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Considering multiple requests received from residents of Mysore who fly regularly, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation has introduced a direct shuttle volvo bus from BIAL to Mysore and back starting 14th August 2013.

Flybus service from Mysore to Bangalore Airport

Flybus service from Mysore to Bangalore International Airport

The top of the line multi axel volvo bus will connect both these destinations in an average time of 4 hours allowing air passengers to directly connect from Mysore to the Bangalore International Airport for their onward journey.

Some of the key features of the bus are below:

  • Volvo multi-Axle air conditioned buses for added comfort
  • In-Bus pantry and chemical toilet
  • In-Bus live entertainment system with 70+ channels
  • Artificial leather seats with increased legroom
  • Live display of flight timings

This service will have two departures from BIAL and Mysore daily with the following schedule:

Tickets can be booked online at KSRTC, Redbus, Makemytrip, VIA and more

Here are the helpline numbers in case you require further clarifications

Fly Bus Help Line at the Airport +91 99722 13726
Call Center +91 08 4455 4422

Happy journey

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In our constant hunt to find interesting hot spots closer to the metropolitan city of Bangalore, we stumbled upon this jewel called Devarabetta. This literally mean God’s Hill and true to its name, there is a temple at the foot of this mammoth rock. One monolith is around 80-90 feet high and the temple is situated right at the base.

A group of enthusiastic bikers from BJYMC set off from Bangalore early last Sunday from Silk Board junction towards Anekal town via Chandapura which was the first breakfast stop. A popular eatery called Sri Raghavendra known for its Benne Dose (Butter dosa) was unfortunately shut (closed on Sundays). So our next best option was SLV Restaurant and we were not disappointed. Hot crispy poori’s and soft mallige idlis with hot vadas made for a sumptuous breakfast.

With packed bellies, we continued on our journey towards Thalli which is across the border in Tamil nadu. We had to occasionally stop and ask the locals for directions and finally took a detour about 6 kms before Thalli. There are no boards, but this winding road right next to a small temple led us straight to Devarabetta.

Temple at Devarabetta

Being a Sunday morning, the nearby village was still waking up and the government school premises made for a wonderful parking spot for all 20 odd bikes.

Jawa & Yezdi bikes parked against the hillock at Devarabetta

The spiritualists headed straight to the temple while the adventurous started to climb the rock. After exploring the place, clicking few pictures, it was time for us to head back to Namma Bengaluru. But there was more excitement awaiting us on the road back to Anekal. The forest officials had blocked an entire stretch of the road to allow a heard of wild elephants cross over peacefully to the Bannerghatta forest. This did take a while but we did not mind the wait since we human have eaten away most of the forests that once belonged to these wild animals.

Bikes against the hillock at Devarabetta2

There are multiple routes to reach Devarabetta and you can choose any of the below:

1) Blr – Hosur Rd – Chandapura Town – Anekal – Thalli Rd – Devarabetta = About 60 kms (A small stretch is getting tarred and hence quite rocky)

2) Blr – Hosur Rd – Bommasandra – New Biocon Rd – Jigani – Anekal – Thalli Rd – Devarabetta = About 65 kms

3) Blr – Bannerghatta Rd – Jigani – Anekal – Thalli Rd – Devarabetta = About 65 kms

4) Blr – Hosur Rd – Hosur Town – Thalli Town – Devarabetta = About 70 kms

Happy riding

Going Turkey – Part II

To read the first part, pls click here

Day 5:

On reaching Antalya early morning from Cappadocia, we decided we had enough of organized tours and we wanted to do some exploring after all we belong to the clan of back packers. Plus we wanted to relax a bit, it’s a vacation after all. So we decided to go to the nearby town of Kemer. On reaching there we realized this is where all the ‘real vacationing tourists’ are. We booked a slot the next day for some scuba diving off the beach of Antalya. Then we took a local bus to the spot of Cable cars in Kemer, where we boarded the Cable cars to the Mt. Tahitli. This was one of the rides which leaves one breathless and amazed at the visual magnificence of what one sees. After all the best things in life can only be experienced, nothing else really does justice. The car took us 2465 metres high and to our surprise we realized this is also the highest Parasailing point on the Earth. Naturally we did that too and that more or less sums up the best day of the trip so far. The ultimate experience of flying as a human being was the one experience I will recommend to everyone. After the fun at Kemer, we decided to have a quite dinner with wine savouring the experience in our minds.

