Travelling Democratic Republic of Nepal

December 20th, 2010

Nepal’s History

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The recorded history of Nepal is centered on the Kathmandu valley and begins with the Kirantis who are said to have ruled for many centuries beginning from the 7th or 8th Century B.C. with their famous King Yalumber who is even mentioned in the epic, ‘Mahabharata’. The Gopalas who were herdsmen are believed to have ruled before the Kirantis but little is known about them. Their descendants are said to still live at the edge of the valley. Around 300 A.D. the Lichavis arrived from northern India and overthrew the Kirantis. The descendants of the Kirantis are the Rais and Limbus who predominate in eastern Nepal. One of the legacies of the Lichavis is the fabulous Changu Narayan Temple near Bhaktapur which dates back to the 5th Century. In early 7th Century, Amshuvarman, the first Thakuri king took over the throne from his father-in-law who was a Lichavi. He married off his daughter Bhrikuti to the famous Tibetan King Tsong Tsen Gampo thus establishing good relations with Tibet. Bhrikuti went on to convert the king to Buddhism. The Lichavis brought art and architecture to the valley but the golden age of creativity arrived with the Mallas who came to power around 1200 A.D.

During their 550 year rule, the Mallas built an amazing number of temples and splendid palaces with picturesque squares that are lined with architecturally beautiful temples. It was also during their rule that society and the cities became well organized, religious festivals were introduced and literature, music and art were encouraged. After the death of Yaksha Malla, the valley was divided into three kingdoms: Kathmandu (Kantipur), Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon) and Patan (Lalitpur). The rivalry among these kingdoms led to the building of grand palaces and the uplifting of the arts and culture. Around this time, the Nepal as we know it today was divided into about 46 independent principalities. One among these was the kingdom of Gorkha with a Shah King in power. Much of Kathmandu valley’s history around this time was recorded by Capuchin friars who lived here on their way in and out of Tibet.

Nepal, as a state, was established when an ambitious Gorkha king named Prithvi Narayan Shah embarked on a conquering mission that led to the defeat of all the kingdoms in the valley (including Kirtipur which was an independent state) by 1769. Instead of annexing the newly acquired states to his kingdom of Gorkha, Prithvi Narayan decided to move his capital to Kathmandu establishing the Shah dynasty which ruled unified Nepal from 1769 to 2008 when the last Shah ruler, Gyanendra relinquished his power to make way for total democracy under the rule of a Prime Minister.

The history of the Gorkha state goes back to 1559 when Dravya Shah established a kingdom in an area chiefly inhabited by Magars. At this time the Kathmandu valley was ruled by the Malla kings. During the 17th and early 18th centuries, Gorkha continued a slow expansion, conquering various states while forging alliances with others. Prithvi Narayan dedicated himself at an early age to the conquest of the Kathmandu valley. Recognizing the threat of the British Raj in India, he dismissed European missionaries from the country and for more than a century, Nepal remained in isolation.

During the mid-19th century Jung Bahadur Rana became Nepal’s first prime minister to wield absolute power relegating the Shah King to a mere figurehead. He started a hereditary reign of the Ranas that lasted for 104 years during which time the Shah Kings had no real power. The Ranas were overthrown in a democracy movement of the early 1950s with support from an unlikely person, the monarch of Nepal, King Tribhuvan. Soon after the overthrow of the Ranas, King Tribhuvan was reinstated as the head of the state. In early 1959, Tribhuvan’s son King Mahendra issued a new constitution, and the first democratic elections for a national assembly were held. The Nepali Congress Party was victorious and their leader, Bisheshwar Prasad Koirala formed a government and served as prime minister. But by 1960, King Mahendra had changed his mind and dissolved Parliament, dismissing the first democratic government.

After many years of struggle when the political parties were banned, they finally mustered enough courage to start a people’s movement in 1990. With the public rising up against absolute monarchy and demanding democracy, the then ruler King Birendra accepted constitutional reforms and established a multiparty parliament with himself as head of state and the prime minister heading the government. In May 1991, Nepal held its first parliamentary elections. In February 1996, one of the Communist parties (Maoist wing) went underground to wage a people’s war against monarchy and the elected government.

Then on June 1, 2001, a horrific tragedy wiped out the entire royal family along with many of their close relatives. With only King Birendra’s brother, Gyanendra and his family surviving, he was crowned the king. King Gyanendra tolerated the elected government for only a short while and then dismissed Parliament to grab absolute power. In April 2006, strikes and street protests in Kathmandu led to a 19-day curfew and the political parties joined forces with the Maoist rebels to bring pressure on the monarch. Eventually, King Gyanendra realized it was futile holding on to power and relented. He agreed to reinstate parliament. But the political parties and a majority of the general public had had enough of dynastic rule and their abuse of power.  On May 28, 2008, a newly elected Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic, abolishing the 240 year-old monarchy. Nepal today has a President as Head of State and a Prime Minister heading the Nepal Government.

Hey! Hold on…! Why am I telling you all this??

Well, the story begins with a Motorcycle touring club of Kolkata (West Bengal, INDIA) who has decided to travel Nepal on their motorbikes. So you see…travelling requires a lot of homework.

Rolling Wheels Bikers Club based in Kolkata had scheduled their kickoff on 18th of November 2010 but due to a number of reasons had to postpone it farther to 20th.  The team consisted of 5 members, namely: Krishnendu, Tirtho, Rathinda, Kedar & Bishwa as pillion. That would mean 4 bikes & 5 people. There were a number of other guys who wanted to join the ride but had to stay back for different obstacles. Bapida & Subho were two of them. Bapida suffered a horrible accident just a year back was having trouble with the head injury he had at the time. The doctor had suggested immediate MRI. No doubt, he has to hold back. No doubt?? I DOUBT IT!!

