Day 12-Sarchu to Delhi

Day 12 Sarchu-Delhi 20 June 2011​

To read this travelogue from begining click HERE
Previous day was full of unexpected events due to puncture and we lost whole day due to this disaster.
We could only resume journey around 3.30 pm and managed to reach Sarchu around 7.30 Pm.
Sarchu,a beautiful place,flat place surrounded by tall mountains.
Lots of Dhaba tents,Luxury tents and a liquer shop is also there.
We decided to make this place our night halt and a rented a separate tin shed type room fro 200 bucks.
Even though i had been to 18 K feet at Khardung La Top few days ago,i was still hit by mild AMS at Sarchu.
People are advised not to make Sarchu their stay.Your night stay here may turn very painful.Many other tourists were also complaining of headache.
Next day i.e.today woke up to a beautiful morning with crisp sunlight and clear weather.
But one anxiety is humming in my head,Heap of dead bodies.
Can we cross over this heap???
Thinking about this I resumed my journey towards Khoksar and reached there around 1.30 PM.
Since Rohtang was just stone throw distance,we decided to have our lunch there.It was a very long lunch.2 hrs long.
Assuming that all the honeymooners and vaccationers and other drunk tourists may have disappeared from Rohtang by now,I started my ascent towards Rohtang and worst fear came true.
Rohatng was a living hell waiting for us.
Got stuck there for 3 hrs,Daldal filled road,rain and hundreds of trucks,tourists vehicles.
Welcome to the insane place called Rohtang Pass.
Somehow,reached Marhi and things became somewhat better in terms of road conditions but massive traffic was still there.
Reached Manali,choked city.
We could only come out of Manali after 3 hrs long nightmarish jam.
Time was now around 9 pm and we were on Naggar road heading towards Delhi,our home.
I had already made up my mind to make this a cannon ball run straight to Delhi.No breaks.It is going to be very long drive.
Finally after 15 hours,we were at our home @ Dwarka.
But alas!!!!All other good things come to end.:(

Lachunlung La Pass after Pang

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Day 11-Pang to Sarchu

Day 11 Pang-Sarchu 19 June 2011​

To read this travelogue from begining click HERE
Today is the day of disaster,a day full of troubles.A day which taught me many things.
As usual,we woke up early after spending a home like night in the homestay at Pang.6 AM.
Leh-Manali highway road means many passes,high passes so traffic in the morning is nil,almost nil.
Lachung La was waiting for us just 30 kms ahead of Pang.Lets go.
But as i inched towards Lachunh La,weather appeared to turn ugly increasing my anxiety level.I had already heard a tragic story of family traveling in Ritz being stranded near Lachung La and a girl from this unfortunate family almost died due to AMS.That girl was saved by army guys at Pang after four days of hospitalization.The father of the girl himself told me this tragic story.Later army crane towed his broken car to Pang and loaded it in a truck to be taken to Fazilka in Haryana for 15000 rs.Unfortunate.He said he owed his daughter’s life to Indian military.
Seeing the weather getting worse,i pondered over whether we should keep going ahead towards Lachung La,Pragya insisted on turning back to Pang.I agreed and took a U-turn.
Suddenly i felt a heavyness in left-front wheel and difficulty in maneuveuring the car.I step out the car only to see the tire flat.Tragedy had struck us at that deserted place.:shock:
Snowfall was gaining speed so were our heart pulse rate:(
Time was to act swiftly change the tire and put the jack to lift the car not aware that spare tire is also flat.Tragedy doubled so was our anxiety and fear.
Only option left to fix the puncture as fast as i could.Took out the foot pump to inflate the tyre but wait wait.
Pump betrayed me.:shock:
Leather washer inside the pump had worn out and pump was not unable to pump air into tyre.Tragedy tripled.
What to do??
Only option was to wait for a vehicle from Sarchu side.We kept waiting sitting inside the car in that horrible snowfall.
Wait,wait wait wait.
RVM is not showing any activity/object however few Sumos came from Pang side.But not a single vehicle from Sarchu side.
Suddenly a truck appeared in RVM.I hailed it to stop and requested the driver to give us lift.They were actually two trucks traveling together.
They obliged us and we sat in the truck.I took a punctured tire laced with mud carrying it on my lap hoping a puncture shop at Pang.

