My first bike ride to Chakrata – by Dallbir

Chakrata has always been my favorite place. It’s like I can never have enough of it, whenever I get a chance, it is the first place to cross my mind for a quick getaway. Been there 5 times last year only, still can’t resist the idea of a holiday there. But the most memorable trip to Chakrata was the second trip, which I did on a bike in 2006.
My first trip to Chakrata was in August 2005, when I planned to visit Deoban as well. But couldn’t make it to Deoban as rains had made it next to impossible to cover the 18 km dirt track. It gave me all the more reasons to come back.
But next time I had already decided to go on a bike, only then you can do justice to the beauty of this place. Couldn’t afford to miss Deoban at any cost specially after hearing about its unsurpassed beauty from the locals last time. But my bike ride didn’t seem to materialize as none of the guys was ready to ride so far, couldn’t find words to explain that. But I stuck to my decision and I am glad I did. Plan was simple, six people, one car & one bike. We started early around 6’o clock in the morning, wanted to catch the 12’o clock gate from Kalsi. Only one way traffic moves at a time from Kalsi to Chakrata due to various reasons and narrow road. The gate opens for traffic after every two hours for 20 minutes. If you miss the gate even by minutes, you’ll have to wait for two hours. Pillion kept on changing throughout the way. Everything was going smooth till I crossed the Delhi border. My beloved Bullet developed some problem in the engine. At around 90kph, heard a terrible sound in the engine and it went flat soon. As I was new to Bullet, didn’t know exactly what went wrong. We stood there for a while, and thought of taking it to the nearby mechanic. As we kick started it again, there was no sound, nothing and it was smooth as always. Couldn’t figure out what went wrong, but thankfully everything was back on track.
It was next to impossible to move together with the car, so we decided to meet midway after some distance. Others were waiting for us for breakfast at Panipat; we finished up quickly as we had to make it to Kalsi gate in time. Soon it became a race against time. After crossing the maddening traffic at Yamunanagar, we were in the green country surrounded by green fields. Soon we got our first glance of hills and company of Yamuna. The road was amazing, through the hilly forest, up and down, smooth curves, with very little traffic. We reached the holy city of Poanta Sahib on time and took a 10 minute break on Yamuna Bridge. The clock was ticking and it already seemed little unrealistic to catch the gate. From there, we traveled to Kalsi in fast forward mode and made it there just on time at 12’o clock. Think we were the last ones to cross the gate at that point of time. There is another catch to this gate system. There is one catch to gate system, to ensure that one doesn’t stop any where on the way, they have one more gate midway at Sahiya.
We completed the most beautiful part of journey in next two hours and entered Chakrata through the last army gate. This town is completed controlled by army, think that is the reason, why Chakrata hasn’t lost its charm even today. We had booked our stay in Hotel Himalayan Paradise, which has a very scenic location and is approx 6 kms ahead of the town. After a long journey we were quite tired but it was all gone once we were there. We kicked off our shoes, relaxed, ate and just sat there doing nothing. But, there was something on the back of my mind, Deoban. Asked the hotel guys about the road situation, but could not get a satisfactory answer, some said road is under construction, some said, work has finished. More I asked, more I became impatient to explore the area. Decided to enquire about it from the locals in town. The plan was to hire a jeep next day from the local market and go to Deoban, as the car was incompatible for the terrain. But we needed to know whether it was worth the effort. We sat off on bike to know more about the route. We climbed slowly towards the Forest Rest House, avoided the left turn and reached the forest check post. After chatting up with the locals for while, the desperation was building up and wanted to confirm the way.
We carried on straight towards Kanasar and took a less traveled road on our right after 3-4kms and we were on our way to DeobanJ. There was no road, just a path which took us to paradise. We rode for a while just to check out the condition but after a while it was becoming impossible for us to stop. It was like a love at first sight, further we went, more we wanted to see. Haven’t seen such a beauty before in my life, the setting was all so magical and no sign of human existence so far. It was like a forgotten land we were exploring, could not see wildlife (yet) around us but there were many signs of their existence. Little ahead was army mountaineering training school and beyond that, sight was something completely indescribable in words. Never intended to go to Deoban that same day, but could not resist the beauty. Just wanted to see what was there beyond the next curve. We reached Deoban around 6’o clock, when it was about to get dark. As I mentioned we never intended to go to Deoban that day, we were wearing only t-shirts and it got chilly as soon as sun went down. We started our backward journey, we were there in that jungle for the first time, without any mobile signal, without toolkit and spares, without informing anyone, and to top it all low fuel. We were 10% scared and 90% overwhelmed about being to Deoban.
Back in Chakrata, everybody was worried about us as ‘we never intended to go to Deoban’. They started looking for us, from forest check post to Chakrata Bazaar, they looked everywhere. After long, dark, cold ride, we made it back to our hotel in Chakrata safely.
It was a stupid decision going there without any support whatsoever, but till date that was the best ride I ever had to Deoban.

Bhangarh – An inexplicable experience

Put the word ‘Bhangarh’ in Google search and the first result you get is ‘Bhangarh is known for its ruins where nobody dares to stay after…’ you eagerly want to know Stay after…। What? Well the second result to your query makes it simpler॥’ Thats Bhangarh in Rajasthan, which is the most, haunted Place in India as per Archeological Survey Of India। “STAYING HERE AFTER SUNSET IS STRICTLY …’ What did you say? Come again। Yeah you read it right. The most haunted place in India and according to ASI board put up there you can’t stay here after the sunset. When it comes from the ASI and not the hearsay, you tend to agree with the statement. Yet the curiosity in you wants to know more. Why can’t I stay there after the sunset! And what’s this ‘most haunted place in India, C’mon, you must be kidding. This is 21st century and you are talking about Ghosts’!

My reaction was no different when my friend Ashwani Khanna, popularly known as ‘Ash’ in our bikers group mentioned this place to me. Not only this, he was too keen to visit this place and stay there as well. The biker in me, always looking for some excitement and new places, immediately fell for this one. I immediately booked my place with him. Now there were two of us and soon the word was circulated in our group (60kph) that when living for Bhangarh, twelve of us were ready to vroom on our bikes to the most haunted place in India.

