Ride to Rann of Kutch
After a numerous exciting and thrilling rides in the mountains, it’s been a demand from many of the fellow riders of Highway Players (HPs), that a ride in some plain region be organized and enjoyed. After a much of thought sharing process, in the mid of Nov’18, HPs came up with an idea of exploring Rann of Kutch which is located in Kutch district of Gujarat in western India.
Sometime later during the month, dates were finalized and all the group members were conveyed with the dates of the ride plan – 25th Dec till 31st Dec.
We formed a group before the start of the ride where-in the group admin, aka PK advised with do’s and don’ts of the ride and conveyed necessary items like a list of spare parts, that should be carried by every rider before starting the long ride like this one. 3 days before the start of the ride, an itinerary was planned which was as such –
Day 1 – New Delhi to Deesa – 750 kms
Day 2 – Deesa to Bhuj – 225 kms
Day 3 – Bhuj to Rann of Kutch and around – Bhuj – 200 kms
Day 4 – Bhuj to Statue of Unity – 525 kms
Day 5 – Statue of Unity to Ujjain – 350 kms
Day 6 – Ujjain to Jaipur – 515 kms
Day 7 – Jaipur to Delhi – 250 kms.
Day 1 - Delhi – Gurgaon – Jaipur – Ajmer – Byawar – Sirohi
So, after a much of pre-excitement, the date of 25th Dec. arrived and as per plan, we all met at Kherkidaula toll plaza booth at 04:00 AM in the morning to kick off this expedition. Special thanks to Amit Tiwari, who also geared up for this ride, but some unavoidable circumstances forced him to stay back in town. He met PK at 03:00 AM and came along with Tarun, and Prayag till the toll plaza to flag off the ride. We all appreciated the nice gesture!
‘Let’s move’, said the admin and we all throttled our horses remembering the almighty Mahadev in our hearts by screaming out loudly ‘Mahakal Ki Jai’.
Dense fog was waiting to welcome all of us in this chilly winter morning; we crossed it without any problems and took our very first break somewhere near Behror; had tea there, and moved further on the road and travelled around 100 kms to take a second tea break of the morning at Daulatpura, Ajmer expressway, Rajasthan.
As per the plan, we would take these small breaks after almost every 100 kms and to cover the first day target of 750 kms. Whenever, any fellow rider seemed left behind, the last rider in the queue would throttle up to inform the leader and we would wait/stop or slow down. If it’d take too long, we wouldn’t miss to lie down on any concrete structure beside the road.
Lunched around 1:30 PM after crossing Beawar, Rajasthan and moved further. The distance remained to cover was still 275 kms and we had to find the hotel too around the sunset. The riders moved again and halted at 6:15 PM in search of a hotel. Parveen (HT) was given a task to roam in the vicinity to book a stay overnight.
Of course, while on a search for the stay in hotel, we did have some fun. Amit, PK, Abhishek got into a truck and intimidated as if they were driving it.
At last, we found a hotel for a night stay in Sirohi, to end our very first day around 7 PM. The target of covering 750 kms to reach Deesa was not achieved, but we covered a distance of 670 kms on this first day, however.
Parked our bikes in the hotel premises and checked in. No one bothered to get out of the rooms and comfort, yes – they all woke up at 01:30 AM the last night and were fully tired as of now. We ordered food within the rooms only. Pre-dinner chit chats, shared interests of each other as to what motivates them to ride, what sort of a fun do they find in riding a REs, etc., and commonly, it was a fiveword answer – ‘Ride is a stress buster’. The group admin, PK, too shared his story of how he started the group with few members’ way back 8 years ago and the journey so far.
It was a nice evening that we spent. 11:00 PM then, and everyone was desperate to hit the bed. The persons who snores while they are asleep would share one room while others put themselves down in a separate one.
Day 2 - Sirohi - Deesa – Bhachau – Bhuj
Everyone woke up early in the morning and was ready downstairs at 07:45 AM to hit another target to reach Bhuj before the evening. We would have to start our day to Rann of Kutch early, the next day after. Let’s see what all we would have in the day as it progresses further.
Parveen Kumar (HT), also called as ‘Selfie Kumar’ was our photographer on this ride, and he used to take numerous photos during the day showing his photography skills. The below pic, although not clear, he clicked it from his phone and by aligning it on some road side debris.
