Wrangler True Wanderer
Tanmoy Ganguli



OLD SILK ROUTE_the mysteries of East Sikkim

 

 

 

18/05/2010 - 1:00am:

Screeeechhhhh!!!!! Screeeechhhh.....thaasss....dhaaassssshhh!!!!

His Fazer lying in the middle of a huge pothole, and J crying in immense pain. My first bike trip sees it’s worst fate.

 

 

26/06/2010 – 4:10pm:

On a muddy trail which was as wide as a Harley V-Rod rear tire, we were 3-bikers riding towards Henry’s Island.

Arghya : Dude are you sure this trail takes us to the beach??

Tanny  : I don’t know if it goes to the beach or not, but definitely it’ll go somewhere.

Arghya : What’s there behind that bushy place?

Dhitan : Pata nahi yaar, jo bhi ho achha hi hoga...lagta hai beach hi hai

.

.

Crossing the bush, we suddenly find a limitless beach with smooth white sand lined with red crabs. Almost looked like a horizonless highway.

.

.

EveryOne :.......yeeeeeehaaaaaaa.......WOWW....look at those damn red crabs!! This is the awsomest place in the world.

 

 

08/10/2010 – 9:25am:

Huff...pufff...huufff...puff...
Two tired bikers pushing a 140kg FZ, up to the last 200mts from the Gurudongmar Lake!
Avik:   chharo Tanny, bike ta ekhanei thak, hete baki ta uthe jai!! (letz leave the bike here and

  walk up the distance)

Tanny: Arrey!! We’re almost there; your bike deserves to see the Lake...
Avik:    (no reply)
                   (he cranks the engine, but there’s no compression yet)
Tanny: Chalo Avik da, the last push, we’re 50mts away from the top!!
Uunnhh....aargghhh...huuff...puff...
 

We were at Gurudongmar Lake; the highest motorable road to a Mountain Lake.

WE DID IT

 

 

29/05/2011 – 9:25am:

My palms are sweaty, arms are heavy, trembling with fear and passion, the exhaust note was making me skip a heartbeat every now and then; I was about to ride a Harley Davidson. ‎3rd GEAR, 145kmph, helmet flown off, scraped a footpeg, jaw wide open; blood filled with adrenaline, a torrent between the legs, and for the first time it wasn’t a dream.

 

Collage

 

 

 

 

 

 02/06/2011 - TODAY:

They say, that a ‘journey of a 1000miles should begin with a single step’; that single step has made me travel through some of the most beautiful places, put me through some of the best adventures of my life, made me realise that spirituality is above all religions, shown me the variance in human lives, and has brought me to the biggest day of my life. Today I am preparing for that Dream Ride, the ride to discover the True Wanderer within me.

 

 

 

the SMS

                There is something about an adventurous life, you just tend to be addicted to it and no one understands. Many of my friends tag me as an uncanny guy with awkward choices of hardship. Since I have been into mountaineering and biking, there has been this weirdo compassion in me that beats every hindrance and hurdle to put me in the middle of the road or on the top of a mountain. Every night I have dreamt of going to new places, of eating new cuisines, talking to new people and knowing new things. Life to me has always been more learning than studying.

On 24/05/2011, I was attending my 8th Semester exam and was pretty much gasping to avoid poor marks. Well an engineering examination is always like a short lived war with that damn answer sheet; and right after this war when I came out of the hall and switched on my cell:

 

FROM: +9811xxxxxx

hi. please call on this number

urgently. this is regarding your

entry in the true wanderers contest

 

 

behind the Starting grid

When I saw the list of 10 bikers going for the dream ride, it was kind of a proud feeling to see my name as the only one from the East. Among the big cities of Mumbai, Pune, Delhi,etc there appeared the name of the city I love “Siliguri”. But later I came to know that the trip had to start from a Wrangler showroom. My major pre-ride preparation was a “Pre-Ride” itself. On 31st May, I rode for a continuous 10hrs to reach my home in Kalyani, 540kms away; and the adrenaline levels being at their highest I did it without a loo break.

After recovering from the marathon ride, I cleaned up my bike and brushed her up for the big day. I don’t know why, but cleaning my own bike and getting all drenched up while doing that is like “one proud feeling”. I am also trying to work out a way to fix a camera to my bike. Been visiting some hardware shops & welders to get hold of something that can help me, hopefully it works out. However, getting ready for a solo ride is a challenge in itself, I already have a pile of “TO DO” & “TO BUY” memos and still every now and then there is this eerie feeling that I have forgotten something very essential.

 

 

 

 

 

butterflies in the stomach

    After coming back home I was resting on my cosy bed, when suddenly the commercial of our trip came up on MTV. I was psyched out for a moment as I was completely unaware of the dimension that this event holds. All my friends have visited and wished me a lot of luck over the last two days but the expectations are high as well. It is not just a chance to go for a trip; it is one of those opportunities in life where I can speak for my passion and show the world that it is not “mere madness” but “sheer passion” that drives our biking fraternity.

                Planning this ride was also very essential and due to my inherent urge for the unknown, I never hesitated in taking the path less travelled. Sunil (from xBhp) had guided me in choosing some popular destinations with good accessibility, however everytime I researched for places I could go, I always ended up on the off-beat tracks, now that’s me. Thus I had to address to the connectivity issues and so I’m carrying 4 mobile connections and a BSNL EV-DO modem for internet on the go.

 

Live 10:29pm: Finally it seems I have worked out on all my "TO DO" lists. In 12hrs from now I would be ready to be flagged of for the biggest ride till date. The feeling is ecstatic. The CAMERA stand also worked out somewhat, I finally got some welding job done today evening to make a gyro cam. I'm still to finish my packing, its gonna be a sleepless night again. My best biker buddy, Arghya will accompany me to the WRANGLER Store tomorrow. I hope everything goes right tomorrow.

 

 

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------end of day---------------------------------------------------------------

 

DAY ONE

(03/06/2011)

 

 

Live 6:39am: All SET!! About to ride to the WRANGLER Kolkata showroom. The mixed feelings within me are just tingling my nerves. The flag off ceremony will start from 9:00am and finally I will set out at 11:00am. I'll have to reach the showroom early so that I can get my helmet stickers and other things ready. BEST OF LUCK to all the the other WANDERERs hope everyone has an amazing trip. 

 

Live 3:01pm: Fighting thru a lot of traffic....i'm now 120kms from the city hussle....having lunch at the TROPiC of CANCER :)

 

 

Live 8:35pm: stationed at Malda 4 2nit...8:30hrs of riding...i've grown a lot of sympathy 4 d truck drivers who r stuck back there on thoz un-ending roadBlocks

 

 

 

 

butterflies set free

 

Peculiarly, I had a sleep last night, maybe because I had been extremely exhausted by the thoughts and fantasies about the places I intend to visit. A good 4hrs sleep however couldn't properly digest my food, and I had a frowny look on my face that suggested m mom that breakfast would be skipped. I somehow consoled myself that you tend to have this kind of stomach upset in tensed situations, maybe those butterflies in the stomach are fluttering a bit too much. 

Set out from home at 7am, the WRANGLER showroom is approximately 70kms from my place, and I just set out with the wish that I reach on time. I generally always miss the first period in my college, I've even missed the 1st 1hr of my semester exams, I've literally jumped into a running train (like in hollywood action movies), and many such incidents have been my common consequences of being "LATE". However, till date I've never been late on a any BIKE TRIP.

At the showroom we openned the package that had my Helmet, and I was very happy to find that my Helmet had all the sticker jobs done and kept ready for me. I thoroughly loved the LS2 Helmet, but even now I'm wondering how to adjust that "chin strap". I had a hearty chat with the staffs at the WRANGLER Exclusive Store and they were fascinated to know about bike trips and what all is prevalant in the biking scenario. Santanu (one of tha staffs), was taken aback when I told him about my Gurudongmar trip and also Pankaj's UK to India trip. It was a lovely chat we all had, and suddenly I figured out that those butterflies weren't disturbing me any more. We then had an extensive photo session, and the sight of my RiV parked right in the middle of the Largest Mall of India made me somewhat emotional (the same way my Mom was to see me being prioritised so much). Its always everyone's dream to be an iconic figure, and I was ecsatic when I saw everybody so curious to know about my venture. Two beautiful ladies had also come near my bike, but unfortunately seeing me all geared up, they were too frightened to talk to me!! Phewwwhh, Alas!!

 

At 11:05am I was flagged-off for my TRUEWANDERER's TRIP to "OLD SILK ROUTE_the mysteries of East Sikkim.

 

 

 

rush hour

After bidding farewell to my group of followers which include my Mom, my bro, his friends, and one of my best buddy Arghya I finally set sail at 11:25am. For a moment it seemed to me that the traffic signals are playin a mockery with me as every single signal showed me a red light and I had to keep standing behind a huge queue with umpteen number of people staring at me. Waise to I like being admired by people, but at that moment I was too much into my biking self and I just wanted to break free. 

