After riding for another hour, we reached Karnal and then Avdhesh made a valid point. He said that we should stop here and stay, else it will get more difficult for us to find hotels at night. We all agreed with him and went into Karnal city to search for Hotels. We finally found one and went into that. By that time, all of us got follow requests from that group of girls we met in Murthal. So, this was the start of our trip. We made new friends on Day 0 of the trip.
Karnal - Ambala
Arrival - 13.00
We woke up the next day and got ready quickly. We left the hotel at 9.30. The target for the day was to hit Jammu before 22:00. Jammu was 470 KM away. We had our breakfast at a restaurant on the highway and started riding.
The highway was good and was also pretty much straight and the bikes were also performing good till then. We rode till Ambala continuously which was 80 KM from Karnal. It was 13:00 on the clock.
Ambala - Jalandhar
Departure - 13.00
Arrival - 16.30
We took a small hydration break there and started the ride again. The heat was rising. The temperature was touching 40 degrees. We still had to cross Jalandhar, Ludhiyana and Pathankot to reach Jammu. Jalandhar was 180 KM from Ambala. We took small hydration and refuelling breaks in between that 180 KM stretch and finally reached Jalandhar at 16:30. We were exhausted and dehydrated because of the rise in temperature. We stopped by a Dhaba on the highway. Parked our bikes and asked for chilled water. We then had our lunch there only. Jammu was still 230 KM away from us and the energy was going down. Seeing that, we decided to rest for a while and then leave.
Jalandhar - Jammu
Departure - 17.30
Arrival - 21.15
We left from Jalandhar at around 17:30. The temperature started to drop now. The road was straight so we increased our speed a bit to cover up the time.
After riding for almost 3 and a half hours, we entered the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was an exhilarating feeling with a tiny bit of fear inside us just because of the situations in the valley.
The sun was setting in front of us and the sky was getting darker. The temperature was also dropping with time. We refuelled our bikes and asked some locals about the best way to reach Jammu. They suggested us to take the longer path just because it was safe. After riding for another 1 and a half hour, we reached Jammu. That too on time 🎉. It was 21:15 on the clock.
We searched for a Hotel and checked in there. Had our dinner there only and slept to charge up for the next day.
We rode almost 500 KM and crossed 4 states in between.
Jammu - Udhampur
Departure - 10.00
Arrival - 15.00
We started our journey from Jammu to Srinagar at 10:00 that day. The target was to reach Srinagar as early as possible but the locals told us that the road conditions are not good after Udhampur. We had our breakfast on a Dhaba outside of Jammu. Got our bikes checked at a garage, clicked some pictures and started the ride.
We encountered the Vaishno Devi Hill in the way. It was visible from the highway but was far away. We also got to know that there's a city named Dhar nearby 😃. It was all going good till Udhampur, the ride was smooth and we took very less time to reach there. Problems were waiting for us after that.
Udhampur - Srinagar
Departure - 15.00
Arrival - 22.00
The road from Udhampur to Srinagar was still under construction.
There were landslides, traffic jams and whatnot. While passing through a landslide-prone area, a stone slid in front of our bike. I still cannot forget that sight. 1 second ahead or behind and we were hit. But thankfully, we crossed that safely and reached a point where we saw some food stalls. I had Maggi there and others went for Omelet. We then recharged ourselves and started the ride to complete Mission Srinagar. We crossed the longest tunnel of India (Chenani-Nushri Tunnel) which was 9 KM long. Then we crossed the Jawahar Tunnel. I was amazed to see it. It was a single laned tunnel with gates installed on either side for security purpose. The sun started setting, the temperature started dipping and we reached the Titanic Point. Clicked some awesome pictures there and bought some berries.
We then continued to ride till a Toll Plaza before Srinagar. We stopped there for a loo and hydration break. Srinagar was 25 KM from there and it was too dark everywhere. We were encountering army barracks now and then as we approached Srinagar. We also encountered places like Pulwama, Anantnag, Tral, Uri, Avantipora, Pampore etc on the milestones. This was making us scared but the army barracks and check posts compensated that. Finally, we reached Srinagar and we went towards Dal Lake. The plan was to check in to a Boat House after having dinner. So we had dinner at a lakeside restaurant and Nakul negotiated with the boathouse guys. We finally got a boathouse. Then we loaded our luggage into the boat which took us to the boathouse. We reached there and crashed on the bed. It was too cold there but we were exhausted so that failed to bother us.
Srinagar - Sonmarg
Departure - 9.00
Arrival - 13.00
We started from Srinagar at 9:00 on Day 3. The plan was to reach Kargil by 18:00.
We skipped breakfast that day just because we had to cross Zozila Pass which had specific timings for riders. We were headed towards Sonamarg and from there we had to go to Kargil. We got our bikes checked before leaving Srinagar. Nakul and I were on one bike and Avdhesh and Yash were on the other. While crossing Srinagar, The other bike was going ahead of Me and Nakul, a speed breaker came and Bangggg!!!! Avdhesh's phone fell off his pocket. Interesting was, he didn't even realise this. Fortunately or unfortunately, we were just behind them and our bike rolled over his phone. I immediately stopped the bike. Nakul proactively went to check the phone. Thankfully, it was intact because of the rugged cover. We then rode a bit faster to catch the other bike and let Avdhesh know about the accident that happened to his phone. He was shocked!!!!!! Took the phone from us and checked it. We then stopped at a restaurant to have lunch. After lunch, we rode for almost an hour and reached Sonamarg.
It was beautiful 😍. The snow-capped mountains with greenery at the base. The view was picturesque. We clicked a lot of pictures there and then left the place to continue our ride to Kargil.
