Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Congratulations Sanju

 Dear Sanju,


Words cannot express the immense pride and joy that your mother, I and family feel for you today. We missed being there in Prague to witness your Graduation Ceremony. But, seeing you walk across the stage at your graduation ceremony yesterday, receiving your Masters in Management with distinction from the Prague University of Economics and Business, was an incredibly emotional and unforgettable moment for us.

Throughout this journey, you have shown an unwavering determination and a remarkable spirit of independence. Your sense of responsibility and maturity have been evident in every decision you made. Not only did you excel academically, but you also funded your own education during the second year, relieving us of any financial burden. Your self-reliance and resourcefulness are truly admirable. Your actions speak volumes about your independent character and the strength of your conviction.

Sanju, you have exceeded our expectations in every possible way. Your accomplishments have filled our hearts with an overwhelming sense of pride, and we want you to know that our faith in you has been repaid beyond measure. We have always believed in your capabilities, but witnessing your growth and witnessing you achieve such a significant milestone reaffirms our unwavering belief in you.

As parents, our greatest hope has always been to see you happy, fulfilled, and flourishing. Today, as we celebrate your remarkable achievement, we also celebrate the incredible person you have become. Your determination, intelligence, and kindness cockles our heart daily, and we couldn't be prouder to call you our daughter.

Sanju, remember that this is just the beginning of a lifelong journey of growth and success. As you embark on new endeavors, always trust in your abilities and continue to nurture that incredible spirit of independence and responsibility that has brought you this far. We are confident that you will continue to achieve greatness in all your future endeavors.

Congratulations, dear Sanju. You have made us the proudest parents in the world, and our love and admiration for you know no bounds. May your future be filled with even greater accomplishments and endless happiness.


With all our love and blessings,

Ranjan, Sahana, Anish & Shwetha

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Ahoy - Czech Republic & Prague


Czechoslovakia was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1938–45 and was under Soviet domination from 1948 to 1989. On January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia separated peacefully into two new countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Historically known as Bohemia, it is bordered by Austria to the south, Germany to the west, Poland to the northeast, and Slovakia to the southeast. The Czech Republic has a hilly landscape that covers an area of 78,871 square kilometers (30,452 sq mi) with a mostly temperate continental and oceanic climate. The capital and largest city is Prague; other major cities and urban areas include Brno, Ostrava, Plzeň and Liberec.

Prague (known as Praha) is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic and the historical capital of Bohemia.

It is known as the  "city of a hundred spires" and "the golden city".

 It is one of the most thriving Cities in Central Europe. On the Vltava river, Prague is home to about 1.3 million people. The city has a temperate oceanic climate, with relatively warm summers and chilly winters.

Prague is a political, cultural, and economic hub of central Europe, with a rich history and Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, most notably Charles IV (r. 1346–1378). It was an important city to the Habsburg monarchy and Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city played major roles in the Bohemian and the Protestant Reformations, the Thirty Years' War and in 20th-century history as the capital of Czechoslovakia between the World Wars and the post-war Communist era.

It became part of  the European Union in 2004. It is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  The economy of the Czech Republic is a developed export-oriented social market economy based in services, manufacturing, and innovation that maintains a high-income welfare state and the European social model.

Prague is 6th in the Best Cities to Live in the World and 3rd most beautiful country in the world

The Czech capital came in sixth in Time Out’s annual poll of best cities and ranked third for its beauty in the world. Out of the 53 cities ranked in the list, the top five were Edinburgh, Chicago, Medellín, Glasgow, and Amsterdam. Prague, as stated, was sixth. Finishing out the Top 10 were Marrakesh, Berlin, Montreal, and Copenhagen.

Its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination and the city receives more than 8.5 million international visitors annually (pre-covid). In 2017, Prague was listed as the fifth most visited European city after London, Paris, Rome, and Istanbul.

Prague is the third richest region in the EU

Prague ranked third among Europe's 281 regions in terms of gross domestic product per inhabitant, according to the data from 2019.

The Czech Republic ranks 12th in inequality-adjusted human development and 24th in World Bank Human Capital Index, ahead of countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom or France. It was described by The Guardian as "one of Europe’s most flourishing economies".(Wikepedia)

As of 2022, the Czech GDP per capita at purchasing power parity is $46,811 and $28,077 at nominal value. As of September 2021, the unemployment rate in the Czech Republic was the lowest in the EU at 2.6%, and the poverty rate is the second lowest of OECD members, following Denmark. The Czech Republic ranks 21st in the Index of Economic Freedom (ranked behind Chile), 24th in the Global Innovation Index (ranked behind Australia), 32nd in the Global Competitiveness Report, 41st in the ease of doing business index and 25th in the Global Enabling Trade Report (ranked behind Canada). The largest trading partner for both export and import is Germany, followed by other members of the EU. The Czech Republic has a highly diverse economy that ranks 7th in the 2019 Economic Complexity Index. The Czech Republic also ranks as the 6th most peaceful country, while achieving strong performance in democratic governance. It has the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union.

