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|5th September 2010, 10:56||#76|
Join Date: Apr 2004
Thanked: 4,092 Times
Absolutely fascinating stuff! Every time I read these travalogue I curse myself for selecting wrong time. Manali - Leh is way more beautiful than Srinagar -Leh.
Looks like this thread is going to take 10 more pages to complete.
|6th September 2010, 11:56||#77|
Join Date: Apr 2009
Thanked: 81 Times
Thanks a ton for your reply it surely helped clear some webs
and sorry for
let the log flow
|10th September 2010, 18:46||#79|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Apr 2008
Thanked: 984 Times
BTB, where art thou?? Nothing for 5 continuous days
Come on mano, waiting for the next few days of the adventure.
|13th September 2010, 10:19||#80|
Join Date: Feb 2008
Thanked: 56 Times
Who said to whom ??????
"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee." - Jules
Come on man, We all are waiting............
|23rd September 2010, 01:22||#81|
Join Date: Oct 2009
Thanked: 75 Times
whats up buddy why has the trail gone cold didnt write about the journey cos its been written to death you had a new perspective on it and was waiting for more and jules whoever he is be damned
|23rd September 2010, 19:42||#82|
Join Date: Dec 2009
Thanked: 80 Times
BITE THE BULLET!!!
you need to come back MAN!
I just read the log now, - WOW! (no more words!)
Actually i was feeling kinda weird, with all the **** happening to you on this trip, recalling my trip across India, with all the **** my car gave me!
Did you actually keep saying to yourself that you'll do this trip even if you break a leg (god forbid)??
|24th September 2010, 14:34||#83|
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: TrafficJamaBad earlier known as Hyd
Thanked: 227 Times
Amazing Travelogue BTB. You guys have conquered Leh as well as my heart now. My heart skipped a beat in the first page itself. Amazing Narration of the experience, those burned clutch plates, those exploding rear drums, flat tyres and lot more gives me goose bumps. You have an impeccable style of narration & i'm loving it.
|26th June 2013, 21:29||#85|
Re: Enfield Bullets, Friends and an adventure in Leh!
Okay...apologies for bumping up a 3 year old thread, but I realised that the ride wasn't finished being documented - so here it is!!!
The fact that we could all shower…Oh. My. God. It never fails to surprise me, how much one values a shower on physically challenging trips.
Anyway, I digress.
We have a smidgen over 200 kilometers to travel today. It isn’t much…if you aren’t riding motorcycles between Kargil and Srinagar. And…every bone in your body, every muscle on those aching bones and every sinew in those muscles, isn’t cursing the last 683 generations of your forefathers for the distinctly underdeveloped brain function of the retards sitting astride those motorcycles, attempting it in the first place.
So, where were we? Yeah, Srinagar… no sorry, Kargil.
One of the benefits of crossing over (or riding to/from Leh) through Kashmir is that fuel is probably always close ’ish’ to hand. All of us tanked up at a petrol bunk across the river, which (in our retarded wisdom) we had gleefully bypassed the previous evening, in our hurry to get into town. Fuelled and ready, we close ranks near the river and ride away into the sunshine. Or something like that.
Kashmir is absolutely gorgeous and no surprises why it is so often called the abode of the Gods. We switch back and forth between a number of valleys, with numerous rivers ebbing and flowing around, near and below the mostly tarred, double road. Quaint villages with cherubic red-cheeked children, will happily wave as you go by. Behind their smiling faces though, I’m almost 100% convinced, that they share the same sentiments as those bones, muscles and sinews I spoke of, a little while ago.
We however were not taking the opportunity to do much (any) sightseeing at all, because we literally were on the clock. Srinagar was under partial curfew, which basically meant that unless we had our backsides inside the army cantonment and ensconced behind military walls before sun down, we were scr*wed.
