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Old 5th September 2021, 14:07   #1
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Default Assam To Ladakh in a Hyundai Tucson

It was during the end of 2020 when COVID seemed to diminishing in Inda, My wife (then girlfriend) and I had decided that we would go on a long road trip across New Zealand after our marriage. But all plannings came to a hault when the COVID again hit us with its 2nd wave in a more deadly manner. Our wedding actually happened amidst the peak of 2nd wave and all the plans for road trip went for a toss due to covid as well as financial constraints. Slowly as time passed by, COVID cases reduced, urge to go on a road trip increased exponentially. It was then when we both decided to keep the road trip plan on, albeit within India. After thorough discussion and enough persuasion with parents of both sides, the trip was decided. Yes, you guessed it right. A road trip to Ladakh !

Well, i feel the most easiest part of a road trip is to select the destination, the other difficult factors like execution of the trip follows later. When i say a road trip to Ladakh from Assam, it means covering atleast 2300kms through the plains all the way from Guwahati to foothills of Himalayas crossing chandigarh. Hence a thorough waypoints and stopovers needed to be decided before actually taking the trip and the most difficult part would be to get the leaves on the desired dates. Leave was not an issue for Wife as she is working from home at the moment, however i had to do some nice buttering with my boss to get those two long weeks off.

When i told about my road trip plan to my boss, he got as excited as my friends did, such is the hype the ladakh trip has amongst us Indians. He immediately approved the leaves. The dates of the trip had been decided from 17th August to 31st August 2021.

We decided to take the Manali-Leh-Manali circuit as taking Srinagar route is a bit risky affair due to rigorous road construction and lot of reported traffic jam in jammu-srinagar highway. I have even heard people getting stucked for 5-6 hours in Jammu-Srinagar route after chenani tunnel. I would be happy to drive extra miles of 5-6 hours than getting stucked for 5-6 hours at the same spot. Now, we knew that taking Manali-leh route would make us more prone to Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS as they call it. Also the road condition between Manali to Leh is not in great shape with lot of water stream crossings and high altitude passes. But we were prepared for the same. Ofcourse the obvious choice of vehicle would be our humble Tucson and not the elantra if we want to come back in one piece from the mighty Himalayas.

Before actually taking trip, i went through various travelogues and vlogs regarding various precautions to be taken in the trip. Accordingly an essential shopping list was created and the items were brought. The list includes

1) Fuel jerry can 20L - 1nos
2) Portable oxygen cylinder - 3 nos
3) Tyre inflator ( i already had this)
4) Medicines - Diamox, loose motion medicines, Sentizin (for cold), Saridon, Avomin.
5) Rope and M-seals
6) Portable powerbank to charge our devices
7) multiport 12V DC charger to keep our devices charged while in move.

After everything were packed into our car, we were all set to go.

Day 1) Guwahati to Durgapur ( 970kms)(Messy Kishangunj & Dalkhola)
As my current work station is located at Durgapur, we decided to take a night hault there. Durgapur is a city in the state of west bengal and is famous for Durgapur steel plant. We started off at around 4.30 am in the morning and took Guwahati-Nalbari-Siliguri-Dalkhola-Bhagalpur-Dumka-Asansol-Durgapur route. Now, this route may sound very easy on paper but it isn't. The road from Guwahati to Siliguri is in great shape as you drive through Toll roads (NH27, NH317 and NH17) all the way. The route is very scenic before approaching Siliguri with beautiful Dooars welcoming you the moment you hit West Bengal. Dooars is the alluvial plain in the northeastern part of India in the foot of Himalayas.

The real thrill however starts when you cross Siliguri. I agree that roads have improved over the years but are far from good. There are flyover construction happening at kishangunj junction and also at the Dalkhola junction. You need to be careful with the time at which you cross these junctions. We crossed these junctions in afternoon leading to relatively low traffic jams. Please note that if you wish to cross these junctions at night, you can expect long queue of trucks along the road which would delay your trip by atleast 3 hours (based on my previous experience). We reached bhagalpur by pass by 4 pm same day and took the SH19 of Bihar side and continued till Bounsi, the same road changes to SH17 once you step into Jharkhand. The road as usual has moderate traffic with few jams on small towns. These two SHs are 2- Lane undivided road, so you better be crossing this stretch before the dark set in. Else be prepared to get attacked by highbeamers. We could not cross this in daylight though. After Dumka, the traffic becomes very sparse and you would love driving in this stretch. We encountered few moon sized potholes as we reached West Bengal-Jharkhand border but our car took it in its stride without any underbelly hits. The roads become great again with 6 Lanes all the way till durgapur after asansol which is a part of NH19. We reached home by 11.30pm at night.

Trip : Guwahati,AS to Durgapur,WB
Distance : 970kms
Time : 19 hours ( with 2 hours meal and powernap break)

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Somewhere on NH27 Between Guwahati To Siliguri

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Enroute Dumka

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A River coming out of the Lower Himalayas at Dooars

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Lovely Dooars

Day 2 & Day 3
Durgapur, WB to Agra, UP (1140kms)
(Stock Nexen tyres gave up on us)

After doing Guwahati to Durgapur route, we thought we had covered the hardest route in the plains and rest of the trip should be smooth with NHs and Expressways till we reach chandigarh. But God had some other plans for us.

At the time of our travel it was mandatory to have covid negative RTPCR report before entering ladakh within 96hours. Hence we decided to give our samples at Sanaka hospitals, durgapur. Also as my Tucson covered around 19xxx kms, i sent the car for usual 20k service at Rudra, Hyundai Durgapur. Rest of the essential shopping we did at Durgapur. Car was topped up with DEF (adblu) by myself once i got it back from service.

