As winter approaches, the wanderer gets impatient … the motorcycle gets tuned, the luggage gets packed, the heart gets restless … and so … the year-end plan of 2018.
Committing something publicly in advance is fraught with uncertainty, since a last minute cancellation due to unforeseen circumstances may result in ridicule … nevertheless, public commitment keeps one focused and committed too.
#Abode_of_Cloud #Himalayan_Dominar #December_Sojourn
Happiness is first in Planning and Anticipation, then on the Road, and finally in Memories. Still some time left, but the tingling in the Body and Mind has started. No harm in planning a bit in advance … 😁😁
#Road_Calling #Shwet_Agni #Travel_Light — feeling Wind on the Face … The Neverending wait …
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya (Day Zero). So finally the day has arrived, and we start off very very early tomorrow … at 0230 hr. The rendezvous of both the Motorcyclists, self and Sagar da happened today in the evening at Panagarh. What better way to celebrate and discuss our plans than over an evening sojourn of #Johnny_Walker #Black_Label (Old Monk starts from tomorrow) some cheese pakora, chicken nuggets, koraishutir-kochuri, alur-dom and nolen-gurer rosogolla. We retire early, only to wake up in a few hours and speed through for our understanding the #Abode_of_Clouds. Will update every evening, will love it if you stay with us through the Journey, not only through India, but also through our selves … Jai-Hind.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya (Day 1). 569 km, night halt Binnaguri Cannt. A day of more riding mixed with some nice experiences.
#Setting_Out_with_Brothers. We started at a descent time of around 3am in the dawn (if you may), and it was a welcome surprise to find the Biker Brothers from Durgapur … waiting for us that early in Darjeeling More with some hot coffee. God bless you guys.
#Panagarh_Morgram_Highway. It was more or less a smooth run except for a few and minor traffic congestion of trucks with stonechips around Muhammad Bazar; irritating but not a hindrance. Instead of turning right from Nalhati, we went straight to Chattra More and thereafter turned right to hit the NH at Umarpur. Thereby we avoided the bad road of Nalhati Morgram and gained about 17 km overall.
#Farakka_Malda_Bottleneck. Farakka bridge is congested, however some bold riding on wrong lane with the blessings of the local police followed by footpath riding along the bridge ensured that we didn’t get delayed in Farakka. In Malda, we took the partially constructed Malda Bypass .. inspite of the bad roads, got an open patch running. So, Farakka, Malda .. no problem.
#Adina_Mosque. We timed our halt so as to have a quick peek at the Adina mosque, also called the Jama Masjid. One of the biggest mosques ever constructed, and now delapidated, the Adina Jama Masjid constructed by Hussein Shah with it’s ardent Muslim keystone architecture incorporating Hindu Temple remains is a jaw dropping experience. Some quick photoshoot and off we go.
#Sumptious_Lunch. Lunch at a random roadside line hotel in Raiganj was surprisingly delicious. Highlight was the fry and bharta of the 2.5 kg baingan (bringal/eggplant).
#Botolbari_Dhantola_shortcut. We took it and was rewarded. Except for the narrow roads, sharp turns and children, cattle and poultry running around, no complaint. Avoided Dalkhola and reached Islampur but not before clicking some scenic photos and charging ourselves with some Red Bull.
#Jalpaiguri_Route. Since we made good time, we changed plans of halt in Siliguri and moved ahead to Binnaguri. But taking the Jalpaiguri route instead of Dooars was a bad decision. Narrow broken roads with millions of truck congestion forced us to do the final 130 km in 4 hrs. You win some, you loose some.
#Hospitality_in_Binnaguri. We were guests with Biker Brother Priyatosh Ganguli and the looking after, food drinks and hospitality by the young couple was awesome. Honoured to be part of the fraternity.
