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Old 16th October 2010, 22:56   #136
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Default The Road My Home Forever...

Yahan pe shanti hai aur shehar may kranti hai

The back beating began on the way to Narkanda. Passing through Kufri and Theog, the road condition is no rider’s delight. Over 30 kms of the stretch, till Matiana, is battered due to the heavy rainfall.

The view of the long range of mountain ridges and the valley below, griffin vultures flying low to feast on a road kill and the thrill of riding into the greater Himalayas makes up for the bad roads.

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On reaching Narkanda I was scouting for a place to camp and the locals suggested I ride to Hatu peak, 7 kms from Narkanda. So I decided to ride further up to the peak situated at 11,152 feet. The last 2 kms of the ride on my bullet was quite an uphill climb but in the end it was worth every bit as Hatu peak gives you a preview of the snow peaked mountains of Shrikhand Mahadev, Kinner Kailash, among others.

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A temple and a locked cottage is all that is mounted up on the peak. I was thrilled to have found a good place to pitch my tent for a few days and so decided to enquire once with the temple Pandit. Lalit Sharma, the 24-year old Pandit replied saying I was free to pitch a tent anywhere I wished. He was quick to add, “Par aap akele hain tu aap hamare saath rahe.” (But you are alone so stay with us). The next three days I spend with Pandit, an old watchman Tarachand and Tarachand’s two dogs – Jimmy and Tommy, and his monkey Gopi.

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During my stay I realised how the mountain people, or I guess just this bunch just had two meals a day of rice, dal/rajma– breakfast around 11 O’clock (almost brunch) and dinner at 7 O’clock. Chit chatting sessions with Pandit and Tarachand added to the excitement of being at Hatu peak. During one such session where we were sharing our stories of the places we’ve lived in, Pandit expressed his desire to visit Mumbai. “Sirf ek do hafte ke liye jana hai. Kya 30,000 kafi hoga? Humein hawaijahaj may Mumbai jana hai. Bas itni khwaish hai (Just want to visit Mumbai for a week or two. Will 30,000 rupees be sufficient. I want to travel by an aircraft to Mumbai. This is one desire),” said Pandit in a hopeful tone. The only cities he has visited are Delhi and Chandigarh and that too to sell apples.

Pandit rode with me to his village Pujali, 35 kms from Hatu peak. The ride to this settlement is steep with dusty and narrow roads. It took us 2 hours with two traffic jams to reach Pujali. Pandit’s house is at a hill top and the bike had to be parked elsewhere. It was late evening by the time we trekked 3 kms to his home. Though I’ve done treks before, this was the only time during a trek that I feared the unknown, simply because I couldn’t see the path and at times during the trek I had to use my four limbs to climb up.

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After staying the night at Pujali with Pandit and his family – brother, mother and grandmother, we left the next morning back to Hatu peak.

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As I awaited for my friend Rajiv Rathod who was to ride with me further into Himachal, Tarachand kept me entertained with his wise insights.

Tarachand a talkative man full of mountain tales can name all the peaks one can spot from Hatu peak. He starts his day at 4:30 am with a morning walk with Jimmy, Tommy and Gopi. He then hops across mountains to collect firewood and returns by 10:00 am.

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During the night when we’d sit in the open with no power supply, he’d point to the stars, planets and even the galaxies. Life in the mountains as described in Tarachand’s words… “Yahan pe shanti hai aur shehar may kranti hai.”
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Old 21st October 2010, 22:40   #137
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Default The Road My Home Forever...

Mysteries of the mountain
Route: Hatu Peak, Rampur, Jhakri, Babanagar, Bada Kambha, Sangla, Pawari, Puh.

As the sun went down in the valley surrounding Hatu Peak, Rajiv Rathod (my friend who would now ride along with me) and I started reviewing our luggage as the bike would now have to carry us and a few more extra kilos. And the terrain wasn’t getting earlier. The ride in the rugged was to begin...

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We headed towards Rampur, 66 kms from Narkanda (the base of Hatu peak also know as Heaven’s base camp as it’s a skiing destination). The road leading to Rampur is a beautiful down- hill with the river Sutlej accompanying you all the way into the heart of Spiti valley.

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That night we walked the by-lanes of the small town through hutments and markets, all leading to the river Sutlej. The next day: forty five minutes into the ride we took a break to admire and soak in the beauty of the fall water on the way to Sangla. That’s when we found a crack in the rear tyre.

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Jeori was the nearest village where we hoped to replace the tyre, but on reaching Jeori we were told that Rampur was the only place where we could buy a new tyre. We did manage to replace the tyre but had to settle for a thinner tyre (3.19.25 from Ceat) while the front tyre is MRF.

We set the wheels back on the road after replacing the tyre and just after 10 kms we were face-to-face with a truck!