Anatalya, Turkey

The next day, we had our appointment to Scuba Dive in the Antalya beach. We had an hour long crash course on scuba diving and then we were fitted with the diving equipment which though a bit heavy on land was not felt at all in water. The instructor took us on a basic diving trip for an hour showing us the sea bed, activity of sea creatures and what not. It was the best experience for me on the whole trip and I cannot wait to scuba dive again.

Anatalya, Turkey

We were so motivated by the experience that we ended up travelling by the evening bus to Pammukale and checking into our hotel “Dort Mevzim” at night.

In the morning, our hotel manager dropped us off at the Pammukale tourist spot which is known for its geological heritage in the form of its hot bed springs, geological formations and also the historical remains to be found there. The town is famous for its pagan connections through the hot bed springs which are supposed to have healing powers.

Pammukale, Turkey

It is a very peaceful place and after half a day’s sightseeing, we took our next bus to Bodrum.

This time it was a planned move as Bodrum, a modern port town is known to be the most happening place in Turkey known for its night life and we reached the place at 9 P.M. which would fit in the JIT (Just in Time) category in Operations Management. We showed our instinctive side finally in Bodrum when we went berserk shopping. Even the food in Bodrum was amazing with the town being famous for its Waffles and Baked Potatoes.

Turkish cuisine

Bodrum, Turkey

All in all it was one of those places you just do not want to leave.

Finally we were back in Istanbul, this time we had had enough of the old quaint idea and stayed in the Taksim area in a hotel called Santa Hill. This area is the exact opposite of Sultanahmet but we still managed to get an ancient hotel room in keeping with the trend on our trip. After resting for half a day, we got out to go to the Taksim square expecting a noisy place with a lot of orthodox Turks, but we found the place to be a cut down version of the Times Square in New York, with all kinds of people who were all in flashy attire. So much for thinking Turkey is a quaint old place where the East meets the West…Almost…!!!

Taksim, Istanbul, Turkey

Then we went back to the instincts Mother Nature bestowed up on our gender when travelling and went on a shopping spree that lasted till the end of our trip the next evening. We shopped for just about everything possible, souvenirs, fashion accessories, sweets and what not. Do not miss out on the Turkish Bath as it completely relaxes you.  Finally it was time to return and our 10 day vacation was finally at an end.

On the whole it was a very refreshing experience to tour Turkey with its cultural values and its amazingly beautiful locations. Jokes apart, the food was much better than what it was made out to be above. I would definitely return to Turkey and the next time I come, I know where I want to go. Definitely carry a friend along… After all, you would rather fight a friend than a passionate Turkish football fan who might just bring half of Turkey crashing on you 🙂

This post is contributed by one of our readers Harsh

To go back to the first part, click here

Going Turkey!!

Folks, this is my first attempt at a blog and since this is a longish post, have broken this down into two parts… Don’t forget to read the second part too and share your comments.

While we may not be the two great adventurers spoken about in the Eastern Legends emanating from the hills of Tibet, my Roommate and I have done enough to certify as wannabe travellers. As much as we plan to go around the world, we do not think we can manage a leave of 80 days. Hence for our short break of 10 days we realized to focus and enjoy one place, one culture, one civilization to the maximum possible.

So what were the hot spots in contention…

  1. Thailand…hmmm…Been there…Done Everything Possible
  2. India…Perfect…if we both had not been Indians
  3. Macau…Come again??
  4. Afghanistan…Too Cultural considering we are both young girls…
  5. Turkey…A gigantic Bird… That’s more like it…Perfect…

Let’s go to Turkey said my comrade.

