampur...

We decided to stay(yes finally) at Udhampur.
We stopped for a while at Katara Tunnel and kept moving.
The Idea of stopping for a night raised our spirits.

Katra Tunnel.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-22.jpg

Udhampur in my mind.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-23.jpg

Vicky and Joy.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-24.jpg

Dilesh in his own mood.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-25.jpg

At 0200 we reached outskirts of Udhampur.

We were tired and sleepy. We didn't try to search a hotel. We stopped at Dhaba which have that "khatiya" as sitting arrangement. Parked our car. Dilesh and Joy slept in the car. I and Vicky choose to sleep on that comfortable Khatiya.

It was the end of our journey's second day. Ahmedabad to Udhampur in 28 hours without any night stop.

Last edited by SJM1214 : 30th May 2018 at 12:55.
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Old 29th May 2018, 13:44   #8
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Default Re: Four Idiots & One XUV : Ladakh May-2018

Day 3 (13/05/2018): Udhampur to Sonamarg.

Dilesh woke up around 0500. He checked the distance and time sheet. He took the responsibility and started driving. All three of us were sleeping in the car. I was very much excited about Chenani tunnel. I wanted to see it but we crossed it while I was sleeping in the back seat.

Chenani tunnel.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-addon-1.jpg

We crossed Chenani tunnel and welcomed by the amazing views of mountains with clouds. Someone tried to wake me up but I wanted to sleep. They kept driving.

After Chenani Tunnel.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-26.jpg

Approaching Mountains and Clouds.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-27.jpg

Some Random Village after Patnitop.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-28.jpg


Before starting our trip,
I briefed my travel mates about some of the bad known and ugly traffic jam stretches. Ramban to Banihal is one of those. We were approaching Ramban. We stopped at small tea stall some 20km before Ramban. The road was empty. Vicky and Joy tried to tease me by saying where is that "bad known" traffic jams. I kept mum and let them enjoy their early morning tea.

A small Tea stall.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-29.jpg

They were asking me, where is that "bad known" Jam.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-30.jpg

I kept mum.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-31.jpg

We finished our tea and bio breaks. I started driving. All three of them were making fun of me and my statement of "bad known" traffic jam stretches. Frist time in my life, I prayed for a traffic jam.

I wanted to prove my point and the god of roads and vehicles listened to my prayer. After Ramban, there was a long queue of trucks and taxis.

Traffic Jam
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-32.jpg

That Bad known traffic jam stretch.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-33.jpg

Fortunately, that traffic jam was moving slowly. It took us three hours to get out of that traffic jam and cross small Banihal town.

Getting out of Jam.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-34.jpg

Approaching Jawahar Tunnel.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-35.jpg

At 0800, We were at Jawahar tunnel.

Jawahar Tunnel, Banihal side.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-36.jpg

Last edited by SJM1214 : 4th June 2018 at 10:03.
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Old 29th May 2018, 14:05   #9
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Default Re: Four Idiots & One XUV : Ladakh May-2018

We crossed Jawahar tunnel. Kashmir Valley welcomed us with amazing views. Officially we were in Kashmir valley. All of us were excited.

Jawahar Tunnel or Banihal Tunnel is a 2.5-kilometre tunnel, situated on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, linking Jammu to Kashmir Valley. We had a small stop just after Jawahar tunnel.


A small stop after Jawahar Tunnel.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-37.jpg

Welcome to Kashmir Valley.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-38.jpg

We had a small stop and a quick photo session just after Jawahar tunnel. I checked our distance & time sheet. We were on time. If we don't face any unavoidable circumstances crossing Srinagar, we could be in Sonmarg before 1600.

Joy and Vicky enjoying the views.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-39.jpg

Vicky posing with his XUV.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-40.jpg

Welcome to Kashmir.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-41.jpg

After some time we reached the famous Titanic Point after Jawahar tunnel, which offers an amazing view of Kashmir Valley.

We stopped there and ordered some Maggi. It was time for some tea, Maggi and briefing. I was keeping a close eye on all the news of civil unrest and stone pelting at Srinagar and surrounding area. We were going to approach that area.

Yes, We were approaching one of the most beautiful valleys on earth at the same time that valley is bad-known for civil unrest and separatist movement. I clearly instructed other guys that we are not going to stop even for a bio break in Srinagar. We"ll have to keep driving and cross Srinagar city as fast as possible.

