Northward Ho! (Live log) - Solo K2K (Kanyakumari to Kashmir) completed


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Day 5
Today I want to spend some time at the Gwalior fort and later in Agra. Left the hotel early by 6:15 am.

The route Google map showed took me to the gate where vehicles were not allowed inside the fort. So asked the locals for an alternate option. They directed me to Urvai gate. That gate was also barricaded because of some function going on in the Gurudwara inside the fort. I was about to turn back when I saw a person in a swanky new classic 350 park and and then man the barricade. I requested him to let me inside telling him that I have come from far. Seeing the riding gear he let me in inside the fort. I weaved through the crowd that was walking up to the Gurudwara. At the top most of the places were closed. I took some pictures and came down.

On the way out of the city found a place making fresh jalebi samosa and other stuff tempting for breakfast.

Then I headed towards Agra. At Agra I wanted to have a glimpse of the Taj Mahal without really going inside. I thought maybe I can see the Taj from across the Yamuna. After checking, I set Google maps to take me to a spot across Yamuna. The traffic was miserable but finally I reached the spot. To my disappointment the Taj Mahal was shrouded in a haze of pollution. After taking some pictures started out of the City.

With a bit of hunting around, took the Yamuna expressway to Delhi. While the expressway is similar to most national highways the good part was dense lining of trees on the side. While there were signs of no stopping many vehicle were stopped. I also found a shady tree and took a short nap.

Again getting off the expressway, getting onto the Eastern Peripheral Highway was a pain but somehow I managed. Getting off the expressway at Sonipat, went to an old friends house to stay the night.



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Day 6 (Oct 7)
Finally I would get to the foothills of Himalayas today.
First it was an early morning start by 0620. What surprised me was the changes at Murthal.
My memories are of the 2 lane GT Road still undivided and when the dabhas still had packed dirt front with charpois under the shady trees. Guess it is time to replace some memories.

The pace of travel was fast. Soon I was at Karnal and had a quick breakfast of tea and I'm omlette.

Next stop was Jalandhar where I stopped for juice.
Roads had been great so far except for a few diversions due to flyover construction.

Turning towards Pathankot, I was quite sleepy. Stopped at an abandoned shed to catch a quick nap. While resting, made a call to head to Dalhousie and then Sach Pass.


Post Pathankot, the hills started and so did bad roads. The roads kept getting worse till Himanchal came. Then it was smooth going.


Up ahead, the peaks were shrouded in fog. Had me worried about weather ay Sach Pass.


When I had stopped before Pathankot, I had booked a hotel at Banikhet.

Went straight to the hotel and called it a day. The bad roads after Pathankot had made me very tired.


Coming next - Sach Pass



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Day 7 (Oct 8)
Left the hotel at 6:30, later than I should have. Was expecting a tough day ahead. Was also expecting to reach Kishtwar after crossing Cliffhanger - a gross over estimation.

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The road started off well which gave me confidence of covering the distance quickly. But as soon as I crossed Chamera dam, all the nice tar went for a toss and the grind started.
Here I made two mistakes, both of which made the route longer. First, I assumed to that the road over the dam would be closed and took the road which went downstream and crossed over via a small bridge. This however presented me with an excellent view of dam


Second, I missed the Koti bridge and then later joined the main road only at Badoh.


As I was climbing upto Bhanjraru, I stopped to help a guy on bullet with a broken clutch wire. Fortunately we were able to find a replacement at a nearby mechanic. From there we tagged along together.

The climb to Sach is nothing to write about other than a few waterfalls- no road, steep slope and lots of loose boulders. A bit of careful driving is all that's needed.

Top of Sach was busy. Three local jeeps ferrying passanger were there when we reached. There was a small shop there. As we were having tea and maggi, a bus and three bikes from West Bengal also arrived.



The descent on the other side is more picturesque. The road is equally bad. To add to that a lot of road cutting is going on. That adds to loose debris which is risky while driving.


As I was descending, the last bar on fuel gauge started blinking. I had forgotten to get fuel which I was planning on the way up. It probably got off my mind due to the bullet repair activities. Now I was hoping that the last bar will stretch till Killar where I could buy fuel in black.

After 30 odd Km, it came to mind that the fuel pump may get damaged due to low fuel. So we took about half liter from the bullet and added to my bike. The last bar kept blinking yet I hoped it would be sufficient to get to Killar. I had already dropped the idea of Kishtwar.