On further research on the net we learnt that the place is somewhere on the way to Jaipur via Alwar. It sounded better since we were all from Delhi and it could be done on a weekend. On the set D day we started our exciting journey with a bit of qualm. Everyone was chirping yet somewhere the hesitation and uncertainty persisted in our minds. Thinking that the place is not far off, we started late and with leisure halts we kept on riding on a slow pace on the single lane state highways after crossing Alwar via sariska. By the time we made it to Bhangarh it was already dark. Finally we were there. The most haunted place in India. The next task was to spend the night there and get to the truth. As per the notice board of ASI, they would not allow us to stay there for the whole night. Since our primary reason to this place was to meet the ghosts and secondary to see the Bhangarh ruins. If we have to pass the night than why not amongst the ghosts, if they do exists. Immediately a plan of action was charted out. We had come prepared with three tents for the night stay. We divided ourselves into two groups. The first will go and look for the place to pitch the tents inside the ruins and second to go and arrange the food from the nearby dhaba (approx. 1 km from the ruins).

The first group went on and reached the main entrance of the Bhangarh ruins. It was pitch dark and not soul around. We went near the gate and saw a shadow walking towards us. Oh my, was that a Ghost? We were getting ready for the any eventuality and waited patiently for the shadow, which turned out to be a Guard from the ASI. Soon another shadow, I mean the second guard also joined him and after the usual pleasantries both flatly refused to entertain us at that hour of the night informing us about the rule of entry restriction after the sunset. Now was the time to get the facts right. Are there any ghosts living here? Had they come across any such experience? Is it true that people who stays here do not go back alive? All these and many of other thoughts of ours going on in our mind were drowned with the buckets of cold water when both of them announced nothing such happened or happens. All these are rumours. But then why there is restriction on the entry after the sunset? Well, he announced very casually that it is because of the wild animals who probably comes to drink the water from the ‘kund’ within the ruins. Plus this rule applies to most of the places under ASI, isn’t it. How stupid of us! Why we didn’t ever thought on this angle. Now what. Somewhere in our mind we were still not ready to understand their point. After all we ripped off the whole world wide web to know if someone had stayed at Bhangarh ruins for the night and could not come across one single person claiming so and these guards are saying there are no ghosts. We ought to find that out ourselves. The next on the agenda became to pitch our tents there, which the guards had already politely refused. After much buttering and persuasion they agreed to allow us to pitch our tents near the gates to which we gladly agreed.

Everyone was relieved and with full throttle we starting inflating our tents and by the time the food arrived, the tents were up. It was already past 9 in the evening. We had our dinner and the group started discussing the ghostly world. All this went on till 2.30 am before we said goodnight to each other and also taking a good look towards the ruins in that faint hope of some hallucinate effects. Alas… nothing.

It was six in the morning and I heard some hollowing noise. Came out of the tent and it was our dear Langur running towards the ruins. I had the opportunity to have the glimpse of the ruins with the first ray of the sun and it was wow. The next couple of hours were spent clicking the early morning ruins of Bhangarh. It is about 34 kms from Dausa via Sainthal Mod, and 47 kms from Sariska, this place was once a flourishing town of 10,000 homes. According to legend, it was built in the 17th century by Raja Madho Singh, the younger brother of illustrious Man Singh (one of the nine gems of Akbar’s court). A quick look at the surrounding is enough to conclude that it definitely had a prosperous past. With a well planned bazaar and the famous Randiyon ka Mahal (Palace of Prostitutes) in the backdrop makes it a very fascinating sight. The palace in fact seems to be cross between a palace and a fort has definitely been built tastefully overlooking the green lawns and the temples. The temples are a treat to the eyes but seems to have been badly ripped off by the thieves till it came under the supervision of ASI.

Ghosts or no ghosts, a visit to Bhangarh is a must for every traveller. The route from Delhi is via Bhiwadi-Alwar-Rajgarh-Tehla-Bhangarh and the road is excellent.

