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Old 8th May 2022, 18:35   #1
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Default Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

As with a lot of people who love automobiles, I had this yearning of driving or riding to Leh from Bangalore since a few years. But again as with a lot of people, this plan didnt materialize for several years. But this year, when it was least expected due to pandemic, it actually happened. A lot of things fell into place themselves and believe me or not, the plan was made 1 week before the trip. So before you doze off, let us get to some interesting stuff.

The Journey with Overnight Stops:
Bangalore Nagpur Ujjain Udaipur Panipat Patnitop -Srinagar Kargil -Leh -Pangong Leh Kargil -Jalandhar Delhi Sagar Hyderabad Bangalore

Facts and Figures: Total 20 days. 7700 kms. 15.5 kmpl fuel consumption. Fuel worth Rs 52,000. Tolls around Rs 7000.

And most importantly, Weapon of Choice VW GT TSI (2016 model, 72000 kms on the odo (at start of journey), 1.2 TSI with DSG). Why GT TSI? Because I asked around whats the best car to do a trip to Leh and the answer I liked the most: The car in your garage!

3 marathon drives
Bangalore to Nagpur 1160kms in around 14 hours.
Kargil to Jalandhar 660 kms in around 14 hours.
Sagar to Hyderabad 900 kms in around 12 hours.
Every other day was less than 10 hours of driving.

Why Ujjain and Udaipur? As I told that several things fell into place for this trip to happen, one of those things was an official trip to Udaipur. It sowed the seed of an opportunity to do a road trip in Rajasthan which eventually evolved into a bigger plan of doing a Leh trip. It also gave me a 2 days break in Udaipur which was a good time to recharge my energy for the long drive.

Engineering Marvels 2 tunnels en-route Udhampur to Srinagar. Chenani Nashri Tunnel and Jawahar Tunnel. Both are around 9kms long each. Each cuts the driving distance by about 45 mins to 1 hour. Another tunnel is under construction that will avoid Zojila Pass (Srinagar to Kargil route). Hats off to the army and engineers who are making the seemingly impossible task possible.

Road conditions 90% roads are decent to good condition. The best road condition is from Kargil to Leh! Yes you read that right. Kudos to BRO (Border Roads Organization). Its like a high altitude race track and I had good fun driving the GT on the roads its designed to be driven on. The landscape, however, will slow you down like crazy. You cant drive for more than 15 minutes before taking a stop, getting down and absorbing the beauty around you.
Around 10km patch near Zojila pass was quite bad. Almost non-existent roads but no problem for the GT as potholes were not deep.
Around 40 kms patch near Changla Pass (Leh to Pangong route) was super bad. The only time I regretted bringing the GT. All Xylos and Innovas were cruising past, those cars are really abuse friendly but their occupants were not. Nauseating passengers were everywhere. Mechanical empathy made me drive real slow but the GT did not complain much. Short wheelbase and firm suspension assured that ground scraping was minimal.

GT Performance Flawless! So thankful that there was no problem at all with the car during the entire trip.
Automatic transmission was a boon on long driving days.
Cruise Control was extremely useful. I had figured out in first 3 days that I need to drive slow if I want to drive for long so cruise control at 90 kmph was my friend every day.
High altitude changed the car performance drastically. Car was idling at ~1200 RPM and there was MASSIVE turbo lag till 2000 RPM due to thin air. Sports mode helped things by keeping the RPMs high.

Landscape Mindblowing! I wont write much. I will just say that everyone in India who loves travelling and nature OUGHT to experience the sheer beauty of the Himalayas. Its like nothing else Ive ever experienced. The drive from Srinagar to Leh is 400 kms but we broke it down to 200kms each for 2 days. Srinagar to Kargil (200kms) and then Kargil to Leh (200kms). We took 8-9 hours for 200 kms because each turn brings about a new view that will just blow you away and you cant help but stop and adore the jaw-dropping beauty. DO THIS DRIVE if you havent yet. Srinagar to Leh!

