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RoadShaman

Travel | Motorcycles | India

Travellanka

Photo story of my trip to Sri-Lanka.

Route: Colombo >> Hikkaduwa >> Galle >> Weligama >> Mirissa >> Tangalle >> Kataragama >> Yala >> Colombo

Travellanka

Roadtrip 101

I have not always chosen the safest path. I’ve made my mistakes, plenty of them. I sometimes jump too soon and fail to appreciate the consequences. But I’ve learned something important along the way: I’ve learned to heed the call of my heart. I’ve learned that the safest path is not always the best path and I’ve learned that the voice of fear is not always to be trusted. I’ve learnt that its more thrilling to walk same road after being hit. I’ve learnt that essence is to walk. – Steve Goodier

There’s nothing more liberating than just grabbing your bag and hitting the road for a long trip. Everybody has their own style of travel and none of them are wrong. While we all love choosing the road less travelled, there’s no harm in knowing a few tips and tricks to make your travels more enjoyable.

Make a plan, but not a rigid one
If you’ve got a time limit (as most road trippers do), it’s smart to plot out a broad itinerary. This should include your daily destinations, rest days etc. This might sound a bit off, but don’t research your stops beforehand. I always know the destination that I am heading to but I seldom do any research of the place or any prior bookings for my stay. The reasons are simple – You never know when you might want to stay an extra night in a place that you’ve grown to like. Plus, expectation can be the grand crippler of happiness, so it’s best to go with an open mind.

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Pack light so there’s room to collect.
You’re going to find authentic shawls in Himachal Pradesh. And an awesome mountain-goat horn art in Cherrapunji. And so many amazing local delicacies and spices. It will be such a bummer if your bag is too full to stow these finds.

TLC for your motorcycle
This is the obvious one. Give loads of tender love and care to your motorcycle and it will never let you down. The first and foremost thing before you head out on a long trip is to make sure that your ride is serviced. Ensure all nuts and bolts are screwed in properly, the electricals are working (check headlight, horn, indicators etc).

Most importantly, make sure you do an oil change so you can rest assured on the ride. Every motorcycle brand and type has a special type of oil which is best suitable for the engine. For my Royal Enfield, I use Castrol POWER1 CRUISE 15W50. I recently started this engine oil and while I was riding up the hills I found a difference compare to my previous rides. It’s a semi synthetic motor oil specially formulated for such riding conditions. Its Power Sustain Technology manages heat and friction ensuring continuous power delivery, thus providing on-demand acceleration.

So, Identify the best suited oil for your bike and top it before heading out. While on the road, watch out for warning signs that your motorcycle gives you. You must know how to identify the early signs so you can get them fixed before any major breakdown.

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Be Adventure ready
You are going to face rains, heat and really bad roads. We live in a country where every corner seems to manifest an astonishing new aspect of the unpredictable kaleidoscopic wonders, some can be pretty and others, well not so much. So it’s best to be prepared. Wear comfortable all weather gear. Carry a rain poncho, a camel hydration pack and a tarp cover for your luggage.

Eat light and stay hydrated
Eat very light for breakfast, then eat an early lunch. If you’re going to eat a heavy meal or a lot of food, save it for the last meal of the day when you’re done riding — because big meals take a lot of energy to digest and will make you drowsy. Pack snacks if you have the space. Make it a point to drink some water every time you stop (even if you don’t feel thirsty). It’s important to your alertness and your overall comfort level to stay hydrated.

Remember every terrain, every ride is different and you need to prepare for it differently. But all in all these are just a few generic tips and tricks that you can follow before heading out. So, throw your leg over that motorcycle, keep your head clear/alert and just enjoy the ride.

A look back at 2016 (Review in pictures)

2016 has been an eventful year. For many different reasons, I was unable to take that one big trip that I religiously take every year. Instead, I ended up taking lots of small and unplanned trips throughout the year.

There’s nothing much to write about these journeys, so here’s a quick year review of my travels through my pictures.

India Bike Week, Goa | February 2016

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Nagaon, Maharashtra | July 2016

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Saswad, Maharashtra | August 2016

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Kanheri Caves | August 2016

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Someshwara, Karnataka | September 2016

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Sirsi, Karnataka | September 2016

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Somewhere en route Nashik | September 2016

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Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu | October 2016

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Gokarna, Karnataka | October 2016

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Detour off NH4 | November 2016

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Mussanah, Oman | November 2016

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Mandhardevi, Maharashtra | December 2016

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And of course endless number of Pune-Mumbai trips throughout the year with my favourite travel buddy 🙂

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Here’s a video recap of all the above travels.

So all in all, 2016 has been a great year! Met lots of new interesting people, tried things that I never thought I would do, saw some breathtaking sunsets, witnessed some magical things, tried different modes of transport for a change and so much more.

