Day 4 2nd July 2018

Our journey towards Leh continued it turned dark at around 8 PM yes the days are very long in these mountains the daylight usually starts by 4:30 AM or 5 AM  and ends by 7:30 or 8 PM. Due to the high altitudes, the daylight starts very early and shades into darkness very late.  In that way, it was very helpful for us to start the days really early and cover good distances. It was completely dark and we were still driving towards Leh. We crossed Lamayuru Buddhist Monastery that we were supposed to visit but canceled. It was a full moon day and with the clear skies on the road, we had a beautiful view of the Moon. We see the moon everywhere but the view at that high altitude completely gives a different perspective.  

Full moon

It was a long day for us or to be precise I could say that it was a long 3 days with very little sleep and a lot of driving our, 2 primary drivers drove all of it by taking turns. As I mentioned in my first blog all of us knew how to drive but 2 guys were the most experienced and they loved to drive. However after driving the whole day they were tired. I had to take over the driving for the last 80 km to reach Leh. It felt amazing to drive on those nicely maintained moonlit long empty roads and the steady burble of running water with the cold winds, it was a treat to be there. The burble of running water was from the Indus river to which I was driving in parallel. Around 30 Kms before Leh we have the Magnet hill. As it was 1 AM in the night we did not get out of the car. But I did stop our car, shifted to neutral and when I released the breaks there was a powerful pull in reverse. It was astonishing, tried that few more times and the magnetic pull was around 30 Kmph in reverse. After having fun for few mins we started driving further and suddenly there was a pack of dogs or maybe wolves started chasing our car, I tried to go as fast as I can and drove past them. We realize not getting out of the car was the best decision we made at that time.  

We reached Leh called our Hostess to guide us the way to the guest house. The route we took was very narrow. I could not drive in those roads hence asked one of our better drivers to take over. After some challenges, we reached our guesthouse at 2:45 AM checked in to our rooms. planned to get some sleep for 3 hours. Reaching Leh marked us covering all the time we lost due to delays and put us back on our original plan. Most importantly no more losses or misses due to the delays.  

After a few hours of sleep, we woke up at 6 AM. Got ready and talked to our hostess if she can help us get the permits to visit places Ladakh. Permits are mandatory to visit any place in and around Leh. There will be specific fees for each location you plan to visit like Pangong, Nubra Valley, Spiti Valley, etc. Before we enter any of those places there will be a check post where you will have to provide your ID proof and a copy of the permits taken. We got in touch with an agent who came to the guesthouse collected all the basic documents needed for the permits and he told us he will get it done and give us the same by 10AM. We finished our complimentary breakfast consisting of omelet, Maggie and sandwiches with Tea. We packed our bag and loaded our stuff back into the car and checked out of the guest house at 10 AM. 

We waited at a place advised by the agent. While we were waiting for the permits we had stopped near a small pond which looked interesting with various types of plants and flowers grown in and around the pond. There was also a small shop who sells Shawls and souvenirs, we looked at a few things but did not buy anything that day as we were coming back to Leh in 3 days. after waiting around 30 mins the agent met us around 10:30 and gave all the permit documents and its photocopies. Yes, we can go and get the permits ourself but it will take some time to get all of that done. Hence to save our time we had to go with an agent instead of getting it ourselves. 

Pond without water in Leh

We said bye to Leh and started heading towards Kardung la believed to be the highest motorable road in the world situated at 18380 ft above the sea level. The final plan was to go to Hunder in Nubra Valley and the road to Nubra goes through Kardungla.  Kardungla is around 39 Kms from Leh but that 39 Km is full of climbing up the mountain. Even though these are mountain roads but the BRO(Border Road Organization) has maintained the road pretty well we did not face any issues while traveling to Kardung la. We reached Kardung La at around 1 PM. it was pretty crowded the air was thin even walking a few steps at that hight made us breath heavy but the view and the feeling of being at that place are indescribable.  

