Hero Xpulse 200

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Hero Xpulse 200 BS4 (Carb)

The decoupling of two mammoth brands Honda and Hero gave room for Mr. Munjal’s ambitious plans to establish Hero as a dominant player in the Indian two-wheeler market. Apart from having motorcycles in the commuter segment, they made a bold move by launching Impulse 150 in 2012 which was projected as a dual-purpose and cost effective motorcycle for India. However, it was not able to capture the attention of the target audience due to multifarious reasons such as less power, lack of spares, low demand from the masses etc and in 2017, it was discontinued which left many aficionados high and dry.

Impulse had created a niche segment of enthusiasts who wanted to go the distance to find off-road trails and looking at Hero’s ‘never-back-down’ attitude, the company was stealthily developing a motorcycle which could serve not just these admirers but also for the masses keeping in mind affordability. Simultaneously, Hero started working with CS Santhosh, a very well know cross-country rally racer, which meant that something better was on the cards.

The progressive thought process of Hero’s management team in collaboration with Hero Motorsports team, motivated them to launch Xpulse 200 (BS4) in 2019 which received an overwhelming response from the Indian populace. The design was refreshing and appealing. It meant business from all angles. A power delivery of 18.4 bhp and torque figure of 16.4 Nm made the bike very much valid in a 200cc dual purpose segment and there is no competition to it.

In 2020, the bike has transitioned into a BS6 engine. The power figure is modest at 17.8 bhp with a torque of 16.5 Nm. The fuel-injected engine will ensure optimal use of fuel and high altitude riding will not be stressful. In order to be compliant with the new emission norms, a catcon has been added due to which the exhaust pipe has been routed under the belly of the bike instead of the side of the cylinder kit. Fun Fact, this modification does not impact the ground clearance, which remains fixed at 220 mm. For heat management, which was a gripe with BS4 version owners, has been resolved by installing an oil cooler. One can expect a 40 kmpl plus mileage when the bike is ridden in a sane manner. The specs of the spoke wheels remain unchanged. The front one is 120/80-18 section and rear is 90/90-21.

Bluetooth Connectivity, turn by turn navigation and gear indicator are some of the outstanding features offered by Xpulse’s digital console, other than the standard ones. The under-the-seat exhaust makes it look like an enduro and it is very practical for Indian roads, which are prone to water logging during monsoons, for wading water. The long travel suspension is best in-class for off-road riding.

I have not ridden the latest model but I have ridden the older model. Hence, I am in no position to comment on the engine performance but with these power figures one can expect to cruise between 70 kmph to 90 kmph without stressing the engine. This motorcycle is meant for someone who is in love with adventure riding or a beginner. People may use it as a secondary bike in the city or scout for off-road trails over the weekend. This can be used as an office commuter. At an ex-showroom price in INR 1,11,700 (Delhi), it is a steal, given that the other options of the similar genre are at last a lac expensive. It is a forgiving bike for a starter and will give one a platform to learn riding basics. This machine can be thrown or parked anywhere without one to worry much about it being damaged and fiddled with.

For more information, you can visit the official HeroMoto Corp website.

Touring Motorbike: KTM Adventure 390

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Photo Courtesy: ridermagazine.com

‘Let’s paint Ladakh in orange color’ – That’s the level of excitement for KTM Adventure 390

KTM fans and even hardcore riders who like to take a motorcycle off the road, have been waiting for this motorcycle since ages. I still remember very clearly that there was a rumor about KTM launching an adventure version by using it’s potent 390cc engine when they had introduced the Duke 390 in the Indian market in 2013. No one knew that this rumor would one day become a reality. Fast forward this to 2018, just after the launch of the BMW 310 twins, KTM announced that they will be introducing the KTM Adventure 390 in the Indian market in 2019. This new spread like a wildfire, which made the motorcyclists go into a tizzy. KTM is a dominant player in the market when it comes to manufacturing bikes which can take on any kind of terrain and they have already mastered the world’s toughest cross-country race known as Dakar rally over the years. So, a low capacity adventure bike in their stable for the Indian market is a very enticing proposition.

Launch

KTM Adventure 390 has been launched globally on 5 November 2019 at an international motorcycle show called EICMA held in Milan. This was the most anticipated product, in this world-famous motor show. The KTM officials have really surprised us with this beautiful package loaded with features and a purpose. The official launch of this bike in India will be facilitated by KTM at India Bike Week (IBW) 2019 to be held in the 1st week of December in Goa.

Bike specifications

  • The KTM Adventure 390 comes with a 373cc single cylinder motor, churning out 44 horsepower and 37 NM of torque, which is fuel injected and liquid cooled
  • To stay true to its adventure nature, it gets long travel suspension of 170 mm (front) and 177 mm (rear), along with this the seat height is 855 mm which makes it a tall bike
  • The wheelbase at 1430 mm is longer compared to its sibling Duke 390, which indicates that the bike will be more stable at higher speeds
  • The dry weight of the motorcycle is 156 kgs which makes it one of the lightest bikes in its segment and makes it beast when it comes to power to the weight ratio
  • KTM is known for being a miser when it comes to fuel tank capacity but this bike comes with a 14.5 liter tank, so one full tank can easily give a range of 300 plus kms in real world scenario and the rider can have more fun.
  • ABS and slipper clutch comes as standard on this bike like the Duke 390
  • To make handling better the handlebars are high and wide
  • In the standard variant, the bike comes with wide split seats which narrows down towards the tank, making it comfortable for the rider’s feet to reach the ground
  • The specs of wheels are 19 inch (front) and 17 inches (rear). They come with alloys, so the headache of fixing tube tire puncture goes out of the window.

Features

  • KTM Adventure 390 gets a TFT screen straight away from Duke 390 which has day and night mode. It can be synced with KTM My Ride App installed on a smartphone, allowing rider to make phone calls, listen to music and use navigation.
  • The bike also gets a single mode of switchable traction control which makes road travel even safer and it has to be switched off during off road travel to avoid burning of clutch
  • KTM has also given switchable ABS, so that the rider can enjoy the off-road trails without the intrusion of ABS, making the ride more enjoyable and one can slide the rear in the gravel
  • The headlights and indicators are LED which provide greater illumination and consume less power. The placement of the headlight is very interesting this time around, as it is attached to the main frame of the bike and not the handle of it, which means the handle will turn but the headlight will remain static unlike its sibling Dukes.
  • The brand has given rally race spec WP suspension in the bike which is fully adjustable, both front and rear. This gives the rider a sense of personalization and he/she can adjust it according to their comfort. Both compression and rebound can be adjusted.
  • The windshield mounting is adjustable to suit the rider’s requirement
  • Luggage carrying capacity can be increased by purchasing KTM’s Powerparts accessories like the saddle stays and panniers. The catalogue is quiet attractive.

The Mystery

Although, the bike is packed with performance and features, there are certain doubts which will need to be clarified by KTM during India launch in early December 2019.

  • Price is the biggest factor for the price sensitive Indian market. KTM is not known for discounting because they stand firm on the value which they provide in their products. The speculative figure is INR 3 lacs (ex-showroom) but no one is sure how will they price the bike!
  • Uncertainty also looms over the features provided in the KTM Adventure 390 global launch. Will KTM strip down a few features to make the product cost effective to grasp the initial traction from the frugal Indian market?
  • Will it be suitable for the short riders?
  • How is the power delivery in the lower rev range since it’s an adventure bike? Has KTM tweaked it according to the genre of the motorcycle?
  • Will KTM introduce a high spec variant with spoke wheels, similar to the Adventure 790 R?

Who will buy this bike?

A person who is looking to tour for long distances without being bogged down by breakdowns and less power delivery on-off the highway. This is not meant for the mass market and will positioned for the adventure riding lovers because this breed is developing at a rapid pace in India. From what initial impressions say is that the pricing of this bike vis-à-vis competition i.e. BMW GS 310 R and Royal Enfield Himalayan, will be somewhere in the midway of the price range, making it slightly exclusive and affordable as well.

This article has also featured on TravelMyNation page, who are full time travel bloggers, exploring India

Acute Mountain Sickness Guide for Motorcyclists in India

INTRODUCTION

India is a country blessed with a mountain range called the Himalayas which extends from the far eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh till Kashmir. These hills have been the mecca for thousands of motorcyclists who traverse it’s rugged terrain and experience real adventure in life. These mountains are a home to numerous high passes like Khardung La, Chang La, Shipki La, Nathu La, Bomdi La etc. As you start ascending towards such high altitude regions, the level of oxygen starts reducing simultaneously and the lack of oxygen causes a health issue called Acute Mountain Sickness. That’s what this blog is all about.

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Tips for Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

Recently, two souls passed away due to AMS at Pangong lake located at 4250 meters (13944 feet) above sea level. One of them had been to Ladakh, 9 times already. It’s really saddening to hear such news. Such incidents are a cruel reminder to all of us that you can never ever overpower nature and respecting it is the only way you can survive. Based on my experience from my recent solo Ladakh trip on my bike, I will give you certain pointers which will help you to prepare yourself for such long and adventurous journeys on your beloved motorcycles.

  • AMS can happen to anyone, anywhere irrespective of fitness level, it can hit an athlete or even people with bellies coming out. So you hitting the gym and building up some muscles will not really help you in preventing this.
  • The most important activity for you to prevent AMS is acclimatization. So plan your journey is such a way that you rest at your first place of arrival for at least 2 full days excluding the day of arrival. Even the army personnel, who are extremely fit and are stationed in high altitude locations, acclimatize for at least a week with minimum amount of physical activity. Now you can gauge the importance of this activity and will take it seriously.
  •  Plan your motorcycle trip in such away that your overnight stays are at lower altitudes at the beginning of the journey. For example: If you are going to Leh from Manali, please do not stay in Pang or Sarchu (which is the usual practice of tour operators), stay in Jispa which is relatively lower in altitude, start early from Jispa and reach Leh well before twilight ends. Idea is to make your body use to the conditions and prevent it from getting a shock which can be dangerous at times.
  • I have observed a lot of times that riders going in motorcycle groups hardly care for each other because they are lost in their own state of happiness but as a co-rider keep monitoring your health and even your group mates health. If you see someone is falling sick, seek medical help asap.
  • While riding your bike, taking timely breaks is mandatory and with each break consume a lot of water which has a lot of oxygen in it. Drink at least 4 liters daily, just like taking doctor recommended pills. Carry hydration packs available at Decathlon outlets, which you can simply slide it on your shoulders and sip water from it on the go.
  • AMS symptoms affect everyone in high altitude places. It can be mild symptoms and even alarming symptoms, so consult your doctor, before going to such places, on the precautions which you can take and get a quick health check up done. If you are not well a day before travelling, then please postpone your plans for another day.
  • This is my personal observation that we motorcyclists normally cover our faces with balaclavas or handkerchiefs under our helmets to prevent smoke and dust to enter but I think for me, while riding in Ladakh, breathing properly through that was a difficult task so I uncovered my nose to let in more air into my lungs and it was really helpful.
  • Do not stay on high mountain passes for more than 10 minutes. These warnings are also given by the Army officials located there. So it is better to respect the warnings and nature.
  • If you are not feeling well while climbing a high mountain pass, please avoid ascending and there are small army medical camps located from where you can take immediate medical assistance. For example: If you going to Chang La in Ladakh, then you will find an Army camp in Zingral which has a medical center.
  • Please do not consume alcohol because alcohol dehydrates the body faster. This is a big NO!

Conclusion

Your health and life is in your hands. Don’t let ego defeat you because mountains will remain here forever but you will not. I planned my stays after doing a little research of altitudes at which I would be sleeping. Please do not make fun of people who fall sick due to AMS and also do not rejoice someone who escaped unaffected. Try to understand the problem and increase your awareness. Idea is to make your journey a pleasurable experience. It is also true that at one place where I felt I could not breathe properly, to find out where, you can read my Ladakh Trip Blog on the below mentioned link:

https://theroamingdelhite.com/2019/09/29/trans-himalayan-ride-sep-2019/

I also went through a couple of videos on AMS before riding to Ladakh. Links are mentioned below:

Disclaimer: This blog is based on my personal experiences and research which I have done on the internet. Please do not treat this as any kind of medical advice. For medical advice, please consult a qualified doctor.

 

Motorcycle Riding Tips For India

India is not just a land of snake charmers and software programmers. The culture and terrains in India differ like night and day! Whether you are hiking the Himalayas or riding through Rajasthani deserts, every single experience will enthrall you and keep you coming back for more. And to have a good ride here you need the right motorcycle riding tips for India!

