Ever since I watched Motorcycle Diaries, a film based on Che-Guvera's motor-cycle exploits, I have dreamt of taking a year off and travel. Visit places of stunning natural beauty, meet amazing people, have incredible experiences! Taking a year off and voluntarily 'doing nothing' but travel is something completely unheard of in India.
But as soon as I could gather enough funds and enough guts, I started last October and it has been the most memorable one in my life. I sky-dived in Poconos, NY and hiked across the spectacular Grand Canyon. Tested my endurance limit during a month long course at Himalayan Moutaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling. Gaped at the peaceful beauty and grandeur of the gompas tucked away in mountains in the last Shangri-La of the world, Bhutan. Experienced the beautiful sunrise over Ganga at Varanasi, clicked the colourful ghats, took an early morning misty boat ride and awed at the majestic Ganga Arati at Dasashwamedh ghat. Sweated out over 250 kms of cycling over golden beaches and across dense forests in Goa. Got mesmerized with sun-soaked beaches, gorgeous sunsets, misty cool hill stations, tranquil backwaters and intricately designed temples on 5000 km solo motor-cycle trip of South Indian Peninsula. Rolled over on the white sand beaches and snorkelled in the turquoise waters for a decko of the delicate and brightly colored coral reefs in Andamans. Threw buckets of water on each other while celebrating New Year in Laos, gulping the ubiquitous Beerlao and shouting Sabaidee Pi Mai (Happy New Year). Enjoyed the hospitality of Lao people, the friendliest and happiest bunch of people I have ever met. Hiked 220 km around the mighty Annapurna in Nepal crossing high passes, just staring at the gigantic 8000 m peaks and feasting on deliciously hot and omni-present Dal Bhat. And finally had the out of the world experience of riding my motor-cycle to the roof of the world, Ladakh.
I visited places of stunning natural beauty. I met amazing people. I had incredible experiences. I lived my dream.
This blog is about my experiences. Enjoy reading !
All the photos are Here
February 17th 2013
Late Saturday evening, we (My wife & I) decided to go for a trek on Sunday. Rajgad and Visapur were the options. I had already been to Rajgad 3 times. So Visapur it was! I looked up on net for some info. But most of them were long and descriptive blogs. I was looking for specific details. Hence this blog. We trekked and had a lot of fun. We missed a couple of times. But this blog is only about specific details :) Maybe I will write a detailed one when I get some time (I have been writing blog on my year long travel for two years now). There are different routes to go to the top. I will only describe the one I took So here goes: A couple of things before you go ... read more
January 24th 2010
I didn’t spend much time in Gokarn, will do so when I come here next time. My next stop was Udupi. The Gokarn Udupi road is infinitely better that the Panji-Gokarn road with patches of dense, forest canopies, beautiful winding ghats & just a couple of deadly potholes (Believe me they are deadly! You are cruising along at a decent speed and suddenly out of nowhere there is a pothole. You miss it or hit the ground.) The most beautiful patch is near Maravanthe beach, where for a km, the road is flanked by a river on one side and sea on the other! That something quite unique! On the way, I took a small (2 km) detour to Murudeshwar, It hosts a temple with a towering Gopuram and gigantic (and I mean absolutely gigantic) Shiva ... read more
January 23rd 2010
The improvised, but completely worthy halt at Tarkarli yesterday meant I had a long 300 km drive to Gokarn to finish today. I drove on the last leg of the ‘Sagari Mahamarg’ to meet the NH-17 somewhere near Sawantwadi. The road, a major part of it untraceable on maps, keeps on changing from wide smooth patches of tarmac to narrow potholed by-lanes to beautiful, shining new bridges across the creeks. Although it never really runs parallel to sea, landscapes are amazing and changing. It’s isolated and pleasure to drive on (at-least till you have a flat tyre or a break-down. I didn’t have any). Back on NH-17, the heat and traffic made the driving miserable. My lunch stop was a hotel in Madgaon, and I was glad to make it just in time before its lunch ... read more
January 22nd 2010
After enjoying the hospitality of my distant relatives in Lanja, I hit the tarmac early morning. The plan was to leave the NH-17 exactly at the point where I entered it on my last trip. That would complete the entire Mumbai-Goa coastal route. That point was Hathivale Titha. After that I took numerous turns on nondescript roads to reach Vijaydurg, my first stop for the day. My maps did not help me and again for the nth time I relied on locals. Vijaydurg is a 800 year old fort, so tells my enthusiastic guide Raghunandan Lele. He takes me around the fort for an hour in under a scorching noon sun. But the history is fascinating. The fort was called the Gibraltar by British as it was pretty inconquerable. It was built in a Hemadpanti architectural ... read more