The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks the Czech education system as the 15th most successful in the world, higher than the OECD average. The UN Education Index ranks the Czech Republic 10th in the world.

Health care in the Czech Republic is similar in quality to that of other developed nations. The Czech universal health care system is based on a compulsory insurance model, with fee-for-service care funded by mandatory employment-related insurance plans. According to the 2016 Euro health consumer index, a comparison of healthcare in Europe, the Czech healthcare is 13th, ranked behind Sweden and two positions ahead of the United Kingdom.

The population of Czech Republic is 10.7 million people and the average age is 43 years. The population of Prague is 1.3 million people spread over 473sq km.  

Some of the famous companies from Czech Republic are Skoda, Pilsner, Budweiser, Bata, Tatra etc.

Education in Czech Republic

Charles University is one of the oldest University in Europe and is situated in Prague. Stated in 1374 and is also the largest university in Central Europe.

Prague University of Economics & Business is another major University and its Business School is ranked 23 in the Top Masters in Management (MIM) program in the world.

It uses its own currency, the Czech koruna, instead of the Euro.



Source Wikipedia.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Road to Himalayas - Bangalore to Ladakh - a self drive Trip

We are embarking on a epic journey, Road to Himalayas by car from Bangalore to Leh/Ladakh and back. We will be covering 10 States, 2 Union Territories covering 18 cities. We will be covering around 9500 kms over a period of 22 days on this Road Trip. This trip is organised by Roy Cruiser LLP.

56 participants and 15 Cars from Bangalore will criss cross the country and roar in the Himalayas.

We start our Journey on 21 May 2022 and will return on 11 June 2022. Our Journey starts from Bangalore and will be covering the following places :

1. 1.    Pune
2.    Kevadia in Gujarat
3.    Jaipur
4.    Chandigarh
5.    Manali
6.    Sarchu
7.    Leh
8.    Nubra Valley via Khardungla Pass (one of thee highest motorable road in the world @ 17,582 ft)
9.    Turtuk
10.  Pangong Tso Lake
11.  Leh Via Chang La Pass, (another highest motorable road in the world @ 17,586 ft)
12.  Kargil via Magnetic Hill
13.  Srinagar
14.  Amritsar
15.  Agra
16.  Gwalior
17.  Nagpur
18.  Hyderabad

I am travelling with my beasty Renault Duster (diesel AMT) and will be accompanied by my friends Sabitha, Sujatha and Kuldeep in our car and 52 others in 15 cars.

Day 1

Flag off & Bangalore to Pune

We all met at the Sajan Rao Circle in VV Puram at 5 am. Offered some pooja and then flagged off at 6.30 am after all the meets, greets & hugs. There was confusion moving out of Bangalore on to the Tumkur – Pune Highway. Some got lost including myself and then we all re-assembled at the Nelamangla Toll gate and regrouped into a convoy.

We stopped at Belgaum for a late lunch and then proceeded towards Pune. We reached the ghat section at night, but the roads were very good but with a lot of traffic. Pune looked very impressive at night, the roads/highway were broad dotted with number of colourful dhabha’s/restaurants on the way.


After a tiring journey of @900 kms we finally reached our hotel well past mid-night. The reality of a Road to Himalayas trip finally sinked in and we got a taste of what is in store for us the remaining days.

Day 2

Statue of Unity at Kevadia, Gujarat.

 Today we are driving from Pune to the Statue of Unity at Kevdia in Gujarat.

The Statue of Unity is the world's tallest statue, with a height of 182 metres (597 feet),located in the state of Gujarat, India. It depicts Indian statesman and independence activist Vallabhbhai Patel (1875–1950), who was the first deputy prime minister and home minister of independent India and an adherent of Mahatma Gandhi. Patel was highly respected for his leadership in uniting 562 princely states of India with a major part of the former British Raj to form the single Union of India. In Gujarat the statue is found on the Narmada River in the Kevadiya colony, facing the Sardar Sarovar Dam 100 kilometres (62 mi) southeast of the city of Vadodara

Just in time for sunset and laser show.after a grueling 550 km ride from Pune and passing through Navi Mumbai, Thane, Vapi and far travelled 1500 kms . .

Day 3

Kevadia – Udaipur - Jaipur

A gruelling 800+ km drive from Kevadia to Jaipur thro Halol,.Godhra, Udaipur, Kishangarh and reached Jaipur at 1.20 am. A pit stop for an hour at Udaipur. Roads were great in the daylight but night driving was dangerous as there were no lights on the highway or reflectors. Pathetic indifference to drivers safety on Indian roads at night.

