Monday, 26 December 2016

Mumbai To Goa Diary

Counting down days was never this difficult. Afterall, a long cherished dream of a solo bike trip to Goa (from Mumbai) was finally going to turn into reality.
The route of choice was obvious - coastal road offering amazing visuals with hills on one side and sea on the other and cool breeze in dense foliage of ghats to soothe you when away from sea view. It just can’t get better than this. 
For the uninitiated, there are 4 route options: 1) NH4 (Mumbai – Pune – Kolhapur – Goa) – best quality road and fasted way to reach but at the same time uneventful (no fun of riding in ghats, no sea view). 2) NH17 (Mumbai – Chiplun – Ratnagiri – Goa) – nearly perfect roads with added fun of riding in ghats though no sea view 3) Sagari Maha Marg – Essentially a mix of NH17 and MSH4 which offers quite good roads with sea views for certain short stretched 4) Rider’s route (I call it so) – A mix of MSH4 and village roads - Surprisingly good roads with minimal traffics and amazing sea views, also passes through all the touristy and adventurous spots.
After spending few sleepless nights over excitement, bike servicing and seat remodeling, I left for the journey on 20th November morning at 2:30 AM after tying down my big backpack on the rear seat and another bag strapped to my shoulders. Unexpectedly, the adventure of the journey began quite early as the strings holding the big backpack loosened up. The big backpack fell on the road and was being towed away (thank to the strings). As soon as I realized this, I stopped and walked towards the backpack, half expecting serious damage to my camera, handycam, and other stuff. Thankfully, the damage was limited – corner of my mobile charger kept in a side pocket was smoothened by the road. I decided to keep the big backpack on the tank in my full view and headed towards Vashi bridge to exit Mumbai. TIP: Use bungi chords or even better invest in custom touring bags, it is worth the peace of mind and convenience.
Day 1
Mumbai – Mangaon – take right – Morba – Ghonse – Mhasala – Diveagar – Shrivardhan – Harihareshwar – Bagmandla  ferry – Bankot – Velas – Kelshi – Aade – Anjarle – Harnai – Ladghar – Burondi – Dabhol – Anjanwel – Guhagar – Hedavi – Tavsal jetty – ferry to Jaigad – Malgund – Ganpatiphule.
Drive from Mumbai to Mangaon (150 kms) was completed by 5:00AM and then I turned right at Mangaon to Diveagar as I wanted to catch the sunrise. To my utmost pleasant surprise, these internal roads were in (s)potless condition. So much so that, I half expected the good road to end soon, only to be proven wrong as I rode further. As I learned later, the roads were laid in last two years and had weathered two good monsoons (these contractors should be asked to build Mumbai roads).
As I rode closer to the sea, the road turned curvier adding to the fun of early morning drive. With near absent traffic and potless smooth roads, I let down my guard and drove like a maniac enjoying every twist and turn. Philosophically speaking, I was inspired to take all the ups and down, twists and turns of life with same enthusiasm. This warm-up riding on curves was of great help in rest of the journey. As the first rays of sunrise hit the tera firma, I passed through a cute little village (Deoghar Kond) settled along a small river. The view was captivating and I stopped by to take first of the many serene pics of the journey.
At Mhasala (30km from Mangaon), I had a choice – either to head straight to Shrivardhan and thus skip Diveagar OR take a detour to Diveagar and then head to Shrivardhan. What the heck !!! I said, no way I am gonna skip anything outta laziness. And I am happy I made that choice as the 9-10 km stretch of road hugging the sea (between Diveagar and Kondvil Beach) took my breath away. Nature had colored the place beautifully with dry light yellow grass adorning hills on my left, interspersed with black rocks, light blue sky in front of me and dark blue sea below on my right. I decided to stop at a beautiful spot to take some snaps as I was approached by couple of police man equipped with AK-47.
Something was amiss, AK-47 laced policemen doing nakabandhi in such an isolated place? I learned later that entire Maharastra state was on high alert as there were intelligence inputs of a terrorist incursion via sea route and hence the bandhobast all along the coastal places with a jetty. And a solo biker loaded with bags taking snaps was enough to arouse suspicions in their minds. After satisfying them that I was no terrorist and displaying my identity proofs, I continued my ride and soaked in the nature.
At end of this serene stretch along the sea, the road descended to Aravi beach – a clean beach with no one in sight (which is true for most beaches in Maharastra). I passed by Walavati Village and took a shortcut to Shrivardhan. I stopped by for tea near the beach and conversed with the chaiwalah for directions (in our separate versions of marathi) to Harihareshwar – my next stop 20 kms away. Harihareshwar is home to a famous temple of Lord Shiv right on the beach offering an amazing side view of the beach. Since the temple is frequented by many followers, there are many stay facilities to choose from and local eateries lining up the street leading to the temple. While the beach hasn’t got much to offer, the real appeal of the place is the route of pradakshina which takes you around an adjoining hill through the rocky shore. The steeped canyon offers a breathtaking aerial view of waves thrashing on rocks and turning into pristine white froth – beautifully contrasting with dark black rocks. A must see place for believers in god or atheists like me.
Came out of the temple, had a hot and spicy wadapav and then headed to bagmandla jetty to cross over to Vesavi in a ferry (there are 2 jetties, use Jungle jetty which is used for bigger bikes and cars). As expected I was stopped, questioned, frisked and let go by policemen at the jetty. A common reaction (after satisfying themselves that I am not a terrorist) was the expression of awe and thrill about my ride plan. In a way I too envied them for being posted on such amazing location for the bandhobast although they had contradictory view on the matter. Disembarked the ferry at Veshavi and the police routine followed.
After sharing my travel plans with yet another policeman, I took a right to pass through a fishing village before entering a dense mango orchard – so dense that sunlight barely managed to reach the road. While I missed the sea view, the cool breeze under blissful shadow of mango tress was equally soothing to senses. This affair with mango orchards lasted well through my next destination - Kelshi (a detour of 30kms on road as work of a bridge has been stalled for years which would cut down the journey to barely 2 kms). But no hard feelings, riding is what I was there for and the road was in perfect motorable condition with no vehicles to speak of. I gave Kelshi beach a skip and continued riding through coastal villages (Aade and Padale). Most of the beaches I had seen so far were totally empty with not a single soul in the view giving that ‘untouched’ feel. I so wished I had a beach facing cottage where I would just lazy around under soothing shadow of trees for hours, bathe in pristine blue waters and trade in stocks for a living. As I was busy weaving my dreams, nature had yet another surprise for me in store. A turn on the sea-hugging road placed me at a strategic angle where I could see a beach full of sea-gulls. It was completely secluded beach and so it took some time to search an access path to the beach. Once I found it, I hid my entire luggage in a bush nearby and went crazy clicking pics. Sea-gulls seems to be shy by nature coz as I drew closer (to compensate for lack of zoom in my kit lens), they flew away to the other end of the beach. I returned back to my bike hoping I get a good angle at the southern end of the beach where all the sea gulls seemed to have gathered. It was as if God read my thoughts, coz the southern end of the beach was buzzing with sea-gulls and yes I did get an amazing clear view. After clicking to my heart’s content, I thumped ahead towards Dabhol.
By the time I crossed the Dabhol creek in ferry, it was 6:00PM and I realized that I was running well behind the schedule. As per my original plan, I was supposed to reach Ganpatiphule to capture the sunset. The sun had already set as I climbed down the platue into ghats. The dense foliage and empty roads, which makes the ride such a fun during the day, can be a big disadvantage in the dark especially if you are driving solo. Given the Winter season, sun sets early by (6:30PM) and it gets quote dark even more early if you are in ghats (as early as 6:00PM).
I had 100 km odd journey ahead of me before I reach Ganpatiphule, which included crossing a creek in ferry (I wasn’t aware of timings). Good thing was, although I had been riding since 230 AM, there was no sign of sleep in my eyes as the rush of adrenaline was keeping me alert in negotiating the curvy roads in complete darness. After riding for another hour and half in through the pitch dark forest, the sight of some lights at a distance was heartwarming as I badly needed a time down, directions and info on ferry timings before I proceeded further. I was relieved to know that the last ferry from Tavsal jetty would leave at 10:30 PM and even if I rode leisurely for the remaining 40 kms I would reach in time to catch the 9:30 PM ferry.
A gentleman insisted I rode along with him so I make the right choices at forks/junctions. While he was riding quite slow for a local (may be thinking in my interest), I was not in a big hurry now as I had rest of the journey planned in my head. He guided me through half of the remaining 40km stretch and then asked me to just follow the main road to jetty. I pushed on the gas and soon
I halted at Tavsal Jetty around 8:45 PM. I was hungry as hell and was happy to see couple of shops open at the jetty at that hour. The next ferry was to leave at 9:30PM and so I had loads of time to relax and hog the local delicacies. The policeman at the jetty, rather than interrogating me, was curious about my travel plans which I happily shared. He willingly shared the route I need to follow after crossing over the jetty, which I dutifully memorized as I was not sure I would see another soul to ask for directions. By then, the missal pav was served on my table. Honestly, no lounge of a 5 star hotel can match the rustic and yet mesmerizing setting of the joint which was perched on the creek. I dug into spicy missal pav, enjoying the reflection of lights on the creek before me. An occasional fishing boat heading home would send ripples in the creek, producing lazy wave sound as the ripples hit the shore. After finishing off missal pav, I had a chilled kokum soda over a hearty chat with another shop owner. Throughout the journey so far, I had not sensed even a trace of animosity from locals which was bit of a surprise given the experiences in Mumbai. After promising the shopkeeper to meet again, I rode the bike onto ferry. The ferry ride was fun and as we neared the jetty at the opposite coast, the view was further beautified by galaxy of lights from the fishermen’s huts spread on the slope of the hill and the mammoth power plant of Jindal group atop. After reaching the Jaigad coast the remaining journey was just about 20kms but it seemed like never ending as I rode on the plateau in pitch dark, partly coz all I wanted to do was get some sleep and partly coz there was no sign of any village far into the horizon. Even in such isolated place, I saw many people waiting for transportation at junctions. I helped out as much as I could and at end of what seemed like an eternal ride, I reached Ganpatiphule at around 9:30PM. Philosophically speaking, its all in the mind. I had travelled +400kms during the day and had so many breath taking moments along the way without getting tired and it was this last 20kms which felt like a never ending drive.