View from Khardungla

After staying there for 40 mins we started driving down towards Nubra. It is not advisable to stay longer at Khardungla due to less oxygen. But we had prepared our bodies for high altitudes by taking Diamox from a week before our trip. of course, we did consult our doctor before taking any and all medication. Even though we were prepared for the high altitudes we were not impervious to the effects it just made us strong enough to easily adjust with low chances of adverse effects. But that does not mean we can stay at Khardung la for any longer than 30 mins we were breathing heavily after a few mins over there so staying longer would have created problems. So, in conclusion, don’t spend too much time at Khardung la. If you start seeing any altitude sickness symptoms take precautions/medications and try to climb down sooner don’t think you are superhuman to power through the symptoms.  

Our drive towards Hunder was around 86 Kms we were driving down the mountains. we crossed Khardung village and were in the Nubra valley road the view was awesome mountains all around and a road in the middle with very minimal traffic. There are a lot of military bases almost everywhere in the Leh Ladhak province. So I am not mentioning any of them as I feel I am not supposed until they are relevant to my story. Even on our way to Hunder we saw few military installations which looked neat and disciplined as the Army is supposed to be.  For us, it was a completely new thing to see the Army up close and the hard work they do to keep us safe. Below are a few awesome picturesque views from the Nubra Valley.  

Nubra Valley
Other View of Nubra Valley
on our way to Hunder

We reached Hunder sand dunes around 5:30 PM  we planned to go the sand dunes first instead of checking in to the hotel. We parked our car and started walking towards sand dunes. There was a sand dune festival and that was the last day of the festival hence there was a lot of crowd. It was sand everywhere, for me it was unusual to see the sand without a sea nearby as I have not been to any deserts.  Hunder sand dunes are famous for the double hump camels. They do have camel rides available there. We had gone for a Camel ride it was my first time on a camel ride it was exciting and fun. After the camel ride we roamed around a bit then got back into the car and drove to the hotel.  

Famous Double hump Camels in Hunder Sand Dunes
Sunset at Sand Dunes

After checking in to our room we settled down had some tea and rested for a bit. We had enquired the Stay owner if they serve dinner and they did. The dinner they served had Rotis,  2 types of Sabjis, Rice, Dal, sweet and papad. It was simple but tasted really good. It was the first time we had good food after Haveli. After dinner, we chilled for some more time in the common area, met an interesting guy from Jammu who was traveling with his wife almost on the same path as we did.  As he was from Jammu he knew the places in and around Kashmir. Suggested we should visit those places next time when we are there. After chatting for some time we went to bed around 10:30 PM it felt good to get a good night’s sleep on an actual bed. We were so excited about the next day but that is a story for next time… 

Day 3 1st July 2018

After waiting for 8 hours at the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel’s exit we started driving further. It was pitch dark, not many vehicles on the road as the roads were still blocked. Our car was all alone on the road without road lights and a dangerous hilly road. The road is very dangerous as there are a lot of twists and turns on this mountain road which is pretty normal but there were few parts of the roads that had no barricades on sharp turns. we were all scared of the roads as some places looked very creepy with our car headlights. Also with a place named Shaitani Nallah on the map, anyone can be a little scared if you are crossing that in the middle of the night.  I am thankful and proud of my friends who drove on those dangerous roads without any mishaps.  But as usual, we were stopped again at around 4 AM just before a few kilometers from Banihal pass. By now I think everyone knows what we will do if you have read the previous blogs, the same drill again,  requested the guards to lets us go they denied hence we had to wait there. As we dint rest much we planned to sleep for some time it was pretty cold outside even with our jackets and woolen hats we were getting the chills. We would have enjoyed it more if everything had gone as planned.  

After sleeping for an hour we went to the guards again requested to let us leave, after some convincing he let us go at 5 AM. We drove for about a few kilometers and there was a barricade again this time it was the Army and this roadblock was to at another Tunnel at Banihal pass. The entry to the tunnel was blocked till 7 AM so we slept for some more time. At around 7 AM the army opened the gates to the tunnel and we started moving forward. This tunnel was not as wide as the Chinnani tunnel but it was like a pair of big tubes similar to Bengaluru Metro underground tunnels. Even this tunnel was long but we felt it was not as long as the Chinnani tunnel it was around 6 to 7Kms. This time at the end of the Tunnel there was light and we were happy to get out of the tunnel. The exit from this tunnel was the end of our problem as the road ahead was smooth and the sky was clear that gave us confidence that we have passed all the challenges. 

