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Four Corners of India — Part 3. The Eastern Corner of India

In previous article together with Chiranthana we visited the Northern corner of India. It was the Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and the Khardung La. Some consider it to be the highest motorable road. This time we are following Chiranthana on the third part of his journey to the Eastern Corner of India — Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh.

Third part of the Four Corners of India Ride. June 21st – 29th

Chiranthana, last time we left at the North point of you ride. What was next?

The feeling of being on the Top of the world needed more than a day to sink in. It had to. Because I had just done around 40% of my route and there was a long way to go. For some, it was the Final Destination. For me it was just a stop over. I didn’t have enough time to bask in the glory of reaching the World’s Highest Motorable Road — the Khardung La — because I had to continue my dream ride to India’s Farthest Eastern Point — Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh.

How did it go?

It was not until 1 pm the next day after reaching the summit I could start my bike. Had my Brunch and left Leh around 2 pm, filled full tank petrol and as usual filled a 2 ltr bottle to be kept in my saddle bag, in case of emergency.

When seen on the Map, the Drive from Leh to Manali would seem a down hill ride, because you are driving from top to bottom. On the contrary, the ride was a monotonous uphill drive amidst the Ladakh Range of Valleys, which seemed to repeat itself every 50 kms. The same mountains the same curvy road, the same sound of the Indus river all along the road. Sometimes, a rider feels if he is travelling on the same road again and again.

Warning from Chiranthana: “Riders from either side, be sure to Full Tank your vehicle plus carry a couple of cans full of Fuel for emergency”.

Just after leaving Leh town, there is absolutely no information that, you will never be able to refuel your bike within 353 kilometres! The next fuel point is available at Keylong, near Tandi. Riders from either side, be sure to Full Tank your vehicle plus carry a couple of cans full of Fuel for emergency.

Almost around Karu and Upshi, there’s a fork in the road, the curvy road flows along with the River Indus to the scenic Pangong Lake and the other road, leads to Manali. It was a tough decision to make, since I left around afternoon going around 100 kms to Pangong lake and continuing my journey towards Manali, suddenly brought back the shivers of riding down the Khardung La the previous night. Giving prominence to my Destination rather than to my Desire, I continued on the Manali Highway. Riding through the valleys of Karu, Miru, Gya, Debring and Pang, around evening 7pm, reached Biskynala. I could find a couple of Tents, serving hot tea, Maggie and snacks. The sun had set, and the drive was risky and adventurous. Though a half day ride, it had given me the pleasure of knowing the unknown. The tent had accommodation for 5-6 riders to spend the night, with bed, pillow and razais, for Rs.200/-. I was glad to take the offer.

The night was spent like sleeping inside a flowing river. The cold was so severe, even after covering with 3 razais, the spine chilling cold literally was chilling my spine. The next day started only after 10.30, after having breakfast, the morning dew had still not evaporated from my bike’s seat and tank, but, at the press of a button, my don was ready for the adventure of the day!

Seems like a tough part of the ride. Did anything change the next day?

The previous day was a ride among the Valleys. This day was a ride among the Valleys. Nothing different. But came across a lot of Adventure camps, Passing through Sarchu and Baralacha Pass, Goldrop Camps, Antrek Camps, Hozer Adventure Camp, Rolling Stones Camp, to name a few. Came across Zing Zing Bar, which had no Bar, stopped near Jispa, had a cuppa, before reaching Keylong and desparately looking for the Fuel station. By that time, my fuel tank had emptied and the emergency fund had also been used to the maximum. Good that my bike was giving optimum mileage even in that difficult terrain, I could manage to reach the Fuel Station, around 350kms after Leh.

Around 5 pm after refuelling, we both decided to drive to Manali that day and take a much deserved halt. It was almost around 120 Kms drive in the valley and had to pass through the famous Rohtang Pass. The ride was a bit smoother one, by the time we reached Rohtang Pass, it was almost 7 pm. The light was diminishing at a greater pace than ours. The destination, Manali almost around 50 kms, the drive in the most dreaded Fog Valley with almost zero visibility, single road with deadly curves, the rain gods added more thrill to the ride by continuous drizzles. By the time we reached Manali, it was almost 10.50. Took the First hotel which I got and booked and settled for the Night.

The ride from Manali to Surendarnagar via Kullu and Mandi was a refreshing one, for the rest we took in the Hotel, again, it was only after 11.30am we continued the ride for the day. Riding alongside the Beas River, the nature was also cool and calm, the downhill ride continued till Bilaspur. The first ever shock of my ride was to come in the last Ghat section of the Himachal Pradesh, leading to the border of Punjab, Swarghat.