It was by 5 pm in the evening we started off for our journey to Agra. We took Durgapur-Dhanbad-Varanasi-Prayagraj-raebareilyy-Lucknow-Agra route. From Durgapur to Prayagraj we kept driving on NH19. The road from Durgapur to Dhanbad is good with 6 lanes with few diversions here and there but a good pace can be maintained. Dhanbad to Barhi junction most of the construction activites have been completed, hence no jams and very less diversions. However after barhi we were stuck in traffic jam for 1 hour due to head on collision involving two lorrys in one of the road diversions. Thanks to NHAI patrolling team, the accident vehicles were moved out of the road and we were good to go again. RIP to the drivers of the lorrys, It was a major accident. Apart from this incident, the road was mostly clear but quality of the roads deteriorated when we stepped into Bihar. One should be really careful in the culvert areas/bridges in this stretch of NH19 in Bihar as the broken roads may damage your suspension. I am glad to inform you that the bottleneck of Chandauli, Dehri on Sone, Sasaram toll plaza are no longer bottlenecks. We passed through these like a breeze. There was minor traffic jam in the Varanasi toll plaza but it was not that serious one. We crossed Varanasi toll plaza at around 1.30 am.

The Rain Gods were not very pleased with us making the progress of our trip smoothly and they decided to shower us with their blessings once we crossed Varanasi. It rained cats and dogs all the way to Prayagraj and we could bare go beyond 40kmph due to very low visibilty. At around 4.30 am we moved to the side of the road and took a nap of 1.5 hour since the rain didnt stopped at all and we didnt wanted to drive with such low Visibilty. One thing i like to add here is the presence of Halogen fog lamps in the Tucson. Ofcourse they may look very ugly with the LED headlamps but they serve the purpose very well in heavy rains and fogs. I wonder why manufacturers now a days do not add halogen fog lamps to their new offering. No doubt the LEDs lit the road better under normal conditions, but are completely useless in rain, no wonder why we see baleno, creta, seltos being driven with high beam on monsoons because they can barely see anything in rain.

We again started our journey at around 6am but what came in due course was not at all expected.

We continued driving till prayagraj, the patch of road between varanasi to prayagraj is mostly 4 lane concrete road and we gained speed once the rain intensity decreased. Being concrete road, i kept on monitoring the tyre pressure at every 30 mins. The tyre pressure was fine at 35PSI all around. However, just after driving the car for 30 mins, we heard a loud burst from the rear left wheel. I knew it was a tyre burst. Tucson TPMS suddenly showed TPMS malfunction within 10seconds of the burst and we moved to the side of the road again. Upon examining, i found that the rear left tyre was completely flat. Took the tyre inflator and tried to inflate the tyre, but in vain.

I had to move the car for another 1km with the flat tyre as the place where the tyre had burst was totally deserted and i did not wanted to take risk with a female companion. With no other option, i had to take out all our languages and equipments from the boot to take out the space saver, changed the tyre with space saver in heavy rain. It was a challenging task. Let me remind you, you cant find a tyre shop at around 6.30 am. The burst tyre was completely useless as the whole rubber was sheared off from the contact portion. I was shocked to find the quality of these nexen tyres so bad which are offered in a car costing 25L. I would advice all the tucson owners to get the stock nexen tyres changed before embarking on a long road trip.

Now the space saver the tucson comes with has a size of 135/70/17 which has a restricted speed limit of 80kmph. So Good luck taking your car to Ladakh with that space saver. Another problem is size of main tyres, they are 225/55/R18. I know i wouldn't find the replacement of these tyre in small cities like Prayagraj and Rae bareli. Hence decided to continue with the space saver all the way to lucknow with maximum speed at 60kmph. Do note that the road from Prayagraj to Rae Bareli is around 110 kms (NH30) which is completely 2 Lane undivided highway. With heavy rain and thin tyre, we couldnt move beyond 40kmph in this whole stretch which added to further delay.

By 11 am we reached Lucknow and i enquired about the tyre availability of 225/55/R18 size. I knew bridgestone makes this size of tyre, called up few bridgestone dealer but they didnt had stock of this size. Totally frustrated with the tyre scene, I was almost cancelling the trip untill a bridgestone dealer called me back stating that he have stock of 235/55/R18 Pirelli scorpion tyres. This new size means i cannot change only one tyre but all four tyres but i said i would change all four tyres as i was pretty much unsatisfied with the stock nexens. Went to the dealer and checked the manufacturing dates of the tyre which were december 2020 make and nodded yes to them ( as if i had any other choice).

After all the tyre episode ended, we set off for Agra once again at around 1.30 pm and it was going to be my first time experiencing India's longest expressway of 340kms, the Agra-Luckmow Expressway. With a speed limit of 100 kmph, driving at ALE feels just like playing a video game. All vehicles be it a Hyundai Eon or Range rover would ply at 100kmph and honestly its quite boring once the initial excitement fades. ALE have two petrol pumps along with food joint in between separated by a distance of 100kms. We had our lunch at one of the food joints and continued till agra.

We reached agra by 5.30 in the evening and straight away drove to Tajmahal to keep up our confidance high which was badly thrashed due to whole tyre episode. We crashed into hotel at around 7 and called it a day.

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Car being serviced at Rudra Hyundai, Durgapur (3rd Free service at 20k kms)

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Clean car after the service

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Roads from Durgapur to Dhanbad now almost complete. Less traffic and 6 lane roads

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Roads in Bihar before Sasaram

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Stretch of NH30 between Prayagraj and Raebarelli

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The Ugly space saver with 135mm section with a speed restriction of 80kmph

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This how it looks from the rear.

