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Posts tagged “adventure

Malabar Calling

……..Ah, Kerala.

Just the thought of traveling through this South Indian State conjures up images of stunning backwaters, epic roads, coconut palms, fabulous food, mind blowing beaches and well, tropical beauty at its best!

Photographer Nipun Srivastava took a week-long motorcycle ride with the Kawasaki Versys 650, riding through Goa, Karnataka and finally spending some time among the lagoons of Northern Kerala.

Feast   your   eyes !

Malabar Calling

Malabar Calling – A stunning Kettuvalam Houseboat at cruise on a typical lagoon.

“These refreshing vistas are what greeted me as I took a stop at Bekal, in Northern Kerala. After having ridden my steed (the Kawasaki Versys 650) through Goa, then Mangalore (Karnataka) and finally into Kerala, I was happy to have covered over a thousand kilometers. What’s more is that I was now well and truly in Malabar Country. A place known for its food, culture, temples, forts, beaches, resort hotels and of course – the serene backwaters of the Arabian Sea.

Sunset on the Backwaters
Backwater Sunset!

A sunset cruise over the (yet) noncommercial backwaters of Nileshwar is so nourishing for the soul, one needs to experience it to believe it. A two day drive or ride from Mumbai or Pune or a day’s hop from Bangalore, Nileshwar is your surest way of sampling the Kettuvalam houseboats and Kerala Culture whilst being spared the madness of usual Kerala hot spots which are known to be overflowing with tourists at most times.

As one rides up to the backwaters over idyllic little bridges and through lush coconut groves, you come across a dozen or so houseboat operators dotted along the inner waters of Nileshwar and around.

A typical sunset cruise.
Queen of the water!

Take your pick, most these boats are similar in look and feel, however we suggest you pick Lotus Houseboats or Bekal Ripples as your cruise of choice. Their vessels are good and make for a better nautical experience.

The boats have onboard kitchens, bedrooms with air-conditioning and open dining spaces fit for a family, couples or even a group of friends. Prices range from $50 to $1000 depending on the length of your cruise.

Cruise choices range from six-hour day cruises to short two-hour sunset cruises and you can even stay aboard these vessels overnight as they make their way, at leisure, from Nileshwar to Valliaparamba.

Sunset Hues

Sunset Hues – Serene waters of the Kerala Lagoons.

When you ride hard, you must eat well. In this part of India, food is sublime. From seafood to the choicest meats, even vegetarian selections, prepared with tongue tingling spices fit for royalty – it’s a real treat here!

Pardon my lack of Instagram professionalism as I conveniently excused myself from shooting images of my food. In the moment, I preferred pouncing on the plates over pulling out the lenses 😀

Instead, here’s a look at where we stayed.

Refreshing stays in Kerala!
Taj Bekal Resort and Spa – epic accommodation!

Kerala is home to some of the most idyllic Hotel Resorts and Spa Retreats in India. Taj Bekal, our anchor-point on this motorcycle ride, was the perfect home away from home.

Genuinely, what a place to spend the better part of a week. Taking a stroll under lush coconut palms, spending an afternoon at Asia’s largest Spa (really!), taking a moonlit raft ride on the (in-premises) river, sampling food at all four restaurants, spending time at the beach and in the fabulously put together rooms – we did everything this place had to offer. 

Fabulous beachfront at Bekal!
Taj Bekal Beachfront!

At Taj Bekal, I’ve stumbled upon my new stress-buster getaway itinerary: Take a flight to Mangalore, get the hotel to drive me to Bekal, spend three blissful nights here and then take a flight back to the grind!

Just being at Bekal eases the senses, surrounds you with soothing shades of green and blue as the sea breeze and brown sand take turns tickling you head to toe. It really is my go-to beach holiday now!

Bekal - Stressbuster of sorts!
Bekal – Stress buster of sorts!

Now then, with the Arabian Sea and the leisurely Lagoons of Bekal behind me, I was in the mood for some good motorcycling. I now set my target as Chikmagalur, in Karnataka.

After what I had just experienced in Kerala, I didn’t expect too much to see on my way inland. Boy was I wrong, motorcycling in India is truly something to write home about!