Okay Turkey was not really the gigantic bird and our reasons for choosing Turkey was more or less the fact that it was easy to obtain a visa from the U.A.E, an affordable and safe tourist place for two back packers to roam around and moreover it had the reputation of being a quaint old place where the East meets the West.

Please note that my friend and I are very diligent hard working people who like nothing more than sweating it out planning a perfect tour provided everything can be done online. Everything includes hotel stays, bus tickets within Turkey, and of course, the airfare to the place and back. Now we would have liked to pay for luggage transfer from place to place as though we are back packers, my friend has a condition via which she is unable to carry bags for more than 15 minutes at a stretch without becoming incurably tired.

So where do we go to in Turkey??…Google…Ha…yes let’s start off at the capital…Istanbul… J

The flight was Turkish Airlines, the partner of the greatest football team on Earth, Manchester United. We got into the midnight flight so that we could sleep and travel at the same time and not really waste time. In 5 hours we were in Istanbul.

Now our hotel was called “Old City Preferred”…I did say we had this thing for ‘quaint old places’. We saw some Greek heritage in the breakfast served which was definitely Spartan. On hearing the market was always a bustle of activity, we decided to hit the popular markets, Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. The weather was perfect for walking, the path’s clean and hence worth making the trek. Now like in India, these market place Turks are curious people. It would make sense to wear a Tee Shirt with your nationality and country of residence printed on it to avoid telling every second local the same. Probably it should be printed in Turkish and Greek for good measure 🙂

Istanbul, Turkey

Now travelling in Turkey can be done in style through trams. They charge 2 Liras and take you just about anywhere. Considering we were not really well versed with various locations, the trams just about saved our lives in terms of money spent as well as covering the whole city. We visited the Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia and our advice is utilise the trams to get there as we nearly missed out on both. No, we dint have our GPS with us.

Tired with a day’s walking and tram-ing, we returned to the hotel to freshen up and stepped out to have a Turkish dinner. We got some complementary Turkish apple tea. The food was simple but delicious. I, being a vegetarian ate the Turkish version of Pizza, called Pide while my friend, the carnivore preferred the grilled chicken aptly named Shish Tawook.

Istanbul, Turkey

Some facts about Istanbul – it is located on both sides of the Bosphorous and the area we stayed in was called Sultanahmet (The Old City). Definitely visit the Theodosian walls. Also watch out for the popular Tulips in Istanbul. Turkish football is famed for the intense rivalry between the big teams like Fenerbache and Galatasaray. Moreover, it is one of the most intimidating places to play in for most clubs in the UEFA Champions League or the Cup matches because of the frenzied atmosphere created by the passionate Turks. So don’t mess about with a Turk and his football, its sacred.

Second day, we had a guide who took us on Bosphorous leg of our visit where we crossed the bridge connecting Europe and Asia. Fortunately it was nothing like the Bridge on the River Kwai and it is still standing after we crossed it. We had another one of those Turkish lunches which was nothing more than baked vegetables with a slice of watermelon to sweeten our disappointment.

We also visited the Dolmabache Palace before returning to our hotel. By now if you’ve become smart like us, you would know that we travel by night and sight see during the day. The flipside is, we missed all the parties in the night because we were busy travelling.

We travelled to Cappadocio where we toured the north side on the third day. We stayed at the “Hotel Elysee Pension” (we like old places and definitely Cave rooms excited us). We were part of an organized tour, called the red tour that took us to the Goreme open air museum which consisted of 5 Byzantine Churches. We visited the castle at Uchisar which was the place to take photos. Finally this was turning into a tour…God Bless Facebook Albums… 🙂

Capadoccia, Turkey

Do visit Avanos – a pottery haven, actually if you sign up for the organized tour, it is not like you have a choice, but still it ensures you do not miss the things people will question you about on your return. After that we had a heavy Turkish Lunch which I do not plan to describe. We were taken to a bunch of valleys that looked so beautiful, it could have fit into the Lord of the Rings without much difficulty and moreover even the names fit. The valley of the fairy chimney was called the Pasabagi while Rose Valley had some amazing rock formations. Save the best for the last they used to say and our very hospitable and friendly hotel manager did that by putting us up in our cave room for the night.

