Ladakh, Heaven on Earth

Day 16-17: 19-20th September 2005 Srinagar - Jammu - New Delhi

Every day is a new day and today it felt like a totally new one. There was a sense of seriousness in the air, some thing that was never there throughout this trip. I was determent to reach Delhi, while others were not sure if they wanted to stay at Jammu or continue to Delhi.

Salil and Sumit wanted to go for a ride in shikara and would only reach Jammu late at night. While Sunil, Shamik and Manik were not sure, so they decided to first reach Jammu and only then decide on the course of action.

By 9:15am we started our journey and for the next hour or so we were riding together. But at some point during the ride, the four of us got split into groups of two, with Shamik riding with me.

After riding for couple of hours, Shamik and I decided to stop at a dhaba for breakfast. Where we discussed what we were about to do, I told Shamik to only continue after Jammu if he was 100% sure. Mood from the morning continued and both of us were serious in a serious mood.

At some point during our breakfast break, Manik and Sunil went past the dhaba. They didn’t see our bikes and we didn’t saw them either, but after an hour or so of riding, we caught up with them.

The roads were starting to get interesting, but the army convoys and rest of the traffic was making progress slow. After spending 40minutes overtaking army convoys and traffic, I decided to take a break and shoot some photos.

kashmir valley

kashmir valley

kashmir valley

While I was shooting photos, the army convoys and the rest of the traffic overtook me. This was really annoying, since I had spent last 40minutes overtaking them and I would have to do it all over again. It was the same story, over and over again, in the end I was so pissed off that I stopped taking photographs altogether.

By 5o’clock we had crossed Udhampur, it was only here that all four of us decided to take a break together. Now there was some serious thinking going on, we were 50kms away from Jammu and around 650kms away from Delhi. Manik and Sunil were 100% in favor of stopping at Jammu for the night, while Shamik was beginning to get sleepy and also decided to stay at Jammu.

This meant I was the only one who still wanted to go to Delhi, Manik tried to talk me out of it. But when I decide to do some thing, there is little that can change my mind. It was time for me to say goodbye to the rest of the guys.

I took a diversion before Jammu, which would take me to the NH-1a, without entering Jammu. After the long diversion was over, I decided to stop at a dhaba for food. It was only then I realized the mistakes I had made.

In Leh, my backpack got torn and I had given my spares and tools to Shamik and I forgot to take them from him. So in case of a breakdown, I would not have any tools at all and to add to the woes, I only had Rs. 500 in my pocket. I did have spare money in my bikes air filter box, but I didn’t have any tools to open it.

Good thing was the range my bike can cover in a tank full of petrol, approximately 750kms. Which meant I would only need couple of hundred bucks for fuel, but in case of a break down I would be in serious trouble.

I decided to press on, traffic was getting denser and the road conditions were deteriorating. Once again I was riding in the cover of darkness on a single lane road with oncoming traffic blinding me.

But there is always light at the end of tunnel and as soon as I crossed into Punjab, my mobile phone started working. Finally after fourteen days my mobile phone was working and the first thing I did was to call home. My mom got worried, when I told her I was going to ride overnight to reach home. But I assured her, nothing would happen to me and I would ride under my limits and not try to overexert myself.

Riding in low light condition was getting harder and now I was feeling sleepy. I was trying my best to stay awake and for the most part that meant frequent breaks. Just as well, since I was starting to have back pains due to riding for such a long time.

Worse bit was riding through a section of single lane road, which was mostly straight and had vary few vehicles. At places like this, a person can fall asleep vary easily. Just as I was about to fall asleep, I came across an accident. Driver of a car had fallen asleep and rammed his car head on into a truck. Thankfully, the trucker had noticed the car and had started to break and the driver and his passenger were alive. Passerby’s had gather and they were taking both of them to hospital.

But this incident was enough to make me alert, well at least for the next half an hour. Soon the single lane highway ended and I was on a good four lane Nh-1. But that meant more trouble for me, since I didn’t have to dodge any more traffic; I fell asleep while riding my bike! Only to wake few seconds later and not knowing when I reached that section of the road.

This happened a few times and to combat that, I had to take frequent breaks, singing, talking to myself etc. in order to fight sleep, but the best bet was to ride my bike while crouched over the petrol tank. With 12-15kg luggage on my back, it was quite uncomfortable, which meant I wouldn’t fall asleep.

Just before Karnal, I decided to stop at a dhaba for tea. Once there I started chatting with the dhaba owner and all he could talk about was the amount of accidents he sees on this stretch of the highway! Not some thing that one would want to hear at 3:30 in the morning.

However I was covering distance at a good pace and by 6o’clock I was at home, having covered 936kms in 21hours, with over 350kms in hills.

My trip had finally come to an end, having covered 3512kms in 17days, across 4 states. Covering 11 mountain passes, visiting the most beautiful places in the world, I was back home.

This trip went far better then I had expected it to be, my bike performed exceptionally well. She not even once let me down, returned me an excellent mileage of 41.5kmpl.

Infect the whole trip expenditure including petrol/food/accommodation etc was Rs. 8300(around US $ 187), not bad for a 17day trip to heaven.

Preface, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7-1, Day 7-2, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Day 15, Day 16-17