Monday 8 September 2014

Day 12 : Chandigarh - Delhi

Day 12 : Events (Aug 26)
  • Got up and relaxed at around 10 am
  • The bike battery was dead; again! But this time I saw a halo (angel's ring) on top of it:P
  • I could finally conclude that the battery has completed its life and needs to be replaced with a new one
  • Looked around and found a scooter mechanic to check the battery
  • After a few tries decided to get a new Exide Acid Battery (the same as what I had). Got this job done, cost 3k in total.
  • Had to visit a relative in Chandigarh, where I ended up sitting and chatting for quite a while until it was 2
  • There I filled the water in the hydration pack and started for Delhi
  • Reached Delhi at 7pm and continued towards Gurgaon for my hotel
Chandigarh - Delhi

Road condition:
Once I was out of the 'sector maze' in Chandigarh, I made my way to the GT road and then it was more or less a straight road for the next 250 or so kilometers. I maintained a good speed and had to slow down only during the city crossings, as the high-speed flyovers were still under construction. The straight road made me a bit drowsy and to avoid taking off from the runway (pun intended), I had to stop twice for a dose of Redbull. That helped! :)

The ride from Chandigarh to Delhi was hot! No literally:/

Fuel Stops:
Chandigarh :  
(Beware!! It's not uncommon to be cheated at bunks here. I had asked for 500 bucks and they played the same old trick of filling it in two attempts, where the second time they start the meter from 150 and filled till 350 saying it started from 0. Well, I was not willing to push their button at that point, so just gave a warning and moved on. The guy was nervous already knowing that I know what he did. That should be enough to straighten him up for his remaining days at his job.)

Rs 350 / 71.30 pl = 5 Ltrs

When it became clear that, the battery had conked out -_- RIP Ol'pal

Me waiting at the garage, while the mech had gone out to the nearest market to get a new battery.

Finally, he found a piece

After the battery was replaced, my (non-existent) worries were gone and I headed to my relatives' place. Where I spent the next few hours before starting the last leg of my journey; a ride to Delhi.

After around 5+ hours of cruise, I finally got to Delhi by evening 7 pm. I had to set my GPS for navigating through Delhi, as it's not easy to stop on the way in the middle of traffic to ask for directions, that too during the rush hour.

It was my first time in riding a motorcycle in the city of Delhi and it was kinda fun. If I could (dare to) compare it with Bangalore, then I must say the roads are 10 times broader and smoother. Now if I try to summarize my riding experience as part of Delhi traffic in the peak (evening) hours, it will be something like this.

"The city is under attack from outer space. And government has declared an emergency and requested every resident to evacuate the city ASAP to save their lives."

 Well. I must say everyone was following the instructions^ to the last bit, and so did I :)

Making my way to Gurgaon through Delhi. Well, this photograph I took before the maddening traffic of Delhi swallowed me and my steed. So don't fall for the empty stretch in view ;)

Chandigarh to Delhi, I remember it as my redbull route :)

This was the last day of my epic trip and it came to its natural end with my arrival in Delhi. During my stay in Delhi, I had to hand over my bike and luggage for shipping and caught up with some friends and relatives. My flight was after two days, where I again joined the riding crew to Bangalore. We shared our experiences and were cracking jokes on naming a few flyovers in Bangalore with that of the passes so that it will be easy to refer to:)

By the time I entered my flat, it was half past ten and I had to update a few key people (Mom to start with,) in my life about my safe arrival. This was a memorable trip and I certainly look forward to the next one;) Well before you get too excited, let me say that even I don't yet know where it will be. However, one thing is for sure, wherever and whenever it happens, it's gonna be A.W.E.S.O.M.E. !!

Until next time,

Ride Safe & Ride Far,


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Thursday 4 September 2014

Day 11 : Keylong - Rohtang - Manali - Chandigarh

Day 11: Events (Aug 25)
  • Tried to push start the bike, but failed. Finally using wires which Sameer had, we Jump started the bike, it was a success!!
  • Started from Keylong at 9 am.
  • Crossed Rohtang La and entered Manali
  • Got the bike checked and fixed (Replaced the rear-brake pad, tightened the handlebar screws, tightened the chain)
  • Had a long chat with the mechanic who also owns 6 new bullets which are given on rent.
  • Had lunch in Manali, just next to the garage.
  • Headed towards Chandigarh (350 km)

Keylong - Rohtang - Manali - Chandigarh

Road condition:
Keylong till Rohtang there will be some tough roads and some places with no roads or under construction (a path carved out by bulldozers). Just before Rohtang, the road gets back to normal (tar+smooth) all the way through Manali and the rest of Himachal Pradesh mostly or till Mandi.

Mandi till Kiratpur Sahib:
Not sure if the starting point was Mandi, but consider that as a reference for now. This was the worst stretch of National Highway (21) I have ever ridden in my whole life. Add to the pain, I did this stretch at night. Here are the challenges:
1. Pot Holes (Gazillions of them)
2. Big Sharp Pot Holes (not the same as point one, it's a different breed)
3. Baddest Tar Roads (like making a tar road and then processing it to make it worst)
4. 95% of traffic on this road are trucks (the positive part is they go slow)
5. Dust and tons and tons of it
6. Black smoke is emitted by almost 60% of the trucks

Sigh! Enough said. It's better I just get over this experience. Check out the pic I took of myself in Keylong in the morning and then the one I took after reaching Chandigarh. The change in appearance is ONLY due to this stretch of the road. Dammit!

Kiratpur Sahib till Chandigarh:
Good broad highways again. Just the way one would have come to expect from Punjab.