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Lucknow welcomed us with a overcast weather

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Replaced the stock Nexen 225/55/R18 with Pirelli scorpions 235/55/R18. Everything has improved ever since. The ride quality, road noise, handling

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Greenery across the streets of Lucknow

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Approaching ALE for the first time. The excitement was at its peak

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Tucson Enjoying the tarmac of Agra Lucknow expressway

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Some more pictures of ALE

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Stop over at Agra Lucknow expressway where you could find good food, washrooms and fuel. You could also avail a night stay accommodation here

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Heavy rain during our approach to ALE

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Beautiful roads and the smiling sun

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The Symbol of Love, The Taj Mahal

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No wonder it is a wonder of the world

Trip : Durgapur, WB to Agra, UP
Distance : 1180 kms ( drove in Lucknow)
Time : 24.5 hours ( Bio breaks, powernap, food stop, fuel stop included)
Stay : ITC Mughal, Agra

Last edited by LONG_TOURER : 7th September 2021 at 18:51.
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Old 6th September 2021, 19:33   #2
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Default Re: Assam To Ladakh in a Hyundai Tucson

Day 4 Agra,HP to Manali, UP 790kms (Beautiful Punjab and Himachal)

After a terrible and tiring previous day, we decided to continue our journey after a good sleep of 8 hours. We hit the bed early the previous day and woke up early at around 4.30 am in the morning. Plan was to reach our hotel at Manali before 9 pm. Checked out of our hotel and started from Agra by 5.30 am. We took Agra-Panipat-Palwal- Panipat-kurukshetra-Ambala-Zirakpur-Bilaspur-Sundernagar-Mandi-Kullu-Manali route. We went along NH19 instead of Yamuna expressway as the stretch of NH19 is good as told by our hotel valet. Also taking YEW would required us to cover more kilometres. We filled our tank at a COCO pump next to the highway and continued our journey. We took Western peripheral Expressway near Palwar. This Expressway has a speed limit of 120kmph but the tarmac is not as good as ALE's, you will find uneven roads suddenly and some stretches are still under construction/Expansion. Although the speed limit was 120 kmph, keeping the cruise control at 120kmph was not confidence inspiring due to broken patches here and there. Please note that fast tags are still not accepted at the tolls of Western peripheral Expressway (WPE).

We exited WPE near sonipat and continued our journey in NH44. As per information, there supposed to be some diversion along NH44 due to farmers' protest but there wasnt any such diversion when we travelled. Also NH44 is a 6 Lane divided carriage way with good quality of tarmac. The speed limit is however set at 80kmph which is okay for us. But we did see some cars doing 120+ in the highway. But it is recommended to stick to speed limit to avoid challans. We saw some speed cams and cop barricades too. Traffic in NH44 from Delhi to Chandigarh is on the higher side. There were few road diversions due to under-construction bridge work. The good thing about this stretch of NH44 is the presence of large foodstalls/foodmarts with good washroom facilities. Its a delight for female travellers. We stopped at a Dhaba next to NH44 and had our breakfast. We had been driving since 5 o clock in the morning and a heavy meal is indispensible to carry forward our journey. The Parantha that we had was mouthwatering. Also the TPMS was showing different pressure reading at all four tyres so i refilled air again in the four tyres and continued our journey.

The topography and landscape both changed once we entered punjab crossing Haryana. The Google maps that we blindly follow ditched us and took us through a village road once we crossed Zirakpur and we ended up exiting NH44. Nevertheless, it was a win win situation for us a we could see lush green fields everywhere. We took a break of about 10 minutes just to see the greenary of punjab.

We entered himachal in no time driving through an unknown road. Please note that there is green tax we need to pay once we enter Himachal. The amount is around 200INR if i remember correctly. We continued our drive in NH105 and subsequently NH154 and landscape once again changed from lush green fields to green hills everywhere. The first sight of mighty hills are always blissful and takes away all the fatigue we incur during the journey.

The google maps suggested us to take SH 23 after crossing Mandi but we thought of sticking to NH3(which connects Manali to Leh) as it was getting dark and the plan was to reach our hotel at Manali by 9pm, but it turned out to be one more mistake. The whole stretch of NH3 from Aut from Aut tunnel till Manali is under construction/expansion/tunneling. The road condition was very bad and it was raining at the same time. Bad roads and few traffic jams delayed us further. My suggestion would be to enquire about SH23 and take that route instead of NH3 if you are planning to do Manali till end of this year. Do note that the highways are 2-lane undivided road once the hill starts after entering HP. So overtaking requires some planning, we put the Tucson on sports mode in this entire stretch and the real time mileage dropped significantly at times. We stopped at a road side dhaba after crossing Mandi to have tea and continued non stop till Manali. We reached our hotel At Manali at around 11.30 pm. Headache and fatigue made me sleep the moment i hit the bed.

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Tuscon all set to embark on yet another long journey to Manali

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A dhaba next to NH44 near Punjab Haryana Border makes delicious Paranthas

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Readjusting tyre pressure to 35PSI at all four tyres after the tyre shop set different tyre pressure on all four tyres

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At Punjab Haryana Border at NH44

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The famous Bow at Haryana Punjab Border

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Lush greenery as we entered Punjab

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Google took us through an unknown road only to let us enjoy the lush greenery

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Green fields everywhere

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Himachal and green mountains

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white Tucson in green background

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Foggy weather along NH 105

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Tucson real time mileage when traversing and overtaking through narrow section of NH105 and NH154. The sport mode is really handy in these kind of situation. PS: My wife clicked this picture while i was behind the wheel

Trip: Agra, UP to Manali, HP
Distance : 790kms
Time : 18 hours.
Stay : Renest river country resort, Manali

Day 5: Manali,HP to Jispa, HP (100kms) (lush green mountains of lahaul valley)

After few days of continuously driving of more than 15 hours a day. It was time to take things lightly and Acclamatise to the high altitude of Himalayas. Plan is to drive down to Jispa and capture the pristine and beautiful nature.

Jispa is around 100 kms from Manali and i knew the drive was going to be awesome. We woke up late, had our breakfast and checked out of our hotel at around 11 am. I was excited about driving through Atal tunnel which was inaugurated last year. The tunnel is about 9kms in length. We entered through the south portal after crossing the checkpost. According to the ITBP personnel, you cannot take inflammable items inside the tunnel. Hence my recommendation would be avoid filling up your spare jerry cans at Manali, instead you could fill it up at Tandi. There are two places where you can fillup you car after crossing Atul tunnel. One filling station is located at Tandi and the other is at keylong which has opened recently.

The speed limit inside the tunnel is 60kmph and is under strict survillance, my suggestion would be to avoid over speeding inside the tunnel. There had been news about strict punishment given to tourist for over speeding. Also stopping inside the tunnel is also prohibited.

We exited the tunnel from north tunnel, stopped for some photoshoots and continued. The irritating part here is the presence of vendors selling Kesari/silajit at both south and north portal of tunnel. They wont simply let you enjoy the nature and would keep on insisting you to buy even if you are not interested. It would be better if you do not interact with them at all if at all you are not interested.