January 21st 2010
Mumbai roads don't look like Mumbai roads early morning at 5. The cool sea breeze laps you as you glide from one flyover to another. I had left early morning on my bike towards Goa for first solo motor-bike ride. The plan was to drive over the south Indian peninsula for 50 days. A rough itinerary open to all sorts of improvisations. Mumbai streets looked unfamiliar with no crowds and a slight hint of its past glory. I dont carry an i-pod or any other music device. Two reasons: I get a headache within 15 mins of earphone music. The music of the road, the machine is good enough for me. I always keep on humming some song in a repeat mode. And I am lucky i can go on with the same song for hours. ... read more
January 12th 2010
The last day on the islands was for Port Blair local sight seeing. We loaded ourselves with the delicious masala dosas at Annapurna hotel and headed to Chatam Saw Mill, the largest and the oldest saw mill in Asia. Established in 1883, the mill uses the techniques and machineries for wood logging and sawing prevalent in 1950s. Instead of being ashamed of it, we make it a tourist destination ! It has a completely forgettable and haphazard museum and a second world war bomb pit. The next stop was Samudrika, a naval marine museum , a small but very interesting museum. The inspiration is 'Sangar Manthan', the mythical legend where the gods and demons churn the sea to dig out the hidden treasures. The section on Andaman and Nicobar islands talks about the geography and history ... read more
January 11th 2010
Today we visited the three islands near Port Blair namely Ross island, Viper island and North Bay island. A package ticket can be bought at the Aberdeen Jetty, Port Blair. If you are agoraphobic, avoid the tour since it is the most popular tour of the Andaman package. The first stop is Ross island, the former capital of A and N, once glorious and magnificent and now a host to few ramshackle buildings and trained deer, squirrels, ducks and cats. One cannot miss the energetic, outspoken, passionate and no-nonsense tourist guide Anuradha Rao with her voice booming across the island. She has been on the island for the last 40 years, has a thorough knowledge of the island's geography and history, has befriended all the animals on the island and is a strict vigilant on the ... read more
January 10th 2010
After the blissful Radhanagar beach, we headed to Baratang 90 kms from Port Blair. The selling points for this day trip were the glimpse of remote Jarwaa tribe, active mud volcano and spooky limestone caves. My suggestion stick to the sun washed, white sand and crystal clear water beached instead of wasting the day on this trip. The day started quite early at 4 am. A bus from Win travels which conducts daily package picked us from the hotel and went on to collect different families and groups who had bought the package from their respective hotels. Inevitably in such cases, there has to be a family which will show up late. In our case, it was a family of three from Malad, a Mumbai subarb. The girl was the center of attraction on our bus ... read more
January 9th 2010
The clouds mercifully gave way and the sun was shining bright, well a little too bright. But we were not complaining. Malik put us on a morning boat ride to Elephant's Island (or thats what we were told) for snorkeling. We were told later that snorkeling in that area is quite dangerous and illegal ! But we knew nothing then. After a 30 min speed boat ride, the boatman anchored the boat. The water was so clear here that we could see the corals right from the boat ! Then we went for the snorkelling which is not as easy as it looks. It has a air-tight mask with large goggles to prevent the water reaching your eyes and nose. You have to breathe the air using your mouth through a small pipe fitted with a ... read more
January 8th 2010
It rained a bit in the morning but fortunately our flight was on time. The early morning flight was cancelled ! There was a large group of first timers in our plane. A steel plant had sponsored a paid trip to Andamans for all its workers. They were visiting the islands in batches and hence next 7 days we kept on bumping into one batch or another. There was a huge applause, cheers and whistles as the flight took off ! The flight attendants had a tough time serving and managing the curious group. Two hours later, the plane landed at the beautiful Veer Savarkar International airport of Port Blair, surrounded by densely forested small hillocks. A smiling tour manager was present at the airport to receive us (some perks of organised tour). A quick lunch ... read more