Back in May 2019, when I was having a chaotic personal time; marriage tortures at home, banks chasing me for credit card and EMI dues, office year-end pressures plus a stray dog had bitten me and I was taking Anti-Rabies vaccine! All happening at the same time. I was craving to hit the road on my Warrior, a break to escape all the chaos that was happening around me. I wanted to pin the throttle to a place free from cellular networks.
Late Thursday evening; Sudheer asked me if we could ride to Coorg for an overnighter that coming weekend. Sudheer spoke to one of his friend’s homestay and booked it for us. I agreed and started packing. I was excited to get back on touring mode after a long gap of 6 months apart from the short day rides.
Day 01: 18th May 2019 (Saturday)
Both of us were on time at Parle Toll Plaza early morning, paired our intercoms over a quick chai and started riding towards Kunigal on the Hassan Highway. The most common road to Coorg is via Mysore, which we always skip and take the Hassan road.
Sudheer wanted to open his bike’s throttle and zoomed off, my Gixxer wouldn’t catch-up with the Triumph; so I was at cruising speeds, enjoying the early morning weather and listening to music.
We took a deviation at Channarayapatna and towards Hole Narsipura. After a railway crossing at Hole Narsipura, we had some tender coconut and continued towards Arkalgud and towards Shanivarsanthe. The roads from Shanivarsanthe were twisties surrounded by Coffee estates on both sides and barely any vehicular movements.
We stopped at Somwarpete to withdraw some cash and to buy some holy water; OMR and some Beers off-course 😊. Sudheer had been to the homestay earlier and he knew the route and I tailed him throughout.
A detour after the Somwarpete bus stand and the roads were very narrow single laned curves. Somewhere in the middle, I noticed a board that read 55 kilometers to Kukke Subrahmanya, and I asked Sudheer on the intercom, does this deviation go to Kukke via Bisle ghats, he said; “Yes, but shut up and follow me”.
We reached the homestay, to our surprise, the caretaker of the homestay mentioned; they weren’t aware of booking for that weekend. Probably some miscommunication between the owner and the caretaker.
The caretaker had 2 dogs in their cowshed. I was playing with them without any fear of getting bitten again. Sudheer told the caretaker; we will rest here for a while, visit Malalli falls later in the evening and return to Somwarpete for the night’s stay.
I didn’t break my head for the miscommunication between the owner and the caretaker nor did Sudheer. We just chilled out with some beers and chips, sitting in the homestay’s verandah and rested for a while in one of the rooms.
After a good sleep for an hour or two, we woke up and rode to Malalli falls which is less than 5 km from the homestay. It was peak summer and the falls had dried up, we still took the steps to the base.
We climbed back to the parking area and had some bread omelet at one of the stall there. We were super hungry and ate whatever food the stall owner served.
Sudheer mentioned a private mini waterfall nearby, we decided to check it out and surprisingly there was a tiny stream flowing through the stones. We had a gala time playing in the tiny stream fall.
I go crazy when I see the water. I stood beneath the waterfall, it felt like a jacuzzi, natural body massage. It was a much-needed peaceful timeout amidst greenery as the tiny stream was surrounded by giant trees. New folks wouldn’t be able to find this beauty easily!
We reached back the homestay, geared up and came back to Somwarpete and checked into Oyo Rooms.
We walked inside the town in search of a hotel for dinner and it started raining heavily. While running on the road, my slippers tore and I ran barefoot until we found a footwear shop nearby, bought a pair and continued looking out for a hotel for dinner.
We found a small hotel open behind the bus stand and got in. We had some food and walked to our hotel. We were exhausted, drenched and the holy Monk hit us bad. We don’t remember what shit we spoke on our way back to the hotel room. We just crashed into bed.
Day 02: 19th May 2019 (Sunday)
We woke up at around 9 am. A quick shower and we walked towards the bus-stand to have our breakfast. We found a small hotel that served local Coorg style breakfast.
I really wanted to visit Kukke temple and also ride the Bisle Ghats. Sudheer wasn’t keen on another adventure, so he said he will return to Kunigal and be at his inlaws place if your interested go for it. So I said, I will go visit Kukke and meet you at Hotel Empire, Kunigal.
Sudheer mentioned about a place Honnamana Kere, which was close by to Somwarpete. We visited this small lake and took a few pics.
Sudheer took the route to Kunigal, and I headed towards Kukke. The initial stretch of the roads was ok and then it turned total off-roading. I was following the Google maps, I knew it would take me somewhere saying the shortest distance which it did. It deviated me somewhere on an under-construction road until it reached a dead end. There were cement pipes and stones laid to close the road and followed by a deep dugout.
I guess Google thought I was a Super Cross rider who would do a backflip across the ditch and land flawlessly; sorry Google!
I came back to the junction and was amused that the Google map was still showing towards the dead-end, there was another road that went straight on and I continued that way and reached the check-post of Bisle Ghat.
The ghats were super crazy off-roads and very narrow with hairpin curves passing through dense forest. The weather was cool inside the forest area. At a blind curve, there was a reckless car driver who hadn’t responded to the horn, appeared in front and didn’t leave any space for me to pass-through, I had to get off the road’s edge sliding over the mud and gravel and back on the patchy roads. That was a near miss and a fatal accident was avoided!
The ghat ended and after a few kilometers, I reached the State Highway and stopped at a roadside shop to have some sugarcane juice. I could feel the scorching hot weather of the DK district, gulped multiple glasses of sugarcane juice to quench my thirst. I was happy and excited to tame Bisle ghat, as it was the only pending item on my To-Do list of the dangerous ghats in Karnataka; having done Charmadi, Shiraadi, and Agumbe earlier.
Kukke Subrahmanya temple was another 5 km from here, the time was 1.45 pm, the shop-keeper said, the temple closes at 2 pm daily and reopens at 3.30 pm.
I parked my bike in the parking lot and dumped my bag in the luggage room and took a special darshan ticket and walked inside the temple. The queue for special darshan had very fewer people and got a quick darshan.
A much needed Chai and snacks at the hotel outside the temple fueled up at a petrol pump and reached the start point of Shiraadi ghat. It was 5.45 pm and I wanted to pass through this ghat before it was dark. I had a few near misses when I rode this ghat back in April 2017 during our return from Kannur, hence I wanted to clear this stretch before dark.
I was surprised to see this ghat had very good concrete road and clear road markings. The road was well done without any patchwork. The 27 km stretch ghat seemed like a highway, I rode non-stop until Sakleshpur and stopped for chai and hot bhajji.
The next stretch from Sakleshpur to Hassan was never completed under construction with lots of deviations. At Hassan, I took an extended pitstop over a call with Akshay who had started his Leh journey.
I reached the Hotel Empire, Kunigal at around 10 pm, Sudheer was already waiting for me there. Both of us had our dinner and rode back to Bangalore.
When I was passing through Jay Nagar, the bungee cords loosened and my bag fell off the carrier, I had no patience to tie the bungee again, took the bag on my shoulder and rode home.
It was 1.45 am as I reached home, Thanks a lot Sudheer for yet another memorable ride.
The office riding group was itching to ride and someone suggested a Ride to Mandalapatti; an off-roaders Paradise in Coorg. Rahul knew about a homestay at the foothills of Mandalpatti where we could cook our own food, sounds fun ain’t it? And thus we discussed the plan and shared the details in our WhatsApp group. Soon, we had 10 people confirmed for this trip.
Day 01: 28th Sept 2019 (Saturday)
Our usual flag-off point was the Parle Toll. I got geared up and took the outer ring road to Parle Toll, met Kowshikha (in his car) at Kathriguppe signal and we reached the flag-off point.
Sudheer and Patrick had already reached the toll plaza. A quick chai until everyone arrived and we started the ride towards Hassan Road. Thiru and Raviraj took the service road and had already reached the Nelamangala exit towards Hassan Road.
Raviraj got into Kowshikha’s car and we continued ahead. I hadn’t fueled up for the ride, so I quickly got a full tank at the HP petrol pump and joined the group. A small pitstop for chai en route and then reached Hotel Mayura at Bellur Cross.
While entering the service lane, a local on an R15 was rash riding in the wrong lane, Mohan braked hard and avoided ramming into him. The R15 rider slid off the road, fell on his face and went sliding into the bushes. His face bled since he wasn’t wearing a helmet, also had some bruises to his hands and legs.
I had my first-aid kit handy in my hydration bag and gave him some cotton and Savlon. The local accepted his mistake of recklessness and apologized. He called his friends to pick up him and the bike back to his home.
Thiru and Tarun were the last to enter the hotel compound and Thiru noticed his bike’s flat tire. The hotel’s security said; a puncture shop is right beside the hotel, the contact number is on the shop’s wall, call him and request to come early to his shop.
We spoke to him and updated about our flat tire, he said he would take some time as he stays in a far village. Till then we had our breakfast at the hotel, it was a leisured time on the breakfast table.
Patrick, Mohan, and Deepak joined only till the breakfast point and headed back to Bangalore.
Meanwhile, we kept on calling the puncture guy, he took his own sweet time to reach his shop. After waiting for 3 hours in the hotel’s parking area, the puncture guy reached his shop and called us. We towed Thiru’s heavyweight Bullet to the shop. Bullets usually have tubed tires and it took some good amount of time to remove the rear tire, replace the tube and put the tire back. The humble mechanic also got coffee for every one of us.
At around 11 am when we continued from Hotel Mayura. We took a detour at Channarayapatna and towards Hole Narsipura. From here on, the roads were broken single lanes until Kushal Nagar. We took ample pitstops for chai, fuel and some snacks until Kushal Nagar. It was 2.30 pm when we reached Kushal Nagar and we were looking for hotels for lunch. A local shop-keeper suggested having lunch at Hotel Coorg Cuisine at Madikeri.
The route from Kushal Nagar to Madikeri was through ghats and was beautiful. Every one of us kept a good pace, throttling it out at every corner. This stretch took our sleepy mood away, especially after riding on a bright sunny day and on the burning hot air on the highways.
A good lunch is what everybody wanted as we reached Madikeri town and lunch in Coorg Cuisine that served some delicious Kodagu styled food was a nice suggestion. The food was superb and delicious.
For this trip, we planned to cook our own dinner at the homestay and had to purchase all the groceries, chicken and off-course some booze so we could have a nice ice-breaking session and get to know each other well.
All the things were shopped and dumped in Kowshika’s car. Our homestay was another 20 km from Madikeri town. Somewhere in the middle of this stretch, it started drizzling and few of us handed our mobile phones to Raviraj who was in Kowshika’s car.
We reached the homestay; Green Meadows that lied at the base of Mandalapatti (the jeep parking space).
Within no time we dumped all the baggage in the homestay and set towards Kote Abbey falls, this was a small off-roader amidst the mountain. Somewhere in the middle of this terrain, Kowshika parked his car and hopped on one of our bikes.
It was past dusk as we reached Kote Abbey. I parked my bike on a small bridge, took off all my riding gears and kept them on my bike, walked down the bridge and jumped into the water.
A good relaxing time spent at the waterfalls and on our way back, it was pitch dark and no moon night. At some point, we all switched off our bike’s headlights and all screamed on top of our voices. Darshan’s bike was low on fuel and had battery issues, but could make it back till the homestay.