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At Pangong Lake which 4250 meters above sea level

Travel has boomed in India over the last decade and now there is this ever-growing cult of motorcycle riding which has taken a huge leap with a lot of state-of-the-art motorcycles being retailed in the country. Within this market, there is a segment of adventure riders who love to explore places where the road ends, so in order to cater to these set of riders, a lot of brands are selling motorcycles specifically for this purpose.

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White Rann, Gujarat

And this has brought tons of motorcycle tourers into India looking to explore the landscape on two wheels. From the high passes of Ladakh to the sultry beach rides in the South, motorcycle enthusiasts are burning the rubber, traveling to offbeat places all over our country!

India’s Topography

The topography of India is such that you as a rider will get to witness a wide range of terrains ranging from beaches, deserts, tropical forests to the mighty Himalayas. Every terrain has its own challenges and you need to do thorough research before you land here.

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Riding through Madhya Pradesh, India

You could experience heatstrokes riding the beaches in the South or get hit by Acute Mountain Sickness in the North and the North East. Research your destination and prepare accordingly.

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Motorcycle Riding Tips for India

Riding motorcycles in India is not an easy job. I will enlist certain pointers which will help you plan and prepare for your journey. I will allocate weight age to the factors which impact the safety of the rider on the road. Please note that these motorcycle riding tips for India are based on my experience on the road.

Anticipation (40%)

If you have seen YouTube videos of accidents on the highway or even in the cities, most of them happen on the intersections and if you look closely, people don’t slow down at the intersections. If you see people and vehicles crossing from a distance, please slow down. Please do not wait for the other party to do that for you. 9 out of 10 times, the other party never slows down. As a rule of thumb, at every intersection in India slow down and honk.

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Don’t overtake on blind turns because you don’t know if there is a vehicle coming from the opposite side or not. Anticipate well in advance. On hilly terrain with winding roads, this is the number 1 cause of accidents. People here don’t always follow lane discipline but when in the hills you always should!

In India, animals are everywhere! And, animals are unpredictable. Be on the lookout for strays on the highway when you are cruising at high speeds. We do see a lot of roadkill on our expressways so it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for cows, sheep, and dogs!

Overtaking is a major factor here in which a lot of anticipation is required, keep a good amount of distance, equal to the size of two mid-sized sedans, between the vehicle you are overtaking and yourself, so that when you in the overtaking lane, you have the maximum amount of visibility to overtake. Please note, if you are not sure, please do not overtake at any cost. This becomes even more imperative when you are overtaking on single-lane roads.

The habit of honking is a never-ending epidemic in India but it’s a smart tool if used wisely. So while overtaking a heavy vehicle, you can honk for a couple of times, so that the driver is aware that you are overtaking and space needs to be given. Even in the mountains, the heavy vehicle drivers can see the road ahead which you cannot see since it’s a blind spot. They use hand signals to let you pass or wait.

Riding Gear (35%)

Well! There is no alternative to this and on Indian roads, they are a must for every long-distance motorcycle traveler.

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  • Full Face Helmet (80%) – In most of the accidents, people succumb to head injuries because they are not wearing helmets and even if they are wearing it, they have not strapped it properly. Whenever you fall from a motorcycle, always remember, the first point of contact is your head. So helmets are absolutely mandatory. Beg, borrow, steal but buy a proper helmet. Also note, a lot of insurance companies don’t pay insurance amount if the rider is not wearing a helmet during the accident because it means that the rider is willfully putting his/her life in danger.
  • Jackets, gloves, pants & boots (20%) – When you plan for a ride in India, make sure you invest in a good riding jacket, trousers, boots, gloves, and luggage. India sees thousands of road accidents every year and it doesn’t hurt to be well protected.

Presence of mind (15%)

This is also a very important factor while riding. I have noticed that a lot of accidents on two wheels happen at the starting or end of the ride. This is because the mind is either not fully active in the morning or riders are in a hurry to complete the ride since they are tired. While riding in India, you need to be always aware of your surroundings because the fact is that traffic is haywire here. Unfortunately, India is not the place for you to activate cruise control and sail through our highways!

There will be instances where locals might race you! You don’t need to reciprocate and you should stick to a comfortable speed. Be polite to the people but don’t indulge in anything that might land you in trouble.

Also, please do a basic check of your bike before you start a ride for leaking shockers, punctured tires or anything else which is easily visible to the naked eye.

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Level of expertise (10%)

I don’t want you to ride like Valentino Rossi or Marc Marquez on public roads and if you are planning to become like them, please go to a race track which is a controlled environment. Level of expertise would mean your hand-eye coordination, the body weight transfer during turns, the way you brake, usage of indicators, hand signals and usage of rear view mirrors.

All these factors also matter a lot. There are a lot of videos on YouTube which will give you a basic knowledge about these points which I have mentioned. Please go through them. The complete ride of yours depends on your health. I will mention quick pointers so that you can take of yourself and your group mates:

  • Eat light and don’t stuff yourself with heavy food especially when in high altitude regions
  • Drink water, at least 4 liters in a day even if you don’t feel thirsty and do not drink aerated drinks which dehydrates the body very quickly
  • Carry first aid medical kit and basic medicines for quick fixes

Apart from these pointers, extreme weather conditions will batter your body, like riding in 40 Degrees Celsius during summer months (April to June) or in sub-zero temperatures in high altitude regions. Let’s mix dust and smoke into the weather. You need to be prepared for these situations also because ultimately health matters the most.

I hope my blog, written based on personal experiences, increases your awareness and helps you. The intent is to make your journey a pleasurable experience to the maximum possible extent. Please don’t treat this as your bible and learn from your experiences as well.

T

 

Trans Himalayan Ride Sep 2019

THE INITIATION

 One of the world’s most dangerous roads!

Cliffhanger Road!

Shooting Stones!

Killar – Kishtwar Road!

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Motorcyclists in India are very well versed with these terms but very few have experienced it in groups and even fewer have ridden on them alone! I am of one them to do it alone. The amount of preparation your motorcycle takes, the mental preparation of doing this ride is double of that.

So the plan was not that simple to do this ride. I had planned to do Ladakh via Kashmir and then come back from Manali but due to the scrapping of Section 370 in Kashmir, I cancelled my plan and started looking for alternatives. Below were the alternatives:

  1. Go via Manali by taking permit for Rohtang
  2. Go via Spiti Valley
  3. Go via Sach Pass – Killar Kishtwar Road – Pangi Valley

I eliminated Option 1 because I planned to come back from Rohtang. I even eliminated Option 2 because I had done Spiti Valley in September 2016. So the only option left was to go via Sach Pass. This was new and exciting for me. Adventure is what we bikers want and of course there is always a calculated risk but I never knew what I was getting into because I had never experienced it.

THE JOURNEY

Day 1 – Delhi to Banikhet (588 kms) – 6 Sep 2019

Alarm went off at 4 am and I started getting ready in half sleep until the cold water shower woke me up completely. My bags were already packed, bike was already serviced and prepped for the ride, I just had to put on my clothes and sit on the bike. Till date I cannot tie a knot on single strand of thread, so my mom helped me to tie the customary prayer flags on my motorcycle. The bike started in a single crank and it seemed more ready for the trip than me.

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Saying goodbye to my mom, I started this mammoth journey to the Himalayas. Getting out of Delhi was not at all a pain. At a traffic light, an uncle sitting in his car asked where was I heading to and I said ‘Ladakh’, to which he responded ‘All The Best’.  The weather was humid, I was sweating a bit, so to cool things down I opened the zip of my riding jacket to let air enter inside. I had to navigate through a lot of diversions on National Highway 1 which led to the famous place where Delhites normally hang out when they are drunk and need to eat something in the midnight hours. Yes! Your guess is right, it is Murthal. Over the years I got sick of eating tasteless Murthal paranthas, so this time also I skipped Murthal went straight to 70 Milestone Dhaba which is just before Panipat and serves good breakfast.

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After breakfast, I started munching miles quickly since the roads were in good condition and the weather was supportive. The moment I thought the weather is good today, Rain Gods changed their plan and it started raining somewhere near Ambala. I took shelter under one of the foot over bridges and wore my rain gear. Sorry Rain God! I have come prepared!

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After Ambala, I took the diversion towards Amritsar and reached Jalandhar. From Jalandhar, I diverted to Pathankot highway which leads to Dalhousie. On this highway I found a Subway to feed my hunger. The sub was yummy. Yet again! One curious soul came to me and asked me about my travel plan. I told him that I am going to Ladakh and then he told me to avoid Kashmir route, in a worried tone. I assured him that I am not doing that route as I am going via Sach Pass. Anyways, I enjoyed my sub and jumped onto my bike to ride again towards the hills.

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The hill climb started from Pathankot, the road conditions were decent enough to ride with least amount of traffic on the road. The air started to get cooler, the zip of my riding jacket started moving in the upward direction to block the flow of air which was cooler now. I reached Banikhet when it was almost dark, a small town just ahead of Dalhousie, got a room to stay for the night very easily. Thanks to my friend who provided me the details of the guest house. I wasted less time in searching for a shelter. This was the end of Day 1.

Day 2: Banikhet to Killar (175 kms) – 7 Sep 2019

This was the toughest day of my complete 14 day ride since I had to cross Sach Pass and head to Killar. There were no roads in this region. The road was full of sand, mud, slush, water crossing, stones and pebbles. I planned my departure from my stay in Banikhet well in time since I knew that it will take the complete day to reach Killar. The road from Banikhet to Bairagarh was decent and after that there is no road.

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A mini waterfall just before Bairagarh check post

 

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After Bairagarh Checkpost

I had breakfast at Bairagarh and started my climb to Sach Pass. This meant the end of the road.

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The Ascent to Sach Pass

The weather was not that cold and luckily it was not raining which meant that I will not have water crossings to tackle on this treacherous route. I slowly and vigilantly rode my motorcycle since I was alone and any kind of mishap on this stretch could be dangerous. At the same time I was enjoying the scenic beauty and recording some parts of it in my Go Pro camera. The road conditions went from bad to worse. I took small breaks in order to re-energize myself to ride again and this helped a lot. Not to forget I kept drinking water to stay hydrated.

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The treacherous path to Sach Pass

 

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Meeting meeting the clouds

On my way to the top I asked a couple of taxi drivers about the route and yes, they were positive about the fact that the route was not easy. Then came the clouds, I felt I was in a dream and I was floating in the clouds. The temperature dropped sharply causing a bit of discomfort to me but still I managed to reach the top and unlocked the first achievement level of the trip.

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I visited the temple at Sach Pass and thanked God for giving me the strength to do this. Then I started my descend to Killar which was even tougher. My bike tasted pebbles and rocks while going down. I also witnessed massive ice walls. All these scenes were very unique and since I was experiencing it for the first time, I was scared and excited at the same time.

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Ice Walls
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A small valley section during the descend from Sach

 

Body fatigue urged me to have a small meal, so somewhere near Bogota Nallah (apparently it was all dry, so did not even notice), I took a break at a dhaba and had my favorite Rajma Chawal. That meal was a life saver for me, for the next 45 kms till Killar there was nothing to eat on the way. The off road kept me engaged throughout the ride and I was busy saving my motorcycle from hitting big stones. Couple of stones hit my feet but I was wearing steel toe boots, so I didn’t feel the impact of them. I reached Killar by around 5 pm in the evening. The view of the Chenab valley from my hotel room was amazing. I had a conversation with the hotel owner about the flow of tourists during season and other random topics to spend time. He told me that a batch of bikers was coming within two days since the weather was clear to cross Sach and he also told me about some daredevilry of some bikers crossing Sach at night as well, which literally shook me. Taking calculated risks is acceptable but taking a blind risk is stupidity according to me. Anyways! I had my dinner and slept. So this was Day 2. I want you all to see the full photos in landscape mode so putting up a slideshow. Enjoy!

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Day 3: Killar to Jispa via Tandi (157 kms) – 8 Sep 2019

This day was also full of off road and I was fully prepared for it. I was riding on one of the world’s most dangerous roads and there was no margin for error. The scenes were as usual beautiful with almost zero traffic. The road was so narrow that only a single vehicle could pass through. God Bless! If you are coming in a four wheeler.

 

Now I will talk about the error part of this trip. While I was slowly going, a truck came in front of me on an inclined road, so I had to move to the side of the road to give it space. Unknowingly, my rear tire got stuck behind a stone, when the truck passed and I throttled to move ahead, my bike lost momentum and I fell towards the right. First welcome my stupidity *Panic Mode*! I was trying to pick up a 200 kilos bike with fully loaded luggage and gave my stupidity at least 2 chances but failed miserably, for obvious reasons. Then I unloaded my bike, in the very first attempt picked it up and then loaded the luggage back. I used a simple technique which is taught to bikers on how to pick up a fallen motorcycle without straining your back (Search the technique on YouTube). I was cursing myself mentally because it was my fault. Nevertheless, I started moving ahead and stopped at a village called Tindi. I met one uncle there, who asked me about my travel plans and he expressed his surprise about the fact that I was travelling alone. On enquiring about these bad road conditions, he told me that BRO has not touched this stretch for years except for clearing landslide debris but he also told the good news that from Udaipur the tarmac starts, which was sign of relief for me.