Finding a place to stay in Ganpatiphule is quite easy, it being a popular tourist destination. There is a multitude of home stays to choose from and that too at really affordable rates (from Rs500 to Rs1000 per night). After a cold and refreshing shower, I strolled through the main bazaar of the town to relax my legs a bit. After having a hot cup of tea, I returned back to hotel to call it a day. But sleep wasn’t easy to come by with my nervous system awash with adrenaline. All I had in mind for the day was 450kms of riding through the ghats but the day turned out to be far better than anything I had expected. I kept revisiting the breathtaking scenery in my mind… me thumping along the road on the hill with sea roaring below … the beach full of sea-gulls … the aerial view of harnai beach … the cool breeze of mango orchards … the missal by the creek … and the thrill of negotiating the curves in ghats. Best part is, the fun was yet to begun as for the next day, I was to ride only 170kms  - just about 5-6 hours with rest of the time for exploring places and capturing them in my cam. Finally, I had to bore myself to sleep by watching Marathi news channel.
Day 2
Ganpatiphule – Ratnagiri – Pawas – Purnagad - Gaonkhadi – diversion to Kasheli for Kanakaditya Temple – Wadapeth - Nate - Bakale - Mithgavne - Jamsandhe - "Devgadh fort/Beach" - Kunkeshwar - Munage - Achra Beach - Malvan - Tarkarli Beach - Devbag Beach.
I was up quite early (by 630AM), got fresh and got down in search of breakfast. Village life typically starts early but finding an eatery open surprisingly took some time. I munched down a big serving of Kanda poha with perfectly brewed tea and helped myself with another round of tea accompanied by buttered toast. With pet puja done, I was raring to start the journey. As I left Ganpatiphule behind me and thumped up the hill, I stopped by at a majestic curve to soak in the morning air and awe-inspiring aerial view of Bhandaphule beach below. After climbing down the hill to the beach and passing through a sleepy hamlet, as I rode uphill again I was excited about the next view nature would unfold after the approaching curve. Before me was a long and wide stretch of Aare and Ware beaches with wet sand shining like a glass in morning sunlight. I was tempted to go on the beach to capture some early rising sea-gulls but decided against it in interest of time-discipline.
Few kms ahead, I crisscrossed through the narrow lanes of Ratnagiri town and then riding on MSH4 I passed by Pawas, Purnagadh, Gaonkhadi and couple of cozy fishing villages doting the creeks. After Purnagadh creek, the MSH4 took me away from the sea view and onto a plateau. All along the way I followed signboards carrying name of my next destination - ‘kanakaditya temple’ and veered away from MSH4 and the scorching heat into cool embrace of thick ghat foliage on a tiny but well laid road. It was fun riding through the dense ghats punctuated by small cozy huts, so much so that I wished the road would never end. Soon enough, I reached a clearing in middle of this forest and in front of me was Kanakaditya Temple, tucked away deep into ghats near Kasheli village. I killed the engine and parked my bull in the shade and then the serenity of the place dawned on me. I enjoyed the bliss of cool breeze from the dense foliage and a symphony of bird sounds with a glass of refreshing kokum sharbat at the shop run by an enterprising local lady – the only shop I had seen since I left MSH4.
As I entered the temple premise, I noticed that external appearance of the temple was indeed unusual. It resembled a Konkani house of village head and was far different from the typical domed structures we are used to. The entire ground in verandah was laid using local rocks though quite neatly without taking away the rustic appeal. After washing my hands and feet at a well nearby, I stepped into the shade in front of the temple and marveled at the colorful paper decoration on the ceiling and exquisite carvings on the pillars. I offered my prayers and after a small aarti, I was back in the shade soaking in the serenity and peace of the place. The floor of the shade was laid with polished kotastone and was cool even as sun was bearing down on the place. A gentleman, who was auditor of the temple, was kind enough to share history of the place.
The deity of God Aditya (one of the names of God Sun) was brought from Prabhas Pattan Sun temple more than 900 years ago. It is believed that when Gujarat was under attack by mughals, the idol was smuggled out in a boat headed South. When the boat was passing through the Kasheli region, the boat stopped and refused to budge. The boatman decided to place the deity of God Aditya in a cave on the coast near the village. Much later, the idol was found by local ruler who formally constructed a temple. The temple has in its custody a 900 year old tamra patra (a brass plate) which mentions about existence of the temple and hence the temple is atleast 900+ years old though exact age is not known. While I am not much of a temple person, this temple enchanted me by its peace and serenity and I didn’t feel like budging from my seat. In fact, the temple was not in my original agenda but I included it to get a route plan for “the cove with a cave”.
After getting a fair idea of the route, I began my trek through the coastal forest and reached the top of plateau – a flat bed of black rocks punctuated by dry grass. As I approached the edge of the plateau, the view of the sea below took my breath away. It was so captivating that I considered changing my travel plans so I can spend more time here. I continued to walk along the edge of the plateau towards right and then descended to the cute little cove below. After spending some time sitting at the mouth of the cave marveling at the crystal clear aqua blue water and the cove, it was time to move ahead although my heart was far from being content. I promised myself to visit this place again and spend a full day at the beach.