Upon reaching back to the homestay, our master chef Rahul got into cooking spree and assisted by Tarun, Manjeet, Darshan and Sudheer.
He cooked some yummy food and the barbeque done by Tarun and Darshan on the bonfire was like icing on the cake. A good ice-breaking session started by Thiru and followed by everyone. It was our first overnighter with our office Bikers and an ice-breaker was needed to get along with all.
A anecdote by Thiru:
“Divided by designation but united by OMR
It started out as a regular night, somehow it turned out to be a spectacular night with long & deep conversation on movies, sketching etc. coupled with delicious food
The reason behind the incredible night was that we had the perfect ice breaker
I always cling to the motto “A well-selected icebreaker makes people comfortable enough to speak up” and it holds good all the time and in our case it was spirit oriented 🙂
I was certain that the spiritual people share a common fondness “OMR” and it did a great job here by forgetting everything that was nagging us”
The party went till late in the night and all crashed into bed.
Day 02: 29th Sept 2019 (Sunday)
A few of us woke up early and walked to the nearby shop for some hot tea. Darshan and Raviraj walked further ahead to explore the forests and coffee estates and crashed into bed again.
Kishore received some emergency calls from home and planned to ride back solo. My riding gears were wet because I wore them on the wet clothes after getting out of the waterfalls the previous evening, so I kept them to dry on a chair as the weather was bright and sunny.
Rahul, our master chef cooked egg fried rice this time and post-lunch, Kishore started towards Bangalore and the rest of us started towards Mandalapatti peak.
Darshan purchased fuel from the nearby shop by paying some extra bucks and we all started on the crazy off-roading.
The initial stretch was an easy muddy trail and some broken patches uphill. We stopped at a shop before the off-road turned crazy to rocky terrain. Darshan’s bike had battery issues and had to be towed to get started and returned to homestay along with Sudheer.
Rahul, Kowshika, Tarun, Thiru, Manjeet, Raviraj and myself went ahead on the off-roader. At a point, we stopped for some photography and saw the terrain ahead. It was an adventurous steep that looked horrifying from the place we stopped.
Rahul and I had that urge to ride till the top, no matter what. Kowshika hopped as pillion on my bike and the three of us continued on the rocky terrain.
The steeps were crazy, one of the steep was roughly 60° inclined. One 4×4 jeep kept honking and irritated me to my nerves. The jeep drivers are always in a hurry to drive to the top or reach the base and catch hold of new customers.
The view from the top was bliss. Mandalapatti’s viewpoint is truly the Heavenly Abode in Karnataka. The moderate cloudy weather and the cool breeze and the valley surrounded by thick green forests and we could sight the dirt trail we took from a balcony.
We headed back to the homestay. I was shit scared on the crazy steep riding downhill as my bike’s tire threads were bald, one small slide and I would have a bad crash. Rahul’s bike had Ralco off-road tires on his Dominor, so he didn’t face any issues.
We reached back the homestay and to see all were snoring in deep slumber. It’s good that the rest of the riders got some rest.
It was 3.30 pm and we decided to gear up by 4 pm and head towards Bangalore. It was dusk during our return journey through the ghats.
We stopped for chai somewhere, and every pitstop we took, we had to tow Darshan’s bike. It was Sunday and no mechanical support available and none of the battery shops was open, so after every pitstop, his bike had to be towed to start.
After Kushal Nagar, our pace dropped, pitstops increased and there were lots of bugs hitting our helmet visors in the dark.
At 9.30 pm we reached Kunigal and stopped for dinner at the Hotel Empire; the first thing all did, gulped the mixed fruit punch.
A relaxed dinner and upon exit from the Hotel Empire, Rahul was towing Darshan’s bike, meanwhile, I was covering them with hazard blinkers, suddenly a speeding Volvo bus overtook me and missed crashing Darshan by a whisker. Luck was with us, it could have been fatal.
It was 1 am when we reached the Nelamangala toll and dispersed.
Thanks a lot, for an amazing overnighter and special thanks to Rahul and Sudheer for coordinating and executing this ride well.
After office hours, at a bakery near Kanteerava Stadium, my brother Akshay and I planned to have a crazy monsoon ride. We finalized the places; Sringeri, Kudremukha, and Horanadu. We were always enticed by the beauty of nature of the Western Ghats of Karnataka and hence these places.
Day 01: 12th Oct 2019, Saturday
Our actual plan was to start by 3.30 am from Parle Toll, but because of my office workload that stretched late Friday night, I reached my room around 2.30 am and dropped a message to Akshay; “Bhai, I will sleep till 4 am”. I wanted a power nap so I could ride peacefully.
Akshay woke me at 4.15 am, I packed my bag, freshened up and was ready to hit the road. We met at Parle Toll at around 5.15 am; a cup of tea, paired our intercoms and started riding towards Hassan Road.
We stopped for breakfast at Hotel Dhruvataare. I kept my intercom for charging at the hotel’s billing counter until we finished breakfast and filled my hydration bag.
Both of us kept on switching our intercoms from music mode to speaking over the intercom. The pleasant cloudy and foggy weather on the highway made our ride more pleasant. We managed good speeds till a toll Naka; few kilometers before Hassan and stopped for refueling at an IOC petrol pump followed by a long pitstop for tea. Akshay wanted to meet a few of his friends who were driving to Chikamagalur, hence the long pitstop, but apparently, they were very far; so, we continued towards Hassan.
We deviated towards Hassan City and then towards Belur. After Hassan, the roads are single lane twisties passing through the lush greenery on both sides of the road.
Passing through the town of Belur, we deviated towards Sringeri. The brisk single lanes with broken patches passed through coffee estates and some tea estates. It was humid, we stopped at a roadside sugar cane juice shop and had multiple glasses of juice to quench our thirst.
We took a wrong route after Balehonnur forest ghats and kept on riding until we realized, the distance to Sringeri on Google map started to increase. It was 30 odd km from Balehonnur and showed 55 km to Sringeri, this was realized only after riding some 25 km on the wrong route. Taking a U-turn and few locals guided us to the correct route to Sringeri. It was around 3 pm when we reached Sringeri.
Amshit Bhai waited for us near Sringeri Temple for the past couple of hours. All 3 of us went to a local hotel in Sringeri town for lunch. I had no proper sleep the previous night and had nausea and vomited outside the hotel and relaxed for a while on the table in the hotel.
For lunch, we had some delicious fish curry, fish fry and white rice for lunch. The bangda fish fry was very tasty.
We had booked an Oyo Room near Kudremukh. But, Amshit bhai convinced us to stay at his home near Kigga (a small village near Sringeri) and we canceled the hotel booking. So, we first planned to visit Sirimane falls near Kigga. The road from Kigga to the falls is an off-road stretch and it had rained cats and dogs. We parked our bikes at the parking lot, took the entrance tickets, dumped our helmets and riding jackets in a small shop there and walked to the base of the waterfall. There are around 100 steps to the base.
Amshith bhai told us that the money collected from the entrance fees are used to support the tiny hydraulic power station in the falls that supplies electricity to the village of Kigga.
Sirimane falls, a small waterfall looked like a mere white curtain on the big rock and surrounded by greenery all over and a viewpoint at the top. The burbling sound of the water as it hit the base and traveled between rocks felt was enchanting.
Well, it was a weekend and the good monsoon that lashed Karnataka from the past few months attracted more tourists to this place.
I stood somewhere in the middle of the steps from where I could directly see this mystic beauty, while Akshay and Amshit bhai walked further down.
From here, we rode straight to Amshit Bhai’s house that is deep inside a forest and coffee estates with yet another off-roading stretch. As we reached Amshit Bhai’s house, his Mom welcomed us with some hot and tasty coffee. Their house was nestled in between acres of coffee estates and some big trees behind their house, a lush green paddy fields in the front and mountains behind the paddy field. The view was blissful!
We dumped our luggage in the room, took a hot water shower and rode the off-roads in pitch dark till Sringeri temple. This was crazier.
It was festive season; just a couple of days after Dussehra, hence the temple sanctum was illuminated with decorative lights all over and colored focus lights hitting the stoned walls of the very famous Vidyashankara Temple that was built many centuries ago and all the decorative and illumination added to the beauty of this Temple.
We first walked to the riverbank to feed plain puffed rice (churmuri in Hindi) to the fishes in the river. But the river was flowing in full zest and no fishes seen at the river bank. Amshit bhai told, most of the time there will be lots of fishes at the river banks.
First, we walked into the newly constructed Sharada Temple to offer our prayers. We patiently sat near a pillar until the pooja was over. Next, we explore the historical Vidyashankara temple. This temple has some finest stone carvings of the Vijayanagara architecture.
Then, we visited the Adi Shankara Math which is on the other side of the river connected by a walk-over bridge. The World’s biggest Veena (an Indian Classical musical instrument) is at display here inside the Adi Shankara Math.
Note: Photography and videography are not permitted inside the main temple (both the new and the historical) or the Adi Shankara Math. The entire temple campus is cleanly maintained by the authorities and I request all the tourists not to trash their travel.
As we headed back, it started drizzling and we rushed soon. We didn’t want the off-road ride back home to turn into a slush fest, that too under pitch dark.
Upon returning to Amshit Bhai’s home, all 3 of us sat in the balcony, chit-chatting and sharing each other’s travel experiences, relishing our memories from the trip to Jog Falls in September last year and off-course partying!!
After spending a couple of hours on the balcony, we came downstairs for dinner. Amshit Bhai’s Mom had prepared some yummy food; chicken biryani and gravy served on the traditional banana leaf was a grandeur.
It was 2’o clock in the night and we crashed into bed. We did plan to ride to Kundadri Hills for sunrise but woke up late the next day.
Day 02: 13th Oct 2019, Sunday
Akshay and I woke up at around 9 am, the view from the balcony was stunning. We went for a small walk into the Paddy fields and came back, freshened up, came downstairs for breakfast. The Idly and chutney were too good. We saddled up and set towards Kundadri hills.
Thanks to Amshit Bhai’s family who hosted us for the night and special thanks to his Mom for cooking and serving some delicious Malenadu style food. Thanks a lot for your magnificent hospitality.
We bid good-bye to Amshit Bhai’s parents and then the 3 of us lead by Amshit Bhai, rode to Kundadri Hills. The road to Kundadri hills was proper single lane tarmac, twisties until the base of the hills.
A small pitstop for water and we rode that very few hairpins till the hilltop. There are very few steps from the parking lot to the main viewpoint.
The view from the top was fantastic. It was greenery all over, not a sight of dry land. Thanks to the very abundant monsoons in Karnataka this season.
We regretted not making here for Sun-rise. Hopefully next time, we will ride again with the main agenda of visiting this place would be to view the stunning sun-rise.
We descended back to the base, stopped at a shop to have some biscuits and cold-drinks. We planned to ride via the forest of Kudremukha and then hit to Horanadu. Upon reaching Sringeri, Amshith Bhai guided us with the route to go-ahead. Thanks a lot, bhai for all the wonderful hospitality.
As we crossed Sringeri town, I noticed my Intercom was loosened and came off my helmet, I just made a temporary fix and continued riding. Somewhere a few kilometers after exiting the town, we noticed a hanging bridge and made a quick stop to take some pics.