Meeting with brothers#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya #Update_from_the_Road. Entered Assam. More than the love for oranges, I just stopped to strike up a conversation with the beautiful Bodo lady, in the pretext of buying some oranges. Assamese ladies are the most beautiful, elegant that I have seen, and their smile is to die for. Next birth, I want to be an Assamese Guy … and will do Bihu dance with many beautiful Assamese ladies.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya #Update_from_the_Road. Sumptious tiffin of #Ghugni (sort of gram curry) and #Bode (sweet bundia) … Laughed a lot while eating remembering the childhood poem ..
“আসুন, বসুন, কি খাবেন বলুন?
ঘুগনি আর বোঁদে?
বাটি নিয়ে চলে যান.. ছাগলের পোঁদে… 😜😜🙏🙏
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya (Day 2). 382 km, night halt at Guwahati, Narangi Cannt. A day of excellent roads and high speed motorcycling.
#Setting_out. We started from Binnaguri at a comfortable time of 7, having under 400 km for the day after a quick breakfast.
#Road_Binnaguri_Alipurduar. North Bengal roads can either be excellent, offering 100+ kmph or just hell. Except for a few bottlenecks around Birpara and Hashimara, it was a comfortable 80 kmph run right up to Alipurduar Sankosh. We took a planned halt bang on the gates of the #Jaldapara_National_Park. Though tempted to hire a Jeep and move for a jungle Safari, but we let it pass. Some photoshooting in front of the gate and off we went.
#Road_Sankosh_Guwahati. That has always been a dream run for me. The stretch from #Barobishya for about 10-15 km is bad, there after smooth tarmac, negligible traffic makes it worthwhile to open your throttle to your heart’s content. As expected, errant bikers are never missing and quite a few do make themselves a nuisance with mindless showing off, and was here too. Our snacking with Ghoogni and Bode and orange buying episode from a beautiful Bodo lady was also a highlight, which I updated already.
#Assamese_Lunch. A random roadside dhaba near Nalbari gave us sumptious rice, dal, chicken curry and small rather microscopic fish (Mourolla ?? Moa in Assamese) deep fried.
#Guwahati_Traffic. Crossed the Brahmaputra 🙏 🙏 maybe for the 21st time, a river which always inspires awe, in spite of the number of times we see.
#Mindblowing_Dinner. The customary #Old_Monk at daybreak was accompanied by #Duck_65 #Duck_Malai_Tikka #Fish_fried #Mutton_curry and was a gastronomic adventure of sorts.
The day ends in a happy note, with Adda with Sagar da about motorcycle, journey, food, politics, life in general. It’s more than 1100 km on the road, they say 500 km on the road with motorcycles makes blood brothers, Indeed it’s true.
#Shillong_Calls tomorrow, Jai Hind.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya (Day 3). 117 km, night halt at Shillong, Rhino Point. The km may look less, but a Dream-Motorcycling day consisting of loopy hyper-riding and off-road. DO NOT MISS TO SEE THE PHOTOS TODAY.
#Setting_Out. We knew we had only a few km in hand and most of our visiting destination was enroute or little off circuit and entirely in the #Ribhoi_district, so easy casual post breakfast start at 0830 hr.
#Road_Jorabat_Umiam. The road from Jorabat to Umiam can be described as a Biker’s dream run. Clean untirrupted four-lane tarmac, looping and meandering like a snake across 60 km of mountains. Hyper-riding, Sharp and wide cornering, Body-contouring, Counter-Steering are all the theories that one can put in practice and ride your heart out. It’s just a Bikers-Heaven.
#Umiam_Lake. Also called #Barapani, the Umiam lake is the largest freshwater lake in Meghalaya and the major source of hydel power for the state. It is here that the Blue sky and the Blue water meets amidst small islands sprinkled around that becomes one of nature’s bounty and a balm to calm down a restless soul. We stayed there for close to an hour soaking up the pristine beauty of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Some photo clicking was also part of the plan. I have already posted a photo of me in traditional #Khasi_dress yesterday. The adjoining #Lam_Nehru_Park has got a mind blowing collection of orchids and is worth visiting.