We were around 60 kms from Srinagar hence we contacted the boat house owner if he can let us stay for an hour and get freshen up. As I mentioned before he was a nice guy and told he will be happy to host us. We got the directions and the gate number at Dal lake. Dal Lake is a huge lake with a lot of gates and each gate will provide entrance to a group of boathouses. We had booked the boathouse named Switzerland which was at Gate No:12. We reached Dal Laka at 9 AM but to took a while to find Gate 12 at 9:30 AM we found the gate, parked our car in a nearby place and took only essential luggage. The plan was to just get in take a shower, have some refreshments and leave, as we had to race against time to overcome all the delays. We had to be Ferried to the houseboat and the houseboat looked awesome from the Ferry.  

Houseboat in Dal Lake

We met the owner he was very friendly and helpful. We explained our situation and he was kind enough to let us use their personal bathroom due to our time constraints. He also served us tea and bread omelet as breakfast. We had our breakfast, thanked our host and said goodbye to our houseboat. We are back on the road again heading towards Kargil. Before we exit from Srinagar I bought water bottles as we need to be hydrated as much as possible due to the high altitudes. I also bought some dry cake to have it in case we feel hungry on the way.  We did stock enough snacks for the trip like dates, almonds, cashew, peanuts and many more. So we did end up having them whenever we felt hungry. Srinagar is very beautiful but we were unable to explore much but we will definitely plan another trip to Srinagar in the future.  On the way to Kargil from Srinagar, we have to travel through Son Marg its a beautiful Valley road with mesmerizing views. It will be an awesome place to just relax and be one with nature.  

View on the way to Son Marg
Another awesome view

After Crossing the Son marg we had to cross the infamous Zojila Pass one of the dangerous roads. The roads are mostly narrow and muddy and a good amount of traffic. there were goods trucks Army trucks and many more vehicles using the same road. As there was in this area the roads were manageable to our Swift. There were many instances where I had to get out of the car to make sure the car climbs the inclined roads. It was a great experience to cross the Zojila Pass. We also saw they were making roads with cement stones which looks similar to a few footpaths in Bengaluru. Probably making the road with that kind of stone or blocks will help the road to survive the harsh weather conditions. Also, the roads must have been completed in 2018 or in 2019 if that happens Zojila pass would be easier to cross in the future.  

Scary roads of ZojiLa
BRO at work the tiled road works in ZojiLa

We had lunch at around 4:20 PM  in a town called Dras, as it was late we dint have much options and we all were craving for some hot  Maggie and hence settled for veg/egg Maggie with Tea. 

We Reached Kargil Memorial at around 5:30  the View from the entrance of Kargil memory was awesome. Seeing the tombstones of the war heroes of Kargil made us feel how small and insignificant we are for our country how grateful we should be to our soldiers for all their sacrifices. The memorial is situated at the same place where the enemies had infiltrated during the Kargil War and all the land/mountains which were taken back by the Indian Army during the 1999 Kargil war. The view from the Kargil memory is very beautiful it is hard to explain. There is also a Museum which has a lot of artifacts and weapons used during the War on display. Also, an army officer will narrate the stories of the War Heroes and how we won the war. I would definitely suggest everyone who visits the Kargil memorial to stay there and not miss the storytelling session. We clicked a lot of photos, bought some souvenirs and it was time to get back on the road.   

Kargil Memorial

After the Kargil memorial visit, we debated if we should stay at Kargil or go directly to Leh. As per our plan, our check-in at Leh was on the 1st of July 2018 so we will have to pay for a stay at both Kargil and Leh. Considering all the financial and the time constraints we decided to go directly to Leh. We contacted the owner of the Leh’s guest house updated her that we are running late and will be reaching late. She was kind enough to agree to it. We had to cover around 220 Kilometers from Kargil to Leh there were a few places to visit on the way but we had to skip them as it was going to be late evening/night drive.  For us reaching Leh that day meant that we have overcome all the delays and be back on track with our Plan.  

