Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Longest Ride

Day 19: 23rd September, 2011
Hyderabad - Bangalore

As promised, Panjakbhai Savla and his team were at the Kutchhi Bhuvan at the dot of 5:30 am, along with their bikes, to accompany us a little way outside the Hyderabad city and we started our journey towards Bangalore at 6.

Our first stop, naturally, was Char Minar. Since we hadn't had any time to visit it yesterday and it was on our way, it was inevitable that we stop there. Just as Gateway of India is Mumbai's identity, India Gate is Delhi's, so is Char Minar Hyderabad's. Even though we were getting late and didn't have much time to spare at the monument, we stayed back enough to admire it in all it's early morning, not yet light-glory. It was simply beautiful! We captured the moment with our hosts and had tea with them before bidding them adieu.
The Bike Riders and their hosts in front of Char Minar
The roads were all super-good here, like expressway roads. So, we moved ahead quite a bit and decided to catch up for all our previous delays. Our goal for today was to cross B'lore. Thanks to the beautiful roads, we didn't even realise how fast we're going and which cities we are crossing. We never had to enter any city. We just went by-passing the cities zooming past them on the brilliant expressways. At around 8-8:30 am, just before reaching Kurnool city, we stopped for a quick breakfast. Just like a few days ago, we could get puri-bhaji and aloo parathas no matter where we stop, here we got idlis, dosas and wadas no matter where we stop. We stuffed ourselves on gorgeous food and moved on quickly.

The expressways here are good, no doubt. But one has to pay a lot of toll for all that extraordinary smoothness on the roads. Luckily, since we were all riding two-wheelers, we didn't have to pay anywhere.

By evening, we were near B'lore. But, when we enquired, we found out that we could not bypass B'lore under any circumstances to go to Madurai. All roads leading to Madurai were through the city. We were apprehensive of entering the city during the peak-hour traffic and traversing it entirely. It was getting dark and it is inevitable that one takes a lot of time in an unfamiliar city on the account of not knowing the roads, one-ways, no entries etc. Thus, coupled with traffic, this increases the chances of getting separated with the group and then having to waste a lot of time just coordinating once again.

The fantastic roads we've been bragging about
Since we hadn't had a proper meal since our breakfast, we decided to eat first and then decide. So, about 20 kms before B'lore city, we had a hearty South Indian thali at Hotel Abhiruchi. It served some of the most delicious dishes we'd ever tasted in a South Indian thali. Near the hotel was a Jain temple, Navgraha Jain temple. This temple maintains a service for travellers to stay at heavily discounted prices. We thought of staying there but finally, decided through majority that we'd best brave the city and move on.

But, as thought, as soon as we entered the city, we were lost amongst all the chaos. Finally, we called Mr. Deepesh Pasad's friend, Mr. Katira, who lives in B'lore. He helped us a lot to manoeuvre around in the city. He first guided us skilfully and  then, brought his car out to our location and took us to Terapanth Dharamsala, the similar kind of cheap, discounted accommodation as Navgraha Jain Dharmasala. Unfortunately, there were no places available there for the night. So, we moved on and finally found some place in a dormitory of Vaishnava Dharmasala, where we crashed out almost immediately. We hadn't faced cold weather since we had left the mountains. But, on this day, in B'lore, we felt a bit of a nip in the air.

And this: Making optimum utilization of the available time and resources. ;)
Highlights of today's ride: We crossed the Andra Pradesh-Karnataka border and jumped from one capital (Hyderabad) to another (Bangalore). Also, today was the longest ride of our entire journey. Hyderabad - Bangalore = 566 kms

Friday, 2 December 2011

Day 18: 22nd September, 2011

We left Pandharkavda early in the morning without wasting any time. The roads were also good and hence, the ride was peaceful. We left Maharashtra and entered Andhra Pradesh. This was easy to identify due to the change of language on the milestones and hoardings but it also made it difficult for us to understand anything. However, since we are all one country, we had no problems and we moved ahead quite quickly.