The trek and the peaceful time at the temple had set me back on my schedule, though completely worth, it meant skipping all the remaining plans enroute and hitting Tarkarli by 5:00 PM so as to capture the sunset.

By now my confidence of driving on ghat curves was up manifolds which came handy in the non-stop journey of 100kms to Malvan. I made it to Malvan by 2:00PM and stopped by at a much recommended restaurant to hog down on fresh sea food for lunch. I hit the road again and passed by Tarkarli beach to reach Devbag beach by 5:00 PM. After little bit of searching, I settled down for Siddhivinayak Home stay as they serve amazing food and have rooms bang on the beach – all these for just 700 bucks per night. After rejuvenating cold shower, I sipped on a perfectly made hot cup of tea under the rustic shade facing the sea.
After instructing the cook about the dinner, I stepped down on the beach to enjoy the sunset. With handycam set to capture the vivid colours and moods of sunset, I just sat down next to it on the beach for next couple of hours watching the sun go down behind the rocks on the horizon. By the time I went back to the shade to have another cup of tea with half fry, a group of adventurous riders too had arrived (all from Ahmedabad). There was no point wasting time in the room so I went back to the beach to chat with fishermen returning home with their first catch. It was surmai season, I was told, and fishing usually starts in evening around sunset and first catch is delivered around 900 PM. The reason behind fishing in night is that the clear sea water of Malvan makes it easy for fish to spot the net and thus avoid it. By the time I was called for dinner, I had learned a lot about fishing and had developed a good rapport with the young fisherman. He promised me to take me fishing at night.
After a typical Malvan surmai dinner, I had setup a table on the beach to have a couple of beers. The whole scenery was out of a dream. With moonlight drizzling over the sea, cool breeze of winter night and wave sound for background score, I couldn’t ask for more. At around 11:00 PM, the friendly fisherman invited me to join him on a fishing trip and I was more than glad to experience it. After going a little deeper in to the sea, fishing net was laid and then we just sat in the boat and enjoyed a couple of smokes. The waves gently rocked the boat as we sat chatting and smoking with moon above us and lights of fishing village at a distance. As they began pulling the fishing net back to boat, I could see fish glistening in moon light. When we returned to the shore, I thanked them for the experience and they thanked me in return as they had a good catch on the trip and thought I was lucky for them. Another cold shower bath and I was sleeping like a log.
Day 3
Tarkarli Beach – Chipi – Parule Village – Nivati Beach – Return to Parule Village – Mhapan – Wayangani – Vengurla – Shiroda – Redi - Goa
I woke up next morning quite early, around 5:00 PM and got ready to capture the beauty of sunrise. After loading all my gear in the bag, I begun the long walk towards end of the beach, known as sagar sangam – a beautiful place where the river met the sea. By the time I reached there, the eastern sky was awash with dark blue hues. I setup my handycam and went crazy clicking with my DSLR to make sure I don’t miss the constantly evolving color of sky.
Satisfied with photography and some quite time on the secluded beach, I returned back to my room to pack. After a sumptuous breakfast of rice dosa and sweet & spicy coconut chutney, I thanked the owner of the place and left for the most awaited destination of the trip – a dreamy and nearly unknown beach with clear azure water, Nivati beach. I opted for a short cut, more with a view to enjoy the rural stretch rather than to save time as I was barely 70kms away from Goa and I was in no hurry to reach there. Cruising along the backwaters of Malvan, I passed by prawns farms (surprisingly most workers were from Chattishgarh or UP). The good part of riding through the village roads in Malvan is one doesn’t have to fear about puncture as there are no thorny plants in the coastal region.
After joining the road, I passed by Chipi Bridge and rode uphill to reach on top of the plateau – an absolutely flat land covered with dry grass as far as eyes could see. Sindhudurg Airport is being developed on this plateau. After riding through this beautiful stretch, the road winded down into all-too-familiar-ghats. At Parule village I took a right turn and continued the ride in ghats. The road from thereon is fairly straight forward with just one fork (left to nivati and right to bhogawe beach). Some more pleasant ride and the road came to a dead end at Nivati Village. I just wanted to enjoy the place so I entrusted my luggage to the only shop in the village. Quite frankly, I don’t think its possible to describe the place in words so I am not even going to make an attempt. I will let the pictures speak and as they say a picture is equal to 1000 words. I have tried to capture the entire place in 25-30 pics and many videos.
After spending a good 4-5 hrs on Nivati beach, I had to literally forced myself out of the place. But I promised myself to spend a full day at this place and with that in mind inquired about stay facility etc. Something had changed inside me after visit to this place. The mind had become so calm, composed and happy that I carried a constant smile on my face for rest of the day. In this ‘cloud 9’ state of mind, I rode through the ghats for another 40 kms to reach Vengurla. The beauty of this place matched that of Nivati beach – the only difference being it didn’t have that secluded feel to it as Vengurla beach is surrounded by the town. Again, I will let the pictures speak for themselves. By the time I left Vengurla, I realized that I have left a part of my soul at Nivati beach and I will have to come back to fetch it some other day. With mind at complete peace, idea of entering a touristy place like Goa was not appealing. If I had not done the hotel bookings in Goa, I would have loved to stay back in Vengurla and Nivati. With a heavy heart and a promise to return soon I entered Goa. God had other plans for me in Goa ;).

