The last year tour of Kutch and Mandvi had went according to the plan and everyone enjoyed a lot. It was our clubs first adventure camping experience and things were just getting started with the club. The next tour was planned for Jaisalmer to be done last week of January where we were getting a long weekend, 26th was national holiday falling on Thursday. It was only a matter of Friday the 27th where everyone would have to take a day’s leave from office to make it a memorable 4 day ride.
We had faced some issues in our Kutch trip where we had significantly lost time in making and preparing for the food. Things didn’t go as expected as we were haunted by ‘dew’ there. We had planned of making barbeque over coal but they refused to burn. As a result we wasted precious time and didn’t had time to socialize. This was the lesson learnt we were going to take further on our Tour of Jaisalmer. During our meetings it was decided to scrap the plan of barbeque and stick to the simple plan of cooking food over gas as well as back up of solid food if the former one also fails. This time the preparation for the tour didn’t take much time as most of the things were carryover from our last trip except we has to buy fresh wood and some usual stuff.
This time we had got our own club T-shirts and even the flags were ready. The plan was already chalked and everyone was excited about he trip. This time it was more excitement having one member less in the group. Yes, we were now only 6. There was this rotten mole, who was making the club bad and making the morale down. It had to be done and eventually without much confronting he left on his own never to be heard off again. The mood was joyous now.
All the members put their leave for 27th and again it came upon me where there was problem for applying one. My counterpart where I work had applied the leave on the same day and now it was difficult for me to get leave since both of us would be not there and considering the business requirements it was very difficult. But, since the tour could not be missed, I decided to take the plunge.
Just 2-3 days before the ride there was a setback as Nityunjay would not be able to complete the ride due to personal reasons. Though he would accompany us only till half way then depart to his hometown of Jodhpur. Now we were left with only 5 people. We knew some dark cloud was looming over us and something was not right. We were having doubt on Anis bhai too as he was a RTO Inspector and being a government employee and 26th January, we knew he would get stuck in some of the functions which would be difficult for him to get out from. The news was real. There was some higher authority from his department visiting on 26th Jan continued till 27th and he had to be there. Down to 4. It was really a horrible situation when we came to know that Ganesh, a day before the ride went to his hometown as he too was caught up in personal work which demanded his presence in his hometown. Down to 3, and this all happened a day before the ride when we were all set and ready to go!
Since, everything was set up, we decided to continue with the tour and having missing our buddies. Finally Me, Sagar and Bimalji took off for Jaisalmer around 6am on 26th of a Jan. We had planned to start the ride around 3am but unfortunate for me I woke at that time which took our start time to 6am, the reason being I had not saddled my bike the night before and we took utmost care that nothing important was missing.Eventhough we were only 3 now, we were carrying all that a 6 people would need and were following the same plan which we were going to execute for the next 4 days, which included adventure camping in desert for all the days.
The route was Ahmedabad-Kalol-Mehsana-Palanpur-Deesa-Sanchore-Barmer-Jaisalmer. Nityunjay was going to catch from Kalol, but since were already late to start he had taken headsart.We took small stop around 50kms before palanpur for tea and snacks. The cold was at its peak and warranted a break. After quick refreshment we headed towards palanpur. Along the way we met Nityunjay and stopped to take a few photos and attend nature’s call. Nityunjay completed 10K on his bike so we gave him a special Batch we’d made. We had made badges till 50K and these badges would be given to the person who completes 10K,20K,30K,40K and 50K. We have not made further than 50K since no one in our group has crossed that mark yet. We had our first proper breakfast at our all time fav hotel ‘Why Wait’ around 9am. The sun had come up strongly but there was still chill in the air which was reminding us to not to take our thermal liners off.
We hit the highway immediately and were on our way to Sanchore. The roads were soon narrowed down to single lane after we crossed Deesa. The traffic reduced significantly. We halted for quick break just before Sanchore. The sky was looking like it was about to rain. When we moved on we could see the roads were wet having reminding us that it had just had a spell here. Luckily we were not faced with nature and at ‘Ramji ki pol’ around 40kms from Sanchore, Nityunjay bid us good-bye and wised for safer journey till destination. We too wished the same for him.