We soon reached the Kudremukha forest check-post, made our entry details and continued. The roads were good barring for the few broken patches here and there. This stretch of the ride was the most beautiful; dense forests on either side of the road, the dark clouds above us, cool breeze and the slight drizzle that made the ride mesmerizing. We wanted to ride to the Kudremukha viewpoint but skipped it because of the time crunch.
We stopped for some photography en route; at a small roadside waterfall somewhere in the middle.
Fuel on Akshay’s bike signaled low and we enquired about the next nearest fuel pump with few of the oncoming drivers. One guy told there could be a petrol pump 5 km ahead, but when we reached, the fuel pump was closed and rusted. I don’t know when was the pump operated last.
We reached the KIOCL (Kudremukha Iron Ore Company Limited) check-post and enquired with the security personnel for petrol.
The security guy said; “There is a small shop down the lane, he stocks petrol at his home and probably he can help you with fuel which can help you to ride out of this forest”
We were hungry too, so we got some biscuits and cream doughnuts to snack and I started playing with the stray dogs there.
Akshay was afraid I would get bitten by the stray dogs, I was already vaccinated with Anti-Rabies post the dog bite in May, so I told; Bhai, chillax, I ain’t scared and gave a big smile to him 😊
Meanwhile, the shopkeeper told us to directly visit the house for petrol and guided us the way to the home.
The price per liter was a shocker, Akshay paid Rs 200 for a liter of petrol and I couldn’t control my laughter. I said; “Bhai, in Ladakh, I paid Rs 130 a liter, and you are paying Rs 200 for a liter here”
We reached the forest exit check-post and I was surprised to meet Veeren there. He was driving along with his parents to Horanadu.
Reaching a small town; Kalasa, we stopped at the Hotel Prince of Kalasa for coffee. Stopped at another small river for some pictures and fuel stop at the HP Petrol pump in Kalasa and continued towards Horanadu.
Suddenly Akshay on the intercom; “Bhai, there is an old Horanadu – Sringeri route that goes to the peak of a small hill and the view is superb”, I said let’s go. Amidst reaching half-way, he said this is not the one which I was referring to, we came the wrong route. But as we descended back, we saw an off-road trail that goes somewhere and we said, let’s do some more off-roading. This off-roader was a crazy one filled only with loose gravel which was thrown for construction.
We reached some point and stopped. It was dusk and dark clouds seemed like it would rain cats and dogs. As usual, I got busy playing with a few puppies.
We slowly descended down and headed straight to Horanadu Annapoorneshwari Temple, dumped all our things in the temple’s luggage room and walked inside the temple. It was evening and the temple had very fewer pilgrims which helped us to quickly seek blessings and come out of the main temple sanctum.
At a hotel inside the temple campus, we ate Masala Dosa and Dry Poha.
Then, the wrath of the rain Gods started, it rained very heavily. Somehow, we ran till the luggage room, geared up and stood in the anticipation that the rain would stop. But it didn’t and we decided to ride in the rain. The attendant at the luggage room gave us a few plastic bags so we could keep our mobiles safe from the rainwater.
The people who saw us riding in that heavy downpour might have assumed us to be Physcos.
Within no time we were fully drenched and stopped at a roadside shop for some hot coffee. It was 7’o’clock in the evening and the distance back to Bangalore was approx. 300 km and the rain showing no signs of stopping, we continued. The small single lanes were full of water on the road and flowing at the sides of the road. We knew the sides of the roads are broken and waterlogged, we ensure we were very careful while on the corners of the ghats. Every heavy vehicle on the way splashed all the muddy water on us.
My bike’s tire pressure was very low while riding in the rain, it dropped my speed and our intercoms weren’t working too.
After riding non-stop for 4.5 hours, covering only 100 km, we reached Belur at 11.30 pm and searched for a hotel for dinner. Luckily, we found a hotel in the town and stopped over.
Few customers who sat on the table beside us were suggesting us to have some alcohol. We denied as we don’t drink and ride.
We convinced the attendant at the HP Petrol Pump to switch on the air-filling machine and get our tire pressures checked.
A big thanks to Google Map that kept rerouting and we did rounds within and around Belur. One auto driver guided us with the correct route towards Hassan.
We were fatigued and sleepy, stopped over for a quick coffee at Hotel Pathanjali after Hassan city. Somewhere near Jodighatta on the Bangalore – Hassan Highway, I heard some screeching sounds from my bike. I was hitting speeds of 100 km/h and the power suddenly dropped with white smoke was pouring out of my Warrior’s engine and my bike came to standstill.
I instantly understood that the engine had seized! Luckily, I was at the extreme left lane and no vehicles behind me. I switched on the hazard blinkers and towed it to a roadside building and dialed Akshay to inform the same and he reached back soon.
It was 2 ‘o’clock in the night and no mechanical support expected. I bent down to check the engine oil level, it seemed that the engine oil was dried up, the kick wouldn’t operate. This confirmed my horror i.e. engine seizure.
Akshay called Zoheb bhai from Art of Motorcycles and informed about the breakdown. He suggested to visit any nearby petrol pump and fill engine oil and try starting. I hopped on to Akshay’s bike and we went to an IOC PetrolPump nearby but it was closed.
I kept calling Arun Sir and Sajith Sir and none picked the call initially. I knew it was a late-night and everybody would be in deep sleep.
Then called up Naveen Bhai from Gixxer Club Bengaluru and informed him, he somehow managed to call Arun Sir and inform him. Arun Sir dialed back told, there is Suzuki Showroom and service center at Hassan, and suggested to take the bike there somehow. This is the only way out and I will ensure full repair at Hassan Suzuki.
Meanwhile, I had also called Rajesh Bhai from Highway Delite. Rajesh Bhai said he will arrange a tow vehicle and he also suggested to get back to Hassan as it was nearby from Jodighatta. He spoke to the tow vehicle owner, informed about the breakdown and passed on his contact number to me. I spoke to the driver and shared the location with him. Both Akshay and I sat at the roadside under heavy rain clouds. We were tired, cold and completely drenched.
After waiting for an hour, a Tata Ace arrived at the place and good that he had a plank, so it was easy to load the bike on the pickup truck.
The driver tied my bike with ropes and ensured it wouldn’t shake or fall on humps. Once my bike was loaded, I asked Akshay to leave as he had some urgent office work and told him I will get my bike repaired and ride back the next day.
I sat in the cabin beside the driver and told him about the trip and the breakdown on the go. A chai at the toll Naka and we reached Hassan town. The driver drove till Hotel Krishna, spoke to the hotel receptionist and said you can stay here for the night, this hotel is a decent one. The driver accepted only cash, and he drove me till the nearby ATM so I could withdraw and pay him and dropped me back to the hotel and unloaded my bike.
Thanks a lot, Rajesh Bhai from Highway Delite for all the help and support at that point in time. Special thanks to the driver too. I checked into the hotel and crashed into bed.
In case any of you are stuck nearby Hassan and looking for rescue or tow vehicles, please contact Munsur Bhai +91 7022932702 or Prashant Bhai +91 7899536344 who run the tow services jointly.
Day 03: 14th Oct 2019, Sunday
By 8 am in the morning, Sajith Sir called me, I informed him about the breakdown. He said a mechanic from Hassan Suzuki will be there within half an hour to pick your bike. Soon, Irfan Bhai (mechanic at Hassan Suzuki) called and took the hotel details and reached there quickly.
He towed my bike till Hassan Suzuki. As my bike’s engine was opened, it was confirmed about the engine seize and had to replace the full bore kit. Apparently, they didn’t have them in stock. Sajith sir and Arun Sir said they can send it from their Mysore or Bangalore showrooms respectively and both being approx. equidistance from Hassan and would take a minimum of 3 to 4 hours in bus transit. Sajith and Arun sir spoke to a lot of Suzuki showrooms which can help to deliver the bore kit at the earliest and later, he confirmed that one of their sub-dealer in Arsikere has it in stock and arranged to send it soon.
Meanwhile, I asked the mechanic to get the valve setting done, so as soon the bore kit arrives, we can quickly fix the engine.
The bore kit arrived at around 3.30 pm and the mechanic started working on the engine. Meanwhile, I dozed off in the customer lounge but kept checking the status every half an hour.
By 7.00 pm, the mechanic said, Bhai your bike is ready and said you can ride back to Bangalore now, but maintain the speeds of 50 to 60 Kmph and an rpm less than 4500.
Quickly, I rode back to the hotel and checked out and by 8.00 pm started towards Bangalore. Luckily, the skies looked clear with no signs of rain.
Riding at the speeds less than 50 to 60 Kmph on the empty four-lane highway was frustrating. My intercom wasn’t working either, so there was no music to hear and couldn’t control my sleep. Every 50 km I rode, I kept on taking pitstops for chai and splashed water to my face.
Kept humming some songs, nursery rhymes and tried all the multiplication table, square root, cube root, n numbers, Algebra, Pythagoras Theorem, and what not to only keep me awake on the highway.
Stopped at Hotel Empire at Kunigal to have my favorite fruit punch and then rode straight to my room. It was late night 2.30 when I reached home.
It was a 946 km riding pleasure exploring the Malenadu region of Karnataka and that made it a proper Monsoon ride.
Thanks a lot, to everyone who stood by me when I needed help the most.
This episode takes our journey through the Shyok Riverroute to Pangong Lake and taking the road less traveled via Man & Merak villages and to the beautiful Tso Moriri.
Day 08: July 06, 2018 (Friday)
Nubra to Pangong Lake: Approx. 200+ Km
We woke up at around 8 am as if it was a lazy Sunday. We hadn’t taken off our luggage from our bikes the previous day, we walked out of our tents to witness a bright sunny day with clear skies. Our tents were the last accommodation towards the sand dunes. We hadn’t taken a shower since the last 2 days and the first time in this trip that we said no to hot water. A quick cold water shower and nothing much to be packed, we were all geared up. Sandwiches were served for the breakfast and we were set to hit the roads.
We asked the hotel owner; “Bhai, can we ride till Siachen Base? The hotel owner replied; “No, civilians aren’t allowed to ride there. You need to be accompanied by personnel from the Armed Forces and needs special permission to visit there”
We skipped our visit to Turtuk & Thang village, which was not a good decision to do so, and regretted it later. Reaching Nubra; we still couldn’t visit the last Northernmost Village of India.
In case, any of my readers planning for Leh Ladakh circuit, ensure you spend 2 days in the valley so you can visit Turtuk and return back to Hunder.
We bid farewell to the hotel owner and as we were about to enter the main road, Atish bhai said his bike’s rear brake has a failure. A local shopkeeper there said; “Bhai aapko Diskit mei garage milega” (Bhai, You can find a garage in Diskit town) which was around 15 km from here.
We stopped to refuel at the only petrol pump at Diskit and luckily it was operational. The petrol pump had the traditional rollover numerical meter that displayed the fuel dispensed. A full tank to our machines and we reached the main market or the town center.
Atish Bhai wanted a DOT 3 or DOT4 grade oil for his bike’s rear disc brake. There was an oil lubricant shop nearby. As Atish Bhai was picking up a can of lube for his ride, I was astonished to see oil leakage around my Warrior’s engine. I didn’t want to risk the seizure of the engine in the middle of nowhere; hence decided to pick up a can of engine oil, in case I needed a top-up.
We soon reached the garage which was owned by a mechanic named Sonu Singh. The shutters of the garage were half open and his number was written on the outside walls of the garage.