Riding away from the coast and into the Western Ghat Mountain range in South Western India, I was left dumbfounded by what I saw on my way.

Kudremukh, Karnataka.
Zipping through the Western Ghats on the Kawasaki Versys 650!

Kudremukh National Park, this is a protected part of the Western Ghat Mountain range in the state of Karnataka, India.

With just a single, exquisitely laid, super smooth and curvaceous road cutting through, Kudremukh has to be one of the most heavenly roads to ride on in India.

Kudremukh in the distance.
Kudremukh Peak & National Park visible in the distance, as seen from Mullayangiri.

Crossing over the Western Ghat Mountains, the roads now cut through lush Tea Gardens and Coffee plantations. The weather was now noticeably cooler and the roads were empty as can be!

The smooth hum of my motorcycle was the perfect companion as we took turn after turn into the overwhelming green surrounds of District Chikmagalur.

Lush Plantations of Chikmagalur!
Lush Plantations of Chikmagalur!

Chikmagalur is the birthplace of coffee in India. Legend has it that a Sufi Saint on his way back from pilgrimage to Mecca, carried a few raw coffee beans as he transited through Yemen. 

Those few beans are what started it all, as far as Coffee plantation in this region goes. Fascinating!

Approaching Chikmagalur!
Approaching Chikmagalur!

As you climb down from the Western Ghat Mountains, you hit Chikmagalur Town in the foothills. It’s almost as if Chikmagalur is cradled by the mighty Ghats, sitting pretty at a height of 3500 ft.

I made my way through the town, on one side was the semi-urban hustle and on the other, the mammoth mountain of Mullayangiri – the highest mountain peak in the state of Karnataka (6000 ft).

Riding to the top of Mullayangiri was my next target. It had been a while since I had ridden a motorcycle above 5000 ft in Nepal and Ladakh. I wondered how far up the mountain one could reach with the Versys 650.

Atop Mullayanagiri!
On top of the world!! (Well, just Karnataka really.)
The Kawasaki Versys 650 – Atop Mullayanagiri – The Highest Mountain Peak of Karnataka, India.

Getting to the top of this mountain was relatively easy. Although the extremely narrow road with tight hairpins and vehicles moving in both directions really got the blood flowing!

Just a couple clicks short of the top, the road vanishes completely. Hereon only 4×4 jeeps hired by tourist groups take on the last little bit of the climb as it is completely off-road. Well, Jeeps and motorcycles 😉

There should be a paved road all the way soon enough but for now, it was a two kilometer long off road track with steep fall-offs on one side and the mountain on the other! Like I said, it got the blood flowing 😛

Road to Mullayanagiri!
Road to Mullayanagiri!

From the thick sea breeze at Bekal to the thin air atop Karnataka’s highest peak, this had been a journey of sorts. The number of different terrains I had seen on this short 2000 kilometer ride was really something.

As I rode back towards Chikmagalur town, I loaded up on the famed filter coffee and bought myself a couple kilos of beans. You need to try the blends from here, you’ll forget about the crap we drink in our cities!

I really do mean that. At the Estate run shops in Chikmagalur, you can get customized coffee blends as per your preferences. Might I add, buying freshly blended Coffee here is extremely affordable.

Homeward bound.
Homeward Bound!

Charged up on coffee, it was time to head home.

What a journey it had been – seven days, over two thousand kilometers, great food, stunning scenery, fabulous roads and so much coffee. This trip ended up being everything I’d imagined it would be and more.

Safe to say, I’m already planning another trip down South. There’s just so much more to see and experience in South India!

Until next time, I’m Nipun Srivastava, Vrooming off!”


Wow, we at The Nirvana Team can’t wait to see where Nipun head’s next and which vehicle he chooses!

We thank Taj Hotels for their exceptional support and impeccable service along the way, their Hotels and Resorts make the perfect pit stops for motorcycle touring in South India.

The Kawasaki India Versys 650 performed like a total champ on this journey, as expected. Great performance on and off the road, fully loaded and even two-up. An absolute value for money motorcycle for India!

Do tell us what you think of this photo-story by Photographer Nipun Srivastava, would you like to see more stories like this in the future? Comment down below!

