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Old 4th February 2016, 19:01   #1
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Default A 13000 km, 72 day ride through India, Nepal and Bhutan

Have always preferred two wheels over four, as four wheels seemed too balanced for my unbalanced thoughts. And India was just perfect for a two wheeler Odyssey, hence I ventured on my Yezdi 250Classic in 1982 with four friends on their Yezdis for a successful parikrama of India. This was followed by many other rides over the next twenty years after which life took over and had to dump the two wheeler for a four wheeler to continue travelling with the family.
And then it happened. I retired from my day job, the children grew up and got busy with their own lives, wife still had a couple of years before retirement. It did not take long before my passion for two wheel travel took over as the thirst to explore India had not been quenched and Ladakh beckoned. Royal Enfield had launched their 500cc bikes with Unit Construction Engines and Electronic Fuel Injection. I was left with no option but to go ahead and bring home the beauty to accompany on my Indian Odyssey. So I got the ‘Desert Storm’ a 500cc Classic Royal Enfield.

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Though basically I prefer riding solo, I joined ‘Bisons Ride Hard’, a motorcycle club exclusive for Royal Enfield Bullet riders and rode with them to learn the finer nuances of riding the Bullet.
As fate would have it, my first ride with the club happened to be the first club ride for AdityaRaj Kapoor too. The importance of this coincidence will be revealed soon.
I started targeting my goal of being astride on my bike atop the highest motorable road in the world at the Khardungla Pass on my 60th birthday. But fate had other ideas. Just three days before I was supposed to leave for my memory making ride, I could not get out of my bed due to a severe attack of sciatica. I did feel disappointed but did not give up and decided to go for it next year. Visited a couple of doctors (homoeopathic and allopathic), got medicated, practiced yoga and moved towards my rescheduled date with Khardungla pass.
About four months prior to the ride, AdityaRaj Kapoor approached me and expressed his desire to join me. I agreed as he seemed to be a nice positive thinking bloke and would be good company too. It would also relieve some tension for my wife and mother who were quite worried at the prospect of me going alone.
Within a couple of our meetings to plan for the ride, the Mumbai-Khardungla-Mumbai ride turned into an All India ride with a couple of neighbouring countries thrown in for good measure!
At the end of the entire detailed route planning with HV Kumar (the last word on Indian roads), our final route plan involved a ride of 14000kms in 70 days. His Central Hotel Desk team would track us on GPS and book hotels for us enroute.
Dr.Alap Mehendale, also a prolific rider, who was supposed to join us but dropped out due to professional exigencies, listed and procured all medicines we would possibly need on such a ride with detailed explanation of what to use when and to call him if in doubt.
Our bike technician Vinod, would also be available on phone 24x7 in case of any bike emergencies.
Finally my family physician, Dr. Subodh Kedia, gave me the permission to go ahead after ensuring that my blood pressure and sugar was under control.
And then the day dawned. All my bags were packed and strapped on to the bike. The dream ride would begin soon.
There was a huge gathering at the Bandra Kurla Complex to bid us goodbye on our epic ride christened #Indiahai.

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Bisons Ride Hard members, HVK Forum members, friends and relatives had come over to see us being flagged off by the evergreen Hero Jackie Shroff.

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At 1400hrs we were flagged off and we rode all the way to Vapi in pouring rain accompanied by Shree Vinayak Rath (founder President of Bisons Ride Hard) and Ceejay Fernandes.
The epic ride had begun!
In Vapi we were hosted for the night by Aditya’s classmate, Mr.Sraw, and his charming wife, who took us out for a wonderful dinner and saw us off the next morning when it rained.
Our next scheduled halt was Kalol.

Part 2
The rains which had blessed our departure from Mumbai continued to keep us wet and blessed right through for a few more days with breaks that were few and far between. It was like a long wet dream (pun not intended). Vapi to Kalol was no different except for the thankfully great roads in Gujarat which made a wet ride pleasant. We reached Kalol in the night and missed a turn to get to ‘Hotel Planet’ booked by HV Kumar and his team. But we were alerted by HV Kumar about our wrong turn and we rerouted to reach the Hotel like wet crows looking for shelter. Had a quick dinner and turned in to ensure a bright start next morning.

