Day 11: 19 August 2013: Part 5: Tangtse to Upshi

After submitting copy of the ILP, we started ahead towards Karu (the actual name is Kharoo!) from Tangtse around 1645. I remembered that yesterday, we had told the person at the checkpost that we won’t be returning here again, but as luck would have it, we will have to eat our words πŸ™

But something is giving solace…



The drive is on the same path that we had taken yesterday – via Darbuk, Chang La, Zingral, Serthi to Karu, only that the Sun is fast receding today… (check Day 10 Part 1 and Day 10 Part 2 for details..)



Heavy clouds are hovering over and it seems it is rainign somewhere…



We crossed Chang La quickly and were conscious that we have to reach at least Upshi for the night so that we get some accommodation.

Very soon we reached Zingral which was obvious from the famous “Z” of Zingral…



Just after crossing Zingral, we see this…



First time in life, we witness from the level of clouds, how it appears when the downpour happens..



The night is eager to spread it’s span and it is getting dark quickly…



Soaking in the nature’s wonder, we kept on driving…



Soon we pass by Serthi/Sakti



The vistas are amazing, the road is straight, the sky colours are amazing and the downpowr is creating amazing scenario, but we don’t have much time left before it gets dark and so we hurry… Reminds me of the poem – The woods are lovely, dark and deep.. But I have promises to keep.. and miles to go before I sleep.. and miles to go before I sleep…



By the time we reached Karu, it is already dark.

We tank up again at the fuel bunk and proceeded towards Upshi. The time read 1930 hrs. The last of the light has also gone by that time, and we are driving in pitch dark with just the car’s headlamp to show us the way. We keep the cameras aside as there is nothing visible. The only saving grace is that we are not driving on dangerous curvy hills. There are mountains on one side and sort of plains on the other. We can hear the gush of river, which I know would be the Indus.

Shortly, we pass by the army area and driving further ahead, we reach the Upshi checkpost. We had the permits for Tso Moriri too and the guy asked whether we were headed that way. However, I had calculated this already that today was 19th and we are supposed to be at Chandratal on 21st night for the Full Moon, so unfortunately now we can’t go to Tso Moriri. If we have to reach Chandratal on 21st, we must reach at least till Keylong by tomorrow evening. Informed our decision to move towards Manali to the checkpost and arrived at the tri-junction where one road leads to Tso Moriri and another goes towards Manali. The time read 2030 hrs.

Asked one of the shops if there are any accommodation available, but unfortunately they were full. And so were couple of nearby ones. The shopkeeper then advised to go towards the Tso Moriri road and ask from the last shop if they have something available. This shop is being manned by a mother-daughter duo and they say that they have a room available, but no toilet and would charge 150 Rupee per person per night. Upon asking about the toilet, the lady exclaimed “Bahar Acchha”! Apparently, they’ve recently got the room and toilets constructed, but the toilet was not operational at that time. Knowing fully well that the next available accommodation option would only be at Pang, some 127 kms away, and we can’t drive till there, we accept the accommodation.

Being tad tired, we have some tea, quick dinner and go to the rooms to retire. This is one big room with matress laid on the floor and adequate quilts and pillows. It appears to be apt for at least 6 people, however, we have it all for 4 of us. Quickly, we all go to sleep.



Next: Upshi to Keylong


Total Distance covered: Approx 93.8 kms

Driving Directions from Tangtse to Upshi: From the Tangtse checkpost, drive straight to reach Durbuk. Take the left fork to go towards Zingral. The right fork goes towards Agham via Shyok. Keep on driving to pass by Tsoltak followed by Chang La and arrive at Zingral. Keep straight and arrive at the Serthi/Sakti tri-junction. Keep left, the right fork goes to Serthi and further to Wari La. Driving ahead, arrive at Karu tri-junction. From the tri-junction, take sharp left U turn to be on the Leh-Manali road. If you’ve reached the Karu checkpost or the Fuel bunk, you’d need to come back and take the right fork to be on the Manali road. Drive straight from here onwards with Indus river on your right to give company and arrive at Upshi checkpost and further ahead to Upshi.

Google Map directions for Tangtse to Upshi travel:

Day 11: 19 August 2013: Part 4: Chusul to Tangtse

Having been denied the route to Tso Moriri via Tsaga La or Mitpal Tso, we proceed towards Tangtse via the Harong / Erath route as advised by the ITBP personnel manning the gates at Chusul. We notice the road going to left and ascending towards Mitpal Tso.. looks similar to the Wari La route! Alas we couldn’t take that!! The time reads 1220 hrs.