BSNL was the only network that was working there, I dialed Sonu bhai, he said; he had been somewhere to repair few customer’s bikes and said he would return in an hour. It was 10:30 am and we just rested at the verandah of a building there. Sonu bhai took almost 2 hours to reach back at the garage, and as soon he was back he quickly started fixing our bikes.
Atish Bhai’s bike had a rear disc issue, the complete system had to be bled and get all the air bubbles out. This needs to be done very methodically else it will result in a soggy brake and sometimes the lever just plummets till the throttle, this is risky especially in the conditions we are riding in.
Sonu Bhai said; it would easily take an hour to do so. Phani and I quickly carpeted our blue tarpaulin inside the garage and slept for a while. Time for a powernap!!
As soon Atish Bhai’s bike was fixed, I told Sonu Bhai about the power lag issues I faced on my Warrior. I explained about the jugaad the mechanic in Leh did on my bike and how it had gone even worse after that jugaad.
Sonu Bhai had a spare 115mm main jet that he replaced in the Carburettor, the stock one was a 135mm jet. He quickly fixed my bike too.
Once our machines were ready, we saddled up all the luggage on our respective bikes and walked to the nearby grocery store to buy some chocolates and biscuits. We met 2 people from the Air Force who were also buying a few things at the shop there too, and we enquired about riding to Siachen Base Camp, and both the personnel said; you can’t ride there.
It was already past 2.00 pm when we started from here. Post the repair from Sonu Bhai, my Warrior was smooth and could climb any incline that came our way.
We came to a clearing where we could see the dry river bed of Shyok River, this was our next challenge – Riding on this very river bed!
This river was also known as the River of Death, because, in the past, this river had swept away many people and animals, this is not for the weak of heart and many travelers don’t opt to ride in this deadly stream. I don’t blame them! This was no joke!
There are a few videos of bikers trying to brave the Shyok river crossings; we excitedly waited for such sought of adventures. We soon deviated and entered the river bed and reached a small stream crossing; probably the first one in this journey of Ladakh Circuit. But, to our surprise, the water levels were drastically low, the river was dry as draught.
As we quickly crossed this small stream and continued ahead. There were tarmac roads and small bridges which were constructed by BRO. These were constructed to reduce the accidental risks of driving or riding here.
We had hit the roads with anticipation we would find dhaba or hotels en-route where we could stop for lunch, there were no hopes of finding any hotels or dhabas for another 100+ km.
It was around 5 pm in the evening where we stopped under a mountain’s shadow for a pit stop. We sat on a rock from where we could see the dry Shyok River. We were astonished and with a question, did we take the real Shyok Route which we had seen on the internet. Are we on the correct route to Pangong Lake?
We discussed; after the pit-stop let’s just keep following the road to where it takes!
We were starving, we were only surviving on the sandwiches we had for breakfast. Thanks to the Parle G biscuits and a few chocolate bars which we bought at the shop in Diskit. These biscuits and chocolates gave some relief to our growling tummies.
The ride continued in the deserted terrain, riding the brisk single lanes & no roads, over stones and loose gravel. We came across yet another water stream, an easy one again. Atish Bhai went ahead, followed by Phani. I saw a local trying to cross the stream at the same time as Phani. Since there wasn’t enough space for both; Phani stopped midway in the stream, he lost balance, slipped on the stones and fell.
I quickly parked my bike, walked towards Phani and lifted him and his bike with the support of the locals. It was cloudy and we didn’t want to get stuck in the rain here and continued the ride until we reached a small town which had many hotels. We stopped over for lunch where we had Maggie, off-course and some Momos along. It was around 6.15pm and it was broad daylight.
From here, Pangong; was another 20 or 30 km. We reached Lukung village at around 7.30 pm saw a signboard “Himank Welcomes You to Pangong Lake”
Finally, we were near our destination for the day and it was almost dusk. We missed the customary picture of the board that read the distance in kilometers to places; Lasha, Hong Kong, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Shanghai, Taipei, and Tokyo.
We missed a picture here, we don’t know how we missed it and reached the place where a lot of tents were pitched on the banks of the Pangong Lake and booked a tent named; “3 Idiots Tent Stay”
Yet again, we didn’t pay heed to unsaddle our bags from our bikes. Picking up only a few essentials, and walked into the tent and asked the hotelier to get some hot Thukpa, Aloo Paratha and Maggie for dinner and crashed for the night.
Day 09: July 07, 2018 (Saturday)
We woke up early to the mesmerizing view of Pangong Lake, also famously known as the “3 Idiots Lake”.
Its always good to visit a place rather than looking it on the television screen
The vast blue lake that huddled amidst the snow-clad mountains, the yellow scooters on the banks and the 3 Idiots Bum chair was sighted on the lakeside. And the best part; no crowd, barely less than a count of 7 to 8 including us. What more can one ask for? It was seldom solitude time.
We told the tent owner to get some buckets of hot water for bathe, but, to our irony, in the time taken by the tent owner to get the heated water from his kitchen to our rooms the water would lose its warmth, and furthermore it cooled down completely to room temperature in the time we took it to the bathroom. Hence, none of us had a bath.
Post breakfast, we walked towards the lake for some photo session.
We decided to take the direct route from Pangong Lake to Tso Moriri riding on the lakeside via Maan, Merak villages. This stretch was a complete off-road trail and hardly few bikers on this route.
At the very beginning of this terrain, my bike’s fork oil seal gave up and the fork oil started to bleed heavily and I had to ride very cautiously, that reduced my speed. I could hear the weird rattling sound from the forks.
At some point, Phani yelled over the intercom; “Maga, I fell, come soon!” I quickly rushed to the place; Phani’s bike slid on the rough terrain and he had fallen at the left edge of the road, the roads had no side railings, had he fallen half a feet more towards his left, he would have crashed into the lake. I quickly got down from the bike and assisted him to pick him and his bike. Luckily, he had no injuries and no major damages to the bike either.
We reached Merak village and bought some water bottles from a house. We only had to follow the tire tracks that were left on the sand. At a point, we saw tire tracks diverging into different directions and we had to stop to figure out the route.
The climate was prickly hot and we had no confirmed path to ride ahead. But we still continued straight hoping we would find some village or someone who could guide us to a village called Chushul.
Post some more kilometers deep in the deserted land, we found a Dump truck and asked the driver about the right direction to Chushul. The driver said, Chushul would approx. be 25 km from here and told that there is an exit on the right side of this deserted land, that would lead to Chushul.
Somewhere, the terrain changed from sand to stones and mud and as my bike’s fork oil leak had spread all over on my bike’s front disk brake, I couldn’t apply the brake near a stone and I jumped off the stone and my front wheel was at least 3 to 4 feet above the ground and the moment it landed, it slid and I had a crash.
Phani and Atish bhai were right behind me and both of them assisted me to get back on my feet. Had it not been for my riding gears, I would definitely have multiple broken bones. Hence I always preach and Follow ATGATT – All the Gears, All the time.
The setbacks on my Warrior now, a bent handlebar, a fully bent rear brake lever, and right footpeg, a bent disk brake lever and a bent front fork. We knew we won’t find any mechanical support now until Manali.
We somehow made it to Chushul and stopped at a small hotel for lunch. Maggie was the only thing available. The cooking gas here was over and the hotel guy was preparing it on a kerosene stove and 2 minutes Maggie took almost 30 minutes to prepare. Meanwhile, we just slept on the bench.
Over lunch, we asked the hotel guy about the road’s condition ahead until Tso Moriri, to which he said, there are no proper roads ahead and be prepared for another stretch of off-roads. Atish bhai negotiated and got fuel by paying some extra money to the hotelier.
The next stretch of the adventure was awaiting us. The roads were a nightmare again. After a few km, we reached the Rezang La war memorial.
After riding for another 45 minutes from here, we just stopped again in the middle of nowhere. It was 4.15 pm, we were damn exhausted, we were riding from the past 7 hours and had only covered an approx. a distance of 110 to 120 km. Our bodies were aching, we just sat on the ground, and we uttered; we will give up riding, we were that frustrated and exhausted. Atish bhai used his bike as back support and rested his head on his bike’s front mudguard; it was a much-needed break to rest.
Riding a few km from here, we saw 2 cars coming our way, I was leading ahead and stopped in the middle of the road and signaled the cars to stop. The driver said; Tso Moriri is quite far from here, another 100 odd km from here. The first question everyone asked, how are the roads ahead, the driver replied; after few km, it’s a single laned tarmac road and we continued ahead.
The moment we reached the tarmac, Phani and I spoke on the intercom, let’s get some good speeds on the tarmac and cover more km which we actually did. We were riding through the Changthang Region which was at close proximity to the Indo-China border.
We soon reached Tara – Tsaga La check-post, showed our Inner Line permits and continued ahead and made our way till the check post of Loma Bend.
At Loma Bend, there are 2 routes; a route to Hanle and another to Tso Moriri. Though we had permits for Hanle, we decided to skip it and ride towards Tso-Moriri.
From here the roads were good till Nyoma. We stopped for chai at Nyoma. Atish Bhai bought some more liters of petrol from the tea shop.
It was around 6.00 pm in the evening and we foolishly decided to ride ahead. In case, any of you reach Nyoma in the evening around this time, better lookout for any accommodation and stay for the night.
We foolishly continued riding on the under-construction roads ahead. Some time ahead, the bungee chords that I had tied to my luggage were loose and one of my bags fell off in the middle. Phani was behind me, so he picked up the bag and tightened the luggage on my bike.
We soon reached the check-post at Mahe; and, Phani realized that his tool-kit bag was missing from his bike. That bag had all the tools we carried all the way from Bangalore.
I asked Phani and Atish bhai to wait here at the check-post and I went back in search of the tool-kit. Because, when my bag had fallen, we ensured all our luggage was in place, so we were sure and confident that the tool-kit bag might have fallen somewhere close by.
I rode back looking on the road in search of the bag and reached the point where my bag had fallen. But, the tool-kit bag was nowhere to be found and I decided to return back. As I took a U-turn on the road, few construction workers there came and told, a bag from one of your bike’s had fallen and they had kept it safely in their hut. Both Phani and my bike had Road Thrill flag on our bikes and confidently told that the fallen bag was ours as the workers easily recognized the Road Thrill Flag.
I thanked them for their kind gesture, tied the toolkit on my bike and started to ride back. It was pitch dark and I knew I had to ride till Mahe check-post, which is around 20 km and would easily take an hour. While returning, my bike’s battery issue started again. I couldn’t switch on my bike’s fog lamp and honk at the same time. When honked, the fog lamps would turn very dim, and thought, the lights were more important than the horn.
Almost, after 2 hours I reached back at the check-post to see Phani in tears. He said, there was no sign of you since you left, there were no vehicles coming to ask the whereabouts of me and he rode back in search of me for few km, couldn’t find me in the dark and rode back frightened till the check-post. After so many rides together, it was the first time I saw Phani frightened and in tears this way.
I told him; Bro, I am fine, what’s the plan next. The security at the check-post told you will find a few houses in Sumdo village around 20 km from here. He strictly instructed us not to ride ahead from Sumdo as the roads ahead from Sumdo are very bad and risky. He confirmed us that the roads till Sumdo are ok and manageable to ride in the dark.