Input & Photographs : Shekhar Patil

Jambughoda – A Ride To Remember – by Mandeep Kalsy

Sleep never eludes me whenever I have to ride the next day. Infact it is sounder than the usual sleep. Maybe it is because my mind, heart and body is relaxing that we’ll finally be on the roads once again after a very long time.But this time it was different. I tossed and turned throughout the night swatting mosquitoes even though goodnight was burning at full throttle. After ages it was 8 am and I finally couldn’t take it any more and got out of the bed. The packing was still pending and after a quick visit to the bathroom I started collecting all the things I’d need for the trip to Jambughoda.Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Halol and Jambughoda talukas of Panchmahals district and Sankheda taluka of Vadodara district. Originally the area was a reserve forest having extent of 130.38 sq. km, which was constituted as Sanctuary in 1990. After commencement of Wildlife (Protection) Act amendment in 1991, the area is deemed to be declared as a Sanctuary under Section 26 (A). Forest and revenue villages surround area of the Sanctuary. Terrain of the Sanctuary is hilly and undulating.This is one of the good forest areas in Chhotaudepur division. It is also an important area for nature education and environmental awareness camps. The forest plays important ecological and hydrological roles of constituting catchments of small rivers, preventing soil erosion and maintaining health of the watershed. It also plays socio-economic role by satisfying basic needs of tribal communities living in and around the Sanctuary. Local tribals collect minor forest produce from the area for their livelihood.I had been trying CP’s phone since the last two days but I couldn’t get through. I was confident that he would be at Valsad at the time we had to leave. But 11 o’clock and no CP. So I called up my mechanic to ask him if CP had come in for a final checkup of his bike. Pankaj said he hadn’t seen CP since the last 10 days. Throwing caution to the wind I packed my stuff in Amol’s Cramsters and took a bath. After refreshing myself and having a hearty breakfast I collected my luggage and climbed down the stairs to load it on Epicenter, my 500 cc Enfield, which has given me 35000 untroubled and wonderful kilometers.A quick wave to mom and I was off to the petrol bunk to top up. The attendant asked if Saab was going somewhere. I said Saab was going to Ahmedabad. He looked like somebody had hit him where it hurt the most. I paid him, kicked the bike to life and roared off to join the traffic and madness of the national highway no.8. As I checked my cellular (I don’t wear a watch), it was exactly 12 in the noon. I didn’t have a shadow to follow. It would go with me for some time before I had to start chasing it. The temperature was pleasant. It always is at Valsad because of the seacoast. I rolled forward slowly taking stock of my stuff, thinking if I had forgotten anything. Home was just 3 kilometers away and it wouldn’t be a trouble to go back and get it. But everything seemed in order and I sped up gradually twisting the throttle till I was at my most comfortable speeds, neither stressing the bike, nor myself. Surat passed by in a blur of trucks and busses and rickshaws, a melee of confused traffic at the crossroads, unsure where to head. I had crossed the busiest part of the highway and now the roads would be comparatively better as there were no diversions or construction work in progress. My first stop was at Baroda, 110 kilometers from Ahmedabad. The heat was hot here and even at 4 in the evening it was like riding in a furnace. I don’t wear windcheaters and neither do I use sunscreen lotions so when I finally got off the motorcycle for a small halt to refresh myself, I observed that my skin had gone a deep red. Sunburn. Terrible. My mom was going to yell bloody murder. Munda kaala hoke aaya hai. At a small restaurant nearby I bought a couple of bottles of mineral water and washed my face with the chilled water and soaked my bandanna with it. I still had a full bottle and a half bottle. So I sat down to finish them off slowly and let the sun go down a bit more so that it would cool down a little and make it more comfortable to ride.Anshuman called up in the meanwhile to ask where I had reached. I said Baroda and it would take me another 90 minutes to reach Ahmedabad. He promised he would be there at Narol to pick me up. These big cities are always a nuisance to me. I can never make out what road I have to take to reach some place except my mechanic, Ketan’s place and that too because it is on the way to Ahmedabad city. Aviral also called up to know where I was and when I said I was near Nadiad, he asked me if I was flying a helicopter. After a small laugh session with him I started for Ahmedabad again. As I entered Ahmedabad and was looking for a place to stop and call up Anshuman when I heard my name being shouted from the other side. It was Anshuman on Saadi, his Enfield 350. That’s what I call timing. We shook hands and headed off to my uncle’s place but not before the mandatory visit to Ketan’s garage where I ogled his Triumph Speed Twin.Ahmedabad even at 6 in the evening was like a pressure cooker. Full of heat emanating from everywhere around you. It felt as if one was literally burning. It was then when I realized that I was indeed burning. My skin had turned a ghastly red in color due to the constant exposure to the sun for such a long time in such heat. I couldn’t wait for the cool water from the shower to hit my body. Anshuman left me at my uncle’s place where I met my aunt and nephews, while he went to get the number printed on his number plate promising to be back in a little while. Aunty prepared the always-refreshing tea while I dominated the bathroom for a half wonderful hour. The water took away the heat and restored some of the moisture I had lost along the way. After a change of clothes and a cup of tea followed by two bottles of water, Anshuman, Aviral, who had come over to my uncle’s and I started for Rituraj, the weekly meeting point of the Gujarat bullets.As Anshuman had some work, Aviral and I decided to head to Rituraj and wait for the others and Anshu would join us there itself. Aviral and I were the first ones and within 10 minutes, the other members came roaring in. I met Ouseph, Xavier, Samip, Ashish, Tejasbhai, Parikshit, Avinash, Kaviraj, Joy and Jassi. It was a wonderful feeling to be back with the gang after a long time. We bickered and exchanged ride stories and road experiences and some jokes over chai and bread butter. The time and rendezvous point for the Jambughoda ride was discussed and finalized. While others left some of us decided to go to Shivshakti dhaba for dinner. We left for Kaviraj’s house where we parked our bikes, loaded up in his Gypsy and left for Shivshakti. Amol called up to ask our whereabouts and when we told him where we were headed he promised to be there in some time but it would be late by then. I said we’d wait for him no matter what the time. So we reached Shivshakti, ordered the mandatory daal bati and attacked it as soon as it was served. The plates were empty within minutes and after Aviral’s brief performance of raag dakaar, we settled down to wait for Amol. It didn’t take him long to arrive and after the customary hug session, we ordered chai. Then the group dispersed and I decided to ride pillion with Amol as it had been a long time since we’d met properly while the others headed off in the Gypsy. After reaching Kaviraj’s house, we picked up our bikes and as Anshu and I were riding the Epicenter, I told him to drop me at my uncle’s while he could take the bike to his place and come back to pick me up tomorrow morning. Then we would go to Tejasbhai’s place and pick up Anshu’s bike and Tejasbhai. After promising to pick me up at 5.30 sharp, Anshu left, the Epicenter’s thump echoing along the walls of the Shastrinagar complex.That night