Ladakh. Clockwise.

rameshtahlan

Super User
Dream, Ladakh trip, 8 Jun to 17 Jun 2013,
I flew for years over most of the airspace of India while in the air force,
but though i was in fighters, and limited to certain areas only, i had the opportunity of doing certain prestigious courses,
due to which i went to very corner of the country, to have gone where no man can go..... sounds like space travel...
And off course the best was when i was posted at Udhampur, and was looking after J&K
I visited by helicopter most parts right up till DBO, with China,
did the entire length of Siachin till Indra Koll.
But the dream to actually do the trip by road with family, never went away,
in spite of the many road trips i had done earlier,
and never owned a camera.
So plan was a 20 day round trip,
BUT with son being in corporate sector.. 20 days leave... he laughed.
i missed those 60 days annual leave and 20 days casual leave of the armed forces.
God,,, it was fun.... so a bit of the dream was shatter.. to do a 30 day trip to Ladakh by road.
So the trip was reduced to 11 days. Cheers. but it became 10 cause had to keep one day in hand.

1. PLANNING
Three days from Delhi to Leh.
First Halt Udhampur.
Second halt Srinagar.
Third day Leh.
Three days Leh to Delhi.
First halt Keylong.
Second halt Manali.
Third day Delhi.
Three days in Leh.
First Day local Leh, Shanti Stupa, shopping, and Likir.
Second day Pangong Tso and back to Leh
Third day Khardung La and Thikse.

2. GROUND REALITY
We made it to Zoji La, after 3 traffic jams, due to which when we finally reached Zoji La,,, a land slide took place just minutes before our arrival.
We drove back to Sonmarg for the night,
and did Sonmarg Leh next morning with another two jams on climb up to Zoji La.
So it took us 4 days to make it to Leh.
On return, we reached Baralacha La, to find two trucks had skidded and jammed the route.
Drove back to Sarchu for night in tents.
Next day drove to Keylong for night halt.
Following morning drove from Keylong to Delhi, reaching Delhi after a day and night drive, at 6 in the morning.

3. MANDATORY ACTIONS BEFOR TRIP
1. Sold my Innova and bought a Fortuner.. wanted a 4 wheel drive under my ass, so that i can extricate myself, and maybe help someone in trouble.
2. Bought Down feather jacket for our family of 4.
3. Warm gloves, socks, and monkey caps.
4. 12V compressor
5. High Power Torch.. 4 hours running time.
6. Camping Stove, match box, and a cigarette lighter, candles.
7. Home utensils for tea etc.
8. Dip Dip tea, milk powder, sugar.
9. Enough Maggie, and so much Maza drink we could have a bath in.
10. Medicines for headache, fever, vomiting.
11. Disposable oxygen bottles, and oxygen refill type bottle.

The rest is history.

But is was the uncertainties that made the trip even more exciting...

Now let me take you from Delhi to Delhi in a round trip.

Day 1 - DELHI TO UDHAMPUR

Left Delhi well before sunrise. As we drove further from Delhi, we started to ask ourselves.. .where on earth is everyone... why r we the only ones looking like going to Ladakh. Then finally at Karnal for breakfast. short of the lake,,,,,,, the first gang of bikers... and our mood changed.... every one shouted ... Ladakh here we come....

I hope one of u guys is in this image.......
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this is the Jammu to Udhampur stretch which is being upgraded to 5 lane, so part of the old road are being used and many parts are new, to make the route shorter and less winding and faster.
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We finally made it to Udhampur, by late evening.. the sun was not down till then, thanks to the army, stayed at an army mess..
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UDHAMPUR TO SRINAGAR

The next morning we filled up the juice and got wheels rolling for Srinagar.....
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And to our surprise.. along with us.. a railway coach was also heading in same direction.
the Udampur to Srinagar rail link... by road u mean.. even i am confused.
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It was not long before we encountered our first traffic jam...
some village crowd had done chukka jam, cause of some goat being killed on the highway.
Fortunately police was already there,
and with my defence ICard, i approached the army crowd which had a convoy, and they brought be right up almost to the front of the jam
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The location where the rail link tunnel starts just before the climb to Banihal Pass, and will finally come out into the Srinagar Valley.
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we started the climb and came to the first beautiful water fall...
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Finally Banihal Pass
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We were into the VALLEY... the country side was breathtaking...
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Finally Srinagar.. .in all its glory
But Jun is not the month to visit the gardens, the flowers have lost the sparkle and colour to the sharp sun
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And off course.. stay at the army mess is always a pleasure...
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rameshtahlan

