Operation Desert Storm

Discussion in 'Travelogues from West India' started by navnit, Jul 18, 2009.

  1. navnit

    navnit Member

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    The Blog is written by my Co-Rider Bushan Dhade. Copy - Pasting the Stuff..
    Kindly overlook the lazyness :-D


    Not being able to ride long distances for the next 2 years came like a shock, and by the time it hit us, we were already very late. Navnit and me are students from Mumbai studying Engineering and Management respectively, and it was our commitment to our final year and job the year after, that made this ride possible.

    So like mice in a maze, we ran helter skelter running through the map, searching for a ride, a ride which would be cheap on budget and rich on experience. Small rides in and around Maharashtra just din’t hit the spot and it was Rajasthan spot on, for both of us.

    Inspite of the 45 degree heat, it was this unique feeling which this state had left in the two of us when we were returning from our ride to Nepal and had passed through it. Both of us being photography fanatics, we had decided back then, to ride back to this state once again just for photography!

    We had very few days on hand, lots of permissions from home and office to take, 2 riders, 2 Machismo 500’s and 1 tent.

    12th June , was decided upon as the departure date keeping time of depart still tentative. Bikes serviced, accessories loaded, we were super excited!

    But unfortunately a day before the ride, at 04.00am it rained in Mumbai for the first time and there was oil all over the roads. I skid on the road at 40kmph, with my bike zipping past me and me on the road. With minor bruises and absolutely no damage to the bike (thanks to the army crash guard and ladakh carrier) I was in total riding condition, until I realised I had broken my specs. With a power of 3.75 in the right and 4.25 in the left, objects beyond 300mts seemed hazy and with opticians not ready to give me spectacles within a day, I had to ride without them...

    The Plan:
    We kept it plain and simple, considering that we wanted it to be a short ride.
    Indo-Pak border
    Camping in the desert
    Going berserk with the camera

    We chose Jaisalmer as our primary destination, which was centrally located to the border, as well as the desert.
    There are two ways to go to the border from Jaisalmer, one being Longewala and the other being Tanot. Tanot has a temple belonging to a Goddess called ‘Tanot’and is 16 kms away from the border, while Longewala is 8kms away from no man’s land and has tanks captured in the 1971 war. So we decided on going to Longewala.


    The Route:
    Mumbai – Ahmedabad
    Ahmedabad – Tharad – Sanchor – Jaisalmer
    Jaisalmer – Jaipur
    Jaipur – Mumbai

    Day 1,
    With last minute purchases and checks, I set off from my place at 04.00pm, to meet Navnit. Our good’ol friend Kaustubh was the only one who had come to see us off, since the others were busy in office at this odd hourly depart. With a few smokes and clicks, Navnit and me set off on our journey.
    Time: 06.00pm
    Location: Fountain Hotel
    Speedo Reading: 5340kms
    We rode till 03.00am and halted at ‘Sangam Guest House’ on the Baroda-Ahmedabad Highway. Rooms available @ Rs.300, with a blocked toilet which was complimentary. Wanting to get out of the place ASAP made us leave at 09.00 am.

    Day 2,
    With a breakfast of buttered bread and sugared tea, we set off from Baroda at 10.30am with an aim of reaching Jaisalmer the same day, no matter what. With around 700kms to cover, hot climate and a nearly blind guy, we were being quite optimistic!
    Ripping our machines at a constant speed of 100-105kmph at 44 degrees (We were carrying a thermometer too !!) we were able to enter the Rajasthan border through ‘Sanchor’ by 04.00pm. The maximum we could ride without an halt was 90 kms because the heat made us stop for water time and again.
    Halfway through our ride for the day, we decided to halt for lunch at ‘Apna Dhaba – A venture by Bharat Petroleum.’
    The moment we stopped, we got a call from our friend Debu asking, “why have you guys stopped?” and we started wondering “Saala isko kaise malum!?” That’s when it struck us that Navnit had kept his GPS tracker on, and that’s how Debu could track our speed, our location, the direction we were heading, and all the cool info one would like to know!
    Setting off after lunch at 06.00pm, we reached ‘Barmer’ by 09.00pm. With tea, few smokes, a million villagers staring at us in awe and being asked whether we were Rajput/Jaat/ or some other North Indian clan, we set off for Jaisalmer.
    10 odd kilometres from Barmer, and Navnit’s headlight conked off! Replacing it with the spare bulb, we set off again. But again after another 20 kms, his head lamp bid good bye. Navnit realised that his head lamp switch was the fault, and not the bulb. So the only solution was to keep holding the passing light and riding... which used to give way at times due to finger slips or gear changes.
    So now we are riding at night, sand all over the place, heavy winds blowing, wild animals crossing, a nearly blind guy leading the road and then we have the second guy riding blind as well thanks to no headlamp at times. So now it’s “A Blind leading a Blind”

    All said and done, we reached Jaisalmer by 12.30am, with hotel guides flocking us from all sides trying to sell their rooms to us. Tired of the heat, we took an air conditioned room @ Rs.600 for 24 hours.
    700kms+ were covered on this day.