for the second time in a row, sleep eluded me. By the time I managed to doze off there was a message from Anshuman asking me to get ready. Damn., it was already 5 am. Brushing my teeth and using the toilet took me 10 minutes and another 10 minutes for packing my stuff and getting ready. By the time I hauled my bags out in the balcony Anshuman thumped in and revved a little to get my attention. We loaded the stuff onto the bike and left for Tejasbhai’s place. He was already down from his apartment and waiting anxiously for us. We distributed the luggage on both the bikes and I took Tejasbhai pillion with me. Then we headed off to Fun Republic to link up with the others. Anshuman had confirmed earlier that another good friend, Pushkar would also be joining in. so as we reached Fun Republic, we saw that some of us had already reached there and the others were on their ways. Tushar was the last to come and after a brief photo session and road manner instructions by road captain Aviral, we started for Narol and then to Baroda.The bikes and riders looked pretty good, strung out on the left side of the highway. When we overtook, there were 10 indicators indicating the left or right and when we braked there were 10 brake lights illuminating one after another, like some kind of a pre programmed circuit with a fixed interval. It was truly a sight to behold. It was on the national highway that the traffic really hit us. Even though it was 7.30 in the morning the traffic was like it is in the peak hours. But thanks to Aviral’s skillful road captaincy, we maintained the line throughout till we reached Dabhan and stopped for breakfast.Breakfast started with the usual leg pulling. We decided, jokingly of course, that as Aviral was the road captain of the ride; we would eat whatever he could afford. Lots of discussion on this and lots of fun later, everyone ordered whatever he felt like. A hearty and fulfilling breakfast and a very refreshing cup of chai later, we headed off for Baroda where we had to meet Dhruv who would take over from Aviral in terms of leading the group as he was more familiar with the routes. We made good time and within a very short time thumped our way into the parking lot of Blitz Auto, a Skoda dealership in Baroda. Aviral called Dhruv for his whereabouts and we were relieved to know that he had already started. And so had the heat. We had almost exhausted our water supply we had taken from Ahmedabad and now were waiting for Dhruv to come, so that we could start and purchase some bottled water from some hotel. Dhruv joined us and after a brief session of hellos and his, we headed off with Dhruv leading the pack. We took a left turn at the GSFC cross roads and within no time found ourselves heading for the Baroda Halol expressway. I doubted that we would have an entry to the expressway but Dhruv said we could ride on it if we paid the toll of 5 bucks. Everyone readily agreed and Ouseph shelled out the necessary 50 bucks for all the bikes. The race began. Tejasbhai wanted to take a lineup photo of the group on a curve and so we sped off to tell the others about the idea. But some miscommunication was bound to happen and as we stopped at a vantage point and Tejasbhai was setting the camera all the 9 other bullets roared past us on full throttle. An opportunity wasted. But there were other places to take photos, so we headed off, this time riding tail to the group. As we reached Halol, we had to take a right and since Ouseph and Xavier were waiting at the junction with Samip, we also stopped. Someone asked where Anshu and Parikshit were and I assumed that they were ahead with Aviral and group, but when we called up Aviral to ask his whereabouts and enquired about Anshuman and Parikshit we came to know that we had left them behind. So we decided to wait for them. About 20 minutes later they reached us and we headed off to join Aviral and gang at the reliance petrol pump where they were waiting for us. Some of us needed to top up our tanks so after getting the fuel we set off for Jambughoda.The road now changed to soft ghats with lazy turns and no extreme hairpins or climbs. We took our time cruising at a sedate pace, looking like a giant mechanical python zigzagging its way after a hugely satisfying lunch. The temperature in the meanwhile had also soared a bit and all of us were scorched with the heat. As we reached Shivrajpur and were about to ask for the forest rest house, Mr. Nepali, who was the person we had contacted for the stay met us and asked us if we were the group that was coming from Ahmedabad. When we replied in the affirmative, he asked us to follow him to the rest house where all the arrangements had been made for us. We set off after him and a kilometer or so later, we left the main road and took a dirt track. Aviral, Ouseph and Xavier had been lagging behind, so Pushkar, Parikshit and I decided to wait for them at the turning to the dirt track. They came into view about 20 minutes later and we headed off after the group. There were a couple of small roads heading off from the dirt track but we managed to look for motorcycle tracks and finally found our way to the campsite where the others were already waiting for us.Some went off to look around in the small forest while some of us decided to rest a bit in the cool shade of trees and then unpack our bags from the bikes. Aviral in the meanwhile waited under a mango tree for mangoes to fall down by themselves. Avinash hit everything but the mangoes. But finally we had 4 mangoes to pass some time. They were quite light and we discussed the possibility of them being made of thermocol. None of us had seen where our sleeping quarters were. So when we saw the small thatched huts, we thought this was where we were going to stay. As we unloaded our motorcycles and headed off towards the huts, Avinash and Joy informed us that we were to stay in the rest house on the top of the small hillock, at the bottom of which we were sitting. So carrying our loads we headed that way. Little did we know what a nice surprise we had waiting for us at the top. As we rounded the small turn on the hillock we saw a path leading to our right. We realized a little sluggishly that it was the wall of the Kada dam. But this was half of it. There were stairs leading to somewhere on the left and as we mounted the stairs; a well maintained building came into view. This was the rest house, where we would stay. As we finally reached the top and looked outwards, we had a splendid view of the reservoir, now 90 percent dry and the villages near it. The whole area was surrounded by rocky hills and was set up in a sort of bottom of a bowl. More surprises, the rest house had double beds, attached bathrooms, electricity, and a boon for summers, a working fridge, with bottles of chilled water, waiting just for us. As we ooohed and aahed our way through the various rooms and dropped our luggage on the floor, we realized that we were in for a lot of fun. It was almost 4 in the evening when we made ourselves at home and breakfast was served. We were to be there at 10 in the morning at the latest. But what is a ride if everything goes according to the time?? So here we were sitting and talking while the caretaker Natubhai prepared delicious poha for us. Two bowlfuls of poha vanished like magic and there were still four people left who hadn’t had any of it. So a second round was requested which was graciously served by Natubhai. The same thing happened again but this time everyone got a helping. This was followed by the ever-refreshing chai. Some of us went to bathe while some went to sleep. Some went to explore the reservoir while some sat outside in the small but neat garden taking in the nice view of the surroundings.After all of us had refreshed ourselves and were ready to go for a small walk, we first decided to fix our dinner menu. A lot of deliberation later it was decided and we gave the money to the caretaker to get the things and prepare the dinner. Ouseph