Friday, March 26, 2010

Mumbai to Leh and Back - ( Part 1 Mumbai to Shrinagar)

I had great desire to travel on the world's highest altitude motorable road and to see Kargil where war was fought. When I discussed this idea with my friends three of them joined me for the journey. Shashank and Nitin were to join me from Mumbai and Naved was in Himachal setting up his ecotourism lodges at Kangra

We decided to take a my car right from Mumbai to Leh and come back. After many debates on e-mails route was planned and packing was done. There were suggestions like we should take a gas stove, survival kit etc. ; however finally everybody was convinced that travelling light would be the best option.

Unlike my previous journeys where I have explained sight seeing places in every area in great details; this post is going to be a different one. This is going to be mainly the journey, largely as pictures. In my view the Leh and Ladakh journey by car is far more enticing due to climate changes and rough terrain; than due to gompa's and forts. This in my view is similar to Char Dham yatra I had done way back in 1999. In that tour also I found my treks to Kedarnath and Yamunotri far more spiritual than the temple itself.

As we had to experience the stress of the journey we had decided to complete the journey as fast as possible. This meant very little scope for acclamatization, but thats how it was going to be adventurous.

Mumbai to Ajmer:

We left Mumbai at 7.00 am sharp and after picking up Nitin at Kalyan we moved on the touch Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway. We kept travelling and after a brief stop after Vapi for Breakfast and after Baroda for lunch, we kept moving towards Udaipur. Our target for the day 1 was to reach Ajmer by night.

When we left Mumbai, it was drizzling and till such time we reached Udaipur; the monsoon clouds followed us. We stopped on the outskirts of Udaipur at 6.00 p.m for our first long tea break( 40 mins) and moved towards Ajmer. By now every body had started feeling fatigue for the first day journey.

We reached borders of Ajmer at 10.00 pm; we stopped for fuel and further directions. At this time our first problem was faced. Nitin walked towards truck parked in the petrol pump to find place to release himself and in the dark and banged against a steel rod protruding from a truck. He was bleeding badly and we had to find a doctor in that hour to get him stitches. It was 1.30 by the time whole thing was over and we checked in the RTDC hotel. Our plans for leaving early the 2nd day had gone for a toss; and we decided to give nitin some rest.

Mumbai to Udaipur - Post monsoon greenery of western India

Ahead of Udaipur just beginning of desert

Ajmer to Ludhiana - Day 2

We got up at 8.30 a.m and took good 1,30 hrs to get ready. We then visited Durgah Shariff and paid our respects. At 12.00 noon we started onward journey towards Kangra. We wanted to avoid getting into Delhi for two reasons a) we wanted to save time by avoiding traffic in Delhi city b) we wanted to explore lesser known roads. We enquired at Ajmer and found out a wonderful road which goes from Ajmer - to - Ratangarh - to Hanumangarh.

This was probably the best decision we took. After first day of monsoon experience; our second day was experience of scorching heat in the thick of dessert. We also saw few sand dunes and large plains in sand on the way. Enjoy pictures and do leave your comments.

Camels and desert folk

Colours of Dessert

By the evening we reached Hissar in Haryana. We then continued our onward journey thru state highways towards Punjab. As per our earlier plan we were supposed to reach Kangra by end of 2nd day; but with changed plans we decided to cover as much as possible till late in the night.

Biggest Flag post in Hissar - Just compare size of the flag with car belowWelcome to Haryana

By 1.00 a.m. on we reached Ludhiana and decided to take a break over there. Day 3:

Ludhiana to Kangra to Jammu - Day 3

After getting ready in the morning we left for Kangra by 9.00 am. We first moved to Jalandhar and from there on we kept going towards Hoshiarpur. After which the road became really narrow and our travelling speed dropped. We also started climb on foothills of Dhauladhar of Himalayas. By 11.30 p.m we had entered Himachal Pradesh and first beautiful view of Chohal Dam came in sight.

On the outskirts of Goraya - Manchester of Punjab ?????

Jalandhar City

On the way to Himachal - Remembering wife - who was back home

View of Chohal Dam
Pilgrims on the way

Changing Flora and Fauna in mountains

Approaching Kangra

Once we reached Kangra we spent some time with Naved had lavish lunch and after some rest moved on to Jamm. His site for Aamod is one for the finest locations in Kangra. It is on a hill top with river flowing by its side and Kangra Fort just opposite in the view. If you wish to stay please visit aamod website.

We moved on pretty late as Naved had a meeting which got delayed as per Indian Stretchable Time. We started from Kangra by 5.00 pm and decided to make to Jammu (as reaching Shrinagar was out of question). Enjoy pictures clicked

View of the river from Aamod

View of Kangra Fort from Aamod

Leaving Kangra- Route planning with map to save distance and time

On the way to Jammu

On the way to Jammu

It was almost 9.30 p.m when we reached on the outskirts of Jammu. We decide to take break and start early in the morning. There was a cheap lodge on side of the road where mostly security personnel were staying. We decided to stay there save some money and also time for the next day; as could have bypassed the Jammy town from there.

Day 4 - Jammu to Shrinagar:

We moved towards Shrinagar; as decided early in the morning. The journey was fantastic every body was charged with the thought of having made it to Shrinagar and also because of fact that after 4 days of Journey in the car we were going to get first long break of 2 days in over there.

We decided to enjoy this journey and not to rush up. After crossing Jawahar Tunnel we had the first view of the heaven on earth - Kashmir Valley. We stopped for almost 30 mins taking pictures, sipping hot tea and enjoying the view.

Bypassing Jammu- View of the City and River Tawi

On the way

Entering Jawahar Tunnel - You can't stop so picture taken in moving car

In side the tunnel
Leaving the tunnel.
First View of the valley behind me.
First creature we saw of the valley

Coming up next - Shrinagar to Leh


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Wonderful Journey :)

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