Leh in an Enfield

“The man who belonged to mountains, his soul was full of adventures, didn’t fear any heights or depths, he was all in one Reckless,Wild,Young and Crazy”

cropped-g0050042.jpg

I kept on delaying to write about the best ride of my life and what kept me from writing about my ride to Leh,Ladakh in a Royal Enfield was the fear that the miraculous place and the amazing experience could never be put into words, Although I wrote about some Do’s and Don’ts about a motorcycle trip to leh and I hope it was useful for you guys.dscf2987

So trying to put the feel into words and tell you all about the emotional waves that this awesome trip gave me, I open my diary and on reading the very first paragraph I virtually stand in that beautiful road in the deserted land emptying that feeble jerrycan filled with petrol into my Royal Enfield 500.

JUNE’15 Haridwar, India

It was a hot June afternoon in Haridwar (Uttrakhand,India), I was hardly surviving that summer internship in a transformer production house. The tin sheet roofing and the heavy machines running day and night made the hot summer miserable for me, while my friend Aditya (@aeddy_rowdy_raghuvanshi) was having the time of his life, as he lived like he was in Vegas on holidays, A bottle of whisky would go down almost everyday weather you want it or not.  All thanks to Aditya.

After surviving some twenty days with the company and ofcourse Aditya’s whisky I got a call from Sudarshan (@sudizzm) saying “bro lets ride to Leh, let’s make the plan work this time” as the plan failed badly last time and we end up going  Kheerganga and I have no regrets about it, as the kheerganga trek (Himachal Pardesh, India) was amazing. The first thought that hit my mind during the call was SCREW INTERNSHIP, SCREW COLLEGE, JUST GO. But the mentor was kind enough to grant me leave for I had made some perfect excuses.

Manali, HIMANCHAL PRADESH

After a week from the day of that call we met up in Manali (Himachal Pardesh, India). Sudarshan (@sudizzm), Arjun (@sharma0508), Ayush (@ayush_1892) and me(@thegokulblog) spent some lazy camp days in old Manali as the café culture and peace in old manali is unbeatable.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I have a Royal Enfield 350cc but for this ride of a lifetime we wanted nothing but the best. So, we hired three brand new Royal Enfield 500cc and took a test ride to Kasol which is 75 km from Manali, where we met Ananta(@ananta0829) and Anamika(@anameeca999) .

Except me all five of them were friends from a long time and I only knew Sudarshan. But in no time I joined the party and we all had a really good time in kasol and I bet none of us can forget that party when we laughed and drank* till 3. Next day after a nice brunch in café Evergreen in kasol and saying goodbye to anamika and ananta we head back to Manali.

cropped-dscf2730.jpg

The Badass SDM

After two days we four were all geared up for Leh. We were in the queue for half an hour in the SDM office in Manali for the permission of vehicles to leh and the SDM herself came out and announced that the two wheeler riders could go without the permission from the office as she had already called the check point and granted permission for all two wheeler riders, there was cheers and applauses all over. This badass move of hers was encouraged by the huge number of riders in queue because of whom she would have gone crazy granting permission to all of them one by one.  It was around 5 o’clock in the evening when we were done packing energy bars and filling jerrycans with petrol and the machines were ready with our backpacks tied at the back.

Leaving from Manali

DSCF2708

We started our ride shouting and singing. It was already dark while we reached the check post prior to Rohtang pass.

We crossed Rohtang pass during the night. The meaning of Rohtang is soul torture and that we knew was for real during the ride. It  is the first pass on manali-leh highway and the height of this pass is 13,050 ft.(3,979 m) and while riding  from manali till rohtang  we attained around 6350 ft. of height in just 51 kilometers (31.69 miles). This gave us an idea what lies ahead in this adventurous journey. After almost loosing Sud’s riding gloves which would have ended our ride and Arjun almost hitting a big rock as the fallen backpack from his motorcycle misbalanced him we crossed rohtang pass and reached Koksar.

Koksar is the first point of civilization after rohtang pass which was situated in a lesser height, where we found a nice guest house for the night and the guest house owner himself was a cook and served some delicious Himalayan dinner, by delicious Himalayan dinner I mean rice and pulses that’s what you get in almost every Himalayan journey everywhere in India.

The next morning, soon after a heavy breakfast we were all set to ride again, ride against every odd and ride through every beautiful mountain.

IMG_0892.JPG
Guest house at Koksar
IMG_0904.JPG
Day 2 early morning

The bumpy roads broke our carriers and we welded them as soon as we reached keylong.

Before reaching keylong we took a halt at a beautiful turn to keep a little hydrated and ofcourse to click pictures, while we were posing and the mountains did their part, An old man was passing by and he just stopped on seeing our machines loaded with rucksacks and the carriers with petrol jerrycans. He inquired if we were going to leh as he was sure we were. He was a man of good heart and a great knowledge, usually my travel dairies has a lot of gold hearted persons I meet on my travel, maybe it’s the Himalayas that they have such a good heart. The old man suggested us some places to visit while in leh and gave us some DOs and DONTs  to have a safe ride, after a while of a great chitchat we waved cheers and good bye and continued our ride.

cropped-img_0922.jpg
Ayush thanking the old man for his kind advices

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

img_0915
Me  trying to listen and Sudarshan giving it a twirl

Keylong, Lahaul spiti, HIMACHAL PRADESH

Keylong is 25 km from koksar and it’s the only place where you can find an ATM machine in manali-leh highway and keylong is one of three places where you can find a mechanic in 500 kms manali-leh highway.