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A bridge somewhere near Tindi village

 

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Pangi Valley Views

 

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The Mighty Mojo

The tarmac in Udaipur was a blessing and I stopped for lunch at a small dhaba.

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The Freshly laid tarmac in Udaipur
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Lunch @ Udaipur

After the lunch, I rode to Tandi to fill up fuel because from Tandi to Leh there is no petrol pump and the next fuel bunk will come after 335 kms. My destination for the day was Jispa and it was just 30 kms from Tandi on the way to Leh. The stay was absolutely pleasant with the river flowing next to the tents. This was all about Day 3.

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Day 4: Jispa to Leh (343 kms) – 9 Sep 2019

It was a demanding day and I had to cross 4 high altitude passes on my way to Leh town. To reach before daylight ends, I started at 7 am from Jispa, it was a cold morning. The start was not that great because I had stopped at Zing Zing Bar to hydrate myself with water and accidentally my wallet fell from my bag and thankfully I got to know about this just 100 meters ahead of the dhaba when I did a quick check again. It gave me a mini heart attack, hurriedly I took a U turn and went back to the dhaba to search. The owner said she hasn’t seen it and then my suspicion went on a BRO laborer who was the only person sitting there apart from the dhaba owner and from a distance I had seen him sitting on this chair again after picking up something. With conviction, I asked him if he has seen my wallet and I also told if you have taken it, just give it back to me because it had my bike documents. After interrogating him for 5 minutes, he gave up and gave the wallet back to me in front of everyone who had gathered around to help me out. I had no words to say and I only said if money was the requirement, he could have simply asked for it but not having my bike documents would have ended my journey there itself. The dhaba owner yelled at that person saying that because of people like you, our guests will runaway. Getting my wallet was a huge relief for me and I continued my journey. Thanks to my dormant convincing skills which woke up at a high altitude region in a dire situation like this!!!

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Early morning start from Jispa, Himachal Pradesh
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When the sunrays kissed me and my motorcycle

Just before Baralacha La top I encountered a water crossing namely ‘Pagal Nalah’. There I saw a lot of cyclists coming from the opposite side, crossing it by foot by picking up their cycles which meant it was a bit deep. Before crossing it, even I did a visual inspection of the depth and it was fine to cross. I crossed it easily but my feet were partially wet since water came on top of the boots. The sun was bright, so I continued to ride and counted on the daylight to dry my feet. I reached Baralacha top in no time but there was a lot of public standing on the sign board for photograph like ants, so I moved ahead and clicked one snap.

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@Baralacha La

The descend from Baralacha was decent but the road disappeared near Bharatpur Nalah crossing. It was the craziest stretch of the journey. Basically, my bike was going over boulders with less water flowing through and then there was truck which got stuck from the opposite side. It looked as if there was war like situation around that water crossing and I braved it out. After this, I halted at a dhaba to have breakfast, hydrate myself and rest for sometime. This break was definitely a refresher and I continued my journey. After Baralacha, I crossed Sarchu where I did an entry at the police check post and then came the Gata Loops (21 hairpin bends). The scenery around was looking like a wonderland and yes, it was almost 50 shades of brown.

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Mind blowing landscape with Tsarap river flowing through the valley
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Living in a painting

To my surprise, I met Sarath Shenoy, who is now my friend and he was riding back to Manali from Tso Moriri on his Dominar 400. It was great meeting him at that altitude. He informed me about a huge army convoy coming my way from Pang and to be careful while riding.

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At Gata Loops

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With Sarath Shenoy aka Mojo Baba!

After a brief meeting with Sarath, I moved ahead and reached Nakee La. Here again I barely got space to click a photo with bikers and other tourists who were climbing the sign board like ants.

Till now me and my bike were doing well. I didn’t notice any kind of AMS symptom and neither my bike had any power loss due to lack of oxygen. After crossing Nakeela, the road disappeared but it was easy to ride on it since it was leveled up with only sand and gravel on it. Suddenly the geography changed and I saw tall pillar shaped mountains near Lachung La. It was a spectacular sight and I felt that I was in heaven.

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@Lachung La after Nakee La, enroute Pang

As told by my friend, I came across a huge army convoy moving towards Manali and couple of vehicles from that convoy had broken down. Thus causing a bit of traffic but it was not difficult to handle. Somewhere near Pang, the road again went from bad to worse. I saw some foreigners bashing their Royal Enfields while I was riding very cautiously, just to realize that they had a back up vehicle coming for their rescue and a mechanic to fix their bike. They had no worries at all. Anyways! I reached Pang and decided to take a long lunch break here. I had two omelettes to keep myself warm and had a lot of water after my meal. I even asked the dhaba owner about the road condition ahead and she confidently told me that now the good roads will start and till Leh, it is good. She warned me to ride slow since the road gets bumpy on a lot of occasions. The roads were not just good, they were world class. I mean you won’t get such a tarmac at 5000 meters above sea level anywhere in the world but India has it, exception might be China but I don’t know. Thanks to BRO (Border Road Organization).

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Lunch Break @ Pang

After Pang, I entered the ultimate Moreh plains!! I always use to see photos and read about Moreh plains on the internet but experiencing it, was a dream come true. It was so gorgeous. The vast expanse of the plains on both sides of the road and the gigantic gorge just after Pang which marks the beginning of the Moreh Plains. Just vow!

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Moreh Plains
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Living in a dream!

The sun was setting down and I was heading to the one of world’s highest motorable pass namely Tanglang La. The road to the top was excellent and was a two lane road but the cold was increasing to a point where my hands started to freeze, even after wearing double gloves. I reached the top, got down to click a photo and it was too windy. I was tired, could sense a bit of dizziness due to which I just clicked two photos in a hurry and started my descend to Leh.

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@Tanglang La, one of the world’s highest motorable road
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I screwed this photo! Sorry!

The moment altitude lowered, I was feeling better and then I just accelerated to my destination for the day. I came across a few beautiful villages like Rumste, Lato and Upshi. After Upshi, my phone came in the network zone and I informed my parents about my location. Finally, I reached Leh! I rode solo from Delhi and reached Leh after crossing such high passes. I did it!!! That was feeling I was having while I was resting on the banks of Indus just before Karu. The sunset along the banks of Indus river was very cinematic.

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At banks of Indus river enroute Karu
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Evening Scenes at Leh!

After reaching Leh, I checked into my guest room booked in Army Cantonment. With inhaling of the diesel smoke and sand all day, my eyes were burning and I was having a mild headache. As far as my appetite was concerned, I did not feel like having dinner, so I drank a lot of water, had medicine and slept. Day 4 was done!

Day 5 (10 Sep 2019) & Day 6 (11 Sep 2019) – Mandatory Acclimatization – Unwinding

I woke up the next morning and was feeling good. Since my stay could not be extended in the army guest house, I shifted to a hotel on Old Leh road. So for the next two days, I rested myself for my body to acclimatize and minimize the symptoms of AMS. I also took a small stroll to the Leh market. There was no crowd in the market and it was very peaceful. The skies were all clear and there were no signs of clouds. I also got the ILP (Inner Line Permit) from TIC (Tourist Information Center) which just took 30 minutes in total. The permit is mandatory to visit Pangong Lake, Nubra valley, Turtuk, Chushul, Man, Merak, Tso Kar, Tso Moriri and Hanle. The permits will be checked at Karu, Tangste and Shyok. These are the checkpoints if you do Leh – Pangong –  Nubra – Leh circuit, which I did.

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Selfie Time
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Views from my stay in Leh

Day 7 – Leh to Lukung, Pangong Lake via Chang La (156 kms) – 12 Sep 2019

Today again a new adventure began when I started my ride to Pangong Lake. I left my hotel by 8 am so that I can cross Chang La by 12 noon because the weather after noon becomes highly unpredictable with temperature continuously dipping. I was surprised to see tarmac after Karu when the climb to this pass began because the last time I had come here, there was no road. I had my breakfast at Chemrey after Karu. The cook and me got into a small discussion about the removal of Section 370 in Kashmir. He told me that the residents from there are coming to Ladakh just to talk to their loved ones over the phone.  The ascend to Chang La was very frightening because it was steep with a narrow and a spiraling road. As a motorist, you don’t have to worry about the tarmac since it was present and was in good condition. I am sure now BRO will keep it in decent condition.

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Ready to leave for Pangong Lake

I was climbing slowly and patiently. At some point I was not feeling good due to vertigo, then I stopped to relax and drank water. The fear of heights was playing mind games with me. After reaching Zingral, I took rest near an army convoy, just in case I am not feeling that well, I could take help easily but thankfully nothing happened to me. H20 helped me a lot.

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On my way to Chang La

Finally after climbing for 2 hours I made it to Chang La. The last 5 kms before the top were in bad condition but I am sure by next year BRO will make the road. It was windy and cold beyond my imagination. Even on a clear sunny day, it was freezing cold. I didn’t want to stay up there for long, so I requested one person to click a photo of me while I sat on bike. After looking at the Mojo, one person said I want to click a photo of the bike, so I told him to click it immediately and I cannot get down from the bike because a slightest of the stress on my body was taking my breath away.

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At Changla Top with no ants on the sign board

After wrapping up a quick photo session at Chang La, I started to descend towards Durbuk. The road while going down was terrible with stones and sand all over but my body started to relax which was great for me. Even going down also took around an hour’s time, so I halted for a cup of tea at Durbuk, 40 kms from Pangong Lake. The owner of the dhaba was excited to serve me. The call of nature apparently was calling me since Chang La, so I had to go this time and the dhaba owner handed over me the keys of the washroom, which was around a 100 meters walk. I had my cup of tea, met a few tourists on the way to Leh and checked with them about the weather at Pangong lake. All of them said that this time, it is not that cold.

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Dhaba at Durbuk
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Scenes at Durbuk

I got the permit checked at Tangste which was just 5 kms from Durbuk and the road became even more scenic after that with green pastures in the valley. I was trying to locate a Marmot, an animal which looks like a big squirrel but unfortunately couldn’t find one. On the way, I also met an uncle from a nearby village who asked me about my plans and my native place. Like this I kept stopping and talking to people on my way to Pangong and reached my guest room, which was in Lukung, by around 4 pm.

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Paradise in Ladakh. The person, you see in the distance, was the uncle with whom I spoke.
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The road to Pangong Lake

The location of the guest house was just in front of the lake with a clear view of the pristine blue water surrounded by the brown mountains. The wind was not that strong and the temperature was bearable unlike my last visit. I had one more cup of tea and clicked a few snaps around the place. The best part about this stay was that I could easily park my bike in front of my guest room which made the movement of the good effortless. The stunning sight of the lake made the effort to ride to this place, look worth it all. Never I had imagined in my dreams that I will ride to Pangong Lake which is one of the jewel of India. What a feeling it was! Out of the world!

Post the sunset, I rested in my room and started mentally preparing for the next day which was longest stretch of this circuit i.e. Pangong Lake to Nubra valley. The dinner was served well in time around 8 pm and it was delicious. I slept around 9.30 pm and woke up at 11.30 pm due to the breathlessness I felt. This happens at Pangong since it’s altitude is half way to Mt Everest, almost a kilometer higher than Leh and temperatures at night dip below zero, even during clear sky days. Just make sure you keep yourself hydrated and warm enough. I simply drank water at regular intervals and sleep knocked my door again at 1 am. Finally I slept! Next time, I will plan my sleep in Durbuk or Tangste which is relatively lower in altitude.

Day 8 – Lukung, Pangong Lake to Hundar village, Nubra Valley (166 kms) – 13 Sep 2019

This part of the journey was heavenly with no high mountain passes to cross on the way. I woke up at 5.30 am and came to my senses by 6 am. I was happy to see the sunlight again because that helped my body to regain the energy for the day. I got ready at my own pace and had a delicious breakfast i.e. aloo parantha. Following the breakfast was loading of the luggage and warming up of the motorcycle for the day. I gradually started riding towards my next destination soaking the sun and breathing the fresh air of the day. I clicked a few snaps on my way back to Durbuk from where I took the diversion to Nubra valley.

