Monday, March 8, 2010


A long time ago someone told us that life is a journey... We took it to heart and chose the Royal Enfield as our mode of travel. People who are students/professionals by day and road fanatics by night! Nurturing this hobby of ours got us spending a good amount of time with the dusky, curvy lady we love, often referred to as the highway. One of such road trips worth mentioning was our ride to Nepal!


The following blog owes its credit to Bhupi (writeup, numbers, details), Navnit (photography) and Prashant (photography)

4 Riders, 4 Bikes, 6000kms, 5 Indian States, 2 Countries, 1 Helluva Ri

Four different characters set out on a journey, a journey to satiate their perennial biker's itch. With no laid rules or plans but just a dream of a mesmerizing riding experience on the mystic roads of Nepal, saddled up on an early chilly morning on the Mumbai -Agra Highway. Before we start, a brief character description about the riders for readers who haven't met us.

Prashant: The most experienced person in terms of age, he is 32 for cry not loud! He took care of all the monetary hisaab on the ride. He got pissed on lil things which involved the 3 of us and our habit of getting off schedule. Loves truck-walas, keeps honking behind them. The only guy who was successful in opening most of the nuts he tried his hands on. Was in the lead most of the time and indeed did a great job. Oh, and he got a better currency exchange rate through his senior citizen account :)

Navnit: The most experienced guy on roads. His experience did show up whether it was selecting the route, taking a short cut, sleeping on dhabas, we all took his words and did not regret. At night he would be found cuddling to his Road Atlas calculating distances and finding new ways. And in case it didnt work out, he would be call up his girl friend, direct her to navigate web sites inorder to find distances or make her pay his bills online. Even he loves truck walas and is soon going to marry one. Loves taking pics in photogenic angles and was infactuated with me and bhupi during the ride. Brilliant photographer! Feel to free to donate towards his Nikon DSLR fundraiser :)

Bhushan: The most unprepared rider on the trip. I had no clues of the roads, routes distances, plans. Even the spares I carried were copied from Kunal's list, I mean who the hell copies from Kunal! This was my first long ride and thats why the inexperience :) You will find me in almost all the pics. Rode without specs, Again! :) The only mechanical activity that I could do was apply grease. At the end of the ride Bhupi thought that I was the star of the ride! [now what do I say... :)]

Bhupesh: After having a bad experience with this bike in Leh, he just wanted to complete the ride without a break down. Kept praying for it and was in the drag most of the time. He said it was great being in drag where he could actually enjoy the surroundings and 'apparently' all the hot chicks passing by :)
He wears a wig and has a fake moustache :)
Great rider! Ripping the throttle on the streets of Lucknow with him was some old fashioned fun!

The initial route plan:
Mumbai - Sendhwa ~ 460 km
Sendhwa - Sanchi ~ 400 kmSanchi - Lucknow ~ 450 km
Lucknow - Rupandehi (Indian side) - Nepalganj(Nepal Side) ~ 140 km

To enter Nepal there are about 5 entry exit points as below:
1) Kakrbhitta through Siliguri, Darjeeling
2) Birgunj through Raxaul(Indian Town) for Patna and Calcutta
3) Nautanwa(Indian Town) Sanuali Border through Gorakhpur
4) Rupandehi(Indian Town) to NepalGanj through Lucknow
5) MahendraNagar-Banbasa(Indian Town) 250kms from Delhi

Day1: With Indore as today's halt, we set off from Thane with Appu and Sudhir to see us off at 6 am. Since it was early in the morning we covered up a good distance. Halted a few km’s before Nashik to answer the nature’s call, and we got our first Kodak moment. Navnit had left a few traces of the call on his shoes and pants, and when asked he replied, 'Maa c***ane gaya!, main jaldi mein tha...' We clicked some CLOSE up pics of his, and moved on. Reached Nashik by 8.10am Had breakfast, a heavy one. The stretch from Mumbai to Nashik was under way to become a four lane highway so a good number of diversions and bumpy roads greeted us. Post Nashik till Dhule the road was a delight, a kick ass four laned highway. Enroute we found a beautiful lake , with a little off roading and we started preparing for the line up pics. Clicked a good number of pics and moved on. Just as we left Bhupi's front wheel started shaking a bit as if the front tyre was punctured but that wasn’t the case. We did a lot of RnD with the front Disc Brake thinking that might be the cause for the wheel to jam. After wasting a good hour or so we decided we will move ahead slowly to Malegaon and search for a mechanic.

Reaching Malegaon we found a mechanic and the issue was identified with his front wheel bearing, changed them and got moving . Just as we were about to leave, we realised we were surrounded by layers of local people. With a Riding jacket, knee pads and funky helmets we were definitely a part of a movie crew, probably Dhoom - 2 at that point of time. People kept throwing questions at us and soon we became celebrities of the town in no time.After all the limelight, we finally left Malegaon. Since we were behind schedule, we ripped our engines to reached Dhule and covered 122 kms within 1.30 hrs. Around 5. 30 we decided to have lunch since we still had around 250 kms to Indore. With a real heavy lunch and beer to wash it down, we knew we would be really sleepy on roads.

