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Old 14th September 2018, 14:29   #1
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Default TUV3OO-Ladakh: The Final Frontier

Ladakh - The culmination of all your desires. Moksha for the wanderer soul.

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Destiny is a precarious word. It makes you lazy most of the time. Most of us are more comfortable submitting to destiny than chasing it. Heavy lines for what is a 6,000 kilometer trip. More so, as these days, you can reach Leh on whim within a few hours by air and then take the local taxis through pristine tarmac, mostly, to the famed places of interest scattered around the Ladakh region. But here we are, hellbent on driving our own cars across thousands of miles of boring highways and arduous terrains for days without rest, just to satisfy this seemingly unreasonable appetite for road travel. Road trips have been a rave in developed countries for over half a century and Hollywood has done it's part glorifying them in many memorable flicks. But it is only in recent times, that the idea of road trips have gripped the average Indian Joe, like us.


The Kolkata Team-BHP family is a rather closely knit unit. So, when I came back from a family trip to the Kumaon region in May (Link to Travelogue : https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...n-episode.html (TUV3OO - The Kumaon Episode) ) it was customary to arrange for a meet to share the stories of the trip over some well spread platter. The meet was duly arranged, however, I arrived not with any intent of sharing my Kumaon tales but with a rather cynical idea. Even before the fresh lime soda had hit the table, I popped the bubble. Let's do a stag trip to Ladakh! Most of the members were either stunned into silence or pretended not to have heard my rather awkward proposal. Not BB. He was in town and was attending the meet. He was immediately hooked on to the idea and from that day, BB and not me became the energizer bunny for the team, prodding us every now and then to get on with the arrangements and bookings. He ultimately ended up making most of the arrangements by himself.


During the pre-trip phase, a few names got added and few opted out. Pegasus, the 4WD Bolero of BB being the only fixed member all through. Finally, we were down to a group of five BHPian brothers. We had initially decided to take DD's immaculately maintained Civic citing that the Bolero could easily pull the Civic out of whatever pit the Civic would get stuck into. As the day approached, we were bombarded with news of bad roads, incessant rains and landslides in Himachal. Very reluctantly and with a heavy heart, DD decided not to venture in the Civic. I understand how hard that decision would have been. Every enthusiast wants to drive his own car to Ladakh. I have fond memories of the Civic in Sikkim, where it had acted heroically during our last trip. I hope 2707 makes it to Ladakh very soon and it would be a pleasure to ride shotgun.


Anyway, Tuffey, our 2016 TUV 3OO was unanimously chosen to replace the Civic. It was a moment of immense joy for me. I am really thankful to my team mates for allowing Tuffey to join the team even though there were other options available, including the sparkling new S-Cross of DJ. A dejected DD announced that he will retreat to the role of mechanic and photographer for the entire trip. As it turned out, DD spent most time behind the wheels of Tuffey after myself.


As Anindya (BHPian cr4nkshaft) has already very eloquently described the trip details here: https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...ek-ladakh.html (A week in Ladakh) and I dare not dilute his excellent thread with more of my mindless blabbering, I will just try to share the events of the trip through some pictures.


Day 1 : Kolkata to Delhi (1550 KMs approx)

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Dinner stop near Panagarh



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The much awaited Yamuna Expressway


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Backseat frolics continued throughout


Day 2 : Delhi to Manali (550 KMs approx)


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Breakfast stop at Amrik Sukhdev dhaba. We were hungry most of the time.


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A rather belated arrival at Manali



Day 3 : Manali to Jispa (140 KMs approx)

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The wakeup call


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Visit to Hadimba Mata's abode


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Remnants of probable sacrifices adorns her corridors


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Soon we were hungry again


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Omlettes


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Sandwiches and Pooris the size of footballs


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The hot cuppa to compliment


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With our hunger satiated momentarily, we started for Rohtang


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We crossed a gushing waterfall.


