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Four Corners of India — Part 2. The Northern Corner of India

In the previous article we followed Chiranthana from Bangalore to the Western corner of India on his journey around Four Corners of India. This time we are following Chiranthana on the second part his journey to the Northern Corner of India.

Narayan Sarovar to Leh Four Corners of India Bike Ride Map
Second part of the Four Corners of India Ride. June 21st – 29th. Narayan Sarovar to Leh

Last time we ended the story on the International Yoga Day. Chiranthana, how was it there?

The Night of International Yoga Day – June 21st 2016, was spent in the Choultry of the Temple in Narayan Sarovar. They serve unlimited Chapathis, Rice, Sambar, sweet and delicious butter milk to end. Had my stomach filled with the stupendous dinner, which I had missed right from Bangalore, due to my night rides. The choultry also provides a Single Cot Room with Fan to take rest. All these, for just Rs.50/-.

After unwinding all my luggage from the vehicle, after the stomach bursting dinner, slipped into much deserved sleep. The journey from Bangalore to Goa to Panvel to Ahmedabad and finally to Narayan Sarovar unfolded. The Rainy ride, the Night Ghats Ride, crossing the state borders, meeting various persons enroute and most importantly, the Welcome of the Drum Beats at Koteshwar Mahadev Mandir, gave me goosebumps even in my midnight dreams.

Bike or Car, Bus or Train, I personally wish to visit this temple once more, at 8pm I need to be there to re-live those enchanting moments and also wish to inform every rider or any person reading this article, to visit once and enjoy the ambience and experience it first hand.

Since it was twilight on the day I visited and almost dark when I came to the temple, I had decided to visit this place once again the next day. The long drive of 2200+ kms over 4 days had its say and eventually I slept like a log till 2 pm the next day.

Moving on to the second part your trip, what was the starting and end points for 2nd part of this part of your journey — from West to North of India?

After fresh up, I visited the Western Tip of India, yet again, this time at broad day light and was thrilled to the core. I was thinking of staying till 8pm and to enjoy the enchanting Drum beats, but decided otherwise, since there was another thrilling point to be reached – The Khardung La – Highest Motorable Road in the World in Ladakh Valley; the Northern End of my Great India.

The Khardung La sounds really exciting! And Ladakh Valley is very famous amongst bikers. Any adventures during this part of the trip?

Finally I bid adieu to the Police Inspector of Narayan Sarovar at 4.30pm and continued my journey towards the Northern End.

This time, I came through Bhuj the Kuchch area of Gujrat and stopped near Bhachau. Turned to Navmii for the shortest route to my next destination.

I could have gone through Bikaner or Jodhpur, directly to Amritsar and Pathankot, which showed 200 kms less but decided to take the longer route via Ajmer and Jaipur via Delhi.

You certainly don’t take the easy route!

After crossing Palanpur, Abu Road was my next major stop. Reached Abu Road around 3.30pm, instead of going straight on the highway towards Ajmer, I took a left turn towards Mount Abu. I presumed, it would be a warm up to the upcoming drive through the Vallies of Kashmir. After conquering Mount Abu, I was on my way to Ajmer. 24th, the 7th day of my ride, Got my vehicle checked for Engine Oil, Chain Lubrication at Ajmer, visited the Ajmer Dargah Shariff and proceeded towards Jaipur, to take a selfie in front of the famous Hawa Mahal Palace. The cops again, after seeing my attire, enquired and made way to get the perfect pic opposite the Palace and offered me the local beedi, he lighted the beedi for me, which I felt, was a great achievement in itself.

The night ride continued up to 2 am and I was almost near the outskirts of Bilaspur, took rest in a small Tea Shop till 7am, morning continued my journey towards Gurgaon, hoping to visit the office of Limca Book of Records. Unfortunately, It was a Saturday and I wasn’t aware they worked only 5 days a week. Took selfies near the Building and continued my journey towards Chandigarh, the common meeting place of most of the bikers on their Leh/Ladak trip.

Nearing Ambala, I thought I needed a break for the night, and booked a lodge, which I got after travelling deep into the city, finally halted for the night.

The critical morning of June 26th

The morning of 26th June, Sunday was a critical one. I had to decide on the next route to be taken to reach the Northern End, Leh.

There is actually two options, one, via Mandi, Manali, Rohtang, Keylong, Jispa, Pang and Leh the other one, through Udhampur, Anantnag, Srinagar, Kargil, Drass and Leh.

At this point, I recollected one incident when I was in Deesa, stopped at a Petrol Bunk to fuel my Don, a gentleman got down from his car and walked up to me and enquired if I was going to Leh. I replied in affirmative. He parked his car in a corner of the bunk and called his friend from his cell phone. After 10 mins a gentleman came into the bunk and introduced himself as a passionate rider who had done Leh Ladakh Twice. He had given me an advice about the different routes to be taken, caution to be taken while riding and other important points. Also, my childhood friend, Chidananda from Bangalore, who is into riding for years together gave me an advice of taking the Srinagar Route while going and while coming, I can come through Manali, since I would be requiring pass to visit Rohtang If at all I started from Manali.

So, finally decided, I will go through Srinagar, started my journey towards Ludhiana, bypassing Chandigarh.

On the way, an Innova overtook me, the passenger in the back seat waved his hand and asked me to stop. I was a bit taken back and garnering courage, stopped the vehicle. A middle aged gentleman alighted from his car and came towards me, asked me about my itinerary and after getting to know that I am coming from Bangalore, he told that his daughter is studying Medical in Mysore, which is about 150 kms from Bangalore. He asked his wife and his ‘pilot’ (as he calls his chauffer) to get down from the vehicle and asked if he could take a selfie with me !! My surprise knew no bounds, because, in that route, many riders go towards Leh in groups every other day, and I was riding alone, I thought who would be interested. He asked me if he could get me some cool drinks because that day it was too hot. I informed him that I just had a kilometer back and I was refreshed, renewed and recharged. Taking his leave, I carried out my journey towards the Northern most state of India, Jammu & Kashmir.