Took a basic homestay at Killar. There was no data on the phone. Neither did the homestay had wifi. So stepped out to explore the single lane town. Found a giy selling petrol at 130Rs/liter. Didn't have a choice but to buy. Got 6L fuel, which would be enough to get to Kishtwar.
Thali dinner at a local dabha and then off to sleep.
Cliffhanger tomorrow.



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Day 8 (Oct 9)
It was quite cold when I woke up at 5am. Plan was to start really early so that we cross the Cliffhanger stretch before the blasting for new roads starts, which typically starts between 8 and 9 am.
Left at 5:40am. It was still dark. As we crossed the Sach Pass cutoff, it started to get brighter. As I crossed a sweeping turn, I saw road blocked in front - large tree and some rocks. Hoping against hope that there would be some small opening on the side, I drove all the way to the slide. Unless the bikes could fly, we could not cross over.

On the other side, a little further away, a truck was parked. I crossed over the rockfall and walked to the truck. The driver told me that the road will only be cleared after road cleaning crew arrives after 8am. All we had to do was wait.
Having a lot of time in cold only means fire. With the help of truck driver collected fallen branches and soon we had a roaring fire going which kept company till the road got cleared.

The road ahead was as bad as the one coming down from Sach Pass, though not as steep. Again a lot of ongoing road cutting leaving debris on the road.

Soon we entered J&K. Technically my K2K was complete.

There was a police checkpost where they took down our details. Little ahead was a bridge called Sankari bridge. Stopped there for a few pictures.

As we climbed out of Sankari bridge, Sandeep's bullet dropped it's silencer. We tied it over my saddle bags and headed ahead.


Up ahead there was construction that was going on just at the start of Cliffhanger section. As the JCB gave way for my bike and I moved forward on loose rock and debris, lost balance. Bike tilted to right and I could not push it back straight. So I let it fall slowly. Got out from under. By that time two construction workers had come to help.

Cliffhanger section is fun and not as dangerous as called out to me. Maybe because there was no other vehicle to cross from other way.

After exiting that section, had to stop again due to blasting going on. Waited for 45min. At 12pm blasting stopped, so moved ahead.


There is a small section with steep climb after the Cliffhanger section. Again lots of cutting going on there. Bike got stuck there and had to be pushed up & out.

Few Km before Gulabgarh, the road became two lane and tarred. At Gulabgarh, we got the silencer welded back and also had lunch.
The road also crosses over to the other side of Chenab.
Route to Kishtwar is amazing. With the road conditions very good, it was a pleasure to drive on.

At Kistwar, searched around for a hotel. There are limited choices. Finally got one. Took a shower to wash off the excessive dust and then went to the market. Many shops were closed and there was excessive security presence.
Came back to hotel and had Rogan Josh, which was quite nice.


Srinagar coming up.



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Day 9 (Oct 10)

Kishtwar to Srinagar

As usual started early by 6 a.m., hoping to cross Srinagar and get to Sonamarg today. The initial route from towards Patnitop is very nice. The route follows the Chenab river and goes at a leisurely pace.

Stopped at a point where there was a panoramic view of the river to have breakfast.

As soon as the road joined National Highway at one end of Chenani tunnel, traffic got messed up. A lot of construction is going on and there was a major jam of several km of trucks. Slowly we navigated through the traffic and crawled forward.

Traffic improved after crossing the Qazigund tunnel. The road was also good but there was a CRPF convoy going which stopped traffic every kilometre for 5-10. Fortunately the light was great in the fields on the both side of the road were being harvested.

Given the delay decided to stay in Srinagar. Got a house boat and later in the evening did a shikara ride with the regular tourist activities.




At night crossed over to the other side and had Kashmiri wazwan items for dinner.


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Day 10 (Oct 11)
Woke up find out it was raining heavily. Checked online and it showed snow in Sonamarg as well as Dras. So most likely it was snowing at Zozilla too. Decided to wait while the rain settled down.


It was past one o'clock by the time ride to Sonamarg started. There was light drizzle. A little ahead met a few riders coming from Sonamarg. They confirmed that Zozilla was closed for the day. Decided to stay the night at Srinagar. After taking a hotel went it to see the Shalimar Bagh.


After that saw a bit of sunset on the lake.

In the evening had dinner nearby. The question in front of me now was whether to proceed towards Sonamarg on the next day and wait for pass to open or do something else. I had already used three of my buffer days. My worry was if it snows again on the way back, I would have to take the flight back to Bangalore. So the choice now was go to Leh, then possibly fly back to Bangalore and ship the bike. Or rework the plan and make good use of the extra days on my hand. With this thought in mind I want to sleep.