Travel

Rediscovering self on Motorcycle solo odyssey in Nation’s Heritage: Gujarat

What do we leave behind when we cross each frontier?
 Each moment seems split in two;
  Melancholy for what's left behind and The excitement of entering a new land.

A constant hunger of doing a solo journey lingered in my mind for months. Never had the courage to take that plunge and feel the essence of it. There were days, people around me used to ask or say “you are crazy”, “are you serious?”, “why can’t you go in group?”,  just get married and forget all such crazy ideas, why wasting money?, whats there in Rann of Kutch?, etc., whenever i thought of doing such. But i always had my parents encouragement, without their support, this memoir wouldn’t have happened. While i was planning to do Sandakphu trek along with Sikkim visit during September-October months of 2016, i also had a vague idea about visiting Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Having read few articles about it on internet, my attention was slowly dragged towards it by the vast beautiful landscape.

I always wanted to do Bike ride on a cross-country. Yet, my unpreparedness also made me to take back foot on such plans all the while. With Sikkim bike ride plans almost going down the drain due to fellow riders not available and me not so daring enough to take up such a remote landscape exploration, i started to concentrate on the west india – Gujarat. Discussed with manager about the leave plans and getting it approved was not a very difficult task, thanks to him. Thus, i started to book the flight and train tickets.

The initial draft version of my itinerary was decided to do only White Rann, bhuj, mandvi, Lakhpat, Ahmedabad places. Upon further research, Lilltle Rann of Kutch, Dolaviria also came into picture, later dropped dolaviria due to no interest in archeological places. Hence the second draft was also prepared in no time, yet i was skeptical about doing little ROK as it’s a wild ass sanctuary desert and few articles claimed that a small mistake, one can go missing deep into desert. However, i confronted myself that i can entrust upon me and with gods grace to do and face whatever may come. With that in mind, i started to read alot of articles about solo motorcycle diaries and preparation related to it. With youtubes help, watched alot of videos about puncher repairs, wheel removal, clutch/throttle cable replacement, fuse changes, carburetor cleanup, etc.

At the same time, i also got an inspirational idea from FB friends: Nittin Kattar and Praveena, about presenting a Thankyou-Respect-Gratitude artwork card to our BSF/Army soldiers. While, i never had any idea about how to use Gimp (Linux version of Photoshop) tool for such major task, yet i did not give up on this. For almost 1 month of constant trial and errors, with various ideas, with many drafts, i finally completed the art work.

My first preparation and foremost important task towards this ride, was shipping bike to Gujarat. I began searching alot of vendors who could do the job with utmost care, time bound and little bit cost effective. I began sending emails and calling the vendors for the job. With all possible discussions and multiple rounds of phone calls for negotiation, i narrowed down to 3 vendors for the job viz. Leo Packers, Transit packers and Sainik packers. Then i began reading customer reviews about these vendor services. Almost all 3 of them had their own share of good and bad reviews. Over all, Leo had bad, Sainik and Transit was on a better side. Hence i further narrowed down to 2. At this stage, i had around a month time before i had to fix the shipping date.

It was just a week before the shipping date, i.e 3rd Feb, as the vendors require atleast 7 days, being on a safer side. A final check on the latest customer reviews on these 2, revealed that Transit had 2 more terrible reviews from customers. So keeping the safety of the bike as major concern, i finally decided Sainik. With final discussions done, this vendor agreed to ship my bike for both directions at cost of 13.5K INR with promised door to door service at both ends ensuring timely delivery.

On Feb 3rd evening, Sainik guys came over in their truck to my place for picking up the bike. Initially i had planned to send saddle bag having some bike related parts viz. tubes, tools, engine oil, etc. along with the bike. However, the packer did not agree to this by stating that the packing would not fit properly and weight is more. Thus he asked me to pay 1000 INR more for the luggage separately. I decided to not opt and carry those myself instead. So with just bike and helmet along, the packing was done in next 20 minutes. The packing was done in 2 layer. Base layer was with bubble wrap. I forced them to add more bubble wrap around tank, headlights, etc. sensitive areas. The second layer is of paper material. This does not much add protection to the body of vehicle. The third layer is of a tight plastic sheet which binds every other layer strongly.

The big part of my onward journey headache was completed by sending the bike off. Now its all in the game of wait and watch. Next my focus shifted in fine tuning my travel itinerary to the nitty-gritty part of it. I began further exploring about all the places, stay options, to do, not to do, etc. for next 8 days. Till the last moment, i had a doubt, if i could do the Little ROK journey as almost all articles i referred gave me worries about: no help, getting lost, etc. I checked with my FB travel friends Nittin khattar, Praveena, DK chauhan, Kushagra, Crazy Rider, for their valuable suggestions about my ride and particularly about Little ROK. Not only they gave some points regarding the Lilttle ROK, but also took time in analyzing my drafted itinerary and suggested few changes with more information. At last, i found a hand sketched road map of crossing Little ROK in one of the forum which also boosted my moral. With all their suggestions, i finally decided to do Little ROK just 4 days before my ride.

