Up, up and away to Ladakh in Jeep Compass 4x4

Mountanimal

Member
I have been an avid follower of the forum since 2012, but was always a bit shy to post my travels. However after this trip, I wanted to contribute to the BCMT, that has immensely helped me in planning my travels all these years. thanks to all of you !

Some teasers to begin with :

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It was in 2010 when I first traversed leh- manali highway with my dear friend in his wagon-R and got stuck on the lonely highway while returning back near lachungla….Our car’s underbelly got hit and as a result there was a leak through the engine sump and gear box got stuck in 2nd gear. It was 4degC outside with cloudy weather. The experience of getting stuck on Leh- Manali still send chills down my spine till today.

Well the adventure in the soul never dies….Since then, I along with my wife have driven through some amazing highlands. Some of the prominent ones were…

Dalhousie – Sach pass in 2012, Shimla -kaza-manali in 2014, Jalori pass in 2016, Chopta- Auli – Badrinath in 2017 & Winter snow drive to Narkanda in 2016

But the craving always remained for Leh and somehow all these trips were preparing us for the “baap” of all trips.

Finally, after the arrival of Jeep compass 4x4 in Jan 2018, Me and my wife starting eyeing Leh. We finally zeroed in the month of June. We started our preparations in Feb. Our top of the agenda was to test drive Jeep and to get acquainted with its capabilities. After talking to kids we finalized a short trip to Sangla. Sangla valley has been our favorite destination since we first visited it in 2008, so much so that we have witnessed all seasons i.e. June, Aug, Sept, Oct, Dec and this time it was the turn of magical March. The Kinnaur road infrastructure has improved considerably over the years but it still throws up few patches of adventure here and there. We returned home fully confident of the Jeep’s maneuverability though were not able to test it's 4x4 capabilities. It took us almost 1 month to be completely ready for the trip and we were good to go by 15th May. Due to lack of snowfall this winter leh- manali was thrown open quite early and we were contemplating to travel via Manali or Srinagar. But since we wanted to cover Kargil- Padum road , we decided in favor of Srinagar route. Our itinerary looked something like this.

Day 1 : Delhi to Udhampur / Patnitop / Batote

Day 2: drive till Sonmarg

Day 3 : Sonamarg till Kargil / Sankoo

Day 4 : drive till Rangdum

Day 5 : Rangdum till Leh

Day 6 : Leh

Day 7: Leh to Nubra

Day 8 : Nubra to Pangong via agham shyok

Day 9 : Pangong to Leh

Day 10 : Leh to Jispa

Day 11 : Jispa to Manali

Day 12 : Manali to Bilaspur

Day 13 : Bilaspur to Delhi

Day 14 : Buffer Day

Yes I know that we were missing out Padum, Hanle and Tso morriri in our plan. But due to shortage of days in hand, we decided to leave them for our next trip. My kids wanted to stay back home due to long drive schedules. Hence it was just Me, My wife and Jeep .

The day arrived. We were up and ready to rock the road at 5:00 am on 26th May.

Things that we packed in addition to the wearables :- 6 nos 2 ltr coke bottles for extra fuel, extra engine oil, xtra air filter, puncture kit, air tyre inflator + one extra, wooden plank, towing ropes – 2, battery wires, shovel, wood for fire, pressure cooker and some stuff for cooking ( just in case), medicines and first aid kit, tons of maggie, Empty steel bottles to fill in spring water ( we ensured that we drink widely available spring water instead of packaged water), camping foldable chairs, walking sticks, sleeping bags, dc-ac converter, blanket, xtra headlight bulbs, shower/toilet tent, mseal, elfi, nylon ropes, electrical tape, duck tapes, plastic sheet, electrical kettle etc.

Jeep's boot was filled upto the brim with above and I had to use my rear seat space to keep our bag of wearables. The space in Jeep is at premium and I wish Jeep had provided some more extra space maybe 100 litres more for such journeys.

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Last edited:

bali amit

Well-Known Member
I have been an avid follower of the forum since 2012, but was always a bit shy to post my travels. However after this trip, I wanted to contribute to the BCMT, that has immensely helped me in planning my travels all these years. thanks to all of you !