As soon as we entered M.P we could make out the difference. The roads on this side were in a real bad shape, bumpy with a good number of potholes. The traffic was equally bad. A few 120 km before Indore, Navnit started to have a bad back ache and we decided to ride back to the nearest town Sendhwa as the pit stop for the day. Got a room where Navnit dozed off . We just had around 400+ km to cover to reach Sanchi the next day and so we decided we could afford to down a bottle of Old monk on this really chilly night.
Day2: First Day of riding is always tiring , no wonder we got up around 9. With not much to cover we were at ease. What we didn't consider was the quality of M.P roads. After a heavy break fast we left sendhwa by 12. On the way we came across a few ghats, wherein the understanding between the truck drivers almost killed us. On the ghats on every turn suddenly the traffic switched lanes. On the bends all the trucks climbing up would drive on the right side (American Ishtyle) and those descending down would drive on their right side and we kept fumbling between them trying to grasp this sudden change. But it was indeed thoughtful so that the heavy trucks climbing up could have more turning area. Making note of this we moved ahead roads which were getting bad to worse. Just a day on MP Roads and the damage had been done. Navnit lost his horn, I lost my rear number plate, rear guard, tail light, speedo meter, etc. As if this was not enough on the way at some village while we were over taking a bus, someone threw a stale banana out of the window and as usual I was the choosen one. Luckily it was my jacket which took the LOAD. On the way prashant kept playing with the trucks, he somehow derives pleasure by honking behind the trucks, just one such incident when he was indulged in this self pleasure of his, and the truck driver was in no mood to give him a side, he threw himself off the road to over take from the left and since it was a single road and oncoming traffic from the opposite side he almost got himself run over by the truck! Post a few verbal exchanges, we moved ahead. Just before Bhopal we met this guy on his red electra and as any another excited bulleter he opened his entire riding life in front of us. He suggested that we should fill our tanks at a company owned pump ahead. Little did we know he that would be waiting at the pump for us, again, for another session of verbal diarrhea! We filled our tanks and got to know that we were the first customers to pay the pump using a credit card as they had just installed the system.Just attached was a Dhabha and we decided to have lunch and do a non stop Sanchi. Seeing the bullet wala again at the dhabha we 3 rushed to the washrooms on the pretext of freshening up, leaving Navnit to get verbally assaulted. Finally the guy left and we started feasting... the food was really great and low on budget. It was almost 6 post this heavy lunch and we were all geared up. The only point of discussion was to empty our stomach here itself or on the way. Just then Navnit decided he can’t go ahead and rushed to the washroom. Another round of smokes got me and Bhupi searching for an empty pot. After such a heavy lunch this was indeed a heavy shitting session, where Bhupi kept telling jokes to entertain us during the prolonged session. After all this heavy firing we were feeling light and committed to reach Sanchi non stop.On the way to Bhopal Bhupi and Navnit stopped to pick up Navnit’s horn. Just then two cops stopped us, and it seemed we were on their radar since the last 5 check posts and we didnt stop at all. There were some conflicts going on between the locals because of which it was not advisable to travel in dark and luckily for us we had crossed the section without really knowing the issue. Post a basic questionnaire they asked us to leave.At around 10 we took a break near the Bhopal by pass since it was becoming chilly and the Gudaan Garam courtesy me, came to rescue. On the dhabha we met an NRI guy who kept asking questions why we do such things, what pleasure we derive, is someone paying for our trips etc. Now in most of such situations Prashant use to be our PR agent and the rest of us would sulk down with our fags and tea while Prashant would answer calmly and patiently if that was not enough he would even have questions of his own. After a grueling session he was convinced that we were up to something really great, wished us luck and left. Finally by 12 we reached Sanchi with most of the hotels shut and after a good one hour search we finally got rooms and dozed of. The plan for tomorrow was to explore Sanchi get small welding work done and leave for Khajuraho by afternoon ,which was another 300 odd kms.

Day3:We got up by 8 30 a.m. and left around 10 to visit the Sanchi Stupas. A really beautiful well maintained structure with greenery around. The place is really peaceful and of historic importance. We had images, of our school history text books' cover pages that had Ashoka pillar and Stupa entrances, in our minds and kept matching them with those in front of us. The carvings were amazing with stories attached to every structure. The museum was equally enchanting. On the way back Prashant met a Sri Lankan monk and as usual he struck a conversation , got to know how he was related to Sanchi and stuff. Moving on we completed minor repair works after the roller coaster on M.P roads. Post lunch we moved on by 2. Roads till Vidisha were great. On one of the city turns Prashant fell off cause his rear tyre gave away, nothing serious though. From Vidisha till Rahatgad the roads were a nightmare we could hardly manage a top speed of 15 forget about the avg speed. Just before Rahatgad a dusky beauty welcomes you and it’s a pleasure riding her especially after the nightmare. Just then we spotted some beautiful fields and off we went capturing the moments on our lenses. By now I was the one with maximum damage and that gave Bhupi another reason to send across his daily Bhushan update. While we were just gearing up to leave for Sagar, Navneet observed one side of the saddle bag was torn and ofcourse the bag belonged to me. Every one wore their analytical cap and started coming up with reasons that could result in the bag tearing at the sides. The one conclusion that we all had was it could be because of the friction between the saddle bag and the shockers. We did a few modifications and moved ahead and reached Sagar in no time, with the only agenda being a tank up.It seemed as if the population explosion had started at this place and then spread to other parts of India and China. There were human beings all over the place, infact I dont even remember seeing so many at the same time before. Slowly and steadily we maneuvered to finally reach a pump, where we were treated as royalty. We were offered tea and water to freshen up. Winding up quickly we left only to loose our way. With help from a couple of local bikers we finally made it out of the city. Post Sagar the roads again posing issues, riding was really dangerous on such bumpy roads. After a good couple of hours of struggle we took a much needed tea break. Never really loved Parle biscuits more than on that day, they were life savers for me. One of the few observations I made on M.P roads, most of the vehicles had these disco headlights that kept changing colours, pretty irritating. Moved ahead, and as darkness engulfed the road, we with our xenon swords kept tearing the black backdrop. Some 60 odd km away from khajuraho we stopped for another tea break since it was damn cold! Had piping hot tawa parathas and tea. At the dhabha met a person called “Pankaj Shourie” who kept eating through our ears on each and every topic in the universe. He promised that he will get us rum at this odd hour and we needed it especially since it was getting really late and chilly. We kept following him, he used to frequently stop in between to have pan, but our new friend also sponsored a few smokes for us! On one of the crossings he asked us to wait while him and Navnit would go and get the booze. While Prashant and the this guy's brother discussed everything about each others families, Bhupi and me smoked to glory contemplating how Navnit was the right guy to be killed in middle of nowhere. After a long wait Navnit returned with the prized catch. Without discussing much we left, and only later did we come to know the case of “Pankaj Shourie”. Something that I would let Navnit speak of. We reached Khajuraho around 11.40pm. We were really tired after all the bumps we had taken on the roads. We stopped at the first hotel we saw and the rooms were complete honey moon suite types with comfortable beds and red drapes. After freshening ourselves, we started our much awaited daaru session. The interesting part of the session was 'Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle' and 'Scary Movie' on UTV Bindaas and that too in hindi! The dialogues dubbed in hindi were really hilarious with the following two tying up for first place.


