Narmada river is one of the biggest rivers in India. This westbound river mainly flows through Madhya Pradesh and Gujraat States creating life and wealth where ever it flows. In Hindu culture, Narmada or Rewa considered washing the sins of Hindus much before Bhagiratha brought Ganga on earth. Along with ancient heritage sites like Bhimbetka, where you can see prehistoric stone paintings and Tigers from Kanha National park, Narmada hosts many holy places like divine Temples and serene ghats such as Jabalpur, Amarkantak, Omkareshwar, Hoshangabaad, Harda, Maheshwar etc.
Since ancient times, sadhus have circumambulated this holy River starting and ending at the same point crossing dense rain forests, hills, deserts and swamps by feet. It is considered as one of the hardest pilgrimage in the world.
Rules for performing Narmada Parikrama:
The one who undertakes Parikrama is called as Parikramavasi.
During Narmada Parikrama, Parikramavasi must not cross the river, even he should not go to the islands also.
The main object of Narmada Parikrama is not only to complete a adventurous and spiritual journey but also to clean the garbage hidden within us. So every Parikramavasi should try to speak true, maintain mental satisfaction at all the time and behave good to all and worship NARMADA MATA at every morning and evening.
During Narmada Parikrama Parikramavasi should always try to walk by the side of the river NARMADA and walk taking the river at his right hand. He should not go very far from the river, but due to geographical cause none can do so. If any Parikramavasi become bound to go far from the holy river NARMADA, he should worship the water taken from the holy river in pot.
During Narmada Parikrama, Parikramavasi should walk bare footed and must not carry food for more than two days in advance. He should carry his own luggage himself. No carrier or labor is allowed to help him.
Parikramavasi should always repeat the word ‘REWA’ during journey in his mind or he may repeat any other name of God as per his own choice.
During Narmada Parikrama, Parikramavasi passes a lot of temples and religious places. He should visit the temples and religious places and worship the God or Goddess as much as possible. Try to increase dependence over the mother ‘NARMADA’.
In rainy season and in summer, Narmada Parikrama remains close and Parikramavasi should stay at one place. He should worship Narmada mata every morning and evening and try to repeat the word ‘REWA’ in mind as much as possible during this period.
But Adwait, why Parikrama?
Don’t really need a reason but here are few-
Because I am in India right now.
Currently unemployed with master’s degree from reputed US university.
Living with parents and managed to stay away from any real world mature responsibilities so far.
Read many blogs and books about how hard Narmada Parikrama is and people actually die attempting this. So, yeah, I like adventure.
It may help me with my narcissism and shallow atheism.
Preperation for the Journey:
Got few short trips on bicycle around Pune. If you are doing this, Katraj ghat and sinhgad are best options. Heavy traffic and sharp ascents are there to test your stamina. Also, I did one way loaded trip from pune to Ellora caves (about 350 kilometers) for which I will write in some other page. I recently had purchased Merida Matts 15 bike which is super cool for someone like me. As this bike was new, I spent few days on it just to get comfortable on new saddle. But the main part is mental preparation and not so much physical as you may think.
As I have read many books, one book particularly helped me a lot. It is Narmade Har Har Narmade By Arun Limaye. Its in Marathi with detailed description of the places and things to do. He has even provided his Pune Address for guidance. Thank you Limaye Ji for the help. Route mapping was mostly done on google maps and from some other websites.
As I primarily will stay in Motels, there was no need of tent and I think in these parts, its not even safe to stay in tents. There are plenty of bicycle shops in this area, as similar to any part of rural India, so, I avoided taking major bike parts.
Merida Matts 15 Bike, Btwin Carrier, Btwin hardshell Carrier Case, Btwin small handlebar bag, One extra tube, Gear wire, Multi allen keys, Flat repair kit with patches and glue, Basic cycling computer, Headlamp, Phone (Nokia 105, can survive Nuclear holocaust), ipod touch, Sony7.1 cybershot with chargers, Drivers license, Wallet with ATM, Amazon Moskito hammock with straps(never used it though), One small piece of blanket, Thermal, One bicycle short, one gym short with hidden pocket sowed by my mother, Two jerseys, one night pant and shirt, Cap, Gloves, two pairs of socks, one flint fire starter , dog tag and a knife (yeah, I am Bear Grills Fan), Goggle with straps
Toiletries-small soap, insect repellent, small toothpaste, toothbrush, muscle relaxant gel
Medicines: Crosin, combiflame, Relent, Roxid and my survival kit.
Indore to Omkareshwar 81.2 Kilometers
Left hotel at six in the morning. After a while, I stopped at one cart for Poha. Poha was cold, but with shev, it was tasty and sweet. Continued further towards Omkareshwar. There were in-numerous autonomous universities over the outskirts of Indore city. Indore Omkareshwar road is scenic and beautiful. Especially the ghat area is too good to ride. But after that, trees were hard to spot as I approach toward more civilized area. Now, cloud cover was lifted and sun started to burn me. Almost no shade for thirty kilometers till Mortakka Mundi road. You shall find a turn for Omkareshwar over there and again, after few paddles, TADA!! Green again.
Reached Omkareshwar at one. Straightaway, I went to Madhya Pradesh tourism hotel, which was expensive for someone like me. Being tired and disappointed, I started walking towards village; I asked one guy about hotel, he was working for one. He took me there and after bit of negotiation, for 300 bucks, I got the room with cooler and TV. Lucky me. Dumped my luggage at room, and ate Paratha in a hotel. In this area, they do not provide curd with Paratha. After asking, the guy said we don’t have it. Anyhow, I ate just a masala Paratha and went ahead to the Panchayat office. Douche bag government employee over there said they stopped providing certificates for Parikramavasi. These people will kill their children actually if they can avoid work for an hour. Anyways, while walking towards south shore, I stumble upon two Brahmins. I told them about my Parikrama, they asked for 251 bucks to perform a Parikrama ritual. After swimming for couple of minutes, went to the Temple after purchasing flowers and other ritual items from one lady. There was a heavy crowd of devotees within temple. It was just like any of the temples in India. Crowded, smelly, dirty and pundits taking advantage of spiritually overwhelmed tourists, especially middle aged and old women. After ten fifteen minutes of unexplainable chanting, he explained me how Parikrama shall be done, asked me for more 250 bucks for giving to five kumarikas(unmarried girls). Carrying Prasad and flowers, and wondering whether any of these kumarikas will ever get my donation, I went back to my room. Rest of the day was pretty uneventful until I got pissed on myself for losing my awesome Gloves. Fuck.
