Day 3: 17th June, 2011
The train finally chugged its way to the New Delhi Railway station after standing by for every possible train, at every possible stop and for every other non-reason. It was around 12 noon and the sun was at its “Delhi” peak. We started passing our luggage to the door as the train came to a complete halt and that was a scene to watch (and a scene every passer by in that platform did watch). We had a very warm welcome from Satvik, Pops, Deepthi and Anand. Mohan, Vatsala, Manju and Somanna had reached much earlier and they had gone to their friend’s place. Pops and Satvik had checked into a dingy hotel very close to the railway station and we decided to walk with all the luggage. It looked like a scene out of a movie where a group of 10-12 people had robbed an entire train and were parading with their loot through the noisy, over-crowded and dusty lanes by the New Delhi Railway Station. Now, the lesser I tell about the hotel the better it is. All of us were resting (or whatever) at the reception area and it looked like there was a mela. We needed to get our bikes released and as usual were harassed by the officials for documents that were irrelevant. So, we got all the documents and decided to split. Anand, Harsha & I went to Karol Bagh to Delhi Bullet Centre to get our rented bikes. Another group went to get the bikes from the trains and another booked the taxi (our back up vehicle) for the same night to go to Manali. We were to arrange another taxi from Manali onwards.
While things went pretty smooth with every thing else, our job of getting our bikes took faaaar toooo longer than we had expected. Rajesh, the owner of Delhi Bullet Centre was a nice straight guy. I wouldn’t call him slow only for the respect I have for the kind of work he does. We went there around 2 pm and got our bikes by around 7pm. Part of the delay must be attributed to the prejudice that Anand had for a bike that he was supposed to take, but Satvik had told him that there could have been a fork bent. Well let’s just say the rest is history. I got a 2006 Machismo, Harsha and Anand got Electras. By the time we reached the hotel it was around 7:30pm and the luggage was loaded into the taxi and everybody was waiting for us. I personally thought that it would have been a better idea to stay back that night and start riding the next morning, but it was a little late in the day to be sharing one’s opinions.
So we rode in all pompousness amidst all the chaos and the crazy traffic, grabbing the attention of everyone on the road. We were to meet Mohan and co at Karnal Road. The actual plan was to start riding at round 4pm and halt at Mohali. But since we started about 4 hours late it was obvious that plans were going to change. On the first riding day, we violated our own rule – No riding after dark.
Couple the late start with a chai break that took far longer than it should have and a punctured tyre in the middle of nowhere in Haryana, that were the perfect recipe for anarchy. Anand’s tyre went flat as he was ripping on the highway and he skidded to a halt. I was right behind him and we sent a message to the rest of the group that we had a flat tyre. Satvik used all his salesman skills to get a puncture-wala out of his bed at 1 AM and got him to fix the puncture. While we were waiting, a highway patrol jeep came by and dropped two policemen with AK47s for our security. They told us that this part of the highway was one of the most notorious and dangerous. I believe there were about 15 patrol jeeps manning a stretch of some 50kms. They asked us not to stand on the highway with so many women. Then they went on to share stories about the locality, which somehow switched to Mahabharath. They spoke vehemently about Kurukshetra and Panipat. We were somewhere close to Panipat and they suggested a very good resort next to a lake called Karnal Lake in Karnal, where we could stay for the night. Effectively we had travelled only 125 kms and were way behind schedule and were dead tired. We stopped for dinner at a Dhaba in Karnal and then reached the Karnal Lake side resort at 3 AM. This was a beauty of a place, we neither had the time nor the mood to enjoy the view. We woke up at 7 AM and decided to hit the road at 8 AM the next morning.
Day 4: 18th June, 2011
The resort was certainly one of the most beautifully places we had seen. Right next to it was a huge serene lake and on the other side was a river. There was a golf course a little ahead and adjacent to the lake was Delhi Public School. Namitha and I couldn’t resist going for a stroll around the lake and that was a very refreshing feeling. We were all set for another day’s ride. We all gathered near the parking area and shot a lot of pictures and started riding at around 9 AM.
Just as we got into the main road, we stopped at a Dhaba for breakfast. We took all our bikes into the dhaba and parked them right next to our tables and belted like maniacs. We had begun to fall in love with the dhabas and the paranthas and the pickles. After breakfast and another session of impromptu photo sessions, we were back on the road. We rode for a couple of hours and we reached near Ambala and almost simultaneously a couple of bikes needed to be taken to a mechanic for basic setup and Anand had to change his tyre. We filled up our tanks in the last petrol bunk in Haryana to take advantage of the lower fuel prices.
We stopped for lunch at some place after Ropar and again hit the road at around 4 PM. Our original destination for the day was Vashishti or Manali, but we were able to reach only till Sundernagar, which was about 125 kms from Manali when Satvik’s tyre had a puncture. So we decided to halt there after having rode about 275kms. Varun and I went looking for a place and found a pretty good accommodation called Pride Guest House on top of a commercial complex. This guy had just started this place, where we took 6 rooms. The enthusiasm to serve was very high and we were delighted.
Continue Reading the Story here: The Himalayan Sojourn 1.0- Part 3- Sundarnagar to Manali
If you missed the previous part of this story, you can read it here: The Himalayan Sojourn 1.0- Part 1- An Introduction