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
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    New Delhi
    Thanks Sri & Bharat.. next portion will take some time.. Pangong Tso day was one of the most adventurous.. Manu is writing the log & I am shorlisting photos .. its very difficult for this day as all the 900+ photos look worth posting :)
  2. manufredy

    manufredy Member

    Jul 9, 2008
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    Yes! Pangong tso was certainly one of our most adventurous day and we want its description to be perfect!! :) hence will take some time!!
  3. AmitBiker

    AmitBiker Biker at Heart

    Jul 21, 2008
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  4. hiambuj

    hiambuj Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 23, 2008
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    New Delhi
    Sharma ji its all Manu's great art of writing (dont tick me off, i have also written few portions :) )
    BTW, Hanu is writing Leh onwards & he is equally good writer.. just to put it on board, Hanu & Manu were the best debaters of Madhya Pradesh during their school days & have won many state level prizes (Manu is also topper of Maths Olympiad of Madhya Pradesh & if I recall correctly Hanu stood 7th in his days).. Oh just to add, Hanu (NIT warangal engineering passout this year) is elder to Manu(DCE Student of engineering in 3rd year) & has started his first job after campus placement a year back, at Pune on a wonderful package of 8.25 Lacs..
    Chalo ab bhaiyon ki taarif bahut hui.. lets get back to topic.. Hanu & Manu, jaldi likh ke bhejo :)
  5. Prasham

    Prasham Armchair Traveller :(

    Apr 29, 2007
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    Great pics, especially the one near Ktop and in hunder, pic of small pond before deskit is also good (I remember it so well as I had came across it 6 times as I had lost my partner nearby ;))
  6. anupmathur

    anupmathur Super Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 13, 2007
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    New Delhi
    I realize that I am at a huge advantage: of not having had to wait for each episode!

    Having been away for 7 days, I'm seeing almost all the episodes in place for continuous reading.

    WHAT A LOG!! And what photos!! [​IMG].............................[​IMG]

    And I am hooked!! Waiting for the rest of this quite astonishing adventure of the Dirty Dozen!!

    "Dirty Deeds Done Daily ......... The Dirty Dozen invade the The Land of the Lamas"!

    Kudos to the lot of you!! :)
  7. hiambuj

    hiambuj Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 23, 2008
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    New Delhi
    Thanks Prasham

    Anupji, Thank you very much. I was actually waiting for your comments on the log.. you didnt have to wait, but I had to wait for long :)
    & what wonderful titles you have suggested :D
  8. praveenkm

    praveenkm Active Member

    Aug 29, 2006
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    Fantastic adventure. And i thought going only on bike is challange! Every one has to have lot of patience get along well with each other. Mudane things like washroom crisis are practicle difficulties to deal with.

    Very good narration and awesome pictures.

    Waiting for next installment.
  9. hiambuj

    hiambuj Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 23, 2008
    Likes Received:
    New Delhi

    We woke up around 3.30 a.m. and got ready to march off around 4.30 a.m. We had been incisively instructed at Leh to make a very early start owing to the supposed “paagalpan” of the malicious “paagal nallah” after 2.30 p.m. Paagal Nallah was this nasty glacial stream crossing over the road, on the way to Pangong from Leh. Owing to the bright sun beating down profoundly onto the glaciers the nallah often supposedly caused havoc, as a result of which the tourists were often barred from returning the same day.

    Hence, owing to the threats posed by paagal nallah we got on the road around 4.45 a.m. This was by far our earliest start. The morning was fresh and we soon started encountering the conventional hairpin curves we had grown accustomed to.

    I would take a subsection here to bring to light the candid efforts put in by BRO to ensure that the tourists actually do not expediently overlook the BRO signboards! With signboards bearing messages like these, we were eagerly waited to encounter the next BRO board. :

    1. Check your nerves, on my curves
    2. Be gentle on my curves
    3. If married, divorce speed
    4. Drive carefully, Live cheerfully
    5. Love your neighbor, but not while driving.
    6. If you sleep, your family will weep.
    7. Drive on muscle power, not rum power.
    8. After whiskey, driving is risky.
    9. No race, no rally, enjoy the beauty of the valley;
    10. Drive like hell, and you will be there!
    11. Dont be a gama in the land of the Lama
    12. Beware, I am curvacious.
    13. Better to be Mr Late than Late Mr
    14. Drive, dont Fly
    15. Lower your Gear, Curve is Near
    16. This is a highway, not a runway
    17. Fast wont Last
    18. Alert Today Alive Tomorrow
    19. I love you, but not so fast.