So unfortunately we missed seeing the Kargil memorial to the brave men who fought that dastardly war. We missed taking pictures of magnificently flowing rivers, with their fish skimming the tops of the waves ever so often. We also missed giving our heartfelt middle fingered salute to the military posts of the Pakistani Army, fleetingly visible every once in a while.
On atleast one section of the Kargil – Srinagar highway, as you take a bend, a large yellow BRO board proclaims, “Caution – You are under enemy observation.” Given the BRO’s stupendous sense of humour (what with their classic exhortations on many mountain roads), you would be tempted to think, this is another gag. I wouldn’t of course want to be the sorry sod who makes that mistake and decides to moon the ruddy Pakis. Only to find that a sharpshooter with a surly sense of humour (and a fervent dislike to being mooned) gifts him a spanking new bung hole…
Traffic is sparse with the ubiquitous Mahindra’s ferrying locals, military transport ferrying army personnel and our motorcycles ferrying…us. We cross over bridges and duck in and out of the sunshine, never sure whether we want to keep our windcheaters on or just stay in our t-shirts. Most of us decide to just alternate between being toasty and then boiling in our windcheaters.
Till we ride into the Drass valley.
The air seems to imperceptibly change a little, not helped by a fairly substantial board proclaiming, “Second coldest inhabited place in the world. Temp (-60 C) on 09 Jan 95”
That little point settled, the weather God’s seem to have also developed a sense of humour suddenly. It starts to rain. Not the “Oh my God, we’re going to DIE” kinda rain, but more like the “Oh my God, I’m going to skid, fall off the edge of the road, break my neck, drown and then DIE” kind instead…
We also now start to climb. Towards Zojila pass.
Now, I was brought up in a home and environment, which always taught me, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that matters.” NOWHERE have I seen it more apt than at Zojila.
The pass itself is a pithy little 11,578 feet high. I mean, we’d been peeing at heights at least 5000 feet more than this, these past couple of days.
no, too graphic.
Since you get the drift, I will only say that I almost peed my pants on at least a couple of occasions while riding up and about 10 other occasions riding down.
With the drizzle and the cloudiness and the fact that this pass remains open barely 4 months of the year due to it being snowed in, there is no tarmac. Sludge is replaced every once in a while with curiously brick lined roads Old style brick roads! And when that runs out, it’s replaced by a particularly vicious sludge that does everything to whip your front wheel out from under you. We ride past dirty snow walls, finally coming to a bunch of cars, trucks and a solitary bus waiting. Not wanting to be waiting again – courtesy of that ever ticking clock we were trying to beat, I went ahead and did possibly the stupidest thing I had done on the whole trip.
It played out like this.
There was an elevated road section (which was being constructed in concrete) and a lower sludgy section. Most of the boys decided to ride in the sludge slowly, while I…didn’t. So. I ride up to a truck. I can’t get past his right hand side, since there’s no space but peering around his left hand side, I gleefully see enough space for Angelina and myself to delicately squeeze past. I forgot to mention, the left side also falls away sheerly to a 4000 foot drop into the upper reaches of the valley below.
I ride out all peachy, eyes dead ahead till I get to about halfway past the truck. You know that feeling don’t you, where you always want to do what you know you MUST not do...should not do?
I looked down into the chasm.
I cr*pped myself.
I was hit by instant vertigo.
My knees began to shake.
And I wanted to stop to put my foot on solid ground. AT THAT VERY INSTANT.
The only problem was there was no ground on the left to put my foot on since my left footpeg was almost hanging over the cliff, and my right footpeg was cheek by jowl with the truck on my side. I’m not sure how it happened, but the throttle gunned itself, shooting Angelina and myself past the front cab of the truck and I hyperventilated my guts out at about 10000 feet.
I remember one of the other boys also following me, whether it was Jaiveer or Digvijay, I’m not sure… I was too busy getting my heart and lungs to climb back into their respective body cavities! So we regroup, and ride on. Till I find that we’re at a fork and the boys have all hung back as I go all macho explorer on them and ride down the lower road, stopping about 500 odd feet from the fork itself.