Super User
DAY3 - SRINAGAR TO LEH

As usual, first thing was to top up the tank
the journey was awesome.. every km is a different story by itself.
that is my son and daughter.. as mad if not more that me ....
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it was smooth sailing, till we came across the first jam of the day.. by village people. regarding some issue
the police convinced them of action and after one hour the road was cleared
after that it was smooth sailing
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We reached Sonmarg in time for lunch, which we had at the J&K tourism resort.
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it was fairly smooth going there after till we encountered two separate jams on the climb to Zoji La.
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The climb to Zoji La was exhilarating, with almost vertical slopes on one side, and beautiful scenes on the other.... total contrast ....
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What looked like a heard of wild animals from far.. .became human being when we got close....
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ZOJI LA IN ALL ITS FULL GLORY .. .LOOKING DOCILE... not that lady in the blue top... that is my daughter in law.....
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Then came the unexpected halt.
land/snow slide.
there were others who wanted to cross too.. the sheep.. they crossed,,, they r smatter than humans...
The Europeans, took out their folded cycles, assembled them drove to the land slide, lifter the cycles on the shoulders, and crossed over
they told the driver - "see u in Leh".... fantastic....
We off course stayed on for an hour, the decided to go back to Sonmarg.
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rameshtahlan

Super User
DAY4 - SONMARG TO LEH

We had shaker in at the J&K Tourism joint in Sonmarg. Woke up to a beautiful and promising day.
After a lazy breakfast, and confirming from one of the vehicles coming from Zoji La side that the pass was open
we set foot on the accelerator again.
The drive was good, BUT,,, two traffic jams on the way up again,
and finally we reached the spot on Zoji La where the landslide had taken place,
it was cleared,
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Here after it was a smooth drive down hill all to way and greenery appeared again,
till off course we came upon a rive instead of a road,
many bikes got stuck in the water, including the back up Jeep of the group of biker.
some bikers drove on and located a tow truck, fortunately,
We off course waited to see some tucks pass, so that we could look at the wheels and decide which line to take through the water.
Then we decided to go in.
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We came upon a guy on a bike.. solo... wow
suddenly there was commotion in the SUV,
daughter in law wanted to sit behind the guy and experience the wind past her face...
so we stopped and requested him,,,
sweet guy, he accepted, and DIL (Daughter in Law) freaked out so many Km, with us in the tow behind
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The drive was good.... halted at Drass for lunch, bunch of bikers we into the chicken curry, and we dived in also.
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Going was good.
we reached Kargil for a tea and fuel halt.
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On the way we stopped for tea, met some locals and drove on.
Crossed Fotu La at night, had dinner at a township which came up,
and reached Leh past midnight.
Thanks to the army again, we shaked in, but cannot put up pics of or accommodation cause it was in a restricted area.
the winds were howling, we were sure the roof was going to fly off... construction was on tin corrugated sheets and barsati to leak proof it.
but inside with the bukharis on, the setup was most comfortable,
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rameshtahlan

Super User
DAY 5 - LOCAL LEH AND LIKIR

We woke up to a super morning, it was over cast , and snowing on the mountain tops.
We decided to first get our passes sorted out,
then go to Shanti Stupa, shop around, have lunch,
and head out for Likir.
Dinner back at Leh off course with some more shopping.

So first to Shanti Stupa....
that is my wife guarding the Stupa.... hahaha
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The view of Leh from Shanti Stupa, and that is the highest golf course in the world
don't look for greens.. its browns here.. since grass does not grow easily, engine oil is used to bind the sand, so that the golf ball can roll.
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And then shopping and lunch....
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And we were were back on the road to Likir.
LOOK AT THE SECOND IMAGE CAREFULLY...
"TOUCH THE SKY WITH GLORY"
this is done the the air force at Leh.
every year on air force day.. the guys go up there and repaint it
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On the way.. the mandatory stop over at Patthar Sahib....
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The famous confluence of Indus and Zanskar
if u want to visit Pakistan.. this is an option.. just jump into the Indus.
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The drive is awesome
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Straight as a ruler........
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By now our DIL has gone totally wild..
and we r finding ti difficult to keep her inside the suv.
next stop will have to get chains to tie her down.
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On the way back we decided to stop at the confluence of Indus and Zanskar, and make some tea
the winds were howling
found a nice big rock to block some of the wind to light up the camping stove.
wow.... tea....
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And finally back in Leh for dinner
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rameshtahlan

