Nepal : An adventure ride across Nepal

     When I traveled to Sikkim is when I first got the idea of riding across Nepal. At that point it was raining cats and dogs in Sikkim and heard the same conditions in Nepal as well therefore decided will do later. After a lot of research, I fixed the trip for mid-January 2020 because it was the peak of winter which meant a lot of snow on the road and so more fun, danger and adventure 

     I am not a big fan of riding the highway simply because I don't enjoy it, therefore I shipped the motorcycle to Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh through road transport and I took a flight.

TIP: Gorakhpur airport is an air force base so DO NOT take any pictures after getting down from flight till you exit the airport else your phone will be confiscated.

I was in touch with another group (Wanderers from Hyderabad) who were traveling to Nepal but they had a different itinerary but tagged along so that we can ride together for some time. 

Day 1 : Gorakhpur

     We landed at Gorakhpur, airport and checked into a hotel. It was a crazy ride because we were 5 + 1 drive of us with a lot of luggage in 1 Auto rickshaw (Tuk Tuk) got rid of our luggage and went straight to the Transport vendor to collect the Motorcycle.

     After collecting the motorcycle we decided to visit the famous Gorakhpurnath temple to get the blessings of Lord Shiva and spent the night at a shady room. We started towards Sunauli which is the town between India and Nepal where you need to obtain Visa Bansal for your motorcycle which is a permit for you to ride in Nepal. We reached Sunauli by 12 pm and it took us 4 hours to get the documents done it was not crowded in fact it was empty I still wonder why did it take such a long time. 

    Our plan was to ride to Pokhara and halt but due to this delay, we headed to closer Lumbini. Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, visited the remains of once Buddha's house from 3 BC it's fascinating to find something from 3rd BC is still kept intact to some extent. My bike already tasted some slush since the road was skiddy and full of slush.

Day 2 : Lumbini to Pokhara

     Visited Lumbini early morning since they open at 5 am I was there by 7. You can actually go the exact place where Buddha was born and it so quiet I took a moment to sit down and meditate. It's a very big garden where you can spend the whole day loitering I took some really good pictures and went around for an hour before starting towards Pokhara.

     Started riding towards Pokhara around 9 am and we came across 2 options - the First option was to take the highway complete tarmac roads and reach faster and the second option was to take the off-road which took more time but scenic and we took the off-road for an obvious reason :)

     Reached Pokhara around 8 pm road was treacherous but we enjoyed it all way along. The next day we had to take the permit to visit Muktinath so we took a room close by to the permit office, at the corner of Lake in Pokhara. Pokhara is a beautiful place but I planned to go around Pokhara at last since my first priority was Muktinath.

Day 3 : Pokhara to Beni

     Idea was to reach Kagbeni which is just 10 km away from Muktinath but didn't even make it halfway. Started early and headed to permit office by the time all formalities were done it was 12 pm. We started towards Kagbeni and had our lunch on the way. We visited Kusma where we got a chance to ride on one of the world's tallest hanging bridge OMG this was out of the world experience.

     We spent too much time here since only one motorcycle can cross at a time and there was oncoming traffic as well. It was almost dusk by the time we started and terrain was getting bad with lots of slush and hardly any street lights. Google map started behaving funny by leading us to dead ends at few places this was the sign that we were venturing into roads less travelled :) We were able to reach only till Beni by 8 pm temperature was almost 1-degree Celsius I could feel the chill. We found a room and spent the night in Beni. The night was extremely chilly I was wearing 2 thermals, fleece jacket but still, it was very cold when checked the temperature it was -7 damn first time I was exposed to such extreme. 

Day 4 : Beni to Lete

     As usual, started early 7ish so that I can reach Kagbeni which is just around 90 km and google map says 6 hours so if you do the math you should reach comfortably by 3 pm with breakfast and lunch break right? Wrong google maps does not consider the roadblocks due to work, landslides and a lot of unforeseen events which you will face for sure on these roads. From Beni, it was totally off-road but view was getting better and better.