I look back to see a curious looking man in uniform, animatedly waving his arms around like he was signaling an aircraft coming into land on a carrier in gale force winds. He also looked distinctly upset and was yelling something, which kept getting snatched away in the wind… Wondering what all the commotion was about, I ride back up the road, ready to give him a piece of my mind; about stopping us from going ahead and just being a general jackass...
As I pull up, an ominous crack sounds behind us; then I see a big chunk of mountain slither and tumble past the approximate place I was standing a matter of minutes ago. It appeared, *ahem* that the BRO (Border Roads Organisation) were using *ahem* dynamite to clear a landslide just about 200 metres above us… *ahem* which is also why the traffic was being regulated in the first place.
I… just kept quiet.
The mountains around the pass itself are absolutely gorgeous. Menacing, dark, craggy, with sharp stalagmites hanging off precipices. There is an ominous air of foreboding, both energizing and terrifying at the same time. And given it’s relatively modest height, I have to say that the Zojila pass has to be one of the toughest passes to negotiate on two wheels, on the entire Leh ride. It has my respect like none of the others.
Don’t get me wrong, the rest of them are all difficult to get past – each with it’s own character and method to get across it, without too much damage to you or your ride. Zojila though will maul you, and then spit you out, un-remorseful if you lose your concentration for even a moment.
There is no road, so once we get across the pass, we’re back on churned, sticky horrid mud. Except the views…Oh boy! You finally enter ‘the valley’. It’s a good 5/6 kms of steep mud riding to do before you hit tarmac. All through the way down, you can’t help but stare at the views. Gorgeous greens with twinkling streams in the distance. Open meadows with pilgrims tents, all waiting their turn to trek to the Amarnath shrine, using Pahalgam as their staging point.
We rush down gorgeous roads, on our way to an army transit camp, where we can ostensibly freshen up, eat and then depart for Srinagar. We reach the transit camp, to be bundled into a dorm. There was some miscommunication regarding our meals, so after a quick wee, we mounted our bikes and off we went in search of food. As you can see, food played an important role in our ride!
So we pull up to this innocuous little restaurant proudly claiming to serve authentic Kashmiri wazwaan. For hungry men, there can be no greater calling!
We ate like pigs I am ashamed to say. We ate Gushtaba, Rista, Tabak Maaz, Rogan Josh, Yakhni and probably a couple more meat dishes, the names of which either escape me, or I’m simply at a loss to say! Then we ordered some more! All consumed with rice and countless naan’s. And the icing on the cake was that after ALL that food, we ended up paying some ridiculous 1000 rupees or something as the tab…
We needed therapy after that meal.
Aptly provided by the ride down into Srinagar from Pahalgam! It is truly spectacular, since the road is an effortless 4 lane black top, running parallel to a river that seems to be singing, dancing and frolicking along merrily beside it. Gently sweeping curves and brilliant sunshine meant that all of us were coasting along at an easy 80-85 kmph, bringing us into Srinagar at a very respectable 5 pm.
With us finally getting to the Station Headquarters, where dad’s previous ADC was posted, we go through the mandatory and very very thorough checks at the sentry post, before we are shepherded towards the Officer’s mess – and it’s inviting guest rooms. I don’t blame the poor sentry’s for giving us a once over, because we all looked like shite anyways…
Bathed, spiffed up and moderately sane, we met up with our guardian angel for much needed refreshments later that night! Stories were swapped. We were called idiots – more than a few times too and then dinner was eaten…
The day thankfully came to an end, with the promise of an early morning start tomorrow.
|26th June 2013, 21:45||#86|
Re: Enfield Bullets, Friends and an adventure in Leh!
I was lazy (amongst other things) and much happened in my life over the past 3 years, which took me away from riding or writing about riding
I shall be rectifying both post haste...
Day 9 is up for your reading pleasure.
|27th June 2013, 00:10||#87|
Join Date: Jan 2009
Thanked: 611 Times
Re: Enfield Bullets, Friends and an adventure in Leh!
