Ride of 6093 KMs to Ladakh
How thrilling ideas are born?
During a regular meetup, the interaction of the group was at its epitome. Discussion about various experiences of treks, rides, and meetups continued, debate over how to pamper our rides was ongoing, when all of a sudden a topic came about the year’s long tour. This was the first time that we were planning something we never thought of. Culture in Ladakh has recently started getting touched by many foreigners and road trip lovers. It's land of Culture, Festivals, Unique Architectures, Frozen rivers, Hills with snow, Tibetan Flags, also No roads Land in few cases that you'll come to know while reading this blog. It was like let’s be one of them in some different way.
Days passed by with the topic at the back of our minds. Group discussions soon finalized the dates as 10th August 2016 to 28th August 2016 as per everyone’s leave availability. Meet ups happened, things started to pace up, routes were decided. Then came the turning point, the meeting with Mihir Deshpande. The routes were analyzed, potential hazards, stop overs, restaurants and soon to be crossed Bad Lands of Jammu and Kashmir (Srinagar). Notes taken down, route Excel sheets were prepared, expenses were calculated and special thanks to Mihir, the itinerary was finalized after great efforts.
Then came the toughest of all parts, getting the rides ready and packing the luggage. Soon we found our date of departure very close, excitement had begun to kick in at its best. Phone calls after phone calls were being made for final pointers, documentation for permits was readied, and soon it was the day to leave for a journey that would change everything, forever.
Night before the Dream Ride: [9th Aug ’16]
It was the time when excitement of the dream ride was at its peak. I took a half day off from office for backpacking. It was around 9:30PM when Roshan called to pick him up from Badlapur station. He was loaded with all riding gears and camping equipment along with the 3 tents. Together, we both came back home and started backpacking after having dinner. My tank bag was ready to be mounted on my wheels. Roshan and I were supposed to share a saddle bag as both of us were going travel together on my wheels for next 18 days!
It was 01:00AM of 10th Aug ’16, when we were finally done with all the packing.
Somehow, we managed to get sleep of some 2 and half hours. And we woke up again at 3:30 AM and started our morning activities and moving ahead. We were fully ready at 4:15AM, wearing our riding gears, with all the bags and accessories loaded.
Day 1: MUMBAI – AHMEDABAD [10th Aug ’16]
It was finally the start of a journey which some people dream about. We were finally going to live the dream.
Around 4:15AM, we left home and started the most awaited dream ride. We were supposed to meet our friends and fellow travelers in the ride Prasad, Omkar and Aniruddha at their apartments.
Setting up Omkar and Ani’s luggage was a difficult task as both of them were carrying backpacks. Somehow Roshan manage to set it up and around 4:45AM, we left from Prasad’s apartment. Meeting spot was already decided for others at Fountain Hotel, Thane at 6:00AM. We were running behind the time. But still, start of the ride was good.
It was around 6:30AM when we reached our meeting spot. Everybody was already waiting for us. The moment we reached, it started pouring down. (Or it started raining heavily). We managed to rearrange our luggage and geared up again for the main course of ride at 7:00 AM.
We had already chosen our routes for the whole ride, everything was preplanned, and we were just following the blueprint. Around 9:30AM, after riding for approx. 150KM, we took a small break for a cup of tea at roadside stall. It was drizzling throughout the journey. After having a refreshing tea, we all started with the journey.
Here comes the first tragedy of the whole ride. It was around 11:00 AM and we had just crossed Navsari toll naka. We had to take a halt as Rizwan’s bike had some problem in startup. At the same time, we realized that one of our riding partner Pawan is missing since last two hours, nobody had seen him riding with us after that tea break. We started calling him on his number but all the calls were unanswered. We decided to wait till he receives our call or we get any update on him. Meanwhile, we made groups and started the search operation. After spending more than 2-3 hours in search operation, we got really scared. Unpleasant and unwelcome thoughts started filling our minds. And then onwards, we started searching all the nearby police stations and hospitals, considering he had met with an unusual situation. Around the same time, his cell phone went to switched off mode which cowered our minds with fear. It was around 4:00 PM, Roshan and I were at Navsari Toll naka. We were sitting in Toll naka Manager’s (who showed up like God)) cabin we explained him the whole situation, and he was so helpful that he managed to show us CCTV footage for the slot we asked him for. Also one of Toll naka worker Akash Wankhede helped us a lot in every manner. At last when it started getting dark around at 5:30PM, we called all the group members and informed them to come back to Navsari toll. We decided to head back towards Mumbai to Pawan’s house to give his missing details. And this was the time when Kamal got a call from Pawan’s number. He was already in Ahmadabad. His phone was drenched in the rain that is why he could neither receive our calls nor call us back. We were at peace learning that he was alive and safe.
As soon as all the group members were at Navsari, we started our journey towards Ahmadabad. Before we went ahead, we visited Navsari petrol pump to thank all those people who helped us a lot in that situation. After going through all this mental and physical stress nobody was in situation to talk to each other. We were just riding towards the destination. Around 10:00PM, we decided to have dinner.. It took an hour to finish the dinner and we again started our ride. Ahmadabad was still 175 km away. Finally around 2:00AM of 11th Aug ’16, we reached Ahmadabad. The location Pawan sent us was in middle of the city. Nobody said a word to him as decided, we just entered rooms which were already booked by Pawan. After getting fresh, we went to sleep.
Day 2: AHMADABAD - JODHPUR [11th Aug ’16]
After ending day one on a happy note, day two was ready with new challenges. We were running 1 hour behind our plan as it took long for all of us to get ready because of the hectic schedule of day one.. We had our breakfast around 9:00AM. We refueled tanks at nearest the petrol pump. The upcoming challenge was to find the exit way from Ahmedabad city. It was heavy traffic on the roads and google map seemed to confuse us more to find the way out. Finally we decided to take help from some local people. Within the next hour we managed to find highway for our next destination, which was Jodhpur. We started our next part of ride where everything was good. We decided to take a tea break when we reached Mt Abu, one of the most pleasant places in Rajasthan. The weather was really good, sort of cloudy but it was not raining.
After having breakfast, we again started with our ride. This was the first time in the journey that we felt bullet had some problem speeding up on the highway. But then it was not that big issue, so we continued with the ride. Around 2:30PM, we stopped for lunch break at a roadside Dhaba. It took us an hour to finish the lunch, and then we were back on the roads. In the beginning of second half, everything was good. But then we started facing an issue with the bullet, and it looked like we were in trouble again. Rizwan and Kamal informed me that they are moving ahead to make arrangement for night stay in Jodhpur. Roshan and Sohil exchanged their seats, because Roshan was the only person who could ride bullet in that situation. Somehow, as we managed to push that bullet to the destination, we found Rizwan was waiting for help beside the road. We parked our bike in parking lane, and started walking towards Rizwan to see why he was waiting. We saw that front rim of Rizwan’s bike was completely bent drove his bike into the path hole and the rim was badly hit. It was dark around and we had no choice but separate our ways for a while. Rizwan and two more Riders decided to find stay near Bajaj service center 2-3 km ahead from our current location, so that they could get some help immediately in the morning. Rest of us started riding towards Jodhpur. Second day of the journey made us face many troubles as well. Around 9:30PM we decided to take a halt for dinner somewhere near Pali. We stopped at a road side dhaba, and ordered some food without waiting for Roshan because he was running slow just to make sure that bullet will reach destination.
After having a pleasant service from Dhaba owner, we were about to leave for the rest of the journey, and all sudden we heard huge Bang!!! It was an accident of a milk Tanker with a car just 20 meters away from our location. We all started running towards the Milk tanker. Car was completely smashed and all 3 of the people sitting in that car were badly injured. It took almost half an hour for ambulance to reach that location and take those people to the hospital. Taking that horrible view in our mind we started riding towards Jodhpur. We were only 60-80 KM away from Jodhpur, but it took us almost 2 hour to reach Jodhpur as we were tired and it started raining heavily out of nowhere.. It was very hard for us to ride straight on the road because rain was accompanied by blowing wind that we wouldn’t even open the glass of helmets. Somehow finally around 12:30AM we were in Jodhpur and search for hotel began. In next 20 minutes we came to know that we had no other choice but to stay in a guest house. Without wasting another second, we settled deal with owner and in next 20 minutes, our luggage was unloaded. It didn’t take much time to sleep and we were already in dreams Thanks to such a troubling day.