Omkareshwar to Khargon 83 Kilometers
Left Omkareshwar littlebit late. Waste half an hour searching for gloves but nothing. Anyways, went further ahead, took a left after four kilometers. There are peanut and Jawar fields everywhere. You can hardly spot a tree which is not an Acacia. Problem with it is, it has thrones which will defiantly give you a flat. To avoid this, you need to avoid taking a break under such trees. It’s eleven now and sun is acting insanely. Feels like I’m riding on mars instead of earth. Temperature must be in its late fifties waiting for the retirement and to collect social security cheques. Meanwhile, I decided not to take a break and push myself to the destination. Seems like it was a mistake. One should never paddle in red hot son with empty stomach. Taking a break when your body tells you is crucial. After pushing in crazy sun, I was feeling dehydrated and forced to take breaks thrice in last half an hour. After I reached Khargon, start searching for motel. One motel was expensive, went for another, got room with TV for three hundred bucks. Took a bath with cold water, feeling reborn. Went out for Paratha. Came home with water and sodas. I was feeling dehydrated for a bit, so for the whole evening, I tried to replenish my fluids and salts. Took a rest for a bit and after sun was down, roamed here there for a while, shop for some supplies and then went for eating. I think Maharashtra is the most freaking expensive state in India with poorest quality of basic needs provided by state government. Here, food was so cheap, I got unlimited Thali for sixty bucks (which was super tasty). Felt ashamed to live in Maharashtra. Anyhow, came to my room, decided route with father and went to bed. I stumble upon new Mahabharata, broadcasting on star plus. Despite of those weird animated sets, and television soap rapist playing the role of Bhishma, it was still good. I was feeling pretty tired, so went to sleep early.
Khargon to sendhwa 103.25 Kilometers
Yesterday, I was feeling a bit of dehydrated, so today, I planned my breaks accordingly. I took more than usual time to pack my stuff and to get prepared. After peddling for few minutes, I reached bust stand, where naturally I ate poha with shev. One of these days, I think I will be done with these and there will be nothing left for me to eat. I quench my thirst with mineral water while shopkeeper and some other quench theirs by asking bazillion questions. Somewhere near segaon, in village Oon,I saw an excellent and very ancient temple of lord Shiva, protected by a heinous new age stone wall. Temple was destructed, but still its excellent craftsmanship was not hidden in the ruins. Gate was closed but as I approached, caretaker opened gate for me (like angels opening the gates of heaven showed in movies) and welcomed me in. There were sculptures of unknown gods and goddesses. Mesh carving on window was simply amazing. As I snapped few photos, caretaker came running prohibiting me to take any pictures. Till then, I already had what I wanted. You can fool around as you are not married- said caretaker after thoroughly enquiring about my journey and I left from there. There are few more of these temples around which need care taking and further historical study. I think we Indians are waiting for foreigners to come here and shoot the documentary after doing research on these group of shrines. Took a break after couple of hours and rehydrated myself. Then paddle until I came to julwania, where I ate two Parathas and daal as owner said they don’t give just one Paratha and as usual there was no curd. It was a regular dhaaba named raajtilak. I was shocked how many truck drivers drink beer and other liquor just before they are about to drive. That explains reckless driving and road kills in India. These uneducated truck drivers simply don’t care or unable to think about their consequences that may emerge from their irresponsible behavior. After resting till 12:30, I was on saddle again and took left on Mumbai Agra highway. I do have mixed feeling about these national highways. They are good for smooth riding, but there will be no shade at all. After riding for an hour in legendary sun, I came across the largest custom depot I have ever seen. There were at-least twenty lanes working at a time. There were hundreds of trucks parked in that area. It was like star wars empire capital with all of the spaceships hovering around. After a while, I had to take a break as there was a tree near place called Gayatri dhaam eleven kms before Saindhwa. After couple of minutes and rehydration, I was on my saddle again. Took right leaving Mumbai Agra back, I reached Saindhwa. Went to first hotel called prince hotel. Got room for 200 bucks with TV. Called parents as I’ve reached here safely. In the evening, I ate couple of Parathas, and went to sleep early. Suddenly at eleven, I was awaken by irritating frequency of mixed sounds. Firstly, I thought there was a bomb blast or something, but then realize there was Ganesh visarjan (Last days of Ganesh, where Ganesh idols are immersed in water) pared in the town. For me, I would have preferred bomb blast over this. Apparently, this village seemed to be very fond of communal Ganesh. There were Hindi and Marathi songs everywhere in loud frequencies. This continued till five o clock in the morning. As being tired, I slept through that like Edward Norton sleeping after his first cancer meeting in fight club.
Sendhwa to taloda 107 Kilometers
Woke up at five thirty, got ready and started paddling through all Ganesh devotees who were still high on last night’s Ganesh visarjan. Sendhwa streets were covered in an inch thick layer of blue and red color. While passing through all that dusty pollution and avoiding tired Ganesh devotees, I felt like I was in one of the episodes of walking dead dodging slow moving zombies. I reached to segaw where I ate (guess what?) poha again. Road till here was ok. But after this, the road was complete disaster for cars. Road was going through a dense forest and there was no sign of human touch over there. But for MTB, I could not ask for more. Rode was perfect for bicycle as other few motorized vehicles were struggling to get control, I was ruling this road. Wide dirt road with crystal clear streams crossing them, dense forest, cool breezes and different birds chirping around. What else you need to bike? Life gifted me with such awesomeness after yesterday’s harassment I guess. Soon, road safety boards were in Marathi and road condition descended from bad to worse, I figured I must have crossed Maharashtra state boarder. This time, I did not forget to take a break at noon. After chilling under a huge tamarind tree for almost an hour, I decided to get going. While taking couple of occasional breaks, I reached Shahada at around 1:30. Decided to go further towards taloda in the mid afternoon. Never doing it again for few couple of kilometers. Stayed at the first lodge I saw, paid 400 for room with tv and generator which came in handy later. Locked my bike with two chains downstairs. Will see what happens to it tomorrow. I was already sleepy as I ate, came to motel, spoke with manager. I asked about security of my bike, It turned out that the owner was some MNS political leader. Manager said, no one will dare to steal anything from this place and if stolen, it will be returned in half an hour at max. Unable to give reaction and unable to pick from whether be happy for me or to be sad for my country on his statement, I went to sleep. Adwait OUT.
Taloda to dediapada 73.60 Kilometers
I was feeling kind of tired today. I guess that’s what happens if you wake up before 4:30 in the morning. Totally new to the experience. Anyways, road up-to Gujarat boarder was absolute nightmare. Debris and potholes everywhere. As if that wasn’t enough, each time truck passes, you shall have free dust bath form the exhaust. But sun was behaving like a star and not like a complete jackass this day. As I crossed Maharashtra boarder, I prayed namo namah; and TADA, road became better and better as I move further. Soon, I was stopped by an gentlemen at custom booth. The guy was cool, offered me refreshments, he wanted to do something like that, but being too old now, he cannot do it, he confessed as we chat for a while. He asked me whether I want some tea, coffee or money. Money? Are you serious? Surprised, I thankfully decline and went further ahead. Paddling some more fifteen kilometers, I came across Sadavart Annachhatra ashram. There, I spoke to one Baal brahmachari maharaj. He had completed Narmada Parikrama twice on foot, first one in just eighty four days. He told me that as being in chaturmasa (monsoon season), I will be unable to get ferry to cross sea. The Ferris are operated by government after chaturmasa. I have to decide whether to break Parikrama or wait for chaturmasa to end. He even offered me a space and food in his ashram until chaturmas ends rather than to break the Parikrama. As being on tight schedule, (actually true reason is me being one more moth away from home will be so appreciated by my parents, they might ask me to move out) I decided to go ahead and cross Narmada River by its last bridge nearby Baruch. I thanked maharaj and left his ashram being a bit disappointed. But some good songs can completely change your mood. After few flo rida, Robby Williams, Eminem, Bryan Adams and other songs, I was pumped up again. Some patches were still bad, but compare to Maharashtra road, they were landing stripes. After few beautiful lavish green hills, I reached dediapada where I found out there was no hotel nearby. As I asked one guy, he recommended government guest house. Being impressed by my tour, one Marathi guy came to show me and negotiate for me with government rest house manager. He finally agreed to give me room for a night. The room was pretty awesome. White sheets, two fans, big ass bathroom with tube lights. I went out looking for a decent hotel to eat. As I asked for it in Sant Jalaram ashram, sadhumaharaj welcomed me, asked me (actually ordered me) to get freshen up. Until I was getting freshen up, he put a big dish in front of me. Five rotis, half kilo bhindi subzi (Okra) and a kilo rice and half a liter of thick daal was there in front of me as Maharaj said, bhojan pao. I was speechless. I have red many blogs and books about this hospitality near Narmada bank, but was experiencing for first time. Without thinking, I attacked on food. As I hardy could finished my food, maharaj was asking if I want more. After super heavy lunch, maharaj asked me to stay for a night over there. As being a city mouse, I was over-proud to ask for that. I told him that I am going further ahead. He asked me whether I want some money and also asked that did I ran away from home or something. Maharaj gave me his card and I paddle away form that ashram rapidly before he can do some more favors on me that day. Kinda feel bad though for hiding about my stay in government facility. I don’t know why exactly I did that. I guess city guy within me is not so used of people being nice to him without some hidden agendas or intentions. City life and cut throat competition has made us insecure and not able to trust anybody. Anyway, came to facility, locked my bike, and wondering about its safety, started preparing for next day as I will be heading towards Baruch.