  

 

After almost two hours of fight with the Kolkata Cabs, the blue buses, the rikshawalas, the dhoom type autowalas, I finally crossd Barasat and started riding like how I'm born to ride. At around 2:30pm I finally stopped at a Dhaba to have a little breather and also to attend some Radio interviews. Incidentally this Dhaba was located just on the TROPiC OF CANCER, I had a smile next to my lips remembering the days when I used to sleep in my Geography class.

 

 

 

the invisible man

 

When I had seen the movie "Hollow man" I was fascinated by the idea of being invisible. The fact that I could not be seen, sounded like a superPower to me. But not today, I just realized, how difficult it is to be an Invisible Man. On NH34, 6-wheelers rule and they rule by tyranny. The trucks and the buses just din't seem to notice me at all. I started feeling invisible and after a while I realized that being invisible can still be a boon in disguise. After crossing Behrampore, the roadblocks and long truck queues started. Kilometre long queues of buses, trucks and the unfortunate cars waited in dismay, as the Hollow Man on his yellow chariot escaped through the tiny gaps footpaths. However, beneath all the excitement of riding through gaps and holes I suddenly felt a lot of sympathy for these truck drivers, who drive across the whole length of the country throughout the year with those stupid '40kmph speed limit trucks' (the ones that have tags like "buri nazar wale tera muuh kala"), and yet, "WE are the TRUEWANDERERs".

 

 

 

the sunset chase

 

It was almost 6:10 when I filled up my tank just around 15kms from Farakka. The sun was setting down and a stupendous view was seen over the horizon. I could feel how beautiful this scene would look from the Farakka Barrage, an orange fireball smoothly blending into the wide green river of Ganga. For the first time in the day, I started riding above my comfort limit. I tried to zip past every vehicle to reach the barrage as soon as possible. It was like chasing the sunset,and today I suddenly realized that the earth rotates very fast. As the sun kept on sinking down my throttle started turning further. I was doing 121kph on a narrow NH34, and my conscience signalled the buzzer. I gave up the chase as the sun was not ready to wait for 4kms,and i clicked this pic from just a random roadside. 


 

  

thoughts

When I was 3 years old I wanted to be a dad, when I was 10 years I wanted to be a doctor. At 15 years, I wanted to be an Air Force Pilot. At 17, I wanted to be a software engineer. From 18, I stopped "wanting to be" and started "being" a mountaineer, biker, musician, engineer, event organizer, photographer, etc. Today when I was asked by the RJ that how does it feel to be a Truewanderer, I felt a peck of pride in being able to realize my dreams (.......I don't remember what I said 'er though!!).

 

Live 11:57pm: Had asuperb bath and a chinese dinner, I almost had nothing for lunch at the Dhaba I stopped, hence this dinner was a welcome delicacy for me. The room i'm staying in at 3rd floor has a large glass window and the street neons can be seen from here...i'm lovin it!! Tomorrow morning I shall leave for my city of MOMO, Siliguri. I'm dying to see 'S'. I'll meet her up tomorrow.

 

HorsePower & CowPower
 
 
 
 
 
my shadow rides On
 
Rasta naa sahi, bijlli to pohucha gao gao
 
 
 
   butt breaks are worthy at times
 
 
look at the ripples on the river, unusual
 
 
 
 
 
view from my Hotel Room
 
JOURNEY LOG
Distance : 407 kms
Ride Time: 09:40 hrs
Money Spent: Rs.1575
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------end of day---------------------------------------------------------------  
 
 
DAY TWO
(04/06/2011) 
 

 

 Live 9:40am:Can smell the mountains and hear the prayer flags fluttering..i'm in Siliguri......Rode 252 kms in last 4hrs!!

 

 Live 4:06pm:Gliding through the seductive twisty roads..i'm now at kalimpong having lunch!   Loving the stares i'm getting from the  Beautiful ladiez.. :)

 

 Live 7:35pm:Hav reached Reshi_mesmerised by the saturated nature all around_Staying by the Riverside..My Bike slipped frm my  hands while parking_luckily sheZ scratchless..!

  

when roads are empty

The morning alarm was 10mins late, I was already awake and hurrying things up so that I could set out as early as possible. I had kept all my luggages packed yesternight. Unfortunately, even the 3:10hrs sleep wasn't in peace as my bike was parked in open air just 20metres away from the notorious NH34. To my surprise, in the morning when I approached my bike there came a man who claimed he was there safegaurding my bike. Paid him a tip, and started for my ride to Siliguri. The roads in the early morning were amazingly empty and I was very relieved to ride at a good pace. At around 7:05 I found that I had already covered 120kms in the last 1:25hrs. I was pretty pleased and started calculating my time to reach Siliguri. I assumed that after Dalkhola the roads would be even better and I would cover distance even better. Right then, the "ohh...so....common" queue of trucks was again visible. This jam continued for almost 3kms to its source. And this is where I was shaken and amazed when I found that the delay was due to bullock carts being driven (or ridden, what should it be??) right through the middle of NH34 and all the trucks driving behind those in their "ohh...so...common" speed. All my calculations went wrong. I had always been poor in Maths.

 

 

 

i'm in Siliguri

Through the butter smooth NH31, I made it to Siliguri at 09:40am. I was a traveller in my own city, but it was a welcome relief after a 600km ride through one of the most congested and notorious roads. All the pain &  tiredness vanished in a while as I could feel my mountains surrounding me. Even before reaching my appartment I was already feeling rejuvenated.

It has been 4years (3years, 10months to be exact) since I have been living in Siliguri, to pursue my B.Tech.This place is extremely close to my heart. The Ragging Period in 1st year, bunking classes, copying assignments, walking on the hanging bridge, making stories to get money from dad, organising college fest, the superstitions before exams were all part of my golden moments in my life. Its worth mentioning that my Adventure Life too started from Siliguri, and that's what has led me to this day when I'm proudly sharing my experiences of my ride as the Top 10 biker of the contest. I'll be leaving this place in a few weeks from now, the sadness was haunting me a bit while riding through the lonesome highway today. But that's how life's journey is, we all are Wanderers for happiness.

 

After reaching home, I quickly washed my Wrangler Truewanderer T-shirt and had a light breakfast. I was lazy to ride in the city so called up "S" to help me go around the city to complete a few things a I had left pending. The heavy duty foot-pump that I had bought for this trip had proved to be non-functional so I had to get that replaced. The shopkeeper was quite polite and he agreed to do that quite hastily. I had to meet up with my biking brothers as well. Santanu Da, Suman Da & BigDaddy came up to meet me at my place. We talked a lot about what we shall do If I win and my goosebumps were yet again eagerly pricking up. Niru also came to see me off, and it was almost like my 2nd Flag-Off from Siliguri.

 

 

 

 

malay ali ali nepali aundai chho

After starting from Siliguri, the entire trip profile suddenly changed for me. It's gonna be only mountain roads from now on. Riding on mountain roads is an addiction in itself. Once you are in love with it, the addiction keeps growing exponentially. After Sevoke, the twisties started to take a toll on me. That thrill and shrill of riding on those corners with the foot kissing the ground at times is unmeasurable. My facial expressions for the first one hour of today's mountain riding must have been like Gangadhar, as I always had a smile after every corner or every chicane. The smile however disappeared soon when I found that both my camera batteries are about to be dead within a few shots. After reaching Kalimpong I thought of taking a bit of rest and having lunch. After a lot of of persuation and pleading the shopkeeper finally agreed to charge the batteries. I don't know if it helped me or not, but I tried to speak in Nepali today. I knew I was horrible. In fact the only sentence I can frame properly in Nepali is "malay ali ali Nepali aundai chho" (i can understand a little bit of Nepali). Whatever, my purpose was solved.

 

 

 

entering the Old Silk Route

After Kalimpong the roads continued towards the East where I'm supposed to head. I had heard that the road between Kalimpong & Reshi is one of a kind. Indeed it was, the beauty was so much in abundance that I was saturated with the aesthetics of the route. The Old Silk Route which I'm talking about all these days starts from Pedong, a few kilometres away from Reshi. Greenery and solace was so much endowed upon me that I lost reflexes of blowing the horn. I was dazzled by the God's creation, and even though I've visitted Sikkim umpteen times, I was still left with such a new feeling. Today the real journey of my trip begins, I will be spending the next few days on the Old Silk Route and the kind of trailer that I have seen, this promises to be a dive into the nature's Lap.

