The Dirty Dozen "SURVIVED" Ladakh

Discussion in 'Travelogues from North India' started by hiambuj, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. hiambuj

    hiambuj Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 23, 2008
    Likes Received:
    New Delhi


    Travelogue of "INMANTEC Adventure Club's" trip to Ladakh : June 2008

    This travelogue has been written by Manu & edited by me. The photographs are clicked by Saurabh, Rachana, Piyush, Aarti, Meenal, Shashi & myself and are copyright of INMANTEC adventure club. Though it has been written by Manu, yet "I" is reffering me.

    Foreword: In 1997 I was studying the final year of engineering when a new student named Tenzin Khunga joined first year in the college. He was a Tibetan from Ladakh & his father was a porter there. His photo album (it used to be hard copy then) which barely had 25-30 photographs, taken by foreigners mostly & gifted to his father, inspired me & made Ladakh my dream destination since then. It only came true this year from 20th June to 1st July 2008.

    The Group : I have been owning an adventure club for last 5 years whose members share the passion of travel & adventure tours. I popped up the idea of Ladakh trip this year on 30th Jan 2008 by starting a thread on my club’s forum. The response was very enthusiastic & at one time the total confirmations had reached to 27, which was a huge group to handle. Bringing down the number, the final group reduced to 12, the composition being 7 males & 5 females coming from Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai & Indore. Group in Alphabetical Order :

    Aarti : Mumbai, Graphics Designer, Ad agency
    Amit : Delhi, Sr Asstt Director, FICCI
    Archana : Mumbai, CA, Voltas
    Aruna : Delhi, Civil Engineer
    Hanu : Indore, joined his first job at Pune after trip
    Manu : Delhi, Student DCE
    Meenal : Delhi, Brand Manager, Maruti
    Piyush : Delhi, BD Mgr, Integrid Media
    Rachana : Mumbai, Graphics Designer, Ad agency
    Saurabh : Bangalore, Engineer/Designer of High compression Videos
    Shashi : Delhi, Tech Mahindra

    BCMT came to my notice while doing some basic research on Ladakh & since then I have been a regular follower of the forum, which eventually helped a lot in making this trip come true.

    The D day :

    The vehicles (two Scorpio’s) had reached my residence in Vaishali by afternoon from my brother’s place in Roorkee. The meeting point decided was Piyush’s residence at Hauz Khas. Aarti, Rachana, Meenal, Archana & Saurabh reached there early in the evening. Me, Hanu & Manu started at 7:00 PM from my residence in Vaishali reaching Hauz Khas at 9:30 PM where the group for the first time formally introduced each other. At Piyush’s residence we met 3 Veterans!! Manik, Eric, Guptaji. Our knowledge about their adventurous ladakh voyages was actually easily enough for them to draw admirable attention from each and everyone of us!!

    We packed our gear into one of the scorpio, folding the back seats, and realized for the first time that we were still too large a group undertaking ladakh trip. A “bhajan mandali” as Tau(hitanshu) had once put it on BCMT! The first time we conceived the gravity of the fact that it would be a real honor if we pull it off!! Meanwhile the luggage was all set, our next destination was decided as MURTHAL where we would stop for paranthas.. The three veterans were to accompany us till MURTHAL..!

    The vehicles being loaded (Photo courtsey : Manik)

    Finally we started at 10:00 PM…. Not knowing about the sheer bliss we would experience in the days to come… Not knowing about our imminent stupendous triumphs over the impediments caused by nature and living souls together… We started… Absolutely unaware of the fact that these 11 days would be the most audacious days of our lives, ignorant about the fact that we were not merely undertaking photography trip, that every moment promised much more than we expected, unaware that everyone around us was going to be missed terribly by us after 11 days of togetherness…!! Enroute we picked up the remaining two members of the group, the married couple of Aruna & Shashi.

    We got our first taste of road troubles at Delhi border where we got stuck in a traffic jam. That’s where we started getting acclimatized to the road quandaries! But the jam did not seem too bad..

    Jam @ Border (Photo courtsey : Eric)

    We happily fought our first road jam discussing about TOLLYWOOD! Also we didn’t forget to get both the vehicles tank full from the broder. The ambiance in the cars was pretty cheerful. We were all in high spirits and upbeat but at the same time were desperately looking forward to having paranthas at Murthal! Yes, we were famished!!

    Much to the liking of everyone, the first halt of our trip was at GULSHAN DHABA, Murthal. A nice and cozy Punjabi cuisine dhaba.. With clean washrooms! (U will be acquainted with the tangible importance of washrooms much later, but its safe to talk about these right from the beginning ) !! In short, it was all that the ravenous bhajan mandli desired!