Weather was surprisingly different. Cloud cover kept us cool through the day but we faced dust storm, hail storm, lightning and thunderstorms at night which made us drive slow under darkness at night and hence reached late.

Surprisingly many parts of Gujarat the public signboards on the road and other communications are only in Gujarati and wonder how do others communicate......

Had an opportunity to vist the Monsoon Palace, also known as the Sajjan Garh Palace, is a hilltop palatial residence in the city of Udaipur, Rajasthan in India, overlooking the Fateh Sagar Lake. It is named Sajjangarh after Maharana Sajjan Singh (1874–1884) of the Mewar Dynasty, who it was built for in 1884.

The palace offers a panoramic view of the city's lakes, palaces and surrounding countryside. It was built chiefly to watch the monsoon clouds; hence, appropriately, it is popularly known as Monsoon Palace. It is said that the Maharana built it at the top of the hill to get a view of his ancestral home, Chittorgarh. Previously owned by the Mewar royal family, it is now under the control of the Forest Department of the Government of Rajasthan and has recently been opened to the public. The palace provides a beautiful view of the city of Udaipur and the Taj Lake Palace hotel.

Next off to Chandigarh tomorrow.....


Day 4


Started the day by visiting the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

Hawa Mahal structure was built in 1799 by the Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, grandson of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, the founder of the city of Jaipur, India. He was so inspired by the unique structure of Khetri Mahal that he built this grand and historical palace.

It was designed by Lal Chand Ustad. Its five-floor exterior is akin to a honeycomb with its 953 small windows called Jharokhas decorated with intricate latticework. The original intent of the lattice design was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life and festivals celebrated in the street below without being seen, since they had to obey the strict rules of "purdah", which forbade them to appear in public without face coverings. This architectural feature also allowed cool air from the Venturi effect to pass throughthus making the whole area more pleasant during the high temperatures in summer. Many people see the Hawa Mahal from the street view and think it is the front of the palace, but it is the back.

Then left for Chandigarh via Western Express and the Delhi-Chandigarh highway. Great roads to drive and reached Chandigarh by 9pm.

Earned a well deserved sleep after 4 days.....


Day 5

Chandigarh - Manali

We are now driving to Manali today. its about 330 km from Chandigarh. We left at 10.30 am .

Manali is one of the oldest and most popular tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh,

With endless views of the breathtaking Greater Himalayas on one hand, the colorful multi-cultural communities on the other, Manali has become a popular road trip for many.

The Manali trip from Chandigarh, you will experience the changing landscape from the cityscape of Chandigarh to the lush farms and fields of Punjab, finally merging into the higher altitudes of Himachal, and passing through pine forests and mountains of Himalayas.

Once we crossed Chandigarh city limits and hit the sun-kissed highway, the world seemed different. The dusty roads bluer skies and endless greenery on both sides offer a mesmerizing glimpse of Punjab.

We crossed through Rupanagar and then crossed into Himachal Pradesh where we got the first glimpses of the Himalayas.

it was time to breathe fresh air and some fuel to the body and we took a break for lunch at the Himalayan Cafe in Bilaspur

The quieter sister of Manali, Kullu is a very popular tourist attraction. It is more of a valley resort and gives you the taste of the Himachal life, different than the other towns we had left behind.

We took the National Highway NH3 and is under road widening project. Half the road is still work in progress and the ride was treacherous and tiring and gave us a test of off roading experience. But the other half that was completed was a joy to ride.

When we thought we were there at Manali it took us 45 mins to travel the last 5 km to enter Manali city and check into our hotel by about 10pm.


Day 6

Rest day @ Manali

A day spent at Manali to recharge ourselves. Also first glimpses of snow capped Himalays from our room itself.

Manali is a town situated in the northern end of the Kullu Valley, in Himachal Pradesh & formed by the Beas River.

It is the beginning of an ancient trade route through Lahaul and Ladakh, over the Karakoram Pass and onto Yarkand and Hotan in the Tarim Basin of China. Manali is a popular tourist destination in India and serves as the gateway to the Lahaul and Spiti district as well as the city of Leh in Ladakh.

Preferred to relax today and just took a visit to the Manali town, vana vihar, lake and the Mall road

Ended evening with some cultural program where local Himachal folk music and dance was presented. A fun filled evening.....

Off to Sarchu tomorrow.....and the adventure over the toughest terrains begins ...stay tuned...


Day 7

Manali – Sarchu via Attal Tunnel


We are departing Manali to Leh but with an overnight stay at Sarchu.

On the Manali to Leh route, Sarchu is preferred by most travellers for night stay. This is where the border of Himachal Pradesh and J&K is located. Manali to Sarchu distance is approx 230 km.