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Fortunately it was not raining when we left Kalol. Our destination for the day was Barmer in Rajasthan. A very distinctive memory of this ride was passing through ‘Unjha’ which is called ‘Spice Town’. It truly lived up to its name as we could inhale the strong aromas of different spices as we rode through the town despite our full face helmets.
We took a chai poha break in one of the ‘Milestone’ restaurants which also have clean restrooms.
Our lunch was a typical Rajasthani thali in a dhaba near Sanchore. It was delicious. Loads of ghee was poured on tawa fresh rotis. The aroma of the ghee on rotis and the vegetable curries was heavenly and made us want to sleep for a while which we could on the ‘khatias’ provided.
Then it was an uneventful ride to Barmer where we checked into ‘Hotel Kalinga Palace’. We put up all our wet clothes up to dry across the room, ordered room service for dinner and slept the night away.
Next morning we set out for Bikaner. We deviated slightly from the oft taken

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route and rode on a road literally less travelled. There was barely any traffic and it was, well, deserted. For miles together, there was nobody, no tea shop, no dhaba. Finally in the distance we spied a structure resembling a chai shop and promptly rode in for a cuppa to refresh ourselves. And yes even in this ‘desert’ the rains did manage to keep us wet by dropping by occasionally. As we parked our bikes we saw a young lad who was sitting out

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on one of the charpoys, get up and run inside. Thinking it would be to announce with joy the arrival of two customers, we walked towards the shack and waited for someone to appear so that we could place our order. Since nobody appeared, Aditya went inside to check and apparently he again saw the young lad run behind the shack. Aditya followed him to see what he was upto.
Meanwhile a jeep appeared and the driver got off and almost ran towards the shack, stopped on seeing me standing there and asked what I wanted. I told him that we were here looking for the refreshing cuppa chai and he laughed a hearty laugh. By the time he finished laughing, Aditya too had come up front. Slowly the man revealed to us what had happened. The boy, on seeing us all dressed in black, mistook us for dacoits/terrorists and ran behind to alert his uncle about us. And as soon as he received our call he had sped in to rescue his nephew from two harmless riders! Promptly the tea was prepared and served to us and they refused to take any money for us. The ‘rescuer’ said it was his contribution to our ride which he hoped to do someday in his jeep.
By the time we reached Bikaner it was dark, raining, and the streets of Bikaner were flooded. Alongside the road we saw what looked like a hotel and as we were in no mood to go further, we rode in and found out that it

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was indeed a Haveli turned into a Hotel! The room was huge and the owner promised us the famous Rajasthani ‘Lal maas’, home cooked for dinner! We had no option but to oblige and it was one of the most delicious meals since we had left home.
After a restful stay, we headed for Sri Muktsar Sahib Gurdwara in Punjab.
It was almost evening by the time we entered Punjab and the aroma of hot Samosas wafted in the air. We stopped and followed our nose to the delicious Punjabi samosas. As we were gorging, a couple of locals got into conversation with us and were impressed with what we were doing and declared that the samosas and the tea that followed were a treat to us from them! A wonderful entry into Punjab indeed!

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We got a room in the Gurudwara premises, had dinner at the langar (blessed food) after paying our respects to the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ – the holy scriptures of the Sikhs and prayed that rains would stop following us.
Our prayer seemed to have had some effect as the intensity of the rains had decreased next morning when we set out for Amritsar. It drizzled all the way to Amritsar and after we checked in into the guest room in the holiest of holy Gurudwara premises, it stopped raining. Relieved, we stepped out to take in

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the beauty of the Golden Temple. It was really awe inspiring. Next morning too, we circumambulated the Temple, prayed and left for Kapurthala to visit and spend some time with Aditya’s cousin, Dolly Dhindsa and her family.

Part 3
We reached Kapurthala in sunny weather and it looked like the rain Gods were fed up of drenching us.
We were received very warmly, the typical North Indian warmth and hospitality by the Singhs and throughout our couple of days stay there, they ensured that we were fine dined, well rested and ready for the next lap.
Our first task on hand was to get our bikes serviced and checked which we did at the local Royal Enfield dealer’s workshop. They did a fine job of it and refused to take any money from us, saying that it was their privilege and honour to service our bikes! While our bikes were being serviced the local

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print and electronic media arrived to interview us. They were keen on finding out why the son of legendary Shammi Kapoor was riding around when he could have very well flown around! The answer my friends will be in the book that Aditya will be writing about this ride.
The local Sainik school invited us to give a talk to inspire their students on why travel is important to widen mental horizons. We were also taken

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around the fabulous Kapurthala palace museum which is not yet open to the public.
On the morning of our departure, we were invited to visit the school run by our hosts where we were felicitated and Aditya gave a small speech to motivate the students. After this, we were led by the local electronic media to the highway to see us off and this was captured by them to be telecast on their news channels.
Our next halt was to be at Mandi and the rain Gods possibly felt lonely without us and in the last couple of hours of us reaching our destination, we were drenched in the heavy downpour and we stayed in the first hotel that we came across. Fortunately it was a good, decent hotel and here too we had to sleep in our towels and hope our clothes would dry before we left next morning for Manali.
After a good rest and with dried clothes we set out on a bright morning towards Manali. The route right from Kapurthala was beautiful with the Beas river meeting us on the way and at times accompanying us. Our destination was ‘Ride Inn’ a bikers’ motel in Manali but away from the maddening