The next day, day 4 for the amnesiacs, we went on the green tour, that is to the south side. We were woken up as early as 4 am for our Hot Air Balloon Ride. The Balloon ride started at 6 AM, and we were in a balloon full of Japanese folks. The view is phenomenal and it is easy to understand why Richard Branson keeps trying to break records with Balloons. We climbed to a height of 1000 metres and the view was phenomenal. We got a crash course of what we saw yesterday albeit at a height of 1000 metres. The best part, after landing we get our own certificate for flying without puking and champagne to celebrate.

Capadoccia Region, Turkey

All the above just took 1 hour of our precious time and cost us about 100 euros each. We were back to the more conventional touring. Like some weddings are just a 101 reasons for the relatives to dance, visiting Turkey is about a 101 valleys with different names but fortunately all the ones we visited were pretty good aesthetically unlike some of my relatives dancing… Places to note are the Pigeon Valley, The Nar Lake located in a crater where you can see turtles and ducks during summer, the underground city of Derinkuyu, Ihlara valley, Belisarma and Selime (where some bits of Star Wars was shot).

Back to hotel…Sleep…Have you been reading anything till now? We mix travel with sleep whenever we can…and so we are off to Antalya that night.

(End of part 1)

This post is contributed by Harsh

To continue reading, click here

It all started with Dr Vijay Mallya picking up majority stake in a small F1 team a few years back. Earlier known as Spyker F1, it was soon rechristened to Force India. This daring act by Mallya made many stand up and take notice of a country and its people slowly coming out and making their presence felt globally other than IT. (Update: As of last week, Sahara Pariwar has bought a 42% stake in Force India team and has rechristened it again to Sahara Force India.)

Sahara Force India F1 car

The small F1 fan base across the country had a reason to cheer and soon the fan following started growing in numbers. Sports bars across the country started showing races live in large screens and this grew with Force India team improving their performance season after season. This eventually encouraged JP Group to take a very bold step and invest top dollars in building an international standard race track on the outskirts of the national capital Delhi.

Today, thanks to the determination of many and the backing of a billion hearts, we have an F1 track in the country and the first Indian F1 GP is all set to take place at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida starting on the 28th of October 2011.

The two Indian F1 drivers Narian Karthikeyan and Karun Chandok are doing their part in promoting the event across the country along with Vodafone bringing in Lewis Hamilton to Bangalore for a show two weeks back. Yesterday the 24th of October, we got a chance to be part of Karun Chandok’s media briefing in Delhi where he spoke about his passion for the sport and how delighted he is to see India on the F1 racing calender. He is eagerly looking forward to the first practice on Friday. (Latest update is that Karun will not be racing this weekend for the Lotus team but will be the test driver)

Karun Chandok with media in Delhi ahead of F1 race

With an event of such magnitude (1,25,000 plus fans expected), there is bound to be a lot of people trying to get to the venue to catch a piece of the action and be the first to watch an F1 race in India. So here are a few pointers which will help you navigate around the city of Delhi and the circuit better. Hope to bump into you all at the circuit cos we are not missing this for the world.

For latest images of Buddh International F1 circuit click here

Tips for F1 Race in Delhi:

  1. If you have not bought your F1 tickets, then better rush to http://www.bookmyshow.com and also pick up your bus tickets as they are the cheapest means to reach the track.
  2. Get hold of the metro route map and the Delhi city map at the information kiosk at the airport. This will give you all the metro routes to move around the city and get a general idea of where you are.
  3. The F1 venue is about 50 kms from Delhi city centre and will take about 2.5 hrs to get there which is in Greater Noida and not visible in the city map.
  4. JP Group is providing bus pick ups from various parts of the city and will be the best way to get to the circuit. Try this online map which will give details of the pickup points in the city. You will have to buy these bus tickets in advance to avoid last minute rush.
  5. Flight tickets are expensive but still available in case you are traveling from elsewhere. An airport express link is available at T3 which will get you to the city centre from where you can switch trains to Noida Sector 18 or take a bus. From Sector 18, you will have to find your own transport or take the F1 shuttle bus to reach the circuit.
  6. Book your hotel either in Noida, Gurgaon or South Delhi as its easier to reach the circuit. Decent hotels are priced at Rs 2,500 going upwards
  7. Carry your water bottle, cap and umbrella or raincoat in case you need to use them but do not carry any sharp objects or inflammable products as the security is very strict at the entry point.
  8. Finally, a good SLR camera with good zoom is essential if you want to catch a part of this action

