I woke up quite early. There was still something left to experience. I knew it deep within me. Something, which I had come to gain from a very far distance.The experience of sitting peacefully at one of the ‘Ghats’ and just observe the flowing water of the Ganges and meditate. The past days had been quite hectic and went by in a rush and frankly speaking, I was not able to sit at peace and enjoy the nature to its full potential. After all, I was at the world’s yoga capital, Rishikesh. I didn’t wanna miss onto that and I had made up my mind last night itself. It was my last shot at this place.
I pulled over my jacket, necessary stuff and went straight to the ‘bank’. It was very cold in the morning. I could see layer of fog hovering over the flowing water. There was pin drop silence everywhere. I could hear the flowing noise of the water and it was hypnotic. Some people were on their usual morning walk around the ‘banks’ while some were like me, who had come to witness and feel the peace this place offered. I could see some people meditating on the far opposite side of the river too! I sat on one of the steps and gripped myself tightly as it was cold and just gazed at the waters. I had brought my little mobile tripod which I had kept it for recording a 360 deg time-lapse till the time I was present there.
I spent around an hour and a half sitting there and soaking in myself . At the end of it, I felt very relaxed and light headed. Something had changed within me, even though it was a small thing but, something had definitely changed. There was a lot to take away from the place. I felt the urge to not to leave the place but, I had no choice. I had to move on. But, one thing was sure that I had spent quite less time here than I was supposed to. This place had really won over my heart and I decided that one day I will be making a ‘spiritual only’ tour to this place.
I went back to the hotel and the time was around 9am. It was time to pack up and get the things in order as we were moving ahead in our destination to Jim Corbett national park. Our today’s end destination was Jim Corbett park.
We left the hotel around 10:30 am after having breakfast. We all had bread omelette along with coffee. The distance showing to us on our mobile was 200 kms which was roughly a 5 hr non-stop drive as per the current traffic conditions. Google map showed us the above route to Jim Corbett.
I was leading the pack since I had the navigation ON. The drive was very comfortable and within 45 mins we had reached Haridwar. From there, we took left and over the bridge towards Najibabad. We were soon going to enter into UP.
The weather seemed cloudy the moment we had started our ride in morning and now here and there, we were experiencing few drops falling on us too!
The roads were good till the border and as soon as we entered UP things started to get worse. We lost our speed as most of the roads were in very poor condition. We couldn’t stop ourselves from cursing the UP government.
At some stretches, rain used to greet us back and it was fun to ride on the village roads with farms on both the sides. The smell of the earth emanating at that time just made us drool!
At around noon, we entered Najibabad city and after riding comfortably on free roads we were now stuck here in heavy traffic. The roads were narrow and we were driving in the heart of the city. It was difficult to maneuver the bike and since we were all packed up, we could feel the heat build up inside us. We took a break after we lost the traffic. Karan wanted to go to ATM and we utilized that time to re-hydrate ourselves.
During that time, we came to know that something was wrong with Bimal ji’s bike. He came to us and pointed out the problem. The rear tyre had been completely smeared with engine oil. This was looking abnormal at the first sight since the bike was sparkling clean when we had taken the keys from the owner. Upon investigation, we found out that one bolt from the RH side engine cover was missing and as a result of gasket not being properly held at its place, the oil was leaking from that area. It was some serious issue and had to be dealt quickly. Without the fix, there was no going ahead. We checked the oil level, and it was quite low. We really thanked God that we found out the problem then and there itself. Had we been late in finding out, the engine would have got seized due to heat by that time. Luck was on our side that day.
Everyone pressed into action. At first, we tried to find any RE service dealers in the city but to our luck could not. I tried calling my RE friends and asking them whether any RE service was present in the city or not but, they too were helpless. There wasn’t any.
We had to completely rely on local mechanics now. We went asking lane by lane explaining our problem and finding the shop where we could get that spare bolt for the cover. It wasn’t that easy. Almost everyone refused or didn’t knew the shop. After some time roaming around the city, we got a address of shop who did RE (short for Royal Enfield) repairs. We went there immediately without wasting much time. We explained him the issue to which he nodded happily. It looked like he had the solution but, seeing the shop condition I was doubtful whether he had the bolt in stock with him. It is quite rare for the bolt to get damaged that easily and the need is felt only when it goes missing or it gets broken due to any erratic reason. The length of the bolt is huge and around 100 mm.