After crossing jispa and Darcha which are 16 and 78 km from keylong respectively we continued to ride as the aim was to reach sarchu that evening.

img_0905
The machine

IMG_0956.JPG

Sarchu was still 116 km from darcha and while continuing to ride towards Sarchu we encountered several streams with freezing cold water from the snowcapped mountains. Riding through the stream flowing on road with a current that could land you down the cliff with your motorcycle is really a tough job but a thrilling one and that was exactly what we were there for.

dscf2955

After crossing these crazy flowing streams we took a halt at    Baralacha-La pass whose height is 16,500 ft (4,890 m). after clicking some nice pictures and having a little fun in the snow we continued to ride. Usually Baralacha-la is the pass where most travelers encounter symptoms of AMS (acute mountain sickness). Symptoms of AMS can be seen while in mountains you are in  high altitude. AMS causes headache, nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Luckily we were totally fine and there were no signs of AMS. Descending from baralacha-la pass to sarchu we were covering the last patch of worst and most adventurous road in manali-leh highway.

 

 

img_1001
Baracha-La pass

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

img_1015

img_1011

SARCHU

IMG_1025.JPG
Our stay at sarchu

In the evening we reached Sarchu. Sarchu is all tents and desert. We found the tented accommodation we booked for that night, before we started the ride in Manali and then we realised that booking the accommodation with the company we hired our motorcycles from was a bad idea as they charged way too much than the actual rate of the accommodation. The night in Sarchu was the longest night in the ride as we were all dealing with AMS, our body refused to function at the height of 16,500 ft. and our heads were about to explode. While the AMS didn’t hit me already I thought I was just fine and only my friends had AMS (acute mountain sickness) I fixed myself some drinks from the bottle of whisky I was carrying in my rucksack that helped me sleep for few hours but around 2 at night I got a taste of what my friends were already facing. the camp bed in the tent seemed to revolve round and I could barely breathe and my head was about to explode.

Next morning (which happened soo late) I dragged myself out of my bed to check up on my friends and still we all were dealing with the problem. During the breakfast I met a rider group who were returning to Manali from leh they were 40 people with one of them injured and had put his motorcycle in the recovery van. One of the riders gave me some pills for AMS that helped us to function a little, Putting our backpacks in the motorcycle was the toughest job for the day because of the dizziness. I tied the once again broken carriers by the rope we luckily found the day before lying on the road and the rider group gave us some tools to tighten some  bolts.

NOTE: if you are hiring a motorcycle for leh, make sure you have everything you need in the toolbox that the travel company provides you. We learnt it the hard way as our toolkit had everything except what we needed.

dscf2981

The day was not meant for us as we were still not well but we had to ride because we started it to finish the ride and nothing could stop us from doing that. On day 2 we passed through Nakee-La and Lachung-la. You must be wandering that why there is –La behind the name of every pass or mountain. Well we were curious and we inquired about it. In ladakhi language La meant mountain hence lachung-la meant lachung-mountain, nakee-la meant nakee-mountain and similarly for other high altitude mountains.

DSCF2987.JPG

After riding around 70 kms we reached pang and it started raining , the aim was to ride further but the small halt turned out to be the night’s stay at pang in a really really cold tent with stinking blankets which we did not care much about at that time.

img_1067

In the evening the sky changed colour miraculously in pang and I spent the evening enjoying sunset with tea and listening to James blunt.

img_1041

img_1052

img_1047

COOL BRO ROAD SIGNS

Border roads organization-BRO has done an excellent job on making motorable roads at the worst place possible.

The road signs put up by BRO are hilariously awesome and proves that they have an amazing sence of humour.

“BE GENTLE ON MY CURVES”

“DARLING I LIKE YOU, BUT NOT SO FAST”

“DON’T BE A GAMA IN THE LAND OF LAMA”

Are some of the cool road signs in Manali-Leh highway.

img_1948-medium.jpg

ML-10.jpg

himank11

himank3

 

Pang TO Leh (THE LAST SPRINT)

Next morning we again had a heavy breakfast and we were on the road again, this time is was the final sprint. After leaving pang we struggled with the road one more hour and then it was all easy ride. The open straight highway we always saw in movies and youtube videos was infront of us and we were actually riding on it, Even after riding half of the distance to leh just that road gave a chill to our spines as we just started .

While riding to Leh from pang we passed through Taglang-La pass with a height of 17582 ft. which is the worlds second highest motorable pass, and the conditions didn’t let us take a halt at that kind of height and we had no regrets as we had plans to go to worlds highest motorable pass after 2 days.

13392848_142197176187177_175183527_n.jpg

The machines running on 20-30km/hr now on this road we hit 110-120 km/hr and it was amazing. Riding on a beautiful straight highway surrounded by deserted snow covered mountains and shepherds with sheeps gave us a feeling of being in an music video. After riding for a long time we started to pass by some trees like they have been planted and stupas came frequently and that was a sign that we were about reach to our destination the heaven on earth “Leh” . Soon after the stupas and planted trees we reached a bridge to cross a river, there sat a guy who was collecting tickets and charging RS 20 per motorcycle that gave us the surety that we reached Leh.

As soon as we reached leh  we booked a hotel ASAP and parked our bikes deep, as we were not allowed to ride rented bikes from any other state in leh, ladakh. We spent the evening and the night sleeping and just lying around and that may have included a couple of drinks.