Dediapada to Bharuch 82.5 Kilometers
As there were no facility for crossing the sea by boat, I am going towards Bharuch to cross Narmada river. Woke up at five, got prepared, gave 160 bucks to government caretaker and went ahead. Road was pretty ok. Occasional cloud cover helped a bit. While taking occasional food and hydration breaks, reached Baruch. Last bridge on the river Narmada is narrow. But photogenic. As soon as my camera got out, police started shouting not to take photograph. They think, this poor display of power drip shall prevent Pakistan from bombing us. Feeling irritated, I went ahead and crossed that brilliant one and half kilometer bridge. Went for motel hunting, got one for four hundred bucks. I think I could have searched more for cheaper options. Went out to have a Gujarat map, but I guess these Guajarati people don’t believe much in maps. Maps can be found nowhere. Pretty uneventful day for cycling. Slept early as I shall head towards Dabhoi.
Baruch to baroda 80.97 Kilometers
Rained all night and it was still raining when I woke up. I got prepared and waited for half an hour. It was still raining lightly with cloud cover when I left motel. Getting directions form bunch of people, got on freeway towards Ahmadabad. Few kilometers ahead, I came across swaminarayan temple. It was impressive new age building with huge premises and well maintained infrastructure. I could have stayed over there cheaply and more neatly. Went ahead further. Now it was raining heavily. Without a warning, it came down poring and left me drenched from top to bottom. Took a break for eating theplaas. Eating those sweet Theplaas in rain was not a bad way to start eating for that day. Still was confused for whether to go to Dabhoi or towards baroda, went ahead in ambiguity. Went upto karjan where left route goes to Dabhoi and straight road goes to baroda. Took a blind turn on one road to ask for direction, found out I had flat. That’s what happens when your mind is elsewhere and you refuse to see where you are heading towards. It was not a good day for cycling after all. I was not in mood of repair, so went to search for bike shop. One was closed and other douche bag said he doesn’t want to do it. Cursing him and rain, I went to one temple and started repairing flat by myself. Temple preacher said the store is open. You can ask the owner again. I went there again and asked, weirdo said he will do it. What a looser. He could have said yes first time. Anyways, after doing his half work, I was on my way towards baroda as road condition towards Dabhoi would have been worse. Took a break near one posh toll booth. Ate remaining theplaas in rain. No worries.( आधीच हौस अन त्यात पडला पाउस – ह भ प मकरंद अनासपुरे) Within few hours, reached to Baroda. It was still raining here. Baroda city is scenic. Gayakwaad heritage sites, museums, palace hidden in greenery, broad roads and good food. This city deserves more than two days stay if you really want to experience it. After checking out couple of motels, got room in maharaja guest house for 250 bucks near railway station. Hot water, clean bathroom and tv with Marathi channels. Works for me. In evening, went to eat authentic Guajarati Thali near station at Kansaar. Thali was good but bit of expensive for 180 bucks. We do have better in Pune. After a heavy dinner, I tried to find map again, but as I said before, these people must hate maps or something. Came to motel, discussed route with parents and went to sleep.
Maharaja Guest House
Baroda to Godhra 81.97 Kilometers
Woke up early in the morning. Got prepared and waited till rain stops. Didn’t seemed to stop, I went ahead and checked out of the motel. Road was as usual awesome. But now there was a continuous wide and smooth service road on both side of highway separated by a divider. Pretty cool. Very few Indian roads have this thing. As I was enjoying the riding in traffic free road, it started pouring down and didn’t start for an hour. I was soaked up anyways, so there was I, alone on the freeway, green everywhere, darken horizon with occasional lightning, peacocks shouting and pouring from above. Unbelievably fantastic. If you step out of your comforting zone, it shall be uneasy for you at first, but the rewards are unimaginable. I couldn’t possibly had this experience if I’ve stayed home watching TV.
Took a break around 9:00 near somewhere nowhere. Ate worst wada sambhar ever. I should eat the particular specialty of the place and not what I like. These gujratis cannot cook Wada at all. I should stick to khaman dhokla as long as I am in Gujarat. After few villages, rain quitted acting insanely and started to get down like normally.
After couple of hours, I was feeling tired. 30 kilometers before godhra, took a break in a restaurant. It’s amazing how one cup of chai and parle g can make you feel. No wonder shaktimaan likes parle g so much. Adios cold and fatigue. Five kilometers before godhra, highway turns right towards indore where I should head towards. Had Paratha and dahivada at the corner and went ahead towards godhra. This place has a black history in minds of people. I was feeling pretty weird riding on the streets of this town. Each time I stopped for directions, I felt person giving me directions could be one of them. Anyways, searched a motel or two and had a room for two hundred bucks in hotel atithi. Room is ok for a night. In the evening, did what gujratis are best at- eating khaman. Slept early at night. Adwait out.
Godhra to Dahod 73.92 Kilometers
Woke up early, had to take deposit back from motel counter. He didn’t had change, hence, I have to walk with him to bus stand for a change. Twenty minutes were wasted in this stupidity. From next time, a man shall give exact change to these motel people. Called parents and gave them my co ordinates. Man felt lucky for having parents who believe in him and don’t worry much for him. Within few minutes, a man was on the highway. As usual, highway was smooth. Now, after three days, sun came out for couple of hours in the morning. He said howdy to man and went away beyond dark clouds. Didn’t took a break for forty kilometers after. Just sprinted straight towards Indore. Now, man was feeling hungry, man stopped at one hotel cum lodge named Vijay. Had two cups tea with parle g. Hotel owner was so impressed with man’s journey, after asking, he denied taking money from man. Her narmade, man chanted, and with a smile, went ahead. After a while, man and his bicycle reached a plateu, where it started raining. Man felt confused whether he was in India or in Scotland. Just tree tops were visible above the mist line. Nobody but man, his bicycle and a pin drop silence were present there. Man shall wait there to enjoy that moment. Man was soaked, drenched in rain, hungry, thirsty but at peace. Place was no less scenic and mystical than rural Scotland if not more. Man felt hound of Baskerville can howl and came out from any corner within that raw nature. After ten kilometers and so, man reached Dahod. Went for couple of motels, and got hotel vrindavan for 240 bucks. Cleaned bicycle and got the room. Short but sweet ride today. Completely memorable. Man shall never forget this ride.