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touristy crowd that throngs Manali. This was located in an apple orchard and the views from the Inn were beautiful. We soaked in the atmosphere for two days and then started our journey towards Leh, Ladakh. It was in Manali ( 2,050 m) that we started taking ‘Diamox’ as a preventive measure against AMS (Acute mountain sickness, a form of altitude sickness), on our Doctor’s advice.
Enjoyed the ride upto Rohtang pass (3,979 m) but the descent was treacherous as it had apparently rained the earlier night and the road was replaced by slush and stones. It was here that I had my 1st fall, albeit in slow motion, when I pressed hard on the front brake, which is a disc brake, and toppled over. Aditya promptly came over to assist me get on the bike to carry on. His presence was really a morale booster and he had to come quite a few times to help me up after my falls. Fortunately all these falls were in slow motion and a result of my reflex action (developed over the years from riding the Yezdi which had drum brakes on both wheels) of pressing hard the front brake.
When we reached Khoksar, we were stopped as a bridge over Chandra river,

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that needed to be crossed was being repaired. The wait was for four hours when we met some interesting travellers in the cafes. The most inspiring was a family of four consisting a male (74), and 3 females (all in late 60s) travelling in a Maruti 800! And this was their fourth trip to Ladakh! Met another young, newly married couple from Pune on a Royal Enfield, who had decided not to have children for at least five years so that they could fulfil their bike travels together without any encumbrances. Committed travellers!

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Soon it was time to ride onwards and we did, to Keylong where we checked in for the night.

Part 4
On our way to Keylong we made our scheduled stop at Tandi for tanking up and filling up our spare cans for petrol as there are just a couple of petrol pumps in Ladakh. There is a board outside this petrol pump on the Leh

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Manali highway which states that the next petrol pump is after 365kms. So after filling up we went onwards to Keylong (11000feet) to stay for the night.
Had a very pleasant stay in Keylong with some superb views from the room

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to keep us entranced. Hotel was booked for us by the Central Hotel Desk team of HV Kumar.
Feeling refreshed next morning we set out for Sarchu. Was a beautiful ride through some of the most scenic sights. Only at a few places was the road being resurfaced due to which there was gravel, else was a lovely tarmac winding road through the mountains.

On the way we passed the lovely ‘Suraj Tal’ a crystal blue lake.
Enroute when we stopped for a tea break near Darcha we met a young

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Englishman on a cycle who was cycling all alone to Leh! Admirable spirit indeed!
We soon crossed the Baralacha la pass at 16000feet and reached Sarchu (14000feet) around four in the evening and bedded in a tented

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accommodation called ‘’Silent Place’. We were the only customers in the ten bedded tent and had the full tent to ourselves! The temperature dropped considerably at nightfall and we had to cover ourselves with a couple of thick blankets to keep warm and sleep well which we did.
Ref Wiki ‘Sarchu (also known as Sir Bhum Chun) is a major halt point with tented accommodation in the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway, on the boundary between Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) in India. It is situated between Baralacha La to the south and Lachulung La to the north, at an altitude of 4,290 m (14,070 ft).The journey along the Manali-Leh highway at high altitude and variable road conditions, normally takes two days, so travellers and tourists use this spot as an overnight stop. An Indian army camp is sited nearby on the banks of the Tsarap Chu river. The highway and thus the camp are closed during the winter, when snow blocks the high passes along the road.This spot can also be used as a start point for the difficult trek into the Zanskar region of Ladakh.’
We set out for Leh next morning in lovely pleasant weather and clear skies.
Had a very pleasant ride, crossed the Gata Loops and reached the Moray plains which a re a delight to ride on. It is like a race track where you can check how fast your vehicle can go! When we were on the Moray plains we experienced the typical Ladakhi weather. On our right was bright sunshine and on our left we could see snow flakes! When we neared Debring we were told by drivers of returning tourist cabs that there was heavy snowfall in Tanglang La pass and not advisable to continue beyond Debring. Hence we stayed the night at Debring (15634feet) in a tented accommodation called

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‘Julley’ (Hello in Ladakhi). Here again we were the only customers and were treated like royalty. The charge per bed per night was Rs.100/- and they even covered our bikes with blankets to ensure they would not be snowed under without extra charges! Next morning we realised their wisdom in doing

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so as the blanket covering our bike was covered with frost. It had snowed intermittently all night.
We were provided with hot water to wash and the lady of the house cooked up some delicious vegetarian meal for us and we could sleep contentedly.
Fortunately next morning the sky was clear and we set out for Leh.
As we neared Tanglang La pass (17480feet) we saw the road flanked by snow and at the pass we were stopped along with other vehicles as there

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was a patch of road that was covered in snow that was being cleared by a couple of BRO (Border Roads Organisation) officers. Amazingly hard working, dedicated to their job they soon cleared a narrow path covered it with mud and let a couple of trucks go so that it is patted down hard and then let us go across. Hats off to the BRO officers who so selflessly work to ensure there is no traffic jammed!
We reached Leh around three in the evening and checked into Jorchung Hotel, again booked by the Central Hotel Desk of HV Kumar. We stayed here for four nights. Will tell you all about what we did there in the next post! 