I saw the same uncle but this time I didn’t stop. I just waved at him and he did the same in response. After checking out from Tangtse check post, I took a detour from Durbuk towards Shyok village. This patch is prone to a lot of landslides due to rocky terrain, so checking with the locals of the road status is suggested. That day the road was clear and I rode tension free. I reached Shyok village check post in no time and got my permit checked. After Shyok, the views rapidly changed and transitioned into an enormous valley cuddled between the Himalayan range in the left and Karakoram range on the right. I think I was only one who was travelling from Pangong Lake to Nubra and saw vehicles coming only from the opposite side. The sound of the Shyok river flowing in the valley was very soothing. I was living a dream!!

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Descending from Shyok village into Nubra valley
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Riding to Agham village (Nubra valley)

I reached Diskit around 3 pm and had lunch. Post lunch, I had headed to Hundar to look out for my stay and booked a cosy stay in the village. It was the same place in which I had stayed during my last visit.

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View from my guest house in Hundar village

So the plan for the next day was to visit Turtuk but when I googled (thanks to BSNL broadband) about Turtuk, I found that there are multiple places to see and experience and one day was not sufficient. For me, it would have been like a touch and go situation, so I decided to cancel my visit to this village. I left it for future! I relaxed at my guest house, drank more water and then a cup of tea. Since the Wifi was working properly, I informed my parents and then updated my social media connects about my whereabouts in Ladakh. My day ended with a light dinner and swiping through the photos on my cellphone.

Day 9 – Relaxing in Nubra and a visit to Diskit (10 kms) – 14 Sep 2019

On this day, I planned to visit Diskit where the statue of Lord Buddha is located. From this place the view of the valley looks magnificent. I had breakfast and then rode to Diskit where I found a lot of tourists posing in front of the statue. They were looking like flies coming onto my mobile camera’ s lens. Anyways! I managed to click one photo of the statue and clicked a few from my Go Pro.

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Panoramic view of Nubra valley from Diskit

 

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The elegant statue of Lord Buddha

The sand dunes of Hundar village were also worth the view from the main road and I had no plan to ride those double hump camels since I had seen that last time.

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Sand Dunes of Hundar village

I came back to my guest house and had lunch. Took a stroll around the vicinity and then finally retired to my room to gear up for final leg of this circuit via the highest motorable pass i.e. Khardung La. I will post a few more snaps of the guest house and its surroundings.

Day 10 – Hunder Village, Nubra Valley to Leh via Khardung La (125 kms) – 15 Sep 2019

It was a day which I had been waiting for so long. All these years I kept watching bikers crossing Khardung La which was once the highest motorable road in the world. I got geared up with that excitement and anxiety as well. I started my ride from Hundar at around 8.30 am with an aim to reach Khardung La by 1 pm. I thanked them for the pleasant stay and bid goodbye to the staff here at the guest house.

After reaching Khalsar, I took the road which was heading to mighty Khardung La. I was not worried about AMS symptoms while ascending since it was my 5th day here and I was feeling fairly ok. I felt a slight headache just before reaching Khardung village which disappeared later on. Compared to Chang La, the climb to this pass was easy and did not give me vertigo. I halted at Khardung village and drank water. The only thing I had to brave was the freezing cold because the mild headache which I was having had gone away. I saw couple of foreigners on their bike riding slowly and I met one of them at North Pullu check post. After quick chat with the rider, I had my ‘Nice Time’ biscuit and water, started my ascend again. My body had four layers of clothing on it including my riding jacket and my hands had double layering of gloves. All these put together also were failing against the cold. I saw the Khardung La tower in the distance which looked so close, yet far.

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At Khardung Village

The road condition was great with double lanes already cut out, thus making it easier for the vehicles to pass. Only the last 1.5 kms to K top was off road, else it’s all good tarred road to the top. I switched on my go pro while doing the last stretch to record and accidentally, the focus of the camera turned a bit vertical but when I checked the video, the output came out to be great. The feeling when I reached the top was goosebumps and it was freezing up there. As usual, there were bikers and random tourists climbing on the sign boards like ants. I am sure one day there will be a ticket system for tourists wanting to get clicked at Khardung La. One uncle came to me and started enquiring about my bike. I told him everything very patiently and then I requested him to click a photo of me with the small sign board where there were less ants to deal with. I removed the final four ants from there by giving the excuse of bad health and finally got a photo!! Mission accomplished!!

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At Khardung La Top

I thanked uncle who clicked the photo and then started my descend to Leh. While descending suddenly something happened to me, I started speaking to myself! Yes, inside that helmet lid is a man who has ridden motorcycles for 12 years, finally he has conquered Khardung La. To make things more emotional, little tears of joy trickled down my sunglasses as I was riding down. I patted my bike for a job well done, thanked my parents for letting me follow my passion and thanked God!

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The view of the Himalayas from Himalayas!
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The off road of Khardung La while going to Leh

10 kms downhill from Khardung La towards Leh it was pure off road. God bless people climbing from Leh to K Top! When I hit the tarmac again after that rattling off road, I met a foreigner who was going up to K Top but had to stop because he was having a bad headache. I asked him if he wants any help and advised him to drink a lot of water. He thanked me for stopping by and asking. I reached Leh comfortably by 2 pm and was fully acclimatized after riding for 5 days in this high altitude terrain. I checked into the same hotel again where I had stayed earlier. After coming out of no network zone for 3 nights, I informed my parents about my location and also updated my social media network.

Day 11 – Rest Day in Leh (50 kms) – 16 Sep 2019

I decided to rest on this day and went to the Leh market to shop for some souvenirs. Then I rode to Gurudwara Patthar Sahib on Leh Kargil road and came back. I also noticed that my bike’s front tire had worn out unevenly, so I got it changed at a tire dealer to ensure so that I don’t have issues while on my way back to Delhi. I did a quick visual inspection of the bike to check if something is loose or broken but found nothing. After all the mandatory checks, I was relaxed and spent the rest of the evening in my hotel room.

Day 12 – Leh to Jispa (334 kms) – 17 Sep 2019

Well! It was just a copy paste of Day 4 since I had to go back from the same route due to the uncertainty of Kashmir route. This time I started at 6.45 am and reached Pang by around 12 noon. The cold at Tanglang La almost killed my fingers. To save them I stopped at Debring and an aunty at a dhaba did a small bonfire to help me warm up my hands. She also told me a technique to speed up the process and it really helped. I thanked her and moved ahead.

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I don’t know what its called..looks like a Bukhari..but yes it saved my hands from dying!

At Pang, I took a break for water and a small egg meal. Trust me guys! If you eat egg, it will keep you warm. Somewhere between Sarchu and Pang, I saw a very weird thing. A Dominar 400 was parked on the side of the road and the rider was not visible to me, then when I came close to the bike, I saw the rider lying just next to it. I thought he was dead but after looking at me, he moved a bit. That was a sigh of relief for me and then I carried on my ride. After doing the off road in Pang, my butt was asking for some rest and I was hungry, so I stopped for lunch in Sarchu. Lunch was a simple dish called Dal Chawal and it was tasty. I met one biker from Kerala in that dhaba who was on his way to Manali, was not feeling well and complained about nausea. I told him to relax, drink water and not to consume anything heavy for the stomach. After close to 20 mins of break, we both tagged along from Sarchu till Jispa.

As we were approaching Baralacha La, I saw something flying in the distance. I thought it was dust, when I came little closer, I thought it was rain but when I came little more close, I saw small snow flakes falling on my helmet. After looking at the weather, I was a bit worried about crossing this massive pass. I checked with a taxi coming from the opposite side and driver assured me that the route is all clear. The driver’s assurance did a lot of good to my confidence. Again, I encountered this dreaded Bharatpur nallah and this time the water level had swelled up making it difficult for us to cross. My bike got stuck at one point but I was able to get out of trouble in the second attempt. The body took the toll and I was gasping for breath. After regaining my breath, me and other biker friend carried on riding. We crossed Baralacha La and reached Jispa at 4.30 pm. The other biker friend carried on his journey to Manali but he could not reach since it was dark and stayed at Keylong. I felt very relaxed after coming back into the greens.

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Somewhere near Darcha after Baralacha La. Back to the greens!
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Biker friend who tagged along with me from Sarchu
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River flowing near my tent @ Jispa

This time I slept very comfortably after having a sumptuous dinner. 12th day of my ride ended. When you are riding for so long, you basically go into a trance and most common sign of this trance is that you forget day and dates. The only thing which makes sense is the pattern of the daylight i.e. sunrise and sunset. Just like in the primitive times.

Day 13 – Jispa to Manali (132 kms) – 18 Sep 2019

I woke up late around 7 am and it was super cold outside my tent. There were some foreign tourists who were heading Leh on their motorbikes and I was just loitering around the camp to breath in more air to cover up the deficit *bad joke*. I planned my departure from Jispa to Manali at 9 am but the lazy person in me dragged it to 9.30 am. It was a bright morning and the sun was baking my body at a moderate temperature. The green trees and the grass looked very soothing to the eyes after an overload of brown terrain. In Keylong, my phone came back into network zone and I quickly informed my parents which was very important.

The road from Keylong to Koksar was also beautiful with villages coming in between. I rode at a very slow pace so that I could enjoy the lovely scenes around.

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Enroute Manali after Keylong
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River Chenab flowing in the Lahaul valley

The last of mountain pass of this trip had to be crossed namely Rohtang Pass and the initial climb was punishing with no roads. BRO was constructing the road, so they had to stop the traffic for sometime but after 5 kms of the climb, I was back on the tarmac. I reached the top and saw so many people after a long time. I barely managed to click two photos and just ran away from that place. By now you must have understood, the ants!

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The descend from Rohtang pass to Manali was average with patches of bad roads and rash taxi drivers driving their cabs as if today is the last day of earth. I halted for lunch at Gulaba and reached Manali comfortably by 5 pm. Finding a hotel was also not a problem since I just jumped into the first hotel which I found on the main road. I never found Manali to be a ‘wow’ destination which majority of the tourists say. For me it’s just a stopover. This was from the 12th day of the tour. It literally felt like ‘Saat Passes Paar Main Tere Peeche Peeche Aagaya!” instead of “Saat Samundar”, the only difference was that in my case there was no woman to go behind after crossing all these passes.

Day 14 – Manali to Chandigarh (312 kms) – 19 Sep 2019

I had no intention to ride to Delhi in one day. It’s better to reach late than never! I planned my halt at Chandigarh and had booked my stay in advance from Manali itself. I left Manali early morning around 7.30 pm. This part of journey is called torture because the road till Kullu was good and then it was bumpy, muddy and full of gravel. After Bilaspur, I had to overtake millions of trucks who were moving sluggishly and were not even giving way to overtake. So after 221 kms of torture from Manali till Swarghat, I said goodbye to the mountains. I took a break near Kiratpur Sahib and then headed to Chandigarh. It felt nice to see such a well designed city of Chandigarh unlike certain urban disasters. I reached my hotel, the staff was very courteous to get a trolley for my luggage because they understood that I had come from a long bike ride and after looking at my room, I jumped on the bed which had a good suspension setting.

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Bye Bye Mountains until next time.

 

Day 15 – Chandigarh to Delhi (272 kms) – 20 Sep 2019 

My booking at the hotel in Chandigarh entitled me for a free breakfast buffet. So I got ready and rushed to eat breakfast. I literally gulped the breakfast like there is no tomorrow. After having a heavy breakfast, I pushed off from the hotel for a quick check up of my bike at the service station. I reached Delhi around 5.30 pm. There were a few places where the traffic was heavy in the city but I managed to hit home without much trouble. The trip was over! 2900 kms of fun, fear, excitment, anxiety and joy!!!

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Enroute Delhi from Chandigarh

 

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Home Sweet Home

THE END

People keep saying that Ladakh is saturated, polluted and has lost it’s virginity. Well! I would say it’s not like that. Atleast once in your life, travel to Ladakh on a motorcycle and then you will understand what it is to ride to the paradise of India. It is an experience of a lifetime which will give you new perspectives and will teach you a lot of lessons.