 Departure Day:

The joy in (re)discovering about, how capable you are; when you travel solo,
 because you will be totally responsible for yourself.

With most of the packing done, still bits and pieces lying around to complete, for the evening flight departure. I left office early, completed all the tasks, final checks done and then left home towards airport. Due to cost benefits, flight timings suitability, i chose the BLR – Mumbai flight and then overnight train journey to Baroda. All through the journey, i was in constant touch with my vendor upon bike delivery. It was shocking and frustrating to know that my beloved motorcycle hasn’t reached the destination a day earlier as was promised by the vendor. The vendor upon stressing hard, kept giving me upfront blatant lies over phone. That is when i realized, it’s not going to work this way, the vendor has taken me for granted. I knew the bike shall not reach in time, though i had anticipated and kept 1 day completely spending at baroda just in case. Its proved now finally.

I landed in Mumbai and then the worse traffic of Airport – Borivali highway hit me hard. It was chaos to see such a huge traffic all over. Every where i see, lots of private cars of all sizes, just one person in it. Seriously people! Heights of laziness 😦 Upon reaching borivali train station around 10 PM, i called up my Jaisalmer desert trekking friend Vatsal and planned to meet. He graciously accepted to spend sometime with me till the train arrives at the station. It was great meeting him. We had nice discussions and finally had to bid adieu to him upon train arrival.

Next morning around 630AM, landed in baroda. Straight ahead reached to Gotri area, where YHAI associated hostel was present. This hostel has only dormitory types room with 6 beds each and is on 3rd floor without elevator. The rooms are big enough to fit all 6 people and has a luggage facility as well. They have AC and non AC rooms available too. I took Non AC rooms as the day i reached, the weather was very pleasant and cool. They charged me 400 INR per night. I took rest and slept off till 10 AM that morning. Then i called up my vendor regarding the bike, the idiot vendor kept giving me shitty reasons, but i finally managed to get the drivers phone number. Upon directly speaking with the driver, i got to know the whole dirty plot of the vendor; that it’s not the vendor who is really doing the job, but instead its some 3rd party transporter who is actually handling my bike. The Sainik packers and movers guys are not even transporters who do the job, they are just the mediators here. The driver and owner, Mr. Rohit vyas, spoke to me in direct terms and promised to be in baroda by 12AM and also the false promise of door delivery as well shattered for me. I had to travel around 15kms out of the city to get my vehicle.

I had some time to reach his office, hence i decided to visit the nearby famous Iskon temple which was in walking distance from hostel. The temple is very beautiful and Lord Krishna is decorated very beautifully. Took the blessings of Lord and went off to see my bike.

As i arrived at his office, as he had promised, he unloaded the motorcycle safely in front me and also unpacked it. Thankfully, there was no damage except scratch at 2 places which is very common in transit.

Mr. Rohit, was very generous and kind in asking me to have coffee with him and then explained me about how the transport business works, how these middle men so-called packers and movers cheat customers. He also explained about his business, his owned vehicles, and then started to inquire about me and my travel plans. Gave a long list of suggestions from route to petrol bunks to stay options etc, and also assured all help, if i may require during the ride. He was quite surprised to know that i intend to ride all along solo. It was great pleasure talking to him.

Taking bike back, first thing i got was filled the petrol and also get the pollution certificate done. I had to travel back around 15kms on bike which gave me a well view of the baroda city. Most of the city is just within 7kms in radius. P The traffic was hardly much except in the center of the city. However, the city has the ample amount of flyovers thus making travel smooth. The roads almost every where is very wide and the population is very less. For next 2 hours , i roamed the city on the bike enjoying it. It was evening, when i reached back to hostel.

That evening, to my surprise, i got a call from Sandeep; my kedarkantha trekking batch mate. I met the duo brothers i.e Sandy and sunny, on the same evening and then we went for roadside eat street. It was great catching up with these guys after a year or so. We shared alot of lost memories from the trek and also about our lives in general. We spent around an hour or so and finally they dropped me off to my hostel. The evening went really well.

Went to bed early as i had plans to start my ride very early morning.

Exciting Ride begins..

Life is either a daring Adventure or Nothing!

The early morning with all enthusiasm, courage and determination, i prepared myself ready by 5 AM. Saddle bag tied, rucksack mounted over, flag pole fixed. Seeing my bike totally a travelers temporary abode, felt amazing.