We kept on driving till the date changed so the journey will continue in the next blog… 

Day 2 30th June 2018

Let me continue the story from where I left off.  At last, we got our car and returned the rental car. Settled down in our Swift had to readjust the luggage as we dint have enough space in the back. Even though we got the rental car refuelled, our car was not fuelled yet as we had to transport the car with minimum fuel. As we had done all the searching for a petrol bunk for the rental we knew where to get the fuel for our car. We got the car fuelled till the brim as it was not a small distance we were covering.  Also, we had always gone with a full tank of diesel along with a 5-liter can for emergencies in this whole trip. After refuelling the car we set our maps to the North (Srinagar) and were relieved to at last start our journey. Even though we were more than 18 hours late per our planned timings.  

With all the tension and roaming around, we dint get time to have our dinner even though we were hungry we decided to first get the hell out of Delhi. My friends had heard about a place called Murthal where we get a lot of good food options and were told we should not miss trying that. Hence we started searching for a good  Vegetarian hotel as 3 out of 4 of us were Vegetarian or to be precise Eggetarian at that time. After some google searches, we decided to go to Haveli. Once the food destination was decided we were on our way. while on our way we were discussing the plans which are impacted due to the transport delays. We had booked a  boathouse in Srinagar  Dal Lake and check-in was on 29th June our planned arrival at Srinagar was at 9 PM. So it was confirmed that we cannot make it to Srinagar anyway so we discussed we can maybe directly go to Kargil where we had a Stay booked for 30th June. 

We reached Haveli at 1 AM and it looked like it is named, a big mansion like structure with nice decorations with an antique car just next to the main door. All of us were very hungry but were short of time and wanted a full experience so we ordered Haveli Special Thali. The food was awesome and the amenities were awesome too. Price-wise we felt it was not overpriced for the experience.  An old Hindi movie dialogue “Aao Kabhi Haveli pe” had a very different meaning after our dinner at Haveli.  

It was time to get back on road, after that good food and a really long day me and another friend of mine were very sleepy so we took the back seat. Our most experienced driver took the wheel and our in house DJ accompanied him as he was working in the night shift for that week so it was easy for him to be awake.  

As it was a night drive there was nothing much to see or observe.  I was asleep almost the whole night and when I got up we were near to Pathankot. We searched for a hotel as we needed to fresh up so we stopped at a cafe at around 7:30 AM had some tea/coffee finished our morning business and back on the road. We switched to the second-best driver among us and I became the DJ, continued the journey to the north. 

At this point, we were confident that we have covered more than half of the distance from Delhi. The total distance between Delhi to Srinagar is around 825 and till Pathankot, we had covered around 425. which is more than half of the journey. Even though we missed our stay in Srinagar we were thinking we should be able to make it to our Kargil Stay. With those thoughts in mind, we contacted the support for the online hotel booking site and requested if there is any way they can change the stay dates for both Srinagar and Kargil. For Kargil the hotel outright denied it. For Srinagar, the company told its done but that was not informed to the Hotel owner.  

We continued our drive towards the north during which there were heavy rains in Kashmir from the past 2 days and it was raining even while we were driving but, we were not aware how serious the situation was. This was the same time when even Amarnath caves were also open for a visit. As these caves are open only for a month or so, every year hundreds of thousands of devotees go through this ordeal of Amarnath Yatra mostly by foot or by vehicles. We were seeing so many  Lungers  (free vegetarian food) on the way specifically for the devotees going for Amarnath yatra.  