and the caretaker went to get the necessary things and also got kukkad and desi daru with it. The walk along the reservoir was good fun. While we were headed towards the village, Aviral and some of us who had already left earlier were returning. Talking, joking and passing comments, we had a small photo session taking in all the scenes that surrounded us. It was still too hot.We returned to the rest house after a nice walk and some talking with the villagers there. Preparations for dinner were well under way by the time we settled down on the comfortable sofas and chairs of the rest house. While some took baths again, Avinash and Dhruv opened the customary bar. Although I don’t drink at all we cheered for each other and the drinking session was officially opened. Aviral went outside to and announced that it was definitely much cooler there than inside the rest house. We all decided to see if he was drunk or saying the truth. He was saying the truth. As darkness fell, the wind cooled down and picked up speed. It rustled through the small plants and trees around us. Maybe because we were at some height, the gusts were very strong. Almost like announcing the beginning of the monsoons. But the skies were clear, the moon shown and the Milky Way cut across the sky like a huge highway. Maybe there were some aliens enjoying in some distant galaxy like we were enjoying it here. Who could tell? But then who wanted to know? Ouseph acted as chef for chicken and a little while later, when everyone was hungry enough to tackle a grizzly with one’s bare hands, someone announced that dinner was served. There was a mad rush to the table like it was the last day on earth for us and within seconds all emerged out in the verandah with plates heaped with food like they hadn’t eaten for almost a week and wouldn’t eat for a week thereafter. It was the long ride, coupled with the atmosphere that had made us all so hungry. Dinner was delicious. Not too spicy, neither too oily and nor too salty. Just right for everybody. All ate praising Natubhai with every bite of roti we took. Chicken was still pending. Ouseph said it’d take a little longer. We agreed to wait and eventually when it was served everyone agreed that indeed the wait was worth it.After dinner, Aviral wanted to bring his bike up to the rest house. Soon everybody wanted their bikes at the top. So one after the other, everyone went down and got the bikes up. Aviral and Avinash went to the terrace and within a few minutes were off to sleep. The others sat around talking about many things in general, nothing in particular. Dhruv was the last to arrive back at the rest house. He had somehow got lost and couldn’t find the way back up. Although none of us knew each other very well, never for a moment we found that we didn’t understand each other or our views didn’t match on a particular subject. Everything was in harmony, one to the other and all to nature. It was a wonderful feeling. I’d finally sleep that night. We decided to sleep on the terrace. It was midnight but the rest house was still warm and uncomfortable to sleep in. So we took our sleeping bags to the terrace and prepared to sleep. Here too Samip and Joy gave us a nice comedy show and we all drifted off to sleep, some laughing and some smiling. The wind kept its relentless volley blowing. Like an angry god breathing hard. But we slept.Dawn came with a sudden change in temperature. Tejasbhai and I were the first ones to get up. The benefit of getting up earlier than the others is that you can use the bathrooms at your own leisure before everyone else starts banging on the doors. And we did exactly the same. We were the first to get ready and soon everybody was down waiting uneasily to use the bathrooms. Within a short time everyone was ready to go to Jhand Hanuman, Bhim Ki Ghanti and Hidamba Van, about 12 kilometers from the rest house. Natubhai served chai and after two cups and biscuits later the photo session started. The lineups and close-ups were taken and finally at 10 we started for Jhand Hanuman. As soon as we had gone about 5 kilometers we realized that we were missing two bikes. Parikshit and Ouseph. Waiting for them, we saw that Samip’s bike had a flat. Joy and Samip helped me to remove the wheel, which Anshu and I took to patch up. When we returned, everyone was there and we started again. The road now stopped being a road and turned into a dirt track. I hung at the tail and well behind everyone so that the dust settled and I could move freely. Some more kilometers later, the convoy came to an abrupt halt. Another puncture. This time in Joy’s bike. Again the same routine, but this time Dhruv and Joy went to get it repaired. We waited for them to return but when they didn’t come even after half an hour and our water supply had exhausted, half of the group decided to leave for Jhand Hanuman and the rest decided to wait. Finally after waiting some more, Aviral, Ashish and Samip decided to wait while Pushkar, Parikshit and I decided to go ahead. The dirt track was beautiful and it reminded me of how Gaurav loves to ride the dirt tracks. Finally we reached Jhand Hanuman and found the others waiting for us. There was chai for Prasad and after a cup for each we headed to see Bhim Ki Ghanti. As myth had it this was the grinding mill where Bhim had ground flour for his wife, Hidamba to make idli dosa…hehe. As we reached the approach to the place we were speculating on whether to take the bikes to the top or go on foot. A majority of people were climbing the route on foot so we were a bit apprehensive at first. The vacationers having lunch in the parking were snickering that the bikes wont be able to reach the top. We decided to take the bikes with us. So we shifted into the first gear and started to the top. The road. a dirt track actually, at first was a bit smooth though undulating but soon it turned to small rocks and stone and sand. But like all good and sincere bulleteers who go where nobody dares to, we didn’t lose heart and went the whole hog. Finally after slow and careful riding for about 10 minutes and maneuvering the bikes around small boulders and such we were on the top. It was a good feeling that washed over us. We had done a difficult road without anyone falling or injuring himself and without any bike having any problem. When we finally parked the bikes under a huge tree and turned around to look what actually Bhim Ki Ghanti was, we were spell bound. There was this grinding mill and all around it were stacks of stones, one over the other, five in number for the Pandavas. There were different colors to stones and the whole landscape looked out of the world. We stood there mesmerized for about 10 minutes. It was the silent whirring of Anshuman’s camera that brought us back to our senses. We all started talking at once. After some photos and poses, while Avinash stacked his set of stones we headed downwards. At the bottom while we took stock of all the bikes and whether anyone was having any problem the people who had snickered at us looked at us with some respect. We headed back for the rest house. It was already two in the afternoon and officially we should have started for Ahmedabad by now.While heading back we were met by Aviral, Dhruv and Joy who had fixed the tire and were going to Jhand Hanuman for a quick dekko. We waved to them and went off our way. Strangely Samip and Ashish were not with them. We put bad thoughts aside and headed for the rest house, negotiating the magnificent dirt track once again. As soon as we came to the Pucca Street, Samip and Ashish greeted us there. When we asked why they hadn’t come with us, Samip explained that they were looking for dahi to make some chhas, which Samip claimed he was a master at. We reached the rest house and started packing our stuff while Natubhai prepared lunch for us. We had decided to leave immediately after lunch, so everyone was hurrying up. Samip in the meanwhile got busy with his chhas project. Eventually, Aviral, Joy