 

 

me n my Hut

After entering Reshi, I was excited to find so much of oppurtunities to exploit for an Adventurist. The place is absolutely virgin and unspoilt. It is basically an eco-tourism project headed by Mr.Sebastian Pradhan who has built an amazing complex right alongside the reshi khola. I chatted a lot with Mr Pradhan who seemed to have a keen-ness towards adventure & nature seeking people. He also showed me pictures of the places I'm supposed to visit, and it filled my heart upto the brim with anticipation. I'm allotted a small cute hut, almost like the ones seen in fairytales and cartoons. I can hardly stand properly in it, but i'm Lovin it. My bike is yet again parked in the open, and quite far away from me, but the tension seems to be lesser today. The amazing thing however is that right now I'm in Sikkim, whereas my bike is in W.B. which is on the other side of the Reshi Khola. This rivulet is actually the border of the two states and there are two very precarious bamboo bridges in place to cross the river into the resort.

 

 

thoughts

Today I was just not ready to devote time to my blog. The open air, darkness, clear skies, and a cool breeze by the riverside is calling me. Sitting inside the room and writing about my experiences would defer me from some of the most soothing moments of my adventurous life. I would now go sit by the Riverside and listen to the sweet murmur of the water. Tonight the Reshi Khola will sing a lullaby to me and I'm sure after quite a few sleepless nights I am gonna have a very good sleep.

 

there's somethin in 'er eyes

 

Safety comes before law, wear a helmet

Form Factor

Kalimpong
Wasn't this supposed to be a TRADE ROUTE??

the only other living being in my room!!
JOURNEY LOG
Distance : 357 kms
Ride Time : 07:30 hrs
Money Spent: Rs.590
-------------------------------------------------------------------end of day---------------------------------------------------------------  

 

DAY THREE

(05/06/2011) 

 

 

Live 10:40am: Woke Up @8am..Last nights River side melancholy was "magical"..!! Working on permits now..Will ride to anywhere my Heart desires today..Wish i get lost..!! ;)    

 

Live 04:35pm:Sprained my calf muscle,itZ obvious when your day was spent oFF-Roading,Rock climbing,Swimming in the rapids..!!..HappY Environment Day GuyZz..!! 8)

 

 

A sane Human being : O daju..yo bike ko lagi bato hundai na!! (Hey bro, this road is not meant for bikes)

Yes, the road didn't look like a one meant for vehicles at all.

I kept on thinking about my actions, it was a deep thought.

It took a very long time for me to decide, should I go or not.

It took almost 30 seconds for me to decide, that "THIS IS WHAT I WANT"

...I handed over my camera to that man to capture me while riding, and plunged onto the horrifying trail.

 

 

 

 

Last Night and after

Yester night I spent a long time by the riverside. After all the guests in our complex were off to sleep, and I had completed my blog posting, I took my LED torch and stepped out. The sky was cloudy; the sweet smell of the forest was overtaken by the leftover food in our camp. I went onto the bamboo watch tower of our camp, and sat there. Being on a solo ride is turning out to be an entirely new thing to me. It is making me feel so much about my near ones, which I seldom do when I'm back in the city. Everyone I love seemed to make me remember them. To add to this melancholy was the rumbling sound of the Rishi Khola & a soothing breeze from the river. I was overwhelmed by this "not-so-me" type of feeling, but nevertheless it was a golden period of time. 

 

permits

After waking up in the morning I was pretty amazed that it was only 8am, as I had expected it to be atleast 10. However, today I had the most important agenda to address to, I had to arrange for my Inner Line Permit, to enter East Sikkim and the military areas scattered around this place. Mr.Pradhan also informed me that till date their hasn't been any biker who has reached Gangtok via the Old Silk Route, leave apart solo, thus it would be a difficult venture. I was extremely excited by his words, and my enthusiasm climbed to cloud 9 after hearing that. All the headaches of getting the permit was handled by Mr.Pradhan, however I had to ride to Rhenok Bazar in the morning to get my documents xerox-ed. Permits are ready now and it'll take me through the "Old Silk Route" to Gangtok, by traversing the Unseen East sikkim.

Documents Required: Voter ID Card Xerox, License Xerox, Smart Card Xerox, one copy passport size photograph

 

 

 

go get lost

After I had submitted my papers and done my formalities for the Permits, I now had to do something. I mean I couldn't have just sat on my lazy ass and absorb nature, so I decided to ride. JUST SIMPLY RIDE. Nowhere to go, no distance to cover, no destination to fix, no viewpoints to click from, I just went out for a 'DAMN RIDE' like the old Harley riders (long beard & skull cap types) do on a free day. I just decided to ride to the Pedong side, I felt as if I had seen some direction mark near Pedong that pointed towards an adventure trail. I just loved this feeling, I had no race with the clock today, I could just do anything I wanted. And just while I was enjoying this ride, a rock zone came to my sight. I was enlightened by the idea, the idea to Climb a face. I parted with all my gears and pulled up my Wrangler Denim (which has loosened a bit now, maybe I'm losing weight) and waited for a passer by. I had this fear before coming for the trip, that how would I capture myself, as the only equipments I had was a tripod & a Lumix FZ28. However, nowadays I've shed out all the barriers of communication and always tend to find someone who can click me. Finally, after a long wait in the damn heat, a person came to my resue. I handed over my camera and started with the climb. After climbing a very little it suddenly struck my mind that even a simple twitch in my foot can shatter all my hardwork till now, and only after a few bouldering here and there on small rocks, I ended the session. Though the rocks were too hot for climbing but I thoroughly enjoyed the physical involvement I had.

I dropped the person who had clicked my photos for this long at his shop, and went ahead towards Pedong. My desire was to get lost. But it is practically possible to get lost in our Metro cities, but on mountain roads, you just always end up on the proper roads. It was finally an off road experience when I rode to the "Radha Soami Satsang Beas"(www.rssb.com). I had no idea what it was, the word Beas made me believe that there maybe some kind of water-fall or sacred spring sort of. What it turned out to be was finally a place for spiritual enchantment. I wasn't particularly happy about the result of all that nerve wracking off roading but a person of that institution was very interested to know about me, we had a nice chat and I was impressed by RSSB's ventures.

Perhaps, i'll become a sailor someday in the verge of getting lost. Who knows, maybe I become the next Cap'n Sparrow.

 

 

 

 

the dive

Though I rode for only like 62kms today, but not having water and the extreme heat of the sun made it quite a day for me and even my dirty Wrangler denim will stand by me to agree to that. After coming back to Reshi, I quickly had my lunch and prepared for an amazing fun time. I went to the swimming pool of Reshi Khola (an area in the stream, where the water is stagnant and a great place for a swim. There were lodsa guys who had come there after a cricket tournament's semi-final match. I was yet again able to hand over my camera to them to get clicked. The uber-cool water of the Reshi Khola, which calmed my nerves while sleeping yesternite, now made me extremely joyous and excited. Today, for the first time, I also dived into the water a thing I wanted to do for so long. It was a day of filled with adventure for me, and the Dive made for an excellent way to celebrate that.

 

 

 

things get tough

Although it'd seem that I had a lot of fun today, but some unfortunate turn of events have disturbed my composure quite a bit today. My camera doesn't seem to be working properly, once the zoom ring had stopped working. After repeated trials and cleaning, it is somewhat resolved now. Due to those relentless off-road sessions my bike's chain seems to have loosened too much, I just hope it holds on till Gangtok. While swimming, I suddenly sprained my calf muscle, I somehow managed to walk out of the water. The guy who had clicked my photo helped me by massaging my leg. It is better now, and I hope it'll be normal by tomorrow morning. The worst news however for me is that Mr.Pradhan turned out to be a sheer businessman, and instead of getting me a room at Nathang, he booked the Nathang cottage for some tourists who can't even imagine life at 10 deg Centigrade without a room heater. I'm pretty upset at the moment with his behaviour.

 

those places in my dreams

Tomorrow, I'll be going through the core and believed to be the most beautiful part of East Sikkim and the Old Silk Route. I'll be countering those hairpin roads which start a bit ahead of Dzuluk and continues till Thambi. I'm very very excited to see those confusing lookin twists and turns which the kolkata roadrollers used to call "Jalebi Road". Aritar is also on my list tomorrow morning i'll try visi Aritar before breakfast, just hope to wake up quickly. After knowing that Nathang has provisions to spend a night, my entire desires have changed. i just don't want to stay at Dzuluk anymore. I want to climb higher. 

Tanmoy Ganguly is an arrogant fellow, i'll ride till Nathang itself tomorrow, hoping to persuade the guys at Nathang cottage, so that they offer me any damn place to rest my back. As i've learnt from Mr.Pradhan, there'll be no network connectivity at Nathang. Hence, if you all donot find a blog update from me tomorrow, give it a smile and be sure that Tanny is camped at 13,400ft above sea level having tea made of Yak's Milk.