This weirdo piece of writing was dedicated to man’s personal favorite GOT character Jaquen H’Gar who awesomely refers himself in third person. Valar Morghulis.
Dahod to dhar 134 Kilometers
Woke up early in the morning and went ahead to start a day. Road was still good with cloudy conditions and cool breezes occasionally. McGrath will finish a team in one spell in these conditions. After an hour, took a water break and lubricated a chain with dauber Himalaya hair oil. One of these days, you will have to take your bike to barber shop- my father says. Now, squeaking has stopped and gearing system is behaving like a new one. Soon,reached towards Madhya Pradesh border. It’s time to end a great Guajarati road dream and to start the horrible Madhya Pradesh road nightmare. It’s the worst interstate highway I have ever seen. Seriously, road of kargil during Pakistan bombings would have been better. Some of potholes were so big, millennium falcon could have been hidden in one of those and Vader wouldn’t ever had find them. Never had ridden in so messedd up road. It wasn’t a road actually, somehow, by sick cosmic joke, on the long stretched land where trees refuse to grow, stones got together, some of them were flat, pointy stones got hidden under thick mud so that they can cause punctures- this will be the accurate description of the thing they call it road here in MP. This torture continued for more 70 kilometers. If somebody is even looking at Ahmadabad Indore highway, my suggestion is don’t even think about it. If still you want to do it, go through some other road (via Europe or china etc). There is a theory that roads in Gujarat are best in India. MP government put an extra effort and went out of the way to prove this theory I guess. This torture continued for some more seventy kilometers. Last thirty kilometers were on smooth highway thank god. It was getting dark when I finally reached Dhar. Tired as hell, got room for 250, got stuffed by having Guajarati Thali for fifty bucks, came on room and slept. Adwait out.
Dhar to Indore 73.11 kilometers
Usually I wake up way before my 5:15 alarm. But due to yesterday’s crazy riding, I woke up on alarm. Prepared myself, packed all things and checked out of motel. Before that, I took bucket full water and splashed on bike in order to clean it a bit so it can look as bike and not like pig. After few paddling, I was on highway. The road was surprisingly good for starters. But I was so glad MP state lived up to it’s reputation. Leaving Dhar was not so easy. One has to motocross throughout series of potholes. This time, as rain has been stopped for quite a few hours, there was dark oil like thick mud in those potholes. You cannot save yourself from the splashes by trucks. I was mud-bathed for free. Stupid city people pay thousands for this type of Panchakarma Ayurvedic stuff and here, I was getting it for free along with sweet diesel black smoke aroma therapy. This last for fifteen more kilometers. But after that, road was seriously good. Took few hydration breaks and reached Indore at 12:30. Got room at Shri niwas lodge at 350. Dump my luggage and went out as I needed to take care of some stuff. पण आधी पोटोबा अन मग… Ate Golgappas, dahivada, kachori and potato patis at once. No wonder why people are crazy for food in Indore. God shall be my witness for that was some epic food. In some parallel universe, I can see one Adwait is living in Indore just for food carrying extra seventy kilos of his weight around. Feeling stuffed, went to one motorcycle shop and got my bike spray cleaned for 30 bucks. He did ok job. Came home, washed clothes and waited for night. While it was getting dark, I couldn’t stop myself from getting some more indorie flavors. This time I had bhutte ka kis (cornshavings), batata pattis and samosa chat at sundaram chaat near Kavlakkha area. After that, it was essential to eat the famous rabri. As in our city, while all those so called westernized spoiled brats graze on macD and CCD food, here, youth is more traditional when it comes to hangout. Here, college students will have mithais along with bowls of namkeen chaat and will hangout in sweet shops. I respect that very much and feel sorry for puneri youth. (And yes, I live in Pune and I hate vaishali).After having rabri, I went in food nirvana and my stomach in heaven. While thinking Indore is india’s true food capital, came to room and went to sleep.
Indore to kannod 97.36 Kilometers
Woke up with the alarm, got ready and headed towards kannod. Initially highway was keeping it up with Madhya Pradesh’s reputation. For thirty or more kilometers, it was all about pointy stones, dust and truck drivers shoving two wheelers out of the road. Stopped at a small village for tea. Tea was made up from sweet boiled super thick milk. It was pure joy of drinking the king of masala chai. I drank two full teas with parle g. Owner’s father was also a Parikramavasi once. He had completed Parikrama twice by bus. He took just ten rupees. Till upto this, road was a complete disaster. But after that something happened.
Roads got transformed from shaky to smooth, surrounding from towns and fields to dense jungle. For next sixty or more kilometers, I was in pure cycling heaven. Smooth tar road cutting through dense forest, total absence of any vehicles, crystal clear water streams passing over the bridges. This was the unexpected surprise for me. This time, my skeptical mind actually felt something is looking over my shoulder now. Never knew how sooner I’ve reached Kannod. There is just one motel here named hotel Nitin palace near bus stand. Got a room for 250 bucks. Room was good, plenty of ventilation and good view. Cleaning maid was impressed with my journey. As she found out I was doing Parikrama, she suggested me to wait for some time as she will cook and bring the food for me. Not to bother her, I respectfully and thankfully declined. Went out in search of hotel but couldn’t find one. So, went to one mess. It was his closing time, but as soon as he heard about my Parikrama, he gave me daal and fresh rotis to eat. Asked for many times, he refused to take money from me. We will settle this in the evening when you will come here for dinner, he said. Narmade har, I said and returned to the room. Something or someone is defiantly looking over my shoulder and my atheistic mind can feel it now.
Kannod to budhani 116.15 kms
Woke up at five something, got ready and woke up motel caretaker. While he was still asleep, I took off early. As usual, road was pretty whacky shaky for twenty kilometers but after that, it went smooth. After crossing Sandalpur, I took left towards Hoshangabaad highway. Now, the road was just perfect. After some time, took a brunch break. Off course poha and samosa with it. As usual, my bike attracted crowd which is very curious and touchy. In India, with curiosity, people believe in practices. They will always play with the stuff unless it’s their own. I constantly do have to keep an eye on bike as people like to play with gears. We Indians are like monkeys in the Panchatantra story of cap sellers. Sometimes, it is very hard not to get irritated by these curious and “touchy” people. They do not hesitate to ask personal questions here. Gear waali cycle, as they call it, first question always shall be how much you paid for it. My answer always depends upon their quality of clothes. Not to be a total snob or condescending jerk, but I cannot carry the risk of getting mugged in middle of the road on middle of the day within these woods.