Last edited by magiceye : 6th February 2016 at 11:57.
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Old 6th February 2016, 13:05   #2
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Default re: A 13000 km, 72 day ride through India, Nepal and Bhutan

Hotel Jorchung was like a homestay where the guest was treated like a family member. When they realised that we had not had our lunch they cooked up a simple meal for us so that we could eat and rest for the day.

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We sat with them and planned out an itinerary for the duration of out stay there. It was decided that we would ride only to Khardungla and back and to the rest of the places we would cab it out. We had to drop our plans of riding to Turtuk due bad weather resulting in landslides enroute hence we would just ride to Khardungla and back.
Next morning was time to show some love to our bikes and we were advised to visit Mohan in Leh who would shower all needed affection on our rides. So

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after the mandatory check up and top up, got them washed and sparkling clean and ready for the rest of the journey.
Just as we were wrapping up our visit to Mohan, got a call from the Taxi driver saying he would be at the Hotel to pick us up shortly. So off we went and soon we were seated in the SUV for a drive to the Hemis and Thiksay monasteries.

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Ref Wikipedia: Hemis Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery (gompa) of the Drukpa Lineage, located in Hemis, Ladakh, India. Hemis Monastery existed before the 11th century. Naropa, the pupil of the yogi Tilopa, and teacher of the translator Marpa is connected with this monastery. A translation was made by A. Grünwedel of Naropa's biography that was found in Hemis monastery. Situated 45 km from Leh, the monastery was re-established in 1672 by the Ladakhi king Sengge Namgyal. The annual Hemis festival honoring Padmasambhava is held here in early June.

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Thiksay Gompa or Thiksay Monastery is affiliated with the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is located on top of a hill approximately 19 kilometres east of Leh in Ladakh. It is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet and is the largest gompa in central Ladakh, notably containing a separate set of buildings for female renunciates that has been the source of significant recent building and reorganisation. It was founded in the mid 15th century.
The monastery is located at an altitude of 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) in the Indus Valley. It is a twelve-storey complex and houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords. One of the main points of interest is the Maitreya Temple installed to

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commemorate the visit of the 14th Dalai Lama to this monastery in 1970; it contains a 15 metres (49 ft) high statue of Maitreya, the largest such statue in Ladakh, covering two stories of the building.
Had some amazing lunch in the restaurant at the foot of the Thiksay monastery.
We returned feeling blessed and ready for the long trip to Pangong Tso the

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large salt water lake that stretches right into China. The ambiance there was heavenly. A perfect spot to sit and introspect.
Ref Wikipedia: Pangong Tso, Tibetan for "long, narrow, enchanted lake", also referred to as Pangong Lake, is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft). It is 134 km (83 mi) long and extends from India to Tibet. Approximately 60% of the length of the lake lies in Tibet. The lake is 5 km (3.1 mi) wide at its broadest point. All together it covers 604 km2. During winter the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water. It is not part of Indus river basin area and geographically a separate land locked river basin
On the way we crossed Changla pass (The Chang La is a high mountain pass

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in Ladakh, India. It is the third highest motorable road in the world. The Chang La is on the route to Pangong Lake from Leh. The name literally means "Pass towards the South" or "Pass in the South".)
Next morning was reserved for our ride to Khardungla pass. We rode there

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and back but frankly no feeling of exhilaration.
Ref Wikipedia: The Khardungla pass on the Ladakh Range lies north of Leh and is the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. The Siachen Glacier lies part way up the latter valley. Built in 1976, it was opened to public motor vehicles in 1988 and has since seen many automobile, motorbike and mountain biking expeditions. Maintained by the Border Roads Organisation, the pass is strategically important to India as it is used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier.
The elevation of Khardung La is 5,359 m (17,582 ft). Local summit signs and dozens of stores selling shirts in Leh incorrectly claim that its elevation is in the vicinity of 5,602 m (18,379 ft) metres and that it is the world's highest motorable pass.
To me it seemed like just another ride in Ladakh. On our return, Aditya bought a T-shirt from the only shop in South Pullu and to his bad luck forgot his pouch containing all his valuables. He realised the loss only after reaching the Hotel and as soon as the staff at the Hotel learnt of it they put us at ease and told us not to worry as they were confident that we would get it back. A taxi was hired and Aditya went in it to the shop and retrieved his pouch intact. The shop owner refused to accept any gratification so Aditya bought tea for all present! A reassuring act of humanity in the otherwise desolate region.

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Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed stupa (chorten) on a hilltop in Chanspa, Leh district, Ladakh, in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu, Gyomyo Nakamura and part of the Peace Pagoda mission. The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama. The stupa has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
In the evening we visited the beautifully pristine Shanti stupa. The perfect end to our stay in Leh. Next morning after a couple of photo ops with the
genial owner of Hotel Jorchung, we set out for Sarchu.

