Coast to Coast 2021: Lakhpat to Morbi

The tour, personally for me, was starting from today. I woke up before sunrise around 6am and got ready. It didn’t take much long for me to pack since most of the items from the saddle bags were not taken out. I planned to reach Dwarka today. It was just a marker I put on the map just to check for myself whether I will be able to reach or not. By looking at the atlas page, it seemed possible.

Sun rising slowly…

The people at the Gurdwara, gave me a some toast and tea following which I went on to see the Gurudwara from the inside. My first time entering into a Sikh holy place.

Toast and Tea made up for light breakfast.
I’d planned to reach here by today evening…
From the inside of the Gurudwara…

It was great, visiting a holy place of importance since it was very old and protected under Gujarat Heritage sites act. I felt good having able to see such a prominent site. After taking the ‘Prasad’ offered by the caretaker, I left the place around 9 am.

Thanks for letting me stay in Gurudwara.

The roads were single lane ones, with most of the stretches in good condition. My next stop was to visit the Koteshwar Mandir followed by the Narayan Sarovar lake. One of the 5 sacred lakes of India as per the puranic Vedic texts. Most people regard Koteshwar as the most extreme western most point of India.

Cruising along with almost no company to me..
Only these guys accompanied me…
There were close to like 500 cattles, all prodding along the road at the same time. There was nothing much I could do rather than to wait.
We can see BSF strongholds at after every 10 kms, proximity to International border (pakistan). Once such truck was seen carrying water.
BSF Checkpost board @Budhbandar
What a Grand Entrance!!
Elderlies welcoming me…

I wanted to take the lord’s blessings before the start of the ride and hence I had planned to visit this temple, very well known in Gujarat and around. After spending some time around seeing the views and clicking pictures, I headed for Narayan Sarovar lake.

Koteshwar Mahadev Temple.
This is the farthest westernmost point of India. I was not allowed to go beyond the barricade, not even for a photo!
Thanks BSF for keeping us safe.
Inside the Narayan Sarovar complex, which houses a temple and a large courtyard.
Behind me is the Narayan Sarovar lake..

At around 10:30am, I left Koteshwar and was on my way towards Dwarka taking the coastal route. Before the start, I had marked the villages on the atlas page which were helping me now to navigate. Reaching out to Google Maps was a NO-NO.

Almost all the area seems to look like a desert. The camel is often the main animal used for hauling here.
Small Village huts made out of mud and brick
Waiting at the cross roads and rechecking the directions as most of the names were in Gujarati language.

I was running low on fuel and the indication marker was lit. I had completely forgotten about looking for a petrol bunk. As a matter of fact, I had not spot even a single one even while coming towards Lakhpat from Bhuj. There was no chance of finding a bunk ahead as I was riding through deep village roads. When asked around, people said that the next bunk was 100 kms ahead on the main NH highway. They assured me that normal grocery stores stock up petrol supplies in bottles which really gave me a breather.

A quick pitstop at one of the small stalls alongside the road for quick snack and tea break.
From where the hell I was supposed to get a petrol bunk on this road.
This store saved my bike from stalling in middle of nowhere.
Topped up on 2 ltrs of fuel which was enough to take me to next petrol bunk. Didn’t fill up much as I doubted the quality of it. Got it @100rs/ltr
Windmills and more windmills stretched alongside the road.

After the petrol debacle, I was also running low on cash and for that matter, had to look out for ATM’s so that my journey ahead would become smooth. I doubted, whether Cards/ Gpay/Paytm would be of much use here.

Wading through a buys weekly bazaar in one of the villages.
The first petrol bunk of the day was located at Naliya.
Scratching my brain about my whereabouts and inferring from a faded board…
In many cases, I got the feeling of whether I was going in correct direction or not. I had strictly told myself, no matter what happens, using Google Maps was barred. Don’t know that was stupidity or the adventurous side of me.
These people must be wondering, from where the Hell has this ALIEN come from.
Holding strong in this harsh desert weather…
Found a dead run over baby alligator right in the middle of the road..
Passing by village roads while curious school children give a look..
Loved the alignment of the flags…
Keep Holding on…..
Common mode of transport in this region of Gujarat…
Before hitting Mundra, my rear tyre was low on air and so used the battery operator tire inflator to solve the issue. A person got down from the car just to see what I was doing sitting right on the road side!
Just yesterday I had crossed Bhachau on my way towards Lakhpat and today, I was heading again towards it from a different route.
Riding on SH46

Taking the roads close to the coast had more disadvantages than advantages. The roads were narrow and often the road quality was not upto the mark. Also, being a port area, there was huge traffic of heavy vehicles.

I had to take right towards Tuna port which eventually was going to lead me towards Gandhidham.
One has to be really careful while riding past these big machines.
A long stretch of heavy vehicles lined the highway after Gandhidham.

Dwarka, was not even being seen on the distance boards. The next big city was Morbi which was still 100kms more. After crossing Gandhidham, I reached Maliya where I took a break of tea and had some snacks. The lunch had been skipped.

Watching the sun go down…

Just as it got dark and I was few kms away from Morbi, the bike refused to start after refueling up. This was my first breakdown of the trip. A blown fuse! The conclusion was reached after figuring out the issue for quite some time as well as phoning my service guys. For the first time in the history of the bike, a fuse had been blown. The exact reason could not be found and since I had a spare one, I didn’t pay heed to the cause of it.

The time was around 8:30 pm and by now, it was decided that Morbi would be the resting place for today.

Replacing the fuse right beside the petrol vending machine..

I decided to again search for a Gurudwara here, just like yesterday, since my stay in this city was totally unplanned. To my luck, I found one but it did not have rooms for people to stay. With that, began my journey of finding my first hotel of the trip. Google was accessed and after traversing the same road many times and visiting 2-3 hotels, finally, it was decided that I would be staying in HOTEL JK. Earlier, I rejected this hotel since it had only 1 vacancy and that too in a shared dorm but after finding that most of the good hotels in the city are booked, I had to retrace my steps back here.

Since, it was only matter of few hours, I took the offer. It was indeed a good one. 150rs for the night. Perfect deal for a budget traveler like me. The only thing that was to be neatly arranged was my luggage since the dorm was open and right opposite to the hotel counter.

By the time everything was settled, it was around 10 pm following which I had dinner at their restaurant below. I was way long from my day’s target of Dwarka. Dwarka, from Morbi is close to around 250 kms, which was a long way to go and so, to cover up the distance, I decided to start early the next morning.

As per my original plan, I was supposed to reach Bhavnagar. But, looking at the deficit now, that was not achievable since I was going to spend some time exploring around Dwarka. So the next viable place for me to rest tomorrow was Porbandar.

I decided to inform Milan (my ex-company friend from Porbandar whose marriage I had attended in 2017 in Porbandar itself ) about my travel plans so that some thing could be figured out.

Hotel JK in Morbi.
After a tiring day, a meal like this was really heaven for me.
No Gujarati meal is complete without having a jar of buttermilk by the side.

I slept around 11 pm and put an alarm for 5 am. I really wanted the head-start tomorrow and try to cover as much distance till dusk and see where I could reach.


Coast to Coast 2021: Reaching the Start Point

The time was around 4:30 am. With everything set, I was ready to leave. I got my morning dose of caffeine and bid my Mom a long goodbye. I was going to go away for quite a long time. Planned to reach Ahmedabad that day and the distance was quite huge ~680 kms.

I kept a track of my odometer reading before the start of the trip. It read 94,251 kms.

It was a cold morning but my OXFORDS were helping me to keep my hands warm. By the time I reached Panvel it was about to dawn. The time was around 6:45am. It was decided that after I exit Mumbai, I will stop for breakfast or my first cup of tea.

Just before hitting Thane I stopped for my first petrol break. It was Saturday, and office traffic had started to pile up. I had to literally weave myself from the chain of vehicles crossing me from both the sides. It was only after exiting Ghodbunder, that the traffic started to thin up.

At around 10 am, I stopped for breakfast at New Jalaram Hotel (Gujju hotel) some kms ahead of Ghol village.