At one of the bends the traffic increased and since the road was narrow I moved aside and continued riding slowly, giving way to three trucks. The driver of the fourth truck suddenly took a huge turn and didn’t see us as he was chitchatting. The bike speed was anyways slow for me to react, I kept honking but the driver failed to notice. The truck first hit my shoulder and then...hit the side stands...bringing us down.

Damage done: One broken headlamp, clutch lever cut, and the side stand bent...and ofcourse my shoulder was bruised but the jacket I was wearing helped. Rajiv was lucky to have had no injuries. We offloaded the luggage at a nearby shop while I headed back to Rampur to fix the bike and Rajiv scouted for a place to stay. It was almost 4:00 pm by the time I got back to Jhakri so we decided against riding further.

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On the road to Sangla, visions of the opposite mountain were mesmerising. Coincidentally the garage we stopped for welding at Babanagar lead us to Badakambha village, on the opposite side of the mountain. Arvind Kumar, a guy we met at the garage was from Badakambha and he offered to drive us there. All excited Rajiv and I hopped into his Bolero camper with other locals. Locals, we were told, take less than an hour to come down the hill and almost 3 hours to trek up to Badakambha.

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The 25 kms drive is bumpy and can get scary at times. But the scenery is exotic. The landscape is so breathtaking that it eliminates the fear of what lies ahead.

Ustaad aka Arvind hosted us at his home that night and the next morning he gave us a guided tour of his village and garden blooming with pears and apples.

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We went back to Babanagar to fetch the bike and continue our ride into the mountains. Chitkul was the place we intended to go, for which we had to pass through Sangla. By the time we reached Sangla the fuel tank was almost running dry with just 2 litres and Chitkul was about 24 kms away.. While the fuel was sufficient to reach Chitkul, coming back and then heading to Pawari,30 kms from Sangla (from Pawari we were to ride towards Puh) would be an issue. The only next petrol pump was at Pawari. So, we decided to stay the night at Sangla after scouting for loose fuel which no luck.

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The breathtaking view of Kinner Kailash from Sangla valley made up for the disappointment of not being able to ride to Chitkul.

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In the days that followed we rode to Pawari and then further to Puh.

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What keeps us going in these terrains is what family and friends have been asking us after they heard of our accident? Well, what can we say when we’ve learnt from the pahadis, “Agar in pahado may marna likha hai to aap itdar marogay, agar ghar may marna lekha hai tu ghar pe.”

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How can I describe my feelings in words for what I felt when I almost escaped a mishap, how do I describe how humbling an experience it is when you are welcomed by complete strangers into their homes to stay the night, share a meal and walk their lanes. Their gestures are so overwhelming, maybe that way their call this place Devbhoomi!
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Old 22nd October 2010, 11:01   #138
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I have only one word for you. Respect.

Ride on brother. Ride on into the wilderness and be a source of inspiration for us all.

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Old 22nd October 2010, 16:20   #139
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Supposed to be doing work, but i am hooked to this thread since afternoon, Great going Road Inc !!
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Old 7th November 2010, 07:30   #140
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Hey mate, happy belated diwali!

Its been a while since your last update, hope your having a smooth ride. I really look up to you mate, because you are doing what only a very few of us have done or will ever do in our lives, living your dream! And someday ill follow your footsteps, word.
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Old 24th November 2010, 16:29   #141
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Default The Road My Home Forever...

Route: - Puh, Nako lake, Lari, Tabo, Kaza, Kibber, Kunzum Pass, Batal, Gramphu, Rotang pass, Gulaba, Manali.

Oasis in the mountain

A major 4-hour road block delayed our ride to Spiti and by the time we reached Puh (Kinnaur district) the sun was to set. We stayed the night at Puh.

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The following morning as we rode up to the trance Himalayan range, the terrain got more arid and barren. Out of nowhere Nako lake situated at 12,014 feet, appears like an oasis in the dessert.

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Nako is like a nest in between the peaks with willow and poplar trees. The Nako lake has such a soothing effect that it’s an ideal place for thoughts that mentally embrace you. Stones surrounding the lake have Buddhist inscription which reflect the influence of Buddhism in this part of Himachal.

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The ride after Nako towards Kaza is a 10 kms climb and then a zig-zag descend into the Spiti valley, from there on the road evens out with mountains on either side. On the way to Tabo, the scenic beauty of Lari, a settlement of just 100 odd people, was inviting. Since Lari was just 6 kms before Tabo, we decided to ride to Tabo after dumping our bags at the Lari rest house.

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Tabo a small town took us (Rajiv and me) back in time, to the ancient Buddhist ways of living. The Buddhist monastery is said to be thousand years old.

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After a quick visit to the monastery we rode back to Lari. That night after ages we saw a documentary – Story of India.

Barfili hawa!!!

