Tuesday, May 29, 2018

ChannaRayanaDurga - A long Drive and a Trek up the Hill Fort

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Destination: ChannarayanaDurga
Distance: 100 x 2 = 200Kms.
Car: Ford Aspire
Route: Bangalore - Dobaspete - Uridgere - Koratgere - Channarayanadurga
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/tshVD16zuDT2
Cost: 800-900Rs

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Prologue: 

It was a Saturday evening and I felt like taking my ZMR(Karizma) out for a short Ride. I  had not used the Bike for a long time so, was not sure if all was well with the Bike. There was lot of dust on the Bike, it was looking very dirty. I was thinking if I should get it washed and serviced.


I thought of first cleaning it myself and checking the battery etc. As soon as I started dusting the bike, it started raining and I wondered if it was because I had touched my Bike after a loooong time :D


The Bike started in one go without any hiccups even though I had not used it for a few months. The engine tone was as good as new. The battery was alright too. There was enough fuel for a  Short Ride. So din't even have to go to Petrol pump. It felt so good. By the time I was done with the cleaning and filled some air in the tyres, the rain had reduced to a drizzle and I thought it was a perfect time to take the bike out for a short spin.


I always Ride with the Helmet on and some Jacket/Gloves even if its a short Ride near the house. But this time took the Bike out without the helmet as I wanted to feel some fresh air and also wanted to check if there is any noise/vibration coming from the Bike. But the Bike was perfect. The Ride was smooth and I was happy. The feeling of Riding your Bike in open Roads when its drizzling is the best feeling. Its pure Bliss. The short Ride felt so good that I just can't express that in words.


Later I went to the gym and while I was working out, I thought why not go for a short early morning Ride or drive the next day, Sunday. I called up my Ride partner, Nithesh and he said his Bike was not in good condition but he can join for a drive and that he would confirm by night. My GoPro cam was with him, so I thought that way we can meet and I can collect the GoPro and even record some video of the drive.


Also called up my dear friend, Harsha to check if he's interested. He's a Car guy. So he's always up for short/long drives. At night, I took the Bike out again and me and Harsha went out to have some Benne dose for dinner. We were discussing about T
echnology, Cricket, Politics etc and then the question popped up, where to go tomorrow morning? I did not have any specific place on my mind, I just wanted to wake up early, go somewhere out of the city, relax and come back. But Harsha said, lets go to some trekking place. He's a lazy guy and unlike me he's not into trekking/exploring at all and always prefers comfort and luxury over adventure. So, I was somewhat shocked. I was like, is it you or is it the Benne dose which is making you talk like this?? :p


 Anyways, few places came to my mind like DD Hills, Nandi Hills, Ramnagara etc. But we've been to those places many times. I did think of Channarayanadurga which was in my bucket list for a long time. But it was quite far and would involve some trekking and exploring. Was not sure if Harsha would really be interested. What if he sees the hill and says, its such a huge hill man, no steps to climb, lets go back :D


To be honest, even I was not interested in a long drive and hardcore trekking this time. Basically wanted to have a relaxed outing. Anyways after reaching home I thought lets just take the Tumkur Road and drive till Dobaspet. If interested, we can go to Channarayanadurga or some near by place like Mandharagiri, Nijagal Betta, Sidhgange, Shivgange or DD hills. If it rains or something, we can just have Breakfast and come back.


By 10:30pm, Nitesh said he won't be joining since he had some work. So it was just Harsha and me. We thought we can start by 6am. I still wanted to collect my GoPro so asked Nitesh if I could collect it early in the morning. He said yes, so asked him to keep the batteries for charge. Now that was a good thing.


I packed my gopro gear(the suction mount, the housing case, mic etc), air pump, puncture kit etc in the bag. Kept 1-2 towels and also filled up two water bottles just in case we need it. Since it was car and not Bike, I could stuff in all that I want, whether or not we would need it.


Kept the alarm at 5:30am and slept but woke up at 4:15 itself, couldn't sleep after that. Got ready slowly, cleaned the car and got all set. Thought of calling Harsha at 5:30am, coz I dint want to disturb his sleep. Called him a few times from 5:30-5:35. But he din't pick up :D Finally he only called at 5:40. He was still sleepy and his tone was like, should we go?? where to go?? I told we'll go somewhere you first get ready. He was like- "you are ready is it??". I told I'm ready to leave to your house now, its already late, you get ready fast and give me a miss call.


Called up Nitesh (woke him up :P) and we thought of meeting at Domlur so I can take the Old Madras Road or ORR (Outer ring road) to reach Yeshwanthpur.


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Part 1 of the Drive: Vijaynagar -> Domlur->Tumkur Road

Reached Harsha's place around 6.30am and we started  for Domlur from Vijayanagar driving through Goripalya and Mysore Road. The traffic at Residency Road was more than usual. There was huge crowd in front of some schools even at that hour. May be because of new admissions. Parents had gathered like crazy and were waiting for the school gates to open. It was like the crowd in front of some movie theaters.


After some time we reached Domlur, took the deviation towards Indiranagar and parked near Barbeque Nation. Nitesh showed up soon and we din't have to wait for long. Collected the GoPro and started towards Tumkur Road. Thought of taking ORR to avoid city traffic. But google suggested the route through the city itself. It indeed had less traffic. All through the Route, we were chatting and the music was off. Din't feel like listening to music at all.


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Part 2 of the Drive: Gorguntepalya->Dobbaspet

We soon reached Gorguntepalya and carried on the Tumkur highway. Turned on the music to listen to our favorite songs. The drive was smooth, even though there was some traffic we were covering distance at a good pace.


