We got Zanskar-ed finally!

Hey folks, so this time we were wanting to head out to Himalayas and to be specific to Zanskar range but due to COVID the plans were just getting delayed and delayed for long. Somehow we decided to head out inspite of COVID scare in the country and finally made it to the heavenly Zanskar and back home safely. In these series of posts I will be narrating the experiences we had in this driving expedition and also share the information about the drive if someone wants to do this in future. I will be breaking this into multiple parts so keep checking for the updates. This is only a teaser with the highlights of the trip..

Shot at the sacred mountain called "Gonbo Rongjom". We literally went there to actually take this shot as our main target :)

The itinerary we decided was as below from Bangalore - Zanskar - Himachal - Bangalore

Day 1 and 2: Bangalore - Nagpur - Delhi

Day 2: Delhi - Keylong

Day 3: Keylong local and acclimatisation

Day 4: Keylong - Darcha - ShinkuLa - Kurgiak - Purne

Day 5: Purne - Padum

Day 6: Padum

Day 7: Padum - Rangdum

Day 8: Rangdum - Padum

Day 9: Padum - Lingshed - Khaltse

Day 10: Khaltse - Leh

Day 11: Leh - KhardungLa - Nubrah Valley - Turtuk - Tyakshi

Day 12: Turtuk - Siachen base camp - Sumur

Day 13: Sumur - Tandi

Day 14: Tandi - Chandrataal Lake

Day 15: Chandrataal Lake - Mandi

Day 16: Mandi - Panchkula - Delhi

Day 17: Panchkula - Delhi

Day 18, 19, 20: Back to Benguluru from Delhi via Narsinghpur, Hyderabad

The trip was completed mostly as scheduled but there were certain changes we did on the fly based on the road conditions, status of roads being open and our health conditions.

So let me start with some of the moments we captured along the way and the highlights of the trip. As we wanted to focus on Zanskar this time but the difficult terrain, the conditions and the availability of facilities in that region kept us on the run. We did spend some good time in Zanskar region and enjoyed every bit of it. The whole trip was just simply awesome and beyond our expectations. We saw a lot of youtube videos and read a lot of articles before going but believe me no photo or video does justice to being at the place in person. The experience of being there is just amazing, the vibe of the place is just so positive and refreshing that it felt like if there's a heaven on earth, this is what it is.

Zanskar is also very untouched by tourists and not many tourists go there in this part of the region unlike Leh-Ladakh tourist circuit so this is not abused at all and kinda isolated. The region is now open for tourist travel but the amenities and facilities in the region need to be built yet. There is no google map available as well for the route from Keylong-Darcha to Padum or to Leh from there. There are few people who have done this circuit and have posted some of the hand drawn maps on the net that are available as a reference. I've recorded this trail as well so posting here for everyone's benefit. There are few homestays in the en-route in the villages where you might find some stay options if you're lucky, but if you carry your tents, you can pitch the tents in some village properties. There are hotels and homestays available at Padum which is a big town in Zanskar but to reach there, you need to spend at least 2 days if you're going from Manali/Jispa. We stayed at Purne where we had to pitch our tent and cook for ourselves. We carried the entire tent equipment, kitchen items and food to cook as we knew that we won't get much to eat or stay here. It was a great experience though and loved the experience of camping in Himalayas!

Enjoy the key moments of the drive while I work on narrating each of the stories ..

Below is the route we did from Padum to Khaltse (on NH1). This route is not available on google maps so if you want to do this route, ask me for a gps file that i can share with you. Even though this route is straight forward but there are 2-3 turns you need to be cautious off. They might not have the signages as when we went there was nothing.

The route we covered from Padum to Khaltse. From Keylong to Padum, we did Darcha - Kurgiyak - Purne - Cha - Bardan Monastery - Padum (I unfortunately couldn't record this map)

Me and my partner in crime :)

In this total trip we drove for approximately 8k kms. Below are the stats.

Our trusted ride for the expedition!

Many of the people always and always ask me if the vehicle performed well? and if had any issues with the vehicle so far in all of our expeditions? and the answer is NO. Nothing major so far and in this trip nothing at all. Thank God!

Heavenly Himachal!

Lovely valleys! Fell in love with these vistas. One day, will definitely settle down somewhere in Himalayas!

Heavenly Himachal!

One of the major milestones in this drive circuit, ShinkuLa

View from ShinkuLa

One of the river crossings we had to cross in this circuit to reach our first milestone, ShinkuLa Pass! It was difficult to judge the depth of the water so had to go down, physically inspect the place and then drive through with utmost care and tact so we don't get stuck or break down anything of the car as we had a long way to go and no help to ask for if at all we are stuck anywhere..

River crossing at ShinkuLa

Our camping setup at Purne. Stay tuned for a detailed post of this experience and the night we spent here at Purne...

Dinner time

Shot at one of the hilltops en-route Padum

Towards Lingshed.. one of the awesome drives of this whole circuit. If I can ever drive back there, I will certainly do this another time but at a slower pace than this time..

Feeling on Top of the World. Literally!

Amazing views of the valleys!

One of the vast valleys at Padum

Shot at Drang Drung Glacier. Wanted to do this from long time and this trip made it possible for us. It was a good or I would say rough but good drive :)

One of the homestay experience

One of the street vendors selling Fresh Peaches, Apples and Veggies and weaving woollen scarves at the same time. This is a common sight and practice by many of the vendors out there to multitask and ear their bread and butter at the famous LEH main market. I liked this sight as you can see the contrasting background where we have a multinational company store selling the new age gadgets and this lady adds to the local culture by selling the goods on the street maintaining the culture of Indian retail. Loved it! Look out for the post where I share my detailed experience of this place later..

The dusty mud trails of Sarchu we had to cross where we had to go through multiple tornados with all the dust and mud that left our car with a 1-2 inch layer of mud on the entire windshield and the body. It was very difficult to drive as the visibility got reduced to merely 2-3 meters because of the gutsy winds and mud.. see this video below