To know on cooking receipes visit my friends blog, To visit CLICK HERE  
To know more in cricket blog stories check out another link CLICK HERE

Great Things Happen When You Do Crazy Things

We decided to Challenge our physical and mental strength by making Stretch riding part of our next getaway; oh yeah we’re ready to shake up our routine and challenge the adventurer within us.
New breed of thrill-a-marathon riding. We decided to do a 600 kms ride in 10 hours...HYDERABAD – NAGARJUNA SAGAR – SRISAILAM – HYDERABAD. For non-conventional bikers like us , trying extreme riding like this may be intimidating, but venturing out of your comfort zone ramps up your personal fun quotient, satisfies your urge to explore and offers a rugged new riding challenge. Well what did we do? We fully loaded our bike tanks the night before and prepared cutting-edge gear for a wild escapade like this. In Ramnna’s words..."NO HARM IN TRYIN & STRECHING." Harsha believes in 3 pointers; do not stop me from Biking, Photography & Spirited drinks and to me “Bike riding is a midlife-crisis Passion, “I was Plodding through average, everyday life doing my job, caring for my family “Motor bike riding gave me new energy. All this added to and then there’s the thrill factor: We kicked off our 600km journey at 6.00 am …First break point was Nagarjuna sagar which is 205 kms away from Hyderabad. We have planned quite a few rides in the past to Nagarjuna sagar with lot of breaks, but this trip offered new challenges: The road itself was not our destination, and we had to reach specific locations to do the adventurous ride. Reached Nagarjuna Sagar by 8.10 our first pit shop to break the fast. During breakfast we caught up with our usual biker gossips & state politics.

8.45 am Kicked off from Nagarjuna sagar towards Srisailam which is 189 kms. This terrain we were about to cover was unknown to us. We witnessed lot of virgin rivers and over lonely passes which are often overlooked. But this trip offered new challenge like 70 kms of thick forest road to ride on.

Our second stop a Srisailam sikara top most point AT 1.30 PM …it was almost lunch by than …Hunger, tiredness, butt ache, cramps surrounded us after burning all those calories by just riding aimlessly. For us stretch riding is all about exploring the destination, not imbibing the local flavor, nor picking up conversations with people and of course, not indulging in food. It was pure Riding & that too hard riding! We haggled for a while after lunch and finally moved on towards our final destination which was Hyderabad. The dam greeted us. The mountains beckoned us. The weather was just hot. Standing against the dam, it was the perfect backdrop for a selfie. A lot of tourists would like to venture out into the mountains, go on dam site, visit local temples and drink in the beauty of the landscape. All we wanted to do was to Ride the beast. We rode through the forest, countryside and little villages with traditional homes.

As we headed to Hyderabad. This time, the sun decided to give us company. As we rode, it was a feast to the eyes and ears. There is really nothing like the thump of a bullet. Back at the Hyderabad by 6.00 pm Challenge 600kms accomplished, time to celebrate the evening with music, food and wine. Sipping the chilled beer, I was high as I swayed to the beats and plunged into a mood of revelry and fun. Stretch riding may sound different and crazy to people, but this ride surely touches the soul and leaves you refreshed. That’s when my Junior (OJ) asked me when I was back home …where have u been …I smiled and said… Great things happen when you do crazy things!!
Take a Bow Ramana & Harsha for being a part of this Crazy stuff. Next time, do nothing on your holiday and let the stretch ride seep into our bones.

A Way Long Journey

My riding journey started when I was 14 years of age. I still remember the day my dad taught me how to ride. It was Hero a honda splendor. I was always fascinated with bikes and riding to different places that time.
My father was a very enthusiastic rider and observing him and the places, I slowly started developing my interest towards riding. But I did not have much opportunity to buy a bike till I joined my first job. He bought me a Hero Honda Karizma R a 223 CC Engine, which was a big bike for me. As days passed, I got used to the bike. Then I started fulfilling my riding dreams slowly by doing short rides initially for 300Kms, 400 and then 600 Per day. I use to enjoy the freedom, speed and feel of the wind while riding, but the ride was just for a day and ride is over, destination reached! I wish I could continue riding on and on. My passion continues and just to ride different places I move around places and change my job every year.