 

 

 

 

thoughts

Feeling a little tentative about my whereabouts in the next two days. A bit worried with my bike, as the chain is very loose and even the front brake has suddenly become very soft, must be because of that fall while parking yesterday. Keeping my fingers crossed for the two days to come. Also the fact that I can become the first to complete this route Solo on a motorbike, kind of incites me to make IT BIG...the idea of riding the whole of the Silk Route is crossing my mind every now and then. I would also be in high-altitude zone from tomorrow, now thatz where I love to live.

It's raining very hard outside, water is seeping in through the roof and side, I'm almost feeling like being in a tent. The mood is set now, I can sleep and dream about the journey coming up. There is an uncanny happiness when the imaginations come alive. However, I'd be happier if I find these places different than my thoughts. In that way I get to visit places even in my sleep. I might not be available on my phone from tomorrow (I kind of Love to be 'Out of Reach', thatz when I feel like in a forsaken land). 'S' will be furious about this.

 

My Hut sweet Hut

 

 

Our Eco-tourism complex

 

Rishi Khola

 

Vulnerability is not fragile

 


Happy Environment Day

 

Saffronized

 

COLORS

 

 

 

 

  

A true Non-Wanderer (this guy spent his whole day sitting by the riverside drinking)
 
 
 
  
 
 
best wishes from...


JOURNEY LOG
Distance : 61 kms
Ride Time: 3:30 hrs
Money Spent: Rs.30
 
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------end of day---------------------------------------------------------------  

 

 

DAY FOUR

(06/06/2011)

 

Live 09:36am:Woke up very early and visited Aritar Lake..!! Will be setting out now for Nathang @13400ft_through the Hairpin road most probably will be out of reach for nxt two dayZz.!! Wish me Luck GuyZz, i'll be the first Solo Rider to complete this Circuit if i do it!! :)

 

 

the purr

                There is this typical sound that the fuel injected bikes make, like the sound dogs make when they are cuddled. The R15 also makes a very similar sound at times, but when the sound becomes a little frequent it almost sounds like she’s crying. Today morning I got prepared for my morning ride to the Aritar Lake. I started walking with my knapsack & the tripod in one hand. It was a long walk today; I had parked RiV a bit far away, open under a tree just by the walking trail. It had rained all night and water was still dripping from the trees. When I had the first glimpse of RiV, I felt a bit guilty to have left her in such a way. As I inserted the key and was about to crank her up, “the purr” came out, and this time she was crying. I felt miserable.

  

a walk around the sacred Aritar

          Locals also call it the “LamaPokhari Lake”; like any other lake the Aritar is also considered sacred by the people. However, the Aritar Lake is now an artificial structure where once used to be a small tarn that had spiritual values to the Tibetans. After last night’s shower I was pretty tensed as to how the weather shall fair with me. However, when I set out for Aritar at 6am the sun was out and shining with all it’s might. The ride was a fantastic feel as I knew that it’d be a short & fresh morning ride followed by a voyage to the unknown. The best part about morning rides are those rays of sun emerging from the trees, and definitely the fresh cool breeze. Aritar is only about 16kms from Rishi but boy oh boy, what a climb it is. Luckily the roads were pretty good, otherwise while returning from there I could almost see the sky on my rear view mirror.

 

 

 

            After reaching Aritar, I simply wasn’t being able to adapt to the greenery of the surroundings. The whole lake was surrounded by pine & fir trees and large prayer flags hanging along the whole diameter, it just calls for a painting. They say that walking around these sacred lakes make your wishes come true. Around Gurudongmar Lake was 3.2kms at 17200ft, hence we din’t even try that when we were there, but today I went around the lake thinking about all my wishes I would love to come true. The place was absolutely empty, not a single person other than me. I was loving the solace, until a truck full of army men landed there with a bar full of drinks, they were about to arrange for a party there. Horrible!!

 

  

 

 


a bounty

Absolutely pumped up, my BP at something around 180-200 range, I was very excited to hit the road. Those GMAP imageries were haunting me for days, I so wanted to get to the Hairpin Road. Just gobbled up the Puri-Sabji somehow, bid farewell to Mr.Pradhan and also made friends with Mr.Nirmalya Das (who is into Racing & Rallying), and set out. One of the staffs from our eco-camp wanted me to leave him at a market nearby. So I picked him up and took him along with my entire luggage, was a funny sight though. As I approached the market a police (a policewoman to be precise) stopped me and charged me for not giving helmet to my pillion. Well I just din’t know what to answer, coz I couldn’t have declined the staff to come with me, neither did I carry a helmet for my ferry service (this was the 3rd time till now). She asked for my papers, and I handed them to her. She was very confused about so many documents, it turned out she din’t know much about vehicles. As I pulled off my helmet (maybe this did the trick; my pretty face, hihi) , she looked at me and said, “Jao ji, parr helmet pehenna chahiye”. Thats it, now I had a lot to say. I handed my helmet to her and said, “pehenke dekhiye, pahar bhi tuut parega to kuch nahi hoga...ye mere haat pair ka Pad-Gloves kabhi dusro ko pehente hue dekhe hai?? “. I was quite content on giving her a lecture on all my gears and just like we did in the FM, I even ended up telling her about my Wrangler Denim. The look on her face was worth watching.

Anyways, ALWAYS WEAR HELMET, it’s not the law but the LAW-gic!!

  

 

White-Out & imaginations

            Haven’t you all experienced this: you start imagining about something, you start to dig deep into the matter, you start feeling it like you’re in it for real, and then suddenly everything’s blank, an absolute white-out. Exactly what happened to me on my ride towards Dzuluk today. After I started riding out of the market, the roads were so seductive, that I was almost feeling as if mermaids would emerge out of the small puddles here and there. Tremendous greenery and bamboo plants lined up on both sides, the road to Dzuluk goes through a very narrow gap between two ridges and then starts climbing up one of those ridges. While ascending there were plenty of U-turns, I could feel that my Hairpin Road was approaching soon but the thick vegetation didn’t reveal the view of the road. After Padamchen, the terrain gradually starts changing and the vegetation cover now turns into shrubs and bushes. Dzuluk is at 9700ft, and the Cloud Warriors of the Indian Army are posted at this place. One of the guys spoke to me a lot about my trip, and finally we ended up discussing about why I am not riding a bullet. I explained to him, “aap ki duya saath rahe, ek bohut bada Bullet pe ayenge phir se yaha pe.”

 

       

 

 

   

 After crossing Dzuluk, I was still riding on through the clouds completely engaged with the thoughts of how should I ride on the hairpins. Should I ride like a normal biker, or maybe I could try leaning down and having a little fun today. I was just praying that the mist clears out once I reach the Hairpin Road, as visibility was down to 10m or so. As I was riding (or rather imagining how would I ride), I suddenly saw a multi-coloured bird with a body like the peacock, must have been a jungle Fowl. It fled once it saw my headlights, but I stopped to look for it. I parked my bike and looked down the road; I was shocked to my bones. All these while I was actually riding on my HairPin Road itself and I didn’t even feel it due to the white-out. I quickly took photos and the harmony of scenery to GMAP seriously made me very very happy. After this I rode at a very slow pace so that I could take a photo break at every instant when the cloud clears out. My imaginations were laid out in front of me on a crystal glass almost as if God had read my mind.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

imaginations & black-out

            I am at Gnathang right now, 13,400ft above sea level, temperature hovers from 18°C to 6°C at night. I am writing all these blog contents couched into a bed under two blankets. Its around 6°C outside. Today I am feeling very relaxed, the fact that I won’t be able to upload my blogs today, kind of gives me a oneness with this place. I mean Gnathang is situated in an obscure combination of GPS co-ordinates and the place is characterised by its creepy cut-out from the rest of the world; you wouldn’t be busy sitting on your Laptop trying to upload those photos through a slow internet connection, or right-clicking along the whole document doing spell checks. THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE...the place which we humans are gifted by the Almighty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

         After riding through my dream Hairpin Road I came across Thambi ViewPoint (where on clear days, one can see the entire Sikkim & Bhutan Himalaya ranges) to a widening valley. The vegetation was now shrubs and rhododendrons. At that altitude this is quite the right time for rhododendrons to bloom. The roadsides were lit up by the vibrant red & pink flowers. After crossing Laxman Chowk which was a Y-junction for roads to Gnathang & Kupup, the first view of Gnathang came up. It was a larger settlement than what I expected, but almost like a “kolapatar nouka” (a boat made of banana leaves) in the middle of a green sea. All these days when I thought about how Gnathang would be, I never gauged it to be so beautiful a place. It was like a black-out for me, from the time I have come here I am lost in a different world, and in that world the sky is blue & grasses are green.

I don’t know what I meant by that last sentence, sounds good doesn’t it?? Feel like singing that song:

 “You & I...