He told that he will help and disappeared from our sight. After few minutes, we can see him holding the bolt in his hand. We all gave a huge sigh of relief. We didn’t knew how he managed to get that bolt in such a short time, whereas when it was our part, we’d struggled badly. Did he managed to make the bolt from scratch? or did he managed to pull of the bolt from someone’s else bike? these are the questions which were running in my mind at that time and I dared not to ask him as our job was done and we were satisfied.
I could see now Bimal ji had a relaxed face now. We topped up the engine with the extra oil which I was carrying. Till now, the oil had not been used and the need was felt only because of this issue getting popped up. The whole 200 ml bottle was emptied into the engine which left us with no spare oil. It was also not needed now any further since the rest of the people were going to end their journey soon in another 2-3 days but, it was going to be a huge risk for me, since I was moving on with my journey solo for the next 12-13 days or so. I took a judicious call at that moment and left it to my fate to decide.
With the navigation still ON, it was showing more 3 hrs and 30 minutes to reach the destination.
During setting up of navigation, by mistake I had opted for the bike route unknowingly. And since we were new to the place, we were just following the map. At some point the map told us to take left from the main road. Initially, we doubted the decision as it was not looking some kind of proper road but, like a blind follower we went on. We were stumbled soon upon some house settlements which we thought was some kind of small town and indeed it was! We had reached Nagina city as confirmed from the Google maps, and now were desperately trying to solve the road puzzle. We were literally laughing at our own decision to take ‘left’ but now, nothing could be done as we were in the middle of the puzzle and had to get out somehow on the main SH (short for State Highway) road.
Corbett was still 100 kms to go and the time was around 3 pm. We refueled the bikes before moving ahead towards Dhampur. Dhampur is a very interesting place in UP and is particularly known for its Sugar factories. All around we could see only sugarcane farms and when we approached the city, there were factories everywhere emanating black smokes from the chimney and also, you could make out from the typical foul smell you get when you are nearby the sugar factories. In front of the factories, there were long queues of tractor trailers loaded with sugarcane and waiting to dump them at the cane crushing site, which is usually the starting process of the sugar production.
It was late in the afternoon and we still hadn’t eaten a proper meal. We saw a road side dhaba along our way and decided to stop and have our lunch. The time was around 3:15 pm and we were the only customers knocking at his doors at this point of time. We quickly ordered the food and waited patiently for it to come. In the meantime, we charged our action cameras and were playing with puppies. There were many and all of them were from the same mother. We could not see the mother nearby, which gave us a breather. They were cute and were roaming here and there, occasionally playing and chasing away the birds which were landing on the ground.
We left the place after having a good hot cup of tea after the lunch. Bimal ji was the first to leave and I was second in line. We must have driven something around 3-4 kms and I received a call from Karan saying that he and Ganesh were still at the dhaba and told me to join them back. Disaster had struck again, Ganesh’s bike had again got punctured and we were all clueless as to why the ghost was haunting him only. I tried contacting Bimal ji, who had gone way ahead by now, he was not picking up the call. So, I went back to the Dhaba. During the same time, Ganesh and Karan went back the same route as they got the info that there was a puncture shop nearby. How lucky we were! The distance was not much and I waited patiently at the Dhaba till they returned with the repaired puncture.
We had lost considerable amount of time in this matter, almost an hour. In the meantime, Bimal ji also joined us at the Dhaba after driving solo for god knows how many kms. Now, Ganesh was leading the pack and we were all together watching each other’s back.
The day was closing in fast as we reached Kashipur city at the border of UP and Uttarakhand. Here, we entered Uttarakhand again. The time was nearly 5:30 pm, and we still had 35 kms to go.
The roads improved as soon as we entered UK and hence our speed increased. There was also not much traffic. Soon, we entered the Jim Corbett national park as the road was passing through it. It was pitch dark by now as the time was around 6:45 pm. We could hardly see any traffic on both the sides and seeing all the wild life boards on the side of the road, it sent shivers through my body, especially seeing the leopard and elephant ones. Everywhere, there was pin drop silence. We even avoided honking so as to not scare the wildlife, if they were by any chance, nearby to the road.