Subho had a different story altogether. A young lad of 21, and lost his father a year back. Since then he has been the supporting pillar of his family of two. The young guy was going through a financial crisis. A problem whose solution did not seem near. We were all doing everything we could to make sure that Subho could go. We knew how exitedwas about the tour & how he is going to miss us. A debutant after all…

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20th November and 5.00 in the morning, Rolling wheels bikers club rolled from the club premises of Dunlop and cruised slowly towards Durgapur Expressway (NH2). The team was:

Tirtho in Bajaj Avenger 220

Rathinda in Ninja 250

Kedar & Bishwa in Royal Enfield Bullet 350

Krishnendu in Royal Enfield Bullet 350

Koushik Da & Jayanta Da escorted us till the Dankuni Toll Plaza while Pritam & Tanendra rolled with us till the Diamond dhaba from where we bid them Goodbye & resumed our journey. On our way to Budbud, we received welcome news …………… BAPI DA has fled home and is joining the troop. We were rejoiced!!! We rolled on till the Star Hotel at Budbud to refuel ourselves. After having quite a heavy breakfast with Bread omlette & the famous dahi, we rode on to Asansol where we stopped at Bajaj ‘Automoovers’ to collect few necessary spares for ‘Buddy’ (My Avenger220).  We started from Asansol, crossed the Bengal border to Jharkhand at around 4.00pm and parked our bikes at a roadside dhaba to have our lunch and waited for Bapida to turn up. All throughout the day we have been trying really hard to counter the financial crisis that Subho is facing to get his wheels rolling. Finally the good news was heard at around 6 pm. The young lad has managed his share and is preparing to kick off at his earliest. Now our patience & nerve is on test…………… Could Subho come down safely all the way to Jharkhand in this winter night? After all it’s his debut tour & he is bound to be exited. Would he remember to abide by all the rules required to drive at winter nights?? Is the road safe enough?? What if he faces a puncture/bike trouble?? Is Bapida fit enough to drive all through the tour?? Was it right to skip the MRI test?? When will the full team be united??? Questions & criticisms started to arouse…high time to hold on to your nerve. We sat at the dhaba, had multiple cups……… sorry …… glasses of tea & waited for the two to turn up.

Destination of the day: Muzaffarpur.

At around 5.30 pm a distant thump thump was heard & Krishnendu jumped at his feet, “ITS BAPI!!!! I AM SURE ITS HIM” he yelled. Bishwa & I ran beside the highway to check & HERE HE COMES…!!! Steady as a ramrod…a smile in his face. Parked his bike and said in a cool voice, “Where’s my cup of tea?” Bapida has joined us, in full form. Now for Subho. Mobiles began to dial up for him & received news that he is still busy in the vegetable market for his mother. Krish turned Fujiyama… “What the hell are you doing?”…“When are you going to kickoff?…its already dark?” Subho with his usual ‘chill dude’ attitude said “Sometime around 7.30”. Krish stood chilled!!!

We decided to start for a nearby hotel so that the whole team is united by a reasonable time. Muzaffarpur was no more possible…we decided to stay at Chirkunda for the night. First it was decided that I, Kedar & Bishwa would stay back at the dhaba for Subho to come while Krish, Bapida & Rathinda would head for a decent hotel nearby. The decision was soon revoked & krish headed for the hotel & we stayed back for Subho. Finding a hotel for us is not a very easy task since there are a number of terms to be met.

  1. Subho & I is persistent on western Commodes While Bishwa & kedar prefer Indian types. Rest enjoys both.
  2. There has to be a proper & safe bike parking area.
  3. Hot & cold water facility needed.
  4. Etc. etc.

About an hour later while we were busy on antakshari, Krish called up informing that a hotel is found at a very reasonable rate, The Muskan Guest House. We were the first customers of the hotel, hence received a warm welcome from the owner & staffs. Dinner was prepared with rice & egg curry & lots of green salads. Subho’s share of dinner was kept warm while we expected him to arrive within an hour or half. We stood waiting for him while Bishwa & Bapida came busy tallying tour fund expenses. A Rs.163 stood on the way of tally. Two & half hours passed and Bishwa was gasping for breath. A further 15 mins & Bishwa made a huge sigh of relief. The tally is done with Bishwa down on the ground with insane laughter. Side effect of the hours he had gone through tallying the equation. That’s why it’s hard to find a volunteer for ‘tour cashier’. Meanwhile, Subho’s mobile was found switched off. Nerves began to grow again.

At around 12.45 am, we received a call from an unknown number. It was Subho calling from somewhere nearby from some ones mobile phone. His mobile has run off battery & switched off. 15 mins later we were standing on the freezing highway and a ray of HID was seen. It’s Subho!!! There were rejoicing all rounds. Subho has made it!!  The team is fulfilled. All of a sudden I was missing my partner, Pritam. God!! I missed him throughout the tour. Rolling wheels bikers club touring, without Pritam is unimaginable, but he couldn’t make it. It’s just been a few months he had lost his father, his mom all alone.

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21st Nov morning and we started for Muzaffarpur. Raxaul or Chitwan was not possible since we all had a sleepless night earlier for Subho coming late night. The ride proved uneventful except that we had some miserable litti & shingara in Bakhtiyapur & Kedar taking a fall in Koderma while taking a sharp turn in the hilly roads. Subho’s guardian angel had a full time duty saving him twice from falling towards the cliff trying to take a sharp turn at 5th gear at speeds of 65kmph. While Subho trying to turn at 5thgear kedar did a similar mistake by trying to turn with clutch pressed. After the incident it took kedar one and a half day to take the handle again & Bishwa seizing the opportunity & fulfilling his desires of hill road riding. We reached Patna bypass at 8.00 pm. We stood in a petrol pump to fuel our bikes and the pump staffs advised us to take a night halt at Patna since the road ahead was not very safe at night. We too were pretty tired & responded to the proposal abruptly.  After a brief ride we reached Patna Township at 8.30 pm. A local resident on his motorbike accompanied us all the way to the Township.

Hotel rooms were hard to find since Patna was enjoying a VIP marriage party & nearly all hotels of Patna Township was booked for the invitees. I still have the curiosity to know who had such a crowd packed marriage ceremony. Such crowd is only seen in Kolkata brigade sessions. Is the bride’s father enjoying a sound heart?? I doubt!!