It was around 8:30-9 am and we felt a bit hungry, so pulled over for Breakfast at "Sri Rathnam Veg Restaurant" just before Dobbaspet. It has a huge board and there were lot of cars parked in front. There's another restaurant, "Shri Vrindhavan Restaurant" just beside. We actually parked the car at Shri Vrindhavan, but it had less crowd and looked empty. So we went to "Sri Rathnam" :P

It had both Dining and Self Service. It had toilet facilities as well. Probably thats why the breakfast was quite expensive here.

We took a long break here, fixed the Suction mount to the car's windscreen and attached the GoPro. It was the first time I was using the Gopro in the car. In that excitement, I missed the turn towards Dobaspet and went over the flyover. I soon realized and took a U turn on the service road as soon as we got down from the fly over. Google map will suggest you to carry-on further ahead for a few more kms and then take u-turn on the highway. But I was familiar with this route since I've taken this route many times for DD hills, Shivagange, Siddagange, Madhugiri, Siddarabetta etc. You've to go under the bridge and take a turn towards Urdigere and Koratagere. By this time, we had somewhat decided to visit ChannarayanaDurga itself.


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Part 3 of the Drive: Dobbaspet->Uridgere->Koratgere->ChannarayanaDurga

The road from Dobbaspet to Koratgere is in Very good condition now. Earlier it was a pain to drive the stretch before Koratgere since it was all muddy and patchy. But the road work is completed now and its a smooth sail all the way.


Since the route passes through some villages, there are well marked speed breakers to limit the speed. Good thing is that the speed breakers are not wide. You won't even feel it if you are in a SUV. As in, they don't unsettle you. You can just lower the speed to 30kmph or less and glide over it. The route is somewhat scenic. Watch out for some curves and the vehicles coming in opposite direction since its single lane throughout.


Just 2 kms after Koratgere, you have to take a left turn from the main road towards Siddarabetta and go under an arch. From here, the road is a bit patchy. There are few humps as well. So go slow. After few kms you'll see a board to Channarayanadurga village on the right. If we take a turn here, after few hundred meters we'll get the first glimpse of Channarayanadurga Hill in the background. As we drive towards the hill, it gets bigger and bigger and looks huge from a distance.


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Bangalore - Dobaspete - Uridgere - Koratgere - Channarayanadurga


The Garland of 9 Hill Forts


ChannarayanaDurga:

ChannarayanaDurga is a fort on the top of a hill in Koratagere Taluk, Tumkur district which is around 100Kms from Bangalore. Its one of the Navadurgas, the 9 forts around Bangalore. The popular ones being Nandi durga or Nandi Hills, DevarayanaDurga and Savanadurga which is the largest monolith in Asia. All these hill forts are within a distance of 100kms radius from the Bangalore City.


Channarayanadurga falls in the same vicinity as Madhugiri and SiddaraBetta. In fact after Koratagere, from the main road, you have to take the same left turn towards SiddaraBetta and then take a right turn towards Channarayanadurga. 


This fort was built in 17th Century by the ruler of Madhugiri called Chikkappa Gowda which later fell into the hands of Marathas. There were many battles fought for the possession of this fort. The Mysore Wodeyars and the Marathas continuously fought with each other for this place. The control of the fort changed several times between Marathas and Mysore Wodeyars. The British took over the fort during the third Mysore war and within a short span of time, they abandoned it. 


Channarayanadurga has an elevation of about 3,734 ft. and was one of the strategic fortress during medieval times. The trekking level here is moderate. I would say its one of the ideal trekking destinations around Bangalore and its much easier than climbing Savandurga or Madhugiri. But inspite of all this, the place is not well known and is less popular among travelers compared to Madhugiri and Siddarabetta. Most of the people don't even know that such a place exists. Even my mom who hails from Tumkur is not very familiar with this place. 


So even on a Sunday morning there would be hardly be one or two groups of people visiting this place. Do not be surprised if you are the only one visiting this place. Also there are no signboards to guide the trekkers which makes the climb more interesting. In fact, many people who take the wrong route, get stuck and return back after climbing only half of the hill. 


The trail begins at a small village that’s located at the foot of the hill. You can park your bikes or car at this village beneath the shade of a peepal tree. There's a small shop here where you can have cold drinks as refreshment. Mineral water is not available. Though you can fill up your water bottles with drinking water for free on request at this small shop. The trek will definitely be quite tiring so one needs to carry ample amount of water and snacks.



Starting Point of the Trek at the base of the Hill




My Friend looking like a Terrorist. It was damn Sunny out there. So he covered up his face with the Towel to prevent Sun Burns. Smart Terrrorist!!

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The Hike Begins..

When we reached this village it was around 10:30am, there were 2-3 cars parked beneath a peepal tree. Those two groups were already leaving the place after completing the trek. We spoke to them and they said they had started from Bangalore from 4:45am and started the climb by 6:30am itself.


Harsha asked how long it will take to climb? They said it will easily take 3 hours to climb and get down. Hearing that Harsha was like - "Oh Shit!! It will take 3 hours itseems.. Who will climb for 3 hours in this heat?" I was like- "I Know. Relax! Lets have some tea first".


Once those people left, I parked the car properly in shade, below the peepal tree. Mine was the only car there now.


Tea was not available in that shop. So I asked -"bere en ide?" Shop guy- "Maaza, Fanta etc". Harsha asks-"Mountain dew idya???" :p The shop guy gave a look and said "Illa Sir". So we had Maaza. Now Harsha asks-"betta hathbekadre steps idhya?? Shelter idhya?". They said- "Steps ella enu illa". I was about to laugh coz he had asked me the same question and I had told-"ya ya Shelter, Steps everything is there". Then he asks the shop guy-"Sunscreen idhya???" :D :D I was like - "Sumniroo.. Halli idhu. Eneno keli baiskobeda" :p The shop guy politely said No.