    Day 3,
    Today was chilled out, we went to the BSF (Border Security Force) headquarters to seek permission for entering the checkpost from ‘Longewala’, so that we could get a glimpse of the Tanks captured in the 1971 war and have a quick lookie at the border as well, but it being a Sunday today we could not. An awesome lunch which I had longed for, we ate at probably the only place serving non-veg. in Jaisalmer. ‘Hotel Milan’ famous for its butter chicken, is a must try!
    By evening we headed for ‘Sam Village’ where the actual sand dunes are at. It is situated at a distance of 48kms from Jaisalmer and is 40kms away from the border. We did the bookings for a camel safari, dinner, breakfast for next day and traditional folk dance at the hotel itself. With piles of sand on the roads, wild camels around in the open, we enjoyed manoeuvring on the roads. On our way we decided on halting at an ‘Angrezi Sharab ki Dukaan’ and treat ourselves with chilled beer to beat the heat, which was scorching few moments ago, but pleasant, soon after a few sips. We were overjoyed to have ‘Bullet’ beer, which did taste great!
    We reached the sand dunes, and met a Mr. Ali Baba who was out fix for the safari, dinner, etc. We started our safari, on two camels named ‘Hrithik Roshan’ and ‘Michael Jackson.’ Stuck in awe, we went beserk with our camera and clicked a million pictures of locales were movies like ‘border, kacche dhaage, soldier, sarfarosh, L.O.C, etc.’ were shot at. There are ripples on the sands, sands which are virgin with no foot marks at all, and that’s when you feel yelling out ‘screw you Middle-East, we’ve got better sand dunes! ’
    After the safari, we headed for the folk dance and dinner. With 3 singers, and 2 dancers, it was pretty neat!
    The best part of the ride, pitching a tent bang in the middle of the sand dunes, was yet to come! So after our dinner we headed back to the sand dunes, and after finding a suitable track for our bikes we made the most bold attempt of the ride
    In head lamp light at 12.00am we pitched our tent and made sure that the dozens of insects and bugs around us, did not enter inside. Once inside the tent, we started cursing each other for the idea. It was pitch dark, there was absolutely no air blowing at all and we were sweating like pigs with a million insects around us!
    Ignoring each other, we went to sleep but were woken up by a focus light in the sky at 2.00am. It was the moon which was so bright that we could see our shadows! Soon after, heavy winds started blowing. The winds were so heavy that the tent was grounded only because of the two of us. With sand coming in, we had to sit wearing helmets. Listening to songs like ‘chaandani raatein’ it was almost 5.00am and the winds just kept getting stronger. That’s when we decided, screw the sleep let’s get the hell outta here! And the moment we got up to wind things up, the winds almost like stopped!
    This camping was one wild and wicked experience which I’ll cherish forever!
    By 06.00am, with the tent neatly packed, luggage back on the bikes, we set off for a photo session and tea. After having breakfast, we set off for Jaisalmer once again. The climate was pleasant and it was more like a photographer’s paradise out there.