We went to Central Chowk of Patna Township & parked our bikes beside the road while krish went to find hotels in the locality. Bapida & Rathinda left for Patna junction looking for hotels. Rathinda had a lot of trouble managing people’s curiosity for his Ninja 250, especially some young Pulsarians trying to pick up a race in every corner of the road. Last but not the least a guy with a Hero Honda Passion persistent to pick a race with the Ninja 250 started to dribble around him annoying him to his limits. He was soon taken care of by me & later by Bishwa. As a regular tactic we overtook him & lowered our speed to minimum making sure there was no room left to overtake us. Soon the guy frustrated with the loss of Ninja in horizon gave up his racing instinct. Bishwa & I slowly raised pickup and got along the troop. Mission accomplished nice & sweet.

After searching for nearly two & a half hours krish came back frustrated & informed us that the only feasible chance was a Marwari hotel in Dak Bungalow Chowk. I left with Bishwa for Hotel Marwari and found an area called ‘Hotel Galli’ in Dak Bungalow Chowk. I entered the Galli in search of a hotel just to find Bapida engaged in talks in Hotel ‘Narayan’. After lots of bargaining we managed rooms in the hotel at Rs.1200 for three rooms. Dinner was not available at hotel since the kitchen is closed after 11.00pm. It was 12.15am and Krish & Bapida left to fetch dinner from the Patna station area. Cold rice, Dal & curry were all we got.  To make matters worse the Dal was contaminated. We had to manage with a half meal of rice & curry. Now, that’s Motorcycle touring. Hardship, Endurance, Entertainment, Team spirit, all in one Package.

22nd Nov and after a good nights rest in Patna we headed for Raxaul, the border of Nepal. Road conditions were so terrible that it proved to be a real test for a riders temperament & endurance. It was the first time I witnessed dust clouds barring the view like thick mist. Subhos Fazer & Rathindas Ninja suffered a lot of pain & hardship due to fiber panels in the body. Buddy too suffered with the hill type speed breakers due to its insufficient ground clearance. Bajaj really needs to work on that. Throughout the tour Avenger proved to be a fantastic performer but with the exception of low ground clearance & scraping of the foot pegs in high speed turns. Throttle up your speed at 80 kmph in a hilly turn & you find yourself scraping the foot pegs. This is not satisfying since the bike provides lots of confidence in hilly roads, with or without pillion but what’s the point if you can’t exploit it!! Anyways, It’s always fun touring on the Avenger. At around 9.15pm we reached Raxaul and crossed into Nepal Territory. Rolling Wheels bikers club have done it!!!!! We have crossed International Barriers. The Border Security Force of India & Border Prahari of Nepal stood still in amazement at us. One of them said “Kolkata se bike mein!!!! Train mein kyon nahin aya???” There was no proper explanation from our part except amazement in return.

21st Nov morning and we started for Muzaffarpur. Raxaul or Chitwan was not possible since we all had a sleepless night earlier for Subho coming late night. The ride proved uneventful except that we had some miserable litti & shingara in Bakhtiyapur & Kedar taking a fall in Koderma while taking a sharp turn in the hilly roads. Subho’s guardian angel had a full time duty saving him twice from falling towards the cliff trying to take a sharp turn at 5th gear at speeds of 65kmph. While Subho trying to turn at 5thgear kedar did a similar mistake by trying to turn with clutch pressed. After the incident it took kedar one and a half day to take the handle again & Bishwa seizing the opportunity & fulfilling his desires of hill road riding. We reached Patna bypass at 8.00 pm. We stood in a petrol pump to fuel our bikes and the pump staffs advised us to take a night halt at Patna since the road ahead was not very safe at night. We too were pretty tired & responded to the proposal abruptly.  After a brief ride we reached Patna Township at 8.30 pm. A local resident on his motorbike accompanied us all the way to the Township.

Hotel rooms were hard to find since Patna was enjoying a VIP marriage party & nearly all hotels of Patna Township was booked for the invitees. I still have the curiosity to know who had such a crowd packed marriage ceremony. Such crowd is only seen in Kolkata brigade sessions. Is the bride’s father enjoying a sound heart?? I doubt!!

We went to Central Chowk of Patna Township & parked our bikes beside the road while krish went to find hotels in the locality. Bapida & Rathinda left for Patna junction looking for hotels. Rathinda had a lot of trouble managing people’s curiosity for his Ninja 250, especially some young Pulsarians trying to pick up a race in every corner of the road. Last but not the least a guy with a Hero Honda Passion persistent to pick a race with the Ninja 250 started to dribble around him annoying him to his limits. He was soon taken care of by me & later by Bishwa. As a regular tactic we overtook him & lowered our speed to minimum making sure there was no room left to overtake us. Soon the guy frustrated with the loss of Ninja in horizon gave up his racing instinct. Bishwa & I slowly raised pickup and got along the troop. Mission accomplished nice & sweet.

After searching for nearly two & a half hours krish came back frustrated & informed us that the only feasible chance was a Marwari hotel in Dak Bungalow Chowk. I left with Bishwa for Hotel Marwari and found an area called ‘Hotel Galli’ in Dak Bungalow Chowk. I entered the Galli in search of a hotel just to find Bapida engaged in talks in Hotel ‘Narayan’. After lots of bargaining we managed rooms in the hotel at Rs.1200 for three rooms. Dinner was not available at hotel since the kitchen is closed after 11.00pm. It was 12.15am and Krish & Bapida left to fetch dinner from the Patna station area. Cold rice, Dal & curry were all we got.  To make matters worse the Dal was contaminated. We had to manage with a half meal of rice & curry. Now, that’s Motorcycle touring. Hardship, Endurance, Entertainment, Team spirit, all in one Package.