Harsha - "Its so hot man.. You should've told before that we are coming here, would have atleast got a Hat, towel and all, we should have come directly without going to Domlur, see those people already came and left. Its damn hot now. Can't climb for 3 hours. There are no other people. So lets go back." (as expected :P)


Me- "Don't act like a girl. We've not come 100kms far just to drink Maaza :P Atleast lets go and climb for some time". I have water bottles and one towel. He was like "Thank God, atleast you got that. I'll put that towel on my head and climb". :P


Just as we were about to start, another car came and they parked beside our car. There were two guys (IT) from Bangalore who had come late just like us. So I told Harsha-"See even they have come for trekking just like us." We asked them-"You've come here for the First time ah??" They said yes and asked us if we have any idea about the Route. We said-"Its our first time as well :p" So these two guys dint stop for us and went ahead while we were setting up our camera and gopro and taking some pics.


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There are three stages of the fort.



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Part 1 of the Hike :


You can ask the villagers for direction to the starting point here. There are three stages of the fort. 

There is a certain level of mystery surrounding the place because unlike other forts, there is no well defined path to reach the top. There are numerous routes, right and wrong and the left over ruins of the fort makes the place more interesting and intriguing. 


The initial stretch is very steep and covered with rocks. There are some markings of some letters in yellow to indicate the right path but there are no arrows or other signs.


This initially stretch was very tiring, specially after a long drive and more so since I was carrying a  bag with 2.5 ltrs of water, DSLR etc. We were soon gasping for breath. The sun right up on our heads and this initial climb was quite steep and indeed tough as I had read in some blogs. There was a small mantap on the left and Harsha was the first to get in there. I was like- "So finally you found your Shelter."

During the monsoons, this initial trek would be difficult as the smooth rock would become slippery.

                                 

You get this View after just a few mins of Trek which goes to show the steepness of the climb at the Start.





    

The Mantap. The only place which offered some shade.




The Initial climb left us sweating and gasping for breath.

Several attempts have been made by the locals as well as treasure hunters to hunt down any treasure left over at this place. In their search for treasure, they have dug up, damaged and destroyed various structures within the fort. 

After you climb the initial stretch, keep looking for the fort walls and the door opening/entrance in the stone walls. Keep going towards the right. Because if you go towards the left you'll be on the other side of the fort and there is no way to get inside the fort. The elevation would be higher on that side and you might get stuck.


This is where some people get stuck and return back or get frustrated. Whenever you get stuck like that and do not find an easy way, just be determined, do not take any risks of climbing any steep rocks unnecessarily. Instead, just trace back and look for an alternate route.



Glimpse of the First Fort Wall.

Part 2 of the Hike :

Once you reach the first fort walls and the stone structures, the trek becomes easy. By the time we reached here, it was already 12pm and it was damn hot and we were sweating a lot. But beneath the stone structures(roof), it was like A/c. So damn cool. Took a break there and it relieved us of all the strain. Also since we had had our breakfast and were carrying enough water, it was not very tiresome.



View after entering the First Fort Walls

You go through many fort walls and door openings(stone structures). The upper part consists of some vegetation and a pond filled with water. This pond would have served as water source for the people in the fort. There is a small temple/mantap next to the pond.

From the Pond, there are two ways to climb higher. One which goes towards the right and one towards the left.



The Pond. Pictures don't do justice to the beauty of this place.




While climbing up, we had actually missed this pond. We had taken the route that is to the left of the pond and we had spotted the pond later from a mantap. But from there we had moved right and somehow reached the main entrance of the Fort wall.


The Pond picture was taken from here.



The Ruins. Must have been the Storage area for food/ammunition



The second stage of the fort is severely damaged by the treasure hunters. There were few structures which were probably used for the storage of ammunition or food grains. 

The view gets better and better as you climb higher. And surprisingly the colors become more vibrant as in the green vegetation, brown fields, the lakes everything appear clear from the top. The altitude is not much as compared to some other Hills. But the surroundings are such that, right from the start of the climb, you can clearly see the surrounding hillocks(like Madhugiri), the lakes etc. This is because there are no large buildings/trees or forests in the surroundings, So you get a clear, uninterrupted view.





We took lots of pics at this Place

     

Ideal Place for a PhotoShoot :p







  

The Road which leads to this Hill.



The two guys we had met earlier were way ahead of us and in fact they had disappeared at the start of our climb itself. We were climbing at a much slower pace and taking more breaks for rest, pictures etc. But when we were taking pics at the second stage of the fort, we saw them climbing up. We thought they've already been to the top and just exploring now. But itseems they had actually got stuck, taking the wrong route and had to trace back. Hence they were behind us. They had taken a route which goes to the left. So remember to keep right and look for the entrance to the fort walls.

From here, we explored the Fort together and got chatting about our jobs, technology etc.


The Two guys we met. We were the only people on the Hill even on a Sunday morning.







                                     


Part 3 of the Hike:

Since we were chatting and climbing together with those two guys, we did not feel the strain though it was quite hot. We soon reached the top of the fort and we took a walk around those fort walls. The view from here was Amazing. I climbed up the wall at one place to take a video and it came out really well. This is the shot you see at the start of the video.


The Descent:

We started descending down together and soon reached down to the other side of the pond. This was not the way that we had gone up. So we were not sure if there was a route to go down. And we were thinking of going back. But I thought there must be some route for sure and there indeed was a route behind the bushes(around the pond). After crossing the pond, the actual descent started and we had to watch our steps. After some time those two guys had disappeared. So it was just me and Harsha again. At one point, we lost track of the route and got stuck at a place where we could not get down further. So, had to climb back up and then trace back. All this took a lot of time and effort. It was around 1:30-2pm then. Finally we found a route. But the descent was steep. So we had to be really patient and carefully climb down the rocky surface. It was a good leg workout. Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Heels, Toes everything :D

Finally, we reached down and walked back to the parking.


