We reached Kapurthala in sunny weather and it looked like the rain Gods were fed up of drenching us.
We were received very warmly, the typical North Indian warmth and hospitality by the Singhs and throughout our couple of days stay there, they ensured that we were fine dined, well rested and ready for the next lap.
Our first task on hand was to get our bikes serviced and checked which we did at the local Royal Enfield dealer’s workshop. They did a fine job of it and refused to take any money from us, saying that it was their privilege and honour to service our bikes! While our bikes were being serviced the
local print and electronic media arrived to interview us. They were keen on finding out why the son of legendary Shammi Kapoor was riding around when he could have very well flown around! The answer my friends will be in the book that Aditya will be writing about this ride.
The local Sainik school invited us to give a talk to inspire their students on why travel is important to
widen mental horizons. We were also taken around the fabulous Kapurthala palace museum which is not yet open to the public.
On the morning of our departure, we were invited to visit the school run by our hosts where we were felicitated and Aditya gave a small speech to motivate the students. After this, we were led by the local electronic media to the highway to see us off and this was captured by them to be telecast on their news channels.
Our next halt was to be at Mandi and the rain Gods possibly felt lonely without us and in the last couple of hours of us reaching our destination, we were drenched in the heavy downpour and we stayed in the first hotel that we came across. Fortunately it was a good, decent hotel and here too we had to sleep in our towels and hope our clothes would dry before we left next morning for Manali.
After a good rest and with dried clothes we set out on a bright morning towards Manali. The route right from Kapurthala was beautiful with the Beas river meeting us on the way and at times accompanying us. Our destination was ‘Ride Inn’ a bikers’ motel in Manali but away from the
maddening touristy crowd that throngs Manali. This was located in an apple orchard and the views from the Inn were beautiful. We soaked in the atmosphere for two days and then started our journey towards Leh, Ladakh. It was in Manali ( 2,050 m) that we started taking ‘Diamox’ as a preventive measure against AMS (Acute mountain sickness, a form of altitude sickness), on our Doctor’s advice.
Enjoyed the ride upto Rohtang pass (3,979 m) but the descent was treacherous as it had apparently rained the earlier night and the road was replaced by slush and stones. It was here that I had my 1st fall, albeit in slow motion, when I pressed hard on the front brake, which is a disc brake, and toppled over. Aditya promptly came over to assist me get on the bike to carry on. His presence was really a morale booster and he had to come quite a few times to help me up after my falls. Fortunately all these falls were in slow motion and a result of my reflex action (developed over the years from riding the Yezdi which had drum brakes on both wheels) of pressing hard the front brake.
When we reached Khoksar, we were stopped as a bridge over Chandra river, that needed to be
crossed was being repaired. The wait was for four hours when we met some interesting travellers in the cafes. The most inspiring was a family of four consisting a male (74), and 3 females (all in late 60s) travelling in a Maruti 800! And this was their fourth trip to Ladakh! Met another young, newly married couple from Pune on a Royal Enfield, who had decided not to have children for at least five years so that they could fulfil their bike travels together without any encumbrances. Committed travellers!
Soon it was time to ride onwards and we did, to Keylong where we checked in for the night.