22nd Nov and after a good nights rest in Patna we headed for Raxaul, the border of Nepal. Road conditions were so terrible that it proved to be a real test for a riders temperament & endurance. It was the first time I witnessed dust clouds barring the view like thick mist. Subhos Fazer & Rathindas Ninja suffered a lot of pain & hardship due to fiber panels in the body. Buddy too suffered with the hill type speed breakers due to its insufficient ground clearance. Bajaj really needs to work on that. Throughout the tour Avenger proved to be a fantastic performer but with the exception of low ground clearance & scraping of the foot pegs in high speed turns. Throttle up your speed at 80 kmph in a hilly turn & you find yourself scraping the foot pegs. This is not satisfying since the bike provides lots of confidence in hilly roads, with or without pillion but what’s the point if you can’t exploit it!! Anyways, It’s always fun touring on the Avenger. At around 9.15pm we reached Raxaul and crossed into Nepal Territory. Rolling Wheels bikers club have done it!!!!! We have crossed International Barriers. The Border Security Force of India & Border Prahari of Nepal stood still in amazement at us. One of them said “Kolkata se bike mein!!!! Train mein kyon nahin aya???” There was no proper explanation from our part except amazement in return.

He did help, indeed he did…in the most desperate way possible. While we were waiting for krish & Bapida to arrive, I felt a sensation that’s not very pleasing in front of so many children & women. I needed to go to the Loo!!…desperately!!!!!!  I waved at a man standing beside Subhos Fazer and asked him

Me: Toilet?

Man: Cho???

Me: ????????…………No.1!!!

Man: Cho???

Me: #??!@$@……… (Showed him the small finger), Toooiiilet!!!!

Man: Hissss????

Me: (Wondering if he thought I had something to do with Mallika Sherawat’s snake movie & then decided to take the risk)…..YA YA HISSSSS!!!!!

Man: Showed me a direction that went through his house.

I simply darted towards the indicated spot leaving behind children & women giggling at me. After crossing his backdoor, I realized that I was successful in making him understand what I needed. Relieved myself & walked back to my bike. The man anxiously asked:

Man: Ramro Cho??

Me: AAAAram Cho. Thanks a lot.

Meanwhile Krish & Bapida had arrived & were enjoying my condition. We waved goodbyes to the locals while I distributed some toffees to the local kids & we started off towards Sauraha.

We reached Sauraha at evening around 6.30pm. Hotels in Chitwan cost a pretty penny as well as food. Chitwan perhaps, was the costliest of all places we visited in Nepal. Krish had a friend there in Sauraha since his last tour of Nepal in 2008.

Deepak, a man in his mid thirties was the owner of a luxurious hotel in Chitwan, Chitwan Guesthouse. Among his prized assets were three enormous elephants, Moti, Raja & Rani. They were used for elephant safari. Rani being queen had a very risky record of tossing away tourists from its back. Travelling with Rani is totally upto her mood.

Deepaks hotel was full, so he helped us with his friends Hotel at a very cheap rate. His elephants stable was also attached to the hotel compound.

The hotel had no name since it was incomplete & not yet started for tourists. The hotel building is complete but the garden & parking area were under construction. Just like Chirkunda, we were the first boarders of this hotel. Gagan, the manager, a young energetic boy of 22 attended to our calls, even when at late night we decided to have a campfire, he readily arranged for all necessary ingredients while we went shopping. Carlsberg, Tuborg, Signature, Johnny Walker & lots of chocolates & Chips. Above all expenses were the phone calls to India. Rs.55 (NC) per minute makes us shiver even now.

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Campfire was a smash hit that night. Bishwa gained his true form of a born entertainer with his mimicries & dance followed by Kedar, Rathinda & Subho as well as the hotel staffs. After that I & Bishwa sang our heart out. Suddenly we found two guys from Switzerland in the middle of us. They were enjoying our campfire and have come to join us. The party went on for hours. Singing, Dancing, Drinking, Laughing, Eating……every way the heart felt like. After 3-4hrs of partying, dinner was served. We don’t remember the menu much except that the chicken was an eye-opener. We needed a sound sleep at night. Tomorrow after elephant safari & 20,000 lake bike safari, we are leaving for Pokhra. But…where’s Rathinda????

Rathinda, Saddened by the fact that the party is over tries his luck with Rani, with a few straw bunches in his hand. Rani was in no mood of eating this late night & annoyed with the row we have been kicking, lets out a loud mammoth fart…………………….Rathinda!!!!! Running away, with fingers clipping his nose. Goodnight Chitwan….Goodnight Rani.

24th Nov late morning but Kedar & Rathinda is not back from the elephant safari yet. We were all gossiping whether Rani has tossed away one of them, when they arrived. Their jungle safari hasn’t been very good. Though they were told that there are lots of wild animals to see, all they could find are a pair of deers a mile away. Anyways, Rathinda had had a nice time with a Swedish lady, explaining how wild the tigers of Nepal are, not by example though. Bishwa by the time was busy with kedars bike which was suffering a centre stand problem. The centre stand of the bike had broken off & he had to fix Krish’s side stand in Kedar’s bike. Subho was waiting patiently for Bishwa to get relieved from Kedar so that he could change Subhos bikes Engine oil. Subho is amongst those people who change their engine oil(though he uses Motul) every 1000kms. He earns a pretty penny too coz there are always people waiting to buy used but fresh Motul in their bikes. A budding businessman he is.

After the repair jobs, we set off for 20,000 lake safari on our bikes. On our way, we accidentally crossed the lane about 20 yards & like a good tourist crossed the road and headed back towards the crossing but was soon stopped by a group of people with a bamboo stick roadblock demanding toll tax. These are illegal taxes issued by local people and are payable only when Prahari jeeps are not present. We tried to enlighten them that we had accidentally crossed the junction for 20 yards and are heading back to the right turn crossing the street. They remained adamant and finally we had to pay Rs. 5 for each bike. Taxed for being a rule abiding traveler!

After the taxation, we headed towards the 20,000 lake checkpoint and had to be ticketed @ Rs. 60 per bike. Remember we are in Nepal, so currencies are all in Nepali (NC).