Part 6
We left Leh at 10.00am after a hearty breakfast and headed towards Sarchu. We were feeling good that we had completed a rigorous mountain ride after which we would not feel the strain of riding in high altitudes as it would be all downhill now.
We crossed Tanglang La and could not recognise it without all the snow that was there when we were riding to Leh. As we were passing Debring, we

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stopped for a cuppa at the same tent where we had stopped for the night on our way to Leh. After exchanging pleasantries and warmed by the hot cup of chai we rode on and had to cross a sandtrap where I had my regulation slow motion fall. Fortunately the workers working on the road construction site ran to my assistance and we moved on to the famous tarmac of the Moray plains. We had hardly crossed a few kms when Aditya stopped and we realised he had a flat tyre. It was then that we also realised that we did not have a foot pump to fill in air in the tube. Soon a passing local SUV stopped his vehicle and offered to help. But he could not as he too did not have a foot pump. As we were wondering what next, we heard a roar of motorcycles approaching. They were part of a package tour with a back up van following them. The van on sighting us stopped and offered to assist. But Lady Luck had truly deserted us as their foot pump too was inoperable. However the local guide with them offered to help negotiate with empty truckers passing by to truck Aditya’s bike to the nearest puncture repairing centre in Pang.

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While they were loading the bike in the truck the bike’s gear lever broke! Talk of bad luck!
Anyways Aditya got onto the truck, sat near his bike and I followed. Reached Pang in the evening to find out that the only puncture repair man had closed shop and was not to be found anywhere. We organised to stay in the ‘dhaba’

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there which surprisingly had a concrete structure with mattresses to strewn inside. In the meantime I went across the road to the Indian Army camp which had a telephone facility that we could use. I called up Mr.HV Kumar and apprised him of our plight and now the only way was to truck the bike to Manali where the puncture as well as the gear lever could be set right. As resourceful as ever he organised a van to come next day from Keylong to pick up our bikes and truck them to Manali. And he also ensured that our accommodation in Manali was right next to the Royal Enfield showroom/workshop!
The bikes were offloaded right in front of the workshop and they got on to fixing Aditya’s bike immediately and I decided to get my bike serviced too. The bikes were delivered to us next morning at our hotel doorstep and after a short test ride we moved on to Roopnagar. Or so we thought. We had barely ridden 20kms when Aditya’s bike had a flat tyre! So we called up the Royal Enfield who rode in like guardian angels and fixed the puncture and we set out again. Strangely after another 30kms Aditya’s bike had a flat yet again. Now the owner of the Royal Enfield drove in with his assistants on bikes, changed the rim and the tube of the rear wheel and he escorted us right upto Kullu and helped us find a reasonably good Hotel to stay for the night.
Next morning, feeling refreshed we finally left and after an uneventful ride, reached Roopnagar aka Ropar in the evening and stayed the night over on our way to Dehra Dun where we would be hosted by Dr.Jhala, a famous wild life scientist.

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After spending a wonderful couple of nights in Dehra Dun we rode on to Ramnagar and then Chiliyanaula where Aditya’s spiritual Guru has an

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ashram. We spent a couple of days in the ashram and moved onwards to Tanakpur to enter Nepal.

Part 7
The ride to Tanakpur was delightful on winding mountain roads.

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In Tanakpur we stayed in the KMVN resort. It was a comfortable overnighter after which we started our journey to Nepal. Exactly seven months have passed since that day, and the recent tragic event of the devastating earthquake brought back fond memories of that wonderful country tinged with a lot of sadness.
Entry into Nepal was a hassle free affair. At the border after submitting copies of our driving licence, motorcycle registration and insurance papers we were waved through after paying the visa fees.
Our destination for the day was Bardia Tiger Reserve. The distance was not much and the road was lovely! The famous Mahendra highway!

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Though it was just 2 lane the traffic was sparse and the surface wonderful. It was a ride through the dense forest hence the ambiance was very pleasant and no animals nor humans criss crossing the road except when we passed through villages.

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The final few kilometres to Bardia Tiger Reserve consisted of a tiny river

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crossing and some off roading on paths which added to the fun of the ride.

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We reached just in time to savour a refreshing chai and got ready for the

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last jungle safari of the day in a Toyota pick up van designed for jungle safaris.
We were fortunate to spot deer and more deer but no tiger.

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We returned to some delicious meals prepared by the resort staff at their inhouse restaurant and had a long restful night in a very comfortable room.
It had rained in the night and fortunately for us the resort staff had covered our bikes which still had the saddle bags with our luggage on, with tarpaulin that saved our clothes from getting wet.
Next morning we set out for Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha, after a sumptuous breakfast.

