North by Northeast ‘9 – Tangtse To Nyoma’

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Tangtse – Spangmik – Chusul – Nyoma Camp

Distance this period: 180.85 km Total Distance: 2062.20 km

Tangtse – 0 km
Spangmik – 43.94 km
Chusul – 48.08 km
Nyoma – 88.83 km

Tangtse is the first place for inner line permit check point. There is a bridge before you enter the town, just after the bridge you park your vehicle and go inside a tent. One punjabi aryman was funny enough to make me smile. He told me to be on my right side for the next two days journey. Its a short ride to Pangong Lake. yes, THE FAMOUS PANGONG LAKE. So great to be here. Food was too costly, too windy to camp; so moved ahead to the next settlement called Spangmik. Got a room for rs. 200/- rained whole night.
Km covered – 43.94 km
Total expense – 410/-

So the touristy thing ends here. I was heading to a barren land today; to CHUSUL. It was one hell of a ride, and a memorable one. Along the beautiful Pangong Lake. Started as early as 0830 am and made it to Chusul by 0400 pm.
Lonely road along the lake, so much in love with its water and sorrounding air. Merak, a police check point, here deposited a copy of permit. Didn’t see any food joints, however the policeman told me to ask any villager and they will be happy to serve you one. One motorbiker from Mumbai was turned back, riding without permit.

Alongside the lake, downish ride, just one small hill before Chusul. Rocky, sandy, water you get everything but no proper road.

Chusul was silent like hell. Asked local about staying accodomation, one fellow offered his house, accepted his offer but camped outside in his courtyard. Dinner with them was nice. One policeman came to check upon me, took a copy of permit, a long chat.
Kms covered – 48.09 km
Total expense – 210/-

The Stay was nice, good and honest people. Only man in the house, taking care of his lady and four daughters, a camper jeep. Food supply comes from Leh, little bit of farming, have a small shop, lady runs it. Men & women both do hard work, BRO hires them for road work, and things like that. God! how much for survival. I felt very bad, was worried how he gonna marry his daughters.

Said my goodbyes and kept on the bad road. Very bad till Tsaga village.

Chusul is the point from one road goes to Pangong Lake, another one goes to Tangtse directly, another goes all the way up to Kaksang La and HorLa, and then one goes along the China border which I was going to ride today.

I was out of my emergency food supply. But kept riding. One army convoy passed, I chased the last truck, it happens to be a food supply truck. The man sitting at the back was kind enough to through some dry fruits and a tetra-pack of real juice. wow, felt like rescued from a fight.

20 kms from Chusul is 13 Kumaon War memorial. Strong headwind, bad full of stone road, slightly elevated up road leads to Tsaga La top. There’s army camp at further up and one helipad. Downhill starts here and then tarmac road. Great to be back on proper road. Tsaga Village, then CRPF check point, submitted a copy of permit. Met a jawan from my own land, got hot tea, snacks and some warmth inside the camp. Tarmac continues on downhill. Then Loma Bend, a roundabout, and CRPF checkpoint, another copy of permit, another hospitality from CRPF jawans. From here left goes to Hanle (~ 50 kms), Hanle is the place where you get to see stars in amazingly different way; like the whole of milky way galaxy comes to visit here.
I took right to Nyoma. Barren land again, not a single soul along the road, just army camps at distant places. Nyoma, camped.
Km covered – 88.83
Total expense – 60/-

Another day of no proper food.