    Very shortly we ascended to great heights again! What started off as a cool, playful breeze soon transformed into cold, brutal wind! Despite having fought atrocious temperature fluctuations, we found ourselves shivering hysterically! The temperature was so low & the winds so harsh that no one had dared to take hands out for any click. This state of hyperactive chaos coupled with the washroom urges prompted our first stoppage of the day at the army check-post before Chang-La! This was also the post where we had to show our permits. (surprisingly our permits were not checked on the way to Nubra Valley)

    Hanu, Manu and Piyush unfortunately decided to take a dump at the wrong place and wrong time! With malfunctioning washroom door and freezing cold water, they were almost knocked out cold as they returned to the Scorpios and frantically covered their already numb hands looking for some much needed respite! I know! Once again, as appalling as it sounds!

    Waiting for his turn :

    After the break we got back on the road and reached the third highest pass of the world, Chang LA around 7:00 AM. This undoubtedly was the coldest pass encountered by us! The merciless winds prompted the usage of my newly purchased fleece jacket which I had not required earlier! We quickly scampered for some snaps braving the unbelievably ruthless winds! After some quick snaps, everyone excluding Piyush, Meenal and Saurabh drew back to the cars to get some protection against the biting cold! As a result of his brief excursion, Piyush was breathless when he returned and had to use an inhaler to get some reprieve!

    Gang @ Chang La :

    Views at Chang La :



    We were soon traveling again! Pangong was still around 70 kilometers away and with “paagal nallah” in our minds, we did not waste too much time! Very soon we descended to find beautiful pastures and elegant streams once again! The pastures were adorned amazingly by wild horses and yaks! The whole view was new-fangled! We had never seen beauty like this before! With the winds getting friendly again, we happily clicked copious snaps of this amazing spectacle! On our way we found many glacial streams making their way over the roads and very conveniently crossed all of them!

    The pastures :


    And the water bodies :

    Vanilla Top :

    Our first medical problem of the day struck in the form of a dizzy and weak Hanu who woke up on the day with 100.6 fever. To add to it, his stomach was also upset. We made a couple of stoppages giving him heavy dosage of glucose to energize him but to no avail. Eventually we had to stop at an army check-post to ask for some medical treatment. The Doctor at the check post asked about the symptoms & confirmed that it was not AMS attack & it’s the fever & bad stomach combination that came harsh on him. I told the doctor about the medicines I had already given to Hanu & he confirmed that the dose given was sufficient enough.

    Hanu entering for Medical aid :

    Much to the delight of everyone we reached “paagal nallah” around 10:30 AM There was a small bunch of cars already waiting in line to cross the stream. Some of us got off our cars to take a look and click some snaps! The stream came across as a serene, calm and stunning spectacle! Cars were crossing the streams with no trouble but were doing it one by one. An army jawan at the scene advised us to return positively by 2.30 p.m. We crossed the sane “paagal nallah” without any tribulations and gleefully got back on our way to Pangong Tso!

    The Calm Pagal Nallah :

    We had heard a lot about Pangong Tso’s exquisiteness! We were ecstatic about the fact that we were about to arrive at the highest and second largest lake in the world which changed its colours frequently! And the veracity about Pangong Tso transcending borders (one third of the lake in India and two thirds in China/Tibet) was something really intriguing which added profoundly to its eminence!

    Very soon, we got our first view of Pangong!! People took out their cameras and clicked hysterically as everyone gaped towards the amazingly blue outline of the legendary lake coming out of nowhere! The First View of Pangong Tso :

    After getting our first clicks we frantically got back on the road raring to reach Pangong! And very soon we found ourselves traveling parallel to a gorgeous, splendid blue body which seemed to stretch till the horizon! Yes! We had reached Pangong Tso! We pulled over at a crowded lake shore! It surely presented a wonderfully amazing spectacle but 20 odd tourists were already there clicking pictures! It felt truly satisfying to finally touch that amazingly blue, serene pure water and we felt divine presence as soon as we sprinkled some water on our faces! For about 15 minutes, no-one uttered a single word! Nothing mattered there! We blissfully forgot all our worries and worldly issues including the Manali misfortune! All that mattered was that we were on a date with this magnificent natural marvel, the beautiful deep blue water, snow capped sky high peaks in the distance and the wonderfully fresh breeze ruffling our hairs!