Follow @Thenirvanateam on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!


 


With the Toucan, You can!

In this article, we’ll briefly talk (and walk) you through the Alpinestars Toucan Motorcycling Boots in India.

Our review will help you understand whether this is the pair of adventure boots you should go for!

Alpinestars Toucan Motorcycle BootThe Alpinestars Toucan Motorcycle Boots!

Adventure motorcycling in India is fast catching up. Manufacturers are rushing to our shores with their machines, trying to bank any spare penny that the Indian tourer may have to invest in their products. Well, motorcycles aside, what often gets talked about is quality riding gear to go with these adventure machines.

A good helmet, a great riding jacket, good pair of gloves and a functional yet hardy pair of boots which will get you through thick and thin – that’s what’s on any true rider’s gear list. Well at least that’s the idea, anyway.

Here in India, buying quality riding gear takes a little doing. Very few places to test out the big brands, check the look and feel etc. If premium gear is what one is after, in all probability one will have to wing the sizing and bet ones money on a leap of faith while ordering these pieces.

This time, we bring to you the Alpinestars Toucan Adventure Touring Boot.

A boot we’ve lusted after for a while. A boot that’s almost mystical in its concept and a boot we’ve got our hands on recently! They say it can take anything any tourer worth their salt can throw at it. So does this thing really match expectations in India? Read on.

The Toucan is a premium motorcycle touring boot and costs a hair under INR 30000/-, which includes a 41% import duty. The boots aim to incorporate features of Alpinestars’ top of the line dirt-riding boots and safety aspects from the years worth of research and experience they have gained in creating riding gear for all types of motorcycling.

All that means little if these boots don’t keep a rider’s feet cool, dry and most importantly – safe while out on the Indian road (or off it!).

Alpinestars Toucan Boot Shoot!Alpinestars Toucan Boot Shoot!

Alpinestars Toucan Boot Shoot!Studio images for the Alpinestars Toucan Boots, shot at our in-house studio at TheNirvanaTeam HQ!

Over to our lead Photographer and resident adventurer, Nipun Srivastava, who is actually using the Alpinestars Toucan Adventure Boot currently:-

“”Damn, this thing feels stiff.”

When you first put on the Toucan Boots, you’re gonna panic. They feel extremely stiff, offer limited movement and make your heart sink. Putting these boots on for the first time made me feel like it was a waste of 30 grand. I probably wouldn’t be able to ride the bike with the foot freedom I was used to anymore. I even considered not riding with these boots at all, yes!

Once I calmed my disappointment however, I read the owner’s manual. There it was, the manual clearly states that the boot will be quite stiff when you first start using it and will loosen to fit aptly in due time. Alpinestars even advises one not to size up if the boot fits snug when new.

Phew!

Walk in the boots. Keep walking and flexing the boots to get used to them and let the boots adjust to your feet. The Toucan is a big boot and may be a tad overwhelming initially but bear with it. After a while of walking the boot, I got on to the motorcycle and took it for a ride.

Alpinestars Toucan Boot Shoot!Leaving town with the Toucans!

The gear shifts were tougher to make now. Braking no longer remained a casual flick of the foot, it now had to be a more conscious effort. Riding with this boot takes some getting used to.

Here are the usage aspects broken down for you:

Was I comfortable? – Yes.

Was the fit right? – Yes

Were my feet hot? – No

Were my feet sweating? – Very slightly.

Were the gearshifts easy? – No, especially at the start, since the boot is new and stiff it takes quite an effort to get the gears to shift when you need them. It does become easy as one keeps riding though.

Was rear braking easy? – No, I had to alter my braking style and be conscious of the amount of weight I put on the brake pedal. Since the boot is heavier than the ones I was used to (SMXs), usual force applied seemed too much. I got used to it eventually.

Are the boots easy to wear? – Absolutely, the boots are a breeze to wear and take off. The aluminum arrowhead buckles make the boot very easy to use.

Can I walk with the boots on? – Yes, it gets easier with every step.

Can I hike/trek with the boots on? – Hell no.

Are the Toucans waterproof? – Yes, you’ll be amazed. The Gore-Tex membrane keeps all water out 100%!