#U_Lum_Sophetbneng. One prominent landmark in the Ribhoi district is the Huge Gateway with a rooster on top; to the left, short of the Umroi-Shillong road junction, but not many ventures out to find this most interesting bit of heritage. One has to turn left, enter the gate and do about 8.5 km of pretty involving offroading consisting of sudden climbs and plunges, gravel trail and sand tracks to reach the mountain top of U Lum Sophetbneng, one of the holiest of holy places amongst the Khasi people.
As per the Khasi tradition, the Khasi people originates from #Ki_Hynniew_Trep_Ki_Khyndai_Skum or #The_Nine_Huts_in_Heaven and #The_Seven_Huts_on_Earth which was connected by a Golden ladder created by #U_Blei_Nong_Thaw, the creator God and touched the Earth on the mountaintop of U Lum Sophetbneng (The Mountain of the #Umbilical_Chord).
In the Golden ages, the families of heaven and Earth could commute through this Golden ladder. However, God seeing the Earth filled with sin, cut this ladder separating the Earth and Heaven. In February each year, huge traditional ritual and sacrifices are carried out in this mountaintop and the bridge is momentarily joined and spirits from the Earth can go to heaven and forefathers from heaven can come shortly to visit the Earth.
The top has a beautiful stone hut with multilith stone blocks and a peaceful place of recluse.
The view of the Umroi-Khapmara area and the Umiam lake is breathtaking to say the least. Moments of respectful silence.
#Road_Umiam_Shillong. It gets two lanes from Umiam and the traffic increases substantially. The run is smooth and from about 5 km from Shillong, the traffic gets slow and heavy. Nevertheless, movement is not stopped, and one has to be patient on mountain roads.
#Police_Bazaar. Thronging with million people, Police Bazaar and the adjoining Burra Bazaar is where everything is happening in Shillong. It’s difficult to find standing and walking place, leave aside parking; but we managed. I love people, hence I loved Police Bazaar with so many well dressed and we’ll spoken beautiful Gentry; Shillong is definitely the fashion capital of India. Dress, spice, traditional shawls, trinkets, chillies were the main wares that were being sold. The people are clothed immaculately, fashionably and with always a smile. Happiness index is high.
#Khasi_delicacies. We went to #Trattoria, the most famous food restaurant which serves authentic Khasi food. We choose the #Assorted_Pork_Platter consisting of #Jadoh (traditional rice cooker in pork fat and pork chunks), Pork curry, fish mashed up in traditional spice, pork fat chunks, pork intestine salad, mashed potatoes, six types of pickles. A gastronomic adventure of great delight.
#Night_Stay. Our Guestroom is bang on the Golf Club and a view of Shillong to die for. Thanks to brother @Vinay for such a treat.
#Thoughts. At the end of the journey it’s always a peak or a lake or a tree .. mindless traveling will always lead to disappointment. However every stone, every tree has a story of their own, often hidden and obscure. One has to live that story to make travel meaningful.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya #Update_from_the_Road. At the #Mawphalang_Sacred_Forest, paying respect to #U_Basa_Ryngkew, tutelary deity of forest considered sacred by all 52 Khasi subsects. The Holy spirit of our ancestors guard this Sacred Forest, considered to exist since creation.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya #Update_from_the_Road. At the #Laitlum_Canyon. The Laitlum Canyon is a little-explored haunt of the mountainous state of Meghalaya, Laitlum translates to ‘end of hills’. Often called the amphitheatre of Meghalaya, unending as far as one can see, the canyon is naturally painted in a multitude of hues – from earthy browns and verdant greens to blushing reds at dawn and dusk.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya (Day 4). Local sight-seeing in and around Shillong. A relaxed day of soaking in the mountains and the customs and tradition of the Khasi people.
#Mawphalang_Sacred_Grove. Just 26 km from Shillong a traditionally preserved forest grove known as #Law_Kyntang is another tourist attraction. Trees and plants in this Sacred Forest are grown with no human interference. The sacred-groves which have been preserved since time immemorial, are in sharp contrast to their surrounding grasslands.