Day 3: JODHPUR - BIKANER [12th Aug ’16]
Our first target of the day 3 was to fix the issues with bullet and get all other bikes serviced, so that we can ride safely without any trouble. With little help from local people, we started searching respective brand service centers. Starting from morning, it took 4-5 hours to settle down with all fixes and issues. Meanwhile, we met a very well know person who was Cancer Survivor Mr. Harteij Bhartesh and he was doing All India Solo Ride to raise awareness against Cancer. After having all chit chat (a nice talk) with him we came to know that it was his 110th day on ride. It was shocking for all of us that one can ride his bike for such long duration. We were awestruck and inspired. At the same time we met Vipul Kulashreshtha, yet another rider from Rider’s community. All of them were very helpful they helped us a lot to get our bike fixes done. At the same time, we got an update from 3 other guys of our group that Rim for Pulsar 200 ns is not available at the showroom and it will take day or two to receive the order of new rim. But then the Store manager of Bajaj showroom at that location was very helpful that he took out brand new rim of Bajaj Pulsar 200 ns which was available for sell in that showroom (We were bestowed upon by such measure of help that could only be come from God himself) We were very glad when we heard it from Rizwan, not only because our problem was solved, but also to know that there were people who were so selfless and ready to help others beyond limits.
After finishing with all these stuff, it was time to say goodbye to Jodhpur. We were almost a day behind our schedule now. We were back in business and started riding towards our next destination i.e. Bikaner. Because of previous issue and other things we shorten our distance and set new target for Bikaner. Roads from Jodhpur to Bikaner were awesome, we had a pleasant ride till Bikaner. Around 8:00PM, we reached Bikaner. The weather was so hot that we decide to book AC rooms. It was a very short survey and we got very nice hotel rooms in reasonable rates. After two hectic days, we all were at peace and felt very refreshed. We enjoyed the evening with little rest and spicy, delicious Rajasthani food
Day 4: BIKANER - AMRITSAR [13th Aug ’16]
After having a wonderful sleep, all of us were set for the next ride, and the destination was Amritsar. Hussainiwala Check Post in Ferozepur became our sort of a small destination before Amritsar. We started early in the morning. We were on our bikes at sharp 7:00AM. We said Goodbye to Bikaner on a sweet note of cup of tea in the morning. And we started riding towards Amritsar. As it was a sunny day the sky was completely clear and wind was blowing hot on the Rajasthan roads. Only a couple of days before Rajasthan was subjected to a huge flood. Many villages were shifted to nearest safe places. Looking at that place today, we could not even imagine what Rajasthan was still recovering from. Around 12:00PM, we crossed Rajasthan border and entered Punjab. This is the place in India where you’ll find green fields till the horizon. All of a sudden, we felt a change in weather as well. It was very relaxed and pleasant wind. Roads were so open and straight. Traffic was almost negligible. We started crossing bridges on huge canals. It was 2:30PM when we reached Hussainiwala Check Post. But because of time conflict, Army officers couldn’t allow us to visit the end point. But they suggested us to visit the nearest place where the First platform of India – Pakistan railway was located. We enjoyed seeing all of it. . After roaming around for an hour, we headed back to our bikes for further journey. Also, we clicked a few photos at the End point of Northern Railway of India. After that small visit, we were really hungry. We found a small roadside dhaba that had a view of a huge green wheat farm. What else a hungry traveler wants? Punjabi food is known to the world for being so so spicy and delicious. Taking full advantage of that, we ate like never before. After loading our stomach with tasty food we headed towards final destination of our ride. But we had no idea that we were going to enter a No road zone. Roads from Ferozepur to 40 KM before Amritsar are almost equal to no Road zone. And at the same time we started facing increasing traffic as well. Local Transport buses are like the Royal family of Roads. Local drivers were driving the buses as if the road was their personal property.
Somehow we reached 14 KM before Amritsar at 6:30PM. Since Amritsar is one of the highly crowded cities in Punjab, we could not find a hotel for almost 2 hours. We managed to find a hotel near Golden Temple, since a visit to Golden Temple is a must when one is in Amritsar. After unloading our luggage we fasten up our activities, as we planned to visit Golden Temple. As written in the books, “THE GOLDEN TEMPLE” is an amazing creation made by humans. Wind in environment was so pure that one could feel the depth of that place. Entrance of the temple is made in such way that whoever enters the temple will get to clean his/her feet But we were not so lucky today.. Since there was a consecutive 3 days holiday, the temple was crowded by people all over India. Somehow, we managed to visit outside area of temple but couldn’t enter the temple. After doing a photoshoot, we all started walking towards the exit way and started searching for a hotel. Our search for a hotel ended up in McDonald. All of us had luxurious junk food of our choices that day. . And we headed back to the hotel rooms with fresh minds but a little sadness for not being able to visit the temple.
Yet another trouble came into the picture, that one of our riders Aniruddha found that his Passport has got washed out in rain and everything printed on it was rubbed to nothing. This was a very huge problems on the very next day he had his flight back to Dubai for his job. Without having much discussion, we made a few phone calls with the help of Sohil who works at International Airport, Mumbai and came to know that only option left to Ani was to return to Mumbai and get his passport issue solved as soon as possible . Ani’s return journey plan was started as it was not possible to ride back to Mumbai. So he decided to push the bike in same train he’ll board. Prasad and Ani went to Railway station to get all details for Ani and his bike’s return journey. Both of them came back with news that return journey problem is solved and one can send his bike in the same train he travels.
Meanwhile other 3 people managed to reach Bikaner that day. And we were worried for the next day as it was the time to decide whether to head towards Sringar or Manali. The environment in J&K (Srinagar) was extremely bad because of border issues. Road blocks and riots were frequent cases over there. We made a couple of calls and concluded to head towards Manali because on that same day 3 militants had caused a blast in Jammu, and the situation was worst. We had no choice but to head towards Manali. With unplanned and unexpected note of conclusion we went to the bed.
Day 5: AMRITSAR - MANALI [14th Aug ’16]
Prasad and Ani woke up early in morning as Ani was having his train back to Mumbai. Prasad was helping him to wrap up his stuff but then another trouble his us that Ani was carrying his as well as Omkar’s luggage on his bike in past days of ride. So if Ani’s bike returning back to Mumbai then how we gonna manage Omkar’s luggage. But then with little help of everyone we tried to spread Omkar’s luggage in bags of each one of us. We settle down things with Ani and with very heavy heart wave a Goodbyes note to Ani. We started our ride towards Manali around 8:30AM. Our next target was to cover 500 KM with no idea of route. As we start our ride after first 70 km we started facing Northern Ghats of India. Roads with twist and turns, jungles, rivers etc. Though the roads were so clean and neat except for the 50 km patch in between. We were very tired by the time we reached Mandi, as one need to be very alert while riding on such roads in Ghats.
We had our lunch in Mandi and started our journey towards Manali. Shortly after we left Mandi, we started facing wet roads and drizzling. By the time we reached Manali, we were completely drenched in the heavy rain on hilly roads But. At last, we enjoyed that ride. Finally we reached Manali around 8:00PM at a decided location where Roshan already had contacts. Hotel was not very good, but it was worth the cost we paid for it.