We had crossed Jammu and headed further towards  Chenani-Nashri Tunnel. But, we were stopped by Police before Udhampur and told we have to turn back as the road is blocked till 5 AM tomorrow. We were made to pull over and we all requested the officer in charge who was stopping all the vehicle and sending everyone back. Even after too many requests, saying we are driving from Bengaluru and many more reasons, the officer was strict and told us to either go back or wait at the side of the road. As we were in the middle of the road discussing. we tried to convince multiple times and but received the same answers. We were very upset and waited in our car debating what to do next as we did not want to delay anymore. While waiting we observed that there were multiple cars still going through and as we were pulled over on a side road we observed that there is another exit to the same highway if we go a little further. I understand the Police are doing their job and it is for our safety we respect them for that. But at that instance, we could not go back we were desperate hence waited for a perfect opportunity and took the exit from the side road. We did not stop or looked back kept going and for a few kilometers, there were no road issues so we were not sure why were we stopped. 

We covered a pretty good distance and at around 12 PM we were at the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel we paid the toll and entered the Tunnel. As far as I know, this is the longest tunnel road in India or at least the longest tunnel road that I have ever been in. It was a really long fun ride for all of us. The tunnel is pretty well lit, well separated and almost had an emergency exit every few hundred meters as a safety measure. While we were in the Tunnel I received a callback from the stay owner from Srinagar, whom I had called but dint gotten hold of after talking to the Online hotel booking support. He updated that he was not informed about any check-in date changes but he did mention it had been raining in Srinagar from 2 days and most of the roads are closed due to that.  He was a really nice guy and told me that we can check in on that day instead of the previous day. I updated him that we will contact him when we reach Srinagar.  They say “There is always light at the end of the Tunnel” yes we saw the light at the end of our tunnel but we saw the police too and were stopped again.  

The exit from the Chenani-Nashri tunnel was barricaded and all the Vehicles were turned around from there. we requested to let us go but the police were not ready to listen and made us turn around. We were very angry with the security guards and again the same question came into our mind what to do next. Also, point to note when they are not allowing the vehicle to go any further than the Tunnel exit why they were even collecting toll and letting us in maybe a money-making strategy. Anyways let’s get back to our story we were as usual very unhappy with our situation but still checked if there is an alternate way just like the previous instance to our luck we did see there was another route which started just before the tunnel entrance and we thought to try it out. 

We took the alternate road and realized that this may be the actual road and the Tunnel was built as a bypass. The distance was around 21 Kms which included a hill climb. This road uphill was beautiful and the top of the hill was Patnitop which looked awesome with beautiful views from the top. But there were a lot of trucks and petroleum tankers stopped on the road for like many kilometers. That worried us more but we went ahead. The alternate road came to an end and we found out that we have reached just a little ahead of the Chenani-Nashri tunnel exit. As we were thinking that we are going to make it out of there the road ahead was blocked again and police were not letting anyone ahead at all. We had to pull over again and any amount of convincing or requesting the officer in charge did not help. We were told there is a landslide ahead and no vehicles are allowed and we were told they will allow us to leave only at 4 AM.  

As mentioned before this was an Amarnath Yatra season and the roads were mostly blocked due to the heavy influx of people. Of course, this was done for our safety but our experiences of the past 2 days just frustrated us more. The officer-in-charge told us to have food at the Lungers and just wait there till morning if you want to leave early in the morning. There were two big tents with a lot of space to rest as they even had placed chairs, wooden beds (Khatiya) for people to rest. They were serving food for free, as we dint had any food from the morning we had lunch at one of the lungers at around 4 PM. We did donate some money for them to continue these lungers. We roamed around a bit, Were even thought to scrap the whole plan and go back as nothing was going as per plan also, were not sure how many more problems we will be facing ahead. With all these discussions and debates we ended up sitting and waiting in the car.   

It was almost evening we roamed around almost everywhere this time there were no vehicles allowed to cross the barricades and everyone was made to stay back. When we were stopped ours was the 2nd or 3rd car parked on the side of the road but by evening we had more than 50 vehicles stopped waiting for the roads to open. After seeing that we thought there is no chance for us to leave any early. Hence we had dinner in the other Lunger filled our drinking water bottles and rested back in our car. We did not update home about anything that has happened since we reached Delhi otherwise we would have gotten more pressure to leave everything and go back home.  