These groves are generally rimmed by a dense growth of Castanopsis kurzii trees, forming a protective hedge which halts intrusion of Pinus kasia (Khasi pine) which dominates all areas outside the sacred groves. Inside the outer rim, the sacred groves are virtually Nature’s Own Museum.
The heavily covered grounds have a thick cushion of humus accumulated over the centuries. The trees in every sacred grove are heavily loaded with epiphytic growth of aroids, pipers, ferns, fern-allies and orchids. The humus-covered grounds likewise harbour myriad varieties of plant life, many of which are found nowhere else.
#Elephant_Falls. 12 kms on the outskirts of the city the mountain stream descends through two successive falls set in dells of fern-covered rocks. At a short distance beyond the falls, there are two smaller falls which are none the less beautiful and captivating. These are the Wei Iaplam Falls and the Wir Phang Falls. A well paved footpath and a small wooden bridge facilitate access to these falls.
#Shilliong_Lytkor_Peak. An ideal picnic spot, 1965 metres above sea level and 10 kms from the city, offers a panoramic view of these country side, and is also the highest point in the State. Obeisance is paid to U Shulong at the sanctum at the peak’s summit every springtime, by the religious priest of Mylliem State. In the evening the city lights below appear like a star-studded abyss.
#Laitlum_Grand_Canyon. The Laitlum Canyon is a little-explored haunt of the mountainous state of Meghalaya. Laitlum translates to ‘end of hills’.
Often called the amphitheatre of Meghalaya, unending as far as one can see, the canyon is naturally painted in a multitude of hues – from earthy browns and verdant greens to blushing reds at dawn and dusk.
#Smit_Village. Just 17 Kms South of Shillong is the traditional seat of Khasi culture. The Nongkrem dance, is performed in Smit during November. Close by in Nongkrem village there is one traditional house owned by the Lyngdoh, which is 100 years old.
#Cathedral_Church. Located at Laitumkhrah, in the heart of the Shillong city, there stands a beautiful cathedral of Roman Catholics dedicated to Mary Help of Christian.
#Wards_Lake. A beautiful manmade lake named after Sir William Ward, the then, Chief Commissioner of Assam. The beautiful little lake with short garden walks and boating facilities is a popular spot for both local and visiting tourists.
#Food_Sojourn. Our lunch was a simple cuppa noodle and pork curry and evening snack was smoked pork from #Red_Rice, a popular food outlet.
#Tomorrow. We head out for Nartiang, Jowai and Schnangpedang. Got some tips and advice from the Gen Secy of RERAM. The road calls again. Jai Hind.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya #Update_from_the_Road. At the #Nartiang_Monoliths. The largest concentration of monolith / menhir in one place in the country and perhaps the world. Locally called #Moo_Shynrang (for men) and the dolmens called #Moo_Kynthai (for women). According to Jaintia legends, this was erected by a giant named #Mar_Phalyngki and were erected around 1500 CE to commemorate the glorious events of the Jaintia Kingdom.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya (Day 5). NO NET COVERAGE, hence delayed update. 151 km, night stay in Schnangpedang on river Umngot. A day of experiencing true motorcycling, riding our hearts out and getting a realistic blend of heritage and nature. Our plan was to cover the stretch Shillong – Nartiang – Jowai – Schnangpedang.
#Setting_Out. We set out from Shillong pretty early, at around 0645 hr in the morning, got our tanks full (petrol is about Rs 2 cheaper in Meghalaya), marked our GPS and off we went, towards the #Jaintia_Hills.
#Road_Shillong_Jowai. After about the first ten km of Shillong hullabaloo, the road is worth a Biker’s dream. Two lanes (but equivalent to four) serpentine roads running through the mountains and valleys, makes this run what a motorcylist lives for. The turn from Ummolong to Nartiang was narrow and through hills and jungles but a steady biker can still do 40 kmph on this road with ease. The Jowai stretch truely deserve it’s name “Scotland of the East”.
#Nartiang_Monolith. The largest concentration of monolith / menhir in one place in the country and perhaps the world. According to Jaintia legends, this was erected around 1500 CE to commemorate the glories of the Jaintia Kingdom. The astonishing collection of monoliths and walking in between them will keep a heritage enthusiast like me, engaged and proud.