This is the midpoint in Manali Leh route and took us almost 10 hours to travel. We passed thro Rohtang, Kelong, Jispa. Zingzingbar, Baralacha.

We drove through the Attal Tunnel which is the longest tunnel 9.4 km in the world above 10000 ft.

We had our first experience of off roading and passing through river streams and challenging terrains at Pagal Nala. Many vehicles got stuck and needed assistance and we took were very nearly stuck and had to switch to manual gears to get out of the rocky river streams. The most challenging terrain of my life but memorable.

At Baralacha we had our first experience with snow.

Situated at a staggering height of 14,500 feet above sea level, Sarchu is nestled on the border of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal. Surrounded by snow capped mountains and extraordinary natural beauty.

We reached Sarch by 7pm and the temperature was 1 degree but with wind chill factor minus 4 degrees. We had to sleep in tents and many fell sick due to high altitude sickness with vomitting, cold shivers, headache and fever.

i too had cold shivers avnd a severe sinus attack and headche and a disturbed sleep in the cold tent, covered with two razais and layers of protection.

That's day 7 a memorable adventure ride and off to Leh tomorrow.....


Day 8

Sarchu - Leh

Today we are riding from Sarchu to Leh. We will have to pass Gatta Loops,Nakee La & Lachulung La, Pang, Tanglala, More Plains, Rumtse and The landscape between Lachulung La and Pang is as dramatic as it gets.

The colors varying from white to brown to black to at times even yellow and pink.

Those high mountains let in just about the right amount of light creating a play that is simply poetic; especially at that time of the day. The tiny Lachulung river adds to the charm of the place. The desolateness of it all making it look almost post-apocalyptic.

the road all the way to Pang from there is just classic. The anthill-type formations on mountain tops soon become visible. The Grand Canyon-ish feel of the place simply cannot be ignore

Dramatic scenery is an understatement between Lachulung La and Pang. It boasts of one of the most inhospitable terrains of the region.

The structures are formed by wind erosion over centuries.

Tanglang la is the 3 rd highest motorable road at an altitude of 17500 ft and was a great and a tough ride on difficult and challenging terrains with bumpy roads and melting snow water streams on the road

We did reach Leh at around 8pm after passing through magnetic hill where you defy gravity ....

A challenging day for both man and machine. Off roads,plenty of hairoin bends, steep slopes, muddy and water strewn roads made it a memorable journey.

Finally we got LEHD .


Day 9

Rest Day - LEH


Today we spend our day in Leh. i chose to relax and not go for sightseeing as i have already seen it before and was a bit tired after two days of gruelling drive. I was invited for lunch by my neighbour and friend Col Rohit Thakur posted in Leh Army HQ almost situated in the lap of Khardungla. Later in the evening went for a stroll to the Leh market.

Leh is the joint capital and largest city of the region administered by India as a union territory of Ladakh.

Leh is at an altitude of 3,524 m (11,562 ft), and is connected via National Highway 1 to Srinagar in the southwest and to Manali in the south via the Leh-Manali Highway (part of National Highway 3.

The Ladakh capital city of Leh lies near the eastern parts of Jammu and Kashmir, on the crossroads of the historic "Silk Route" from Sinkiang to West Asia and to the plains of India. The humbling monasteries of Shey, Hemis, Alchi, Thikse and Lamayuru will nurture your spiritual needs,

Quite a relaxed day with no driving.......


Day 10

Leh – Nubra via Khardungla Pass


Nubra is approx 150 Kms from the Leh town and takes approx 5 hours (Including small halt at Khardung la and couple of other places). The road from Leh to Khardungla was well paved but narrow and with winding roads and hair pin bends. Its quite a steep ascent to Khardungla.

Khardungla pass is at 5359/18500 ft meters and the amount of oxygen here is very less. At one point of time Khardungla pass was considered the world’s highest motorable road but it has lost this place after recalculation of height by latest GPS technology. There are mostly barren mountains on both sides of the road till Khardungla pass from Leh, we drove on a narrow road with the high mountain on one side and the deep valley on another side.

As our car got near the Khardungla pass, the air got thin and I can feel it while breathing.At this altitude, my lungs were screaming for oxygen and after the initial excitement of reaching at one of the highest motorable points, my brain started going dizzy and the cold was making me somewhat numb.

The mountains and valleys on the side of roads were mostly barren but created a beautiful dramatic landscape with blue sky.

As we moved closer to the Nubra Valley landscape started changing. Now we were driving on a road, which has a high mountain on one side and a river fast flowing on the other side. Finally, I saw some greenery after a long drive. The Yaks and goats were grazing in these meadows. Surrounded by high mountains Nubra Valley is one of the most fertile regions of Ladakh.