It was around 10:30 PM there was a change of shift for the guards who were stopping the vehicles. We saw that the new guard had left a vehicle or two to cross the Barricades. We immediately went there and started requesting, begging to let us go too. after some convincing he let us go. Even though we were tired and were very sleepy after this stressful day we had to start our Journey as we wasted another day just waiting. But was it a good idea to leave at 10:30 PM? that is the story for next time… 

Day 1 29th June 2018

Exactly an year ago we landed in Delhi terminal 2 and were out of the airport at 2 AM. We were debating on Uber or Ola but went with a prepaid taxi at the airport exit. we hired a Kaali Peeli (it’s a black and yellow taxi) to Mahipalpur where our friend was already staying. The hotel was inside a small street even the Google map was confused and took us a long way via tiny streets. After going through a lot of small streets we reached the hotel and had to book another room as we didn’t have our car yet. Plan was to be on the road by 4 am hence we had not booked an extra room in Delhi  but to our luck plans had to be changed we all bitched about our luck , scolded the transport service  and tried to get some sleep for the rest of the night, hoping that the truck delivers the car tomorrow morning.  

In the morning we tried to contact all the transport guys multiple times no response received we were disappointed again. We had to check out of the hotel as the usual check-in time is 12 PM and check out was 11 AM. So if we wanted to continue to stay in the room we would have to pay for another day of stay but we were not sure how long we were going to be in Delhi so hence checked out of the hotel. But we had a lot of luggage but weren’t interested to keep the luggage somewhere and get delayed at the end for just getting our luggage back.  After some discussions, we decided to rent a self-drive car to keep all the luggage in the car and as our plans were hampered anyways we planned to salvage the day by roaming around Delhi while repeatedly following up with the transport guys.  

We rented a Honda jazz which was surprisingly spacious and had enough space to fit all our luggage along with us 4. Even though Jazz was spacious it was packed with our luggage and that made us worry about the space situation in swift which is more compact than Jazz.  

We visited the Qutub Minar hired a guide to explain the history of the place which was really well explained by the guide. The guide charged around ₹350 and the ticket to visit the Qutub Minar was 30 per head for Indian, which maybe around 100 or 300per head for foreigners. Also, we had to pay around 10 for parking.  

After the Qutub Minar, we planned to visit the Lotus Temple as it’s supposed to be a very beautiful place. However, when we reached there it was very crowded for a Friday afternoon had a mile-long queue which could have easily eaten an hour of our time to enter the Lotus temple hence with no options we had to skip Lotus temple and go for a good lunch instead.  

My friends had heard about a place called Hauz Khas which had a lot of good eatery places hence we went to Hauz Khas village and searched for places by walk. After searching for a while we decided to go to a place called Re-cycle even though it was a kind of Tibetan place we ordered Indian food. Like roti, paneer sabzi, dal makhani and jeera rice, etc. The food was tasty and good but felt a little pricy but the ambiance and the view were good we felt it was worth it.  

The View from the Hotel

During our lunch we tried calling all the transport guys again we got hold of the transport guy from Bangalore he was rude but told that our car will reach by 6 pm and his person will drop it off Delhi. Even though we were not sure or happy with his answers, we got the transport guys contact details in Delhi who will be picking the car up. Anyway, after some time I tried to call the truck driver directly he answered the phone after few tries he updated that he has reached his destination at 3 pm and the car will be unloaded in some time.  We called the transport guy he was not even aware of the current status told him the truck is at their warehouse which is a few kilometers behind Gurugram (Gurgaon). We called the transport contact and enquired when he can deliver the car, he upfront told that he cannot deliver now as he was busy. That answer was more frustrating hence we decided to drive there in our rental car and pick up the car ourselves. which may be a bad idea, will come back to that later. So we drove to the place where the car was dropped it was around 35 kilometers but it took us 1.5 hours to reach, there was a lot of traffic which was very common for our day in Delhi that day. I mean the whole day there were always traffic jams. Also, we had to pay road tax at Haryana border as apparently rental cars don’t have all India permit and have to get permits when we need to enter other states(Another reason for us to use our own car) hence we paid ₹100 at the Haryana border before we reach Gurugram toll. We reached the truck stop around 6 PM and the car was unloaded but it was not starting hence the truck drivers did a jump start that fixed the issue. After a lot of discussions with the transport guy as he was asking more money that the discussed we got our car by 6:30 pm by paying only the decided amount. We moved all our luggage in our  Swift which was a tough fit but we somehow managed it.  We split into 2 car headed back to Delhi Mahipalpur as we had to return the rental car.  