Have South Indian breakfast inside a Gujarati Hotel. Lolll

After washing down the breakfast with a cup of Tea, I hit the road at around 11am. It was a good 1 hr break after riding for more than 5 hrs continuously. From there onwards, It was mostly non-stop ride with only hydration breaks.

It seemed to me that even though I had exited the Maharashtra border, the traffic would just refuse to give up. There was heavy traffic of Trucks on the road. They had taken all the 3 lanes of the road and as a result, maintaining a constant speed was a problem.

After my water in the hydration pack was over, it was time to cool off with “Amul Kool”
Riding on the Bharuch Bridge…

On top of that, GJ-5 (Surat) registration plates vehicles were causing a lot of trouble on road. Especially, the private cars. I had to be 200% careful while changing the lanes as the overtaking was being done from left as well as right.

I reached Baroda around 4pm and decided to meet my friend Shruti (We were working together in Ford, my ex company). I knew she was not keeping well and If I had missed this change then I would not again be able to meet her again during the trip.

Pitstop at Shruti’s place @Baroda

After spending around an hour at Shruti’s place, having tea and snacks it was time to leave to Ahmedabad which was 110 kms more to go. The time was around 5 am. Somehow, I wanted to touchdown Ahmedabad before it got dark but that was not going to be the case.

Chasing the Sunsets!
Stopped in between to admire the Sun going down the horizon.
Just before entering the Ahmedabad city, stopped to clean my visor as it was covered with splashed dead insects and also to change my camera battery.
Look at my Helmet visor!

The stretch from Baroda to Ahmedabad is really good and even during the night you dont have to worry much as the street lights help you out.

After entering the city, I was greeted with long line of traffic. As I was not moving, I started to sweat from the inside. The evening cold did not help much. After almost around 30 min the traffic eased and finally I was able to reach my indented place of stay, an area called Bopal. This was the place where I stayed during 2013-2017 when I was working with Ford.

Waiting for the traffic to ease up..

Bopal city had completely changed. It gave a resemblance of Bombay in the night with tall buildings lined on both sides and a flyover running between them. Bopal was just a village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city when I’d stayed there. Now, it was a major residential and commercial hub. The sudden changeover came quite shocking to me.

Bopal became Bombay in a matter of 6 years.

Finally, at around 8 pm, I reached Darshak’s house. The same place where I had stayed on my last day of GQ trip back in 2019. This was going to be my home for 2 days now. The next day was rest day in Ahmedabad before the D-Day started. The rest day was going to be used to meet fellow friends from Ahmedabad and from my ex-company.

Darshak sitting opposite to me. Ukti who is Darshak’s wife was to my right (not visible in this frame). What a tasty dinner it was!
Menu: Aloo subji along with Paneer+Capsicum, sauted vegetable salad and gujju Kadhi.

After dinner, talks over travel and general discussion about life ahead went on till midnight following which we all went to sleep. All of us were damn tired.

The very next day, I went on the have breakfast with my ex department colleagues at our favorite breakfast joint. This was at walkable distance from where I used to stay earlier.

Item is self explanatory..
L-R: Me, Arunabh, Anupam.

After having breakfast, we were joined by Hardik. And, after we all dispersed by making some evening plans, I went on to see Hardik’s newly purchased flat.

Me at Hardik’s home. Behind him can be seen his wife Ritu and Hardik’s mom.
In the afternoon, I had lunch at Anupam’s place. His wife Ritu along with Aru.

After the lunch, I went to visit Vaibhav and Gunjan’s house which was nearby only. Both of them working with Ford. Vaibhav was in my same ex-department while Gunjan in HR. It was after a very long time that I was meeting both of them, having missed them back in 2019.

Meet Mr. Vaibhav
Vaibhav’s Daughter, Vihana.
Bidding goodbye to them. Vihana planned to come along with me as she was ready with her shoes.

I left the place around 5:30 pm and it was time to visit Arunabh and Sonika’s house. They both had invited me for small snack party and also I wanted to see their new house.

At Arunabh’s and Sonika’s house. Also can been seen are Sonika’s Mom and Dad.
Sonika to the extreme right.

I left the Sonika’s house around 6:30 pm and returned back to Darshak’s place. It was planned that we were going out in the evening having a small celebration. After all, it was 14th Feb, Valentines Day! We were going to a nearby famous Tea Shop which went by the name of “Tea Post Café”.

The Café was all decked up owing to 14th Feb.
We got a roof top seating from where we could get such a view.
This was my Kesar infused Tea.
Savoring the taste and the moment.
Later, tried the Ginger Lemon Tea. This was really not upto the mark.
Laila Majnu ki jodi…

We were soon joined my by riding brother, Zac. We had planned to meet earlier in the day but in all this rush from place to place, could not get time. And, since I was to leave tomorrow for my start point of journey, I called and told him to meet at the very place. We both had the same DS500 model and started our riding days from Ahmedabad itself. He now owns an Interceptor 650cc.

With Zac towards my right..

After some good hearted talks and laughs we left the place and bid goodbye to each other. Tomorrow was going to be new day for me. Riding through new roads towards my start point at Lakhpat. We soon crashed on the bed the moment we entered inside the house. With all the luggage already packed and set, It was once again time to say goodbye to Ahmedabad and head towards Lakhpat.

Me and Darshak…

The next morning I started around 7:30 am even though I’d woke up around 5 am. It took 1 hr for me to get ready and then had to wait for another house for my hosts to get ready. Finally, I bid them goodbye and I was on my way.

It was decided in this trip that I will be taking help of Google as less as possible. I was carrying an Atlas for my help. I’d decided to add some elements of adventure in this tour. I decided to make this trip Raw and let fate take the course on its own.

I was riding on SH7 and on this very route lay Ford Motors India Pvt Ltd, my first company after I’d passed out from the college. And you wont believe me guys, I stumbled on my ex-manager on the way. I was not sure of him until I went passed him and realized. I took to the side of the road and called him. Till then, he had already taken a cut from the highway and had headed towards the company. We decided to meet at the company’s entrance gate.

Me with my ex-manager.

For today’s ride till Lakhpat, I almost knew all the route. In 2016, we had visited Rann of Kutch which is like 60kms from Bhuj village. The region of Lakhpat also falls into Bhuj jurisdiction.

At around 9:45 am, I stopped at Gujarat’s most famous restaurant chain called “Honest”. There I had Poha and Khaman as my breakfast washing it all down with a cup of tea.

Once you cross Maliya, you get to see open stretches of land where Salt is harvested and converted to final product. With little to no vegetation, it looks kinda odd.
After Bhachau, I exited National Highway and entered State Highway 42.
Lakhpat is still 200 kms to go. The time was around 1 pm.

After driving for 2 more hrs, I stopped for late lunch at a place where Trucker’s usually have their food. We people call it ‘Dhaba’. It’s a very unique place where cots are placed instead of tables and with one plank for keeping your food. All my 2016 memories came flashing by where we had a similar experience. The meal was fresh, hot and glad that I’d ditched normal hotel and come here instead.

Met these Truckers hailing from Jalandhar. They watch YouTube regularly and also follow some well known Moto Vloggers.

I left around 3:45 pm where Lakhpat was still 110 kms to go. The roads were mainly single lane but in good condition. The vegetation was sparse to none with only one particular type of bush growing.

As per the boards erected on the side of the roads, I was passing through a Wildlife Sanctuary.
Most of the Windmills are erected in this region of Gujarat.
Sun about to go down. The time was around 6 pm.

When I’d reached Lakhpat, I thought it to be a big town but it was not the case. There is a huge fort at Lakhpat and there are many small settlements dwelling inside. The perimeter of the fort spans around 5 kms. When I asked there for accommodation, people there pointed me towards Gurudwara. They told me that I would get accommodation there without much hassle.

So it was decided, as I headed straight towards it which was only few hundred meters from the fort entrance. Before that, I’d also gone to BSF checkpost to see whether I would be allowed to go till the border line, but, they out rightly denied.

I got the room and guess I was the only visitor staying in their premises that day. One more room was occupied but they were the laborers who were working on some work inside the Gurudwara. The room had been allotted to them. The people managing the Gurudwara were very friendly. One was from local nearby village while another one was from Uttarakhand.

