Motorcycle Trip to Khajuraho and Panna Tiger Reserve
Honda CRB 250
6 Fuel Stops
Kalyan – Nasik – Dhule – Indore – Bhopal – Sagar – Chhatarpur – Khajuraho – Panna – Jhansi – Shivpuri – Guna – Indore – Dhule – Nasik – Kalyan
These are peak summer days rides. One fine day in a group discussion, topic about photography trip came in to mind and few of my friends were discussing on much interesting topics and locations when the location of Panna tiger reserve and Khajuraho group of temples struck to my mind. Immediately after the discussion, long weekend of 3 days came and my Motorcycle was at good Condition. Newly booked Mahindra Mojo's delivery has been delayed by few weeks so this time the chance was grabbed by my CBR 250 to travel with me another 2500 kms approx. ODO was nearing to 70K and still running like a new motorcycle.
Pre - Ride:
I had a weekly off a day before weekend. I had planned to gear up and start Thursday evening, however office work till late evening and Lorry traffic on road by 8.00 PM made me to think of starting early morning. Reached home, checked tyre condition, chain lube, washed helmet visor, Removed dust on my riding gears, packed the bag with fully charged camera, 2-3 sets of cloths, medical kit, Tarp sheet and foot pump. Had dinner early and slept by almost 9.00 PM. Dreams were interrupting in between to ride. As per my schedule, had to start by morning 4.00 AM. However my brain clock made me to get up at 1.30 AM. Since all riding equipment were ready, took Hot water bath, had some snacks, and geared up.
Day 1 - April 8th, Gudi Padwa / Ugadi :
Left Mumbai by around 2.45 AM and reached Mumbai Nasik highway by 3.15 AM. Traffic was less and I had planed to cover 500+ kms (Till Indore) before noon. Clear roads and tank full of fuel made me to cover 220 kms in next 3 hours. A small tea break near Chandwad, and further journey started in next 10 minutes. A fuel stop around Dhule, and another 200+ kms covered in next 3 hours made me to reach Indore bypass (approx 40kms to indore) around 9.00 AM. Our regular breakfast / lunch stop on that highway. Had 2 plates of Poha and a cup of strong coffee. 15 mins break made me to feel that my ride has just started. Next target was Bhopal and till evening had planned to reach Sagar or Chhatarpur. I geared up and started at 9.15 AM and by 10.30 crossed Dewas and touched Bhopal road. Beautiful parallel roads divided by trees, with out pot holes, speed breakers, shade, less and sensible traffic (Except few auto rickshaw, Private vehicles with Ambulance siren) all were going fine. People rarely use horn in this region I guess. More over 70% of vehicles are with siren on the top of their vehicles and even few had announcement loud speakers. All SUV, semi SUV and cars I came across were having those gadgets even though it was banned for common people. Now I got to know why Madhya Pradesh is called MP. Hope you understood this joke.
Around 11.45 I crossed Bhopal, now single lane roads with opposite traffic roads started with many ruthless lorry drivers, fast moving bus, heat waves and all of the above, curvy dry forest roads. My Ugadi celebration was on hot roads and Hotter Madhya Pradesh. My average speed reduced below 60 as I had to ride more carefully. Till this time I had covered approx 750 kms in 10-11 hours. Now was the time to relax. Saw a roadside Dhaba with clean surrounding and few birds flying around. Thought that the owner was keen about eco system. Clean pot with little cold water made me feel fresh after a face wash and a bottle of cold water with Roti and Dal completed my lunch. A 10 minute rest and gearing up covered around 40 minutes. 2.15 PM journey started again. Little sunny day and warm roads made me to drive little slower. The roads were clear from fast moving lorry drivers as most of them were off for lunch or rest. Now it took more over 3 hours to cover next 140 kms to Sagar. Destination was less than 250 kms for the day. A fuel stop at Sagar took another 10 minutes and bypassing Sagar to reach Chhatrapur took another 15 minutes. Now it was time to hurry up a little to reach destination Khajuraho before night. Managed to reach Chattrapur by 7.30pm. Now destination was around 50 kms away. Day was getting darker and roads were getting more dangerous as Chhatrapur Panna road was under construction by GVK group where almost all bridges were incomplete, village roads were with dust and mud only. No sign boards and deep death road ends upto 1feet depth made it more dangerous to ride.
I cursed the contractor several times and went on to reach Khajuraho. Called my friend to book a hotel online as I had little less cash and non working ATM card (Citi bank old ATM card which works only in old ATM machines). My friend booked a Beautiful Casa di Willam in Khajuraho. I read a sign board, another 20kms to Khajuraho. Now it was heavy wind and drizzling rain that added more difficulty. Took proper diversion near the village to Khajuraho and saw the indication of 11kms to Khajuraho. Now most relaxed and fresh mind, had a tea in junction shop and irrespective of non cooperation from body parts, reached Khajuraho by end of the day.
I Reached near entrance of Khajuraho western group of temples. Just missed light show in temple by an hour. Now had two glass of Sugar Cane Juice at local shop. Was looking like almost all city has falls asleep. Checked in the hotel and parked my Bike inside the hotel. Ordered for dinner and had a fresh cold water bath. Now relaxed and had dinner and , sleept due to stress.