Its awesome to see this story continue. I have checked back numerous times to see if there's been an update. :-)
Please do finish it this time. This is and will be one most remarkable travel stories on this board.
|27th June 2013, 12:18||#88|
Join Date: Jun 2012
Thanked: 859 Times
Re: Enfield Bullets, Friends and an adventure in Leh!
Thank God, its up again. Wish to see a few more frames and the same spice in your write up.
|29th June 2013, 15:06||#89|
Re: Enfield Bullets, Friends and an adventure in Leh!
Next day almost complete, shall post asap...
|8th July 2013, 22:53||#90|
Re: Enfield Bullets, Friends and an adventure in Leh!
Google maps very helpfully states:
Srinagar to Pathankot, National Highway 1A. 360 Kms, 5 hrs 59 mins.
Google maps has been smoking some crazy ass w**d.
And it should be shot.
After being bull whipped with a leather thong, with nails on it’s end.
And then chased down a dirt road while being pelted with stones.
The twins, Digvijay, Jaiveer and even Ashwin *praise the Lord* were almost completely saddled up, packed and loaded, by the time I walked out to where all our rides had been parked overnight. A little way away from the comfortable quarters we were bunking in at the officers mess in Srinagar.
I take it, the use of the word ‘almost’ did not evade your eagle eyes.
Someone’s bike had given up the bleeding ghost. My memory is extremely fuzzy on this and no one from the rag tag contingent wants to own up as to whose it was, but someone refused to start. And then it began to rain. Unlike the insidious rain we had encountered on our way up to Zoji la, this was the whole hog. The full fireworks; shebang; display – call it what you may. This was God letting us know that riding anywhere in North India in the middle of the blessed monsoons is just downright daft…
The good thing was that we were on an army base, with a station workshop (and mechanics) literally seconds away. It was a small matter that at this hour of the morning, the poor souls were all at morning PT in the ridiculous rain. And we had no access to any of those magical mechanics till they got back, showered, had breakfast and then reported for duty. So while we waited for the rain to ebb a little bit, we also waited toget the erring motorcycle repaired – all the fugly shmucks named in the top paragraph had better own up who it was, else I’m just going to call on one randomly… *hrrrmph*
We finally rode out at about 8:15 am with all the motorcycles ticking over, the rain having subsided and under strict instructions from our guardian angel to ride like hell till we got to Jawahar tunnel, and call once we had got through it safely. For those of you wondering at the importance of the Jawahar tunnel (also known as the Banihal tunnel), it is a truly physical separation between the Kashmir valley as we know it and the rest of J&K. Once past it from the Srinagar side, you are officially out of harms way with regards to insurgency and/or other activities that might be a physical threat to you.
Who were we to argue it? So we rode like hell. Given that the rains were still playing intermittent havoc, what with it coming and going as it pleased, we kept a brisk pace all the way out of Srinagar and then through rolling countryside that was many shades of unimaginably gorgeous green(s).
Till Ashwin’s bike skidded. He followed in person immediately thereafter.
By the time I realized riding up front that Ashwin was not, wagging the tail so to speak and turned back to see what had happened, Jaiveer and Digvijay have already helped him and the bike up. Nervously got him to climb on, start her up and ride away from a quickly gathering and decidedly unfriendly looking crowd. We regrouped quickly at an open stretch of road, to check that nothing on Ashwin was broken – but we needn’t have bothered. Ashwin is built like a T 72 battle tank. Some of the boys might argue that he’s built like a Hippopotamus or a Walrus or an African Elephant even, but then, I’m no naturalist…
Off we went again, quickly passing multiple villages and roadside towns where men, boys and male members of the community were swiftly gathering in uncomfortably large numbers. Gunny sacks lay unobtrusively by the roads that we sped past on. Only later did we realise the import of the gunny sacks and the assembling crowds, as another unfortunate rider told us, while we were stopped, waiting for our turn to go through the Jawahar tunnel. More on that in a bit…
So, we were absolutely racing our way up the generally very good NH 1A, till Angelina coughs politely once. And then almost immediately without so much as a, by your leave, she chokes completely and seizes. This, the same motorcycle that ticked over like a swiss watch movement, through some of the harshest terrain that Leh could throw at her, and then some…seizes as she’s coasting on NH 1A.
