A quick check on Google Maps told them that the shortest route to Leh would take them almost four days if they keep up good timing. They would have to pass through Andhra Pradesh via
Hyderabad on the NH9 and drive towards Lucknow on the NH7. From there the journey
was pretty much straight-forward via New
Delhi to their ultimate destination – the amazing
mountainous landscape of Leh Ladakh. Among the four of them, Amit was from Delhi and thus knew Hindi
very well. Shyam too had attended the basic Prathmik & Madhyama classes to
impress a Punjabi girl back in college and knew a little bit of Hindi, at least
enough to ask for directions in case they were lost. Sridhar and Vijay on the
other hand were clueless when it came to any language other than Tamil or
They set off towards Andhra on Saturday morning. Sridhar was sitting pillion with Shyam in Shyam’s Pulsar, while Vijay was in his Unicorn and Amit in his own Pulsar. The trip to Andhra Pradesh was around 500 kms. They planned to reach there in 7 hours, i.e., by Saturday evening and camp at
Hyderabad for the night. They congratulated
themselves for the perfect plan on their first day. But after a few stops for
food, fuel, nature’s calls and various “take-diversions”, they could only cross
Andhra around 10.00 PM on Saturday night. After a quick group discussion, they
decided to proceed towards Hyderabad
before stopping for the night.
It was Sridhar’s duty to manage their navigation as he wasn't driving. As they drove through the night, they reached a fork on the road. Sridhar quickly checked his phone for directions. According to the map, they were supposed to head straight; there was no mention of this fork on the map. It seemed like they were the only ones in and around that area, they couldn’t find a single human soul who might give them some direction. Cursing Google Maps loudly, they stopped to think of a solution. They would have crossed the last village about an hour ago which would be more than 30 kms back. Vijay suggested that they should turn and go back to the village for the night. But Shyam insisted that they had come a long way ahead and couldn’t waste their time or fuel by going back. After a few minutes of discussion, the group proceeded towards the road on their right which seemed slightly wider than the one on their left.
Sridhar started to worry a little as the road they had taken became narrower with every turn and street lights became non-existent. Although he was sure that geographically the direction they had taken would lead them to
he was clueless as to how safe these roads were or which part of Hyderabad they would
emerge out of. It was already nearing midnight and there was not a single human
being in sight. The only light visible was emitted from their bikes’ headlamps.
Finally after what seemed like ages, Amit shouted, “Guys, look over there”. They could see two small specs of light in the distance. The lights weren't from any vehicles in the opposite direction or neither were they from the street lamps. Sridhar immediately got cautious. He said to Shyam, “Wait, Shyam. I don’t think we should go any closer”. But excited from seeing the lights, Vijay had already gotten ahead of them and was speeding towards the source of the light. Amit, Shyam and Sridhar had no other choice but to follow.
As they drew closer, they realized that the lights came from powerful torch lights held by a couple of bulky looking men with thick mustaches. The men quickly reached the middle of the road and blocked the road ahead of them. Amit started panicking and said, “Guys, turn, let’s go back. I’m scared”. He had just voiced the other’s thoughts out loud. They were just 100 yards from the men when they stopped their bikes and tried turning back only to find themselves facing a big iron gate which had certainly not been there before.
To be continued…