Sonmarg - Zojila - Zero Point
Departure - 13.30
Arrival - 16.00
We were set to cross the mighty Zozila Pass now and started our ascend towards it. There was a long line of Army trucks crossing the pass. and we followed them. The road was too narrow and not at all good. One mistake and we could have fallen in the ditch on our right. The bikes responded properly at times when required and it took us one hour to cross that 14 KM stretch. After descending from Zozila Pass, we reached Zero Point, the first point in our trip where we were able to touch and play with snow.
We stopped our bikes there and negotiated with a sledge owner over there. He agreed to give his sledge to us for half an hour. We had multiple sledge rides during that time. Meanwhile, I saw a place where water was frozen in a circular shape. Out of curiosity, I went near to that. As soon as I reached close to that and BOOMMMM!!!!!!!! The layer of snow beneath me collapsed!!!! My one leg was in that pit of chilling cold water now. I immediately reacted and pulled myself out of that. But the damage was done already. My leg and shoes were all wet. I went to a nearby stall and removed my shoes. Then I turned a bit saw that Avdhesh, Nakul and Yash were laughing at me. Then they came towards me and we all sat in the shed of that stall. Others had Tea and I had Kahwa there. Later on, Nakul bought some Kashmiri Apples for us. Those were too delicious. I had never eaten apples like these in my life. After spending almost an hour there, we left the place and started our ride towards Kargil.
Zero Point - Kargil (Almost)
Departure - 17.00
Arrival - 19.30
The Blue Bike got punctured after Zero point. We were not able to find a mechanic who can repair it. We were stopping at every other village to find someone who can repair a Royal Enfield but we failed so we used to fill in air and rode towards the next village In between, we reached the Kargil War Memorial.
We ditched all the worries of the punctured tyre and went there. Spent some time over there and got to know the history of Kargil War Fortunately, while coming out from there, we met a group of guys having an air pump. We borrowed that, filled in air and started to ride towards Kargil Before Kargil, we encountered a restaurant, we stopped by and luckily, we got a mechanic there and more to it, we got a hotel as well. This was not a village or city or something in the mid of Drass and Kargil with just the 3 buildings. We had our dinner there and slept. I and Avdhesh luckily got access to Yash's phone that night 😂. And what happened next will remain a secret between Avdhesh and Me.
Kargil - Army Cafe
Departure - 10.00
Arrival - 13.00
Had breakfast at the hotel where we stayed Halted after 30 km in Kargil for refuelling and internet break. Talked to our families on call and then started riding towards Lamayuru. While riding on the plain, peaceful and picturesque roads we met some Kashmiri kids on the way who were waving at us from their school.
We stopped our bikes then and there and called them up. Those kids were way too cute 😍. We had some chocolates with us, so we gave them those. Kids were very happy and so were us. We clicked some pictures with them and then left. After riding a while, the bike started to wobble again. I and Avdhesh were riding that and we gracefully ignored that warning from our bike. We thought this is because of the uneven weight. The wobbling increased kilometre by kilometre and then a point came when a broken spoke pierced the tyre tube resulting in breaking some more spokes. The bike was not in a condition to be ridden further now. We were in the mid of Kargil and Lamayuru at an Army Cafe.
Avdhesh and Yash went to the cafe to ask if they can help us with the bike but they denied. They told us to enquire at one of the nearby check posts. Meanwhile, I got a call from Namrata, who was also travelling with the same schedule and was a bit behind us. She started from Sonamarg that day and was targeting Leh. I told her about the situation and asked her if she can help us with it. She said that she'll look for some mechanic and try to bring him to help us. Meanwhile, we got a response from the check post. Avdhesh and Yash told us that there's another check post 3 KM behind who can help us. I and Yash went to get some help from there. We found the Army camp and they had all the tools to repair the bike. I asked Yash to stand outside the camp and I went inside to ask for some help. When I entered the camp, dogs started running behind me 😂 I somehow managed to escape them and came back outside. Army personnel saw me running, and shouted from a distance, "What happened ???" I told him that our bike is broken. He called me inside. I talked to them and they agreed to help us. They came with us and removed the tyre of the broken bike, then we came to know that the spokes are broken and cannot be amended. So, the bike cannot be ridden ahead. The army men said that we can load the bike in a truck and take it to Leh.
We talked to a truck driver and he agreed to load the bike. Nakul and Yash went with the truck.
Army Cafe - Lamayuru
Departure - 19.00 Arrival - 20.00 I and Avdhesh now started our journey to Leh. The roads were curvy and it was hard to ride fast. The sun was also setting. We passed by the Phatu La pass and reached Lamayuru. We visited the Monastery there, although it was closed we still managed to get inside and meet the Monks. We then waited at a cafe in Lamayuru for the truck with Yash and Nakul to arrive. Meanwhile, we had thukpa and chowmin there as we were hungry as hell. The truck crossed Lamayuru after a while and then we began to ride behind that.
Lamayuru - Leh
Departure - 21.00 Arrival - 00.40
Avdhesh rode in the dark for 100 km non-stop. I still don't know how did he manage to do that on such a dark road but hell yeah..He did that. We encountered Magnetic hill and Patthar Sahib Gurudwara in between but couldn't stop there as we were getting late. After riding for 2 hours, we reached Leh and checked in to a guest house. I called up Namrata and she told that she has already reached and check in to a backpackers hostel. We waited for Nakul and Yash till 2.00. They finally arrived and we unloaded the bike from the truck(it was a big task) We then parked the bike inside the guest house and went to sleep.