Part 8
The ride to Lumbini was a soul soothing ride. The road was good and the ride was trouble free. We reached Lumbini late afternoon and were guided to a ‘hotel’ by the traffic police in the centre of town. It was a 2/3 room hotel with bare necessities and included safe parking for our bikes. The owner offered to go get our tickets for the Lumbini park wherein all the monasteries and the birth place of Buddha lay, to ensure we did not waste time in standing queues to purchase tickets. We utilised the time to freshen up and eat a roti or two made by the owner’s wife and were ready to explore by the time we had the tickets to the Lumbini park. As we were in no mood to ride

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we hired a cycle rickshaw to take us around the huge park with the driver as our guide.
Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Japan and India have their monasteries there, each one trying to outdo the other in beauty. We loved whatever we could see as some were closed for the day or renovations. You can admire them in the pictures below.

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Finally we went to the most important place of all – the birth place of

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Buddha. Obviously this occupied the prime place in the park. The solemnity there was calming.

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After paying our due respects to all we got back on the cycle rick to get back to our hotel and rest for the night to get ready for our next day’s ride to Pokhra, an exotic destination!
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Old 6th February 2016, 14:18   #3
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Part 9 – Lumbini to Pokhara
The ride of 180kms from Lumbini to Pokhara was a very pleasant ride that we completed in a leisurely 8 hours revelling in the atmosphere.
Pokhara is a honeymooners’ paradise apart from being a base for quite a few treks in the Himalayanregion.

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It is most famous for Mount Annapurna which is the tenth highest mountain in the world at 8,091 metres. If you are the real adventurous type, you can go for a trek to the Mount Annapurna Base Camp from Pokhara too.

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Boating in the Pokhara lake is one of the most serene activities. You can row the boat to the centre and meditate sitting amidst the mountains. It is an amazing feeling.

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Or take that flight by microlight aircraft to hover around Mount Annapurna and return!

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The cuisine in Pokhara is to suit every possible palate and wallet. You have the Continental, Indian, Italian (with pizzas baked in wood fried ovens) or the native Nepali food. If you wish to taste Nepali food visit the restaurants

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sporting ‘Thakali kitchen’ boards. There is free wifi available in all the restaurants that line the main street so a great place to hang out and chill.
We spent 2 rejuvenating nights there before heading out to Kathmandu.
Part 10 Pokhara – Gangtok
We left Pokhara around 0800hrs and reached Kathmandu around 1400hrs after yet another peaceful ride through the beautiful forested hills of Nepal.
Kathmandu is as busy and crowded as any other Asian city. We stayed in

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Hotel Vaishali in Thamel which seemed like a tourist hub. There were plenty of small cafes, bars and restaurants which vied with each other for attracting customers. There were plenty of cyber cafes too and one did have guys sidling up to you and asking if you would be interested in dope or women.

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We visited the Pashupatinath temple and again eased our minds and bodies of the rigours of riding. After a couple of restful nights in Kathmandu we decided to move on and say goodbye to Nepal which we did after spending one more night in Bardibas, very close to the Indo Nepal border.
From Bardibas we headed straight to Siliguri. The exit was chaotic. We managed to change our balance Nepali rupees into Indian Rupees and were looking out for the police to hand over our vehicle permits. Strangely, nobody was interested and when I asked one officer at the border he just waved us on!
Siliguri was just a transit halt for us and we spent the night at the WBTDC

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(West Bengal Tourist Development Corporation) ‘Mainak’ Lodge. The rooms were spacious but the service was poor.
From Siliguri we rode onwards to Gangtok. Was a beautiful ride through the

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mountains with the pretty Teesta river running alongside us all along.
In Gangtok we booked ourselves in ‘Nettle and Fern’ a cute little Hotel. There is no level road in Gangtok. It is either going up or coming down.
Since we had reached Gangtok in the afternoon we decided to have a quick look around all the must see points by a local taxi who was full of information (another advantage of taking local cabs) and took us to a popular

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waterfall where you could indulge in ziplining and then to Hanuman tok from where you could get a bird’s eyeview of Gangtok.

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We spent the evening on MG road one of the most popular traffic free streets

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in Gangtok where the tourists and locals come to shop and spend time.
We dined on some excellent veg and non veg momos in one of the stalls there and returned to our room feeling content.
Next morning we had to ride back to Siliguri. This ride back was full of adventure so don’t miss the next part!!