“A lake view point with some snacks and tea”

Soon after Bilaspur, you will get a Lake View Point, where you can refresh yourself with some snacks and tea / Ice cream depending on the time of the day with a very relishing view of River Sutlej, a very old temple built almost in the middle of the river, which can be seen only when the water level is low. While driving through the Ghats of Konala, the Chain just came off the vehicle’s sprocket. It was almost 6.30pm in the middle of a Ghat Section, not knowing what to do, I tried to fix it and the first time, it latched up. But, during the ride, it used to come off, since the chain had become very loose. When asked, a dhaba wala told that the nearest mechanic shop was almost after 40kms and also it would have been closed by this time, due to Rains. With the load on my bike and travelling Uphill on the ghat section by pushing, it was out of question. One last try to fix the chain had worked. But, I had to ensure that I had to ride only on the lower gears. The time had come to chant Hanuman Chalisa. The chant of “Jaya hanumana, gyana gun saagara..” had been there continuously on my mind, till I reached Swarghat and had to continue it, since I couldn’t find a mechanic shop at that time. Continued till Chamrauli, the border of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, found a board “Child Beer” and stopped at 9.15 pm. The thought of spending the night by halting, had already come up in my mind.. Therefore, thought of having atleast One beer, for my terrific three hours journey.

The Punjabi munda who owned the beer shop, surprisingly, offered me to spend the night in his house, immediately called his mother and informed about me, the household welcomed me with hot paratas and a separate room to take rest for the night.

The next night, after bath, he took me to the mechanic, who cut a piece of chain and informed me to drive bindaas for another 500 kms. I had entered Punjab, I actually felt it.

Driving through Rupnagar, came to Chandigarh and met a Military Guy from Tamil Nadu who had been riding from Leh to Delhi on his RE. Continued my journey, reached Ambala, remembered the Room where I had stayed for the night during my Onward Journey, Kurukshetra, Panipat and Sonipat. Had planned to visit Delhi, once again to the Limca Book Office. Since the day, 3rd July was a Sunday, I had to take a decision whether to touch Delhi and go through Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow or to take deviation through Meerut. Even though the Offices were closed, the Delhi – Agra Yamuna Express Way was calling.

Frankly speaking, the experience of Delhi traffic during the previous made me think twice and I had to take the Meerut Road to reach Lucknow. Got my Vehicle serviced and I have to mention the people at Lucknow Automotives, who gave it a thorough service on Express basis and also after learning about my ride, I was also given a special discount. I should mention about Torque Bikes at Delhi, where they gave my Don, a keep fit massage, even during their Lunch hour. Soon after that, I was on my way to Ayodhya, enroute, around 4 pm, I met with cloud burst for about 10 kilometers, where, stopping or driving, meant the same, thanks to my Yamaha FZS Version 2.0, I was able to come out of it, without a scratch, skid or slip. The visit to the temple was a very brisk one, that day I continued my journey till Harraiya, took a break in a dhaba, slept inside a parked Auto rickshaw. From 8am to 12 midnight, the next day was full of riding, since I had to cover quite bit of distance to the Eastern Corner, Tezu, I was still riding in Bihar, The day had passed crossing Gorakhpur, Muzaffarpur and Dharbhanga, finally coming to Purnea.

In the night, the rain gods, who had seen me, enjoy my ride the whole day, just dropped in to say hi. Continued on the border road of Bihar and West Bengal upto a Toll Gate near Kishanganj. The Wrinkly Feet was more or less a Trench Foot. Took rest upto 8 am and the ride was on to Siliguri. At Fulbari, took a deviation to Dhupguri. By 3pm, I was at Alipurduar, One of my classmates, Mr. Santosh Singh MG, had contacts with one of the top brass of Police squad in Assam. Just called him to enquire about any special permission needed for a Solo Rider to ride through Assam and eventually through Arunachal Pradesh. He was kind enough to arrange a night halt at his relative’s house in Guwahati. 3 pm at Alipurduar, still around 300+Kms to go to reach Guwahati, with the Bike’s chain again getting loosened up, I thought I wouldn’t be able to reach by today night, I will manage somehow and not to disturb the gentleman at odd hours.

The road added to the misery, still under construction, a single road, with trucks plying continuously filling the air with the dust. Thanks for my Full faced Steelbird Yamaha helmet, with transparent visor, I was able to manoeuvre through the road, finally to reach a 4 lane highway from Barama. I was riding in Assam, which we, in South India feel, not so safe place to be riding solo, in the evening. Managed to reach Guwahati around 10.30pm and the sweet family was awaiting my entry into their cozy household.

“I was shocked to see the water level in the street risen to waist level”

The next day morning, I was shocked to see the water level in the street risen to waist level and that was next to impossible to take the bike out of the parking area, which, fortunately was above the road level. The water level started to decrease only in the afternoon, finally at 3pm, I was able to take the vehicle out, still the water just about touching the engine. Thanking the family whole heartedly for their warm hospitality, I bid farewell to continue my half day ride for the day.

The ride was through Kaziranga National park, I could hear Brahmaputra flowing here and there, from the opposite direction. I had decided to go through the night with my ride, since I had a Good Night’s Sleep, but as they say.. “Man Proposes, God Disposes”, nearing Jorhat, almost near Shibsagar, I had to take shelter near a closed shop, due to.. what else, but rain!