Woke up early morning at 5.15 AM. Since had to visit temple, took bath in cold water, had a cup of tea and started walking to Temple. Western group of temple was just at walk able distance and was opened from sunrise with entrance fee of 30 INR for Indians and 500 INR for foreign citizens.
Approx 1000 Years old temples, each and every pillar are carved with beautiful sculptures, Sand stone marvel, a wonderful creation of mankind, In depth knowledge of human beauty, art of making love, Apsaras, Elevated temple platforms, clean and clear environment, It appeared almost plastic free for me at that time. By 7.30 AM, I saw almost all temples around.
Now it was time to move to eastern group of temples and southern group of temples. Where religion specific Jain, Brahmin etc temples were located in Village area. 9.15am the clock showed and almost 20+ temples have been covered. Slightly hotter sun was peeping from clear sky. Reached back to hotel and had breakfast (Bread Jam – Food wise Khajuraho have adopted to foreign visitors more) getting good food is almost impossible.
By 10.00 AM, I checked out of hotel and headed to Panna tiger reserve. Entry gate approx 30 kms from the hotel. By 10.45 I reached the Tiger reserve entry gate and for surprise, Safari entry fee was 1320 + 300 and jeep charge was 1500 INR. I was just about to leave the location where I met a local guy Aakash who was very friendly and gave me few information about location. With his help, I went to nearby village, had Butter milk, and went near a river barrier where I could easily take my bike and park in mid of river. Nice breeze, cold and clear water made me to spend another 1 hour there. Next destination was Pandava caves, a small waterfall and caves at around 10kms from Panna. The place was so cold and small water sprinkle over caves, a pond like structure made us to sit for half an hour for meditation.
At 1pm we were back at Aakash house, had a bowl full of curd with Sugar (almost like cold lassi), by 2.00pm we reached near the entrance of safari gate where we waited for people who can come with me on sharing basis for jeep safari. Luckly by 2.30pm two workers from nearby village visited the place and was thinking about safari, I talked to them and adjusted with jeep charges to be paid my me and Safari charges by them. So almost 50% saving of safari charges. Time to wait till 4.00 PM for gate to open. Got a nice driver with good knowledge of location, timing and animals behaviours. 30 mins rest in heritage centre and little knowledge about tigers and King of Panna and their family Tiger Hunting history, by 3.50pm started to safari gate. With around two hours drive, we viewed lot of Spotted deers, sloth bear, Monkeys, Peacock, few birds, Sambhar, Chinkara, Nilgai, fox etc. Around 6.30 PM we returned to main gate.
It was time to say bye to Tiger reserve. It was little disappointing for not seeing tiger however started from Panna by 7.00pm and started journey towards Jhansi. Sad news was someone stole my gel seat leaving its cover intact on my bike, this had to make me travel 1200 kms back with regular motorcycle seat. Covered 150kms and reached Jhansi by 9.00pm now had to withdraw a cash of 3000 approx to ensure trouble free night ride. Targeted atleast another 200 kms ride before sleep however after Jhansi riding speed became low, covering another 70kms on highway, Near Sindh river base i spotted a Dhaba, had dinner and slept. Having plan to get up by 4.00 AM. In between I have forgotten to have Lunch for the day. As I was tired, had fallen asleep quickly.
Got up early morning at 3.45 AM, finished morning regulars and headed towards south, having target to reach Indore by 11 AM. Since the road was two way and no lorry drivers seems to have low beam light, it became difficult to cover even 40 kms a hour. Covered around 140 kms in next 3 hours. By 7.30 AM I was nearing the place called Guna. Another 260 kms to Indore and 4 hours target, had to drive at average speed of 80 kmph. Small break for breakfast “Kheer, Poha and tea” gave me all the energy, also fuelling motorcycle given assurance for next 300 kms nonstop ride. With few lorry accident views, tyre punctures, repairs on roads, one or two road diversions, finally reached Indore by 12.30 PM. Hot sun was up and I had still 500 kms more to ride. Decided that it will be atleast only 8 hours more ride hence can have relaxed ride. With few glass of water and butter milk, started journey again. Covered another 80 kms and stopped for fuelling. Now Mumbai was 450 kms away. After every hour I took a 5-10mins break due to hot sun and managed to reach Dhule around 3.30. Now worst things started happening. A car at a speed above 120 kmph and sleeping driver was almost near to my tail and in last minute I spotted it in rear view mirror and escaped. He bypassed the speed breakers in front in drowsiness may be without brake and I stopped for a sugarcane juice break. In next 1 hour I saw 2 toppled lorry and a toppled Xylo on road either due to over speeding + tyre burst or sleep. Now I had to drive carefully at constant 80-100 kmph. In an hour or so, I could managed to reach almost near Nashik. By 5.30 PM I crossed Nasik and estimated another 2-2.5 hours to my location Dombivali. From Last fuelling, I managed to cross Kasara ghat and bike showed low fuel indication.
Now it was time to fuelling, 10 mins rest and 100 kms to go. With little traffic, I almost reached Kalyan, another 25 kms was pending by 7.00pm. Had tender coconut and geared up with Google map, as for the first time I was bypassing Kalyan city in shortcut. By escaping from little heavier traffic, I managed to reach my home by 8.00pm covering approx 2500kms overall.
With lot of memories, photographs and new experiences of summer rides, learning many new things I am closing the details of the above solo ride.
Hope you guys liked it.