Wrong flag direction mounted, did not realize until very later. 😦

The early morning excited ride started off really well. With full adrenaline in enjoying the ride and to complete the upcoming hurdles, i throttled hard towards Ahmedabad. The highways are too good in Gujarat, which puts me in a shame when compared to my own state. I took the normal highway towards Ahmedabad, since 2 wheeler’s are not allowed on express highway.

Early morning ride was really chilled, somewhere near sandhana, on the highway, i stopped by for a hot coffee to quench my thirst. Unfortunately, the flag which was mounted on the flag pole just slipped off from the pole due to wind and i could not notice until very late. Felt very bad that i disrespected the national flag by making it fall on the road. 😦

If you could surrendered to the Air, you could ride it!

I took the route:  Vadodara – Anand – Nadiad – Kheda – Sanand – Viramgam – Dasada, to reach Zainabad. As i had planned to cross through Little ROK, so zinzuwada is the entry point for this desert.

Little ROK has been haunting me ever since i decided to cross it all alone. En route, i took the blessing at a temple and continued on.

Zainabad is a small village, where you shall find all good facilities available including petrol bunk. From this junction, take a left towards patdi for 3-4 kms approx (backwards to camera angle), to find Essar petrol station. That is only one found anywhere near till patdi or dasada as per the locals. So make sure you tank up here before hitting the little ROK desert. Also, i had to buy an air pump (foot or hand) in case puncture, i could only find such shops in viramgam than zinabad or dasada.

After around 20 minutes of travel towards Zinzuwada village, though roads are not that great, i was welcomed by the grand entry gate of Little ROK.

Here, i stopped by for few minutes of refreshment from my backpack as the heat was high all around but bearable. I also started to inquire the locals sitting there about all the details, myths and facts about crossing Little ROK. The locals were very supportive and cordial in answering all my questions. As per the locals, one does not need any forest department permits to enter this sanctuary. Even if one is stopped by the forest rangers, informing them about vaccha dada temple visit and back, shall not create problems.

Also inquired about the validity of the hand sketched route map of this desert, which i found on a forum.

This map also gave me very good confidence about the desert and crossing it all alone for next 80kms. Along with this, i also did some rough sketch on the map

On the first part of the journey, I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and things. There was sand and hills
The first thing I met was a sweet breeze with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds. The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound

Entering into the wild ass sanctuary aka Little ROK, i was welcomed by the huge vast ocean of dry desert. It look splendid and i felt elevated in perspiring the enormous beauty of this land.

I felt super excited and all my adrenaline rushed high up to head in just getting down of the bike and see around. On one side, i had a fear of being lonely in this desert and what if i require help or anything and on the other end, the daredevil in me with adrenaline just pushed me ahead with alot excitation.

I looked back towards the village i am leaving behind, it felt like, i am leaving behind the most comfort zone for a while in a godforsaken land. The next few hours or till evening, it shall be Me and the mother nature. No communications and no connection with the external world till i reach the palasava.

Bowing down to the ground, with the blessings of my mother nature and of my mother, i continued my endearing saga.

As per the hand written map, around 1 kms from the entry gate, there is a sign board kept on the road side to mark the path towards vaccha dada temple.

This is where i needed to take a left. The road straight goes to the last village in this sanctuary which is hardly 1-2 kms away. I continued on this direction towards the temple. Still a bit of fear lingering in my mind about losing the path as there is no soul around further.

When this sign is seen, post marking the onward route for the vaccha dada temple, i was on the right course. With this visible, my mind went a bit ease as i was assured of the right path. Once again mesmerizing the vaccha dada god, i continued further on.

Further 1km away, there is a V point, where the road splits. The road with red flag posts mounted on (left side) goes to some other temple, while the right side with white flags mounted on shall go towards vaccha dada temple.

All along this route, one can see the white flag posts at a certain distance where one’s eye can possibly identify.

For almost next 15 minutes i spend at this place just mesmerizing the awesomeness of this heaven. There was no soul to be seen nor heard anywhere around till my vision can reach over the horizon. I was alone in the middle of no where. The tranquility here is indescribable.

Further riding across this desert, i came across a burnt up crushed car. Was it a drunk drive case? High speed lost control case? I never know. No body around to ask as well 😉 It remained a mystery though 😀

With still wondering what could have happened about this car situation, i continued ahead. The sun was bright, and the ground was dry, yet the wind was cool and blowing, and the silence all over. I continued further singing loudly under my helmet, forgetting the clumsy worries one has in between people all around. The nature and me is just all i can see and feel around.

Further down the road, i could spot some huts mining the salt on this desert. Yes this desert has salt mines hidden every where.

After 1.5 hours of journey, i finally reached Vaccha dada temple.

The watchman here requested me to have lunch and also park bike inside. Post finishing darshan of the god, i proceeded towards the lunch hall. The utensils (plates, cups and glasses) has to be self cleaned and brought in from the nearby washing area.