Finally, we reached the Club Mahindra Corbett hotel and they greeted us very well. After all, customer is king! They put some kind of ‘Vermala’ made up of mango leaves around our neck and gave us a welcome drink. The premises was very well maintained and it was pure luxury. This is what we could make out with whatever visibility was there at that hour.
We parked our bikes and then the hotel staff carried all our luggage in a hand driven cart towards our room. It was a good 5 min walk down to our suite. I loved the idea of transporting the baggage. Our stay was at a 2 bedroom suite which had all the amenities which a top 5 star hotel would have inside it. The suite was booked though my company portal and we were staying here for free and only had to pay a nominal booking charge of 300 rs /night. We had planned to stay for only a single night but as per my company policy, minimum 2 nights had to be booked. But, since our itinerary was already finalized, we were anyhow going to vacate the hotel tomorrow as we were moving ahead towards Naukuchiatal, our next destination. We had planned to give some lame excuse and check out from the hotel. All the charges were free except for food and paid recreational activities.
The suite was designed very well and almost looked natural in construction. It had a huge balcony and the room had windows which were huge which gave an unobstructed view of the outside world. There were rows of mango trees lined outside our suite.
We freshened ourselves and were ready for dinner as it was almost nighttime. We decided to skip having dinner at the resort as the prices were too high and out of our normal traveler budget. By no means we could afford the items from the card. The items listed were not unique but prices were just too high!
And so, we decided to have dinner outside. Initially, we went walking till the resort gate but seeing no hotel nearby, decided to pick up our bike keys as no one was interested in walking down a lonely road through jungle in the midst of a dark night. We didn’t want ourselves to become dinner for someone else that night.
Here also, we faced problem similar to the one in Rishikesh, where we had struggled to get dinner that night. The same thing happened here also. Owing to forest area, almost all the shops had been closed early or to put it the other way round, it was the normal time as per them and we were actually late. The time zones of city life are not constant everywhere. It looked like, we hadn’t learnt the lesson quite well after what had happened in Rishikesh. But, we didn’t knew that we would face such problem here also. We were completely taken by surprise and after searching for quite some time, we found a hotel which was almost closing down.
The options were also very limited and we ordered whatever was in stock at that time. We had Butter Chicken along with tandoori roti and fried rice.
We thanked him for offering dinner to us and left the place. The drive towards the resort was not good and I was literally shivering in cold. Due to dense vegetation, the cold was extreme and top of that it was winter season. I had not put proper clothing as I had initially thought the distance to our dinner place to be quite near.
The moment we reached the resort, we rushed to our suite and fell on the bed. A thought had ran through my mind regarding the night time-lapse photography but the conditions were not that favorable. There was too much light from the street lamps and the place of photography was very far from our suite which required my presence all the time. I just could not keep the camera in the open and be resting in my room. There was too much risk considering that there were other people too in the resort and you never know of small children! I cursed the hotel admin for not providing terrace to the suites. I also had become little lazy after the dinner and sitting in front of camera for around 3 hrs was just not going to happen. And so, I decided to shun the idea and instead have a good sleep.
We had to get up quite early the next day at around 5 am as we had taken the 6-9am slot for the jungle safari. Plus, the safari gate was not near to our resort. It was going to be a good 10 kms early morning chilly ride to the entrance gate. We had already experienced the cold at this place during night and wondered what would it be in the morning. The time was around 11:30 pm and the lights went off after we had set the alarm of 5 am.
Today’s day was not that tiring as the distance was quite less but the series of action being unfolded in front of us dragged the day long enough. First, it was the missing bolt then, the riding through the narrow streets of the city and getting lost and lastly puncture of Ganesh’s bike. The day was full of surprises and drama! We all loved it and embraced it without complaining as this is part and parcel of a riders life. There was lot to learn from today’s activities. After all, what’s the use of riding if you don’t get to learn out of it. How will the wisdom grow?
With all these thoughts running in the mind, it was difficult to sleep but somehow I managed. Anyways, it always difficult to predict or remember the exact time you feel asleep.
Tomorrow, was going to be the day filled with excitement and adventure of seeing some wildlife!