We filled diesel at Tandi, had a cup of hot tea and continued till Jispa. The 2lane undivided(NH3) road from Manali to Jispa is just beautiful and the tarmac is pretty smooth, you would want to stop every 1km and capture the beauty. Smooth tarmac and beautiful landscape. What more could you ask for ? We reached our hotel at Jispa at around 3pm in the evening, had our lunch and went out to explore Jispa.

Jispa may be small town but has lot options for stay. Anyone visiting Manali should also plan one day itinerary at Jispa. At an elevation of 10500 ft above MSL, it is the perfect place to acclamatise for those leaving for Leh.

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View from our hotel room at Manali, can you spot the humble Tucson ?

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Before entering Atul tunnel

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Photostop at the North portal of Atul Tunnel

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Sissu, Lahaul valley

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Lush green mountains everywhere

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Beautiful Landscape and a great vehicle compliment each other

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Terrace farming by locals of Sissu, Himachal pradesh

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"Next Filling station 365kms ahead" is no longer true. You find another filling station at Keylong, just 10kms from Tandi.

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Heard of sheep dominating the road. They do add to the beauty of this landscape

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Surreal view and the Tucson

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Trip : Manali to Jispa
Distance : 100 kms
Time taken: 4 hours (including mannnyyy photo stops)
Stay: Padma lodge, Jispa
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Last edited by LONG_TOURER : 7th September 2021 at 21:35.
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Old 7th September 2021, 13:34   #3
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Default Re: Assam To Ladakh in a Hyundai Tucson

Day 6: Jispa to Leh (336kms) (Tucson and DPF woes )

This drive was going to be toughest for both Man and Machine. We were to drive through four passes on the same day viz. Baralacha La (15900 ft), Nakee La (15500 ft), Lachalung La (16600 ft) and Taglang La (17480). Honestly speaking, i wasnt very nervous of high passes as much as i was for the water streams crossing enroute due to low ground clearance of tucson.

We planned to start early by 7 am previous day but could only manage to wake up around 6.45 in the morning. It was raining since last two days at Jispa and my tension for high water streams increased. We enquired about the water level with few fellow bikers the who travelled from Leh the previous night and we were asked to be cautious at the streams of killing sarai.

After a heavy breakfast at the hotel, we started off from our stay at Jispa at around 7.45 am. The drive again was no different from previous day's drive, it was very scenic till Darcha, a town from where the road to Padum, Zanskar valley and Leh bifurcates. After crossing Darcha, there is a small lake just next to the highway called Deepak taal. We stopped there for sometime and we continued our climb. There is a checkpost before the actual climb of Baralacha La where we had to make entry regarding number of passengers, vehicle no etc. We continued the climb after the checkpost.

Now, 8 speed gearbox, 185BHP and 400NM of torque in Tucson may sound great under normal circumstances, but the story is different when you drive at an elevation above 8000 ft. Initially i had kept the drive mode in ECO but as we started our climb, the gearbox started getting confused with the ratios. Switched to sport mode but it still kept on getting confused with the ratios. So, had to Drive through the elevation in manual mode to stay in right RPM all the time.

We know as we go higher above the sea level, the quantity of oxygen reduces in the atmosphere. This takes a toll on human body and also vehicle engine. You could feel the power reducing significantly when you try to move ahead. Less oxygen means the engine is not getting enough oxygen to do a full combustion resulting in soot formation. This accumulation of soot resulted in Diesel particulate filter (DPF) clogging and DPF light popped up. That was the first time in my 20k kms i saw the DPF light popping in my Tucson.

The usual drill to get rid of DPF clogging is to drive the car at RPM more than 2000 for 20-25 minutes at 3rd gear or more. But we couldnt do that at an elevation of 12k plus feet with roads almost non existent after Baralacha La. I, however kept driving the car above 2k RPM by taking manual control (in 1st and 2nd gear) of the gearbox. The DPF light would go off after sometime and would again come back while taking climb for the next pass. All in all we got DPF clog warning atleast five times while crossing all the four passes. I wish Hyundai had added self DPF regeneration just like toyota vehicles la Innova crysta. Also it may be noted that if you are climbing a steep gradient and you had to apply brakes due to bad roads or incoming traffic, moving the car again from standstill was getting very diffcult. Despite keeping the car at 1st gear, if the RPM needle goes below 1.5k rpm, the engine can be considered totally dead. Applying pedal to metal inputs to the accelerator doesnt help either. The car would keep crawling at 2 3 kmph till the RPM needle rises to 1.5 rpm. I was not pleased with the performance of the car in the climbs. I am curious to know if that happens with every other AT BS6 diesel cars or not. However i have seen a decade old tata Arias and Tempo travellers climing those hills like nobody's business.

My wife was not feeling well during our climb at Baralacha La, hence we didnt stop at the top and continued further. The first major water stream came at Killing sarai and we comfortably crossed it negotiating rocks under water. The Tucson didnt hit its underbody even once.

We stopped at a tea stall after killing sarai, had tea and started again for the dusty track before sarchu. The road till Sarchu is non existent pertaining to construction activites and road expansion. We kept the car momentum and traversed through dusty and sandy track. The car was totally covered with dust after the track.

The road condition slightly got better after the dusty track at Sarchu, although they cannot be termed as good roads. Sarchu is a small town located at an elevation 14500 ft above MSL. It is a valley amidst various hills and offers overnight stay options too. Do not expect any hotel like facilities there as the accomodation are made using temporary tents. My suggestion would be to avoid Sarchu as night hault while travelling from Manali to Leh side. The elevation is too high for acclamatising and you may end up having AMS. The best idea would be to take hault at Sarchu while returning from Leh.

After crossing Sarchu and few nallahs(water streams), we continued our climb for the next passes Nakee La and Lachalung La which is separated by each other just 1 hour of driving time. Due to rapid gain and loss in elevation within this 1 hour, many people tend to fall sick in this stretch. If you feel severely sick, you may have to take rest in between these two passes which does not have proper dhaba or stalls. So ensure that you are properly acclamatised and healthy while taking this stretch. Also crossing Sarchu means we officially entered Ladakh.