Leh - Leh
We woke up in the morning I and Nakul went to the DC office for the permit
Took the permit and went to Mall Road for breakfast at Neha Cafe Then on the way to Guest House, we found Avdhesh and Yash at a mechanic shop We talked to a mechanic and he said that the Rim needs to be changed We talked to another mechanic and he said that spokes can be replaced. We sent Avdhesh and Yash to have breakfast and we rushed towards the Guest House to get the bike We loaded the bike in a Camper and brought it to the mechanic He said that this will take around 2-3 hours We decided to explore Leh in the meantime but we were not having bikes So we decided to play Beg Borrow Steal till Shanti Stupa I, Avdhesh and Yash took a local bus to Khardungla Road Then Yash and Avdhesh got a lift from a car (they didn't allow me to enter😏) Then I walked 2 km till Tibetan Market, then I got a taxi who told me that he'll drop me halfway to Shanti Stupa for free (Yayyyyyy) After that, I started walking towards Shanti Stupa Then I got the sight of it I asked for a lift from a group of bikes and they took me to Shanti Stupa Finally, I reached Shanti Stupa and I started looking for Avdhesh and Yash because they got a lift till Shanti Stupa so I was expecting them there but I wasn't able to find them
Then I went to the temple there and when I came out, I saw Nakul (unexpected 😂). He was sitting on the stairs on the other side of SS. He told me that he just reached and others are on their way. I WON Beg, Borrow, Steal😎😎. We spent almost an hour there and met a Bangladeshi Businessman who clicked our pictures. Then the return journey started for the Mechanic Shop I and Nakul reached there and took the bikes. Then we went to the Leh market and bought some souvenirs Then we had our dinner and we were back to the guest house.
Leh - Khardung La
Departure - 7.00
Arrival - 10.00
We started early from Leh and reached South Pullu where Army checked our permits. We stayed there for an hour and had our breakfast because the road was not clear and bikes were not allowed to go ahead.
After one and a half hour, we reached Khardungla. (The Highest Motorable Pass in the World) The condition of the road was too bad and the bike was skidding on the snow. Even ours skid once. It was too cold on the top. The temperature was touching -5 or -6 there.
We spent an hour there clicked pictures and then left for Hunder
Khardung La - Diskit - Hunder
Departure - 11.00
Arrival - 16.00
We started to descend from Khardung La The road was good after a couple of kilometres We witnessed an accident on the way and then we decided to ride with a bit more caution After riding for a while we came across the "Lakeer". A straight road. I stopped the bike there and we clicked a lot of pictures there.
We reached Diskit and had our Lunch thereafter we moved towards Hunder then which was 7 km away from Diskit. Another 20 mins and we reached Hunder. Then we went to the dunes.
We played Sudden Story there on the dunes. After an hour, we started to search for hotels/camps Finally, after an hour we found camps (DE Nubra)
We stayed there.
Hunder - Diskit
Departure - 11:00
Arrival - 12:00
We had our breakfast at the camps and then we left at around 11:00. I met a Mastercard guy there 😂. We got the bikes checked and reached Diskit Monastry at around 12:00
We stayed at the Monastery for about an hour, enjoyed the enormous statue and clicked a lot of pictures. We tried meditation as well for some time there 😂. I and Yash failed miserably at it. So we decided to come out and enjoy the views. Meanwhile, we defined an altogether different meaning of **OM** and that remains between both of us. We then started our journey for the rest of the day.
Diskit - Shyok - Durbuk - Pangong Lake
Departure - 13:00
Arrival - 18:00
We started for Pangong through the Adam-Shyok route. People said that not many of the riders use that but we decided to go on that because we were short of time. Eventually, we got to know that the road runs on a river bed and is severely damaged at some points On our way to Pangong, we clicked a lot of pictures, crossed some very bad roads and water crossings.
We stopped by Durbuk to have lunch and we got our bikes refuelled there. There's no fuel station there, but the locals sell petrol in bottles. After lunch, we headed towards Pangong, and after riding for almost 3-3.5 hours, we reached the world-famous Pangong Lake.
We straight away searched for camps and the task was given to Me and Nakul. We finally got one and we stayed there. That night, we had a bonfire and stargazing. We met a group of 3 Punjabis who were ready to accompany us on our trip till Leh. We tried a lot to capture the Milky Way but we were only able to witness it as our
cameras were not that good. We slept at around 2:00.
Pangong - Durbuk - Changla Pass
Departure - 11:00
Arrival - 14:00
As we slept late last night, it was obvious that we woke up late the next day. We woke up at around 8.30-9:00 because it was damn too cold. We slept with 3-4 layers on ourselves then too we felt cold. We got ready and left for the Pangong lake sightseeing. It was a 2-3 KM ride from the tents and was by the lakeside. We captured a lot of pictures and the lake was very beautiful.
The water was turquoise. I saw this kind of a water body for the first time in my life. We spent almost an hour there. We also tried some archery and captured some pictures on a Yak as well. After that, we left the tents and there we loaded all our bags on the bike and started our journey for the rest of the day. This time, with 3 more companions.
When started, we suspected that the journey today is going to be tough as we'll encounter Changla Pass and that thing proved right. Everyone was wearing 3-4 layers of clothes. We crossed Durbuk without any difficulty and then the test of our and our bikes started. An interesting incident also happened while riding from Durbuk to Changla. We had borrowed an air pump from a Guy at Kargil War memorial and we promised him to return that in Leh But we were not able to find him there so we decided to keep the pump with us. We coincidentally met that Guy on Pangong Lake, but then too we were not able to return that pump because our bags and all the luggage was kept in our tents We promised him to return the Pump as soon as we reach our tent. But we forgot there as well.
But while we were riding from Durbuk to Changla, we saw a car with very low tyre pressure ahead of us. I was sitting behind Nakul and I told him to see the tyres of the car ahead of us. After a while, the car stopped and some guys came out of it to see the tyres and Wooaahhhhh....He was the same guy who lent us the air pump. What a location and time it was to return his pump. He thanked us, we thanked him and we handed over the pump to him and continued our journey to Changla
After a while, the ascend of Changla Pass started and it was very steep. We had a Royal Enfield 350 Classic with two guys riding on it with two rucksacks. It was very difficult for us and the bike to climb that. At times, I had to get down from the bike so that Nakul can manage to climb a specific patch. And trust me, it's hard to walk even a hundred meters in the mountains. There were a couple of instances where the bike slipped and went out of control, but Nakul managed it pretty well👏🏻.