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The surface was good and we were sailing through the clouds


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Soon we reached Rohtang La


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The first Pass of the trip


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The Mahindra brothers at Rohtang Top


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We continued through serpentine roads beyond Rohtang


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The scenery changed with every turn


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We ambled along the river


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Terrific terrains


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Colors beyond your regular pallet


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The glacial peaks got closer


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The barren landscapes


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We finally reached beautiful Jispa


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But even the quaint little village by the river bend could not make us forget our primal desires

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..and we headed straight to the diner for replenishment


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We strolled down to the river bed and stayed out till daylight disappeared

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Old 16th September 2018, 19:05   #2
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Day 4 : Jispa to Leh (350 KMs approx)

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We started early


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And stopped by the beautiful Sooraj Taal


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We started our climb to the land of the high passes


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From one pass to the other


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Serpentine roads


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Gata Loops


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Nakee La (17480 feet)


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Approaching Sarchu


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Serene Sarchu


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Grazing on untainted pastures


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Engulfing landscapes around Sarchu


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We all decided to stop for a while


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Sarchu is the Border town between the Lahaul district of Himachal Pradesh and the Zanskar region of J&K.


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High altitude cafeterias



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Lachung La (16616 feet)


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BBB enjoying the scenery


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Lunar landscapes


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Nature's engineering





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Down by the riverside



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And up through the mountains again




Pang view point and More Plains

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Arriving at Pang on the Leh-Manali highway


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We were told that roads beyond Pang are in great shape and that we would be "flying" to Leh


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But we were not told that the scenery would slow us down more than the bad roads we had left behind


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Pang view point


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As if we just drove into a wormhole and landed on another planet


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The flat table top mountain at Pang view point was a hint, we landed on the More Plains at the next turn


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A high altitude flat land, seemingly endless.


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40 kilometers of arrow straight roads dissecting the plain lands


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Too many colors to process


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More of More Plains

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Old 16th September 2018, 21:16   #3
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Default re: TUV3OO-Ladakh: The Final Frontier

Day 4 : Jispa to Leh (...continued)

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We climbed up 17,582 feet to the Tanglang La Pass


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Scribbles on the mountains


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Leh was getting closer


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Daylight faded away at the outskirts of Leh


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After checking in, we strolled down to a nice looking food joint for dinner.




Day 5 : Leh (Local sightseeing)

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We woke up pretty late. After a light breakfast we retreated to our rooms and lazed around. Had it not been for our perennial craving for food, we would probably have spent the entire day at the hotel. We drove down to the Tibetan Kitchen for lunch.


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We ordered Momos (or "Kothey" as I would be told was the technical term for these lightly fried chicken momos).


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Tasty fried rice with juicy chicken


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With our tummies full, we headed towards the Shanti Stupa


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Lord Buddha at the Stupa


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Light and shade


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Leh city from the Stupa compound


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Leh, in another perspective



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Stok Kangri


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The natural guardians


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God's pallete


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Martian


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The city is almost locked by huge mountains on all sides


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Bird's eye


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Shanti Stupa at night, with the tourists gone, calmness and tranquility ensued


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The bustling city of Leh


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Soon we were hungry again and leaving the car at the hotel, we strolled down to the market place for dinner.


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Some continental dishes I dare not try to name


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But they tasted as good as they looked

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Old 17th September 2018, 09:58   #4
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Day 6 : Leh (Local sightseeing)

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We woke up to beautiful clear skies


SHEY Palace


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The Shey Palace is deceptively unassuming as you take the walk uphill


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...and it slowly exposes itself as you get closer


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The main courtyard is ornamented by a balcony canopied by intricately crafted wooden structures


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The palace is bestowed with splendid views


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Both from the front courtyard


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...and the expansive backyard


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A huge figure of Lord Buddha endowed the palace


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The calm, smiling face of the Lord, brings in a sense of content


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The was a small Chorten further up, but the path seemed treacherous, so we relented




THIKSEY Monastery

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Further down the road we stopped by the Thiksey Monastery


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The Land of the Lama


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Up close


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Spectacular views on offer again


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Greenery at 11000 feet


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Bright colors!


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The gateway to the sanctuary


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His Lordship's effigy in full glory


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The courtyard


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Uniquely sculpted and decorated



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We retreat to a nice looking resort at the foot of the Monastery in search of food


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Food photography was quintessential.