We were extremely happy to be in Manali – the city of Honeymoon couples and babes around (: P). Weather in Manali was chilled. We all got fresh and came down for food and some shopping. We started hunting for a good restaurant. Just 2-3 mins away from our stay, exactly in front of the bus stop, we found a very nice hotel. We just marked that location and moved ahead with shopping as it was late in night. The shops other than hotels would be closed by 10-11PM. We t scattered in different directions as everyone wanted to buy something for their family, special ones etc. After around 1 hour we were almost done with shopping and gathered at the hotel we decided earlier. Food in Manali was just awesome, the cook was so nice that he made extremely spicy non-veg dishes as we ordered. As usual, we ate like there was no tomorrow. Environment was so amazing that none of us wanted to go to bed that night, but then we had the next day ride to our next destination. So we had no other choice but to take as much rest as we can, because the whole ride from Manali to Leh is 75% off road. It was our last day in the territory of straight roads. With very short discussion about the next day, we all went to sleep.
Meanwhile, our 3 partners joined us in Manali too. They reached around 3AM (Early in morning). As we already had a word with them and we knew about their late arrival we already booked rooms for them.
Day 6: MANALI - GYSPA [15th Aug ’16]
The day started with warm welcome to our 3 partners, we were so happy that they made this stretch just to join us. We l started with morning activities and as per schedule, we were on our bikes sharp at 7:30AM Today’s destination was to reach Keylong. Other 3 riders wanted little more rest, so we left them behind and asked them to join us at Check point of Rohtang pass as we knew that it will take some time to get clearance for all the bikes at check point. We started riding towards Rohtang pass. The weather was really good. Wet roads were running under the canopy of trees, riding in such a beautiful and scenic place refreshed our minds. It took almost an hour to reach the check-point. Reaching the check post, we learnt that even though check-post was situated there, one needed to get the clearance from Manali city itself. A day with unexpected trouble. We decided that two of us would go back to Manali with set of documents of all vehicles and riders to get the clearance form. Now we had enough time to do whatever we wanted. Omkar started with his “so called” photography. Riyaz was enjoying checking babes the out and simultaneously chatting with someone (of course, his gf :P). Prasad and I were enjoying scenery and were having general talk about past few days. It took almost 2 hours for them to bring clearance form as we saw them approaching I went to stand in the queue to get that form stamped. When I came back with the stamp, Roshan gave us one bad news that our other 3 rider would have to take one more day halt in Manali as Rizwan and Kamal did not have their PUC and by the time they could get it the office was closed. We decided to move ahead as it was already 1:20PM in the noon.
We started our ride towards Keylong, within next half hour we reached the very famous point of Manali i.e. Rohtang pass (13050 feet). We enjoyed couple of minutes over there clicking a few a photographs. Wind was blowing so strong that we couldn’t stay there for longer. No sooner had we crossed Rohtang pass, than it started pouring down. We took a small halt at road side as the road was slopey and rain water caused road to be slippery. Here the road literally meant a path through mud, nothing more! We were running out of time, so we had no choice but to move ahead. Then, for the first time in our journey, we got the worst patch of the ride which was riding bike straight through the mud. All pillions got down from the bikes and started crossing roads as it was very hard to cross that mud patch with pillion. But all of us made it through very easily and we moved further. Roads after crossing were just like hell. Rather one can say that the term “Road” was a myth, it did not exist in those mountains. But then nobody complained about it, because this is what riders do, this is how they are made up and this is why people call us “The Riders”.
Tea stalls and food corners were a rare sight in that region, located extremely far from one another. BRO constructions were in progress in the whole hill land. One could see BRO work going on narrow road patches, landslides and road constructions etc.
Somehow we managed to reach Gyspa that day and decided to take the night halt in Gyspa itself. Riding in Ghats of Himalaya during the night was not a wise decision, they said! Around 8:00PM, we reached Gyspa. Again hunt for hotel stay started but then we could find a tent stay only. Gyspa being a small town had barely 2-3 hotels and they were already occupied by tourists. We had no choice but to go for tent stay before someone else would take it and we would have had to sleep under the open sky in the chilly night. We settled the deal with the hotel owner and started unloading our luggage. That small tent was the only option we had. So we opted it. Gyspa is river side village. So weather there was cold, and in middle of the night, it could go to as extreme as 0. We ordered cups of tea for all of us by the time we got fresh. Cold winds, tent stay, open sky, hot cup of tea, everything was picture perfect, but alas, I missed my girlfriend. .. We ordered dinner while sipping our hot tea, since it was already 9.30 PM. Because of the cold winds, we asked the owner to set up dinner table inside his office only. Food was not as good as we expected but then, we were riding for hours with empty stomach, we ate like never before.
Before we went to bed, we discussed about the next day plan and soon we started snoring. (This was amongst those dreamy nights, where everything was fairytale perfect but, I missed my special one terribly.
Day 7: GYSPA - PANG [16th Aug ’16]
The next day brought chilly Himalayan winds with it. It was so so damn cold, that we decided not to take a bath. Unavailability of hot water supported our decision cheering. We thought it was more of a safety major, not to mess up with the mountainous weather. We had a cup of tea in morning and started loading our luggage on our bikes. It was almost 8:00AM when we started our ride that day. Our target was to reach Leh that day. We were already running behind our schedule. We started our ride and soon we saw that traffic is completely jammed. There was no road where vehicles could bypass each other at the same time. After enquiring we came to know that a bridge has been collapsed while tanker was crossing it. But then we were the riders of streets of Mumbai, we knew the drill to avoid the traffic and we started implementing it By the time , we reached the point where the bridge was collapsed, BRO had already cleared the whole mess and allowed people to ride on the alternate route to cross the river. Almost for next 5-8 minutes, we were riding in the river water.
Somehow we crossed that patch and again the bullet started facing problem. Roshan took control of the bullet and he started pulling that Bull (et). It was not an easy job, let me tell you. We had no food, no water in our bottles. As time passed, it got more and more difficult to keep riding. Then, we reached a point where everything fell apart. Sohil, Riyaz, Prasad, and Omkar were completely down. Roshan and I were trying to get that bullet in running condition. Bullet was just a piece of metal for us that time. When we had no hopes for a help, we were bestowed upon by the godly nature of human self. A group of riders passing by saw us. And luckily, the guy who asked us what the matter was, was a mechanic. In a very short time that guy gave us temporary solution and asked us to ride till Pang and to stay there for the night, so that he could check with bullet issue. Roshan and I managed to get all other riders back in position, served them little water which we got from one of the travelers and we decided to have lunch at very next available hotel.
It was our good luck that in next 15 minutes, we found food stalls, we took a halt for lunch, and all of us were good except Sohil. Riyaz was not happy with routine of that day, we had little unhealthy chat on that but then I gave up with the discussion. It took almost an hour to finish the lunch. We asked the owner of the hotel about distance to Pang from our current location, and he said it was about 50KM. 50 KM might not sound that big as you read now, but the taken the roads and one down rider into consideration, we had quite a situation back there. We started riding towards Pang It was necessary for us to reach Pang as soon as possible so that we can give some medical treatment to Sohil. It took almost 1 and half hour for us to reach pang. By 5:30PM, we were in Pang and within 5 mins we got accommodation as there were less options available for stay. The owner of the hotel was an old couple, they were like grandparents for us. Immediately after arriving in the hotel (small tent with single bed for 6-7 people) some of us went to check with military camp so that we can get help from their medical department for Sohil. By the time, we realized that from 10000-11000 feet, we had reached approximately 15320 feet. This was why we were suffering from breathing problem and headache. The hotel owner was so helpful, that he gave us all the information to take Sohil to Military Medical camp and also asked us to get medicines for each of us from the medical camp. Few of us took Sohil to the camp and others decided to take rest in the room only. The soldiers we met in the camp were another example of gem of human beings. They were the epitome of goodness and selflessness. We cannot even begin to express the gratitude we felt. By the time we came back to the hotel after providing Oxygen support to Sohil, it was 8:30PM. We were dead tired by then. The couple saw our condition and they helped us in every manner they could. It was so nice of both of them. (Though we were not talking to each other but all of us must have had thought of their grandparents that time.) Aunty served us Tomato soup as it was extremely cold outside It was so damn cold, that one couldn’t even think to go to pee too. After having that soup (added with lots of love from Granny), we started feeling much better. All of us were in blankets on separate beds Though the place was so tiny, they managed to settle 6 beds in that place with enough place to make movements and dining table in the middle. Within 1 and half hour, aunty served us rice with rajma. (I bet this is the best dish you will have, if you ever go to Pang in your life!.)
