Homecoming ride

After writing more than a dozen travelogues about my various long and short rides here, I have come to realize that detailed travelogue should be only written for short rides of 2-3 nights. Anything more than that leads to the reader getting bored or the rider invariably sharing inconsequential details and ending up unnecessarily boasting about his ride. Therefore, I have decided to share my homecoming ride with you all in a new and different way. I am calling it a Picto-dote log. I will be mainly using pictures to describe the ride and share various funny/interesting/heart-warming anecdotes with you all through the way. Hope you all enjoy it. 

Some stats about the ride – 

Distance covered – over 4600 kms
No. of days – 10
Bike – Bajaj Pulsar 135
States entered – Gujarat-Rajasthan-Haryana-Delhi-Uttar Pradesh
Major cities crossed – Surat-Ahmedabad-Bhuj-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Jaipur-New Delhi-Agra-Kanpur
New friends made – Several
Experiences – Aplenty!

Part one – Khusboo Gujarat ki.

“Kutch nahi dekha toh kya dekha.” was the statement which used to reverberate in my mind during my stay in Gujarat. Therefore I simply had to visit it once before returning back home. I spent the first 4 days of my trip exploring kutch and I will let the pictures and the anecdotes tell you the full story.

Day one – 
Surat-Ahmedabad-Little Rann of Kutch-Ahmedabad.
500 kms approx

Splendid roads, the most common feature during my ride in Gujarat – 


The Little Rann of Kutch -

The only place in India where you find Wild Asses roaming around in the open 

Watching the sun set at the Little Rann of Kutch – 

Anecdote of the day – 

I had attended a safety awareness ride in Surat a few months back and I had befriended a biker couple from Ahmedabad. I never knew that one small meeting will bring me so close to Swaroop Srinivasan and Twinkle Kapadi. They are the experts of Kutch and they not only guided me during my ride but they also opened up their homes and hearts for me during my brief stay. Needless to say, I got in touch with Swaroop before starting from Surat and decided to meet him in Ahmedabad. I reached Ahmedabad at about 2 pm and had the following conversation with him after the customary pleasantries – 

Swaroop – So what’s the plan??

Me – I don’t know man, I had planned to reach Bhuj today but that seems farfetched now as it is already 2 pm. What about you? What’s your plan?

Swaroop – No plan dude, I took a day off from work. Hey, what about the Little Rann of Kutch? Don’t you want to visit it?

ME – I have no idea how far it is. What do you suggest?

Swaroop – It’s a 200 kms round trip from Ahmedabad. If you start now you might just manage to reach before the last safari leaves.

Me – Sounds good to me. By the way, why don’t you join me?

Swaroop – Yeah sure, I can do that.

And just like that, he agreed to join me as my pillion on an impromptu 200 kms trip; proving yet again that when two likeminded people come together, crazy things are bound to happen. But the anecdote doesn’t ends there. The real fun started when we were about to reach the Little Rann. While leaving from Ahmedabad, we had called up ahead to book two seats for ourselves on the last safari which was scheduled to leave at 4:15 pm. However we got late and the safari left without us. I had got a little sad when Swaroop decided to use some local influence. Now generally one needs a permit to visit the little Rann on his own vehicle and that is why we were planning to take the regular safari which is conducted every day. However, Swaroop asked the locals about the way to a famous temple which is located inside the Rann. We followed the directions given to us by the locals on narrow dusty lanes through small villages and voila! We entered the Rann from one of its many entry points. No permits and on our own bikey we saw the sun go down in the far distance onto the vast expanse of nothingness called the Little Rann of Kutch!

Thank you Swaroop!  Smiley



Day Two –
Ahmedabad-Bhuj-Kalo Dungar.
425 kms approx.

Salt pans and windmills, the two most prominent sights en route Bhuj – 

Bhuj to Kalo Dungar, Narrow but butter-smooth roads with The Tropic of Cancer passing through it – 

Sunset from Kalo Dungar (Black Hill), the highest point at Kutch.

Anecdote of the day – 

I had planned to reach Bhuj and meet Twinkle by mid day but a small get-together with Swarup and one of his friends the previous night resulted in me leaving late from Ahmedabad. However, I reached Bhuj, the largest city of Kutch by late afternoon and met the ever enthusiastic Twinkle Kapadi. Twinkle is a girl who has grown up in a place called Adipur, around 50 kms from Bhuj and one can easily call her “the encyclopaedia of Kutch”. An avid biker herself, she managed to take out time from her daily schedule to meet me and guide me for my journey forward. Kutch being the largest district in India, one can easily take anywhere between 10-15 days to complete it properly. However, I just had 2 more nights in hand so I was in desperate need of some tips from an expert and Twinkle didn’t disappoint me. Upon her advice I decide to ride till Kalo Dungar (Black Hill), the highest point at Kutch to see the sunset at the far horizon. It was about a 100 kms from Bhuj and I was riding against the clock but I still managed to reach it much before sunset thanks to the superb roads even in the remotest areas of Gujarat. 