Part 11
We had started our journey towards Siliguri on a very pleasant morning. The weather was cool and the roads were good. Perfect for a lovely ride down the mountain.
Everything seemed perfect, actually too perfect. And sure enough my bike just died as we neared the Teesta river bridge. I cruised it on a silent mode to the edge of the road to check what the problem could be. Aditya had gone ahead but I was not worried as I knew that in a short while he would either ride back or stop and call me to know what it was that was keeping me back.
I tried starting but no go. The bike did not show any sign of life or coming back to life. So I called our trusted mechanic Vinod back in Mumbai to ask what the problem could be. He asked me to carry out certain procedures and after listening to the results he declared that it was a fuel pump problem which would have to be replaced.
In the meantime, Aditya called, I apprised him of the situation and within minutes he was with me. He checked the bike for whatever faults that he thought it might have suffered and then decided to go ahead and try to get a mechanic. And he did return with a mechanic who apparently had his workshop under the Teesta river bridge. The mechanic went through the paces of checking and he too arrived at the same decision as my Mumbai mechanic – Fuel pump needs to be replaced. And this being an expensive part would be available only at the Royal Enfield dealer’s outlet in Siliguri which was another 30kms away. Seeing our plight he said that he would organise the van to carry my bike to Siliguri.
We had time till the van was organised, so Aditya called up the Royal Enfield dealer who reluctantly agreed to source the part for us. It sounded a bit dicey. As luck would have it, just a couple of days back a biker friend had called and given me a couple of contact names and numbers who were prominent members of the ‘Teesta Thumpers’ the Royal Enfield motorcycle club from Siliguri. So I called them up and they put my mind at ease and said they would connect with the dealer and ensure we got the best attention.
The van arrived, bike loaded and we were on our way to Siliguri and by the time we reached it was early evening. Aditya had gone ahead to ensure immediate action, hence, as soon as we reached my bike was taken in for necessary repairs. After a check up by their seniormost technician it was firmly established that the fuel pump needed replacement. And they got onto the job at hand while four riders of Teesta Thumpers motorcycle club arrived to ensure we and our bikes were attended to!
By late evening both our bikes were ready for the ride ahead to Phuentsholing but as we, as a rule, did not ride at night, were escorted to the hotel by our rider friends so that we could have a good night’s rest before riding on to Bhutan.
Next afternoon we reached Phuentsholing, the border town of Bhutan, where we had to get our permits for ourselves and our bikes to ride around in Bhutan and this took some time so we stayed over in Phuentsholing for the night with plans to ride to Paro the next day.

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The road to Paro was beautiful, winding through the mountains, with fog reducing visibility at places.

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We reached Paro early evening and checked into a beautiful hotel. Everything is Paro is quaintly beautiful. After arranging for a taxi to take us to the base of the ‘Tiger’s nest’ hill, we went for a walk around town.
Paro is a very pretty town with lot of cafes and restaurants. The discipline there among the drivers is amazing. Nobody seems to drive above 50km per hour. Everything is very sedate. Nobody is shouting or fighting. There is a general sense of peace all round. If you do hear some raised voices or laughter you can rest assured it is the tourists. The streets are clean and all pedestrians are on the footpath.
Next morning, surprisingly the taxi arrived a bit late. Somehow I had thought punctuality would be a virtue here but as we found out during our stay there, it is not.
The taxi ambled along, as was the general trend on the roads, to the base of ‘Paro Taktsang’ where he would drop us and then pick us up again once we were back from the visit. ‘Paro Taktsang’ means ‘Tiger’s lair’ and the legend is that Padmasambhava flew in from Tibet on the back of a tigress from Tibet and was responsible for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. Now there is

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a monastery that is built on a cliff 3120metres above sea level and to visit it one has to climb all the way up there. The path to the top is well laid out and

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though tough there are places to rest with availability of drinking water for both men and horses (used to carry humans and/or cargo). We climbed all the way up, prayed for a successful ride and walked down. The views all along were amazing.
The waiting taxi was a welcome relief from all the exercise and we returned to the hotel for yet another well deserved restful night.

Paro to Ranchi
After our brief tryst with Paro we rode on to Thimpu. In Thimpu we stayed in
Riverview Hotel that is beautifully located as the name suggests and visited
the largest Buddha statue in the making,

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the Royal Palace and walked around the main street visiting the restaurants but after Paro, Thimpu was nothing to write home about.
Soon it was time to leave Bhutan and head towards the Indian coast of Orissa which we did via Phuentosholing, Purnea, Farakka, Bankura, Bhubaneshwar to Puri. The ride was a mix of very bad (high density of truck traffic) roads to bad to some very good roads. It was a pure transport

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section where one’s skill to manoeuvring through traffic was tested. This journey took us five days.

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We visited the famous Sun temple in Konarak on the way from Bhubaneshwar to Puri. I consider that as the highlight of this route for me. In Puri, there was some special puja going on due to which we could not get darshan of the dieties. But the ambiance of the temple pervaded everywhere we went in the city.

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While in Puri we got information of the impending HudHud cyclone which would land on the eastern coast. Due to this we had to make a route correction and instead of proceeding down the eastern coastline to Kanyakumari we headed inland to Ranchi. Why Ranchi? Well because Diwali was fast approaching and what better way to spend the festival than with close friends. Aditya’s schoolmate and friend, Sanjiv Lall, was only too glad

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to host us in his palatial house in Ranchi where we celebrated Diwali with gusto!

