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Leh and Linea : Revisited with my XUV

Discussion in 'Travelogues & Experiences' started by J Ravi, Sep 28, 2011.

  1. J Ravi

    J Ravi Esperto

    Messages:
    2,293
    Bangalore
    Amritsar To Srinagar

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    ********************

    After visiting Jallianwala Bagh, we returned to MLCP and started for Srinagar at 11 am on 14 September 2011 [Wenesday] via this route. At Gurdaspur, my Linea had tankful of petrol and continued the journey until Srinagar.
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    To be continued.
    4 people like this.
  2. kedarbendre

    kedarbendre Esperto

    Messages:
    4,215
    MH 12
    :wow

    I can view the photo now.
  3. J Ravi

    J Ravi Esperto

    Messages:
    2,293
    Bangalore
    Srinagar - in and around Dal Lake

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    *********************

    I faced hell when I reached Hotel Mirage, Srinagar at 2:30 am. My MMI Lx130 navigator guided me to the gate of the hotel, which was locked.:eek: There was no calling bell. My BSNL prepaid cell was dead. So, I used my torch light to flash it on the hotel building and yelled using my maximum lung power at that ghostly hour! After yelling for five minutes or so, Zulfi, Manager of the hotel, came out and responded with a 'Kaun hain?'. I responded with 'Main guest hoon. Mere pass reservation hain'. Then, he came out of a small opening in the gate and informed me that it was the rear gate and did not have calling bell facility. The front gate had calling bell facility, according to him, which I never used. He then offered me to guide my Linea to the front gate on the opposite side. I invited him, he sat at the rear seat and I drove my Linea to the front gate as guided by him. He was kind enough to tell me that check-in formalities could be done later!:) I took photographs of trip data of my Linea's MID, unloaded, unpacked and crashed to the bed at 3 am in the morning. I have mentioned this episode in my review of Hotel Mirage at MakeMyTrip. But, notwithstanding this issue at the early hours of the day, I gave full 5-star rating for this hotel.

    We got up late, ate brunch comprising Aloo Parathe, Dahi, achar with tea and left for Dal Lake.
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    My Linea had tankful of petrol before returning to Hotel Mirage. We fell into sound sleep that night not knowing what was in store for us the next day and night!

    More to come.
    4 people like this.
  4. kedarbendre

    kedarbendre Esperto

    Messages:
    4,215
    MH 12
    Break Fats at Laxmi Vaishno Dhaba :lol
  5. J Ravi

    J Ravi Esperto

    Messages:
    2,293
    Bangalore
    Srinagar to Leh

    I did not pay any toll on the wretched stretches of North-South Corridor or Srinagar to Leh. But, my Linea did.:eek: She lost one of the four mud flaps in the former and the remaining at the latter due to more than 50 severe underbody hits she was subjected to. Her rear right stop light was also burnt out at Leh. Other than these, she did not trouble me at all. No punctures, no clutch failure, no brake failure.:)

    *********************

    On 16 September 2011 [Friday], we breakfasted, packed, left Hotel Mirage, Srinagar, by 8 am and reached Sonamarg by 11 am only to be stopped at the check-post as the road was closed due to landslides at many places en route, which were being cleared by the BRO staff. Nobody had any clue as to when we would be allowed to proceed.
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    We were forced to take a room at JKTDC's Alpine Resorts and enjoyed a nice post-lunch siesta. I got up in the evening only to find that the rain had stopped, but check-post still remained closed. I spent some time exploring Sonamarg and clicking some mesmerizing photographs with bright sunshine alround.
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    While we were eating our dinner at a Punjabi Vaishno Dhaba, I witnessed a flurry of activities with all types vehicles zipping past the dhaba. Later, I came to know that check-post had opened its gates up to 10 pm that night. Again the gates would be open only at 10 am, the next day. So, we also jumped into the bandwagon. We packed and left Alpine Resorts by 8:30 pm to Leh.
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    Post check-post, NH 1D was like an airport's runway, perhaps it was similar to the calm before the storm. After a few km, the road became rough. When we started acsending Zoji La, it became a deadly combination of steep+narrow+rocky+slushy+pot-holed/cratered stretch without any crash-barriers or parapet. I knew what was in store for me and my Linea. Hence, I drove with my fullest concentration.

    At one steep hair-pin bend, my Linea got stuck, refused to move forward and her front tyres started spinning without traction. I saw the ORVM. No vehicle was behind me. So, I reversed my Linea for a few metres, slotted the first gear and accelerated, drove in the maximum speed and my Linea passed the rocky bed successfully due to momentum. I continued driving my Linea with one wheel on each mound leaving the craters in the middle.