This place sits on the desert bed all around. The people are very cordial and caring and also very simplistic in their looks and attitude. Almost everyone visits this temple from around the wildlife sanctuary. Hardly few houses exists at this place.

With washing the plates and cups, i proceeded to lunch hall. There wasn’t much queue here. The food was very tasty. Enjoyed the food, later on washed the utensils at the washing area.

Took some rest here for another 20 minutes or so, i decided to continue the journey. Being here felt really good as well as the food was good. Thanked the lord and continued towards the gate. The gatekeeper was very courteous again to check if everything was fine with me and also if i had food.

Meanwhile, my bull started grabbing attention from the locals. Few of them dropped by to check who i am, why i am here, from where, etc. information. Felt really happy to have conversation with them.

Without wasting much time as i had to cross next 40 kms in the desert towards palasva and reach bhuj by evening, i started off bidding heartfelt adieu to everyone here.

Once outside of this temple, I had to take right and continue in the road which is adjacent to this temple area. Right side of me, the greenery bush which is of temples area can be seen. I Continued on the same path.

At the end of temple area greenery in the background.

Once, the greenery towards my right, ends, the next route is guided by poles with 3 colors on it. Just identify this pole on the right side of road and continue.

At some distances gaps, such poles are not available, hence on the ground towards the left side of the road, they have marked with tractors tyre markings

 Continuing straight without any deviation. I encountered a cross roads with small 4 pillared hut thing.

The road sign/direction sign available here has lost its original charm due to heat, wind and dust. Palasva is straight in the direction of my bike facing. Towards right direction of the bike, in other words, backwards of the camera, it goes to Adesar. I continued straight towards palasva. The directions are written in Gujarati, however one can easily read it, if hindi is known well.

Continued further on the designated road strip following the ground tractor tyre markings..

It was time to talk to the nature 😉

Around 3PM i reached the edge of the sanctuary towards Palasava village. Leaving behind the vast frontier was a melancholy moment for me. The last 4 kms journey seemed very difficult as it was more sand than dry land. One has to be very careful in riding here.

You see I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain

Video of the ride…

Once i excited the village palasava, it was a happy feeling that i conquered the journey all by myself without any problems and it was a glory moment to pat on my own back for the courage i had taken. Unraveled with my own fears, worries, timidity, etc. There stood a man with his mighty bull, The new man, perhaps!!

The desert heat had left me very dry and steamy. I Continued the journey towards Bhuj on the highway. At a dhaba, i had lassi. Felt really good to cool myself down and also the tasty lassi was fantastic.

Around 630 PM, i reached Bhuj. The city was busting with alot of crowd. I straight away headed towards Swamy Narayan temple to check if stay is available. There was some event going on in the temple and hence i could not get a comfortable room for my own.

Further started to search for couple of dharmashalas for cheaper stay. 2 dharmashala i visited near to the bus stand had no rooms for lesser prices. Upon checking with auto folks, i was informed to look for sagar guest house, which is just 50 meters from bus stand. They had rooms for 400 INR per day. The rooms were not great, but neither bad, including the rest room. Took the room with the only worry about not having hotel’s private parking for my bike. This kept me a bit worried while i was there for next 4 days.

The day ended with a good taste of gola.. Which is very good in Bhuj.

Day 3: Feb 13 2017:

I had kept a buffer day in Bhuj, for visiting BSF HQ for the permit to Vighakot visit. Ever since, i had read about vighakot on various blog and also got to know that my FB friend Nittin khattar had also visited the same, my zeal to visit here also was high along with the intention of handing over thank you cards for our soldiers guarding the border.

Inquiring locally in the hotel, where i was residing, i was told that the BSF HQ is on the Mundra highway. Although in Bhuj, one can find alot of Army area around, I easily visited the BSF office there, but was later to be informed that the actual office is on the Airport road near Dmart. I was at the office around 10AM, and hardly anybody was present for the permit request. Compared to weekends, it’s better to visit the office on weekdays to avoid crowd. The BSF HQ office staffs were very cordial and helpful, they guided me what and how to write an application letter in terms of format. They gave a letter copy of already written and asked me to fill up in the same format. A copy ID proofs of vehicle (Registration certificate) and self (aadhar) was attached and accepted by them. I was asked to come down in the evening to collect the permit.

Upon leaving the BSF office, i wanted to visit the enfield service station on Mundra/Mandvi highway to have a general checkup. The service station is small and less service technicians are available here. I was lucky to get their help in servicing my bike in less time. I requested them to top up the engine oil, clean air filter and chain lubrication

With the job done, i then went back to room and got ready to visit Nirona village, as i wished to buy something for mom from this place. This village is just 40kms away from Bhuj. The road to this village is of good and even better than bangalore.