    We all grouped together and candidly speaking I can’t really express the feeling of exhilaration we experienced at that moment. Everyone tore into the paranthas with startling vigor and vitality. Our faces bore a mingled expression of satisfaction (offered by the food), consternation (due to most amazing experiences shared by the three veterans) and mirth (Eric’s sense of humor). The icing on the cake was the Punjabi lassi.. We couldn’t have asked for more..!

    Finally after 3 hours of gratification, we decided to hit the roads once again.. We bid adieu to Eric, Manik and Gupta ji who wished us all the luck!.. Manik obliged us with our first group photograph!

    Group at Dhaba (Photo courtsey : Manik)

    The next destination was Manali. We planned on an overnight drive and decided that we would pull over somewhere after chandigarh for breakfast..

    With excellent six lane Tarmac Chandigarh was only 3 hrs away.

    A click taken at Toll Gate :

    We reached Chandigarh around 7:00 a.m.. Many of us were witnessing the exquisiteness of Chandigarh for the first time and could’nt control our unintended gasps of incredulity at the wonderful sight that met our drowsy eyes. The clean, well planned roads and the stunning greenery surrounding us was just the kind of tonic our lethargic psyches desired.

    It was in Chandigarh where our voyage was interrupted by the police for the first time. One of our scorpios was packed completely in the back upto roof and the view from the driver’s rear view was totally blocked. The thulla demanded 500 bucks! After a futile attempt at pacifying our positions I had to reluctantly use my office influences to drive away without any penalty..

    Owing to the hunger and the washroom requests we finally decided to pull over around 8 a.m. at Ropar.. We stopped at a nice, easy on the pocket restaurant and fulfilled both of our needs one by one. (No washroom crunch yet). Everyone tucked in some bread toasts with tea. Light food while traveling was decided as the common food policy.

    After about an hour and a half of rest, we were back on the roads once again, our moods fresh and joyful. The sun was beating down hard on us, but it did nothing to deter our jubilant attitudes. We had a lot of fun on the way, we sang to Manu’s guitar, chatted merrily about almost everything and slept a bit through the day in running cars.. Just when we started getting frustrated about the harsh sun, we saw clouds coming out of nowhere as if the rain god read our contemptuous minds!!

    Enroute :



    We stopped for lunch at Sundernagar. It was a stunning setting. We got our first view of the mighty Himalayas, beautiful peaks, covered by a thick coating of clouds. A canal was elegantly flowing alongside the road which made the ambiance colder and added splendor to the setting. All the cameras came out very quickly and we started clicking pictures copiously. We innocently admired our first encounter with natural beauty consciously aware of the fact that these Himalayas would be our hosts for the subsequent 10 days!


    We stuck to our agenda and ordered daal, chaaval, one veg. Everyone ate merrily. After lunch we had about an hour to ourselves. Our drivers were exhausted and deserved the much needed respite. We gladly allowed them the rest as it guaranteed us an hour with the exquisiteness. It seemed that the canal’s magnificence was beckoning us towards its bank, summoning everyone in some strange, mysterious ways of its own. We happily drew forward and sat on a comfortable platform just on its bank and watched in awe, the magnanimous canal flowing gracefully, admiring its splendor. No-one talked for sometime, the only sound that mattered was the heavenly sound of canal’s flow. After the brief contemplative session with our own selves we asked Manu to bring his guitar and were soon enjoying music with nature! It was difficult to control our excitement, we had Himalayas with us (far in sight though), had this splendid canal flowing alongside, cool breeze ruffling our hairs and a thick coating of clouds defending us from the sun! It felt like a perfect picnic! We even drew some unfamiliar audience!

    Hanu bringing Guitar fron the car

    Manu playing Guitar in his roadside concert

    After an hour of sheer bliss, it was time to get back on the road and say goodbye to the setting. We felt rejuvenated, ready to enter the majestic realm of the Himalayas. The next couple of hours we craned our head in all possible directions to get the best views of the royal setting stoopping at few places for photoclicks. The imperial, grand peaks, covered with clouds, streams flowing alongside the roads, lush green casing of the hills, distant snow covered peaks, everything felt divine. And then suddenly it started raining heavily! The rain proved to be an icing on the cake! It felt as if the Himalayas had planned a perfect welcome for us!

    The weather Enroute :






    Few Kilometers before Mandi, the vehicles were alarming low diesel & we decided to tank up from Mandi itself. We enjoyed the nature enroute for another 2 hrs and then decided to give our necks (which were already stiff) some rest and pulled over at a River side café just before Kullu. The Café once again was a beautiful setting that closely resembled a rafting camp, with all arrangements in open air. With mighty river Beas flowing alongside our table it was hard to resist the temptation of clicking pictures! Consequently we found the cameras coming out in no time and taking snaps! It was here that we discovered one of the nature’s most intriguing designs! We noticed a skull shaped rock standing humbly inside the mighty river!