I hope you liked my experience. I will put a summarized date wise itinerary for a quick reference with the names of the places I stayed at during my travel along the total expense I incurred:

DAY WISE TRAVEL PLAN WITH DISTANCES COVERED
S.No. Date Location Distance Covered (Kms)
Day 1 06-Sep-19 Delhi to Banikhet 588
Day 2 07-Sep-19 Banikhet to Killar 175
Day 3 08-Sep-19 Killar to Jispa 157
Day 4 09-Sep-19 Jispa to Leh 343
Day 5 10-Sep-19 Rest Day 0
Day 6 11-Sep-19 Rest Day 0
Day 7 12-Sep-19 Leh to Lukung, Pangong 156
Day 8 13-Sep-19 Lukung, Pangong to Hundar, Nubra 166
Day 9 14-Sep-19 Rest Day 13
Day 10 15-Sep-19 Hundar, Nubra to Leh 133
Day 11 16-Sep-19 Rest Day (Ride on Leh Kargil Highway) 50
Day 12 17-Sep-19 Leh to Jispa 334
Day 13 18-Sep-19 Jispa to Manali 132
Day 14 19-Sep-19 Manali to Chandigarh 312
Day 15 20-Sep-19 Chandigarh to Delhi 272
THE SHELTER
Location Hotel Name Per Night Charge (including food) – INR Remarks
Banikhet Hotel Brahmgyan 840 New property, good food and enough space for bikers to park their bikes
Killar Hotel Raj 1240 Average place to stay, food was decent, parking on the main road but there are limited options in Killar, so I had no choice
Jispa Jispa Journey 1500 Excellent tents with attached bathrooms, clean beds, ample parking off the main road and delicious food
Leh 16 Arahat Residency 1200 Spacious and clean rooms, closed parking, clean washrooms but food service is not good.
Pangong The Golden Cottage & Restaurant 1800 Cosy rooms, ample parking, clean washroom and good food and in front of Pangong Lake
Hundar Galaxy Guest House 1500 Cosy rooms, ample parking, clean washroom and good food
Manali Hotel River View Villa 1300 Decent room, secure parking only for two wheelers, clean washroom and average food
Chandigarh Hotel Red Fox 3000 Excellent room, courteous staff, prompt room service and good breakfast
POCKET BURNING (INR)
Total Trip Expenses 28794
Fuel 6560
Hotel 19390

*Important note on Acute Mountain Sickness

1. AMS can happen to anyone, anywhere irrespective of fitness level. It can hit an athlete or even people with bellies coming out.

2. Excluding the day of arrival in Leh, rest for 2 full days in Leh (minimum), that’s what I did. I even rested for a day when I came back from Nubra.

3. If you are coming from Manali, please do not stay in Pang or Sarchu (usual practice most of travellers follow), stay in Jispa, start early from Jispa (6.30 am) and reach Leh by 7 pm, that’s what I did

4. Keep monitoring your health and even your group mates health, if you see someone is falling sick, seek medical help asap

5. Drink water, water, water and water, more than 4 litres a day and just like medicine

6. Daimox and oxygen cylinder only suppresses the symptoms but does not solve for the problem

7. Please do not consume alcohol because alcohol dehydrates the body faster

Your health and life is in your hands. Don’t let ego defeat you. Ladakh will remain here forever but you will not. I planned my stays after doing a little research of altitudes at which I will be sleeping.

Please feel free to connect with me on my email ID: adp228@gmail.com

You can also follow me on Instagram: @theroamingdelhite

Regards,

Adhip

Jalori Pass Trip – Himachal Pradesh – August 2019

THE PLAN

Writing is not that easy and simple. Your mind needs to be very creative and spontaneous. It is not that your mind is 24/7/365 ready to hit the keyboard keys and present to the world your thought process. The thoughts in your mind are like a jigsaw puzzle, have to be joined and with a calm mind they have to flow. Now let’s get back to travel!

“Travel with less plans and more freedom”

Yes! There was no plan as such to do this motorcycle trip and it was new place for me. As you have already read the title of the blog, Jalori pass is located in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh at 10800 feet above sea level. My cousin had told me about this place and I was keen to explore it. With time and money in hand, I packed my bags, got my bike ready and pushed off for the new journey.

THE RIDE

Day 1: Delhi to Shoja (550 kms)

I started my ride at around 5.30 am from Delhi. The weather was not hot but it was humid. I was out of Delhi in no time and National Highway welcomed me with very less traffic. 100 kms into the ride, it was time for breakfast and I stopped at 70 milestone for a quick parantha and curd. This joint was better than the mass production factories in Murthal i.e. Sukhdev and Gulshan Dhaba, absolutely tasteless food. I finished my breakfast and started riding again. I crossed Panipat, Karnal, Ambala with ease and encountered rain near Karnal.

 

 

Just after Ambala, there was a diversion to the left for Chandigarh and the straight road goes to Amritsar. I took the Amritsar route, just after the flyover from the Chandigarh diversion, from the next flyover, I took a right towards Kharar. Basically, this was Haryana and Punjab border. Talking about the weather, traffic and road conditions, everything was as per my liking. The paddy fields on the both sides of the road and the green fields made the scenery look beautiful.

 

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Hunger struck me suddenly at around 12 pm and I decided to take a break at a Subway in Kurali. There I saw another motorcycle parked. It was a Honda CRF 250 (not on sale in India), more importantly, it was Turkey registered and was ridden by a Turkish woman solo. We did not interact much, I had my sub and started my ride quickly again since I had a long way to go.

 

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Break at Subway, Kurali

I took the diversion to Manali going right because if you go straight, you will head to Kiratpur Sahib and Una. Immediately, the hill climb started with very less traffic, the humidity mellowed down a bit but the sun was still beating me. This time Sundernagar surprised me with awesome roads because I remember when I was coming back from Manali, the roads in Sundernagar were under construction.

 

 

Then came a very beautiful stretch between Mandi and Sundernagar. It looked very similar to Kashmir Valley, with green mountains all around. I stopped and clicked a few photos. Also, I saw a rider on the opposite side of the road and waived at him just to greet him. That guy nodded in acknowledgement! On approaching Mandi, I found a lot of commercial traffic and dust flying around, which actually drained a lot of energy out of me.

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It was 5 pm in the evening I reached Mandi, made a quick to my parents of my whereabouts before they call the FBI about a missing person and then I called up the homestay owner about my location. I had to cover around 80 kms to reach the homestay. The route from Mandi onwards turned beautiful, with deep gorges, Beas river flowing through them and lofty green mountains. I clicked a few photos and witnessed the sun setting down.

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Then came a shoddy patch of road 15 kms before Aut village, I was already tired with full day of riding, this patch added to the misery but when I reached the Manali tunnel, the bad patch ended. From this point, Shoja was around 35 kms will on the ascend to Jalori pass, the road become narrow enough for one vehicle to squeeze in but it was not broken. So, basically after skipping Aut tunnel on the left, you enter into Tirthan Valley. Suddenly, the temperature also fell drastically and gave me a little chill.

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The climb to Jalori pass was very steep as I was not able to go beyond the second gear and I never felt that the bike was losing steam. I slowly crawled to my destination for the trip and the last 5 odd kms I did in pitch darkness. Experiencing such a hill climb, I was just thinking that the next few kms I will be saying a ‘Hi’ to Chandrayaan 2. I crossed Banjar, Jibhi and then reached Shoja. The owner came helped me with the luggage and since it was pitch dark, I could not see anything. I decided have dinner and sleep. Day 1 ends here.

“Life is the best when you start counting the stars instead of the coins”

Day 2: Relaxing in Shoja and absorbing the essence of the place

I woke up to a lovely morning with clouds hovering on the mountain peaks but there was no snow. The view from the homestay was soothing and attractive. I could hear the sound of the birds and local villagers taking their livestock for grazing. The pure air opened my body and relaxed my senses.

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After getting ready, hot aloo paranthas were served along with a cup of tea. I ate my breakfast with a view. I spoke to the owner of the place about nearby places to explore. He suggested me a 4 kms trek to some lake but I was not in the mood to do that. Yeah! Being a biker, it is not easy to ride 550 kms a day a before and then trek for 8 kms. The owner understood my point and then he said, “Wait for sometime, I will take you to a secret place.”  The suspense got me excited. So, we went downhill for about 4 kms towards Jibhi and then he told me take an unpaved path into the forest.

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The Path

The path was full of mud, stones and slush which was leading us to a small village, we even came across a waterfall. For me it looked like I was riding in a dream, such was the charm of the place.

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The Waterfall

I also came across one water crossing in which I almost lost balance while crossing on my bike but did not fall. Unfortunately, I could not save my feet from getting wet and the water was freezing cold. There was also a patch where there was a lot of slush and I took time to come out of it. We could not reach the village since the road was blocked due to a landslide. The homestay owner got me some apples to eat and we chilled out there for sometime and then started our way back to the guest room. Overall, it was an amazing experience and surprising, as a motorcyclist such off-road trails are exciting. After lunch, I spent rest of the day at the guest room relaxing and listening music. For Day 3, my intention was not to reach Delhi the very next day, so decided to stop in Narkanda which was 97 kms from Shoja.

“Stop staying alive and start living”

Day 3: Shoja to Narkanda (97 kms)

“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage”

The day started with me getting up late at 8 am and then slowly dragging myself to get ready. Since there was very less distance to cover in the complete day, I took it easy, munched every single piece of my breakfast and drank water as if I was drinking wine. It was time for me to leave Shoja, loaded my luggage on the bike, warmed up my bike and continued the uphill climb to Jalori. It was cloudy and the roads were wet due to a late evening shower a day before. I reached Jalori in no time but I could not see anything since it was very misty.

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Even this road was very scenic, I was riding along a river when I reached a village called Anni. I stopped there for sometime to listen to the sound of the flowing river, then pushed further to Narkanda. Later somewhere near Sainj, the converging river Sutlej got really mad with the muddy water gushing through. Finally, I reached NH5 and from here I turned right towards Narkanda, if you go straight, the road will lead you to Spiti valley. The road broadened and I picked up pace to reach my destination.

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Anni Village Road Riverside
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The good road to Narkanda!

I reached Narkanda at around 2 pm and directly went to Negi dhaba to have lunch. This was my 4th time at this dhaba and the food tastes good. After my lunch, I found one hotel to stay, dumped my luggage and then rode to Hatu Peak, one of the famous tourist spot in this place. The road to Hatu was very narrow and at some places it was broken. I reached at the top and yet again nothing was visible since it was cloudy and misty.

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The Famous Negi Dhaba, Narkanda
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The road to Hatu Peak

I returned to my room and then went out for a stroll in the market area for 30 minutes. Finally, I retired to my room and planned for the last day of my trip. I fixed up a meeting with my long term traveler friend in Chail. We were in touch with each other through Facebook and Instagram but had never met face to face. I had my dinner and slept early to start early the next day.

Day 4: Narkanda to Delhi via Chail & Kufri (450 kms)

This was the last day of the ride. I decided to bypass overcrowded Shimla and it’s traffic via Kufri – Chail road which directly leads to Kandaghat. Chail was 80 kms away from Narkanda. Initially I thought the road would not be in good condition but it was in good conditions with scanty traffic. This is the best road to bypass Shimla.

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Kufri – Chail Road

I reached Chail by 12 pm and met my biker friend Siddharth. We spoke at length about our trips. Since it was already 12.30 pm, I had my lunch here itself. The weather did not look good and it started raining a bit.

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@Chail with my friend, Sid

After saying goodbye to my friend here, just less than a kilometer out of Chail, it started pouring heavily and till the time I found shelter, my lower body was completely drenched in rain water. I waited for 10 mins for the rain to calm down and started riding again. 10 kms before Kandaghat, I stopped to dry my feet and throw the excess water stuck in my shoes. Post this break, I rode almost non stop and when I hit the Himalayan Expressway, the rain almost stopped. After this it was all plain straight road. Somewhere after Ambala, I took a tea break. I told the dhaba guy to make strong tea for me and that cup of tea helped me ride for 100 kms continuously and cover up maximum distance. My personal experience about tea served on the highway is that most of them serve milk with sugar and you have jump into the cup to find tea.

I reached Delhi safely at 10.30 pm and was dead tired. Overall, the trip was very refreshing in terms of visiting a new place and warm up for something big coming up in the coming month. I will post a few more photos which I took on the final day.

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THE SHELTER

Property 1

Location: Shoja

Hotel: Satyam Homestay

Review: The room was excellent with wood work all around, the food was delicious and had home made taste, the views from the place were excellent but parking is only issue

Stay Duration: 2 nights

Rental: INR 1500 per night excluding food*

Property 2

Location: Narkanda

Hotel: Sara Hotel

Review: The room was great, food was decent and parking lot was secured

Stay Duration: 1 night

Rental: INR 1000 per night*

*Please note that the rentals keep changing based on the seasons and number of pax. On the spot booking also fetch me good deals, so sometimes I prefer that as well.

Hope you liked this small write up. If you have any questions or queries, please feel free connect with me.

Instagram: @theroamingdelhite

Email: adp228@gmail.com

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Regards,

Adhip

 

Munsiyari Trip – March 2019

THE PRELUDE

Sitting here at Throttle Shrottle cafe in Gurgaon on a cool and breezy evening. Sipping a hot cup of tea, I acknowledge that I am thankful to the people who have come and gone in my life. They have always created a path for me to travel places on my motorcycle.

