Ladakh- More about the journey than the destination- Part 1

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Ladakh- More about the journey than the destination- Part 1

Postby SunilDhir » Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:36 am

My father used to go to Ladakh since 1990's when I was a little kid. Sometimes, his trips were by road in fully loaded trucks which he used accompany as he had business there. Back then, roads were usually accessible in mid-June or late June and were done with by mid August sometimes. As the machinery used to clear the road was not Hi-Tech and for traders it was always about reaching Leh as early as possible, so that their product has the highest value in the market.

I used to listen to his stories and had always wondered about his journeys, thinking someday, I'll be able to do them myself. And add to that, when I saw the video for the song 'Garaj Baras' from that forgetful movie 'PAAP' (Stupid movie- but awesome video- do check it on youtube), I made a promise to myself, that I would do someday drive to this fascinating place.

So...Finally after 3 months of planning and deliberation, I was able to make all the arrangement, got my car thoroughly checked and decided upon the route, so I could cover everything possible by road in the time I had. My father had always said that Ladakh is more about the journey than the destination., so for me, the plan was all about the road and with only 1 day of rest with 12 days of travel. Regretfully, we had to leave Hanle outof the plan, as I could not fit it into my schedule since the boss took out 2 days from my original 15 day plan, but anyways, I will do it one day.

On our way up to Leh, we decided to take the Delhi-Ludhiana-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh route and while coming back thought of coming via Manali as this was we could enjoy both the routes. Also, with a few days we had in Ladakh, we planned to cover Nubra via Khardungla, Pangong Tso via Agham-Shyok and Tso Moriri via Chushul, Nyoma and Chumthang (all the possible off the way routes.

Going on, with the journey details, I will not bore you with every second's detail but will try and highlight the day's special whatever it was.

DAY 1- Left from Delhi at night as schedule was tight. Stopped at 'Gulshan Ka Dhaba' in Murthal for snacks. I rate it higher than 'Sukhdev' because of the food. 'Sukhdev' used to be better, but now it's all about glitter. Not a roadies place anymore.

Break at Gulshan.JPG
Gulshan Ka Dhaba
Break at Gulshan.JPG (136.32 KiB) Viewed 469 times


Day 2- From Ludhiana to Jammu is an amazing drive through the Punjab countryside. Amazing food, no matter even if you stop at the ugliest looking dhaba, the food would be awesome for sure. When you enter, J&K, do try the 'Daal ke Bade' at Lakhanpur. Spicy and mouth-watering.
Also, fuel keeps on getting costlier as you move closer to Leh, so fill up as much as you can in Punjab.

Day 3- Road from Jammu till Udhampur is a roadies's dream ;).

Udhampur road.JPG
The road was terrific
Udhampur road.JPG (65.01 KiB) Viewed 469 times


From Udhampur to Srinagar was a nightmare :evil: .

Hours long jam at srinagar road (2).JPG
Long- Irritating Jams on the road
Hours long jam at srinagar road (2).JPG (170.01 KiB) Viewed 469 times


Took us 9 hours for 180 kms as the entire road is under construction. Hopefully, once it is done, it would be an amazing drive in itself, but pathetic for the time being.. Advice: Do try the Jammu- Rajouri-Srinagar route as lot of people have recommended it being more scenic and has less traffic.
The traffic on Udhampur-Srinagar route was damn irritating and too much. The truck drivers from Kashmir Valley had absolutely no sense of driving and were always in a hurry even if they kill someone. May be it was because of the fruit in their trucks, which they were in a hurry to get to the Delhi Markets or they simply didn't care, but they had such an effect, that by the time I reached Srinagar, heck I was driving as recklessly as them.

Finally at Srinagar.JPG
Reached late at night.
Finally at Srinagar.JPG (67.21 KiB) Viewed 469 times


So, we reached very late at about 9.00 pm and missed on local sightseeing- but didn't care all that much. Adding insult to injury, the hotelier said that there was no food available as the head chef's mother had passed away, so we would have to arrange it ourselves. It was pathetic, but I roamed around the city of Srinagar at 10.00 pm and finally got some 'Shawarmas' for myself and fries rice for my wife.

Day 4 Real journey started today as I had come by road to Srinagar earlier also but was crossing it for the first time. Road is good all along the way, barring the 7-8 kms prior to Zoji and again as an advice, do take out couple of hours for Sonamarg as it is very beautiful place.