From then onwards, we were only 3 and we headed towards Barmer. Just before Barmer, we had pitstop for Lunch at a dhaba. The time was 3pm. It was late and we were running behind the plan. We had taken long duration breaks and this was the result of that. We were really hungry and this dhaba did a good job of not disheartening us. The food was really tasty having situated in almost in a middle of a desert which no visible settlement nearby, it really lived up to its expectations. We had a ‘bajra ka rotla’ along with mix veg and bowl of fresh curd. It was the best authentic ‘Bajra ka rotla’ we had till now. To make this better it was topped with generous amount of ‘desi ghee’. We ate till our stomach could not take more and it really felt like sleeping on the ‘cots’ kept outside having travelled so far and it natural to rest after heavy lunch. Seeing the time in hand, we’d decided to reach our destination before the dark fills in and in that sense hit the highway ASAP.
Just 50kms on the road and having reached ‘Barmer’ city, the LED mount on the Sagar’s bike broke down and the LED was swinging like a broken hand without bones. It was good that we were passing by the industrial area of ‘Barmer’ district and quickly were able to find the person who could fix this. By the time it was getting fixed we had our evening cup of tea and also were surrounded by curious onlookers who had encircled us like we were some celebrity. They were almost interviewing us and getting information which they wanted. The guy was very fast in fixing the mount and off were again riding. We still had 150kms of travel left. The roads were looking like they were newly built and were without any breaks in between. With barely anyone on the road the destination approached quickly and we were at the city entrance around 7pm. We could see the magnificent ‘Jaisalmer fort’ from here.
It was dark by the time we reached the city and since we had planned to do adventure camping the same night, and with no prior knowledge of pitching tents in the city we were unable to find one. The main reason was darkness. It was best thought to pass the night in hotel which we found in the main city and with a reasonable price. We had scourged through 2-3 available hotels before finalizing on this one. As we were offloading our luggage to take it to our rooms we met with LostSojournDrifters (https://www.facebook.com/lostsojourndrifters/), the 2 girl startup gang who aim to make travel glamorous and on a backpacking budget! They were from pune, my hometown and had come for the same reason as we were. It was their last day and next day they were heading back home. We exchanged few stories between us and bartered each others club stickers and bid goodbye to them. After settling into our rooms, we were out to stroll through the city and experience the culture. But before that we finished our dinner right outside our hotel. The fort was looking awesome in the dark and glowing bright from the lights which were focussed on them from the below. This is the first kind of living fort where people actually live on the fort. There is a huge community there. As opposed to forts in Jodhpur and Jaipur, we can take our bikes right to the fort top. There was quite hustle bustle on the streets leading to fort and it was warranted as it being a tourist city. It was the peak season for the tourists to enjoy the weather and the city of Jaisalmer, because everyone knows what happens during summer! After quick detour, we were back again into our rooms and slept peacefully waiting for what tomorrow may come.
Disaster struck in the morning, there was emergency in the company which required my availability the next day. I was taken back. I was in dilemma whether to go or not, but my rider friends suggested to attend the emergency. I was depressed. Nothing had been going well since day 1 for this trip. It was now my turn to back out. I felt very irritated and bad words couldn’t stop coming out of my mouth. It was 10:30am by now and I decided to return back if I had to reach well within time and attend tomorrows duty. I reached around 7pm, having driven almost non-stop and eating during re-fueling to save time.
Sagar and Bimal ji continued with the trip and had a gala time having teasing up after the trip with their photos. I went so close to the desert only to return back empty-handed. The trip was cursed and I know that one man who made this happen, the name I shall not take here, but if you read my previous blogs you will come to know who that person was.
Bimal ji too completed his first 10K on his bike during this trip and hence was presented with the ’10K badge’.
During our next meeting following the ride, the 4 people who missed it were desperate to go and we decided the dates of 11-13 March. 13th March being Monday and it was holiday due to ‘Holi’. February month everyone were busy and the ride could not be planned and also it was marred with no public holidays. I too was desperate to complete this leg of tour since, by this time I had resigned from the company and 31st March being my last here in Ahmedabad, it was my goal to explore the last remaining city of Rajasthan.
March month came quick and so the ride date. This time my best friend ‘Zac’ was also joining us. He too had missed his Jaisalmer ride of their club due to same reason as mine.
