morning we headed out early to avoid 300
army trucks coming out of the main barracks depositing soldiers all
over the area. We heard they were leaving at 9 am, but we were mistaken
and we were caught up in the middle of it. Army helicopters overhead,
tanks, patrols, guns everywhere. At one stage one of the bikes stopped,
our mechanic came along kicked
it over and there was a huge backfire. Soldiers appeared from nowhere
looking for the enemy!
We eventually made it out of this beautiful old
city heading though
western Kashmir and the Pir Panjal Range of mountains, these were very
spectacular and with plenty of vegetation. But there were a lot of
trucks to negotiate, half of them military some
pulling artillery equipment.
We also rode through the impressive Jawahar Lal
2.5km long tunnel, this
had no lighting inside - pitch black - and Enfield headlights aren’t
the best, luckily traffic was going slowly. When we came out the other
side the scenery along the river valleys and
hills were again spectacular.
There were more army check-points and
bottlenecks of trucks, together
with very potholed roads - although mostly bitumen. At one stage during
the day we seemed to be heading down hill for
around 150kms before going back up again, and we reckon we negotiated
well over 4000 sharp bends.
We’d also seen more trucks that had gone off
the side of the road -
some of them the same day. One still had the driver in it hanging
upside down. Another had gone over a bridge and an army crane, with
another truck holding it down, was pulling it out. Another
three-vehicle crash going down a steep hill was a reminder to be
By the time we got to Jammu that night we had
ridden 300km and it had
taken us a solid 12 hours! We also lost part of our crew riding
through the city (in the dark) but we all eventually made it to the
hotel where we had a great night - one of the guys is a magician and
put on a great show.
Next morning we were heading back to
Chandighar, again very close to
the Pakistani border and the military presence was huge, but as we rode
further east there were less and less army trucks and troops on the
road. There were definitely not many Westerners around this area
though, and we caused some interest.
We were now out of the mountains and
back on the Indian Plains in the
Punjab. We were also back in the heat and humidity. The population had
changed again and it was predominantly Sikhs, these are the guys with
long beards and turbans. They looked a lot like relatives of mine and
were very friendly and frequently waving at us. (Ripper Celtic T-shirt
Bob - maybe they were wanting one of them - web ed)
The first part of the day was on a main road
and very busy, but later
on we were on quieter ones and the riding was very pleasant. We
eventually ended back in Chandighar, the same hotel where we stayed
when we were heading north. This time there was an Indian wedding - I
think it went on for five days. Chris and I and another couple thought
we would have a look around the door - they invited us in and took
pictures of us posing with the wedding party!
I was standing there trying to hide a bottle of
whisky behind my back,
as they were all teetotal. They asked us to stay, but we declined
feeling a bit underdressed in shorts and T-shirts. We were now back on
track with where we should be with the
‘dis’organised tour and the following day headed back to Delhi.
By now we were well used to the Indian way of
driving/riding in traffic
and it was a breeze, weaving in and out everywhere and blasting the
horn. Actually I think we were getting worse than the Indians. There
was quite a bit of traffic going into Delhi and we had trouble
with 2 bikes breaking down, with the back-up vehicle nowhere to be seen
as it had a puncture. Most Indian vehicles seemed to have bald tyres.
Although I must say the bike tyres were good.
We eventually handed back our bikes and headed
by coach to our hotel.
We then had a brilliant meal at a restaurant around the corner -
congratulating ourselves on completing the ride with no accidents or
other major incidents.
Next morning (early) we checked out and hopped
into our luxury tourist
coach that was to take us 260kms south to the one-time Moghul capital
of Agra. Before checking into the hotel we went a further 40kms south
to Fatehpur Sikri for a sightseeing tour of this huge of old majestic
fort which is World Heritage listed and has a fascinating history.Iit
was the original Moghul capital until a shortage of water made them
move their headquarters to the Agra Fort.
After dinner that night we had a look at a shop
where they were making
marble tables etc, all their work was beautifully inlaid (using the
same technique as the work on the Taj Mahal). They showed us a table
that had taken 2 workers 9 years to complete - they hadn’t sold it yet!
Next day we were back on the coach for our
(long) last day in India.
First we were off to the Taj Mahal. This place is absolutely
beautiful, better than what you see in photos or films, in fabulous
condition with an amazing history - it took 22,000 workers 22 years to
Not far is the Agra Fort which began life over 900 years ago. It’s
huge, took us ages to walk around what we could as 80% of it is in
control by the army and not accessible to visitors. Again the place was
By lunchtime we were back on the bus and heading for Dehli and the airport.
As we arrived on the outskirts of Delhi the bus had a puncture, so
pulled over and a wheel was changed.Iit was an inside one and took a
while. When we got going again it was dark, and there was a huge
travelling though South Delhi. We were wondering if we were going to
get to the airport on time. What we didn’t know was that 6 bombs had
gone off in the city, 28 people were dead and over 100 injured. We were
most probably better off not knowing.
We eventually were though passport control and
security on our way to
Singapore to change planes for Perth with Singapore Airlines - which
were great by the way, must be one of the few airlines left where
drinks are complimentary.
What a brilliant experience it had been,
sometimes the riding was hard,
but there was always more than enough to compensate, whether it was the
scenery, the locals or the great crowd of people that we shared the
tour with. You can look at pictures, or read about it, but unless you
to India and the Himalayas its impossible to fully realise what it’s
If you can do it, go for it, get on that bike and ride - it’s an experience of a lifetime.