The initial plan was to do Bhutan and bits and pieces of north east. Just when we started planning, our brothers up there in the east finally decided they wanted a separate state of Gorkhaland. Ofourse, no protests goes on peacefully. Silguri was in flames. Since I did not want to be dealing with anything other than my vacation, closed on LADAKH.
Put everything in place and decided 10th October 2008 as the day.
Prelude and a quick word of advice
But some things you should have: - Pullover, T-Shirts, Light raincoat, Watertight Bike clothes, Helmet, Sleeping bag, Strong shoes and Sandals and especially important are, curiosity, openess, tolerance and patience. If equipped with those qualities a tour in Ladakh will become an unforgetable experience that will enrich the body and soul.
You are sure to find paths which have faded signs of asphalt; a major part of the stretch will have more rustic sand and gravel trails, which can change to slippery muddy paths after a rain shower; once in awhile you will have to cross small streams, which sometimes can result in an impromtu swim, an involuntary refreshment!
Day 1 - Still in Bangalore
Reached Yeshwantpur station at 2.30 PM to pack the bike and load her up for the 10.20 PM SamparkKranti Express. Post packing the bike, had nothing else to do but to check out the colourful chicks at the station. I couldnt stop myself from asking the RPF guys, from where on earth did these chicks come from. He said, they are from a Hatchery in Nelamangala on the way to a poultry farm in Bijapur. Thank god, they were not in our train, else the entire journey would be sniffing henpoop :-)
10.20 PM... the train starts to chug slowly. The journey had officially begun. Yaawwwwwwn. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Day 2 - Still in the train.
Travelling First Class is an experience by itself. I had an entire coupe to myself. Being a chronic smoker, broke all the rules, smoked cigarettes to my hearts content. Felt at home. Yaaaaaaaaaawwwnnnnnn. ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Day 3 - Ab Dilli Door Nahi
I witnessed something interesting before reaching New Delhi. 75% of the houses next to the railway tracks had the names and numbers of few doctors, viz Dr. Md. Sheik, Dr. Anil Kumar and Dr. Kundan Singh. These 3 'specialists' help people who have the 'gupt rog'. Their tag line : 'We specialise in all kind of sex problems'. But why so many doctors. Is there a problem our Health Ministry has failed to notice.
Hazrat Nizamuddin RS welcomed us with heat, smog and dust. Our bikes were offloaded with so much love and care, we had to fix most of the stuff again. Huh, trust me for the guys who are responsible for the parcels. Problaby next time, I will travel in the brake van with my motorbike.
Got out of the station and immediately started heading towards Chandigarh. On the way, we met a very nice guy, young Prabjot Ahluwalia, who sorted out our stay at Cgarh. Hotel Samrat was the place. Rs. 800 a night. This place has the works. Those travelling to C-Garh and want a nice place to stay, Venu's Cook Book recommends Hotel Samrat at Sector 22.
Day 4 : Getting acclimatized in Manali.
Fresh snow fall at the clearly visible Rohtang Pass in the background. OK, the reason I posted this pic is coz I want everyone to know that I knocked my mush off for the first time since I had hair growth below my nose. If anyone wants to comment that I look like a jail bird, the discussion board in the blog section is open to public.
Near the Kullu airport, one of the Manali con masters offered us luxurious room with the view of the valley for Rs.600/-. All we could have done is gone to Manali and did a little bit of a research. We succumed to that man's charms and spent the night fighting the cold and bed bugs. So one of the places to avoid is Hotel Nitesh.
Day 5 : Rohtang Pass beckons us.
52 Kms north of Manali lies the raw and restless Rohtang Pass. Just off the Koksar army camp is this stunning locale which can blow anyones mind off and if not careful with your motorbike, can blow the tyre off as well, the roads (if any) are wretched.
Riding along the Beas is a treat to the eyes. The fresh breeze minus the oxygen is an experience by itself. The roads get nastier since the melting snow forms small streams which cuts across the path. Its not just water, but also a steady mix of rocks, mud and other stuff comes along with it. Your only hope is not to ram your tyres into one of those rocks, else you will be fending yourself in the cold desert till another army convoy passes by in April next year.
We really got some useful tips from our Army friends. I would not like to mention their names, but needless to say, they were too excited to see us, coz one of the boys was from Bangalore. Hats of to these 2 gentlemen and the entire battalion in the convoy who were proceeding to LOC, all for one purpose.
The infiltrators from POK seems to have sobered down a bit (I hope they rest in peace for ever), but whats up with the Naxals and the Maoists. They are felling our CRPF's Jawans like nine pins. Will our Honourable Defence Minister Sri. A.K. Anthony divert our troops to Chattisgargh and all those pest infested areas to wipe them off please. Where has the Operation Polo spirit gone?? Wish we had more Sardar Vallabhai Patel's and Indira Gandhi's to send those senseless guys scouting for their lost balls. My deepest condolonces to the families of those brave CRPF Jawans.
Day 6 : One night in Keylong.
The first rays of the sun hitting the Keylong Valley. We reached Tandi about half past 3, only to realize that it was the last petrol bunk available until the next one at Leh which is 365 KM's from Tandi. Loaded our tanks, bought two 10 litre jerry cans and filled it up, halted at Keylong's Valley View hotel to reassemble our bones. What a shaky ride it was. Hotel Tashi Deleg was the top hotel with a tibetan theme restaurant where we had a chilled beer, some hot pakoda's and a light meal. We were all set for next day, and thats when came the bolt from the blue, the weather was turning really really bad and the locals warned us not to go. Since I prefer local guidance than any lonely planet guide, we decided to head back to Manali. We hit the sack by 8 to wake up early morning. As forecasted by the locals, it had started snowing across all passes inlcuding Rohtang and Baralacha La. No choice but to head back to Manali, packed our bags and vrooom. They say the early bird gets the worm, all we got was dry aloo paratha and cold tea at Sissu which was few miles before Rohtang. We went through hell (read as Rohtang Pass) to reach Manali. First it was snowflakes hitting us, then the skies got a little naughty and starting throwing ice, then it was a mix of ice, snow and rain all at -15 degrees. The only thing dry at that time was our sense of humour, everything else was soaked in the natural elements, I cant remember if I even pissed in my pants, actually no coz I am sure I would have felt the warmth heheheh.
Day 7 : Manali, to unthaw our fingers
With a heavy heart, we proceed towards Manali, but hang on, the roads really kept us entertained. What you see above is one of the 8 lane highway and we were cruising at 8 KMPH. Now you know why it took 10 hours to cover 115 KM's.
Day 8 : Getting acclimatized in Chandigarh. You will know why, read on...
From -15 degress to +45 degrees needs quite a bit of adjustment to our bodies and that is why Cgarh was the right place to neutralize ourselves before we jump into the frying pan. We halted at Chandigarh, the same Hotel Samrat at Sec 22, pampered ourselves with some Lassi malai maar key and butter chicken.
Thus ends our rendezvous with the mountains, but our tryst with the desert is yet to begin. Thanks for patiently reading everything. Now Click Here or go to the next link to experience Rajasthan.