Disclaimer: I have tried to recreate the events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them. The below-expressed views, opinions or analogies are personal and may not be in line with the widespread conceptions. Please go to Motorcycle Diaries -> India: Ocean To Mountains (or Click here) to check out the previous events.
Date: 10th August 2016; Route: Amritsar – Manali
“If Plan-A doesn’t work, don’t worry, the alphabet has 25 more letters; 204 if you’re in Japan.”
There are 2 ways to reach Ladakh, one is via Srinagar, and the other is via Manali. The one via Srinagar is better and much preferred since the altitude increases gradually which reduce the probability of AMS, Acute Mountain Sickness. On the other hand, the altitude increases exponentially when you start hiking via Manali which might lead to AMS as well. Earlier, even our plan was to enter Ladakh via Srinagar and return via Manali. Since the curfew was still on in Srinagar. The only way to reach Ladakh was via Manali and as always we didn’t have much of a choice.
After a day’s rejuvenation, we were back to business. My partner’s bike had some issue after servicing. It was making some kinda noise. So we decided to stay in Amritsar till 11 AM get the bike fixed and then ride on to Manali. Meanwhile, the plan was to visit Jallianwala Bagh. It was beside the Golden Temple which went unnoticed last night. We, Indians have read a lot about it, in my childhood, our history teacher has narrated those stories too.
“Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place on 13 April 1919 when a crowd of nonviolent protesters who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh were fired upon by troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Col. Reginald Dyer. On Dyer’s orders, his troops fired on the crowd for ten minutes until the ammunition supply was almost exhausted. Dyer stated that 1,650 rounds had been fired, a number apparently derived by counting empty cartridge cases picked up by the troops. Official British Indian sources gave a figure of 379 identified dead, with approximately 1,100 wounded. The casualty number estimated by the Indian National Congress was more than 1,500, with approximately 1,000 dead.”
It was just another chapter of history for me when I read all of this in my school. At that time, the only thing I was worried about was the statistics (which we should know for our exams) – on what date the incident occurred, how many people died, how many got injured, blah blah. But now, when I was standing right there at the Jallianwala Bagh, I had a lump in my throat while I was going through the artifacts kept at the memorial. It was a dreadful event and one of the most gruesome episodes of Indian history which can’t be rewritten.
We had spent more than a day in Amritsar and it was time for us to move on with our plan. My partner decided not to go back to the authorized service center (apparently, they did a really bad job with his bike) rather he would get it fixed on the highway. We had our breakfast while the bike was getting fixed. Then the journey started a day with perfect riding condition and breathtaking view. Himachal Pradesh, you beauty!
Since we started late today we were racing against time to reach Manali by end of day. The circumstances changed after the sunset, the last 100 KMs were too difficult. The roads were good but they were cut out of the mountains. There was no light at all and the speeding trucks coming from the opposite direction just made things difficult on the curves. It was getting too dark and risky. So we decided to call it a day at 8:30 PM. We checked into a room with a riverside view and oh yeah, it was awesome!
P.S. We saw another set of riders who sped past us – 2 Yamaha FZ 150, 1 Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS, 2 Royal Enfield Classic 350. They were in some hurry on their way to heaven 😛 I am not sure if they are still around to read this post. (I am an asshole) 😀