Wednesday, 11 March 2015

RUN To RANN


How It All Started

It all started 3 months back when two of us, me and Saquib were chatting over our late night coffee destination about going somewhere far from Bangalore. And, this time the plan was to push our bikes to a 10 days plan and explore a state, if possible. Probable destinations that came to our mind were Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Argument started over coffee and we felt Rajasthan would be too far for us to ride from Bangalore and Maharashtra looks best during monsoon  and hence we were left with Gujarat. This was something which each one of us wanted to do, especially visit the Rann of Kutch and I very well knew that this time we are going there for sure as the planning started in full swing. Although it was initially me and Saquib who kicked off with the planning and research, we decided to pull in some close pals of ours who might be interested for this long road trip. Sunil, Tapabrata, Ashish and Eshwari (who would be joining us from Gandhinagar) showed immense interest in our plan and we were more than happy with the group which formed now. We decided to start for the trip on 31st January, 2014 (Saturday) and come back to Bangalore by 11th February, 2014 (Wednesday).
The days crossed by and our excitement meter was becoming unstable day by day. We were meeting at times, just to check if everything was on track, ran through the route map again and again so that everyone knows the route very well. Unfortunately, Sunil could only be starting by the second half of Saturday and hence he targeted to join us directly at Gandhinagar.
Few days before the ride started and we hit a major setback: Saquib had a situation in his office and his could not get the leaves approved. This came as a big blow to get us because he was the person who was the mastermind behind this mega plan and all of us wanted him to be part of our group.

And The Journey Begins..

Day 1 started with me, Tapabrata and Ashish riding from Bangalore and our target was to halt at Pune. We decided to start around 4 am in the morning to avoid all the early morning traffic. Once you are on the road, you hardly get to know what time it is, and it always surprises you. This stretch being arrow straight road, you tend to fall asleep, especially when your tummy is full. With couple of breaks including breakfast, lunch, tea and most importantly, photo breaks, when we reached outskirts of Pune, around 8 pm in the evening and we started looking for lodges along the highway. After few searches, we ended up at a decent enough lodge with an adjoining restaurant where we decided to bunk for the night.









Target for Day 2 was to reach Gandhinagar as we had already booked a hotel and the group was supposed to rendezvous at the hotel. So, as planned, we got ready as soon as possible and got out on the highway by 4:45 am. It was chilly as usual and I was shivering with cold, but on the other hand, the roads were completely new for me as this was an unknown territory for me, so feeling cold was at the back of my mind and watching out on the road was always my priority. We crossed beautiful places like Lonavala, Khandala and with the rising sun at the back of a train of hills, the scenery looked beautiful which made us stop at multiple places for pictures. It was an eventful day, starting with 3 of us entering the Mumbai-Pune Expressway by mistake and ended up paying up fine to the cops, to having lip smacking vada pavs for breakfast to sudden increase in the traffic, especially of the tucks and trollers which kept on testing our patience all throughout the highway in Gujarat to getting stuck at the infamous Golden Bridge in Bharuch for 2 hours and last but not the least, falling prey on big potholes on SH 3 near Ahmedabad and losing my taillight. By the time we reached Gandhinagar, it was 10:30 pm and dead tired. Eshwari was waiting for us at the hotel and when enquired about whereabouts of Sunil, we came to know even he had issues with his bike near Mumbai and he could not proceed further as well. That was a moderate blow to our itinerary, but more importantly, we needed some rest.





 Rise and Shine Day 3. We got the rest what we wanted, and I found a mechanic to fix my bike's taillight. So, after having breakfast from the hotel, we headed towards Sabarmati Ashram and Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad, after which we headed towards Radhanpur. The initial plan of visiting Patan was dropped because of the delay of Sunil's arrival and instead, we decided to approach our next destination, the Little Rann of Kutch. Blissful tarmac all throughout, this is what we expected and heard about Gujarat and everyone of us were happy to ride on them. The more we approached Radhanpur, we noticed a change in the landscapes. We were no more surrounded by lush green fields, rather now we were able to see barren lands welcoming us from time to time, a notable decrease in vegetation. We crossed Radhanpur and headed towards Santalpur where we decided to bunk for the night. Constant touch with Sunil made us aware of him approaching Radhanpur for the night, so he can catch up with us the next day.



















It was ought to be an exciting day, Day 4 it was. With the help of google location, Sunil met up with us at the guest house we stayed overnight and after sumptuous gujarati breakfast, all 5 of us headed towards Little Rann of Kutch. We approached a village after taking diversion from the NH and the moment we entered the village, there was chaos and obvious interest about us, where we coming from and all those stuff. It was like the entire village has come to greet us. Some older folks asked us where do we intend to go to which I asked about the little rann, they guided us to the right direction. We were already off the tarmac and the path was full with sand and we slowly made our way to the rann. And within few metres, we entered the little rann of kutch. A vast, barren land, with no trees, no water, hot and you could see the horizon all around you. It was an amazing feeling the moment I stepped into the rann. People started parking the bikes and start photo shoot, while I took some time to let the feeling settle down and finally pulled out my camera. Spending a good 1 hour at the little rann of kutch, we headed our way back to the guest house, it was time to check out and head towards Great Rann of Kutch!  When we crossed the village of Lodrani, the Sun was getting ready to start its plunge towards the horizon and I started doubting whether we would be able to make it to Dholavira on time. Less I knew that I would encounter something magical  on the way that would make us drop the plan of going to Dholavira and would make our day special. We got the first view of white rann few kms after we crossed Lodrani. So beautiful, magical feeling it was with cold rays from Sun over the horizon that we were spellbound with it and ended up stopping. No words can express that feeling and I was already having goose bumps seeing the beauty of nature. It took me quite some time to settle down, and believe that I am here, finally. We were so "awwed" by this place that we decided to stay there till the sun set.  Mesmerized by the beauty of nature, we slowly started off from the place. We decided to drop the plan of visiting Dholavira because it was already dark and instead we headed towards Samkhiyali where we bunked for the night.































