Spiti - Three amateurs' ride to the land of the Buddha; of amazing landscape and great people!

Tilak Francis

Active Member
Hooked up with your T'logue. Interested to know the preparation you had riding a RE with Tube tyre. (I own a RE C3)


Hooked up with your T'logue. Interested to know the preparation you had riding a RE with Tube tyre. (I own a RE C3)
Preparations were pretty basic. New tyres, correct tyre pressure and a belief in providence ;-). Plan B was to remove the punctured tyre and carry on another bike to the nearest repair shop or take a lift from locals. Nothing serious. I would say if you have new tyres and maintain correct pressure you reduce the chances of a puncture considerably. So stop worrying and hit the road!


18 May - The train that we almost missed!

Normally we leave well in advance if we have to catch a flight or train. So I had booked a taxi for 4 PM to catch the Rajdhani from Mumbai Central which departs at 5:40PM. This is around 30 odd kilometers distance from Thane where I stay. People from Mumbai would know that this 35 KM distance can be covered in 30 mins; if you travel at 2 AM in the night and not travelling in monsoon when the lunar craters make their home on Mumbai roads; or it can take a few hours if you get stuck in peak hour Mumbai traffic, especially from Sion onward. So the time gap of 1 hour and 40 mins that I planned was just ok. Doable on a weekend, or so I thought.

What added to the drama was that as we approached the time, we just let the anxiety slip by. We were relaxed. No hurry. Just like that. When the taxi arrived at 4 PM I asked him to wait for some time as we did last minute checks and clicked some family photos.

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Eventually when we boarded the taxi and looked at our watches, reality hit us like a bullet (literally!). It was 4:23 PM!!! We only had exactly 1 hour and 17 minutes to reach.

From then on started our race against time. As we reached the suburb of Mulund, we hit traffic. It was a normal one but in our condition it felt huge. I was in double minds whether we should go to Borivli (a distance suburb equally distant from Thane but would give us 20 odd minutes extra) instead but the road there was no less fraught with traffic. Additionally the metro work on that road had added to traffic woes.

We were looking at our watches every passing minute. As I imagined the traffic that we would hit in Dadar and Parel, I panicked.

At that time luckily the driver suggested that we take the Freeway (a straight, non-toll road that goes to south Mumbai). I did not know how much time we will save but the option from Dadar seemed worse. So, I asked him to take the freeway. It proved to be the right decision in the end.

The ride on Freeway was really fast as the driver ignored the many cameras (God bless him!). But as soon as we left the Freeway, we hit the inner roads and every turn, every signal increased our anxiety. Finally, it was 5:39 in my watch when we entered the gates of Mumbai Central. I was already prepared to open the door and dash toward the platform. Luckily Mumbai Central does not have luggage check yet and being a starting station, it does not have a stair to climb. Both these points proved helpful.

I had already paid the taxi and as soon as he stopped, I dashed out. The porter their asked which train and as I said Rajdhani, I was half expecting to say that it left. He said however “time hai!”. Oh such a relief! Not believing I still ran toward the platform no. 1. Sushil was behind me and then Veena.

The train was standing and the clock showed 5:38. Seems the railway clock was a few minutes behind!

I stopped and saw Sushil just behind me and then Veena toward the end. In my anxiety I boarded a wrong compartment but what the heck! We were on board the train and it would take us to Delhi the next day.

Never in my life had I felt so relieved after catching a train. As we settled on our seats, all we did for a few minutes was to catch our breath and just heave a sigh of great relief.

It was a most extraordinary start to a well planned journey.

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19 May - In and around Delhi

Rest of the travel was uneventful and we reached Delhi around 11:30 AM. Sushil, my brother, ordered OLA as it was cheaper than what the local guys were quoting. He had already booked the hotel in Paharganj while we were reaching Delhi, so we had an address to reach. We chose Pharaganj as we had to catch morning train to Chandigarh tomorrow.

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After checking in to the hotel and refreshing ourselves, we went out for lunch. We had nice lunch at an old restaurant near Palika Bazaar.