The road that ran through the sanctuary was totally forest road with no hint of tar/concrete. While going, to our right side was a canal that ran parallel to us and dense forest on both sides. Through the forests we could see several lakes and lots of deers. Some of them so near to us that made me wonder whether they are afraid of human existence at all. Try to photograph them & they run away so fast as if they saw Jim Corbett with his Lee & Enfield. The group got scattered trying to locate a few more wild animals. In one group, Bapida, me & Rathinda was deer seeking while the rest were far ahead, maybe doing the same. At one time, Krish with his group came back and said they had found a beautiful place to visit in this forest. We moved backwards and found a wooden bridge to cross the canal. Krish & Bapida inspected the bridge to see whether it was fit enough to take load of a fully loaded Enfield 350 & a rider. The bridge seemed fine except for an area on the right which had gone weak. The spot seemed too weak for the Enfield. It was decided that Krish on his Enfield would try first. If the bridge remains intact, the others, one by one would cross. What if the bridge doesn’t remain intact??? That was not discussed. Let’s be positive. Yes, let’s be, though the canal is 30 feet deep.

Krish geared up…started his bike…First gear…slowly raised his front wheel on the bridge… “More to the left!!”, Kedar Screamed… Krish adjusted his line & slowly crossed the canal to the other side. The Bridge Squeaked & creaked but was good enough. Next was Kedar with his Enfield. Followed the same line & crossed the canal. The others followed one by one and the cross was uneventful except Kedars show of immense strength by lifting nearly every bikes front portion and slowly landing them on the ground from the bridge. He literally carried the Ninja off the bridge since its ground clearance was too low to get down without breaking the engine guard fibers. “Strength like a demon”, said Krish. Truly, all through the tour Kedar’s impeccable strength astonished us every time.

This was a perfect place to pitch a tent & enjoy a campfire. The huge lake bounded by dense forests, beautiful tall trees and the silence of the forest made us forget everything. Pokhra…Katmandu…Nepal…Bikes…home…everything. It’s unimaginable that a forest view could be so beautiful. We stayed there for nearly an hour with Kedar so impressed that he decided to video shoot the scenic beauty with his narration. So beautiful that He even forgot his mother tongue & started narrating in Hindi….ridiculous Hindi. So beautiful that he forgot to stammer all through the narration. A genuine piece of art he is and that’s what makes him lovable.

Time was running out and we soon realized that we were getting late for Pokhra.  We resumed our journey & decided to make a halt at Narayan Ghat for lunch. We couldn’t have breakfast in Chitwan since we were already late for kickoff. Planned at 10am, we left Chitwan at 12.30pm due to repair & maintenance jobs.

Narayan Ghat is a small township that boasts of a few good restaurants & a big market place. After Birgunj this was one more place where we had a good lunch, though Gobi followed us yet again. Subho & I had our meal swiftly as we needed to make calls to our homes. By the way, our inauguration abilities clicked here too since this was the opening day of this hotel & we were amongst the first lot of customers. The happy owner offered us sweets after lunch.

After lunch we headed for Pokhra deciding to make a halt at Mung Ling, a junction where three diversions went to three important places of Nepal. One went to Katmandu, one to Pokhra & the other to Chitwan which we were using to come down to Pokhra. We reached Mung Ling at dusk and went in for a hot cup of tea with some snacks. Kedar and Subho as usual was feeling hungry & settled for chicken chowmin. You might call it chicken Chowmin soup as well. Bapida & Krish became busy with scheduling & planning for the next few days while Rathinda bored with the whole situation decided to enjoy a round of badminton with a local girl who was playing on the roadside with a middle-aged man. He had been eying the girl for a few minutes earlier. Rathinda walked towards the man asking for the racket. The girl walked towards the man & gave her racket to him. Rathinda was found playing with the man with a glum in his face. Later came back to our giggling team & announced, “I wanted to play with the girl, she plays much better than the guy” and lit a cigarette trying to burn his sorrows to smoke.

Kedars bike was taken over by Bishwa when we started from Mung Ling. Kedar though a good rider still needed a few lessons about night driving on hilly roads and the road was far too risky for a practical class. The traffic was quite fast but couldn’t maintain their lanes due to numerous potholes all over the road.

We went rolling for a few more kms when a man with a Yamaha Gladiator joined our troop. Usually outsiders in the group are a disturbance since their driving doesn’t match with the disciplined driving of a traveler. This man caused us no trouble. Within a few kms, he became a member of the group, driving beautifully with the team. After a few more kms he was found leading the team ahead of krish. Krish too didn’t try to go past him instead allowed him to lead. We rode together for an hour or half and had to stop since subho was feeling cold & wanted to put on his raincoat. By the way, Subho had packed his luggage so hurriedly that he had forgotten to carry proper jackets for the cold weather in Nepal. All we had were a pair of sweaters & a raincoat. My personal experience of using a raincoat to counter cold was a success. Sometimes it serves better to a hollow fill jacket. The unknown biker did not stop & moved out of sight. A few hours of driving together had made him a part of us & we started missing him. Krish too was quite exited about it and missed his presence.

While we were busy changing gears, Bapida & Rathinda arrived. They started late after us and wanted a halt while we would move ahead. We waved them goodbyes and started for Pokhra. After a turn we saw the man waiting beside the road. We stopped again for a chat & came to know that he was with the Nepal police & is heading towards his home which is just a km ahead. We bid farewell & moved ahead. Pokhra was still 47 kms to go.

The road to Pokhra from this point onwards was quite well & we darted at speeds of 80/90 kmph. The drive was uneventful except that 9 kms before Pokhra, Subho had a hamstring cramp and we had to stop and give him a massage. It didn’t work much & Bishwa had to drive his bike from there. Kedar happily took control of his bike & drove beautifully since then.

We reached Pokhra at 8.00 pm. Padam; the owner of the ‘Pokhra Guest house’ was also a friend of Krish & Bapida since their last tour of Nepal in 2008. The jolly man of thirties served both as manager & guide. The ‘Pokhra Guest House’ was a beautifully decorated hotel with big rooms and a nice bathroom with a bathtub. Later we realized that the water drainage socket of the bathtubs of both rooms went missing. Hot water too are available for 15 mins at night time. Kedar, desperate of a bath, took possession of the bathroom.