During the course of our journey back to Mahipalpur our cars split up due to small confusion in maps. The rental car took a wrong turn and got stuck at Dwarka road which had a mile-long jam. Also, we had to refill the diesel as per the rental car rules. the swift reached the rental car shop by 8 pm. For the rental car to reach the shop it took more than an hour as the traffic was too much at Dwarka road, after that they were unable to find the petrol pump who sells anything other than CNG, this was a tough task as there were no petrol/ Diesel bunks on their route. They had to hunt for a petrol bunk it took a while and traffic-filled roads dint help with that after a lot of searching diesel was refilled. We returned the rental car back by 10 pm.   

Earlier I mentioned we made a bad call with taking the rental car to Gurugram the issues were we have to pay the road tax which is bearable but we wasted like 2.5 hours to return the car instead. we Should have taken a cab and avoided all the return traffic and started to Srinagar from Gurugram. The cab cost which may have been more but when u consider the time wasted and fuel costs for rental car the charges would have been minimum.  

After all the Chaos we have officially started our journey from Delhi to Srinagar at 10:30 PM, even though delayed but we started. However, that was not the last of the inconveniences, that is a story for next time…  

Road Trip of Dreams Leh, Ladakh in a Swift

Pangong Lake

Day 0.5 28th June 2018

I am Hareesh born in Bengaluru and brought up in many parts of north Karnataka. I did my diploma in Bengaluru where have made some awesome friends who has the zeal to travel. It was an all time dream of ours to do a road trip of Leh , Ladakh trip. Almost every year since 2011 we plans for the trip and postponed it every times. Year 2018 was the year all my core friends were able to get their leaves in place. And the date was set between June 28th 9th July. We did a lot of research went through so many blogs and videos to come with our plan. As per the research we understood that taking a rented (self drive cars) to Leh may not be a good option as the local cab unions in Leh will cause problems so it was decided to take our own car. The total head count was set to 4, places were decided, stay was booked for each day and bought all the essentials for the trip. As we are taking our own car we had to ship our car to Delhi even that was done like 10 days in advance. Speaking about the car we have a Maruti Suzuki Swift 2009 model yes not a SUV class or a Sedan or 4X4 vehicle just the good old swift hatch back for 4 people with luggage. When we shipped the car we packed the a box of accessories which we bought for the trip and placed it in the car. This was done to avoid luggage weight issues during our flight. Also to note people did suggest us that we will face issues if we travel with swift and Swift cannot climb the mountains. Did we face issues may be but to find that out go through the remaining blogs in this series.

Now the day had come which I am calling as Day 0.5 that was the day when we all travelled to Delhi. 1 out of us 4 reached Delhi on 28th morning to collect car and get some last moment checks. Other 3 of us had a flight at 10pm from Bangalore to Delhi. 2 of us did have to go to office and plan was to leave office a little early and start for airport at 6 as Bengaluru traffic cannot be predicted. We had planned everything and did every bookings well in advance but sometime things don’t go as you plan. 

During the day of 28th June we tried to get an update on the car delivery surprisingly the car was still 700km away that was a very upsetting news we called all the guys involved in the transport like the transport guy, truck owner truck driver there answers were not helping us. But we got to know the truck will not reach us on time as the plan was to start early morning on 29th July that dint happen. We were all disheartened, angered and sad as we started facing issues  even before beginning the trip. 

Our friend who reached early had to stay in a room in Delhi  and wasted a day without a car he could not do anything. And we boarded the flight to Delhi with lot of doubts, concerns and worries.

But the journey started.