The trip that was not meant to be - Part 1
This is not an ordinary travelogue. This is a story of how a few people tried to motorbike all the way to Leh from Delhi, and at every point along the way, kept meeting the obstacles that the elements of nature threw at them, and yet, at the end of the day, survived.
What would you do if you are in a remotest corner of Spiti valley and find that the motorbike has a flat wheel ? Further, what would you do when you have the tools, and yet do not have a foot pump to fill up wheel ?
It was a simple plan. Book the bikes on a train from Madras to New Delhi, start riding from New Delhi. We did exactly that. The bikes were off on a train to Delhi. We used the services of Green Express Cargo, a private contractor, who has taken out railway compartments on lease.
On the 30th of July, Sathish, Anand, Missus, and N, boarded the train at Chennai. We were scheduled to meet a few other friends in Delhi. The train journey was rather comfortable. Well, who ever said an air-conditioned compartment is not comfortable ? The only sore point was the absence of the hawkers, but on the plus side, we did not have to squeeze half-a-dozen of us into one single seat.
For a journey of 30+ hours, the train was surprisingly on time. We got down at Delhi and moved all our luggage to Ginger hotel right next to the railway station. The plan was to get the motor-bikes out from the train and leave as early as possible. Anand had to go to a different place to collect his motor-bike.
We had just two weeks time with us. In hindsight, you would need three weeks to enjoy the journey and the destination. If you have two weeks, your concentration must be to reach Leh, not to enjoy the journey. If we had done that, in all probability, you may not be reading this post, or our motor-bikes would be left stranded in Leh !!
At around 2.00PM, the bikes were made ready. In the time that Anand had gone to collect his bike, Sathish and myself went over to Karol Bagh and got a carrier fixed on one of the motorbikes. Note to future travelers -- get your motorbikes checked with a mechanic in Karol Bagh. The point is that most mechanics in Madras, or down South, are not familiar with tuning the bikes for the hilly terrain, but the mechanics in Delhi would be. One such mechanic is Gurdayal Singh, a.k.a, Bawa. His garage is close to Southern Hotel.
The ride plan was simple, Delhi to Manali, Manali to Leh. Since we had a late start, we decided to halt for the day in Ambala. The ride till Ambala was fairly peaceful, on a four laned highway. Of course, we needed to ask around quite many people for directions to get out of Delhi, which took us an hour or so. But once that was done, we were on the highway. As always, I decided to stick to 75-80 kmph speed for a comfortable ride. We stopped for lunch on a highway Dhaba, which strangely enough was a pure vegetarian joint. I was rather surprised to find a highway dhaba that was purely vegetarian.
By nightfall, we reached Ambala. Of course we did get to see a nice setting sun along with verdant grass fields.
We checked in Hotel Puran Palace in Ambala Cantonment for the night. An air-conditioned room was going at 850 Rs. After some haggling, we got it down to 650Rs per room. It was a rather decent place and the food was quite tasty. We slept for the night. Tomorrow was going to be a long day. The plan was to reach Manali. Did we ?
Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 11:11 AM