15 mins later we heard a sudden chanting of Prayers from the bathroom followed by enraged swearing. It was Kedar!! Everyone anxiously asked him if there was anything wrong, just to be answered by a series of swearing. Two mins later Kedar appeared, bent like an arthritis patient and shivering like a guitar string, swearing to his limits. Later when he gained control, we realized that the hot water had suddenly finished at a time when he had soaped & shampooed all over & he had to finish his bath with the freezing cold water in the chilled winter night. His story made us shiver imagining how it would feel to even touch the freezing water in this winter, forget a bath.

Dinner was nearly ready and everyone washed their hands. Taking a bath was inconsiderable following kedars experience. We all complained about the hot water unavailability to Padam. He promised to look into the matter right after dinner. The problem was not solved in our two days stay though. We took a stroll of the Pokhra market & lake while dinner was prepared & helped ourselves with some buffalo & chicken sausage. The buffalo sausage tastes better.

25th Nov morning and we all set out for sightseeing in Pokhra when I realized that I had left my Bansar papers in Chitwan checkpost, where we were taxed for abiding traffic rules. This was the first time I did such an irresponsible act & it would be tough to get through other checkposts without the papers. Krish & I set out for the nearest police station for assistance while others decided to wait for a while & then set off for sightseeing if we are late.

Police assistance is a scarcity in Nepal. We knew that if they wanted, they could easily contact with the Birgunj Bansar office to confirm our registration of customs duty and provide us with a fax copy. The inspector in charge denied any sort of help & advised us to go back to Birgunj Bansar office for duplicate papers. That was impossible!!

We decided to talk to the district police head for assistance. The D.I.G was a pleasant man with an open mind. He advised us to go to the district traffic headquarters & ask for a person who might help. He assured us that if we are denied help, we should come back to him & he would try his best to help us.

We reached the traffic headquarters and asked for the concerned person. To our bad luck, he was busy with a V.I.P meeting some place else. We had to talk with some other officers only to be answered with the same casual advice of going back to Birgunj Bansar office.

Disgusted, we set off for the D.I.G office once again as a last resort. The D.I.G. heard our experience elaborately and took a written report for my loss of Bansar papers. He gave us a received copy of the same which was earlier denied by the other officers. He also provided us with his office phone number in case we get into problems in any checkpost regarding the Bansar papers. Thanks a lot Sir.

While heading back towards our hotel, we noticed a convoy of bikes thumping their way through the city roads. That’s them!!!! That’s the convoy of Rolling Wheels!! I yelled and chased them till they slowed down to allow us to join the troop. Reunited, we headed back towards ‘Patale chhango’ popularly known as the ‘Davis Falls’ spelt also as ‘Devi’s Falls.’

On the 31st July 1961 AD, a flashflood from Phewa Lake swept away a swiss citizen, Mrs. Davis, having a bath with her husband beside the fall. Her deadbody was recovered after a long time. Since the time the fall has taken its new name as Davis Falls.

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We all tried our luck in the wishpool, but krish seemed to be the only one with truckloads of luck. 3 of his coins went to the right spot. 3 dreams to come true. Ladakh…Arunachal…What else!!! Oh……Europe’s calling!!!

From Davis Falls we headed towards ‘The World Peace Pagoda’ on the hilltop of Anadu, Pokhra. The Pagoda carries an interesting history of being constructed in 1972-73 & forcibly broken down by the government in 1974 and again rebuild by the same government in 1992. The Pagoda is truly a silent spectator of the Monarchs abuse of power.

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The road to the Pagoda was quite well but the final climb towards the Pagoda Parking was a real test of skill & courage. The terrain had no hint of tar/concrete, totally made of 6-7 inch deep sand & big pebbles and worst of all were only around 7-8 feet in width. I could see a few Mahindra trekkers climb up. The elevation exited me & I knew it would be a real test of Buddy with a pillion.

Buddy proved to be a wonderful performer & took me to the parking lot. He had endured a lot in the terrible road. All the way I kept bouncing like tennis ball & skid in the sands left to right. The situations turned worse when the hairpin turns came. Sand, Pebbles, Cliff, Hairpins……Bad Combination!!! But there’s no stopping us. Rolling wheels bikers club has always believed, “Where there is a wheel, there is a way” and others would say “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going”.

Finally, the whole troop was on top of the hill beneath the stairs of ‘The World Peace Pagoda’. Whole troop??? Kedar was nowhere to be seen, though he was among the first guys who started. It seemed kedar did not notice the Pagoda & throttled on to climb the next hill. Krish took Subhos Fazer and set off to look for him.

Half an hour later Krish came back giggling to be followed by Kedar. When asked, Krish said Kedar was found on the top of the next mountain. Lost…his bike parked aside…and having a big glass of goats milk offered by a local. They also offered a glass to Krish, which was also taken care of by Kedar since krish does not like goats milk. After the treat they had climbed down.

Krish said the scenic beauty from the hilltop was outstanding. I, Bishwa & Subho set off in search of the scenery & took some fantastic snaps of the entire Pokhra Township beneath us. The road towards the hilltop was far more horrible than earlier, but it was worth it. Though we were not fed with goats milk like kedar we managed to find out an abandoned UNESCO hospital on the hilltop. It was last used in 1964. The remains were in ruins. We decided to give a night halt in the hospital the next time we come to Nepal.

After our visit to the hilltop, we climbed down to visit the World Peace Pagoda. Steep rocky stairs going upto 300 feet took us to the Pagoda. The entire campus was filled with silence…Holy silence. The only sound to be heard was the chanting of prayers & the ‘bong bong’ sound of the drum in accordance. We went in to pay our respects to the Lord Buddha. After the prayers, a monk who was chanting the prayers gave us a toffee each. Filled with Holy Spirit & a fresh mind we started off towards our hotel. Tomorrow, we are leaving for Katmandu.

The spirit of Buddhist prayers had affected Bishwa so much that he fell in love with a local girl who lives by the Pagoda. I relieved his unhappy soul by promising to visit Pokhra with him again someday next year. I too needed to revisit Chitwan for some reason…he he he. ET TU BRUTUS!!!! As Julius Caesar would have said.

