Sunday, October 13, 2013

K2K - The Journey


In September 2013, I did the Kashmir to Kanyakumari (K2K) solo motorcycle road trip. A journey from Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, covering 5,043 kms in 14 days on my RE Thunderbird.


Click here for ride pictures and additional info.


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The
K2K ride took me through nine states and the rich pluralism all along. One can’t help feel the fragrance of the terrain, weather & culture all along. The good thing is, some of that fragrance clings on to you for the rest of your life.


Next time you think about a particular state/region of India, you’ll recollect and remember with absolute clarity, what it meant to be there. How the air smelled there, the landscape, the crop fields, the weather, how the local language sounds.

Here are my observations about the terrain, roads and traffic in each region.


Kashmir:

This is undisputedly the most scenic and beautiful landscape in the entire trip. Let me put it this way. Kashmir is lot more than the amplified version of the most scenic dreamland you can imagine.

Baglihar Hydel Project, Kashmir
This terrain has pretty much everything that you can stare and awe at. Kashmir has mountains, valleys, waterfalls, gardens, lakes, rivers; and all of them unlike anything else you’ve seen before. As you’d be aware, these mountain ranges are the biggest in the world. The rivers are mighty and lakes so big that you’ll feel like a Lilliput in the Eden Gardens.

The road from Srinagar to Jammu (NH 1A or NH 44 of about 300 kms) is replete with the most awesome view possible. These roads built by Border Roads Organization (BRO) takes you through valleys, dam, waterfalls & tunnel (Jawahar Tunnel is 2.5 kms). The view is so good that I was tempted at least once every minute to take pictures.

Contrary to my expectation, it’s a very busy road with heavy traffic. Army convoy forms the most ostensible contributor to the traffic.

Jammu – Pathankot - Amritsar

Dream over. Kashmir has passed. Wake up. 
Wake up to the great Indian TRUCKs.

This stretch gets you on a psychological overdose of trucks. I swear, I saw more truck in 5 days of my ride than in the last 10 years of my life. Trucks of all brands, age and size carrying just about everything. You name it - Food, Cattle, People, Cargo, Construction material & Automobiles. For several hours you’ll find no other vehicle other than trucks.

This stretch is also an overdose lush green crop fields. I’d never witnessed such lush green spreading as far the eye could see. Also, when in Punjab, drink lassi instead of the tea.


Amritsar – Jallandhar – NCR

The assault of the trucks continues. However, the intensity reduces. Roads are good all along; the highway occasionally crossing through the irrigation channels. However, the terrain gets increasingly devoid of vegetation as you get close to the National Capital Region (NCR).


NCR – Jaipur – Ajmer – Chittorgarh – Indore

Don’t bother asking anyone. Every hillock in this region seems to either have a shrine or a fort atop it. And they are somehow linked to Ramayana, Mahabharata or at least, Indian independence struggle. Explore as many as you can. At times, the stories can get real funny and interesting.

Needless to say, look out for the camels too. The roads are as good and wide they can get. By now, the amount of trucks on the road too comes down to a psychologically healthy number.

Indore – Shirdi – Pune

Welcome to the lands of Misal Pav, Kanda-Poha and Bhaaji-Pav.
You’ll come across some interesting terrain; gorgeous valleys with steep incline/decline of the roads. This stretch also takes you across some of the big rivers – Narmada, Tapi and their tributaries.

The Malegaon – Shirdi stretch is a single road with two-way traffic and NO divider. The roads aren’t too good and drivers too aren’t very courteous. I have a hypothesis that drivers of pilgrimage cabs everywhere have too much faith in their deity. So much so that they put it to test with passengers’ lives over narrow curves.


Pune – Bangalore (NH 4)

If Kashmir-Jammu highway has the best view, this stretch gets the distinction for the ‘best maintained divider’. The NH 4 is perhaps the most scenic highway in central-south India wherein even the divider is competing for your attention.

Among the highlights are beautiful one-way curves, a tunnel and in a certain stretch, road that is dead-straight. One can literally see the straight road ahead for upto 5 kms (or until the horizon).

Bangalore – Madurai – Kanyakumari

Master Yoda says, “May the Idli-Sambhar, Dosa and Pongal be with you”.
Around here, coffee and tea will be served with sugar. But, thou shall stir it yourself.

TN is the homeland of Rajnikant and Royal Enfield. Thou shalt pay thine respects to both the Superstars.

Coming back to our ride; one can’t ask for better roads. This stretch is also temple and pilgrimage fest all around the year. As you get close to kanyakumari, even though you cant see it yet, you can hear the ocean. That damp and moist smell of the sea rings those jingle bells in the head.

I couldn’t help recollect the golden words of RED from the Shawshank Redemption and make few of my own customizations.

“I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it to the very end. I hope the Ocean is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”

The Big Q.

Every biker has this question. I’d hoped to find my answers along this ride. The question was, “What will break first? My Back, My Bike, or My spirit.

Fortunately, none of them did break. Unfortunately, the elusive question endures. I will to seek my answers another day.

Also read, other posts related to my K2K ride:
 
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2 comments :

  1. Fantastic Achievement. Immediately after crossing Madurai did u take that road without divider where there is heavy and dangerous oncoming traffic? The road would finally connect with NH-7 after 25 km??

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    1. Thanks Manjunath.
      I don't remember that detail. But it seemed like One-Straight-Road between Bangalore & Kanyakumari.

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