#Nartiang_Durga_Temple. The 500 year old Durga Temple located in the West Jaintia Hills district is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas of Hindu Mythology, this temple is one of the holiest sites for devotees of the Shakti sect of Hinduism. The “Shakti” of Nartiang Devi shrine is addressed as #Jayanti and the “Bhairava” as #Kramadishwar. It is believed that Sati Devi’s left thigh has fallen here. A quick darshan of the temple and off we sped.
#Tyrshi_Waterfalls. Tyrshi Falls on the Shillong-Jowai Road (NH 44) is Jowai’s answer to Shillong’s Elephant Falls, and involves about 1.5 km of moderate offroading. This fall is located about 5 kms from Jowai. A pretty arch bridge connects across an expanse of green paddy fields, which opens up to the gushing Tyrshi falls thundering down to the Pynthor (paddy-fields) below. A winding footpath offering a breathtaking and panoramic view of the Pynthor Nein, eases your trek down to the bottom of the falls, which glides down like milk over a vertical drop.
#Jarain_Pitcher_Plant_Lake. Made a pitstop at the lake to see the Pitcher plants. The location of the lake and scenic beauty is mind blowing, but didn’t find one pitcher plant except for a statue of the plant in the middle of the lake.
#Krang_Suri_Waterfalls. Krang Suri is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the West Jaintia Hills District. It is located in the Amlarem Civil Sub Division. To transform the place into a tourists destination the District Administration has initiated steps to construct Chisseled and graveled footpaths and view points to enable visitors to better appreciate the beauty of the waterfall and its surroundings. It involves about 1 km of moderate offroading, and walking down some steep stairs for about ten minutes (and climbing up for 20 minutes). Some more water would have been great, but then monsoon must be the time for that.
#Road_Shnangpedang. The road about 15 km from the Bangladesh border has literally one million trucks carrying limestone for export to Bangladesh, but the trucks were all disciplined and lined to the left which doesn’t actually affect a motorcyclist, just that one has to be a bit extra careful. The last 2 km to Schnangpedang has got absolute broken roads, slowing you down a bit, but it’s nothing problematic.
#Schnangpedang_on_Umngot_River. Nestled along the banks of mesmerizing Umngot River and just 10 kms away from Dawki, Shnongpdeng is blessed with a topography that beckons nature lovers to enjoy camping, angling, rock climbing, scuba diving and trekking. The crystal clear water, the continuous chirping of birds, the easy flow, the campsite all add up to the beauty of the place making it almost surreal.
We were guests with #Balisha .. a stunningly beautiful girl around 23 years of age, about six months pregnant and speaking clear Sylheti Bengali. She along with her assistant #Ricky took care of our tentage, dinner with Maggi, some Cola and snacks for our Riverside Old Monk sojourn. If I was not already married and with kids, I would have surely wooed Balisha to be my woman. A detailed hour long boatride along the river, followed by the Riverside camping, bonfire, chicken cooking, Old Monk and gupshup with a friend makes the journey worth a gem. Incidentally, the place has substantial Bangladeshi tourists too, it was nice speaking to them cross nationality.
#Thoughts. Money is worthless, if it cannot buy you experiences that you want to die with. A motorcycle, endless roads, mind blowing scenery, manageable food, a few beautiful women seen around, some Old Monk and meaningful conversation … And you have created your own personal heaven.
Jai Hind … Living Root Bridges call tomorrow.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya #Update_from_the_Road. At the #Nohkalikai_Falls. The young woman named Likai couldn’t bear her husband kill her daughter from her previous marriage and cook her to serve the baby as food. She leapt from the nearest cliff to end her life … So the name .. Nohka_Likai … #The_Leap_of_Likai … — at Nohkalikai Falls.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya (Day 6). 146 km, night stay in Nongriat village of the Double Decker Living Root Bridge. A day of Motorcycling on some excellent roads and walking walking and more walking in mountains. At this rate of walking, I’ll either become slim or just have my knee condemned.
