Discussion in 'Travelogues & Experiences' started by VahanPujari, Sep 6, 2014.
Great, just glued to this travelogue
Day 11, 22nd June'14:
So finally came to the route that I so wanted to travel thro'. One of the most beautiful as well as challenging routes.
Pangong - Maan - Merak - Chushul - Tsaga La - Loma - Hanle
Why beautiful? - On this route, you drive on the banks of Pangong Lake for almost 30-35 kms
Why Challenging? - 2 reasons...1) there is no road or route, you can only hope that there are tracks left by Army trucks & 2) in all probabilities, you won't be allowed to pass thro' this route.
If the route was so challenging & beautiful, the preparations were so tough & required equally hard work/ efforts. While preparing, I activated all contacts whatever I can. I even got a hard copy of recommendation letter to allow us to travel thro'. As it goes with my thinking, I also had activated another contact to fall back on from whom I had to collect letter or calls to all concerned when I reach Leh. Unfortunately, that could not happen. So, even-though the preparation was enough, but since it was not 200%, there was quite a bit of a uncertainty and hence challenge. Hence, felt excited to start the Day 11. Let's start Day 11 journey, a journey of a life-time....!!
Nothing beats drive on the banks of Pangong. Again, you just can’t drive thro’ here in a haste. The magnificent views will force to you stop frequently! And if the views are magnificent, the road is challenging. In fact, there is no road at all. There are just tracks full of either rocks/ stones or powdery soil or water streams so on and so forth. You are all alone, not a soul in sight. We crossed only one army truck on the way. No other vehicle. Before leaving, we asked a taxi guy at Spangimik on road conditions, he replied positively and gave us regn no. of an Innova taxi asking us to wait an hour and leave alongwith it them only. However, we decided to proceed as being ahead is better in case help is required!
After 10-15 minutes observations, I figured out a line of telephone poles going along the road. Whenever, there are quite a few different tracks and we’ve to figure out which one to take, I used to look for the line of telephone poles. And it didn’t disappoint till end. Desi Navigator J . The line of poles are visible in many of the pics posted in the photo’s.
The entry point of Pangong Lake is Lukung Village. Completely commercialized after Idiots happened. Our hotel was about 2 kms ahead of Lukung. After our hotel, we crossed the first village Spangimik. The next 2 villages were Maan & Merak before we reached Chushul. In between, we had to stop at quite a few places to ascertain the terrain whether safe to drive on or not i.e. whether very soft with powdery soil where the car can get stuck (we saw a Fortuner stuck on the banks of Pangong the previous day).
There is extensive feedback that Chushul - Hanle permits are not granted due to sensitivity. And even if the permits are obtained from Leh office, you can always be stopped and asked to go back by the Check Posts. And the worst had happened to us too !!
Just before Chushul, we made the biggest mistake of asking the directions & following a bus. And we reached where we were stopped !! I started to see our dream of driving thro' this route getting shattered.
In all this drama, I noticed from far that the engine sump guard was hanging loose beneath the car on one side. Checked it, few of the screws/ bolts were fallen off (may be due to excessive vibrations of the rocky surfaces that the car was subjected to. We tightened it with a metal wire which held thro’ till we reach Mumbai and got the car serviced.
Amidst all these, somehow our persistence paid off and we found the ideal route. In fact, that was the route we should have taken and were never meant to come where we were. If you’ve got the Permit from Leh DM office, the best way is to go inside the Chushul village, ask about Chushul Gompa (in the village), take extreme left from the Gompa (Gompa will be on RHS), the road will take you behind a school, ask there again the direction to Tsaga La-Loma. You’ll cross a water stream / nallah and then the tracks will lead you to join the main Chushul-Tsaga La-Loma track. Gompa & School are the key words. After coming back home, I read that quite a few visitors who would have taken a different route were asked to go back and were not allowed to proceed.
Early morning at Pangong!!
To our misfortune, it was cloudy that day, hence could not see as beautiful shades of Pangong as we saw the previous day.
On the way to Spangimik - Maan - Merak - Chushul.....
Filled Diesel at this spot to empty one of the jerry cans ! This was just before Merak village.
Such was the "road" or rather tracks
See carefully, what is this pile made up of?
After Chushul, amazing landscapes will grip you all around. Different shades, hue, colors, mountain hills with varying heights, plains, rocks/ stones and the list goes on…..Considering the sensitivity of the region, we had packed our camera’s just before Chushul till Tsaga La, hence the pics are after Tsaga La.
Crossed Tsaga La, Loma, Rhongo and reached Hanle at about 6 pm. One of the most successful day is over! The only dampener was that the weather was a bit cloudy, hence could not enjoy the different shades of Pangong much.
One of the better "roads" !
The Red carpet starts......
The different shades !!
At Hanle, the accommodation available are only a few Home-stays. A couple of years back, there was only one home-stay. Now there are 2-3. One spacious room, 4 beds, fresh blankets, home made food!
Hanle is quoted as the Space observatory at the World’s highest altitude. The reason of building an observatory is that there is no population for next 40-50 kms, hence no light pollution, the air here is rarefied making it an ideal place for an observatory.
Next day was the drive to the beautiful Tso Moriri via Tso Kiager.
Amazing shades continued.....
This guy was racing with us and was really fast....
Sands again !
Another Arrow-straight road...
Shadows of the clouds and the shades of the mountains...
...and then if something was pending, a sand storm out of nowhere...!
What amazing visual treat esp. these last couple of posts/pics...
So natural, color changing pictures. Looks each few kilometers, terrains changes its contrast completely.
That's why I was in great dilemma on which place/ sector to cut from our itinerary due to time constraints at planning stage - it was a choice between Zanskar & Hanle at that time ! Fortunately, I learnt at planning stage itself that each sector is unique in itself and can't be compared with the other. Eventually, it turned out that both Zanskar & Hanle ended up being star "performer" in our drive and the only place that I can think of that can be skipped is Turtuk !
If Zanskar is about amazing glaciers, Nubra is the valley & the desert (Sand Dunes), Pangong & Tso Moriri are amazing lakes of different shades, and Hanle - well, what do we attribute it to...amazing ladscapes of Chumathang Desert (and of course wonderful route driving along Pangong) !
--- Double Post Merged, Sep 16, 2014, Original Post Date: Sep 16, 2014 ---
Actually, Hanle is a Photographer's delight for moonlight / night-time / milky way photography because of no light pollution & rarefied air. Unfortunately, I didn't have tripod and could not take take long exposures at night
--- Double Post Merged, Sep 16, 2014, Original Post Date: Sep 16, 2014 ---
Not sure if I misses it already, but based on your description it would be nice to know the camera/lens and esp. UV filters or ND filters if used anywhere.
Who, me ?
I'm the wrong person to ask this as I'm the laziest one when it comes to take photographs, too lazy to lug the cam around. Bought a "huge" DSLR only because of Ladakh drive. It was a humble Nikon D5100 with an "all-in-one" kind of lens - 18-140 mm
It looked like some would do much better with a MC-UV haze filter, that's why. A must have for some atmospheres and lighting scenarios.
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