Sick cosmic joke continues and amplified itself. I reached this dusty town totally tired to find out that these villagers didn’t like the concept of motel. Hungry, sweaty, completely covered in dust, I was desperate in search of one freaking motel. I tried at government guest house but apparently here, they do have strict laws not to let civilians near government facility. Now, I had to pick from these super dirty communicable disease infested dharmashalas. As I am typing this, I am wondering what incidents have happened in my life which lead me to this hellhole. I picked one dharmashala. Tonight, my companion was one sadhu and a cow. God is my witness, I never loved beef so much in my life than right now. I think karma is punishing me for eating all those MacD double cheeseburgers in US. After dumping my luggage, I happened to know that there is only one hotel present in this gutter of village and the cook doesn’t believe in cooking for one person. Again, disappointed, and hungry, went to one temple where food was being distributed for homeless people. Puris as thick as your sandal soles, yellow water in which you might find some daal floating by accident and super sweet rice pudding was the menu. As I was hungry, without thinking, I ate it with a only possible flavor-fear of food poisoning. For a while chatted with one priest over there where he tried to convince me why it is important to worship god. As being one of five brothers, he didn’t got much of a property from his poor father, leaving him no other option but to come here in this fucked up town and worship useless thing they call it as god. As being tired and disappointed at so many levels, I tried to sleep thinking this couldn’t can possibly get worst. Within hour or two, two dozens of kids and same number if their unemployed parents came from nowhere and started screaming in the name of god in that dharmashala. I was speechless to that rape on ears they call it as bhajan. Screw you god if you are there and you are doing it you little impotent insignificant prick who only bothers nice people- I thought. Trying to dodge street lights pocking my eyes, trying to swing as many mosquitos as possible and trying to neglect the screaming from next room, I am trying to get some sleep as I have to cover long distance tomorrow while these useless pathetic screaming scumbag villagers will sleep till noon on their asses as tomorrow is being Sunday. But here I cannot think as this can’t get any worst otherwise something will defiantly happen which will make this night better than some other night. Never missed home so much.
Budhni to Bareli 83.47
Woke up early in the morning and after few minutes, I was on the road. Now, I was smiling about last night’s traumatic experience. While looking back, it was not so bad. It was my first ever dharamshala experience. As being overproud and utterly independent, I was so pissed when put out of the comfort zone and cornered for each and every basic need. Last night’s experience was the indication how much I can get uncomfortable and freaked out without food, water and shelter. I actually felt bear grills laughing at me. I have camped many times before but expectations can give you disappointments. Anyways, from budhni, at least the road was awesome. Madhya Pradesh road department actually have worked in this area. Usually when any village approaches, road becomes rough and patchy, but here, as any village was approaching, roads were getting better and better. Whole highway was smooth tar road; but as any village approached; it was getting transformed in cement road. Here, there was a whole village living on road. Goats, cows, people drying stuff over smooth surface kind of destroyed it’s true purpose. Anyways, I can’t complain. While halting for methi vada and jalebi at shahganj. Small town, mainly of farmers. On this route, you will have to carry some food and water with you as you will only find tractor spares, chemical fertilizers and engine lubricant in stores. As the road was super good, in spite of taking many breaks, reached bareli at one thirty. Took one motel for 280 bucks. Here, you have to ask for small amenities like hot water and bedsheets before you bargain. Otherwise, these small townies are tremendously hungry for free money. They will shamelessly ask for tips even though they haven’t lifted a finger for you. You have to be shameless here, deny any tips and have to recover each and every penny you have given to these people like Ross Ghaller. Anyhow, dump my stuff at lodge and went to eat out and to recover yesterday’s sleep.
Bareli to tendukheda 76.55
Woke up early, so started early today. Road till udaipura was occasionally shaky, but after that, it was a piece of cake. Took a break at udaipura. As soon as i left my bike, people gathered over there and started playing with gears. After told not to play with gears, they didn’t like the idea of not playing with the breakable things they don’t know about. I had to finish my tea hurriedly, paid for it and paddled away from these monkeys ASAP. These hoards of unemployed people in India have absolutely nothing else to do. They will work for hour or two in farms, then will gather around somewhere and will do some time pass. This is the story of modern rural India. All that free time they have got by mechanization of farming, they will waste it on such non productive or rather self destructive acts such as discussing cricket, politics, movies or cell phones while doing absolutely nothing about it. As I paddled away and stop ahead, again few youngsters came and started asking questions. But these were not the kind of people I’ve met before. All of them were preparing to join the Indian military. After we exchanged farewells, I was on my way not feeling so much hopeless for this country as I was feeling before. I was only worried about tonight’s sleeping arrangements. In bareli, different people have different opinions about staying in tendukheda. As the road here is super smooth with occasional trees on both sides, reached tendukheda at 12:30 while taking longer than usual breaks. There, I searched for quite a while but couldn’t see any motel. So, I stopped one guy who luckily was working for one motel. He showed me direction as I went ahead to found out motel was closed for renovation. From neighbor, I got motel owner’s phone and called him not forgetting to chant a spell of Narmada Parikramavasi. There was one room ready luckily which he gave it to me for 300 bucks. As I didn’t have any leverage for negotiation, I had to agree to the price. Room was big but without toilet. But common toilet was never used as hotel was being renovated, I didn’t have any complaints. (anything works compare to budhni.) had early dinner (or super late lunch) at tendukheda bus stand. Tendukheda is similar to any town in north India. Crowded, dusty, smelly, cows chilling in middle of roads, mostly agriculture related stores, dirty hotels with lots of flies and whole town on one road, which shall be full of life. There were occasional electric cuts here, but in Maharashtra, even in big cities like Pune, there is a load shading so I can’t really complain. Came to hotel, packed my stuff and wait for sleep as it started raining with lightning.
Tendukheda to Jabalpur 121.79 kms
Woke up early so headed early. Road was smooth with occasional rough patches till raajmarg. There is one motel named Gagan palace here if you want to stay here. At raajmarg, north south and east west passage meet. It’s a small town mainly strive upon truck drivers. From flat repair to hair saloon, every thing is made for truck drivers. Few kilometers ahead, you have to cross a huge swamp fields and after that, you will be in pure cycling heaven. Sun was totally covered by clods, mountain tops were covered by mist and road was running like a snake.
Smooth road hidden in mist and forest so dense, that only first row of trees is visible. Although the road was going up and down, thus will be one of the best roads you will come across while doing Parikrama. I came across very few vehicles here. So lonely and quite here, I couldn’t resist to stop and spend little time here. Bird calls, sky so darkened by clouds, crickets are chirping, sound of water flowing beneath my feet. No trucks no cars, no loudspeakers, no daily soap tunes, nothing. Just pure raw nature at it’s best with smell of pure jungle. There are very few moments in life you will come across as such. As much I want to spend some more time there, I must move on. Road till Shahapura was smooth. Meanwhile, I came across one cycling guy who was in ten standard. As we cycled together, I came to know that he has to cycle 36 kilometers for school. He had a motorcycle, but liked riding, he traveled so much six days a week. For some time, he cycled with me and then I went forward leaving this young cycling Milkha Singh to his school. I find a little hope in the future of the country because of such people. Reached Shahapura and road became hopeless again. 15 kilometers from Shahapura, there is one lane goes to bhedaghat by 5 kms and one to Jabalpur. Again being ambiguous, I went ahead and took a road towards Jabalpur. Reached Jabalpur at three. There are plenty of motels near old bus stand got a room for 400 bucks in hotel Shankey. Weirdo name with super weirdo owner. But the fun was yet about to start. First thing I did is to go to ATM for some pink Gandhi. Turned out my card expired today. Now the fun begins. Called parents and told them a good news. They must be getting irritated by my problems by now. Went to a bank branch where my mother works. She called them for a help but there server was down. Yeah, twenty first century, and you can’t maintain a bloody server. After checking multiple options, one of which was to rob a bank tomorrow (on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday). For a last try, I went to ICICI main branch near railway station. There was a young manager (may god bless his soul) and Marathi mulgi (Jai maharashta). I straight forwardly explained my situation to them (and narmade har offcourse). With just a drivers license, pan and account number, they gave me a brand new check book. Even though cash counter was closed, they allowed me to withdraw. This was completely unexpected. Customer is in trouble and bank went out of the way to help him. This happens only in India. Got money, came back, got food and went to sleep as I had cycled more than average today.
