Date/Day – Thursday, 23rd June
Journey – Srinagar-Gulmarg-Srinagar
Distance – 100 kms
Riding Time – 2 Hrs Uphill/2 Hrs Downhill
We got up pretty late as we both were mentally prepared to travel for 4-5 hrs only. Our day started with mild breakfast and Initial assessment of our bikes. I was bit frustrated due to my bike seat not being very comfortable on previous day. My younger brother had warned me before the trip I ignored it to save some money. Farzin and I also wanted to get minor checks done on our bike by a professional bullet mechanic before we start our ascend to first pass (Zoji-la) of our journey. We roamed around Srinagar to find padding for my bike seat but failed. Also 2 bungee chords we bought were on verge of breaking, we started looking for the bungee chords and failed again. We visited all major bike shops near Dal Lake, Lal Chowk but no luck. Lucky we got bullet specialist for fine tuning our bikes for tomorrow and phew it was already ticking 12:30 on the clock. We decided to take just 1 bike for this day trip.
We chuked the idea of bungee chords and seat and made our way towards Gulmarg “Path of Roses”. The Accent to Gulmarg was super green clean. Single road but very well maintained and it started getting cold in sharp sunlight due to lush greenery. We clicked some photos and had lunch en-route on a local dhabha. We reached Gulmarg at about 3 and were told that we are late for Phase 2 of Gondola.
The Gondola service for Phase 2 stops operation at 3 PM because of weather conditions up on the mountain. We got tickets for Phase 1 and reached midway. The Gondola experience was pretty similar to the experience in Switzerland. We had some snacks till 4 PM and decided to descend back. We reached the Gulmarg base at 5 PM and started to descend towards Sri-nagar. We reached guest house by 6:30 PM and were dead tired. We ordered food(Spinach for me and Rogan Josh for Farzin) in our room and started packing our bags for the big day – Zoji-la.
Date/Day – Wednesday , 22nd June
Journey – Udhampur- Srinagar
Distance – 230 kms
Riding Time – 10.5 Hrs
Gradient- Climb/Descend till Jawahar Tunnel (about 150 kms). Single Lane Highway till Srinagar
I was super excited, we were finally climbing Himalayas on our Motorbikes. We reached Patnitop in less than 2 hours. To be very honest we didn’t even realize that we had corssed Patni Top. We had roasted corn/water and moved on. We reached near a Hydroelectric Power project on Chenab River, clicked some pictures of the Dam releasing water. We decided to have lunch at the same place and it was again Veggy Dhabha, as obvious Farzin was pissed. Moving up further there were mega mountains and rushing rivers, green trees and smell of pine trees. Everything was going as planned and our mood was all set, Tripping, Thumping – this is all we wanted. At 3 PM we halted at about 10 kms before Jawahar Tunnel. We had a quick tea before moving further and as my habit is to ask about the route and weather ahead, we were told that after Jahawar tunnel the approach to SriNagar is flat out roads and no mountains climbs. We were told that this tunnel was British vision. A mega project which re-routed the big mountain pass into tunnel below the mountain to reach Srinagar. This tunnel was more than 60 years old, Water was dripping from the tunnel roof which was nothing but glacial melt seeping in through soil and concrete and it was super cold. These were 2 one way tunnels and no overtaking was allowed. Crossing Jahawar tunnel 2.8 kms was experience of lifetime. Infact later on someone told that this tunnel was suppose to be decomissioned but is still in use (oops). We descended from the last mountain of the day and reached flat land. I was again in search to re-fuel my bike. Have to say Electra 4s wasnt giving more than 25 kmpl, which is not great milage at all. I had to refuel near Anantnag. (View near Anantnag)
By 6 PM we reached Sri-nagar the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. We checked-in in a hotel near All India Radio office for 600 Rupees a night. It was bit expensive but very decent to stay in for 2 nights. Our Dinner was planned one of my dad’s colleague who had come to see us and slept very well. I was very happy and satisfied with our planning, coordination, teamwork.
Date/Day – Tuesday, 21st June
Journey – Amritsar-Udhampur
Distance – 230 kms
Riding Time – 8 Hrs
Gradient- Single road from Amritsar to Pathankot, Divided 4 Lane Highway till Samba, about 60kms of Climb from Samba to Udhampur.
Day 2 started a bit late at 9 AM. We were dead tired after completing Journey of about 496 kms. We literary dragged out ourself at 10 AM to pay visit to Golden Temple. It was a majestic view.
After having ‘Guru ka Langar – The community meal’.
we continued our journey towards Jammu in blazing heat, None of us had summer gloves which was very bad idea. It was about 41 degree C outside and we were toasted. Farzin also took a small fall en-route while applying sudden breaks. I think it was heat taking its toll on us. To beat the heat we nice Verka Lassi which made him feel better We reached Pathankot by 3 which was mid way of our Journey and had lunch in a Veggy restaurant. Whenever I decided to check-in Veg Dhaba, farzin’s face use to become :(.