Thank you 2016 for all the special memories 🙂 Here’s to a super adventurous 2017, filled with loads of travels!

Happy holidays everyone 🙂

Some evenings…

Some evenings,
after days when the world feels like it has poured all of its despair onto you,
when I am awash with burdens that rest atop my body like a burlap of jostling shadows.
I find a place to watch the sunset. I dig my feet into a soil that re-birthed itself a million times over.

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I listen to the sounds of the leaves as they decide whether or not it’s time to descend from their branches. It is hard to describe the comfort one feels when sitting with something you trust will always be there. Something you can count on to remain familiar when all else seems awry.

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How remarkable it is to know that so many have watched the same sunset before you.

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How the wind can carry pollen & drop it somewhere it has never been. How the leaves become the soil that then becomes the leaves again.

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How maybe we are not so different from the leaves. How maybe we are always being reborn to something more beautiful than we once were.

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How maybe that’s what waking up each morning is. A reminder that we are born with the same atoms as every plant, and birds, and mountains, and oceans around us.

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That we don’t really exist in the world.
We are of it.

– Clint Smith

Speeding Motorcycle of my Heart

Speeding motorcycle, won’t you change me
In a world of funny changes
Speeding motorcycle, won’t you change me?
Speeding motorcycle of my heart
Speeding motorcycle; always changing me
Speeding motorcycle, don’t you drive recklessly
Speeding motorcycle of my heart
Pretty girls have taken you for a ride
Hurt you deep inside but you never slowed down
Speeding motorcycle in my heart
Speeding motorcycle, let’s speed smart
‘Cause we don’t want to wreck but
We can do a lot of tricks
We don’t have to break our necks
To get our kicks
Speeding motorcycle, the road is ours
Speeding motorcycle, let’s speed some more
‘Cause we don’t need reason and we don’t need logic
We’ve got feeling and we’re dang proud of it
Speeding motorcycle, there’s nothing you can’t do
Speeding motorcycle, I love you
Speeding motorcycle, let’s just go
Speeding motorcycle
Let’s go let’s go let’s go
Oo oo

Never stop wondering, never stop wandering

Hi, my name is Tanveer Taj and travelling is my passion.
As clichéd & vague as that sounds, to really understand what led me to this & what truly drives it, we need to jump back a few steps.
Being brought up in Muscat, I always wanted to come back & explore my motherland.
Finally, in 2008 I moved to Pune for higher studies. I started exploring places around the city, but it wasn’t long before I realized I needed some wheels to get around. I picked up an old second hand Yamaha and after that there was no looking back. I found myself heading to the nearby hills & forest almost every weekend. It started with short trips outskirts of Pune, then extended to Kolhapur, Bhimashankar, Nashik, Mahabaleshwar and so on. I started loving the freedom that I experienced on the motorcycle and the peace of mind I had amidst nature. I knew I was addicted.

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In 2010, I bought a Royal Enfield & with an upgrade in motorcycle, came an upgrade in destinations. By 2012, I had started doing trips to Goa, Karnataka and other close by places. In 2014 I went on an epic motorcycle trip from Delhi to Chennai via the east coast of India covering 28 cities across 8 states in 34 days. I obviously couldn’t get leaves for such a long trip so I had to quit my job. It was a scary decision, but I took it anyway and it was for the best. I got back from the trip, started freelancing for a few months before joining another advertising agency. About a year later, I quit my job again and did a solo trip to the Himalayas. Why I did that, is a story for another day.

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Because I was travelling a lot, I started writing about my experiences & documenting my journeys on my GoPro. I started sharing them on social platforms and got fairly popular among my friends & fellow travellers. This is when I started my own website – http://www.roadshaman.com. I upload all my travel stories, pictures & videos here.

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So yeah, that was my story. Coming back to my passion; what really drives me to quit jobs, spend all my savings, fight with my parents/friends to go on these trips? The answer is simple –

1) The Zen: This is the obvious one. Almost all my life decisions have been taken while riding on an open road in the middle of nowhere. All my worries take a back seat & I am actually at peace with myself when I am on my motorcycle. The long rides give me ample time to think about everything that matters in a more relaxed state.

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2) The People: We live in a terrible world. You hear about people killing each other and destroying the planet on a daily basis. Traveling has put me in touch with the good side of humanity. I have been astounded by the friendliness and compassion shown to me by people who didn’t know me and had no reason to help me. I think one needs to experience this ‘niceness’ to stay positive & restore their faith in this mad world.

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3) The Culture: Travelling gives me a chance to experience various cultures which I never knew existed. It’s amazing how diverse everything in India is, be it people, culture, faiths, dialects, languages, food, weather, geography, EVERYTHING! You have to experience it to believe it. We live in such a beautiful country & I feel we should explore our own backyard before moving out.

