Desert Storm – A biking expedition to the Thar Desert
It so happened, that after prodding my colleagues (read friends) a million times, we finally decided to undertake a trip to the desert. A trip on our bikes!!
Our initial calculations showed that it would be of around 1200 Kms, we would have to face temperatures nearing 50 degree Celsius at times, we could, or rather would be caught in dust storms, our bikes could ditch us in the middle of nowhere. J
This trip, if undertaken, was bound to be tough and testing, no doubt.
And there was also no doubt, that this was never attempted by any one of us. Leave alone 1200 kms, we had not even attempted 200 kms on a trip. So by any measure, this desert ride was bound to be historical.
So history started making itself on the Independence weekend. It so happened that I just returned from Mumbai on the 13th of August. 14th & 15th being holidays and 16th being a Sunday, gave us the window of opportunity for our trip.
We finally decided our route. We would start somewhere near Ajmer. Then do a Jodhpur-Pokharan-Jaisalmer-Tanot (Indo-Pak Border)-Sam-Jaisalmer-Pokharan-Jodhpur to back from where we came from. This was to be our circuit. We also planned that it would be an experience of a lifetime, if we could make it to the India Pakistan border on the 15th of August.
So after returning from Mumbai, and having got the permission to rest for a royal half an hour (!), we started our journey towards the North Western end of Rajasthan.
Now that’s Dev.
It would be a good idea to tell you all that we were 5 of us and we took 2 Bikes and a car. A car was necessary as a rest house on wheels and as a place to put are luggage in. Though, initially, I was against taking the car (it would have been more heroic, if it had been just 3 bikes), but now I am glad that we did. It is said that everything happens for the good, and car turned out to be a very essential tool for our trip. You would know why, later in the post.
We luckily were getting very good roads and highways. Just have a look at the picture below to know how it would have felt to have driven your vehicle through roads like these.
Jodhpur wasn’t far…just around 200 kms from our starting point. So we reached there at around 2200 Hrs and relaxed for our long journey the next day. Now in between Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, lies Pokhran. The place where India conducted its Nuclear test. I was lucky that we were not involved in any incident as the tyre of the bike got punctured. But luckily, this happened near Pokharan, so atleast we were in the middle of somewhere and not in the middle of nowhere.
And I was really amazed by the way that this puncture was made but the so called tyre experts of the highways. He took some FeviQuick and added sand to it. And put the paste from the inside of the puncture to seal it!!! Magical! India does rock in innovation 🙂
Being in Pokhran, it was natural to expect that may be, I shall be lucky enough to see the site of the tests in Pokhran. But army thought otherwise and we continued our journey to Jaisalmer.
Now just a look at these national highways tempts you to go fast. All the movies with ‘fast’ word in the title start playing in your mind and you start thinking that your are one of the ‘Gods of the streets’. And I was no exception. I just for a change got my hand at the wheels of the car we took, and started clocking 110ers and 120s.
The above picture shows the most I could manage. A cool 124 kmph. But mind you, I was wearing seat belt, while burning the tarmac.
Eventually, we reached Jaisalmer, in the evening of 14th August. Now Jaisalmer was unexpectedly small city. I won’t even call it a city. It was something in between a city and a town. But it was beautiful and of sand colored. The entire city was made of sand colored bricks. Nothing else. The fort was spectacularly beautiful and almost a tenth of the population must be living in the fort itself! It was like a self sustained mini city.
And I swear that I have never before in my life, seen carving in bricks and stone , like those I saw in Jaisalmer.
So after doing Jaisalmer, we made a move to our final destination on the 15th of August. Our independence day. Now, it was not easy as we had to cross crude and real deserts.
We got caught up in small dust storms, which made us flee to the small villages in desert. Now the exact location of these villages just astonished me. Because there was practically, no way of surviving in such a place.
But humans adapt. And that is the real essence of life. Once someone really great said –
“There are alternatives.”