Before we succumbed to the dead-sleep mode, aunty gave one more blanket for all of us, in case we need it in the middle of the night. Again, we were so so pleased to receive such innocent and pure love of a granny. (By this time I and Riyaz were good with each other again, the verbal fight we had was just time being.)
Day 8: PANG - LEH [17th Aug ’16]
The day began with extremely cold winds but it also brought a cup of tea with extra spoons of love from aunty. We decided to find that mechanic who asked us to meet in pang the other day to get bullet issue fixed. I had his vehicle number which he gave us to locate him in Pang as many riders travel on that route. Soon enough, we found his bike and his co-riders. He checked the bullet and told us that it’s not possible to ride that bullet for so long. Somehow, he made some adjustments so that we could travel at least a few kilometers. We came back to the rooms and started back-packing. Before we left for the next journey, we asked the owner for route conditions till Leh, and he informed us that once we would cross this ascending, it was a 2 lane highway till Leh city. We gave very warm Good Bye to the lovely couple and started our journey towards the target. We were almost 230KM from Leh city. It was the last day of the first phase of our journey. Our bad luck continued to walk with us on this route too. The bullet could not pushed to ride any further and we parked our bikes on the roadside with the bullet. We decided to tow the bullet till Leh Immediately, we found a tempo driver who agreed to take us to Leh in just Rs. 1500. We loaded the bullet in the truck along with 3 riders, and Prasad, Omkar and I were riding on our bikes. While riding on constant speed we reached one of amazing spot where flow of wind was not allowing us to ride straight. it was like a peak where a temple was located with lots of Tibetan flags. We parked our bikes and went to see the name of the place written on stone mark. It was Tanglang La Pass (World's Second Highest Pass) at 17582 ft from the sea level. We clicked few photos, but it was so hard to stand there in such winds and thin air. We choose to leave the place asap. With very constant speed, we reached Leh City around 6:00PM. About the same time, that truck driver dropped bullet and the riders in garage just 2-3 KM before Leh city. We saw these people standing by road side and waiting for us and bullet was in garage for repair.
Our other team of 10 people who came by flight to Leh to join us in this tour, were already in the hotels, room for all riders were pre-booked too. So we started searching for the location which they sent us on WhatsApp. Soon we reached the hotel and the first phase of our ride was successfully completed with lots of obstacles. This is where after parking our vehicles I and Prasad hugged each other as this was like one of or dream of Riding Leh from Mumbai was completed. Don't know about others but we two were on seventh cloud. After meeting our friends, we started unloading our luggage and shifted to the rooms. We were at peace because next day was reserved for taking rest and local sightseeing. We all got freshen within an hour and gathered on ground floor to search for hotels as we were hungry and needed some Ladakhi food to satisfy our stomach. Within few minutes, we managed to find a very nice restaurant. After having delicious food, we went to the Main bazar of Leh city for shopping and to have some fun in the pleasant weather of the city.
That was the day when all 19 members enjoyed a lot, we were together after a long time. We started chit- chatting with each other till late. And then one by one, we fell asleep.
Day 9: LEH SIGHT SEEING [18th Aug ’16]
For the first time in our ride, we woke up like lazy pandas, and enjoyed the late morning with fun and teasing each other. Around 10:30AM a car which was hired by Bhavin & Shraddha for 4 people arrived and the driver was waiting for us, Sarfraaz and other 2-3 people went to hire a Bullet for themselves. We were set to go for Local sightseeing and the first target was to visit Zanskar valley. This was the place where two rivers from different directions meet each other and start flowing together. The confluence of Zanskar River and Indus is 3 km southeast of Nimmu village in Ladakh. This was the place with such mesmerizing scenic beauty that could not be captured by lenses. This was the place to feel the beauty that surrounded you. Let the beauty flow through you, you will remember it forever, it will stay with you forever. I remembered it was Rakshbandhan that day and Meghu (My “so called” daughter :P, and I used to call her Beta) had some surprise for me. She just opened that surprise and it was Rakhi sent by my loving sister “Jyoti” for me. I couldn’t believe that both of them made this for me. And yes, that was the moment when people saw tears in my eyes for the first time.
After that I called my sister. That was one of the most memorable moments in my life and then we went to the hotel which was located at the same point to have breakfast. We shared the chocolates which were handmade by my sister. Around by 12:30PM we left from Zanskar valley towards Hemis monastery, and our way back we planned to visit Magnetic hills as it was on same route to Leh city. We took a small halt at Magnetic hills for photography. And moved ahead to Hemis. Hemis and Zanskar are located at two opposite corners of Leh city, and the only way to Hemis from Zanskar is via Leh city. It took 1 hour for us to reach Hemis monastery. We entered monastery by paying Rs. 50 entry fee for each person. Trust me guys if you are in Leh, you must visit these places. Also there is one shop where you can get the Tibetan prayer flags and many more things, we bought few things from that shop and came down to the parking lot. When we reached down Sarfraaz told me that there was some leakage in my bike petrol supply when we checked, we found that 4 nuts of my engine were misplaced. Within a few moments, I realized that the garage boy forgot to place those nuts of my bike when we changed the clutch plate.
Without wasting a single moment, I turned the bike and started riding towards that garage which was in Leh city. That was the moment I was scared and angry, for the whole journey of 39 KM mixed emotions kept coming in my mind. Somehow I made that 39 KM journey in 20 mins. The very first thing I did was to release my anger on that boy, without any shouting or noisy conversation. He realized his mistake and started working on my bike. It took almost half an hour for him so settle all the issues.
By that time, other people also came back to the hotel and Roshan came to visit the garage boy. He was angry too, but then I told him not to say a word as I have already had the necessary conversations with him. After all this dramatic scene, we went back to the hotel by 8:30PM we were hungry because we didn’t had anything after breakfast at Zanskar. We chose the same restaurant like previous day for dinner. By the time our other fellow 3 riders joined us in the same hotel as rooms were pre-booked for them too. Next day, we were supposed to start with our further schedule, so it didn’t take us long s to go to the bed after dinner.
Day 10: LEH – HUNDER (VIA KHARDUNG LA PASS) [19th Aug ’16]
Everyone was excited this morning, as the first target for the day was Khardung-La-Pass (18,379 ft). The highest motorable pass in the world and dream destination of each rider around the planet. Around 9:00 AM we were ready and set to leave for Khardung. It’s hardly 35KM from Leh city but the road to reach Khardung is extremely bad, rather one can say that there is no road at all. It’s completely off-road, so it took us almost one and half hour to reach Khardung top. It was so windy that we couldn’t breathe properly, but then the excitement of this achievement was much more than anything. We forgot everything and started with Photography. Soon we came to know that Rizwan’s bike was not in condition to ride ahead, and those 3 riders went back to Leh city to fix that issue. At the same point, we saw a young couple with their baby girl (suited with all riding gears on her body) was riding on Himalayan. We were so shocked, but with smiles on our faces that people are such crazy for their passion. We went to meet that couple and after having little conversation we came to know that they were riding from Chandigarh with their 3 year old baby “Pearl”. We clicked a few photos with them and then we set back on our bikes for the further journey and the destination for the day was Hunder.
Road to Hunder & Diskit was full of mixed patches, with sharp curves on ghat roads. Somehow it took us 2 hours to reach Diskit. It was 5:00PM and the very first thing we did was to find hotel for night stay we got a very nice hotel with decorated rooms. After settling a deal with the manager, we decided not to unload luggage but to visit Hunder first, as it was hardly an hour left for sunset and everyone wanted to see the (Desert of Ladakh) Hunder before sun went down. It was ride of hardly 7 KM from Diskit to Hunder. In next the 15 minutes, we reached Hunder Believe me guys, you’ll see the best sunset of your life, if you ever visit this place!. We had an amazing one and half hour in that desert with Camel Safari, River, High hills, Sunset Everything was just like imagination, but then, it was all for real.