I heard and read about people in the riding world on motorbikes and stuff but, I thought my bike is not suitable for such rides and I was just an amateur rider. But, one fine day on December 12th I was just searching for Long distance riding on Karizma at google, lol! I found an article about Mr. Bharadwaj Dayala who did alone around the world on Karizma R. After reading the complete article, the very next moment I learnt that I have one of the best bikes. Wow! That feeling….. Then, I opened another google tab and started looking at India Map, and thought how about Kanyakumari to Kashmir, which was also my dad’s dream to ride. Then, I saw the Golden Quadrilateral map, which was connecting all major cities of India East, West North South. It was really wonderful feeling just to think about riding GQ. But from where and how to start? I did not know anything about Riding gears, Just knew about wearing helmet. I started doing a lot of research on internet. Read many articles and saw youtube videos. Okay now I just learnt what all are actually required to ride a motorcycle. Still I had half knowledge. I was excited and told all my friends about The GQ ride solo, few of my friends didn’t understand what it is ! But they still said Wow man awesome. Lol, then my roommates said will you come back? Alive? I was like,!!!!!
Okay I should speak to people who really understand what I am talking about. Then, I spoke to a friend (Raviteja) who is a bike enthusiast and recently did Leh Ladakh. He was the first who actually understood what I am talking about. He helped me with what all needs to be taken care with respect to riding gears and other stuff. Then, I connected with The Bike Guru of India Mr. Dilip Bam, after writing to his blog, he responded and we met. That time I understood, I have knocked the right door. I made an Itinerary, budget plan and other preparation. Bam Sir, made few changes in budget and regarding tools and spares to be purchased. Then he approved my plan for doing it in 9 days, I also got in touch with Biking record holder Devjeet  Saha at Pune. He gave me great help and motivation. Now, the main challenge starts, making a budget and saving it. I am an US MNC employee, working night shifts. But, slowly started buying proper riding gears from top to bottom, I did not compromise with the quality of riding gear and started saving for the ride. I applied for leave at my office in the month of January and they approved it for April. Wow! That was a long wait, every single day I get dreams about the destinations, engine oil changing, riding, and all related to GQ. It was struck at my sub conscious mind badly. So now the wait was over the day had finally come it was 5th of April.

Day1 Mumbai- Haveri (620 Kms) 5th April 2015
I decided to start early in the morning at 5 AM from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, I reached Pune at 7:30 AM and met Dilip Bam Sir, had a small chat with coffee and from there I left at 8:30 towards Hubli Karnataka. At 11:30 I crossed satara and It was super hot. Every 1 hour tried to grab a sugarcane juice and water. Pune to Bengaluru Highway NH4 was awesome, at 2 PM I crossed Maharastra border and Entered Karnataka, at 3PM suddenly I met Devjeet saha as he was also doing his Bun burner ride on Hero Splendor. We just had a 5 minute chat and he left as he was on a race, I was not. I reached Hubli at 5 PM, But I planned to ride another hour till 6 and reached Haveri at 6:30 and that day I did total 620 Kms. Took a nice lodge in the city for 900INR and took rest for the day. I had called up all my friends and well-wishers to inform them & they were happy with my good start that day. Took a nice shower and went to sleep.
Day-2 Haveri – Chennai (662 Kms) 6th April 2015
It was nice cold early morning at Haveri. I checked out of the hotel room and did my basic bike check like headlights, indicators, horn, engine oil and tyre pressure. Loaded my saddle bag and started towards Chennai via Bengaluru, at 7:30 AM I had my breakfast at Kamath hotel. After riding few kilometers I saw a tea stall & wanted a hot tea desperately, so had to make a U turn there. I made the turn and the very next moment my bike fell down. I escaped safe but there starts the drama. I was trying to lift my bike for 5-10 minutes and totally failed. That moment I realized the actual weight of my bike with luggage. Lol, finally got help from a tea stall guy. Huh! Then I was very careful during curves and turns. At 11:45 AM I reached Bengaluru and had to cross the city and go towards Hosur. It took me 2 hours to cross the city, No way had I expected this much traffic, but I was particular about the GQ road as I dint want to take any other route.  It was almost 2 PM I crossed the Karnataka border and then the actual Summer heat began from Tamil Nadu. Wow! awesome heat close to 45 degrees. I was only on liquids that complete day, electral solution helped me a lot while riding in hot conditions.
I crossed Sriperumbudur at 5PM and entered Chennai city by 6:30 PM and faced huge traffic again. I wanted to take halt at Red Hills, so that it will be easier for me to escape the city during mornings. So, took my route towards Redhills, I stopped at a place and was having a juice and local people were asking me where the hell are you coming from I replied, Mumbai. The old man was WHAT?? He immediately said, there is no route to Chennai from Bombay. WHAT? I just said Bye to him. No more discussion can be done with him. Lol. So I was on my way to Red Hills and I saw a Hero showroom opened at 7:30 PM. I immediately took my bike to them and explained the manager about my ride and requested them to do a basic servicing for my bike. I changed engine oil, chain tightening, brake adjustment and tyre pressure with Nitrogen. I asked them about the bill, they simply said no need, It’s for free and they wished me luck for the ride. I felt very happy. Finally, reached Red Hills at 8:30 PM and took a nice hotel room for the night stay.

Day 3: Chennai- Guntur (420 Kms) 7th April 2015
Woke up at 5 Am in the morning and started my basic stretches and exercises for 30 minutes, Did basic check for the bike and geared up and started at 6 AM towards Guntur (My home town) situated on NH5.
NH5 is always special for me, not only because of the roads but also many old memories of my rides. I reached Andhra boarder at 7:00 AM at TADA. Saw, AP registered vehicles moving besides me, that moment was really awesome. Don’t know but I always feel good when I see my own hometown state registered vehicles. The roads were excellent. Some places here and there were diversions for Six lane work. I had my breakfast at local highway dhaba at Nellore. The best part was the food I was enjoying at every place. The flavors and the different types of ingredients used for making the same dish but you always feel the local taste. If you are a foodie, you know what I am talking about. I reached Ongole at 10:30 AM, had 3 tender coconut water and started towards Guntur. I reached my home at 12:30 noon and took rest for that day. The main reason for the halt at Guntur was to meet my parents and friends. I haven’t seen them since almost a year. That moment was special, when I met them and spent some great time chatting about the journey.
Day 4: Guntur – Bhubaneshwar (816 Kms) 8th April 2015
Woke up at 5 AM, as usual did my basic exercises and regular bike checkups and started towards Bhubaneshwar. It was a very emotional moment for me with a sendoff from my parents. I crossed Vijayawada and reached Eluru, had a nice breakfast and continued towards Vishakapatnam via Rajahmundry. Places and sceneries at Rajahmundry were awesome, as I was riding between coconut trees on the highway full of greenery. I reached Vishakapatnam at 1:30 PM and had my lunch after crossing the city. Then I started riding towards Icchapuram, which is the border for Odisha. I crossed the border at 4 PM and then, it was a complete new world for me because I never had been to Odisha. It was really calm and little isolated too. I was riding towards Bhubaneshwar via Berhampur. Initially as per my itinerary Berhampur was the stop for the day, but a few of my close friends advised not to stay in that location as it was not safe.
I soon realized they were right as I could not find a lodge in that location, so I continued riding. After sunset, It became dark and to my surprise there was not even a street light in the villages. People were moving out with torches and other lights, this is not the case with one village but all. Till Bhubaneshwar not even a single village had a street light. That was little scary, I was thinking what if my bike breaks down. I was just praying and then heavy rain started to pour. I decided that this was not the place to stop at all. I had to reach Bhubaneshwar at any cost. So, was riding slowly and reached Bhubaneshwar at 9 PM. Huh that was a ride covering 820 Kms. My bike was literally crying for rest. I took a halt at a small budget hotel and ordered some local food, like dal and rice and roti and crashed on bed.