But no puncturewala in Pang.Tragedy became fourfold.Alas.Watt lag chuki thi.
Karu Upshi or Sarchu were the nearest places where tires can be fixed.
Dhaba lady advised us to talk to TCP military post.They agreed to help me an filled the air in punctured and fixed the puncture with the puncture kit i was carrying.
All this circus took 8 hrs to end and around 4 pm,we were finally out of trouble.Credit goes to friendly army transit guys.They fixed the tire,treated me a with a glassful of coffee and also offered me a phone call.I was overwhelmed.
Three cheers to Indian Soldiers.:)

Total distance Covered today is 75 Kms between Pang and Sarchu.

Weather was bad at Pang at Morning

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Day 10-Pangong to Pang

Day 10 Pangong to Pang 18 June 2011​

To read this travelogue from Begining click HERE
We are at Pangong lake and it is tenth day of our journey.Zanskar,Leh,Nubra and finally Pangong lake,we had seen all.Our sightseeing in Ladakh is over on this day.
This is the day when our return journey to home started.Pangong-Changla-Karu and then famous Leh-Manali highway.
There is still lot more thrilling driving remains for me.Many more places to be seen.Many more passes to be crossed.
Left Pangong early morning as usual.It was drizzling whole night and we had to sleep in the leaking tent.It was a very nice feeling being there in that beautiful wilderness.
Our solitary car was running on that rugged mountainous road listening a bollywood number was a different experience.
Pangong stay was very exciting for all of us.Kids had a great time at the shore of lake.
After 9 hours of driving we saw a milestone which read T-la.Our first high pass on Leh-Manali highway.
17000 feet.
After a very steep ascent and numerous water crossings on broken road,we were at T-la.A very windy cold and deserted pass.We did not spend much time there,less then one minute because of its hight.It was an eerie felling at the T-top being alone there.It was quite opposite to its another counterpart K-top, which is very touristy and full of tourist crowd.
I hurriedly came out of the car and took 3-4 quick photos and drove ahead on the descent which would take me another enchanting geographical feature of this highway.
Moorey Planes.
Next few hours would be very exciting for us.
Moorey planes,what a place it was.Planes started near a place called Rumtse.A place where high velocity winds welcomes you.
Roads through planes was under construction so we had drive on the kutcha roads full of sand courtesy trucks.
At debring,i mistook a tarred road thinking it would take me to Pang.I was wrong.Totally wrong.Result we were lost.Perplexed,frightened and shaken me.I could not afford to be stranded here with kids.No a single human figure was there to guide us.I kept driving hoping to find a sighn board to have an idea where this road is going.Suddenly appears a big,a very big lake unknown to me.What a sight.A kind of discovery for us.But i was still puzzled and did not where we were?Only option was to keep driving to find someone and ask him the directions.Luckily found two Sumos parked with drivers and guides.They were setting a tent for some visitors.My conversation with Sumo drivers–
Me-” Bhai saab,yeh rasta Pang ja raha hai?
Driver-“Nahi”(his reply was blow to me)
Me-“To fir kahan ja raha hai yeh rasta?
Driver-“Tso Moriri”(i am totally dumbfounded at this moment)
Me-“bhai saab hume toh Pang jana hai,kahan se jaye?”
Driver-“issi road pe vapas peeche jao aur Military post (Debring) se doosra rasta pakad lo”
Me-“Shukriya.Yeh kaun si jagah hai?
Driver-Tso kar.( i was surprised to hear that i had accidently visited Tso kar).
Took a U turn and came back to Debring and found some labourers and confirmed which way to Pang.Labourers told me that lots of people lost their way and took road to Tso kar due to absence of a sighn board and confusing diversions due to road construction.
Finally we were on our way to Pang after one wasted hour and some off-roading on those vast plane,an illusion called Moorey Planes.Reached Pang and instantly check into a home-cum dhaba cum hotel run by two ladies.They offered us a seperate tent but we chose to stay in common place because it had a Tata sky and kids were enjoying their favorite programmes after many days.Stay at Pang was a good experience but a disaster was in making