    Day 4,
    We booked the same room in the same hotel, but this time for Rs. 500. I crashed to sleep, while Navnit said he wanted to try his luck at the BSF office. When I woke up after 4 hours, I found an exhausted Navnit entering the room with rejection on his face. Inspite of all the probing and efforts made by Navnit, we were denied to enter the border. With long faces, we set off for lunch by 03.30 pm.
    Ordering for food, we thought of atleast going towards the border and taking a u-turn from where the restricted area begins. Sipping on fresh lime soda, we could hear the doors and windows banging due to heavy winds. Considering it as heavy winds we started feasting on the lunch. Pretty soon, the place around us turned RED in colour, literally! Winds kept blowing the strongest ever and in a matter of few minutes, THERE WAS COMPLETE DARKNESS! People were roaming around with torches and the two of us were shit scared to step out. Dust all over the food, we were totally freaked! It was pitch dark, at 04.00pm in Jaisalmer on this very day for a matter of 4 odd minutes and then it started turning red again. That’s when me and Navnit mustered courage and stepped out of the hotel to see if our bikes were still on the main stand, or gone with the wind! The whole sky was BROWN and there was sand spread out in the sky which had blocked the sun completely for those four minutes. Soon it started raining, and this was the first time in two years, that it had rained in Jaisalmer (as said by the locals)
    Deciding on sticking to our plan we went back to the hotel, got our windcheaters and set off! It was divine riding after the storm since the sky was grey, there was scattered sun light, pleasant climate and windmills on either sides of the road!
    We rode until we reached ‘Ramgarh’ from where taking a left takes you to the Longewala border which is 43kms. The roads around here were well maintained by BRO (Border Roads Organisation). After a round of water, we set off for Longewala. This was one of the best places to ride since due to rains, the sand had settled down, the air was clean, and the sun was soon about to set. Open roads, stretching for miles together with barren dessert on both sides!
    I’m sure you might have heard and experience blind turns, but here there were no blind turns, there were blind spots on a straight patch of road! The roads used to start inclining upwards, and once you are at the apex, you are completely blinded as to where the road beyond is! You ride a few inches ahead and then you see that there is a steep fall in the road and once again that road stretched until eternity!
    It was a brilliant experience, one which I feel each rider must experience in his lifetime!
    We kept riding and reached the Longewala checkpost by 7.00pm. The BSF guards were very friendly and gave us water to drink and chatted with us for a while. It was a completely different feeling being there, mesmerised by the history of that place and having a talk with men because of whom we sleep safe back home. There are no lights allowed at the border and it’s heartening to see these men with a smile on their face, and proud of their duty!
    Our friends tracking us on the GPS could see that we were very close to the border.
    With a heavy heart we set off for Jaisalmer and this time we could not ride over 60 kmph since the roads were totally blinding. We reached ‘Ramgarh’ by 10.00 pm and Jaisalmer by 1.00am. We dint have dinner that day, since all the action this day had bought to us had totally filled the spot!

    Day 5,
    We woke up by 11.00pm and with everything in our plan accomplished, we had two extra days remaining. So we decided visiting my friend Rahul, who stays in Jaipur.
    Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Jaipur is a total distance of 650kms.
    We decided on getting Navnit’s head lamp switch fixed and found a local garage called ‘Punjab Auto Garage.’ The guy there fixed Navnit’s switch, tightened the chain, did the oiling greasing etc, and refrained from taking any money for the work. Instead, he offered us ice cool rose sharbat.
    Having the most expensive lunch of the trip, and satisfied by the ride we set off for Jaipur at 02.00pm, planning to reach Jaipur the same day by 01.00am. The optimistic us, as usual!
    The climate turned as if it were to rain, and soon a light drizzle began, making the ride all the more divine!
    Sun shining, roads tempting and cool wind blowing!
    Today we spotted like our millionth peacock and 11th crow, since the past 4 days.
    Riding with my modular helmet open, enjoying the breeze, I hit my brakes the moment I saw something crawl on the road. I was a bit late but I tried my best, and a HUGE MONITOR LIZZARD had succumbed to death under my front tyre.
    It was 3 feet in length, huge, heavy and massive! Out came the camera and the victim was captured!
    Our second halt happened when Navnit accidentally burnt his mobile charger which was hanging on the head of his engine. A release of pressure and a quick download on the highway, we were free men Out came a can of black paint spray, and we started showing our artistic skills on the sand.
    But soon this fun activity came to halt, when we saw that from a distance there was the sand storm once again! We ran to our rides and started wearing our gear, but by the time we put on the helmet, the gushing winds had already reached us, and we left the place with a screech, with the sand storm following us. We could see it in the rear view, and that kept us ripping our machines for the next 15 minutes.
    But as fate had it, the roads turned such that, even after ripping for 20 kms, we had to enter the storm and could do nothing about it. This storm was much smaller than the one we had witnessed earlier.
    But this one bought gushing winds and rains with it!
    So now were riding drenched, winds so strong that bikes swing, and roads full of water...
    Riding at 50kmph, we decided to halt in Jodhpur for the night, and leave for Jaipur the other day.

    Day 6, 16th June 2009, Wednesday:
    Getting up at 9.00am, we wore our shoes still drenched in water, and set off for Jaipur by 11.00pm. Determined to have lunch in Jaipur, we did not halt. The traffic on the Jodhpur – Ajmer highway, can get a bit frustrating, after riding on open roads for the past 5 days. We reached Jaipur by 4.00pm and following the road directions given by Rahul, we reached his friends place. Soon beer flowed in and we were at ease. All of a sudden it struck the two of us that we were yet to have our lunch.
    So Rahul, Navnit, Rahul’s friend and me, set off for ‘Daana Pani’ an awesome restaurant.
    Navnit and me decided on giving our bikes rest, and got on as pillions on a ‘1978 Std Bullet’ and a CBZ extreme
    Exchanging pleasantries and jogging down the memory lane over whisky and coke, we dozed off by 12.00am.