We started our Day 5 riding to Bhuj, our base for the next 2 days. It took little time for us to look for a decent accommodation and once we got freshened up, we headed for Kalo Dungar after lunch. We already had the permits prepared on our way though, which was a simple procedure. Kalo Dungar is the highest peak in the entire Kutch region and you get a spectacular view of the white rann from the top. We parked our bikes at one side and started walking towards the view point. Strong wind was gushing on our faces all along. The moment I saw the view of the rann, i seemed to me at the first moment if I am actually dreaming, or is it real! Ashish walked up to me at that very moment and said: "Can you believe we came this far?". I could not answer, it was the same feeling even I was having and what I wanted at that point of time was to simply enjoy the view. We continued from Kalo Dungar towards India Bridge in some moment's time. Road has been excellent all throughout the leg of the day and not even a single pothole was to be seen anywhere. We approached India Bridge around 4 pm, took some shots except the bridge (Photography of the India Bridge is prohibited by law), where Sunil went over to the jawans for some chat and in few moments, we made our way back, this time towards the White Rann. We did not want to try Dhordo which was already populated due to Rann Utsav and instead headed towards Jamkundaliya, where there was a BSF check post at the entry of the rann. A Bengali and a Kannada jawan stopped us from entering this restricted area and after few conversations and request, they did let us in the rann. The moment we left the check post, the tarmac vanished and red soiled road started. After few meters even that disappeared and we ended up in a dusty and sandy road. We held our breaths and in no time, we entered the white rann! We could indeed see lot of slush on both sides of the truck-tracks and although, it de motivated us a bit, because we expected a plain surface, but after few meters, all the slush disappeared and we were surrounding by white rann. Anywhere you see, we would see only the horizon with some hills at a distance. This is what we wished for! Everyone started yelling with joy, and roared their bikes on the plain surface of rann! Eshwari, who was on the thunderbird, was so excited that she pushed the accelerator hard and kept the throttle going, and we sped past few Kms. Amazing experience I must say, maybe this is the same experience which people gather at the Salt flats, Bonneville! Eventually she came to a halt trembling with sheer excitement! It was the moment where you feel that you riding all the way to Gujarat from Bangalore is success, all the tiredness vanishes the moment you are here. This was one of my best days yet, less would I be able to forget about the experience.  We returned back to Bhuj for the night.


























Day 6 started off as a gloomy day, with Eshwari returning back to Bangalore. We had our bikes serviced at Bhuj and headed towards our next set of destinations, the Lakhpat and Narayan Sarovar. When we approached Lakhpat we could see desert all around us, on both sides of the road and a fort, standing tall in the middle of it. A road made of sand went through the fort with lot of diversions and I took one of them and started going towards one of the walls of the fort. I could see few faces peeping from few houses, eager to ask me about my whereabouts, but I ignored them and continued. After exploring some other lanes in the fort, I headed back to the fort entrance, continuing towards Narayan Sarovar. I must say that the place looked superbly beautiful and I experienced one of the best sunsets of my life here. There was a temple right at the edge of the sea (Koteshwar temple) and it was being maintained by the army. There was a checkpost right at the end of the pier and civilians are normally not allowed to go beyond that point. So, we parked our bikes at the very spot from where we could see the sunset. After good 2 hours spent at that very place, it was time for us to finally leave towards Bhuj.







                                      

























Destinations to be covered for Day 7 was Mandvi, before we head towards the another crown of Gujarat, The Gir. Main attractions of the day were the Wind Farm beach, dotted with windmills along the beach and the ship building yard. Both places were worth visiting and it was a delight for us to be there, after which we headed towards Morbi to shelter for the night.















Day 8 seemed excited as he headed towards Junagadh, the gateway to Gir. We were welcomed by family of our friend who had made arrangements for our stay for the night in Gir at The Wilds Villa resort. The resort did not have any fencing and when inquired, we came to know that the day before, two lions had come over to that very place. Take that! And we were excited. The setup was splendid though with bonfire setup around 3 "charpai" where we lied down the moment we completed our dinner.









We were all excited to start the Day 9 early with the Gir Safari. However, due to lot of crowd at the ticket counter, we could not manage tickets for the early morning 6:30am one, but got the tickets for the 9:00am safari.  As the Gypsy cruised through the jungle trail, we sighted deers, peacocks, langurs and a solitary Asiatic lion. It was not what we expected, but the guide told us that it need sheer amount of luck to sight lions in Gir and most of the safaris go back without even sighting a lion, to which we felt better. We left Gir and headed towards Vadodara, and honestly speaking each none of us were excited anymore, we did not want to leave this exciting and vibrant state and 10 days in this state was simply not sufficient, we felt that we needed at least 10 more days to explore more.
















Day 10 and we headed towards Pune where we were supposed to take shelter for the night. It was a boring ride all through to Bangalore on Day 11 when we finally reached home, exhausted and with a feeling  "We did It".

4 comments:

  1. well written...Photo size could have been a bit bigger for better impact

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  2. I enjoyed your ride. Wow, you managed to see great places in short time. Kudos to you!

    ReplyDelete