As we came closer to the Hunder village in Nubra valley, the landscape changed dramatically. There were sand dunes on side of roads and it was very dusty with swirling dust storms

We visited the Diskit Monastery in Hunder. Diskit Monastery also known as Deskit Gompa or Diskit Gompa is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery (gompa) in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh, northern India.

Diskit Monastery is a major tourist attraction in the Nubra Valley, not just for its incredible location, but for the 106 feet Maitreya Buddha statue which is located just below the monastery.

Diskit Monastery in Nubra Valley is situated at an altitude of 10,308 feet, 15 kilometers northwest off the Khalsar-Panakil route, right at the edge of the desert in the Nubra Valley. It stands atop a hill at the edge of a road, which links Partharpur & Those.

it offers breath taking view of the Hunder valley especially during dusk and sunset.

Another gruelling day but with a great sense of achievement having scaled the 2nd highest motorable road in the world and one of the most challenging roads to drive.


Day 11

Nubrah – Turtuk via Siachen


Today we are going to Turtuk.

Turtuk, in Ladakh district, is in the Indian-administered part of the Baltistan region and borders Pakistan's Gilgit-Baltistan area.

Turtuk, is an unknown little hamlet, flanked by Nubra on one side and Baltistan on the other, lies along the shores of Shyok River. An enigma in itself, this curious little settlement of ~4000 people is the last northernmost village before Pakistan – Occupied Kashmir.

Turtuk was part of Pakistan – Occupied Kashmir up until 1971 when Major Chewang Rinchen got the village under India’s command

Turtuk opened its doors to tourists in 2010.

Turtuk is at the height of 3,001 mt., it is one of the gateways to Siachen Glacier, making it a strategically important location and is about 205 KM from Leh.

35 KM after Hunder, we stopped at Thoise, a military airfield, and a tiny settlement. Thoise is an acronym – Transit Halt of Indian Soldiers Enroute (to Siachen). While no photography is allowed due to the sensitive nature of the region, the landscapes are exceptionally stunning. We got to hear about the Siachen war and how our Indian soldiers braved extreme weather conditions and defended our Indian territory. We paid homage to all those who laid their lives and also visited the Model living accommodation in Siachen Glacier.

At Turktuk we spent a couple of hours lazing around the river, gazing at the Himalayas on the Pakistan side and had something to eat before we rode back home to Hunder in our Tents

The drive was scenic on good roads most of the time. We wound our way through curvy roads and passed through barren dessert with sprinkled vegetation and with no signs of civilization for most part.

An interesting day well spent exploring the Nubra Valley.....

Tomorrow we are offf to Pangong....


Day 12

Nubrah – Pangong Tso Lake


Today we are driving to Pangong Tso Lake.

Pangong Tso (lake), is the largest brackish lake in Asia. A large part of it extends into Tibet. The lake is 80 miles (130 km) long and 3 miles (5 km) at its widest point. It freezes completely in winter and there's no marine life here, except for a few migrating birds like gulls and Brahminy ducks.

As this is a border region, the furthest point you're allowed to go to is Spangmik after which itis controlled by China. You can see some spectacular views of the mountains of the Changchenmo range to the north, as well as their reflections in the ever-changing surface of the blue-green lake. Above Spangmik are the glaciers and snow-capped peaks of the Pangong range.

Pangong Lake is the most gorgeous lake on the planet; that colour of blue is something you would have only seen in picture books. The road linking Nubra valley to Pangong lake via Shyok, is certainly one road trip you'll want to capture extensively.

This place became a very popular destination after the 3 Idiots movie. More recently it was in the news for Chinese Army incursions into our Pangong territory but effectively thwarted and defended by our Army. There is heavy presence of Army all along the route.

The journey from Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake via Shyok is roughly 140 kilometres long. Half the distance the roads are manageable but the other half is dirt roads, roads under construction and water flowing on roads with rocks and pebbles strewn along. Its a test of man and machine. With Duster we managed the trip well driving mostly on manual mode to deal with challenging road conditions.

We left Nubra around 9 am and reached Pangong at around 5pm.

We were welcomed with freezing temperatures and accentuated by swirling winds which made it even more colder.

We played around the lake edges, took photographs and then after dinner tucked into our tents.

The temperature went down to -5 and a real feel of _10 C. We were worried if the tents on the banks of the lake could insulate us from extreme weather conditions and more importantly withstand the gutsy winds. However we managed to have a disturbed sleep and get ready for another challenging drive back to Leh......

Despite all odds and challenges managed to tick another milestone.....


Day 13

Pangong Tso Lake – Leh via Changla Pass


Today we are returning to Leh via Changla Pass.

Ww assembled one last time at the lake for a group photograph and then bid goodbye to Pangong lake.

The night temperature was -5 and am sure with the winds blowing the real feel would have been -10C. i caught severe cold and slight temperature despite wearing layers of warm clothes.