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Life is too short to have regrets or bitterness because it kills you from the inside. The world doesn’t give a f*ck about you.

Munsiyari has been close to my heart ever since I visited this place last time in March 2015. It is a small town located in Kumaon region of the state Uttarakhand at an altitude of 2200 meters above sea level. This trip was equally special and memorable for me like the last time. I did this trip because I love this place and my friend Ankur wanted to visit this beautiful Himalayan settlement. I knew the route very well to that extent that I can reach with my eyes closed (not literally!). Please keep you eyes and mind open when you are riding on the road.

The motorcycles which were used in the trip were:

  1. Mahindra Mojo
  2.  Royal Enfield Himalayan (BS3)

The customary ritual of getting all prepped up for this brief Himalayan expedition was done a day before. The only task remaining was to hop on the motorcycle and start riding to the destination.

THE ROUTE

The route from Delhi is mentioned below:

Delhi – Rampur – Haldwani – Kathgodam – Bhimtal – Almora – Binsar – Bageshwar – Chaukori – Thal – Birthi – Munsiyari

90% of the roads were good except for a few bad and dusty patches from Rampur to Haldwani because there road construction is under process. A concrete road is being laid out in patches which will soon make travel from Rampur to Haldwani effortless and will save a lot of time.

THE JOURNEY

Day 1: Delhi to Almora (376 kms) – 25 March 2019

We started the ride very late at 7 am since I woke up late. Exited Delhi via National Highway 24 which is under expansion phase. The weather was cloudy and the air had the chill but my riding jacket was my ultimate automatic climate control device. We had our breakfast at Shiva Dhaba on Hapur road. Trust me guys, the paranthas you get in Murthal are absolutely tasteless and not freshly prepared but here at Shiva Dhaba, we ordered Aloo Parantha. It was crispy, hot and stuffed properly.

After having a sumptuous meal, we carried on with our ride. The scenery on both sides of the Hapur and Moradabad bypass was painted with green fields. The density of the traffic was very less, so we were going at a good pace and covering more distance. We reached Rampur and took a left turn to Haldwani from the bus stand. The traffic increased and the heat also but it was still manageable. The road conditions deteriorated after Rampur. Sometimes I wonder it’s been almost 2 decades, this road is still not fixed. We took a lunch break near Pantnagar after eating dust and gravel as starters. The mountains were visible in the distance which kept our excitement level at bay. The hill climb started at Kathgodam, a small town located on the foothills, which was bumpy but steadily the road conditions improved. We took a water break in Bhimtal on the lakeside and carried on our journey. As the altitude increased, the temperature dropped and our zeal soared.

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Leaning over the twisting road was a bliss. We reached Almora at around 7.30 pm and by the time we reached it was dark. The last 30 kms, we had to ride in dark. We stopped at the first hotel which I saw and easily checked in since room was available. Best part about this property was that proper parking was available for us to safely park our bikes. I will give the hotel details at the end. We had dinner and slept.

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Day 2: Almora to Chaukori (127 kms) – 26 March 2019

We did not have a definite plan, we decided to start ride towards Munsiyari, capture a lot of photos and if it gets dark, take a room in the next town. We ate breakfast after exiting Almora. The roads were excellent on this stretch. The pine trees of the Binsar Forest were really fascinating and this place always has that tinge of golden color which makes it even more attractive.

After Binsar, we reached Bageshwar and from this town, there are two roads which lead to Munsiyari. One route is via Kapkot, Sama and second one is via Chaukori. We opted for the latter one since I knew that the road condition of the former route is not good. The green pastures on the road to Chaukori are a treat to watch. Cops stopped us to check our bags and filmed a video. They only checked one bag from each bike, just to show they followed the protocol. Then they briefed us about the directions to Chaukori.

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We reached Chaukori just before sunset and to our surprise almost all the hotels were full. We kept searching and finally found one. We were able to park the bikes in front of our room. Funny thing, there was a steep incline to reach the room and Ankur did not gain enough momentum so that the bike could climb and he went in reverse gear. Lucky! He did not fall and I helped him to get the bike up. Hunger forced us to order dinner early, we ate and slept.

If in case you are planning to halt in this town, please pre-book since the options are very limited. We were just lucky that we got shelter that day else we were clueless about what next?

Day 3: Chaukori to Munsiyari (102 kms) – 27 March 2019

Day 3 started with Himalayan’s fork seal leakage, engine head leakage and even the rear sprocket was doing the Naagin Dance. The nearest mechanic was in Thal which was around 25 kms. We got ready, had our breakfast and started riding to Munsiyari. The mountains got even more beautiful, the roads narrower and the traffic was very less.

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Sunrise in Chaukori

We reached Thal and found a mechanic but unfortunately he did not have spares for the Himalayan which is surprising on Royal Enfield’s part. I told Ankur, chuck it and let’s ride without worrying about it much. Leaving aside the problems, we enjoyed the high mountains, deep gorges and then came Birthi falls. Actually, you can see the falls from a distance. The moment we reached at the spot, it was crowded with lot of dhabas around. The last time I had visited there was nothing here. Just the falls!

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Birthi Falls

We continued our journey towards Munisyari and eventually, saw snow on the side of the road. Then came the turn from where the Panchachuli (5 peaks) were clearly visible. Getting our riding boots into the snow was thrilling, after a long time. After a long break, we headed into the Munsiyari town.

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The next task was to find a place to stay. As usual I stopped at the first hotel, finalized the room since there were no steps to climb and view of the snow capped Himalayan range from the room balcony was amazing. After dumping the luggage in the room, we set out for a walk into the town to explore the market and local eateries. We took a shortcut to the market and walking was blissful. We stopped by a cafe and had some coffee. Out of curiosity, we checked the room prices in the other hotel, they were quoting the same price but we had to climb three floors to reach the room. It was dark and we had to walk back to our hotel. We took the longer route and walked for 2 kms. As far as weather is concerned, it was chilly in the evening but pleasant in the day time. After reaching the hotel from a long walk back, had our dinner and slept.

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Day 4: Munsiyari to Almora  (222 kms) – 28 March 2019

We woke up to a very beautiful morning with view of the snow capped Panchachuli range from our guest room window.

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It was time to head back home but before that we went to the Munsiyari Helipad and clicked a lot of photos. It is a very good spot to click photos.

I was planning to stay for an additional day but some urgent work came up in Delhi. So I had to leave. We stretched till Almora on this day and had to ride in dark for the last 25 kms. Riding through the Binsar forest in the dark was a bit scary. We were in no mood to search for a hotel, hence we straight away went to the hotel where we stayed earlier, hoping to get a room again and they allotted us the same room for the same fare.

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Day 5: Almora to Delhi  (376 kms) – 29 March 2019

We left Almora at around 8.30 am and Ankur met on his Instagram follower in Bhimtal. This guy took us to an undisclosed location from where the view of the Bhimtal lake was top class. The climb to that place was pretty steep. Thanks to his follower. As a normal visitor, we don’t get to know about such places and having a local connect definitely enriches experience. This was a great ending to our brief trip to the mountains.

We reached Delhi at 10 pm comfortably but Ankur had to stretch 30 kms more since he stays in Gurgaon.

THE SHELTER

Property 1

City: Almora

Hotel: Himadri

Review: Good parking space, good rooms, prompt room service, food is ok, market is easy accessible from the hotel

Stay Duration: 1 night

Rental: INR 1000 per night (excluding meals)

Property 2

City: Chaukori

Hotel: Sunrise View

Review: Good parking space, good rooms, prompt room service, food is ok, hot water is not available and basic things like bucket and mug missing from washroom

Stay Duration: 1 night

Rental: INR 800 per night (excluding meals)

Property 3

City: Munsiyari

Hotel: Balraj Inn

Review: Enough parking space, good rooms, prompt room service, food is ok, you will get homely feeling and nice views from the room. Good for bikers, as they don’t have to climb multiple floors to reach their rooms with all the luggage.

Stay Duration: 1 night

Rental: INR 1200 per night (excluding meals)

I am ending this blog now. If you have any questions or queries, please feel free connect with me.

Instagram: @theroamingdelhite

Email: adp228@gmail.com

Stay tuned for more adventures in the Himalayas!!!!

Regards,

Adhip

The Desert Storm – Jan & Feb 2019

“Yes, I have gray hair”

“Yes! I am not married”

“Yes! I don’t have a job”

“Yes! I am yet to go on a date”

These are some of the answers to the questions posed to me by the people whom I meet and interact in a formal or an informal setting. This shall keep the judgmental folks occupied for sometime, while I move on to the beginning of journey called ‘Life’.

Sitting in my cubicle on the brink of being unemployed, made me browse Google Maps on the laptop. I opened the map of India started checking out new places which I can explore on my motorcycle. Keeping in mind the weather, I dragged the mouse at the western part of the country and finalized to do the ride across Gujarat and Rajasthan.

I was already prepared for the trip as the bike was already serviced. To know more about the luggage, gears and equipment which I use during the rides, you can read Bangalore to Delhi Bike Trip – July/Aug 2018 blog.

The Ride

Day 1 (28 Jan 2019): Delhi to Pali (Rajasthan) – 574 kms

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My bags are packed and I am ready to go!

I started the ride at 6.15 am. It was biting cold. Exiting Delhi was a breeze since there was no traffic. The moment you hit NH 8, the traffic becomes mild and from there on the ride becomes smooth! I met my friend Ankur who tagged along with me till a dhaba in Dharuhera. We clicked a few photos, had breakfast and it was time for me to move. The roads were pretty much favorable to ride on and I was able to cover significant amount of distance with the spectacle of the Aravali Hills along the highway. Not to forget there are couple of checkpoints while coming from Delhi:

  1. Take the left cut to Ajmer from Chandwaji via Jaipur bypass because if you go straight you will enter Jaipur city
  2. When you reach Beawar again take a left cut on to the flyover which leads to Pali
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On the Jaipur Bypass road
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Pali Highway after Beawar

Well, highways are very boring and there is nothing to describe about them. The sun was setting down and I reached the hotel in Pali on time. Upon reaching the hotel, I found that there was no secure parking for two wheeler, I demanded the manager for it. He managed to give a space in a small garage filled with hotel inventory which was fine with me. The room was satisfactory for the price I had paid.

Day 2 (29 Jan 2019) Pali to Bhuj (Gujarat) – 575 kms

It was a cold morning! Cold enough to not let me out of the bed but I had to because on this day I had to cover around 600 kms. Got ready, checked my bike, loaded the luggage and gulped a cup of tea. Time to kick start the ride!

 

Gave a flying kiss to the sunrise! Next prime thing for me was to search for a breakfast dhaba. Not to worry, I found one namely ‘Hotel Baba Ramdev’. It’s just after Sirohi. I ordered Plain Dosa (personal recommendation) and it was delicious.

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Plain Dosa

After breakfast, I kept on rolling the ball to reach Bhuj. The weather was still cold and wind was blasting on to me. The roads were still good with a few unsettling patches. I had entered Gujarat somewhere near Deesa. I got to know this when I saw the sign boards in Gujarati language. It was already 30 minutes past noon and it was time to find a place for lunch with Bhuj still 260 kms far. Actually, I was not able to find a good place on the highway to eat and luckily, I found Hotel Darshan. I ordered Dal Fry, plain curd and tawa roti. The food was palatable. This is the best and the safest meal you can have while you are travelling.

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Decent place to have lunch

Interesting and misleading thing which happened with me on this day was that I saw a sign board which indicated Bhuj was 211 kms and after 60 kms, again there was a sign board indicating Bhuj was 210 kms far.

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Misleading sign board!

Giving a break to my general sense of direction, I switched on Google Maps and followed it strictly. I followed it so strictly that instead of taking the right turn from Bhachau, I went straight to Anjar. From Anjar, I took a right to Bhuj. This is a longer route. The road from Anjar to Bhuj was narrow and had potholes. I arrived at my hotel at dusk and got a secure parking from my vehicle.

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Sunset – On the way to Bhuj from Anjar

I just crashed into my bed after supper and Day 2 came to an end.

Day 3 (30 Jan 2019): Bhuj – Dhordo (The White Rann) – Kala Dungar (Black Hills) – Bhuj – 213 kms

The plan for the 3rd day was obvious, as mentioned in the header. I got up late since I had all the time in the world to enjoy. Got ready, had breakfast and cleaned the bike chain which was running dry. There was no requirement to carry luggage and I only carried my tank bag. While on my way to Dhordo, I came across this sign board which mentioned ‘Tropic of Cancer Passes from Here’. Interesting! We all read this in our geography books and experiencing it in real life is incredible.