Kashmir Situation Thankfully all was peaceful for the days we were there but the tension in the air could be felt, more so because of the heavy army deployment all throughout the route. Soldiers surely have a difficult life standing alert with the guns out all through the highway. Its as if they are anticipating an attack every second! And then all the civilian vehicles were made to pull up to the side of the highway whenever an army convoy came around which made the journey time quite long. Feel sad for the local people who have to live their lives in such a tense environment every day.

Respect for Army BRO has done an extraordinary job of making and maintaining the roads in one of the most treacherous terrains. Extreme temperatures, extreme rainfall, extreme snow, heavy vehicle movement and YET not a single pothole in majority of the BRO maintained route. Kudos!
Army has base camps in high altitude regions which see negative 30C temperatures and are covered in snow for months. I live a safe life because they are doing their job with full commitment. I dont have words to express my gratitude to them!

Start of the drive: somewhere in Maharashtra
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_0709.jpg


Somewhere in MP
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_0729.jpg


View around Udaipur from Sajjangarh Monsoon Fort:
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_0861.jpg


En-route Patnitop to Srinagar
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_0931.jpg

Early morning clouds and open roads
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_0936.jpg

Entering the Kashmir valley. I stopped to take this picture but an Army personnel told me to leave immediately. No stopping allowed on this highway.
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_0946.jpg

Srinagar to Kargil. Heavenly route starts from here!
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1032.jpg

The Green hills of Kashmir
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1062.jpg

Number plate had to be cleaned to keep it visible
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1069.jpg

First view of snow
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1087.jpg

At Sonmarg. GT Rally TSI :-)
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1099.jpg

Near Zojilla Pass
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1190.jpg

More Snow covered peaks and the landscape starts turning barren.
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1306.jpg

Grazing Sheeps. The shepherds in these areas are essential messengers for the army.
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1336.jpg

Clouds playing the shadow game
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1344.jpg

GT Rally TSI
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1363.jpg

Kargil to Leh. The Cold Desert.
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1427.jpg

Middle of Nowhere
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1458.jpg

High Altitude Race Track
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1561.jpg

Ya I got a wash in Kargil
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1668.jpg

Picture Perfect
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1698.jpg

Last edited by anshumandun : 8th May 2022 at 19:59.
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Old 8th May 2022, 20:09   #2
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Default re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

VW Flash Red Against Nature's Sky Blue
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1743.jpg

The BRO Racetrack
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1802.jpg

GT experiencing snow and negative temperature for the first time in it's life.
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_1915.jpg

At Khardungla! (which is not the highest motorable pass anymore because BRO outdid themselves by building the Umlingla Pass)
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2030.jpg

Customary Picture
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2098.jpg

It can't get any more real
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2132.jpg

En-route Pangong
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2309.jpg

Crossing Changla
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2315.jpg

One of many glaciar lakes
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2418.jpg

When you see such beauty, you stop!
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2585.jpg

Early morning in Pangong
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2803.jpg

My personal favourite pic of the GT
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2820.jpg

Different shades of Pangong
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2902.jpg

Panoramic view
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2922.jpg

One last pic before we started the return journey
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2925.jpg

The sky is so clear that the photo looks photoshopped
Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI-img_2976.jpg

Last edited by anshumandun : 8th May 2022 at 21:55.
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Old 12th May 2022, 07:25   #3
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

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

Going to our homepage today
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Old 12th May 2022, 09:08   #4
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

Your photos made me want to go as well with my GT. Thank you for sharing.

May I ask if you face any mechanical issues during your drive? Especially at some areas where you said the roads were really bad?
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Old 12th May 2022, 09:16   #5
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

What a kick-ass drive!
Loved the photos and the crisp write up - I know the kind of a person when I see more pics of the bike/car than the surroundings
Being a fellow GT owner (Tashi, born in 2017), this is definitely a reminder for me to finish the dream of doing this leg with the dude someday!

Did you have to turn off TCS or use M anywhere at all?