Sonamarg.JPG
The beautiful Sonamarg
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After Zoji, the road is good, apart from a few sections all the way till Kargil, though the scenery changes dramatically. Till Sonamarg, it was all green and trees and after that it's all barren. There are some oasis in between which look heavenly amongst the back-drop. Kargil is nice little town at about 2700 meters, so we were getting acclimatized to altitude in an orderly fashion. Enroute, we did stop at the Kargil Memorial to bow in the honor of the departed heroes. Looking at the Tololing top does give you the chill, knowing how close the enemy had come.

Tololing in the background. There was a Pakistani bunker at its top.JPG
This is how close they were to the Highway
Tololing in the background. There was a Pakistani bunker at its top.JPG (168.54 KiB) Viewed 469 times


One who died for the motherland.JPG
Kargil Memorial
One who died for the motherland.JPG (213.09 KiB) Viewed 469 times


I had to give a passage just to Zoji la It is something beyond description. A tight, narrow, broken, no side-rail road on a sharp pebbled mountain which is all black is something which can't be explained. It was scary to stand close to the edge as you could see a 1000 meter drop. The only color on the mountain is the sad looking black/grey and a dirt road. I had heard the stories of this road from my father, but seeing it first hand was simply an out of the world experience.

At the back you can see the Zoji Pass.JPG
See the road..
At the back you can see the Zoji Pass.JPG (229.9 KiB) Viewed 469 times


Call it luck, that we were guided on the old Zoji road by an army-man, since the new road was closed for army traffic and if you are an adventurer as I am, this road is what you need. The 30-35 degree slop and tight road good enough for just one vehicle, the adrenaline in your body shoots through the roof and once you reach the top, you feel like you have entered heaven after a hard effort.

I have so many pics and videos of the Top, but Dheeraj has put up a limit to what you can show..grrrr... :evil:

At the top.
On Zoji Top.JPG
Final reached and was worth it
On Zoji Top.JPG (216.81 KiB) Viewed 469 times


Reaching the Kargil Side of the pass.JPG
Crossed the pass, now on to the Ladakh side
Reaching the Kargil Side of the pass.JPG (190.95 KiB) Viewed 469 times


The Zoji top stops any moisture laden clouds to cross to the other side, so whatever greenery is there, is before the top. Afterwards, it is limited only to small portions of land surrounding a water body, everything else is just bare sand.

Day 4 Drive from Kargil to Leh was pretty much fun with breathtaking scenery scattered all through the way. Magnetic Hill, Pathar Sahib and Lamayru are few good stops that we took. But overall an average day when compared to the rest of the journey. 8-)

Fotu La.JPG
Highest Point on Srinagar- Leh Road
Fotu La.JPG (144.8 KiB) Viewed 469 times


Magnetic Hill.JPG
The famous Magnetic Hill
Magnetic Hill.JPG (164.76 KiB) Viewed 469 times


Day 5 Local sightseeing for Leh. Visited a few places, even though I wan't that much interested as it was honestly my only rest day in the 13 day trip, so I was more interested in resting. But with a pushy wife around, you can't have an idle day, so did see a few local places.

Leh Gompa.JPG
The Main Gompa at Leh
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Hall of Fame Memorial.JPG
Leh Memorial- 1962 war
Hall of Fame Memorial.JPG (132.84 KiB) Viewed 469 times


Shanti Stupa.JPG
Leh Shanti Stupa- Has a good view of the city
Shanti Stupa.JPG (135.29 KiB) Viewed 469 times


I was more concerned and excited about the rest of my journey as the really-real part was about to start...
Sunil Dhir
"If you don't have a passion worth dying for, then you don't have a life worth living for"
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Re: Ladakh- More about the journey than the destination- Par

Postby Capttyagi » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:29 pm

Good start Sunil.
Can still see the ribbon on your Ecosport(correct??). Is it new vehicle?
We are also eager to hear the rest of your journey. Let it come.
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Re: Ladakh- More about the journey than the destination- Par

Postby SunilDhir » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:48 pm

Yep you're right...it had 2.5K on the meter before I went..Now it reads 8K. So not new anymore...and the Ribbin's off too ;)
Sunil Dhir
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Re: Ladakh- More about the journey than the destination- Par

Postby SunilDhir » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:45 am

Yep that's right Sir..It was new when we went..Can't say the same now ;) . Have put on another 7k on the meter..
And by the way, ribbon has come off.... :D
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Re: Ladakh- More about the journey than the destination- Par

Postby yadavpreetrai » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:36 am

Great start to awesome tale.
It's always feel refreshing to read each and every tale of ladakh. Bring it on sunil
WE TRAVEL NOT TO ESCAPE LIFE, BUT FOR LIFE NOT TO ESCAPE US.
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