Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey - 2017

Tripoto
7th Aug 2017
Photo of Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey - 2017 by C S Prasanjit Kumar

It was a privilege to ride with the crew of a brand I have always loved and is imbibed in every nerve of my motorcycling life. Royal Enfield organizes a motorcycle tour to the Himalayas every year and every year its a different experience. This year too, the tour to Himalayas which is named Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey was organized in the month of July spanning over 18 days which meets their tag line very precisely, 18 days like no other in riding.

Do checkout the short video of the Himalayan odyssey and follow my travels on my page Behind the Handlebar

Photo of Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey - 2017 1/2 by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey - 2017 2/2 by C S Prasanjit Kumar

The Check in

6th - 7th July, 2017

Excited with the thought of going back to the Himalayas, leaving home for my journey to the Himalayas was a bit hectic as I had to leave very early in the morning and take the tedious local train journey followed by a Autorickshaw to the Airport. Meeting Rajeev at the airport in Mumbai and flying down to Delhi, we checked in to Hotel Royal Plaza at Janpath in Delhi where the crew of Royal Enfield had already begun with their routine of gear and bike scrutiny. The next day was followed with a First Aid Session of 4 hours where we were acknowledged with the importance and know how of different aspects of first aid. First Aid is definitely not just that small transparent plastic box with bandages and flu tablets. Its much more than that. After having a medical checkup by the empanelled doctors I was provided with some goodies from Royal Enfield which included the riding gears, tshirts, stickers and some souvenirs with RE insignia. All set for the ride to start the next day.

Photo of Delhi, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Delhi, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Delhi, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Day 2

Runway to Chandigarh

8th July, 2017

Having a bare minimum 3 hours sleep and an early breakfast at 6 in the morning we were ready to kickoff the Odyssey sharp at 7. Nothing could get more exciting than watching the India Gate for the first time and having a loud flagoff from the very monument of historical importance. Zipping through the roads of Delhi, we get out of the city on the National Highway 1. The highway to Chandigarh is no less than a runway. 280 kms straight to Chandigarh and I sort of got bored with the monotonous riding in the scorching humid heat of Delhi Chandigarh. May be this played an important part to elevate the craving for the Himalayas even more. Reaching chandigarh we checked in to Mount View hotel cooling our head and hells in a Air Conditioned room. Cooled enough to take a warm hot water shower and chill out with newly made friends in the evening around Chandigarh city.

Photo of Chandigarh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Chandigarh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Chandigarh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Day 3

And Finally the first glimpse of the Mountains- Manali

9th July, 2017

Leaving from Chandigarh at 7 am in the morning after a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel, we left for Manali. The most exciting time of the trip begins now and it was time to chuck the 4 lane plain highways and get into the hills. The board reading “You are Welcome to land of Gods, Himachal” makes you grin and gives you that unparalleled joy. The Hills start from Swar Ghat which is the footsteps of Mighty Himalayas. Having a tea break at Bilaspur, we headed towards Manali. After Mandi, crossing the Aut tunnel me and Rajat (Royal Enfield crew lead) throttled our next 60 kms till Manali. The stay at Manali was booked at Hotel Highland on the Hadimba temple road. Reaching Manali, around 4 left us some day light to spare so me and Rajeev got along and explored the interiors of Manali and visiting my friend Godwin and his wife Sneh who run a hotel and café called Ride Inn, the famous Bikers den.

Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Day 4

Officially in the Himalayas – Keylong.

10th July, 2017

We checkout of Manali at 8 am, the latest of all the previous days as we had just 115kms to cover for the day. Rohtang, the famous tourist spot of Delhiites and Punjabis was a bit crowded with tourist but not as much as it is in May and June. Having our fair bit of offroad from Rohtang to Khoksar where we took our first break and regroup, we headed towards Tandi where the famous landmark is located. The landmark is nothing but a fuel pump which has a board proudly saying, “Next fuel pump 365kms away”. Having a mandatory fuel up here, Keylong was another 30 odd kms which was a swift ride on posh tarmac which would have been a bane as I had a close shave with death by being head on with a truck on a curve. Fair part of Himalayas to teach a lesson to not take the hills for granted. We checked in to Hotel Deykid in Keylong which had an exemplary view of the lady of Keylong. The hotel owner Mr. Tashi and me sat down for an hour and we had a very informative conversation in the hotel’s balcony looking at the Himalayas all around. Every peak and every mountain has its own story here.