Day4: Today was to explore the Khajuraho Temples and the much heard about sexual sculptures! After a heavy breakfast and few line up shots of our chrome machines, we started our expedition of the Temples. Temples at Khajuraho are divided in to four regions in accordance to the four directions. We had decided we would pay a visit to the Western group of temples inorder to capture the much talked about Kamasutra sculptures. The carving at the temples were vivacious! We spent a good couple of hours at the temple marveling at the colossal architecture. The enclosure is well maintained and very peaceful. We bought pocket Kamasutra books and some key chains as souvenirs :)There are good hotels surrounding the temple, serving mouth watering international cuisines. We preferred having Indian food on top a tree house, with an astounding view of the temples, the sunset and the local 'Godfather' beer. We spent the evening exploring the market for some classy artistic local work. After a worthwhile day spent at Khajuraho with a haircut, shave and a much need massage at the local barber, we slept around 12 after chalking out our plan for the rest of the ride.

Day5: We had around 550 km to cover today in order to reach Gorakhpur and keeping that in mind we started at around 6:30am. If pitch darkness was not enough, we had our first encounter with fog and to add to that we had the dipping temperatures. We started off really slow only to pick up our speeds post sunrise. Soon we entered U.P. If roads in M.P were worst U.P was a nightmare. We could hardly cover up to 20 km in an hour. We stopped for a quick samosa chai break and started looking for other alternate routes. After oodles of time being spent staring at the road guide, we decided to take up a state highway assuming that it would be much better in shape and would have less traffic. Thankfully we were accurate with our predictions and the state highway was marvellous with proper banking and fresh tar. We hit the highway with a couple of hours behind schedule and entered Kanpur where it was fun maneuvering in the city traffic. By 5.00pm we reached the outskirts of the city and witnessed our second breakdown. Prashant had a tyre puncture and we decided to repair it all by ourselves. With several mistakes and a lot of time wasted (close to over 4 hours) we did fix the tyre and got ourselves completely off schedule.

With random people doing weird antics, as weird as halting in the middle of the highway getting down, running towards us and then clicking a pic of a road sign next to us which read."I love you darling... but not so fast!" to people trying to check their mobile network on the divider, we were entertained for every second of those 4 hours. My only mechanical activity of applying grease took place here :)

With multiple discussions over dinner and the dhaba owners warning us about the 'loot-maar' issue on the highway, we decided we would instead go to lucknow and enter Nepal from Rupandehi. Had we entered through Gorakhpur Kathmandu would been very close, but from Rupandehi it was a good 600kms. We tought its better to ride on better roads in Nepal than waste more time on our U.P. roads. We reached Lucknow by around midnight, found a room, ensured safe parking of our bikes and crashed with a plan of leaving as early as possible, hopefull by 5:00am

Day6: Our plan for today was to reach Khatmandu which was a good 800kms from where we were. Apparently I was the only guy who woke up at 5:00. We started from lucknow by 9 with around 200 km to reach the Nepal border, which we eventually reached by 3pm. I got a rear number plate made for myself just incase the border authorities would require it. Indians do not require any passport to enter Nepal, all you need to get are permits for the number of days you plan to stay at Nepal, also called as ''Bhansal'' for which you need to pay.

The custom officers on our side with their pot bellies hanging out, acted as if riders coming from Maharashtra to Nepal was a regular deal and without much hesitation gave us a clearance. Once you walk on the no mans land and enter Nepal, the army officials on their side have a smart blue colour camouflaged uniform and to our surprise even female officers at the checkpost.

Our fancy vulgar keychains and Bhupi's pocket Kamasutra were held back by the Nepal aurthorities stating 'Idhar ke log yeh sab nahi samjhenge'. I mean come on... doesnt your country's economy run on Alcohol, Prostitution, Casino's, Alcohol, Prostitution, Alcohol, Tourism, Prostitution, Alcohol, etc!