I was having chat with Punjabi Driver about route and approach towards Jammu, he suggested us to take a shortcut to Udhampur from place called Samba rather than going to Jammu. This idea could save us additional 60km of un-necessary Journey. We decided to save these kilometers. I tanked up again at Samba(Royal Enfield Electra 4s was giving no more than 24kmpl), and had some quick evening snacks. This route had a decent climb over Lower Himalayan Range. Wow – We touched Himalayas. This moment we both were waiting from very long. We started climb at 5:30 PM and reached Udhampur at 7:30. It wasn’t exactly a smooth ride but decent enough climb. We checked in a very cheap hotel for 400 rupees a night and ordered food. This time Farzin couldn’t resist and said I am eating non-veg, I am out of home and I am not eating Veggie grass.
He ordered some meat and I ordered veg meal. We called it a night and decided that tomorrow we should leave early morning and try to reach SriNagar by 6 PM.
Date/Day – Monday, 20th June
Journey – Delhi- Amritsar
Distance – 496 kms
Gradiant – Flat lands
We kick started our bikes at 7:30 AM (my Royal Enfield Electra 4S 2006 and Farzin’s Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twin spark 2010). Our bikes were all set and ready for their first cross country trip.
My mother flagged off at 7:30 AM, and get set go – the idea was to stay away from Delhi peak hour traffic. We reached Delhi outer ring road in no time and tanked up our bikes to the brim of the tank. We got on to the Grand Trunk Road (NH01) a 8 lane highway. There was a major accident on Delhi Border because of which we were stuck for about 40 mins in a Jam. Once cleared of the jam, we throttled to the top speeds. We reached our first pit stop Panipat for breakfast(with my grandparents) at about 10:15. We had a quick breakfast, I met my grandpa, grandma and my cousin and we resumed our journey. The NH01 is a 6 Lane Motorway/freeway/highway which has speed limits bit rarely followed by anyone. We were cursing consistently at 90kmph. I was humming the song ‘Highway to hell’ while riding flat out on these mega highways. We had a mini pit stop near Ambala, this time to refuel and recharge ourself. We turned left from there towards Amritsar. Suddenly after a small Bump my bike chain started making some noise. On closely checking I realized that the Chain cover had broke because it was rusted. Damn – not on Day 1. First I got it welded from a local highway shop and continued our journey, and the song Highway to hell kept coming back in my ears. After sometime the same noise started irritating me again. (I am kind of a person who will not move with work-around so easily; it has to be a solid one to convince me to move further). I decided to find out nearest Royal Enfield spare shop to get a new chain cover (Android phone came to rescue).
After about an hour, We eventually found one and I got the bike fixed, we also bought some more bike spare like tubes, cables etc. We reached Ludhiana at 5:30, which was already quite late. I have some family roots in Ludhiana(My birth place), I really wanted to meet my cousin Aman who had got married while I was in UK and he also has a kid now. I convinced Farzin to go 7km off route. It was a nice feeling meeting everyone even if it was for an hour. My cousin suggested that we can make it to Amritsar by 11 and we should do it unless we have a free stay in Jalandhar. It’s a good omen to start climb after visiting The Golden Temple. I and Farzin agreed and accelerated towards Amirtsar at 7:15 AM. We had a quick McDonald Dinner on NH01 and reached Amritsar at 11:30 PM. We checked in a guesthouse very near to Golden Temple which was arranged by my cousin. We were sleeping like babies in no time.
Friday, 17th June – Mumbai
It was D day. The first step towards North India Circuit motorbike ride. I had been waiting for last 2 years for this ride. The day started well with packing my bags and I managed to reach office by 10:30 am. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable since a day before after eating fruit plate in my office cafeteria. I skipped my morning breakfast due to work pressure and it made condition worse. It was about 12:30 – I puked first time and by 1:30 I had to rush to washroom at least five times to throw up. My body was not even ready to accept water. It was defiantly food poisoning from fruit plate I ate. I had to leave immediately for doctor consultation but no luck. I returned home and slept for 2 hrs, this time skipping lunch. It was kind of worst case scenario, so I ended up calling my family doctor in Delhi and she suggested medication. I was feeling lot better within 40 minutes. I boarded the Mumbai local and reached Mumbai Central. Farzin was supposed to transit his bike in luggage but he came in late. In fact he was lucky to board the train himself. His motorbike boarded the next train. We both were very excited and pumped up about this journey.
Location : New Bombay-Mumbai (Airoli-Vikhroli-Airoli)
Partner: Nikhil Latey
Time: 1 Hr
Weather Condition: Drizzle, Humid
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