Some teasers to begin with :

View attachment 752385
View attachment 752386View attachment 752387View attachment 752388View attachment 752389View attachment 752390

It was in 2010 when I first traversed leh- manali highway with my dear friend in his wagon-R and got stuck on the lonely highway while returning back near lachungla….Our car’s underbelly got hit and as a result there was a leak through the engine sump and gear box got stuck in 2nd gear. It was 4degC outside with cloudy weather. The experience of getting stuck on Leh- Manali still send chills down my spine till today.

Well the adventure in the soul never dies….Since then, I along with my wife have driven through some amazing highlands. Some of the prominent ones were…

Dalhousie – Sach pass in 2012, Shimla -kaza-manali in 2014, Jalori pass in 2016, Chopta- Auli – Badrinath in 2017 & Winter snow drive to Narkanda in 2016

But the craving always remained for Leh and somehow all these trips were preparing us for the “baap” of all trips.

Finally, after the arrival of Jeep compass 4x4 in Jan 2018, Me and my wife starting eyeing Leh. We finally zeroed in the month of June. We started our preparations in Feb. Our top of the agenda was to test drive Jeep and to get acquainted with its capabilities. After talking to kids we finalized a short trip to Sangla. Sangla valley has been our favorite destination since we first visited it in 2008, so much so that we have witnessed all seasons i.e. June, Aug, Sept, Oct, Dec and this time it was the turn of magical March. The Kinnaur road infrastructure has improved considerably over the years but it still throws up few patches of adventure here and there. We returned home fully confident of the Jeep’s maneuverability though were not able to test it's 4x4 capabilities. It took us almost 1 month to be completely ready for the trip and we were good to go by 15th May. Due to lack of snowfall this winter leh- manali was thrown open quite early and we were contemplating to travel via Manali or Srinagar. But since we wanted to cover Kargil- Padum road , we decided in favor of Srinagar route. Our itinerary looked something like this.

Day 1 : Delhi to Udhampur / Patnitop / Batote

Day 2: drive till Sonmarg

Day 3 : Sonamarg till Kargil / Sankoo

Day 4 : drive till Rangdum

Day 5 : Rangdum till Leh

Day 6 : Leh

Day 7: Leh to Nubra

Day 8 : Nubra to Pangong via agham shyok

Day 9 : Pangong to Leh

Day 10 : Leh to Jispa

Day 11 : Jispa to Manali

Day 12 : Manali to Bilaspur

Day 13 : Bilaspur to Delhi

Day 14 : Buffer Day

Yes I know that we were missing out Padum, Hanle and Tso morriri in our plan. But due to shortage of days in hand, we decided to leave them for our next trip. My kids wanted to stay back home due to long drive schedules. Hence it was just Me, My wife and Jeep .

The day arrived. We were up and ready to rock the road at 5:00 am on 26th May.

Things that we packed in addition to the wearables :- 6 nos 2 ltr coke bottles for extra fuel, extra engine oil, xtra air filter, puncture kit, air tyre inflator + one extra, wooden plank, towing ropes – 2, battery wires, shovel, wood for fire, pressure cooker and some stuff for cooking ( just in case), medicines and first aid kit, tons of maggie, Empty steel bottles to fill in spring water ( we ensured that we drink widely available spring water instead of packaged water), camping foldable chairs, walking sticks, sleeping bags, dc-ac converter, blanket, xtra headlight bulbs, shower/toilet tent, mseal, elfi, nylon ropes, electrical tape, duck tapes, plastic sheet, electrical kettle etc.

Jeep's boot was filled upto the brim with above and I had to use my rear seat space to keep our bag of wearables. The space in Jeep is at premium and I wish Jeep had provided some more extra space maybe 100 litres more for such journeys.

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great stuff.......
want more.........
 

gkapoor

Super User
Superb images! You carried your home with you :p Did the cooker come into use?
Waiting for more details.
 

NeerajVayu

Well-Known Member
Wonderful start, amazed to read your preparations part, can't wait for the whole story sir
I think it would be the first t-log on Bcmt done by Jeep compass
 

Mountanimal

Member
Fantastic.
waiting for more

Happy Landing
RT
Thanks

great stuff.......
want more.........
Thanks

Superb images! You carried your home with you :p Did the cooker come into use?
Waiting for more details.
thanks, Nope....I could not use cooker. Infact, I did not use my almost 60% of the stuff, but ...up there.... its " better pack than sorry"

wonderful
Thanks

Wonderful start, amazed to read your preparations part, can't wait for the whole story sir
I think it would be the first t-log on Bcmt done by Jeep compass
Thanks, I guess so.....I will try to capture Jeep's performance to the best of my capability.
 