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4) The Rush: Be it riding solo in the Himalayas with no one around for miles at end, or riding at night in the core Naxalite forest area in Jharkhand, or being stuck in a random town for 3 days because of storm warning, you know these situations can be fatal, but you experience a certain rush that keeps you going. And of course, you emerge out of it with one heck of a story!

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5) The dilly-dally: Quite opposite of the previous point, travel also has the power to slow time down. Every once in a while we need to step out of our air-conditioned cages and just breathe, take time to watch the sunset or just walk aimlessly in a forest to truly value the magical world we live in. We are caught up with so many things at once that we tend to ignore what’s around us.

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People often ask how travel has changed me. If I look back at who I was before I began travelling and compare that to who I am now, I would have to say that travel has made me a better and more well-rounded person. I think travel makes everybody a more awesome person.
I truly, honestly believe if everyone travelled more we’d be in a much better place. People would be happier, we’d understand each other better, we’d be less materialistic and we’d learn to simply enjoy life.
Love is contagious. I want to share my love & passion with everyone & hopefully inspire them to go out. Travel simply teaches you how to be happy and the world could use some happy people 🙂

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Voice of the Himalayas (Video)

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. l want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied, I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

l want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments

– Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I read this at a cafe in Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh. I was staying in a travellers hostel at Dharamkot where I met some really interesting people who shared some really interesting stories.

Here’s a video from my trek from Dharamkot to Triund. Let me know what you think 🙂

Green Rush – Monsoon Ride to Madhe Ghats (Video)

The road is eternal and the wind is constant… let’s ride!

Weekend ride to Madhe Ghats with Rotrods.

Riding Solo to The Himalayas

Wow, so you’re finally going Ladakh, that’s amazing! You must be thrilled!

Of course I am!

So, you’re all set?

Yup, leaves applied, bags packed, motorcycle en route Delhi, all set!

Oh awesome, so how many of your group members are riding?

Uhh, it’s just me 🙂

What?! Are you crazy?! Why are you going alone?

I had this conversation with almost all my friends before heading to the Himalayas. Even I didn’t have an answer to it at that moment, but now I do.

I just got back from a 20 day trip to the Himalayas. Me and a few other friends were planning to go to Leh Ladakh for almost 2 years, but it never happened. In June 2015, I packed my bags and decided to do this trip on my own.

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All set! En route Shimla (Delhi – Chandigarh Highway)

There was nothing really planned, I just knew I had to ride North.

I have done quite a few motorcycle trips across India, but this was my first time in the Himalayas. It’s a whole new experience altogether & riding solo was a bit scary because I was not used to these terrains. The slopes are much steeper than usual, the curves on the mountains are slippery and there is actually no road, just mud, slush, gravel and broken tar.

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Extremely bad roads in Koksar, but the scenic beauty makes up for it
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Tar, cement, water, ice, mud. Calling anything & everything under the wheels, road

Traveling solo is exhilarating and humbling at the same time.

When you find yourself in the middle of Lahaul Valley, with no civilization for miles at end, no human contact, no network, you are alone with your thoughts. And it’s not a bad thing. The long deep silence, involuntarily gets filled by the voices only for you to hear loud and clear.

But yeah, sometimes you do feel like sharing the beautiful view with someone and sometimes you really need someone to pinch your arm in assurance that you are not dreaming. It takes a moment, for eyes to take in something so majestic and grand. It takes a while for the brain to process what the you are seeing. Clouds so close, sky so blue, silence you can hear, breeze you can see, and air so pure it feels like you are drinking water!

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Sat here for a while, it’s not often that we stand amidst sight that our eyes cannot contain.
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In this world there is a lot of beauty and there is a lot of pain, and both are worth crying over
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Ji Ba tara Pahad (Long live these mountains)

Right after Koksar checkpost, the amount of tourists start reducing and everything around looks straight out of a painting. I had to tell myself over and over again not to keep stopping, as I had to cover distance. But I just couldn’t resist myself, and ended up clicking a lot of pictures. To be honest, I was also really scared that my engine would die any moment because of the low oxygen levels and the cold weather, so whenever I would stop, I always kept the motorcycle running & never shut my ignition.

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White overdose at Baralacha La
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Too cold to smile

So, getting back to the question that I started with. I still don’t know why I did a trip on my own, but I do realize now that sometimes, we need some time off from everything and everyone we know to truly value them. We are so used to sitting in our air-conditioned cages and cribbing about everything that life throws at us. We often take a lot of things (and people) for granted. Now, I’m grateful for the roof I have over my head, the food I have to eat and the fact that I’m alive, healthy and living my dream.

There’s nothing quite like travel to show you what you had before you left
– Dan Vineberg

Here’s the video of the trip that I shot on my GoPro. Hope you guys like it 🙂

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