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Bombay-Sikkim-Bhutan Ride (Part 1)

Hello good people..

We’re blogging about our impromptu, impulsive, last-minute planned, adventurous, road trip starting from Mumbai / Satara through Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and onwards to Darjeeling, Sikkim, Bhutan, Assam and more.. :-) Follow along on this adventure. :-)

Day 1 : Day 1 of our ride was pretty eventful. 2 punctures leading to pushing the bike to the puncture shop in the sun, which eventually turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we just missed some heavy showers in Indore due to the delay. :-)smile emoticon

Found a good place to stay and visited the Chappan dukaan waali galli for dinner. Hoping for good weather and a puncture-less ride tomo as we take off again at 5 am. :-)

Day 2 was long and eventful. Started from Indore and took a diversion to see the Sanchi stupa. Went ahead from there and by lunchtime it started pouring. Decided to stop for lunch and shelter at a dhaba and had the most delicious meal served with courtesy and smiles. :-)

Left late and still had close to 300 kms to cover at 6:00 p.m. The Harley and Benelli generate a lot of interest and curiosity in the hinterland. On approaching one village and saw a crowd on the road, including cops and wondered what was wrong. Stopped and realised that the crowd had gathered to see the two bikes. :-):D

Finally, after a long, long ride on dusty roads, reached our destination at 10:30 p.m. Now looking forward to the wildlife safari tomorrow morning. ;-)

Meanwhile here are some of the colours of our day today!

Day 3 - Since we were at Rewa, we decided to go see the tigers in the nearby sanctuary. It was more like a zoo, contrary to expectation, but we saw a male white tiger.

Left bit late in the day assuming we had a comparatively short distance to cover but a 60km bad stretch killed our hope of a short ride. That 60 km stretch was like a road made of small rumblers..! Took us ages on the hot, dusty road to cover that stretch. Was perhaps even worse than the road to Padum in Zanskar. :-P

At the end of it bike and bones, both were groaning. :D ;-) hence not many pics clicked today.

Some cops at Mirzapur invited us to have chai and snacks with them. smile emoticon Saw the sunset over the Ganges near Mirzapur itself and was dark by the time we reached Varanasi. The traffic and confusing winding roads of Varanasi meant that it took us almost an hour to enter the city and find our hotel.

Now looking forward to an early morning walk along the ghats. :-)

Day 4 - Woke up early to visit the ghats at sunrise. Even at that time, the ghats were full of people and crowded like dadar station. tongue emoticon The Ganges is massive but the river and ghats are very dirty.

Left the ghats, went back, packed and left for a long ride ahead of 600 kms passing through UP & Bihar. We were advised to take a shorter route (albeit bad we were told). Took the advice and landed on a road that had moonland-like craters. After attempting to ride on it for some time, we gave up and took the longer but slightly better road.

No rain or clouds today - only sun n dust. Passed through Patna where we took a bridge to cross over to Hajipur. A long bridge of almost 5.5 kms across the Ganga. The magnificence of the river there is to be seen! Wanted to take pics but one lane of the bridge was shut for some work so stopping in the jam was difficult, hence missed it. Moved on slowly till Muzaffarpur and Darbhanga. Beyond that we got an excellent highway where we covered almost 120 kms in 1.5 hrs. Was surprising to find such excellent roads in Bihar after what we had been seeing past couple of days.

Stopped for dinner at 10:30p.m. at a dhaba 30 kms before Forbesganj (as the hotel informed that food would not be available so late) and finally had the first leisurely meal of the day. Landed at the hotel in Forbesganj way past midnight where the staff was kindly waiting up for us and very kindly had kept the AC running in the room before our arrival so we were greeted by a chilled room. The other side of service and courtesy in Bihar that normally goes unheard / unknown.

Looking forward to reaching Gangtok tomorrow..! :-)

Oh forgot to mention one more puncture of the rear tyre today. Never experienced so many punctures on a single ride like this.


Day 5 : Woke up late after the exhausting ride the day before - had a leisurely breakfast and left Forbesganj only around noon.

We were very close to the Nepal border and decided to head to Sikkim via Nepal. Headed to the entry post at Biratpur where it took almost an hour and half to get our permits but it was worth the wait and effort. Nepal is beautiful and the roads were superb. We took less time than we would have if we had gone on the other highway. :-)

After riding on the gorgeous green roads, we reached Siliguri only in the evening and headed towards Darjeeling. Got rain on the way and weather turned cold. Nitin n Vinayak had a fall each on the slippery junction of the Darjeeling express rail n road, but luckily no one was hurt.

Stopped to click pics with the legendary train even though it was late and dark and headed over to meet Nitin's cousin and family. :-) Had dinner with our wonderful hosts and stayed at the army mess. Woke up to clear skies and views of the Kanchenjunga but more on that in updates of day 6. ;-)

Day 6 : Early morning at Darjeeling! smile emoticon We had stayed at the army mess courtesy Major Sagar Barge (Nitin's cousin) and we woke up at 6 a.m. to clear blue skies and beautiful view of Kanchenjunga. :-)

Headed over for breakfast with Major Barge and his wonderful family and post breakfast, left for Gangtok. The traffic in Darjeeling was chaotic and it took us almost an hour and half just to get out of the city.

The descent from Darjeeling downwards was very steep so had to be navigated carefully. Took us a while to reach down on the first and second gear. Stopped for a quick lunch of momos, and near the Teesta river and again started the ascent towards Gangtok. No rain and pleasant weather but not as cold as Darjeeling.

We reached Gangtok and headed to Raj Bhavan, which is our abode for the night, again courtesy our friends the Barge cousins. :-) We were met by ADC Mr. Shishir Pandey, who met us and discussed our trip and itinerary and gave us tips on the route and ride ahead in Sikkim and also assured us help with our bike permits. It was really nice to meet him and share his enthusiasm for bikes.

We also met the Hon. Governor of Sikkim Shri. Shriniwas Patil who also welcomed us and gave us very useful advice on our trip and recommended that we be more careful on the roads in Sikkim as they were narrow and steep and more difficult than the ones in Ladakh.

So grateful and touched and humbled by the warmth, welcome and hospitality that we have received from everyone here. :-)

Another thing that must be added is the absolute discipline that is followed on the roads in Gangtok. There is absolutely no traffic violation, no honking, no lane cutting, nothing! Everything runs smoothly here. Much to be learnt from this state in the wonderful north-eastern part of our country. :-)

A very big thank you to ADC Shishir Pandey, Major Sagar Barge and our friend Nitin Barge for all the help and for making this leg of our trip so memorable..! smile emoticon

More on the Sikkim leg in our next post.. :-)

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