“Write out of love. Your piece will finish itself.” ― A.D. Posey

This post is happening after six months for various reasons. After my husband Devrai’s  first phase of travel to Kumaon district, there was no connectivity for some time, later his posts were also delayed & I lost track. It bothered me that I had not finished posting about his epic  marathon 55 day, 8500 km,” Escape the heat” Scorpio Safari from Mumbai on 21st May 2016 – 3 weeks Kumaon , 3 weeks Ladakh, 2 weeks Himachal.

As in previous blog posts Devrai’s Fb posts are in Italics.

Continuing the Safari, I dropped Viju mudur  at Ambala and Preeti, Yuh Sin & Venkat joined me there for the 2nd Phase.
From Ambala we drove to Srinagar with pit stops at Ludhiana & Banihal.
For foodies don’t miss the freshly made pure ghee Soan papdi at Kud, the Rajma chawal at Peerah Modh enroute Srinagar.
The sight of Shikaras gliding silently on the Dal Lake is really soothing. We finished our one day stay with great Kababs served with 6 types of chutneys at Qyaam Chowk.

kababs 1.jpg

 On 15th June 2016, I pulled up my socks and prepared myself for the the tough drive ahead, today we were going to cross the Zoji La, one of the most dangerous passes we would encounter.
We reached our destination, Purtikche in Suru Valley tired but safe.
Enroute we visited the Kargil War Memorial.kargil.jpg
Purtikche is a small village in the Suru Valley, to get there you have to drive 50 km from Kargil.
It is very picturesque, we decided to stay for 2 days.
One of the photos is with Mohammed Sadiq at whose residence I had stayed during my previous drive to Ladakh in 2009.purtikche.jpg
Next day we bid farewell to Kargil.
Near Mulbek we left the highway again and drove into Sapi Valley.
At the onset we saw the quaint Shargole Monastery, and the beautiful Fokkar Village.
Sapi La was higher than 14000 ft.
Shargole monastery.jpg

From Sapi La, we crossed the statue of Maitreya or Future Buddha at Mulbek and went to Lamayuru Monastery.

 
Next morning Vivek  Nagwekar suggested that we take the old road from Lamayuru to Leh. The landscapes we saw on that road were really amazing.
Before going on any further I have to introduce you to my friend Vivek Nagwekar, more Ladakhi than Maharashtrian, a superlative photographer, he has been visiting Ladakh since 1987, stays there 4 months in a year, been organizing tours for the last 15 years. 

He was waiting for us in Srinagar and joined us from there, knowing Ladakh like the back of his hand, he made this trip even more unforgettable.

scorpio.jpg

Enroute to Leh we visited the Buddhist temple at Alchi with its curio shops, the sangam of the great rivers Indus or Sindhu & Zanskar at Nimmi, ate langar at Patthar Sahib Gurudwara & proved to myself that the Magnetic Hill was an optical illusion. Reached Leh late evening, these days dusk is at 8 pm. 
curio shop.jpg
On 19th June we crossed the Khardung La the highest motor able road in India, not as tough as Zoji La but still very tiring.

khardungla.jpg

We reached Turtuk the northern most point in India. Turtuk came under Indian control only after the 71 war. The language and cuisine here is Balti.
Continuing the log, while at Turtuk we visited the modest palace of the very modest Raja of Turtuk, you can see his family tree.
turtuk.jpg
Coming back to Diskit, we had the most amazing South Indian food at an Army Mess.
 From Nubra valley we drove straight to PangongTso, without coming to Leh.
pangang tso.jpg
It was a nice 6 hr drive along the banks of the Shyok river. Enroute we saw Marmots, Yaks and good many birds.
yaks.jpg
At Pangong you get an idea of how popular Ladakh has become as a tourist destination.