Day 5: Bhubaneshwar- Howrah (430 Kms) 9th April 2015
Woke up at 5:30 AM, I did my regular routines like always. Bike and body was to be kept fit for the ride to continue on daily basis. I started towards Howrah- Kolkata, Had a tea at Cuttack and I could not stop myself from asking the tea maker about the conditions in Odisha. He explained me very nicely that except Bhubaneshwar and Cuttak almost all places are not so developed. He was absolutely right. They have temple at every corner of the street and they were really worth visiting. I started towards Kharagpur, and then the bad roads start. Six lane work was under process. So many diversions and gravel roads. I felt some change in my bike speed, it was dropping suddenly. I stopped my bike aside and checked for the issue. Finally I found a small pin from carburetor that came out and fell. This pin is the very important part. I was very very lucky that I did not fall on road as it was in the Engine. The spring attached to the pin was gone. So I immediately made a phone call to a mechanic at Mumbai and asked him what to do. He advised me to insert the pin and screw it tightly and asked me not to stop the bike till I find a Proper mechanic. I followed his instructions and continued riding for another 60 Kms and then found a Honda service center, there I got my bike serviced and got the carburetor pin tuned with digital meter. But, could not find spring for the pin, so he asked me to run few more kilometers and check with Hero service center people situated on the highway. I showed the Hero service people and they managed to arrange a spring and got it fixed.
It was almost 2 PM and I was supposed to cover 350 more kms, so did not want to waste my time anymore with halts and started riding towards Howrah. I reached Bengal area at 4:30 PM and stopped for a tea. I was talking to few lorry drivers and they started making me scared with their stories of local gangs and other robbery. They advised me to take a lodge inside the city but not on the highways. I reached Howrah at 6:30 PM and searched a lot for a lodge for 30 minutes and finally found a big hotel called Oasis, on the Highway. I did not want to enter the city because of the traffic, it was horrible riding inside. The lodge stay was costly, but did not want to take any chance, so I started with my negotiation pitch and finally agreed to pay 3000 INR for 1 night stay. But, the room was ultimate luxury. I felt very happy that I completed half way and half way more to go. Dilip Bam Sir, Just said keep going, do not stop. (Chalta Jaa, Chalta Jaa) That was inspiring me a lot.

Day6 : Howrah to Allahabad (783 Kms) 10th April 2015
I woke up at 5 Am in the morning, I was feeling good as I had wonderful sleep and food last night, So started my basic routine like every day said good bye to Howrah. Heading towards Asansol, I was bit worried regarding the hostile environment that people told me. So I was going little slow and carefully, reached Asansol and took a break for 15 minutes. An RTO officer came to me and asked where the hell are you coming from, I said I started from Mumbai and he was stunned, and said itni Garmi mein? I said yeah. He was inspired with my story and he took a picture of my bike rather than me. Yeah! I was little upset with that. I started heading towards Dhanbad- Jharkhand- Bodhgaya. Dhanbad was shit scary and there was literally no public on highways except Coal loaded Heavy trucks. For a moment I thought, why the hell on this earth I am doing this ride. But, I did not stop and stopped at Bodhgaya at around 3 PM and had a good meal. I wanted to visit Bodhgaya city but, was running out of time as I was most concerned about the dark, and people here are hostile and was also worried about lodge. So I started riding towards Aurangabad- Allahabad. I reached Aurangabad at 5 PM and had a tea break and then took a long breath of relief as I see people on highways. Then started towards Allahabad and reached there at 8 PM. I was lucky that I found a guest house on the Highway and took halt there for the night. Now, I wanted to experience some great food and sleep. Took shower and updated my journey to all my near and dears. I had some Rajma Chawal, Salad and curd. Took rest for the night.
Day7: Allahabad to Delhi (676 Kms) 11th April 2015
Woke up at 6 in the morning and did my routine, and started riding towards Agra- Delhi. Uttar Pradesh was an experience riding as I can see vast wheat fields and small rivers and canals. I had some great Jalebi, Chai and aaloo Puri for breakfast at Fatehpur. I had the famous banaras Pan too. People were friendly and I felt happy about it. Day was really hot, I experienced some heat waves too. I had to stop and take breaks in between. I reached Kanpur and had some tea. Then I started riding towards Agra. Roads were very good with less traffic. I reached Agra at around 3:30 PM and took a long break with some tea and snacks. Agra had heavy traffic. I struggled a lot to come out of the city. Now I was very desperate to reach Delhi due to summer heat.
Started riding towards Delhi and roads were awesome I must say. I stopped at Buddh International Circuit for a while and I was really on tears, I realized that India has potential to build such international level Circuit. We have everything now why are we still so back from other developed countries. I was literally stunned with the Infra development Noida and Delhi has done. Hatts Off. I tried to honk at the Buddh Circuit, but unfortunately they were closed by the time for the day. I was close to Delhi now, I asked few people there that how can I manage to get a lodge on the highway, as I have to leave towards Gurgaon tomorrow. They advised me to go towards Airport and I can get some budget lodges there. I followed their advice and reached Delhi International Airport at 8 PM and took an awesome stay just opposite to Airport on the highway towards Gurgaon. It was little expensive but I was very much tired too, so took a halt there for the night.