Pangong Lake

img_1173

The next morning we left for Pangong-tso lake in a cab we booked last night. The 175 kilometers of dusty and bumpy road led us to Pangong lake. Enrouthr to pangong lake we passed through Chang-La pass with a hight of 17386 ft. from sea level, the height made breathing a problem there that’s why we kept moving towards our destination.Four friends riding 500 kilometers of Manali to Leh in a Royal Enfield, that is one of the best things to do in a life, that was a hell of experience which kept us thrilled and amazed. Still after all this experience our hearts pounded as faster as they could as we saw signs of reaching Pangong lake.

With a radius more than 100km, 70% of which lies in china, The Pangong-Tso lake in ladakh is a place of major tourist attraction. It is said that this amazing lake changed eight colours during one whole day as the sun changes its position.

IMG_1228.JPG
Arjun,Sudarshan and Ayush (L-R)

The army motorboats taking rounds of the lake, honeymoon couples clicking pictures in different poses, maybe to cherish this moment till their old age. Solo travelers taking their time alone , families enjoying yak rides, couples and riders renting camps for the night were the cheerful scenes in Pangong lake when we just stepped in.

After stepping out of the cab we joined the party for clicking photos after a moment of amazement. And I couldn’t stop myself to get off my shoes and step in the water and GOD.!! It was freezing cold and Arjun got the uncalled reactions in camera ,though I was supposed to pose cool. After some wondering we all sat and recorded a time-lapse video of the lake while we chit-chat in our happytimes.

G0070178.jpg
The Team
IMG_1185.JPG
I was supposed to pose nice but the water was freezing and Arjun got the reaction in camera

The time was running so fast, Its funny how time seems to run so fast on your happy days. Every new sun brought a new adventure and new destination and that’s the exact kind of life I always dreamt of. The dry weather of ladakh didn’t let us be in best of our health but who cared about that, at the time all we cared was our next destination.

 

Khardung-La Pass

DSCF3048.JPG
With the brave soldiers of Indian Army

The next morning was the most exciting one as we headed to Nubra valley and were passing through Khardungla pass.

Khardungla pass is the world’s highest motorable pass situated in a height of 18,380 ft. The moment we reached khardungla pass struggling through the harsh roads laid down by BRO-Border Roads Organizations at unbelievably difficult places, A feeling of accomplishment made my heart pound faster and the board at the top read “HIGHEST MOTORABLE ROAD IN THE WORLD” and even after knowing that fact my heart skipped a beat after reading it in the board actually standing there.

DSCF3092.JPG

After doing some photos with the army officers and thanking them for the bravery they show protecting us from such difficult places, we saw something standing even higher than the board, it was kind of a praying pillar and a bit higher from that painted were army slogans in the stones with their battalion names and we saw no living soul up there that questioned the authority to go up there. We asked a soldier if we may climb up there, he replied “see if you can make your way through snow and big rocks”.

It was 18,380ft and breathing issues increased when we used our hands and feet like a monkey to reach the top. At the top there was no one else except us. I can’t describe the emotional waves that hit me at that peak. We decided not to do a lot of chitchat and take a little time for ourselves. 5-10 minutes of silence at that top with myself and I had my life figured out, the things I wanted to accomplish and the way I wanted to live. Something in me just got alive, the rusty old engine of dreams got fuel to function, since that day I crave such emotions and travel places and there is peace in every destination and every new place made me dream higher.

DSCF3090.JPG

 

 

What saddens me most is people don’t respect environment, they take it for granted and keep destroying it. If for only one day the environment took us for granted, as I assume the day will soon come if people didn’t respect environment there will be no people and no environment to talk about.

Even at the top of world’s highest motorable pass we saw plastic wrappers and plastic bottles thrown all over, descending from the top we collected the trash as much as we could and while we were disposing at dustbins at the army post down the hill, the so called tourists gave us a look like maybe we were crazy or members of some NGOs to clean others trash.

“I REQUEST PEOPLE TO PLEASE RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT AND CARRY A BAG FOR YOUR NON BIODEGRADABLE WASTE WHILE YOU ARE IN  A TRIP AND DISPOSE IT AT A PROPER PLACE”

 

As we move further to Nubra Valley while descending from Khardung-La pass, we took a halt at a beautiful place where a lot of bikers were having their brunch in those beautiful cafés, I missed my 8283 (my Royal Enfield 350) so very bad at that moment, while I was deep in thought of my machine an old man knocked on the glass of our cab  and I struggled with the manual glass roll down window and it took ages to roll down the glass as it was jammed, the first thing the old man did after the window was down is, he joined his hands and said “khardung jana hai,mujhe chod doge khardung tak” (will you please drop me to khardung village) in a very weak and shivering voice. I said “hop in” in a fraction of second but still he won’t get in. I enquired “what happened?” he said “the driver will not like it and will yell on me” he was such an innocent old man it took me 5-10 minutes to assure that the cab driver will not be angry and the driver was back from his small break and we gave the old man the front seat alongside the driver and the old man told a bit about his village, his grandchildren and the culture in khardung village.

Soon after we passes through khardung village the amazing road to Nubra valley gave us the feeling like we were some actors in a music video and the cab driver had some amazing old Bollywood records which rocked our ride.

