<!–:de–>Indien Trilogie – Teil 3<!–:–><!–:en–>India trilogy – part 3<!–:–><!–:fr–>India 3 (Résumé)<!–:–><!–:es–>India 3 (Resumen)<!–:–>

Written by Sebastian on November 9th, 2011. Posted in Allgemein

On the way to Manali (where we didnt go at the end but nevermind :) )Martin: We hit the road direction Manali, which continues to offer us incredible sceneries and spectacular views. Again, we drive from one valley to the next, slowly we reach different vegetation zones, from bold mountains we start seeing some bushes until we are surrounded by beautiful forest and driving in the valley next to a river we get the impression of driving somewhere in the Austrian Alps. Even though it´s being said that there is no gas station between Leh and Manali, after approx. 380 kilometers we find one in Tandi…driving downhill in neutral gear pays off, as we reach the gas station with still more than 4 litres left in our tanks. We continue and after almost 3 weeks driving in mostly uninhabitated area, the population and traffic increases by kilometer. As it gets dark we reach Koxar and decide to stay there overnight. The only thing seperating us now from Manali is the Rotang pass, said to be the hardest to drive pass on the trip.

Many Royal-Enfield bikes are parked in front of our hotel and it doesn´t take much time until we get to know their owners, Indian guys from a company in Delhi doing a company sponsored motorbike trip from Leh to Manali. Nice way of team building 🙂 They are very nice and so we go for dinner together. Thinking of whether to hit the pass the next morning together with them, Sunil, one of the guys organizing the trip, suggests why not to take another road to visit the Spiti Valley, famous for it´s more than thousand year old buddhist monasteries and the biggest apple producing area of India. The Spiti Valley had been on our itenary as well, but as our map and people we asked indicated that part of the road crosses China and thus a loop to Rishikesh was not possible we skipped the idea. As it turned out it is possible and it didn´t take us much of a thought to re-plan the next day and skip Manali… which has also the positive side effect not having to drive the Rotang pass. Together with Sunil we go through the route and happy being able to visit the valley we go to sleep. Again, we feel we are doing the right thing, driving on a day to day basis without a fixed plan and leave everything open for great coincidences like this. In my opinion, the best way to get to know a place is not by strictly following a guide book but to talk to locals who tell you what not to miss 🙂

Spiti Valley

Crossing the water - Martin does it with ease Next day we get up early in the morning thinking how lucky we are not having to fight ourselves over the Rotang-pass. Well, the feeling didn´t last long. Just after a couple of kilometers we are faced by one of the worst roads we had to drive so far, as not many people are taking this road it´s also not really maintained. Starting as a shit to drive gravel road, actually more pot-hole than road, it doesn´t take long until Escargot kisses the floor, only to change shortly after into an earth and hard gravel road with many knee-deep waterintrusions. Even though Kazaa, our target for this day, is only 150km from Koxar, the road seems endless, and although the landscape is again magnificent, it´s quite hard for me to enjoy it, having to focus fully on the road and praying that our bikes (and us) get there safe 🙂 As we pass the Kunzum-La pass at 4.500m the road gets slightly better and if there is some higher power it showed mercy to us around 20km before Kazaa, as the road changes out of nowhere into a beautiful paved (real tarmac!! :-)) curvy road leading to the town. We feel blessed and enjoy driving that last stage until Kazaa.


In Kazaa we spent two nights in a hotel where we met this friendly guy. He explained us that since his parents have a heart of butter, he too has one. A very nice way of putting it :)

Kazaa is the main town of Spiti Valley, a beautiful Valley with a river in between, surrounded by desert like mountains and apple plantations along the river. We stay over at a nice guest house with an incredibly kind manager. We find out that Spiti Valley, lying between Laddakh and Tibet in the Himachal Pradesh district of India, used to be a kingdom with a rich buddhist history similar to the one of Tibet. He also tells us the secret behind the famous kindness and hospitality of Spiti people: „if my parent´s heart is made of butter, my heart will be of butter as well. How can my heart be of butter if my parent´s isn´t?“ A beautiful way to put it and thinking about how important a loving home is for children and their values and behavior as grown-ups I go to sleep.


