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Ladakh-June'2014: Full Circuit ->Zojilla-Suru/Zanskar-Leh-Turtuk-Pangong-Hanle-Tso Moriri-Rohtang

Discussion in 'Travelogues & Experiences' started by VahanPujari, Sep 6, 2014.

  1. VahanPujari

    VahanPujari Staff Member Janitor

    Day 7, 18th June'14:

    Me & my Nephew went for getting the car check up while my Bro & BIL rested at hotel.

    Checked the car thoroughly especially underbody & fluid levels. Nothing. No issues. Got the car washed out also.

    Reached back hotel at about 3 pm, had lunch and visited Leh Palace, Castle Tsemo, Spituk Gompa by evening and went to Shanti Stupa in late evening. It looks extremely nice in the night with the lighting is ON.

    Could not do Leh Gompa Tour as there was not enough time. But reserved it for the half-day which will be available when we come back to Leh from Turtuk 2 days later. This was possible as we altered our original plan which was to leave Turtuk at 4 am and reach Pangong via Wari La by 5-6 pm. But we decided to come back to Leh which will enable some rest rather than hectic rush and also Gompa tour.

    Also got the permit for Chushul – Tsaga La – Hanle from Leh DM office thro’ the hotel guy.

    Now why permit required when it has got abolished from this year? Well, Chushul is a sensitive region (the entire route going parallel to China border which is only 4-5 kms away at certain places) and it still requires the permit. In fact, since last 2 years they are not allowing tourists to travel to Chushul or thro' it's road. There are 2 challenges:

    1. To get Chushul permit from Leh DC office: Since last 2 years they are not giving it in 99% of cases except some exceptions.
    2. Even if you have got the permit, Army does not allow you to pass through.
    However, it's one of the most beautiful & coveted (as it's challenging) route - the route Pangong - Chushul runs parallel to the Pangong Lake for 30-35 kms, is very very scenic & I was desperate to get all permissions. Therefore, I had dug up some contacts with some recommendation letters et al.

    So, I was surprised that our hotel guy managed to get permit & the 1st part was solved.

    More on that later when we come to that part. For now, let's see what Leh has got in store for us :)

    The Leh Palace....

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    The view of Leh city from the Leh Palace

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    From Leh Palace - Castle Tsemo visible in the backdrop on the hill


    View of Leh from Castle Tsemo....

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    Spituk Gompa....

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    On the way back to Leh town from Spituk Gompa

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    Somewhere in Leh bazaar....

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  2. VahanPujari

    VahanPujari Staff Member Janitor

    ....contd....Day 7:

    Shanti Stupa:

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    Leh...lighting in full glory !


    Without Tripod, a burr in a night time photo is hard to avoid.....


    Next Day was going to be the climb to THE Khardung La followed by Nubra valley till Turtuk, the last (actually the 2nd last) Indian village that civilians can go to towards PoK border.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2014
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  3. VahanPujari

    VahanPujari Staff Member Janitor

    Day 8, 19th June'14:

    Left Leh at 7-7.30 am. Visited following on the way….

    • Khardung La – Road on 15 kms on either side of Khardung La is bad
    • Diskit – arrow-straight road thro’ valley just before Diskit & then visited Diskit Gompa
    • Hunder Sand Dunes, saw the double-hump bacterian camels. Checked for army canteen serving Dosa’s and were told that it’s closed and only item available is “Jalebi’s” !! Saw a canteen 5-7 kms after Hunder on LHS named something like “Veersa Dosa” but by that time we had our snacks and were getting late for Turtuk, so decided that we’ll have Dosa’s here in the return journey next day.
    • Thoise Airfield – saw it from the road
    Turtuk is a nice little quaint Baltistani village. The camp guys provided a guided tour of Turtuk village which is located on a hill. Saw the natural refrigerator by natural rock formations. Saw K2 peak also!

    Little did we know that the simpler return journey to Leh next day will be quite dramatic!

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    Roads designing the mountains !!


    Khardung La Top !!

    Don't go by the altitude mentioned - 18380 ft. The GPS shows it to be about 17,800 ft

    Since Marismik La is at a higher altitude than Khardung La, they've now tagged Khardung La as "The highest motorable road in the world" and Marismik La as "The highest motorable Pass in the world".

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    Views from Khardung La Top....

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    The Nubra Valley starts....

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    Last edited: Sep 15, 2014
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  4. VahanPujari

    VahanPujari Staff Member Janitor

    ....contd....Day 8:

    Arrow-straight road again :D just before Diskit. This time it's right in the Valley !

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    Diskit Gompa


    This spot at Hunder Sand Dunes reminded me of Switzerland!
    But, here the stream flows right in the desert

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  5. VahanPujari

    VahanPujari Staff Member Janitor

    ....contd....Day 8:


    The road ahead goes to PoK !

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    Views of the Himalayan peaks from Turtuk few of which are in PoK !

    We stayed at Turtuk Holiday Camp. From there we had to climb a hill to reach the village.

    On the way to the climb to the village....