You need to get temporary number plates for your vehicles. You can get your currency converted at the border or there are several places where you can get it done. Actually you dont need to get it converted since Indian Currency is used freely in Nepal. We converted a few for safety & souvenirs :)

On the Indian side you need to declare your belongings and some other paperwork. Within an hour we completed all the formalities and we were in Nepal. It was already 6 and Kathmandu was still some 600 km away. We decided to stay at Nepal Gaunj (first town on Nepal side) and with my bargaining skills at best, we got two luxorious rooms for a total of Rs.300 for the night. A bowl of delicious thukpa saw an end to this day. What is thukpa?? GOOGLE IT :)

Day7: Today was the day when we would finally ride on the Mahendra Nagar Highway which Bhupi kept talking about. The fog and cold made me wear an innerwear, 2 T-shirts, double jeans, double socks, my riding jacket, and a rain coat on top of it. The riding temperature was below 5 degrees and the fog cleared off by the time we reached the Mahendra Nagar Highway. We were really excited and the highway did not let us down. The highway is a two lane road with not a single pothole. The best single lane highway I've ever ridden on! The highway passes through beautiful landscapes encompassing the gigantic Himalayas, curvy rivulets along with dense and vivid jungles. The traffic on the highway is very less and highly disciplined, with vehicles following proper highway signaling. You feel safe while riding/driving out there.The road to Kathmandu gets you on to a ride of ~200 km of ghats, with some 'out of the world' scenes to marvel at. Its like your between two mountains and there is a river flowing between them. After crossing a few checkposts and overtaking India registered tourist buses and cars, we finally reached Kathmandu at 1am and decided to stay at 'Thamel' which is touted as the Las Vegas of Nepal.

Finding a budget room here was like a never ending task! With autowallahs trying to sell alcohol, hashish, prostitutes, cheap cigarettes, dance bars, massage parlours, etc we managed to seek a kickass room for a decent amount. When Bhupi and me paid the advance and steped out of the hotel, we saw a bunch of Nepali guys standing outside in a group. They were talking amongst each other and from no where, this one guy gave a kung-fu style kick to the other guy. Bhupi and me shat in our pants and quickened our pace towards Navnit and Prashant. With the advance being paid we had no option but to stay in that hotel. Luckily the hotel was very nice, and those were just random guys who had no relation to the hotel :)

Day8: We had planned on visiting the Tibet border for bungee jumping but we had to cancel it due to bad weather. We spent the whole day exploring Thamel and we were not disappointed a bit. We shopped for some great jackets, shoes, customized bikers t-shirts, etc. You really need to bargain with these guys, and you must shop from the shops whch are a bit in the interior, cuz the guys outside pay a heavy rent and hence price their products almost twice. By evening we did realize why Thamel is touted as the Las Vegas of Nepal. Every nook and corner has 24hr Casinos, dance clubs, Cafes with live bands performing serving almost all international cuisines. We submerged ourselves in this euphoria called Thamel andhad the most lavish dinner of our ride tonight. With a plan to reach Pokhara the next day we slept with a heavy stomach :)

Day9: We left around 9 and had some 300 km of ghats to reach Pokhara., which everyone in Thamel said has breathtaking views. Taming the curvy roads we realized what we had missed the other day while we entered Kathmandu through these ghats during the night.
The views were enchanting and we kept halting for photos capturing vibrant pastures, mountains, villages, all that we could take back as memories of this beautiful part of the world.
Every small settlement/restaurant/dhaba etc serves alcohol. Its hard to find medicines but no matter where you are in Nepal, you are never too far from alcohol.
While the others were having tea I thought of giving a shot to the local lemon flavoured beer called Jolly Shandy. It tasted of mountain dew and probably had a hint of beer in it. After a few sips I thought tea was a better option only to realise that the others left their tea thinking the lemon flavoured beer was a better option. So wasting 4 bottles of Jolly Shandy and 4 cups of weird tasting tea, we set off towards Pokhra.
After an enchanting ride we reached Pokhara by around 5.30, just missing the sunset. Pokhara Lake offers breath taking sights of the Himalayas, and other mountain ranges and sunsets have a dazzling effect on the lake and the mountains. Clicking few pics we decided to move post our dinner as we were supposed to reach Bhutwal the very day. We chose a small restaurant next to the lake which had a huge board stating tandoori chicken but only daal, rice and 2 vegetables to offer. It was really late when we left and we had lonely ghats with some 200 kms to travel. After a few 20 odd kms we decided it would be risky if we had a breakdown or weird wild wacky drunk Nepalis unleashed their wrath upon us :) We returned to Pokhara.
We started looking for budget rooms, and Prashant and me waited while Bhupi and Navnit set of on Navnits bike to search for a hotel. Meanwhile Prashant and me had a tough time dealing with drunk Nepalis randomly throwing stones at a Western Union Money Transfer glow sign and another drunk old woman who thought my bike belonged to her. At such times all you can do is act as if you've got everything in control and such things are a normal sight. All you know they might know some Kung-Fu or some ancient martial art and try using it on you in their inebriated state!

It took these guys a good 2 hours to return, with neither of them answering their phone. They had met this drunk police officer who wanted us to stay in his hotel and had taken them to some place interior. He ate through their ears talking about how much he loves Indians, and also said, "I HAVE TWO CAMELS IN RAJASTHAN... SINCE BOTH ARE MALE, I NAMED THEM LUCKY!" Don't ask us for a reason/explanation... dint the man make it clear enough... both were male so he named them lucky!

Both of them lost their way while returning and a dog sleeping on the road made them realise that they needed to turn right from the dog since they had passed him earlier... God bless the dog for not moving around!We ended up staying at a hotel right across the road where Prashant and me waited for over two hours. We got a four bed occupancy room which was like Rs.350, YAY!Looking at the political conditions in Nepal we decided we would make an exit from Bhutwal to Gorakhpur giving the rest of the Mahendra Nagar Highway a miss.