 We reached close to Lete and got caught in roadblock due to landslide 3 cranes were working to clear, we waited for 2+ hours it was around 5 pm temperature started to drop close to Zero. How do I know? tips of the fingers start to freeze and pain, that's the sign you need to get indoor since riding gloves are no good any more. Luckily found a house near the roadblock we requested if we can stay and they agreed for a price. This is a basic room - you open the door there is just bed and size of the room is as big as the bed but just a roof and wall around you is luxury here :)

Day 5 : Lete to Kagbeni

 Got up at 6 am and started early as usual came out and started loading the luggage which takes 10-15 mins. In that 15 mins, my fingers started to freeze literally and started paining and it's unbearable this is the sign of frostbite and if you immediately don't take care it that part of your body gets frostbitten and only solution is to amputate. So I immediately ran into the kitchen and kept my hand inside a burning firewood and I could not feel the fire even a little for at least 5 seconds. We sat for a while and warmed up, wore additional thermals under glove and started riding within 2 km away again I got the frostbite but now I don't have anywhere to go for fire but I had my Silencer which was Hot :) I removed my glove and held the silencer which heated my hand for a while quickly started riding again searching for a place to sit in front of fire we came across a Nala (river crossing) I started to cross only to realise the water was knee-deep unfortunately freezing water went into my riding boots. Now my feet were freezing along with hands luckily within 10 mins we found a small restaurant which was just opening, ran into the restaurant and sat in front of the fire. Removed the shoe and started to dry it by holding it on top of the fireplace. Decided we will not go until the temperature is above zero and stayed at the hotel had our breakfast and started at 10 am when the cold was bearable. 

Lete

    I started Solo then got together with a group of 10, at Lumbini we became 4 since others got delayed due to late-night party and from Pokhara, we were 2 since other 2 were in hurry and from Lete I was solo again since the other guy wanted to go faster due to time constrain. Riding solo is very enjoyable because you can do everything at your pace. Views were getting spectacular and roads pathetic which was perfect for me to shoot some drone shots.

    From here, I was able to ride around 7 or 8 km per hour maximum. Stopped at many places took pictures, few places are worth just sit and glare at it for a while, the best part is if you like a view you just stop and put your bike on center stand in the middle of the road and relax because there is no traffic both ways all you hear is wind gushing, bird chirping, the sound of leaves and river flowing.

    Enjoyed the whole way crossed the famous Marpha which is trekkers paradise and later Jomsom where I had my lunch and started towards Kagbeni

    Once you leave Jomsom you enter start getting the actual feel of Mustang valley, absolutely no one around you for as far as you can see its just barren brown mountains, valley and river.

On the way, I found a hanging bridge that was very tempting to ride but it was leading to a mountain on the other side which had only a small pathway to walk therefore I went and inspected if I can take  U-turn once I reach the end of the bridge. It was a tight spot but I was confident I could do it. started riding on the bridge which was amazing at the end I stopped and clicked the above picture and spent some time just sitting there. Just before leaving I parked the bike at the start of the bridge and wanted to take a few more pictures, it was a tight spot somehow managed to park and get down. Took few pictures and suddenly bike few off on the bridge

Had to offload all the luggage and pick the pick luckily everything went fine and reached Kagbeni around 5 pm and started at Shangri-la hotel. The temperature was -1 at 5 pm went around Kagbeni and started preparing for the last leg of my destination "Muktinath".

Day 6 : Muktinath

Today is D-day, last leg to the destination and the most difficult terrain. Started early around 8 am the temperature was -1.1

The plan was to ride for 4-5 km and from that point take a horse or trek to Muktinath temple. Started riding immediately found most of the road is covered with ice and the tires just won't grip no matter what somehow managed to ride for 4 km and later found the whole road is covered with black ice. I tried to ride and immediately the front wheel lost traction and I dropped the bike.

There were few drivers who came and helped me pick my motorcycle, luckily I walked out without any major injuries. Now 2 wheels were out of the question to travel further and I was left with 2 options either trek or take a horse ride for the rest of 7 km. I choose horse because I met a couple of professional trekkers who could not make it to the top due to steep ascent and altitude. Thus meet my ride "Sherpa" 

     Next 4 hours Sherpa took me through a narrow uphill ride towards Muktinath temple. This was one of the most amazing rides of my life where snow was covered all around me and picture-perfect panoramic view. No words can explain the feeling. Some of the breathtaking images below 

     After 4 hours ride, we reached the temple where you can find lord Vishnu in the avatar of "Muktinath". The legend says one who visits this temple is blessed with "Moksha" your soul attains salvation and never be born again.

     Spent more than 2 hours at the temple it was so peaceful, serene and beautiful. Everything around me was frozen and knees deep snow. Took some spectacular drone videos and a lot of pictures. Had head back because temperatures starts to fall below -10 with an hour of sunset and we had 4 hours long ride back. JUmped right back on my friend Sherpa for the ride back. 

WIP - Will complete it shortly

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