“Friends that travel together, stay together.” The trio of Arjun, Harry, and Jeo would agree. They just came back after a bike trip which started from Kerala to the Himalayas. A trip they managed to undertake amidst lockdown restrictions and other constraints.
Arjun Raju, Harry Joshi, Jeo Pullickal—three friends who began a bike trip from Kerala on March 4th. The finishing line was the Himalayas. It was their love for Royal Enfield bikes that got them together. Travelling came much later.
They used to regularly make weekend trips to Goa and Kanyakumari whenever they had an opportunity. So naturally, the next thing seemed an all-India bike trip! The initial idea was to stay at each State for a week and leisurely explore their food and culture. But Covid put a lid on their extensive travel plans.
It was during the intermittent relief period after the first wave that they thought of putting their Ladakh trip to action. All their bullets were modified for the long trip. Especially the areas which might lead to a breakdown. Extra pair of clutch cables and brake cables were added. They also brought spare parts, tools, and air compressors.
On March 4th Harry and Jeo started from Chalakudy and Thrissur respectively. Arjun was supposed to join from Coimbatore.
They would only travel during the day and would cover 400-500 kms per day. Rooms were booked online before evenings. They would resume their journeys the very next morning. They managed to catch a lot of their favourite places in Goa, Maharashtra, and Himachal. Though they had carried tents with them, it wasn’t used as they managed to get rooms for Rs 700.
Each of them covered 10k kilometres in that 25-day trip. Of course, a lot of money went on fuel—24,000 to 27,000. Thankfully they didn’t have to splurge on anything else as they were already equipped with sunglasses, gloves, jackets, knee pads, helmets, and boots.
They managed to survive the trip without any health scares. Since they were stocked with safety equipment, they managed to dodge minor mishaps. Since it was covid time they had expected regular checkups during their travel. They even carried RTPCR tests as a precaution. But then nothing was needed. Most of the cops who stopped them were only interested in their whereabouts.
At Chandigarh, Arjun’s bike’s fuel injection became defective due to the debris that had got inside while fueling petrol. Since they reached Chandigarh on a Sunday, the shops were mostly closed. But thankfully they managed to repair the fuel injection and resumed their journey. Just the sheer excitement of travelling made such issues trivial for them. Having said that they weren’t able to reach their destination, Leh. But they had a new destination in mind which made things even more unexpected and adventurous for them.
Every travel will be fused with unexpected occurrences. That’s the high of such travels. That happened when they reached Kasol (a hamlet in Kulu), a destination they hadn’t originally planned. The trekking they took to Tosh, which is a village in the Himalayas at the Parvati Valley was unforgettable. It helped them get closer to understanding Himalayan life. And a taste of Himalayan off-roading adventure.
But when they reached Leh, it was snowing heavily prompting them to turn back. That’s when they decided to visit Haridwar and Rishikesh. One of the holiest pilgrimages in India, Haridwar, or the ‘gateway to gods’, is located where Ganga, enters the Indo-Gangetic plains. Located at the foothills of the Himalayas, Haridwar is a city of temples and ashrams and is one of the four holy Indian cities that host the Kumbh Mela. Haridwar is said to be sanctified by the presence of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. Lord Vishnu is said to have his footprint on the stone that is set in the upper wall of Har-Ki-Pauri where the Holy Ganga touches it all the time.
At Rishikesh, they tried river rafting and bungee jumping. Set against the backdrop of the Himalayas and with the Ganga flowing through it, the ancient town of Rishikesh is one of the major tourist and pilgrimage hubs in northern India, where people from across the world arrive in search of peace. Rishikesh is commonly referred to as the ‘yoga capital of the world’ and rightly so. The destination is abuzz with visitors, who come here to learn yoga and meditation. Rishikesh has numerous ashrams, some of which are internationally recognised as centers of philosophical studies, yoga, and other ancient Indian traditions of wellness. There are several legends associated with Rishikesh. It is said Rishikesh finds a mention in the ancient text Skanda Purana, and in the epic Ramayana. It is said Lord Rama, along with his brothers, came to Rishikesh to do penance after killing Ravana. They started the return journey to Kerala from Delhi.
The power of friendship
Their bond strengthened during this trip. Before leaving they had already practiced to change tires if need be. Most of the minor issues were something they were able to deal between themselves.
In fact, they will tell you exactly the advantages of travelling with friends. Be it tools or extra parts for their bike, they don’t really need to pack anything separately. That automatically meant they could lighten the luggage load. Since bullet 500 had low mileage, whenever they couldn’t find petrol pumps, they managed to refuel from each other’s bikes. Then there is the matter of sharing expenses, which also helped to keep the budget in check. And imagine the dreariness of travelling 400-500 km without a companion. With no one to talk to.
They came back on March 30th covering 13 states, memories, and a great story of long-lasting friendship.