and Dhruv arrived and we discussed what all we had seen and whether the ride was worth it. Everybody agreed equally volubly that yes the trip was worth every single paisa. Natubhai announced lunch and Samip presented his chhas. Lunch was delicious, rice and daal. The chhas, exceptional. All had so much of chhas that, coupled with rice it made everybody drowsy and lazy and reluctant to move. Avinash in the meanwhile hit upon an idea to have a quick, cool, refreshing bath at the point where the water from the dam entered into a farming canal. Some were reluctant to go while Aviral and Dhruv were game for it. So they headed off for the canal while we digested the rice and chhas sitting and talking on the sofas in the drawing room of the rest house. Soon I had a feeling that maybe I should also take a dip in the canal. In the meanwhile Avinash and company were back from there and were full of praises for the wonders of sitting in a canal in this sweltering heat. That was it and Tejasbhai, Samip, Joy and I headed off to try out the water. We found a still better place to relax and took our time sitting in the water letting the heat dissipate and the coolness seep into our pores. It was truly relaxing and wonderful. Ashish came just as we were about to leave. Soon we reached the rest house and after a quick change of clothes we were ready to leave. In the meanwhile Natubhai announced his irresistible chai. We had to drink it. Soon we packed everything on our bikes and were ready to move when we realized that we had forgotten the most important thing. Paying Natubhai off for all the food we had consumed. When the accounting was done and the final figure reached at, everyone was surprised to see that for two days and one night of almost non stop eating all one had to pay was 60 bucks per head. Everyone readily shelled out the money and we added a hundred and fifty bucks for Natubhai and his assistant for the wonderful service they had provided. Thanks to Joy’s uncle Mr. P. K. Patel who is the RFO at Jambughoda that we didn’t have to pay for the rest house stay and permission and entry charges.As soon as we started our bikes and were about to move, Joy went crazy. We realized he had a flat. Again. So we removed the tire and Anshuman, Joy and Pushkar headed off to get the tire done. I asked Anshuman to call up Sandeep and let him know that I would be home by dawn. The rest of us just plonked our butts into the grass and started having a good time. A good half an hour later Anshuman and Joy arrived with the tire. While I was fitting the tire Anshuman told me that I had to come back to Ahmedabad as I had to get something from there for Sandeep. I agreed. So it was 6.30 when we finally left Jambughoda. We decided to take it real slow because it was getting dark and we didn’t want any mishap to occur due to speed or recklessness. Everyone agreed and the convoy started with Pushkar and I tailing them. It was a beautiful sight to behold. 9 motorcycles in front of me, their silent chuffing filling the air and their taillights like some wild fireflies in wild surroundings. It was a spell binding sight. Almost hypnotizing. But we didn’t get hypnotized and before we knew we were in Halol. Here calamity struck again. Ashish had a front tire puncture. We decided to remove the tire and get it done up but then we realized that we had a foot pump and it was a slow puncture so we pumped it up good and headed off to the puncture guy whom Avinash had already looked for and located. Here again we were in for the shock of our lives. The puncture wala didn’t know how to remove the tire and insisted that it wasn’t his job to remove the tire; it was the mechanic’s responsibility. Controlling our frustration and anger, we removed the front wheel, got the puncture done up and headed for Baroda. But we had one more surprise waiting for us on the expressway. While Samip and I tailed, Tejasbhai went camera crazy and took a lot of night shots. Suddenly we saw Ashish getting airborne for a couple of seconds and coming down again. Aviral stopped immediately after ensuring that everyone was safe. Samip and I dodged a couple of broken boulders bang in the middle of the road and stopped a little ahead of the group. Aviral in the meanwhile had gone out of his mind and was shouting and pointing ahead. When we finally got our eyes in the direction he was pointing, we realized that a bus was zigzagging in the middle of the highway and headed towards Baroda without its lights and apparently no driver. That is when we realized that Aviral was telling us the same thing that the bus was without a driver. Pushkar and I raced ahead to stop and board the bus and then get it to stop. But suddenly the headlights on the bus went up. We thought that maybe the bus was haunted when suddenly the driver poked his head out of his window and asked us what the matter was. We lambasted him and threatened him to pick up the boulders he had left on the highway and if he didn’t do it we would cause a serious traffic jam and report him to the authorities. In the meanwhile, the highway patrol ambulance also reached us thinking that there was an emergency. We notified the ambulance guys about what had happened, took a couple of photos and headed off again to Baroda. At Baroda we regrouped and discussed about dinner. It was already past 9 and everyone was hungry. Dhruv suggested a restaurant at Vasad where we could have good food and he could head back to Baroda after the dinner. We agreed. Dinner was delicious and after dinner we all said goodbye to Dhruv and headed for Ahmedabad. The highways were reasonably empty and we made good speeds. Suddenly I realized that only Joy and I were ahead and there was nobody behind us. So we slowed down while others caught up with us. We stopped at Dabhan for tea, as everyone was feeling sleepy. It was almost 2.30 when we reached Narol. Ouseph’s bike had conked out and Aviral was pushing it since the last 20 kilometers. They passed us while all of us gathered at Narol to say final goodbyes to each other. Then we headed off for Anshuman’s place where I would spend the night, finish off Sandeep’s job and head for Valsad that day. We dropped off Tejasbhai at his place. Anshuman’s bike had burnt valves and a dead piston. But we were lucky that it didn’t give us even an ounce of trouble during the whole ride. We finally reached Anshu’s place and were asleep even before our heads hit the pillows. Two days of fun and heat had tired us so badly that we didn’t even feel the stifling heat in the room. We just slept like logs until it was 9 am in the morning and time to get up.I got ready and we took Anshu’s bike to Ketan’s garage for repairs. My bike also needed minor attention. We reached there, and when Jayanti kaka, Ketan’s father was through with my bike, we asked him to start and see what was wrong with Anshu’s bike. He started it and said that the valves were kaput and maybe even the piston. It would take a couple of days. We put the bike in for repairs, I said goodbye to Jayanti kaka and thanked him for taking care of my bike and headed for Anshu’s office. Tejasbhai had already developed one roll of photos and even Samip had his cd ready. We saw the photos and recalled all the fun we had. Finally it was time to leave. I shook hands with Tejasbhai, went with Anshuman to finish off Sandeep’s work and came back to Anshu’s place. It was 3.45 in the afternoon and burning hot. But I had to leave. So I packed my luggage and Anshuman came to see me off till the highway. We said bye and parted ways. I picked up speed and started for Narol. It as 5 when I turned right and faced my bike towards Valsad. 6 hours later, at exactly 11 pm I was at home.My mom went crazy looking at the sun burnt face and hands. My dad was shaking with laughter while I listened to my mom rant about how careless I am. Finally Sandeep ordered pizzas and we had dinner. I took a bath, fell into bed and went to sleep, dreaming of Jambughoda.