The Drive back: Channarayanadurga->Dobbaspet->Bangalore->Bytu Coffee->Home


There was another car and a TT(Tempo Traveller) parked beneath the peepal tree. We again had maaza in the same shop in front of the parking. Our 2 water bottles were totally empty. But to our surprise mineral water was not available at the shop. I asked if we can get some drinking water. The shop keeper obliged. Got the water filled in our bottles. We did not have to spend a penny for drinking water in this trip.


While fixing the GoPro in our car, the TT driver peeped in and he was totally drunk :D He asked few questions and I patiently answered him. We thought of having lunch somewhere in Dobaspet. We both were literally tired after the trek. Also it was quite hot, So I drove slowly till we reached the Koratgere main road. Midway my car's mirror's cap flew off :p It was loose. I quickly noticed and got it fixed back. We took a break here and washed our face. It was somewhat refreshing.






All through the drive, we were chatting and I was driving carefully at a slower speed than normal. As we reached Dobaspet, we were looking for some Hotels but did not find any good ones. So we thought we'll carry on and have something on the Highway. The traffic at Dobaspet junction was bad. Harsha said he'll sleep for sometime and asked me to Drive carefully. As soon as he said that he was Snoring :p Once on the Tumkur highway(NH48) , the traffic built up. I got the company of many cars and the speeds increased. Although I was careful while overtaking.

Soon, we crossed the tolls and entered the city. Harsha also woke up. Did not find any place to stop on the highway. Neither did we want any break. Just wanted to drive home. Harsha said lets go to Bytu Coffee in Hampinagar, we'll get nice dosa, Olge(Obbattu) and all. That sounded like a good idea. It was already around 4pm then. We had yummy Olge(carrot olge, coconut olge), masale dose and then dropped Harsha at his place and bid goodbye.


After coming home I noticed that I had got a Sunburn. The skin around my neck had turned red and the strap of the bag I was wearing had left a burn mark on the Shoulder. The dark skin stayed on for a month and then got dry and peeled off. The last time I had got such tanning and burns was in Delhi during our Ladakh Trip. Thats when I realized why my friend was asking for Sunscreen, hat, towel etc :p and wrapping his face and neck completely like a terrorist.


All in all it was a great day!! A good long drive plus a good trek. Ticked off yet another place from the Bucket list. But as I always say- "One's destination is never a place but a new way of Seeing things. Its not the destination that matters, but the journey".


Part2 of the Video will be up Soon. Subscribehttps://goo.gl/7B4JS4


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrailBlazerVinay

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/TrailblazerVinay_

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Himalayan Adventure - A Dream Ride of 25 Days | TRAVELOGUE

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Dream Ride | Bangalore to Ladakh | 25 Days, 5175 Kms



Check the Ride Report and Trailer here


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Travelogue
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Day1: Bangalore to Delhi.

Our flight to Delhi was at 5:55am. Had to reach Bangalore Airport 2hrs before departure. My friend Nitesh stayed at my place so that we start together. Reached home late, was pretty tired and exhausted, mind wasn't working normal and as usual last minute jobs: charging phones, cams, copying songs/music etc. Took a bath and finally laid down on the bed around 1:15 am. Got up at 2:15 am. That 1hr sleep felt so good. Left home at 3am. Cab dropped us at the airport by 4am.

Had never been inside an Airpot. Airport was looking posh. The outside view was spectacular. Also my first time in flight. So was pretty excited. Took lot of pictures and videos :p

Note: Carrying bungee chords, tubeless kit (any sharp objects) will be an issue during luggage checking at airport. And Liquid, only 150ml is allowed.

We were aware of the liquid part, so were carrying Empty bottles. When the security guy saw some sharp objects inside my bag(in the scanning camera) he asked me to open all the items in the bag one by one and place it in a tray. I explained that its for our bike Ride so he said this time its fine but next time do not carry any sharp objects.

Reached Delhi by 8:30 am.

Airport terminal to Dhaula Kaun(its a place in Delhi) by Volvo.

Dhaula Kaun to VRL Kirtinagar Depot by Auto.

Though we had parceled both our bikes to Kirtinagar Depot, only one bike(Nitesh's) was there at Kirtinagar depot. They said my bike was in Rama Road Depot close by(4.5kms) and have to collect from there. So we thought of first taking delivery of Nitesh's bike and then going to Rama Road. But first we needed Petrol. So kept our luggage there. Carried the bag with valuables and went to Petrol pump(around 1km away) to fill petrol in the empty bottles we were carrying. In that 1km walk we realized that its going to be tough Riding in Delhi. The heat was getting to us. We were sweating like anything and feeling exhausted with no food, no sleep, even carrying those small back packs and walking was damn tiring. Had tea at a small tea stall and after that we felt better.

Now here's the twist, once we came back with Petrol to VRL Office, they said my Bike has not reached Rama Road Depot and its still in Gurgaon.(Bilaspur Depot). This was totally unexpected. We had sent the bike 10 days back and also I had checked with the consignment Id and had seen that the bike has reached Bilaspur TPT some 4 days back itself. So it was hard to believe that the bike had not left Bilaspur depot even after 3-4days. This was a big goof up by VRL.

I called up the guy we booked our Bikes with, who's also the incharge of Bangalore logistics and spoke several times, explaining, requesting etc. But they said Bike would reach Kirtinagar only the next day evening and even that's not guaranteed. When we insisted that the bike be delivered to Kirtinagar since our plan was to leave Delhi asap and get to Punjab on Day1 and we had planned everything accordingly, they started giving excuses and instead asked me to go to Bilaspur to collect the bike if I need it the same day and that was the only option.

I was pretty dis-appointed and pissed off with this response but still trying to think of the best possible option. Time was already 10:30am then. No breakfast yet.