    Day 7,
    The next day we set off for Mumbai at 7.00am. Soon I started having a severe back ache, and decided upon staying back in Ajmer, while Navnit would continue on his journey. But after a few tablets down, I thought of continuing the ride.
    20kms before Udaipur it started raining again, but this time, I felt as if someone was pelting stones at me. Soon I was totally taken aback to see ICE CUBES on the road! I actually lifted a piece to be sure whether it was really ice in the middle of a desert!
    Having lunch at the Rajasthan side of the border, it was fun romancing the ghats with severe back ache, a four lane road and light showers of rains
    We were familiar with this road, since this was the same route we had ridden on, while returning from Nepal.
    Soon came Ahmedabad by 8.00pm and the rains grew worse, with even worse lightening. We halted at a lodge on the highway and decided it’s wiser to ride at 90kmph in the day light with no rains, than 40kmph at night getting drenched.

    Day 8, 18th June 2009, Friday:
    Deciding on not wasting further time, we got up at 6.00am and saddled up by 6.30am.
    In the process of doing the normal ritual of idling the bike, Navnit noticed that his battery was not responding. Now to those who are not aware, this guy has put in a 24amp battery and gotten a special bracket welded for it. With few checks here and there, it was just a small wiring issue which got fixed in half an hour.
    So we left by 8.00am with 500kms to cover.
    Half way through, I realised that there was some noise coming from my chain. But I thought of ignoring it and heading further... until I heard 4-5 pulls of chain and decided on checking it out.
    I had broken 8 teeth of my sprocket and my chain was hanging loose.
    After having a tough time with opening the nuts and bolts we finally managed to tighten it up a bit, and move on with the broken sprocket. This activity by itself had taken an hour.
    Having lunch at 4.00pm, we were 200kms away from Bombay. The truck traffic from daman really got to us, specially as my friend Vighnesh rightly puts it, ‘slow trucks being over taken by slower trucks’ thus blocking the right lane always!

    With all the hue and cry, we reached Fountain Hotel at 6.00pm, and were overjoyed by this great sense of achievement! What a ride!

    The odometer reading back at fountain was 8823.

    We faced extreme heat, heavy rains, hail storm, sand storm, killed a monitor lizard, rode with both riders nearly blind, met our men at the border, rode on amazing highways...

    At the end of the ride both of us ‘SALUTE THE MACHISMO 500’, for all the tension and torture borne by it. Constant ripping at speeds of 100kmph in an extremely hot climate, and not a drop of oil leaked!

    ‘Sand Storm, Rain Storm, Hail Storm... one successful Operation Desert Storm!’


    Summing it up:
    Riders: Navnit Lekshminarayanan & Bhushan Dhade
    Rides: Royal Enfield Machismo 500cc
    Total days: 8
    Total distance covered: 3483kms
    Route: Mumbai – Baroda – Ahmedabad – Tharad – Sanchor – Jaisalmer – Sam – Longewala – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Jaipur – Ahmedabad – Mumbai
    Breakdowns: 8 Sprocket teeth and minor wiring issues


    Trip Discussions:
    http://www.torquehub.org/index.php/topic,934.0.html

    Pictures:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/bhushan.dhade/OperationDesertStorm#
     

    Attached Files:

  2. silentstorm

    silentstorm AKA Pankaj

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    Whoa......
    That's a big lizard ur friend is holding. Was it roaming on the roads.

    N yes, Amazing captures.....
     
  3. Yogesh Sarkar

    Yogesh Sarkar Administrator

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    Nice photographs Navnit, but spray painting on sand is a big no-no.
     
  4. illusionst72

    illusionst72 ...

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    The sand storm ride.....interesting ;) !!
     
  5. navnit

    navnit Member

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    @ Yogesh

    Accepted .. The resposible part of the rider insider went missing at that moment.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2009
  6. abhijithora

    abhijithora Well-Known Member

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    Lovely pix's & the Tank photo is great
     
  7. imjoshee

    imjoshee Guru

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    WOW,that was a good desert storming.Beautiful pictures.
     
  8. Praful

    Praful Guru

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    Nice ride there... :)

    How about a few more pics..:)
     
  9. hiambuj

    hiambuj Moderator Staff Member

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    Addictive log, lovely pics !!
     
  10. abhijithora

    abhijithora Well-Known Member

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    Lovely ...post more

    It a dream to ride to Longewala ..hope it comes true soon
     

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