Entering into the village, one can easily identify the Rogan art family house. Only 2 families do this art as of today. Their houses are very nearby on the same lane. I first visited the second brother family where the guy explained and demoed about this art. But unfortunately he did not have much varieties of art materials to buy.

I later visited Mr. Adbul khatri house to see if they had better choices, yes they did. I liked the designs here. These artists make, wall hangings as well as dress material. So i bought dress materials. The price varied from 1000 – 10000 INR and more, depending upon the art work done on the cloth material. I bought a dress material of worth 2.5K.

Returning back to bhuj, post the pleasant experience at Nirona.

By evening, before going to BSF HQ around 6 PM, i went onto search for buying Indian flag for the flag pole on my bike. Post buying, i figured the pole holding gap on flag, is too small and thus needed to be increased. So i continued towards finding a tailor shop to get the job done. The guy there started asking questions about the flag, where i shall put, who i am, where i am going, etc. He felt happy to see the nationality in me, and thus got the job done without taking any money from me even though i insisted. Thank you sir, long live you.

By around 6 PM i started towards the BSF HQ in collecting the permit. After waiting for 15-20 minutes, i got the permit document.

Around 1 km away, there was a xerox shop in front of the college on Airport road. I took half a dozen copies of the permit and then went on to Dmart in buying water bottles for the next day ride.

Again the day ended with a lovely kolaveri and chocolate golas 😉

Day 4: 14th Feb 2017

A vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain, Still remains!!

What a day its gonna be!!, The whole night i kept on dreaming about. For sure it’s going to be tiring, yet very entrancing. I get to see Vighakot, the remotely located BSF station along the border fencing. I packed everything the previous night so as to leave at the earliest around 6 AM.

The first surprise for me was to know the tropic of cancer, is what i am going to pass through 😉

The road from here starts to become more deserted highway. The rear view mirror gave vision i could get of the human habitat. For a moment, felt like i am leaving behind home for a new frontier. Full of excitation, i rode on. Morning breeze was really splendid and the sunshine just started to rise above the horizon; sort of welcome blessing for today’s endeavor.

On a long and lonesome highway, west of Gujarat...
You can listen to the engine moanin out its one-note song

I first planned to visit Kaladungar area. Kavada is the last place where one can find the petrol bunk. It’s an HP petrol bunk, so make sure you tank up here before going anywhere ahead of Kavda be it Rann or Vighakot or kaladungar. I reached kaladungar place around 9 AM. The whole road towards this place is awesome and the nature around is mesmerizing to witness at the early hours.

One can find alot of camel rides enroute to kaladungar or at the hill-top itself. All along the route, these camel owners were trying to stop me in asking for taking the ride. I was like, seriously? Who shall ride my bike upto the hill? or atleast take care of it till i am back? 😉 The early morning cold would have made them go numb.

The hill top view is really amazing and astonishing to watch. At this early hours, hardly any crowd was present, thus giving me a lot of time to enjoy the beauty of nature, sing in the sound of silence as well as some photoshoots at my will 😉

Entire North-West coast map of Gujarat

The panaromic view offers a greater experience of outlook over the India bridge, White rann and also full landscape of kaladungar. It was really magnificent being here.

Vighakot: Indo-Pak Border

I did not spend too much time here as i was supposed to reach India bridge as early as possible. Such that i can get more time at vighakot and sometime hopefully with our soldiers. Around 1030AM or so, i reached india bridge and submitted the permit document. One copy of the same along with any electronic media devices (mobile/camera, etc) was handed over to them as part of the security protocol.. I had to sign in a entry-exit ledger as part of the same ritual process, while this was happening, i started handing over my Thankyou, postcards, which i designed and had carried for them. At india bridge, i gave away around 10 cards; everyone for a moment did felt a bit perplexed but later i could see a slow glowing smile on their faces. Few of them even informed other colleagues to take the card from me.

PC: Google

The smile on their faces really depicted the feel they felt in their hearts. Being away from their family, friends and the society and in midst of the desert for long time, it really makes a difference with such gratitude and love shown to them by travelers like us. I really felt happy and it also made my day seeing them happy. Many of them introduced themselves, learnt about me, and also made friends with me. Few of them even wanted to meet me in bangalore when they come here for training. The station head here instructed me to proceed with caution and also stop by at check posts ahead while he informed them about me passing through. I bid them goodbye while some stood at their post with smile on their face and some even still look deep into the card i handed over. Such small things really makes a big difference for them…

Onward journey towards vighakot roads are way better than even few roads in most parts of my city here. The army has maintained it well. Every checkpost, i had to sign, in the book as mark of entry as well as handover a copy of the permit document. Every where, i tried to handover the cards to brave hearts. The smile and contentedness reflected on their face. I hope i made a lil bit of difference in their day.