Now Bilaspur(Gurgaon) was 70kms from Kirtinagar in opposite direction to our route to Punjab. How would we navigate to and reach that place in that heat and then come back the same way(70kms) again to Delhi? Wasn't keen on taking a bus/metro in that heat. Also this to and fro journey of 70kms all alone in Delhi just seemed unreasonable.

We could take Nitesh's bike and go after getting it out of the cage. But with the luggage on the bike there was no space for pillion. Also my helmet and Riding gear was with my Bike. Other option was to halt at Delhi for 2 days. We weren't keen on that either. I went Blank!

Collected the address and phone number of Bilaspur depot and confirmed through consignment Id that my Bike is still with them. After some thought, Nitesh said its better to take his bike and we go to Bilaspur together. Used some common sense, kept the heavy luggage at VRL, borrowed a helmet from the VRL guy by requesting, carried only Riding gear and bags with valuables and decided to go together to Bilaspur in Nitesh's bike, collect my bike, fill petrol and come back to Kirtinagar, collect all the luggage, return the helmet and halt at Delhi for the day and start afresh to Punjab the next day.

The staff at Kirtinagar Depot initially weren't even keen on taking the bike out of the cage. After complaining, they started to untie the tags etc. We joined hands and untied the tags with the help of a knife. Now there's a rubber belt which secures the bike inside the cage and the staff struggled to loosen this belt. This turned out to be the nail in the coffin. After numerous attempts by different persons, they finally asked us for the Knife to cut the belt. The Bike finally came out of the cage by 11:30am. Paid 100rs to the workers there on demand. By the time we moved out of the place it was already 12pm.

Plan was to reach reach Bilaspur by 2pm, Have lunch somewhere on the way, Take delivery of my bike and Ride back to Kirtinagar by 6pm.

We first got a tank full for his bike in the same petrol bunk where we had got the bottle filled. The Ride from Kirtinagar to Bilaspur was a tough one. The heat was unbearable, add to that the Delhi midday traffic. I was happy to see Nitesh ride the bike calmly and carefully not losing his cool anywhere. Safely first, everything next was the Mantra.

Riding as Pillion with a backpack was damn tiring. Drank some Juice and water. Covered around 45-50kms without any stops (my toughest and longest Ride as Pillion). Probably because of the heat and lack of sleep and food.

Stopped for lunch and took a much needed break. Time was around 3:30pm. Felt better after lunch and resumed the Ride to VRL Bilaspur Depot, which was not too far. On reaching Bilaspur we came to know that the location shown on maps for VRL Bilaspur TPT(Pataudi Road) is the old one. The current location is not updated on maps. We moved here and there asking people who were clueless. Called up the VRL guys again, asked for address, directions and contact numbers. Finally reached Bilapsur TPT and collected my Bike.

VRL Bilaspur was a big Depot, similar to VRL Depot in Dobaspet, Blore. The workers here had some idea about the palette. They could easily loosen the rubber belt but again struggled to loosen the bolts near the bottom of the cage to get the bike out.

We were kind of exhausted at this point. Our only consolation was that both the Bikes were totally safe and did not have any damages. My bike was with Riding gear and the heavy luggage (tankbag, saddle bags, rucksack) plus the bag that I got by flight.

Pulled some petrol from Nitesh's bike to my Bike using the pipe and bottle we were carrying.

I took a long time to move the contents from one bag to another, fix the luggage on the bike and secure everything with bungee chords. Realised that its the lack of sleep and the heat which is slowing us down. All Thanks to VRL.

Decided to call it a day as soon as we reach Kirtinagar. Add to this, the security guy stopped us at the gate asking us to first show the gate pass/receipt. Now it would take half an hour to untie the bags and get the receipt out from the bags. So explained the same, but they were not ready to budge and behaved rude. Gave them a mouthful and put some sense into them that we've been roaming all over Delhi in the heat because of the goof up done by them. Finally got gate pass and moved out of Bilaspur.

Stopped at the first petrol pump, got a full tank for my bike. Stopped at a small shop, Opened up my bike's mirrors with allen key, washed face and drank lots of water.

The Ride back to Kirtinagar was pretty much uneventful. Although tired, felt much better Riding the bike as compared to riding as pillion. Took some breaks to stretch our backs every now and then.

I started noticing some noise on my bike only to find that one of the number plate screws had gone missing but the other screw was holding the plate securely. May be the number plate must have got loosened while pulling the strings attached to the bike in the palette at VRL. But couldn't stop to fix it as it was getting dark soon and the guy whose helmet we had borrowed was calling us and asking to come soon.

After Navigating through traffic, we reached Kirtinagar around Depot around 7:30pm. The guy who's helmet we had borrowed was waiting eagerly for us to collect his helmet. Poor guy. Handed over his helmet. Took our luggage, emptied the backpack contents and stuffed it into the rucksack and secured the luggage. Asked them about the lodges nearby and they suggested us to stay at Karolbagh, which was close by.

Since morning, Tying/Untying the luggage etc was taking a lot of time and was very tiring. May be because we had not slept the previous night and add to that the Delhi weather. It was so humid. We were sweating like anything.

We moved to Karolbagh and were roaming around on our bikes, looking for a lodge. In one of the Roads, we found some Restaurant and I got out of the bike to ask if they had a lodge nearby.

Just then a car guy approached and started honking as though I had parked my bike in front of his house. Seemed like he wanted me to move my bike so he could park his car on the side of the road in front of that restaurant. But what irked me was that he was so impatient. He couldn't even wait till I put my helmet on and was honking like crazy.