Jabalpur to Shahapura 88.91
Woke up early today, waited for few minutes as owner’s ultra old father was giving me receipt and deposit back in ultra slow motion like time warp camera, ten frames per second. Went straight towards Shahapura. Road was super cool, going through forest with hilly area. Stopped for tea and some haldiram treat. Heavy rain started and there was no shelter anywhere. It was a bit of useless to stand under tree and waste time, so I decided to go ahead. Not a far from here, I got a flat. It was just a perfect timing as yesterday only I found out my flat repair glue was leaked and dried. I tried to get out remaining glue and fixed the flat in rain. Turned out water doesn’t appreciate flat repair. After few paddles, sealed patch was opened again and I had another flat again. Fuck. Opened it again and try to fix it. But without glue, it’s stupid. So, opened new tube and replaced it. This day was not getting any better. Covered in mud, I was struggling for each paddle in rain. At elevations, I got down and started walking holding the bike in my hand. At least this road was pretty good though for walking. Finally, reached Shahapura around 2:30. Got in motel named Prakash as it was one of the few livable motels around for humans. Got a room for 200 bucks. If earthquake hits MP, this building shall be the first one to fall I thought. Went straight to a bicycle shop thereafter to get a glue and to lube my bike. As usual, people gathering, playing with gears and asking personnel questions. As owner herd about my journey, he ordered special masala chai. Got my breaks fixed, now I went to eat. Ate two Parathas. Came to room and waited to sleep.
Shahapura to shahadol 95.80 Kilometers
Woke up early, got myself ready. As usual, there was no one to check me out through motel. I took the back door, lift my bike and my luggage and went ahead. Deepak lodge was one of the creepiest lodge I’ve ever lived in. Water was dripping from walls making the floor wet, just one 10 watt bulb in corridor and common toilet was giving the whole middle aged dungeons and dragons kind of vibe. Anyways, last night, as per my discussion with several people, I have to go to Umaria and then to shahadol. Hell with the directions. I’m gonna go with the map. Initially, with some directions, I went ahead towards Batondha. Within first few kilometers, I started to think I should have listened to all those people. Road was rough, with potholes, mud from yesterday’s rain and sometimes, it was just pure mud. But after crossing couple of villages, road became really smooth. Road goes through one of the most densest forest and most hilly ups and downs you will ever come across. The forest was so dense now, sun rays are hardly reaching towards me. Trees are so huge, monkeys are jumping on trees across the road. It has been an hour and no one accept few cows and dozens of monkeys has passed me. For more twenty kilometer and so, forest continues and you will find yourself on a huge plateu with occasional small villages and rice fields. If you are with me till now, you have learned to dodge villagers glances and to make your way through cattle herds while being alert not to poke yourself with a bull horn. Within an hour, I stopped at a village for chai and some Bhajia. The chai stand was near a bus stop. While I was enjoying hot masala chai in rainy weather, as usual, people started to gather around me and my bike. But this time, it was a big deal. As one bus stopped to drop few passengers, driver and conductor saw my bike and actually alight from the bus. Now, half the bus was gathered around my bike and rest of it was around me asking questions. I have to answer the questions along with to keep people away from playing with gears. After quenching curiosity, both driver and conductor went toward bus while shouting at passengers to get on the bus and bus went away. As tea stall owner got to know I was on Parikrama, he not only refused to take any money, but he insisted, I should have lunch with him. Again speechless, I respectfully denied as I had to cover long distance today. Thanking tea stall owner (whose monthly income must not have more than hundred dollars) for free breakfast, I went ahead. After few hills, again started the grate forest. Soon, I reached Batondha. It’s a small village where I have to ask for directions to paali. Took left and went toward one school. The school was about to start, students were hanging out. As I pass through front of them, the whole school locked at me. Few times I had performed in annual school gathering and most of the time, I was on some kind of punishment, when whole school had looked at me with every different emotion humans can give. You have no idea how much I am used to the whole school looking at me. Anyways, since morning, first 35 kilometers were somewhat hard to ride on due to occasional steep accents. But after bhitonda, for fifteen kilometers, it was an cycling heaven in India. Hands down for bhitondha to paali is one of the best road to ride a bicycle. Smooth road cutting through dense forest, monkeys crossing the road, occasional plateau peaking through hill tops and 30 degree decent is very hard to ride under 35 kilometers per hour. Road was pretty good before paali. You have to ask directions before go to paali. As there was a heavy rain few days before, one road was closed, so I had to take another one going through village. That road was pretty rough to ride. Although it was decent, I occasionally had to get down until I reached bridge. Turned out, that bridge was also washed out. I had to take my shoes in hand and cross the river. Cold water felt Soooo good to my feet. Shoes back on and went away. Took another chai break at paali, the town where nothing happens but crime. Went ahead. Road was bigger now as being national highway. Road from paali to shahdol goes through dense forest. Today, was the forest day with smooth roads. It started raining heavily. As I was feeling kind of hot, rain was appreciated by me. Reached to destination. Shahadol is a big town where you can find plenty of motels. I got one room in hotel abhay for 250 bucks. Got lunch and came back to motel.
Stayed at Hotel Abhay
Shahadol to Amarkantak 104.85
Wake up early, went wear and got the way towards Amarkantak. Initially, road till Budhar is smooth with few occaisanal hills. Few kms after Budhar, there is some kind if dam construction is going on. So, for few kilometers, road is complete disaster due to construction. But as soon as this road filled with sand is over after it satisfactorily fills your both derailers with sand, road becomes smooth. Enjoy last few kilometers of flat road. Because when hilly area starts, ups and downs shall never end. Never. Roads are good, cut through dense forest. It was one of the most spectacular mornings of my life. Sun was playing hide and seek with clods, while occasional dripping through sky. Sun rays were falling on leaves filled with water drops and that was glowing the trees around the road. It was like thousands of fireflies glowing during the daytime. Pure treat for eyes. Now, forest has began and with it, the hills. Till now, I rarely came across any vehicle, we city people are not so used to such pin drop silence where you can hear your heartbeats. After few kilometers of steep climb, I reached to a plateau. Now, as I was getting hungry, took a stop at Rajendragram for Daal roti. After half an hour break, I was ready for next accent. After I crossed few villages, it started raining heavily. Within half a minute, water was filled in my shoes. As I was climbing more and more hills, temperature started dropping quickly and I started shivering with cold. Dense clouds were covering the streets. Rest of the visibility was taken away by dense forest. Ghat started, I took a break, and had some glucon d which I bought earlier. While staying on granny gears, one rice truck went ahead of me blowing a lot of black smoke. One of the rice bag was opened and thin rice line was getting drawn on the Amarkantak road. All of a sudden hundreds of monkeys came down on roads to feast on that rice, filling there mouth bags with rice. As being Indian, I am not so new to the monkey experience, but I have never seen such huge monkey gathering in jungle. It reminded me of Damdam monkey feast festival from Tarzan. Within minutes, the road was cleaned with not a single grain of rice on it. I hope the truck driver remembers the way back home and doesn’t end up like Hansel and Gretal. freaking accent was hard as there was no end to it. Had to take occasional breaks to catch my breath.
