June is the start of LehLadakh season when the roads into the mighty mountains open. Most of my friends were riding there even this year, but having done that before I was looking out for something new, a new place where I have not ridden before, some new roads and new landscapes but something equally challenging and adventurous. I had heard a lot about ‘The Last Indian Village’ and ‘The Last Tea Shop’ so I decided to share the idea with Mr. VimalSumbly, General Manager Triumph India Motorcycles he was as excited as I was and gave me a heads up right away. This is about my ride, a ride which pushed my limits, a ride which tested my fatigue and endurance levels, a ride into the beautiful and untouched lands of Mana and Beyond, a journey to the last village of India.
New Delhi, June 8th 5:30 AM – Day 1: On the road with Triumph T100 the 856 CC Classic Motorcycle. I started with a lot of excitement as always thinking about the road ahead, miles ahead and the memories I make on each and every mile of a ride. Few hours into the ride I was lucky enough to be greeted by rain showers making the ride much more pleasant and beautiful. First stop – Haridwar at the famous Mohan walapuribaji, one of the best eateries in town. Avoiding the traffic on this day I took from Haridwar via HarkiPaurighat towards Shivpuri which bypasses all the traffic areas with one beautiful scenic jungle route next to river and a dam. Every time I come to Rishikesh this particular sign board interests me which shows the direction to Srinagar, the Uttarakhand Srinagar J
Detour of 30-40 km to PauriDhawralwas situated in-between a valley surrounded by greenery, flowers and mountains. Some special memories from here in the evening are the kids who came around me and asked for a short ride and the happiness I saw in them after the short ride are some of the little pleasures in life which cannot be described. The cold breeze from the mountains, clear skies, pleasant weather and a barbeque in the night, what more anyone needs for a perfect evening in the hills after a wonderful ride. Thanks to the leather jacket given by Triumph Motorcycles keeping me warm during the cold nights.
Day 2Badrinath- It was a unique experience alltogether when I rode along with many sikhs who were all heading to the HemkundSaahib, waving as we pass each other and stopping at times in one of the langars which were oraganised for food and water throughout the route. I started exploring the bike more when the tarmac started as I was getting more and more comfortable with the T100 Triumph Bonneville. With the hills on either sides, extremely beautiful roads, pleasant weather throughout I was making the most of it. I need to mention the tyres and the breaks which were a blessing on such a terrain. Having ridden the adventure bike Triumph Tiger in Rajasthan, I wanted to ride a classic this time in all road and weather conditions. After this ride I can say that I am completely happy about the bike handling or the performance apart from a minor horn issue which was easily rectified by a mechanic on the road.
Entering into Devbhoomiwas the highest point I have been to on a superbike. Even after those long hours of riding in the twisties I wasn’t tired at all. Everyplace here was so beautiful where I felt like to be there for more, stay still, capture those moments and to #Livelife. Once I reach my destination for the day which is Badrinath I had some hot glass of Kesar milk in lieu of my daily bournvita which I was missing since 3 days now. A quick visit to the temple in Badrinath where I saw prayers everywhere, people chanting and long queues. Talking to people in the queues while waiting for the turn of darshan, hearing about their stories, it was a place so religious and so spiritual. The temple was open till late night with people coming in throughout the world from all walks of life.
Day 3:Mana – A short morning ride of 5 KM from Badrinath and I was there at the Mana Village. It was an experience to see the places and views in real, the pictures of which have pulled me from so far. The sign board on which its written Last Indian Village. Mana the last village also offered some other interesting things. India’s last Tea Shop which is there since 30 years now run by a father who started it and now joined by the son. It’s nice to hear their stories and to how proudly they show all the paper clippings of this place. Another interesting thing here is the water from manasarovar lake which flows between the mountains as a little stream. When I heard that Mana village is also called as a stair way to heaven I had a mischief smile on me and thought to myself ‘I rode on the highway to hell and now I shall climb the stairway to heaven’
Recollecting some of my other memories, the kids or most of the people there in Mana village have no education and not seeing much in life. They are doing just routine what their ancestors have been doing since ages, don’t know most of the things happening around the world don’t even know that super bikes do exist in India. Can anything be done about it. I don’t know. I was sharing my stories how I am doing what I wanted to. Many questions but not many answers to it. Carrying all the good memories I left Mana at 12 in the afternoon to reach Rudraprayag by 6 pm in the evening.
Day 4: Rudraprayag – Himalayas aaye aur Ganga mein na nahaye , ye kaise hoga. A trek down 4-5 km from the hotel in Rudraprayag, had a dip in the Ganges along with breakfast and left at around 2:00 PM to reach Rishikesh. Hilly ride was steep, road patches were bad, raining at times and its getting tougher, last day was the toughest of all as we are coming down the hills. My horn wire broke which got fixed within minutes by a road side mechanic, I was surprised to learn that it was that easy. Though I am against honking but on the highways sometimes I have to as we don’t want to leave few things to others judgment on the road.
Day 5: 6:00 AM start of ride and reached Delhi by 12:00 in the noon. You know how it feels when the ride is ending. This ride was one of the most treacherous and challenging for me riding for more than 12 hours each day in the hills which tested both my physical as well as mental limits. Moments when the body starts to give up and rest but mind and heart wants more, a bit further more to the next place to see some more. I used to overcome all the fatigue as soon as I reach a new place, the excitement of the views and beauty around was so much to keep the adrenaline pumping all day everyday through the entire ride of 5 days and 1400 km. An Endurance Ride’ indeed was my ‘Mana and Beyond – Journey to the Last Village of India’