According to our original plan, we were to spend two nights in Hyderabad but due to all the delays, we shortened our stay to one night only. The volunteers of Hyderabad Kutchhi Mitra Mandal were extremely enthusiastic about our trip and therefore, had made extensive plans for our stay there. From amongst them, Mr. Pankaj Savla, himself an avid bike rider, was one of the most enthusiastic member. He used to regularly call and message us to ask us about our progress so that he will be able to make the best of the plans possible. He had arranged with many other young bikers to go to Kulpakji (Jain Pilgrimage place) when we would be there. So, even we were super-enthusiastic about reaching Hyderabad. However, we were late and hence, this plan had to scrapped.

Members of Hyderabad Kutchhi Mitra Mandal waiting for us
Meeting the members of Hyderabad Kutchhi Mitra Mandal
So, instead, 30 kms before we were to reach Hyderabad, all of them came to receive us. We met them around 1 pm and heartily welcomed us with a lot of warmth and happiness. Now, there was a whole procession of motor-bikes moving towards Hyderabad.
A few of the 15 odd bikes going towards Hyderabad city

At the Monastery, after the talk
On reaching Hyderabad, we went directly to a Jain monastery near Kutchhi Bhuvan first. The other members of Hyderabad Jain Sangh and Kutchhi Mitra Mandal welcomed us once again. We took blessings from Naresh muni, a Jain monk at the monastery. Naresh muni works very actively for controlling addictions amongst youth and gave us an enlightening speech about the same.

Lunch @ Hotel Tourist Plaza
After that, again, without wasting any time, they took us to Hotel Tourist for lunch. Dr. Y. Reddy, a friend of Dr. Kaushik Gada joined them there too. The two friends had met each other after 18 years and it was a joyous reunion of the two. After lunch, we all reach Jain Kutchhi Bhuvan for some free time. A few of us freshened up and took a little nap while Mr. Pankaj Savla took the others to a mechanic for the regular vehicle check-up.

At 6 pm, there was another meeting with Hyderabad Kutchhi Mitra Mandal. Here, all of us exchanged our experiences about the trip and they spoke a little about their activities and social causes in Hyderabad. At the end, we thanked them profoundly for their enthusiasm and hospitality. The meeting ended with high tea.
There are a lot of KVOs in Hyderabad. And so, everyone had some or the other friend or relative in the city. All of them had come here to meet us as well.

Dr. Gada, with his friend, Dr. Reddy
At 9:30 pm, once again, Mr. Pankaj Savla had called youngsters to listen to us. So, we talked a bit about our previous biking experiences and had a great interaction with them. Finally, at around 11, being very tired after an activity-ful day, we crashed out. 

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Centre of India

Day 17: 21/09/2011

We left Narsimhapur early this morning. We had to reach Nagpur soon as the Nagpur KVO group was waiting for us and had made some arrangements to receive us. Already because of the previous delay, we couldn't reach Nagpur the previous night and that had slightly disturbed our schedule as well as that of the Nagpur KVO members.

As we started approaching the Maharashtra border, forest area began to get a bit denser. So, the roada were bad again. But it was just a short stretch of about 30 kms which was the most horrible. Everything else was pretty manageable. We finally reached Nagpur at around 1:30 pm and found that the enthusiastic Nagpur KVO members were already waiting for us at Hotel Gomati, just near the outskirts of Nagpur. Already, with their love, enthusiasm and guidance, we were able to chose the best route from Narsimhapur upto Nagpur.

After having picked us up from Hotel Gomati, they escorted us to the Kutchhi Bhavan for freshening up and then, we went out for lunch. Their love, warmth and respect greatly boosted our morale, which was a bit sagging after the previous day's sad events. However, where one member of our gang left us, another new member was added for a short while to lift up our spirits. Mr. Deepak Savla's son, Ruchit joined us here for a few days.