I was told by twinkle to notice two things at Kalo Dungar, one being the age old tradition of the feeding of the jackals by the temple priest and the other being the exceptionally clear night sky from the top of the hill. I was lucky enough to witness both as just when I reached, the priest of the temple atop the hill had left the Prasad of Khichdi at the designated spot and to my surprise, within minutes a bunch of wild jackals came to eat it! 

I was the only person staying at the Ashram that night. Braving the cold and the eeriness of the place I managed to leave my room and walk to the top of the hill late at night. It was all completely worth the effort as the night sky was nothing like I had ever seen. I could see billions of stars in the sky, a near impossible sight in our pollution filled cities. Unfortunately, my digicam was not capable enough to capture it and thus it will be a sight and an experience which will always remain captured only in my memory, nowhere else.

Wild Jackals feeding on the food provided by the priest

I even found a video of the jackals being fed on youtube, its only fair that I share it with you all



Day Three –
Kalo Dungar-India Bridge-Dhordo-Lakhpat.
280 kms approx.

Day started with a beautiful sunrise from Kalo Dungar followed by a free breakfast from the temple.

Well maintained roads even in the interior most places of Gujarat.

Anecdote of the day – 

After a beautiful sunrise at Kalo Dungar, a hearty chat with the soldiers posted there and a sumptuous breakfast provided by the temple. I was super excited to ride towards Dhordo to see the never ending white rann!! It was late November and due to a few spells of delayed rain in Kutch, I was told by Swaroop and Twinkle that the rann may not be white or accessible! Keeping my hopes high, i got mine and bikey’s permit done and reached Dhordo village and then entered the grey sandy rann only to find myself lose my way! The indian army soldiers were very helpful and they guided me back towards the enrty point. I was riding very slowly on the coarse and sandy path when I noticed the land in the distance sparkling under the sun. As I rode closer I saw the first glimpse of the pristine white rann of Kutch. I was ecstatic to say the least! However, I was still apprehensive weather I will get to ride on the rann or not but luck favored me that day and the rann was pretty solid to ride on. There were no other tourist apart from a lone camel-wala. I rode deep inside the rann, and went mad!!!

The most awaited part of the ride for me so far “Pagalpanti at The White Rann of Kutch!!”

Pick a direction and start walking!!!

Camel ride toh banti hai!!  Wink


That small dot in the distance is Bikey!!

This is what white rann is made up of

One for the x-men

Anecdote of the day – I must share a second anecdote of the day. I had decided to ride on till Lakhpat, a tiny village completely surrounded by a fort. It is one of the westernmost inhabited places of our country and most of it lies in ruins after the 2000 earthquake. It is scarcely visited by tourists and the only place to spend the night there is a Gurudwara. Being a Sikh myself, i was sure that it would be a comfortable stay. However, due to unavailability of accommodation at Lakhpat every tourist who plans to spend the night there uses the Gurudwara facilities which had made the old priest of the Gurudwara a little annoyed. He was visible not very pleased when I entered the Gurudwara compound, with my riding gears on and my saddle bags in hand. He mumbled in punjabi that “people are thinking of this place as a hotel! and he would only allow religious travelers to stay”. I simply smiled at him, greeted him in punjabi, spoke a few words in punjabi and saw his attitude towards me change within a moment. After that, I was more like his son and he was very very pleased to have someone to talk with in Punjabi. He had a lot to share with me but I had an important task to do so I excused myself from him only with the promise that we will continue our chat over dinner.Ever since I had started touring, I had this fascination to visit the most extreme points of the country. I had always wanted to visit Arunachal and be one  of the fist persons of our country so see the sunrise. Similarly, I wanted to visit the western most tip of our country and be one of the last persons of our country to see the sunset. Today was that day and it was the main reason why I had added Lakhpat to my itinerary. To tick it off my bucket list.

Moved on with the ride towards Lakhpat, one of the western most inhabited places of India, Lovely roads as usual…

An army of camels hijacking the road!!

After a temple, it was now time to spend the night in a Gurudwara, the only accommodation at Lakhpat.

Riding aimlessly inside Fort Lakhpat.

Sunset from one of the western most inhabited places of India, being the last person to see the sun go down that day!! Smiley



Day Four –
Lakhpat-Narayan Sarovar-Bhuj-Radhanpur.
450 kms approx.

Koteshwar Temple

Bikey looking across from the westernmost point of India.

Bhuj, the largest city and capital of Kutch

In and around Bhuj

Anecdote of the day – 

I had a sense of fulfillment after visiting the White Rann. I had planned to leisurely visit Narayan Sarovar and Koteshwar Temple located at the far western corner of India. There is not much to write home about the two places and that is why I soon left the places and reached Bhuj. I had got a very warm invitation by Twinkle to spend the night at her place in Adipur with home cooked traditional Gujarati food and loads of local stories. However, due to time constraints I had to give the very tempting invitation a pass with a promise to Twinkle that I will surely visit her place the next time I go Kutching. I visited the few places to see within Bhuj city and started my ride towards Rajasthan. However, I had to spend the night at Radhanpur, a small town on the border of Gujarat and Rajasthan. It was the last night for me in Gujarat after spending more than 10 months in the state. I had mixed feelings.