 

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After reaching Dhordo before I entered White Rann, I had to fill a form and submit a nominal fee for the permit, as without the permit, you will not be allowed. The permit is only valid for 24 hours. It’s a 15 mins formality starting from form filling till the payment of the fee. The White Rann is 2 kms from here. You will reach a gate where you need to park your vehicle and travel for another 1.5 kms to reach the view point. I took a horse buggy instead of troubling my bones. The view of the White Rann was bewildering from the view point.

 

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After this, it was time for lunch, had Dal and rice for just INR 50! The taste was decent. I saw some motorcyclists from Karnataka as well having their lunch. I quickly wrapped up my meal and then started to ride towards Kala Dungar (Black Hills). The road from Dhordo and Kala Dungar is narrow road and completely secluded. The views were stunning.

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Road from Dhordo to Kala Dungar

Please do not miss the sign board which will direct you to Kala Dungar from the main road. You will also find a few kids running behind you asking 10 bucks for no reason. The uphill climb to Kala Dungar was a bit bumpy. With the bike chain rattling, I took it easy and reached. Kala Dungar is basically a small settlement on a hill top from where you can view the White Rann.

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View from Kala Dungar

 

After Kala Dungar, I headed back to Bhuj which was 90 kms from there. It took me around 2 hours to reach the hotel. While having tea and few snacks, I finalized the plan for Day 4.

Day 4 (31 Jan 2019): Bhuj – Mandvi Beach (Gujarat) – Bhuj – 156 kms

The combination of a beach and desert in a single trip intrigued my mind, so I planned to visit Mandvi beach, as suggested by my friend Ankur (who never visited this place). So my day started by getting the bike chain fixed by a mechanic.

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Did a decent job!

I started my ride to the beach, the weather was pleasant and as I was approaching the beach, the coconut trees were visible. The combination of coconut and keekar trees made it a more interesting geography. Google maps led me inside the town of Mandvi. I navigated through narrow lanes and later on realized that this is not the correct route to the beach. I asked people on the road side for the direction to the beach and finally reached the location.

The climate on the beaches generally is humid in India but here in Mandvi, with the western disturbances hitting the Indian subcontinent, it was cold and windy since it is located in near the desert. The beach was quiet lively and chirpy, as there were a lot of water sports activities happening and scores of tourists were also taking camel rides. There were some obsolete windmills near the beach which made the locality look more different. On the cleanliness quotient, I would rate it 7 on 10. I spent about an hour’s time at the beach and started my ride back to Bhuj.

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On my way back, I halted at Domino’s expecting them to have non-veg menu since I did not get non-veg meal at the hotel but Domino’s had veg menu only. So I managed with a Paneer pizza.

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Way back to Bhuj from Mandvi Beach

I reached the hotel and I started to plan my route to the next destination that was Barmer. Got fuel filled and air pressure checked a day in advance. The bike chain was rattling yet again so I got it tightened again from the same mechanic.

Day 5 (1 Feb 2019): Bhuj to Barmer (Rajasthan) – 505 kms

Plan was to start from Bhuj at 6 am and I was well on time. It is just that the day started with a deflated rear tire. I inspected the tire but could not find the puncture. One option was to fill the air with the electronic air inflator, then fix the puncture myself on highway after finding the puncture, if the tire deflates again due to the puncture. The second option was to wait for 3 to 4 hours for the puncture shop to open. I chose the second option because it was important to find the puncture. At 10.15 am, the shop opened and the guy checked to tell me that there was no puncture. Now to be double sure about this, I asked him to refill the air and I will get checked at some other shop as well. I got ready and went to straight to another puncture shop. The outcome was the same after a thorough check. This made me think that something mischievous happened in the hotel parking. Nevertheless, I was 3.5 hours late, I shrugged off this worry from my head and continued my journey but I did not speed up to munch more miles and compensate for the time lost.

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I did the last 100 kms in darkness but the highway was so well marked that I did not find it difficult to ride. I reached Barmer around 8.30 pm and checked into the hotel. To my delight they had a secure basement parking and the room was splendid. I had my delicious dinner and went to sleep.

Day 6 (2 Feb 2019): Barmer to Jaisalmer (Rajasthan) – 164 kms

With Jaisalmer just 160 kms away from Barmer, I started riding from Barmer comfortably around 9 am after having the complimentary breakfast.

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The road was literally world class to travel on but you need to be careful of the animals crossing the road. This is very frequent in this part of the country.

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I reached Jaisalmer by 2 pm. The location of the hostel which I had checked into was in the proximity of the fort. The view of the fort from the roof was excellent.

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After getting rid off my luggage in the room, I walked to the fort which was just 1 km. The fort was a great sight from the inside as well with small shops in the contracted lanes selling the culture of Rajasthan.

Most the view points are taken by the slew of cafes opened in the fort. There was one view point which was open to public and it was crowded like flies sitting on food. I walked till the end of the fort to explore the place and came back. I had my lunch in a restaurant near the fort. While on my way to back to the hostel, again, a couple of kids said ‘Hi’ to me and asked for 10 bucks for no reason!

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I spent my evening sitting on the roof of the hostel to experience the sunset and also view the sun baked walls of the fort. What a pleasurable experience!!!

Day 7 (3 Feb 2019): Jaisalmer – Longewala Border – Jaisalmer – 234 kms

Longewala has a national significance in the history of India. In December 1971, Pakistan had planned to capture Jaisalmer by attacking Lonegwala Army post but the regiment led by the then Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, of 120 soldiers defeated them with the help of Air Force. The place was converted into a museum and I recommend you to visit this place to understand importance of this event.

The road to Longewala is narrow and decent to travel on. It is isolated and under surveillance plus there is no network here. There is a wet canteen for the visitors to have snacks, tea and coffee. Video recording is not allowed in any form, so visitors carrying Go Pros or other action cameras, please don’t use it.

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A captured Pakistani Tank
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The main entrance to the museum

Day 8 (4 Feb 2019): Jaisalmer – Sam Dunes – Jaisalmer – 105 kms

My friend had recommended Tao Lakhmana Desert Camp for ATV riding in Sam. So this was the plan for Day 8. The riding to Sam was quiet a touristy experience with desert camps on both the sides of the roads and locals inviting you for camel rides from the main road itself. To reach this camp you need to take a detour of 2 kms into the desert. I started enjoying the off road and I was about to fall from the bike. I reached the camp by 1 pm. It was completely empty which meant I could ride the ATV in peace but no! There was a couple also who were a part of the batch. The rate chart for ATV ride is pretty good. For 20 min, they charge INR 2,500 and 30 mins, they charge INR 3,200. I tried to negotiate but my attempt went in vain since the in-charge told me that it’s very expensive to maintain them and parts are not available in India.  The experience was incredible as I rode on the sand dunes and machine was very powerful. I got good Go Pro footage and few photos as well.

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This sums up Jaisalmer chapter for me!

Day 9 (5 Feb 2019): Jaisalmer to Jodhpur – 323 kms

It was time to hit the blue city known as Jodhpur, which was the last destination of this tour. I had my breakfast, loaded my luggage on the bike and was on highway once again. I wanted to visit the Bhardariya library which is known as the largest underground library in Asia but unfortunately it was closed. This library is located in Bhadariya village, on the way to Pokaran, 75 kms from Jaisalmer.

I took an early lunch break in Dechu around 124 kms from Jodhpur. I had my lunch and then started riding. Animals crossing was very frequent during my tour and I dodged animals multiple times on the road but this time it was a check mate. I crashed into a goat at 80 kmph, I did not fall because at the very last moment I steered my bike to the right. The goat hit the left crash guard and then hit my left foot. After the impact I parked my bike on the left side and sat on the road side because of the pain. I was about to black out but fortunately did not. Locals did not help. After gaining full consciousness, I took the medical kit out, took my boot out and sprayed Moov spray for immediate relief. The goat owner came and said that the goat had died which meant I need to pay. To my luck, there was big hotel opposite the road. Looking at this drama, the hotel official came, spoke to the villager and told him that I am their guest. Finally, it was decided that I can pay as per my wish. So I paid INR 500 to the owner to settle the case and exited out of this situation. I rode for around 130 kms in pain, when I reached the guest room in the Army cantonment, I immediately informed my father and the commanding officer of the unit about the situation and the need for medical assistance. He immediately arranged his personal vehicle and 2 jawans to assist me. Since I was limping, they picked me up by holding both my legs and placed me in the vehicle. They went out of their way to help me. The check up was done at the hospital and to my relief the doctor informed me that there is no fracture but sprain. I was advised bed rest for a few days with a few medicines. More or less my trip had ended since I wanted my foot to recover so that I am able to do the rest of the journey.

Day 10 (6 Feb 2019) & Day 11 (7 Feb 2019)

Bed Rest and Sunny Deol movies on Zee Cinema.

Day 12 (8 Feb 2019): Jodhpur to Delhi – 605 kms

After 2 days of bed rest, I was able to put my foot down and walk, though the limping did not stop. I got ready, packed my riding boots and wore the soft sport shoes. There was no pain in my foot while I was riding. I rode comfortably with that extra attention to animals crossing the road. I was able to cover a lot of distance with a few water breaks. I had my lunch in Ajmer and met an Instagram follower in Jaipur. We had a cup of tea and discussed about riding to Ladakh, which I intend to do in 2019. From Jaipur to Delhi, the ride was decent but there were certain patches of roads which were bad. It was already dark before I reached Neemrana. I faced a 2 kms long traffic jam near Dharuhera but after that there was no traffic. I reached home safely around 10 pm.

 

Places to Stay

Property 1

City: Pali, Rajasthan

Hotel: The Amba Villas

Review: No Parking, good rooms, prompt room service, food is not ok, it is better you go out in the city and eat, market is easy accessible from the hotel

Stay Duration: 1 night

Rental: INR 1600 per night (excluding meals)

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Property 2

City: Bhuj

Hotel: Mangalam

Review: Secure Parking, good rooms, prompt room service, food is just ok, poha is a must eat in breakfast, medical shops and puncture shops are nearby

Stay Duration: 3 nights

Rental: INR 1750 per night (via Make My Trip) and INR 1500 per night for on the spot booking. Please note this is for a single bed room.

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Property 2:

City: Barmer

Hotel: Kailash International

Review: Excellent room, lousy room service, basement parking, located on the Barmer by pass road and good food

Stay Duration: 1 night

Rental: INR 1900 per night

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Property 3:

City: Jaisalmer

Hotel: Fort Side Hostel

Review: Decent rooms with attached bathrooms, since it is hostel don’t expect room service, no food service, they offer tea and coffee, good for solo (especially woman) travelers, Jaisalmer fort is a kilometer walk from the hostel and on the way you will find a lot of eating joints to fill your stomach.

Stay Duration: 2 nights

Rental: INR 600 per night

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The rest of the accommodations were booked in Army Cantonment. Hence, I cannot disclose the details. Please make sure that you book in advance especially the hotel properties since they fill up fast, hostels are still available.

“The gut feeling is the real you and sometimes you should listen to it for your own good”

If you have any feedback/inquiry/questions, please feel free to connect with me.

Regards,

Adhip Varma

Email ID: adp228@gmail.com

 

 

 

Long Term Ownership Review: Mahindra Mojo XT 300

I don’t understand the looks of the motorcycle! Its ugly!

When did Mahindra started selling two wheelers?

Is this the same testing mule which we saw in 2010 on some random Italian track?

What is the purpose of this motorcycle?

These were some of the statements and questions posed when the Mahindra Mojo embarked it’s journey in India in October 2015. Little did I know about this motorcycle and it’s capability. Fast forward this to late 2016, I took a test ride of the motorcycle for good 30 kilometers and I was impressed. This motorcycle checked all the boxes in my mental checklist listed below:

  1. Touring Comfort
  2. Smooth & stress free engine
  3. Long fuel tank range
  4. Luggage carrying capacity
  5. Mileage

I will not bore you with the history much. I bought the Mojo (Touring Version) on 26 March 2017 in Delhi from Khandelwal Motors and I have clocked 28,000 kms till now. I will break the review into points which will be detailed and easy to understand if you are contemplating the purchase of this motorcycle. Please pardon me since I am not technically sound, hence this will be purely my natural experience, which I will share.

Point 1: Kitna deti hai? Mileage!

If you are sane person and ride a motorcycle with respect then in the city you will get a maximum mileage of 30 kmpl and minimum of 28 kmpl. On the highways you will get a consistent mileage of 32 kmpl. Now to measure the mileage of the bike the most accurate method is the full tank method. I always use this method since I don’t trust electronic displays and even the analog ones.

