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Mumbai to Himachal
by R. Subramanian

Entering Himachal
Entering Himachal

I am a professional rider of The Royal Enfield Bullet 350cc. I ride all over India, especially in Himachal Pradesh, including off road trips. Recently, my friend Hanif and I went on a road trip from Mumbai to Delhi, stopping at many towns and villages in the state of Himachal. Our Royal Enfield Bullet motorbike carried us and 50 kg of luggage on the 3500 km journey. We left Mumbai on March 22, 2003 at around 6:30PM and completed our trip in Delhi 15 days later. We traveled through mountains and valleys on rugged back roads and smooth highways alike. I hope this travelogue inspires you to follow our tracks.

Itinerary:
Day 1: Mumbai to Nashik (185 km)
Day 2: Nashik to Dhule (149 km) and Dhule to Indore (259 km)
Day 3: Indore to Shivpuri (374 km) and Shivpuri to Gwalior (112 km)
Day 4: Gwalior to Agra (118 km) and Agra to Delhi (203 km)
Day 6: Delhi to Kasuali (315 km)
Day 7: Kasauli to Mandi (310 km)
Day 8: Mandi to Dharamsala/Mcloadganj (325 km)
Day 10: Mcloadganj to Manali (430 km)
Day 14: Manali to Kasauli (420 km)
Day 15: Kasauli to Delhi (315 km)
Total: 3500 km

Our journey to Delhi was an amazing. We took minor roads, meaning plenty of rough riding, but were happy to avoid the hot highway between the border of Maharastra and MP. Highlights of the trip included unexpected ghats and forests in MP, and crossing the Chambal valley on the way from Gwalior to Delhi. We rode swiftly, pushing 80 to 90 km per hour on the good parts of the road, for an average riding speed of 50 to 60 km per hour.

We reached Delhi on March 25 at around 8:00PM, and stayed there for 2 days. We took the motorbike to Pardesi Automobile Engineers, where Pankitju and Pinky did excellent work and had the bike back to us in just a few hours. They changed the sprockets and supporting rod inside the engine to give additional power, per the suggestion of our friend Capt Raj of Indian Sheperds and Camps and Adventures.

We left Delhi on the morning of the 28th and headed to Chardigarh (242 km). The highway offered excellent riding, and we reached the city at around 3:00PM. Next, we continued to Himachal state, beginning with a visit to Kasauli on the way to Simla. The roads were beautiful and well made, and we reached our final destination for that day--Kasauli--at around 6:00PM.

After spending the night in Kasuali, we departed for Balisbur at around 10:30AM. The entire ride consisted of winding roads between altitudes of 1000 and 3000 feet. The path is only about 8 feet wide containing countless blind curves. At one point, we took the wrong route, which lead us 130 kms out of our way (4 hours) to an alpine village. It was the only road.

We had crossed plenty of villages like Sarla and Sai, with populations of around 250. Finally, we reached Bilaspur around 4:30PM, had a late lunch, and stated to the old town of Mandi. Eighty km and an hour later, we had arrived at our destination, and decided to spend the night in a nice 3 star hotel. Hotel Manzul was the price was very affordable, about the price of a dormitory, offering nice accommodations, food and drink.

The stretch of road from Mandi to Dharmasala makes for an amazing ride. Taking the only route towards Pathankot, we crossed Jogendhar Nagar. The roads are very steep, and the motorbike is running like a horse packed with luggage and us two men. The last 15 km from Dharamsala to Mcloadganj was especially steep, reaching an altitude of around 3000 feet. We finally arrived at around 4:00PM and got a room in the Krishna Lodge. That night, we enjoyed drink and dinner at Mcloa Restaurant. We enjoyed the area so much, we decided to rest there and explore the area for a day, enjoying dinner at the Gypsy King Restaurant.

Well rested, we rode in the crisp morning air, reaching Mandi at around 12:30PM. We continued on to Manali on a wonderful paved road, stopping for lunch when we arrived. After we left, the temperature suddenly dropped and it started pouring rain. There was no place to stop, so we had to continue on as our luggage became drenched and the road more impassable. My fingers were numb by the time we finally reached Manali at around 5:00PM. We were relieved to be checking in to my friend's business Krishna Guest House. We stayed in Manali for 4 days and had a great time rock climbing, repelling and relaxing with my friend.

The next part of our journey, from Manali to Mandi was enjoyable, but from Mandi to Kasauli via Bilaspur is boring. We did not reach Balispur until around 6:00PM.

We took the same road as earlier towards Chandigarh and from there to Delhi. The highway was excellent and we reached our final destination at 6:30PM on April 6, 2002.

Our trip totaled 3500 km, with the motorbike carrying around 200 kgs (Hanif and I plus our luggage). We returned home to Mumbai via train on April 9th, reflecting on our wonderful trip. Despite continual riding on rugged terrain with a heavy load, the motorbike did not have any problems, not even a flat tire. That's why Hanif and I salute the Royal Enfield Bullet.

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