Our briefing session was going on with tea and Maggi. One of the peddlers approached us with some woollen caps. I personally brought three woollen caps with me but Dilesh and Joy didn't have any warm cap with them ( some people never listen to pre-trip advice). We all bought warm caps from that peddler.

Titanic Point.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-addon-2.jpg

Titanic Point.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-addon-3.jpg

View from Titanic Point.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-42.jpg

View from Titanic Point.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-43.jpg

We bought Caps.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-44.jpg

Our Briefing session.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-45.jpg

Last edited by SJM1214 : 4th June 2018 at 10:06.
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Old 29th May 2018, 14:11   #10
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Default Re: Four Idiots & One XUV : Ladakh May-2018

We started from Titanic point to Srinagar. I called up one of my local friends to check the status of Srinagar City. He told me everything is fine and adviced us to visit Dal lake. He wanted to meet us at Dal Lake.

Srinagar's Dal lake...WOW. It was a tempting offer. This was my third trip to Srinagar but I never been to Dal lake. I have never seen a single houseboat in my life. I started thinking about a quick visit to Dal Lake.

...But after crossing some 50km from Banihal, we noticed a very strange thing. There was a heavy presence of military at each and every crossing. They were stopping all the local vehicles with young guys and asking something to them and checking their vehicles. They (army) didn't even bother to notice a Gujarat vehicle. That raised an alarm in my mind and I dropped the Idea of Dal Lake.

Approaching Srinagar.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-46.jpg

I instructed other mates not to stop anywhere but some people never listen. Our youngest travel mate(Joy) was hungry. It was 1100, just before 3 hours we had Maggi and tea at Titanic Point. I asked Joy to keep calm and wait for some more time. We were 20km far from Srinagar. Army guys were everywhere and this guy wanted to eat something.

We had to stop at a small stall.

A stop.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-47.jpg

Joy rushed ahead and bought some wafers. Before I could say something to anyone, Dilesh and Vicky also got out and started eating that wafers.

Hungry Joy.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-48.jpg

Dilesh and Vicky Joined Joy.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-49.jpg

I was getting out of the car and three army guys approached me. They asked me about where are we going and why were we stopped? I explained to them that we are on our way to Sonamarg and stopped to buy some food. They instructed us to keep our camera inside the bag and cross Srinagar as fast as possible.

My brave "wafer eater" friends listened to my conversation with those army guys. They immediately got back in the car. Once again, I made myself clear "no more stop till Gund". We started moving ahead and kept our SLR in its bag.

No more stops.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-50.jpg

Last edited by SJM1214 : 30th May 2018 at 13:09.
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Old 29th May 2018, 14:53   #11
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Default Re: Four Idiots & One XUV : Ladakh May-2018

We kept driving at a slow pace. We were having fun. We crossed Srinagar and reached Ganderbal. We didn't stop at Ganderbal, which is one more bad known place for stone pelting. Locals were surprised to see a Gujarat Vehicle in their part of the area. After all, we were some of the frists.

Of course, we had very small stops for water and bio-breaks. I talked to some of the locals and they were cooperative with their guest who came all the way from Gujarat. However, we wanted to get out the danger zone.

We had a brief stop after 40 km from Srinagar. It was a beautiful small town named Gund.

Stop after Srinagar.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-51.jpg

Gund Town.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-52.jpg

We reached Gund at 1400. It was our first stop after Srinagar. We were 25Km far from Sonamarg. We were about to finish an epic journey from Ahmedabad to Sonmarg. It was an amazing feat for all of us. We stopped at a small viewpoint and spent 30 minutes, admiring amazing views and celebrating our success. Yes, We were 25 km far from Sonamarag. So What, We knew we would reach Sonamarg before evening.

My distance vs time sheet was asking me to celebrate. Those beautiful mountains were welcoming us with a big smile and glacier tounges.

Me and Vicky in good mood.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-52.1.jpg

We almost made it.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-53.jpg

Dilesh and Vicky admiring the view.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-55.jpg

Joy Joined us
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-56.jpg

Yours Truly.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-57.jpg

We finished our quick celebration and moved ahead. We were in good mood and enjoying the nature.