    View from Cafe :

    We ordered tea/coffee along with some light snacks to procure some interim relief. After about an hour of rest, we bid adieu to the café and were back on track looking forward for our first night halt, at Manali. Enroute saw this board reading BCMT & couldn’t resist myself to get the vehicle stopped for a click of it..

    BCMT ???

    (YS : that’s a new venture in HP ?? )

    Overcoming minor Jam at Kullu, we reached Manali around 9 p.m. and were let down with the kind of traffic rush that greeted us ominously. This traffic rush implicitly confirmed that our initial journey on the Manali Leh highway would be full of Jam troubles (if the road was open)! We were skeptical about the state of the highway due to heavy land-slides in Gulaba and the traffic rush did nothing to confiscate our qualms.

    Trying hard to feel optimistic about the whole issue, we fought the jam valiantly and finally reached the near HPTDC guest house where our dorms were requested in advance by a local friend of Manik. I called him up only to find to our utter misfortune that that due to heavy rush in Manali the dorms are not available & most of the hotels/ guest houses were already fully occupied. Calling up back Delhi to Manik we turned towards old Manali road on his advice, did hotel hunting for sometime and finally found an economical hotel named Hotel Moon light which had only four rooms available.. We checked into our rooms, got fresh quickly and assembled for dinner. At dinner we decided that no matter how gloomy and ominous the state of Manali Leh highway seemed we would give it a shot. Also from this stage we started a dose of Diamox (Imagine me distributing half Diamox to all members immediately after breakfast & dinner every day here onwards). Two water jugs of 10 ltrs each, one full of Glucose water & one with Mineral water were always kept handy in cars to ensure that everyone religiously sips water & glucose alternately every 20-30 mins.

    5.30 A.M. was decided as the time of departure which meant lesser rest for everyone. Hence we scurried off towards our rooms and slumped in our cozy beds to finally give ourselves the much deserved sleep at approx 12 Midnight.

    DAY 2 :

    The Manali daybreak got us face to face with a fiddly situation we never envisaged. I got up at 4:30 AM & knocked all the doors to wake up others. To my surprise, the room of Piyush and Saurabh was latched from outside, opening which I found them both in deep sleep. Woke them up to discover shockingly that important valuables (Two cell phones, one SLR & a bag with Piyush’s wallet in it) were missing from their room.

    I had extensively planned a long before setting out on our voyage, I had a solution for every plausible medical problem, a solution for every probable physical issue, I had even foreseen some of the troubles and had alternate arrangements planned too. But this predicament was something totally unanticipated and something for which we were not prepared. I absorbed the shock quickly. It was time for some troubleshooting! Piyush had lost all his photo identity proofs & Credit cards + cash. We decided on registering an F.I.R at the nearby police station which would be mandatory in getting the same numbers activated again (post trip). It took us 2 excruciating hours of argument with the dim-witted Thaana in charge, unintentional brawl with the hotel heiress and at the end my official influences to procure the F.I.R’s replica.

    We finally set out again around 9.30 a.m. We had decided sarchu as our next night halt. But now that our departure from Manali was delayed by almost 4 hours it seemed highly improbable that we’ll reach our planned destination i.e Sarchu. Nevertheless, we got back on the road hoping against hope that we do not stumble upon any jam quandaries! The weather was clear and sunny, we were all getting back to our cheerful selves and were looking forward to a great day! We stopped at a general store in the way and decided to get some light refreshments. The route was getting more and more beautiful and challenging. We had started getting glimpses of what we all were longingly looking forward to. Sky high snow capped peaks, glacial streams going over the road, exquisite greenery all around and hairpin curves! Rohtang pass was decided as our immediate destination and we were all thrilled about seeing the first pass of our lives!

    Clicks Enroute :




    On our way, we bumped into a couple of cars with their drivers signaling us to turn back! The road connoisseurs in our car quickly drew the ominous conclusion that a road jam was waiting for us some 10-15 kilometers ahead! And eventually we reached the spot where we encountered the longest road block of our lives!

    JAM :

    We quickly resigned to the fact that we had no other option than to wait for the traffic to move! The natural magnificence around us willingly came to our rescue! We excitingly drew out our cameras, climbed a hill adjacent to the road and started taking pictures hysterically! We spent the next couple of hours taking snaps, playing cards and making fun of trivialities around! We happily forgot that we were stuck in a road jam, feeling awed and completely at home!

    Some Clicks of the region :





    More Clicks enroute :



    But alas!! The fun was too good to last!! The washroom calamity struck and took us when we were least equipped! Now imagine a washroom trouble with a 3 kilometers long road jam with hundreds of cars and probably thousands of people in the vicinity clicking copious amount of snaps viciously!! Yes! It was as appalling as it sounds! We fought our first washroom tragedy pretty valiantly! We set off in search of a congenial place and had to trek for 3 kilometers to finally discover such a place! Quite an adventure! Meanwhile we ascertained the cause of the road block too. A muddy 50 meters stretch at a hairpin curve was the reason of the road jam. Heavy rains after a heavy landslide were responsible for the mishap.