Sirohi, a small town near the Rajasthan-Gujarat border lets you feel the mixed culture of both the states in it. We kicked our bikes yet again, post having some poha and tea in breakfast; banged on the awesome expressways that were not crowded at all, as we see here in NCR. After every 100 kms or so, we would take a break to give some rest to the horses.
Thought of the mind is that riders never miss an opportunity of a photo shoot no matter at what time; they won’t care even if some serious conversation is going on between the fellow riders.
Hahaha, everyone would now recall as to what happened at this place, what all we discussed, with whom, and finally moved further with no result in the end. Feewww, we all enjoyed it as the retained memories will be refreshed as and when any of us would read this travelogue or (a ridalogue, a new word?) in the future.
Now, on the way to Bhuj, we had our lunch close to ~2 PM. The location was somewhere near Radhanpur, NH27, Gujarat. Post lunch as we move on the spectacular highways in Gujarat, the photo guru clicked some pictures which speaks up how good the roads are in this state.
An important part of riding a motor bike is just looking ahead and anticipating what you’ll do next on what is not anticipated. While we were amused on the highways shown in these pics, fuel in Tarun’s bike went into reserve state. Now, he anticipated a petrol pump would fall in at the left side of the road, but for kilometers of distance on that road, all pumps were found towards the right hand side of the highway.
Start of the bad chapter:-
Guess what; - fuel is now finished in Tarun’s bike on a fly way! Amit pulled out some from his bike and poured it in his bike so it can reach the nearest petrol pump, be it seen on any side of the road, seriously yeah. And now you know what, the bike won’t start, it just won’t start. PK started it by somehow pushing it manually to reach a petrol pump in the vicinity of about 5 kilometers.
Tarun got his bike’s tank full and so did others with ‘that’ fear in their mind. His bike won’t start again! PK called the doctor (Sonu) in Delhi apprising him of the situation and condition of the bike. It was not showing up any compression. Sonu suggested that we should take the bike to a nearest service center which was found to be located about 30 kilometers away. It was 5 PM, and the service center would close at 6 PM!
You’ll always get an idea if you think and don’t panic.
Amit and Parveen Kumar (HT) headed towards the service center aprising them of a malfunctioned bullet that is being towed towards them. Abhishek wanted a final shout (push) to be given to the stranded horse and it worked, the engine started!
Yay, now Tarun is also accompanying Amit and Parveen (HT) on the way to service center in Bhachau (district Bhuj).
The owner of the service center, Sagar Prajapati was courteous enough to wait for us. He immediately asked the mechanic to fix the issue who waited for the engine to cool down for him to start working on it. Sagar, in the interim ordered some ‘vadapao’ for all of us, which were too delicious and it served as a brunch that evening.
Bhachau to Bhuj – 85 kilometers, still needs to be covered!!
UstadJi, the mechanic, flushed out all the engine oil from the bike and repaired a portion of the crank, and after spending an hour or so, he managed to get the bike go ‘duh duh duh duh duh.
“The engine is now ‘in a running condition’, however you cannot cruise it above a speed of 50 kilometers” said UstadJi. He further added - “I can repair it if you want, but it would take couple of days for me to reincarnate it, and then also you should not cross a speed of 50 kilometers and follow this pattern for about 1000 kilometers”. Time now – 07:45 PM
PK suggested Tarun to ship his bike to Delhi by train and discussed the scenario with Sagar, who told that the nearest railway station is GandhiDham (40 kms from here). Sagar also enquired someone in GandhiDham about the formalities and apprised us. The process to ship the bike was simple enough. Time now – 08:00 PM
Immediately, we decided to plug off the Ladakh carrier from Tarun’s bike and install it on Parveen’s (HT) bike. Amit, PK, Abhishek, Tarun, and Ustadji all exercised together and install ladakh carrier on Parveen (HT)’s horse. “That’s called a team effort, alouded – PK, the admin”. We left Tarun’s bike at Sagar’s service center. We would ship it to Delhi from Gandhidham railway station, on our return the next day after. Time – 08:45 PM
Tarun, bad luck for him, now as a pillion sat behind Abhishek and we cranked our bike’s engines on the way to Bhuj. Reached Bhuj at 11 PM, and fortunately without much of the hassles, we found a DharamShala for our stay overnight. Had some food nearby the accomodation. Time – 11:15 PM
Reached back DharamShala in the midnight, the snoring and non-snoring folks chose their rooms and ended the second day. The thought to enter the hotel around sunset was not achieved!