So I quickly got on the bike to make a move. Also the guy was kind of struggling to park the car, so we decided to just move out of there, instead of waiting for him to park and thought we'll enquire in some other place. While I was passing, the car had a sudden jerk and it almost hit me. I quickly changed direction and had a narrow escape. To my surprise, he shouted and started abusing me in Hindi. I was shocked!! Din't have any words to speak.. Just told him it was his mistake, he could've hit me and got me injured. When I saw that he was quite Old and he was actually pissed off for some reason and struggling with the steering, I felt sorry and thought okay may be I'm having a really bad day and should just keep my cool, specially in an unknown place. Luckily nothing happened, so simply moved on without arguing.

I was also looking for a mechanic shop since the bike's number plate had gotten really loose and the sound of the number plate hitting the mudguard was so irritating.

Later in one of the roads we saw the same car guy again. Don't know what he was upto. But he was still struggling to park the car. This time we were watchful. Now while reversing, he hit the car that was parked behind like 2-3 times and still kept coming back till the bumper literally popped out and the other car also got damaged. Looked like he was drunk and out of his senses. This time we were safe but shouted- "ey ey ey ey" when his car was brushing against the other car with a screeching noise. He eventually moved out after a few jerks and drove away fast like crazy before anyone could catch hold of him. We couldn't stop laughing :D That made our day.

It was almost 9-9:30pm when we finally found a lodge for the halt (Shimla Heritage, Karolbagh). They said we could park our bikes on the foothpath beside the Road and it'll be safe. We were really apprehensive about leaving our bikes on the side of the road in a street like that without any security. But they said they also leave their Activas around on the footpath/Road all night. Now the issue was that the footpath was not at the same level as the Road and I wondered how would I get my bike on there. Although there was a small space, I was afraid that the lower fairing on my Bike would definitely get a hit. So decided not to take that risk and to leave my bike on the Road itself with a wheel lock or something and just help Nitesh to park his Pulsar on the footpath.

May be looking at my Super bike and at how concerned I was, the staff said we could park our bikes inside the lodge itself and got the owner's approval. That sort of sparked a smile on our face. But again, how would the bikes go inside? The lodge's floor was not at the same level as that of the footpath. They said don't worry we'll do some jugaad. That's what Delhi is famous for!

We untied the luggage and took it inside the lodge. The lodge was really cool and clean and looking posh with the lights. We thought are they really going to let us take our Bikes inside?

They got some 4-5 small wooden planks which even had some nails sticking out, unlike the big flat ones we had imagined. Not the best jugaad, but we somehow managed to get the bikes in with the staff's help. I was scared the whole time that my Bike's lower fairing would get a hit. But the staff were really careful, specially with my bike. Finally our Bikes were safely parked inside the lodge and we were Happy. By 10:30pm, we had checked in.

The staff were very co-operative. The room was neat. A/c was cool. Dinner was damn good and spicy. (Hot and sour soup, Aloo Parantha with Dal). Took a hot water bath, kept our phones etc for charge and by 12:30am or so, we called it a day, deciding to change plans and start late the next day to get some good sleep and much needed Rest.

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Day2: Delhi to Ludhiana.

The previous day's tiring and hectic affair ensured that we got up late. More importantly, we had to change our plans since we had already lost a day and a half all thanks to the goof up by VRL.
We checked the maps and thought of covering as much distance as possible and thought of reaching either Ludhiana(316Kms) or Jalandhar(377Kms) by night.

We skipped breakfast as it was already lunch time and had tea instead. It was quite a hot day. I had even got some sunburns on the chest may be because I had left the jacket slightly open at the top while Riding. It was time to use the sunscreen I was carrying for the first time ever in life :P

We quickly got ready and checked out. Once again, we had the herculean task of mounting our luggage on the bike. As usual, by the time we were done, we were dropping sweat. Quite a workout! Carefully got our Bikes out. You can see this in the video. This time we ourselves had arranged the planks and ensured they were not moving around.

It struck me later that we should have got the Bikes out first and then mounted the luggage. So dumb!! But mounting the luggage outside in the sun at 12am in Delhi weather would have been more tiring.

Anyways we were all Set. Nithesh was carrying his hydration pack and insisted me to get one too in Decathlon(Ludhiana) as it would come handy throughout the trip. But the first thing on my mind was fixing the number plate on my Bike. Was carrying 3M tapes and scissors so thought of doing a temporary fix and see if it helps. The 3M tapes held on well and there was no vibration there after.
Now even a small job like tying some tapes around the number plate felt taxing in that heat. Asked for some water and the lodge guy obliged with some cold water.

Thought of getting out of the city, covering some distance and then have lunch somewhere on the highway. We had our maps on and as soon as we started Riding, felt cool. We were all sweaty inside the jacket. But when we Rodee beneath the trees, the wind blow felt like A/c.

I had the GoPro on the helmet and with the luggage and Riding gear, may be we looked like Aliens so people were staring at us all the way in the city and did ask us questions like where we are headed etc. At one of the signals, we met a guy(must be a motovlogger from Delhi) who wished us good luck with the Ride. Thus our Ride started on a good Note.

The Delhi city traffic was strange. Roads were good and wide enough but we saw that people were not very keen on using their indicators. Specially, the car drivers. They would change lanes without looking. Nithesh warned me about the same and we were Riding slow and steady till we hit the highways.

As we got on the main Roads, our speeds increased a bit. But it was still tough Riding in the hot weather. My phone started heating up and had to switch off the GPS. I was using one phone for music and other for GPS and that made me take some wrong turn and I lost track of the route and fell behind.

Called up Nitesh and told him to carry on Riding coz there was no point stopping and waiting for me in the heat. He anyways Rides at a higher pace than me and I would need to take more breaks since I did not have any hydration pack to sip on. So told him to keep Riding and stop only at some place with shelter and hopefully I'll catch up with him for lunch.