LEH Palace



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On our way back, we stopped at the Leh Palace


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Some rooms used as exhibition halls. Exhibiting photos of places of eminence in India


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For the Royalty to keep a watch.


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The innards


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Level Seven


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The rooftop


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A monastery perched high above


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Panoramic view of the city from the top of Leh Palace.

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Old 20th September 2018, 18:50   #5
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Day 7 : Leh to Nubra Valley (120 KMs approx)

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We woke up lazily and started late again.


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We started our climb towards Khardung-La top


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A short hold up due to the Leh Marathon


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A candid during the stoppage



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Vistas en-route


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We reach the summit !



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The memorabilia


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The terrain changed as we approached Nubra Valley


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The mirage


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Sight of vegetation after miles of barren mountains


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We continued over pristine tarmac


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I stayed back at our hotel in Sumur to rest, while the others drove down to the Hunder sand dunes.




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Bactrian Camels




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I strolled around the property for a while




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Fresh and juicy


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Green ones too!

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Old 20th September 2018, 21:15   #6
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Day 8 : Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso (170 KMs approx)

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We woke up fresh and rejuvenated


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We started towards the famous Pangong Tso


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But not before a short detour to Diskit and Hunder


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I had missed the Hunder trip last evening


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Hunder sand dunes


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We had decided to take the Agham-Shyok route


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We leave the desert behind and head towards the Shyok river


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The first break en-route


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Blacktop right through the dry river bed


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The road climbs up and winds down


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But never leaves the riverside


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Approaching Shyok village


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We came across some water crossings


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And passed through with some drama


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We manage to catch a few moments


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Prayer flags - the colors of life


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We finally leave Shyok river behind and head towards Durbuk


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We came through green pastures again


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Wild horses!


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Array of colors



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The desert oasis



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The first glimpse




Pangong Tso


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Perched at a height of over 14,000 feet


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Spanning an area of 134 kilometers through India and China



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Carving her own outlandish throne


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She sits majestically, staging her divine beauty


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The Royal camp, our stay for the night


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Glistening snow peaks just beyond our camps


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By the moonlight


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The ultimate adventure

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Old 21st September 2018, 17:23   #7
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Day 9 : Pangong Tso to Dras (440 KMs approx)

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We woke up early and got ready to move out


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The peaks behind our camps got enlightened by the first rays of sunlight


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A small stroll down to the grand stage before we start



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We were home-bound


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Somewhere after Chang-La (17,590 feet)


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We crossed Leh and hopped on to the pristine NH-1


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On the Srinagar-Leh highway


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We reach Lamayuru, about 120 kilometers from Leh


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Known as the Moonland

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And very aptly too


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A long-shot of the Monastery


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Truly alien landscapes


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Wild imaginations


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We continue towards Kargil


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Fatu La (13479 feet). Highest point on the Srinagar route.


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As daylight faded away, we reached the Kargil War Memorial


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We were lucky to have been allowed in the hallowed grounds


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Weapons commissioned for the battle were on display



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But it were The Men who fought the war


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A plethora of emotions ran through us


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It was intense driving down NH-1D after our visit to the War Memorial. Nobody uttered a word till we reached Dras


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We retreated to our rooms after a quick dinner

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Old 21st September 2018, 19:23   #8
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Day 10 : Dras to Jammu (425 KMs approx)

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We make an early exit and move towards Srinagar


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The final few moments in Ladakh


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We head for Zoji La, memories of Ladakh lurking behind in the ORVM


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Starting the Zoji La climb


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The last high mountain pass of our journey


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The beautiful Sonamarg lay ahead


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Approaching heavenly Sonamarg


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A close look at BBB during our breakfast stop


Once past Sonamarg, we did not stop till we reached the outskirts of Srinagar. A short refueling break and we were steadily moving again.