The ride on the plateaus of Tabo and Kaza took us to the beautiful village Kibber, which claims to be the highest motorable village in the world at 14,200 feet.

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Kibber also houses the Ki Gompa, a Buddhist monastery where we were welcomed with a cup of delicious lime and honey chai.

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We stayed the night at Kaza and the next morning sent some of our luggage to Manali by bus, to have a smooth ride up to Kunzum pass. And thus began our longest ride!

People had forewarned us of the weather. “If anything goes wrong between Kunzum pass and Gramphu, only fate can save you’ll,” they said.

Rightly so with temporary settlements far apart from each other and rock-laden roads, the ride was nerve-racking. But all fears vanished when met two cyclist from Gurgaon at Kunzum pass. It was freezing cold…almost bone chilling, there were times when I’d stop the bike just to feel my fingers. Rajiv describes it best – I now know what people mean when they say ‘Barfili hawa’!!!

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Batal, a place studded with snow peaks, gilded by turquoise blue river, necklaced by glaciers was the most stunning lunch halt. Apparently Batal and Chatru which are 25 kms apart are the only two places where food is available for travellers.

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After the heavy lunch, the bike gave way. Simply put – brake broke and fork cracked. And we had 100 kms to get to Manali.

We rode on being as caution as possible, looking out for camp sites, villages, calculating a trek to the nearest village in case of a worst case scenario. We anticipated the bike to split into two as the handle was vigorously shaking, and was pulling us towards one side. Rough roads further made things worse. There wasn’t a sole traceable on that patch of road and so we were forced to ride on. We managed to ride till Gramphu, a common point that leads towards Leh, Ladhak, Spiti valley on one side and the other towards Rotang, Manali.

At Gramphu, Rajiv hitched a drive in an Alto and took the remaining baggage. The car was following the bike and managed to cross Rotang pass. Manali was the only place where the bike could be repaired and therefore we tried to cover as much distance during daylight.

Finally, the bike and I ‘safely crash landed’ while seated on the bullet, at Gulaba, around 20 kms from Manali. While there was no injury, on a serious note I was aware of the danger involved, had I not had the presence of mind to direct the handle towards my right, I would be down the valley on my left.

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We called a friend in Manali, Karma who suggested we leave the bike on the side of the road and get to Manali. It was around 7:00 pm by the time we got there but the day wasn’t over yet for us. We took a bus ride to Kullu to pick up our luggage which we’d packed off from Kaza.

That night we slept like logs. The next morning we drove in a pick-up to fetch the bike and get the bullet’s wheels rolling again.

Our skin had become numb to fear. The weather made us cold and rugged. We were frozen by the joy of the mountains.

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Old 24th November 2010, 22:33   #142
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aha, Thanks for the nice update.

Glad that the bike was fixed.

Cruise along my friend.

Last edited by skartik2 : 24th November 2010 at 22:37. Reason: spelling
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Old 25th November 2010, 10:56   #143
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Glad to here there was no mishap.

Bike's pic reminds of "The Motorcycle Diaries" The film recounts the 1952 journey, initially by motorcycle, across South America by Guevara and his friend (Alberto Granado). They ride their Norten 500 Motor cycle to such an extent covering places after places under difficult weather conditions that the bike finally collapses forever.

Good to hear your bike is in good shape once again.
Keep going!!!
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Old 25th November 2010, 16:37   #144
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Post deleted by the Team-BHP Support : Please do NOT post one-liners that add little or no informational value to the thread. We need your co-operation to maintain the overall quality of this forum.

Please read our rules before proceeding any further.

Last edited by GTO : 21st January 2011 at 18:09.
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Old 1st December 2010, 02:47   #145
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Default The Road My Home Forever...

Moonlit mountains to the dawn lit mountains!

My bike is back on the road after getting a new head!!! The bullet has another stint with road-life - replaced front shock absorbers, T-fork, welded carrier, brake drums, brake lights, indicators. Its rejuvenated by new cables and electric wiring,giving it a new burst of energy.

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While my road companion was getting a new life in Vashisht, I caught up on some rest in Manali enjoying the snowfall. Meanwhile Rajiv returned home.

Rain followed snowfall and I felt stuck in Manali. But my heart was travelling through the deep forests of Arunachal Pradesh. And so, my mind started working towards the vision. Early this year during our previous trip to Arunachal we were overwhelmed by Namdapha national park and had promised ourselves to go back. Winters is said to be the best time to visit this region and thus began the next adventure plan. Back in Bangalore Rajiv started work on the trip, to the land of the rising sun.

And so, one fine morning as it rained I waited patiently to get on the wheels and head towards Arunachal. After riding for around 53 kms the weather got to me I was soaking wet from riding in the rain and I could feel my bones shiver. That night I stayed at Bhuntar where I met Krishna, a young lad from Malana. He spoke with so much pride of his village and its orthodox customs that I was intrigued to visit the village.