Have fun!!

Team GreatEscapes

Come June, the adventure biking community start gearing up for a ride of a lifetime. Our dream of riding over the mighty Himalayas finally came true this June’11. Can’t believe that with just 2 months of preparation time we were able to complete this dream ride and back in the concrete jungle before we realised.

Caution: This post is quite long and detailed so do bear with us.

View of the himalayas from Kashmir

Preparation:
It all started in March / April when a few Rotary friends from IFMR (International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarian) decided to take on the challenge of riding across some of the toughest terrains in the world. Both my wife and I wanted to be part of this journey and decided to join them but for a shorter version (11 days) of their 17 day trip.
Being a Jawa and Yezdi fan since childhood and part of Bangalore Jawa Yezdi Club (BJYMC), I was keen to do this trip on one of these bikes. Thus began my hunt for a good second-hand Roadking which is tough to find considering the market demand for these bikes now. Finally, just about 5 weeks before our trip I managed to find a healthy 1996 model in Yelahanka, Bangalore and immediately picked it up and sent it for service.
We had to do a practice ride to Ooty to test our bikes on the steep Kalhati route after which I decided to replace few parts. It was necessary for the long ride especially since we were the only one riding doubles. Repairs included new piston rings for additional compression, clutch plates (very important), all lubricants, handle bar, heavy duty clutch & brake cables (very important), resetting rear shocks, double tubing of tyres, new carburettor, back rest, additional luggage carrier and mirrors on both sides.
List of important spares to carry on the trip:
Extra wheel tube, petrol pipe, spark plugs, clutch cable, wire binders, headlight bulbs, york n levers for both left and right side, chain links, spare ignition coil set, foot pump and full tool set.
We also had to buy a 45 litre saddle bag and magnetic tank bag from Cramster (not water proof though), minus degree sleeping bags (Decathlon or Army Store), ankle shoes, lots of woollen socks, woollen gloves, thermal wear, two pairs of riding gloves, balaclava, good helmet, fish net & bungee cords to tie our luggage, plastic garbage bags to cover our saddle bags & backpacks, thick riding jackets, knee and elbow pads, good raincoats, peanut chikkis & energy bars, Glucon D and coke / bisleri bottles to carry extra fuel. Most importantly, we had to get physically and mentally fit for the challenge up ahead.
The Route:
 Srinagar*, Sonamarg, Zoji la pass (11,500ft), Drass, Kargil*, Fotu la pass (13,500ft), Lamayuru, Nimmu, Leh*, Upshi, Tanglang la (17,582ft), Pang*, Lachalang la pass (16,600 ft), Morrie plains, Sarchu, Baralacha la pass (16,050ft), Jispa, Keylong*, Rothang la Pass (13,051ft), Manali*, Kullu, Mandi, Bilaspur*, Chandigarh*(The destination marked with asterix (*) were our stop over points)
Total distance covered – 1,390 Kms
Total fuel cost with oil – Rs 3,900

Route map

The Ride: 2nd – 12th June’11
With our departure dates fast approaching, we packed our bike via Gati cargo to Srinagar which was our starting point of the journey. Gati charges Rs 6100/- plus packing for Srinagar due to the terrain and security reasons but delivers the bike in 10 – 12 days time. We joined the rest of the 3 riders from IFMR (Sathya, Ravish & Jayaprakash) at Srinagar on the 2nd of June when we flew from Bangalore to Srinagar via Delhi. The three others had started six days before us from Chandigarh and completed Amritsar, Wagah Border, Jalandhar, Dalhousie, Dharamshala, Vaishnodevi, Kathra & Jammu. Our stay in Srinagar was at Peacock Houseboat which is in a quiet corner of Nigeen Lake. Bashir, our houseboat owner helped us a lot in getting our bikes cleaned and ready for the journey.