A dream ride to Jammu and Kashmir

Around 11 pm entered the Kashmir State, near Lakhanpur, took some selfies in the Head Lights of the Trucks and was game for the Night Ride, since I had taken rest the previous night.

At midnight, when Jammu was around 100 kms or so, I stopped at a Dhabha for Tea, then, the lust of seeing Jammu in Broad Day Light, instead of the pitch Darkness hit upon me, I halted for the night in the same Dhabha.

27th June, My Dream ride into the J&K had begun at 6 in the morning.. Enjoying the nature’s beauty, I drove to Jammu, enjoying the scenic beauty, I forgot to ask my Route Partner, Navmii for guidance, and rode through the outskirts of Jammu City and was on the way to Sundarbani. What did I miss…? Nothing… as long as I was enjoying the ride, the nature, the valleys, I forgot, I had to take the Udhampur, Patnitop, Bannihal route to Anantnag, which was the Main Highway. I ended up in Sundarbans.. the famous National park. But, least did I know, the great Sundarbans was in West Bengal, some 2500 kms from the place where I was standing at that point. Anyway, got a beautiful glimpse of Sundarbani, and proceeded towards Naushera and Rajouri.

On reaching Rajouri, the climb was a stiff one, a single road, some times no road at all, through Thanamandi until I reached Bafliaz Bridge, I was fearing about the Tyres, though some 13000 kms old, the road made me think twice. I felt, I should have come in the R.E.s or H.D.s One surprise stop was “Maggie Mod” the Maggie Turning. There you find handful number of hotels and coffee shops preparing the 2-Minute Wonder Food. While refreshing myself with the famous Maggie dish, a localite told me to take Mughal Road and that was a Main Road, almost like the Highway to Shrinagar. I relaxed myself and upto the entrance of Mughal Road, my heart was inside my mouth along with the just had Maggie Noodles.

Once I reached Mughal Road, I got my entry in the Log Book in Urdu by the Police Out Post Inspector and continued my journey to Srinagar. The road though, was not as I imagined being a Main road to Srinagar. Due to Rains and Heavy trucks, the road was almost torn to pieces. I made up my mind, that this will be the road on which I have to drive, atleast until I reached Srinagar.

Soon after I left Bafliaz, the rain gods, who were not to be remembered from Goa, welcomed me to have a ride with them too. An experience which the riders to Leh/Ladak experience rarely; since they take the Royal Highway through Bannihal, Anantnag and Srinagar.

On the way, crossed PKG (Peer Ki Gali) reached Srinagar via Shopian.

My wish was to lodge at Srinagar, have a look at the World Famous Dal Jheel (Dal Lake) and later to continue the journey towards Leh.

As my bad luck would have it, those days being the festive month of Ramzan, the entire city of Srinagar looked like shut off at 9 pm after Namaz. Added to it, the road repair works in the city added to my woes of not able to find a hotel to stay. Dejected, I continued my journey towards Sonamarg.

At about midnight, I found a person sitting on a chair in front of a warm and cozy dhaba, playing games on his mobile. I thought of having a chit chat about the next place of visit, if it is suitable for me to continue my ride at this time, about the weather at Sonamarg, etc.

The person was as warm as his Dhabha’s kitchen, he offered me to stay at his place for the night and advised me to take proper clothing for my further ride up the hill in the morning.

The next day was a life changing ride into the actual Valley of the Kashmir region, the Sona Marg, the Tiger Hill, the Drass sector and finally, Kargil. Stayed with the Jawans in the Gurudwara of Kargil for the night.

Visiting the Khardung La

Next day, A Wednesday, A memorable Wednesday, the day which cannot be erased from my Memory, June 29th, started my journey from Kargil towards Leh. Rode through Budha Monastery, Lamayuru, visited Gurudwara Pathar Sahib near the Magnetic Hill, finally came to Leh around 4.30pm. The Northern end of India reached. Second point of my 4 corner ride was attained. But, it was not over there.

The thought of going to Khardung La came instantly even at that time, since because it was just about 45 kms away from the city. The first 5-10 kilometers was a smooth drive, though a single road, I was moving towards the Highest Motorable Road in the World, on my Don, always looking left and right, enjoying the Valleys, until the Check Post near South Pullu.

Lo and behold… The Road was lost !! The Tarmac had evaporated into thin air.. It was pebbles and boulders and rivers which one had to cross until you reached the summit.

Riding and riding… the summit seemed not 50, but 500 Kilometers far. Finally when I reached the summit, it was already 7.30 pm with no riders to be seen. The ride to reach Leh downhill at that point of time, in the darkness, was nothing less than a uphill task. I reached Leh Police Station at 9.30pm and got my Log Book entered and needed a cozy room for my night stay and to celebrate my conquering the summit, riding solo on my bike, from Karnataka to Khardung La.

The joy of this ride was nothing less than an achievement in itself.

I took shelter in a single cot cozy room though I was provided with Razaai and wall to wall carpet, after I put my head to the pillow, a thin shiver went down my spine thinking about the road and the route taken from Western Point to reach the World’s Highest Motorable Road in the Northern Tip of India.

Least was I aware of the adventures and the risks and the surprises in store for me on the way to the Eastern Corner, Tezu.

Chiranthana. Four corners of India. Khardung La
Chiranthana. Four corners of India. Khardung La

Thank you Chiranthana for a very interesting story!

Next time we will follow Chiranthana from the North Corner of the country (Leh) to the East Corner (Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh).

See all articles about Four Corners of India Trip:

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