Finally, we reached Changla Pass at around 14:00. We stayed there for some 15-20 mins, clicked some pictures and then left for Karu via Shakti.
Changla Pass - Shakti - Karu
Departure - 14:15
Arrival - 17:30
I and Nakul were riding on one bike and Avdhesh and Yash were on the other one. Unfortunately, we had the one which was constantly failing to deliver😪. The tyre burst when we were around 3-4 km away from a village named Shakti. Our fellow riders were already riding ahead of us and were unknown about our situation. We were also unaware of what was going to happen to us in a coming couple of hours. The tyre burst because we tried to be smart. We were descending from Changla Pass and the roads were having a lot of loops and hairpin bends so we decided the take a short cut and avoid all those. So, for that, we took an unpaved road which resulted in a puncture.
Now, I and Nakul were stranded on an empty road. We started dragging the bike towards the nearest village that was Shakti. I told Nakul to slowly drag the bike till then I went ahead to search for some help or lift.
Luckily, I got a lift in a car who previously denied to give us a lift. He took me till Shakti village and dropped me. Nakul also came after 5-10 mins. We stood there, had some water and then tried contacting Avdhesh and Yash. Fortunately, we got network coverage and we called one the 3 Punjabi guys who joined us from Pangong. They told us that they have reached Karu and will wait for us there only. We then waited for someone who can help us out of this situation.
Finally, after some time, a guy and a girl with a pickup truck arrived. We asked him to help us and surprisingly, he was carrying an electrical air pump with him in his van. We pumped air into the tyre and I boarded the pickup van while Nakul started to ride the bike till Karu. Karu was near about 4-5 km from there. I with both the bags were in the pickup van. We stopped once again in between to repump the air into our bike. And after that, finally, we reached Karu at 17:30.
We had lunch over there and we enquired about the Leh-Manali highway there. As the situation was still suspicious about its opening. Meanwhile, Avdhesh and Yash took the responsibility to get the bike repaired. It took a lot of effort for them as well because Karu was a small village and not everyone was skilled to dismantle a Royal Enfield's tyre.
As the situation on Leh-Manali highway was getting worse due to the continuous snowfall. We decided not to take and retrace the path which we followed to reach Leh from Pathankot via Srinagar.
We decided to stay in Leh that night.
Karu - Leh
Departure - 18:30
Arrival - 19:30
We left at around 18:30 from Karu. It was a 35-45 min ride from Karu to Leh. We saw another monastery in between. The guys with us told that the song "Sanam Re" was shot in that monastery.
Finally, we reached Leh...Again!!. We searched for some hotels and we found a couple of them in the mid of the City. Since we had a lot of time, we decided to explore Leh, a bit more. I and Yash left early in search of some souvenirs. Meanwhile, Avdhesh and Nakul went for some shopping. We met after an hour at a cafe. They had bought some nice Shawls, so I also went with Nakul to get a couple of them. After that, we went to Mall Road to buy some souvenirs. We had our dinner at a restaurant nearby and returned to the Hotel. After some time, I got a text from Namrata saying that she's also in Leh and staying at a Backpackers Hostel. This was the second time when we travelled to the same place. I went on to meet her. I returned at around 23.30-00.00. We planned for the next day to see the Leh Palace first and then leave towards Srinagar.
Leh - Kargil - Zozila - Sonamarg
Departure - 10:00
Arrival - 23:30
We got up a bit late in the morning. Got ready quickly, loaded our bikes and left for the Leh Palace.
Leh Palace is an old building turned into an exhibition hall. We reached there, explored that, clicked some photographs and spent around an hour there. When we came back to our bikes.....an uninvited problem was waiting for us. Someone parked their car just behind our bikes. We were not able to move our bikes. We were blocked but also we were short of time. Then we took a brave step😂.
We held the car from the front side and lifted it and then we moved it aside so that our bikes can be unblocked.
We then left Leh Palace and started our ride towards Srinagar. There was a Hall of Fame in Leh, which was an exhibition of Indian Army's operations in the Ladakh region. Initially, only I was in favour of going there and I insisted on it, so eventually everybody had to agree and we went to the Hall of Fame. It took us an hour or so to roam in and around the Hall Of Fame. So technically, we were up at 10 but it was 11:30 and we were still in Leh.
After a short and sweet visit to the Hall of Fame, we moved ahead and guess what, next stop was 20KM away. Shri Patthar Sahib Gurudwara. We reached there at noon. We spent around an hour there. Had our lunch there only in the Langar. Heard about the story of Patthar Sahib Gurudwara and left for the next stop. From there, we stopped by the Magnetic Hill and tried to understand the logic of it. But it seems quite evident that there was nothing like Magnetic field in that Hill. I was excited to see this but was disappointed. It was just a slant road going down on which vehicles automatically move.
We stayed there for around 10 mins and then started our journey towards Kargil. When we left for Lamayuru, Nakul and Avdhesh took some lead and went ahead. I and Yash were behind. Suddenly, the accelerator of our bike stopped working. I tried very hard by pulling the throttle but no luck. As it was a steep descent, we rode for around 3-4 km without and juice but then the road was flat. I tried to alert the Guys ahead of us by ringing the emergency horn, but they were way too far and weren't able to hear us. I told Yash about the situation, and he said that let it roll till the end of descend, then well see what we can do. The bike came to a stop, and the accelerator was still not working. We thought that the accelerator wire was broken. Then all of a sudden, Yash noticed that the engine is switched off 🤦🏻♂️. We started the engine, and the accelerator was working again 😂. We moved and crossed Lamayuru. Roads were very curvy and there was a lot of hairpin bends there which tested our riding skills and patience. That day, I and Yash were riding together and Nakul and Avdhesh were on the other bike. This happened because Nakul and Yash did not want to ride on the same bike😂. We were riding ahead of the other bike.
