Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Back to Basics

Odo reading: 3,800 kms

Today was the day, the day we thought would never come. We were ready to take on the last strip of road to reach Mysore but our hearts were not so willing. A cloud of gloom descended over us as we started our journey from Haveri somehow we all did not want to go home the last 10 days was more eventful than a entire year for most of us. This journey had created memories that were to be passed down to grandchildren in stories.
But the best part of the journey was about to begin as we took a sharp turn from the Bangalore Pune highway towards Shimoga. Our greatest fear had come true; the road was not just bad it was not present! , the 100 kms we travelled on this road would give us nightmares for the rest of our lives

I was riding in an upright position ( filthy minds please excuse) i.e standing on the foot rest which was soon followed by Gowda, the only poor bastard was Gopi who had to endure this rigorous punishment for almost two hours. We pulled up our bikes in Shimoga to have a healthy lunch and started from there Asap towards Mysore. The road between Shimoga and Mysore was a little better with potholes here and there. We traversed around Bhadravathi town and Chanrayapatna soon to encounter monsoon rain. The rain was quite heavy and made us park our bikes and take shelter, as we stood there under a tree we started to recall the amazing ride we had just accomplished, all things from desert to chai were discussed, we felt sad that this amazing journey would soon come to an end as we were fast approaching Mysore.

It was almost 6  in the evening when we arrived in Mysore, most of our friends were present to welcome us back to the city. We all met them had a chat and soon went to Vijay's house for a night filled with chatting and drinking. We told our lengthy story, of course with some masala added into it. We sipped our last drink and fell asleep thinking that we had achieved what others said was impossible. There was a small grin in all of our faces. 

Namma Karnataka !

Odo Reading: 3,300 kms 

It was 7 by the time we all got up with our head bursting with hangover from the previous night binge drinking but the picturesque scene from our balcony was exhilarating with fog caressing the mountain side and the sunlight trying hard to break through this thick blanket of fog. We all stood there in awe to see this dance of the nature being played right next to our balcony but reality hit us again, we had to travel another 600 kms to reach our next destination and we still weren't sure of the place in which we will spending tonight. The race was on to get ready as we should leave as early as possible. Since we were travelling in a small group this was possible another top tip for all the adventurers out there, always travel in small groups cause larger the group more time spent in organizing.
We got our motors running in no time and left for the Karnataka border which was around 300-400 Kms away. We all were excited that we will be finally crossing into Karnataka border. We made it to the border at around afternoon and were excited to see the famous Red bus of Karnataka (The KSRTC bus is known as red bus) and behind the bus we found the poster of Mysore Dasara. we stopped on a tank bund which we thought was a reservoir to find some children playing near the road, we had a small chat with them in 'KANNADA' and proceeded towards Belgaum.
Me and Gowda both did our engineering from VTU ( Visveswaraya Technological University) and hence we so wanted to visit the head quarters of the university which plagued our lives for four long years. We had to take a small detour from our main route to visit this place. We paid our respect to the place and performed what is called Ashtanga Namaskara in Kannada.
After clearing belgaum we rode through some farm fields to reach the main road but were amazed to see the posters of Bal Thackeray in villages near Belgaum. I should mention that the Maharashtra is trying hard to annexe Belgaum as their territory since there are more Marathi speakers there than Kannada but I leave the topic for the public to decide and not comment about it.

We reached and found the main road and from there on it was a dash to find the next resting spot. We cleared miles as the road was as smooth as waxed skin. We reached Hubli and took the ring road not repeating the same mistake we had done in Pune, by the time we reached Haveri it was around 7 in the evening, we decided to call it a day and crash. Tonight will be the last night for us away from home as tomorrow we will be reaching Mysore. It was a love-Hate story for all of us and to decide which was which there has to be some ethyl in our system.
Somewhere outside Haveri

Sunday, March 16, 2014

To the hills of Satara and beyond

Day 9 : Odo reading 2850 Kms

As the sun tore through the misty morning in Rajiv Gandhi National park on the outskirts of Mumbai we were ready to take on the road. We could see the traffic getting denser as we approached Thane, it was a reckoning for us to see Mumbai (technically a suburb but then again) this was the first time we all were seeing Mumbai we had only heard stories about the traffic jams and crowded roads those stories were not false either.