 

Nubra Valley

13414366_617421821768678_375304127_n.jpg

Like oasis in the desert, like a shelter to a homeless and woolens to a poor in December. The  Nubra valley in Ladakh is a lush green valley in between the cold desert.

Major attraction of the place is Double-humped camel rides in sand dunes in Nubra valley.

14360162_1803745903193967_1738101687_n.jpg

After roaming around barren land for a week and then going to a lush green valley and stay in very economical guest houses who serve food grown in their own backyard is a bliss.

DSCF3122.JPG

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After taking a walk in sand dunes in the evening, The night in Nubra valley I spent jotting down some feels on my dairy and the morning called for a U-turn to Leh.

We were back in leh the evening and after some shopping and dinner we were soon asleep like dead men as the plan for next day was Crazy.

THE LAST DAY

Early at 5 we woke up and started packing, by 6:30 we bid Au revoir to this beautiful heaven on earth and we were on our way back to Manali as soon as we filled our motorcycle tanks and Jerry cans with petrol.

The mixed feelings accelerated our motorcycles on our way back to Manali, the joy on being on that thrillingly beautiful road and the sadness of leaving Leh  fought within us.

After a while, as soon as we were out of leh, the big rocks, the small creeks, the road signs and even the small pits in the road were now known to us, the route now was like our daily route.

dscf3191
Indian army providing tea and snacks on a holy occasion

After a little while we were struggling with the conditions of our motorcycles as we did not give it a touchup in Leh, the carriers were almost off the machine and were tied with a strong rope that we so luckily found on our way to leh from manali and good thing that I always carry a knife while I’m traveling, which helped us to cut rope into three and keep all the carriers in the motorcycles attached. As we rode further the bungee ropes that we strapped our backpacks with started to shred into threads and soon our backpack rolled in the road with no mercy and we had to divide the remaining bungee ropes per motorcycles and try not to break them as we were already short of bungee ropes.

We didn’t even reach to Sarchu and one of the motorcycles mysteriously stopped, when I tried to inspect the problem, the motorcycle was not taking up the load to start and I figured out the spark plug is the problem and pulled out the plug below the fuel tank and removed the plastic covering over the plug wire and tried to start the motorcycle again but I failed badly, then it was obviously sure that the side spark plug was faulty but one needs a special tool to take that plug out.

We sat on the ground hopelessly in the middle of nowhere and there was no one coming or going as far as we could see.

The flood of thoughts drowned all happy vibes and negative thoughts conquered all happy souls. We were now stuck in a cold desert with a broken motorcycle with no mechanic nearby and no tents and sleeping bag to spend the night, if it came to that.

Telling ourselves that the machine will start working itself if it cooled down was of no use as we waited far more than it took to cool a machine down. The hope and efforts were now slowly starting to accept the reality that we needed specific tool to take out the spark plug from the engine of the motorcycle.

Out of hopes and out of tricks/efforts we now sat in the roadside after pulling the heavy Royal Enfield 500 to the corner. My eyes started to look for any passing by truck to load that motorcycle on till manali but there was no other soul passing by which was strange as we waited enough time for someone to pass by.

dscf3003

After checking the toolkit upside down almost 8 times I cursed the rental service for not giving the tool we then needed and giving everything else to increase our load, maybe our luck was that bad or maybe it was the part of experience that this trip holds.

Hopeless we sat at the ground drawing dragons on the desert and we saw three bikes approaching us they were riding with no luggage and they seemed like racing.

One of them inquired about our problem, all of the three guys looked teenagers maybe one of them was 20-21 and the first thought in my mind was, they may have stolen someone’s motorcycles for the machines were brand new and they were not carrying any luggage in a 500 km ride of a barren land and also they were not dressed in proper gear for the ride, while I was between these thoughts Arjun told them about the problem with the motorcycle and one of them already started fixing it and the motorcycle was as good as new in no time and we resumed the ride with those three guys and I was still in doubt about them but I kept it to myself.

After riding for an hour we all stopped for some lunch and that’s when my soul felt relieved, Because they were no thieves but localities of Ladakh and they were going to deliver those bikes to Manali because someone who hired them from Manali was not able to ride it back and paid them a handsome amount to deliver the bikes to Manali and they told it was kind of a part-time profession for youngsters in Ladakh.

During the lunch, they told that they are planning to ride straight to Manali without a night’s halt the plan seem challenging because on the same route we took 2 nights stay while riding to leh and now they were trying to do it without a single night’s halt, but thrilling it was! And we all flashed a green light for the plan and we were on road in no time with a comparably greater speed and those guys became a real help when our carriers broke from every joint, they carried our fuel ,they waited for us if one of us was left behind and I felt guilty for making a wrong perception about them and we thanked them tons while we departed at Keylong because they had a deadline for delivery and for sure we were slowing them down.

We continued the ride and as we reached koksar we were out of fuel, we had some fuel left in the tank but ahead lied Rohtang pass to cross and being stuck in rohtang pass at night is inviting devil for dinner. We approached the man who ran the guest house where we stayed while riding to leh and he recognized us in the first look and he was so generous that he arranged us some fuel from his competitor guesthouse owner and when we left from koksar the generous guesthouse owner and his wife both stood in front of their canteen alongside the road and waved us goodbye and blessings, it was an amazing feeling but in the same time the way they waved goodbye I kind of felt bad for departing from such nice human beings.