Fortunately, the road that we’re on is fully tarred and there is literally no traffic.



And the views are great too!



We are greeted by some marmots..



And Kiangs…



Going just ahead, we notice that the carrier is sliding towards the front and has resulting in spilling of the diesel all over the car. Remember I found out the screws missing and Cheena assured that everything was fine! That was at Lukung and the jerks that the car got while negotiating to Chusul did it’s bit.

So? We pull out the ropes we had and tie down the carrier to the rear bull bar so that it won’t slide to the front. To ease out the load on the carrier, we take down the extra fuel that we were carrying on the carrier and fill the car tanks. It took just over 20 litres. One plastic container is empty now. Everyone says that we should throw away the container, but I’m not in favour of spoiling the valley by throwing away plastic waste. Keeping them inside means dealing with the smell of diesel and then there is no room as well. In the debate, I win and we keep the containers at the co-passenger’s leg space. It does means inconvenience to Avi as he’ll have to sit folding his legs, but it would be better than polluting the valley.



In the meantime, I click some macros…



Finished with the job, we wash our hands in the stream passing along side the road…



And hop on again..



Tangtse is still 55 kms..



We see some Changpas camping. They’ve also come out of age and now using commercially available tent in place of the original rock structures…



The views are worth absorbing through the eyes.. ice-capped barren peaks on one side, a rivulet and marshland on the other, and a road in the midst! Harong wetlands must be near…


However, the disaster strikes again!

This time, the carrier is sliding to the rear and forth, to a point where it can come out by itself and damage the car too. What shall we do now?

The only option is to take down the carrier and everything on it has to be put in the car itself. But it’s already packed and there is no space.. literally. Plus what do we do with the carrier? Finally, having no other option, we decide to take down the carrier and leave it by the side of the road. Adjusting the luggage on the carrier (spare tyre, gas, tents, sleeping bags etc) means that we can’t carry the diesel containers. And then we decide to leave the containers too. We fill the tank to the brim, fill some cola bottles with the diesel, but still have over 15 litres of diesel in one can.



Although I genuinely didn’t wanted to do this, we had no other way.. So, we take down the carrier, put the diesel containers, wrap the trampoline and tie it down with the ropes and place it gently besides the road so that it is visible to people passing by. Perhaps someone can find some use for it. πŸ™



Feeling too bad to do this, I also write a sorry note and place it securely.



The lathi (staff) that we were carrying won’t fit in the car, so have to leave it too. But at least it is organic and bio-degradable, and fortunately, we’ve not yet reached Harong wetlands. So Tony leaves a memento…



Feeling bad, we proceed ahead. It’s already 1520 and we’re getting late.. The marshy area is growing bigger and the rivulet is growing bigger.. we’ve reached Harong wetlands…



We come across herds of sheep and yaks grazing in on Harong…



Passing by Harong, we cross a bridge and by now, the rivulet has taken the shape of a proper river…



BRO is working on the road, but since there is no other vehicle on the road except for the two dozers and our car, they let us go in a couple of minutes. This is Erath…



Finally around 1645, we reach Tangtse. Overall, it has taken us 4 hours 20 minutes to complete the stretch. Hadn’t we faced issues with the carrier, we could have reached at least 2 hours earlier.



Next: Tangtse to Upshi


Total Distance covered: Approx 85.7 kms

Driving Directions from Chusul to Tangtse via Harong: From the Chusul ITBP gate, drive straight for approx 85 kms to pass by Harong wetlands, Erath and Chilam. Shortly ahead, the road from Lukung will also join. Further ahead from the fork point, take the left fork to arrive at the Tangtse checkpoint.

Google Map directions for Merak to Chusul travel:

Day 10: 18 August 2013: Part 2: Chang La to Tangtse

I had read somewhere that Chang La souvenir shop sold only K-top marked caps and merchandise. I thought to check and find out. One reason was also that I really wanted to get something which is hard to find. So I entered the shop and asked for Chang La cap. They said that it wasn’t available and all the merchandise were marked for Khardung La. I insisted them to again check and so they opened a metallic trunk and behold – they pulled out a Chang La cap! Got it for 150 bucks. πŸ™‚

Having done that, we embarked on our onward journey, marked by presence of ice on road side and peaks, cloud and fog everywhere and of course running streams on the road. Some shots… (more…)