#Setting_Out. Got up early around 0500 hr and immediately rushed to the riverside public toilet (Rs 10 for crapping) for morning ablution. It was surprisingly clean for a public to toilet.
#Tamabil_Indo_Bangladesh_Maitri_Gate. We rushed from the Schnangpedang camping site towards Dawki which is about 10 km. Before Dawki, we turned left to pay a quick visit to the Indo-Bangladesh border Friendship (Maitri) Gate. Around last one km road is terrible broken tarmac. Having seen Border gates many times before, this was good .. since another seeing never hurt anyone. Astronomical number of trucks yet, well disciplined and lined up to the left was more of a surprise than the border gate itself. Quick snapshot and off we go.
#Road_Dawki_Lyngkhat_Mawlynglong. One has to cross the beautiful Dawki Bridge (photography strictly not permitted) and continue on the Shillong axis. After around 10 km, take a left turn towards Lyngkhat and continue upto Mawlynlong. Roads are narrow and partially mountains and jungles, well tarmacked with a reasonably good run.
#Mawlynglong. “The Cleanest village of Asia” is definitely clean and beautiful, but don’t make a mistake, I have seen thousand more villages as clean and beautiful if not more. The tagline is more of a Tourism promo to attract more tourists. They are successful, and I am convinced that a middle class Bengali families of father mother in early thirties and a child; is pure nuisance. They see nothing, talk loudly continuously and nonsense and just irritates everyone around. Had the I’ll fate of seeing a few such Bengali families. The village as such is clean and beautiful with small memento shops and functional restaurant which gave us Maggi. Climbing the bamboo watch tower to see Bangladesh was a high point in Mawlynlong. The #Single_Root_Bridge climbing after a short 15 minutes walk was also a highlight of Mawlynlong.
#Road_Mawlynglong_Laitlyngkot_Sohra. Road up to Laitlyngkot was mesmerizing to say the least, consisting of wide serpentine, going through steep inclines and water sheds and was enjoyable. The road through good is not fast because of the terrain; one can do around 30-35 km in one hour.
#Road_Sohra_Tyrna. Road is extremely narrow, zig zag with lots of hairpin bends, absolutely broken and one might as well be very slow and cautious while negotiating it on a bike. It’s very doable though.
#Trek_Tyrna_Nogriat. 3500 steps, almost all steep stairs .. #Its_not_a_fuck .. #its_rape. I was exhausted, disgusted, tired but once committed, there’s no turning back. We were the only nearing 50 person on the route. It takes around 1hr 30 minutes of hell to climb down and up to Nongriat and I hear around 2 hr 30 minutes to climb back. I’m already panicking thinking of the trek back. If you are not fit … You’ll be screwed.
#Double_Decker_Living_Root_Bridge. The Pinnacle of living root bridge building happens in Nongriat. It’s a sight that leaves a lasting impression on your life. Our Khasi ancestors had taken the initiative of weaving the roots generation after generation and it took almost 800 years for the root Bridge to take shape. A marvel of human creativity and perseverance. This sight cannot be missed … But it comes at a cost … Physical exhaustion and pain.
#Thoughts. One needs to Physically Fit, Mentally Strong and Morally Upright to face any adversity or tough situation in life. All three are supreme human qualities achievable by free will. Lack of either will not let you be fulfilled.
We’ll see tomorrow what’s the next course of action. We might let go of the Rainbow Falls keeping in view of the the time plan and physical endurance part. After all Age cannot be fought … “The mind is willing, but the flesh is old”🙏. Old Monk retreat and sleep beckons. Jai Hind.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya (Day 7). 70 km, night stay in #Mawshmai_Village, Sohra (Cherrapunji). Again disturbed network. A day of trekking and sight seeing around Sohra
#Trek_Nongriat_Tyrna. Keeping in view of our overall aim of completing entire Meghalaya (the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Hills), and our age and fitness; it was essential to stick to time plan. We let go of the Rainbow Falls after deliberation, the Falls is not running away anywhere, will see it some other time. The trek back of 3500 stairs and this time it was a climb mostly was deliberate, exhaustive but manageable. We quickly got Moto ready again in Tyrna and set out for checking out Sohra.