...In this beautiful World

Green grass, blue skies

...In this beautiful World”

 

 


can we be friends

 

            Biggest concern for the day was accommodation at Gnathang. There was only one tourist lodge, and as I rode onto the village it seemed Sikkim Govt had not even promoted or educated the people about the Home-Stay concept. I had ridden almost for 4hrs to reach Gnathang which is around 75kms from Rishi. It was 2:45pm and that meant it’d be too late to return. The lady at the lodge greeted me and with a very apologetic gesture asked me whether I would have a problem sleeping with the driver bhaiyya who had come with another “TOUR PARTY” as they call it. I was more than happy, as I had already thought of even sleeping on the floor. It turned out that we were to sleep in the room where they keep all the quilts and blankets. It is a damn cozy feeling to see so many quilts beside me and I can just wrap around any of those and have a warm sleep. Right after coming to Gnathang I made it clear that they shouldn’t call me sir, and the lady attending the guests (who is of our age) was very happy to be friends with me. Pema and three other ladies run the kitchen and its almost like your elder sisters cooking meals for you. Today we’ll have chicken & roti for dinner. I’m quite sleepy, thank god I can upload tomorrow.

 

 

 

   

 

thoughts

Being at remote places, at times just opens you up. Far away from those hussle & bussle I suddenly feel important to myself, its like watching your inner self on the mirror. These simple people out here who live a life without any amenities are so transparent, that they compel me to re-think of my deeds and gestures back there in my real life. Anyways, these things make me sound more philosophical than what I am; but I must say, mountains tend to rip apart your soul and put it in front of you to judge. The beauty of these valleys, the un-explainable vista in front of my eyes simply cannot be replaced by any of the pleasures we cherish in our real lives. 

 

 

Aritar Lake, East Sikkim

 

 

Our camp mate

 

the hues of Nature

 

a walk to remember

 

 

 

Yellow yellow, dirty fellow 

 

she waits for me...

 

 

nature interpretation session

 

white-out & imaginations

when the journey gets tough the tough gets going (had to pull out the bike of this mess)

 

  

 

JOURNEY LOG
Distance : 106 kms
Ride Time : 5:00 hrs
Money Spent: Rs.2230
 
 
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 DAY FIVE

(07/06/2011)

 

** Sorry for no Live Updates!! I was in the kingdom of God, and mobile phones are not allowed there...

 


rain rain go away

Last night I could hear a lot of bullet shots. I woke up very early today, almost by 3:40am, only to find that it was raining cats and dogs outside. Though I was a little upset that I wouldn’t be able to see a sunrise from Thambi, but seriously speaking I just cherished sleeping tight under the quilts, with my eyes half-open and my body clinging to the warmer parts of the bed. The rain continued till around 5:15am. When I finally woke up, I found nobody outside, the clouds hovering all around and smoke rising from some shrines far away.

 

 


 

I decided on walking around Gnathang and explore the surroundings. Peculiarly though, the dogs of Gnathang didn’t seem to like my attire. Whenever, I tried to walk away from any trail, these dogs (all united) revolted against me making a very embarrassing situation. However, in this short ‘sight seeing’ of mine I visited the historical structures that remained in Gnathang. Gnathang and Tukla are the two places where the great war between the English & the Tibetan Refugees took place. There is a cemetery where the bodies of some English men are buried. There is also a Gumpa in the outset which was built in 1886 by the British. Unfortunately though, the cemetery is now the hang-out place for the people of Gnathang, as you can find BSNL network out here. Hence, whenever you go there you’ll find someone seated beside the burials and speaking over phone. The walk around was a splendid one, the weather gradually cleared out and my morale kept on rising for THE RIDE.

 


 

the land of Meluha

 

After being in Gnathang for a night and a morning, I somehow came to understand what lord shiva must have done had he been a normal human being. There was a novel I had been reading called "Meluha" that spoke about the heavenly lands in the mountains of Himalayas where lord Shiva spent his life as a young and impressive warrior. Discovering Gnathang was like finding Meluha for me, the valleys, the far reaching horizon, the movement of the clouds; it would be a cliche to say that it was "heaven on earth". Today I am in a dismay whether heaven could be this beautiful at all?? Suddenly the competitive quotient of Tanmoy was stranded down today, don't know if he'll win the True Wanderer title, but surely he has won a moment to remember forever.

 

 

 

 


departing some good friends

After I returned back from my walk I was surprised to see a Lodge full of dizzy and sick people. All the tourists who had come yesterday from Rishi were now experiencing severe AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). This was bound to happen, as it is medically very impractical to clim almost 10,500ft in a single day. The kids were vomitting and the adults had a droopy look. Everyone wrapped up in all the clothes they had. When I went back, these guys were as if seeing a ghost who was running around taking photos in just a jacket and a woolen cap. Well, I don't know how, but I have a typical good relation with high-altitude and I can acclimitize very fast. Though I was absolutely fine, I felt a bit bad for all of them including the driver bhaiyya who was also suffering.

I had a quick breakfast of bread & butter that Pema Sisters & Co. (thatz a nice name ain't it?) had cooked. I also met with Mr. Karma who was Pema's dad and was the owner of this Lodge. He told me about the concerns and the fact that people donot know much about their Gnathang. However, I assured him of my advertisement of Gnathang and that I would recommend everybody I know to come here. Today I also visitted Pema's house, which is a typical buddhist household with that sweet smell of agarbatti and "Tashi Delek" written at the entry. When I was in Bhutan I saw this thing written all over the place. Today I came to know tha Tashi Delek means Namaste in tibetan languageFinally, it was time for goodbye to Gnathang and the beautiful friends I made here. It would now be a challenging journey ahead. 

 GNathang Lodge

 

the bindless mind

There were two roads from Gnathang to reach Tukla. One goes straight up to Tukla and the other takes you around the hill to reach Tukla through Baba Dham & Hati Lake. I took the latter one and the scenery I was subject to was impeccable. The weather being very foggy, I couldn't see any high mountains far away, and it felt like I am at the topmost ridge of the surroundings. The clouds rising from one side of the ridge and diving onto the valley just kept me wondering whether it was a movie screen or real life aura that I was seeing. I spent a lot of time clicking photos today, I din't want to miss a moment I would have today, as clearly today was the biggest day of my ride. That feather in the cap to complete this route solo, meant quite a bit to me. But never didi it bother me about the consequences if I get trapped. The feather belonged to such a beautiful bird that I was constantly eluded to follow it. I rode on.

 

 Shortcut to Tukla

 

 

 

My first halt was at the Baba Dham, the original bunker of Baba Harbhajan Singh who is considered a deity in this part of the world. There is also a Baba Mandir after Kupup but that one is actually a tourist attraction for the the visitors of Tsomgo. I spent a bit of time at the Baba Dham and also spoke to the soldiers appointed there. They were horribly amazed by the fact that I was riding from Kolkata and that too alone. They wanted to know about everything I do on trips and almost everyone of them hugged me tight and shared their best wishes. According to them people like us make the country proud. But I was thoroughly admiring their agility and resilience to guard our motherland at such hostile places. We as Indian are all proud of our "INDIAN ARMY". These guys told me that the bullet shots I heard were 'dummy firing' from the chinese posts to acknowledge any excess movement in the ITBP bunkers. WHOAA!!!!!

  

 

 

 

 As I gradually rode towards Kupup the surroundings started changing, now the empty valleys were more occupied by the army bases. The Hati lake (elephant lake) near Kupup was again a very big lake with serious resemblance of an elephant when observed from the top. At Kupup I got my permits stamped and on query came to know that all roads are closed for tourists due to land-slides. Little did I pay a heed as it seemed a hoax and the policeman was just trying to send me back. As I proceeded further I found the Young Husband track, that goes to Lhasa through the Jelep La pass. The world's highest golf course too is situated right beside this Young husbanf track, feels amazing to see "LHASA 520kms".

  

 

 

 

 

fingers crossed

I started having a little bit of a tension, as I couldn't see a single oncoming vehicle. Roads till the Baba Mandir (the tourist spot) was fine. Once i reached there, there were two truckful of Jawans and a few non-comissioned officers there. One of them came up to me and asked:

Army man: kaha jaoge...??

Me: Chhangu ho ke Gangtok jaenge!

Army man: O b####### (the typical army slang), bike tuut jayega aap ka! Laut jao..

Me: Aaplog kaise aaye?

Army man: Humlog Army waale hai, pahar torke bhi aa jayenge!!

Me: Hmmn...