Super User
DAY 6 - PANGONG TSO

How much wonderful can it get... a beautiful morning greeted us... cloudy,,, but the sun keeping peeping through,
making the terrain look out of the world .....
We set course, for a beautiful ride...
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Did a breakfast halt, and took the left fork in the road to take us to Pangong Tso
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The climb was exciting... the clouds would play with us...
it even started to snow very very lightly
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It was time to slap on the GoPro Camera.
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Made it to Chang La, and the drive continued.....
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Now came the fun part... son said we have a 4 wheel drive.. lets take a short cut over the mountain
mom said leave me here... pick me up on way back..
i said i will follow the road by walking
DIL went missing... not seen anywhere..
hahahaha..... finally we took the road....
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Its always good to make the trip with ur gf.. keep your back warm...
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Yeeeeeeeeeeeeee and the first glimpse of Pangong Tso.....
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And then the drive back started......
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rameshtahlan

Super User
DAY 7 - KHARDUNG LA AND THIKSE

The weather gods were kind.
We had breakfast this time and then took to the road.
the climb ahead looked inviting,
and what we left behind... Leh.... looked majestic
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We had to be halted. Not a jam this time
but road widening work to make it 2 lane.
some guys used this time nicely
and some taxy drivers in too much hurry created more problem....
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It was Khardung La after a brief stop to click the icicles ....
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We then headed back to Leh, had Lunch, and went in the direction of Thikse
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rameshtahlan

Super User
DAY 8 - LEH TO KEYLONG IN ONE DAY - BUT IT WAS NOT TO BE - IT TOOK US THREE ATTEMPTS AND TWO DAYS TO CROSS BARALACHA LA

It started as a very promising day in Leh
Plan was first night halt at Keylong,,, next at Manali... next Delhi
... and it turned out to be the most exciting days of the trip
We reached Baralacha La, only to find that two trucks has skidded and were touching each other. road had been blocked for a long time.
We decided to go back to Sarchu for the night, and took up residence in the Tents.
Next morning looked perfect, had snowed at night, we woke up with excitement with snow all over.....
and the skies were crystal blue, with the most awesome feel of the suns rays falling on us.
Reached Baralacha La, it has snowed whole night, and the trucks had still not been cleared.
We headed back to Sarchu, only for one reason, if pass does not open till a certain cut off time we had given ourselves,
we would drive like mad men all the way back and head to Delhi via Leh.
Time was not a luxury my kids had.. they had to catch a flight back and report for work on due date....
TOTALLY MAD PLANNING... I TOLD U IN THE VERY BEGINNING.. WE ARE A MAD FAMILY.
This time at Sarchu we decided to try our luck with the only army camp between Keylong and Leh..
Luck was with us... we got a room. The next room had 12 bike guys huddled up inside.
Had lunch, and we got information that the pass had opened.
We hit the road.. but no rash driving... that is one thing that does not forgive u in these mountains.
So off we went... enjoy the ride....
Departure point... Leh
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The we came across a hurdle.. but not a bid problem
the bridge was damages and crated
we saw two trucks stuck, so did a bit or recce,
and chose a very safe spot to cross.
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them the excitement start to cross the SECOND HEIGHT MOTORABLE PASS IN THE WORLD AFTER KHARDUNG LA
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The most amazing thing ..... a guy on a bike SOLO... big salute to u dude.....
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And we were in for another surprise... a guy on a bicycle.. alone... not group or gang... just him.... wow... a standing salute to u buddy
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We made it to Tanglang La without any problem....
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And to our utter surprise.. we crossed another guy.. absolutely along .. on a bicycle... fantastic....
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Made a halt for Lunch, and soon after that the tented accommodation of Sarchu started... looked inviting...
but we drove on, our destination was Keylong..
we did not that Ladakh would not let us go back without one night stay here..... hahahaha
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Made it to Baralacha La, only to find out that two trucks had skidded
were touching each other
and one trucks wheel was stuck off the road.
we waited for an hour, and with nightfall heading our way,
we decided to head back to Sarchu, and spend a night in the tents.
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rameshtahlan