From Tangtse I am headed to the famous Pangong Lake
And then here it is. Smiling beatifully
Relaxing water, relieved after so much of intense riding..
Another view
Found this map in Spangmik hotel room..
Along the lake you move on, snow filled hills another side..
And then there was some photographer, national geo I gues,
Selfie to bantaa hai with Pangong Lake..
Small but bad climb towards Chusul..
Lovely lady at Chusul, my host..
13 kumaon War memorial, RezangLa.. tribute to heroes who died for our better future… 114 out of 120 Jawans laid down their lives in the battle here with China. details available here https://www.facebook.com/notes/indian-air-force-fans/unforgettable-battle-of-1962-13-kumaon-at-rezang-la-by-col-n-n-bhatia-retd-court/595886010448427/
These kids came running all the way from their homes, see at far corner, just to say hi…
Tsaka top.. too windy
Yes, I was here.. hahaha
Approaching food and some talks…

North by Northeast ‘4 – Rest day at Sonmarg’

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Distance this period: 0.00 km Total Distance: 1152.74 km

Sonmarg – 0 km (forced rest of 2 days)

I was enjoying watching tv after a long time while it rained outside. I checked-out pretty early in the morning and to my surprise a barrier was put up there by police; no vehicle was allowed to pass. Damn! What to do now? I was out of the hotel already; roads were blocked from both the sides and there was no estimate of clearance!

I locked The X near a chicken shop and walked some 2 km to check out the landslide; sure enough it was massive. Yatris were struck too. Army came to our rescue; they put up some tents for stay and arranged food.

Hotel prices went rocketed high; the room I was staying previous night for 500 bucks was already booked for 1500 today. A perfect business opportunity.

Police was no help, Army allowed to camp the other side.

This is what landslide looked like. continous rain and slush made it impossible to even walk.

 

So i joined the queue for food. offered by army.

 

Army came as a big help, camped there for two beautiful nights.

 

Beautiful Sonmarg.

 

And the evening was lovely.

 

Then I was surrounded by lots of trucks and drivers and their horrible stories

 

Last day @Sonmarg it was beautiful stay of 2 days farewell shot from my camp.

North by Northeast ‘3 – Roadside Dhaba Near Udhampur to Sonmarg’

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Roadside Dhaba – Udhampur – Ramban – Toofani Nalla Camp – Kangan – Sonmarg

Distance this period: 343.51 km Total Distance: 1152.74 km

Udhampur – 24.37 km (Day 11)
Ramban – 84.98 km (Day 12)
Toofani Nalla Camp – 55.06 km (Day 13)
Kangan – 134.90 km (Day 14)
Sonmarg – 44.20 km (Day 15)

It was a rainy night at the dhaba, my bags were wet but then it was going to be a short ride today. Found a hotel in Udhampur, washed The X, cloths, myself and rested whole day, it was raining anyway. Stay – Hotel Sasan.
Kms covered – 24.37
Total expense – Rs. 765/-

Laundry day at Udhampur.

It rained on n off and in the morning too. I went out to have tea, owner tells me about the blockage after Patni-Top and traffic wasn’t allowed to pass from here itself. I saw an opportunity to have fun on the empty roads. I started in the rain, passing the long line of vehicles.

It was a yatra season (Amarnath Yatra) so traffic was heavy and continuous rain made it worse. I was gaining elevation as soon as I left Udhampur. But the good thing was no traffic, pleasant weather, and roadside Bhandaras. Made it to the top pretty early, so decided to continue on the downhill; a bad decision. Traffic was blocked for two days from both the sides due to a landslide; as I was enjoying the foggy breeze on downhill, something worse was waiting for me. Traffic was open by then, a huge jam, slippery slush, and long array of bloody trucks honking shouting like they just got released from prison or something. One hell of a ride, made it to Ramban. Booked one unmaned hotel.
Kms covered – 84.98
Total expense – 610/-

On the way to Patni-Top. a beautiful gentle climb.
When you get tired on a climb, all you do is experiment with various stuff. Trying photoshoot.
After the slushy ride on Patni-Top downhill. Dangerous yet fun.

Now I was in a territory where you see army everywhere. Banihal. Then on my way to Jawahar Tunnel, I met one guy on cycle going to Amarnath cave. He started from Jabalpur and in 25 days he made it here, he was staying in temples, Lungers/Bhandaras. So it was going to be my first stay on Lungers/Bhandaras at Toofani Nalla camp meant for Yatris, just before the tunnel. Though we tried to pass the tunnel but army turned us back; it wasn’t possible to hold the heavy traffic for us.
Kms covered – 55.06
Total expense – 50/-

I wanted to skip the touristy Kashmir & head straight towards Kangan, but the view of Dal Lake was so inviting that I ended up circling the entire lake.
Beautiful sunny day towards Banihal. Sky so clean, lovely.

Next morning we crossed the tunnel, beautiful Kashmir Valley was waiting for us other side. One could clearly feel the difference; Jammu side was bright, sunny and Kashmir was cloudy, a little bit warm. Downhill starts just after the tunnel, again a huge traffic was there. At Anantnag (he called it Chhota Pakistan) departed from the guy and continued to Pampore, then Srinagar, circled the beautiful Dal Lake. Made it to Kangan for the night.
Kms covered – 134.90
Total expense – 630/-

Its been 9 days of ride without a rest day, so it was going to be a short ride to Sonmarg today; where I decided to spend one extra day, resting. but it took ages to cover those 44 km. In between the ride, I washed my bike ‘The X’ on a small river, took a nap by roadside; a sunny day today. I needed a rest now, 9 days of continuous ride was no fun. Finally Sonmarg, booked a room for bloody rs. 700/- after much bargaining.
Kms covered – 44.20
Total expense – 890/-

It rained again, the owner tells me road is blocked from both the sides of Sonmarg. A disaster waiting for me.

Washed The X on this chilly stream.
And after the wash, rested and got bored pretty soon so experimented with the camera.
Nearing Sonmarg. And so tired and messed up.

North by Northeast ‘2 – Kangra to Roadside Dhaba Near Udhampur’

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Kangra – Dandiyara Bungalow HPPWD rest house – Papri Camp – Basohli – Roadside Dhaba

Distance this period: 318.55 km Total Distance: 809.23 km

Kangra – 0 km (Day 6)
Dandiyara Bungalow HPPWD rest house – 98.24 km (Day 7)
Papri Camp – 52.82 km (Day 8 )
Basohli – 55.62 km (Day 9)
Roadside Dhaba – 111.87 km (Day 10)

Rest day at Kangra was without any events, just rested in hotel room, washed bike & cloths.
Kms covered – 0
Total expense – Rs. 575/-

Resumed next day ride pretty early, after 13 kms took right turn at Shahpur on a freshly tarred all uphill road. Nice view from the top, very less traffic all the way up and then down to Sihunta. Touch the bridge after that bad surface starts to Lahru, then road up to Kakira, follow the steep down road to main road, Tanuhatti and 2 kms up to Dandiyara Bungalow HPPWD rest house on Banikhet road. I was not sure about this rest house, one gentleman told me about this @Kakira over a cup of tea. Today was one hell of a ride, spent more than 10 hrs on the saddle. Stay at Dandiyara Bungalow HPPWD rest house.
Kms covered – 98.24
Total expense – Rs. 600/-

Banikhet is further 10 km up, sharp left turn at the check post and you are on a fun ride. Khairi, zooming all the way down 23 kms, hit bridge, hit another bridge and you are into J&K. Police check post there, had a long chat with them. They advised not to go towards Bani Sarthal due to militancy, rain, road blockage etc. suggested Dhar Road. Registered my details and thanked them, packed some fruits from nearby stall, 14 km uphill ride to Papri was waiting for me. Tea at the top and took right towards Bani ignoring all advises policemen gave. But surface wasn’t good; after 2 km I gave up on the road and camped by the road side. Wow! first day of camping, fearful & excited. Kept my knife close by. Stay – camp near Papri.
Kms covered – 52.82
Total expense – Rs. 105/-

It rained all night, gave me a little window to pack my stuff in the morning. It rained all throughout the day; caused two back to back punctures on front, I was zooming on nice downhill surface couldn’t figure out the bad patches on those numerous water crossings. Made it to Busohli by 2 pm. Phone stopped working today and it won’t until I hit HP again on other side of the hill. Hotel – Hotel Ambica near bus stand Busohli.
Kms covered – 55.62
Total expense – Rs. 390/-

I was on a link road today so as expected its a single lane bad road till Mahanpur t-point; where I joined nice Dhar road, less traffic, all downhill. Crossed a bridge, ordered food at roadside dhaba and stayed there for the night. Cyclists love freebies. Stay – Vaishno Dhaba by roadside.
Kms covered – 111.87
Total expense – Rs. 140/-

First view of Kangra.
Lovely road, perfect weather for riding.
It was a tough climb to Bharwain from Mubarikpur.
Beautiful climb. I was panting on this climb, stopped and saw so many eyes staring on me from this bus.
Now it will be a routine; climb the hill to top and let the air soak all sweat on zooming down, hit the bridge and repeat again.
Greenery around
Road passing through small villages
A different kind of traffic.
No traffic road, just keep your eyes on the road and free the bike.
Took SH 28. I was thinking to go Chamba via Jot and continue to Sach Pass but looking at the weather turned towards Tanuhatti.
They would wait for me and then chase barking like maniac. As soon as I stop they too stoped and look around. And start again..
Tough climb to Banikhet. Spot the HPPWD rest house at the left.
On the way up to Papri. Even this guy is wondering what the hell is wrong with me, why sweat when you can sit inside the car and have a beer.
Khairi.. Other side of the river is J&K.
Busohli approaching.
Waiting for rain to subsidies some.

Epic Bike Trip – North by Northeast

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Its been a year; more than a year actually, but as they say ‘better late than never’ so publishing the travelogue here now.

It took about a year of planning this tour. It was one big plan but there were hell lot of changes in route like cut short the trip by 2 months, returned from Guwahati by train etc. etc.

Planning phase –

Tracing the foot of Himalayas was a long dream; this circuit was due for a long long time.
Planning took almost a year, reading logs, blogs and checking google maps, making notes on kms to be done per day, staying options etc. etc. In Feb informed office and July 1st was set to freak-out.

List —
Bike ‘The X’
Racks 2 (front & back)
Computer 1
Bottle cage 2
Mudguards
Lock 2
Helmet 1

Carrriers
Set of rear panniers
Handlebar bag
Rear underseat bag
Plastic bag 3

Tools & Spare
Allen key set 1
Tubes 4
Puncture Kit 1
Pump 1
Tape 1
Gear Cable 1
Brake Cable 1
Stiching Kit 1
Plastic Ziplock Bags 10
Chain lube 1
Small knife 1
Spare tyre 1
Front light 2

Camping
Sleeping Bag 1
Tent (2 Person) 1

Cloths
Riding shorts 3
Shorts 1
Lowers 2
T shirts (Half sleeves) 5
Shirts 1
Arm Warmer
Waterproof Jacket 2
Waterproof Lower 1
Socks Pairs 2
Under Garments 3
Towel 1
Shoes 1 Pair
Sandals 1 pair
Warm Jacket 1
Hat 1
Hand Gloves Full 1
Goggles 1
Spare glasses 1

Photography
Gopro camera
Camera Olympus
Camera & Phone Charger
Cellphone 2
Solar Charger 1

Medical
Bandage 5
Volini 1

Misc. Items
Toothbrush 1
Toothpaste 1
Comb 2
Compass 1
Voter ID card
Photocopies of ID & permits
Maps
Books 3
Pen 2
Notebook 1

The Man –

The Man

The Machine & The Material

The Machine. Surly Cross Check; I named it “The X”

The Plan – Part1

Route Map- part 1. This idea of mapping came from http://ultralightcycling.blogspot.in
Route Map- part 2. Thanks to http://ultralightcycling.blogspot.in for the valuable inputs on light bicycle touring.

The Plan – Flip side