VISITING DIFFERET PLACES AND CULTURES I FOUND PEOPLE ARE NICE INFACT THEY ARE AMAZING AND THEY JUST WANT PEACE AND HAPPINESS AMONG PEOPLE. I FOUND THE BEST VERSION OF HUMANS IN THE LEAST DEVELOPED PLACES, ARE WE DEVELOPING.? OR KILLING THE HUMAN IN US.? FIGHTING FOR MERE MATERIALISTIC THINGS ARE NOT WHAT WE WERE MADE FOR.

SPREAD PEACE AND HAPPINESS FOR THE WORLD IS AN AMAZING PLACE.

 

While descending from Rohtang pass it was zero visibility because of the fog and as soon as we reached Solang valley from where it was still 13km ride to Manali it started to rain cats and dogs thanks to our waterproof jackets and Arjun was most relieved one as he had Quechua rainproof jacket. We reached Manali at 1am and slept eating biscuits. The next morning after breakfast we left Manali to go back to our lives with new destinations in mind.

 

 

Triund Hill Trek

_MG_0423.JPG

Triund trek is one of the most refreshing treks that the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh (India) has to offer. It is a 9km gradual trek which offers a mesmerizing panoramic view of bhagsu village and Mcleodganj while walking through the lush green rhododendron forest. It is a moderate trek which can be accomplished my almost all age groups.

To trek to Triund hill, it is  advised to stay a night at Bhagsu nag which is just 2 km from Mcleodganj main bazar so that one could enjoy the trek to its fullest by starting early morning. There is an option to book a cab to Galu temple which is the last motorable point to triund hill but i’ll suggest to save your hard earned money and start the trek from bhagsu nag itself via Rakkar village.

and also the night at bhagsu nag is far better than mcleodganj main market as bhagsu nag has the ambiance and cafe culture like old manali.

THE START:

_MG_0012.JPG

Just a kilometer above bhagsu nag is Rakkar/rakkad village, it seems like an international habitat rather than  a normal Indian Himalayan village.

A cafe owner at rakkar village who was very shy to tell her name told us that the locals rented rooms to the travelers for months also which attracted backpackers and it was the major source of income for villagers.

Rakkar village along with home-stay and cafe offeres facilities like cyber cafe and a shop to buy mountaineering equipments so that the travelers do not have to go to mcleodganj or bhagsu nag for these essential services.

_MG_0023.JPG
A cafe cum home-stay at rakkar village

_MG_0028.JPG

_MG_0033.JPG

After passing through the streets or call it trails of rakkar village which sometimes walked us between houses of beautiful Himalayan architecture we reached to Galu temple.

and the decision to trek through rakkar village instead  of taking a cab to Galu temple from the motorable route was totally worthit.

INTO THE WILD:

_MG_0051.JPG

_MG_0141.JPG

_MG_0148.JPG

After taking a little break at a shop near galu temple and grabbing some water for the journey we headed on our straight way to Triund hill. The adventure yet to be witnessed thrilled us from head to toe, after just a few moments of leaving the human habitat behind,the slideshow of beautiful rhododendron forest begun and the feeling of setting journey into the wild took us over._MG_0087.JPG

_MG_0097.JPG

The charismatic view of Himalayas and the lush green oak and rhododendron forest almost made us camp the half way but the day has just begun and the journey just started and there laid many more amazing surprises that nature had to offer.

_MG_0131.JPG

_MG_0154.JPG

_MG_0093.JPG

Triund hill trek offers easy and pleasant trails (if you trek in summers) and the view of mountains and a little fog over it will take your breath away along with the tiredness.

Just 30 minutes prior to the campsite of Triund hill there is a chai shop. oh! i’ve never had such an amazing tea in my life and the view in front of the shop and the natural rocky sitting doubles the taste of anything you order from the shop.

THE TALKING CLOUDS:

_MG_0190.JPG

_MG_0193.JPG
The Old Shepherd

_MG_0170.JPG

Mountains with big hanging rocks almost the size of a houses, waiting for the magic touch to set them free made me fall in love with the Himalayas all over again in a even greater scale and the mountains here reminded me the mountains of Beijing,china which i always saw in pictures and dreamed to touch and feel them at least once in  my life.

After having two chais at the plastic roofed temporary shop we continued our journey to Triund hill campsite and the weather changed suddenly in the loveliest way possible. The clouds surrounded us as if they were waiting for someone to hear them out for a very very long time and in their stubbornness  to express themselves they didn’t even hesitate to conceal the mighty and sessile Mountains.

and while the romance between the cloud and us continued we didn’t realize that we never covered any distance but stood firm and heard the clouds roar and suddenly a voice in the background  broke the romantic spell which said “bhaiya baarish aane wali h jaldi jaaaao” this was the shop owner warning  us about the rain.

_MG_0205.JPG
The adventurous sheeps

_MG_0215.JPG

THE CAMP SITE:

_MG_0354.JPG

_MG_0401.JPG

When we sat foot on the camping ground it was little foggy and the second we entered the plastic roof and threw our backpacks the clouds welcome us with a pleasant shower of rain, that chilling weather demanded some tea or being a tea lover i just wanted too many of them and with the tea the rain vanished too and uncovered the layer of fog and presented in-front of us the crystal clear snow covered mountains of Snowline.

The chill went through the spine to the knees to toes. I was confused for weather i should capture the magistic view by my camera or keep staring without wasting a second as i was doing.