Day10: Today was our last day in Nepal and we made sure we clicked everything on our way. Frankly we were tired of the country for weird reasons, and just wanted to return to India. We missed the potholes and bad roads, and this overdose of goodness was now kind of irritating :) Clicking a zillion snaps today, we reached Sanuali by 5.30. We crossed the border by 5.30 itself with no checking on the Indian Side. We had planned to reach as close to Agra as possible even if it involved riding untill early morning. Gorakhpur was some 90 km from the border and also our point to grab a quick dinner. Hunting for a place to eat, we finally settled at a very small eatery.

Minutes after we settled down, cops on motorbikes came looking for us. We were four Maharshtra registered bikes in the middle of U.P. , a day before the Republic Day with us clad in all that protective gear of ours, we were probably the only four suspects who were planning to blow off Gorakhpur! With a check of all our ID's the cops came at ease. We now had like a 20 odd people suggesting 20 different routes to go to Agra.

We were advised not to ride through the night since there was a lot of checking due to the Republic day. We decided that we would stay at Gorakhpur and do a non stop to Agra the other day.

Day11: We had around 800 km to cover to reach Agra. It was Republic Day and patriotism was in the air. With the Tiranga on our bikes we zipped through UP villages witnessing the celebrations that still go on even after years of being a Republic country. Riding on this special day was ecstatic. We reached the GT road near Varanasi by 5 in the evening. We were determined to reach Agra and kept high speeds on this 4 lane highway. We lost a good amount of time in Allahabad city traffic. With cups of tea to keep us awake we kept zipping on the tarmac even after we crossed Kanpur by midnight. Just as we crossed Kanpur we were struck by dense fog. It was getting colder and the visibility was also declining exponentially. Hoping that things would improve, we moved ahead slowly. But the weather got bad to worse and we made a halt at a small roadside dhabha and decided to sleep for sometime and wait for the fog to clear off.

Day12: With a couple of hours of sleep, we started our ride by 7 and covered the remaining distance really quick. By afternoon we had our first view of the Taj Mahal and it was worth all the pain we took the previous night. The structure looked mesmerizingly colossal. We got a room and some much needed sleep while our bikes were getting serviced. Evening was spent roaming around the Taj Mahal and feasting on some delicious Chat items.

Day13: The first sight of Taj Mahal and we started clicking all we could. No words can describe the passion, the splendor, the effort behind this wonder of the world. We were so enchanted by the beauty of the monument that we wanted our bikes along with the Taj Mahal to be captured on lens.
Spending a good hour or so around Taj Mahal, we finally found a place where we could get our bikes and the monument in one frame. After the photo shoot we left for Jaipur. Riding on Rajasthan roads was pleasant as ever.

Day14: I met good'ol friend Rahul who had already booked a room for us and was waiting with a bottle of good'ol Old Monk! :) The plan was to explore Jaipur and indulge in the Royal experience the city has to offer. We indulged in the local cuisine, clicking pics around the forts and the royal structures. We also visited the Rang De Basanti fort :) By evening we left for Ajmer, again we kept falling in love with the roads and the food of Rajasthan.

Day15: Today was a puncture day. Just after taking the blessings of Ajmer Sharif as we saddled up we realized we had a puncture in one of the bikes. The plan was to reach Sambhar lake and ride on the dry, sandy surface of the lake. We had to struggle a lot to reach the lake with wrong directions, riding on railway tracks for couple of hours, with multiple punctures. The spectacle called Sambhar lake we had ahead of us was just worth it. We clicked few of our most amazing pics here. On our way back to Ajmer we decided to raid sambhar once more for an elongated photo session.

Day16: We couldn't believe that we were riding 200 km just to click photos, but that was the beauty of the place. After clicking to our heart contents we decided that we would do a non stop to Mumbai.

We had a late Lunch by 6 and started the Climax of our epic ride, covering approximately 1200 km in 26 hours with just 3 hours of sleep. Midway Prashant had an engine seize near Udaipur and stayed back to sned his bike through Gati. We reached Mumbai 1.p.m after spending the whole day riding only to find our fellow bikers from the group to cheer us back home. We slept after a story telling and photo sharing session, trying to engulf the feeling that we had completed the ride on time. Prashant reached a day after.

It was one wicked ride, with almost 7 hrs spent in the ajmer - sambhar - ajmer(200kms, with a huge photo shoot) stint, it was almost 1200kms in approx 28hrs...riding through tonnes of diversions in Gujrat, we finally reached fountain by 1am

Summing it up:
Riders: Bhupesh Tripathi, Bhushan Dhade, Navnit Lekshminarayanan & Prashant Pandey
Rides: 2 RE Machismo 500cc, 1 RE Thunderbird 350cc and 1 RE Electra 350cc
Total days:16
Total distance covered: ~6000kms+
Route:Mumbai - Indore - Sanchi - Khajuraho - Kanpur - Lucknow - Nepalganj - Khatmandu - Gorakhpur - Agra - Jaipur - Ajmer - Udaipur - Ahmedabad - Surat - Daman - Mumbai!
Breakdowns: Seized Engine, Several punctures, chain sprocket, battery issues, wiring issues, etc
Ride featured in the August'10 issue of BIKE - India
Please Note:
All images used in this blog are original, unedited and sole property of the author.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Not being able to ride long distances for the next 2 years came like a shock, and by the time it hit us we were already very late. Navnit and me are students from Mumbai studying Engineering and Management respectively, and it was our commitment to our final year and job the year after that made this ride possible.