Then we reached Namik La Pass, which is the highest point on the Srinagar-Leh Highway. I and Yash stopped there and waited for Nakul and Avdhesh. When they arrived, Avdhesh was laughing. When we asked him the reason, he told us about an incident happened to them a while ago.
Nakul was riding the bike on the curves. Then came a sharp hairpin bend, the bike was at around 40-50 km/h. Nakul turned the bike but wasn't able to turn it completely and the bike went off the track. Avdhesh immediately told him to apply the front breaks to make to bike stop. On which, Nakul replied, "Can we use front breaks as well in this ????" Then we came to know that Nakul did the whole trip without knowing that front breaks can be used. We all burst into laughter after hearing this.
After this small chit chat, we clicked some pictures there and left as it the wind speed was way too high there and we were short of time. We had to cross the Zozila Pass as well. Which was 150km away from where we were standing.
We reached the Army Cafe, where our bike broke when we were riding to Leh from Kargil. We stopped by and had some snacks. It was already 16:00 on the clock and we had to hurry if we wanted to cross the mighty Zozila Pass.
We quickly wrapped up the snacks and left for Kargil. I was riding the bike and the other one was ridden by Nakul. I speeded up a bit to cover the time. We reached Kargil at around 17:30 and continued to ride. Reaching Dras took us another one and a half hour. It was 19:00 on the clock now and we still had to cross the Zozila Pass and reach Srinagar (according to our plan). From Drass, it took us another hour to reach the checkpoint, from where Zozila Pass starts. It was Dark and Cold. I and Yash then decided to stop on the checkpoint and wait for Nakul and Avdhesh as they were behind us. In the meantime, we logged the entry of our bikes in the Army register and had some Tea.
Nakul and Avdhesh arrived after some 15-20 mins. We sat down at the tea stall to analyze the situation and after a healthy discussion, we concluded that we'll cross the pass right now and will stick to the plan of reaching Srinagar on that day itself.
Avdhesh told me to stay behind them and not to ride too fast so that we can communicate in case of any emergency. We started climbing the Mighty Zozila Pass. The roads were too bad, it was very cold and there were potholes and molten know all around, making the ride even more difficult.
While crossing the pass, rear breaks malfunctioned, I tried to stop the bike using rear breaks but I failed. I then controlled the bike using the gears and the front breaks only. We still had to cover 6KM. I rode the bike between 20-25kmph for the remaining 6 KM.
The coordination between us was outstanding that night. Not a single instance was there when we felt that we're losing sight of each other.
Finally, we crossed the Zozila Pass and after riding for another hour, we reached Sonamarg.
We were hungry AF. So we stopped by a North Indian restaurant for dinner. It was 23:00 on the clock. We decided to stay in Sonamarg, as it was almost midnight, we were tired and the breaks were also not properly working. We unloaded the bikes and stayed in a hotel nearby.
Sonamarg - Srinagar - Udhampur - Pathankot
Departure - 9:30
And the 10th day of the Trip to Solace begun with the chirping of birds and shining snow. Sonamarg it was. We woke up early that day, at around 8:00 and got ready by 9:00. We loaded our bikes and left without having breakfast, after deciding to have it in some restaurant on our way.
While leaving, we didn't know that this is going to be the longest, toughest and most adventurous day of our trip.
We decided to hit Amritsar by midnight as it was 527KM from Sonamarg and we left the place at 9:45. We stopped after 20-30 KM to have breakfast on a Dhaba on the way to Srinagar.
We reached Srinagar by 14:00. Although it was only 80KM from Sonamarg, the roads weren't that great. Also, the bikes were now vulnerable to any kind of damage. The views were breathtaking and we were awestruck by them. This was another factor that slowed us down.
When we reached Srinagar, we decided that we'll not waste much time here and leave ASAP. But we ended up spending 2.5 hours there. First, we went to the Mughal garden (suggested by someone on the way). It was HOT🔥. The temperature was touching 40C. We roamed around in the garden and witnessed some pretty good flora there. Clicked a lot of pictures and embraced the beauty.
One funny thing that we noticed in that garden was, people were bathing in the fountains that were installed in the park to enhance the beauty of it. We left the garden after 40 mins and headed straight to the market, as Nakul wanted to get some dry fruits. We enquired about that and found out that Lal Chowk is the place. We had heard about that place earlier and also, we knew that it is going to be dangerous, still, we went for that. I and Yash were on a bike while Nakul and Avdhesh were riding the other one. On one turn, we misjudged Google Maps and went straight instead of taking a left turn.....and then we were lost. We asked the local people about the directions and the told us that we left Lal Chowk behind.
We retraced the route and reached Lal Chowk. Now the challenge was to find Nakul and Avdhesh as there was only 1 cell phone working between the 4 of us and that was with Nakul.
I and Yash stood on a side and we were discussing where to go so that we can find the other two guys. Suddenly, an old man came to us and said, are you with those two guys who just passed from here? We said yes (but how did he guessed). By seeing the question mark on our faces, he told us that the same orange bags were mounted on that bike as well. That's why he was able to identify us. We thanked him and went ahead in search and NJ and AV.
We found them on the other side of the road where Avdhesh was sitting on the bike and Nakul was in a shop. I parked my bike beside his and Yash went to the shop with Nakul. I and Avdhesh stood there and discussed the rest of the plan. We knew that we were way too late and were running behind our target. He said that we might not reach Amritsar today if we go like this. Then both of us said together that, whatever happens, we'll reach Amritsar today, either by hook or by crook. He told me that we need to ride faster and should take fewer breaks.