The Nagpur KVO group had really arranged for some fabulously interesting conversations later. But, since we were bound by our target and had already lost a significant amount of time in the past, we moved on. Mr. Bharat Savla and his wife, Mrs. Bhavna Savla came with us for until some distance just to keep us company and also to show us some interesting things on the way, which we would have missed if they hadn't come with us. They took us to a special place, called Zero point - which is exactly the centre of our country. We can see the "0" on the milestone depicting that it's the centre of India. We were very grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Savla for introducing it to us.

After we moved on towards Hyderabad, we finally stayed at a place called Pandharkavda when it was late.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Black Day

Day 16: 20/09/2011

We left from Jhansi early in the morning and targeted reaching Nagpur today. We chose the route that went via Saagar and were not too disappointed with our choice either. The roads were over all good with little bad patches from time to time. But everything was manageable until we reached Lalitpur in Madhya Pradesh (about 100 kms from Jhansi).

Wounded Kunal
Bad luck struck us at Lalitpur and one of our team members, Mr. Kunal Vora had an accident. We flagged down a small truck and it helped us to get Kunal from Lalitpur to Saagar, which was about 200 kms from there. Luckily, Dr. Chandresh Pasad's father has extremely good business relations around here and so, one of them, a kindly Mr. Naradji Jain helped us immensely with the situation at Saagar. He arranged for everything from the visit to doctor to X-Ray to arranging Kunal's return trip back to Bombay. Kunal had fractured his wrist joint and hence, unwillingly he had to go back home. We couldn't risk waiting for 10 more days and letting the condition worsen.

Joking at the time of adversity makes the troubles look small :)
Nagpur: 314 kms. Narsimhapur: 65 kms

The memorable Hotel Atithi
However, the show must go on. So, after having reassured ourselves that Kunal will be well taken care of and okay, we moved on. However, we couldn't reach Nagpur since we lost almost 4 hours of driving time in all the chaos. So, we decided to go upto Narsimhapur via Kareli on NH7 and stay the night there. Once again, another one of Dr. Pasad's father's business friend, Shri Ramuji Lunavat helped us a lot there and he welcomed us extremely warmly in his own hotel, Hotel Atithi. It was clear that we were "atithis" in the real sense of the term and were served with a lot of respect and love. Mr. Lunavat's son, Atul was also very friendly, appreciative of the trip and dined and chatted with us for a long time. We enjoyed a very memorable hospitality here and were kind of glad that we couldn't reach Nagpur. :P

A Symbol of Love: A Wonder of the World

Day 15: 19/9/2011

The Monument that renders everyone speechless

Like mentioned in our last post, we had reached Agra the previous day. So, early in the morning, we went ahead to go, have a look at the greatest symbol of love in the world - The Taj Mahal. It is a monument that has now become a parameter of love in many senses. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan spared no expense and left no stone unturned to proclaim his grief on the death of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. (Yes, that is right. The Taj Mahal, in reality, is nothing but magnificent mausoleum.)

The Taj Mahal is built out of white marble, which came from Makrana in Rajasthan and it has many precious stones embedded in it, which were imported. These precious stones give out wonderful effects in light and increase the beauty of the Taj Mahal manifold. It is rightfully considered as one of the wonders of the world since such architecture can rarely be found anywhere. It has perfect symmetry and no matter which side you see it from, it will look exactly the same. At a time when gold cost merely Rs. 15 per tola, this structure cost approximately Rs. 385000. Also, one of the other specialties of this structure is that it's base is made of ebony wood, which is found in Kashmir. Ebony wood gets stronger with water. Which means that the base of this structure automatically keeps getting stronger every passing minute since it is built on the banks of River Yamuna. At the same time, the wooden base automatically makes it earthquake proof. To add to the caution, all the minarets of the structure also lean outwards so that in case of any natural calamity, the minarets will never fall on the structure but outwards.