#Sohra. Previously called #Cherrapunji, this subdivision off East Khasi Hill is set upon a plateau on the southern slopes of the state. An Eco friendly destination, Sohra is dotted with waterfalls cascading over deep gorges, swift rivers and torrential streams.
#Noh_Sngithian_Falls. Also called the #Seven_Sisters_Falls, our Homestay was bang opposite the Falls and the sight was from the windows to behold. The falls is more or less dry with only one fall active as of now, however the South Easterly rockface was a sight to be mesmerized.
#Ka_Khoh_Ramrah. Also called #Motrop, is an imposing single conical rock shaped like a up turned Khasi basket about 200 ft high. Legends say that it was a basket belonging to a giant who used to torture the locals. He was fed with rice mixed with iron shredding and nails and he died, leaving his basket upturned, which fossilized and turned to the massive stone. It’s definitely a wonder of nature.
#Mawkdok_Dympep_Velley. Close to Umtynagar, at the entrance point of the Sohra circuit where the deep gorges start featuring regularly, was a point of interest.
#Nohka_Likai_Falls. Really hauntingly beautiful, cascading from the top of the gorge to a green pool deep down into the abyss. The legend of Likai, a young mother leaping from there is already told to you all.
#Nongsawlia_Presbyterian_Church. The place where the first Welsh missionaries visited India; not only enriching the locals, but also Thomas Jones invented the Khasi Alphabet giving a new dimension to Khasi literature.
#David_Scott_Memorial_Stone. An obelisk made of Ashlar stone; the memorial pillar was erected in memory of David Scott who was an agent to the Governor General on the North-East Frontier during British period. Born in Scotland in CE 1786, David Scott worked in India in various capacities. He died on 20th August 1831 at the age of 45.
#Thoughts. Sohra presents itself as a sleepy dreamy town of yesteryears. There, time has stopped and has undergone a true meaningful intermingling of the foreign Welsh missionary culture and the traditional Khasi culture. In true intermingling enrichment happens .. it cannot happen when one faith superimposes on another, proclaiming supremacy and demanding followership. Tomorrow, some cave exploration, thereafter #West_Khasi_Hills calls; Jai Hind.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya (Day 8). 124 km, night stay in Nongstoin, West Khasi Hills, but not before some Cave Spelunking.
#Mawsmai_Cave. After a generous breakfast in our Sohra Homestay, we went about 500 metres from our Homestay in Mawsmai, the site of the most famous of all the caves in Meghalaya, the Mawsmai Caves. This cave has 2 parts, the old part which is lighted and the new part in which entry is restricted. Around 50 metres in total length, this cave can be a Spelunker’s delight. You can enter from one side and exit from the opposite site. The folded rockforms reminded me of prehistoric times, maybe times of dinosaur and cavemen. The large passages and natural chamber Halls are a delight to walk through. A few openings are narrow and low and a tight squeeze for guys like me who are built in generous proportions. I did bump my head badly once, but all’s good now. Claustrophobic people and people with breathlessness better stay away from such caves. On completion, I definitely felt like a David Scott myself.
#Road_Sohra_Shillong_Nongstoin. Words cannot describe the Road … I may use words like #pure_sex, #bikers_heaven, #dream_run etc. 120 km of only serpentine roads with unimaginable tarmac and scenery. What can I say … My birth is worthy, I am blessed that I could do and see this. No photo, no video can capture what I mean .. you have to see it and do it to understand it.
#Jadoh_Lunch. A quick fire lunch break in the roadside Jadoh (rice cooked in pork fat with some copious chunks of pork) was a welcome break.
#Nongstoin_Circuit_House. A call to the District Commissioner of West Khasi Hill got us two VIP guest rooms of the Circuit House. Dinner though was told initially not to be available, but the two friendly caretakers gave us a share of their food … Rice, butter, cabbage soup, pork curry and pickle of chillies; that perhaps is one of the best meals of my life.