It took us around 90 minutes to reach Sumdo. It was 10.30pm when we reached there. Just at the start of the village, we saw 2 people walking down the lane, we stopped and asked them if there are any stay and food options.
He said, “I just closed my shop; and, my daughter and I were walking back home” but quickly also said, I can assist you people with food and stay.
He opened the shop and asked his daughter to cook some food while he took us to his home. He said, there is 1 empty room at his home and said, will show the room to you and if OK, you guys can sleep there for the night. We said OK, we only need a place to rest for the night. We followed him to the room, he said there are no lights here, and kept a solar operated lamp inside the room and said, there are 4 beds here on the floor and few blankets, you can use them all and said, let’s go back to his shop for dinner.
Upon reaching back to his shop, his daughter said, rice and dal are getting ready for you guys, it would probably take few more minutes and meanwhile you can eat some biscuits until the food is cooked.
We were stunned with their simplicity of life and their eagerness to help travelers. Who would open their shop at 11’o clock in the night and cook food for some random bikers? That too at this border region!
We were very lucky and happy to get food and stay there. Especially getting rice and dal after having Maggie continuously 3 times a day.
Over dinner, the shop keeper’s daughter heard Phani and I speaking in Kannada, she asked; Are you guys from Karnataka?. She said; “I can understand a few words of Kannada and continued, I was studying in a college in Mysore for a few days but had to return back to her village”. She said she used to like the Idlis and Dosas of the South.
Post dinner, the shop owner told us, you guys ride to the room, while he and his daughter would lock the shop and walk back.
While returning back, we missed the building and rode ahead as all houses were looking similar. At a point, we could see a skull of cow or yak and the area looked haunted. We quickly turned back in search of the house, the shop owner assisted us with the torch and guided us to his house.
The girl asked us, if we wanted our phones or power banks to be charged, she can charge them through their solar operated lamps if kept for charging the whole night.
We left all our luggage on the bike, threw off all our riding gears and fell on the bed.
Our plan was to reach Tso Moriri, but we could only make till Sumdo that day.
To be continued in episode 07: Tso-Moriri to Manali and the journey back home.
We started the day early and went to the hotel rooftop for a cup of chai. The morning view was beautiful and calm, behind our hotel; flowed River Tawi and right in front of our hotel we saw mountains and huge boulders that were fallen on the roadside. We assumed this was due to the landslide that happened a couple of days ago.
While we sipped tea on the rooftop watching the road, we sighted a pick-up vehicle that had fallen into a ditch. The driver; might have lost control of the vehicle while driving in the dark, and would have jumped off the road. Both of us gave an inexplicable look to each other and said; hope the driver escaped safely.
We had bread butter jam for breakfast and we saddled up for the day’s ride towards Chenani-Nashri Tunnel. We could see tempo travelers filled with pilgrims’ praying and singing devotional songs en route to Amarnath Yatra and we maneuvered through this traffic and reached the tunnel’s start point.
The well-illuminated 9 km straight laned tunnel is a classic example of India’s advancement in road infrastructure. It had wide roads with properly marked lines and multiple emergency exits; we didn’t want to zoom here riding on high speeds and hence rode very calmly. Both of us discussed its importance on the intercoms. This tunnel cuts down the distance by 30 Km of the hilly areas of Patnitop.
Note: Please don’t ride recklessly here; there might be oil spills on the road and can prove fatal if you slide and fall.
Readers may remember my Warrior ’s main stand was broken (in transit) hence we were on the lookout for a welding shop to fix additional metal support to the main stand. Every time I parked my Warrior I had to take the support of a small stone beneath the side stand so I could avoid it from leaning and falling sideways.
Meanwhile, a solo rider named Atish asked; Are you guys hitting Leh? He was riding solo and wanted to know if he could join us. Phani and I both agreed on it. Over chai, we got ourselves introduced and continued our ride.
We reached Ramban, and luckily we found a Bajaj Service station and Phani got his Monster’s bent side-stand fixed. I got busy looking for a welding shop near-by to weld an extra metal piece to my bike’s side stand. With a long iron pipe; the welder also got my rear brake lever straightened out which was also bent in transit.
Crossing over the bridge on Chenab river; we rode the single lane that passed via forest uphills and the road full of bigger potholes, mud, and slush; and off-course the on-going traffic; we took more than 2 hours to cover a stretch of 30 km to reach Banihal where we stopped for lunch at Café NH44.
We had Maggie, Tandoori Roti, and dal in Lunch; Café NH44 was also a Highway Delite verified restaurant. Just 20 km from here, was the Jawahar Tunnel (located between Banihal and Qazigund), which we took another 90 minutes to reach.
Crossing the Jawahar Tunnel, we reached the town of Qazigund, and Phani spoke on the intercom; “Bro your bike’s top rack carrier is broken again!!” The top-rack was hanging on the support of bungee chords that were tied along with the tools and my saddle bag. We had to look out for a welding shop again. The nice cool breezy weather and tiny droplets of rain called for a chai pit-stop. The shop-keeper said; there is a welding shop few km ahead on the highway, but he wasn’t sure if the shop is open at that time of the day.
To our blessing, we found a small welding shop on the side of the 4 lane highway and was open. We quickly untied all the bungee chords and kept the saddle bag on the seat, and the welder started with the repairs.
The welder barely took 15 minutes to weld the top rack and as we were about to continue the ride; Phani misplaced his bike key. All three of us; Atish Bhai, Phani and I searched for his bike key. He was playing with the keychain and the key had fallen into the shrubs on the side of the road; We found it only after searching for an hour.
The ride continued towards Srinagar, on the nice and wide highway which had many Kashmir Willow Cricket Bat shops on either side, looking at the green mountains between the vast lush green paddy fields, we reached the capital city; Srinagar.
As we stopped inside the city of Srinagar, a local reached out to us and said, I have a boat-house if you guys are interested to spend the night floating on the lake. We agreed right away; who would miss such an awesome opportunity!
We reached his boat-house at Dal Lake and decided to stay in his boat named “New Jahangir”. Atish Bhai negotiated the price for INR 1000/- for 3 people; that was hardly INR 350 per head excluding food and the full boat-house was ours. What a bargain for a night out on Dal Lake!
We sat in the balcony of the boat-house sipping refined Kashmiri Chai and the gorgeous view of Srinagar’s Jewel; Dal Lake.
Each one of us wanted to take a boat ride on Dal Lake, and soon after a cold shower; we ditched our riding gears and wore normal casuals; we looked like humans for a change and walked towards the main market in Srinagar. As we walked on the ridges and footpaths, we saw many boats docked at the shoreline of the lake.
We hired Sultan Bhai’s boat for a boat ride across the Lake. It was already dusk while we got into the boat and as Sultan Bhai rowed the boat; we were speechless looking at the fascinating view of the boats well lit with lights. All of us, sat speechless looking at the vast water surface, dipping our hands in the water while we gazed those mighty mountains.
Few pictures below
None of us uttered a word, we were lost in its majestic beauty. Sultan Bhai broke the silence and started guiding with the information of this touristy place. We told Sultan Bhai, we wanted some snacks as we had forgotten to parcel it. He said, kuch chinta math karo aap log, yahaan shikhar pe snacks waale aayenge; (Don’t worry bhailog, you will see boats carrying snacks and food).
We also asked if we could get a couple of beers; Sultan Bhai soon found a boat carrying chilled beers. We grabbed a few cans and relaxed in the boat. What more can we ask for? How big is this lake; we asked? Sultan Bhai said; this lake is around 24 km in radius, you might need a day or two to fully explore the lake on a boat. Also, there were a few floating gardens on the lake.
He said Jaise aap log chal ke, ya bike pe market jaate hai, waise yahaan pe log boat le ke market jaate hai; (Just like, how you guys ride or walk to the market, people here row their boats to visit the markets here). Soon, there was another boat with barbeque food items; we ordered some hot barbeque stuff for ourselves and watched how a tiny rowboat; was loaded with a refrigerator, a barbeque briquette and what not. All the boatman provided heartily services to all the tourists that visited this place.
The sun had already set for the day and darkness had taken over, our boats passed through other boats; few boats were canteens, few were clothing stores, few were luxury boat-houses; it all felt like we were in Venice. Truly; Dal Lake is known as the“Venice of the East”
After a boat ride for two hours or more; we were back at the shore. As we got off the boat, we could see the glimpse of flashback; we could still hear the sound of oars creaking and water splashing the boat, it all seemed like a fairy tale and a feeling of waking up from a dream. Thank You Sultan Bhai for a dream come true boat ride on Dal Lake.
As Phani and Atish Bhai parceled food for us from Hotel Punjabi Haveli in Srinagar market, I saw a roadside shop selling toy boats. So, I bought a toy boat as a souvenir to take back home.
It was an evening well spent in Dal Lake, we discussed our next day’s ride plan; we had the charming Sonamarg and the deadly Zoji La pass ahead of us.
Having dinner in the boathouse’s balcony
Day 04: July 02, 2018 (Monday)
Srinagar to Kargil: 215 Km
We were up by 6.30 am and saddled up quickly. The boat-house owner; Khaliq Bhai got us some hot tea and post which, we continued our journey towards Sonamarg. We tanked up at an HP Petrol Pump at the city’s outskirt. This probably was the last petrol pump which accepted card payments during our journey to Leh.
We crossed Ganderbal and reached a small village; Gund, where we stopped at a roadside hotel for breakfast. While the hotel owner prepared Maggie and Paratha, we had few pictures taken at the banks of River Sind that was flowing just behind the hotel.
Post another 25 odd km ride; we reached Sonamarg, meaning; Meadow of Gold!! Nestled in the lap of Himalayas; a paradise for trekkers and adventurists, the roads passed through the dense forests with the towering pine trees. We stopped for a while near a resort watching this astounding view of nature.
Our curious and excited minds were eagerly waiting to hit Zoji La. The nerve wrecking pass that tests the level of endurance for each and every rider at every turn.
A belief amongst bikers; You conquer Zoji La successfully, you will definitely reach Leh…!!! We reached the base, knowing this pass can be a nightmare to anyone who is driving/riding this stretch, as this strip of rocks is definitely not a place for a relaxed Sunday ride. One should have supreme confidence in his vehicle and excellent riding skills to tame this very narrow road; It’s amongst one of the World’s Deadliest Roads.
As we crossed a place called Baltal which is another alternate road to Amarnath Shrine. On the muddy uphills; my bike; Warrior faced power lag. How much ever I throttled, my bike struggled to cross 30 kph. I was in the center lane trying my best to accelerate my bike; I saw a speeding truck driving downhill at a hairpin curve and I somehow managed to maneuver my bike to the left; narrowly escaping an accident.
Phani on the intercom yelled; Lo, ride safe, you just missed an accident. After 1 or 2 km; I overtook a truck and turned right on another hairpin curve; Phani shouted on the intercom again; Dude there is a small Shiva Temple here, take a U-turn and come back. The truck which I overtook was blocking this small temple hence missing it as I rode on!
We parked our bikes to take blessings at this temple; we were also served with Satyanarayan Pooja Prasad here. Phani and I, we’re happy and lucky to get Mahadev’s blessings, that too in this deadly border road terrain.