This time the luggage was light since we had decided to stay in hotel to make things easier and manageable. This time we had only 3 days against the previous 4 days and it was going to be fully packed with very less time for relaxation. The plan was simple, cover as much as possible in the 3 days. With this in mind we started early on 11th march, but again got late as ‘Zac’ who was supposed to arrived at the designated start point was still sleeping after I called him after reaching there. That took time and eventually we started around 6am. The route was going to be same and stop also at the designated locations. This time it were Me , Ganesh, Anis bhai, Nityunjay and Zac.
We decided to reach directly to ‘Sam Sand Dunes’, they being 40kms ahead of Jaisalmer so that we would not lose time the next day. Along the way we only had one minor breakdown and it was the same what had happened to Sagar’s bike. The clamp on the front custom installed LED just gave up. Except my bike all 5 of them had the same fate. It was me only which installed the LED directly to my crash guard. The rest of them had installed them on a custom pipe just below the main head lamp. But, since Royal Enfield’s are known for their vibration, it is not new that something comes off and you don’t even know what it might be. From bolts to entire exhaust!! This time we did not find the service guy, we removed the LED’s completely.
The travel went according to plan and we reached around 7pm into Sam Dunes. This time it was still bright as it was March month where days are little longer as compared to days’ during Jan month. The scene was just mind-blowing. We could see the camel safari being undertaken along with virgin sand dunes on both sides of the road. Adding to that it was a full moon night and the light from the moon was just enough to lit up the complete sand and make it a view never to be missed and capture it permanently into your mind!
We were then soon approached by various Desert Camp people offering the best discounts and coaxing us to stay in their place. After a few time doing recon we found a good desert camp offering a mind-blowing package of Night Stay+Dinner+Morning Jeep Safari+Camel Ride+Morning Breakfast all this only for Rs. 580 only. Without much thoughts we pitched inside and relaxed ourselves.To save time for tomorrow we bathed the same day and after that watched the local Rajasthani folk dance over dinner. What we didn’t expect is that place to be cold. Due to cold, our lips started to flake. Such was the intensity. We had completely came from a hotter region to a colder one. Moisturizer saved us but the damage had been done.
We were the first to go for the Jeep Safari the next morning having started around 7am. As told to us the previous night, we were to go to best dunes which were almost 25kms inside. It was really fun having first time experiencing such desert safari. In the heat of the moment I also got injured 2 times during recording video. Just as the ride ended we were greeted with Camels at the finish line waiting for the next line of adventure to start. But, before that we were offered ‘paid’ tea and we took the advantage of the morning sunrise to click some beautiful photos alongside the camels! It was my first camel ride in my life an believe me it is not easy to ride on the back of the camel. The amount of load you get on the back in more than riding 700kms a day on your bike. It is like hammer blow at each step of camel. To make the matters worse , the camel on which I was sitting was not normal and in between used to jog giving me goosebumps! This is not a cakewalk especially if you fall from that height onto ground you are sure to break some bones. Suddenly, situation faced by the Indian Army flashed in front of my eyes. Since patrolling on foot over the Indo-Pak border is next to impossible on those sands, Indian Army has been using camels since the beginning and that just demands a big Salute to them having achieving such feat. In a matter of few meter’s i was fucked up but these Real Men patrol almost 100Kms a day. Salute to their spirit and endurance!
As soon as the camel ride was over we were taken back to our resorts and having our breakfast we were off to our next destination. It was 8:45am when we left the camp and the day was looking super packed. The next place in our minds was the ‘Ruined City of Kuldhara’. This city has a special story and I will not write here it in details only I will say that this city was abandoned in a single night and at that time around 400-500 yrs back this was the densely populated city in Rajasthan! They left all their belongings and headed off towards different parts of the state. They were the ‘Paliwal Brahamins’ and the previously not knowing info which I got from the city ‘Curator/rakhwala’ is that the the current city of ‘Pali’ came from their surname.
There is nothing left in the city except the ruins, it really looks like a massive geographically. Just imagine if there were people too. We just had an overlook of the city and took some photographs and started returning back. I had read sometime back in xBHP blog about a similar visit by rider and he had mentioned the ‘Curator’ name. With that thing in mind I too wanted to visit him. He lived just outside the city entrance in a small house. We got a good opportunity to listen to the actual story behind this city. He dismissed that people have wrongly cultivated this city as being haunted and that there is nothing like that. He was probably in his mid 80’s. We took the blessings from him and moved to our next destination with was ‘Tanot Mata’ mandir situated very near to border and 120kms from the city of Jaisalmer.