The coast line was easily visible from the terrace of my room.
This is one of the oldest Gurudwara’s believed to be erected around 15th AD by the Sikhism founder himself.

Once, all my luggage was settled inside the room, I had a refreshing bath as well as I washed my clothes.

After the darkness fell, it was time for the evening langar which I enjoyed to the core. I was the only one being served by them.

Right after the langer, I spent some time speaking with the curators about the place and their daily goings and some general talk here and there.

My evening Langer meal.

At around 9 pm, I went to bed. I was tired to some extent and little anxious as to how the coming days would be. This was my first day of the start. I had done well. I had covered 450kms since morning. I patted myself and hoped that this would go on till I reach safely back home.

It was time to head towards Porbandar tomorrow (my mental prep plan).


Coast to Coast 2021 – Getting Ready for the Big One.

It was back in 2019 during our Golden Quadrilateral ride that the idea of doing Coast to Coast had dawned on me. It was indeed a great ride covering more than 6500+ kms of Highway roads.

The tour was going to start at Lakhpat in Gujarat till Bakkhali in West Bengal taking roads running almost parallel to the sea shore.

2020 was a total waste for people like us as no rides could be planned due to the pandemic and as a result, when 2021 arrived, I was left with a huge number of privileged leaves which had to be taken. My company did a good job of extending the timeline to Feb 2021. So, whatever mandatory leaves were pending had to be taken before Feb 21 ended. I had 15 of them!

During my planning, Mountains did not call me! Personally, I did not wish to visit the Mountains at this point in time. And like others, no other places in India interested me which was worth taking 15 days of leave. The Coast to Coast route was weighing heavy in my mind and heart. If any trip would happen now, it would be this, I thought.

I applied for leave which got approved in no time. So the trip dates were starting 6th Feb to 28th Feb. But, due to some family reasons I had to postpone it for a week and so the new dates were from 13th Feb to 7th March. The next big task in front of me was the Bike!

This was my first ever big trip traveling Solo and covering more than 7500+ kms. The Indian coastline spans roughly around 7500kms I knew the bike had to be in good condition in order to take on this arduous journey.

In Dec 2020 month, I had gone to Hampi for some work and it was during that trip, I have noticed that the bike was consuming a lot of oil. In the middle of the trip, I had to stop abruptly and had to top up engine oil as it was very low. The odo was running at 93000kms and it was high time I got the Bore and the Piston replaced! Adding to the misery, on the same trip, I got my Battery mount broken as well as one spoke from the rear tyre was ripped off!

The removed Bore and Piston.

As soon as I came back from the trip, the bike was handed over to my service guy for a major overhaul. But, apart from that, and since I knew it was going to take a long time for the bike to get ready, I threw in additional list of changes and modifications to be done on the bike. I wanted the bike to look brand new when it would come out of the service station. The bike was handed over on 6th of Jan 2021.

After the major work of replacing the Piston and Bore was done, I drove it for around 1000kms over many short trips so as to set the piston and bore correctly and make the engine healthy. After almost every trip, the bike went to the service station to carry on with other modifications.

Custom made battery box.
Twin battery setup for my Classic 500DS. They are originally to be used for Interceptor 650cc.

The bike was finally ready only a day before my trip started. I received it on 12th Feb and even AVRIL’s (my bike’s name) 6th birthday was celebrated at the service station itself (10th Feb).

The main team behind all the hardwork.

The bill amount was close to 30,000rs for the entire work done on the bike.

Major modifications and changes were as follows:

  1. New Piston and Bore
  2. New Front Brake Disc and Brake pad.
  3. Handlebar modified and separate wiring harness made for all the electrical accessories.
  4. A new set of Batteries (Put in an Interceptor one with 14 AHr X 2) along with a custom-designed storage mount.
  5. OXFORD heated grips installed.
  6. New Front Headlights with glass.
  7. Head Lapping.

With regards to luggage, I was carrying the bare minimum along with critical spares and my tool kit. Since it was a long haul, I intended on washing clothes at the end of the day. This idea was going to save a lot of kilos on my clothes. I was even carrying a spare Odometer as I was going to cross the 1,00,000 km mark on the current one and I wanted to keep it as a memento.

With everything set, I was ready for the trip.


Land of Gods | Uttarakhand’18 | Day 19 | Chopta – Ukhimath

I woke up to a beautiful view of the valley in front of me. Having slept well, I could now see the rays of sun just penetrating from the side of the mountains. The village being situated in a valley, it was going to take some time before it received the warmth of the sun. I grabbed my mobile and tried to shoot the timelapse, mounting it on my small tripod till I made myself ready for moving ahead in the day.

Beautiful timelapse of sun rising over the mountains and the rays hitting the village.

I had hoped to reached Chopta the night before but citing wildlife reasons, I had to give up on my plan with barely 20kms to go and settle myself in a village called “Mandal”.

With everything set, I was now ready to leave for Chopta after I had my morning tea.

The beautiful view of the valley…
The guesthouse where I was staying…
Morning briefing from “Mandal” village…
The day’s route map

My main reason for including Chopta in my travel plan was to visit the Tungnath Temple, situated at an high altitude and which required a good 2-3 hrs of trek. It is the highest Shiva temple in the world and that being said, many travelers and tourists include it as a part of their itinerary when they visit Uttarakhand.

Soon, I was on the road which I was travelling last night and I thanked myself and the Forest ranger for turning me back yesterday. It was a dense jungle and the road width was narrow. After driving for some minutes ahead, I even encountered black ice on the road which made the riding difficult. Had I been driving this stretch yesterday night, I was surely going to fall. Good that I did not try to push myself.

The Road through the jungle….
Driving cautiously on the black ice…
It was difficult to give way to vehicles coming from the opposite side..

The warmth from the sun was comforting me and the view to my left were even more beautiful. The mountains stretched as far as my eye could see. They had a light blue tint over them. Gazing at them, I didn’t quite know how “Chopta” arrived so early.

Chopta was bustling with tourists when I arrived. I could see rows of cars parked alongside the restaurants and with them, tourists flocking everywhere. Some were having breakfast or tea while some were preparing for the trek. It was a total shocker for me seeing so many people during this peak winter season.

When I asked around, people told me that accommodation was way costly here as there were limited number of hotels. By no means I was going to afford it had I reached here last night. Again, I thanked that Forest officer in my mind. I think it was in my destiny that I was going to stumble upon him.

Arriving in Chopta.

I parked my bike in front of one restaurant and entered inside for having breakfast. The cold in the atmosphere could be felt and I badly needed something hot to relieve myself. I had steaming hot “Aloo paranthas” topped with generous amount of butter for breakfast and finally washed it down with Tea.

Once, I had regained enough heat and energy, I readied myself for the arduous trek. Speaking with the hotel owner for luggage, he quickly gave OK nod. I quickly offloaded and kept the luggage at one safe corner and carried with me only the necessary items.

Just as I passed through the entrance gate of the trek, I was stopped to pay entry fees of 150 rs. I quarreled with them but it all went into vain. They were claiming the amount was for the conservation and upkeep of the area. The time was somewhere around 09.30 am.

Initially there were steps laid out along the route, but as soon as I started gaining height it became a normal natural trek trail. At first, I’d started to feel cold due to dense vegetation around but after quite some time as the tree line thinned out, and sun being in direct contact with me, all those heavy riding pants which I was wearing slowed my progress. It started to get hot due to the workout and I also started sweating from inside. And with that, I removed my riding pants, tied both the leg portions and put over my shoulders like a garland. Some people coming down from the trek warned that there was heavy presence of black ice on the trail and cautioned me to tread safely.

Falling on black ice during the hike is really worrysome. More, when the top ice layer begins to melt from the heat of the sun and makes the surface more slippery. But, slowly slowly I was progressing and in between eating the soft snow to quench my thirst. Almost, equal number of people were going down as they were going up.

With nothing but snow all around, the views were just magnificent. It looked as though I was on top of the world with nothing but the air above me. I could get the complete 360 deg view. I was taking it slowly and not hurrying and immersing myself completely into the view. There were also stone benches put up along the path and I used them whenever I ran out of my breath. I could feel the scarcity of oxygen in the air and due to that I was panting heavily.