We continued the ride and soon after a few minutes; the sun was engulfed by dark clouds and it started raining, the terrain turned in slush added another challenge to the ride. Few stretches are made of cement paver blocks and are slippery when wet.
Even, when the sun shined bright and as there were no barriers on the sides; we could see the mind-numbing steep vertical drops of hundreds of meters and could see the valley which was a couple of thousand feet below us. If you look through the sharp mountain edges; you can see a road which looks as thin as a thread. Those thread lines were the crumbling dirt trails, it can be death waiting at every corner if you show up unprepared.
We sighted a small shop from a distant and a lot of vehicles had stopped; we had finally conquered this deadly terrain. The death enthralled trail; though a distance of 10 to 12 km, we took approximately over 3 hours.
Note: This terrain requires persistent attention to the road and if you are a beginner in biking; please don’t attempt this.
While having chai, I sighted some people riding the snow-scooter and decided to get my hands on it. Meanwhile, Phani and Atish Bhai rested there.
As we crossed, Zoji La; a green signboard read; Welcome to Ladakh!!! You are at Zoji La at an Altitude 11,649 Feet and a few kilometers from there, we were at Gumri check-post.
Reaching Gumri also Welcomed us to Kargil sector.
We stopped for lunch at Heritage Cafeteria, it was a perfect place for lunch; looking at the charming valley and the gigantic mountains and the brilliant blue skies.
This place was our most favorite place from the entire journey of Ladakh. We were completely awestruck by the changing colors of the mountain. As time passes in the day, you can see various color shades; the mountains here inherit.
Another 25 km from here was Dras, situated at 11,000 feet above sea level and is also the 2nd coldest place on earth. In freezing winters, the temperature would drop to -40 degrees. This is the first village after crossing Zoji La and this village came to limelight only post the Kargil War of 1999.
We reached the Kargil War Memorial. We wished Jai Hind to the soldier at the registration desk; and he replied the same, with full josh. From the main entrance gate, we could see Indian Flag fluttering with Pride. We walked the walkway, named as VijayPath that leads to the War Memorial; Amar Jawan.
This memorial has a war museum, a Bofors gun and other artillery weapons on display and not to forget the Veer Bhumi having the epitaph with names of all the Bravehearts who were martyred in the war. In the backgrounds, we can see Tololing Heights, Tiger Hill and Point 4875 also known as Batra Top. Any Indian citizen would get goosebumps when you read the historical achievements inscribed all over and walk within the memorial’s campus. Atish Bhai, Phani and I were in tears while we stood at the Veer Bhumi.
Few Pictures from the War Memorial
A soldier addressed the crowd and briefly explained about the Kargil war. Its importance in Indian history, the insights of the memorial. It started to rain and the crowd was more worried about wearing raincoats and taking their umbrellas out, while the soldier didn’t make a move. He stood firm as he kept on explaining about the war and the memorial.
Note: Please carry your Govt. ID while you enter this memorial and maintain the decorum and the respect here, and don’t miss the soldier’s explanation; which usually happens in the evening around 5.30pm.
We had some samosa and tea at the canteen inside the premises of the memorial and continued our ride to Kargil, which was approx. 60 km from the war memorial.
We searched for a lodge and got in. The time was 7.30pm and we took an hour’s nap. We told the hotelier to get dinner serviced to our room and post-dinner, we went for a walk in the town of Kargil.
As we got back to the hotel, disaster struck; I had a high fever and Phani was down with a severe stomach ache. I knew that the normal paracetamol wouldn’t work as the fever was one of the symptoms of AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness) and hence took a Diamox tablet and dozed off.
An avid reader may remember a similar situation in my previous ride to Leh in 2017 and the huge disappointment I suffered. Nostalgia struck and it all came back to me! I know the pain and suffering caused by AMS which had struck me during my Leh expedition; back in 2017, I didn’t want it to repeat again. A sound 8-hour sleep was required for all of us and get some well-deserved rest and re-energize ourselves.
To be continued in Episode 04: Reaching the Dream Destination Leh, and battling AMS
In Episode 02, sharing our experiences as we ride towards Jammu & Kashmir.
Day 01: June 29, 2018 (Friday)
Delhi to Ambala: 255 Km
It was 4:40 am when we reached Delhi and we hurried to the conveyor belt to collect our luggage. Amidst the crowded Delhi Airport, it took an hour to get our baggage and reach the airport’s taxi stand. We quickly booked Uber cab till Pikkol warehouse in Chattarpur. As soon we reached, I asked Phani to unpack our bikes while I went in search of petrol pumps. In Delhi, petrol is not sold in cans or bottles; but somehow convinced the petrol pump attendant, he agreed to pour only 2 liters of petrol in plastic cans.
Meanwhile, Phani called me and informed about the damages to our bikes during transit. My bike, Gixxer’s main stand, and the top carrier rack were broken; while Phani’s bike (Dominor) had a bent clutch lever along with a bent side stand. We unpacked the cartons and fixed the jerry can holders and saddled our bike with all our luggage. There was a Sintex water tank there inside the compound, we grit our teeth and washed our face from the tank’s water and geared up in a factory warehouse nearby.
We started from here and luckily as we exited the warehouse compound, we found a welding shop where we mended my bike’s top carrier by welding the repair points. As my bike’s main stand was broken and had to be either fixed or removed; which we got it removed at a local garage near-by. It was already past 10:00 am when we started from Chattarpur making our way to exit Delhi.
Somewhere, on the city roads, we saw an information board which read India Gate 5 km with a symbol turn right. Phani spoke on the Intercom; bro let’s visit India Gate and flag-off the ride from there. It was around 12 in the afternoon, we reached the India Gate. Both of us had only seen the India Gate on television channel Doordarshan; which telecasts the Republic Day Parade every year.
The cops allowed us to take pics of the India Gate along with our bikes which they had initially denied. The cops also said that we can ride till the Parliament House and then continue your journey ahead. While we rode on the Rajpath; I could visualize the Republic Day Parade in front of my eyes and it was a proud feeling to ride on this stretch of 2 km.
By 12:45 pm we started riding towards Delhi exit. Somewhere, we saw a juice cart and stopped to have some mosambi juice. We were fatigued and hence parked our bikes on the service lane there and both of us slept on the road-side footpath; turn by turn for half an hour each. The foot-path was the bed and the Blue Tarpaulin sheet was the bedsheet.
The best part of a road trip; you can interact with anybody on the road. Looking at our KA registered bikes; few people excitedly conversed with us asking about our trip and general talks.
The ride continued on the Delhi – Chandigarh, NH44 and we stopped for lunch at a highway-side dhaba at around 4:00 pm. It was a relief to our hungry stomachs and as we had cleared through the chaotic Delhi Traffic, we picked up good speed on the highway and as we crossed Panipat, heavy rains lashed on the highway. Inside the shelter of an HP Petrol Pump on the roadside, we wore our rain liners above our riding gears and continued riding till Kurukshetra.
I had spoken to Arun Bhai from Road Thrill Bangalore who along with the riders from Hyderabad chapter were returning back to Delhi from their successful Leh trip. They had stopped for chai at Mannat Dhaba on the outskirts of Kurukshetra. It was a pleasure meeting our extended biking family members as we exchanged greetings and memories from their Leh Journey.
The sun had already set for the day, we stopped for dinner at Sethi Dhaba and rode till Ambala and checked-into Hotel Surya which we booked upon reaching the city.
Day 02: June 30, 2018 (Saturday)
Ambala to Udhampur: 444 Km
Early morning, post chai and getting ourselves ready and saddling up our bikes; we continued our journey on the NH44 and we stopped for breakfast at Kiran Dhaba in Jalandhar. The dal-tadka here was amazingly delicious. You know you’re in Punjab when you’re served with a big glass full of milk along with the breakfast.
Somewhere, before Pathankot, my bike’s battery started to give an issue. The mobile charger on my bike wasn’t working. We stopped at a roadside shop and Phani was trying some jugaad to fix this issue. We stopped at Happy Paaji’s shop and Paaji helped us with his ideas and tools to fix the wiring issue. Happy Paaji, served us chai that worked as energy boosters to our exhausted mind and body. We took good rest here and continued our ride ahead towards Pathankot.
Somewhere, few km from here on the highway; my bike’s horn started honking and didn’t go silent, Thanks to Phani’s jugaad, haha!!. He goofed up with the wiring of the horn and it went crazy! We pulled over on the side of the highway and Phani disconnected the incorrect wiring.
We soon reached the Jammu & Kashmir state check-post. As it was Leh season for biker’s and Amarnath Yatra season for pilgrims, the check-post was heavily crowded.
As soon as we crossed the check-post we stopped to have some lime juice and daal Wada (local Jammu snack). We stopped at Indian Oil Petrol pump for fuel, and one local suggested us a shorter route to Udhampur via the Sambha Forest and passing through Mansar Lake.
We deviated at Sambha Forest check post; the twisty ghat section started from here with ascending hairpin curves, the roads passed through beautiful green forests but it was dotted with lots of potholes and patches.
We reached Mansar Lake which was 25 km from Sambha check-post and rested for a while in the garden near Mansar Lake. The beautiful lake was fringed by forest-covered hills and the fishes would come to the shore where the tourists fed them.
Though the place was crowded, we didn’t pay much heed to the crowd and took a peaceful nap on the lawns there. Post having some snacks and chai at the canteen nearby; we continued our ride towards Udhampur which was around 40 km from the lake. The shortcut via Sambha was a by-pass for the town of Jammu. Riding through the dense forest ghat section and passing beneath many Railway bridges; we finally reached Udhampur by 5:30 pm
Over a chai, Phani and I had a discussion; whether to ride ahead till Ramban or to halt at Udhampur and decided on the latter and started to look out for a hotel on the highway outside the city. Unfortunately, we took the service road on the highway and reached a dead end. The road was inclined and I stopped parallel to Phani and he lost balance on his bike and started leaning towards my bike. Both of us, couldn’t control our heavily loaded bike and fell along with the bikes. My bike’s petrol started spilling on the road. Few locals near-by, assisted us to pick our bikes and helped us to get back on our feet.
Though the fall was very minor, the impact; my bike’s rear brake lever was bent and a bend on the flag rod on Phani’s bike. Maybe, it was our bikes’ way of telling; Boss we are done for the day!
As daylight was engulfed by darkness and we had to ride on the under-construction road amidst heavy dust and heavy vehicular movement. While on this dusty road, an insect hit my eye; I quickly stopped on the roadside, wiped my eyes and continued riding until we reached Hotel Tawi View. We quickly booked a room here and took all our luggage to the room.
Because of the highway construction; the hotel rooms were dusty, but that was ok, we only needed a place to rest for the night. Post dinner; we met a couple of bikers staying in the same hotel; they were on their return journey and they said the road ahead is pathetic until Srinagar.
After a quick dinner, we crashed on the bed; it was a tiring 14-hour ride covering 444 km for the day.
The most excited discussion during the time between us was riding through the longest tunnel in India the next morning.
A glimpse of the next episode:
To be continued in Episode 03: The Heavenly Kashmir Valley, The deadly Zoji La Pass and our homage to the Fallen Heroes of the Kargil War
The complete Leh story; is split into multiple series of blog episodes, and is titled; Monster and Warrior got Leh’d. The rationale behind the title is the names we have given to our bikes. Phani has named his bike; Monster, and I have named my bike Warrior.
