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#19 – Amritsar & Atari

Travel with Henry > All adventures > #19 – Amritsar & Atari

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the local story – what happened

The last day of Kumbh Mela – to join the main day of celebrations –  was my actual intention for coming to India again. To get at best in time to the fair ground, it has been necessary to spend the night close to Ujjan before. Indore, a city with over 3 millions of inhabitants 50km south of Ujjain, seemed to be the best place to stay, because we’d still a couple of days left before this huge event would take place. We decided to stay in a better Hotel – an Indian luxury Hotel – than we did before, 3 days relaxing should not be the worst thing. Having excellent meals on a daily base and moving as less as possible should help us to recharge our batteries – before we would plunge again in this bubbling cauldron at Ujjain.

It was also a perfect opportunity, to whip the bike into shape again. The last weeks has been very exhausting for men and machine. My rear Tyre was tilting again, so we’d to find the next Royal Enfield shop. I thought it will take maybe 2 or 3 hours to fix this problem – as it did last time. The shock was deeply felt, as I was told that the problem was caused by a broken frame. The previous owner has had obviously an accident before and he just welded the frame. The frame was broken on a hidden part – he did’t mention it and I haven’t seen it during my technical acceptance test. On due to the forces generated on our off-road stages, it broke at the same place again.

To weld it again made no sense, to do nothing would mean to jeopardize my life. The first information I got was like this: I would have to wait for about 10 days to get a new frame – this would be the delivery time ex works – there is currently no frame on stock available. After ensuring forcefully that this waiting period would be out of question for me and I would ride – if necessary – to the next bigger city to get a frame – they succeeded in a wondrous way to get a brand-new one within hours.

16 man-hours, a new frame, a new swing arm and the change of some other smaller parts were burden my budget with 18.000 INR again. Approximately 250,- € – about a quarter of the purchase price. I’d to spend including this incident around 30.000 INR for maintenance and fixings up to this point. This costs are normally part of every journey on a Royal Enfield, everything was expected except this tiresome broken frame. Of course it is annoying – on the other hand it was a lucky coincidence to notice this serious problem already in Indore. For the following stages we were moving toward mountain areas, the roads get worst and the burden for man and machine increases. If the frame would break in the middle of nowhere, I would have had to face additional problems apart of the risk of injuries.

The broken frame got cuttet and sold as scrap metal, for the princely revenues it was able to buy 4 bottles of beer – this great event had to be celebrated.

Shortly before we wanted to depart to Kumbh Mela, the 2nd Studd got sick. So I’d to start alone at midnight towards Ujjain. Further information to this event you can get on my blog post to Kumbh Mela.

On the way north we’d to stop for 2 days in Agra – Nigel wanted to visit the probably most famous Indian tourist  attraction – Taj Mahal. I’d seen it before and on contrary to many other sights in India, Taj Mahal is totally overrated for me. It’s enough been there once in a lifetime.

In Delhi it was possible to change my heavily dented front wheel – my favorite mechanic was pleased about my visit and an additional income again. Spare parts like wheels or rims are also in India so cheap, that it is even in this country not economical anymore, to repair it.

The way from Indore to Amritsar is far and exhausting. Approximately 1.500km in this extreme heat are despite this short breaks in Agra and Delhi no trifling matter. Shortly before the big rain starts, the drought reaches its peak, the meager landscape appears bleaker than it does normally. At noon, during the greatest heat, the most trucker (and biker as we did) were having rest in one of this numerous restaurants or tea stalls beside the roads. AC is not available in this cheap, old trucks.

The lunch break is appreciated for having time to repair the own vehicle at the car-park in front of the restaurant. This young mechanics (still kids) using a very simple tool-set were struggling with a heavy gear box.

It has not always to be a traditional Indian restaurant – especially at the suburbs of bigger cities you can find quite often branches of  international food chains, e.g. McDonalds or Burger King. All of them are well appointed with AC and a welcomed change in our diet. Hindus are not allowed to eat beef, therefore you only can get chicken burger.

Amritsar, the capital of the Indian state of Punjab has about 1,2 mio inhabitants. The very impressive landmark is called Harmandir Sahib – the golden Tempel. It is the most important sanctuary of Sikh-religion. The most of about 27 mio Sikhs are living in Punjab – the shrine is coated by gold leaf and surrounded by an artificial lake. For all the Sikh-pilgrims ist ist important, to have their spiritual purification in this lake.

Amritsar is about 30km away from Pakistan border. I’d to cross this border before and of course I’d visited the golden Temple too. The border crossing point Atari is prominent for its flag parade and its unique ceremony of changing the guards. India and Pakistan are performing there daily a very lively ceremonial competition. This spectacle starts every day in the evening at 6pm, when the checkpoint gets closed till next morning. Thousands of spectators attracted by this event have to queue up for hours to get in to the parade ground. It’s a big benefit beeing a western tourist – all of us were treated like VIP’s and guided alongside this endless queue of domestic visitors directly into the Centre of this massive spectacle. There are always more people queuing up then ever would fit in – hundreds, maybe thousands of them were sent out again – they’d to come back on an other day trying their luck again. The atmosphere was like in an fully occupied football stadium – whips where livening up the crowd with music, slogans and drum rolls.

Now we are heading towards the mountains – now should start the thrilling part of our motorbike-tour.

Cu soon

Henry

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