#Thoughts. A Real Man (or Woman, gender irrelevant) must be prepared for all eventualities and face them happily and without complaint. Sometimes you get 5 star stay, sometimes just a tent, sometimes pork, sometime just Maggi. Face everything with a smile. In the words of Kipling …
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much”
The weather is packing up, change of the scheduled itirenary seems likely. #Garo_Hills calling tomorrow. #Jai_Hind.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya (Day 9). 232 km, night stay in #Tura, #East_Garo_Hills. A day of mind blowing #Riding_in_the_Rain.
#Setting_Out. Setting out from Nongstoin was at 0730 hrs. Constant drizzling shower was mainstream of the day, with gloomy overcast sky and strong chilling wind. Not to be held back, we decided to ride on. Out came the camouflage rain cape, and off we went.
#Road_Nongstoin_Tura. Newly laid tarmac, serpentine loops cutting across virgin mountains and forests. 232 km of only loops, reverse loops and hairpin bends. Though riding at good speed is possible, but the rain makes fresh tarmac slippery and visibility gets affected because of fog, cloud and rain … We did 232 kms in approximately 8 hrs including adequate breaks. In spite of cape, I was drenched to the core … The balls were shivering. But what a road … “GARO HILL NAHI KIYA, TO KYA BIKING KIYA ??”
#Night_Stay. We reached Tura around 4, and were guests of #Biker_Brother Salman Chiarapa …, a #HOG member, and member of #NH51_Rebels; in his Homestay adjoining his property .. #Balpakram_Homestay in New-Tura. We were bowled over by his hospitality, immediately on arrival. Warm water, extra room heater, coffee, drying arrangements etc, was more of his lookout than ours. He hosted the evening dinner and the highlight was the freshly caught tripe smoked, #Gominda_Wak (pork cooked in pumpkin) and some rice beer. Any Biker riding through Garo Hills must be his guest; otherwise you’ll miss out on goodness. Old Monk was not denied it’s place (fresh supply bought by my liaison from a deployed #Meghalaya_Police Battalion Canteen, deployed in a difficult place).
1. Enjoy the scorching sun, bone chilling cold, drenching rain … Thank God that He has given you the opportunity to ride in such unique condition. Be thankful, don’t complain.
2. Biker Brotherhood exists. You just have to reach out .. a hand will always be there to grab you.
Inclement weather makes exploring interior Garo Hills difficult, will be homeward bound tomorrow. Jai Hind.
#Mesmerizing_Meghalaya …#Back_home_safely 2720 km. Missed the kids.
1. Thanks Sandip Mukherjee (Bumbada) for yesterday’s Old Monk and Prabal Datta da for the exclusive Malda sweets (Didn’t even ask the cost guys … 😋, Taking them as gift from you guys).
2. Lost my phone in Farakka, it dropped along with the holder case from my mobile /gps stand in the massive Farakka bridge traffic bullshit. Couldn’t even go back because of the hullabaloo. It was a new phone … #sad.(used Khushi s phone now) Thinking of the option of Not even buying a smartphone and get rid of the smartphone lifestyle … not sure though.
Thank you all guys for being with me all along the journey. Blessed to have friends like you all. Ending the series herewith. #Jai_Hind
ওরা একসাথেই ছিল বারো দিন, ওরা একসাথেই দৌড়োতো, একসাথেই তেল কাদা বৃষ্টি খেতো… একদমই নিজেদের মধ্যে লড়াই করতো না… মনে হয় ওদের কেউ বলেই দেয়নি যে লড়তে হবে… মানুষগুলোই শালা হারামি – হাতি পালো – হাইপাররাইডিং – রামরহিম- বাবরি মসজিদ বলে লড়তে থাকে। আসলে কিন্তু বিভেদ নেই – শুধুই কুচুটেপনা। মোটরসাইকেল দোস্তি দীর্ঘজীবি হোক।