We reached the shrine around 12:30pm and took the blessings and prayed for our country’s safety and ourselves. This shrine is totally maintained by the Indian Army people and has a special history behind it. The opponent tried to bombard this place many times but it was never damaged as the shells just refused to go off! Such was the climax. Those of the unexploded shells are kept at display inside the shrine and everyone can see them. Really Incredible India! The road to ‘Tanot’ has the best virgin sand dunes and I request everyone to click pictures and capture that memory for lifetime for, never after will you see such creations. We had a quick refreshment of ‘Samosa’ and ‘Tea’ and were then off to the historical place of ‘Longewala’.
We reached Longewala in around 45mins as it is only 50kms from ‘Tanot. Those who have seen ‘Border’ movie will eventually come to know that whatever happened in that movie (REEL) happened ‘LIVE and REAL’ here. Just standing at this place will inflate you chest with pride and you would want to give a big salute to our Indian Army. Here they have a small video room where they show the history behind that day of 9th Dec 1971 and how bravely the Indian Army fought and brought victory and recaptured what was our’s. Seeing border movie again at the very place where it happened will just overfill you with pride and will literally give you goosebumps! What happened that night was history and that history shall never be forgotten. I always have a special attachment towards Indian Army as my very own grandfather(Kargil’1971 war veteran) and not to mention my whole family served there. Hence, whenever I visit such places or hear such stories of valor,strength and courage, tears flow through my eyes as I am not able to control my emotions. We could see and feel the damaged and captured Pakistani tanks and even went inside the ‘Bunkers’ used by the Army to keep vigil. The area has its charm of its own and for a moment you feel like you are part of the Army and just want to destroy the people on the other side only because they inflicted such pain to us. They have placed plaque onto the grounds with very beautiful writings on them. Just reading them will feel like you want to join the Army!
It was 3:30pm when we started back and decided to halt at ‘Ramgarh’ for late lunch. We had a normal lunch of Paneer and Daal and what seemed like a good lunch was turned to nightmare when during next day while traveling I started to have loose motions. It was tough day for me during the return journey. In order to avoid the worse I did not eat anything and gladly I had the right tablets to take care of it. It gave me relief at least till I reached home. The same day Ganesh suffered with a head ache only to sleep as soon as we reached the hotel around 6pm in the city of Jaisalmer. ‘Zac’ and Ganesh stayed in the hotel. It was the hotel opposite to our first hotel where we stayed during our trip in Jan. It was still bright and we took that opportunity to visit the much popular ‘living’ fort. Myself, Nityunjay and Anis bhai went to see the fort. We parked our bikes just as we entered the fort and then walked on foot to see the interiors. The width between the houses was just enough for 1 man to pass and taking a bike to such location would prove dangerous and invite traffic jams. We clicked photos alongside the fort exteriors and the view of the city from the top was just awesome, worthy of a selfie. On our way back we had coffee at the famous’ German Bakery’ along with some good quality biscuits. It was dark by the time we reached back to the hotel. It was time for the return journey tomorrow. Since we had late lunch, no one was interested in having dinner and being ‘HOLI’ tomorrow we’d decided earlier to vacate city early so as to not get caught up in the mess. Nityunjay had alarmed us that ‘Holi’ in Rajasthan is played very wildly. Hence we slept early and decided to start at 7am next day when most of the people would be still sleeping.
The next day we started on time and hit the highway very fast. The ride back home was pleasant to all except me who was suffering from loose motions. No worries, somehow I managed it. The trip had went well, planned and executed well. Thanks to all the riders! All the bikes behaved well with no breakdown. I think the LED’s on the bike need to be mounted properly so that the next time we ride it would break.
Till then, goodbye. It was nice to see you Ahmedabad, having stayed here almost more than 4 years. This city has taught me a lot both positives and negatives and I hope to take them forward in my life. Mostly, this city gave me friends, my riders and I am forever grateful for that. Will miss you friends from a distance. Don’t worry, even though we will not be able to meet on weekends, we will ride together. And for Non-rider friends, we will be always in contact over FB and watsapp.
I wish a very safe ride to my dear club members who are undertaking a breathtaking and once in a lifetime memory making journey to Ladakh in June’17. I will them best luck and ride safe. Make memories.
Till then, Adios/Chuss/Bye………….
See you in next ride….