As we traversed around the roads of Mumbai we were all hungry and stopped in a hotel near the Panvel railway station. As we saw the menu card our eyes filled with joy, it was rice !! curd rice!! for the first time in 10 days we could taste some south Indian dish. We ordered Dosa, curd rice and special chai to end it. This was heaven.
Our room in Satara

By the time we reached Pune it afternoon and instead of taking the ring road we entered the city only to get lost within a couple of minutes it was hot n humid we had to ask a million people to get to the other end of the city by the time we got out it was late in the evening. As we started to climb the hills surrounding Pune on Pune- Bangalore highway we were all tired and thought we put the bikes aside and relax a bit but this would mean futile cause we learnt later by a bunch of corrupt cops that stopping on this highway was prohibited. The policemen asked us to pay Rs 2000 as a fine for stopping there we had to argue with him for half an hour to get it down to Rs 500 ironically those cops bought few biscuits and made us feed the monkeys.
Khandala Ghats
As we raced down hill from Pune towards the Karnataka border we realised that we had not decided where we will be staying that night, it was well over sunset and the darkness slowly creep ed in so we all decided to go to a place called Satara. We all knew most of the places on this road but none of us had ever heard of Satara we thought we will gamble on this and take the risk as we did not know whether it was a small town or a big city but when we reached there we were awestruck looking at this magnificent city on the foothills of Mahabaleshwar. we found a three star hotel and spent the night in pure luxury. Since we were in the wine making district we treated ourselves with the best white wine available. Aaahh !

Friday, June 21, 2013

Salaam Bombay !

Day 8 : Odo reading 2250 Kms

We got up to see the smoked filled Horizon over the dusty land with all the chimneys protruding into the sky from the factories making Gujarat Vibrant indeed, We headed down south, our destination Mumbai, the economic capital and the powerhouse of India. We started out very early in the morning since we had to travel around 600 kms to reach Mumbai before nightfall.

This was infact the most treacherous part of the whole journey because of the trucks and cars zooming on it at breakneck speeds with no respect to road discipline, to top that Gowda had taken some pills for the common cold which made him really drowsy and wavy on the road. The temperature was hovering between 39 to 40' celsius and humidity was literally killing us, without being distracted by all this we hit the gas and started rolling and soon there was a roadblock, it seems that the corridor between Ahmedabad and Vadodara is not open for two wheelers so we had to stick to the single lane country roads which were brimmed with super heavy trucks (since they are also not allowed) we somehow managed to evade all the traffic to reach vadodara by early afternoon after that it was just miles and miles of empty road for us to play with.

During this part Mr Gowda somehow dozed off on his bike and kind of ended up under a truck, Gopi was awake enough to avert a disaster (Mr Gopi has in fact saved my life once on the same tone where I dozed off) after all this we thought it will be a very good time for a break hence we stopped at a fancy roadside restaurant to have our lunch, I won't comment on the food but the lassi was heavenly, I haven't had anything as such in my life till then or ever after that.

With our stomach's full and the bikes getting their share of petrol we were rolling again on this super big 6-lane road and crossed Narmada river to enter Vapi, as you come down south you will feel the humidity rising to signal the approaching sea. It was late in the evening when we crossed the border and one can see what the dry state does to the people living there, The Maharashtra side of the border is filled with liquor shops and bars to quench the thirst of Gujaratis who travel hundreds of miles just to drink.

As we rode thru, it was pretty late in the night so we  abandoned the plan to take refuge in Mumbai and instead stayed on the outskirts of it. This was the day we rode around 600 kms and cheated death, Time to celebrate (i.e to get the bottles out).

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Crossing of Cancer

Day 7: Odo Reading 2000 kms

And it was time to leave Rajasthan, we continued our southward journey after all the goodbyes and hugs (Setu and his friends) we started our engines to the sound of which we were so addicted to now and straddled ourselves on the seats to chase the clouds over the highway. This time we were on the  NH-8 which connects Delhi with Mumbai.

The road was carved out of the stone mountains that surround this area, weaving its way through the granite walls (or should I say Marble), We dropped a gear and disappeared into the horizon with sweeping landscapes and twisty highway which comes as a boon when compared to straight stretches of road elsewhere in this state.

On our way we encountered countless tollgates since this was 'pay and use' highway network but we were happy that they don't charge two wheelers ( I should praise Indian Government for this) we ended up saving quite a lot on this whole trip. Once we crossed the border there was a sense of relief from the heat (as though nature made all these boundaries), Finally our bikes needed a oil change since we had covered almost 2000 kms since we left Delhi hence we stopped at some roadside mechanic shop filled them up with sparkling new oil and started again.