Mountanimal

Member

Day 1 : 26th May 2018 , Delhi – Ambala – Pathankot – Samba – Mansar Lake – Udhampur – Batote. Total driving duration : 12 hrs.


Departed from home at 5 am with an aim to reach Udhampur for the night halt. The going was pretty fast and in no time we were at Zenith dhaba just before Ludhiana at around 9 am. We had nice parathas for the breakfast. The Dhaba was neat and clean and offered fresh and tasty food. Thereafter again we found traffic unusually low and we could reach samba at around 2 pm. Then Google was suggesting us to turn right after crossing Degh nala and take samba-mansar-udhampur road instead of regular NH44. We wanted to reach udhampur early enough and thought of reaching Banihal for the night halt. We took google’s advice.

Till Mansar, we kept on cursing google for misguiding us. NH44 would have been so much better. Mansar road was full of truck traffic. It was uphill drive till Mansar and the trucks coming downhill were driving insane, probably they were incoming trucks from Srinagar and were rushing downhill to reach their night halt in Pathankot. We had to literally halt at every turn to give them pass…..God! it was scary. But the road condition was ok and not too bad. The scenario changed as we reached Mansar. I wanted to continue but my wife suggested that we should double check our direction and it was such a good decision. We asked a policeman and he confirmed that we are on the right road, but casually also mentioned Mansar lake!! We were already hungry, and it was 2:45 pm. We decided to take a break and eat anything which fills our tummy in 10 mins. We parked our car and started walking towards the lake. We were pleasantly surprised to see such a huge and beautiful water body in the middle of nowhere. This place also had a JKTDC hotel and restaurant. We ordered jammu rajma, mix veg, kashmiri pulav and roti. It was a decent meal. Suddenly this shortcut started making a lot of sense and had we taken NH44 we would have missed this little beautiful lake. We liked it so much that despite all the rush, we ended up staying there for almost 1 hr.

We started again at around 4pm and reached Udhampur at around 4:45 pm. It was then the pain started. The road after udhampur is in such a mess!!. It was crazy and a sudden shock after a day full of fantastic roads. All our dreams of reaching Banihal shattered. We recalculated our timings and decided to at least cross Chennani tunnel and reach Batote. We called up JKTDC dak bunglow and fortunately they had a delux room available. We booked it immediately. The scenery and the weather changed as we crossed Chennani tunnel. It’s a 9.3 kms tunnel and you do feel a little claustrophobic after initial 4-5 kms. As we entered the tunnel the temp was 42 deg C and on the exit, it reduced to 30 deg C. We reached Batote at around 6:30pm and was happy to see the Dak Bunglow location and the room. It had lots of Chinars around it. Batote is a small hamlet on the way to Patnitop from Srinagar side. It is at the altitude of around 1550m and my car was showing outside temp of 26 deg at 6:30pm. Had a nice plate of tea, coffee and pakodas. Went for a short walk across the small little town, bought some groceries, had light dinner and crashed into the bed by 9 pm.

Car performance: Jeep gave 15.4 KMPL till Batote. Impeccable road manners on the highway, it was one of the most sure-footed rides I have ever made on highways. Overtaking was easy with loads of power available at any point of time. Gearing is smooth and steering absolute joy with involving feedbacks. I was not at all tired even after 12 hrs of drive. All in all Jeep was able to put a big smile on my face on day 1 of the trip.

Our Road map covering almost 3000 kms...
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Journey begins at 5 am.

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JKTDC Dak Bungalow :- Batote

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Delux rooms, nestled among chinar trees.

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Mountanimal

Member
Day 2: 27th May 2018, Batote – Srinagar – Sonmarg , Driving duration : 8 hrs

This was a long day and this was the day we took out our DSLR as well. Started early morning at 5:30 am. As we rolled down from Batote, we saw lots of army units patrolling the highway. We could feel the tension in the valley. Rest of the highway till Banihal was extremely boring and worst part of the journey. The road till Banihal was hell!! Lots of dust, potholes, trucks and black fumes…believe me it was nightmare. Not a single dhaba where we felt we could stop and have our breakfast. After Banihal the road improved and we could concentrate on sceneries.