Always consider the long rides for days, with or without friends, as challenging; however, if you have experienced riders going along, major worries like flat tyre, engine problems or whatever, are automatically gone outta mind, because someone experienced would already be there who has tackled these kind of issues in their previous riding experience. A peace of mind and friendly assurance is nice to have. No?
Day 3 –Bhuj - KaloDungar – Rann of Kutch - Bhuj
Morning of day 3 in dharamshala, everyone got themselves freshened up, tied up the bags with bungee cords on the bikes. Had Gujarati specialties in breakfast - Jalebi-Fafda, Poha, Jeera drink, Thepla (liked most by all of us) and chai in a small snacks shop nearby. PK got some thepla packed for the afternoon.
Abhishek and Parveen (HT) found another accommodation to stay overnight in a homestay nearby. Around 12 PM, we moved further to explore the Rann. This was a super exciting feeling as this destination was the main attraction point of the entire ride plan. Plan was - Bhuj - KaloDungar – Rann of Kutch – Bhuj. We couldn’t wait to move ahead.
On the way to Rann, you’d see sand grounds on both sides of the road in a range of more than 40 kilometers where-in no one is found, not even small animals. The photo opportunity once again caught our minds and we stopped somewhere on the road side.
Amit, your bike’s rear tyre is bubbling; get it checked as soon as you finish this ride, said PK. Amit has no idea of this bubbling as he hasn’t felt any shake or whatever so far. Let’s see if this scenario challenges us in the forthcoming days.
We rode our bikes in sand fields and had some fun there. The photo shooter, Parveen (HT) reached far away from us and called everyone for a photo shoot.
Some of them are here –
After the photo shoot in the grounds, our beasts once again took us to achieve one of the targets of the day – KaloDungar. You’d see a panoramic view of the Great Rann of Kutch from this place. Kala Dungar or black hills is located very near to the Pakistan border, hence you will find an army base at the top of it; beyond here, only military personnel are allowed.
The body builder, Tarun did not miss the opportunity to go semi-nude to get a photo clicked in these black hills; others were covered, however. ;) KaloDungar is done and the time by now was 03:45 PM; we need to rush, let’s move - said PK. We spent some time eating ‘thepla’ we were carrying.
Rann of Kutch or white desert was 40 kilometers of a distance from Kala Dungar. We destined there after getting the individual permissions done for us and for our bikes.
At last, we reached the white desert campus, during the sunset and managed to click some pictures of the setting sun.
We hired a camel cart to reach the white desert which was 2 kilometers from the entry gate. It was all dark by then and we were just walking on the rocky white desert. Now, how to take a picture here? The pic taken under the flash light of the DSLR won’t give us that feel. We did some sort of ‘jugad’, set the camera on ground, lit up our mobile’s torch, and clicked the shot –
08:00 PM now, and we had to ride back to Bhuj (80 kms)! We were back in town by 10:00 PM, had dinner and got back to our rooms to end the day.
Day 4 – Bhuj to Statue of Unity – 525 kms
Parveen, Tarun, and Prayag got up a bit early in the morning of 4th day (28th Dec) to reach Bhachau so they can fulfil the formalities of shipping Tarun’s bike from GandhiDham station, and they did so in time!
Around 10 AM, Amit, Abhishek, and Parveen (HT) also reached the RE Service center. Everyone had some ‘khasta kachoris’, so great in taste, cooked freshly by an elderly man just in front of the service center.
Sagar Prajapati, extreme left in the below pic was of a great help. He took his car to GandhiDham railway station and helped Tarun to transport his bike. Around 11 AM, they came back in Sagar’s car to the service center, where-in rest of the folks were enjoying ‘khasta kachoris’.
“The highway that leads to Vadodara from this point is good, and you should not face any problems”, said Sagar. With that being said, we waived off Sagar and Ustad ji, and positioned our head towards Vadodara, the final destination of the day. We needed to cover 370 kilometers to reach there.
Sometimes the road you travel doesn`t lead to the destination you had hoped for but if you can look back on the trip and still smile, then it is worth it!