    A Car Crash clicked after this 3 kms trek :

    It took us around 8 eventful hours to finally drive ourselves out of the jam! The 8 hours delay meant that we would be reaching Rohtang pass around 7-8 p.m. This was an area of concern as I surely never wanted the group to encounter the first pass this late in the evening! This increased our susceptibility to A.M.S. An A.M.S victim in the group was certainly the last thing we wanted!

    We stopped at Marhi for some refreshments. Owing to our exuberance we had totally forgotten the fact that we had not eaten anything since Manali, & four of us who went to Police station ate nothing since last night (others utilized that time to have breakfast). We captured some more natural beauty in our cameras, took some light snacks and decided that our next night halt would be anywhere we find a decent lodging arrangement.

    Clicks @ Marhi :






    We started once again for the toughest patch of our journey! The chill in the air was increasing exponentially and so was the gorgeousness of the surroundings. We had never ever encountered such splendor in our lives. It felt as if it was nature’s way of sardonically mocking at us, telling us in soft contemptuous, breezy voices that we were fools not to have undertaken this voyage earlier!

    Just before Rohtang La :

    We reached Rohtang pass around 7:30 p.m. We were finally victorious, emerging bravely out of a series of misfortunes. It was tremendously rewarding to see the bhajan mandli stand absolutely unscathed at an altitude of 13050 feet, triumphant and upbeat! All was well!!

    Rohtang pass was our first experience of sub zero chill coupled with ruthless winds! As we got out of our cars we were blasted off by the merciless winds and a totally different, incredible landscape! We quickly scurried towards the ROHTANG PASS landmark and got our snaps clicked one by one & then a gang pose.

    The Gang @ Rohtang

    Spoiled Snow @ Rohtang

    We spent 15 minutes at Rohtang. It was exceedingly cold and we did not want to harm ourselves too much. Hence we decided to get back on our way!

    View Imediately after Crossing Rohtang La :




    Reaching Koksar at 8.30 PM, even Keylong looked beyond our reach that day. But we headed toward Keylong aiming to make it by 10 PM. On the way, Hotel Triveni on the road at Sissu attracted our attention & I got down just to check up the availability & finally decided to end the day there. Hotel was pretty good & clean, the food was very nice, first time on a Thali system. Quick dinner was followed by a sleep.

    Day 3 Travelogue

    Day 4 Travelogue

    Day 5 Travelogue

    Day 6 Travelogue

    Day 7 Travelogue

    Day 8 Travelogue

    Day 9-10 Travelogue
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2008
  2. tsk1979

    tsk1979 Reclaimed and Recycled

    Nov 7, 2006
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    Woweee. Waiting for updates. Subscribing to this thread!
  3. setuniket

    setuniket Member

    Nov 4, 2006
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    Execllent start, everything perfect,waiting for the rest of the log and pics..
  4. joie de vivre

    joie de vivre Guru

    Nov 25, 2007
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    enjoyed_ well written logue..waiting :-({|=
  5. Prasham

    Prasham Armchair Traveller :(

    Apr 29, 2007
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    Lovely pics and log. Keep it coming.
  6. darth_lucifer

    darth_lucifer Rides R Us

    Apr 30, 2007
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    San Francisco
    Nice trip log more please.....
  7. kamikaze

    kamikaze 111 Horses in the Stable

    May 21, 2006
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    The Matrix!
    This will be my weekend read!

    But Mubarak ho! Lagta hai bahut masti ki!

    PS: Are these girls single?
  8. hiambuj

    hiambuj Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 23, 2008
    Likes Received:
    New Delhi
    Thanks Tanveer, Setu, Bharat, Prasham, Amit.

    Ya Dhairya, Masti to khoob ki.. BTW, Shashi is married to Aruna, Aarti is engaged & her "Would be" is Lieutenant in Indian Army.. Others are Single :grin:
  9. bhuwan singh

    bhuwan singh Guru

    Nov 1, 2006
    Likes Received:
    nice log written. Thanks to Manu and you ambuj. One request - please remove the photograph of the DAM. Principally you should not have clicked it & even if you have done so, do not share it on any forum which is viewed publically. JUST A REQUEST, do not feel bad about it.
  10. hiambuj

    hiambuj Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 23, 2008
    Likes Received:
    New Delhi
    Thanks Bhuwan Praahji.. honestly, all thanks goes to Manu... I have only done the some editing & manual job of uploading..

    Photo removed.. (without minding :) )..

    Though as far as I know, there are few Dams where photography is not allowed (like Bhakhra-Nangal).. Here, there was no signboard of "Photography prohibited"... I may be wrong about this..
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2008

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