 Route-Pangong – Changla (95 km)-Karu (35 kms)-Upshi(15 kms)-Pang (130 kms)=275 kms Approx

MorningPangong

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Day 7/8/9-Sankoo-Leh-Nubra-Pangong

Day7,8,&9- Sankoo-Leh-Panamik-Pangong​

To read this travelogue from begining click HERE

It was sixth day since we left our home to see the haeven called Zanskar valley.
On the Seventh day started our Leh invasion.Leh, we are coming.
As a habit,we checked out of Sankoo JK bungalow at 5 am and proceeded towards Kargil,then Lamyaru,then Leh.
Even though we are still in remotest Ladakh region but i could still feel the difference between Zanskar and Ladakh.
Former is devoid of any kind of noise,pure calmness takes over your whole persona in Zanskar.
As soon as I rejoined the Leh highway after Kargil,mad rush of taxis,trucks,motorcycles, pik ups welcomed us.
Our Zanskar dream was over.
Will Leh proved its reputation?That was the question.
On 7th day,on Leh highway,I was able to call my home that we all are ok and tell my brother not ot expect any call from me for atleast one week.
Leh,very croweded with delhi type traffic problems.Not a single inch to park your car.Cops dont let you stay on road for a second.
Found a parking lot and parked my car and book a room in Paul Guest House.700/rs.No room service.Disappointed.
Next day was permit day and same was issued for a fees of 320 rs.Permits had Nubra,Panamik,Spangmik,Pangong written on it.
Kids were insisting for a Pizza for last few days.Leh was the place to fulfill their long pending demand.A rooftop restaurant opposit SBI ATM served a delicious Pizza and kids had a wonderful day.
It was only around 1 pm,we were able to leave for Nubra.
All excited.After we were going to cross legendary K-TOP.Khardungla Top.18000 feet. Thank almighty,we all are fit and fine and kids are raring to play in snow at K-TOP.

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Day 6 Padum-Sankoo

Day6 Padum-Sankoo 14 June 2011

To read this travelogue from begining click HERE
It took us 5 days to reach Padum,capital city of Zanskar,a place hidden deep inside the mountains,located conviniently in a vast open valley which receives sunlight whole day..

