My first motorcycle trip to Himalayas

Continued from the previous page...

16th October 2004 Delhi – Manali

6:30am; time to kick start my touring career. Well it took couple of kicks to start the bike but hey it’s all part of the package. Time to wait for the bike to idle, with the sweet sound of the bike, playing in symphony with the chirping of birds, fresh air, white smoke coming out of the exhaust, wtf!

Time to stop the engine and inspect the bike, well every thing seemed to be in place, time for another kick and out came more white smoke. Mom started looking at me with hope that this would finally kick some sense into my brain and I would let go of the idea to ride all alone for nearly 600kms to Manali.

After giving throttle for few seconds the smoke finally seemed to go away. With a sigh of relief, it was time to put bike in gear and ride into the sunset err… I mean sunrise.

For the first time in my life I felt confident yet scared, with only my bike to accompany me, I was riding into the horizon, free as a bird. After months a wide grin started appearing on my face, getting wider and wider as I rode on.

Cruising on the NH-1 was a pleasure, with frequent sprints above 100kmph I managed to reach Chandigarh in four hours. Now came the chore of navigating Chandigarh’s complex road network, which is filled with roundabouts every kilometer or so. It seemed simple enough to stop and ask for directions from a traffic policeman, but he was more interested in knowing why I was going to Manali on a bike!

After satisfying his curiosity, the policeman gave me directions to reach NH-21. After another 15 minutes or so of navigating through Chandigarh roads I was on NH-21, just in time for breakfast. Pulled into a small Dhaba and ordered paranthas. After gorging on the delicious paranthas it was time to move on, but before that it was time to click the first pic of the day.

after ropar

As the time passed I started getting tired, it had been almost 24hours since I had any sleep. But just as I was getting sleepy, I caught the first glimpse of hills. This was just the sight I need to recharge me and soon for the first time in my life I was riding in hills. This also meant for the first half an hour I was struggling with gear shifts, getting line right for corners. But as I clocked more mileage I started to settle in and started enjoying the scenery.

in himachal

in himachal

Even though I was enjoying the ride, progress was slow since I had to overtake several trucks. By afternoon I was once again hungry and it was time for another pit stop at a dhaba. After satisfying my hunger it was time to move on.

Fatigue started taking a toll on me, this was the first time I had ridden my bike for so long and add to that I hadn't slept for over 24hours. With sunset fast approaching, it was time to click last shots of the day.

after mandi

after mandi

By 6:30pm I had only reached Kullu, it was starting to get dark and cold. I was in two minds, should I push on to Manali or spend a night at Kullu. With Manali just 40 odd kms away I didn't wanted to chicken out and finally decided to leave Kullu behind and started the final push to Manali.

Now I had to ride in dark, with no street lights and a dark scratched up helmet visor and a weak headlight bulb, add to that I had no gloves and mercury was plummeting with every passing second. To add to the fun, my side of the road was broken in most of the places and oncoming traffic was hell bent upon blinding me with their high beams and pushing me to the vary edge of the road by driving in the middle of the single lane road! The only option for me was to ride behind a bus or car and follow them.

After an hour long ride I was on the outskirts of Manali and the only thing in my mind was to check into a hotel ASAP.

Soon I spotted an hotel which looked nice and had its own parking lot, it was just thing I needed. I went into the hotel and asked for a room, manger quoted Rs. 500 as room rent for the night and even without checking out the room I paid the deposit and filled out the details.

It turned out to be a good choice and by 8:30pm I was sitting in my cozy and warm room drinking coffee and reflecting upon my first day of touring in Himalayas.

Continued on the next page...