Entered Ahmedabad by the evening and faced some city traffic on the way to Vadodara expressway. There are 2 expressways that leads to Vadodara, one on which NO 2 wheelers are allowed, and the second where they allow the 2 wheelers. Unfortunately we landed on the first one, but security guard at the toll plaza sent us back saying 2 wheelers are not allowed here.
Time 08:00 PM. We found the second highway; Vadodara is 90 kilometers from the point and we had a tea break. Awesome highway, street lights in the center of the road all the way up to Vadodara. We don’t remember if we have applied any breaks (to stop completely) to cover up this distance.
Reached Vadodara by 09:30 PM and checked into the hotel (Hotel Rajpath) by 10:30 PM. Yeah, it took some time to find out a good facility. Checking in the hotel room during sunset was missed again. Everyone was so very tired and hungry; all had some non-veg food in dinner except Amit, as he being a vegetarian. Good night, end of day 4!
Day 5 –Vadodara - Statue of Unity – Vadodara - Ujjain – 350 kms
Last night, after a bit of chit chat, we slept around 1 AM and woke up at 6 AM again. No one got enough sleep to wake up fresh the other day. The day 5 forced us to strategize the day as how to complete it without getting too much tired again. Shall we come back from statue of unity and stay in Vadodara, and may be head for Ujjain the next day, or? Consensually, we agreed to an idea of hiring a taxi to visit Statue of Unity, that way everyone will get some rest in the vehicle. After getting some breakfast in the hotel, we boarded the taxi and headed towards Kevadia, the town where Statue of Unity is built.
You need to catch a bus, which runs from nearby the ticket counter. After 5 minutes of the ride in the bus, we reached the venue and felt satisfied and proud; we were in the campus of tallest statue in the world – The Statue of Unity!
The 182-meter magnanimous creation of India stands proudly as the tallest statue in the world. It faces the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the river Narmada in the city of Vadodara, being located on a river island. The statue is in honor of the great Indian revolutionary freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Gotta go now, its 01:30; we called the chauffer who drove us back to hotel Rajpath in Vadodara. We all corded our bags on the bikes, got the bike tanks full with fuel and headed on to Vadodara – Indore highway.
This highway too was amazaing, the countryside during this post afternoon ride looked beautiful and serene.
With every sunset, a new hope is born, an old expectation dies.
We took our first tea break after 150 kilometers on this cemented stretch. Kudos, and everyone clapped! Second was in Jhabhua, MP passing through a single road highway post sunset, and 3rd at our hotel in Ujjain at 11:30 PM. 5 hours post sunset, we entered in our rooms and slept without dinner to end this 5th day.
Day 6 – Ujjain to Jaipur – 515 kms
Everyone woke up and get themselves freshen up; were quite eager to vist Shri Mahakaleshwar temple, one of the 12 Jyotirlings in India. We parked our bikes in front of a prasad shop, and took express entry tickets to spare some time for the day.
What a feeling it was! As we were getting closer to Bhole baba, a feeling of positivity was felt by everyone. Jai Kara Veer Bajrange, Har Har Mahadev chanted everyone out there. “My ride is now successful, after Mahadev’s darshan” – said Amit to Tarun. Tarun is blessed and fortunate as he has visited 8 Jyotirlings .
11:00 AM. After a blissful darshan of almighty Mahadev, the mind was now boggling as the distance to reach Jaipur was 515 kilometers. “We should take breaks after ~120 kms” – suggested Abhishek, the leader of the day. Parveen was now tailing us back.
Forget about a break after 120 kilometers, we couldn’t find a good place for lunch. All the 5 bikers were just riding on the highway without finding a good place for food. Meanwhile, somewhere on Tonk (Rajasthan) road, saw windmill farms. How can we stop ourselves to take some pictures? No way, the small cavalry stopped and enjoyed the site seeing.
Finally, we stopped at a Rajasthani food outlet somewhere in JhalraPatan, Rajasthan, and this stretch was of 165 kms, the longest one in one go. Everyone got a chance to stretch their legs, as our ‘Dal Bati Churma’ was in waiting to be brought to us.
Time by the clock was 03:30 PM, and the distance to cover was still more than 350 kilometers.
Start of the second challenge of the ride!