Padum is approximately 235 kms south of Kargil and can only be accessed by the sole no road called Kargil-Padum road.
We crossed Sankoo,Panikhar,Parachick,RangdumPenji La,very few nondescript village en route and finally reached Padum.
This day is 6th day since we left our home.
Question is,can we get out of this Shangri La and reache Kargil in one day??
I calculated the driving hours from Kargil to Padum.
It was 24 hours,including hundreds of photo breaks,a very sedate sensible fearful pace on unknown road,two picnic breaks,water crossing break,convesrsation with Zanskari people etc.
Impossible to get out of this place and reach Main Kargil-Leh highway.
If i make hurry i may jeoparadize the whole journey,my hastiness may render my already abused car undrivable.
It is near impossible to repair to car here in Padum where only puncturwalah can not ment a tubeless tire.
It is true,Padum has a puncture repair.I went to his shop to fix the puncture.He was unable to that.He had no tubeless repair kit.
Padum also has a buzzing market with two cyber cafes(not working durung my visit),various hotels,big general stores.Entire Zanskar region come here for shopping..
Public Schools are also here and yellow buses ferry students.
I saw few maruti vans,Santros,Altos owned by residents of Padum.I wondered how they arrange petrol for their vehicles.Nearest petrol pump 250 kms away in Kargil.
Lets begin our journey back.No terget set.Decided to do only mandatory shooting as i had already clicked extensive amount of images.Idea was to reach as near to Kargil as we can.
But before that,a quick dash towards Zangla,towards the legendary in making Chader road. A dream for entire Zanskari folks.
Once completed,Padum-Leh will be linked directly.
No need to trek 60 kms,no need to drive 500 kms to reach Leh.
This new road runs parallelly to famous CHADER TREK hence called Chader Road.
Guys,keeps your finger crossed,a new drive/ride circuit is coming up.
An entire new road to reach Leh,through Padum,through Rangdum, through Penji La,through heaven.
Ok,i am driving towards Zangla,30 kms from Padum.Means,i need 2 hours to go and come back.It is already 8.30 am.Not a good idea to visit Zangla so took a u-turn and come back to Padum and proceeded towards back to Penji La.
Before that,get the food supply for next 110 kms of total wilderness.
Halwai shop is there in Padum.
I got Baingan ki sabji and 10 rotis packed for return journey.Water bottle filled,biscuits and glucose for kids we resumed our journey towards Penji La.
Would we be able to make it to Kargil today?Would we have to stay again at Rangdum today?Those notions in my mind,i kept driving on no road of Zanskar valley.
Finally around 8.15 pm,we were near Sankoo.Darkness has descended on the surroundings,moon was shining bright over the snow clad mountains,clouds were playing Hide and Seek with moons.It was a sight to remember.
I asked Pragya,should we keep driving towards Kargil or halt at Sankoo.Answer was,Sankoo.Here comes the gate of Sankoo JK,Tourist bungalow.I parked my car inside the bungalow parking.

Total Distance covered-Padum to Sankoo 190 kms approx

Buddhism is paramount in Zanskar

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Day 5 Rangdum-Padum

Day5 Rangdum-Padum 13 June 2011

To read this travelogue from begining click HERE​

Previous day,reached at Rangdum after back breaking 135 kms complete off road driving and straightway went to the only open dhaba of Dorji near Police check post.I asked him whether any cops inside Chowki??
He said yes.I knocked at the door of police post and Mr Mohammed Ali opened the door and registered my details.I enquired about caretaker of JK bunglaw and spot book a room.Dhaba owner was also offering me a home stay in his own house for 300 bucks but i preferred JK bungalow.Once the accommodation issue sorted out,it was time to enjoy the surroundings and have some conversation with the locals to know how they spent their winter months.Soon darkness descend on the village, only thing shining was the moon on the horizon.Very cold,so remained inside the room and prepared Dal-Chawal on our stove and retired for the day.
Next morning i.e.today.Woke up and saw awe inspiring golden mountains bathed in the sunlight.Let the camera do its job and this is what my camera saw.

Morning tea at Dorji Dhaba

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Day 4 Kargil-Rangdum 12

Day4 Kargil -Rangdum 12 june 2011

To click this travelogue from begining click HERE


Today is the day to venture into unknown territory of Suru/Zanskar valley.A city car,two little kids,no underbelly protection for car and a dirt track of 240 kms lies ahead.Can we do it?
I had already purchased two 10 liters plastic cans from Sirhind in Punjab,a kerosene stove,food,vegetables to prepare meal en route.Car tank full with 20 liters in reserve,we were ready to invade Kargil-Padum road.Excitement was clearly visible on our face.
Car is now cruising at Kargil -Padum,a fresh black runway.A pleasant surprise.In no time we were at Sankoo,first big town of Suru valley.Purchased 6 bananas(70 rs/dozen).Fruits are very expensive in this part.
For me,real journey has just started and fertile green Suru valley is all mine.I was literally living my long cherished dream.Could not believe that i was in some of the remotest places of India.
A blessed man.I was really feeling myself blessed being in Suru Valley with my most loved ones.
Pragya was also having her day and surprised to see lush green beauty all around.Farmlands were covered with the wheat crops,Suru river flowing perpetually with us and snowy mountains.We were in paradise.A nomadic journey for me which i like most.Being on the road is what i like most and it is happening now.Wow!!