Photo of Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Day 5

Going up and up – Sarchu

11th July, 2017

The day started with loading the bags in the truck and leaving Keylong at 8 in the morning. The road from Keylong to Jispa is like a Motogp Race track with plain carpet of tarmac. The joy is short lived as you encounter the 2 dreadful water crossings just after Darcha. Crossing the 1st water crossing was relatively easy but the 2nd one was a bit tricky and it was a wait for half an hour till the JCB cleared the boulders and rocks paving way for the stream to enable the vehicles to pass. Standing in the stream of water for half an hour we finally got a green signal to cross the stream to the other end. I was the first to cross the stream and 4 others followed me thereafter. Just after we 5 crossed the stream and took a top at Deepak tal 2-3 kms away, we got the news that after we crossed there was a landslide and it would take 5-6 hours for the BRO to make the road again. The road got empty as there was no 1 around except we 5. I had a lot of free time now knowing that the entire pack was behind and are not coming soon. Some misadventures at Suraj Taal near Baralacha la (altitude of ~16,000 ft) gave me a broken gear lever and sudden boost of Mountain sickness and had the worst headache of my life followed by giddiness and nausea. Some how managing to reach Sarchu for the evening, I found my energy totally depleted and all I needed was a hot soup and a good sleep being snugged in the blanket inside the camps that were booked for us in Sarchu.

Photo of Sarchu, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Sarchu, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Sarchu, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Sarchu, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Day 6

Ladakh Officially – Leh

12th July, 2017.

Having a broken gear lever on the bike meant I wasn’t riding today and which was a deep pain inside. But then a ride in an Innova was a bit consoling. Just after Sarchu falls the state of Jammu and Kashmir and you have entered the region of Ladakh Officially. Till Sarchu, you are only in the Lahaul district of Himachal. Gata Loops comprising of 21 hair pin bends is a treat to ride that I missed but then it was perfectly fine to sit in an Innova and look at the happy faces of the riders enjoying the ride. After Gata Loops you cross Lachung la and head to Pang which is one of those places which has the harshest weather. Even the Indian Army trains its soldiers for high altitude combat for Siachen here. Yes its that severe. Have experienced my stay here in my previous ride where the bucket of water was frozen the following morning. The ordeal of tough and treacherous ride comprising of terrible offroads ends after Pang when you come up to the Mroreh Plains. Moreh Plains needs no introduction and you need to google it if you are still not aware or heard of it. Even better, see the pic below. Getting a bike from a fellow participant at Taglang la who gave up due to severe AMS, I was able to ride from Taglang la, the 2nd highest motorable road in the world. Leh was further 125 kms from here but the colours of the mountains on this patch is just mesmerizing. Having a fuel up at Karu, the first fuel pump after Tandi I checked into Namgyal Palace in Leh.

Photo of Leh by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Leh by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Leh by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Leh by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Leh by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Photo of Leh by C S Prasanjit Kumar
Day 7

Ride to top of the world – Khardong La.

13th July, 2017.

All we had to do in Leh was chill while others who fly directly to Leh have to sit there and acclimatize. For us who rode from Manali to Leh, we have already done the treacherous part and the highest lands so Leh gave a feeling of plains. The following day Rajat came up and asked us if we intend to go to Khardung la. Well who doesn’t?? We 4 started our ride to Khardungla which is just 40 kms from Leh. Crossing South Pullu at 25 oddkms the road was non existent with heavy traffic of tourist vehicles thronging the road to khardungla. Slush, rocks, gravels, pebbles, water were the main ingredients of the road to Khardongla from South Pullu. Reaching Khardongla, we were greeted with a pleasant snow fall and the feeling of having those tiny gems falling on us gave me a divine feeling. The divine biker feeling which I feel every motorcyclist should once experience in their lifetime.

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