Pines and clouds.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-58.jpg

Some Glacier.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-59.jpg

Way to Sonamarg.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-60.jpg

Beautiful stream.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-62.jpg

Approaching Sonamarg.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-61.jpg

Ready to meet Sonamarg.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-63.jpg

At 1530, We were just 4kms far from Sonamarg. We were hungry but not in a hurry. We drove at a slow pace enjoying each and every corner of the road.

4Km from Sonamarg.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-64.jpg

Sonmarg at its best.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-65.jpg

Snowcladded Mountains.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-67.jpg

Welcome to Sonamarg.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-68.jpg

Welcome To Sonamarg.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-69.jpg

So finally on 13/05/2018 at 1600, We were at Sonamarg. Thanks to my other travel mate's co-operation. My over-enthusiastic and greedy plan worked. Our distance vs time calculations worked.

Yes, we spent one night in the car, one night at a dhaba and almost 44 hours on roads. But after all of that, the reward was amazing.

We were at Sonamarg as per plan. in fact 4 hours early.

We covered 1750kms (Ahmedabad to Sonamarg) in 44 hours without any night stop (in a hotel). That was an amazing achievement.

Last edited by SJM1214 : 6th June 2018 at 16:38.
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Old 29th May 2018, 15:01   #12
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Default Re: Four Idiots & One XUV : Ladakh May-2018

We entered Sonamarg village. Situated at an altitude of 2730 m, Sonamarg is a mesmerizing hill station in the Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir. Sonamarg literally means ‘the meadow of gold’ and with snow-capped mountains set against a spectacular blue sky, it is as close to heaven as it can get. It is also the take-off station for the drive to Ladakh across Zojila.

Sonamarg.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-70-1.jpg

Indian Army Welcomed us.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-71.jpg

We booked dormitory stay at JKTDC, Sonamarg and paid in advance. We reached JKTDC resort and approached caretaker. He asked 2500 more apart from 800(200/- per bed). As per him, our booking was for a dormitory stay which is situated 4 km far from Sonamarg and only reachable by a horse. I knew that caretaker was lying but we didn't have any other way to talk to him. I convinced him at 2000/ - extra, paid it and asked for a receipt. He denied giving any receipt. We checked in at Dormitory room which had total 10 beds and a dirty attached bathroom.


JKTDC, Sonamarg.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-72.jpg

JKTDC, Sonamarg.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-73.jpg

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Old 29th May 2018, 15:28   #13
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We checked in and finished our lunch.
We were tired but equally excited.
We just got out of our hotel and started exploring Sonamarg village.

Playing with River. Notice the Team-BHP jacket.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-75.jpg

Playing with River.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-77.jpg

Beautiful Sonamarg.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-76.jpg


While we were playing with the river, I found some plastic bottles and plastic wrappers in it. I got one polythene bag and collected the plastic scrape in it.

Cleaning the river.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-77.1.jpg

After Cleaning the river, we moved ahead. There was a beautiful ground.
We turned a slight right and entered in that ground. Some locals were playing football on that ground, some of the tourists were enjoying the mountains. We spent some time playing with our vehicle and clicking photographs.

Getting in Football Ground.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-78.jpg

Playing with XUV.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-79.jpg

I took the chance.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-80.jpg

My main reason for getting out and exploring Sonamarg was Army and Police CPs at Sonamarg. I wanted to visit Army and Police cp at Sonamarg. I wanted to know, is there any timing restriction for approaching Zoji la in the morning.

We went to Army CP. Army guys informed us that they would allow vehicles to Zoji la pass after 0900. I requested them to allow us to cross at 0700. They smiled and said... "thick hai, jaldi nikal jana" (ok, you can leave early)

Approaching Army CP.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-81.jpg

Sonmarg to Leh.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-82.jpg

We got oral permission to cross Sonamarg CP at 0700 next morning. I wrote down the name of the person who was going to be posted at Army CP. We were about to get back and I got an idea, why not to have some taste of Sonamarg - Leh highway . We crossed that CP and drove for two more Kms.

On Sonamarg -Leh highway.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-83.jpg

Some Village.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-84.jpg

Vicky and Joy.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-86.jpg

Being Gentle.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-87.jpg

Enjoying Mountains.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-88.jpg

Not that Gentle.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-89.jpg

Our ride.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-90.jpg

At 1900, We reached JKTDC resort and got in our room. I got in the bed and slept. I don't remember we eat or not. A warm bed was calling us and we took the call.