Part Two – The Unique Culture Of Rajasthan


I had always felt that Rajasthan is one of the most culturally rich states in India. I had always been fascinated by its rich history, the humongous palaces and forts and the barren landscapes. One can easily take anywhere between 15-20 days to completely explore the state. I just had about 4 days and I made the most of it. 

Day 5 – 
460 kms approx

Anecdote of the day – 

“Welcome to Rajasthan”
 was the board which greeted me the next morning. Most of the topography changed after that. I saw potholes on roads after months, the landscaped started to get barren, and there was more and more accumulation of sand and less and less population with every passing kilometre. My first meal in Rajasthan comprised of the famous Bajre ki roti and dahi. When the dhaba owner came to know that this was my first meal in Rajasthan, he refused to take money from me and I had to pay the amount as a tip to the boy who served me the food.  Smiley

Anecdote of the day – 

I had heard lots and lots of praises about a certain Badal ji of Khuri village in Rajasthan. He is a person who famously started the home-stay culture in the Khuri village, which is right in the heart of The Thar Desert, about 45 kms from Jaisalmer. However, I had no intentions to stay at his home; my plan was to spend the night right inside the Thar Desert and sleep under the stars. Badal ji was very apprehensive about the idea as I wanted to spend the night alone in the desert. He offered that Ram Singh, the camel rider would sleep with me but I was persistent and he had to give in. Ram Singh took me further about 10 kms inside the desert on his camel Babloo, made my bedding and arranged my quilt and left with the promise to return at the crack of dawn. That night, I slept all alone deep inside the desert. There was no breeze in the air; there was complete silence all around, no humans nearby, only the company of a million stars. It was one of the most magical experiences I had ever had.



Day 6
300 kms approx

Anecdote of the day – 

If I ever tell my mom that I got up at the crack of dawn without an alarm she will never believe me. But that morning I woke up when the sky had just started to turn crimson. The sight of the sun coming up in the far distance through the never ending sand dunes was nothing short of amazing. 

Anecdote of the day – 

I remember watching the movie “Border” at the Basusree cinema hall in Bhowanipur, Kolkata with my entire family. I was just about 7 years old then and I remember being so inspired by the movie that I had wanted to join the Army. I was spoilt for choices with the places to visit near Jaisalmer but since I had limited time, I decided to visit the Longewala border where the brave soldiers of the Punjab regiment, under the leadership of Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri had bravely fought for our nation. It was a lovely ride with super straight roads with nonexistent traffic with ever changing sand dunes on both sides. 

Came across a WB registered vehicle after months, a newly married couple were on a roadtrip.



Day 7 – 
280 kms approx

Anecdote of the day – 

I had been feeling signs of fatigue on Bikey, but during my ride to Jaisalmer from Longewala last evening Bikey refused to go above 4000 rpm. By the time I had reached Jaisalmer it was dark and therefore I could not take it to a service centre. Next morning I went to Bajaj’s authorized service centre where the owner of the service centre made his mechanic take a look at my bike ahead of all the other bikes waiting for their service. With a service, fresh engine oil and a new battery; Bikey was good to go and to my surprise, the mechanic completed the service in just 3 hours, during which I had explored Jaisalmer city on foot

Anecdote of the day – 

I reached Jodhpur, the blue city, which is only blue near the Jodhpur fort and realized that accommodation near the fort is quite expensive. However, after looking around in 4-5 havelis-cum-hotels I got a great deal for just Rs 500 at the grand looking Singhvi’s haveli where there was a last minute cancellation by someone. The guests majorly comprised of foreign nationals. After spending close to 10 months in a dry state I couldn’t resist to order myself a beer. I struck up a conversation with a German couple and after a couple of hours  of conversation with topics ranging from biking to poverty to Hitler I got myself treated with the Beer bills being taken care by Nobert and Alexandra.


Day 8 –
Jodhpur-Jaipur-New Delhi
600 kms approx

Anecdote of the day – 

I had to skip to Jaipur even though it was on the way towards Kolkata due to a reason which I will share in the next part. I started my marathon ride of 600 kms towards New Delhi at about 11 in the afternoon after seeing a few places in Jodhpur. It was a risk that I took owing to the fact that I knew that I will be putting up for the night at our very own (Hoodibaba) D. K. Pundit sir’s home. I almost made up for the delayed start till Jaipur but road conditions after Jaipur, low visibility at night, bone chilling cold of North India and two back to back tyre punctures resulted in me reaching Delhi very late at night. To my relief, DK sir took the pain of not only staying awake till late but also came to the outskirts of Delhi to receive me and guide me to his home. What was even more heart warming was the fact the Sir’s wife and daughter had cooked a delicious homely meal and were awake till 2 am to make sure that I get a hot cup of tea and food served piping hot. It was a gesture which touched my heart and I will remember it all my life. The last part of my homecoming ride started the next day with a huge surprise to many people. Stay tuned.



Part Three Coming Soon

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