The monument is so beautiful, we could have stood there and stared at it for hours on end. But the time restrictions beckoned us and we had to move on. We drove on until Jhansi on this day. The claim to fame of this route was that we crossed three states - Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh - on this day. :)
Chilling at the Taj Mahal

We wanted to reach Saagar in Madhya Pradesh. But the road conditions were extremely bad. Also, we were quite confused about the route . Two routes were suggested to us, which would take us to Nagpur faster: via Saagar and via Shivpuri. But we couldn't decide which one to take. So, we decided to rest our confusaddled minds and bodies in Jhansi and move ahead the next day. We stayed at Apna guesthouse in Ivory chowk, Jhansi. 

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Three States and the Capital

Day 14: 18/09/2011

Today, we were all quite excited as we'd be finally visiting the Capital of the country. We had undertaken such a long and Trojan adventure. We were traversing the whole of our country. The capital lay right on our way. It'd have been not only foolish but quite disrespectful if we hadn't paid a visit to the capital. So, early in the morning, we set off from Karnal towards Delhi.

The Samadhi
Luckily, it was a Sunday. So, we didn't face much traffic in Delhi city when we reached there at around 11 am. We had decided that we'd only visit India Gate, salute the monument and get on with our plan. But Universe had something else in store for us. Something even better, that is. :) On the way, we came across Raj Ghat, the memorial to the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Of course it's impossible that we come across this awesome monument and not visit it. So, ahead we went. And only after paying our respects to him did we go ahead to India Gate.

The beautifully maintained gardens

India Gate and the Bike Riders: Delhi - Success
Finally, after all the excitement about visiting Delhi, we moved on towards Agra on the fabulous National Expressway. We crossed Mathura and finally, reached Agra, where we stayed at Hotel Vimal, by 8pm.

A drive to remember

Hello, friends. We are sorry for the lack of updates after we reached Manali. We had very little time and very long distances to cover. Hence, the negligence towards our blog. But, now, we have finished our target, reached our goal and also reached our homes. So, we will now endeavour to upload all the information and pictures as soon as possible.

Day 13: 17/9/2011:

Waterfall on the way from Manali to Chandigarh
We started from Manali at around 7 am after having our breakfast and changing the spark-plug for one of our bikes that needed some mending. It was a lovely morning and we decided that if the weather and roads support us, we should try and reach Delhi, which is about 500 kms from here. So we set jet-setting off along the lively river Beas, enjoying the most beautiful, scenic and picturesque environment ever! The early morning fog swirling on the river was an arresting sight. Kullu is 40 kms from Manali and the river stilled and slowed down a bit here.

Finally, after crossing Bilaspur, the ghats gave way to the National Highway and we crossed the border to enter Punjab from Himachal Pradesh. Thankfully, it wasn't raining at all and we could move faster. Until now, we had enjoyed the wonders of nature in it's full glory: the high altitude desert, the rivers, the valleys, the various-coloured mountains et al. Now was the time to enjoy the wonders of man's innovations. The National Highways were so good, we just zoomed past everything in a jiffy. We crossed Chandigarh, ther capital of both, Punjab and Haryana states (Manali-Chandigarh: 310 kms) and continued towards Ambala.

Lovely roads! :)
We reached Ambala at around 7pm. So, we had already entered Haryana by now. Amabala to Delhi is 200 kms and since the roads were fantastic, we thought we'd probably finish it and reach Delhi tonight. We started towards Delhi and crossed the holy ground of one of the most important battles ever fought, Kurukshetra.One of the imporatnt things about this road is that on this stretch of road, there are lots of Vaishnav (ergo, vegetarian) dhabas which are open all 24 hours a day. We had a brilliantly fulfilling dinner at one of these dhabas.

However, after dinner, we were quite tired. So, we decided to call it a day and stay at Karnal (85 kms before Delhi). Here, we stayed at Hotel Star near the bus depot.