Parking space at JKTDC, Sonamarg.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-91.jpg

10 beds Dormitory at JKTDC.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-92.jpg

Last edited by SJM1214 : 30th May 2018 at 15:06.
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Old 29th May 2018, 16:25   #14
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Day 4 (14/05/2018): Sonamarg to Lamayuru

We sept like kids. It rained at night. We woke up at 0630 and got ready to move. We were going to drive till Lamayuru Village, which was 225km. We had an entire day at our disposal. I was not thinking much about distance and time sheet. I knew we were going to stop at each an every glacier and have long photography sessions. Our only target was to reach Lamayuru before the night

Morning at JKTDC, Sonamarg.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-93.jpg

We started from JKTDC at 0700. After half hour of a drive, we stopped at first glacier.



Frist Glacier.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-94.jpg

We played with those Ice walls, talked with some truck drivers and clicked hundred of photographs. I had a hard time to convince Dilesh, Vicky and joy that we "ll have many ice walls and glaciers on our upward journey.

Ice walls.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-95.jpg

Talking with Trucks.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-95.1.jpg

Checking the Ice.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-96.jpg

Playing with Ice walls.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-97.jpg

Having fun.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-98.jpg



We were approaching Zojila. We were 10km far from the Zoji La top and it started raining. Visibility was decreasing, it was tough to drive on those curvy roads with low visibility. However, we carried on.

It started Raining.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-99.jpg

Rain Rain go Away.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-100.jpg

To Zoji La.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-101.jpg

Rain couldn't stop us. We stopped at some more Ice walls. It was raining. However, I got out and asked others to join the fun. All of them got out and we had a riot of snowballs.

Come out.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-102.jpg

Join me.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-103.jpg

They joined me.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-104.jpg

We were stopping at each and every ice walls. We were having fun. Our distance vs time sheet was lying somewhere in the luggage room(boot space) of the car. I took a mental note to reach as soon as at Zoji La top but not to compromise with our fun.

Some more Ice walls.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-105.jpg

And some more.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-106.jpg

It's my turn.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-107.jpg

Never Postpone Joy.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-108.jpg

Let's walk
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-109.jpg


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Old 29th May 2018, 16:46   #15
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Default Re: Four Idiots & One XUV : Ladakh May-2018

We were approaching Zoji La. After a while, we were on the block paved road. It meant we were at Zoji la top. We parked our XUV at one of the Maggi stalls and started playing with snow.



One Last turn.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-110.jpg

At Zoji La.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-111.jpg

Talking with Mountain.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-112.jpg

Welcome to Zoji La.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-113.jpg

A rare pic of all four in one Frame.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-114.jpg

We started at 0700 without any breakfast or tea from Sonamarg. We were hungry. We ordered Maggi and tea at one of the Maggi stalls. It was one of the tastiest Maggi of our life.

Zoji La pass.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-115.jpg

Other views Of Zoji La
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-116.jpg

Maggi and tea.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-117.jpg

We finished our breakfast and rushed to Zoji La top board. We stopped there and as per ritual clicked some photographs.

Zoji La top.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-118.jpg

That Famous Board.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-119.jpg

Zoji La top.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-120.jpg

Zoji La top.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-121.jpg

We got down from Zoji La. Road was in bad shape, so we kept our camera aside and concentrated on driving. We reached Gumari check post. We registered ourselves and continued our onward journey.

Getting down from Zoji La.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-122.jpg

Gumari Check Post.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-addon-4.jpg

At Gumari Check Post.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-123.jpg

Entry done.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-124.jpg

Let's go.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-125.jpg

We were excited. We crossed Zoji la, played with snow and had photo sessions. I forgot my fever and heavy cough due to this excitement and activities. At Gumari CP, my cough and fever reappeared. We had to stop just after Gumari CP. Other guys went to have some fun with the river. I remained with the car for some rest.

Joy with the river.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-126.jpg

Dilesh checking his shoes.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-127.jpg

Taking rest
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-128.jpg

and coughing.
Ladakh: Four Idiots & One XUV500-129.jpg

Last edited by SJM1214 : 6th June 2018 at 16:37.
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