A Travellerspoint blog

Day 21: October 22nd: Manali to Shimla.

Time to visit the old Colonial Hill Station for some R & R

storm 18 °C

Up early again for my 8.30am departure from Manali to Shimla by ‘luxury coach’, I think that term is a little over the top, but certainly better than the state run bone shakers. The Kunzam staff had been so helpful and had looked after me so well, I bid them farewell, a man even carried my bags to the bus station.

We departed bang on 8.30, and the only other passengers where an Indian family of four, so we had loads of space. The weather had been changing over night, I had seem clouds moving in, and over the high ridges and peaks last night, snow had fallen, this morning was cooler, the winter season had started. I had been very lucky with the very good weather trekking and on the motorbike tour in the Himachel and Western Himalayas.

The journey to Shimla was about 240km, and would take about 8 hours. I settled down and relaxed contemplating my journey and adventures so far, “all’s well that ends well”. The weather then really changed, heavy rain, hail stones, thunder and lightening. It was like that all the way to Shimla. Going though the Larji Gorge at the southern end of the Kullu Valley was spectacular. We emerged at Mandi, and then the road slowly climbed again to wards Shimla through some stunning scenery, despite the weather. The last hour or so though the mountains up to Shimla was very bad.

Finally we arrived at Shimla, and my tourist hotel, The Hotel Peterhoff, a splendid former Colonial building. I checked into this wonderful place, my bags carried in, and then the biggest, loudest and most spectacular thunder and lightening storm hit Shimla.

The winter season had arrived. My room was very comfortable as settled in and relaxed with a hot shower, then a cold Kingfisher beer, of cause!

Posted by Mike Casey 07:54 Archived in India Tagged shimla Comments (0)

Day 20: October 21st: Last Day in Manali

Last day in the Himalyas before moving on to Shimla.

sunny 30 °C

Feeling better this morning, but things to do. Phone Jane and Naresh, go to the police station to collect my “incident report”, phone Naresh and check my onward coach journey to Shimla. The Enfield was being picked up at 11am, from the hire place in Dharmshala, they were also picking up my other bags from Jogindar Nagar.

The guy saw the damage, no problem; I paid him 40 pounds, no crumble with that. The insurance is an odd thing, I was legal, but it must be third party, anyway I haggled a bit, but when you look at UK prices, the parts were not much.

I was sad to see the Enfield go, it had been a good partnership, it never let me down over the 600km, it took me through some spectacular landscapes in the Kanga and Kullu Valley’s, It took me into the remote Bhaga Valley and that high arid plateau area of Zingzingbar, my high point at 4270 m. It had given me a real introduction to adventure biking, solo, and in a high remote area of the Western Himalayas. The Royal Enfield adventure was great, and it brought me back to Manali, safe and sound, even after my “off” on the Rohtang.

As the Enfield tank logo says, “50 years in India, and the Legend Rides On”.

Posted by Mike Casey 07:49 Archived in India Tagged the in end of trip royal manali enfield Comments (0)

Day 19: October 20th: The Rohtang Pass and back to Manali.

“A bit of a bad day” - A lost bag and an incident on the Rohtang Pass !

sunny 36 °C

Up early at 7am, kit all packed up, breakfast, Enfield loaded up and I am off back over the Rohtang, back to Manali. I was at Tandi Petrol Station topping up with fuel by 8.30am, and away up the Chandra Valley. The road was good, very little traffic, a dry sunny morning, and all was good. After an hour I was at Khoksar Bridge, and then started the climb up the Rohtang.

You know sometimes when things are not quite right? The Enfield had not missed a beat over the 600km so far, I stopped on the other side of the bridge, and so my shock and dismay, my Lowe Rucksack had fallen off the side luggage carrier, despite been strapped on. It had my wallet and cards, IPod, power cables and some spare clothes in it. I had in my rack bag, the rest of my kit, including travel tickets and documents, and around my neck, passport and some cash.

Only one thing for it, return to Tandi (35km) to see if I could spot it! No such luck, so at Tandi a slower ride back to Khoksar Bridge, nothing! There was nothing I could do, so I decided that I must crack on over the Rohtang Pass, back to Manali, then phone Jane to cancel cards etc...

As I climbed up to the Rohtang Pass, which on this section is rough road surface or gravel, stony unsurfaced, I was still sick as a pig about the bag. I have done over 600km on the Enfield from Dharamshala to the Zingzingbar (my high point at 4270m) along tarmac and rough roads, through villages and towns, I had coped with the crazy Indian traffic, but mostly it had been along mountain roads and high passes.
As I was approaching a right hand bend, a truck came bouncing down, I had no where to go, except take avoidance action, they call it the “swerve avoidance manoeuvre”. I missed the truck as slow speed, but the next second I am on the road, a little shocked, but uninjured. The Belstaff kit, gloves and the helmet took all the impact! There’s a lesson for protective motor bike gear.

I looked at the Enfield fearing the worst. I picked it up, put it on its stand and checked it for damage. Front headlight cracked, right foot peg bent, right crash bar bent – but it did its job keeping the bike off my right leg. Next check, will it start? I kicked it over, nothing, kicked it over again, nothing, bugger! Now at home how many times have I tried to start the bike, and I’ve accidently knock the “kill switch” off. I checked the Enfield ‘kill switch’, it was off. Clicked it on, kicked it over, and the bike started as sweetly as ever, “thank God for that”.