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    Strolling in the Turtuk village lanes

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    The famous K2 peak (in PoK)

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    The doors and windows you can see are of something called "natural refrigerators". When you pass thro' that narrow passage, you can feel chilling air filtering out. They store their milk-made items & other stuff in these "refrigerators". The phenomena may be due to the filtration of air thro' narrow crevices/ slits within the huge natural rocks/ stones inside.

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    Turtuk is a nice little quaint village. There are 3 more indian villages after Turtuk before the PoK border. However, the last 2 villages are out of bounds for civilian tourists as the check post at the 1st village do not allow to go past. If you've a village roots and if you're short on time in Ladakh drive & if you're looking at squeezing in a day skipping a destination, may be you can look at skipping Turtuk as an option. One can do Leh-Khardung La-Hunder Sand Dunes-Leh as a day-trip, if really short on time.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2014
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  6. VahanPujari

    VahanPujari Staff Member Janitor

    Day 9, 20th June'14:

    Left Turtuk at 7 am and were at Bogdang village by 7.30 am only to be told that the School Children have blocked the road in the protest of having insufficient teachers in the school. The local supply pick up van driver who was coming back from the barriers told us that “4 baje tak nahi khulne wala”. A group of 40-50 School children (half of them are girls) completely blocked the road as a protest. After much difficulties, they allowed 2 Army trucks which were ahead us to pass but never allowed civilians to pass. We were the first car there at that time and then slowly the Q of vehicles began forming on both sides of the barriers.

    This went on and on and there were talks that till the time solution is not reached, the blockades won’t be removed. I started thinking about alternative options to stay back and go to Pangong directly next day early, or we can leave only in night when nobody was there etc etc. Did back calculations and estimated that even if we’re released by 4.30 pm, we can climb Khardung La in daylight and reach Leh by night.

    This went on for 7 hours & finally we could leave only by 2.45 pm! Dosa Cancelled, Leh Gompa tour cancelled….. With a sigh of relief, we just gunned to reach Leh so that our overall schedule is not disturbed. Reached Leh at 10 pm & went straight to the hotel we stayed earlier.

    Next day would be the sight of the Magnificent Pangong Tso.

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    The shining purple rocks

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    The Hunder Sand Dunes


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    Last edited: Sep 15, 2014
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  7. VahanPujari

    VahanPujari Staff Member Janitor

    Day 10, 21st June'14:

    Left at 6.30 – 7 am. Tanked up the fuel and also got 2 cans of 20 ltrs each filled as from hereon starts 800-850 kms circuit which is a blackhole (no mobile connectivity except Karu & Hanle) & there are no fuel pumps.

    A feedback….eventhough the permits are not needed now, few Check Posts are asking about a self-declaration form. Few of them allows without this form, noting down our details in a register whereas Sakti/Zingral CP & Tangste CP insisted on having form filled and submitted and in return they give a serial number against which they would check when you come back on the same road. Get photocopies of such self declaration forms either from Leh or from Sakti. We didn’t have one but got it from a taxi driver.

    Shey Monastery, Shey Palace & Thiksey Gompa (part of the Gompa tour that we planned but could not do previous day or earlier from Leh) were enroute. Had to be content with clicking pics from far on the road :(

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    What an amazing formation of the mountain! Purple stripes! Where else can we find such a rare natural formation!


    The Famous "Z" loop......

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    Just before Chang La top, we encountered our first snow-fall of the drive!! We freaked out in snow-fall amidst amazing landscapes.

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    The Chang La top.....
    The Army canteen here serves complementary tea. We skipped it as we already spent some time at top at high altitude and wouldn't want AMS to hit any of us

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    The snow is still falling, albeit less now
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  8. VahanPujari

    VahanPujari Staff Member Janitor

    ......contd....Day 10: THE PANGONG DAY !

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    On the way to Pangong, we also stopped by another lake called Chagar Tso.


    Here cometh the Pangong...The First view !

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    We would have reached Pangong somewhere around 2 pm and went straight to the Hotel J & K Tourism. It’s located between Lukung and Spangimik on an incline of a hill exactly in front of “Om” beach like tourist-spot on Pangong Lake where Idiots film was shooted (so says the caretaker). The wooden huts/ cottages face the magnificent Pangong Lake.

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    The Hotel where we stayed....


    View from our room.....


    Outside the Hotel....

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  9. VahanPujari

    VahanPujari Staff Member Janitor

    .....contd....Day 10:

    No words are enough for the beauty of Pangong Lake. It changes color every hour, guess it depends on a combination of sunlight thro’ clouds, depth, surface beneath the lake etc etc. We really freaked out there from 3.30 to 6 pm….. Let the pictures do the talking!

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  10. VahanPujari

    VahanPujari Staff Member Janitor

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    The night was freezing cold again like Rangdum with chilly wind blowing. Went thro’ the same rituals of covering car engine / bonnet to keep it warm though it may not have been required as suggested by the hotel guys.

    Next day would be the magnificent 40 kms drive on the banks of Pangong which is also challenging & uncertain whether we’ll be allowed to pass thro’ Chushul or not.
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