Staying there for long would have annoyed me a great deal, hence I just prayed to someone (well i'm spiritual, not religious) and started for the challenges ahead. The roads now seemed to be washouts. Slush and mud and rivers everything now made a part of the road. En-route Tsomgo Lake I found the Chinese trade market at Serathang which used to be a major centre of trade on the Old Silk Route. It took very long to reach Tsomgo, and my soulders already seemed to be rattling (it has to do with the R15's sitting posture). I almost have a permanent damage on my shoulder due to long riding hours, it started worsening. After reaching Tsomgo I found all the shops closed and the Yak walas sleeping beside their Yaks, the omens weren't good. Not a single tourist vehicle had plied today. I also got the news from one of the locals that the major road block is at "17mile". Just 17kms from Gangtok, it would be a heartbreak if I have to return back. Past tsomgo, the roads became a horrible mess and my bikes undercarriage got beaten up pretty badly quite a lot of times. The shoulder pain now turned into an agony and it felt as if my arms would soon come off. Gradually my left elbow too started to develop a cramp, and I felt lazy to use the clutch. My feet were the only organs that were steady and helped me through the difficult sections. At 17mile it was a horrifying seen, but luckily they had openned the road just about an hour ago. The hormones of happiness somehow acted like medicines and the pains seemed to vanish for a moment. After crossing the landslide zone I was now sure that I had done it. It took 3hours to ride the last 40kms from Tsomgo to Gangtok. As they say "fortune favors the brave", well I would thank all my well wishers for their wishes today.

 And yes I did IT! First solo rider to complete the Old Silk Route (Sikkim) Circuit on a bike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Roads, no roads, something, nothing......still riding" _Arghya Sarkar

 

 

 

link failure

 

Quite used to seeing this at the "State Bank of India" branches, but today I was puzzled to find serious network issues in a city like Gangtok. I'm staying right in the middle of the city (even my Hotel is called "Central Point Lodge") and still I'm having to sit on a window cantilever shed and try to connect myself to the Internet. Even my primary cell networks aren't functioning. After a very hearty lunch I sat with my blogs. I had a lot of catching up to do. But unfortunately I walked around the whole hotel trying to get connectivity but in vain Finally after 11:30pm the Internet seemed to works and here I am, trying to fight with the network gods to upload my experiences with all of you. Pardon me for this but I hope you all will understand why I love to go to remote places without any connectivity. I guess it'll take me the whole night to upload all these stuffs, but it's worth it. The only sad part is that I din't get to walk the streets of Gangtok at night, although it is raining, room mein hi thik huu aaj to!!

 

 

 

thoughts

Its an ultimate feeling today, I feel like having a champagne today. I keep wondering at times, what am I, a mountaineer or a biker?? Today I've found the answer, I'm a mountain lover, I love to conquer these places which once used to be below the Tethys Sea. The hardships are equal, the difficulties are extreme, the risks are horrifying, but the rewards are similar too, conquering the mountains and riding through them give me an immense feeling of achievement and peace of mind. After coming back to Gangtok I was feeling a little disoriented and for a while even rode across wrong Lanes & no entries,but in the end it was nice talking to my loved ones and sharing my experiences with them. I had initially promised 'S' of chocolates equal to her weight if I become the Truewanderer, but today she claimed that for the publicity she has been doing about me, her charge would be 10kgs of chocolate. Even my younger bro did a campaign with his friends on a bicycle to promote my tripBLOG. But after being through the Meluha, I've already achieved the happiness of a winner.

  

Exploring Gnathang Valley

 

Ruins from the 1889 War

 

Fingers crossed...hope they don't shoot me!!

 

Gosshh!! I don't find UBI ATMs in big cities!!!

 

The hanging chain

 

where Eagles dare...(this pic is dedicated to Tilak Soni)

Ever wondered who defied death to build these roads

                                                                                          _BRO

Finally some good roads

 

Best Parking lot in the world (I)

 

On 3rd June,2011: I was watching queues of Taxis behind me on this Rear View Mirror

This is what Life can give you when you Live it to the fullest


 

JOURNEY LOG
Distance : 79 kms
Ride Time: 5:30 hrs
Money Spent: Rs.760
 
 
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DAY SIX

(08/06/2011)

 

 

Live 12:15pm:Hey GuyZ,mY Blog is  up and live again!! Been working whole night on it__Suddenly i am having an urge 2 see Mt.Kanchdzongha_OFF TO WEST SIKKIM..!! :D

Live 03:24pm:Didn't know Time Machines run on 2-wheels..!! Having lunch @ Ravangla & feeling exactly lyk 1yr 1week 3dayZz back,when i wz here on my 1st byk trip! 8)

 

 

 

...and suddenly

After a long sleepless night I was planning to stay back at Gangtok. After all those relentless off-roading (if not dirt biking) I had developed a very sore shoulder. As the city streets were sunlit, I went out to check out my bike in the parking lot. As i stepped out, I suddenly had a glimpse of Mt. Kanchendzongha. It didn't take even a minute for me to decide that I would head towards West Sikkim right away in search of a Mt.Kanchendzongha view. It's not just me, anybody who loves mountains falls in love with the Kanchendzongha.

 

turn the page

It all started a year ago in te summers of May 2010, when I grouped up with a group of bikers from Kolkata to visit Sikkim on a 2-day trip. I had no idea about riding gears, din't know about group riding protocols, had never ridden in the hills before, and believe it or not I din't even get my driving license. I just knew how to ride a bike and a 4-wheeler driving license, and I was off with these guys for my first ever bike trip. Today when I was riding towards Ravangla though the same roads I kind of felt all the other riders riding alongside me. Avik da, Surya da, Joe, Sam, Swati di, were all seemingly cheering me from behind. I'm now covered in riding gears from top to bottom, I can now scrape my knee on corners, I now know to repair my bike, and I also have a license; but that first ride weaing aSUPERMAN t-shirt & a half face helmet was what made "i-the biker". The nostalgia kicked in.

  

Poster of my 1st Biking TripLogue

 

Moments from my 1st Bike Trip


 

when I am my only companion

 

While on the trip, many have enquired me about riding solo, about the hardships and about the feeling of being alone at hostile places. The beauty to a solo ride lies in its difficulties. The realization of human vulnerabilities become very strong when a tight situation is faced, but the freedom of riding solo is unexplainable. You are the only person on a long open valley, and the only sound you can hear is your bike revving hard to get you higher, and suddenly you see a small orange bird flying beside you trying to keep up with your speed. I had this moment today; I was riding on an empty road, with the sun over my head and the landscape not really inspiring me much after riding in E.Sikkim, suddenly an orange bird came gliding from somewhere and started flying just beside me, almost within my reach. I looked at it and slowed down a bit so that it could keep up with me. astonishly the bird kept on flying with me, almost as if giving me companion. I kept looking at the bird and riding along, for a moment it seemed that it would speak to me, the way it followed my movement was seriously impressive, and after riding with me for a while it suddenly braked and took a photo break on tree. Amazing how God sends you companion when you feel alone. I guess it would have flied all the way with me,but maybe coz the Sikkim police punishes riding without helmet, my small birdie friend had to leave me.

 

the best part about riding solo is that I don't have to share the thrill, excitement and joy of riding

It's All Mine

 

 

riding on an open ridge

I had started very late form Gangtok today, almost 12:40. The scenery kind of didn't inspire me more than my thoughts while riding, maybe the hangover from beauty of E.Sikkim has left me wanting for more. I didn't stop much for photos today and quickly rode along for Ravangla. At Ravangla, I had lunch and again started riding for Pelling at around 4pm. The road from Ravangla goes through the top of a ridge line and the right side was an entire drop that went down to a wide valley and on the opposite ridge were the high altitude mountains. However, the whole landscape was covered with clouds but I could estimate what it could look like on a clear day. being an open ridge with a wide valley, the wind was quite amazing out here, and the chill in the wind kind of re-invigorated me and reduced my shoulder pain, which was kind of turning into an insane level of discomfort. The wind on mountain tops have a very nice feeiling and it seems as if all the prayers from the prayer flags are being carried away by these mountain winds.

I rode on towards Pelling and also took a wrong route from Legship, while doing that. I had almost rode 14kms and then I found somebody to confirm my mistake. I made the last climb from Geyzing to Pelling on a road forbidden for Maruti Omni, such was the gradient that my bike kept screaming at 7500RPM on 1st gear to climb that. I was finally in West Sikkim at around 5:30pm , and the city of Pelling welcomed me with a warmth.