Part 13 – Home run
After a fabulous stay in Ranchi it was time to move on and frankly speaking the thought of getting home was pretty motivating! But it did involve a few thousand kilometres of riding before we could rest our heads on our own pillows. And so we moved on to Nagpur where we spent a couple of days with Aditya’s cousin who went that extra mile to ensure we were extremely comfortable. They also ensured that the local press got to know of our travels who then interviewed us in the electronic media and newspapers too.
The local Royal Enfield motorcycle club too ensured our rides were serviced well for the rest of the ride. Special mention here to Nagpur’s Zero Mile Riders’ Club whose members ensured that our bikes were taken care of.

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Shahnawaz Khan (member of ZMRC) who owns the garage took personal interest in getting our bikes ready. Thank you guys! And a big Thank you to Shezad Doongaji, a local motorcycle enthusiast and entrepreneur who spent most of his waking hours with us, while we were there, to assist us in getting introduced to the local RE club and taking us around.
Then we moved on to Hyderabad where we spent a couple of days taking in

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the popular sights and the pilgrimage to Paradise café for their famed Biryani.

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By the time we reached Puducherry the rains caught up with us and we spent a couple of wet days by the seaside.
Kanyakumari beckoned and we rode on to the southernmost point of India

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which is where we decided to head straight for home rather than going up via the western coast. The main reason was of course we were feeling tired and secondly because the western coast was well explored by both of us a number of times hence did not excite us.
So we turned up our rides nothwards and rode home via Hubli, Satara and Pune.

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Our homecoming was a tame one compared to the thunderous send off that we had.
It was just us hugging each other at the completion of our epic ride of 13000kms in 72 days. On the 73rd day we were at Bandra Kurla Complex, from where we had set out, congratulating each other on the splendid time we had!
Hope you too enjoyed reading about our ride as much!!

Last edited by magiceye : 6th February 2016 at 14:21.
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Old 8th February 2016, 11:23   #4
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 8th February 2016, 11:54   #5
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Default Re: A 13000 km, 72 day ride through India, Nepal and Bhutan

Whoah what a travelogue, what a journey, what an experience.

Take a bow Gentlemen !

72 days on the road with the Enfield's, I don't know how many of us would ever be able to do something like that. I've ridden across the Himalayas over a couple of weeks over harsh terrain but this is something I can never think of doing. Thank You for inspiring us.

Awaiting a few more tales and riding stories about each stretch specially the ones in Nepal and Bhutan.

Rated this travelogue a 5-star. Cheers !
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Old 8th February 2016, 14:16   #6
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Default Re: A 13000 km, 72 day ride through India, Nepal and Bhutan

First thing first: Rated *****

Second thing: **RESPECT**

Not just to you, but to your family and friends who extended their support for accomplishing this great feat.

I'm just awed that you did this after retiring!

People like you continue to inspire us.

Wish you more and more miles of happy and safe riding.

Looking forward for the Nepal and Bhutan stories.

Happy Thumping...
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Old 8th February 2016, 18:12   #7
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What an amazing trip!! and what an exceptional spirit for doing such a awesome ride.
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Old 8th February 2016, 19:51   #8
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Default Re: A 13000 km, 72 day ride through India, Nepal and Bhutan

Great trip and report . Kudos to both of you to plan and execute this trip so beautifully.
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Old 9th February 2016, 09:42   #9
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Default Re: A 13000 km, 72 day ride through India, Nepal and Bhutan

This is amazing! What a trip. 72 days 13000 km its a dream for many! You have been covering at 180 kms a day. In some places you have spent more than 2~5 days, what was your longest travel in a single day. Its truly amazing, Respect!
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Old 9th February 2016, 17:22   #10
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I humbly bow down to you gentlemen, 72 days & 13k kms on two wheels is indomitable spirit. I was thrilled reading the travelogue.
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Old 9th February 2016, 20:09   #11
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Great reading this travelogue and kudos to the adventurer spirit in the two of you

Also, the Brit going solo on a cycle to Leh was really awesome!

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th February 2016, 22:04   #12
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Congratulations.. What an awesome journey.. Please put in more details of the riding conditions and the locations etc that you visited..
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Old 10th February 2016, 06:23   #13
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Default Re: A 13000 km, 72 day ride through India, Nepal and Bhutan

What a momentous task! Enjoyed this journey of yours. Kudos to you for your great achievement. The pictures are all lovely. Thank you for making us a part of your adventure. Claps, claps and more claps!
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Old 10th February 2016, 08:37   #14
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Default Re: A 13000 km, 72 day ride through India, Nepal and Bhutan

Amazing journey and an equally amazing description to it Deepak.

There is so much to see and so many roads to go and you are simply doing that every year. A great feat to have ventured into our neighboring countries of Bhutan and Nepal in a single trip.

Kudos to you and your Team who accomplished this.
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Old 10th February 2016, 15:08   #15
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Default Re: A 13000 km, 72 day ride through India, Nepal and Bhutan

Hearty congratulations on one amazing journey and hats off to the both of you for your endurance!

Reading about such travels is what keeps me inspired and helps take away the dullness of my day job.

Live on. Ride on.
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