Next day we get the permit we need to continue the loop to Shrinagar and enjoy striving around the centre of the town before we say goodbye to Kazaa and head towards Tabo, with one of the oldest buddhist monasteries of the world dating back to 996 AD. It´s a short ride along the river and in the early afternoon we arrive. The town is really small with a couple of guest houses around the monastery amidst apple trees. Arriving at the old monastery we arrange with a monk to sleep in the monastery guest house where we meet an Austrian living in India for the last 15 years, commuting between the south of India and this place, where his wife runs the monastery library. The old monastery is beautiful, a mudbrick building with a nice courtyard and praying halls with magnificent buddhist wall paintings and sculptures. Thinking that these paintings and sculptures are more than 1000 years old, we are quite impressed in what good state they are. In the evening we meet nice people from Switzerland, Israel, Canada and Germany and celebrate Roshashana, Jewish New Year, together. It´s a great evening and Roshashana a good excuse to get drunk 🙂 Not having drank almost any alcohol since Armenia, not even my Czech blood prevents me from getting pretty pissed after 2 beers 🙂

“Passport and permits please”

While Sebastian was driving back to get his passport Martin started chatting with everybody around him as it seems - for example a truck driver that let him sit inside his truck.We drive on a potholed gravel road direction Nako, a small town on top of a valley, but as we arrive at a military check point where we have to show our permit and passport I see some nervous expressions on Sebas face. What to say, some people tend to lose their keys or their cell phones, Sebas decided to tend to lose his passport 🙂 As he can´t find it, the only logical place where it can be is the copy shop in Kazaa, where Sebas seemingly made copies of his passport and ended up forgetting the original 🙂 As it doesn´t make sense that the both of us go back, I decide to continue to the next town, Chaco, and wait for him there. Arrived in Chaco, a border town with Tibet, it doesn´t take long and I´m surrounded by locals. Again, I´m overwhelmed by their kindness, as they do everything possible that I feel well while waiting for Sebas. Talking to a business man he tells me how fast things change in India mostly to the better, that a lot of money is invested in infrastructure connecting even the remotest villages, making life for the people easier. Two truck drivers invite me into their truck and it´s a great experience to sit in one of these huge vehicles and marvel at the beautiful interior decorations (mainly naked woman and Hindu symbols :-)). After a couple of hours Sebas arrives… luckily with his passport in his pocket. I feel reliefed to see him, him not coming for quite a long time I started to worry.


No need to debate about the driving skills and the fearlessness of the indian drivers - :oWe continue to Nako which itself is nothing special but offers nice views over the valley. Happy that the passport showed up again we enjoy a nice sunset and go to sleep. Driving the Spiti Vally made us again escape from civilization and the closer we get on a pretty dusty road to Shimla the more traffic increased and having to drive through Shimla to reach Rishikesh we are for the first time in weeks in a big city with crazy traffic and people all around. Even though living in a Vienna, after a couple of weeks in remote areas I can imagine how it must be like for people of the country side to visit a city. It´s exhausting, hard to orientate, it´s quite impersonal and people tend to mind their own business. Both of us are glad leaving Shimla behind us and after a night stop over in some small village and driving through a beautiful road through a jungle the next day we reach the town of Rishikesh, a Hindu holy place and self-acclaimed capital of Yoga.


Here we go and hop! into the waterRishikesh, spread along the Ganges, has, even though having 60.000 inhabitants, preserved an atmosphere of a small town. It´s pretty touristy, as many tourists come here to attend Yoga courses, so there´s loads of guest houses for every pocket and being considered a holy place, the atmosphere is pretty relaxed. We check in into a nice guest house run by a Nepali and meet a Maja from Poland living in Scottland and a Spanish guy from Malaga. Together we do a nice hike to a beautiful waterfall inside a jungle, where we chat and relax, and coming back to the guest house we are hit by surprise, seeing our bikes shining as if they were new. What happened? While we were enjoying ourselves, the Nepali manager cleaned our bikes which were covered in dirt and dust. He told us he was bored and also the bikes attract a lot of people walking by, so better they look nice 🙂 I can´t stop being impressed by the kindness and helpful attitude of the people we meet. He didn´t do it because he expected anything, he simply did it because he had time and wanted to make us happy. Also, it´s interesting to experience that many people, even though they have to run a business, one doesn´t have the feeling that money is their priority, more to be helpful and do what they can for you to have a nice time and feel comfortable. In the evening we cross the Ganges and visit downtown with some huge Ashrams (that´s how you call the yoga centres, initially it had been spiritual hermitages) and restaurants, shops and bars. What´s to mention is that Rishikesh, being a holy city, is by law vegetarian and alcohol free. Additionally, here being much further than European cities regarding environmental issues, it banned the use of plastic bags.

