On a bright sunny day while the three of us ate poories and looked at each other’s beer bellies with the spotlight fixed on mine, it was decided to do something about ‘it’.
Thus was born the idea of cycling to Kurukshetra in the ‘overheated’ month of April 2016.
“The secret to a good ride/trek/journey is sound sleep and you both should aim at nothing less than 8 hours of sleep. I prefer 10, so I’ll go to bed right away.”, said I to Sourabh and Shubham.
While they started packing and greasing their cycles I went to drink beer with my college senior whom I met after a long time. I don’t remember anything that happened afterwards except for the sour taste of Belgian Hoegaarden.
All I remember is that I was forced to leave my bed at 0300 Hours in the morning while the remnants of chilled Hoegaarden tried to hold me back. Eventually I had to give up. Having slept only a couple of hours literally I filed a mercy plea but that was rejected.
Finally at 0420 Hours we were all set to hit the road.
The good thing about starting this early is that you don’t have to waste time in otherwise busy streets of Chandigarh. We reached Zirakpur Decathlon within one hour which usually takes close to 90 minutes during working hours.
The bad thing is encountering hundreds of trucks coming from all directions. The stretch between Zirakpur and Ambala had those towering fancy street lamps that probably run on solar. Not one of them was functioning and we had to rely on our teeny-weeny cycle lamps.
My father served in Punjab in late 60’s and he used to tell us about the sorry state of affairs in Punjab back then. It was an era of rampant lawlessness and I vividly remember the name ‘Lalru’ featuring in our bedtime stories.
In 1987, 74 bus passengers were killed by terrorists near Lalru.
It was the same Lalru that we were crossing now. The road was not illuminated at all and surprisingly the mad caravan of trucks had disappeared behind me. My companions were far ahead of me and it seemed that ghosts of 1987 were encircling me.
I pedaled hard through that stretch and as discussed earlier we three took a break at Ambala. Afterwards, it was smooth sailing past wheat fields and amazing flyovers. The mercury kept rising and by the time we parked ourselves beneath the Pipli flyover, the sun was steaming hot at 37 °C.
In Punjab, you will often come across Category B assholes who ride on the wrong side but keep their headlights on as a warning signal for the uninitiated.
However, in Haryana you will find Category A assholes who not only ride on the wrong side but do it proudly. Look at one such sample in the photograph above.
A friend had made our stay arrangements at Gujjar Dharmshala that was still 6 kilometers away. And as they say, the last few miles always hurt. We all were perspiring and our knees were squeaking. It took us 40 minutes to find our dharmshala.
The next five hours were spent snoring and farting.
In the evening we paid our obeisance at the Brahm Sarovar and then we walked across the railway station to the old city of Thanesar.
Harsh Ka Tilla and Sheikh Chilli’s Makbara
The battle of Mahabharat was fought here. The seize of Mewar Kingdom Chittor was planned here at Thanesar when Akbar massacred hundreds of sadhus bathing during eclipse .
The remains of an ancient city settlement (founded by Raja Harsh 606- 647 CE) were excavated at Thanesar. On the basis of various identifiable remains, the excavations revealed a sequence of six cultural periods.
Sheikh Chilli, the clown of our childhood stories, had been put to rest here at Thanesar. The same Sheikh Chilli who would count his eggs before they hatched. He has a sprawling tomb built in his memory at Thanesar. Overlooking the ancient ‘Harsh Ka Tilla’, Sheikh’s tomb has a considerable influence of Persian architecture.
These two archaeological sites are well maintained which is in stark contrast to normal behavior of ASI guys.
After taking another dip in the Brahm Sarovar, we went back to our Dharmshala. This time I actually slept early and left early morning by 0400 Hours.
Our odometers read 101 km. That was my first century. And first centuries are always great, they make you feel better and crave for more and more. While Sourabh is a double centurion already, the two of us were ecstatic beyond measure as we had two back to back tons.
Next: Target Double Century