Around 4 am the next day, the showers had come down, and I decided not to waste time, since the Eastern End, Tezu was almost around 400 Kms, I had decided to touch it by EOD. The road from Dibrugarh to Tinsukia, even though a single lane, was well maintained, and added to it, the railway line was running parallel to the road, forcing me to sing “mere sapno ki raani kab aayegi tu” the famous song filmed on the Super hit pair of Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore, in the film Aradhana, sung by my all time favourite singer, the great Kishore Kumar. Hoping to go parallel with a train, I slowed my pace and waited … while riding.

From morning 7 am to 8.44 am, for about 80 kilometers, I was in touching distance with the Railway track, but alas, The train didn’t pass at all.

At about Rupai Station, I had to take a diversion towards Namsai, so, left the train of thoughts and concentrated on the next route to take to reach my destination. Nearing Mahadevpur, the first town of Arunachal Pradesh, I was stopped at the State Border at 9.30am. I was asked about my whereabouts, the purpose of the journey to Arunachal Pradesh, and was instructed to take the Inner Line Permit at the Dirak Gate. A note on ILP. Arunachal Pradesh falls under restricted area, official permission is required to enter the state, therefore the visitors other than natives of Arunachal Pradesh are required to obtain an Inner Line Permit ( ILP ) to enter Arunachal Pradesh. The Permit is granted as a routine for the tourists and so it should not deter any tourist from coming to Arunachal Pradesh. I was issued the permit for 7 days, to visit Tezu and to come back. Reason being that, in that route, the landslides are common and can stretch for days together to make way for traffic, even two wheelers could not cross the Ghat road, if there is a land slide.

Fearing the worst, I took the permit and continued on the route, passing by Golden Pagoda, took a selfie near the gate and continued my journey till Chokham. At Chowkham, the localites advised me to take the Alubari Ferry way to reach Tezu, which otherwise will be 100 Kilometers more If I took the Parashuram Kund route and the road was terrific too. I was not sure if I could do it and hence, called the Limca Office to make myself sure about the Ferry way. I was informed to Ride and touch all the 4 corners and not to sail. There was another clause for the Record.

If there was a second route option available, a rider cannot travel the same way back. Hence, we decided, that the Parashuram Kund to be riden and on the way back, the ferry way could be taken, so as to form a Round Route. While the same had been the case with the previous two corners, Bhuj and Kashmir, the third ring route also made sense. After that, the real ride began, with no proper road, a distance of 55 kilometre had taken a whopping 2 hours 30 minutes. But, It was worth the bumpy ride, the Bridge at Parsuram Kund, gave a thrilling view of the River Lohit adding to the breath taking view was the Dense Forest filled mountains and the Deep valley through which the River flowed. 22 kms from the point was the junction Hawa Camp, the 200 kms road which leads to Kibithoo HQ, stone’s throw away from China Border.

The thought of travelling the unnecessary route just vanished, due to the route from which I had come until that point. It was almost second to Off roading at Ladakh Valleys, bringing back the memories of my Northern Corner days. The 15 Km 4 lane highway leading to Tezu town was hurriedly travelled, for the joy of seeing the tarmac after long time. It was just 4.30pm when I took the entry in my Log Book from the Lohit Police Station, Tezu. The thought of getting out of the Restricted Area made me to hurriedly top up my fuel tank and immediately left for Alubari Ferry Point. For a change, My Don was taken for a ride on the steamer, for about 2 kilometres, which I presume, was a much deserved ride for my ride. 8 pm, the same day, I was at the Arunachal Pradesh Border, where the security had given me the ILP just 12 hours before, He was taken aback and started at me, the shocked eye balls later turned to praise my Guts (literally) and he congratulated me on my achievement.

Continuing the journey, I reached the same Rupai Railway Station, by this time, the thought of singing along the same Kishore Kumar song gave me much deserved relaxation for my mind.. though the body had taken too much strain, since I was travelling from 4 am, it was more than 17 hours continuous ride, more than the time, the road was the main culprit. But, the journey had to go on, since I had made up my mind to travel the whole day / night, I had reached Dibrugarh by midnight of the day when the Third Corner, the Eastern Corner was hurriedly conquered.

The journey from North Corner to East Corner was almost 4000Kms, which had been attained in 9 days from 30th June to 8th July.

Instead of basking in the glory of having achieved something big, The journey to the Southern Tip of the Country, Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, yet another 4000 Kms ride from here, was at the back of my mind.

The return journey through the same point where I had come from, the Difficulties faced in the middle of the night, new places visited, riding though the Naxal feared area in Andhra Pradesh, riding along-side the Bay of Bengal, the failure of GPS Tracker Device, conquering the 4 metropolitan cities of India before conquering the 4 Corners of India, finally reaching the Southern Tip; all in the next episode.

Next time: We will follow Chiranthana from the East corner (Tezu) to the South corner of India — the Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. With ever more interesting stories.

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