Somewhere along this journey we crossed Tropic of Cancer, it is 'The line' which specifies IST (Indian Standard Time) but for us, time was simply a non existent entity ( In accordance with the biker oath, we did not wear watches) it was either day or night thats all the 'time' we knew. As we rolled along this magnificent highway the thoughts inside our brain ceased to exist, it was just the reality of the present situation that filled our mind with little or no regard to what is going to happen next or that happened in the past, This state of mind can only be achieved either thru meditation or hurtling yourself at 100 kmph down an empty stretch of highway, obviously we chose the later.

It was late in the noon by the time we reached Ahmedabad, too polluted a city I should say. We found a place on the outer ring road to stay, kept our bags and began roaming the streets. Ahmedabad is a peculiar place where one can find Paan shop as huge as a restaurant ( not kidding, and the expensive paan costs like 400 INR) we gently smiled at this custom and set out to buy us some booze, Gowda then exclaimed that it was Gujarat, the liquor free state, hearing this our hearts sank, But there was still hope to find some bootlegger, After scanning the streets and with no luck finding anything we retired to our hotel. What a Bummer !!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Uber Udaipur

Day 6 : Odo reading 1900 kms

By the time our bodies recovered from the thrashing of the roads it had endured it was late in the evening, Setu came up with another brilliant Idea, to go to Udaipur (and chill out) which was around 40 kms away, We started out pretty late in the evening and when we reached Udaipur, the darkness of the night had already taken over the clear bright skies.

On our way to Udaipur we encountered twisty roads as that of hilly parts in India, There was this temple where the travellers offered fruits and flowers to the the deities to keep them safe during the journey (this tradition is countrywide, I remember the same in Sathyamangalam Ghat). As we rode thru this road we could see the city lights of Udaipur from a distance.
Udaipur palace with Lake in the Foreground
We caught up with some local friends of Setu, Mr Mayank and Mr Abhi, Both were very kind to us and took us on a city tour (believe me, when you have local knowledge the city is very different) and introduced us to their friends, Before we knew it we were rolling with seven guys, who took us thru every nook and corner of the city.

Udaipur is and will remain one of the best cities I have been to, With its heritage permanently intact and preserved in literally everything you see. The udaipur lake has a road which encircles it ( we respected the Biker oath and raced around it), later we went this hookah bar on top of a three story building with open terrace, We had the best view in town and could see the whole of Udaipur lake.

After we finished this city tour, it was time to return to our hotel room in Rajsamand, this simple task became a gigantum one cause we were all drunk and it was almost early morning( we forgot that mercury drops rapidly during night and did not take any jackets ) so by the time we reached our room, we were all shivering hard with no words coming out of our mouth.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Operation 'Find Setu and kill him'

Day 6: Odo reading 1650 kms

We had planned that we will go straight to Rajsamand from Jaisalmer, since it was already 7 when we finished sight seeing around Jodhpur, I advised the boys that we will spend the night in Jodhpur to which they reluctantly agreed ( This was because Setu told us that Rajsamand was just 2 hrs away and we were on the verge of believing it).

We left Jodhpur early morning so that we could reach Rajsamand before 10, We caught the 'Abu Road' road (yes, the name of the place is Abu road) and kept on riding, Everything was smooth until google maps told us to take a right exit which was a village road( and potholes ridden) we put our trust in it and carried on. The road took us through the remote villages of Rajasthan but we were on track.

This journey was one of the most difficult part of the whole trip since the road was all broken and sun rays stung like hunter bees, We were all tired and came to know that it was not 2 hr ride from Jodhpur to Rajsamand but a nerve wracking 7 hrs trip, This was it, we decided to find and kill Setu once we laid our eyes upon him, If I had not objected to travel the previous night we would have been in deep S**t.

But we put all this behind and took on the road ahead, Thru the scenic Aravalli mountains of Rajasthan. Its one of the most picturesque part of the whole state with winding roads thru the hilltops suddenly we thought we were somewhere close to foothills of Himalayas with the temperature falling drastically.

The Kumbalgarh fort is hidden inside this forest, By the time we reached Rajsamand it was late afternoon, After the usual re union talks (involved beating Setu for his brilliant direction) we sat down for lunch in a roadside dhaba which Setu said was amazing and it did live upto the hype. Setu was officially forgiven because of the royal treatment he gave us (he booked a huge a** room, with LED lights and AC).

After the brilliant lunch it was time to take rest, We hung our jackets and threw our helmets only to fall dead on the soft mattresses.