Houseboat in Srinagar

Team with bikes before the ride

Day 1 – We started at 6.30am on 3rd June and stopped at the nearest petrol bunk to fill our tanks and rode for about 40kms to stop for breakfast at a dabha. The staple breakfast in these areas is Aloo paratha and that is what we had for most of our journey. After breakfast, the terrain began to change drastically and the roads began to deteriorate. At an average speed of 30 – 35kmph we crossed Sonmarg and reached our first check post. The road towards Zojila pass was due to a massive traffic jam with over 100 lorries stuck on this steep pass. We were lucky to spot a kannada speaking officer who let us through. This was our first real experience of the harsh terrain which we had to encounter throughout this trip.

Himalayan valley on Srinagar – Leh route

Truck traffic on Zojila pass

Having negotiated the lorries and the slush we finally reached the peak of Zojila at 11,500 ft which was the highest we had ever been. The snow covered peak was a sight for sore eyes but we couldn’t enjoy this for long as we were running out of breadth due to low oxygen levels at this altitude.

Our bikes on top of Zojila Pass

After a few mandatory pictures, we continued on our journey towards Drass which is the second coldest inhabited place in the world. Just before Drass, we crossed a Kargil War Memorial and Tiger Hill where our brave soldiers fought to protect our country during the 1999 Kargil war. After a simple yet tasty lunch at Drass we proceeded towards Kargil which was our stop for the night. We reached Kargil (8200 ft) around 6pm and checked into D’Zojila Hotel @Rs 1350 per room.

Drass near Kargil

View of Kargil town

Day 2 (4th June) began early and after fuelling our bikes again, we rode in the dust covered terrain with a halt for breakfast around 9am. After aloo parathas and omlets, we continued on our journey towards Lamayuru monastery crossing Namikala pass at 12,198 ft and Fotula pass at 13,479 ft which is the highest point on the Srinagar – Leh route. With mandatory photo sessions, we reached Lamayuru at 1.30pm.

Diverse terrain on the Kargil Leh road

Bare mountains on the way to Leh

Lumayaru Monastry 110kms before Leh

Followed by a quick lunch and tour of the monastery we were back on the road towards our dream destination. Having crossed a bad patch of road, we hit another checkpost after which the road improved and was almost downhill all the way till Leh. We crossed the mighty river Indus and entered Leh around 6.30pm to camp at Hotel Thongsal @Rs 1000 per nite which is towards the outskirts on a hill. This was our home for the next 4 days while we wandered around.

Local kids near Leh

View of Leh town

Day 3 (5th June) was quiet as we relaxed, applied for our permits and visited Shanti Stupa. The highlight of the day however was our visit to the Hall of Fame which houses photographs and stories of brave soldiers who sacrificed themselves to protect our borders. This tour was very touching and brought tears to our eyes. We also got to sample few local cuisines and delicacies during our stay in Leh not to forget shopping at the Tibetan market for imported goodies and t-shirts with route maps.

Hall of Fame, Leh

Weapons used by Indian Army during Kargil war

Day 4 (6th June) was our visit to the famous Pangong Lake. This is about 150 kms from Leh and the route is very scenic across Changla pass at 17586 ft with lots of frozen lakes and sand dunes along this route. Pangong Lake is the world’s second largest or highest salt water lake with a length of 130kms and width of upto 6 kms. Only one third part of this lake is in India with the rest of it in China occupied Tibet. This is a must visit for all tourists visiting Leh. Cabs charge about Rs 5600 for a one day round trip to this lake.