Are the boots prone to slipping on wet surfaces? – It is possible to slip in these boots. Do not take a chance.

Alpinestars Toucan Boot Shoot!Waterproof baby!

Are the boots easy to live with?

Big boots seldom are but the Toucans do the job they were meant to do very well. So taking that into consideration, yes, the Toucan is easy to live with.

Alpinestars Toucan Boot Shoot!Nipun’s Gear Setup:

Alpinestars Toucan Boots, SX-1 Knee Guards, Apex all-weather gloves and the Air Jacket – a perfect harmony!

You will buy this boot only if you’re in search for the best that’s out there for your feet. It cost us just under INR 30,000/- to import it to India from Germany, with a 41% import duty included. So, it does cost a pretty penny. If you’re still interested, you probably intend on doing some great travel with your motorcycle. After getting into these boots, you’re going to want to ride far and ride hard.

With the Toucans on and adapted to your feet,  you can ride far and long. Comfortable cruising on the highway is a pleasure as there is lesser need for rider inputs. On the trails too the boot manages to support ones feet very well. Should you have a brush with the dirt, rest assured that the Toucan will perform well. Adventure riding is where the toucan shines beautifully.

Alpinestars Toucan Boot Shoot!Trail trials!

I spent long, hot and sweaty days riding with the Toucan here in India and I have no negatives to report. It performed very well on the road. When I took it off-road and onto some tricky trails, the Toucan supported my feet and calves as I stood up to negotiate ruts and mounds. They have a solid feel when you put your feet down next to the motorcycle and make you feel well protected. The Alpinestars Toucan Adventure boot is value for your money despite the premium price tag.”

Alpinestars Toucan Boot Shoot!

Give it dirt, give it dust, give it mud or splashes of water while you tease your comfort zone exploring new horizons – the Toucan will thrive.

Then, just clean up and head out again!

Alpinestars Toucan Boot Shoot!


Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. All views represented are personal opinions of the writer based on his experience with the product showcased.

Product: Alpinestars Toucan Motorcycling Boots.

Photography for this piece has been delivered by our Lead Photographer – Nipun Srivastava and assistant photographer Kaustubh Khare.

Model: Our resident adventurer, Nipun Srivastava.

Vehicle: The Versys 650 ABS.



ARAI You Ready?

In this article, we’ll briefly talk (and walk) you through the New 2017 Arai Tour X-4 Adventure Helmet in India.

Our review will help you understand whether this is the helmet you should go for!

Arai Tour X4 (Route White)Adventure Ready – Arai Tour X4 ADV Helmet

As part of our jobs here at TheNirvanaTeam, we often head out to lesser explored parts of the Indian countryside. “Recces”, as we like to call our photography and trail finding expeditions, sometimes expose our team to conditions less than adequate for a “safe” and comfortable experience. As they say, no great story ever starts with the words “it all went smoothly”.

Given the risks we take to get our clients the shots and images they deserve, our boys and girls deserve the very best of motoring protection out there when exposed to the elements. We pride ourselves on using the best equipment to get that epic shot every time and that’s the same philosophy we like to follow for the vehicles and gear that we use for our job.

2017 Arai Tour X4 Route WhiteHelmet Colourway – Route White

Over to our lead Photographer and resident adventurer, Nipun Srivastava, who is actually using the Arai Tour X4 (XD4) currently:-

“”Jesus, you want me to pay close to a thousand dollars for a helmet?! You must be crazy.”

The Arai Tour X4 ADV touring helmet costs exactly INR 57000/- here in India. That’s a lot of money, a hell of a lot. One can by a brand new scooter for that much cash or maybe go on a short luxury holiday even. Is there anything that justifies spending so much on a helmet? That’s the question to ask, I think.

There are helmets and there are helmets and then there are Arai Helmets. What’s so special?

Well, everything. Arai does everything humanly and scientifically possible to get us the lids we deserve. The impression one gets is that every freakin’ stone was turned before asking you to shell out the better part of a months take home for a lid that is so expensive, one may want to store it in a hermetically sealed container. At least that’s the treatment our Tour X-4 got when it landed up at our studio, flying in (first class, we assume) straight from Arai HQ, Netherlands.

Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!

Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot! Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!

Studio images for the Arai Tour X4, shot at our in-house studio at TheNirvanaTeam HQ!

Arai only has one dealer in India. Moreover, there is no place where one can go, try out, have a look and then buy a lid of ones choice here in India. So, we’re more or less buying Arai products off of hear say or online reviews and in the rare case, having seen one a friend uses. This is something which should change, Arai, at least create one Pro Shop in India?

I met a couple of big shot looking riders once and saw them flaunt their Arai lids around like it was made of some special material. Showoffs. But that did get me thinking and I researched Arai and what they do. This was almost a decade ago. It’s taken almost a decade of touring and motorcycling for me to finally get my hands on an Arai Helmet. So as far as I’m concerned, each Arai is a saga. Less a fantastic piece of motoring gear, more a fantastical entity that every enthusiast must enjoy at least once for their type of motoring usage.

Mid trail with the Tour X4!Trail time!

Right from the start, my Tour X4 fit me like a glove. I was lucky that the helmet fit me perfectly and I didn’t need to fiddle with the peel away cheek pads for a better fit. The clear visor let me comfortably wear my Aviators inside while being closed and the air vents (on the visor) did their job very well in keeping the top of my head cool even at the peak of the Indian Summer. Right from our first ride with the Tour X4, the climate was very hot and humid. More over, we did the better part of our ride close to noon, when the temperatures were tickling the tropical 40 degrees. Add to that, we were riding to the coast (humidity for the win! Not.) .

To the West Coast of India!To the West Coast!

So, the Tour X4 had its job cut out for. Keep my head cool, don’t let it get too sweaty, keep noise low at high speeds and do not buffet in the wind.

Arai Tour X4 / X.D 4 Performance:

Ventilation: Very good. Kept me cool throughout the ride, didn’t feel the need to get it off my head at every stop.

Dealing with sweat: The Tour X4 is good here too but only just. Ultimately, with the Sun directly overhead, I needed to open the visor.

Noise:  Good. You will hear the wind at high speeds but it’s very manageable.

High Speed Dynamics: Sadly here, the Tour X4 is prone to buffeting in the wind at high speeds (with the peak on). Mind you, this happened even though we had a windscreen on our test motorcycle.

Visor Behaviour: Very good. Wide vision. Good clarity and very low on distortion. Locks down firmly. On-visor air intakes seal the deal for tourers.

Weight: 1620 gms.

Safety Ratings: ECE | SNELL

Emergency Release Tabs: Yes.

Accessories: Pinlock screen comes included in the box.

Looks: It looks very good. The paint finish is fantastic and the myriad colourways will satisfy everyone. Although, Arai charges extra for the smarter schemes.

Overall: I’ll cut this helmet a very good chit. It does everything a 50-50 on-road off-road helmet should do and does it very well.

Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!A feature rich and premium helmet!

The new Tour x4 feels like a solid high quality piece of gear in your hand. No loose trim, nothing hanging out anywhere and immaculate paint schemes all around. Even the moisture ‘wicking’ inner fabric is soft enough for rugged use. The double D ring fasteners are relatively easy to use with just enough space to loop the strap through and finally button it down. Buttoning down the strap ensures no flapping in the wind or at higher speed. So the attention to detail and build quality on this Arai is truly extraordinary.

Where living with the helmet is concerned, it’s not too difficult. As we mentioned, Arai has just one dealer in India but they do a good job of suggesting the right sizing etc and are open to questions. Moreover, ordering replacement parts (like the inner liner, visors etc) should be relatively easy in the long run. What that means is, you don’t need to be over protective about the helmet. Use it like you would any other piece of good riding gear, store it relatively well and it should last. Arai recommends using the helmet for 5 years and then replacing it, which seems reasonable.

Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!A premium helmet that’s easy to live with, in India!

The Arai Tour X4 Adventure Helmet is the way to go if you’re used to this kind of thing. If you’re an adventure tourer worth your salt and often put yourself in situations where you may get lost without a road, you should consider this Arai. You know that Indian motorcycling conditions are very challenging. Our extreme traffic scenarios, bad road surfaces and unpredictable conditions demand that we get ourselves the best in personnel protection we can afford. There are only a few helmets that make the cut for on-road & off-road touring and the Arai Tour X4 sits at the top.