 

  

 

 

a walk for momos

 

I took a hotel at Upper Pelling, I got lucky as these guys donot have a single room and so they gave me a double bed-room at low rate. I kind of love rolling on the bed, today is my day. After freshening up, I went out for a stroll in the town. Pelling is a very small hill station where one can stroll around at will feeling the cool breeze and silent surroundings. After so many days, for the first time I wasn't wearing my Wrangler. I went out wearing my bermuda and I was loving to have that shiver. I kind of missed having a guitar with me. In hill cities like these, you ought to wear a half-pant, a sandal, a light jacket and sit by the roadside strumming your guitar to the tunes of:

 

Almost heaven, West Sikkim

 

Blue ridge mountains, flowin goes a river

 

Life is older, older than the trees

 

Younger than the mountains, blowin like a breeze

 

Country roads, Take me home,

 

to the place, where I belong

 

 

 

Walking on the lonely roads of Pelling scattered with bengali families here and there, I suddenly sniffed the smell of momos from somewhere. The smell was very very good, and being a foodie I just couldn't stop myself from searching for this momo shop. Finally, after looking around, I went down to Lower Pelling and there i found this shop called Venus Restaurant. And to my luck, I found one of the best chicken momos I've ever had. I had two plates of those and also enjoyed the typical feel of that shack-type-restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 


thoughts

During the ride I was mostly consumed in the thoughts of my first ride. It felt awkward for a moment to be riding among the Top 10 bikers of the TrueWanderers contest, when I'm a biker for just 1 year or so. But then, it's not HOW you ride that makes you a wanderer but WHERE  you ride that makes you a TrueWanderer. I was kind of thinking about my ride through East Sikkim and the amazing places which I visitted, at times I also was wondering what should I rate my trip among all others that I've done. The peculiar thing about riding is that, you tend to think so many things, but draw no inference from them. I'm sure every biker must be feeling this the same way; like at this very moment it seems that THIS trip is till date the best in my life, just how GuruDongmar seemed the best trip 8months ago and Ladakh would seem 1.5 months from now.

Today I would be spending my last night on the hills, tomorrow will be my last day of the Trip. It doesn't yet make me sad, as I'me yet to get a glance of Mt.Kanchendzongha tomorrow morning. I hope it rains all night today, such that tomorrow I am treated to an amazing view for the last time.

  

GANGTOK


My goodbye to East Sikkim

 

This is the tree where my birdie friend took a break

 

She's Alive

 

To the moon & back


The best thing about Sikkim

 

No Parking

 

Datum Lake, a frog sanctuary


 

JOURNEY LOG 
Distance  : 135 kms 
Ride Time : 4:20 hrs 
Money Spent: Rs.1115 
 

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   DAY SEVEN

  (09/06/2011)

                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Live 11:28am:Setting out for khecheopalri lake & Temi the munnar of the east..The last day of my trip...Gonna ride with the Tide..!! :)  

 

 

Live 10:25pm:Flags Down..The ENGINE stops breathing....MysterieZz of the "OLD SILK ROUTE" unfolded..!! ThanX a lot for all ur Support guyZ..!!  TannY Signs Off_______  

 

 

misty mountain hop

 

                One of the primary reasons why I was in West Sikkim had to be the majestic Mt. Kanchendzongha. Not only because it is the world’s 3rd highest & India’s highest peak, but because of its sheer magnetic beauty that I keep coming back to get a glimpse of His Majesty. It didn’t rain last night what that meant was, I’m not going to have clear skies. But that didn’t hinder me at all from waking up at 5am and run to the helipad wearing a half pant and a NorthFace Windstopper. There was a chilling wind blowing on the open mountain top and I was shivering like hell. The curtains were still closed and even the presence of the beautiful peaks couldn’t be felt due to the looming clouds. I hung on to my nerves waiting for my prayers to be heard by the god’s of the mountains. After a while the land of the Yeti showed up, like playing hide n seek with me revealing a little bit of the golden peaks through the silver lining of the black clouds. Mt. Kanchendzongha was very shy though, I could only see a very little glimpse of the mighty mountain. I’m pretty sure I’ll be coming back time n again to see this splendid aura.

 


 


 

the wishing lake

                Amidst a basin of green mountains perched in the middle of remote surroundings is the beautiful Khecheoperi Lake. Also known as the wishing lake, the Khecheoperi Lake is famous for fulfilling wishes of all the devotees. Many visitors visit this hamlet to convey their wishes to the God. But I was mesmerised by the location of this beautiful landscape and the way this place was coloured by the numerous player flags scattered all around almost made me believe that wishes do come true at this place. Legends say that this lake is kept clean by all the birds of the forest. Inspite of being surrounded by thick vegetation, not even a single leaf can be found on the surface of the water and it is believed that the birds pick up the leaves and keep the lake water clean. It was a splendid 10mins walk up to the lake and I enjoyed the solitude that it gave me. I don’t remember making any wish though; I hope God had spotted me among the many travellers and known my burning desires to be the “TRUEWANDERER”.


 

the ruins of Rabdentse

         I was quite late to start today; hence I was pretty much in a hurry. When I was in Rabdentse it was already 2 o’ clock in the afternoon hence I was falling short of time. The ruins of Rabdentse are around 1km from the main road. I simply couldn’t afford to walk for long, I started running. With a tripod, camera, and a helmet with me I could gage that my avatar was looking funny while running. Whenever, I could see a group of travellers approaching I stopped running and started walking. After I was convinced that no one was looking at me, I again continued running to the archaeological wonder. On the way, there were many boards that had encouraging words written for the weak hearted. I particularly enjoyed this small trek to the amazing ruins of Rabdentse.         


 

 

being Rossi

Throughout this trip I was very particular about riding safe, I was covering very little distance everyday, thanks to those inexistent roads, the numerous roadblocks, gravels, clays and all those reasons that made the on-lookers say, “Aap ko darr nahi lagta bhaisaab??”. But today I was overcome by the spirit of that uncanny MotoGP rider who wears the no.46. I was wanted to ride fast today, as fast as I could. Scrapping my footpegs on the corners, leaning onto the curves, with full open throttle and my tacho reading 5000+ RPM, not respecting the gravels and potholes, not slowing down on the clay zones, not afraid of the landslide zones, splashing through the streams; today I was serious about my Live Update; “ride with the tide”. I rode my bike like how Rossi would have rode Lorenzo’s machine if he would have got the opportunity to do that. Quite a few times I somehow escaped flying out of the corners, and twice I managed to save those suicidal chickens running across the road. But I enjoyed it, On the last day, I enjoyed riding like how I enjoy on the mountain roads.

 

 Munnar of the East

                Temi tea garden, the only tea garden in Sikkim and perhaps the producer of one of the best quality of organic tea in this whole area, was my last destination for the trip. The roads after Ravangla, through Damthang to the Temi tea estate was one of the most beautiful roads to ride for me in this trip. I was tucked in, clinging on to my tank, leaning onto corners at speeds close to 70kph and I was lovin it. As I entered the Temi tea estate, what I saw was a site unforgettable. A green sea of tea leaves with woody trees lined up and beautiful narrow roads winding through them. The sun was setting down and the shades of the dusk blended onto the hues of this only tea estate of Sikkim. I haven’t been to Munnar, but I believe after coming back from 14,200ft through the harsh but beautiful sights of high Himalayas, the Munnar of the East was a spectacular way to finish my ride in the hills. I was now about to land at the plains where people are more concerned about the final product of the tea leaves rather than this sight of tea plantation with the backdrop of the beautiful mountains.


 

game of shadows

 

                Riding at night has a charm of its own, and especially if the roads are good after 5days of riding. The NH31A is a very well banked road, and even under the darkness of the night I could manage speeds of 70-75kmph. I started from Temi at around 6:45pm and I had almost 90kms more to cover. By calculation according to hill standards it should have taken 3hrs, but I wanted to catch up with my friend Chirag, who was about to leave Siliguri for the last time. Indeed a very emotional moment of our lives, as it was the saddest departure of friends after a 4year party called “Engineering”. I tried to ride as fast as I could, but I had somehow lost the capabilities to ride too fast. All these days I was having to ride at 20-25kph on 2nd & 3rd gears and now suddenly finding the speedo at 80+ speeds was a bit uncomfortable for me. The best part about riding through pitch black roads at night is the game that the shadows tend to play with you. Your own headlight can cause such ghastly figures that at times it seems like spirits flying all around you, especially on the corners. I regarded these spirits as the good ones, or maybe my own spirit flying free from me. After a while I started enjoying this horror filled excitement and to my amazement I finally made it to Siliguri by 9pm, after taking a petrol break and a drinks break. The ride suddenly ended for me, and I was left blank for some moments waiting to react to this event. I didn’t know what to do, I just waited for ‘S’ to come and give me that smile of content.

 

a forest fire that read something like "PAA"

 

thoughts

 

It was the last day of my trip; I could seldom feel it though. It always felt as if I’d be visiting places again from tomorrow, I’d be sleeping on a different pillow, I’d be sipping tea made of Yak’s milk, or I’d sit down looking at the clouds and their turtle-ish movements. I was only recollecting what I had done in the last few days; Gnathang valley, swimming in the Rishi Khola, rock climbing, those kind ladies at the Gnathang lodge, those pissed of dogs, the soldiers at the Baba dham who claimed, 

“apka bike tuut jayega”, and my small flying birdie, everything came across my thoughts. I never felt sad when I realized this is the last day, I was wondering about my next trip. My mind just doesn’t seem to get tired fantasizing about going to new places. While riding down from Temi, I kept visualizing how the Ladakh would be when I visit there during my expedition in late July. Suddenly, a thought that had skipped me for the last week, rose from within, the ST7. Blinded by the beauty of East Sikkim I had completely forgotten about that glimmering chance of riding on that beastly bike. For my last 80kms, it always felt as if I was riding on the Hyosung itself, after all imagination knows no limit.