The next journey of 60Kms is just pure euphoria because it’s between me and desert, till i reach vighakot. The road is not wide, yet in good condition, but should always ride with caution for the cross winds, sand on road as well as boulders on either sides of the road. The entire road is on an elevated platform from the salt desert on either side. So any mishap or loosing control, the damage or impact is very severe and there is almost no soul to help you until an army vehicle approaches. Also, a tank full of fuel is a must to do this based on the mileage of your vehicle. I had carried 5L of extra fuel in a can, though it did not come to any help for myself, but later to another avenger guys who almost ran out of fuel near hanuman temple.

Around 12PM i reached vighakot. I was greeted and welcomed by the major on the duty here. He instructed or inquired about me and other details in a friendly way. He took me to the watch tower from where he explained everything about the border fencing and how patrolling is done, etc. Around the same time, many border patrolling soldiers returned back to their barracks from duty. After 5 minutes or so, Mr. Khan, who is in-charge of the patrolling batch took his time to greet me and also spend next one hour discussing with me by providing water and snacks to quench. The treatment and care shown was really great. Me and him discussed on various topics and it was great to know about them.  I got the opportunity to witness the indo-Pak border fencing area from visitors watching tower, located around 300 mts away. Upon my request to allow near to the fencing, it was denied stating the safety and security as reasons. Here as well, many soldiers felt happy about my thankyou card handover. With happiness, thrill and lot of emotions filled in my heart, i bid adieu to these brave hearts and this holy place.

Hanuman Temple:
And the God's timing is perfect!!
PC: Google

The road back took another hour journey. Around 3PM, i reached hanuman temple and decided to skip dharmshala en route. Since there was a lack of time and also i had to reach Dhordo later. Upon reaching this place, the monk here explained me about the legendary story of this place. Hanuman temple is very famously known here and this place is just 3kms away from the border fence.

As the legendary story goes by, the hanuman ji idol was in lahore in the earlier decades. When india-pak war took place and upon invading lahore by our forces and later decided to return back handing over to pakis, one of the battalion had an awakening call from hanuman ji in asking them to take his idol back to home. The battalion decided to do as been told by the lord himself. When they reached the current hanuman temple place (within india border) and the battalion decided to take some rest for the night, the idol was put on ground. Next morning, they realized that the idol, would not move an inch from the ground in any way regardless of multiple attempts to pick it up. The battalion decided to build the temple at this place and start to worship day in day out, understanding that the lord wanted to settle down near the border in guarding us all.

While i took some rest in having various discussions on everything about this place and the border area, etc. 2 gentlemen bikers from Maharashtra: Mr. Ashok and Mr. Narayan, arrived. These 2 riders started off from Nagpur and rode all along to Kutch. Further i spent around 30-40 minutes discussing with the 2 gentlemen about their rides and experiences and later on we all requested if we can go near to the border fencing. The commander in charge was not immediately available but later presented himself. Mr. Singh, graciously accepted to give permission for us to visit the border fencing. Voila, all 3 of us jumped up with joy. Going near the fencing? oh wow what a pleasant gift. We thanked to commander in giving us permission, though generally not allowed if crowd is more.

Next we hurried as fast as possible towards the border fence. This is the glorious moment, i have been waiting all along my life. The overwhelming feeling for all of us was way high. We met 2 jawans/soldiers guarding the road side post here, yet one can see alot of watch tower every 500+ meters distance. We parked our bikes and discussed with these 2 young guys about their brave courageous job and we very much thanked them with my card as well as sweets brought by Mr. Ashok and Mr. Narayan. The happiness and the proud of being in their difficult job, became very much glaring on their faces. They then took us on foot towards the border fence.

Apparently Pakis do not have any fence of their own. Its only the India’s interest in maintaining the highly secured and highly advanced fencing along the border. Touching the fence from our bare hands, leaning on it, walking few meters along side of the fence watching the paki side deserted land was electrifying moments. We spend next half hour or so here discussing with the 2 brave men about various topics. Meanwhile, i requested one of the soldier to give the demo of his rifle, he graciously enough; lent me to hold the rifle for a moment. Later on he also gave a short demo of refilling the bullet cartridge. Boy o Boy, what a day it was!!

Finally, we all 3 bid adeiu to those soldiers and returned back to india bridge, where the morning made friends happily waved goodbye to us and promised to contact me when they get off their work or when in bangalore. The heartfelt smile on their faces is still something joyful to remember for me, even when i  am writing this blog post. We 3 bikers reached back to kavada, refilled our tanks and i had to bid adieu, to the nagpur guys for my onward journey to Dhordo.