Malana seated on a remote plateau is a picturesque view from the opposite mountain Nerang. Krishna and I rode from Bhuntar to Jari where I off loaded some luggage in a guest house before the steep ride to Malana. We'd hardly begun our journey when the bike's pump shaft broke, an impact due to the previous mishaps and since it was an internal damage, it went unnoticed until now. The only mechanic around was in Kasol. We transported the bike to Kasol in a pick-up vehicle, dropped the bike for repairs and left for Nerang in a shared cab, (from where we'd trek up to Malana).

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The dense green valleys makes the drive to Nerang one of the most splendid experiences of this Himachal journey. On reaching Nerang we sent our remaining bags via the trolley service between the two mountains. In just 3 minutes the bags are in Malana while it takes around 45 minutes to trek to the village. While people can use the service, according to Krishna its scary and so people opt to walk. As we trekked up the sun had set andt the moon was shinning bright on the snow capped mountains, and its reflection fell on the pathway, lighting the path during dusk. It was breathtaking.

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As we walked the bylanes of Malana, Krishna started pointing out to stones (not marked or erected, just random stones on the way) asking me not to step foot on it as it belongs to a Devta and any visitor or a Malanis who stepped on that part of the land is fined with a thousand grand. I was trying hard to keep pace while making mental notes of his directions.

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Malana is the only village in Himachal that has held on to the age old caste system. Visitors like me can only stay at guest houses, and that too are managed by either Nepali or neighbouring villagers. So much so that Krishna could not eat a meal or even drink water with me while in Malana. However, he did share a meal in Bhuntar. Apparently, outside of Malana the locals can take liberty from this norm. I remember Krishna washing his hands and face after meeting me at the guest house in Malana, before he went home. Among the 300 families that reside here, the young have no choice but to marry among the villagers. Consequently, courtships and weddings at the age of 10 and 12 are simply normal.

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While Malana is world famous for its special breed of hash, what truly stands out is the Malanis socio-cultural manner. Even their dialect known as Raksh (believed to be the language of the devils that resided long time ago, according local claims) is incomprehensible by even villagers from neighbouring settlements.

The village fascinated me for its ways of life even in this day and age, unaffected by its changing neighbourhood.

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Th trek down was more tedious that the trek up, My feet were killing me. In the days that followed I exited Himachal feeling a little sad but with the certainty of returning to complete the rest of the state. From Jari, I rode towards Chandigarh, Delhi and now in UP, in a bid to reach the land of the rising sun – Arunachal Pradesh.
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Old 2nd December 2010, 13:17   #146
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It is common for people not to plan their "Sunday's", but do what ever comes to their mind on that day. Here your are, who wants, to make every day a Sunday and live according to your wish. I can only salute your grit and determination.
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Old 3rd December 2010, 01:25   #147
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Still you are earning money from the road for all these expeditions? So how much money did u pay for repair inf your bike after the accident? Can you just narrate whats the present jobs that you do while on the go?
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Old 9th December 2010, 12:36   #148
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Default Re: The Road My Home Forever...

Merwyn, I salute you! Where do you plan to spend Christmas? or is it too early to ask

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Old 19th January 2011, 20:30   #149
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Default Re: The Road My Home Forever...

Hi All, i have been away for away for a long time now from the web world, but that does not mean my journey has discontinued.

Just to give you a quick update: i am currently in Arunachal Pradesh where i met up with my friend from Bangalore and we trekked to the farthest village in India called Vijaynagar. it took us 15 days and 240km into the deepest jungle of Namdapha wildlife sanctuary to make a round about trip to the land which is inhibited by the Lisu tribe.

After that i continued into Arunachal and went to the recently concluded mela at Parshuram kund. will update the pics and blog soon here.

Originally Posted by highwaypatrol View Post
Still you are earning money from the road for all these expeditions? So how much money did u pay for repair inf your bike after the accident? Can you just narrate whats the present jobs that you do while on the go?
Yea i am still earning by the means of the Road, currently i have a writing assignment with a travel portal. and i have spent about 5000/- on the bike for a new T' fork and pump shaft with other small fittings.

Originally Posted by Darryl.Burke View Post
Merwyn, I salute you! Where do you plan to spend Christmas? or is it too early to ask

Darryl, i am sorry for a late response. This time i spent Christmas with the tribals in Arunachal. will give you an update soon on the same.

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Old 19th January 2011, 21:32   #150
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Default Re: The Road My Home Forever...

Great to have you back, and wow, man wow, I would like to doff my hat.......You are living the dream of every ...... o.k. almost every male ultimate fantasy.
So please keep the posts and updates flowing more frequently, would like to know what you are doing.
And most importantly, Enjoy the journey.
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