So like mice in a maze we ran helter skelter browsing through the map, searching for a ride, a ride which would be cheap on budget and rich on experience. Small rides in and around Maharashtra just din't hit the spot and it was Rajasthan bang on, for the two of us.

Inspite of the 45 degree heat, it was this unique feeling which this state had left in the two of us when we were returning from our ride to Nepal and had passed through it. Both of us being photography fanatics, we had decided back then to ride back to this state once again just for photography!

We had very few days on hand, lots of permissions from home, college and office to take, 2 riders, 2 Machismo 500's and 1 tent. 12th June 2009, was decided as the departure date, keeping the time of depart still tentative. Bikes serviced, accessories loaded, we were super excited!

Unfortunately a day before the ride, at 04.00am it rained in Mumbai for the first time and there was oil all over the roads. I skid on the road at 40kmph, with my bike zipping past me, and me on the road. With minor bruises and absolutely no damage to the bike (thanks to the army crash guard and ladakh carrier) I was in total riding condition, until I realised I had broken my specs. With a power of 3.75 in the right and 4.25 in the left, objects beyond 300mts seemed hazy and with opticians not ready to give me spectacles within a day, I had to ride without them...

(do have a look at the video, it was real pain uploading it :D)
The Plan:
We kept it plain and simple, considering that we wanted it to be a short ride.
  • Indo-Pak border
  • Camping in the desert
  • Going berserk with the camera

We chose Jaisalmer as our primary destination which is centrally located to the border as well as the desert. There are two routes to go to the border from Jaisalmer, one being Longewala and the other being Tanot. Tanot has a temple belonging to Goddess 'Tanot' and is 16 kms away from the border, while Longewala is 8kms away from no man's land and has a tank which was captured in the 1971 war. So we decided on going to Longewala.

The Route:
Mumbai - Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad - Tharad - Sanchor - Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer - Jodhpur - Jaipur
Jaipur - Mumbai

Day 1, 12th June 2009, Friday:
With last minute purchases and checks I set off from my place at 04.00pm, to meet Navnit. Our good'ol friend Kaustubh was the only one who had come to see us off, since the others were busy in office at this odd hourly depart. With a few smokes and clicks, Navnit and me set off on our journey.

Time: 06.00pm
Location: Fountain Hotel
Speedo Reading: 5340kms

We rode till 03.00am and halted at 'Sangam Guest House' on the Baroda-Ahmedabad Highway. Rooms available @ Rs.300, with a complimentary blocked toilet. Wanting to get out of the place ASAP made us leave at 09.00 am.

Day 2, 13th June 2009, Saturday:
With a breakfast of buttered bread and sugared tea, we set off from Gujrat at 10.30am with an aim of reaching Jaisalmer the same day, no matter what.

With around 700kms to cover, extremely hot climate and a nearly blind guy, we were being quite optimistic :)

Ripping our machines at a constant speed of 100-105kmph at 42 degrees we were able to enter the Rajasthan border through 'Sanchor' by 04.00pm. The maximum we could ride without halting was 90 kms because the heat made us stop for water time and again.

Halfway through our ride for the day, we decided to halt for lunch at 'Apna Dhaba - A venture by Bharat Petroleum.' The moment we stopped, we got a call from our friend Debu asking, ''why have you guys stopped?'' and we started wondering ''Saala isko kaise malum!?'' That's when it struck us that Navnit had kept his GPS tracker on, and that's how Debu could track our speed, our location, the direction we were heading, and all the cool info one would like to know!

Setting off after lunch at 06.00pm, we reached 'Barmer' by 09.00pm. With tea, few smokes, a million villagers staring at us in awe and being asked whether we were Rajput/Jaat/ or some other North Indian clan, we set off for Jaisalmer.

10 odd kilometres from Barmer, and Navnit's headlight conked off! Replacing it with the spare bulb, we set off. But again after another 20 odd kms, his head lamp bid good bye. Navnit realised that his head lamp switch was at fault, and not the bulb. So the only solution was to keep holding the passing light and riding... which used to give way at times due to finger slips or gear changes.

So now we are riding at night, sand all over the place, heavy winds blowing, wild animals crossing, a nearly blind guy leading the road and then we have the second guy riding blind as well, thanks to no headlamp at times. Suddenly the ''Blind leading the Blind'' phrase made a lot sense :)

All said and done, we reached Jaisalmer by 12.30am, with hotel guides flocking us from all sides. Tired of the heat, we took an air conditioned room @ Rs.600 for 24 hours.

700kms+ were covered on this day.

Day 3, 13th June 2009, Sunday:
Today was chilled out, we went to the BSF (Border Security Force) headquarters to seek permission for entering the checkpost from 'Longewala' so that we could get a glimpse of the Tanks captured in the 1971 war and have a quick lookie at the border as well, but it being a Sunday today, we could not.

An awesome lunch which I had longed for, we ate at probably the only place serving non-veg. in Jaisalmer. 'Hotel Milan' famous for its butter chicken, is a must try!

By evening we headed for 'Sam Village' where the sand dunes are at. It is situated at a distance of 48kms from Jaisalmer and is 40kms away from the border. We did the bookings for a camel safari, dinner, breakfast for the following day and a traditional folk dance at the desert itself. With piles of sand on the roads, wild camels around in the open, we enjoyed manoeuvring on the roads.
On our way to the desert, we decided on halting at an 'Angrezi Sharab ki Dukaan' and treating ourselves with chilled beer to beat the heat, which was scorching a few moments ago, but pleasant, soon after a few sips. We were overjoyed to have 'Bullet' beer, which did taste great!