Beautiful views along the trek route…

Slowly and Steadily, I managed to reach the top where the Tungnath temple was situated. The temple was closed as it was off season and I spent time there taking photos and soaking in the surroundings. A huge crowd could be seen there taking selfies of themselves with the amazing backdrop. It was really an awesome place to be and it left me wondering how could someone built a magnificent temple at such a height braving all the harsh weather.

Reaching the temple…
The Tungnath temple..
Front view of the Temple.

I started my descend after some time and found it more challenging than when I’d trekked up. My whole body weight was leaning to the front which made me more prone to fall. At some points, I had to take shortcuts between the routes as coming down via the same was not advisable. Many could be seen doing the same way. Since, I had a long journey forward, I was being extreme cautious. I came down around 14:00 hrs completing the trek and went to the same restaurant for having something quick for my lunch. I had “Maggie Noodles”.

With me packing the stuff onto my bike, I asked the restaurant guy about which place should I halt up ahead where I could get a comfortable accommodation. They told me “Ukhimath” would be the right place since it had lot of “Dharmashalas” and I could get the best accommodation at a reasonable price. Since it was already late up in the day, taking up a destination which was far away from current place would not be the right thing to do.

Ukhimath was roughly 30kms more…

After checking that all the items were packed and the bike was ready and having my afternoon cup of Tea, I left the place and started moving in the direction of Ukhimath. It was a gradual descend and within no time I could feel my fingers going numb. While going down, the vegetation had cropped up again and due to that the atmosphere was cold. I was literally taken by surprise and had to ride with my fingers almost going numb till Ukhimath. I vouched to give my numbed fingers some warmth over bonfire as soon as I reached Ukhimath.

Even though the distance was less, it took me almost 2 hrs to reach the place. I was riding at my own pace enjoying the beautiful view all around me. There wasn’t any traffic on the road which made the ride even more pleasurable. There were lot of tight twistys as the road went downhill.

Catching a glimpse of the setting sun before it hid behind the mountains.

As soon as I reached Ukhimath, I halted at the first building which seemed to me like a hotel or more or less like a Dharmashala place. Upon inquiring, it was indeed a one and had space for me too. The rate was a nominal of 350rs which would eventually go into the donation box of the charity organization running the Dharmashala. These places are mostly located in all the religious site spread across India. They mainly run on a very low budget and whatever money they take from people staying there are accepted as a donation. These places are there so that the pilgrim can stay here at ease without shelling huge amount of money from his pocket. Also, the current Dharmashala, where I was standing was also kept neat and tidy.

My Dharmashala at Ukhimath. Bharat Sevasram Sangha

I went to see the room and immediately OK’d it. Before I went inside with the luggage, I pulled my DSLR out and took photos of the amazing cloud cover over the Kedarnath mountains. The sun was setting and that cast a orange hue over the clouds hiding the mountains behind them. It was a beautiful sight to see from a distance. Even though, I was in Uttarakhand, I would not be able to visit Kedarnath as its a 16 km trek to the top and secondly, the route was closed due to off season.

I could see some men sitting over a bonfire not far from where I was standing. I quickly joined them for a brief moment of time till my hand and fingers got relived from the cold and were sufficiently warm. As it was getting dark, I thought it would be a good idea to shift my luggage and with that I retired for the day.

It was not a long day for riding today but the trek made me feel tired. Also, I didn’t had proper lunch which made be even more hungrier at Dinner. Dinner was served at the canteen located in the basement and I had the best veg thali of all times. It was prepared fresh in front of us and was piping hot which was really soothing for the stomach and the body.

After the dinner was done, it was time for the bed and pretty much all the things were closed on the outside. I transferred all my GoPro and Mobile data into my portable hard-disk before I went off to sleep.

Tomorrow, I would be travelling to Devprayag visiting the Kartik Swami temple in between, the city, that I longed to revisit again after we brushed by its side on our 3rd day of the tour when we were travelling from Mussoorie to Rishikesh.


Land of Gods | Uttarakhand’18 | Day 17 | Kausani – Auli

I woke up early since I wanted to capture the morning timelapse of first sun rays hitting the mountain. The tripod was already there, sitting in the balcony because it was capturing the night sky the previous night. I just had to change my battery and put in a fresh one. The time was around 6:30 am.

While the recording was taking place, I completed my morning chores and went upstairs to take in the surrounding view. It was still dark as the rays had not reached me. There was silence everywhere and occasionally interrupted by chirping of the birds. The air was cold.

Only after having my hot cup of tea that I somehow felt better. The cold in my body started to fade away. And, so here I was, enjoying the beautiful view of the Himalayas in front of me with a cup of tea in my hand. I did not leave until I was drenched in the sunshine.

Morning shot of Mt. Trisul
The morning timelapse…
Cuppa with a view…

I was staying in Hotel Rudraksh and I found it to be complete bang for the buck. I got the room for 500 rs including the dinner and the room was so large that at-least 5 people could stay in it comfortably. I would definitely recommend it for Solo as well as family people.The hotel is some 2-3 kms before the main Kausani bazaar. It is perfectly located and guarantees unhindered view of the Himalayas.

I asked the hotel person about the things to do in Kausani but he did not surprise me. It was a regular place, somehow made famous by tourists. The unique thing which I saw that it had Tea gardens which were right opposite to our hotel. But, still I decided to take a stroll along it’s streets on my bike after a heartful breakfast of Aloo Paranthas and Tea. After that, I started my day.

I did not set any destination and first had to reach the bazaar. After reaching the centre point of Kausani, I decided to take a narrow road and see where it lead me. After driving for some 10-12 kms, it looked like there was no ending to it and so I returned back. While returning, I gave a lift to a boy who wanted to go to the bazaar. On the way, we stopped at a place where I was getting an unobstructed view of the entire Kumaon range and so I clicked a photo!

Entire Range can be seen…

Upon reaching the bazaar, I couldn’t decide on any other place to go. There was one Astronomy shop where you could gaze at the ‘Space’ during the night time but right now, it was daytime!

Alas! I decided to retrace my step back towards the hotel. I thought of roaming the Tea gardens which I eventually did and in no time, I felt bored. It was someone’s farm and no body was there and it wasn’t any typical touristy garden where lot of people can been seen peeping and investigating the Tea plants. I bought some Tea from the nearby shop and then went directly to my hotel room for packing the things up.

Moving around the Tea Estate…

My sole purpose for coming to this place had been to see it. There was lot of talk seen on the internet which had made me put this place on my plan. But, frankly speaking, I found this place just like any other hill station would give to you. Only, in this case, you get the Himalayas with you. I could say, Munsiyari was better than this and for the readers reading this Blog, you can skip this place and try get to stay one more day in Munsiyari.

My next destination was situated on the northernmost part of the Uttarakhand which was Auli. It was going to be a tough job reaching the place since it was almost 200 kms from Kausani and the time was also approaching noon. Being winter, you don’t get much daylight time and I knew that I was going to ride in the dark for most of the time.

I left for Auli at around 13:00 hrs.

A total of 196 kms to go…

The roads were good initially with which I thought that I would be able to cover the distance but after sometime, they turned worse. At many places, road expansion work was going on. They were making proper tourist roads so that people won’t face when doing the “Mini Char Dham” pilgrimages of Badrinath and Kedarnath. At places, we had to stop for quite some time before the road got cleared of debris.

On my way to Kausani…
The road were being widened so that a bigger highway could be built.
Road being cleared of debris..
Trees too were being felled on the way…

While checking out of the hotel, I had filled my thermask with tea and whenever we were being stopped on the road, I managed to sip in few cups. The distance to be covered was large and time was precious. I could not afford to pull off the road to some stall and get myself a cup of tea.

Riding on the newly paved and expanded road…

At times, the road would get widened while the other time it got narrowed.

Auli was till 100 kms to go and the time was around 16:30 hrs.