26th Nov afternoon & Rolling Wheels Bikers club was rolling towards Katmandu. We stopped for refueling in a petrol pump crossing Pokhra Township. I stood beneath a tree since Buddy had a bellyful of Petrol. All of a sudden krish started to yell his lungs out. I ran to the scene and to my horror found Subho…relaxed…holding a lighted cigarette in his hand…leaning against a tanker…A Tanker That Was Full of PETROL…everyone screamed at the possible disaster just to be answered with Subhos typical ‘Chill Dude’ hand wave. Krish again turned Fujiyama & raised another thunderstorm.

After refueling, we set off towards our first halt…Mungling, which was 90 kms from Pokhra & 110 kms from Katmandu. We reached Mungling at 5.00pm. Since this was our second visit to Mungling, hot cups of tea was readily served. Bapida, Kedar & Subho as usual settled for their evening snack with Egg Chowmin.

We started from Mungling at dusk & headed towards Katmandu. The road to Katmandu was well built, good enough to cruise at 90-100 kmph. The corners were broad & smooth. Even the sharpest of the corners became fun since the road banking & asphalt quality was good. Things went quite well until kedars bike now suffered a sidestand problem. The sidestand came loose & had to be tied all the way with the bungee that held the saddlebag in place. Kedars bike seemed to be addicted to a ‘Standing Problem’.

The repair job took some time & we ended up reaching Thalem (Katmandu) at around 10.30 pm. We parked our bikes beside the taxi stand while Krish as usual went to find a hotel. Thalem seemed to be a place with a good nightlife unlike other places of Nepal. Even at 10.30 pm there were lights & people everywhere. Restaurants & Disco’s were on full swing. Later we came to know that in Nepal, Saturday is considered to be a weekly holiday, as Sunday is in India. It was Friday night & everyone was enjoying life to its full.

Krish came back with a sad face. He couldn’t manage a hotel meeting our requirements. Moreover being late night the hotel owners charged higher rates than usual. We came busy discussing fund status when a guy with a bike approached us asking for a matchbox. Later when he realized that we were tourists and in grave problem voluntarily helped us out with his friends’ hotel at a very reasonable rate in the best possible location of Katmandu.

The Chitwan Guest House is a comfortable hotel with a friendly management. Situated in the most posh area of Katmandu, its rates are quite reasonable. At first we were a little skeptic of the whole situation but later when we realized that the guy really meant to help, we became good friends. We are still in touch to each other. It was late night & we all needed a dinner & a good sleep.

27th Nov late morning & we were off sightseeing after bath. It’s been two days that we didn’t have a bath due to unavailability of continuous running hot water in Pokhra. We went to the taxistand & booked a taxi and set off to Bhaktapur Palace. (Refer to “Nepal’s History”)

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After our visit to Bhaktapur, we went to the famous Pashupati Temple. The Pashupati temple is the most popular & famous places in the whole of Nepal. We found lots of Sadhus who poses well for a snap in exchange of a little money. Though I am not much of an expert but was astounded at the architecture which stands as evidence to the highly skilled labours in those ancient ages.

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After our visit to Pashupati there was not much to visit in Katmandu except the famous casinos. We were all waiting for this time to come.

It was evening & we headed for the oldest & the most popular casino of Katmandu, The ‘Annapurna’. Before going to Annapurna we had visited a few other casinos but none are as big as Annapurna nor do they carry its dignified environment. We had all priorly decided of our maximum budget for the casino, so as to make sure we don’t fall into the trap of greed & later lose everything. Casino is a place where one becomes rich or loses all, but we came to enjoy ourselves & make sure to stay safe.

We all tried our luck at the jackpot but as usual all suffered losses while Krish’s luck as usual bloomed to its limits and he returned with boxes full of coins. Bishwas luck helped him at the last moment with a no loss no gain result, but we all wondered whether Krish’s win had something to do with the Wish pool in Davis Falls. Anyways, Lets party to that.

It was getting late and we reached our hotel. Dinner was kept ready. After dinner we packed our luggage since next day we are starting our way back towards Kolkata (India).

28th Nov morning & Rolling Wheels Bikers club was on roll towards Chitwan. On the way back, we decided to visit the Manokamana Temple. Myth has it that anyone who offers a Puja in the Manokamana Temple has their wishes fulfilled. We took a ride in the ropeway to go to the temple. The ride was steep & high. It was so high that we could see the Lang tang range from the coop. Another beautiful thing to notice is the terrace farmed land beneath which could not be seen from ground level. This was the first time we saw Kedar nervous. So nervous that he started chanting ‘Ram Ram’ as soon as the ride started.

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Rathinda & Kedar offered Puja in the temple while I took some snaps of the temple & the ice clapped mountains in horizon. Everything was done with a bit of hurry since we needed to reach Chitwan by the day. On the way I happened to meet a guy on a Pulsar220 trying to teach me hill driving & challenging me in a race. The bet was of a thousand bucks. He also had a friend with him on a Yamaha Gladiator. The race began and after 10-12 mins I couldn’t find him in my Rear view mirror. I did not slow down respecting Pulsars impeccable pickup and kept maintaining speeds of 110-120 kmph, taking the hilly turns at 85-90 kmph (All thanks to the outstanding dynamics of the Avenger 220, unlike its predecessors)

We reached Chitwan at evening. Deepak was not expecting us on our way back, so all rooms in his hotel were full. We again boarded the same hotel where we stayed in our last visit but had dinner in Deepak’s hotel, The Chitwan Guesthouse. Dinner was magnificent with chicken & for the first time, NO GOBI!!! We headed back towards our hotel bidding goodbyes since we needed a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow we are leaving Nepal territory & entering India through Kakkarvita. Our night stay would be in siliguri.