The climate was moderately cold all through, but during the clear sky daytime, sun rays are strong too. So when on the bike I was getting a cold breeze, but if I stand longer in the sun, it was a bit annoying.

Fuel Stops:
Don't remember if I filled at Manali. Will update if I recall this bit later.

Got up early for the ride. All fresh and ready to roll.

Didn't fill at Tandi, as my tank seems to have enough petrol to make it to Manali.

A beautiful view of clouds on the mountain, and the best part is it's all at my eye level. This I don't get to experience every day :)

Sameer and myself outside the hotel, about to leave (or help push start the bike).

A view of Manali while I was passing through. This was the off-season, so the tourist count was less, which was good for me, as I could maintain a good speed while riding down the mountain.

Got my bike checked, rear-brake shoes replaced and the chain lubricated. Add to it, I had a stuffy lunch with roti, dal, and kadhi at the restaurant next door, which is run by this gentleman's better half.

Leaving Manali city behind.

Sun fading into the mountains.

A duplex mountain house near Kullu.

Interesting colonies after Manali.

Just before leaving Manali, picked up a few stuff for my family.

Decided to stretch the day till Chandigarh by any means.

One of the many beautiful sights one gets to see while passing through Himachal Pradesh.

Reached Chandigarh by the next day morning 1 am. The road to Kiratpur Sahib (Punjab) via Himachal was horrible, to say the least. Mountain roads, with giant potholes all through. Add to it tons and tons of dust and black smoke pumped out by the trucks. During the whole night of driving, I could see only 4-5 private vehicles, the rest were trucks. The condition of my face and eyes was much worse, than it may seem from the above photograph. Anyhow made it to Chandigarh and this ride topped my list of the most torturous ride of all time.

I could call this my return to the planes. If I could ignore the ordeal of the bad road I dealt with in the last leg of crossing Himachal, I was kinda enjoying cruising on straight open highways again, after all these days of mountain riding.

Night Halt:
Place                 : Chandigarh (City/Union Territory)
Accommodation : Modern Residency, Sector 41
Cost per room    : Rs 500
Room Capacity   : 2
Other Details     :
- Bikes parked in front of the hotel, where they have CCTV camera looking over the space
- At 500 bucks a room, it was quite spacious and the ceiling was high (maybe the building was of old architecture and later turned into a hotel)
- Simple rooms with hot water facility (not sure if all the time or only in the morning)
- Had parantha for breakfast and the taste was good
- Reached at night 1 am and checked out in the morning at 10 am, so this is the last place I would care to remember.

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Day 10 : Pang - Keylong

Day 10 : Events (Aug 24)

  • The bike had a serious starting problem at Pang (despite pushing downhill the bike refused to start)
  • Took the battery out and with the help of Padma to charge it for an hour.
  • Push started the bike with the help of Murali and Sameer
  • Rode towards and crossed the Baralach-La pass
  • Reached Keylong and spoke with mechanic Chunnilal and got to know, it may not be possible to find a new battery until I reach Manali
Pang - Keylong

Road condition:
Pang onwards, roads don't get any better until there is roughly 50 km left to Keylong (Himachal Pradesh). So gotta bear with some challenging (not sure how cars do this stretch) roads with some good roads thrown in between to help you retain your sanity. The rewarding experience would be as you get closer to Jispa valley. 

*I recommend a stay here if your itinerary permits. The valley is beautiful and quite different in flora and fauna as well as the architecture of houses compared to what you might be seeing all the way. I may visit this place later during my future trips to this region (whenever that happens).

The road to Jispa is awesome in all possible ways and continues to be so till Keylong and much ahead you touch Rohtang and Manali which are well-known tourist locations. Hence have good roads.

The temperature as we got down to lower altitudes (like Jispa and Keylong) was pleasant. I was roaming around in Keylong in the evening on my bike wearing just a full sleeve shirt and a tee on top of that. The full sleeve was a thermal by the way:D Still not as cold as up north where a riding jacket with a thermal liner on top still didn't cut it. So the point is, Himachal was relatively warmer.

Fuel Stops:
I don't remember filling here.
However Keylong seems to be quite developed with a lot of cars around, so there must be a source of fuel close by.

The lifesaver accommodation in Pang. 

One of the numerous metal bridges I passed through on the way.

Some snow on the mountains, still melting.

Pegasus enjoying a scoop of ice cream:)

A common sight once I entered Himachal Pradesh. Lambs are giving the shepherd a hard time.

You may call it a landscape selfie..:)

Toyish-looking houses on the mountains.

One of the many such water streams I had to cross after entering Himachal Pradesh. Though looks quite easy from here, every crossing was a challenge, as the surface was very smooth and uneven as the soil was washed off by the stream and the road was already narrow.

Reached Keylong and the first mechanic shop I found to get the battery issue rectified was this. However, the mechanic was out of town for the day.

Google's history of my route is too vague to share, so here is a more accurate route as per Google Maps online.

Night Halt:
Place                : Keylong, Himachal Pradesh
Accommodation : XXXX Hotel
Cost per room    : Rs XXXX
Room Capacity   : 2 / 4
Other Details     :
- Bikes parked just outside the building but in a private space owned by the hotel
- Good warm wooden furnishing with a good view
- Food charges are separate but was quite delicious
- Hotel has a restaurant downstairs for a proper dining experience
- Breakfast area is outside the building with a tent-like roof which gives a fresh outdoor feel. One can enjoy the morning sun and the flowers around during breakfast.
- 2-3 Motorcycle workshops are there which are close by (1-2 km) evening 7 pm

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