Wild Rose called Sia

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Day 3 Srinagar-Kargil

 Srinagar to Kargil 11 June 2011

To read this travelogue from begining click HERE
Shooting Dal lake at morning was very satisfying.Lots of local people were jogging near Dal lake.I did not dare to shot their portraits for obvious reasons.As we progressed,scenery changed from urban concrete to grassland.This grassland is world famous Sonmarg.What a place to hang around and soak in the beauty of this enchanting place.Lots of shops,ponywallahs,hotels.A perfect place to unwind yourself just before the dreadful Satan called Zozila.No doubt Sonmarg is heaven but Hell is also lurking just around corner.But thanks to JK police and army,there is traffic regulation and only one side traffic is allowed.Wait was 3 hours long.Finally we were allowed to go ahead and after some tense moments i some how crossed the Zozila pass.This was the first hurdle since we started from Delhi.Did not know many more Satans were waiting for us.
 
Indus River en route Sonmarg
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Day 1/2 Del-Srinagar

Prologue​

To read this story from begining click HERE

Zanskar was the main point of discussion between me and my better half Pragya for last three months.Idea was to see Zanskar valley in Sepetember aas Photography is best done in September in Zanskar and Ladak.Visiting Zanskar with kids in a non SUV vehicle was also a challenge for me.Very little info about road condition and stay is available.
On one fine day,my patience ran out and i broke the news to Pragya that we are visiting Zanskar in June itself and she has two days for preparation.Bewildered she was hearing that.29th May was the date i broke that news.It mean we will embark on our journey on 1st june.She will take care of packing and I will take care of Car preparation.She asked me the reason behind pre-poning the Trip.I replied that Sep is exam month in our school and Harshita and Utkarsh would be also appearing for their 1st term exam in their respective school and we at least need 15 day to cover Ladakh and Zanskar.Getting 15 days leaves may be difficult for all of us.Since it is June and whole family is enjoying Summer vaccation at home,why not utilise this opportunity.No need to apply for leaves. On 31st May,a call from my mother-in law.She is coming to stay with us for few days.However this delay proved to be a blessing in disguise later.

Day1 Del-Jammu 9TH June 2011​

Trip was postponed for a week and.Mother-in Law returned and on 9 th June we left for our destination.Destination was either Pathankot or Jammu.Amit Dhull was talking with me and navigating throughout the journey and offered us an accomoadation in Pathankot as he had worked there for two years and was quite familiar with the city.But I decided to stay at Outskirt of Jammu.
No photography on day1

Day 2 Jammu-Srinagar 10th June 2011.​

Next day left early for and could only reached Srinagar around 8.30 PM due to long army conveys.We were stopped frequently by army guys to let pass army stallions.Found Hotel Taj near Lal cowk for 500 INR. Visited Dal lake in night and surprised to see huge army presence.City was flooded with tourists from each corner of country.
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Ladakh 2011 Teaser

A long cherished childhood dream finally came true.
Friends,Let me presen before you our family Zanskar and Ladakh story.This blog is account of my first ever Ladakh journey which I undertake with my wife Pragya,6 years old daughter Harshita,4 years old son Utkarsh.Journey date was 12 June 2011 to 22 June and we started from our home from Delhi.Our Day wise route plan was-

Day1 Delhi-Samba

Day 2 Samba-Srinagar

Day 3 Srinagar-Sonmarg-Zozila Pass-Drass-Kargil

Day 4 Kargil-Sankoo-Panikhar-Prakachik-Rangdum

Day 5 Rangdum-Penzi La-Padum

Day 6 Padum-Sankoo

Day 7 Sankoo-Kargil-Lamayuru-Nimmu-Leh

Day 8-Leh-Khardung La-Nubra valley

Day 9 Nubra Valley-Leh

Day 10 Leh-Pangong Tso Lake

Day 11 Pangong-Pang

Day 12 Pang-Sarchu

Day 13 Sarchu-Darcha-Keylong-Rohtang -Manali-Delhi

Hope you will enjoy the story and leave a comment.

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