I was feeling tired and thirsty and had no energy to Ride fast. The Ride was getting slower and slower and quite boring. Even the item songs that I was listening to were not entertaining enough. Desperately needed a break, but there were no shops to buy water/juice. When I was looking to just stop beneath some trees to relax for some time, luckily I noticed there were some mud pots kept on the side of the Roads and I wished to get some clean water to drink.
The water was not only clean but also cold and tasty. And it was Free!! :) Even other bikers(localites) were stopping there just to have water. The pots were huge and there was enough water for everyone.

Spoke to some people there and that sort of got my mind refreshed. I took a long break there and kept drinking water every few mins till my stomach was full :D
Filled up my bottle as well and washed my face. There was a big group of guys who were travelling to punjab in their suv and itseems they stopped looking at my bike.
After the usual curious questions about gopro, bike, gps, riding gear etc they asked the name of my youtube channel and I happily shared the sticker i was carrying.

Once they left, I took out few more stickers and stuck it on the bike, on the saddle bags and my Jacket. Once I did that, I felt like a motoVlogger who's out for Subscribtion Campaign :D
Anyways, my mood was refreshed and I thought now I can Ride fast and try catching up with Nithesh. I knew that even he would have taken some long break at some or the other place because of the heat and the boring highway. On the way I noticed the DrinkingWater Mud Pots kept at many places. Such a great initiative. Thanks to whoever set this up.

Rode nonstop at a good pace but still Nitesh was no where to be seen. It was already 3:30pm and no Breakfast/lunch. Was damn hungry. So stopped at a Dhaba before Murthal(Haryana) for lunch. Having food at odd times in the pursuit of covering more distance started from the first day itself.

Called up Nitesh and shared location on whatsapp. He was some 20kms ahead of me as per HereMaps. So told him to have Lunch and keep Riding and that we'll catch up later somewhere.
He must have been cursing me that on first day itself we were split and I was making him Ride Solo :p But my itention was to Ride as much as possible and hopefully cross Ludhiana and reach Jalandhar by 10-11pm. Getting accomodation in Punjab would not be a problem at all since Punjabi's are known for their helpful nature and hospitability.

The food was damn good and spicy. Roti and Channa dal with onions and mirchi.
Got the first taste of proper North Indian food and I loved it. I emptied 2-3 jugs of water and also had juice and tea to keep me fresh and hydrated. The Dhaba people were very hospitable. They even told me to take a nap on the charpai and get some Rest. But I was already lagging behind and had to catch up with Nitesh. There was a small water tank near the Dhaba and I washed my face and took a mini head bath of sorts which completely cooled me down :)
I was all set for the next non stop lap to catch up with Nitesh. Also carried a chilled water bottle and juice to have on the way.

I had forgotten to switch on the music in my mobile, so just few 100mts from the dhaba, I stopped on the side and as soon as I stopped, Nithesh just came and stopped in front of me.
Surprisingly, he was behind me and he had also stopped for lunch somewhere before the dhaba where I had my lunch itseems. So the non stop cruising at good speeds had indeed helped me catch up with him. But the map said he was ahead of me by 20kms so clearly I had misread the map or the map had misread my location :D

We discussed that from here onwards we'll Ride together and we shall Ride only till Ludhiana(269kms from Murthal). It was around 4pm, so we would reach Ludhiana by 9pm.
But in our minds, we still had hopes of reaching Ludhiana by 8pm itself and Riding further ahead to reach Jalandhar by 9-10pm because Jalandhar was just 60kms from Ludhiana. It all depended on the road condition and the number of breaks we would take.

On the highway, as we neared Punjab, we saw many Punjab Govt. vehicles. We were overtaking all of them one by one :p Meanwhile I crossed the 30,000Kms milestone on my Bike :)

We kept taking breaks every now and then, to have water or to adjust the earphones/gloves/bottle or just to stretch our back. Whoever was ahead, Nithesh or me, would wait for the other, just after a toll and we would catch up.

But on the nice roads, Nitesh's pace would increase and I would fall behind.

By 8:30pm, I almost came close to Ludhiana. Called up Nithesh and he was 7kms ahead of me, so he said he'll book the lodge. Also we thought of filling petrol(tank full) and halting in some lodge on the highway so that it'll be easier for the next day and we can start early morning and cover some good distance. Sadly that never happened.

Here's what happened-
We thought instead of wasting time, since Nithesh was ahead, he can find a lodge, share its location with me and I can just follow up. Then we can fill up our tanks somewhere on the way and can have dinner together once we reach the lodge. But it was only easier said that done.

As I neared Ludhiana, there was a junction and some turns. It was totally deserted and pitch dark without any lights other than my bike's. Trusted my gut feel and went straight ahead thinking Nitesh also would have gone ahead to find a lodge on the highway itself. So I can simply Ride on till I find some civilization(lodge/restaurants) and then slow down.

After some time, when I called Nitesh, he told he had taken a turn at the junction itself which would lead to Ludhiana city and he's booked a Oyo room somewhere inside the city, since he dint find any on the highway. He told me to come back to the junction and call again. I had gone ahead of the junction by a few good kms so had to take a U-turn and get back to the junction to enter the city.
To take a U-turn, I had to first find a break in the divider(median) and to my bad luck, the highway here was like a toll road/expressway. There was no median at all.

I rode ahead for more than 10 mins(>10kms) and then finally found a place where there was a small break in the divider and I could manage to take a U-turn.
From there, I Rode back another 15kms to the junction. This took more than half an hour although I was doing > 100kmph. I felt like, by now, I would have reached Jalandhar itself had I Rode straight ahead :D

Anyways, once I reached the junction, I was releived and thought no more confusions. But the internet was off. No proper signal. Somehow entered the city with the help of GPS. But I was not sure if this was the route which Nitesh had taken. I reached a shop where they were pulling the shutters down. All the other shops were closed. So this was the only place with some lights. Time was 9:15pm. Took a break and called up Nitesh and got the address(area name). Asked the locals for directions.