While passing through a village road, I could see the shop vendors making some delicacies sitting outside. The smell was so attractive that it pulled me closer. By that time, I had already gone ahead and so had to turn back. I could see some fresh Jalebis being taken out from the pan of hot oil and put into the sweetened liquid while others were dropping in Samosas to get it fried. I decided to have samosas accompanied by hot tea. By now, I had started to feel the hunger and so I had to eat something and not just make off with tea. The aroma had intensified my hunger even more. At around 17:00 hrs, I left the shop and hit the road again.

In no time, I reached Karnaprayag.

Soon, the light was fading away as I pulled aside to refuel. In no time, I was going to ride in the dark. I still had to cover almost 70 kms. Again, I found myself waiting in a long queue for the road to get cleared. I was amazed and struck that even at this hour of the day, the work was going on. I guess the UK government was in a hurry to complete the road at any cost. These roads are even used by the military as they go towards their forward bases located in Mana Village, which is the last Indian Village on the Indo-Tibet border.

Again waiting for the road to get cleared…
The road condition did not improve…

The roads again narrowed and now it was tough driving in the night. The temperature had dropped and also, the light from the incoming vehicles hit me straight in the eye. I had to be very careful in my judgement to overtake vehicles in front of me.

After riding for quite some time, the traffic thinned out and I was mostly alone on the road. Just then, as I was cruising around 50-60 kmph, suddenly, out of nowwhere a drunken man came onto the middle of my path and lucky that I was concentrating hard on the road ahead that I swerved my bike towards my right on the mountain side and avoided colliding with him. The valley was to my left and had it been on my right, then, surely I was going down many feet below in the darkness. This is one incident I will never forget in my life. It shows that just how much attentive you should be while driving in the night.

How I missed hitting a drunk man by a whisker and not falling down..

The time had crossed over 20:00 hrs and it was getting very cold. I was shivering to the extreme. I still had many kms to cover. I had lost my confidence over the near miss and owing to extreme darkness with no street lights to support, my bike speed had dropped.

Braving the twistys, I finally arrived in Joshimath. Auli was still 10 kms to go. I was almost on the verge of breakdown. Cold was at its peak and I badly needed warmth and shelter. I raced towards my destination.

Finally, I arrived at my destination and stopped at small roadside restaurant to ask for hotels. Just when I thought that everything was over, I got a shocker from the restaurant guy. The rates were in the range of 3000-4000rs per night. The rates were at its peak as 31st December was not far and Auli being a favorite destination among romantic couples, the place is a hot spot. I was really in a fix as what to do. I was no way going to spend that much amount for a night. Also, most of them were full owing to year end.

I asked the restaurant guy to provide me shelter for the night inside. I told him that I would manage somehow instead of spending the huge amount. What I did not see was that he was offering tent stay along with running the restaurant. The tents were pitched right behind the hotel. But, somehow I rejected his proposal of spending the night in the tent as it was extreme cold. But, he assured me that everything would be fine. He even agreed to lit a bonfire for me so that I could get warm before I head inside my tent. My dream of sleeping inside the restaurant went for a toss.

So, the deal was done and I unloaded the luggage and kept inside the restaurant. For quite some time, we were inside the restaurant sipping tea along with few other people and heating ourselves with the electric warmer. It was so cold that I was in my riding gears only. Then, I had dinner and felt relived when I got to eat hot rotis which were being made parallely and served.

After dinner, I warmed myself in front of the bonfire for almost around 20 mins before I head inside the tent. The necessary stuff was taken inside and I slept without even removing my shoes and riding gears. Such was the intensity of the cold. I had taken 2 sleeping bags. I was inside one and another was taken over me to give me double protection.



Later in the night, I woke up several times as the cold was unbearable. I kept on wriggling inside the tent and kept on changing my sleeping postures. Finally, even I don’t know, somehow I fell asleep.

Coast to Coast 2021: Morbi to Porbandar

I started exactly at 6am. I wasn’t sure that I would be getting chai at that time but I did found one. After giving the body some charge, I was off to Porbandar via Dwarka.

It was pitch dark and I had to ask directions for my road ahead till I exited the city. I was headed to my first checkpoint on the road towards “Pipaliya”. That was around 17 kms. On my way, I narrowly escaped hitting an “Asian antelope” as they were crossing the road. My aux lights helped me in throwing light on them so that I could react in time. It was close call and once again showed the dangers of riding in dark and unknown areas.

At first, due to dark conditions, I missed Pipaliya and went ahead. As I rode further, I noticed that something wasn’t right. I had ridden way over 17 kms and could not see the board. After stopping and asking the correct way, people told me I had overshot by 5-6 kms. I had to turn back.

Now, I took a right turn after reaching Pipaliya and headed towards “Amran”, which was my next checkpoint on the map. The roads became single lane and condition deteriorated as I progressed.

Photo taken after reaching Amran. Next checkpoint on the road was village named “Jodiya”. Time was around 7:30 am.

Soon after, I witnessed the most magnificent sunrise. Sun rising above wheat fields. It was a beautiful sight to see.

A harvester machine on its way…
Clocked 96K on my way towards Jamnagar.

My Oxfords were at 100% heat level as the cold was still there. On top of that, the visibility had dropped due to sudden arrival of fog. The fog lasted till I reached Jamnagar city.

Jamnagar 10kms to go…
Entering Jamnagar…. the time was around 9:15 am.
Saurashtra’s special transport vehicle (Passenger + Commercial ) called “Chagada”. Pronounced as “Cha-ga-da”.
Khambaliya was my next checkpoint after Jamnagar.

Long before reaching Jamnagar, I had started to get hunger pangs and so the breakfast point was fixed at Jamnagar. But, entering the new city for the first time and that too in rush hour is always confusing. I missed to find a decent breakfast joint and just as I was about to hit the highway again exiting the city, I found a well decked up Food truck on my side. It looked promising and I immediately pulled over. They were open and the owner heartily welcomed me and helped me finalize my breakfast menu.

Belly’s Kitchen..
Chole masala Poha, my 1st item for breakfast.
Aloo Paratha was my 2nd.
Washing it all down with a cup of Tea!
That’s one unique name!
It was more 100 kms to go from Jamnagar.
Riding on the roughed up roads towards Dwarka. One side the new roads are being done while the other side was hell to ride upon.

I took right towards Nageshwar Temple before Dwarka. The last time I had visited Dwarka was in 2017 where I had come to attended my friend’s Wedding in Porbandar (I was to stay at his place today). I had forgotten to visit the Nageshwar Temple (One of the 12 Jyotirlingas). And hence, with this tour, I had planned to check it off the list.

Nageshwar Temple is before “Gopi” village.
More and more salt plains…
Jai Bholenath.
Meeting my brother..
The statue is huge.

After the Darshan was over, I cooled off with some tender coconut before proceeding towards Beyt Dwarka.

Beyt Dwarka, 22kms more.
Saw these boats anchored to the shore on my way towards Beyt Dwarka. It provided a perfect backdrop for me to take photos.
The color of the water….
Each boat has got its own registration number, just like our bikes and cars. The boats are also named in unique and funny way.

My first impression of going towards Beyt Dwarka was that I would have to take a boat leaving my bike on this side. The mere thought of keeping my bike on this side while I went off to Beyt Dwarka did not digest as the luggage was on the bike. I was worried. My initial plan was to keep the bike safely with some shopkeeper while I went to the other side (I had done like this in Omakareshwar, MP while visit the jyotirlinga). But, things turned out to be exactly different.

When I reached near the ferry line, people told me that I could take the bike along with me to the island. That was a huge relief for me. I was happy and nervous at the same time as this kind of activity was first time for me. Me and my bike sailing on the boat!

Earlier, I’d thought these barricades on the pier were to prevent 2 wheelers from going inside. But that was not the case.
Myself dealing with the captain of the ship.
All in all, it went smoothly and the bike was loaded on the deck without much hassle.
These people must be wondering, who the fuck has come on this boat!
Feeding some snacks to these flock of Seagulls.
Overall, it was a great time on the boat with bike for the first time.
This police guy took a liking on me when I landed on the other side. He bombarded me with all sorts of questions.
At around 3pm, I landed on the island.
Going towards Dwarkadhish temple..
On Beyt Dwarka Island, I had to wait till 5pm as the temple doors open after that. The main Dwarkadhish temple. I had more than 1 hr with me and so most of the time was spent chit chatting with the locals and also in the meantime, I went off to Hanuman Temple to pay a visit.
Heading towards Hanuman Temple…
Hanuman temple.
The physics defying floating rock..
Playing with the kids.
Another one..