Day 8: Delhi to Udaipur (680 Kms) 12th April 2015
I woke up at 6 in the morning and did my warm up exercises and basic bike checkup. It was slightly raining in the morning, It did not bother me much, so started towards Jaipur, Had some breakfast in Gurgaon. I reached Rajasthan Border at 9 AM and then the ride was more fun watching the hills and completely different geographic scenes as the weather was also supporting me. I reached Jaipur at 11 AM and Bikers from Karizma Biker Club Jaipur were waiting for me at the Entrance of Jaipur city to welcome me. That moment was awesome, that was the moment I felt special. They welcomed me royally and took me to their place and we had some good chat with cold coffees, Ravi (Lead) of the Jaipur club killed me with his hospitality. He forced me to stay at Jaipur for the day, but I wanted to continue my ride, so had lunch at Ravi’s home and left towards Udaipur.
As soon as I crossed Jaipur city, heavy rains started, and it was 5 PM almost. I stopped my bike and covered whatever possible and took a decision that, it’s always neither the same smooth road nor the pleasant weather.  A true rider has to face all these and cross during his ride. I started riding in heavy rains but couldn’t see anything at all. Because of heavy winds I could not raise the throttle more than 50KM/hr. Slowly I was riding till Bhilwara via Nasirabad road. Crazzy! I reached Bhilwara at 9 PM and another 150 Kms were left to reach my target. I was feeling slightly feverish. Took a tablet on the way from my first aid medical kit and started riding towards Udaipur via Chittorgarh. It was pitch dark and cold. My riding Jacked was totally wet, I wanted to reach the destination, though I found plenty of lodges on the way, I finally reached Udaipur at 11:30 PM. Damm. This was one hell of a ride. I took a lodge in the city and took rest for the day.
Day9: Udaipur to Mumbai NH8- (752 Kms) 13th April 2015
I woke up at 6:30 in the morning as I wanted to ride slowly. This is the final day, I had been riding since 8 days continually and finally I am about to finish my ride today. Felt very excited and also little dull because, this is the last day and this became a habit for me to just keep riding daily. I thought how good it would be if I could just ride daily like this. Life could be totally different. Anyways, I started towards Vadodara- Surat. I had some great local breakfast and started riding. Trust me Rajasthan is the place to ride. It was awesome scenery hills, forts and such clean roads. I was happy riding, and reached Vadodara at 12 noon. I had some lunch and started moving towards Surat. By 1:30 I reached Surat and weather was too hot for the day. I think those were the days the summer was reaching its peak. But still a rider is a rider, nothing can stop. There were some diversions and bad roads in between due to 6 lane work, but after crossing Surat, all was good. I reached Vapi at 4PM in the evening, I was riding little fast as the rods were smooth as silk with very minimum traffic.
From Vadodara I started posting status and distance status on Facebook, that was also an exciting moment for my friends and family that I am going to finish this ride in some more time. I crossed Vapi and was moving towards Virar. Finally I reached Maharastra Border. Wow that moment was best of all. Now I was just few kms away to the finish line. I reached Virar at 8Pm and there was a Rider from Karizma Biker Club Mumbai giving me a welcome garland and coconut water for finishing the ride. I reached Thane at 9 PM and from there Bashab (Admin of Karizma Biker club) welcomed me with the complete team of riders. That OMG! Moment, it was literally a grand welcome by the Mumbai club. Thanks Guys! That was the moment I felt that I really did something big. Best part was the brotherhood they were showing towards the riders was hats off. We rarely see that.
I reached Kharghar, Navi Mumbai the place from where I started on 5th of April. I finally completed my dream Golden Quadrilateral in 216 Hours (9 days) riding solo 5,950 Kms.

Ride To Buddha Land

This ride has been really special for me. Many will see it as a ride but for me it was a break from too many new things flooding in my life. You often tend to get that lost kind of feeling when everything in your life suddenly starts changing in a good yet unexpected manner.
It had been 3 months that I was posted in Kolkata in an IT firm . I wanted to get rid of the feeling of unknown streets and culture by exploring the in and out of Kolkata . For me this was only possible if I got my bike from Pune to Kolkata. This ride was the follow on of exploring Kolkata. One can't just sit at home with that lazy ass in front of the laptop or TV if you have a Royal Enfield in your parking.
Well, it was 18th December 2014 and I was literally gazing the calendar for the upcoming holidays while sitting in the office. To my surprise I saw a probability of getting 4 days holidays in a row during the Christmas season. Now what I did next was very spontaneous and didn't even think once before taking the decision. I went to my senior colleague who was more of a friend than senior and asked him “Bro, you wanna ride to Darjeeling next week ?”. He glanced at the calendar in the task bar and without even thinking the answer was “YES, lets do it”. Have you ever had that sudden adrenalin rush in your body when some plan forms instantaneously?. Well, that was my situation. All pumped up and eager to chalk out this trip. But, there was a glitch. We didn't have these 4 day holidays in a row as 26th December was a working day. Without even chalking the plan out, I asked my manager if I could skip this Friday . And the answer I got was “Umm... ok, you can take a leave”. I was at the peak of happiness as everything was falling in right place.

Prasad,my friend had to bluff the leave by stating that he had some NOC work regarding his bike and it would take a whole day at the RTO for doing it. So, now we had holidays, we had bikes, we had that anxiousness. Every day after 18th December, we started taking out time from the office hours to chalk out this epic first long ride of ours. First things first, hit the google maps page and check for the Kolkata -Darjeeling route. 650Km one way. We were over confident about the road conditions and were planning to accomplish this in a day's duration. But, as the saying goes, “Too many expectations lead to disappointment.”  We will come to that later.

