Ride The Flavour (en)

The welcome in Punjab and the mountains in Himachal Pradesh

May. 12th | 0 comments

“But in Jaipur, fabulous news was waiting for us…”

This is how our previous newsletter had ended. Because at that time, our world tour by bike was about to become electric again: we had got back the batteries of our bikes! They made it until the General Post Office of Jaipur; we only had to climb up to the floor of the customs, justify their non-commercial use (“yes, our bikes are just down the stairs, you want to see them?”), and pay the customs clearance to free them from their custody. It should have been simple… Though once there, we got surprised by the chaos we had in front of us! The parcels of the day (or week, who knows?) were scattered all over the place, there were power failures every 15 minutes, and it took us no less than 2h to get rid of the paperwork. But what does that matter?! We got out of the building with the batteries in our hands; the engines of our bikes would finally resume work!

Unfortunately, this perspective quickly evaporated… when the batteries did not turn on. Our sponsor, VELOSCOOT, found the cause of this dysfunction, and the diagnosis is formal: the batteries must return to France for an update at the factory. Eventually, it is not in India that we will again hear the soft purring of our engines.

Destiny played a hell of a trick on us, but what could we do? This disillusionment did not kill our motivation. Ahead of us were the Himalayan Mountains, and with them the hope of a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere. It was time to get back on track.

In Jaipur, we took the train to Amritsar. 800 km identical to the 500 that we had already ridden, so we were told. Neither remorse nor regret when purchasing the ticket, we were actually quite relieved to skip these 800 km in 1 night. The last 500 had turned our references upside down and shaken up the cornerstone of our thinking; we learned a lot, but Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are certainly not the most pleasant states to cross by bike in India…

Thursday May 1st. We arrive at Amritsar, spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh community. We have changed state, we are in Punjab!

Harmandir Sahib, the “Golden Temple”, in Amritsar. The most important place of worship for Sikhs.


The next day, we leave Amritsar and begin to ride towards East and Hoshiarpur. The change of air is blatant: the Indians who we meet on the road seem to be much friendlier than they were in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan! Bad looks are over, here smiles predominate! And it surely has to do with religion… In Punjab, most of the inhabitants are Sikhs. Helping and sharing are at the heart of their religion: Sikh temples offer food to all those who ask for it, irrespective of their religion, color or social class. The Golden Temple offers nearly 100,000 meals per day!

“The Lord Himself Is The Farm”


Distribution of meals… and tea also!


The atmosphere in the kitchens of the Golden Temple is both transcendent and very lively! Many Sikhs even asked me to take a picture of them!


At the end of the day, chance led us to a Sikh temple, a few kilometers before Urma Tanda. We had dinner, and breakfast the next day, and we discovered the founding principles of this religion, directly from one of the residents of the temple… (who fortunately spoke English!)

Sikhism was founded in the 15th century by Guru Nanak. It is a monotheistic religion that draws its essence from the spiritual teachings of the first 10 gurus, gathered in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the equivalent of the Bible for Catholics or the Koran for Muslims.

Fundamental principles:

-If you want something, do not try to get it from other people, use your own hands.
-Worship God, thank Him for your life.
-Share your goods with those in need.

The clothing rules:

-Do not cut any hair from your body. This is how God made you, there is nothing to change.
-The turban
-The silver bracelet so that you do not forget that your hand is the hand of God.
-The dagger to be able to defend yourself
-The underwear to remind you that you can only sleep with your wife

The heart of Sikhism (like the one of any religion) is good, but the way of life which follows seemed rather archaic to us… Still this temple was exuding altruism, we had received and we wanted to give back: after dinner, we helped washing the dishes. Air was pure.

The chance that led us to this temple? A meeting! A few steps before, for the first time since the beginning of our Indian adventure, an inhabitant opened to us the doors of his garden. An hour later, we were also invited to sleep in the temple. All over sudden, the whole India became welcoming!

Our private garden, for 2 nights!


The courtyard of the sikh temple nearby


This man exuded a profound peace. He allowed me to take a picture of him: he was wearing the complete outfit of real Sikhs… and had the typical position of an Indian taking a nap!


We then entered the mountains of Himachal Pradesh. Finally, the flat road became hilly and the uninteresting landscape became wilder. We even found a great campsite near a river. A river always means natural bathing and, the height of luxury, we even cooked crepes for dinner!


And here we are now at McLeod Ganj, at an altitude of 1800 m. For Samuel, the climb was difficult… He did really well for someone who was teleported into these rough travel conditions without preparation. His courage has performed miracles, unfortunately we have to face the reality: Samuel won’t be able to face the mountainous regions that lie ahead (with passes up to 5300m) with a 40kg bike.

That is why, for the next month, we will separate and each will follow his own path: Samuel will spend some time in a Buddhist monastery and then will wander around the area, while I will ride a long loop through Kashmir and Ladakh (Jammu – Srinagar – Leh – Manali). We will then meet again before going back to New Delhi.

McLeod Ganj, the village where the Tibetan Government-in-exile settled after leaving Lhasa to escape the Chinese oppression.


The promise of better mountains to come… 😉


To be continued…

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