Around 7:30PM we left that place and returned to the hotel on the way, Roshan informed me that hotel manager was a Maharashtrian. I was surprised to hear that but then it was very common that we find many Maharashtrians roaming around the world, visiting different places or working somewhere far from families and relatives. Still I was very excited to meet someone belonging to my state. We unloaded all the luggage into the rooms. Immediately after unloading luggage when people were entering bathroom to get fresh, I ran down straight to the reception to meet that manager. In that very first meeting we became good friends with each other. After having a chit chat for some time, I came to know that his name was Naren Marne and he was from Pune The moment he came to know that I was from Mumbai , t we were talking as if we had known each other from very long time. After having so much fun talk with him I went to get fresh and have bath.
Before I went to the room, I personally ordered some Maharashtrian food for all of us without asking anybody for the choice. I knew that everyone would be happy to find Maharashtrian food in their dishes. In next hour, we gathered down to have dinner, and as expected people were shocked and surprised at the same time when they saw their favorite Maharashtrian food. (As a token of that, I received lots of flying kisses from the girls :P :D). As usual we ate like there won’t be any sunrise again. The food was extremely delicious that we had it till our tummies were full with food and hearts with joy..
Then it was time for chit chat as we were so freshen up after visiting Hunder and having that dinner. Like all other day we started our chit chat in the garden of that hotel. Before we went to, the rooms I visited kitchen to meet Naren, I asked him if we could surprise other people by making famous dishes of Maharashtra culture I.e. Wada Paav and Kande Pohe. And without even thinking for a second, he replied “Why not?? YES!!! Of course we can”.
This is how you meet people out of nowhere and become the best for each other.
Day 11: HUNDER – PANGONG (VIA SHYOK RIVER) [20th Aug ’16]
As per the plan, the day began with dishes of Kande Pohe and Wada Paav. Everyone got another shocking surprise of the day :D. Around 7:30AM we were ready for next destination. Today was the day when all the riders were much excited for the ride because against all the healthy, life caring suggestions, we had chosen the hardest route to reach our next destination. Hunder to Pangong Lake via Shyok River. And the best part is 40% of the path is through dry and sand areas of river. We knew that it would take us around 6 hours to reach Pangong Lake due to off-roads. Hardly had we ridden for 20 KM, on so called road, complete off-roads started. Our excitement was replaced by fear and controlled ride with full concentration. With extremely bad road conditions, somehow we managed to reach Pangong Lake by around 4:30PM. At the entry point of the lake, we took a halt for some food. The view from that location was so common that most of us thought why people talked so much about this place. What was it exactly that they found so interesting and amazing here. Prasad and I were on different tables and both were so upset with the place. And at the same time we were so tired,mentally of course, that we both had thought of pushing our bike with transport and travel back in flight to Mumbai once we reach Leh again. Finished with our lunch, Prasad and I moved ahead to search for hotel stay and continuing with same discussion on bike transport services. After riding for 7-8 KM, we found a very interesting place with 4-5 separate wooden houses. We parked our bikes and went to check for availability of rooms. After checking the rooms, we were glad to get them t in Rs. 1000 per head including food and breakfast. This was the best accommodation we got in our whole journey. And the view from those rooms was just awesome. It was exactly in front of Pangong Lake Prasad and I came to know why people talked so much about this place. By this time thought of pushing our bike in transport services was washed out. As the sun was going down it started getting extremely cold in the air, at the same time beauty of the nature was making herself more and more beautiful, because of the lake side the wind flowing around was extreme chilling. Prasad, Bhavin, Omkar and I were sharing a single room. Believe me friends, If you are married or travelling with your GF, do stay at this place, I bet you will have heavenly time with each other.
Four of us had 2 cup of tea each just to enjoy the winds and environment. All of a sudden from nowhere, it started raining. Though it was for the short period, it made the whole environment ice cool. Now was time for Astrography, and we had the best astrographer with us - Bhavin. In no time, he took his DSLR and all the kit out of his bag and started equipping all the gears for capturing the best clicks. Unfortunately due to heavy clouds he couldn’t manage to capture many things, but we enjoyed with his capturing techniques and photography. Around 9:30PM, we asked the owner to set the table for dinner, we preferred the inner area of his restaurant for dinner as it was cold outside.
I had a peaceful dinner with Rice and Rajma again. And now it was time to spend some peaceful and quality moments with besties. Few of us went to the other room as they wanted to have noisy fun with DJ and dancing, and four of us came back to our room, taking out blankets we sat on sofa, chit chatting and enjoying melody songs. In next 20 minutes, Shraddha (My best riding partner), Meghu came to join us. For more than one and half hour, we continued with the mixed moment of peace and little chit chat, humming songs. Around 1:00AM we went to sleep. I chose to sleep in my sleeping bag on sofa as we had a bed for 3 people, and I felt that sofa was more comfortable than anything else. The place was such pleasant that I’m very sure each one us must have had peaceful sleep.
Day 12: PANGONG - LEH [21th Aug ’16]
Around 6:00AM I opened my eyes, without doing anything else I just sli curtains of the windows. Amazing lake was calling me, and I saw Meghu outside exactly in front of my window. I just brushed and moved out from the door. With smiley Good Morning, we both sat on the floor, we just enjoyed the wind and cold air.
Soon after that most of us were awake, after finishing morning activities it was pre decided that we spend 2-3 hours at Pangong lake side for photography. Though the lake was exactly in front of our rooms, it was a distance of 5-7 minutes by walk from the rooms. We chose to go on bikes so that we can click some good photos. It was the same spot in the movie 3 idiots where Kareena kissed Amir in that movie. Then while taking photos, it clicked in some one’s mind to reshoot the same scene here. And our Kareena (Meghu) and Amir (Sarfraaz) were ready to do the shoot. We had a lot of fun in those two hours. After the photo shoot, we came back to the hotel, and ordered breakfast before we leave for our return journey because it was the last destination of our Ladakh visit in Leh.
Soon we finished with our breakfast and started loading our luggage in car and on bikes.it was around 11:30AM, we started with our return journey to Leh. The only thing remaining was Chang-La-Pass, which was on our route. After riding for more than 1 hour 45 minutes, we (the people in the car, because I was not feeling well so Roshan was riding my bike) took small halt at Chang La for a cup of tea. Here we captured some good clicks, and moved ahead. The only target was to reach Leh, so we were not at all in hurry. Around 4:00 PM we reached Leh. As car was on lead, we reached first and went straight to the same hotel where we landed on very first day in Leh. Rooms for 10 people were already booked as their plan of returning Leh was confirmed. But we 6 rider were much unexpected as it was not our plan to visit Leh city again. But then just to check the bike conditions and other shopping things, we changed our plan and came back to the city. There was no accommodation available for six of us, but with the help of the hotel owner, we got another option very quickly. We confirmed the deal with other hotel quickly. By the time other riders also returned to city. Roshan informed me that there was something wrong with my bike, and immediately we decided to visit the garage. It was a very small issue with acceleration, which that garage boy resolved in no time. We came back to the hotel where we booked rooms for 6 bikers. Now we were divided in group of 2, one which was supposed to fly back to Mumbai and the other (including I) which was supposed to ride back to Mumbai. We all together had dinner quite early that day and went to the Main Bazar of Leh city for shopping. Somewhere we found that we can get customized T-shirt with typical Ladakh map and many more things.
Almost all of us wanted one of it. Each one of us ordered one piece and then we decided that those who were flying back to Mumbai will collect the order on next day as it was not possible to get order immediately. The deal was set and we all again went for the further shopping. It was around 11:00 PM when we returned to the rooms and soon went to sleep as six of us were supposed to ride back to Mumbai.