Twelve kilometers before Amarkantak, this 30 degree torture ends and beautiful decent begins cutting through cultivated forest. Now, clouds were thicker than ever, making me to slow down my speed. Smooth tar road was wet and hence without any friction, my bike was gliding on it. Reached Amarkantak at 4:30. There are many Dharamchalaas and clean ashrams for deities. I staid at hotel sarvodaya for 350 bucks. Tomorrow, I decided to take a break to do some stuff. Dumped my stuff, took my sac and went straight away towards Narmada Mandir. As not being a season, there was no one accept few priest in the temple. For a change, this temple is cleaned. Only thing I disliked is they have covered the old stony temple with white wall putty. It was destroying its authentic old look. I visited Narmada mata ugamsthan and came back to motel. Now, as I was feeling sleepy, went straight away to bed. Adwait out.
Next day, I was feeling kind of tired due to yesterday’s cold rainy ride, so I decided to take a rest. Went to bike shop and got my flat fixed. I came back to room and tried to clean my bike. It’s a lost cause anyways. I tried to remove as much as sand from chain as possible and again lubricated it with some hair oil. Just another nine days, then you will be in good hands-I said to my bike. Went to see Mayya ka bagicha where Narmada mata rises and then again disappears to reappear to the main temple. As Parikramavasi, I cannot cross the river, but the way went under dam water left me no choice to do so. “dam” it. Came back to the room and gather my stuff as tomorrow, I have to leave early. Sarvoday Vishram Griha 07624 269517/9425331192/9425344065/09303717517
Amarkantak to dindori 89.12 kilometers
Woke up early and started up towards dindori. Crossed river at first bridge. Route is amazing and goes through dense forest while legendary descent. For twenty kilometers, I didn’t have to paddle at all. Just dense forest with fog and hills covered in clods. This time I was lucky, just few feet away from my bike, one wolf crossed the road. We both were kind of stunned at our sudden appearances in the morning. As soon as I reached for my camera, it jumped in the woods. That little creature just made my day. Anyway, descent continues, and with few breaks, I reached shahadol at 1:30. There are three motels in this village near each other. Stayed at anuraag residency for 500 bucks. Got food and went to call parents as here, there is no Tata docomo coverage. Came to motel and went to sleep hoping this day is over.
Dindori to maharaajpur 124.36 kilometers
Started a day with flat. You get ready, full pumped up, ready to jump on saddle and can’t wait to cover few kilometers and there is your mood killer- a flat. Wasted complete half an hour of great morning repairing that SOB. Little bit disappointed, started riding and getting directions along the way. After I left dindori, I waited for the directions towards Sakke and found out there is a shortcut for Amarpur which can save me whole 15 kilometers. I waited for few seconds and asked another person, ending up knowing that the short cut is a complete disaster. So, went ahead with the regular tar road.
Despite of being the soft tar road, these hills did not tend to stop. As soon as you climb one hill and feel that might be the last one, there will be another one right in front of you. For the whole day, I rode on hilly areas, granny gears while climbing and breaks while descending. Road was spectacular though. Going through dens forest and with occaisanal villages. As this is Naveatri season, each village had a common Durga puja on the main road of village. As I passes through villages, this was the very first time when nobody stared at me
As they were busy with Durgapuja. Some priest were singing prayers in their scratching voices while other villages didn’t bother that much while they played puja on recorders while shaking the whole village area with the loud. After few kilometers, reached to Sakke village. There, I was stopped by one Paanwala. As I told him about Parikrama, he suggested to go further towards Mohgaon via Chabi and not towards Amarpur as road towards it is completely messed up and will be a ling cut. These paanwalaas are the live GPS systems of India. The will be omnipotent, will be present on every road corner of every village. There shall be some empty handed people always present over there. These are the people you actually can trust. No google map or GPS needed. They provide valuable information like directions and village information for free. Mind it that Police over here cannot be trusted with the directions or anything. As their motives are always different, and helping you cannot give them increment or promotion, most of the time, these servants of society do not provide accurate information while unable to show expression other than being bothered. It’s always fine to ask more than one person. Reached Mohgaon and took turn towards Ghughri. Road is still good but up and down is still not seems to end. To reach Ramnagar, you do not have to go all the way to Ghughri. 2 kilometers before Ghughri, there is a steep right which leads to ramnagar 20 or so kilometers ahead. Again, while reaching Ramnagar, waited for directions as Mandla lies on the north bank of Narmada river, one cannot stay there. It has a suburb named maharaajpur 25 kilometers ahead of ramnagar. After ramnagar, road became surprisingly flat. On this route, you shall
Came across various tourist spots as well as route to Kanha national park, one of the best park to spot actual tiger in the wild. Anyways, as taking advantage of flat road, I picked up a good speed. While it was flashing in the sky, I reached Maharajpur while it started raining. Got one motel named Rama Raman for 150 bucks. As I discussed my route with owner, I mentioned my Parikrama to him. I asked him abiut a hotel nearby, he said we can give you a tiffin around 8:00. As I had nothing but few colas and few wafers since morning, I was hungry as hell. Considering it must be a paid service, I asked him whether he can give me that tiffin littlebit early as I haven’t had much since morning, he told me to get freshen up. While doing so, his wife sent a tiffin full of six chapatis, one awesome vegetable, daal and sweet. Free of coast. Now, I was feeling super ashamed. I must have asked her to drop everything from her hand and cook for me. How inconsiderably stupid of me. I apologize and thanked her for bothering her, while in just a wave of her hand, she said, anything for Parikramavasi. As from never ending long ride, I ended up having free amazing dinner at my time at my doorstep. What to say to this?