Sun set and time by now was 07:0 PM. As we rode further down towards Jaipur, bad roads and debris welcomed us for a stretch of several kilometers. Amit’s bike has now started shaking at lower speeds, he could feel it was fine on 80’s. "The bike would shake at lower speeds only, grip the handle tightly and you should be all set” – said PK. To his bad, while cruising, his bike fell into a nice pothole (thanks to the Tonk highway in Rajasthan), and then it would now shake badly at 80’s, he could hardly control it.
A message was passed on to the next rider, and Parveen then immediately asked us to stop at the nearest puncture place on the highway. To our bad, 15-20 spokes were broken, we couldn’t move further in this scenario.
Amit called the Royal Enfield Service Center in Boondi (Rajasthan) which was around 30 kilometers in backward direction and asked for assistance. The service center is now closed, after our request – the RE personnel could only offer spokes and we will have to get it changed ourselves. The puncture man did not have the wrench to fix the spokes. In case we get them from RE service center, he could not replace the broken ones; and we were stranded once again for a while.
Patience is not about how long you can wait, but on how you behave while waiting.
09:30 PM. We had to cover the distance of the day, so the best thing we did was - hiring a small truck to laden off the bike to our hotel in Jaipur. We would certainly get more options in Jaipur than this place to get the bike reinstated.
Amt was accompanied by Prayag in the small truck. A sigh of some relief now, as we all reach hotel in Jaipur at 02:00 AM. One more day passed and we won’t be getting enough sleep for our body.
Day 7 – Jaipur to Delhi – 250 kms
09:00 AM in the morning - Amit called in his cousin Ankit, who lives in Jaipur to get some quick assistance. He brought us some Rajasthani delicacies for breakfast. Amit and Ankit then went to the town and purchased a new rear wheel from a spare parts shop to get it installed by a local mechanic near the hotel.
03:00 PM. The rear wheel is now done. Wheel bearings, as a part of spare part kit that Amit was carrying, were used in the new wheel. Parveen, as usual during this ride, topped up the engine oil in his bike in the interim. We were all set to attain the final destination of our ride, the home, but picture abhi baki hai doston.
A few kilometers down the road, Parveen had to stop his bike as it was throwing a lot of smoke from the air filter chamber. We all stopped once again; Monu in Faridabad was bothered and he advised to flush out extra engine oil out of bike which was poured during the last 6 days.
He managed to restore her and she started breathing normally once all the extra tar was drained out of its heart. Hungry were the riders while kicking off the bikes and Parveen (HT) found a restaurant after some miles, which serves non-veg food only.
Everyone shared the experience of their ride sitting there, and shared their views. All-in-all, conclusively everyone stated – “it was all together a different riding experience”; and that would always remain a fact, it would be different experience in the other expedition.
The homely feeling comes into your mind soon you get proximal to your home town. I could get that feeling as we entered Rewari and while moving further. We took our last tea break at ‘Old Rao Dhabha’ in Dharuhera and finally waived off each other at ‘Rajeev Chowk’, Gurgaon. All the riders’ home are in different directions from this point onwards. A happy ending
As I am writing this, I recall the feeling of speeding down the road, hearing the wind and engine noise only and today also it feels as if it was yesterday. Other things to ponder of, - no traffic police or cop stopped us for checking, and at certain occasions, they allowed us to move ahead by waving their hands, some people asked – ‘Fauj mein ho kya (Are you in army)?’ In reply to it, I used to say - Yes!, and move further. Some would ask, do you carry first aid with you all, how did you manage to travel 2000 kms in 4 days, from where are you coming in and where are you heading towards? Lot of questions, and a biker would answer all of them with pride.
We covered a distance of 3150 kilometers during this expedition of 7 days.
It gives you a nice feeling too going in an area where REs are not so common on the roads, and people from cars or from streets see you aghast riding your horses with full on gears and bags ‘covered’ and ladened up and tied with bungee cords. If you are at low speed, some would try to give a ‘high five’ on your hand, some would simply waive off, or give you a thumbs up for all the courage we would carry riding a bike. That’s motivational to me.
There was so much to write about this experience, but I hope you enjoyed reading this ridalogue, yes that’s the new name given to travelogue as its synonym, which summarized this tour. Before concluding, I would end this story by stating a quote I read somewhere –
If attaining peace is the aim of meditation, why don’t monks ride bikes instead!!