Saturday, 26 July 2014

The stampeding Hindu’s

So how was I to know I was entering the "Gatway to God" and the biggest festival of the year in Haridwar? Oops! 

The Kanwar Yatra is an annual pilgrimage in the name of the Hindu god Shiva. The devotees leave their hometowns either on foot, by bike, motorbike or truck and head for Haridwar to collect holy water from the river Ganges which they then carry back to their hometowns. Since the 1990s the festival has gained a massive following and now attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from the surrounding states. 

Wikipedia states
During festivals, Haridwar is packed to bursting and beyond. Stampedes are a regular occurrence, with 21 killed in 2003 and 5 killed in 2010; the bridges across the Ganges are the most dangerous spot.

Friday, 25 July 2014

3 mountain passes, two river crossings and a landslide!

Sarchu
Getting to Manali was was an adventure! This highway is only open for about 4 months of the year and the average elevation is more than 13,000feet (4,000 m). It is 17,480ft at its highest point at Tanglang La mountain pass. Day 1 started fairly well. I made the Rohtang pass with no real problems. It was a stunning ride with plenty of dirt tracks and breathtaking views. Particularly riding through the Moore plains which is surrounded by stunning natural rock formations.  After about 8 hours of riding I made it to a small settlement in Sarchu where I found my tent for the night. It was pretty cold here at around 15,000 feet but I had plenty of blankets and a good dinner to keep me warm. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

The highest motorable road in the World

Arriving in Leh was a bit of a disappointment to start with. It was full of cars and tourists and dust and noise. Not what I had expected at all. I climbed to the top of town where it was a little quieter and found a place to stay. 

Wondering around I found the place to be very friendly but just a little too many tourists for me. It was full of shops selling the usual trinkets and people on hire bikes who skidded every time they stopped (lack of understanding of how the breaks work!) and revved far too often just for the thrill of the noise! I understand the buzz but found them annoying in such large numbers!

I decided to head out of town and hit the Khardung La pass. The highest motorable road in the world. It would take me two days to complete the 300km round trip and would take me up to 18,380 feet. An interesting challenge for both myself and Rhonda. 

Monday, 14 July 2014

Taking the high road

Street kids in Kargil
It was a relief to be alone again and with a slight drop in temperature, all at once I felt like a new woman. My energy was back and my desire to ride had returned.
(See video diaries for how it went riding with the group)

That night, in Srinager I treated myself to slightly more than basic hotel and enveloped myself in soft pillows and a working shower. I even had sky telly and room service! It was luxury and I made the most of it.


Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Meeting the Sikh's

So heat exhaustion or not I was feeling a little stronger today and I was going to give it a go and see if I could make it over to Amritsar in Punjab. The Mecca for all Sikhs. This is where the famous golden temple lies. Sikhs make up just 2.5% of India’s population. Hindu being the main religion at 60% then Muslim at 30% and the final 7.5% is made up of the rest. Sikhs are easy to spot as they all wear turbans and it was clear as I entered Punjab that this is where most of that 2.5% lived. The closer I got to Amritsar it became an overwhelming majority of the population.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

What goes up....

Sorry for the radio silence. It has been a crazy week. To call it a roller coaster week would not do it justice! A roller coaster pales by comparison to the ups and downs of my ride in India.

Feeling pretty rough right now. The last 1500 miles has been hard riding and despite resting up as often as possible, it seems to be taking it's toll.
There have been some amazing moments along the way though that have made it all worthwhile.