We reached the sand dunes and met a Mr. Ali Baba who was out fix for the safari, dinner, etc. We started our safari on two camels named 'Hrithik Roshan' and 'Michael Jackson.' Stuck in awe, we went beserk with our camera and clicked a million pictures of locales where movies like 'border, kacche dhaage, soldier, sarfarosh, L.O.C, etc.' were shot at. There are ripples on the sands, sands which are virgin with no foot marks at all, and that's when you feel yelling out 'screw you Middle-East, we've got better sand dunes! :D'

After the safari, we headed for the folk dance and dinner. With 3 singers, and 2 dancers, it was pretty neat! The best part of the ride, pitching a tent bang in the middle of the sand dunes was yet to come! So after our dinner we headed back to the sand dunes, and after finding a suitable track for our bikes we made the most bold attempt of the ride :D

In head lamp light at 12.00am we pitched our tent and made sure that the dozens of insects and bugs around us, did not enter inside. Once inside the tent, we started cursing each other for the idea. It was pitch dark, there was absolutely no air blowing at all and we were sweating like pigs with a million insects around us!

Ignoring each other, we went to sleep but were woken up by a focus light in the sky at 2.00am. It was the moon which was so bright that we could see our shadows! Soon after, heavy winds started blowing. The winds were so heavy that the tent was grounded only because of the two of us. With sand coming in, we had to sit wearing helmets. Listening to songs like 'chaandani raatein' it was almost 5.00am and the winds just kept getting stronger. That's when we decided, screw the sleep let's get the hell outta here! And the moment we got up to wind things up, the winds almost like stopped! This camping was one wild and wicked experience which I'll cherish forever!

By 06.00am, with the tent neatly packed, luggage back on the bikes, we set off for a photo session alongwith tea. After having breakfast, we set off for Jaisalmer once again. The climate was pleasant and it was more like a photographer's paradise out there.

Day 4, 14th June 2009, Monday:
We booked the same room in the same hotel, but this time for Rs. 500. I crashed to sleep, while Navnit said he wanted to try his luck at the BSF office. When I woke up after 4 hours, I found an exhausted Navnit entering the room with rejection on his face. Inspite of all the probing and efforts made by Navnit, we were denied an entry to the border. With long faces, we set off for lunch by 03.30 pm.

Ordering for food, we thought of atleast going towards the border and taking a u-turn from where the restricted area begins. Sipping on fresh lime soda, we could hear the doors and windows banging due to heavy winds. Considering it as heavy winds we started feasting on the lunch. Pretty soon, the place around us turned RED in colour, literally! Winds kept blowing the strongest ever and in a matter of few minutes, THERE WAS COMPLETE DARKNESS! People were roaming around with torches and the two of us were shit scared to step out. Dust all over the food, we were totally freaked! It was pitch dark, at 04.00pm in Jaisalmer on this very day for a matter of 4 odd minutes and then it started turning red again. That's when the two of us mustered courage and stepped out of the hotel to see if our bikes were still on the main stand, or gone with the wind! The whole sky was BROWN and there was sand spread out in the sky which had blocked the sun completely for those four minutes.

Soon it started raining, and this was the first time in two years, that it had rained in Jaisalmer (as said by the locals)

Deciding on sticking to our plan we went back to the hotel, got our windcheaters and set off! It was divine riding after the storm since the sky was grey, there was scattered sun light, pleasant climate and windmills on either sides of the road!

We rode until we reached 'Ramgarh' from where a left turn takes you to the Longewala border which is at 43kms. The roads around here were well maintained by BRO (Border Roads Organisation). After a round of water, we set off for Longewala. This was one of the best places to ride, since due to rains, the sand had settled down, the air was clean, and the sun was soon about to set. Open roads, stretching for miles together with barren dessert on both sides!

I'm sure you might have heard and experienced blind turns, but here there were no blind turns, there were blind spots on a straight patch of road! The roads used to start inclining upwards, and once you are at the apex, you are completely blinded as to where the road beyond is! You ride a few inches ahead and then you see that there is a steep fall in the road and once again that road stretched until eternity!

It was a brilliant experience, one which I feel each rider must experience in his lifetime! We kept riding and reached the Longewala checkpost by 7.00pm. The BSF guards were very friendly and gave us water to drink and chatted with us for a while. It was a completely different feeling being there, mesmerised by the history of that place and having a talk with men because of whom we sleep safe back home. There are no lights allowed at the border and it's heartening to see these men with a smile on their face, and proud of their duty!

Our friends tracking us on the GPS could see that we were very close to the border. With a heavy heart we set off for Jaisalmer and this time we could not ride over 60 kmph since the roads were totally blinding. We reached 'Ramgarh' by 10.00 pm and Jaisalmer by 1.00am. We did'nt have dinner that day, since all the action this day had bought to us had totally filled the spot!

Day 5, 15th June 2009, Tuesday:
We woke up by 11.00pm and with everything in our plan accomplished, we had two extra days remaining. So we decided on visiting my friend Rahul, who stays in Jaipur.

Jaisalmer - Jodhpur - Jaipur is a total distance of 650kms. We decided on getting Navnit's head lamp switch fixed and found a local garage called 'Punjab Auto Garage.' The guy there fixed Navnit's switch, tightened the chain, did the oiling greasing etc, and refrained from taking any money for the work. Instead he offered us ice cool rose sharbat.

Both of us were surprised that 'aise bhi log hote hain!' Having the most expensive lunch of the trip, and satisfied by the ride we set off for Jaipur at 02.00pm, planning to reach Jaipur the same day by 01.00am. The optimistic us, as usual! The climate turned as if it were to rain, and soon a light drizzle began, making the ride all the more divine! Sun shining, roads tempting and cool wind blowing!