Good God woman.
With my stomach tying itself into knots, I open my oil sump, to find it billowing white smoke – and almost completely dry. Those of you who are familiar with the big single cylinder engines at the heart of the Royal Enfield, will know what I’m talking about. The rest of the audience, suffice to say,
Billowing smoke = bad news, while No oil = you’re so scr*wed.
So while I admit, some of it was my fault, I am still not entirely to blame. Angelina was the most well behaved and frugal sipper of engine oil on the entire trip. While the others were periodically topping up liters of oil at pretty much end of each day, she would daintily take about 150 ml every 3rd or 4th day, if that. So, thinking she was doing okay, I had neglected to look at her oil levels at either Kargil or Srinagar.
And a costly mistake.
(She has just had a full engine rebuild almost three years later – with a new 500cc CI piston and head kit in Mumbai)
With almost 300 odd kms of high speed riding, at fairly high altitudes having been completed in the last 2 days, I had stressed the hell out of what is essentially a 50 year old engine design. And what was a slow burn of engine oil – common to the Enfield family, had become a raging flood. To cut a long story short, no one was carrying any more engine oil, since everyone had topped up that morning except moi of course. Jaiveer and Digvijay promptly turned around and raced back down the mountain we had started to climb on the way up to the tunnel. There was a petrol bunk that we had crossed some 10 odd kms back and they were hoping against hope that they stocked some of the right oil that our rides sipped from.
The twins and I waited by the side of the road as it started to drizzle once again. There is a curious air of, “If I don’t see you, I don’t have to help or ask after you” of all the vehicles that travel these roads here. Understandable to an extent, but disconcerting nonetheless. Many vehicles passed us both ways, but none so much as looked at three men standing with an evidently troubling Enfield, leave alone stopping to offer help! The guys got back in about 40 minutes with 2 big cans of the right viscosity of engine oil. Pouring it into Angelina (who had stopped smoking by now!) I confess to having a quiet prayer as I decompressed her prior to turning her over.
She ROARED to life!
I kid you not, she absolutely shattered the silence of those mountains – in a wonderfully good way!
Everyone else also dipped into the fountain of engine oil as I tucked one litre into my cramster and we started off again. This time of course being a lot more careful with speed and throttle on the climbs. We reached the tail of another of the ubiquitous traffic jams in the hills – to realise that this is the traffic being regulated for the Banihal (Jawahar) tunnel. While waiting here is when a couple of foreigners on a rented Enfield and another Indian riding his own bike also came up. The Indian had some cuts on his face, which were bleeding. He told us of the scores of men lining the roads, pelting rocks collected and stored in those gunny sacks we had seen earlier in the morning, at passing cars, bikes and buses. He had got hit by a couple and his helmet had saved him from being knocked off the bike. The foreigners also told us of how they had dodged and scurried as rocks were flung at them too. People sitting in the Sumo’s and assorted Jeeps near us, then revealed that these men/boys were paid up to 200 Rupees per day to do just this.
We realized once again how lucky we had been. First aid was administered to the Indian and then we slowly inched forward till we were at the mouth of the 2.5 km long tunnel. It is surprisingly narrow and damp and slippery and very poorly lit… Being reminded that we are to keep to a steady 40 Kmph (or thereabouts) all the way through the tunnel, we are waved through by the military police controlling the traffic at the tunnel entrance.