On 22nd June we returned to Leh via Chang La- 17586 ft.
After more than a month on the road, 2 punctures and a mirror smashed, all in a day.
At Leh, the main bazar road has been converted into a Mall road on the likes of Manali.

chang la.jpg

 

24th June, last day in Leh at Paul Guest house, run by a jolly family.
The lady of the house showed us round the home,and explained how life was, before the advent of tourists.I cooked Upma & filter coffee for breakfast ,and Veg stew, Paan Poley( Neer Dosa), Sheera for Dinner, the Paul family also enjoyed.paul.jpg

 

On 25th June 2016 , Yuh Sin & Preeti Mistry flew back to Mumbai, Ganesh Kamath arrived in Leh,picked him up from the airport and headed for Tso Moriri, a 6 hr drive, crossing the hot water springs at Chumathang. Unlike Pangong & Kar, which are saline. Moriri is a fresh water lake with the village Karzok on its banks at a height of 15300 ft.Here too tourism is increasing at a very fast pace.ganesh.jpg

After 2 days at Tso Moriri, we moved to Tso Kar. Upto the 80’s Tso Kar was the main source of salt for locals, even today the elders lament about its unavailability, as it was considered medicinal.
Only hard core travellers stay at Tso Kar, set near the village of Thukje which is made up of a handfull of houses and a monastery.
We saw there rare and elusive Blacknecked crane and a good number of Kiangs(HImalayan wild Ass). 

black necked crane.jpg

At dinner time it was fun exchanging notes with fellow travellers.

 

On 28th June 2016, we moved from Tso Kar on to the mighty plains of More and to Pang, we bid farewel to Ladakh at Sarchu and entered Lahaul in HP. By evening we crossed the Baralacha La and reached JIspa on the banks of the river Bhaga.
This  drive was the toughest in the entire trip, the road from Pang to Baralacha La was bad & narrow,with places having names such as, Brandy Bar, Zing Zing Bar, Rum Nalla & Whisky Nalla. But the toughest part was overtaking a Military convoy of 40 vehicles.military vehicles.jpg

 

Jispa is a small village,on the banks of the river Bhaga which flows from the Suraj Tal a small lake which you cross coming down from Baralacha La. Our home stay was with the family of Sonam Thakur, his mom cooked authentic Veg. Thukpa, with plenty of dried Yak Cheese.

veg thukpa.jpg

 

On 30th June 2016, we left Jispa , crossed Tandi where the Bhaga merges with the river Chandra, and the Chandrabhaga flows into Pakistan where it is called the Chenab.
Driving on we crossed the Rohtang La, the last high pass of the trip at 13050 ft.There were atleast 500 vehicles at the Pass, all tourists from Manali, which was as crowded and as warm as Delhi.

tandi.jpg

On 1st July 2016, we made our great escape from Maddening Manali and the hordes of tourists and made our way to Naggar. Always wanted to stay at the Naggar Castle, but it is a bit pricey, luckily off seaso discount had started on 1st July, plus they gave us additional 20% discount. We booked for 2 nights, on 2nd we drove to Jana waterfalls, icy cold but refreshing. We were served a Himachali Thali ( Siddu, Limbdi veg, Kadhi, Makai roti, unpolished rice,Locally grown Rajma accompanied by chutney, ghee & local gur).
himachali thali.jpg
On 3rd July 2016, we left Naggar and headed off for a place called Janjheli, it was in the hills of Mandi Dist. After asking for directions at every cross road we reached there.Nice quiet place, fresh milk-the cow was milked in front of us-Rs.20/- ltr. A religious festival was going on , so we got stuck for an hour till the Gods moved on to a ground.
doli.jpg

My concluding post for my marathon 55 day, 8500 km,” Escape the heat” Scorpio Safari.
From Janjhehli, we drove to forest rest house  Kattanda,

This lady at Kattanda village wove this Chattai. 
 chattai.jpg 
look at the close up.

chattai 1.jpgthen on to Chindi, Naldhera,Fagu & Kyarighat in Himachal Pradesh  before coming back to Ambala, and on to Mumbai with pit stops at Bhilwara & Vapi.- Devrai 
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