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Old 17th November 2019, 21:59   #1
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Default Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

Before someone points out, that what purpose does a thread like this serve? The answer is, Nothing!

Secondly, should these be in the commercial vehicle section? Answer is no! Because many of these are non-commercial Govt owned vehicles!

But then are these a sight to watch, at these places? Yes, surely. Together with the amazing but harsh topography, they appeared to me to have an appeal of their own.

But why Himachal? Let's see if I am able to bring that point out through this tread!!

I had taken these snaps almost 4.5 years back on my drive to these places. Something inside me prompted me to take snaps of these beasts. But somehow, these pictures just remained on the hard-drive and out of the mind. Some of these were deliberately captured in a slower shutter speed to convey the sense of motion!

However, if someone concurs with me and wants to share snaps that they have captured, feel absolutely free!! Let this thread be a placeholder for this topic then.

The moment one speaks about high altitude Himachal, images like this, of the Kaza plateau, Pin-valley and the Lahaul valley come to mind.

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_58751.jpg

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_16551.jpg

Mind-boggling scenery apart, one would be surprised to know that the place where this is shot, is served by a Bus-Route!! (Picture posted later)

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_13751.jpg

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_13761.jpg

The Beautiful scenery hides the fact that the roads are narrow, mostly unpaved, and the drops are gigantic.

One is welcomed by beautiful waterfalls alongwith countless Baileys!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_13801.jpg

The Distances (ex Rekong Peo!)

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_13641.jpg

You often have the harsh sun in your eye, blinding everything else, almost like a Spaghetti Western!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_14661.jpg

In addition to the Dirt/Unpaved roads, the mountain sides are a constantly shifting scree. Keeps coming onto the road at all times and one slip and there's no coming back

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-11999676_10153625213461838_779634929799677015_o.jpg

In light of all this, it needs a lot of steely resolve to charge up a mountain like this with aplomb!!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_23371.jpg

Last edited by 1100D : 19th November 2019 at 22:47.
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Old 19th November 2019, 22:46   #2
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Default re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

Many of us here are united by our common "Live to Drive" passion, that often takes us to these high-altitude remote areas of Himachal (and Ladakh). But there are some unsung heroes, who "Drive to Live" on this very geography, day-in, day-out, transporting people and commodities across treacherous terrain, without reward, without recognition and without ego!

As a matter of fact, there is an awesome basic "Himachal Parivahan" Bus Service connecting Delhi-Leh. Wonder what life must be for drivers on this route!!

A typical scenery for a bus in these parts!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_21951.jpg

The momentary pride, of having reached some of these high-altitude villages, is somewhat extinguished, when one starts to realise that someone has taken a full-size Tata Bus with passengers up the same route, all as a part of their daily routine!!

Seen here, one such Tata Bus, at Kibber at 14k ft!!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_16611.jpg

It will need to drive through this Narrow maze of Houses, before driving down the Dirt track to Kaza!!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_16631.jpg

Not only the Busses, the Trucks are also not far behind

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_11921.jpg

Trickier for the Trucks as the weight is not entirely concentrated towards the bottom, so the driver needs to control sway, especially on these unpaved stretches

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_13871.jpg

Narrow Baileys, suspension Bridges which are just about wide enough to accommodate these vehicles.

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_24271.jpg

The drivers sing through these, like no man's business.

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_13961.jpg

Often needing to manoeuvre through tight spaces as vehicles continue to line up behind each other

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_14041.jpg

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Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_28531.jpg

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_28551.jpg

Curves are tricky, especially if vehicles from opposite side, line up to cross at the curves

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_14061.jpg

In this case, the curve is the only crossover point on either side of the vehicles

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_25931.jpg

The Curves are Blind as well. Seen here, is a near miss situation where two vehicles almost ran into each other at the apex of the curve (Sorry for the camera shake - got a little scared as the event unfolded)

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_11721.jpg

Not only do the drivers have to watch out for the width, but the height as well, too much to the right and the vehicle roof will be severed off!!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_14031.jpg
The kind of precision that's required, that too in approaching a culvert on a curve!!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_21981.jpg

Drops are ginormous!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_24191.jpg

Landslides more of a norm than the exception!! Seen here, dynamite being packed to blow this Bigger rock that suddenly decided to block the entire path (Vehicles Piled up on either side for hours)

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_24341.jpg

Boom

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Off-camber curves, very frequent, all in stride!!

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The road belongs to Him!!!

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Yet they move, "Brothers in Arms!!"

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Just like them!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_16681.jpg

They honk in gratefulness when they see a vehicle having stopped to give them a smooth passage! Because both starting or braking on these slopes have their own set of pangs!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_23391.jpg

Note the condition of the "dirt track" ahead of the bus, a little oversteer is part of the game anyways!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_21961.jpg

Beautified Hadimba!!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_29751.jpg

Check posts galore, also the distances Ex-Sumdo!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_59641.jpg

The Majesticity of these larger vehicles on these routes are unmatched!!

To end this post, here's one going to the location of the first snap of this thread!!

Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!-img_19361.jpg
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Old 20th November 2019, 08:18   #3
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Default re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th November 2019, 13:47   #4
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Default Re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

Hats off to you to have seen (and to celebrate) what almost everyone else chooses to ignore.
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Old 20th November 2019, 14:37   #5
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Default Re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

HRTC-Himachal Road Transport Corporation drivers have insane driving skills. May be among the best in the world in high altitude mountain driving. Also i wonder how they handle diesel freezing issues etc.