At around 5 pm, I came back to the bazaar where the Dwarkadhish temple is located. I had to keep all my belongings at the counter as nothing was allowed inside. Hence, I was not able to take photos. The total tour of the temple lasted for good 30 mins following which I started my journey towards Porbandar.

With some shopkeepers at the Bazaar.
Another one…
Sun going down.

The ferry also took time as the right kind of boat was not available which could take me and my bike safely towards the other side. For that I had to wait almost 20 mins.

People asking my YouTube Channel name.
Till the time the boat arrives….
This kid too wanted to know my YouTube handle …
That superstar feeling when people unknowingly take a selfie with you…
The view …
These guys safely unloaded my bike at the pier. Gave them 100rs extra as “Bakshish”.
Off to Porbandar…
These guys stopped me in middle of the road and told me to shoot a small video so that they will get on it. They were fans of Moto vloggers.
I still had to ride almost 100kms.

After reaching Dwarka, I was in double mind whether to continue till Porbandar (my stay there was fixed) or to stay in Dwarka as it was pitch dark. After going through early morning experience, I didn’t want to take 2nd risk in less that 24 hrs. But, Milan’s big brother assured me that the roads were good and hopefully “these” big animals ceased to exist on this stretch. Also, Dwarka was very expensive.

So, Porbandar was done and I still had 1.5 hrs of riding to do.

Stopped in the middle to change my GoPro Battery.

There was almost Zero to Nil traffic on the Dwarka to Porbandar stretch. I almost did non-stop and reached around 9:30 pm.

In the city of Porbandar, where Mahatma Gandhiji was born.
Milan’s big brother Sunil. We had good memories during Milan’s wedding back here in 2017.

We had dinner after I got freshened up. It was the largest fish platter I ever had in dinner. Almost 5 types of fish. After a long day and being a sea food lover, it was like heaven while having a dinner. That evening was the longest time till date on the table as the fish kept on coming even though I refused. Sunil was way too generous while serving. I thanked Milan’s mom for preparing such a lovely and tasty dinner.

Sitting on the sofa, we chatted about the things and the journey and in that time Milan’s dad too came and the discussion went further.

Fish Fish and more Fish for dinner.

Late night, we went to Porbandar chowpatty to move our bodies after the heavy lunch. Due to covid restrictions, the chowpatty looked deserted and it was closed. Spending some time there, we return via a longer route and back towards home.

I was tired and I was on the road for more than 18 hours. And on top of that, tomorrow also I was going to start my day early and with that, I slept around midnight.

Tomorrow I was planning to head towards Bhavnagar with no sight seeing in between.

Land of Gods | Uttarakhand’18 | Epilogue

A few days later I got a call from friend belonging to the shipping company that the bike had reached my city and that I should go and collect it. After my office hours, I reached the place in Bhiwandi which is around 40kms from my place. At the desired location, I had to wait for sometime till someone at the office got free and paid heed to my request. It was pitch dark outside by now and finally we went to the shed where my bike was kept.

The person opened the shutter and turned ON the lights. Visibility was still low. The person showed me around the bike and with what I could see in the dimly lit room, that the bike was not in good condition. My heart beat was racing!

Upon close inspection, I inferred that the bike must have been fallen down either during the transport or when the bike was being unloaded from the truck. The packaging was damaged as I recollected the original packaging prior to it getting shipped from Delhi. The spare stepney which was tied along with the bike was removed and kept aside. The room was so dark that I had to use my mobile torch. The main battery terminals were disconnected and the wires we pulled off from the joints. At many places dents could be seen. Handlebar was moving too and fro and gear shifter lever was bent.

I went in total shock. I had to get my bike up and running at get it home at any cost. I managed to somehow make the connections on the battery. Thanks to one guy nearby who lend me an insulation tape to fix the cable joints. The speed of the work was very slow due to poor visibility. I tried to argue with the office guy but he said he too was helpless and didn’t know what had caused the problem at first.

I spent around 2 hrs. fixing my bike and finally it was in a condition to go home. I was totally pissed off with my friend for handling the bike in such a way. It was not at all a professional work done by them. I had trusted them solely on the basis that he was my friend’s friend and belonged to the same motorcycle club. The assurance what he had given me earlier totally went down the drain.

Delivery challan of my bike. I clearly wrote a note saying “Received in Damaged Condition”.

I took the delivery receipt and blasted off from that place. Riding a few kilometers, I noticed some rubbing sound coming from my rear tyre. I took my bike on the side of the road and upon inspection, I saw that the rear swing arm was bent and as a result the tyre was rubbing against one side of swing arm. This made me even more mad and right at that place, I phoned the friend and gave him left and right. But, what shocked me even more was that his casual approach towards the condition of my bike and said that this was normal kind of damage. He did not even apologize at first for his mistake, leave alone the taking responsibility part. This really enraged me. I told him clearly over the phone that “does this look like a normal damage to you “where one even can’t start the bike!

Battery terminal uprooted…
Clutch lever gone for a toss…
Headlamp cover plate bent…
Big dent of my fuel tank…
Big Dent on exhaust cover plate…
Brake Lever also bent…
Gear Shifter foot peg bent as well as the gear shifter lever…
Saree guard foot rest bent. This is really heavy metal. I was left wondering as to how much would have been the impact which resulted into bending of this…
Rear Indicator lights broken…
My Number plate also bent…
The rear tyre touching to one side of swing arm…
See the handlebar condition…
Their Business card says scratch free transportation. What an irony!

I had to drive in 2nd gear to reach home safe. I was not able to shift up due to the lever being bent. I guess, it took me around 2 hrs to reach home.

The very next morning, I called my friend again to tell the story but, it was the same reply from his side. ” This is normal damage”. It was useless speaking further to him and after many heated arguments, I hung up the call.

In the afternoon, I went to service centre to show the condition of my bike for which they gave me a 40K repair estimate! Even after sending that estimate to my friend, he kept mum and did not paid attention. He was taking undue advantage of the situation since he was far away from me.

Finally, it was covered under warranty and I had to pay 2K from my pocket to close the deal and ready the bike once again for touring! Claim settlement took time but I had no any other option.

The Royal Enfield made an estimate amounting to 40K for the repairs…

The trip ended on a good note but seeing this much damage on the bike really made me cry. It was like someone had intentionally damaged the bike. What made me even more sad was that the other fellow was not ready to apologize for the things he had done, leave alone paying for the damages. I even took the battle to FB and other social media, spreading his name and company’s doings and telling all my biker friends to not to deal with him in future.

Sending your bike through roadways is always tricky and at risk but in this case, it was total lapse of responsibility. Maybe, I thought that the journey had ended and so, them knowing this, had shown total lack of care while handling my bike.

It’s always better to drive yourself up to the destination but for people like us, who don’t get much holidays owing to a job, this is the only option to cut down on unnecessary travel days.

Last but not the least, I would like to say that things like this are a part of the journey and we have to deal with it and move on. Only thing you can take back with you are the experiences and lesson’s learnt and apply them in future so that you don’t make the same mistakes.

Uttarakhand was and will always remain beautiful! It a request to you to please visit this beautiful and less crowded state once in your lifetime!

See you soon on the road!


Land of Gods | Uttarakhand’18 | Day 23 | Haridwar – Delhi

Today was the last day of my trip. I woke up with great excitement knowing that I was finally going home. At the same time, I was equally sad as I was leaving such a place behind. Uttrakhand is truly beautiful and somehow I was happy and relieved that I had covered most of the places in this one mega trip of mine. This state should be visited at least once in a lifetime. If you leave the pilgrimage sites (most of them are closed in winters), there are a plethora of places you can enjoy during winters.

The distance for today was not much. I was heading back to Delhi, the very same place the trip had begun 23 days back. I had a flight to catch the next morning to Mumbai. But before I could catch a flight, I had to ship my bike via road in a safe and secure manner.