_MG_0289.JPG

_MG_0316.JPG

_MG_0378.JPG
The watch dog at triund

_MG_0257.JPG

After getting our tent set up we moved to the sitting area of the cafe at the campsite and after some story sharing and chit chat it was dinner time already. daal rice here tasted so good, i don’t know if it was the food or the aura that was amazing.

After dinner we moved to our tents which were shaking badly due to the hilltop wind and i already had a plan in my head for if the tent flew off.

I slept to some lovely Passanger and James Blunt songs and i thought i would wake up directly next afternoon but sit awake when the tent begun to hit my face at 2AM. Now i couldn’t go back to sleep, All i did was to wait for the tent to go off and find a place inside the cafe hut for the night.

Luckily the tent was set up to withstand that kind of weather and it bravely fought for its existence with the wind and rain.

THE MORNING:

_MG_0293.JPG

_MG_0546.JPG

The morning had a freshness i never felt before.the crystal clear snowline and the sheep peeking into our tents (i don’t know what for) made me feel i was really INTO THE WILD.

_MG_0409.JPG

_MG_0479.JPG

And in this trip i made friends and  never fading lovely memories.

But like every bright sunny day is followed my a haunting dark night,like every spring has a fall. we had to come back, come back to the same insanely fast running world where we all are programmed to do certain things and run on certain tracks.

 

 

Beatles Ashram,Rishikesh(photo gallery)

Maharishi Mahesh yogi Ashram also known as Chaurasi kutiya (eighty four huts) also known as Beatles ashram in Rishikesh,Uttrakhand (India).

The ashram got its name “beatles ashram” when in 1968 the band “THE BEATLES” travelled to india to seek spritual wisdom from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

It is now open for tourists while once it was just a abandoned ruin.

DSCF3206.JPG

 

DSCF3245.JPG

 

DSCF3209.JPG

 

DSCF3219.JPG

 

dscf3269

 

dscf3222

dscf3262

dscf3265

dscf3224

dscf3228

dscf3257

dscf3215

dscf3243

dscf3230

dscf3281

dscf3214

dscf3261

DSCF3260.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grahan village, Himachal Pradesh

Grahan village is situated in kullu district of Himachal pradesh state of India. Its a 8km trek from kasol to  Grahan village. lets take a photo journey first 🙂DSCF3676.jpg 2.jpg

The start:

1.jpg

DSCF3519.JPG

DSCF3532.JPGDSCF3540.JPG

 

Mid Way:

3.jpg

 

 

4.jpg

6.jpg

DSCF3655.jpg 2.jpg

DSCF3651.JPGDSCF3664.jpg 2.jpg

 

 

 

 

Grahan village:

DSCF3676.jpg 2

 

 

It was a calm,early august morning and was a bit hard to know what day it was as every one of us had burried our cell phones in our rucksacks and moreover no one bothered to find out.

The first sip of my ginger lemon honey tea,ignited the urge to pull out my leather coated dairy i bought from ladakh. Lying on the siting area at first floor of the guest house i could see the whole grahan village and the clouds over it, come and go as the guest house was in new grahan ,that’s outer part of the local residential grahan village.

The view had me occupy the spot where i could sit on the edge of the sitting area throwing my legs hung out, while facing the beautiful mountains.

Gazing at the view again trying to write what i felt, i realised that no one could actually give the description or bring the feels to words, that this beautiful place deserved.So i tried to come as close as possible.

The clouds over the beautiful mountains of grahan village acted as over protective boyfriend, they came and went away in certain intervals as if the way we were looking at the view would ruin its beauty.

the dew grops over the maize field and apple trees had a sparkle in them like diamond crystles, the sound of chirruping birds and flowing water were the only audible sounds. Yes! no traffic, no honking, no hrash daily life running and no offfices to be at.

The loud speaker played James Blunt and Kygo tunes in a low volume which just gave life to every dead cell in my body.it was a constant fight that weather i gaze the view with that lovely background music or read my book. Doing both the lovely days passed in no time.

DSCF3695.jpg 2.jpg

DSCF3715.JPG

DSCF3706.JPG

DSCF3703.JPG

 

As per the local residants the Grahan village was originally formed of two kind of people.

The first kind were migrated from Malana village(kasol) they were very few in number and after wandering for a long time they found a plane piece of land in between mighty hills, the people who migrated from Malana were saints and the malanese people believe that they are desendents of Alaxander and their rituals involving purity and pollution are as stringent as their faith. The people of malana impose fine on non-natives if they touched the walls and their belongings, the entry to temples for non-native is prohobited and they dont even eat food cooked by a non native.

Entry in temples of Grahan village is also prohibited for non-natives as they comprise of malanese people also.

During the time of malanese people settling in not yet formed grahan village, arrived another group of people who followed Matamahai Temple. these people were in a greater number than malanese people.

A young man from malanese people had a child with a girl from another group of people in grahan village, there was a great conflict the unmarried couple was in exile for a long time and hence the days passed and they all became a single community including the couple in exile. and hence formed the beautiful Grahan village.

NOTE: please bring back your trash or dispose it at proper disposable place.Be a responsible traveler help in keeping those trails evergreen.

 

 

 

 

Best short getaway destination near Dehradun

People  from many parts of the country come to dehradun for holidays to explore Dehradun and Mussoorie, they come here to relax and let go the work stress and daily life stress.