    After some distance, the road became full of slush of 1'-2' in height. So, I reduced the speed and drove slowly. But, that turned out to be a blunder. Again, my Linea got stuck on a rocky terrain with a loud thud. I tried the same trick of reversing her. But, my Linea did not budge. She refused to go either forward or reverse! Literally, my Linea was hanging on a rocky cliff without any traction on any of her wheels. Whenever I tried accelerating her, the tyres would spin without any movement. Suddenly, my wife screamed: 'I could feel a burning smell, switch off the engine!'.:eek: I too smelt burning rubber. We both froze, literally, metaphorically and spiritually. I cursed myself for getting stuck in my Linea at a godforsaken place at Zoji La at night 10 pm without any help available. My four decades of driving experience grounded at Zoji La along with my Linea.:-( I started fearing the worst: I might have fried my Linea's clutch plate. Then, my mind went blank. The worst case scenario might become a reality, I thought: getting stranded at Zoji La at 10 pm in the night with freezing temperature outside, that too, with a FIAT Linea, without any human civilization for hundreds of km!:mad:

    I switched off the engine and came out of my Linea. The outside temperature was freezing 4 deg C. I saw about 3 pairs of headlamps of vehicles climbing Zoji La. The first one was an Innova taxi. After seeing the road blocked by my Linea, one gentleman got down and came to me. I sought his help to move my Linea. He called his co-passengers and instructed them to assist me. Four persons including the driver of Innova alighted. Two of them pushed from the left side of my Linea and two from behind. I started the engine, accelerated slowly, my Linea moved with a screeching noise, came out of the clutches of the rocky bed. After some distance, I signalled the Innova to overtake me, but they kept following me.

    After some distance, again the same story repeated. The same symptoms, the same thud, my Linea got stuck again. This time, the Innova gentleman walked up to me and offered service of one of his drivers to drive my Linea up to Leh! I politely declined his magnanimous offer. Again, with the Innova guys' help, my Linea resumed her forward movement. I profusely thanked the Innova guys and continued the journey.:up After this incident, I started driving my Linea at a higher speed not bothering about bottom-scraping. To my relief, the clutch seemed to work normally. So, the burning smell was due to spinning of front tyres on the rocky bed. My Linea did not face any more problems.

    The Innova followed me up to Kargil. Innova guy informed me that petrol pump at Kargil would open at 6 am only and he too wanted to fill up his Innova with diesel to go to Leh!

    So, after driving up to Kargil, I parked my Linea at IOC petrol pump at 3 am, allowed her to idle with ACC at 20 deg C and we slept.

    More to come.
    5 people like this.
  6. Sumit

    Sumit Superiore

    Messages:
    607
    Munger
    absolutely brilliant narration and photographs. for a moment i thought im in srinagar.
  7. jayakrishnakola

    jayakrishnakola Regolare

    Messages:
    439
    Bangalore
    same with me.

    excelent ravi sir excelent. i almost felt i was in the driving seat when your linea got struck in those roads. i dont think a diesel linea would have come out so easily with its 161mm GC over 170mm GC of your petrol linea.


    and i'm sure this thread will cross more than 15000 views within a weeks time.

    By now you should have become a role model to half the fiatians who have a plan of visiting leh in future.

    do you know untill when is the road to leh open for public???
  8. PaddleShifter

    PaddleShifter Staff Member Janitor

    Messages:
    2,697
    Chandigarh
    Grande Punto 1.3
    J Ravi sir, awesome thread. I was avoiding posting here so that your posts do net get pushed back a lot. :)

    Now, I can at least make one post here. I will again wait till the completion of your travelogue for my next post.

    Also, if I have the permission of the members, should I remove around 7 posts from this thread that just say that ""unable to see photos etc."" This will move J Ravi sir's travelogue's latest post at least one page in front. Just my thought. Only if all members agree with me. Then we will have 39 posts in this thread including the last one.

    I am talking about the following posts on page 3-4-5:

    http://www.teamfiat.co.in/forum/showthread.php?3465-Leh-and-Linea&p=69757&viewfull=1#post69757
    http://www.teamfiat.co.in/forum/showthread.php?3465-Leh-and-Linea&p=69767&viewfull=1#post69767
    http://www.teamfiat.co.in/forum/showthread.php?3465-Leh-and-Linea&p=69770&viewfull=1#post69770
    http://www.teamfiat.co.in/forum/showthread.php?3465-Leh-and-Linea&p=69996&viewfull=1#post69996
    http://www.teamfiat.co.in/forum/showthread.php?3465-Leh-and-Linea&p=70031&viewfull=1#post70031
    http://www.teamfiat.co.in/forum/showthread.php?3465-Leh-and-Linea&p=70032&viewfull=1#post70032
    http://www.teamfiat.co.in/forum/showthread.php?3465-Leh-and-Linea&p=70044&viewfull=1#post70044

    Hope no one blasts me. :hit My intentions are innocent as this travelogue is one of it's kind, so may be it would be better if more of J Ravi sir's posts are in the initial few pages.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2011
  9. Ravi

    Ravi Staff Member Janitor

    Messages:
    6,001
    Bangalore
    Grande Punto 1.3
    Wow, reading this looks I am reading some interesting story, that too, knowing, its real.
    Keep this thread alive.

    BTW, why you planned to drive to Zozi-la, in night?
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2011
  10. Ani

    Ani

    Messages:
    9
    Bangalore
    Guts

    Mr. Ravi ,
    I did this stretch in August , off course without the slush you experienced , when I was taking on Zozilla was thanking my stars I was not driving a sedan, Taking a Linea up there sure does take a lot of courage & am sure you must be thanking Fiat for thoughtfully adding the underbody shield ;). What I am however curious to know is did the boot ever pose a challenge??? Also what led you to drive on those roads at night... Im hoping you avoided that while returning :)
    Cheers,
    Ani

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