    The 15 minutes stoppage did nothing to quench our thirsts! Hence, in order to get a more secluded spot where we can enjoy the beauty all by ourselves we set off in China’s direction! It was an altogether different, intriguing feeling knowing about the fact that we were so close to the Indo-China border and we all completely agreed to the lyrics of a bollywood song which wisely said “Panchi, Nadia, Pawan k jhonke, koi sarhad na inhe roke!”

    some clicks from first location :



    We drove for about 5-6 kilometers along with the lake and finally found a secluded shore! We got off the road and drove on rocky terrains for half a kilometer to reach the sandy lake shore! Just as we had reached the shore and pulled over, we discovered that our car wheels had stuck in the shore’s sand! We conveniently forgot about this issue thinking that it wasn’t a major threat! Pangong’s beauty made sure that we did!

    The shore had a beautifully hook shaped portion. (Which we discovered later was one of the spot where a scene of the song “Satrangi Re” from the movie Dil Se was shot). We had the whole shore to ourselves for about 45 minutes! After admiring the beauty for 45 minutes we all unwillingly decided to get back on the road! We were hungry too and due to paagal nallah constraints we were forced to cut short our time with Pangong!

    Gang wandering at Pangong Tso :

    Birds flying :


    fun @ Pangong Tso :

    Colors of Pangong Tso :





    The waves of Pangong Tso :

    Sweeties posing :

    Reflections @ Pangong Tso :


    But very soon we discovered that nature had planned an altogether different excursion for us! Our car wheels had stuck in the sand and though we neglected the whole problem initially it proved out to be a major issue! We tried our best to take the car out of the sand for about 40 minutes but gave up then! We were exhausted after our unintended workout at the highest lake and were also covered with dust with sand reaching remotest of the nooks and corners of our clothes! Unfortunately a Scorpio had followed us to our seashore and had stuck at the spot where we were already stranded! It was an armyman’s car who had come to pangong with his 2 daughters! (who were too young to admire!). After a rest of some 15-20 mins we gave it another try by pulling it out using our second Scorpio which was a 2.6L four wheel drive, but the effort went in vain. Then lands a Pajero with 4 sikhs who were kind enough to repeat the efforts we just now made with the armyman’s car & failed.


    With our water supplies exhausted, we were totally marooned and abandoned! The weather was getting hotter and we were subjected to the brutal temperature fluctuations again! We finally decided to send our other car for army help. Saurabh went with our driver Meharban to look for army assistance!

    We all sat down at Pangong’s shore and started chatting nonchalantly! We were consciously aware of the Paagal nallah time constraint but that did nothing to deter a jubilant feeling that had arisen in our hearts owing to the increase in the time spent at the great lake!

    Relaxing by the time help comes :

    Just when the feeling of foreboding and apprehension had started taking over our jubilant moods, I saw our scorpio in the distance being followed by an army truck! We felt overjoyed and grateful towards the Indian Army as the green truck drew close towards our stranded car!

    But alas!! It wasn’t over yet! Very soon to our utter misfortune we discovered that the army truck also got stuck at a place some 100 meters away from the place our car was stuck! This was catastrophic! The army jawans came to us and asked for our help in rescuing their truck! Trying to get an army truck out of the sand was certainly the last thing we needed! It seemed like nature’s way of mocking at us! Nevertheless, we soon were covered with sand dust once again and were soon left out of breath as we rescued the green truck out of the sand! It had taken everyone to get the truck out of the sand including the females and we hoped desperately that our car would be rescued after that workout! But our pangong adversity continued as the army truck got stuck once again! The army jawans gave up on their truck and decided to get to our car to help it out if the sand!