In Punjab, whenever I would stop or slow down, people would get curious and ask lot of questions.
Funny thing was people would assume that since I've come from so far in Bike and with so much luggage and all. I would know all the places and directions through some device. So when I asked for a place, they would just answer in a phrase and then go on asking a series of other questions.
What is that you are wearing? what does the camera do? what is this? what is that? etc. They would enthusiastically talk and comment among themselves and make lot of weird guesses and assumptions about everything.

After sometime the signal was back and I also got the location Nitesh had shared on whatsapp. Now the map led me through some narrow roads and I just followed the directions.
All the while, I was thinking, "why Nitesh why?? why did you book a room in such interiors? why not just stay on the highway".
The fog lights were very helpful since some places were totally dark without any street lights.

Found a petrol pump which was still open, so thought of getting a full tank. I was just few kms from the lodge now. While filling petrol, many enthusiastic youngsters and middle aged men gathered around me. Basically whoever was around and coming there to fill petrol would get amused on seeing me and they would come close to find out more.

My white Bike looking like a Beast with all the luggage and me in black armour with stickers and reflectors and a gopro on my helmet might have caught their attention. By now, I was used to all the attention but I did feel like a Knight in shining armour :p

They were also amazed that I was from Karnataka and could understand them and speak Hindi as well. I was trying to speak to Nitesh on phone, but I could hardly hear him because of the big group of people around me. No where in India have I seen people with such enthusiasm and friendliness as Punjabis, that too at that time of the hour.

I was totally exhausted and answering all their questions politely was testing my patience.
I told them I've to go now to find a lodge and they were like- arey don't worry we'll show you where to stay, just come with us.. I thanked them and told the stay is already booked and my friend is waiting.

As I moved on, strangely the roads got narrower and I felt as if I'm moving away from the commercial part of the city since there were no shops around. Finally I reached a place where I could not go further. Map was asking me to go straight ahead but it was a dead end. There was this huge white palace kind of structure in front of me. Definitely a religious place like Gurudhwara. Looked like it was built in marble. There were lot of people moving around. Old men, even women and children. And all eyes were on me.

This time I was scared and wondered if I was looking like a terrorist with my face mask, black jacket, gloves and all. Strangely nobody dared to come closer although they were all staring at me for quite some time. There was a bridge on the right and I parked my Bike below that bridge, in front of a car, to avoid the attention.

The phones were low on battery. Net was damn slow and going off sometimes. My mind was not at all working. Called up Nitesh and he was like -"where the hell are you, man?? You said you'll be here in 10 mins. I've been trying to call you." He was calling to my other cell which was inside the tankbag and it had no network.

I told him im totally tired of navigating and not finding that place and the Map has gone crazy. Its showing only one way and that's over that Gurudhwara :p

He said relax, take a break and share your location and that he'll check and call back. I was using HereMaps app, because the location sent on whatsapp would open in Heremaps by default. There was no option to open it with google maps. Also heremaps can be used for offline navigation. No need of network once the location is set.

He said I'm indeed in front of some Gurudhwara(Gurudhwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib) and I had to be on that bridge below which i was standing and the lodge is just some 2.5 kms away. I said give me some time, I'll open the location in google maps somehow and navigate.

I was wishing to visit some Gurudhwara in Punjab and here I was standing right in front of one. But I could not go inside leaving my bike and luggage. Also I was damn tired.

Then, I got an idea. If I open the location from whatsapp in my other phone(Samsung), it should open in google maps because thats the only map application in that phone. But problem was that there was no network in that phone(Samsung). So I created a hotspot with the phone(Redmi) that I had network on and connected my other phone through wifi. Forwarded the location to my other number on whatsapp(even Nitesh had shared) and Voila!! now I could open the location and navigate using googlemaps. Plugged in the earphones to that phone and started Riding.

Finally, I reached the lodge- "Hotel Silver Haze, Mall Road, Ludhiana". But only according to google map. I was at a Chowk(Roundabout Junction) and the google lady says:- "You've arrived at your destination. Your destination is on the left". I was like-"Fuck u!! there's nothing on the left here. Its a empty road."

I thought the lodge must be on this road to the left and I can figure out myself and I took the left turn. The lodge was actually 100mts behind the Chowk(Roundabout). From here, I was again lost. The map was re-routing and started giving directions. I thought Ok, now its showing the correct place.
After some time I was at the same Roundabout junction again and heard- "You've arrived at your destination. Your destination is on the left" :D I was like: "Ninn.. $%#@!".

Anyways shared my location with Nitesh and asked him to come out to the road and make some noise :D coz I must be somewhere near. He said you've gone ahead. Have to come back a little.
Took a U-turn at the Roundabout and after some 100 mts saw Nitesh waving on the other side. Finally!!!

He was like- "Why are you roaming all around Ludhiana man? Can't you keep your eyes open and navigate properly :p"
Me: "Nin swalpa sumnirappa. City olaagade book maadbittu.. Namm kasta namig gotthu. Full exhausted. Thale ne Odthilla alli :D "

I asked when did you reach here? He said long long ago :p He had even taken bath and was watching TV itseems.

Untied the lugguage and the roomboy carried it inside the room. Usually I carry my own luggage but not this time. I said- "Please Helmet aur tankbag chodke, sab uthalo."
The A/c was not working. So we shifted to another room and then went for dinner. Finally, another hectic day and we were not in a mood to start the next day early.

Lessons learnt:-

"Always Ride together and stay close, specially within the city. Navigating using map in an unknown place can become difficult due to numerous reasons".

"Duing long rides, stay as much as possible on the highway to avoid the hassle of Riding within the city. City Ride will consume lot of time and get you tired."

"Offline maps do not work as well as Online maps."

"Use some popular landmarks nearby to navigate to a place instead of tracing a specific remote place".

to be continued...

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One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.