We drove through Tangtse Village, Changla Pass and Kheru before reaching Leh.

Changla Pass is another pass used during the Silk Route period. Located close to 17000feet above ground, the weather changes quickly and we were fortunate indeed to wotness snowfall at Changla Pass for few minutes.

We had to pass through another Pagal Nala with water streams flowing through the road and strewn with pebbles and even small rocks.

This was the toughest drive of all days. The roads for most part was dirt roads and strewn with pebbles, mus roads and water streams passing through. It was a test of man and machine.

In fact we saw BMW, Thar and Pajero stuck in a few places. Luckily for us the Duater in manual mode helped us to navigate through these difficult terrains.

My health started detiorating and temperature risung. Hence I asked Roy to drive from Changla Pass upto Leh.

We finally reached Leh at 5pm after yet another adventurous day....

Alvida for now and tomorrow we are off to Kargil......


Day 14

Leh - Kargil


Today we are moving to Kargil.

Leh to Kargil highway goes alongside the beautiful Indus River as well as through certain barren terrains. We rode past Hall of fame, Magnetic Hill, Sangam, climbed the Namika La, Zozi La, and Fotu La passes located at a greater altitude. There were breathtaking sights of the untouched landscapes through the trip. The roads were very good with black tops.

Kargil is the 2nd biggest city of Ladakh and also the joint capital of the union territory. It is also the headquarters of the Kargil district. Kargil is located 204 kilometres to the east of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, and 234 kilometres to the west of Leh.

We visited the Kargil war memorial. Kargil War Memorial is a famous tourist attraction in Kargil. Kargil War Memorial, is a war memorial built by the Indian Army, located in Dras, in the foothills of the Tololing Hill.

Built in pink sandstone, it commemorates the soldiers of the Indian Army who lost their lives in the Kargil War.

the winter of 1998-1999, the Pakistan Army crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and occupied the roads connecting Leh and Kargil to Srinagar, along with numerous heights along the National Highway.

The Indian Army, in response, launched Operation Vijay (Victory) in May 1999 to retake the territory. Consequently, several fierce battles were fought, with the Indian Army finally winning the war.

Every year, 26th July is observed as Kargil Vijay Diwas, which means Kargil Victory Day. The memorial, as it stands today, was constructed by the Indian Army in November 2014.

At the war memorial we can see major sequence of events which transpired during the course of the war. A documentary movie is also shown, which explains the entire war, and the events leading up to it, in detail.

After visiting the war memorial it was so heartening to see how the Indian Army is protecting us in such difficult terrains and harsh weather conditions. Hats off to them.....



Day 15

Kargil – Srinagar via Sonamarg


Today we are driving to Srinagar from Kargil.


The journey to Srinagar is about 220km. Along the way we passed by Kargil War memorial, Drass War Memorial, Zoji La Pass , Baltal Wildlife Sanctuary, Baltal Valley and Sonamarg.

The road is a mix of good, bad and ugly. The ugliest part is limited around the Zoji La Pass (11500 ft) For the rest of the distance, the road remains good or average.

We stopped for lunch at Sonamarg. it was very crowded with hundreds of vehicles and a few thousand people. The restaurants were full. The snow had turned black and the snow slides looked unimpressed. So we drove on the outskirts to a peaceful area by the riverside and enjoyed the scenary and had our lunch and left for Srinagar.

We come across picturesque landscapes and the roads were dotted with maple trees which makes the journey more beautiful.

While Ladakh region of Himalays was all rocks, sand and brown in colour, we saw a dark contrast in the Kashmir region with greenary after a long time.

Srinagar is sometimes called the “Venice of the East”. The city’s lakes include Lake Dal – known for its houseboats – and Lake Nigeen. In addition to Dal Lake and Nigeen Lake, Wular Lake and Manasbal Lake are north of Srinagar. Srinagar prides itself on red apples, orchards, trees of different shapes, ripe peaches; Everything seems to contribute to Srinagar’s charm.

We reached Srinagar in time for a Shikara Ride on Dal Lake at Sunset. It was again overly crowded with vehicles on roads and boats on the lake. It was overflowing with tourists and for most part our Shikara boat was colliding with one or the other boats and nudging its way around.

We finally settled into our boathouse at the back. A good one with 2 bedrooms, a dinning room and a living room and a veranda which Usher's you into the boathouse.

I was terribly tired and carrying my illness from Pangong with cold, sore throat and intermittent fever. Took some strong medication and retired for bed early.

There was apprehensions about safety and security at Srinagar. But we had a smooth entry and a safe journey but offcourse with heavy army protection.

Alvida for now and see you tomorrow.


Day 16

Srinagar – Amritsar via Jammu


Today we are driving to Amritsar in Punjab from Srinagar.