After my unsuccessful Leh trip in 2017, I was eagerly waiting to finish my long-pending dream ride. Phani and I started our planning somewhere in the mid of March. Every day, post the office hours, we caught up at a bakery near Phani’s office to plan the things. Both of us got our leaves approved for the trip; and by mid of April’2018, we had our flight tickets booked to Delhi.
Once the flight tickets were booked, all other preparations would line-up accordingly. We took assistance from Rigzin Bhai for the Inner Line Permits (ILP is required for few places in Ladakh).
The route we planned was Delhi – Pathankot – Udhampur – Srinagar – Sonamarg – Kargil – Leh – KhardungLa – Nubra Valley – Pangong Lake – Tso Moriri – Sarchu – Manali – Chandigarh – Delhi.
We didn’t have to shop for the riding gears this year as we had purchased all those items last year. This time we wanted to get the Ladakh carriers for our bikes, such carriers for a non-RE bike are not available in the market, hence, we decided to do some custom design work and get it fixed on our bikes. To do so we enquired a couple of fabrication shops over the weekends and then I came across a small fabrication shop in JP Nagar, Bangalore. Phani and I skipped office for a day and sat at the fabrication shop the whole day.
Since both our bikes’ (Gixxer and Dominor) have fiber parts, mounting for the carriers needed specific customizations and the first carrier we did here in JP Nagar looked like a box on my bike. My bike looked like a workhorse.
However, the hunt for a Ladakh carrier was still on!! Then, Phani came up with a design and we soon rushed to JC Road, Bangalore. We purchased top rack which is basically used for Royal Enfield and rushed to Zakaria Engineering works (a welding and fabrication shop) in JC Road and got it fixed as per our bike’s requirements. We also did a rough sketch for Jerry Can holder and the fabricator prepared the holder as per the sketch we gave him. We wanted to make sure that the carriers could easily be installed or removed with few basic tools, such as spanners. A flag mount was also welded to the carriers so we could ride with the flags fluttering high.
We wanted to test the carriers on an off-roader. So, Phani and I went for an off-roader ride to Kailasagiri. To test this out, we filled the jerry cans with water to check how the overall carrier and jerry can holder would sustain in those terrains. We also purchased helmet intercoms and tested their range in this short ride.
In mid-May’2018, I got a similar carrier and jerry can holder customized and affixed to my bike at the same place in JC Road, Bangalore.
We had to paint those carriers, so we purchased some black spray paints and on the road in front of Phani’s house, dismantled the carriers and painted them under streelights.
Both of us got a message board done at the same place which read “Always give way to Ambulance, you cannot give life, but you can save a life”
The next major thing was bike transportation and we started all the necessary inquiries. We had bitter experiences in 2017 when we shipped our bikes by Indian Railways. So, we wanted to look out for other logistic options. During, the same time, one of my friends, Tejas, was moving to Pune and he had shipped his bike via Pikkol and he was happy with the services offered to him. Both of us enquired with Pikkol and got a quote and all the details for bike cargo.
During Leh’2017; we had carried all the tool-kit and riding gears with us in the flight and it was a real hassle to manage all the baggage, so we negotiated with Pikkol to give us 2 extra cartons so we could send our riding gears, tool-kits, engine oils, and all other lubricants along with the bikes.
Our bikes had to be serviced properly before we handed-over our bikes to cargo. During the end of May and the first week of June, Phani and I had office work deadlines and we knew we wouldn’t find time for any ride preparations so we ensured most of the plans were fully executed. By the mid of June, we had to hand over our bikes to Pikkol for packing.
Just a week before the shipping, my bike’s carburetor float pin and the bike’s rectifier had to be replaced because of some issues. Along with those replacements, I got my bike fully checked from a mechanic near my house and post a full service, we dropped our bike for packing.
Both, mine and Phani’s dad were more enthusiastic about our Ladakh ride than we both were. My Dad started to read a lot of stuff about Ladakh on the internet and kept updating me with the current news and happenings there. He also kept on following-up with me on my bike’s service and ensured I wouldn’t forget even the minutest thing. He said; last year you guys had forgotten the Oxygen Cans, so first purchase the Oxygen cans for both of you and then carry with the rest of your preparations. While Phani’s Dad grabbed a screw-driver from Phani’s tool-kit and helped him in fixing his bike.
June 14, 2018 (Thursday)
The time flew and the day of our bike shipping arrived. All the riding gears, tool-kit, spares, cables, flag rod, jerry cans, oil, and lubrication were packed in the cartons and our bikes being fully packed with 3 layers of packing materials; plastic, bubble wrap, and cardboard. Having done with all this, most of our preparations for Leh were all finished and executed.
After all these major preparations, over the weekend, I went to my hometown Belgaum and relaxed. Initially, Pikkol agreed to drop our bikes and the cartons to one of our friends; Narayan Bhai’s house in Delhi (Narayan Bhai heads our Road Thrill – Delhi chapter). But, Pikkol refrained to deliver the bikes and cartons to Narayan Bhai’s house saying some road work issues and we had to collect them from their warehouse at Chattarpur, Delhi.
The only few things that were pending were a BSNL Postpaid Sim, First Aid Kit, Basic medicines and some minor shopping which we did from Metro Cash & Carry and from other local medical stores.
Wishes of Good-Luck and Safe ride started to flood in our Social Media handles. Thank you, everyone, for the good wishes.
Day 0: June 28, 2018 (Thursday)
After all the planning, preparations; the day to begin the journey had arrived. Yet again, both Phani and I skipped work and packed our baggage. Along with our baggage, only our helmets were to be carried which I packed it in a cardboard box and kept it ready.
In the evening, we received a message from the flight operator which read; The flight is delayed by an hour!! (actual departure time was 11.55pm). One of my known drivers; Murthy picked me up at my room and we reached Phani’s house.
We met JP Bhai at Esteem Flyover, Hebbal and collected a Road Thrill Flag for Phani’s bike. Meanwhile, Road Thrill Bangalore and Hyderabad had successfully completed their Ladakh ride and had reached Chandigarh.
As we reached Bangalore Airport, to our surprise, Karthik and Hemanth Bhai had come to bid us good-bye.
Post the initial security check and baggage scan, we got our boarding passes and the message on the display board read; “The flight is delayed for 1 more hour”. So, technically the flight would take off at 2 AM. The excitement, anxiety started thumping within us.
Post the final security check at the airport, we rushed to KFC at the food-court to fill our tummies. We had 4 more hours to spend at the airport before the departure gates opened and what do we do?
This monkey (Phani), logged into his office laptop and started office work. I said: OMG!!! Work from the Airport in the middle of all the excitement, Have you gone insane?
How could I forget, it was FIFA World-Cup season and the big television in the airport, telecasted Belgium vs England football match and I was fully engrossed in the match.
As the departure gates opened, and people formed a queue; I realized; I had lost my Boarding Pass!!!! Phani got hyper on hearing this, He yelled; “All the luggage stickers are tagged to your Boarding Pass, You don’t giggle; go search for it”. I started searching for my boarding pass; I was like a sniffing dog searching for it here and there looking on the floor. I ran back to the table near the KFC counter and asked the housekeeping staff; if they saw a boarding pass there on a table. To my luck, the staff had found the boarding pass and kept it safe at their counter. I sighed relief as I received the boarding pass and then thanked the staff for their kind act and rushed back to the departure gate.
Finally, we boarded the Air Asia Flight. As we were the last in the queue to enter the flight, there was no space in the in-flight luggage compartments and we had to keep our backpacks and camera bag on our lap. Looking at this, two of my co-passengers gave me a bizarre look, maybe, they thought it was our first time on a flight!!
Day 01: June 29, 2018 (Friday)
It was 4.40 AM when we landed at Delhi Airport.
The big crazy and an adventurous ride was about to begin….
To be continued in Episode 02: Through Haryana, Punjab and entering J & K ….!!!
It was the first ride of 2019 for the members of Road Thrill Bangalore Chapter and the place chosen was Dodda Ayur, Chota Ladakh. Most of us read about this place on social media and every one of us were curious to visit this unexplored place.
So the first Sunday of 2019, we were all set to Get Leh’d.
Chota Ladakh…. Ha Ha!!
As usual, I got my bike and gears ready and headed towards the start point; ITI Gate, near KR Puram along with Lohith Bhai and a couple of RT members. Most of us had already reached ITI Gate. Post greeting New Year wishes, and before the ride briefing commenced; a couple of us went to a tea shop for some chai.
Meanwhile, JP Bhai updated me about Satish Bhai’s car accident and a couple of us immediately rushed to the accident spot. Satish Bhai’s car was hit from behind by an Innova with Satish Bhai’s car facing major damages on the rear windshield and rear bumper.
Post a fierce argument with the SUV driver and his associates, they agreed to get Satish Bhai’s car repaired on their cost. We dropped Satish Bhai’s car in the Hyundai showroom which was close by and finishing off the service formalities inside the showroom. Meanwhile, the rest of the group had started the ride and would wait for us at Hotel Kamat on Kolar Road.
Satish Bhai hopped in as Pillion on Abhishek Bhai’s bike, and Ashwath Bhai, Sandy Bhai and I started riding on to Kolar Road zooming our way to Hotel Kamat (near Narasapura). The pit-stop assistance and breakfast arrangements were done by Rajesh Bhai from Highway Delite.
We quickly finished our breakfast here and reached Dodda Ayur, Chota Ladakh which is 6-7kms from the hotel. The last few stretches was a muddy lane until you reach the destination.
Chota Ladakh; a white stoned quarry place which is dug deep and has a lake with crystal clear water. This view acted like an Ice Breaker to all our curious and wondering minds on why the name Chota Ladakh. The beauty of the view proved the charm of the name.
All of us parked our bikes and walked down to the lake. The water was crystal clear and as this place was very less known to travelers; it was very clean and free of plastics. In-case, any of my readers plan a visit to this place, please don’t trash or litter around this place. Please carry your trash and throw in a waste bin.
My brother Akshay, had bought some fruits to all of us. Post some photo session, we headed ahead on those muddy lanes to another lake nearby. To keep the momentum of excitement, we named this lake as Chota Pangong Lake. We spent some time here and then started our return journey back to Bangalore.
Somewhere, en-route on the highway we stopped to have some tender coconut water and then headed till Hoskote Toll where everyone dispersed from there.
Thank you, everyone, for yet another memorable and for starting the first weekend of 2019 with a bang!!!!
Venugopala Swamy Temple, a historic marvel of the Hoysala architecture that once submerged during the construction of Krishna Raja Sagara Dam, famously know as KRS Dam and the temple stayed underwater for a century. The temple dome could only be seen during the draught of the early 2000s and then Khoday’s Foundation took up the responsibility to rebuild the same temple on the shore of KRS backwaters, even the maintenance is taken care by the foundation and now has started to lure tourists and explorers.
The in-house architects of the group shot the original temple on video and took over 16,000+ photographs. Each and every stone was removed and reconstructed with trained artisans and sculptors along with experts who were involved in the reconstruction.
That was just a brief of the historic marvel.
Sudheer and I were planning for a day’s ride and we were looking out for some places in the range of 200kms (one-way) from Bangalore. We found about this place on the internet and quickly planned to explore this place. We communicated the ride plan to other of our biker friends in our office, so any interested riders could join us.