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Old 20th November 2019, 16:29   #6
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Default Re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

Here’s a good one on the HRTC.

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Old 20th November 2019, 17:05   #7
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Default Re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

Excellent topic and narration. I only have the highest regards for the drivers of these behemoths treading on treacherous Himalayan roads with sheer grit and precision. The drivers are also the most kind and sensible apart from having extreme virtues of patience and forbearance.


Reminds me of a snippet I made during our Ladakh drive. A truck loaded with TMT Bars negotiating a sharp curve on a broken stretch of the Leh-Manali Highway





I also learnt the "honk to thank" and "honk twice to acknowledge" from Sikkimese cabbies.


On our last trip to Spiti, I was following a HRTC Bus on a long blasting stretch. This allowed me to cross the stretch unhindered as oncoming traffic was giving way to the bus in a scurry on that narrow road. The driver was also signalling me by hand to stop and proceed every time we halted. When the stretch ended, the bus stopped on a wider section and the driver, with a dusty but gleeful face asked me to stop for breakfast with him.

Last edited by mi2n : 20th November 2019 at 17:09.
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Old 20th November 2019, 17:06   #8
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Default Re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1100D View Post
But there are some unsung heroes, who "Drive to Live" on this very geography, day-in, day-out, transporting people and commodities across treacherous terrain, without reward, without recognition and without ego!
Thanks for such a beautiful thread. Take a bow. Great Snaps there. This is some serious driving stuff and hats off to these unsung drivers. They are also part of running the economies in that part of the world. Patience is something we need to learn from them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Liner View Post
Here’s a good one on the HRTC.
Thanks for sharing a nice video. Generated goosebumps especially the front views

Last edited by saisree : 20th November 2019 at 17:10.
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Old 20th November 2019, 17:08   #9
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Default Re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

Thanks, 1100D- nice pics and the appreciative posts of the everyday adventure that these drivers experience.
Quote:
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They honk in gratefulness when they see a vehicle having stopped to give them a smooth passage!
Courtesy ! This is what I miss about driving these days. From the time I have begun to understand driving, I have observed this. But with the way people have taken up driving over the past many years - without caring for others, this behaviour and character has been less obvious. Or taken over by brashness and self-centeredness. Most of the younger generation have not seen the single lane "highways" that we used to have earlier, and dont know basic driving etiquette about giving way or using the dipper, and many other such.
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Old 20th November 2019, 18:13   #10
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Default Re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

@1100D - Thanks for sharing the pictures. The much bashed -T- Badge seems to the heavy vehicle of choice up on the hills. Long time ago someone from down south - Ooty to be exact told me that while on the plains the Leyland is preferred, up on the hill roads of Ooty and similar places, the drivers prefer Tata. Not sure how much of that holds up these days.

Some of these Tata trucks and buses were having a set of yellow fog lamps up front, looks like a pretty inexpensive and perhaps preferred one as well. Any idea which brand is that one?

@Condor - You may have noticed the 'Beep Beep' (Thank you) after someone gives you side to overtake and then driver of the other vehicle responds with a 'Beep' (Okay). I follow this on hill roads, the vehicles that are local especially down south will honk back with an okay, others must be wondering why I honked after over taking.

Last edited by Kosfactor : 20th November 2019 at 18:16.
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Old 20th November 2019, 20:02   #11
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Default Re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

Thank you for this great thread. Voted 5 stars.

I have not driven on these harsh roads but I've ridden a bus on these types of roads and the drivers are amazing people with hearts of gold and veins of steel. I rode the first HPTDS bus in the late 80s with my parents on the Manali leh road and it was scary.
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Old 20th November 2019, 22:16   #12
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Default Re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

A much needed thread on bus and truck drivers. They( especially truck drivers) are an unfairly maligned lot, demonized by conventional society as drunkards,rash drivers,along with rampant substance abuse. I recently read an interesting book on truckers, "Truck de India" by Rajat Ubhaykar. The author describes his experience hitchhiking across India with truck drivers. Though his travels are mainly on various highways in the plains, We need a similar book or TV documentary chronicling the lives of bus,truck drivers who ply their trade day in and out in the Himalayas. The road trips which serve as a once in a lifetime journey for us are their daily routes. Any person who has driven on such high altitude roads will acknowledge the sheer amount of grit,bravery,driving skills and patience involved on the part of the driver.Their skills assume even more importance considering that buses and trucks are bereft of so many driving aids and features that we have taken for granted in our cars.

What is an adventure for us is everyday reality for them!
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Old 20th November 2019, 22:50   #13
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Default Re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

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Originally Posted by JediKnight View Post
Also i wonder how they handle diesel freezing issues etc.
You're not going to believe this, but I'll tell you anyway.

They light a fire under the engine.
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Old 21st November 2019, 07:39   #14
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You're not going to believe this, but I'll tell you anyway.

They light a fire under the engine.
A pressure cooker with steam let out is also done many a times
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Old 21st November 2019, 09:41   #15
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Default Re: Heavy Vehicles at high altitude Himachal Pradesh!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1100D View Post

However, if someone concurs with me and wants to share snaps that they have captured, feel absolutely free!! Let this thread be a placeholder for this topic then.
In that case, why limit this thread just to Himachal Pradesh. Let's replace high altitude Himachal Pradesh to the Himalayas.

Here is my share,
An Army convoy on the slopes of Rohtang Pass( Khoksar side)

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