But these holiday destinations are too hyped and commercialized which sometimes instead of reducing stress, increases it and if you guys follow me on instagram (www.instagram/thegokulblog) you know how much i hate those stay at a hotel and take a tour to market and go home kind of trips.

so,solutions to all these kind of problems,i take you to the best short getaway near Dehradun.

gokul 2

The roads:

DSCF3289

I started my journey from Rajpur,Dehradun. I fuled my Royal Enfield and start to ride on Dehradun-Mussoorie highway, It was the month of july and the sky after the rain was mesmerizing.the highway showed me some nice view that i couldn’t resist clicking.

DSCF3291

After riding 16-17km from Rajpur on mussoorie road and about 5-6 km earlier to mussoorie mall road i took the diversion road to Dhanaulti (NO the destination is not dhanaulti, have patience :p). the road was amazing, the road conditions are well and the the greenery with the sound of birds chirruping and wind blowing were the signs that i was riding to the lap of nature far from hectic city life and that killing pollution,crowded roads and the unnecessary honking.

DSCF3304.JPG

While  travelling through Uttrakhand  if you dont try some Maggi and tea at  those Maggi points it would be a crime.

DSCF3311.JPG

DSCF3307
that cool sitting in a Maggi point in dhanaulti road

Stops on the way:

Dhanaulti is a hill station 24 km (15mi) from mussoorie, and it was on the to my destination. the major attraction of dhanaulti is the Ecopark and surkanda devi temple.

DSCF3328
Eco park in dhanaulti
DSCF3331
A locally prepared fruit drink shop in dhanaulti
Surkanda_devi_temple_(1)
Surkanda Devi Temple

Surkanda devi temple is up in the mountain in Mussoorie-chamba highway just 7km from dhanaulti Eco park, being up in the high mountain its a 3-4 km trek to reach to temple through nice trails.

Admiring these stops on the road i was riding closer to the destination, every turn in that sometime foggy, sometime crystal clear highway was making me want to take a halt.

DSCF3320

DSCF3323
The best work place
DSCF3338
that lovely village on the way

The Destination:

After riding 75km from dehradun i finally reached to my destnation “PAHADI HOUSE”

A himalayan homestay/resort in Kanatal, which is 75 km from dehradun , nearly 290km from delhi and 240km from Chandigarh.DSCF3349.JPG

Pahadi house as the name suggests is an authentic himalayan theme resort situated in Kanatal,Uttrakhand, just 7km before the Chamba main market if you go through dhanaulti.

Pahadi house provides you the real himalayan lifestyle with the cottages with ancient himalayan architecture with a modern touch and healthy organic food grown in the resort’s own organic farms.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I loved the nice organic local food served my nice and friendly staff.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

DSCF3430.JPG

Places to see around Pahadi House:

DSCF3387.JPG

Just 7km from the Pahadi house is chamba main bazar, where i loved the local sweets Bal mithai and Singori (also known as Patpeda).

and the tehri lake is 30 km from pahadi house which is also frequently visited by tourists but due to lack of time i could not visit tehri lake.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Walk through Ecopark in Chopriyal village in kanatal is  bliss. the sky high deodar trees seem to touch sky in the park and the adventurous heart gets its fuel here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Magical Manali

Manali is a hill station with a great tourist attraction nestled in the mountains of Himachal pradesh state of india.

DSCF2789.JPG
shops enroute old manali

DSCF2588.JPG

Manali’s Welcome

DSCF2770.JPG

DSCF2780.JPG

In the northen end of kullu valley starts the teritory of manali.

Beas river flowing alongside the road and the trees at the river bank flirting with the cool breeze is a foreplay in manali entercourse and believe me it’s a good one :p .

this awesome journey alongside beas river lasts 10-12 km before the ambiance of mall road hits you.

Where to stay.???

 

Go to manali, stay at a hotel in manali mall road, eat some trout fish and head back home..??

if this is your travel itinerary for manali then i suggest you to save your money and do this stuff in your hometown.
Because manali will need a little exploration.

DSCF2600.JPG

I visited manali thrice and the third time i discovered the real manali, its the third time when i was in manali and i didn’t knew how those 5 days passed.

Old manali is must to explore if you’re in manali, mall road is nice but too crowded and expensive to stay.

For the experience seekers can camp alongside river beas in old manali, if you dont have your own tents you can rent them in old manali near PEOPLE cafe.

Hadimba Devi Temple

DSCF2708.JPG

Hidden in the woods, Hadimba devi temple is a place of major tourist attraction and a holy place for Hindus.

besides being a holy place Hadimba devi temple area is a quiet place that provides inner peace. sitting under one of those sky high tall trees listening to the chirruping of the birds and the branches of those trees talking with the wind is a feeling that keeps you in manali a little longer.

DSCF2678.JPG

People selling local fruits and all other stuff you never saw, can be seen around Hadimba Devi Temple.

 

Amusement activities like Yak rides, archery, hit the glass games are a few fun activities in the premises.

DSCF2695.JPG

and you will surely come across those ladies who will let you click a photo with their fluppy rabbits and charge you for that

DSCF2688.JPG

 

Cafes to Hangout

@Lazy dog’s

As they say– its not a resturant, its a state of mind.

The lazy dog’s lounge is the best thing in old manali in my experience. the ambiance is like a rock band’s  last performance and an artists master piece.