Finally, the shopping ended and the space crisis began. They had bought dry fruits in kilos. There was no way we can accommodate those on our bags.
Somehow, Yash managed to keep his stuff inside his bag and Nakul decided to keep his stuff in his hands on the back seat of the bike.
We started riding towards Udhampur now. Just when we were about to cross Srinagar City, a hilarious incident took place.
On a busy road of Srinagar, the bag of walnuts in Nakul's hand suddenly burst and there were walnuts all around...😂😂😂😂😂
On the road, footpath, beneath the cars😂😂. We stopped our bike immediately on aside and started picking up those. We collected the walnuts in whatever we got, be it a cap, helmet, handkerchief, hoodie and what not.
After an effort of 10 minutes, we were able to recover almost 75-80% of walnuts.😂😂
Then we quickly got on our bikes and started riding. It was 16.30 on the clock and we still had 434 KM to cover on that day, which ideally takes 10 hours in a Car. We rushed quickly towards the highway.
We crossed, Avantipora, Pulwama, Tral, Pampore etc. We had heard these names in news only and now we were witnessing them on milestones.
After riding for another 40KM, we stopped for a quick lunch. Had our lunch in 20 mins and left from there.
We rode continuously for 120KM after that, crossed Jawahar tunnel in between then stopped for a Tea and Water break on a tea stall near a mountain. We spent around 15-20 mins there. Our thighs and legs were going numb at this point.
We started again after the rejuvenating tea break. It was 18:30 already and the sky was getting dark.
The next sprint lasted for another 80-90KM and we reached Udhampur. We were hungry and tired. We turned the bikes inside Udhampur city in search of a restaurant. It was 20:30 on the clock. It was almost 12 hours since we left Sonamarg. Phone's batteries were almost dead, hands and legs were numb, faces were full of dirt, bikes were hot AF but still, there was a Force inside all of us which pushed us to go above and beyond our comfort zone. We had our dinner in Udhampur and decided what to do next. Surprisingly, everyone wanted to go ahead and reach Amritsar that day only. We searched on Google Maps and asked the hotel staff about the shortest route to Pathankot. They told us that there are a couple of options. We can either go to Pathankot via Jammu (the route which we took while going to Leh) or, we can take a shorter route which is not a highway and there's not much traffic there and is less preferred but he said that is safe to take the shorter one.
So we decided to take the shorter route, which will connect us directly to Pathankot and from there we can reach Amritsar which is only 115KM from there. Udhampur to Pathankot is a 127KM long route in which 60KM is not a highway but a damaged two-lane road.
We started at around 22:00 from Udhampur. Refuelled our bikes at a fuel station there only and began our trail towards Amritsar.
We rode for only 4-5 KM and Yash said that he's feeling very sleepy. At first, I told him to hold me tightly and keep his head on my shoulder so that he does not fall off the bike. It went well for a few kilometres but as and when Yash went into a deep sleep (He can sleep anywhere) he started to disbalance the bike. I rang the emergency horn and but didn't stopped the bike. I yelled at Yash to wake up until we reach some safe place. Avdhesh and Nakul were very attentive and immediately responded to the emergency horn and slowed down their bike. I moved a bit fast to catch up with them and told them about the situation. Avdhesh also yelled at Yash for his irresponsible behaviour. Yash promised that he won't sleep now and we continued our ride without stopping. After a while, I began to feel sleepy but I didn't tell this to anyone, not even Yash; as he was also controlling his sleep with difficulty. After a moment I felt Yash's helmet clashed with mine, I shouted his name and he was like..."Haa Bhai....jaag raha hu...nahi soya...". As I was also feeling sleepy, I thought to take a break and wash my face. I rang the emergency horn again, NJ and AV responded, I told them that Yash is feeling sleepy again, we must stop somewhere and have some Tea. After 4-5 KM we noticed a small Dhaba and a welding shop. We stopped there to have Tea. I washed my face and Yash took a nap Avdhesh and Nakul took Tea. Yash promised that he won't sleep now.
And we started again...
Yash told me to keep talking to him so that he doesn't get bored and ultimately won't sleep. So I decided to tell him about some incidents happened to me in the past couple of years (Nothing can be more interesting than those and we still laugh when we remember that conversation). After riding for another hour, we hit the highway. It was from 1:00 AM.
That highway kind of boosted our morale. There was a spark inside all of us. We stopped for a couple of minutes and then began our last sprint.
Pathankot was 70KM and Amritsar was 175KM. It was 1:00 AM and we thought that we will reach Amritsar by 4:00 AM.
Our bikes were cruising at 90-100kmph. we rode for 60 odd kilometres and then a dangerous incident happened.....
Our bike's rear tyre burst. The bike was on 90kmph. I was riding it. As soon as the tyre burst, the bike went out of my control....
Yash panicked, I panicked but then I quickly gathered myself and lowered the gears to slow down the bike, as pressing the front breaks was not an option and pressing the rear breaks would have crashed us immediately. Lowering the gears slowed down the bike to 50kmph, then I gently applied rear and front breaks together (40:60 ratio. Thanks to Avdhesh for that 60-40 lesson). The bike came to a stop after 70-80 meters. Fortunately, there was no injury to either Me or Yash and the bike was also safe. We parked the bike on one side and waited for AV and NJ to arrive. It was from 2:00 AM. Our eyes were full of sleep. We could hardly see any population around us. There were just two Dhabas and a fuel station and a mosque near us.
Nakul and Avdhesh came and then we 4 sat down to see what happened to the tyre. It was a large nail in the rear one. It was now impossible to move the bike from there. So I and Nakul went for a night stay hunt towards the hotels nearby and we failed in it. When we came back, we decided to park the bike there only and go to the Dhaba on the other side of the road and have some rest there. We decided that we'll get the puncture repaired in the morning and then leave for Amritsar.