Place to Stay: Hotel Rama Raman
Abhay Raaz Upadhyay
Maharaajpur to Lakhnadaun 91.69 Kilometers
Woke up early and headed towards Lakhnadaun. It was raining a bit. Crossing the Mandla fort station, I left Maharajapur. Yet another hill to cross. Again steep 30 degree ascent cutting through dense forest with fog cover. This lasted till Ghansor. Meanwhile; I stopped at one tea stall for tea and biscuits as there were less people to bother me. While having a tea, one of the mechanic asked me for a ride, and I agreed. He went and came back within two minutes but till then, I was on gas. Never doing this again. As he had a ride, other people came forward and formed a line for a ride and without asking, took bike for ride. Screw these cheap frugal villagers. They will do anything to have a free ride and will get ready to burn themselves if they are getting free wood. The road was super smooth till now. Yesterday only, I spoke to my father about how roads in MP are way better than Maharashtra. As I went ahead and took the road towards Ghansor, it was little bit shakey at first. Then, it turned into a perfect disaster. Knee deep black mud covering the pointy stones for forty kilometers. Not a feet less, not a feet more. It was not a fun also to take a bike in hand and walk through knee deep black muddy highway to hell. Just waiting to get my tire flat, I was looking at my both tires every five minutes. Trucks passing through were not exactly helping the situation. While trying to dodge comparatively small potholes, I was also being produced opportunity to dodge splashes from truck drivers. Anyways, this lasted for 20 kilometers or so. Now, sun was on my head and started to dry my mud loaded bike. Detailers were jammed with mud within first ten minutes. So, while staying in one gear, I went forward. There was no question of taking a break in mud. I felt sorry about the people living over there. Living like animals doing absolutely nothing to improve their living conditions. The will walk on muddy roads, go to toilet on roads and will send their children to schools which are about to crash anytime. But will not hesitate to spend extra money on useless communal festivals like Durgapuja and Ganesh. These people will send their women on street for toilet, and will go to Durgapuja for praying to the women power. This is the result of lack of education. Anyways, now the road converted from muddy to dusty while being pointy. This day does not seem to end. Took a break to try to clean my derailers. Trying to clean with a stick, I have removed at least half a kilo of mud from my bike. Still, chain was un shiftable to other gears. While having few more breaks, I finally reached Lakhnadaun. Got in a motel, and had a room for 250 bucks where there was no hot water and TV was not working at all. Then I bought shampoo and toothbrush, and for an hour, I cleaned my bike. Till now, no flat. I really don’t know how this is possible. Ate super oily Paratha as this town is mainly for truckdrivers, you can’t expect more from this village. Anyways, totally fucked up day for cycling. If you have some love for your bike, please, please try to avoid this route. Come via Kanyakumari or Sri Lanka, but don’t come by this road.
Lakhnadaun to Kareli 85.68 Kilometers
Woke up early, got ready. Motel attendant was still sleeping; I had to shout to wake that moron up. I got out of Lakhnadaun before dawn. One kilometer out of the town, and I was about to kiss the road. North south highway with wide lanes, wide road dividers and even wider shoulders on cement surface. After yesterday’s trauma, now I was in heaven. Sun was yet to rise, there was a fog on horizon and sky was glowing to welcome the new sun in the sky. Epic way to start morning. I couldn’t help myself to stop and click few snaps. Hills were yet about to end, but now they are ridable on second gear. And this time, roles were reversed, short ascents and epic and long descents. Pure cycling heaven. Today was a short ride, so while taking occasional brief breaks, reached Narsingpur during noon. So, I decided to cycle further fifteen or so kilometers towards Kareli. Reached there as highway ended and dirt road started. Reached there at one and got one motel Shikhar palace for 200 bucks. Washed all clothes and after a long time, had a bath with freaking hot water. Ate Parathas, for taste of which is not very mentionable.
Hotel Shikhar Palace
Kareli to pipariya 91.45 Kilometers
Woke up early, was on my way towards pipariya while it was still dark. First two three kilometers out of the Kareli is absolute dust bath. While trucks rushing in the city, this dusty pollution makes us unable to see beyond five feet and breath clean air. But after three kilometers, town ended and smooth highway begun. Misty morning on a smooth road with Bismillah Khan Shehnai, awesome start. As now I am approaching Omkareshwar, area is getting flatter that is enabling me to geton some higher gears with higher speed. Reached pipariya at around noon and got a room at hotel Ashoka for 300 bucks. Pretty sweet room for 300 bucks. After a long time, I had a perfect supper. There’re many motels in this area as Panchmadhi, MP’s only hill station is close to this town.
Pipariya to Hoshangabaad 71.42 Kilometers
Woke up early as usual and had to wake up the motel manager. Took deposit and my ID from him and headed towards Hoshangabaad. Today’s ride is short. Road was good and smooth with occasional cement road. There were very few vehicles on the road. While taking few breaks, I reached near Hoshangabaad at 11. Before you reach hoshangabaad, you have to cross a one kilometer bridge on the river Tawa. Even though monsoon was hardly gone, the river was mostly dried up showing its huge deserted basin. After I reached hoshangabaad, I headed towards Loknaathtirth Swami Maharaaj Math as it belonged to my grand uncle Narayankaka Maharaaj. There was a Marathi family from Jalgaon staying there to manage the site. After chatting for a while with priest’s wife, I got to know about this year’s Narmada flood which flooded the whole Math and her home. As the priest was getting the salary of six thousand a month ($120) it was very hard for him to support his family of a wife and two kids. Due to lack of support and motivation as management was too busy in playing politics after my granduncle’s death, this family has decided to move back to Maharashtra. I felt very bad for him as he has to feed his family in 120 bucks a month. After dumping my luggage, I got out for some food and site seeing. After I took a bath on Mangalwaar ghaat, I went towards swami Narayan ghaat which was very authentic and peaceful. Narrow Steps going downsides, eroded walls and black solid doors made up of Saag tree gives a vibe of temples and ghaat to this place. After sitting there for a while, I returned to the Math.
Hoshangabaad to khirkiya 125.87 kilometers
Woke up little bit late today, but after goodbyes to the priest family, I was on road at 5:45. Highway is smooth with occasional cement road. While keeping constant speed, with few resting breaks, i passed siwni malwa and timarni to reach harda at around noon. With exception of couple of annoyingly shameless requests to ride my bike, rest of the ride was smooth. But it was too early to end this day, hence I decided to go further till khirkiya. 39 kilometers were as the same as previous ones. Around 2:30, I reached khirkiya and stayed at motel for 300 bucks. Had lunch and went to room for news on the storm advancing towards east shore of India where half a million people were displaced from their home to shelters.
Khirkiya to Omkareshwar 151.45 kilometers
Woke up early, oiled the bicycle with hair oil and started while it was still dark at horizon. Headed towards khandwa, one plan came into my mind to finish the Parikrama today only. But the problem was, I never Had ridden so long distance in single day, but I decided to go for it by taking more breaks with more food and water. As Omkareshwar being a tourist spot, highway was smooth but with no tree cover at all. With occaisanal breaks, reached khandwa at 11:30. As it was too early to end the day, I decided to go ahead and try to reach Omkareshwar. I was littlebit concerned whether I will be able to make it or not, but after thirty-thirty five kilometers, I was pretty sure about it. While riding towers Omkareshwar from sanawad, I met two guys from nashik who were working in Cipla here. While chatting with them, I even never realize when I was in Omkareshwar. Got into motel named Greta Shri and got room for 300 bucks. Tired as hell, I started walking towards Hari ghaat. This ghat is situated in the south shore of the Narmada river. It is the most cleaned ghaat here. Shallow for whom who cannot swim and crystal clear water with less crowd as compare to other ghats. After few dips, I felt reborn by the touch of crystal clear cold water, got out and started walking towards Mantadha Omkareshwar temple to thank him for this journey.
Hotel Geeta Shri
Gajanan Maharaaj Bhakta Niwaas: 09425371204/ 09753327083 (Much better option)
Some more snaps of my journey: