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Khardungla to Kanyakumari

By satyajitlimaye in Travelogues
Updated 15:38 IST Oct 08, 2016

Views » 263 | 16 min read

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This was something that had been on mind for over 2 years, but find time and the right team was eluding me until everything fell into place this year. The decision to proceed was taken in May, we decided to coincide the ride with SHR which is southern hog ride, one of the 5 hog rides held every year. Till then we had heard of stories of people completing Khardungla to Kanyakumari on bullets but not on Harley Davidson which made the ride sound more interesting and thrilling. We have had fellow hogs completing Khardungla earlier, but this ride of 4300kms across the country was epic. The thought of Khardungla always increased the adrenaline level and the thought of conquering the peak gave us sleepless nights.

So there we were Satyajit Limaye in Iron 883,   Vikrant Ghotge and Rohit Soni on Fatboy S and Siidharth Badamikar on his Street Bob. Trying to be the first guys to do it on a Harley.

Once the dates were set, planning started about route that had to be taken. The first thing we ruled out was travelling from Pune as this would add another 6 days to the travel plans. So it was confirmed that the hikes would be shipped from Pune, destination was again a part of debate, shrinagar, Leh, Manali. We made 2-3 alternative routes and taking inputs from our support team and fellow hoGs. We finalised on starting point of Leh and so the hikes were to be shifted to Leh. Departure date was decided for 1st September.With AMS being a major hurdle Leh was planned as a starting point and again we have to save on working days. We started speaking with Siddharth Tembe a close friend of mine on the weather conditions and the hostilities that we would face, Siddharth an adventure enthusiast settles for a couple of month in Leh in the season taking lots of groups on his adventure trips, he was accustomed to the region and the routes. He helped us with finalising the final routes and hotels. 

Only thing that hurt us was we couldn't accommodate Nubra Valley or Pangong lake in the schedule, I guess that's the way of Valley telling us that we "I await you". 

The next challenge was to find a capable transporter who would ship the bikes with care and in budget. Through references we got hold of Rohtasji. After discussing with him on Phone, I finally paid a visit to him, explained to him about the bikes, price was set. He also agreed to keep the truck there on waiting till the time we arrived of course we had to shell out more for it. We were happy that a major hurdle was sorted and we kept in touch with him throughout the June and July and reminding him. We had anticipated that he would take 15 days to reach Leh so the departure date of 15th August was finalised. One day this gentle man woke from his senses and said he wanted to see the bikes to plan. Which I directed him to go and Visit X Torque where all bikes were parked for 2 weeks for servicing and allied stuff to be covered in another chapter. I was busy in my work when this gentleman called with panic and was like " Bhai sab ap motorcycle bole, yeh toh 4 nano hai. Mere sai Nahi hoga." That's the last thing I wanted just to add this was on 13th August. So started out granting planning with last minute solutions. I called Tushar Nagarkar and requested him to speak with 2 River dealership to release 4 plates ( these are used to transport the bikes to local dealerships from their plants). Tushar and 2 Rivers obliged and made available the 4 plates with a fuss. I really thank both of them as without these the bikes would have been a mess. I had already sorted out a ramp from wastage lying on my site and with Rohit Soni chipping with the tie belts. 

The day of loading arrived and we planned to load the bikes in reverse, this really helped us while unloading the bikes, did take some efforts while loading but luckily we had enough hands. With the strapping well done and the bikes mounted on the plates, the transporter gave a sigh of relief and did compliment us that he had nver seen such kind of packing in his 40 years. Well it was a relief for us as they were our babies, and damn we cared for them more than him. So after a week of action the truck finally started on 21st August with an assurance that he would reach on 31st.

The two weeks before this went in preparing the bikes for ride, with a lot of help from Ak ( Abhijeet Khinvsara ) and his team. Tyres, clutch plates, servicing all was sorted, AK got the base plates fitted on all bikes. With the kind of terrain that we had heard through all this that was a good thing to do. Sagar, AK's technician gave us a crash course in basic maintainence. We were loaded with maintainence stuff with us, just a short list I would like to share.

1) compressor

2) Puncture Kits

3) oil cans

4) Spare visor

5) Stanley tool kit 

6) petrol pipe

7) Jerry cans

8) led torch

9) towing rope

10) spare clutch and brake levers

11) Fuse set

12) Bulbs

 

The final plan was 

1st Delhi

2nd Leh and rest to get acclimatised 

3rd Leh Kahrdungla- Leh

4th Khardungla- Jespa

5th Jespa- Manali

6th Manali

7th Manali - Rohtak

8th Rohtak- Udaipur

9th Udaipur-Pune

10th Pune - Bangalore

11th Bangaore- Kanyakumari 

With a lot of feedback from fellow riders, and reading a lot of blogs, one thing that got us scared was AMS. Due to this last minute we changed our plans and decided to go out a day earlier. Which I think was a good idea, I would surely advice people to go for two days of rest, if they are flying down. This helped us in unloading the bikes on the second day without any hassles. 

31st we reached Delhi with a dose of Diamox. The mood was all set and the nite ended early with couple of pints as we had a early flight to catch.

1st. Thanks to some efficient airlines we started on time and landed on time, the first things that caught our eye was the beautiful mountain range. We have always heard our pilot tell us that we are soaring at the altitude of 30000 ft, but to see land just below that with snow peaked mountains was absolutely breathtaking. 

At the airport to we were greeted with announcement of AMS does and don't and with boards all over the place that made us more conscious and we could fee our each breath trying to intake more oxygen as possible.

We were greeted outside by Gyalson out sarthi for the next 2 days, he would be on call and be there at the hotel with 10 mins of our call. The hotel Kidar is a family owned hotel managed by Jigmet Kidar and his ever helping support staff. He made our stay comfortable and ensured that we had everything that we require. These people do know the meaning of Atithi Devo Bhava. The hotel is a nice place with a kitchen garden and apple trees, which people from our part of country would be over joyous to see. Our room had a view of the stok range with the Stok peak visible clearly.

This place was already occupied with a lot of people from Maharashtra and some from Pune whom we be friended. They were doing the Leh'ed track as we understood later on which was round trip from Chandigarh to Chandigarh. 

First part of the day went is resting as we were advices by all and we managed to see back to back 3 Akshay Kumar movies. As a matter of fact all 3 days we ended up watching his movies.

Post lunch we decided to check on the bikes as the transporter had arrived on 31st as committed. Mr Superman Vikrant Ghotge tried to remove some luggage, but we started panting which made us realise that would not be a wise thing to do. Keeping as it is. We decided to visit some places recommended by Gyalson.

 The hall of fame dedicated to the services people and the those fought all the 3 wars in the region. We stand up with pride, looking at the stories and courage of these people............

Next on the list was Shanti Stupa located at an altitude gives us a complete view of the city of Leh and the road to Khardungla. 

The first shopping we did for the bikes were the Prayer flags which we were all fascinated with and gave us a sense of pride of being there done that. Leh due to its adventure location and activities has a lot of foreign tourist and the cuisines that are available. 

We decided to try Authentic Tibetan and after being recommended by our sarthi we tried The Tibetian Kitchen which I would say by far is one the best restaurants in Leh. Thupka and Momo's just outstanding. 

2nd. 

In the morning we were joined by Rohit Soni who got delayed but could finally join us on the ride. The ride would have been incomplete without him. 

Next stop bike unloading, Lucky for us we found a place next to the airport which was mechanical training institute, we managed to unload the bikes with their permission on a deck which matched the height of the truck. This made things really easy for us. 

Unfortunately the driver had played some mischief in the event damaging Rohit and Siddharth bike: it really hurts when ur babies get hurt and we could see from their faces. Nonetheless the bikes were good to ride Rohit had some starting trouble with the bike, but with the help of some student managed to start and charge the batteries. Leh has 3 petrol pumps and the possibility of they going dry is very high. So always tank up in advance. At the pumps also we managed to meet of lot of people from Pune on their bullets. Get and tips and sharing at every meet.

Lunch at Chopsticks and dinner at Lehed. The latter was good joint with great food. The owner is Korean and it showed in the dressings and food preparation.

3rd. D day had arrived, after completing a form from Jigmet, this has to be submitted at South Pullu and saved time too. As a precaution we carried a portable oxygen can. Incase, as he told us 5 in 100 face a problem and we didn't want to be amongst those 5. 

As was described the roads were not too great, slowly we managed our way up coming across cyclist and runners, at this point we felt like piece of Shit. Hats of to these guys. With Khardungla as a goal we decided to stop on our way back for all photo opps. The winding roads give a wonderful sight and every new turn brings you a different breathtaking scene. And finally there it was What a feeling of achievement after 2 hours there it was. Being told that not wait there for more than 20 mins, our timer started. With a group of British tourist already there under the board, we were just waiting for them to leave so that we can get done with it and start our journey back down. 

To our surprise all the Britishers were HoGS from Kent and were surprised to see Harley's on the top, they didn't waste any opportunity to get clicked with us. It was still more moment of pride for them. With a rush of tourist arriving we finished our photos we started on our way down. I would recommend next time any one is on top don't panic and take your time enjoy the moment and do remember to take a video which we forgot. Returning journey was relaxing with clicking on our way back. 

In the evening we got the fuel sorted with the jerry cans as there is no fuel pump for a distance of 350 Kms up to Tunda. 

I did face some issues with my bike due to the heavy breather. I would recommend to go for stock if any one does plan. 

4th.

We decided to ride out early in the morning but by the time we managed with the luggage and the jerrycans it was already 8. The road till pang top is not bad and scenic. The road takes you through the valley with the river flowing right beside you. This takes us to the second most highest pass at 17600ft TanglangLa. The road towards this are magnificent with some minor water crossings and we rode at the end of the season. We could feel our hands going numb, but kept on going and any extra time on top could start AMS on anyone of us. The road takes us through the 21 gataloops. We met a fellow rider on his 2 stroke bike riding all the way from Netherlands. On the way down we met a gentleman from Manali who introduced himself as Vivek. He rode from Calcutta to London in 1979 on his Yezdi. At a time of no cell phones and GPS. Truly remarkable. Having shared his stories we started on our way.

The first turn on the ghat to pang is ....... Of things to come. It took us 4 hours to reach Pang. With one can refilled and one can tore leaking all the petrol messed up our calculations The bumps in the road had taken the first casualty. A group of bullet riders helped us in sharing a can with us when we were discussing. The comadarie that is shared with all riders is truly remarkable. no religion, cast, nationality. Only one thing that binds all and that is riding. Truly remarkable

All across the road you will come across tents to stay with some small canteens serving Food. The information received from the bullet riders shook us and got the morale down a bit. They took 3 hours from Sarchu to Pang and 5 hrs from Sarchu to Jespa. This changed our calculations and we decided to take a halt at Sarchu. 

The road from Pang to Sarchu is just carved out from the mountains with we averaging at 20kms/hr. After travelling over these roads all other roads seemed like butter. We finally managed to reach Sarchu at 5 and started to look for tents. That's when our friend Vivek caught up with us and pushed us to go till Jespa, he told us the roads are as good as ever and we should be reaching by 8.

In the meantime I managed to get some petrol in black 1000bucks for 7 litres, at that point I guess that was also cheap. 

After discussing amongst us we finally decided to proceed for Jespa thinking that it's gang to icing on cake, but the first 2 hours were horandous with the roads to Barlacha as bad as the earlier patches and we were all cursing Vivek in our mind when he met us and apologised, saying that if he hadn't said that we would not have ventured ahead. But thinking in retrospect later it was good decision that we completed the journey, in that moment we managed to cover the distance much faster. Thanks to Vivek that was a major decision. 

Ibex was the hotel finalised at Jespa, good staff and did seem to be the transit point for a lot of riders. We met up with a group of 30 from Australia riding around Leh. And a family with a Lady in her 50's in her group amongst from Bangalore riding to Leh, the spirit never seems to end.

5th 

First thing first, petrol on our mind we had to reach tandi which was around 30kms from Jespa, the road takes you through scenic..... One would mistake this for any place in Swiss Alps. The road from Tunda to ....... Is good but the first 5 Kms were difficult to manage with loose soil and sludge........

After a break at.......... We started to ...... Rohtang Pass. Unfortunately my bike broke down with a problem that had occurred 6 months back. Luckily we found a tempo who readily agreed to take us to Manali, with 50 Kms to go to Manali..... I was lucky to find a tempo..... The road is Mansi is as beautiful as it gets with scene transforming from barren land to Forest due to increase in oxygen. As we riding in the end of season we missed the snow at the pass which is a trademark of Rohtang, but we're also lucky as we had to manoeuvre less streams which become a challenge.

In the meantime I managed to get across to Debanjit from Himalayan Harley who agreed to send a technician to Manali, with Rsa also contacted a back up plan was set. 

Next day the technician arrived early, he tried  his best but couldn't repair due to some missing tools, in the end has to shift the bike to Himalayan Harley. He agreed to reach early and keep the bike ready by the time we reached by noon. 

7th,

Sitting pillion is a different experience all by itself. A person who rides hardly would like to ride pillion, this rides takes us from Manali to Kullu, Mandi, to sunder agar where we stopped for breakfast. 

We happened to meet fellow HOG who advised not to travel through this road and take an alternative road from nerchowk towards Uni, which was to take 3 hours more, but the way he spoke of the condition of the road we were convinced to take the road he suggested. By after Siddharth suggested to proceed in same road he said things couldn't be as bad as earlier roads and we agreed. And as it turned out the road was far far better than any of the roads travelled earlier. Still it took us 8 hrs. Coming from higher altitude the heat started to get to us. By the time we reached Chandigarh we were drained completely. 

Luckily for us the bike was ready and they arranged to get all the bikes checked and washed before we proceeded further. Our heartfelt thanks to Debanjit roychowdhary, sandeep and the complete team for getting us back on the road. 

With good roads lying ahead of us we reached Rohtak in 3 hrs. 

8th. 

This road was by heart to us having done this quite a no of times before. We reached Udaipur well in time covering a distance of 750kms. 

9th.

Udaipur Pune is again one of our fav roads having covered this earlier in 12 hrs we were quite sure to reach Pune on time, trying to be  with the family for max time as possible. We reached Mumbai as planned, but the last 150 Kms took us 4 hrs getting stuck in torrential rains. Finally the rain gears were out and put to work. Another reason for pune night hat was that we had to get rid of the winter wear which had occupied most of our luggage space.

10th 

Once you come down the mountains, everything else seems boring and that's what happened with the balance journey to Kanyakumari. The roads as per as they could get, but then what else can u do after cruising at 120kms, we decided to stretch a  bit and end our ride at Hosur. 

11th 

Final day: with the goal in site we started well of in the morning, the road from Chandigarh till Manali was more like a competition between states as to who had the best ride, and I wil say Tamil Nadu has the best infrastructure with proper signagages and barricades at appropriate places making a bikers life far more comfortable: the approach to Kanyakumari felt like a countdown 100kms onwards. Wind farms on both side of the road put you in awe riding into the horizon gives you a ....... Of areas where it is raining and dry areas and you just we just wished that we could travel through drier patches. 

Touch down on Kanyakumari was ecstatic, 8 days of riding 4292 Kms finally got us to our goal, Gods Grace, Family backing and The rite guys by your side is a correct receipe for a good adventure. 

Next ride W2E. 

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