DSCF2622.JPG

DSCF2621.JPG

DSCF2648.JPG

 

@Sheesh Beesh Cafe

Another awesome cafe alongside beas river, with an awesome view,nice wall art and mind blowing food sheesh beesh cafe is one of my favourites in old manali.

DSCF2593.JPG

DSCF2603.JPG

@Sunshine Cafe

This cafe has the best music and awesome food with nice and friendly hosts. it is located just alongside Garrage 73 in old manali. bonfire and dj nights are major attraction of the place.

DSCF3194.JPG

DSCF3195.JPG

 

What else to do in Manali

Roaming around van vihar,manali in evenings is a good idea to live manali to it’s fullest.

 

Hiring a motorcycle for a day or two to ride to kasol and explore more of these landscapes is totally worth it and kasol is just 80km from manali

DSCF2730.JPG

Paragliding in kullu is a awesome experience to bag while you are in manali.

 

river rafting in fast flowing beas river in manali is a famous adventure sport in manali.

 

 

 

for any queries.mail me at- gokul3308@gmail.com

or DM me at

http://www.instagram.com/thegokuklblog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things you should know before planning a motorcycle trip to leh,ladakh

1.Route

manali-rohtang-koksar-sissu-keylong-jispa-sarchu-pang-leh

the roads till pang is messy you can only fire your machine upto 30-35 km/hr but after pang the highway is very nice where you can fire upto 80-100.

2. You must have a really really brave heart.

-because the road is off limit dangerous (that is the real deal) and if you are a person who will say okay i can’t do this. let’s go back, there’s no turning back.

3.Proper gear

gears like, good helmet, waterproof jacket and pants (beacuse it may rain or snow anytime),good quality gloves (not those gloves meant for city rides) are must to carry

4. Documents to carry

carry your id proof like driving liscence, pan card, aadhar card , passport, etc along with you. which has adress prof in it.

5. Medicines to carry

medicines for headace,body pain and altitude sicknes is must to carry while riding these roads. and add packet of glucose to your kit. and some sneakers or other protein rich food to kill hunger when there’s no shop around.

the signs for altitude sickness are–dizziness, nose bleeding, tiredness, faint,

6.waterproof riding shoes

as you are supposed to cross several streams flowing onroad on manali-leh route so put on some good waterproof high neck riding shoes.coz you wouldn’t like to get your feet wet with icecold water for the whole journey.

7.Sunglasses

carry good sunglasses because the road is dusty and it will help you in your ride to leh. and the sun shines too bright there you will need those sunglasses off bike also to enjoy the heavenly view.

8.Hiring a motorcycle or riding own motorcycle

if you are hiring motorcycle. you can get it from delhi and as well as from manali. the drawback of hired motorcycles is, you will have to rent taxi or other motorcyle for sightseeing in ladakh as hired bikes from other states is prohibitted for sightseeing there.

and if you are riding in your own motorcycles you are free to ride anywhere in leh. just carry registration papers along with you and co-operate with officials

9. Tool box

carrying a toolbox is most improtant thing to do while riding through this barren land yet beautiful as heaven.your tool box must include following things–extra tube,pump,pliers,wrench of different sizes (specially for brake tightning),extra nut bolts,extra spark plugs,tool to open spark plug, etc

10. Good carrier

make sure the carrier attached to your machine is strong enough to handle your luggage and       will not break  in first jerk and add to your difficulty.

11. Motorcycle condition

make sure your motorcycle is well seviced and the brake shoes and clutch plates are new, in royal enfield its a big deal.

12. Riding experience

if you have the riding experience in hilly regions, its a perk

13.Permission for leh

to ride to leh you will have to have permission slip from SDM office in manali. situated in manali mall road.which will cost you 250 rupees per motorcycle. the ofice opens at 10 o’clock but the queue for permission seekers starts at 8 during season. hence i suggest you to generate permission a day before your ride and start your ride next day early morning @4 or 5 to beat traffic in rohtang pass.

14. Network connectivity

no prepaid sim card of other state work in ladakh. for calling you’ll have use P.C.O and for internet facilities stick to hotel and resturant’s wifi facilities.

15. Fuel stations

the only petrol pump between manali and leh is in tandi 107 km from manali and its still 360 km to leh from tandi.

i suggest you to carry jerrycans for extra petrol for your machines coz full tank won’t be enough.

16. Mechanic shop

the only mechanic shop on manali-leh highway is in keylong. so ride carefully and accordingly.

17. ATM

the only atm in manali-leh route is in keylong. so i suggest you to carry cash.

18. Stay facilities

tents for a night’s stay are available at sarchu, pang, darcha and zing zing bar.

19. Things to keep in mind

in high altitude passes like Baralacha la, nakee la, tanglang la, khardung la. it is advised to stay calm and not to make much movements because air is very thin in these heights which causes early fatugue and altitude sickness.

it is advised not to take a long halt at these places.

if you smoke dont even think of smoking at these heights.

20. motorcycle care while return

while coming back from ladakh get your machines checked by mechanic for loose nut bolts and other malfunction which may ruin your journey. hence do it before your ride back.

21. what to do if unable to ride back in motorcycle.

if you are unable to ride back your machines for some reasons you may use bike drop facilities, if ypu want your bikes dropped to manali in a van thry charge you 20,000 per bike but there are facilities in which the local boys drop your bike to manali by riding themselves  which will cost you 10,000 per motorcycle.

for more query mail me at- gokul3308@gmail.com

or DM me @ http://www.instagram.com/thegokulblog