Day 13: LEH - SARCHU [22th Aug ’16]
Finally, Third and the final phase of our ride started. We woke up early in morning so that we can start our ride early and cover as much as distance. Initially we set our target to reach Keylong that day. And the roads were known to us, so it was not very hard to make it. But then we were not aware that something horrifying was written on our path of return journey. Due to some technical issue in water supply, we couldn’t get hot water on time in the morning, and we got late by almost an hour. All other people came to our rooms to say good bye!!! After spending so many beautiful days together, believe me it’s so hard to say Good Bye to your dear, loved ones.
Around 7:30 AM we were ready with all our loaded luggage and gears. Finally in next 10 minutes, we were on the roads of Leh to Manali. We were running on very constant speed as we had pretty much time to reach out destination for the day. Now we were 6 people and 3 bikes riding on roads, giving thumbs up to all riders crossing us, saluting to the army convoys. After riding for around 5 - 6 hours, we reached Pang at 1.30 PM. The very first thing we did was to visit the same hotel which we stayed on the journey from Manali to Leh. The old couple gave us very warm welcome with lovely hug and blessings. We had little food at the place because it was more difficult patch we were supposed to travel ahead. In next half an hour, we were back on roads towards our destination. Just 10 minutes after crossing Pang, the bullet gave us a huge shock, by any means that bike was not ready to start. Here we all were at the saturation of our patience, but without wasting much time we decided to toe the bike on some passing truck. We were lucky that in just next few minutes we found an empty truck passing by. The deal was set in Rs. 1500 to drop the bike in Keylong, with no time guarantee as the roads were so bad and it was heavy vehicle, the chances of getting stuck in traffic were more. We agreed on the deal and 3 of us went in truck with loaded Bullet in it. Prasad, Omkar and I decided to go by roads on bikes only.
Three of us moved ahead with decision that all of us would meet in Keylong as that was the only place where we could find network in our mobile and we could contact each other. Because of road conditions, we were riding slowly. And around 5:30 – 6:00 PM we crossed Sarchu, and started riding in Ghats. Just after riding for 5 minutes, we saw that the weather was getting extremely bad and there was no way that we could move ahead. Riding in such a bad weather in that terrain was equivalent to entering a death zone! With small discussion with Prasad, we decided to take a halt at nearest tent house which was around 5 minutes from our current location...
Now the main concern was how to inform those guys that three of us would not be able to ride in rain and snowfall and we were going to make a stay in tent here. With little consideration, we parked our bikes in a way that it would be visible to the people travelling in truck. And with hope that we could identify the truck in night time, we took a stand at the door of tent. It was raining heavily and we were worried for other 3 members. Omkar was unloading all the luggage and we were looking for the each and every truck passing by that place. Almost around 8:30 PM, a truck took a halt next to our tent, they saw our parked bikes! Even they said that there was no way that they could move ahead. It was all god’s mercy that six of us could meet again without any communication channel at the same spot. Each one of us had tears in eyes as it was very emotional situation. Because of snowfall, we were worried for them and they were worried for us, and we managed to get in touch with each other. After that, we spent that night in that tent. We met one more cyclist friend who was from Maharashtra and was cycling from Chandigarh to Leh. For some time, we forgot about the bike problem and the other tensions in our mind. The day ended on a very happy note. Ahh…. forgot to mention about the tent owner His name was so difficult that we couldn’t even pronounce it, so for our convenience we use to call him “Rrraaaju”. He was so helpful to us for the whole time we spent there. The weather was so cold and wind flow was too strong that nobody was even ready to go to pee. Finally around 11:30 PM, we went to sleep.
Day 14: SARCHU - MANALI [23th Aug ’16]
It was a very pleasant sunny morning as the weather was calm. Soon after getting up from the bed we started packing our bags. Again we started looking for the truck who can drop the bullet in Keylong for us. Before we leave for rest of the journey, Rraaaju informed us that we could find a bullet mechanic in Keylong named “Chunni”. Roshan came with me on bike for the further journey. In the very next 2 hours, we reached Keylong and started searching for Chunni the Mechanic. We found a small garage surrounded by parked Bullet and immediately we concluded that this what we were looking for. It took more than 2 hours to repair that bullet. But then he was the one. He managed to find exact problem and solved it perfectly. By the time we all had some food and tea to get enough energy for next journey.
Immediate after that we move ahead for Gyspo so that we can have our lunch over there. Around 1:30 PM, we reached Gyspo and took a halt for lunch. Within next hour we had our lunch and decided to move slowly ahead towards Manali. Here onwards everything went too smooth till we reached Manali. But then again we had to pass through the very bad roads and mud patches. Around 5:30PM, we reached Rohtang pass, where the weather was very cold. We had a very small break over there just to click a few snaps, staying there for long was not a good idea as weather was extremely cold. We moved on.
Around 6:30 – 7:00 PM, we reached Manali. Rooms were already booked for us as communicated by Roshan with hotel owner. Immediately, we unloaded the luggage and went to the rooms to get fresh. In very few minutes Omkar gave us another shock that he had to leave for Mumbai immediately by any available train or transport due to some issues in his college admission process. After Prasad, I went to have shower and by the time I came out, Omkar gave us this news. Prasad and I dropped every other thing behind and started looking for transport availability for Omkar that could take him to Chandigarh Railway Station and he would get the very first train in morning for Mumbai. After 2 and half hours enquiring many places we came to know that there were buses that could take him to Chandigarh till early morning and as decided he could board the first train to Mumbai.
It was 9:30 PM when we waved a Good Bye!!!. Prasad and I came back to the rooms. By that time other riding partners went for dinner. Prasad and I decided to have some Chinese food that day and went to the restaurant. Soon after we finished dinner, we came out and started hunting for shops to buy few stuffs for family and the loved ones. We were relaxed after having peace of mind in the chilled air of Manali. Around 11:45PM, we were back to the rooms. By the time we got a call from our members who were travelling in a car that they were going to make the whole journey from Leh to Manali in one stretch. And they asked us to book hotel rooms for them, so accordingly we booked 2 extra rooms for them. And we went to sleep after that.
Day 15: MANALI - PANIPAT [24th Aug ’16]
The day started early for five of us, as we needed to rider further ahead for our return journey, we came to know in the morning that these guys reached early in morning around 3:00AM to the hotel. We were quite shocked since it was really very difficult to cover Leh to Manali in one stretch even though it was a car. We started loading our luggage and for the last one time again we waved good bye to all around 7:30AM in morning and started the journey towards the Final Destination of the ride i.e. Home Sweet Home.
After leaving hotel behind, very first thing we started looking for washing center for bikes as all of ‘em were covered with mud. Soon after crossing bridge of Manali city, we saw a person washing his car with roadside water connection. Prasad asked him if we could wash our bikes, and he nodded his head, saying “Yes”..!!!. We washed our bikes with little force of water and started moving ahead. Weather was cool, roads were smooth, everything was going so smooth, and all three bikes were in sequence. After crossing Manali border, the road condition was the worst for almost 50KM. It was almost off roads on highways as reconstruction work was going on. Connected to off roads, we entered Ghat roads, full of twists and turns. It was a snake ride for next 2 hours. We had to take little break for getting refreshed in between, and started again. As the roads were taking us to the hill top, Fogg and cold started increasing, and all sudden in next 10 minutes, everything was invisible. We had no choice but to ride at a speed of 10-15 km/h with parking lights, and all of a sudden, it started raining heavily.. We took a shelter at a petrol pump which was connected with Authorized Bajaj Service Center. By the time people decided to have their lunch, I went to visit the service center to remove the copper thread from carbonator, as we were at lower altitude and it was no longer needed. After spending one and half hour with lunch and bike servicing, we were ready to move ahead, and by that time roads were completely clear, no clouds, no rain Weather was still very very cold. We were descending on paths of Ghats and road was wet. We were accelerating our bike with little care. After riding for around an hour, we entered a 4 lane highway. It was so much relief after 4-5 days of off road ride, twists and turns we were about to ride on 4 lane highways with 3 digit speed on speedometer. But due to the heavy rain we couldn’t take it to 3 digit. By this time we were riding on roads of Haryana. Our speed was almost 80-90 km/h and we were riding in sequence, but Prasad and Sohil were riding in the left lane of road and I was in the right lane. It was very hard to see through the wind shield of helmet as well because of continuous rain. All of a sudden huge force of water brought me down to almost 20 km/h speed It was as if f a fire bridged water tank were stopping me. Somehow I managed to open the helmet glass and I saw my bike was in the middle of water (as if I parked it in a small lake). It was a slight right turn and the slope of road was towards the divider of road because of which it looked like a water pond in the middle of the National Highway. I dragged my bike to the outer lane and checked if water entered into the carbonator. I was lucky that it was just water instead of any wall or path hole. Gradually wet road got replaced with dry dusty highway as we were moving ahead. We saw a “Bhutta” (Baby corn) shop on the road side. We parked our bikes to enjoy Bhutta, meanwhile we received a call from Rizwan that Pawan decided to do Manali to Mumbai in one stretch and he moved ahead, Kamal decided to visit his native and moved ahead, He was all alone. So we planned to make stay in Panipat and asked Rizwan to reach Panipat so that he could join us.