Pathankot was still 10KM away and we slept on tables, chair, bike and whatever we got there.
We'll never forget that night. We started at 9:30 in the morning from Sonamarg and stopped at 2:00 AM stranded on a highway 10KM away from Pathankot. Riding for 17 hours that day taught us about our endurance, patience, coordination, fearless decision making, trust in each other and whatnot.
Pathankot - Amritsar - Attari Border - Amritsar
Arrival at Pathankot - 2:00
Departure - 11:00
Arrival - 13:00
I got up at 5:00 AM because of mosquito bites and found out that Avdhesh was already up because of the same problem. We looked at each other and decided to take the other bike and start hunting for a bike repair shop nearby. We went inside the village nearby, but it was too early and all the shops were closed. So, No Luck, we returned to the place where we left Nakul and Yash sleeping and joined them. After sleeping for another couple of hours, Nakul woke up. Then I and Nakul went to search for repair shops. Fortunately or unfortunately, we found one, but he denied to repair a Royal Enfield. So we moved ahead. Then while searching for shops, suddenly a scooter stopped near us. An aged man in his loud voice, asked us, "What happened guys?? I saw you roaming around, searching for something.". Nakul explained to him the whole situation.
He told us that he knows a shop which could be open and then he asked us to follow him. We reached the shop and it was closed. He called up the owner and requested him to help us. The garage owner took 15 mins to reach the shop, where we were standing. He took his tools and sat behind me. When I reached the point where we parked the other bike, Avdhesh and Yash were sitting there, waiting for us. I told them the whole story while the guy tried the open the punctured tyre of our bike. After struggling a lot, the tyre came out and the guy concluded that we need to change the tube.
Then the hunt for a new tyre tube begun. I and Nakul went to the shop suggested by the garage owner. We purchased a new tube. Then Nakul said, "It's 10:00 in the morning and we haven't had breakfast yet. Let's have some Lassi, WDYT ??". and I agreed instantly. We asked the folks about some famous shop and went there. We had a Big Glass of Lassi there and then returned to the bike.
The guy replaced the tyre tube and the bike was ready to roll now.🎉
We mounted the luggage on to the bikes and started our journey towards Amritsar. It was 11:00 and the heat started to rise towards its peak.
It took us 2 hours to reach Amritsar. The heat was at its peak. It was 42 degrees there and I started to dehydrate. Avdhesh and Yash were ahead of us and they had already reached the hotel. I and Nakul were lost in the narrow roads of Amritsar with a lottttt of traffic. I started to lose my patience then. At one point, I got off from the bike and shouted. I CANNOT TAKE THIS ANYMORE. Nakul gracefully handled me and the situation, asked me to sit behind him and relax. It took us another 5-7 mins to reach the hotel. I crashed on the bed immediately. We slept for like 2-3 hours. Others took a bath and got ready but I was still sleeping. I was feeling dizzy and my head was aching like hell. I was not able to figure out what has happened to me. Then I figured out that it's the heat that is doing the damage. I took a bath and called Avdhesh. They were having lunch at a restaurant nearby and the plan was to go to Attari Border then. I quickly got ready and rushed towards the restaurant. I was very hungry and dehydrated. We had Chhole-Kulche and Lassi there. During this, Nakul and Avdhesh took some information about "how to go to Attari Border". The answer was to hire a rickshaw and it'll take you to the border and bring you back to the Golden Temple.
We hired one and he took us to the Border. This was the first time when I was this close to the India-Pakistan border. 100 meters more and I would have entered into Pakistan. The atmosphere there was full of energy and enthusiasm. Crowd cheering "India... India....", "Vande Mataram", "Bharat Mata ki Jay" and whatnot. There were Army officials and Soldiers all around. We got goosebumps while shouting "Jayyyy" in response to "Bharat Mata ki".
The Pakistani side was easily visible from where we stood. People there were also out crying "Pakistan Zindabad". The ceremony began after 15 mins and we sat down on our places. It was a great experience to watch all those soldiers marching in sync and performing those actions just to depict the power and dominance of India over Pakistan. The other side was doing the same thing though. Then came the famous move where soldiers from both the sides lift their leg high in the air and it is considered that higher the leg, more the pride. India was better. The ceremony lasted for 45 mins and then we came back to our rickshaw. Amritsar was 22KM from the border. We started singing songs randomly and the driver also enjoyed those😂. After travelling for 15-20 mins we reached the Golden Temple. Roamed around it and went back to the Hotel. We were so full because of those Lassis that we didn't even have dinner and another constraint was that we had to get out bike repaired, because....It was PUNCTURE again 🤦🏻♂️. Avdhesh and Yash took the initiative to do that and got that repaired. They came back with another story of the garage owner being rude and exaggerating things about his business. We heard those and laughed. Avdhesh and Yash have the best when it comes to sense of humour. We then decided to sleep. We rested in the room for 3-4 hours and then I, Avdhesh and Nakul decided to go to the temple. This decision came into the picture because we had to leave Amritsar early in the morning. Yash denied to come with us and he was in his deep sleep.
We three went to the temple. The Golden Temple looked awesome in the night. The lighting on the top of the temple reflected in the "kund" around it. There was peace. We sat down on one edge of the lake and relaxed for some time and admired the beauty of the temple. We were feeling hungry now. Nakul suggested that we can have "Langar" here. We found the Langar hall and sat down there waiting for food. It was very delicious, we ate everything that was being served there.
Then we returned to the hotel and slept.