So steadily up over the Rohtang, but I decided I must crack on down to the Kullu Valley and Manali. Now most Indian tourists are driven up the Rohtang from Manali by tourist taxi drivers who thing they are F1 drivers. On the descent from the Rohtang there was new tarmac (God Bless the road gang workers), so the ride was smooth, but single track.

The inevitable hooting from behind “Let me through”, well I was not going to move over my safe line, they could try an over take, but it would end up as the quick way down to the Kullu Valley. More road works, a long line of vehicles and a very smart filter move, and I am clear away down to the valley, and back to Manali.

I arrived at the Kunzam Hotel very dusty, tired and and a little battered. I was greeted warmly by the staff, “Mr Mike, how are you?” I told them the story.........After a shower and a cold beer, down to the police station to report the day’s events, which was recorded in a typically efficient Indian way. Back to the Hotel, phoned Jane to tell her my events of the day, and to block my bank cards. Then Naresh phoned, told him the story, “What do you need Mike”, “Well some cash”. No problem, I will send a friend to you with cash. Naresh seems to know everyone in the North of India; he was so helpful, as always.

So by the evening, the day was getting better. Jane, God Bless her, had sorted things out in the UK, Naresh was on my case, further checking my needs, and then I decided I needed food and my bed.

Nice big bruise on my right thigh I noticed, having my shower! But the day could have been worse?

Posted by Mike Casey 07:43 Archived in India Tagged the on pass rohtang an incident Comments (0)

Day 26: October 27th - Jaipur to Delhi along Highway 8

Forget Route 66, you must travel along National Highway 8, the craziest road on the planet !

sunny 38 °C

After a great day at Jaipur, including the Observatory and Amber Fort, both over 400 years old, it was back to Delhi along National Highway 8.
Now India's roads vary from nice new tarmac to unmade, pothold dust tracks. Well National Highway 8 had all of these, plus 10 million trucks who all thought that they were FI or Paris to Dakhar Rally drivers.

So forget your dream of riding or driving Route 66, its one of the craziest roads on the planet. The first part of the road through Rajasthan was great, on new tarmac, fantastic scenery, light traffic, including more carts being pulled by camels. Then the drive slowly took on a different character. Every driver became an F1 or Paris to Dahkar Rally driver whether is was one of the thousands of old trucks, taxi's, cars or 125 motorbikes. There were overtakes, undertakes "in between takes" - 'OH MY GOD' !!!!, off road takes, horns and lights, cows, goats and sheep, oh and also the people who at small villages and towns trying to cross NH 8 #########.

The 'Race' became fastest, tighter, crazier the nearer we got towards Delhi. Have you all seen the film, Gumball Rally" that coast to coast road race across America. Well multiply that by 10 and you get National Highway 8.

I have never seen so many tucks in all my life. But I was in good hands, I had Sunjay, he is the Indian World Champion Driver, we were taking every truck,car, cow, goat and camel on the road. I loved it, road it and survived it. We finally got to Delhi and crossed the line first, what a drive NH8 was !

Posted by Mike Casey 08:00 Archived in India Comments (0)

Day 25, October 26th : Jaipur, "The Pink City" of Rajasthan

The Journey goes on through the Golden Triangle.

sunny 40 °C

The journey goes on after the marvellous experience of the Taj Mahal yesterday in Agra. Words and photo's are not enough, you have to be there for sunset by the River Yamuna. You must go there and see it !

After breakfast it was back on the road with my excellent driver, Sunjay. We drove out of Agra at 8am, and were soon out in the rural countryside on NH11 to Jaipur. The area looked rich in agriculture, small tidy field systems,very green, with people, mainly women, hard at work harvesting. There were many gangs of men waiting for their day's work, school children and student's off to school and college, and again more evidence of very poor people, especially the children, that makes me think how lucky I am.

The NH 11 then just gets better, "tarmac", and all the way to Jaipur, the "Pink City" in the desert area of Rajasthan, 260km away on the second side of the Golden Trianagle.

On route the first stop of the day is at Fatehpursikri, and the palace of the Mungal Emperor, Akbar. This was built in 1569, and is absolutely stunnning. It is full of all sorts of designs and influences including Persian and Turkish. It is one of the finest examples of Mughal architechure in the world, a combination of Hindu and Muslim design, plus many other symbols from Asia and the Silk Road. Constructed in the red sandstone of the area.

My second stop was unexpected, it was at the Keoladeo National Park and Bird Sanctuary at Bharatpur. What a fantastic 'birding' session with my great park ranger and guide Ishwarsing, a Sikh. He was very knowledgable as he took me around the national park, spotting many new birds of India that I had not seen. I was also able to take many photos of birds with my zoom lens on, the battery is still going after 3 weeks ?
I had a fantastic few hours at Keoladeo National Park, you must go there !

Then on to Jaipur, the flat lands suddenly gave rise to a series of red sandstone ridges that the road cut through, until we finally arrived at Jaipur, which was quite different to anywhere else I've seen in India. On the edge of the Rajasthan desert. I had other matters to deal with in Jaipur, God Bless Jane and Tom, my grateful thanks ! Finally arriving at the Hotel Sajjan Niwas, a very old and traditionally styled hotel, my base for the night.

I will add more information and photo's later. I'm still catching up with emails, phone and my travel blog.

Posted by Mike Casey 06:22 Archived in India Tagged landscapes people birds jaipur Comments (0)

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