The steep climb to nakeeLa starts from Gata loops, the famous 21 hairpin bends with narrow roads. One mistake and you could end up falling hundreds of feet below. We drove very cautiously through the gata loops and thankfully we were not trailed by any army convoys at during the climb. Good luck trailing a slow moving army convoy in gata loops as the scope of overtaking is next to zero.

We were very exhausted after crossing these two passes and loops and took a break of half an hour at Pang. Had tea, maggie and started off again. There are some stay options at Pang as well but not quite good especially if you have a female companion.

The roads after crossing pang improved tremendously and we could make good pace. In no time we reached more plains, More plains is a plain of about 40kms from pang to Taglang La located at 15000 feet above MSL. The roads are arrow straight with great tarmac. It is unbelievable that you find such nice roads at this elevation. You might want to do triple digit speeds at this stretch but be careful though, there are sudden dips across the road which may render your vehicle uncontrollable. My suggestion would be to keep the speed under 60kmph to witness the majestic plains.

We crossed Tso kar, a salty lake which can seen from the highway at some distance. Didnt stop there and continued our climb to Taglang La. The roads during our climb to Taglang were smooth unlike in previous passes but it rained heavily during the climb and we couldnt make good pace, but who would want to rush in those beautiful landscapes. When we reached at the top of the pass the rain continued to pour and the temperature decreased to zero degrees. The rain drops changed to snow droplets. Yes, snowfall at the end of august month.

After some photoshoots in the freezing cold at Taglang La top, we started our descent towards karu. Those who dont know, there is a petrol pump at Karu before reaching Leh. So if your vehicle has good range, you need not carry extra fuel jerry cans. Tucson having a range of 800kms in a single tank, did not required any topups after filling at Tandi and we continued all the way till leh. We reached our hotel at Leh at around 8.30 pm evening.

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On our climb to Baralacha La

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First of many DPF clogging warning lamp during the Baralacha La climb

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After successfully descending through Baralacha La. 3 more passes to conquer though.

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On the way to Sarchu

You can check the link to see how badly the car was covered with dust all around after the drive through the dusty track after Sarchu.

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Climbing through Gata loops of 21 hairpin bends and narrow roads

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Tucson and the bends of Gata loops in background

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Mandatory picture at Nakeela Pass

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After descending Nakeela, another pass awaits.

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Small dhabas and tea stalls between Nakee la and Lachalung La, if you fall sick here, you wont find any medical help. My advice would be to keep driving till Pang to get medical help.

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Mandatory photo at Lachalung La

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Driving through More plains

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A small pee break just after crossing Tso Kar.

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Taglang La (17480), the highest and most beautiful pass on Leh Manali Highway.

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Mandatory pictures at Taglang La. It was the only pass in our entire journey where we encountered snowfall.

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On the way to Karu after descending Taglang La.

Trip : Jispa to Leh
Distance : 340 kms
Time: 12.5 hours ( including stoppages)
Stay: Hotal Padma, Leh ladakh

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Day 7: Leh to Leh 150 kms ( we got Leh'd)

As there was no plan to travel anywhere, we took it very easy and woke up late in the morning. I took the Tucson to very well deserved car washing session at Leh while my wife had some official work at hotel. We went out to explore nearby areas of Leh by 12 pm. We took NH1 Leh Srinagar highway, visited Gurudwara Pathar sahib, Ney village, Confluence of zanskar and indus river and drove along the road without any proper destination. We even continued driving towards Padum along zanskar river from Confluence of Zanskar and indus river till the roads started getting bad. Returned back to the hotel by 7 pm and called it a day.

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We got Leh'd

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Do your regular car washing center offer you this kind of view ?

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Mandatory Air filter cleaning after hell lot of dusty drive the previous day. Hope it gave engine some 'fresh air'.

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Our hotel had these to explore the night sky of Leh. Thumbs up to the hotel staffs for showing concern in my interest

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Some pictures of our humble Tucson on our way to Ney village, A small village near NH1.

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The only other Tucson we saw in the entire journey.

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Road towards Padam, Darcha from Leh Srinagar highway. The roads till chilling are good. We turned back after chilling when road started to get worse. The zanskar river accompanies you all the way till chilling from Indus-Zanskar confluence.

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Some pictures with Thiksey Monestery in background. We did not enter the monestery as we reached there after 5 pm. This Monestery is located at NH3 between Karu and Leh.

Trip : Leh to Leh (150kms)
Stay: Hotel Padma, Ladakh

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Day 8: Leh to Diskit (120kms)

We checked out at around 10 am in the morning from our hotel at Leh. The breakfast was great and our stomach were happy. Our plan was to reach our hotel at Diskit before 3pm and explore the nearby areas of Diskit like Diskit monestery and other local attractions. We left Leh at around 10.30 in the morning and started our ascent to mighty Khardung La at 18300 feet.

The road that leads to Khardung La is pretty much well paved all through out barring few patches here and there, especially near the peak. There is a check post by the local taxi union to check if you are driving a self drive rental vehicle. We were not checked at all ( May be due to AS registered car we were driving). Please note that self drive vehicles are still not allowed beyond Leh. We also had to make entry at the police check post at South pullu ( before khardung La) and North pullu ( after khardung La). It didnt take use long to reach the top from Leh.

Khardung La may be one of the highest motorable passes but is very dirty and too crowded to enjoy the view of nearby peaks. We didnt spend much time there, clicked few photos and continued ahead.

Stopped at few places during the descend and took tea , maggie break at north pullu where we had to make entry with the police. The DPF error showed twice on this trip and my OCD kills me everytime to regenerate the DPF. It spoils all the fun to be honest. I am a type of person who cant drive with a peace of mind when there is a malfunction lamp glowing in the instrument cluster.

The road condition deteriorated after North pullu pertaining to lot of construction activities and road becomes narrower as we go further towards Diskit. The beauty of the journey compensates all these shortcomings and you wont be complaining. We had to stop at the side of the road to allow army convoys to pass, ofcourse they deserve the respect and priority from us civilians.