After having a cup of hot tea, I left the place. It was pretty cold in the morning and so I had prepared accordingly. Upon exiting Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh greeted me with Fog. There was fog everywhere which really made the visibility poor. Luckily, there wasn’t much traffic on the highway. The fog made the Sun look like a Moon and with no heat penetrating the atmosphere, temperatures remained low and this affected my driving. The intense cold was biting my fingers on both the hands and making the riding unbearable. I had to stop immediately and look for shops selling tea.

Foggy weather..

It was still early morning and the shops were not yet opened fully. At the same time, I could not go ahead as my fingers were completely numb and in pain. I had to request the owner to make a hot cup of tea for myself. As soon as the fingers touched the hot surface of the glass, it was an instant relief. Instead of immediately drinking it, I held the cup with my hands for quite some time till the fingers and my nervous system responded that I should let go of it. Tea was accompanied with some biscuits!

The weather pretty much remained the same till noon. I was nearing Delhi and with that, I started coordinating with my friend for arranging to ship my bike via truck to Delhi. He ran a transport company, the very same guy who had shipped my bike from Mumbai to Delhi in the first. I was supposed to go to Mahipalpur area where the shipping company was located. I reached the place around 3pm after going through a lot of trouble. The place was difficult to find with google maps. This whole fuss was created because the friend whom I’d supposed to meet was in another city.

I met with another guy at the place who noted down all the details of the bike and me and after filling the transportation form, I and my bike parted ways. The bike supposedly would leave the next morning just like me. I re-shuffled my luggage and took only the necessary things along with me as I was going by flight. The guy also lent his washroom so that I could get fresh.

At the bike shipping place…

I had to spend a night here in Delhi and with that, I phoned my closest friends there. Initially, I had planned to book a hotel for me but later came to know that I could use some help with my friends living here. Help came immediately. Dr. Mohan Charan to my rescue. He stays not far away from the place I was in currently. After a brief call, we met at a pre-decided place near some mall after which we all went to his cousin’s place where I would be staying.

Later in the evening, we went outside for a dinner. I thanked Mohan for the warm hospitality and bid him good night. My flight was early morning around 5 am and so I wanted to crash on the bed and get as much sleep as possible.

The time was 23:30 hrs by the time I went to sleep after placing an alarm.

Back Home…

Land of Gods | Uttarakhand’18 | Day 22 | Haridwar

Woke up to a fresh winter morning here in Haridwar, the pilgrimage city. I was ready in no time and keeping all the necessary stuff with me walked out of the hotel. I had a complete day for exploring around Haridwar. Ditching the bike this time, I thought of exploring the streets with my feets.

My hotel in Haridwar. This is the best and the most economical and at the same time, clean and shiny. You will find this on google maps.
The city gradually preparing for a busy day ahead…
There was a certain amount of chill in the air.

The first thing which I wanted to do was to visit the “Ghats” and take a good look at the river “Ganga” and just sit there contemplating for quite some time. I put on the google maps to find the shortest route to the river. It was just a 5 min walk.

The river was massive. It was voluminous and flowing steady. I could see some people taking bath in the holy river at this time. The Sun had come up nicely and the rays were hitting my eyes strongly after getting reflected from the surface of the water. I stayed there for brief period of time admiring the river and the peaceful surroundings, took some photos and then decided to head to the market for exploring.

A panoramic view of the river…The shot is ruined though.
A short video of the Ganga river
Exploring the markets…
The famous Basal Sweets where I savored some sweet delicacies which became my breakfast.
Sweet Rabdi.
Exploring around. Found this roadside stall selling antique coins. I am not a numismatic person though.

I had some home shopping to do and apart from that I did not find anything particular which I could buy from the markets. After a whole day of zig-zagging the narrow streets of Haridwar, I bought myself a faux leather jacket and for home, I bought the Bronze metal eating dishes and bowls. Now, eating in these dishes is considered to be extremely healthy as per the old Hindu traditions. The metal was 1500rs a kilogram and I bought around 6 plates and bowls each which weighed nearly closed to 8 kilograms! This was zeroed in after visiting many shops and enquiring about the rates. There were lot of shops where some fakes were being sold. I had to be extremely careful while choosing the right one. There is a unique test which has to be done to find whether one is original or not. Upon striking the metal object, the sound should reverberate for a long time. This confirms that the metal is pure and not fake.

I had to make at least 2 trips back to the hotel to keep all my stuff. I was soo engrossed in all the activities that I did not notice how the time went by and soon it started to get dark. My lunch had consisted of eating some random stuff from the street hawkers.

I was now prepared for the final part. The evening Ganga aarti which is said to be at least a one time watch. Though, there is always quarrel between Rishikesh and Haridwar as to whose’s aarti is better. But, since I had stayed in Rishikesh during the start of my trip, it was going to be this place where I was going to witness this event.

After getting ready from my hotel, I stopped a cart puller on the way and asked him to drop me at the “Ghat” where this aarti happens. While moving, I could see, like me, many other people were heading towards the same direction. It was like home team fans going to the stadium to watch their home team play!

The whole Haridwar had arrived here to witness the aarti. Seeing the gathered crowd, I thought that I had come a little late to miss the front seating portion. I crossed over to the other side of the river via an over-bridge and stood there facing the Aarti. In no time, the Aarti started which lasted for a good 15 minutes. It was really an uplifting and enchanting experience. The air smelt heavily of the burning incense and smoke.

The evening Aarti in progress.
A video of the Aarti.
Crowd dispersing after the Aarti.

Once the Aarti was over, I too retraced my steps back to the hotel for the last time. I was damn tired by the amount of walking done by me the whole day. It was time for a good bath and relaxation followed by good dinner. My time here in Haridwar was closing in soon and tomorrow I would be heading back towards Delhi, officially marking the end of my trip and catch a flight back to Mumbai day after tomorrow.

I was soo relieved that I was finally going home and also quite sad as my mega trip had come to and end.

Land of Gods | Uttarakhand’18 | Day 21 | Devprayag – Haridwar

I was back to this beautiful and historical place again. This is birthplace of the mightiest and the most sacred river “Ganga” and flows down after the confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers.

I had reserved the first half for exploring around Devprayag and in the next half, I would be starting my ride towards Haridwar, the last place on my Uttarakhand trip.

This is what the Wikipedia has to say:

Devprayag” means “Godly Confluence” in Sanskrit. As per Hindu scriptures, Devprayag is the sacred event of merging two visible heavenly rivers, Alakananda and Bhagirathi, to form the holy Ganga. Its believed that a third river, the mythical Saraswati river is underground and meets these two rivers at the confluence.”

I woke up early considering I had limited time here to spend. In no time, I got ready and was eager to check the place. It was cold but not that shivering kind of. On the ground floor, I stumbled upon a new friend who helped me by telling me what all things were there to explore here. To my surprise, these all places were even painted in serial number wise on one of the hotel’s wall. Seeing so many places to visit, which I hardly knew before, a single day was also not enough to explore all of them. But, I had come here only for one particular reason, to see the formation of ‘Ganga’ river with my naked eyes and up close. I wanted to witness this event and see its birthplace. The river goes a long way in the history of India.

The morning view from my balcony…

A long flight of stairs from the main road lead me to towards its tip and here I was, right at the confluence. It was really a beautiful sight to see, the mixing of two rivers. I collected some ‘Ganga Jal’ to be taken back home. Also, I was feeding the fishes here which were visible and eager to eat the ‘wheat dough’ balls which the pilgrim/devotees/tourists were throwing at them. Right now, I was the only one doing this activity. This was told to me by my friend and I too thought of doing the same. The two rivers supposedly had its own fishes and I fed them separately, as told to me by my friend. No one catches these fishes as they are believed to be sacred. The friend had also told me to look out for one particular fish that wore the ‘Golden’ nose ring. This fish was again introduced in the water after the ring was put. He had told me that If I ever spotted that one, it would bring good luck to me. I searched carefully among the swarm of fishes gathered in front of my eyes, but could not spot it. At last, the food which I had prepared for the fishes was over and I left the place taking one last good look at it. There is also a stone nearby that bears the footprints of Lord Ram. Don’t forget to see it while climbing your way back.