On the other hand, if you’re an occasional motorcycle adventurer looking for a premium lid, there are options like KLIM’s Krios or AGV’s AX 8 (DS) which are good and hurt the wallet less.

Even if you’re not used to the moto-x shape of this helmet, Arai has done everything they could to make the helmet behave like a regular helmet. If you’re new to ADV riding and don’t mind shelling out the dough, this is a very good bet.

The competition: AGV’s AX-8 DS EVO, ICON’s Variant, KLIM’s Krios, SHOEI’s Hornet X2 and the likes.

The competitors come with similar issues, not many dealers, nowhere to test these lids out in India and sizing is a big fat $500 guess (at least).

.

Finally then, is the Arai Tour X4 price justified?

The answer – Yes, if you value the research and development it takes to develop these top of the line products.

When you buy an Arai, inside, you know you’re getting the best that the world has to offer. Quality seldom comes cheap.”

— Nipun Srivastava

. Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!

There it is then, If you are confused between what’s good and what’s arguably the best, go for the Arai Tour X 4 (XD4).

We see the Tour X4 as very good adventure touring helmet which can protect you as far as your wit will take you.

So head out and blaze trails.

Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!

The Nirvana Team


Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. All views represented are personal opinions of the writer based on his experience with the product showcased.

Product: Arai Tour X4 Adventure Helmet. Also known as the X-D4 in the American Markets.

Photography for this piece has been delivered by our Lead Photographer – Nipun Srivastava.

Model: Our resident adventurer, Nipun Srivastava.

Vehicle: The Versys 650 ABS.

We would like to thank Kaustubh Khare Photography and Vaishali Chandan for assisting on shoot.


Note: Mounting any helmet on rear view mirror stalks may harm the inner linings of the helmet.



Great Sound Goes Places

Bose Soundlink Mini 2

The Bose SoundLink Mini 2, Bluetooth speaker.

Every once in a while we come across a product which takes our breath away. Like something new you bring home for the first time and then wonder how you lived all those years without it! The Bose SoundLink Mini 2 is just such a thing.

For us travel bunnies, the need for great sound on the go is an important one.

Headphones are a pain to untangle, music systems cant be taken out of cars and other speakers (although reasonably good at sound) sport a complete lack of aesthetic value (even Beats!). Our passive quest for a solution was on for a while now. On our latest trip, a new friend brought along this sleek beauty.

Bose Soundlink Mini 2

At first glance, you wonder what it is. Sleek lines, slender profile, meaty weight, understated controls and oh, no wires.

We haven’t even gotten to the sound yet!

Imagine the most striking, well cut, visually spellbinding diamond in your mind. That’s how good it sounds when the waves hit ones head and that’s how good it sounds all the time. A breath of high-fidelity fresh air, truly.

Practicality

It is heavy, pretty heavy compared to other stuff in the market. It is not water resistant (like a JBL). And is not something that can be thrown around in the back of a backpack. Well you can but the sheer beauty of it will make sure you give it the attention it deserves.

Bose Soundlink Mini 2

It gives a good 4 hours of high fidelity high volume sound. Or if you like it mellow, it might even last two days.

The Bose SoundLink Mini 2 charges up within the hour and the lady inside tells you how much juice it has every time you switch it on.

Has a 3.5 mm jack, a cradle charger and also a direct charging micro USB port.

Clearly marked buttons with good tactile feel let you control everything from the power to the volume and you can even toggle through two devices which can be connected simultaneously via Bluetooth.

Bose Soundlink Mini 2

This Bluetooth speaker is by far the best we have ever used. The design, the feel and the sound – all of it sets the Mini 2 apart from the rest.

Travel

What blew us away is the sheer quality and usability of this Bluetooth speaker. We love using it while working behind the scenes. It lends any photo-shoot that much more ambience and heck, we even use it when it’s time to chill out and take a break from it all!

Bose Soundlink Mini 2

The SoundLink Mini 2 is just the thing one needs to head out alone and be by ones self.