Ride to Pabbar Valley – by Dallbir

Since my last ride six months back, desperation was building up. My office was doing a great job keeping me busy, consuming most of my Saturdays. Finally, there was a hope for a ride in late December during Christmas. Thought of riding towards Rajasthan but couldn’t resist the idea of witnessing a snowfall. Started looking for various options and zeroed on Pabbar Valley. Route plan was simple: Delhi – Pipli – Yamunanagar – Poanta Sahib – Shillai – Tiuni – Rohru – Chargaon – Shiladesh – Rohru – Sungri – Baggi – Narkanda – Shimla – Delhi; duration 4-5 days. Roped in couple of my friends and after some preparation, countdown started.
On 21st December, five of us left on four bikes around 7:30 am, one more friend was supposed to join us from Kurukshetra. Our plan was already delayed by hour and a half. We took our first halt around 9.30 at Murthal for parantha breakfast. After a quick break of 30 minutes we were on road again, trying to cover up the lost time. We rode without any break till Pipli, where we met Aman who was eagerly waiting for us. But before we can start again, I had a flat tyre and some broken spokes. Got it fixed and now we were way behind our schedule. On our way between Kalesar and Poanta Sahib, Rishi’s bullet started facing problems on the ascents. He was riding with a pillion and lot of luggage, transferred some on to my bike and it was smooth again. By the time when we reached the holy city of Poanta Sahib, it was already 4:30pm. All of us were hungry as a beast and we freaked on the local tikki burgers and chai. Enquired about the route further, since we were way beyond our schedule decided to ride as far as possible that day. After a long days ride, finally we were in the mountains, climbing further with every kilometer. This is a dusty mining area with lot of truck traffic. Reached the silent own of Shillai around 8:30 pm and took shelter in Govt. PWD guesthouse around 9.30 p.m after dinner.
22nd December, 2007
Shillai is not a picture perfect town with barren mountains, but has one of the most amazing sunrises I have ever witnessed. Woke up early, don’t remember the time, it was freezing cold but couldn’t resist the idea of a sunrise, got the camera, all wrapped stepped out for a surprisingly awesome sunrise. Soon, ruined everybody else’s sleep, meanwhile tea was ready. It was a beautiful sunny winter morning, could see little bit of snow on distant mountains. Soon everybody was ready for exciting day ahead. It was descend from Shillai, the ride was just amazing, with occasional pine forest. Soon we reached the confluence of Tons & Pabbar river and the sight was amazing. The sight reminded me of Spiti, with barren rocky mountains in the background, crystal clear water. During all this, we never refueled. Around 20 kms short of Tiuni, Rishi’s bike ran out of petrol. Other had enough to lend him some petrol and we made it to Tiuni. With a quick fill up and little brunch, we rode on some of the most scenic roads to Hatkoti, visited the ancient Hatu Mata Temple. Our next stop was at Rohru, the headquarters Pabbar valley, we negotiated through heavily crowded streets, once out of town the valley was amazingly beautiful, the snow clad mountain ahead of us looked so close but yet too far. After crossing the town, we proceeded at a low speed consuming the beauty as much as possible. Pabbar River giving us company throughout, little ahead crossed Chargaon silent hill town. This was the last town on this route and the population decreased further down the road. Spotted a beautiful spot along the bank of the river and stopped for a break. There we had the most relaxing 30-40 minutes break of the whole ride. The sight was simply awe, with crystal clear water flowing and beautiful mountains all around with thick vegetation. Ahead of the road was snow-clad mighty white sparkling Chansal peak. Not wasting further time we all headed towards Shiladesh as we knew that the sun will come down fast in few hours. Initially it was easy climbing on slopes with a little mud but soon it was mud and snow which made it really hard to keep the balance. As we climbed further, tougher it got to ride. 3 kms before Shiladesh, had to take a tough decision to turn back to the valley. It was tough but a sensible situation, with sun going down fast and no grip on the road; we climbed back just to come back again sometime. According to locals the scenery beyond these mountains are comparable to none and the remotest, all the more reasons to try it again. Everybody had their own share of skidding and falling which was fun, everybody got down safely. We started looking for a place to camp and found an ideal spot just opposite the river bank where we stopped earlier. Since it was already dark and everybody was hungry and we have to pitch tents also, we didn’t’ had an option for ‘fine dining’. Two guys were sent off to Chargaon to get some food and drinking water and rest of us stayed back to pitch tents and collect firewood. Within half an hour tents were pitched and fire was burning. Guys came back with food, but couldn’t get drinking water as none of the shop keepers kept either bottled water or soft drink and rest were closed. I along with Rishi decided to go the other end of the road to nearby village for water, could have used river water, but our water purifying pills had expired. And to our luck it was too late for the village to be awake at 8:00 pm;-). On our way back, had some dogs chasing us, which was a boon is disguise; as soon we stopped we noticed a small tea stall. Requested the guy for some water, after little while he agreed to give us a big container of water without any charge. That night was cold, after dinner went to our tents to call it a day.
23rd December, 2007
After a long night sleep, we woke up early, as our journey back home was supposed to start. The morning was icy cold with wind picking up. And it was time for nature’s call. After attending to the call, all of us knew what they call ‘third degree torture’, with no toilet paper around and icy cold river water aaaaghhh aaaagghhh. Later discovered various animal skeletons behind the tents and later a local told us that last year they had shot a leopard just opposite that site. That was very informative after we have camped there last night. Decided to take a dip in cold water, no matter what but again the local warned us – ‘Iss mausam main nadi ke paani se hum nahin nahate, aap nahoge to bimaar ho jaoge’. Packed up the stuff, returned the water container and returned back to Rohru. Refueled and asked for directions to Sungri. We could have taken a safer route to Shimpla via Theog but ehehehe. From Sungri, you can either take left turn for Narkanda or right turn to Rampur. It was a beautiful road to Sungri with very less traffic, from 1400 meters, we climbed up to around 2200 meters. Soon, we got to see small patches of snow along the way which really excited us and proceeded further with more enthusiasm (kya pata tha aage pungi bajegi). Took a halt at Sungri, had breakfast and tea and spoke to locals there about the road to Narkanda. As usual, we rely on local guidance more then anything else, so the guys told us that jeeps have been coming from the other side, so bikes wouldn’t be problem. That’s all we needed, packed up and got on to the Sungri-Narkanda road. It was 12:30 pm and Baggi was 40 kms away. So we planned to stay little ahead of Narkanda that day (ehehe wishful thinking).
As we started to ride, we got a first patch of snow on the road – excitement meter-99%, got to see another one round the corner – excitement meter-95%, got another one and another one and another one. After traveling (or should I say balancing and walking through snow) 18 kms, we reached Khadrala, where bikes just stood in snow without any support. Locals suggested us to turn back and not proceed further as the road was blocked with snow. But we smart asses decided that now we have managed 18kms of snow patches, ‘we will manage’ rest 22 also. Now we know why roads get close, how do people get stranded, why do they warn you. By the time we reached Baggi, it was 8’o clock. Midway, one of the guy had a flat tire, snow was all around us, never saw so much of snow at one place. We divided the group in two parts, send three bikers to check the rest of the way and acquire any accommodation closest. Had a time of our lives fixing that puncture, tires got stiff, fingers won’t move in snow, it took us an hour just fix it up. It was about to get dark and the worst was yet to come, guys ahead informed us bout a ice patch ahead (not a snow patch) and a long mud-snow patch. Everybody had their own share of falls. At one point of time we were finding it hard to stand on our feet and as I write, couldn’t believe we rode on that patch. Won’t do it again for million rupees, well if you make it two might take up the challenge. Finally we crossed all the patches and it was dark. We met a local who scared the hell out of us; he was like a chowkidaar from Zee Horror Show who told us that we shouldn’t be there at that point of time. Soon we reached Baggi, our shoes were wet, clothes were dirty, hands were freezing, and all we wanted was bed. This day we covered 40 kms in about 7 hours, you can imagine how tough it would have been. Dividing the team in two parts was a smart decision, coz by the time we reached everything was closed, but these guys were waiting for us. We unloaded the bikes and took shelter in PWD rest house. It was a long hard day. The rooms were warm and nice with a fireplace which we later used to dry our wet shoes and clothes. After little chitchat, all of us went off to sleep as nobody had any energy left. Won’t be able to forget about that day, it was a stupid decision to continue down that road. As per our plan we were supposed to reach Narkanda via Baggi, and after witnessing the day, nobody could figure next day, nobody wanted to think about it.
24th December, 2007
Hoping to reach home this day, we woke early and packed our stuff on time. After enquiring about the road ahead, was glad to know that little ahead, a road bifurcates towards Theog which is all clear of snow. We couldn’t have been happier. We checked our bikes and started our journey with a cup of tea. Decided to stop for breakfast nearby Theog. It was fourth day without shower and we were sure that we won’t get entry at our home without id proof ;-). Spirits were high and clear road got us to enjoy the ride. This place is known as Baggi coz this area is surrounded by apple orchards, people there don’t know anything else apart from growing apples. It is beautiful country side surrounded by apple orchards. We took a short break at Chaila and proceeded towards Theog. It had been quite sometime since we had nice food, so decided to eat at the famous ‘Giani da dhaba’ at Dharampur. Crossed maddening Shimla and pushed ourselves to Dharampur, reached their around 2 pm, as hungry and dirty as a pig, we hogged on as we haven’t eaten in days. Since we had covered a long distance, decided to cover up the rest of distance to Delhi and as they say, journey back home is always the longest. Reached home at around 1am, covered around 450 kms in a day. Woke up next morning and it all seemed like a dream, a dream which got over too quickly.
Till then, waiting to return to Pabbar valley again, to scale the heights which I couldn’t do this time.