Hide n Seek through the clouds

 

Tibetans believe that the prayers written on the prayer flags are carried away by the wind these prayer

flags are built in such a way that the text written on them actually disappear after a few months.

Neverthless, your prayers are still to be realized by you, god only gives you strength to do so.

 

the Khecheoperi Lake, where wishes come true

Temi Tea Estate, munnar of the east

 

Flags down, Ready for next

 

Trip Reading, 1301kms

 

wonder when I'll be back again

JOURNEY LOG 
Distance  : 235 kms 
Ride Time : 8:20 hrs 
Money Spent: Rs.780
 
The Ending Moments
 
I rode quite fast to make it to Siliguri, but unfortunately Chirag had already left. It was quite disheartening as I wanted to see him off on his journey out of college life. I silently rode to my apartments parking and kept my RiV parked at the corner, waiting for my friends to come. I had informed only a few as it was late in the night. Rahul was the first to come and then 'S' arrived. She was very happy to see me alive and sane, but was furious about me losing weight and having sunburns all over. We all embraced each other and the ride with the Wrangler Flag for the last 7days came to a silent end. As everyone proceeded towards our room, I bent down on my knees in front of my knees and gave my RiV a hug and assured her that no matter what the results of TrueWanderers be, I'll keep my promise I had made to her, to take her to the best places of the world. A silent pat on her nose, and I murumured "I love you". As I stood up slowly and turned around to walk away, in that beautiful tone of 'er she gave me, "the Purr".
 
 
 
Life is not counted by the Moments that we breathe,
But by the moments that take our breath away.......
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TRAVEL DESK
information kiosk
 
 
 do not hesitate to reach me at : tanny.gang@gmail.com
 
 
Map
Trip Data
Trip Distance : 1301 kms + 610 kms Transit
Total Ride Time: 39:50 hrs
Total Fuel: 48.1 lts
Total money spent: Rs. 9214
 
 

 

Info of the Route

 

BEST SEASON: Feb-May & Oct-Dec

The route into East Sikkim through the Old Silk Route is definiftely one of the best rides for a biker who needs to getaway for a week or so. Sikkim being a small state the ride across its mountains is not much about eating miles. The route that leads to Gangtok through these serene vallenys of Gnathang & Tukla is merely a 200kms ride but neverthless, it is on very difficult terrain, particularly more for the R15. However, the roads from Rishi to almost Kupup are excellent when the hostile lacation is considered. But once you cross Kupup the road suddenly starts deteriorating unexpectedly and in a few kilometres you reach Serathang from where the roads are almost inexistent. It took me almost 3hrs to reach Gangtok from Tsomgo lake which happens to be only 40kms. Hence, more than the difficulties of the route, it's road conditions and landslides that hinder chances of riders from completing the circuit. The following are a few points to remember for this route.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Take the Kalimpong route to Rishi, as it is more beautiful.
  • Stay at Rishi for the first night and stay at Aritar Lake (Hotel Kanchenjungha Mirror) on the next day. Be sure to take a plunge in the Rishi Khola.
  • You can get your permits from Rongli. Mr.Pradhan at Rishi Eco-tourism will do it for you, but will charge you a service fee (He charged me Rs.500, exploited me though)
  • Ride to Dzuluk and stay there for the night. Riding straight up to Gnathang can easily induce AMS. Hence, plan to stay at Dzuluk for acclimitization.
  • Gnathang is a must stay for adventure loving people, you can spend a day in solitude out here enjoying the game of the clouds.
  • Gnathang to Baba Dham is generally always open, but expect to face landslides and roadblocks for days on this circuit from Tsomgo to Gangtok.
  • If you happen to visit in the snow months, you can have the best views of these places. The Hairpin Roads and the valleys are at their best on snowy mornings.
  • Network connectivity is available till Rishi, in Dzuluk you'll only have Vodafone and past Dzuluk mobile phones are better OFF.
  • The Baba Dham that I visitted near Kupup is the real bunker of Baba Harbhajan Singh, and it is almost void of the touristy atmosphere as in the commercial BABA MANDIR.

 

CONTACTS:

  • Mr. Sebastian Pradhan: Runs the eco-tourism complex at Rishi, and organizes tours in this area. He is a tad business minded hence be sure to be aware of the route if you donot wish to pay extra for his services.
    Rate:  Rs. 600 per head/per day fooding & lodging
    Ph: +91-9932744407

          +91-9002774220
     
  • Karma Sherpa : The only accomodation at Gnathang is the Tourist Guest House maintained by Mr. karma and his 4 daughters. You might need to get a prior booking to avail proper food and facilities on arrival. However, they are very very caring towards good tourists who aren't exceptionally demanding.
    Rate: Rs. 650 per head/per day fooding & lodging
    Ph:   +91-9474648767

    +91-9476300580
    *leave a message if the phone is not available, they'll call you back.

 

Moments

Best moments:

  • That orange birdy flying beside me for a while, almost when I was wondering about the loneliness of solo ride. I still can't forget that moment.
     
  • When I found the roads at 17-mile open for Gangtok, and on enquiring I knew that after 4days it had been openned just an hour ago. It's true that fortune favours the brave.
     
  • Visitting Pema's house and recieving a very warm reception at Gnathang.

  • Riding through the Hairpin Road without knowing it, and suddenly finding out the magnificent sight.

  • Going around the Aritar Lake remembering all my loved ones and how much they pray for me.

  • Riding to Ravangla, which also happened to be my first ever ride.

  • Riding the last ride back home, fantasizing about my next trip to Ladakh, which could possibly also be on an ST7.
     

Worst moments:

  • When my bike slipped out of my hand while parking at Rishi.

 No other moment felt bad to me, every moment good or bad now remains as good memories.

 

THANKSGIVING

First and foremost I would like to thank my Mom for buying me a bike inspite of all the hardships our family has faced after dad's demise. I wonder if my dad would have ever had bought me a bike, he was too frightened by my love for speed. I'm sure he now feels proud of his son. I would definitely give my little bro Chhoton all my regards for his untiring efforts in promoting my blog. I have been entirely disconnected from publicizing my blogs but my bro has done all the propaganda for me. All across FaceBook and in my town and also in my school; every single person knows about Tanmoy Ganguly & the Old Silk Route.

Shuddhashil Ray, one of my old friends from school who was always great with computers managed the FaceBook page for my bike trip and he also managed to gather a lot of support via electronic media. I would like to extend my gratitiude to him for helping me promote my blog and express my passion. All my friends, seniors and juniors have been instrumental in taking initiatives to make Tanmoy Ganguly's biking adventures to be recognised and popularised. I thank them all with all my heart. 

"S" has always been my morale support throughout the trip and whenever I managed to talk to her it was a shot of rejuvenation that she always sprinkled upon me. Thanks a lot for being such an amazing friend and praying for my safety at every step. I owe her chocolates equal to her weight if I happen to become the TrueWanderer.

 

NOW, the ones who made 10bikers realize their dreams, xBhp & Wranglers, there aren't many words that can express the gratitude to them from my side. Very few initiativees like this are taken to promote a passion so strong in our biking fraternity. I am grateful to the organisers for being so open to the contestants and allowing the liberty and freedom of execution of our plans. I hope such events continue to be organised and more and enthusiasts show up. Last but not the least, I would personally thank Himanshu & Sunil for encouraging me every evening by calls or SMS, and I would like to congratulate them on pulling this off so successfully.

 

 


Signing Off

These had been the 7 most exciting days of my life, I lived it on my own, with myself learning the values and aesthetics of a human life. I went through numerous hardships and enchanting moments that let my spirit free to roam. I don't know if I'll become the WRANGLER TrueWanderer, but I know for sure that I'm the TrueWanderer within myself. This is Tanny signing off.

 

First moments

 

 my Siliguri at night

 

 

 

The roadside Loneliness

 

 

 

 

After a ride through Slush

 

The melancholic Rishi Khola

 

 

Ride with the tide

 

Mountain roads, Take me Home, To the place, Where I belong

 

 

My favourite Hairpin road

 

 

No roads?? Doesn't Matter!!

 

 

The rare good roads

 

 

Self-Shot

 

 

Staffs at Gnathang Lodge

 

You say it best, when you say nothing at all

 

 

From the Abode of God

 

Salute

 

 

To know the road ahead, ask the one's coming back

 

 

The Majestic mt. KanchenDzongha

 

 

Addicted to twisties

 

 

 

 

 

I crossed the streams
I rode through the slush
I rode through the valleys
With fresh green grass.
 
I defied every limit,
I rode through the unknown yard
I have my spirit lost & free
Coz, I live to ride hard!!
 
 
 
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the journey through the

OLD SILK ROUTE