4 days before the ride
Have you ever experienced this situation that everything is planned and something happens that puts your plan in doubts? Same shit happened to me. The thing which I was hoping should be the last thing to stop our ride. VIRAL FEVER. Yes you read it right. I was taking all the precautions that I shouldn't get this shitty viral fever as it was winters. That day I emptied all the stock that the med-store near my house had and prayed that I feel fine by the time the ride date comes closer. To my luck, just a day before the ride I was absolutely fine and healthy. All set up for the ride.
8 hours before the ride.
Prasad and I were supposed to ride after 8 hours. We were packing our saddle bags and checking all the things that we need to carry along. The excitement was building up. But, to add some twist, Prasad came across some emergency and wanted to cancel the ride. And this was just 8 hrs before the ride. I can never forget this epic moment and I am proud of him the way he handled the situation and decided to ride on as per the plan.
Early morning at 6:00 am
We stacked our saddle bags on our beloved bikes and kick started our most epic journey to Darjeeling.
It was so cold early morning that we couldn't even press that clutch lever by an inch. By 8 am we made it to the Azad Hind Dhaba on NH2 and added almost 4-5 piping hot coffee cups to our chilled tummy. We enjoyed holding the coffee cups more than having the coffee as the cups felt so warm to our frozen hands. By now the sun had come out and it was pleasant enough to rest our bum on that seat and ride on.
Till some 70 odd kms the NH 2 was butter-smooth, but we couldn't cruise those soft rubber tyres anymore as we had to take a diversion from Burdhwan and proceed to the SH 7. The moment we got on to SH 7 we thought we were lost. The road is completely barren for around 30-40kms with potholes everywhere. There is no road as such, just few remains of tar here and there.
It was 1 pm now ..
The road was so bad that we had covered only 12kms in the past 45mins . We still pushed ourselves as much as we could and finally connected to the smooth roads of NH-34 at Morgram. It felt as if we had found an Oasis amidst a freaking barren land. We thought of giving some rest to those suspensions who were swearing at us for taking them off-road for almost 80kms. We had a quick lunch from the tiffin box that I had packed before leaving home. And now time to ride again.
The smooth road continued for a long time, almost 60-70kms. What we witnessed after that was a nightmare. The NH-34 becomes so horrible from Farraka that the potholes can swallow the whole car in itself. It was 4pm by the time we reached this small town where there were trucks everywhere, leaving no room to escape this misery.
It was 5 pm and  was really getting dark . We weren't aware that these potholes were just a small sneak peek of what we were going to witness later. It was pitch dark and the road was full off huge potholes and never ending trail of trucks. We started getting second thoughts of staying at a lodge that night and taking a U-turn next morning to Kolkata. Guys, believe me, when you are in such situation, just distract yourself by singing songs loudly inside the helmet. Worked for me like a charm. We somehow made it to Raiganj where we thought of taking halt and spending the night as there were no lodges before or after Raiganj . Raiganj is a small town, around 400kms from Kolkata and 300 Kms from darjeeling.

The clock was showing 9pm and it was insanely cold by this time. Our fingers had become numb. We were riding since last 15 hrs and had just completed 400kms. But the road that we witnessed made us feel a bit proud in what we had achieved. As the road and the landscapes were new we had a good half an hour stop after every 2 hrs because of which it took us a bit long to cover up. 

Day 2
Our main target for the day was reaching Darjeeling before it gets dark. We started a bit late from Raiganj at around 10 am. The road was far better than what we had witnessed the previous day. We made it to Siliguri by 2 pm. We had lunch on the outskirts. Now Darjeeling was just 77kms far. We started from Siliguri with all our camera gears ready. The route is so amazing! The road passes through the army cantonment and gives you an amazing view of tea garden-scapes and jungles.

We were supposed to take a right turn for the Rohini pass but we missed it as we were busy looking at the breathtaking landscapes. We didn't even realize that we were going on a wrong track. But the view we witnessed on reaching the top was something you can just dream of. The fire ball setting into the mighty Himalayas with the mist covering the orange canvas of the sky, it was like I just took the road to paradise.
We reached Darjeeling at 7 pm , around 6700 feet above the sea level. Our hands went numb and fingers were frozen . We couldn't move our fingers to pull that clutch lever. We stopped for some hot tea and samosas and started searching for lodges. There are these few lodges you should look for if you want  a good room with reasonable budget :  Hotel Choice (near the Mall road), if you want a scenic morning view of the incredible peak of Mount Kangchenjunga  then you can check in to Hotel Highland Inn as its windows directly open to this majestic view.
As it was the Christmas eve, we were finding it difficult to find the hotels as most of them were sold out. We finally found Hotel Choice and stayed there for the night. The owner was very good and humble and called the food on the house. That day we decided to sleep off early and wake up early.
We were so exhausted the previous night that we slept like pigs. We woke up at 8 am and decided to explore the city. It was still very cold. First on the list was the Governor's house as people told us that we would be able to see the Kangchenjunga peak clearly from there. And man! it was spectacular. The peak was so clearly visible that we didn't even make efforts to spot it. The shutter bug within us popped out and we started clicking this beautiful view.
Sipping tea while sitting on the bench with such a view in front was so soothing that you could just exhale all the stress with an “Ahhh” and nod your head with those uplifted lips. The agenda for the day was to visit the Mall Road , Rope way and the zoo (we couldn't make it to Tiger Hill as we didn't have that much time). After all this, it was night and we decided to go to The Glennary's Cafe. It’s an awesome place to chill in Darjeeling. Later, we had some Thai food in a restaurant in front of the cafe and went to our hotel to get some peaceful nap as we had to leave back for Raiganj the next morning.

We woke up early and started the engines to ride back . On the way we went to the Ghoom Monastery. It was so peaceful that all the thoughts in my mind were replaced by those mantras echoing in the monastery. We were wearing 4 layers of clothes and when we saw the little monks playing football in just their simple 2 layered attire, we were shocked! How can someone survive in that much clothing in such a terrific cold? We did some photo clicking session for a while and left for our next stop, Raiganj .
After crossing Kurseong, we got on the Rohini pass road  that we had missed while going uphill. Man! What a road it is ! You will feel like scrapping those foot-pegs at every corner. Such smooth curves and that too in a ghat section is really commendable. We reached Raiganj at around 7 pm and called the day off.
We woke up early and left for Kolkata at 7 am . Our aim was to cross Burdwan before sunset as the SH7 leading to it is completely barren and risky to travel at night. After crossing Burdawan at 5pm we took a halt and rested a bit after a long patch of non-stop riding.
When we reached home, we were so proud of us. We had pushed ourselves through some bad-ass situations and made it back. This was my longest and most tiring ride of all time. I hope that I keep on breaking my record of longest ride again and again with a huge margin. Happy Riding Folks !

Even there are some more interesting travel posts to read more Click Here