We reached our camp at Diksit at around 3pm in the evening, checked in and left again to explore the nearby places in and around Diskit.

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A signboard at Khardungla Top

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Tucson made it to Khardungla Top with DPF warning on the instrument cluster though

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Tucson and vast peaks at the background

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There is a small Gompa at the top at Khardung La. Too crowded though

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Our descend from Khardung La

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Checkpost at North Pullu

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Hot tea tastes the best in Mountains

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So does Maggie

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Workers working for road expansion after North Pullu, Hats off to them

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Our tent at The desert Himalaya, Diskit

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This was the standard tent we took, there are options of luxury tent as well as wagons

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We took some off beat tracks at Diskit. Road less travelled. No road actually

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View from Diskit Monastery

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View of Diskit Monestery as seen from Buddha Statue

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Yours truly

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The Buddha Statue

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An inner road in Diskit

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A Kendriya Vidyalaya at Diksit. Being a KVian, you feel proud whenever you get to see a KV.

Trip: Leh to Diskit, Nubra valley
Distance : 120kms
Time : 5 hours approx including stops
Stay: Desert Himalayan Camp, Diskit

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Day 9: Diskit to Diskit ( Panamik, Warshi and towards Turtuk till Skuru) (270kms)

Next day after a thorough discussion with wife, We chose to drive till Warshi, a place few kms short of Siachen basecamp instead of Turtuk. This place is less travelled compared to Turtuk and we were sure the crowd would be less compared to Turtuk which is what we like.

We started at around 8.30 am in the morning after taking breakfast from the camp. The roads are okay all the way till Warsi but expect few water streams and bad patches though. We tanked up our car at Diskit and continued.

The first destination was Panamik hot water springs, we didnt find it good. It looked pretty artificial like a giant swiming pool with warm water. Didnt spent too much time and continued till Warshi. There is a checkpost where our permits were checked. The mighty Nubra river accompanied us all the way. The traffic is next to zero here and we were the only private car plying for miles. Took many photo stops in the way.

We had our lunch on a road side dhaba on our return leg and went straight to Hunder sand dunes where we took rides in double humped camels.

After the camel ride, we continued towards Turtuk till Skuru until dark started to set in. Took U- turn and returned to our camp at around 9 pm in the evening.

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Nubra valley and Nubra river at some distance

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Death Valley like road in Ladakh, No other private vehicle for miles

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No DPF Malfunction warning today

Some beautiful road quotes by BRO en-route Warshi
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Near Panamik

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Karakoram to Kanyakumari, Bharat is One

Some random shots of Tucson near Warshi

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Enroute to highest battlefield in the world

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Driving through these roads is a life time expereince

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The rare double humped camel that are found in Hunder Sand dunes

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You can take ride in ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) here as well

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Towards Turtuk Village, we took U-turn at Skuru due to limited daylight

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Camp fire at our camp site

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Under the stars at Diskit. Pure bliss !! Can't describe this moment in words

Trip : Diskit to Diskit ( Panamik, Warshi and towards Turtuk till Skuru)
Distance : 275 kms approx
Time : Driving time should be around 10 hours
Stay: Desert Himalaya resort, Diskit

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Day 10: Diskit to Leh via Pangong lake-durbuk- chang La (310 kms) ( Our plans for Tso Moriri called off)

Our plan was to visit tso moriri initially. Our accomodation was booked in advanced at Tso moriri as well. But things do not go as per plan when you do Ladakh circuit.

We started from our camp site at Diskit by 8 am in the morning. Our plan was to take a detour, take a glimpse of pangong tso first, then head for tso moriri via Durbuk and Chang La pass.

Although there was enough fuel in the car to take us till karu, we filled the car up at Diskit where we found a group of Bikers from Assam. After a little interaction with them, we wished them good luck and we started towards Pangong.

The Agham Shyok route that we took to reach Pangong has more water stream crossings than Manali Leh Highway. Unfortunately nobody would tell you that. The road in few stretches are in very bad. Narrow road adds a bit more to the difficulty level. So make sure you honk at those blind curves. Yes the landscape is to die for here. Completely different from what hunder had offered.

Now, beautiful landscape meant lot of photo stops which delayed our journey. We reached Pangong at 2pm. The original ETA was 12 pm. We had our lunch at a stall in pangong lake and headed towards to Durbuk and Mighty chang la for our final destination at Tso moriri. But we didnt know what Chang la pass had to offer on the way.

The road towards Chang La after durbuk is very bad. Probably the worst roads amongst the entire passes we had covered so far. It slowed us down further. We decided to ditch Tso moriri as we reached Chang La top at around 5pm in the evening. Something should always be left for next time isn't it ?

Initially we thought of staying at Karu at night, but we couldnt find a decent accomodation there. Leh being just 1 hour away from Karu, we decided to head towards Leh and stay there instead. Straight away went into the hotel we earlier stayed and called it a day. We reached our hotel at around 8 pm at night. Had dinner and slept straight away

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Our Camp site in the morning

Water stream crossing at Agham Shyok road

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Agham Shyok road towards Pangong Tso

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Clear water

Some picutures at Pangong Tso
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Lake in the mirror is way too larger than they appear

Pictures taken on our way back from Pangong Tso
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Wild horses in the open fields, Do not try to feed them

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Tucson soaking the sun

We stopped at an unknown lake on our way to Chang La. it was so beautiful that we spend around 45 minutes there. Great place for camping if you are well acclimatized to the altitude
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At Chang La. Wish roads were better there
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Trip : Diskit to Leh (320kms)
Time : 12 kms approx ( including photo stops)
Stay: Hotel Padma, Ladakh

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Day 11 : Leh to Solang Valley ( 430kms) ( Plans changed once again with no plans )

With our night hault booked at Sarchu, we took things slowly and woke up at around 7.30 am in the morning. The drive the previous day was very long and a good night sleep was necessary. Had our breakfast at 8.30 am. We left for Sarchu at around 9 am.

We knew what to expect enroute as the road was known to us. This was the same route we took from Jispa to Leh (NH3). Took some photo stops according to landscape and continued our journey.