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We bypassed Srinagar and totally unexpectedly, landed on a tollway


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NHAI guiding us towards our destination


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Through the impressive Chenani Nashri tunnel


We had initially thought of driving to Delhi. Accordingly, I kept the wheels all day to keep DD fresh for the overnight highway run. However, the crawling traffic en-route due to the landslides at Ramban and the unruly truck traffic beyond Patnitop drained us all and we decided to stop at Jammu for the night. The ambitious D-D-D (Dras-Delhi-Dankuni) plan was thus laid to an early rest.

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Old 21st September 2018, 20:55   #9
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Day 11 & 12 : Jammu to Kolkata (2,100 KMs approx)

We left our hotel at Jammu early. This meant, we started without breakfast. Now, there is no dearth of expansive food joints along the highways of PB and HR. But the eyes of DJ lit up as soon as he saw an advertising hoarding for a Burger King joint few kilometers ahead.


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We gladly obliged


With an elaborate breakfast ordered, we topped up our cars with the unused fuel in the jerry cans BBB were carrying.



TUV3OO-Ladakh: The Final Frontier-199.jpg
Tuffey and Pegasus. Our trusty steeds.



After the breakfast stop, I retreated to the rear bench for the day. We reached Delhi by 6:30 PM in the evening and moved in to BB's house for food and refreshments. DD has some work in Delhi, so he dropped down enroute and joined us back at BB's residence by 10:30 PM. Anindya(cr4nkshaft) was initially supposed to take a flight back home from Leh due to professional commitments. But we insisted that he tags along with the team till Kolkata because of the revised itinerary. He had agreed to come down till Delhi. As he had ample time to reach home due to the trip being cut short, we hogged him to cancel his Delhi flight too and drive back with us. When he resisted, I defaced his suitcase by writing expletives all over it such that the bag could not be used to commute in public(airport). But, the shameless guy that he is, he braved it all and returned via flight the next day.


The drive from Delhi to Kolkata was pretty uneventful. As Cr4nkshaft has rightly presumed, without him nitpicking away in the rear seat, the fun quotient reduced drastically. DD was tired, after a full days drive from Jammu and ensuing office work in Delhi. He fell asleep in the rear seat as soon as we started. We touched the Yamuna Expressway around midnight. DJ kept good company throughout the night. We drove non-stop, we drove steady. By 5:30 AM in the morning we had crossed the Kanpur flyover. I woke DD up and slept in his place. When I woke up we were almost through the Allahabad bypass. DD was looking tired and was not keen on driving. I took over the wheel and stopped at Varanasi for lunch. I handed over the wheel to DJ somewhere around Gaya and receded to the backseat for some rest. We swapped places again after Topchanchi. Apart from a small congestion and detour at the Bengal-Jharkhand border the going was smooth.



TUV3OO-Ladakh: The Final Frontier-200.jpg
Tuffey reached home before midnight


TUV3OO-Ladakh: The Final Frontier-gmap-ladakh.jpg
The route map




A journey to Ladakh changes you, even if a little bit, it really does. A journey to Ladakh is never planned, it's destined.


TUV3OO-Ladakh: The Final Frontier-201.jpg
Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.”
(If there is paradise on Earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.)


Thanks for reading. Until next time.

Last edited by mi2n : 21st September 2018 at 23:43.
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Old 22nd September 2018, 07:50   #10
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Default Re: TUV3OO-Ladakh: The Final Frontier

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!

Related Thread (A week in Ladakh) .
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Old 22nd September 2018, 09:19   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mi2n View Post
I will just try to share the events of the trip through some pictures
Nice travelogue Mi2n. Amazing pictures. What camera did you use to capture these?
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Old 22nd September 2018, 10:02   #12
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Mithun da, impeccable curation of photos! Linking to the travelogue for mutual back scratching ��
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Old 22nd September 2018, 10:54   #13
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Lovely travelogue as usual mithun da
Awesome pics and the route plan will be of really use in future
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Old 22nd September 2018, 16:42   #14
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Beautifully captured. Every time i read a ladakh travelogue it feels like i am missing something in life
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Old 22nd September 2018, 17:44   #15
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Very beautiful pics ! A poetry ! Some locations are just timeless & you have captured the colors amazingly well .
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