Crossed Jawahar tunnel and reached Titanic point at 9:30 am. Stopped for a back stretch and bought a nice box of fresh strawberries. Strawberries never tasted so good. The highway in the valley till Srinagar is 4 lane and is in very good condition. It was manned by army every 50 mtrs or so and heavily guarded when we crossed it. Reached Srinagar at around 12pm and went straight to Dal lake for a shikara ride. The shikara owner told me that this year lot of tourist have cancelled their reservations and have instead gone to Himachal due to the stone pelting disturbance in April. Next, we visited Nishat garden and truly it was beautiful. Had a brief lunch just outside Nishat garden overlooking the Dal lake and moved ahead to Sonmarg. We decided to halt for the night in Sonmarg. As we approached Sonmarg the scenery started turning alpine and finally could see snowcapped peaks. We kind of liked Sonmarg a lot and decided to check in JKTDC as it had some vegetarian restaurants around it. It started raining at around 5 pm and it was pakoda time. Took a short walk around the area and interacted with locals on various hot burning issues. Next day was going to be a big day…. Finally our adventure will begin tmrw…..with that thought went to sleep.


Car performance: The power of Jeep really came handy today. Jammu – Srinagar highway is so full of truck traffic and broken road and it rarely give you chances for overtaking. Jeep was able to give me more than adequate surge of power required to quickly overtake trucks and fall back in line. The acceleration was amazing. There were no kickbacks from the steering during sharp turns on the broken roads. The only downside was that we felt a lot of thuds and the suspension was just average compared to the Duster that I have driven on similar roads.

Batote at 5:30 am...
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View from Titanic point
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Highway in the valley....
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Jeep parked at Dal lake under my fav Chinar tree..
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Shikara ride in Dal Lake.
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Beautiful Nishat Garden....
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JKTDC Sonmarg
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Mountanimal

Member
Day 3, 28th May 2018, Sonmarg – Drass – Kargil, Driving duration : 6 hrs

BIG Day, Actual journey starts from here. We were having goosebumps in anticipation of what lies ahead. Started at 7:30 am with a thought to climb Zozila nonstop. But bright sun, blue skies, clear views and crisp chill made us halt many times. The views of alpine meadows after sonmarg are majestic. The climb till zozilla was surprisingly easy and fast compared to what I have read in some earlier blogs. Probably because the mud sections were dry when we crossed them. I could imagine how difficult they could become once it rains. We reached Zozilla (3500mtr) at around 10 am. It is certainly not a very high pass but personally I liked it better than Rohtang. We did not feel anything as far as AMS is concerned, but in anticipation we started drinking loads of water. We could spot lots of glacial streams which were being used by locals for drinking water. We filled our stock of spring water and kept drinking almost a litre every hr, it was purity at its best. I think that’s what helped us fight AMS throughout our journey. And yes we could do this as we were carrying a toilet tent!! amazing item specially for my wife.

The scenery changed after Zozila. It was hard to spot trees and landscape changed to a mix of green and shades of brown. At around 11:30 am we reached Drass and stopped to visit Kargil war memorial in the foothill of Tololing hill. We could also view Tiger hill from here. We bowed down and payed our tribute to the braves who laid their lives, so we can sleep peacefully. We saw a 20mins movie on the war and came out with moist eyes and a feeling of gratitude. Had famous samosa and momos in the army canteen and bought some souvenirs for family. Soon we started for Kargil and after 5 mins of run faced a traffic Jam. The villagers had blocked NH as some upcoming retreat near to the village had thrown their waste into the water stream which was supposedly their only source of drinking water. I felt for the villagers and did not mind waiting for the cause. The wait went upto 2 hrs as DC had to come from Kargil and resolved the issue. It delayed our further movement, so while waiting we cancelled our plan to reach Sankoo and instead booked a hotel on Kargil Padum road. I am glad that we did that. Soon after Drass the scenery again changed to rugged brown and we reached kargil without a fuss at around 4:30 pm. We went ahead on kargil – padum road and found this lovely Chhatak hotel on the banks of Saru river. As usual ordered a plate of pakodas -tea- coffee and got lost in the surrounding views during the sunset.

Sonmarg at 7:30 am...
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just after Sonmarg...

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Just before Zozilla....

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At Zozilla...
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Change of landscape after Zozilla...

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Kargil war memorial, Drass.....

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Tiger hill....

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Traffic Jam, just after Drass.
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At Kargil..
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Hotel in Kargil..
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