One with the river. The left river is ‘Alaknanda’ and the right one is ‘Bhagirathi’.
The fast flowing ‘Bhagirathi’ river…
The slow but voluminous ‘Alaknanda’ river.
Sorry for spelling out incorrect names of the rivers…This is the ‘Bhagirathi’ river..
This is the ‘Alaknanda’ river..

I came back on the main road after ascending the same stairs through which I had gone down. Breakfast was yet to be done and so I had some light snacks along with tea at one of the hotels which was adjacent to the main road and above which my hotel could be seen.

After the breakfast was done, I headed to the Astronomical Observatory, which was situated on the hill opposite to my hotel. The very same friend had suggested me this place as a must visit. To kindle my curiosity he’d told me that the observatory housed India’s first news paper dating back to pre-independence period. This news was enough to get me going.

The view of Devprayag atop from one of the mountains…
The Observatory….
“Bhagvad Gita” written in circular fashion.
One of the old copies of India’s pre-independence newspaper…

The observatory was indeed a Gold Mine. There were a lot of old books and documents there. The caretaker was a wonderful person and even offered me tea and biscuits and made me feel at home. He left for me for observing around. I spent some good 30 mins there before deciding to give farewell to the museum and to the person. It should be put on the must-visit list for persons coming into Devprayag.

On my way back to the hotel…
I completed my 65000kms on odo…

After the packing was done, It was time to say a final goodbye to the city of Devprayag. I had really enjoyed my time here and it was a really uplifting experience for me especially after seeing the formation of the Ganga river. I would be following the river along my tracks to Haridwar, one of the most crowded cities in terms of influx of pilgrims to worship the mother river. After having my lunch here in Devprayag, I head off towards Haridwar.

It was my 2nd time driving on this route and by now I was pretty well versed with it. There was medium sized traffic and by the time I reached Rishikesh, I could hear the evening prayers being offered at the banks of the river. The soothing sounds of the ringing bells was really soothing to the ears. I stopped to take a photograph and then moved on. On my way, I could see the beautifully lit “Laxman Zhula” bridge to my left.

Evening view of Rishikesh.

My hotel stay in Haridwar was already finalized. When Bimal ji bade us goodbye during the trip and were on the return journey, they have stayed at this particular hotel which they liked a lot. And hence, they send me the directions and name to the very same hotel in which direction I was moving now. Upon entering Haridwar, I could see pilgrims more than local people. Monks walking alongside the roads. The air there was different. I could immediately sense that I was in a holy place. The place where pilgrims from all around the world come to worship the life-giving river “Ganga”.

Upon arriving at the hotel, they quickly recognized me as Bimal ji’s friend and even gave me the same room number where Bimal ji had stayed. The room rate was finalized at 500rs per night. After all the luggage was moved into my room, it was time for good shower and dinner.

I slept early since I was going to start my day early tomorrow. I had a full and final day reserved only for exploring and shopping in Haridwar. The last day of my Tour of Uttarakhand had finally arrived.

My hotel stay details are as above..

Land of Gods | Uttarakhand’18 | Day 20 | Ukhimath – Devprayag

I was excited by the thought that I was going to be in Devprayag by the end of the day. The journey was not long as I had to drive only 160 kms. But, in the back of my mind I knew that it would take me a whole day to reach since I was going to take a detour from the main road and visit Kartik Swami temple which was little off.

While researching for places to visit in Uttarakhand during my planning stage, I had stumbled upon this temple situated high on the mountains with a beautiful backdrop of snow covered mountains. The photo of this temple shown on google was enough for me to include this place in my to do list of places to visit in Uttarakhand. And here I was, who would be visiting this place soon and experiencing its aura and charm and its beautiful location.

The hotel details…

I started around from my “Dharmashala” around 9 am after having only a cup of tea. I thought of having breakfast on the way in order to save time. Unknowingly, it has been observed that a lot of time is wasted if we have breakfast at the same hotel where one stays while checking out of the hotel. So, its better to get the things moving and stop on the way for a quick breakfast.

The road condition were the same I had encountered before. Narrow and occasionally broken asphalt and at some places road widening work going on. The weather was good. The sun had come up, the skies were clear and there was cold still lurking in the atmosphere.

After around riding for an hour, I took a left from the main road and the road led me through villages nestled beautifully behind the cover of forests. The road track was also narrower. It was this road which was going to lead me to the base of trek point to the “Kartik Swami Temple”. Along the way, I stopped at one of the small restaurants in one of the village for a quick breakfast. I had a bun along with tea and also ate some freshly prepared “Jalebis”.

Within no time, I was at the entrance gate of the trek starting point. It was similar to one like the Chopta trek, the only difference being that the former one was shorter, somewhere around 2 kms and devoid of any black ice, since it was located at a much lower level as compared to Chopta. But still, 2kms was not at all by any means a short trek.

Just like before, I offloaded all the luggage at one small restaurant situated right beside the entry gate and carried only the necessary gear. Like Chopta, I didn’t have to pay a single penny for entering inside. Also, hardly, I could see anyone going up with me and I was alone during the entire duration of trek which passed mostly through a dense cover of forest. I could say it was a medium level trek which really did not test my stamina.

On my way to the top…

Finally, the temple was reached by climbing somewhere around 100 steps. The only steps I encountered during the entire route. The temple was situated at the end of a long path right after the last stairs ended. And I, really could not control my emotions flowing out. The same feeling when I’d reached the Tungnath temple. Beyond the temple, there was nothing but a vertical deep drop. A ring of mountains encircled the mountains in perspective view. This time also, it was bad luck that the clear view of the mountains could not be seen as the clouds had blocked them. But, at that moment and time, I felt like time had just paused and everything felt just perfect. There wasn’t any electronic sound to be heard till miles. The feeling was something which made me feel like I was at the highest point on the earth and I could almost touch the skies with my outstretched hand.

Starting the climb…
Panoramic view of the temple. Just have a look at the backdrop…
Finally reaching the temple….
Info about the temple…

After praying my respects to the temple and standing there for few moments, I started my downward journey. I was not particularly happy about the way the things were littered along the walking path. Especially, plastic waste lying around. So, I collected plastic bags and bottles in a large bag as much as I could till I reached the parking lot where I dumped all the trash. I felt really disgusted by the thought that how could somebody litter such peaceful and beautiful place especially, when it was not their home.

Look at the waste..

I had Maggie and a hot cup of tea before I set my foot on bike and headed towards in the direction of Devprayag. I started around 3 pm and reached Devprayag just before it got dark. The road experience was OK and I could maintain a normal speed.

I wanted to have a hotel where I could see the confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river forming Ganga clearly through my balcony. At my first stop while entering Devprayag, I noticed a 4 storey building to my right. At first, it didn’t seem to me like a hotel and looked more of a student hostel. But, I was wrong. Upon entering the gate though a steep incline and asking around for the owner, a person standing in the parking open space pointed out to me that it was indeed a hotel on a budget and mainly built for pilgrims arriving for short duration. I again felt lucky this time, to find a decent hotel right at the first shot itself.

I met with the owner and settled the price. The price was 500 bucks for stay with other expenses chargeable. I got room on 3rd floor from where the view was perfect. Perfect, so that I could comfortably take a photo of it. Just the thing I wanted. The room boy helped me to shift all my luggage to my room. It was really a uphill task especially after the trek I had endured a few hours back.

After getting myself fresh and relaxed, I went to the market place to buy some toiletries for me following which I had dinner at my room itself. I’d planned to shoot night timelapse from my balcony but, since it being a common balcony, there was fear of someone tripping because of my tripod which would have been a disaster not for the tripod but for my camera. Citing the fear, I backed off. I clicked some pics of the confluence which really came out beautiful in the dark.

Confluence photo…The river going towards left corner is Ganga.

Since the day had ended for me after the dinner, It was time for a good sleep. Tomorrow, I would be exploring Devprayag, the owner, when we’d met later in the evening had vowed to help me with the things around and after that I would be heading to my last destination which would be Haridwar. The journey was nearing its end.