Today we spotted like our millionth peacock and 11th crow. Riding with my modular helmet open, enjoying the breeze, I hit my brakes the moment I saw something crawl on the road. I was a bit late but I tried my best, and a HUGE MONITOR LIZZARD had succumbed to death under my front tyre. It was 4 feet in length, huge, heavy and massive! Out came the camera and the victim was captured!

Our second halt happened when Navnit accidentally burnt his mobile charger which was hanging on the head of his engine. A release of pressure and a quick download on the highway, we were free men ;)

Out came a can of black paint spray, and we started showing our artistic skills on the sand. But soon this fun activity came to halt as soon as we saw a sand storm at a distance. We ran to our rides and started wearing our gear, but by the time we put on our helmets, the gushing winds had already reached us! We left the place with a screech, with the sand storm following us. We could see it in the rear view, and that kept us ripping our machines for the next 15 minutes.

But as fate had it, the roads turned such that even after ripping for 20 kms, we had to enter the storm and could do nothing about it. This storm was much smaller than the one we had witnessed earlier. But this one bought gushing winds and rains with it! So now were riding drenched, winds so strong that our bikes are swaying, and the road is full of water... Riding at 50kmph, we decided to halt in Jodhpur for the night, and leave for Jaipur the other day.

Day 6, 16th June 2009, Wednesday:
Getting up at 9.00am we wore our shoes which were still drenched in water, and set off for Jaipur by 11.00pm. Determined to have lunch in Jaipur we did not halt. The traffic on the Jodhpur - Ajmer highway can get a bit frustrating after riding on open roads for the past few days. We reached Jaipur by 4.00pm and following the directions given by Rahul, we reached his friends place. Soon beer flowed in and we were at ease. All of a sudden it struck the two of us that we were yet to have our lunch. So Rahul, Navnit, Rahul's friend and me, set off for 'Daana Pani' an awesome restaurant.

Navnit and me decided on giving our bikes rest, and got on as pillions on a '1978 Std Bullet' and a CBZ extreme :D Exchanging pleasantries and jogging down the memory lane over rum and coke, we dozed off by 12.00am.

Day 7, 17th June 2009, Thursday:
The next day we set off for Mumbai at 7.00am. Soon I started having a severe back ache, and decided upon staying back in Ajmer, while Navnit would continue on his journey. But after a few tablets down, I thought of continuing the ride.

20kms before Udaipur it started raining again, but this time, I felt as if someone was pelting stones at me. Soon I was totally taken aback to see ICE CUBES on the road! I actually lifted a piece to be sure whether it was actually ice in the middle of a desert!

Having lunch at the Rajasthan side of the border, we entered Gujrat where it was fun romancing the ghats, a four lane road and light showers of rains ;D

We were familiar with this road since this was the same route we had ridden on, while returning from Nepal.

Soon came Ahmedabad by 8.00pm and the rains grew worse, with even worse lightening. We halted at a lodge on the highway and decided it's wiser to ride at 90kmph in the day light with no rains, than 30kmph at night getting drenched.

Day 8, 18th June 2009, Friday:
Deciding on not wasting further time, we got up at 6.00am and saddled up by 6.30am. In the process of doing the normal ritual of idling the bike, Navnit noticed that his battery was not responding. Now to those who are not aware, this guy has put in a 24volt battery and gotten a special bracket welded for it. So getting this high volt battery charged would eat up more than just a few hours! But luckily after a few checks here and there, it was just a small wiring issue which got fixed in half an hour. So we left by 7.00am with 500kms to cover.

Half way through, I could hear my chain squeaking. But I thought of ignoring it and heading further... until I heard 4-5 chain pulls and decided on checking it out. I had broken 8 teeth of my sprocket and my chain was hanging loose :D After having a tough time with opening the nuts and bolts we finally managed to tighten it up a bit, and move on with the broken sprocket. This activity by itself had taken more than an hour.

Having lunch at 4.00pm, we were 200kms away from Bombay. The truck traffic from daman really got to us, and as my friend Vighnesh rightly puts it, 'slow trucks being over taken by slower trucks' thus blocking the both the lanes!

With all the hue and cry, we reached Fountain Hotel at 6.00pm, and were overjoyed by this great sense of achievement! What a ride! The odometer reading back at fountain was 8823.

We faced extreme heat, heavy rains, hail storm, sand storm, killed a monitor lizard, rode with both riders nearly blind, met our men at the border, rode on amazing highways...

At the end of the ride both of us did 'SALUTE THE MACHISMO 500' for all the tension and torture borne by it. Constant ripping at speeds of 100kmph in an extremely hot climate, and not a drop of oil leaked!

'Sand Storm, Rain Storm, Hail Storm... one successful Operation Desert Storm!'

And I'm sure after this ride, the two of us can be officially declared as 'RIDERS OF THE STORM! ' ;)

Summing it up:
Riders: Bhushan Dhade & Navnit Lekshminarayanan
Rides: Royal Enfield Machismo 500cc
Total days: 8
Total distance covered: 3483kms
Mumbai - Baroda - Ahmedabad - Tharad - Sanchor - Jaisalmer - Sam - Longewala - Jaisalmer - Jodhpur - Jaipur - Ahmedabad - Mumbai
Breakdowns: 8 Sprocket teeth and minor wiring issues

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Ride Featured in the September Issue of BIKE - India

Please Note: All images used in this blog are original, unedited and sole property of the author.