View from Changla on the way to Pangong Lake

Pangong Lake, Leh

Pangong Lake, 145 kms from Leh

Day 5 (7th June) was peaceful with a lazy start to Kardungla the world’s highest motorable road at 18,380 ft. This pass is on the way to Nubra valley and is about 45 kms from Leh. We spent about an hour at the peak taking pictures and eating noodles at the world’s highest cafeteria. We were back in town by 12 and it was time to get some tuning done to the bike as it was struggling to run due to lack of oxygen. Found one mechanic on the Leh-Manali road about half a km from town called Mohan Sharma (Ladakh Automobiles) who can be reached on 09419242643. He is the only mechanic who has experience working on Jawa and Yezdi bikes and helped tune my bike to some extent.

World’s highest motorable road – Kardungla, Leh

World’s highest cafe, Kargungla, Leh

Day 6 (8th June) – We were back on the road towards Manali and dropped in at Thikse Monastry which was on the same road. After another round of photo sessions, we continued to encounter one of the worst rides of our lives.

Thikse Monastry – Start of our return journey from Leh

Coldest day of our trip across Tanglangla

By the time we reached the peak of Tanglangla at 17,582 ft (second highest motorable road), our feet were soaked in ice cold water and heavy snow fall made our journey impossible. We quickly changed our socks, put on some plastic covers on our feet before wearing our shoes. We decided to continue as staying there could have proved dangerous for our hands and feet. After a grueling 2 hour ride, we reached the temporary camp site of Pang at 2.30pm which charges about Rs 100 per person for the nite. This is the world’s highest transit camp at 15600 ft. Our hosts were kind enough to make us some hot soup and maggi to keep us warm and kept the stove burning all day.  We quickly snuggled under our sleeping bags and rugs inside the tent to recuperate and recharge ourselves for the ride ahead. This was by far the coldest day of our entire journey and all of us wanted to just give up and take a cab back to Manali. Beware, these camps do not have bathroom or toilet facility.

The highest transit camp in the world – Pang

Day 7 (9th June) looked brighter and we were glad to be back on our bikes. We had to encounter two more passes Lachalangla at 16,600 ft and Baralachala at 16,050 ft before we entered Himachal. The lush green trees were a sight for sore eyes after having gone through miles of snow covered mountains and dusty plains. We reached the little town of Jispa around 2.30pm and stopped at a road side hotel for lunch and decided to ride up to Keylong as there was no mobile network at Jispa. We had not spoken to our family for over two days. We reached Keylong at 5pm and found a very nice river side hotel Deykid @ Rs 800 per nite. We were glad to have a hot water bath and warm rooms after two cold days.

Crossing Lachalangla Pass

On our way to Jispa

Day 8 (10th June) – We were at the last leg of our grueling ride and riding up to Rothangla was a breeze. We stopped to try out the snow scooter which was a thrilling experience. Once we crossed over the top, the scene changed completely as the whole place was packed with tourists. Our ride down to Manali was the most painful one with miles of cars and jeeps stuck on the road due to a landslide. Being on a bike has its advantages as we were able to sneak through the traffic and knee deep slush. Our descent to Manali took about 3.5 hours due to the traffic but we were down finally around 4pm. Our three friends decided to continue riding till Mandi while my wife and I decided to halt in Manali for the night. We stayed at a slightly expensive hotel called Lord’s Regency in New Manali with a lovely view of river Beas. The evening was spent walking around Mall road to shop for gifts. Manali is packed with tourists during this season with almost every hotel fully booked and the roads packed with cars.

My wife and I crossing Rothangla on the Leh – Manali highway

Road to Manali town from Rothangla

View of Beas from Manali town

Day 9 (11th June) – After breakfast we visited an apple orchard but since it’s off season, we could find only baby apples. We checked out and continued on our journey towards Bilaspur which was our stopover for the nite at a distance of about 180kms. We stopped at Kullu for lunch on the banks of the river and continued on the winding hill roads towards Mandi. Before Mandi we encountered the longest tunnel in India with a length of 2.8 kms which was an interesting experience. The bike sounded excellent with the echo inside the tunnel. This is a very scenic route with the river following us all the way till Mandi but the traffic on this route will bother you as overtaking is difficult. We stopped 3kms before Bilaspur at Hotel Sagar View (Rs 950) for the nite with a lovely view of the town.