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Later we spent some time at Palika Bazaar but I was feeling sleepy after lunch and wanted some rest. We went to the central park nearby and lied down for a while, which refreshed me. We then took a rickshaw to Karol bagh as we had to buy riding shoes for Veena and if possible rain covers for us. We inquired at a couple of places suggested by the BCMT guys and got a good pair boots for her. We also got a couple of boot rain covers for Sushil and myself. We never got the chance to try them though as it never rained so hard in our trip.

After shopping we felt a need for tea and went in search of a tea stall. We could not locate a tea stall, but saw a South Indian restaurant which was well lit and clean, so we went in. As it was around 7 PM and we were feeling hungry, we ordered some dosa and uttapa before ordering our coffee. The dosa and the coffee was good. Later we took an e-rick back to the hotel.

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Before going to our rooms we spent some time at the local market and we went to take a stroll. I got a sling bag for myself and some print blocks for Veena. I also bought a map of Himachal Pradesh for easy reference.

We went back to the hotel as tomorrow was had to take train to Chandigarh the next day.


20 May – Chandigarh to Chail

The train was at 7:40 in the morning but we were ready by 7 to leave the hotel. Did not want to repeat the mistake . The station was just 5 mins away so we were not much worried.

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We checked out and hailed a rickshaw for the station. But he dropped us outside the station and we had to walk a long way to our coach, since we had alighted at the other end of the platform. I was walking ahead and Veena’s new boot, that was placed on top of the saddle bag that I was carrying, fell. I did not notice it as I was walking fast but Veena who was behind me, picked it up. Once inside we settled in our seats and Veena showed me the boot that she had picked :).

The train started on time and breakfast was served on the train which was good as we had a long day ahead of us. The train reached Chandigarh at around 11:30 AM.

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I asked Veena to wait and we went to the parcel office to get our bikes. I saw my bike neatly parked in the parcel room but could not find Sushil’s bike. After inquiring we came to know that it was on platform 3 as it had arrived on a different train.

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I had to pay additional 450 rs. as parking charges for my bike as it had arrived on Friday. The process of getting the bike out was straight forward. You show the receipt, pay any dues if there, take the bike out along the platform and out of the parcel building. There you can remove the packing. I had called the contact person in Chandigarh and his people helped to remove the packing from our bikes. One of them accompanied Sushil to get some petrol in his bike. He tanked up and then I transferred half the petrol in my bike.

While we were doing this, we met some guys from Maharashtra who were leaving, and they gave us 2 ltr petrol free. We had already changed in our riding gear in the waiting room so after refilling our bikes we were ready to start our journey. After thanking the guys for petrol and taking a photo we started for our adventure.

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First, we went to the petrol pump and topped up our tanks. Then we started for Chail which was our destination for today. We could not initially find the road and went in the opposite direction. We asked some locals and eventually found the right road. We were on our way.

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It was almost 2:30 pm and we had not eaten anything since the breakfast in the train. So when we saw a sugarcane juice guy we stopped for a nice glass of juice. It was very nice and refreshing.

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As my brother, Sushil works in a govt. dept he had got us rooms at the PWD at Chail. At 4:30 PM we stopped for a quick snacks of momos and tea. Veena got a cold drink for herself.

When we reached Chail it was almost evening and after confirming with the caretaker we settled in our rooms. The caretaker suggested the nearby Chail Palace for dinner as it was nearer to the PWD. After refreshing ourselves we went there for dinner.

This was a real palace where the king lived and dined. The story is that when the king was displaced by the British when they captured his capital Shimla, he came here and built this palace. Since Chail is at an higher altitude than Shimla, he seemed to have the last laugh of being "above" the British even after he was defeated!

We ordered mutton and rotis. The food was good and the service was excellent and we enjoyed our dinner heartily . We were informed that the breakfast opens at 7:30 in the morning so we decided to come for breakfast as well!

After a tiring day but with our stomachs filled, we went back to our rooms to retire for the day. The real ride starts tomorrow.
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