Its about 420kms and should normally take around 9-10 hours to reach.

We left at 10.30am and were instantly struck by traffic. Heavy vehicles and army convoys throughout the Valley. Every time an army convoy passes other vehicles are stopped.

We passed through Pulwama, Uri, Anantnag, Udampur and these places sound familiar?

It took us 10 hours to reach Jammu side and another 6 hours to reach Amritsar at 3.15 am.

We drove through the Himalayas and wild life sanctuary through the night. Also were lucky to esacape a landslide on the way

Yet another eventful adventure spent entirely waiting in car or driving......


Day 17

Rest day – Amritsar


Today is rest day at Amritsar.

We visited the Attari border also known as wagah border and witnessed the unfurling of the India and Pakistan flags at the International border.

It was quite a experience with temperature at @45 degrees. We had to drive around 45 minutes and wait in que for about half hour and then a mad rush to get a vantage point and also shade under the sun.

We had to wait another 2.5 hours before the proceedings began. The BSF engaged with the audience and kept egging us to outshout our neighbours and invoking Nationalism and stoking passion.

The final time came and the gates were open and the BSF gaurds exchanged pleaseantaries shook hands, did some grand standing and finally unfurled the flags.

In between they called all women and children and asked them to dance to national music and it was a sight to behold.

A great moment to witness and come close to Pakistan border.


Day 18

Amritsar - Agra


Today we are going to Agra.

The direct drive from Amritsar to Agra is @665 km. We passed by

Ambala, Kurukshetra, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Ghaziabad, New Delhi outskirts, Mathura and finally reached Agra.

Due to some missouts and a car getting stuck near the xpress way we reached late by 2am.


Day 19

Agra to Gwalior


Many of my colleagues visited Taj Mahal and then we left for Gwalior. Gwalior is about 120kms from Agra is about 2.5hours drive.

We visited the Gwalior Fort in the evening.

Gwalior Fort (Gwāliiyar Qila) is a hill fort near Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India. The fort has existed at least since the 10th century, and the inscriptions and monuments found within what is now the fort campus indicate that it may have existed as early as the beginning of the 6th century. The modern-day fort, consisting a defensive structure and two palaces was built by Tomaras of Gwalior ruler. The fort has been controlled by a number of different rulers in its history.

The present-day fort consists of a defensive structure and two main palaces, "Man Mandir" and Gujar Mahal, built by Tomar ruler(reigned 1486–1516 CE), the latter one for his wife Queen Mrignayani.

The second oldest record of "zero" in the world was found in a small temple (the stone inscription has the oldest record of the numeric zero symbol having a place value as in the modern decimal notation), which is located on the way to the top. The inscription is around 1500 years old.

Also sharing beautiful pictures of Taj Mahal captured by my friend Sabitha....


Day 20

Gwalior - Nagpur


Today we reached Nagpur after about 700± km ride. The day was spent only riding.


Day 21

Nagpur - Hyderabad


We visited the Gandhi Ashram at Sewagram in the morning before proceeding to Hyderabad.


Gandhiji Ashram Bapu Kuti is renowned as Sewagram where Mahatma Gandhi is believed to have continued the Quit India Movement after 1934.

Bapu kuti is now a well published tourist place where most of people from foreign tourist who believe in bapu's teaching visit there frequently. It is nearly 20 km from wardha bus station and railway station as well.

The ashram has a collection of several articles which were used by Gandhiji when he stayed at this site. In addition to this, the ashram houses Adi Niwas, Kishore Kuti, Akhri Niwas, Mahadeo Kuti and Ba Kuti. all the houses are made with the old traditional way using mud. the whole area is well maintained. there is free entry to visit.

This is indeed a very different kind of place, far removed from one's day to day experience. One has to visit this place if only for that, to get a different perspective on things. So serene, peaceful, natural and simple.

We had a sumptuous satvic lunch at the Ashram and then left for Hyderabad. Another 500+ km ride and made it to Hyderabad by 7pm. The last 1 hours drive was in bumper to bumper traffic.

We have reached the penultimate day and look forward to returning home to Bangalore tomorrow......


Day 22

Hyderabad to Bangalore

It was a nostalgic day as it was the last day of our trip but at the same time all of us were eager to return home in Bangalore after a gruelling 22 day trip.

After breakfast, greet & meets and hugs, all of us jumped onto our cars and started our last leg of our journey.

We all met at Anantpur for a late lunch and finally reached Bangalore (Bangalore International Airport) by about 6 pm. There after it took me about 2.5 hours to reach home after dropping my car mates Sabitha & Sujatha on the way. After being used to cruising at 100+ km speeds it was frustrating driving bumper to bumper the last couple of hours.





The Trip was organized by Roy Cruisers.