After paying to Bhutta guy we moved ahead. It was around 7:30 PM, we were riding on highway and now traffic had also increased. We were in zigzag sequence. Sohil was my pillion, with little chit chat with Sohil, and concentration on road I was riding. All of a sudden Sohil started scrambling on me “AAGE DEKH!!! AAGE DEKH!!! AAGE DEKH!!!” Within moment I hit front disk brake and rear brake at a time and stopped my bike with balance but then also, I kissed the tail a of car. It was a soft kiss but then yeah, almost at the door step of Death. An idiot parked his car in the last lane and that too without parking light and talking on his cellphone. There was no scope that one would come to know that car was parked there. I was alive! “Thank God...!” I mumbled. People were shocked with the incident, after crossing bridge we parked our bike roadside at a Tea stall. Everyone was shouting at me, they said that it was not your fault but concentrate on roads. We had a cup of tea with biscuits. Prasad asked me to stay by his tail, and I started following him like a good boy having possible thoughts about that incident in mind. In next the half an hour, we reached Panipat.
We were at destination but the main task was to find a budget hotel where we could get some peaceful sleep. At the very exit of Panipat highway, a hotel very near to roads was there, few of us entered the hotel for enquiry. I parked my bike to dial Rizwan’s number to ask his whereabouts. Boys settled the deal with hotel owner and we got a single but very big room for 6 people. We parked our bikes in hotel compound, and started unloading the luggage. One by one we started getting fresh. Me, Roshan and Prasad decided to have some food in a mall which was located very next to the hotel. Where in Riyaz and Sohil decided to eat something at Dhaba which was also connected to the hotel room.
Prasad went to order food for us, Roshan and I caught a corner couch for 3. Though we covered hardly 500-600 km in a day but, we were so tired due to the mental and physical stress. We had a peaceful dinner and went back to the room. It was pre-decided that Riyaz and Sohil wanted to visit Dargah at Ajmer and of course Rizwan would join them. So again, six of us were going to part ways in morning. Rizwan joined us in the room and the surprise was Kamal. He came along with him because he didn’t want Rizwan to ride alone. So he dropped his plan of going to his native place. They were so tired that they went to bed without any food. Prasad, Roshan and I packed our luggage for the next day and went to bed, as we planned to start early in morning.
Day 16: PANIPAT - UDAIPUR [25th Aug ’16]
It was 6 AM in morning, my cell gave me wake up call. Only Prasad, Roshan and I started with morning activities and other 5 were having their peaceful sleep. As per the plan we left the hotel i.e. Panipat sharp at 7 o’clock. We started our ride at very decided time, so there was no hurry, rash ride needed for us. We decided to ride for around 2 hours continuously and then to have breakfast. It was a very silent ride as we were riding on national highway, that too early in morning so the traffic was very low and weather was good too. Around 9:00AM, we took a halt at a roadside Punjabi dhaba to have our breakfast. We parked our bikes outside the dhaba, and we noticed that people in hotel were staring at us. We entered dhaba, took a seat and started unloading our gears. One of the groups who was already having their breakfast couldn’t control their curiosity and came to us asking about where were we from, how we did ride such long tours n blaa blaa blaa!!! With very short conversation with those people, we placed an order. It took hardly 15 minutes to get dishes on the table. We were served with respective parathas and Curd in each plate. With very first look at those Parathas we concluded that it was going be so heavy but then we had first bite of Paratha (In my case it was Paneer paratha) and we couldn’t stop ourselves and we placed an order of one more piece of each paratha. Believe me guys if you want to eat real taste of parathas, you must visit Punjab for once. Not only paratha but curd as well. This was the first time in our ride that we had such an amazing food. In next 10 mins again, one more order was placed for each of us. We were about to finish our last order and we saw Riyaz and Sohil were entering dhaba. It was nothing but coincidence that they took a halt at the same dhaba for breakfast too. They joined us on the same table, till the time they were having their breakfast we had a cup of tea to get little refreshment, thinking that after having such heavy breakfast we would go to sleep during ride only :P). We all came out of dhaba and again we were going to part way. Though the road we were supposed to ride was same but now we were running as per our own plan and speed. They decided to move ahead. We left the dhaba parking. We were aware that Sohil and Riyaz decided to ride harsh just because they wanted to reach Ajmer before “Namaj” (Prayer).
After riding for hardly 70-80 KM, we saw both Riyaz and Sohil at roadside with mechanic trying to fix their bike. We parked our bike and came to the bullet we had a short discussion with mechanic about what the exact problem was, we came to know that it was a very minor problem and would get fixed in half an hour. With that discussion, we decided to move ahead as we were supposed to cover as much distance as we could. As we had a heavy breakfast we decided to push a little more before lunch. After crossing Jaipur, three of us needed a little refreshment as it was sunny weather and we were feeling sleepy. We had a short tea break with little discussion on the destination map. It was around 6:00 PM when we reached Beawar. Still we were approx. 200 KM from Udaipur. From Beawar, we had to ride on single lane road for about 150 KM.. We had no choice but to accept this challenge as per the planned destination. With a small tea break we started riding on single lane road. The moment we entered that route we saw that it was as if no man’s land. Whole route was like a lonely path with couple of villages established on distance frequency of 40-50 KM. It was dark so we decided not to run beyond 60-70 KM/h speed. Roads were so narrow with twists and turns that one have to think twice before overtaking. We started typical rule of riding, like no overtaking unless it was open for all riders, path hole signaling, speed breaker signaling, etc. As we were riding on road which connected villages of desert, it was expected that we would encounter many animals sitting in the middle of the roads or crossing the roads. Here riding in dark on such roads was risky because their appearance was unpredictable. Due to narrow roads with twists and turns, it was hard to control the speed of 60-70 KM/h as well. But then we were good at that.
The only thing was in our mind to cross these 150KM without any halt. But then after riding for almost 120KM we saw a little crowded hotel and decided to have a cup of tea. (Seriously guys trust me, if you are riding under pressure, you need refreshment very frequently. For me a cup of tea plays that role.) We asked hotel owner that how long we need to ride on this one lane path. His answer made us so happy that we were hardly 10 KM away from the National highway (4 lane roads). More than tea the hotel owner’s answer relaxed us the most. As the hotel owner said we reached National highway after riding around 10-12 KM. but then it was not our destination. We were happy just because now we could ride with our own speed to reach destination. We were almost 60KM from Udaipur. Those 50 Km were like 500 km when you have crossed your patience of riding. Now the only thing on our minds was to reach Udaipur asap. Our body was indicating us battery low signal. It was almost 8:00 PM and we needed to ride for one hour or so to reach Udaipur. Roads were open but then still we were riding at the speed of 80KM/h. around 9:00PM we left national highway and entered Udaipur city. Now the last target for the day was to search budget hotel. We visited almost 3-4 hotels but they were little costly. We could have opted for them as well but then we chose to continue our search. Finally 4th hotel we entered was good enough in our budget. It was not a 5 star hotel but for someone riding for last 14 hours, single pillow would feel like a double bed. We parked our bikes in parking of the hotel and started unloading luggage. Our very first need was to get hot water for bath. The moment we entered room we dropped our luggage. Roshan switch the geyser on and entered bath room. Prasad and I were taking out our clothes to change and meanwhile we placed an order for dinner. By the time Prasad and I also got fresh, dinner was on the table. We had dinner and the next move was to decide the next day schedule. We were so tired that we laid down on the bed and opened Gmap to check the routes. It was 980 KM from our current location. We discussed a couple of things and then the final decision was to reach Mumbai in one day i.e. ride of 980 KM in one single day. On the note of this decision we went to bed.