Post more pictures if you have.
Cheers.
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Old 12th May 2022, 09:35   #6
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

Excellent pics, thanks for sharing. Which month did you do this trip?
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Old 12th May 2022, 10:29   #7
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

Quote:
Originally Posted by anshumandun View Post

Kargil to Jalandhar 660 kms in around 14 hours.
Im planning to do Chandigarh - Sonamarg. Anything to keep in mind on that route ? Start at 4 am
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Old 12th May 2022, 10:29   #8
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

Quote:
Originally Posted by igemini View Post
May I ask if you face any mechanical issues during your drive? Especially at some areas where you said the roads were really bad?
Thankfully there were no issues at all. There was belly scraping a couple of times near Changla Pass but nothing too bad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katoom View Post
Did you have to turn off TCS or use M anywhere at all?
I did not turn off the TCS anywhere. The roads were not as bad as I had imagined. More than M, I used the S mode to keep the car in the power band as there was significant turbo lag up to 2000 rpms due to the thin air.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rakesh_r View Post
Excellent pics, thanks for sharing. Which month did you do this trip?
I went in September 2021.
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Old 12th May 2022, 10:37   #9
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

Nice Photos. Would love to do such a trip.
Was the Polo GT comfortable for such long drives. I meant with reference to fatigue, body pain and overall ride comfort.
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Old 12th May 2022, 10:55   #10
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

What an excellent travelogue !!!

I can't help but imagine taking my Polo to Leh. Till now I've had a lot of apprehensions whether i'll be able to bring back my polo in a single piece or not :P

Going through this thread has surely given me a lot of confidence to at least think about getting my Polo Leh'd.
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Old 12th May 2022, 11:53   #11
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

Quote:
Originally Posted by GP19 View Post
Im planning to do Chandigarh - Sonamarg. Anything to keep in mind on that route ? Start at 4 am
Start early morning from Udhampur to avoid traffic and army convoys. There is a lot of construction work going on and if you don't leave early, you'll be stuck in traffic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by superchamp View Post
Was the Polo GT comfortable for such long drives. I meant with reference to fatigue, body pain and overall ride comfort.
Polo GT is a driver's car and from that point of view, it was comfortable, engaging and enjoyable for me, specially on the good roads. On the bad roads, the firm suspension does make it uncomfortable. For passengers, GT is not a comfortable or spacious car. My wife and son flew in to Srinagar and flew out of Leh, I think that says enough about the passenger comfort .

Quote:
Originally Posted by divyadeeptsi View Post
Till now I've had a lot of apprehensions whether i'll be able to bring back my polo in a single piece or not :P
I had apprehensions whether I will be able to get the car back at all
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Old 12th May 2022, 12:55   #12
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

Quote:
Originally Posted by anshumandun View Post

I went in September 2021.
That's great, i did something similar on my SCross: Pune-Udaipur-Jaipur-Amritsar(Golden Temple)-Shimla-Manali-Solang(wanted to visit Atal Tunnel but couldnt since police was permitting only 4wd, rented a 4wd Bolero to Solang valley)-Kufri-Chandigarh-Agra-Indore-Pune.
I intend to do a Leh Ladakh trip and your itinerary looks perfect for me.
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Old 12th May 2022, 13:04   #13
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

What an absolutely ripping trip in the GT. Your pics are all wallpaper level. What preps did you do to the car before the trip?
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Old 12th May 2022, 14:17   #14
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

Amazing travelogue and the pictures are a treat to the eyes. GT in Red looks totally gorgeous amid the heavenly landscape. Thank you for an excellent travelogue!!
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Old 12th May 2022, 15:02   #15
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Default Re: Bangalore to Leh in a Polo GT TSI

Amazing travelogue, a shining red POLO amid that barren landmass is quite a sight. Can't wait to explore the mighty land of passes myself next month. Also, as of now we are just 2 people, so can't decide whether I should drive the Ecosport or Endeavour. Having said that, your travelogue gives me complete confidence that even Ecosport will be home in those terrains.
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