Friday, June 24, 2016

Getting Leh'ed - Day 1 : Noida-Leh-Noida Bike Trip

15 Days, 6 riders, 2800KMS.

Read about our previous day here: Getting Leh'ed - Day 0 : Noida-Leh-Noida Bike Trip

Day 1 - 20th June, 2015

Abhishek and myself got up at 4 AM in the morning and started getting ready for the trip. My parents were also in Noida who had come for a visit and also got a chance to bid adieu to us for the trip. My mother was not all in for my bike trip. Even the relatives opposed to my idea of riding on own bike, instead insisted on taking a car or bus. But to enjoy it fully, you have to be out of the box (a car or bus) and in closeness to nature.

I had to convince my mother of giving her timely whereabouts during the trip so that she doesn't get too much worried. Finally after everything being packed and Viaterra being tied on the pillion seat of the bikes, Abhishek and Myself set out for the trip by 4:30 A.M.

The first priority was to cross Delhi ASAP as it gets really hard to drive through heavy traffic of Delhi. We were taking the NH1 via Karnal-Kurukshetra-Chandigarh.

Refueling near Panipat
The first priority was to cross Delhi ASAP as it gets really hard to drive through heavy traffic of Delhi. We were taking the NH1 via Karnal-Kurukshetra-Chandigarh. The sky was clear and sun was out, bright and shining.

After Sonipat, it became a bit cloudy and we expected showers ahead. Had breakfast at a dhaba near Karnal. The food was typical Punjabi. We ordered butter parathas as we had been riding for 150kms with just 2-3 pitstops and few breads that we had at home in the morning.

a small water body beside the dhaba

It was already 9 A.M. when we started from Dhaba. Next destination was Chandigarh. With just 2-3 pitstops in between, we managed to reach Chandigarh by 11.

shot at few kms from Chandigarh

Lola, my Bajaj Pulsar 200NS

Although we didn't enter the city, but it took us 1 hour to drive through Panchkula and reach the Pinjore road. We were going to take the road via Nalagarh and then start our ascend into the Himalayas.
Mandi was still 150 kms ahead of us and Manali, 250kms. And we knew that after ascent, the speed is going to slow down due to curvy hilly roads, so it would be late night until we reach Manali. It was sunny but the zeal kept us going.

At Nalagarh, we had a bit of a detour and had to struggle finding the proper directions. After confirming from a local, we made it to the road leading to Mandi. But yet again, we took a wrong turn (thanks to Google Maps), as it showed a shortcut to reach Mandi and we thought we shall take it.

But it was a lesson of a lifetime for me : "There are no shortcuts in the himalayas. Follow the highways only." This shortcut cost us 3 hours and we could only cover 30 odd kms on this bumpy and unadopted (one that is not under maintenance by govt.) road.

Somewhere between Bilaspur and Mandi, near Jarol.

Finally after 4 hours we managed to reach Mandi by 6 PM. Too tired from the road behind, a break was necessary, so we halted for next half an hour.

The mighty Beas.

At Mandi, Beas river behind.

Still 100 kms to Manali
After some refreshments, we started from Mandi. Midway there were landslides as it had rained last night.

Construction on roads near Mandi
Finally, some eye soothening views after a tiresome journey.
It was getting dark and by no chance we felt that we would be in Manali in time. But we went on as we cannot stop anywhere between else it would hamper the plans for the days ahead. So this Mandi-Manali stretch, we had to cover anyhow.

It was 9PM when we managed to reach Kullu. Had dinner over here and then proceeded towards Manali. Manali was just 40kms away. Road to Manali via Kullu valley is one of the most dangerous and also adventurous as the rocks from the mountains just hang over your head on the highway. Steep slopes and mighty Beas flowing in full valor.

It looks intriguing as well to watch the Beas river flowing beside the road in the opposite direction of our travel. Soon it started raining and we had to give a halt as we were not so used to driving in such terrain with heavy rains pouring.

After the halt, started again in half an hour. The tunnels of the highway are special treat for the riders here. HP government is planning to link these tunnels to make the route shorter to reach Manali but not all have been completed yet.

It was around midnight that we reached the Manali toll gateway. After paying the toll and mentioning the traveller details of ours, we called up Abhilash to know the hotel address and location. It started raining heavily suddenly but we managed to reach hotel and finally the hotel room.

The rest had already occupied their beds and were waiting for our arrival. We were constantly in touch over phone and they were interrogating about the bike rentals available in Manali.

Read about our next day here: Getting Leh'ed - Day 2 : Noida-Leh-Noida Bike Trip