Sebas and his tire 🙂

The second flat tire. One on the first on one on the (wished) last day in IndiaAfter 3 days we leave Rishikesh and plan to hit the border of Nepal the very same day. Well, this plan changes after a couple of kilometers as Sebas realizes that he has a flat tire.. on a beautifully paved road. As he had, like a welcome, a flat tire the very first day we had been in India, maybe it´s India´s way to say goodbye 🙂 Even though we are in the middle of nowhere in a forest, just two kilometers further Sebas finds a tire fixer and in less than two hours everything is back in order and we can continue. At some point I guess the Road Association must have run out of tarmac, as the road suddenly changes again into a dusty, potholed whatever you want to call it. We continue slowly and as it´s getting dark it´s sure we won´t make it to the border. Sebas is completely devastated and tired of driving these roads we finally find a bigger city and look for a hotel. First we stop at a nice hotel where Sebas manages to drop his bike (no idea how :-)), but after hearing the price we decide to continue our search and find a cheaper one shortly after. While Sebas is checking the room I´m surrounded by a huge crowed of people who want to see the bikes and welcome us to their city. Even though this time it´s such a big crowed that it´s impossible for me to keep an overview on Sebas and my bike, which makes me a bit nervous, I stay relaxed and friendly. The people are just curious and very friendly and respectful. One has to know that almost everyone is driving a bike, but usually small ones up to 200cc. So when they see a huge bike like ours, of course it raises their interest and curiosity. We park the bikes in the courtyard of the hotel, part of the crowed following us to touch the bikes and sit on them while we take a shower and relax in our room.

Experiencing a curfew

We finally want to reach the border but we somehow manage to leave quite late, the roads are again not that great, we pass many small villages and proceed quite slowly. Suddenly we end up driving on a road blocked by police. No idea why they blocked the road we tell the officer where we want to go and he lets us pass. It´s getting dark and the city is completely empty, seems like a ghost town. Everything is closed and only now and then there are some people standing around in the streets and we see a couple of police cars dricing around. We stop and ask them how to get to the town we want to spend the night at and they strongly recommend us to stay in this town for the night and continue during daylight. What happened? There had been a clash between Hindus and Muslims where some people died, so the police enforced a 24hr curfew. No idea then why the police officer let us drive through… the people we met are really concerned for our safety and call the police to agree what to do with us. In the end they accompany us to a hotel, arrange the stay and wish us all the best. I didn´t feel unsafe but it felt like being in a ghost town with a somewhat dark atmosphere.

Finally, the border

We leave in the morning, still curfew but we are allowed to pass through numerous police check posts witout a problem. On the way we stop at a gas station and have a great chat with Manpreet, the incredibly kind owner. After another hour driving we finally make it, we reach the Indian/Nepali border! Again, we are greeted by smiling Indian border officers who help us through the customs procedures for our bikes and in no time we leave India and follow the road in no-man´s land to the Nepali border. Northern India had been yet another wonderful experience, with extremely kind people and spectacular mountain sceneries and -roads, that let not only bikers´ hearts beat stronger (in every kind of interpretation :-)). Having been to Nepal 3 years ago I`m really looking forward coming back to this beautiful country I connect great memories with. And not only this, I will finally meet Eva (Uno) again! I am excited as we reach the Nepali border, how is it going to be like? How is it going to be like meeting my better half after 3 months again? Stay tuned and fined out 🙂