Apple orchard in Manal

Longest tunnel in India before Mandi which is about 2.8kms in length

Day 10 (12th June) was the last riding day of our trip with a distance of about 140kms. Once we entered Punjab the terrain changed and it was flat road all the way to Chandigarh. We reached our hotel White Palace by around 12 noon and the weather was hot and humid. Our friends were at this hotel & ready to depart as their flight was one day before ours. So after lunch we bit farewell to them and met one of the core members of 3 Biker’s Club, Chandigarh – Deep. Was nice to meet a fellow Yezdi biker from a different region to exchange some quick notes.

Condition of my bike after completing our journey

Day 11 (13th June) was quite slow with a ride around the city hunting for a good book store and back to Gati Cargo to check in my bike. This time Gati charged us Rs 3200 plus packing charges of Rs 700. Once that was done we got back for lunch and left for the airport for our 4.00 pm flight. We landed in Bangalore at 8.30 and were home by 10.30pm. Thus ended one of our most exciting journeys ever.
Important things to remember:
·         Never take your eyes off the road while riding as the terrain is very beautiful but the road is equally dangerous. You might end up with a fall if you get distracted even slightly. Stop riding if you want to appreciate the landscape, take pictures and then continue.
·         Carry your bike spares with you all the time and always ride in a group. You will need help from your friends to push your bike at certain points if you get stuck.
·         Carry 3 copies of your bike papers and your identify proofs along with original ID cards incase you are stopped at check posts and for inner line permit at Leh.
·         Always keep your raincoats handy as the weather might change quickly.
·         On the Leh – Manali route, carry atleast 2 – 4 litres of fuel as emergency and always carry your own engine oil as most petrol bunks do not sell packets or loose oil.
·         Carry good branded helmet which will cut off outside air flow. This is very important as the cold air will hit you while riding. You will also need good waterproof gloves.
·         Altitude sickness medicine is called Diamox & its homeopathic equivalent is Cocca 30 (6 nos – 4 times a day). If you are riding up from Srinagar side, you can manage without this medicine as the climbs is gradual. Pls check with your doctor for any side effects before using this medicine.
·         Always put your clothes and electronic gadgets inside plastic bags before packing into saddle bags as they are not waterproof.
·         Only BSNL Postpaid connection works in most of the region with Airtel, Aircel and Vodafone postpaid available at Leh.
·         Carry enough t-shirts, good thermals and thin sweater to wear multiple layers while covering the snow covered passes.
·         Book your stay at Srinagar, Manali and Leh in advance since you might not get good places during the peak region.
·         Always maintain constant speeds and do not be in a hurry to complete the course. The terrain is bad and might hurt your bike if you over speed.
Do feel free to post your feedback and mail us on info@greatescapes.co.in
Ur escapist

Agumbe, a Snapshot

Here are some pictures we took during a herpetology camp, deep inside the virgin, untamed forests of Agumbe. Interested in attending the camp, click here.

Agumbe is one of the most scenic places on the Western Ghats of the Southern  India. Situated 560 meters above sea level on the Sahyadri ranges (Western Ghats), a World bio-diversity hotspot is aptly called the Cherapunji of South India as it receives an average rainfall of 7000-8000mm annually.

Added to the lush green view all around, the attractions for the visitors is the spectacular sunset and vast opportunities it offers to the trekkers. However not many know that these pristine forests are home to the longest venomous snake of the world – The King Cobra. The renowned herpetologist, Romulus Whitaker called Agumbe the capital of King Cobra.

If you are looking for a peaceful break for a few days from the hectic city life, away from the crowded and commercialized attractions, then this is the place for you.

Ophiophagus Hannah - King Cobra

King Cobra

Dear readers, our next herpetology camp will be on 16-17 October & 30-31 October 2010.  Click here to get more information.

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