Dhordo – White Rann

It was almost 4PM, i rode as fast as i could to reach White Rann. Here too, the roads are really well maintained along with the good road signs. Thanks to Gujarat Govt and Army.

By the time i actually reached the entry gate of White Rann at Dhordo, it was getting dark. Felt a bit bad that i could not see the white rann in the broad day light, however, the entire days journey superseded everything. Yet upon inquiry with the guard and paying 150 INR, they allowed me to take bike to the last vehicle point. From this point again, i had to walk 2kms to get onto the white rann.

Being here, i got mesmerized with the immense beauty of the Rann, that i kind of customized a song lyric 😉

Dekha hai saari India. Kanyakumari se le ke kashmiriya. Bangal se leke kutch, Dekha hai pyaara bharathiya. Dil chahe idhar, sabka pyaar karna, miljaye idhar Saathiya ek saccha, safead RANN, desiya… Made in India. mera Dil he hamesha: Made for INDIA. Think twice, cause it’s another​ day for you and me in paradise..

By the time, i left Dhordo, it was almost 730PM. By now, the whole place had become dark. All along the highway, there wasn’t any street lights,  The deserted highway in the dark looked like i am flying into dark space.
As the saying goes, the Highway’s in Gujarat are safer from Humans, but not from Buffaloes. Hence, one has to be very vigilant about animal crossing boards on the highway during the night.

It was 830pm in the middle of nowhere. No souls to be seen beyond my vision can reach. No neon lights anywhere. Only light accompanies you is of the stars. Was there a gruesome fear? I bowed and prayed to the neon god in front of me and touched the sound of silence..With immensely filled in joy, Heart full of happiness. Sang on top of my voice while I rode on the road of wilderness.. The best feel my soul can perspire!!

I reached back to my hotel around 9PM in the friendly town: Bhuj. The people here are very soft-spoken, helpful and also easy-going. Immediately i rushed to the nearby hotel in bus stand to have some food as any delays beyond 945, all stores starts to get close down. While i was having my dinner, it was a total surprise to meet the 2 Nagpur gentlemen again. We had nice food and then enjoyed the gola.

Tasting gola, with mesmerizing entire day journey was satisfactory. The best epic moments for all of us, truly!! Even one can’t get similar experience at Wagah border, from my personal experience of being there.

Post half hour with the gentlemen at gola shop, we bid adieu to each other finally as they had to return to their native next morning. The long day was very tiring with almost 400Kms of riding done entirely on a hot sunny day.

Day 5: 15th Feb 2017

The next day, i had planned to visit Mandvi beach and then Mundra port. I started around 7AM, the road towards Mandvi was in very good condition. My first stop was at the Mundra junction on Mandvi highway. I had to have the difficult breakfast in Gujarat: faafda with jilebi and poha. I still wonder how Gujaratis can have this food in the morning hours :O

From here, it’s another an hour journey approx. I reached Mandvi beach around 10AM. By this time, the sun was very bright and weather was pretty hot. Mandvi beach had pretty good entertainment related stuffs on the shores and also food carts too. I could not spend alot of time here as the beach was pretty empty and weather was getting alot hotter.

 After being here for 15-20 minutes, i moved towards Mundra port. Mundra port is owned by the billionaire: Adani. I reached the port around 1115AM, by this time the weather was really hot. After inquiring into the visitor office, i was informed that the port is around 12Kms long in distance and one has to take car inside as they would not allow 2 wheeler. Hence, i either have to hire a local car or return back. I decided to return back than wasting money on a car.

The road towards Bhuj is a state highway, yet beautifully maintained.

Country roads, take me home, To the place i belong..
Himalayas, mountain mamaaa.. Take me Home, Country Roads

I reached hotel back around evening and took some rest. The rest of the day went on just lazying around and roaming the streets. I shall remember bhuj for its dabeli and gola. I am so missing them 😦

The other fantastic food one must try in bhuj is, Gujarati thali. I found varieties of the same when i tried in 3 different hotels.

Day 6: 16th Feb 2017

Next morning, i had planned to go Narayan sarovar and lakhpat en route Mata no madh temple. The road deviation towards Lakhpat is not that great as compared to Mandvi yet not bad at all. One gets a lot of good landscape view on this route.

En route, i got to see many lignite mining areas and also power plants too using this minerals.

Reached Mata no madh temple, apparently the temple is covered with high raise compound wall, and one can’t take the pic of the actual temple building.

Till Mata no madh, i was able to get JIO network, however vodafone was available till Narayan sarovar.

Fuel stations are not available at Naryan sarovar nor at Lakhpat, however at Narayan sarova the local shops sell bottled fuel though. The last petrol bunk to be found is at Dayapar. However, the locals suggested to not fill it up here as this vendor sells adulterated fuel. Just 3-5 kms after this bunk, there is a IOCL company petrol bunk before Mata no madh.