Weekend Pushkar and Sambhar Lake – by Hirak

It was a very interesting Saturday (22.10.2005). Must be about 0030 hours in the night and I was contemplating to hit the road. Its been a while since I got a full weekend off. I started packing. One bag, two Ts, one denim jacket, toiletries, bike spares bag. Went to my sis’s room and whispered, I am off to Pushkar tomorrow. She didn’t give me that blank look this time, a perfect sis of a riding bulleteer. At 4.30am, I got up, got ready and tiptoed to the balcony. It was horribly cold for October! I was back under the quilt. At 0615 hours I was out again and I knew it’s now or never. Picked up my bag, woke up my sis and gave her a hug and asked her to lock the door behind me. 0630 hrs: Odometer Reading: 13912. I was cruising slowly and NH-8 was so enticing. It told me what ‘Freedom to Speed’ is applicable here. The result was a surprise. I was at my Pushkar Hotel, had taken my bath, enroute scouted for a suitable haveli type guest house, got my bike kick repaired (the kick spring had broken!!) and it was only 11.50am when Manas called to enquire about my well being. From my Challenge point of view of doing Delhi-Mumbai in record time on my Royal Enfield Electra 2004 – which I propose to do in less than 20 hours (subject to some corporate sponsorship though) without any modifications on my bike. I sat down by the Pushkar Lake and the soothing kirtan of ‘Hare Rama, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare’ pacified my mind. After spending an hour, I went around the great Pushkar Market, colorful, full of energy and vitality, choking me with the aroma of its famous mithais – and a bong can’t resist them you know – and innumerable Royal Enfields of various shapes and designs and thumps ferrying mostly Israeli and Swedish hunks and honeys, the ghats of the lake, each had its own story to tell. But I missed the greatest show, which the newspapers in Delhi carried that week – of a Finnish lady walking naked in the streets of Pushkar!! (Awww.. now that’s a missed scoop for a travelogue-writer-cum-photojournalist in the making.. the pic could have been my clubz wallpaper of the decade !!). Thankfully again, since that didn’t happen, I headed for Dargah Sharif, and paid my tributes there with complete peace of mind. I felt so calm and relaxed there, and it was my lucky day – ‘Kheer’ was prepared in the smaller of the two huge cauldrons there and I got to partake that, thanks to my friend and Khadim at the Holy Shrine – Kamli Bhai. The food is prepared in the two cauldrons only on important occasions like Ids, the annual Urs, and during the holy month of Ramadan. I wished him well too, its the auspicious month of Ramadan, and took leave and headed back to my Pushkar hotel. I missed the sunset at Pushkar, which they say is quite a sight. But there is always a next time for a biker… The evening serenity of the lake was amazing. As darkness enveloped the lake, reflections of the night-lights dancing slowly in the water, in harmony with the kirtan that was on, the pleasant breeze kissed the soul and the mortal body remained glued to the cemented stairs of the ghats oblivious of the worldly transactions around. I headed for the market for some snacks, mingled with some of the foreigners and locals, had Kashmiri biriyani, enjoyed the night of high pitched kirtan, traditional style, and it was indeed mesmerizing, not just for me but for each passerby, and then called Pritam in Jaipur to reconfirm the ride to the Great Sambhar Lake – Asia’s largest Salt Water Lake. He was Game, a true 60kphr! The Sunday morning chill prevented me to start early. Pritam laughed at me, and said, I have weathered the Ladakh’s inhospitable cold on a bike and I am shivering in Pushkar. Guess that was the joke of the day but a biker knows better, prevention is always better than ‘cold’. Thankfully, the joke was applicable on Pritam too, since he too was shocked to feel the chill outside, he confessed. At 7am I was ripping the Ajmer Highway and driving towards Dudu from where the road leads to Sambhar Lake. The trucks carrying tonnes of uncut marble rocks slowed the traffic down and then there were those usual accidents. Pritam reached early, almost by 25 minutes. I missed the cut and went over the flyover at Dudu, but that wasn’t my mistake. The Jaipur – Kishangarh expressway is anytime a biker’s delight and my bike touched an unbelievable 108kmph … for me that was like Mach3… I came back to the Bharat Petroleum pump at Dudu under that flyover where my travelmate and good buddy Pritam was waiting so very patiently and we had a great ‘jaduu ki jhappi’, it had to be; we were meeting after almost two months. Soon, we were on the move, stopping and taking pics, joking, our bikes rollicking and frolicking through the vast arid landscape – habited though – and suddenly there was this vast white expanse of space-the dry salt lake bed, and where there was water in the lake bed, there were flamingos – white and pink, dancing and prancing – they made an awesome site. I clicked on and on unceasingly, then I zipped my bike across the salt bed, it was rock solid, and what a pleasure it was. Unfortunately we had very less time and to see the entire lake – its huge and unending coving hundreds of square miles – we need at least a week’s time. So I guess I have to go back there, again…. We headed towards Jaipur for a quick lunch. Then, I bade goodbye to Pritam at the NH-8 dhaba where we had lunch and soon was cruising towards Delhi. Each time I have passed this NH, it had been a different experience altogether. The bike and the rider on it, that’s me, gets transformed into something rebellious, something unwarrantingly macho, the result is just one – the highway burns and people, whether pedestrians, dhaba-walas, truck-walas, car-walas, tempo-walas, all heads turns in appreciation of the majesty of the Royal Beast. Though I drove real slow, but still was at my garage at 7.30pm. The Odometer reading at my garage was 14842.2. Total distance covered in two days was 930 kms. A weekend trip that I will remember for the years to come.