Super User
DAY 9 - SARCHU TO KEYLONG

We went to bed at Sarchu, in tents provided.
What did we know we would be in for some surprise in the morning
It had snowed in the morning.
i was woken up by the cranking of come SUVs, i waited a bit longer, and could not control myself.
went out and saw one or two guys having problem in starting up their vehicles.
I was tempted to do the same, but waited.. let the sun come out and warm up the Fortuner a bit.
finally i dare to crank.. Wham... she fired up as if we were in Delhi......
And the day looked awesome, clear skies, sun came out and greeted us with its rays falling on a mountain far off in the direction we were to go.
snow on the Fortuner, on the tents.
The feeling was great.
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We decided, we would make our own tea, pulled out the camping stove etc,
started to get water boiling... and heard the first scream from my tent..
wife shouting from the loo.... the bucket of water was frozen.
so the boiling water for tea went to wife....
again boiled water, shout came from next tent....
next member of family had discovered frozen bucket of water,
so that boiling pot also went.
then was the turn of the third member....
Finally,,, tea was made....
u can see my son the right edge of the image making tea....
suddenly many drivers started to crowd me... asking.. if i was making tea,,, hahahaha
told them to go to the dining tent,,, tea was there.....
but one driver requested for boiling water
he threw water on the windscreen to clean it and it froze sold
so gave him boiling water.
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we had breakfast and set off......
absolutely not expected the unexpected
We made it to Baralacha La.
Only to be told the pass was still blocked,
as time passed, it appeared that the pass may not clear... it was a 50:50 chance.
it had snowed all night,
a truck driver had lit a fire to heat up engine and gear box oil
the only tent of the stall was full of guys.
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We headed back to Sarchu,
Managed to get a room with the only army presence between Keylong and Leh.
We waited to take a decision as to how long we should wait,
or start heading back to Delhi via Leh.
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We requested the army unit to give us early lunch.. fortunately,,, they had prepared lunch early.
We had about finished lunch, and an hour later, we met a vehicle no the road who told us the pass was open
We hopped in and hit the road back for Baralacha La ....THIRD ATTEMPT....
So when we got to Baralacha La, ... it was a one lane path way...
It was not easy going... most of the time no one wants to give way.
and traffic was going both way..
everyone is in a hurry to get to the other side in case a land slide happens
or gets blocked again.
so it was almost a crawl, stopping more often then moving forward,
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finally we were on the other side.. .and it looked good....
we stopped for tea,
and made it to Keylong late into the night for a night halt.
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rameshtahlan

Super User
DAY 10 - KEYLONG TO DELHI

The last leg was in front of us............ I had a fiend who married a girl from Keylong.... .so now i had seen Keylong
It was a good drive. Beautiful all the way...
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If i am not wrong... this is the one end of the ALL WEATHER TUNNEL being built to connect Keylong to Manali.
so that a road is available throughout the year to Keylong.
Well,,, once this runnel is ready,
i certainly plane to use it and get across in the thick of winter and heavy snowfall....
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Finally Rohtang Pass... but lay the other side ... almost shocked us....
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The cause of all traffic jams at Rohtang Pass....
the crowds are over whelming....
since its a huge tourist spot
an second road should have been made,
so that incoming and outgoing traffic are separated...
and its possible to make it.
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We were so happy to be over the pass.. specially past the area where skewing, snow scooter etc etc was going on.
but we were in for a bigger surprise....
we were held up for a total of 3 hours,
control of up going and down going traffic,
and also road widening work.
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We finally made to Manali... but we decided that with Delhi as our destination
we should drive through....
we went about 15 odd km beyond Manali, and them finally stopped to have lunch and get the puncture fixed on the front left tyre
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AND SO I WILL END MY JOURNEY HERE WITH THE FIXING OF THE PUNCTURE
THE STORY I PUT UP IN TRAVELOGUE WAS AS THRILLING AS THE ACTUAL JOURNEY BY ROAD
AND MY HEART IS WITH THOSE WHO UNDERTAKE THE TRIP THIS YEAR.
I HAVE MANY MORE STORIES, BUT HEY ARE ON NEGATIVE FILM AND TRANSPARENCIES
HOPEFULLY ONE DAY I WILL DIGITISE THEM AND TAKE TO TO THOSE PARTS OF MOTHER INDIA WHERE U CANNOT STEP FOOT ON.
HAPPY LANDINGS
RT
 
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