We had our lunch in a dhaba at Pang. Met few bikers riding few expensive bikes from Maharastra. We shared our best wishes and drove ahead. Please note that dhabas at Pang keep few petrol jerry cans in case of emergency. So, if you are a biker and run out of fuel. Do enquire in dhabas Pang.

We reached our camps at Sarchu at around 6 pm evening only to get disappointed. The tents were not very properly kept and actually are temporary structures with temporary washroom arrangement. The availability of warm water is limited in morning hours. The tents could not be locked from outside. My wife was not at all pleased with the tents and we decided to continue till Darcha. My recommendation would be stay in Sarchu camps only if you are travelling in a large group or just with male companion. The tents are not couple friendly IMO.

It was already 6.15 when we started from Sarchu and We had killing Sarai and Baralacha La to conquer. We knew it was a foolish decision to cross the mighty pass and water streams at dark but we took this darr ke aage jeet hai thing too seriously.

It was around 7.30 pm when we reached Baralacha La pass and we had many miles to go with no bookings made in advance. We got our phone networks once crossed Himachal border. We called the hotel we took at Jispa only to know that all the rooms are full. Since Jispa was a small town we thought of continuing to Solang valley where we had bookings for next day. Called up the hotel at Solang valley to find rooms were available. We didnt think of anything else and continued till Solang valley. It rained heavily once we crossed atul tunnel at 11 pm at night. The road looked like the roads from NFS underground ( if you guys remember the game). Reached our hotel at Solang valley at 12pm. Had dinner and slept. It was the most tiring drive in the mountains. Nevertheless we made it safe and sound.

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Brown coloured Hill once you pass Karu towards Taglang La

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Cyrstal clear water stream

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My favorite photo angle of the Tucson

Through the dusty track of Sarchu

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After crossing Dusty track at Sarchu

A massive water stream at Killing Sarai. Switched off the traction control and drove over it

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At Baralacha La around 7.30 pm. There were no other signs of life except us

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It was very cold outside but it couldn't stop me from experiencing and capturing the moment

Trip: Leh to Solang valley
Distance: 430 kms
Time : 15hours
Stay: Solang Valley resorts, Solang valley

Day 12 : Solang valley ( rest day)

Today we took things we ease. Spent time within the beautiful premise of hotel. Went out to explore Van vihar and Hidimba temple at manali in the afternoon. Wife did few shopping at Manali Mall road.

We celebrated our ladakh trip completion at Cafe 1947, Manali. The cafe offers beautiful river side sitting. Must visit place to chill in the evening.

Some pictures of the property we stayed at Solang Valley

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View from our balcony

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A river by the side of our hotel

Assam To Ladakh in a Hyundai Tucson-img_20210828_114728.jpg
Tucson got cleaned in the rain

Some pictures of Hidimba Devi Temple, Manali

Assam To Ladakh in a Hyundai Tucson-img_20210828_122310.jpg

Assam To Ladakh in a Hyundai Tucson-img_20210828_122343.jpg

Van Vihar, manali
Assam To Ladakh in a Hyundai Tucson-img_20210828_122723.jpg

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Cafe 1947 where we celebrated our Ladakh trip completion

Trip : Around Manali
Time: NA
Stay : Solang Valley resorts, Solang Valley

Day 13: Solang Valley, Himachal Pradesh To Karnal, Haryana (440 kms) (Bidding adieu to Hills and a major DPF issue)

With no planned destination set. We started off from our hotel at 9.00 am in the morning. We wanted to cross the mountains before dark.

We continued in NH3, there were few stretches where we had to stop for 20-25 minutes for construction activities. I bet these roads are going to be great in 2 years time. Had our lunch at sundernagar and continued.

We crossed Chandigarh by 8 pm and we werent that tired, so we decided to keep the drive till Delhi. After we hit NH44, the traffic was less due to heavy rainfall. One should be very careful of water logging on NH44.

When we were some 50 kms short of Karnal, Haryana, a malfunction light appeared on the instrument cluster stating "Check Exhaust system". I know it was the DPF clogging issue but the DPF light was flashing, this time the DPF wasn't asking for regeneration at all. Pull over to the side of the road to find out the cause of the malfunction in owners manual. According to the owner's manual, a visit to Service center is necessary to check the problem in this situation. Didnt want to take any risk, we started to find a hyundai workshop nearby and as luck would have it, we found a Hyundai workshop (Samta Hyundai) just next to NH44 at Karnal. Found a small hotel just next to NH44 and called it a day. It was around 10 pm then.

Attachment 2205065
The only photo we took that day

Trip : Solang Valley to Karnal, Haryana
Distance : 440 kms
Time : 13 hours including food stops and traffic jams
Stay : Road side accomodation at NH44 (2 star level)

Last edited by LONG_TOURER : 10th September 2021 at 09:28.
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Old 10th September 2021, 15:26   #9
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Day 14 : Karnal, Haryana to Durgapur, WB (1480kms) (Endurance)

The first thing to be done in the morning was to check if Samta hyundai is open or not (being Janastami holiday). Called up the center to know it was open. We took the car to the service center at around 10 am in the morning. The SA attended the car immediately knowing our situation. The force DPF regeneration was done using their OBD scanner, all error codes were cleared and we were good to go. The whole process took us around 1 hour. We left the service center at around 11 am, had our breakfast at a nearby dhaba and started for the longest non stop journey of the trip. We could have haulted in the mid way, but due to some work commitment, we decided to do it non stop. Ofcourse taking nap in between the drive was mandatory to avoid getting over fatigued.

We took NH44 , then Eastern Peripheral Expressway, Yamuna Expressway, ALE followed by NH30 Connecting Lucknow with Prayagraj via Raebarelli, then NH19 from Praygraj to Durgapur.

We made good pace along the expressways and reached lucknow by 7pm evening. Took some rest in between and continued till Prayagraj where we had our dinner. The tendency to fall sleepy increases after having meal so we made sure to take powernap in between our meals.