Because it is so poorly lit and the presence of a little walkway, with a metal grab rail to one side, it makes for an oddly hypnotic visual as you ride through the tunnel. Being on a motorcycle amplifies the problem, because unlike in a car, here, you are being fed an almost 170 degree field of view. Steeply curving wall to your right, geometrically straight grab rail to your left, flanked by an equally steeply curving wall behind it. I almost lost control on two different occasions and desperately needed to stop to re-orient, but that would have brought on more problems than solving any because I’d have caused an almighty pile up behind me – and possibly got myself killed in the bargain too. So I continued to focus on a far away point in the distance and shake my head every now and then… till a small white dot came into view. The exit to the other side, which rapidly grew in size and brightness, till we finally burst through into bright gorgeous sunshine on the other side of the mountain.
It was almost as though a switch had been thrown.
We weren’t complaining since Pathankot was now firmly in our sights.
The road opened up beautifully and we were back to making spectacular time as we raced downhill. We zipped past little touristy towns, whose names completely elude me. And then Angelina seizes once again on a particularly long climb.
Me being chastised like a child stealing cookies from the cookie jar, she is topped up with oil again and allowed to cool down before we start up again. Speed well in control on EVERY climb from here on end.
We pass Patni top where a boat load of tourists has just laid claim to every dhaba that exists there and decide to continue on for a little while longer before stopping for chai.
Till the twins break their bike again.
They blow their rear brakes to hell and smithereens. The very same rear brakes they blew coming down from Tanglang la too. Thankfully the axle is intact and the engine running. With nothing else to do, we shepherd them down the hillside after splitting most of their load over the other 4 bikes. They use engine braking and low gears to control their descent, gingerly stabbing at the front brake every now and then too. We reach a little town, Doda I believe, where we stop for chai and to ease the fire in our buttocks. And we also find the most amazing Sone papdi.
Soft, feathery, cooked in desi ghee, melting in mouth, utterly sinful Sone papdi.
I bought 12 kilos. The twins bought 8 kilos or something. Digvijay, Jaiveer and Ashwin also bought obscene amounts of it, till we realized that we had to carry all that back on open motorcycles no less. I never said the cerebral capacity of the riders was very high did I? Or maybe it was the continued exposure to the rarified atmosphere that had done it… We still managed to fit it all on somehow though and on enquiring, we were told that there was only one Enfield showroom in Udhampur who would be stocking brake shoes / pads etc and he shuts by 7. It was 5:30 pm at this point, so I charged off ahead to get to the dealer in time before he shut down, to buy the parts required.
Having got to him in time, I pick up everything and then wait for the gang to roll up. Exhortations to keep the workshop open so that we can be repaired and sent on our way are entertained briefly and then the owner pulls shutter and stutters off home. I find a mechanic not far from the dealer and speak with the boys still nursing the twins down, to come there straight instead.
They finally get to me at about 8:30 pm and then it takes a good hour and a half to have their bike repaired. In the meanwhile Digvijay has some crisis brewing with regards to getting some forms submitted online, so he goes searching for an internet café in the middle of all this chaos. Needless to say, he is utterly unsuccessful and more than a little panicked.
A vote is taken and we decide to still try and make Pathankot, so that Delhi is achievable by late next night. Digvijay needs to be near the internet, Ashwin needs to be back at work. And the rest of us just need to get our butts off these saddles. We of course promptly lose our way getting out of Udhampur and then miss the bypass to Jammu – having to retrace our steps a good 15 odd kms after realising our monumental blunder…
Tired, irritable and hungry, we finally pull up at a solitary wayside dhaba at about 1.30 am. The owner kindly gets out of bed, whips up some tea, a stonkingly delicious dal and hot rotis. All of which are devoured instantly.
Then the exhaustion hits us like a ton of bricks…we’re still a little over 100 kms from Pathankot, but we couldn’t care less. Taking permission from the dhaba owner, we open up our mats, clearing as many of the rocks as our tired bodies would allow, lay out our sleeping bags and drop dead for the remaining 3 hours of the night.
to be contd...
Last edited by bIte tHe bulLet : 8th July 2013 at 22:56.
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