Day 17: UDAIPUR - MUMBAI [26th Aug ’16 - 27th Aug ’16]
It was a big day for Roshan, Prasad and Me. For me the target was not just to reach Mumbai on that day, but to surprise my family by reaching on early morning of 27th Aug 2016. It was a very special day! As usual my cell gave us a wakeup call. The day started with a hot water issue in our room. After spending almost 20 minutes, we asked the Hotel manager to give us another room for having bath and all other morning activities. As it was raining outside, weather was cold. Without any further interrogation, the manager opened the door of next room for us. We checked the geyser and it was working. We finished with morning packing. After payment was done, we loaded luggage on our bikes.
And the last day of the ride started. We left the hotel room but before that we confirmed the direction from the hotel owner towards Vadodara. Though it was early in morning, we faced heavy traffic in city. It took us almost 35 minutes to enter national highway. May be because it was the last day of our ride, even God wanted to test our patience. It was raining since early morning and it never stopped till we reached home. Though we were on national highway, we were riding at speed of 70-80 KM/h due to condition of roads and continuous rain. After crossing Rajasthan border, Roshan and I decided to change the oil in our bike. It was quite early in morning, hardly 9:30 AM in clock. Finding any garage or oil shop open was very much difficult as we were out of the city. Somehow we managed to find an Oil shop. We decided to purchase oil from that shop and to change it in the very next garage we could find on our ride.
We found a garage after riding for almost 40 km. Roshan and Prasad went to ATM and I went to the garage. It took us almost 20 mins to do all that stuff. We were back on road, riding not smoothly but steadily as it was raining. At one point, we realized that we had missed one turn and we were riding in wrong direction. It was barely 5 minutes from current location. We turned back and took a right towards Vadodara. Now for each mile stone on road, we were searching Godhra, because it was our next check-point for the day. It was a very long distance we needed to cover in a day so we decided to have very less halts. We were simply following each other. The moment we entered Gujarat border roads become wider i.e. 4 lanes to 6 lanes highway. But now it became more difficult for us to follow each other because of traffic and heavy rain. Since morning we were riding under clouds and rain. It didn’t stop for a minute during our ride. This was the time we needed to shut the helmet glass and to keep vaping it for clear vision. As we were moving ahead it became more and more difficult.
Somehow we reached Godhra, as per the route we bypassed it without entering the city roads like other cities. We had a small break for tea after crossing Godhra bypass.. It was about lunch time but we decided to push it a little more because we were running behind the schedule.. The unexpected heavy rain had messed up our schedule.
We started riding towards Vadodara, the next check-point on list. Though it was not so far wet and muddy roads with water filled path holes were slowing down our speed. Meanwhile, I noticed some weird noises from the chain socket of my bike. I ignored it as it was not affecting our ride at all, I was sure that it was chain socket and I needed to replace it. I decided that I would replace it as soon as I reached home.. We refueled our bikes somewhere near Vadodara, and bypassed the city route. Moving forward, we started looking for good hotel to have lunch as it was almost 4:00PM. We entered a very big hotel around 20 minutes from the petrol pump. It was a big hotel, not like 3 star big but it was biggg! We placed the order for lunch and by the time we got it on the table, Roshan and Prasad started checking the further distance of ride, and Gmap showed it was almost 400 KM from our current location. It was decided that at any cost we had to reach home without making a night stay. We had our lunch and by the time, I paid the bill, Roshan and Prasad went to have few puffs. We spent a few more minutes over there. Nobody said it aloud but it was in everyone’s mind that it was our last or second last stop in our ride, as each one of was excited to reach home. We were back on roads and now it was pouring down more heavily. We were almost down to 40 KM/h speed. Next half an hour was extremely difficult for us to ride because of heavy rainfall and heavy vehicles on roads, but we did not stop till we reached Bharuch. In Bharuch, we swapped riders, Prasad came to back seat of my bike and Roshan was riding Prasad’s bike.
Closer we were to Mumbai, we started facing heavy traffic. Trucks, containers, tankers etc. We had no choice but to let them overtake as it was highly impossible to ride on high speed because of rain. We were speeding wherever we got a chance to cover the distance. Following someone in such a heavy traffic is not an easy job. We bypassed Surat and in short time we reached Navsari. We felt as if we had reached the first step of our home, but still it was approx. 250 KM from Mumbai. Around 8:00PM we crossed Navsari. By the time force of rain water was little low, but due to the water blocks, path holes and Road construction patches our avg. speed was hardly 55-60 KM/h. It took us almost 4 hours to reach Fountain Hotel i.e. the starting point of our Ride. “IT WAS THE SUMMIT”. Just to remember this moment, we took a small pause in front of the fountain Hotel. It was late in the night and expecting any hotel open would be silly, but then we saw a Tea stall. After riding for more than 12 hrs. in rain what else could be the best drink to celebrate your Summit? We headed towards the tea stall, it was drizzling. Rain drops, a cup of tea (‘Cutting’ in Mumbaiya language), and Victory! In my personal opinion no champagne could have celebrated our victory than this.
With that feeling we started heading towards home, but we were hungry as well. We decided to have our dinner at “Shalu” dhaba, the most famous place near Shilphata. Chances of getting something to eat was 20% but then it was more like’ what choice did we have anyway??’ Prasad was on lead, with in the next hour we reached Shalu. We parked our bikes, asked doorkeeper to keep an eye on our luggage and we entered Dhaba. We found a corner seat so that we could have a peaceful dinner. As it was a connected weekend, Dhaba was slightly more crowded than our expectations. We were sitting and somehow Prasad heard a very familiar voice. He leaned a little bit to see who was sitting beside us and it was a pleasant surprise for me and Prasad. He was none other than Mihir with his wife and 2 more friends. Mihir was the guy whom we had contacted at the very first place while planning this Ride. He had done this ride more than 2-3 times. It was very ******* time that we met the same guy who had guided us for the whole ride. We were so happy with this unplanned yet extremely surprising meet. After chitchatting for 15-20 minutes, we greeted each other and clock raised bangs of 12:00 AM. Roshan and Prasad gave me charming hugs of Birthday wishes. “YES!!!” it was my birthday. And meeting Mihir there was an amazing birthday present for me. I started getting calls for birthday wishes. But then among all these people still one person was desperately waiting for me to reach home, my MOM.
Around 1:00AM in early morning, we left the Dhaba and again started riding towards home. But obvious it was the last half of our ride. We were hardly 30 KM from our home. Because of body pain and other conditions, Roshan decided to stay at my place and leave early morning for his home.
Around 2:00 AM in the morning I entered my wing and I saw she was waiting for me at the entrance of building. Ahhh………!!!!! Man! No one can imagine how much your mom can do for you. I just parked my bike in middle of entrance on side stand and the very first thing a baby does is to HUG his MOM. I was in her arms for the next 5 mins. Without any control tears started rolling down I just can’t explain that feeling in words. One can only feel it. Then I parked my bike and checked the bike meter box. It was 6093 KM of total ride completed in 17 Days. We unloaded the luggage and entered my house. 17 days back when I left home for this ride, that I, was way too different than the one who entered now. A lifetime had happened in 17 days!
Here ends the story of 17 * days of my life!!!…but it was the beginning of a new life…!!!!