Amritsar - Delhi - Pune
Departure - 10:00
Arrival in Delhi - 20:00
Arrival in Pune - 1:30
And the day came.....The last day of Trip to Solace 2. but the adventure is not over yet. The coming day was having a lot of challenges for us. We got up a bit late in the morning at around 8:00. Yash was ready and had visited the temple already(Super fassssttt Guy). Rest of us got ready and started packing our bags. When we came downstairs, I got to know that my helmet is missing. I enquired the hotel staff about that but no luck. I wasn't even able to remember when did I last saw that. After searching for almost 15 mins, we concluded that the helmet is lost. So now, I had to ride 450KM in the scorching heat without a helmet. I immediately looked at the weather forecast and it said that today's high will be 45 degrees (Damn!!!!). Considering my state yesterday, I thought I am going to die in this heat today. While I was thinking this, another incident took place. The hotel owner came to us asking for the keys of the room where we stayed. I had the keys in my pocket and no one knew that. Nakul and Avdhesh started arguing with the guy that we don't have the keys. The argument lasted for 5-10 mins and was getting intense and serious as the voices were raising. Then I stepped in and handed over the keys to the owner, considering that we were getting late. We had to catch our flight back to Pune at 23:00.
We left the place and started to ride towards Delhi. It was 10:00 on the clock and the target was to reach Delhi by 18:00 considering everything will be fine during the day. But, "Prakriti ko Kuch Aur hi Manzoor tha". After riding for 30KM, we stopped for breakfast and noticed that the bike is puncture again.🤦🏻♂️
We somehow dragged it to a garage nearby and get it repaired, we also forced the guy to check the tyre thoroughly as this was the 4th puncture in the last 24 hours. He said that heat can be a factor for this and we agreed (we should not have). Yash was riding the bike and I was sitting behind him.
After another 50-ish kilometre, BOOM!!!! the bike was punctured again. Fortunately, Nakul and Avdhesh were just ahead of us so we managed to stop them. We again dragged the bike to a nearby garage which was very hard to find this time!!! The guy repaired the puncture quickly and assured us that this won't happen again. We trusted him and continued our ride. I started feeling the heat now. It was 40 degrees and my face was burning because of the heat. I pulled out my bandana, dipped it into the water and covered my face with it. Yash was riding the bike and after another 40-50 KM, .....you know what happened 😓. Yes, bloody puncture!!!! again. We were riding for the last 3 hours and we covered only 100 odd KM. "Dilli Abhi Bhi boht door thi". It was 13:00 on the clock. We had to reach Delhi anyhow by 19:00 so that we can submit the bikes and catch our flight. This time, the guy who repaired the puncture was a 14-15 years old boy. We were like, he won't be able to fix it completely. But exactly opposite to our expectations, he found the root cause of this recurring puncture problem. There was a nail in the tyre that was causing all the problem. He removed that and assured that our journey till Delhi will be flawless now.
I asked Yash to let me ride the bike now. He agreed. We decided to follow a strategy that we'll stop at every 50-60 KM to let the tyres cool down and also to get ourselves refreshed. This worked for the next 150-170 KM. We crossed Jalandhar and Ludhiyana during this time and were about to reach Ambala (30 KM away).
But this day was in no mood to let us reach Delhi like this. The bike got punctured again. I dropped Yash at a point and asked him to call either Avdhesh or Nakul and let them know about the situation. After enquiring a few garages, I found one who agreed to repair a Royal Enfield. I called Yash and told him about the place. He came to the shop and after a while, Nakul and Avdhesh also arrived. The guy told us that we need to change the tube. Avdhesh and Yash went into the city and bought a new tube. We got that installed in our bike. It was 16:30 on the clock. We were in no position to reach Delhi at or before 19:00. We stopped at a Burger King outlet to compensate for our lunch cravings.
One thing that was worth noticing here: Although the bike was getting punctured after an average of every 40-50KM and it was killing our time. But no one amongst us was getting irritated or frustrated on that or each other. This is the kind of understanding and bonding that we share. Everyone understood the need of the hour and reacted accordingly. I'm not boasting here, but these three are the best travel companions I've ever had. 👏🏻
Delhi was still 200KM away from us. We left the outlet within 20 mins and started riding towards Delhi. Fortunately, we didn't encounter any other puncture till Delhi after that. But something else, something biggg was waiting for us at Sonipat.
I was getting dehydrated again and the bike started to wobbling because of the broken spokes. Yash asked me to hand over the bike to him and I did that.
We rode for 150KM after that without any hiccups. But then....just after Sonipat, we were out of fuel in our bike.
The bike stopped on the highway and we were clueless about it. After investigating, we figured out that the petrol tank is empty. (facepalms) The nearest fuel station was 1.5KM away. We had to drag a 250KG elephant till there. We dragged it for 300 odd meters and stopped. Then a guy came on a bike and asked us about the situation. Yash asked him if he can help us. He agreed and told us to sit on the bike. He started pushing our bike with his leg while riding his own. I had seen this technique earlier and tried as well but I failed miserably. But this guys seemed to be a pro in that. He took us to the fuel station within 10 mins. We refuelled our bike and left for Delhi. The heat was getting decreased with time. We were all wet in sweat and exhausted. Yash showed courage at this point and told me that he'll ride the bike till Karol Bagh (endpoint). It took us another hour to reach there. It was 20:00 on the clock. Avdhesh and Nakul were already there. We submitted the bike, completed all the paperwork and left from there. We all sensed the end of "One heck of a Trip" while submitting those bikes. We took a cab till Railway Station from there. Dropped Nakul and Yash there. Took the Last Selfie of the Trip together and then I Avdhesh took a Metro till Airport.
Fortunately, the flight was delayed by half an hour. We reached Pune by 1:30.
So this is how a trip that taught me a lot, changed me lot came to an end. Whenever I browse the album named Trip to Solace 2, I get goosebumps. And last, but not the least, A big thanks to the three Idiots. This trip was not at all possible without them. I'm eagerly waiting for Trip to Leisure 1 now.