29th Nov morning and Rolling Wheels Bikers Club was on roll towards India. The group was divided in two troops so as to maintain average speed. The border gate closes at 9.00 pm. In one group, I, kedar, Bishwa, Subho & Rathinda rolled while Krish & Bapida started after us. The idea was to make sure we don’t take too many halts since Bapida & krish would catch up & shoo us off the lethargy. The scheme worked wonders. We reached the border at 8.50 in the night and took a triumph in the Indian Territory. Rolling Wheels Bikers club has successfully toured Nepal & back safe & sound with a smile in each face. There was jubilation all around. Even the BSF congratulated us at the achievement and offered us with drinking water & hotel directions.

We took leave from the BSF & customs & started for Siliguri. Everyone was dead tired. Siliguri was still 40 odd kms to go. We needed to reach early so that we could find a hotel & have our dinner as well. It was becoming hard for Rathinda to keep his eyes open. Being a man of 44, he had shown tremendous fitness & stamina as well as being a wonderful team man. The age difference never mattered with him. He is a person to enjoy with, though very sober. Rolling Wheels Bikers club would obviously like him to participate in all tours & trips. A True Gentleman as he is.

We reached Siliguri at 10.00 in the night. Rathinda, however managed to get lost in front of our very eyes.  When we stopped near the bus stand looking for hotels, he vroomed past us. With sleepy eyes he couldn’t notice us. We shouted and indicated at him but in vain. Bishwa took Subhos Fazer trying to look for him but returned alone. First we were all a little worried since there was no way to contact him as his mobile phone had broken down in Nepal. We all switched on our mobiles in hope that he calls us, but he didn’t. Later we realized that without his phone he couldn’t get our numbers too, but we knew that he is a smart man, has enough cash to take a hotel and contact us later. An amount of despair still remained since this was our last night together in this tour & we planned to celebrate. The plans were cancelled since Rathinda was not present.

After having dinner in a local restaurant where most of us had mutton after a long time, we set off in search of a hotel. Finding hotels here too took some time. Finally we managed to find a hotel with a secured parking space. Luggage was kept tied to the bikes since we would leave for Kolkata early morning and everyone bid goodnight to each other & went to sleep. Tomorrow we would be at home.

30th Nov morning: Bishwa & Kedar decided to stay back for a while since Kedars bike was suffering a mudguard stay problem. The stay had broken off last night and they decided to repair the bike in the Enfield service centre in siliguri. Bapida too decided to stay back with them since his bike too required some attention. I, Krish & Subho left with a plan to make a halt at Raiganj where the others would join us. Rathinda was still out of contact.

Late afternoon & we reached Raiganj and made our scheduled halt. We made a call to Bishwa enquiring about their status & learnt that he & Kedar are leaving for Sikkim. They want to extend their tour & attempt the ‘Old Silk Route’ in Sikkim as well as Nathula pass. We were astonished by their stamina & resilience. That’s the true spirit of a Tourer. That’s the spirit of Rolling Wheels Bikers Club. We wished them Goodluck & Krish gave them some important tips on locations of Hotels & Offices for permission formalities. After all Sikkim is our second home, majorly his. Bapida had already started for Raiganj & is expected to reach us by an hour & he did. All of a sudden Rathinda called up. He had bought a new handset. He, with his bike would go to Kolkata by train that evening. His health had deteriorated suddenly and is not possible for him to drive back to Kolkata. We were relieved of his news. At least he is ok. The health problem is due to tiredness.

After our late lunch we started from Raiganj at dusk. The next halt was scheduled at Baharampore. All of a sudden 30 kms from Raiganj Bapida’s Bike broke down. That was the last straw. After multiple efforts from multiple people it could not be started. It was 7.30 in the evening but being a village area, it seemed to be 10.00 at night. We tried a lot but couldn’t manage a mechanic at this time. We decided to go back to Raiganj’s hotel & stay for the night, but to do that we needed a rope to pull his bike till Raiganj but couldn’t manage for a dependable rope. The only shop where we could find rope was closed. At last two kind hearted motor van drivers gave us a rope each which were good enough to pull a four wheeler all throughout India. We thanked & hugged them at their generosity and headed off towards Raiganj. I & Subho left earlier so as to ensure rooms in the hotel and a mechanic in the early morning. Hotel rooms were booked but the mechanic would be available only after 9.00am. I had been in a long leave from office & needed to join right from tomorrow. I & Subho decided to leave early morning while Krish & Bapida would start after their repair jobs.

1st December early morning I & Subho left for Kolkata. We decided to make a halt in Baharampore for lunch & finally at Krishnonagar for a cup of tea. Subho drove beautifully allowing me to make full use to the good road conditions and maintain an average speed of 65kmph. We reached Baharampore at afternoon & had our lunch there in Hotel Samrat where I had a ridiculous Biriyani. We made a call to Krish enquiring them about their position & heard that they have just started from Raiganj. I knew that it would not be possible for me to join office that very day & decided to drive comfortably to Krishnonagar and wait for them to rejoin.

We reached Krishnonagar at dusk and made them a call enquiring their position. We were told they would reach Krishnonagar in less than two hours. We stood waiting there, watching India – New Zealand cricket match & having a few cups of tea. Subho majorly spent his time with his girlfriend on the phone. Poor chap! Ever since we entered Nepal, every minute he called proved expensive @ 55/min…Remember??

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Krish & Bapida came within two hours & Krish was suffering a wrist pain due to the fracture he suffered in his tour of Ladakh. It was somehow again affected by a jerk while coming to Krishnonagar. We decided to drive comfortably back home without much haste. Remember, The toughest part of a tour is the climax, when everybody tries to reach early & hurries. This is the time for self-control & alertness. With a tired body & mind, hurry is perhaps the only thing that could be lethal.

We called up Pritam to let him know that we are about to start from Krishnonagar. I knew we would find him waiting for us somewhere. So he did, after driving for about 45 kms we found him standing beside a Patrol Jeep in a Bharat Petroleum Pump. We had a cigarette together and started for Dunlop, Rolling Wheels Bikers Club Premises with Pritam playing his role of a coordinator & The Indian National Flag fluttering proudly in my bikes front mudguard.

I Love You Rolling Wheels…I LOVE YOU INDIA.

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