Post visiting Narayan sarovar, i felt that it wasn’t worth the time and distance to be here.

Entry gate

Dried up lake bed, i suppose!

Narayan Sarovar!! :O

Just 1 km ahead of this place, lies Koteshwar. This place also has a temple on the sea shore and the BSF guards the sea port here as its border area towards Pakistan.

I continued back towards Lakhpat. At this point of time, i was a bit disappointed about Naryan sarovar. But i hoped the Lakhpat would compensate. The road towards Lakhpat from Naryan sarovar is very narrow and not so great either. However, the whole place is under wild life sanctuary, hence one can not find any required help or vehicles passing by often.

I did spot peacocks on the roadside, however hearing my dug dug, they ran off 😦 Though, i waited for a while to encounter more, but none to my luck.

Finally, the Lakhpat fort was visible. It was massive in its own glory. Stood mighty in front of me and amazed to look at.

There is no permit required to be present here or even for the entry. The BSF check posts can be seen all around this port. From one end to other end, the fort is almost 2-3 kms in distance. While i passed through the fort internal area, there were couple of village houses and school present inside it and also at this one place i could see Temple, Church Masjid present. What a religious harmony!

The farther end of the fort, when climbed to the top gives an awesome glorious view of the entire White salt desert. Untouched, unexplored and well protected beauty by the BSF here. This desert looks massive and vast. I just sat on the walls of the fort in just mesmerizing and lost myself in its tremendous beauty.

I tried reaching this salt desert on foot with some difficulty (no direct gate or entry) but later came to know that it’s not allowed as from a farther distance, a BSF soldier warned me about, from his post. However, i managed to take a pic or 2 😉

The North and western side of the fort gives very good views of the entire salt desert.

After spending almost an hour or so, i started my journey back.

Journey for the day with Lakhpat was something i was expecting and i got it. The whole place is awesome for the one to get lost, self. The nature around, though just plain desert, but gives out enormous aura to perspire.

I do wish the fort walls which have got damaged badly would be repaired either by the BSF or by the govt. in bringing back its glory along with keeping it clean.

I had Gujarati thali and lassi at a highway dhaba, en route bhuj. The weather by now was really hot and made me frustrated to ride on the highway. Every now and then, i stopped to pour water on myself and on the bike seat to cool myself and my burning ass. 😀

The Gujarati thali here looked entirely different but also tasted very different from what i had in Bhuj. The lassi was really beautiful and damn tasty though. I enjoyed the sumptuous meal and left with a good smile on my face from this dhaba.

 

Day 7: 17th Feb 2017

Like all great travelers, i have seen more than i remember,
And remember more than i have seen

The final day of my journey, i have to bid adieu to Bhuj and also to my travel sojourn. The place, the food, the people, etc. are something i really going to miss, but that the due course of travel. Journey never ends, thus i left very early around 430 AM. Since the weather got pretty hot in the last 2 days, i decided to cover as much as possible when the sun is on the low horizon. The return journey was pretty good and enjoyable in the cold breezy wind on those fantastic highways.

Around 3PM i reached Vadodara. I decided to hit back to Youth hostel in gotri area. But that night went in horrible condition. The mosquitoes were a lot and all night i could not have much sleep. Hence next day i decided to settle up in a good hotel which is not on a high price. I found Hotel Prudent near railway station and the AC room was available for 1200 per night. The facility was good and clean.

On the same day i.e 18th, i went out of the city towards Ajwa chowk to drop my bike at the transporter location along with saddle bag. That evening, my trek friend Sandy came to my rescue in spending some time in between all his busy work. We went to Raatri bazaar and it was very nice to see such a huge organized eat area to spend a lot of time. We had dabeli here, which i  was really missing a lot.

Then he took me to the pan shop at around 11PM. Boy o Boy, never have i seen such a huge awesome shop only for paan and it was damn crowded even at this hour. There are varieties of pans available here. Probably more than 100 kinds. Each is of different looks and flavors and taste. I tasted 2-3 varieties of chocolate paan. I just loved the taste of it.

The next day, i had to catch my flight early in the morning towards Mumbai. I reached the airport by around 630AM, I stood there watching flight and sunrise in the background, after all security checkins were completed.

Spending almost half hour or more, I started looking inwards in retrospect with complete journey for last 7+ days and deeply felt..

Here stand's a man; sort of changed, awakened within, has rekindled life,
more courageous, more confident, better thinker, more peaceful, less timid, 
bit more wiser, more contended, much happier.. 
                  If i Could, i really Would... Yet I Did!! 🙂

Your comments are most welcome.

Thank you,

Zen 🙂

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One thought on “Rediscovering self on Motorcycle solo odyssey in Nation’s Heritage: Gujarat

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