We decided to ditch the chaotic traffic filled Mysore road, so planned to ride via the Hassan road. It was early morning of 8th Dec 2018, Sudheer and I met at Parle Toll. We were accompanied by Darshan, and over a chai; we quickly got all our intercoms connected so we could talk to each other while we rode. Over a cup of chai, we planned for our pitstop or breakfast point. Within no time, we started our bikes and made our way towards Hassan Road.
A detour towards Hassan Road, I spoke to Sudheer, “Maga, you guys wait at the toll while I tank up my bike”. From here, we rode till Hotel Mayura (near Bellur Cross) and stopped over for breakfast. This was suggested by Rajesh Bhai from Highway Delite.
All of us ordered for Idli Wada and Kesari Baath. The crispy Wada and the very delighted Kesari Baath made us feel it was worth stopping here for breakfast. If you are traveling on Hassan Highway, don’t miss the yummy delicious breakfast here at Hotel Mayura.
From here, we turned towards Pandavapura which had 2 laned roads and the roads were under expansion for 4 lane highway. Somewhere near Nagamangala, we saw a lake and told Sudheer and Darshan to stop over for some photography.
The best part of road trips is you can see the beautiful nature en-route the destination which you will never get to see if you are at your comfort zone of the four walls of your home or office.
From here, our next stop would be our destination which was 60kms from this point. Sudheer zoomed off at a junction while Darshan and I rode through some interior roads of some village making our way to reach the destination. As we both reached, we called up Sudheer and sent our GPS location to him. We could see a convoy of Police and Government vehicles as the cabinet ministers of Karnataka State had their visit planned at the same.
Until Sudheer who was some 40kms away from the destination; reached, we thought to have some chai. While we walked from the parking space, I sighted a Royal Enfield TB350 which had Road Thrill stickers and I dropped a message in our Road Thrill Bangalore WhatsApp group saying I am also at KRS Backwaters and we could meet. While taking off my helmet here, the side of my sunglass broke and until someone from Road Thrill replied, I looked out for a shop to buy a Fevi-Stik so that I could fix my broken sunglass.
Soon, to my surprise, it was Lohith Bhai along with his office colleagues and members of Road Thrill Bangalore who were also here for a ride. It was a surprise and pleasure meeting my extended biking family members from Road Thrill.
After some time, Sudheer reached the destination and we decided to explore the historical marvel. Upon entering the temple campus, we were awestruck by the cleanliness and the maintenance of the temple campus. We quickly walked inside the main temple sanctum. The stones of the temple walls shined bright and a glossy satin finish when touched.
The main temple had the idol of Lord Krishna playing as a cow herd. The temple pillars were in similar style to those in Belur – Halebeedu. As we took a walk around the main temple, we had some casual talks with one of the securities there who explained us about the work and efforts undertaken by Khoday’s foundation in restoring this marvelous piece of historic architecture.
The restoration and reconstruction timeline is depicted on the walls of the main temple entrance. Please do spend some time reading the historical facts of this temple.
Outside of the main temple, there lies a Stone Chariot like the one in Hampi. Until I visited this Venugopalaswamy temple, I was in an assumption that the only stone chariot was in Hampi. It’s always good to go and explore places rather than reading it in some web or book articles.
As this place is located on the shore of KRS backwaters, we sat on one of the benches looking for the vast dam. We started the return journey back home. We stopped at a village to sip some tender coconuts and rode till Hotel Empire near Kunigal for lunch. Post having some authentic non-veg lunch, we just chilled on the benches there talking and discussing our other personal trips. Post a heavy lunch and tasty fruit juice (which I never miss at Kunigal Empire), I took a nap on one of the benches here.
Once the Sun was set, we rode back to Bangalore, maneuvering the traffic, we reached Goreguntepalya where we bid good-bye to each other and zoomed back home.
Thank you Sudheer and Darshan for accompanying me for yet another memorable ride.
Stay safe, ride safe and please don’t trash in the places you travel.
Jog Falls, also known as Gersoppa Falls or Jogada Gundi. It is amongst the highest waterfalls in India and the 13th highest waterfalls in the world, located in the Sahyadri Mountain ranges of Shimoga district. The falls are created by the river Sharavathi taking a plunge of approx. 850ft. This was just a brief introduction to the very famous Jog Falls.
My brother Akshay had planned this trip along with his office colleagues. And, as usual; I decided to join them last minute.
Akshay and his friends left on Friday night of 7th Sept 2018 and I initially planned to ride solo on the next morning. Somewhere on Friday afternoon, I pinged my friend Sudheer on office communicator; saying I am riding to Jog Falls. Sudheer got excited with the plan and he also craved for a long ride somewhere amidst greenery. Sudheer agreed to accompany me.
Post office hours, I got my bag packed and the riding gears ready for the ride. As I was about to sleep, Sudheer dropped a WhatsApp message, I might not join . . . !!!!
I started from my home at around 5.30am and stopped for a chai near to PES University and noticed a missed call from Sudheer. I quickly dialed him back to hear him saying; “Maga, I will also join, will meet you at Parle Factory Toll”
The first thing we did as we met, was getting our Intercoms paired so we could speak while we rode.
So, we were all set to see Raja, Rani, Roarer, and Rocket.
Those are the names of the 4 water streams that trickle down the cliff 😊
The plan was to ditch the highway and take the single lanes that passed through towns and villages that surrounded by greenery all over. So, we planned this route:
We stopped for breakfast at Darshan, Tatte Idli near Kunigal. From here, we took a detour from the highway making our way towards Tiptur. We saw a big lake beside the single lane road. Thanks to the rains that splashed in Karnataka this monsoon. The water full lake was picturesque.
Meanwhile, I got a call from Akshay saying they had already reached Jog Falls. The pleasant weather along with the tiny droplets of rain made our ride smooth. Over the intercom, Sudheer and I, only spoke about biking, our various travel stories, describing the route, and lot many things . . . blah blah blah blah!! The talks went on and on….
Somewhere near Kadur, we stopped to have some tender coconut water.
The ride continued and soon reaching near to Bhadra Dam, we could sight the water flowing in full gush from the gates of the dam. We could see this gushing water from alongside the road.
A Stop-over for lunch at Shimoga at a local hotel, some baadoota (naati koli) style. Meanwhile, I kept my Intercom for a quick charge at the billing counter.
Post lunch, the ride continued, and somewhere in Kumsi village, my bike got off. I kick started my bike and as I throttled, I could sense heavy power lag. My bike wasn’t going above 30kmph. I stopped at the side and started to enquire for a garage. One of the shopkeepers said the garage is just on the opposite side of the road.
I quickly pushed my bike to the nearby garage there, the mechanic there said my bike’s battery had fully drained and he would need to charge it for 3-4 hours. Meanwhile, I called Sudheer and told him to wait until I provide an update regarding my bike’s condition.
I convinced the mechanic (Avinash) that I would take one of his fully charged spared battery fixed to my bike and continue the ride, while he charges my bike’s battery until I return the next day. Luckily, he agreed for this.
Post fixing the battery, I started my bike and rode to Anantapur village where Sudheer waited for me. We rode till Talaguppa and took a detour towards Jog Falls which was 15 km approx. from Talguppa. Riding through few twisties and curves we reached the entrance gate of Jog Falls and straight to the Govt. Bungalow in there. Akshay had pre-booked the bungalow and we joined them for that night.
The view of the falls from the bungalow’s balcony was breathtaking. We sat downstairs outside of the bungalow listening to the soothing sound of the waterfall, wow!!! What a peace that was being away from the honking sound of city traffic.
Over the dinner table, we got ourselves introduced with everyone here. The dinner which was served here was simple yet tasty and post-dinner, every one of us crashed to bed.
Day 2: September, 09 (Sunday)
Few of us woke up early and walked towards the main viewpoint. The tranquil valley was swaddled in a veil of mist and through which we could see the 4 water streams; Raja, Roarer, Rocket, and Rani plunging off the cliff. We sat silently on one of the benches there watching this spectacular view.
If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is Wake up – J. M. Power
We had some tea and biscuits in the nearby shop there.
As we headed back to the bungalow, the breakfast was ready to be served. Lemon rice with chutney which was served for breakfast, after which, we were all ready to head back to Bangalore.
Taking a few group pics and greeting goodbye to each other we started the ride back to Bangalore. Akshay’s friends had come in a car while Akshay had come by bike, so he decided to ride back with us and one of his friend, Amshith joined him as pillion.
Our initial plan was to go to Kumsi, fix my bike’s battery and ride to Sringeri and then head to Bangalore. But as we were a few kilometers away from Kumsi, my bike faced the same power lag issue with the bike’s battery being drained fully again. Akshay tried to leg tow my bike but we couldn’t do it due to the uphill roads.
Meanwhile, I told Akshay and Sudheer to be at the garage and send the mechanic till here. Avinash (the garage mechanic) was helpful yet again as he came riding till the place where my bike was totally off, replaced the charged battery with which I could get my bike started and continue the ride back home. We knew that my bike’s battery would give problems yet over again, so we decided to ride straight back to Bangalore skipping the plan of visiting Sringeri.
We took a detour after Kumsi that took us through pothole filled roads in anticipation we would touch the highway soon, so we could zoom quickly on the national highway. We reached the highway just after Davangere where we stopped for lunch at Sagar Dhaba. The food here was lip-smacking and tasty.
From here we rode non-stop for a stretch of 140 km approx. until we reached Sira Toll and stopped for evening tea.
As I crossed Tumkur, my bike faced the same issue yet again. The darkness had overtaken and I couldn’t switch on my bike’s headlight, indicators and couldn’t even beep the horn and bike couldn’t take acceleration beyond 40kmph.
I initially jumped all the potholes and humps as there was no visibility of the road due to darkness. I then started to follow a petrol tanker taking the cover of the tanker’s tail lamps to see through the road. I was riding watching at its tail lamps and following the tire lane and being ready to hit the brake in case the tanker jumped over any humps or potholes.
I did that for a few kilometers until the tanker stopped over at a roadside dhaba and I too stopped for tea. Meanwhile, Akshay and Sudheer had already crossed Nelamangala Toll. Then, I found an uncle riding a splendor with bright lights and doing normal speeds of 30 to 40kmph. I kept riding behind him taking the help of his bright lights. I followed his lane until Nice road junction of Nelamangala. The splendor guy being fearful kept looking at his rearview mirrors of being surprised who is following him from such a distance.
Thank you, uncle, and sorry to keep you fearful.
I sighted the street lights, and happily rode till Parle Toll and by now my bike was totally off. The bike couldn’t be started with any number of kicks and then I towed my bike till the Indian Oil Petrol Pump on the cross of 8th Mile road.
Parking my bike here and started to inspect my bike’s problem. I saw a wire being cut and thought the bike’s battery power getting leaked from here. I walked for few meters in search of a garage, when nothing found, walked 2kms ahead and found a stationery shop where I bought an insulation tape (electrical tape) and sealed the wire with the insulation tape.
Woaahhh !!! My bike did start again. From here, I could ride amidst power loss and facing jerks, somehow made it till Phani’s house in Malleshwaram where I dropped my bike and then booked a cab back home.
It was yet another memorable ride of 860kms on my bike odometer.
Until next time.
Stay safe, Ride Safe and please don’t trash your travel.