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Point 2: Comfort

Long hours on the saddle are not at all an issue for the rider but pillion comfort is zero since the rear seat is narrow and in a tapered shape. Don’t be disappointed because the BS 4 model has a wider pillion seat. So, it will be easier for you to convince your wife/girlfriend. I never looked for alternative seat options, although a lot of Mojo owners have got their stock seats changed. The handlebars are also tilted towards the rider and the foot pegs are also positioned in such a way, that rider triangle becomes ideal for a long distance riding. Please note that it is not meant for the city commutes simply because it is heavy from the front. I have got use to it and riding it in the city is not much of an issue now.

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Point 3: Handling & Suspension

With Diablo Rosso tires installed as stock, the motorcycle is a good handler on tight corners and gives you a lot of confidence. Even the tires which I am using now i.e. Michelin Pilot Street Radial are also very good under dry and wet conditions. In off road conditions, you will feel the bike is heavy from the front and you will find it a bit difficult to handle and at the same time the suspension handles the off road very well. Even while you ride on tarmac, the undulations on the road will not hurt you. The front USD forks and rear mono shock work like a charm.

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Point 4: Tires

Well! The stock tires on the Mojo XT 300 are from Pirelli, namely Diablo Rosso. The specs of the tires match up to the tires used on racing track which means they have excellent grip but less life. In my case, the rear lasted me for 13,000 kilometers and the front lasted for 18,000 kilometers. I switched to a mixed compound tire (Hard and Soft) which meant longer life and good grip. Michelin Pilot Street Radial (150/60 R17, rear) and 110/70 R17, front was the answer to this.

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Point 5: Engine & build quality

I have ridden this motorcycle in the Himalayas and recently did a Bangalore to Delhi road trip. Trust me guys! The engine is bloody refined, there are no rattling sounds, no vibrations, no loose nuts & bolts, no seepage, no weird noises from the engine, no loss of power & torque. The built quality of the motorcycle is top notch and you won’t be disappointed at all. I have ridden the bike on good, bad and ugly roads but till now the motorcycle is solid as a rock. The only downer was the water seepage in the speedometer, which was replaced under warranty at 22,000 kilometers. There are no problems in cold starts and make sure you idle the motorcycle for 30 seconds after the cold start. Don’t worry, you will not be late for the ride.

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Point 6: Braking

Braking is a major issue in this motorcycle, to be very honest. The front brake is decent but the rear brake is dangerous. The rear tire use to get locked under hard braking. I went through a lot of forums, consulted Mojo owners and my friends. The problem was solved by doing two things i.e. changing of the brake pads and changing of the tires. I have not faced any tire locking issues after that. Touch-wood! At the same time, Mojo needs ABS for sure.

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Point 7: Luggage Carrying Capacity

I had opted for the touring version which had saddle stays, so the motorcycle can carry luggage up-to 90 liters (rear) easily and benefit of having a metal tank is that you can use a magnetic tank bag. So the headache of opening and tying the straps is gone. Till now the saddle stays are holding good and not loose at all.

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Point 8: Fuel Tank Capacity

21 liters of fuel tank! This is pure bliss. The fuel tank will give you tank range of 550 kilometers which is good enough for any long trip. Personally, I don’t prefer to ride my motorcycle in reserve since low fuel can reduce the injector’s life. If you own this motorcycle you will forget about petrol pumps!!

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Point 9: Headlights & Auxiliary Lights

The stock headlights are not that effective during night rides and since I have taken the touring version, I use auxiliary lights to get more visibility. Is it age catching up or illumination problem? I really don’t know! Mostly, I prefer to ride in day time and avoid night rides unless it is necessary. So for me it is not a negative point.

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Point 10: Service

The service network of Mahindra is not that vast and present in Tier 1 cities only as of now. Now coming to the cost of service, an average cost will be around 1800 INR to 2000 INR. The service is good and I get it done in front of me which also means peace of mind. Spare parts are available easily and I didn’t face issues on that front as well.

I think I have covered most the elements of the long term ownership. So to summarize this, I would say Mahindra Mojo is a very good package overall for motorcyclists who are looking for good quality touring bikes within budget. On a scale of 10, I will rate this bike as 8. The only thing which I feel lacks in this beautiful motorcycle is ABS. If ABS is installed in the motorcycle, it will become a hell of a deal.

Please do share your feedback and questions. Also, let me know if I have missed something which can covered here.

Regards,

Adhip

Gangotri Trip (Nov/Dec 2018)

The Boiling Point!

Sitting in my cubicle, bashing the keys on the laptop keyboard and attending to boring souls, somewhere in my mind it struck me that I need to ride to the great Himalayas. My stint down south in Bangalore deprived me of the privilege to travel to these mighty mountain ranges.

I had a lot of places in my mind to explore and I shortlisted Gangotri, the holy place which is the origin of Ganges. The plan was to do a 3 day ride, Gangotri was fitting the slot very easily, considering it’s an off season so no traffic, empty roads and empty hotels. No cribbing and whining tourists.

Peace of mind!!

I did not book any hotel in advance and personally I prefer to find the place after reaching the destination because a lot of properties are not registered online. You will get better deals on ground and you can see the place properly rather than being disappointed after travelling 400 kms and finding something not as per your expectation.

This time as well couple of my friends were not able to join me for the ride citing medical and work reasons. So this was solo ride for me yet again.

The route plan is mentioned with the dates:

  • 30 November 2018 – Delhi to Uttarkashi – 420 kms
  • 1 December 2018 – Uttarkashi – Harsil –  Gangotri – Uttarkashi – 201 kms
  • 2 December 2018 – Uttarkashi to Delhi – 431 kms

Live Action!

Day 1: Delhi – Roorkee -Haridwar – Chamba – Uttarkashi – 420 kms

Alarm went off at 4 am and my mom woke me up at 5.30 am. Damn! I was late! I got ready in a jiffy. My bags were already packed, loaded them on my bike, said bye to mom and started rolling at 6.34 am. It was cold but I could not feel it since I was properly packed up with thermals, sweater and riding jacket. The cold air couldn’t sneak in from anywhere. The exit from Delhi was a breeze via Delhi Meerut expressway and then I took the Hindon elevated road.

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Around 65 kms into the ride and I hit the Meerut bypass. I was expecting fog but there was no fog at all which meant more distance could be covered in less time. After riding for around 110 kms, I took a water break. There was still time for breakfast and on this highway, the place for breakfast is fixed i.e. Mc. Donalds at Manuspur just before Muzaffarnagar.

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For the very first time, I liked the hot coffee of Mc. Donalds and Mc. Veggie was decent. After my breakfast, I headed towards my destination. After being so late, still I was able to cover good amount of distance. By 10 am, I reached Roorkee which is exactly 200 kms from my residence in Delhi. I encountered fog just before entering and exiting Roorkee. Reached Haridwar in no time and holy city was absolutely quiet. After crossing the city, I could see the mountains in the far horizon which got me excited just like good old days. Home Sweet Home!

The welcome to home sweet home was not that sweet because I took Chamba route via Narender Nagar which is under expansion phase. For the first couple of kilometers I thought the good patch is not that far but it never came. For almost 35 kilometers, it was dust, slush and stones. On a couple of occasions, I was about to fall because my bike was slipping on the wet roads. Luckily, I was able to handle the situation. This complete patch took almost 2 hours of my time and drained out a lot of energy. After crossing the bad patch I took a maggi break with chai.

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After Chamba, the road was smooth till Uttarkashi with a few rough patches. The route became more scenic and I started clicking more photos. I think I should let the photos do the talking.

After riding for almost 12 hours, I reached Uttarkashi. Checked out a few hotels, did not like them. My friend who had not come for the ride advised me to search Oyo rooms and bingo I got a property just at the entry of the town. The name of the hotel was Hotel Sahaj Villa, it was completely empty and had ample secure parking space. The rooms were decent. I just checked in and dumped my luggage in the room. I had dinner at 6.30 pm, came back to the room, informed parents and friends that I have reached safely. I literally sunk into the quilt and slept @ 7 pm!

A few more photos of the day for the pleasure of your eyes:

Day 2: Delhi – Uttarkashi – Harshil Valley – Gangotri – 201 kms

I slept for straight 12 hours and woke up fresh at 7 am. I got ready at my own pace. Initially, I was planning to do Gangotri on Day 2 and head to Dehradun on the same day but I changed my plan and extended my stay in Uttarkashi by another day. I just took my tank bag and left my tail bag at the hotel room. The bike started in a single crank and did a minute warm up. The morning sun was so soothing to the body and eyes. Just 4 or 5 kms out of Uttarkashi towards Harshil, I stopped for breakfast @ Rawat fast food center. It was an English breakfast i.e. bread and omelette, my favorite. After the breakfast I started riding and the scenery became more beautiful. The gorges became deeper and mountains became taller. The road condition was good and I was moving at a decent pace. From Uttarkashi, Gangotri is around 96 kms.

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After the Khedi waterfall, the climb to Harshil started and I could see the snow capped mountains.

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Khedi Waterfall

 

The temperature was dropping drastically, my finger tips were almost frozen and paining. The views were so good that I stopped feeling the pain after sometime. All these years, I saw Harshil valley in photos and viewing it with naked eyes was an out of the world experience. The roads going through the woods was cinematic and the cold breeze was lovely. Then I saw a helipad where I took my bike clicked a few more photos.

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After riding for around 4 hours I reached Gangotri. I could see snow on the side of the pavement which led to the temple. The temple was closed. I took a round of the place. Sat on the banks of Bhagirati river, thinking how beautiful life can be. I sat there for about half an hour. It was time to go back before it got dark.

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On my journey back to Uttarkashi, I gave lift to a jawan from GREF (A parent cadre of BRO – Border Road Organization). I had company on my return journey and this guy had a lot of stories to tell me. He told me a lot of secrets of Nelang valley (you need permits to visit this place) which I plan to explore next year. I dropped him at Bhatwari and he offered me a cup of tea, I obliged to his request. The family members got excited to see a biker in their house and asked a million questions like where are you coming from? Which bike? What are you going now? How do you travel solo? I answered all their questions.

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On way back to Uttarkashi, I again stopped at the same dhaba, where I had breakfast in the morning. I had tea and maggi.

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I reached the hotel and took rest for sometime. Then I headed towards the town to explore some good cafe and found TFH run by Mr. Tilak Soni and I also saw Old Fox sir (Mr. Sandeep Goswami) from Xbhp. I ordered a cheese burger and hot coffee. The taste and preparation was good.

After coming back to the hotel, I just swiped through the photos in my phone to see what I had experienced today. Finally my tired body gave up and I slept. Time to head back.

Day 3: Uttarkashi – Dehradun – Roorkee – 431 kms

Woke up at 5 am and had a long way back home. The main entrance door of the hotel was locked. The reception guy was too lazy to get up and open it. He suggested me a back door exit. Interesting! Before loading the luggage on my bike, I cleaned and lubed the chain because it had dried up and was rattling too much. This is important because a dry motorcycle chain can break under high pressure, which can lead to a life threatening situation. Slowly and patiently, I did everything and I was set for the journey back home. Clicked a few snaps before exiting the hotel.

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Again the morning Sun was so soothing and refreshing.

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This time I took the road to Dehradun to avoid that Narender Nagar stretch, which was suggested by the family members of the GREF jawan. So when you are coming from Uttarkashi, you will reach a small village called Chinyalisour and just after this village, there is a hair pin bend turn to the right for Dehradun which is 100 kms from there. The road was in good condition and scenic too.

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I took a break in Mussoorie. It was overcast and I was expecting rain but to my luck it did not rain.

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I saw college going kids riding their motorcycles like rats running to save their lives. Nevertheless, coming back to the point, I crossed Dehradun via Rajpur road. I took the Saharunpur highway which is still under construction. The last time I time I had gone to Chakrata in 2015 through this road and it’s the same. The only difference was the weather. Last time I got roasted in the summer heat. All I could see was heaps of dust flying and potholes which could shake your soul. From that road I took a left for Roorkee. Once, I crossed Roorkee, the ride was pretty smooth with an exception of Modinagar traffic after Meerut. I reached by 8.30 pm.

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Posting the hotel details below for your reference:

Hotel Sahaj Villa, Oyo Rooms

Per night: INR 600 (excluding the meals) – Off season rate

Review: Decent place to stay, food is not available, parking space is ample and secure

Location: Just at the entry of Uttarkashi, on the left hand side of the main road

I hope you found this blog useful. Please feel free to connect with me if you require any further information and do give feedback.

Regards,

Adhip

Instagram: @theroamingdelhite