Wow!! How true. And do you have any idea, who said so? Click this link to know ( 😉 )
Now, below is the picture of Dev, in the middle of Thar. And Thar can be deadly.
In the desert I saw a really interesting insect. No it is not pictured above. Rather its picture is given below 😉 –
Now this creature, used to make a ball out of camel’s shit and use to drive it with its hind legs. I don’t know what the hell did he meant to do with it, but whatever he was doing, he seemed to be good at it. And there were millions of them. They seemed to be hatching a plan of overpowering human civilization. Now I have warned you. If something happens now, no one can blame me. 😉
So after driving for more than 600 kms, we reached our destination. The final destination. Tanot. I know the name is neither exciting nor sounding good. But ask someone who drove 600 kms to reach the place and that too in extreme heat, it will be music to his ears.
There we are!!! 🙂
And that’s India – Pakistan’s border.
I have zoomed my camera as we were not allowed to go very near to that place. But just the feeling of being at the border on 15th August was amazing. I had never felt so patriotic in my life before.
After reaching our Tanot, we a made our way towards Sam (pronounced as Sum). It’s a place in the middle of the desert, where we had planned camping for night. After driving for around 50 kms from Jaisalmer, we reached Sam. And it was a place to be at that time. Sand all around and camels moving like ship in the desert.
We also had our share of rides on the camels. And believe me, bike are much more comfortable than camels. Then we also got the opportunity be children once again. We used to climb up on high dunes and then take jump from there.
The feeling was simply amazing. Where else in the world can you jump from heights of 100s of feet and be sure that you won’t get hurt? Desert are awesome!!!
Now I had never camped in my life before, leave alone in deserts. But here, we having booked tents for the night, took our beds out of it, and stayed out all night!! Singing and screaming songs. Drinking tea and counting the stars.
Lying on my back and looking at the star lit sky is one of my favourite hobbies. And I could not have found a better place than a desert for this. Lying in sand, with a clear sky above. A hazy band of our galaxy, Milky Way with zillions of stars and shooting stars. Wow man!! I could not capture the sky on the camera due to optical limitations, but what a scene it was. You have to be there, do that too know how it felt.
But it wasn’t just the sky that was amazing. I just took this snap of the sand I was lying on and this is what I got –
Isn’t it beautiful and divine?
Morning was expectedly (unexpectedly) cold. I moved inside the tent for a while and to get ready for our journey back to where we came from.
It was now time to go back. We took our vehicles and started our return journey at around 0700 Hrs. We had planned that we would get back by the night or early next morning, as we all had our offices to go. L
Why is it that Mondays are always damned, no matter how likable your job is?
Anyways, till now everything had been going fine and I was regularly breaking my own speed records on bike. At last, I had done a 109 kmph. But then, out of nowhere, our other bike met with an accident. Two buses trying to overtake each other had almost brushed aside the bike. The bike being sucked into the vacuum created after the departure of fast moving buses, got misbalanced and fell off the road. Luckily, sand was in abundance there too. But handle of the bike had got damaged and one of the friends, broke hi s wrist and the another got bruised!!
This was the temporary first aid that was provided to him in a small dispensary in a village near Pokhran. And bike was also dealt with, in a very crude way. A Hammer, some pulling and bending with hand helped the bike regain shape. And we continued our journey back. Now this is where the idea of taking a car paid off. The injured friend had some place to rest now. But we were 2 drivers less now. So bikes had to be driven by the other two, for the rest of the stretch. Luckily, we got some pretty cool roads to drive back.
And in the evening around 1800 Hrs, we reached the end point of our return journey. We had some real fun on the way, discount that late disastrous accident, which almost did us in.
But overall, it was an awesome experience. I had never imagined that I would be doing things like these in my life. It was once in a lifetime experience. Thank you M, M, S, P and me 😉
And by the way, one thing is really important to note here. I will give my sincere thanks to the following –
Without these, we could not have driven so much. Even in the desert, tea rocks.
[Just observe the background of the tea cups to know the change in environment we had to face.]
So when are you doing the biking thing guys??