It was a memorable trip and helped fulfill our long cherished dream of self driving on the Himalayas. We drove through highways, deserts, hills, mountains, dirt roads, snow, pebble roads, river crossing, dust storms etc and it was a test of Man and Machine and also Physical & Mental endurance. Its not for the faint hearted but as Evazubeck says “the world belongs to the brave”.

I strongly believe that age is only a number. I drove almost around 6500km and my friends shared the remaining with the bulk being driven by my friend Ms.Sabitha. Yes the thought of embarking on a 9000km journey across 15 states and spread over 22 days is daunting but when you are passionate and love to drive on challenging terrains and explore the world, its no more stressful.

Its not the absence of fear, challenges, stress but it’s the conquest of fear, challenges and stress that differentiates between a successful person and the not-so successful person.

Yes every day I used to get up at 5.45 am, get ready by 7 am and get ready for a long challenging drive. We reached our destination many a times in the night as late as 3.30 am at Amritsar. We drove through mountains, forests and other challenging terrains at night with near zero visibility. We faced dust storm, hail storm, snow and other challenges thrown at us by mother nature.

My body was pushed to the limits. 66 different breakfast, lunches, dinner and water. The temperature at Pangong Lake was -5 (actual feel -10C because of wind) and in 4 days we were in Amritsar with temperature soaring to 47degrees.

By Gods grace I managed to pass through the ordeal and but for some cold & cough & feverishness for a few days nothing to cry about.

Every day we thought that we had faced the toughest road and challenges only to realise that the next day was even tougher.

If we thought that day1 – Bangalore to Pune @900km was tough, the ride to Kevadia was even tougher, navigating through Navi Mumbai. The next day to Jaipur was even tougher, the route from Manali to Sarchu was tough with Pagal Nala, dirt roads, water streams, snow clad roads etc, but the next day Sarchu to Leh was even tougher having to climb the dreaded 21 Gatala Loops and ride past Khardungla. If we thought we had conquered the 2nd highest motorable road in the world, we found that the route was even tougher.

We passed through some of the highest motorable passes Kardhungla Pass, Changla Pass, Tanglang Pass, Bara Lacha La Pass, Fotu La Pass, Zoji La Pass and each one of them were tougher than the previous one.

We passed through various sensitive areas across the border Turktuk, Siachen, Tiger Hill, Drass, Kargil, Srinagar, Pulwama, Anantnag, Udampur & Pathankot but never felt unsafe. Offcourse there was sporadic presence of Army men deployed in some of these sensitive areas.

If we thought we were done with Himalayas with Srinagar, we were in for a rude shock. The journey from Srinagar to Amritsar was the toughest one and took almost 16 hours to reach about 450 kms. Heavy army convoy movements, narrow roads, roads under construction, landslides and heavy vehicular movements towards Jammu made us move bumper to bumper for most part of the journey. And when we thought we had climbed the highest peak and were climbing down, another peak to scale and we had to scale a wave of mountains and curvy roads before passing through a National Reserve Forest near Udampur at mid-night.

Roy & Rohit from Roy Cruisers and Jaideep & Munish from Himalayan Panthers did a great job in planning the itinerary and coordinated all the arrangements to ensure that the large convoy and participants successfully complete the trip and return back safely.

There was not a single incident of safety or accidents for all the 15 cars and 58 participants. My car did not have a single dent or even a puncture.

The accommodations were good and the safety back up was very assuring. Roy & the team were ever ready to help us in distress even in midnight. They were very supportive, worked tirelessly, took some flak but yet retained their composure and were always with a smile.

I drove a Renault Duster, Diesel Automatic and should say that it was very reliable and efficient. Except for high altitude mountains (where there was power loss due to low oxygen), the beast sailed through most difficult terrains with full load (4 passengers and dicky packed to the brim with luggage’s). I had to shift to manual mode a few times during these challenging high altitude places but other wise cruised in auto mode. It’s a very reliable all terrain SUV. No wonder the Renault Duster is a popular SUV world over.

Met a lot of people, made new friends and will truly cherish this trip in my life and also look back with a feeling of accomplishment……

I would like to thank my friend Ms.Sabitha who was a constant source of support and who pitched in to drive in challenging circumstances and share my load.

I would also like to thank my fellow car mates Sujatha, Kuldeep for their support during the journey. Would also like to thank my room mate Vasanth Kumar who treated me like an elder brother and helped me with my luggages and other arrangements.

I would like to also thank all my fellow drivers who lent their support and encouragement to other participants. There were moments of high and low and in all this, we felt like one family. Without their support, it would not have been possible to complete this arduous journey.

I will be failing in my duty if I don't thank Sahana Ranjan & all of my family members, friends and well wishers who kept following my journey, encouraged me and motivating me. Thanks for all your kind wishes and words of encouragement..........