I drove the whole night till 4 am in the morning when we crossed Dehri on sone bridge. Pull over to the side of the road and slept for 2 full hours. Woke up at 6 am, washed our faces and continued all the way till Durgapur. We didnt take any photo stops as our anxiety to reach durgapur increased as we move nearer and nearer. Finally we reached durgapur at 11.30 am after full 24 hours of driving. The last leg (Durgapur to Guwahati) of this journey to be concluded on october in Durgapuja. This ends the dream road trip we all have in life.

Trip : Karnal Haryana to Durgapur , WB
Distance : 1480 kms
Time : 24 Hours (Including stoppages)
Stay : NA

Summary :

1) Vehicle : Hyundai Tucson performed very well in the plain also in the mountains with elevation 8000 feet below MSL. The 185Bhp and 400 NM of torque is more than enough to move you and your 15 days luggage. With a tank capacity of 62L, it give a decent range of 850 kms in plains. We constantly got a mileage of 18kmpl throughout the plain highways. The mileage takes at hit in hilly areas though. The major USP of Tucson would be the comfort it offers. You can easily do 1000+ kms in plain, the 8 speed AT help things ever further.

Out on the mountains though, i was not at all pleased with the car's performance. The car behaved sluggish and the engine felt totally dead under 1.5k rpm. The AT box becomes too lethargic and confused during those climbs so i had to keep it in manual mode all the time. The low ground clearance doesnt give you enough confidence either. I did not hit the underbelly even once but you might end up scrapping the engine guard though. Yes the DPF clogging issue is there but i expect this issue to be evident in all BS6 diesel cars atleast in high altitude areas.

2) The drive:My wife is an amateur driver, so 99% of the road was driven and covered by me expect few stretches of ALE and more plains.

3)Usage of fuel jerry can: We didnt find the need to use our Fuel jerry can at all. Also now that fuel is available at important places in Leh- Manali Highway like Tandi, Keylong and karu, i dont see any reason of carrying extra fuel with you unless you take the Padam route. Also now Nubra Valley too has two filling stations at Diskit.

4)Oxygen cylinder : We carried three portable oxygen cylinder but by God's grace i never had to use them in our trip. My advice would be to carry atleast 3 cylinders with you for the worst case.

5)Diamox : Do keep and take diamox before and during your stay at elevation above 8000 feet. It helped me alot and hence i could manage to drive for 12hours in a single day even on the mountains.

6) Road condition: We always tried to stick with National highways except only in two circumstance when google ditched us. I would urge all of you to stay in highways if roads are not known to you, especially at night.

ALE and Yammuna expressway are best roads of the country. Period. Western and Eastern peripheral expressway still do not accept fast tag and roads are nowhere close to ALE and YEW in terms of tarmac smoothness.

7) Network coverage : People travelling to Ladakh keep in mind that Jio is the only network which stays with you in Leh, Nubra valley and offers highspeed 3G. We had Vodafone and Jio simcards. The vodafone gave up at Jispa. Normal prepaid sim works till Jispa except vodafone.

8) Hotels : The hotels where we stayed were couple friendly and had wifi in offer (except at Jispa). Hotels at mountain have limited hours of running warm water, so make sure you keep up with the timings.

9) Go Green : No open place was littered during our whole trip. We carried a dustbin with us in the car to dump wastes. I urge everyone to do the same and avoid littering those beautiful places.

10) Water: Water is mostly available everywhere in the highways. So do no keep large cartoons of water in the car. Three 1L bottles should be sufficient to keep inside the car at all times

11) Permits : Ladakh authority may have scrapped the requirement of permits for India Nationals, but you still have to pay environment fee, wild life fee and also red cross free which can be done easily online. The big hassle of going to DC office Leh is now not required at all.

Last edited by LONG_TOURER : 10th September 2021 at 18:19.
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Old 11th September 2021, 05:15   #10
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11th September 2021, 09:58   #11
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Amazing travelogue! Very detailed and well-articulated with some breathtaking photos!
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Old 11th September 2021, 11:15   #12
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Default Re: Assam To Ladakh in a Hyundai Tucson

Loved going through your travelogue.
The Hyundai Tucson is surely a wonderful companion for you.
Yes, I have heard a lot of negative reviews on the Nexen tyres, changing the Tyres to more positively reviewed brands should be the first mod to be considered post delivery it seems.

How is the DPF issue now?
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Old 11th September 2021, 12:07   #13
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The DC office stamp is required only for Hanle.
The route passes through military installations and we witnessed a tank drill on plains around Nyoma and Loma.
The stamp specifically says Valid for Hanley and is put on printout of online passes.
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Old 11th September 2021, 12:23   #14
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Hey.. enjoyed the detailed account of your journey so far! Here's to many more happy miles on the Tucson! 🍾🥂

I'm a fellow Tucson owner, the pre-facelift model. Mine is 3.5 yrs old and has clocked 46,000 kms to be precise. My stock Nexens lasted this long! Lucky me. When it is time now to change my tyres, realised there were only three options available to me (if I need th stock size that is) - Kumho, Hankook & Bridgestone. While I have discarded the first two options, I'm pretty much left with just the Bridgestone Turanza option. I'm honestly not a fan of this one. I would have ideally preferred a Continental or Yokohama or Pirelli. But none of them have / make the 225 55 R18 size I suppose.

Your article mentioned you changing your size to 235 55 R18 instead. I was pleasantly surprised. Wanted to check if it was alright to size up like that without any alterations / modifications? Because I guess I might have another option (Pirelli) if sizing up in alright. Could you or any of the other veterans throw some light around this clarification, please. Don't want any safety issues because of this upgrade.
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Old 11th September 2021, 13:25   #15
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Default Re: Assam To Ladakh in a Hyundai Tucson

Wow, that is just awesome. What a trip. Loved every bit reading this and felt like I was on the journey with you. Great passion to capture all those moments. Those pictures are so detailed and quality looks dope.

Which camera is this ? While going through the photos, I was initially thinking this may be some DSLR but in one of your videos (Tuscon filled with dirt) I could see in the window glass reflection that it looks like a smartphone camera.

Wish you many more Happy miles on the Tucson!
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