    The next 45 minutes were the toughest 45 minutes of our trip! The empty stomached bodies got our car out triumphantly in small increments with the help of 5 army jawans! We had finally overthrown the adversity!

    Efforts :

    Inspired by our victory, we tried valiantly to rescue the other stranded car but were soon too breathless to prolong our rescue operations. As my brave group returned after the extra workout I kept the oxygen cylinder handy! Everyone was breathless but fortunately not too breathless to require cylinder’s aid! We decided to take the army-officer and his two daughters to the nearby army camp and drop them off. We had more pressing issues on our minds! It was already 3.15 p.m. And we were already late for crossing paagal nallah! Nevertheless, we decided to give it a shot hoping against hope that we would somehow cross the malicious, unpredictable stream!

    But very soon our hopes received a major setback as we reached paagal nallah and encountered a long queue of cars already waiting to cross the stream! The water-flow was so ferocious that the part of the nallah we witnessed closely resembled an apposite level 3 river rafting rapid! With a scorpio stranded right in the middle of nallah-road intersection, we were forced to think that we would feel really lucky after getting out of this exceptionally chaotic situation! The whole place resembled some sort of a refugee camp! With trapped tourists egging the rescue operators (the local drivers) on and local people accumulating, it truly felt as if we were amidst some high priority rescue operations!

    Trying to pull it out :

    View on the other side of Pagal Nallah :

    And the wild Pagal Nallah :

    After about 20 minutes of unsuccessful attempts, the local drivers seemed quite dejected. The water level and flow had noticeably increased! All we could hear was the thunderous glacial water making its way regally and royally above the highway, mocking sardonically at everyone! Soon when all hope seemed lost, we saw our messiah in the form of an army bulldozer! All the cars paved way for the same! And with every bit of optimism left we started hoping once again that our messiah would get us through!

    It took us couple of minutes to actually conceive what a genius the army guy controlling the bulldozer was! He was cutting alternate streams to mollify the ferocious stream flow! This probably was his routine. But for us, he was a genius putting all fundas of fluid dynamics into practice! After brilliantly soothing the angry stream, he efficiently removed all the boulders brought maliciously on to the road by the agitated stream, which were posing as major obstacles and preventing the crossing. After about 15 minutes of sheer brilliance, he pulled the scorpio out of trouble easily and we felt ourselves cheering and clapping at his efforts with every bit of remaining energy and gusto!

    Everyone got back to the cars, excited about finally crossing the “paagal” form of “paagal nallah”! As our cars lined up to fight their decisive battles, we all felt ourselves shivering with thrill and anticipation! I can still vividly visualize the whole scene where I said “BHAI SAAHAB AB BHI FAUJI JEEP BADI MUSHKIL SE NIKLI HAI”. And then with all the strength we could muster, we yelled in exhilaration, “WE SHALL OVERCOME” as our scorpio viciously overpowered the malevolent “paagal nallah” in one single violent maneuver! We all cried victoriously as people happily applauded our endeavor! Yes! We were unstoppable! That was the highest moment of the trip! For me! For everyone! And perhaps for the cars too! And the memory of my bhajan mandli shouting “WE SHALL OVERCOME” would never ever desert me throughout my life!

    The way back to home (by now Leh had started giving us a feeling of home, as if we used to run run early morning daily & return late to HOME) was fast from here onwards, minimal stoppages, a quick lunch (in fact the first meal of the day at 5:00 PM) & very few clicks.

    Here are some of the clicks on the way back :

    Newly laid Tarmac :

    Grazing :



    Terrain :


    Back home by 9:00 PM we had dinner at nearby restaurant & went to our beds.

    Day 3 Travelogue

    Day 4 Travelogue

    Day 5 Travelogue

    Day 7 Travelogue

    Day 8 Travelogue

    Day 9-10 Travelogue
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2008
  10. Yogesh Sarkar

    Yogesh Sarkar Administrator

    May 18, 2006
    Likes Received:
    New Delhi
    Fantastic stuff, we had done off roading last year at the same stretch where your Scorpio got stuck and even couple of our motorcycles got somewhat stuck there. But two wheels are easier to get out of trouble and the riders themselves got of the situation. You guys should have carried wooden planks or even try and place the floor mat next to the tyre to provide it with enough traction to get tyre.

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