Day 12/15 – Srinagar to Jammu – 300 kms – 4:30 AM to 5:30 PM
We rose up really early at Srinagar. We were packed and ready to leave by 4:30. So early in the morning, it was a little confusing to find our way out of Srinagar and catch the right road to Jammu. As the sun was slowly coming out, we realized it was really foggy and was hard to ride. We had very poor visibility and our speeds dropped to less than 40 km/hr on a proper highway. However, the green fields on either side of the road looked excellent with the fog having settled right over the crops.
We stopped by every fuel station to check if they had opened up. All of us were low on fuel. During the search, somehow Allen and Kiran fled right in front away from our visibility. Apar and I stuck together and were confused since the roads had a couple of deviations. We had to take one of those to Jammu, and had rightly missed it. After overshooting a couple of kms, we head back to that point to catch the correct road to Jammu. However, we had two other riders named Allen and Kiran, who didn’t prove to be so aware. They had overshot by 25 kms before actually realizing that they had taken the wrong path. At some place where they stopped for some tea, someone had asked them if they were on the way to the Amarnath Yatra. Puzzled, they replied that they were heading to Jammu. That’s when they actually realized the blunder. They head back all the way, covering a total of 50 kms except for that fact that they had some tea.
Meanwhile, Apar and I waited just outside the Jawahar tunnel, which is about 3 kms long and is highly secured by the army. They block traffic on either side of the tunnel from around 11 in the night to 7:30 in the morning. It is opened again for traffic after completely scrutinizing for any security threats. In the 1 hour Apar and I waited in that place, we witnessed at least 3 rounds of checking by the bomb squad.
Just after the tunnel, we were stopped by one of the army guards. We thought he stopped us to do a basic check on our documents, but then his reason was different. He was from Tamil Nadu and had stopped us looking at the TN number plates. We had a quick chit chat session sharing a lighter moment with him. Moving on from there, we were in the process of getting used to the heat. I stopped by to have the only Red Bull that I had bought back at Chandigarh. I was really glad that I had it, without which it would have been really hard to ride. Apar gave me some company during the break, and then we started riding back again.
We stopped by at a dhabha for lunch, which was about a 100 kms before Jammu. It was quite late in the afternoon and we had doubts on whether to stop at Jammu or to head to Pathankot. A little later after we started from the dhabha, I noticed Kiran and Allen by the side of the road, parked, doing something with Kiran’s bike. Getting down and looking at the bike, I noticed that Kiran had dropped the bike due to the heavy baggage behind on the saddle. But then, I also saw him keep his cool, take out a spare brake lever and just replace it. Man, this fellow had a spare for everything except his engine.
10 kms before Jammu, we stopped by to discuss and decide that we would halt at Jammu for the night. We stopped by the Probiking Service station in Jammu where my bike had an express checkup. I went in at 5:55 PM, when there was only 5 minutes to closing time. With the time that was left, about 8 service folks checked out my bike in parallel and changed the required parts. It was like a pit stop experience.
Moving from there, we
checked into a useless hotel not knowing about it. Just after we stepped in, the power went off. We waited there for a while to see if it was going to come back. Since it wasn’t looking very promising, we moved on to another place where there was backup. We needed a good sleep so that we could cover about 600 kms the next day.
Day 13/15 – Jammu to Delhi – 600 kms – 7:30 AM to 8 PM
At 4 in the morning, I woke up to the sound of the alarm. I was still finding it hard to open my eyes and get out of the bed. None of the others bothered to wake up; by this time of the ride, it was mentally observed by everyone that it was my responsibility to wake the others. I decided to get more sleep as we had a real long ride ahead. Waking up again at 6, I found that there was no power. I woke up Allen, and the two of us went and asked the hotel guy to switch to the backup. The bugger refused to even reply to us, and was fast asleep. We shook him enough so that he finally responded out of irritation. We were a little pissed off and decided to give him a run for his money.We hadn’t settled our bills yet. When we packed our bikes, we delayed our final settlements as much as we could, and made him apologize before we paid off the money.
Being a proper highway ride, we didn’t waste much time stopping for chit chat. We ensured we met no less than 100 kms once. However, A/C dhabhas were a gift in the heat that we were traveling in. The highway was filled with McDonalds in HP bunk, where we stopped for lunch.
We passed through Pathankot, Jullundhur, Ludhiana, Ambala and Panipat before we reached the outskirts of Delhi late in the evening. Close to the outskirts, I think Kiran’s bike was bored of running well for a while and popped a couple of fuses. Kiran tried to fix them, but later decided to ride without it since he had to remove all the baggage if he had to fix it.
We were not sure of the way to Karol Bagh. This was the place where we knew that we could get decent rooms for cheap prices. We tried asking a gentleman standing in one of the signals. He first explained to us the entire route, but Allen, the guy who listened to all that was completely puzzled. Understanding that, the gentleman asked us to follow him and led us through the traffic. He patiently took us upto Karol Bagh and even to the exact street where we could get cheap rooms. He introduced himself as Mr. Lal Singh and also gave us his number and asked us to call if we needed some cash. Man, what a contrast! The entry into Delhi ripped us off and the treatment during the return was overwhelming.
Day 14/15 – Delhi
We still had a day and a half for our flights. We had to pack our bikes back to base and also collect some of our stuff that we had left in Imran’s place. The next day, we spent some time browsing and finding contacts for packers and movers from the internet and finally fixed a deal. Later in the evening, Kiran showed us around Delhi before we head to Imran’s place to collect our stuff. We also spent the evening with Imran and also had dinner with him, when we told him the whole Leh story.
Day 15/15 – Delhi
On the last day, we packed our bags and parted at the airport, heading back to base.