I went on this trip with 4 college friends whom I had managed to cajole into this. Flight tickets were booked from Bangalore to Chandigarh. I had already shipped my bike to Chandigarh using GATI which was waiting for me. We rented 3 more bikes from http://www.bikerentalsmanali.com/. We booked it there after testing it. Recommend others doing the same. If you have your own bike which is more than 200cc you should carry yours, saves the hassle of dealing with rentals and you can not really rely completely on rented bikes.
The journey begins:
I had called up a taxi guy for dropping us to Airport and I had specifically mentioned to send Innova. To our surprise a Tempo Traveller showed up 15 minutes late in the morning. Lesson learned – don’t call up unknown taxi guys use ola cabs/easy cabs and prebook your ride. It was an unbelievable drive to Airport. We started at around 6:30 am and we were discussing if we will be able to reach on time. Flight was scheduled to depart at 8:30 am. It was a fun ride though, we kept laughing our asses off during the ride discussing whether we should hire it to drop us to Chandigarh in case we miss the flight. The dude dropped us in 45 minutes from Bommanahalli(Silk board) to Airport. Amazing isn’t it!
We reached Chandigarh around 2 pm. Indus(my friend) and I rushed to GATI to pick my bike, without helmets of course! In Chandigarh, pillion is also supposed to wear helmets. GATI did an amazing job of packing my bike. Indicator switch got messed up a little but there was not a single scratch on it. Now we were discussing on whether we should go out and buy two cheap helmets or try to dodge the police. Obviously we took the second choice. We dodged two police jeeps. One of them was standing under a tree to beat the heat. They were looking at us, so we decided to look the other way and rode past them 😀 Then we rode beside a bus to dodge the other one. Make sure you buy a turban in case you don’t have helmet 😀
We had lunch then I took off towards Bilaspur(140 km) for the night stay. Others were going to come on bus. I took the wrong road towards Manali instead of the Highway which caused an additional delay of 30 minutes. Dont trust google maps blindly. On my way out of Chandigarh, there was a police check point. I had all the papers in place and was also wearing helmet. This time I was so confident that I did not pay attention to the speed limits sign boards. I had to pay Rs 700 for over speeding. The speed limit is only 45 kmph. They don’t know how difficult it is for a bangalore guy to see an empty roads and ride so slow.
Finally reached the highway and then cruised at 80-100 for sometime. After that the ghat section started and so did my miseries for the day. There is a cement factory near Bilaspur so I was greeted with hundreds of trucks on the ghat. It was difficult to overtake them. And once it was dark the dust and fog reduced the visibility to less than 20 meters. On top of that there were big potholes. It was a stretch of only 60-70 km, but I was not able to cover it even in 3 hours. Finally I gave up, took refuge in a shady guest house. There was no separate parking space so I had to park on the road. I was just praying to see my bike in the morning. If you are doing this stretch in the evening, you should stop once you find decent accommodation. It is not worth riding at night with so much dust.
Chandigarh to Manali is doable in around 8-10 hours including breaks. So a better idea will be to start early from Chandigarh. Most of the trucks start in afternoon so if you can cover Bilaspur before 12, you should be good. Once you cross Bilaspur the roads will improve and you will be back to your normal speeds.
No photos for the day only More to follow 🙂