Give a boring evening them feels, we all know good music can do that! We love using it while driving. On road trips, our Jeep and the Bose make perfect companions over long hours of travel over far and distant lands. All while keeping our music humming right there with us.

(the Jeep does not come with a music system as standard)

Bose Soundlink Mini 2

Style

Oh boy, who knew Bluetooth speakers could be a style statement?

Put it on any surface and it will make heads turn. Play music and the same heads will swing with melodies galore. It’s like audio Nirvana.

Bose Soundlink Mini 2

This speaker really is something we wonder how we survived without, given our love for music and travel. Even though the Bose SoundLink Mini 2 is one of the most expensive speakers in its segment, it is the one which takes the prize in the end.

Great design and amazing sound – Kudos Bose!

Bose Soundlink Mini 2

The Bose SoundLink Mini 2, Bluetooth speaker.


Photography for this piece has been delivered by our resident Champ – Nipun Srivastava.

Product: Bose SoundLink Mini 2 Bluetooth Speaker. This is not a sponsored post, we payed for the piece!

Model: Kaustubh Khare

Vehicle: Our very own Kalmoohi – The Jeep.

We would like to thank Kaustubh Khare Photography for helping out on shoot and also for standing in as our lone model ;).


Own the game!


Nepal Nirvana

Nepal Nirvana
Every motorcycle ride is a collection of small stories. Experiences, bundled up into fond memories for a lifetime.

Nepal is an enigma. When thinking about this country, what comes to mind are the mighty Himalayas and heroic feats of men and women who have set foot on some of the tallest mountains in the world. There’s more to Nepal than just mountaineering though.

Adventure in Nepal is a way of life. Once here, the ideal ingredients for adrenaline gushing, heart rate increasing and mind altering travel are found in every corner. It was time we took the Nirvana tread to Nepal!

Nepal is a neighbour to India and a mystery to everyone who hasn’t been to this country of concoctions. One of the smallest countries in the world is a window into some of the the biggest mountain ranges in the world. Not to mention the downright dumbfounding natural beauty that is routine here.

Dumbfounding Beauty, Nepal.

 Breathtaking landscapes at every turn.

For this rumble through the mountains Team Nirvana would like to thank the Firelords Royal Enfield Owners’ Club and its members who we rode with. Motorcycling is a different ballgame when it comes to international travel. There’s a lot of boring stuff involved before one can actually get to the ‘two wheels moving the soul’ part. Paperwork, permits, hotel bookings and (when you’re riding Royal Enfield bikes) mechanic finding are just some of the things we had to put in place before we left home.

Making plans for such trips is very exciting, mostly because in the heart every biker knows, nothing ever goes to plan. It’s when things do go wrong, that the motorcycling life lessons begin their hallowed teachings.

Distances are small in the mountains but it’s the intensity of roads and conditions that pose the real challenge here. Nepal just about manages to have a road network. It also has some of the worst roads (paths/tracks) we’ve ever ridden on. On our 17 day journey through this country, we rode on everything that this terrain could throw at us.

Nepal Nirvana
Ridin’ through a landslide!

On what we thought would be a short sprint from one destination to another, we came across a five kilometer stretch where one entire face of a mountain had slipped into the valley below. A landslide. Five kilometers of track took two hours to cover on our aging Enfields. Because of the toll that two hour stretch took on our bikes (and us!), our entire schedule went out of whack. This is when our motorcycle ride truly started with all its intensity. This is the charm of Nepal and its terrain, nothing is ever what you expect yet, everything is beautiful.

In Nepal, expect the unexpected!
Water crossings!

We learned pretty quickly that a ‘good road’ in Nepal is merely a dirt track all the way to one’s destination. If to our surprise we found good tarmac, we worshiped it with both our wheels! The value of smooth roads is understood only when constant off-roading becomes an everyday routine. Sheer tenacity and the ability to take it slow come in handy on endless rocky sections of the roads here. Beyond every challenging road section though, lay the best prize of them all, unhindered beauty.

Reverberating to the sounds of our thumping engines were the stunning Himalayan valleys through which we rode all across this country.

Nepal Nirvana

KATHMANDU

Kathmandu!

The Capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is hard core. The traffic here is MAD! The pollution is literally sky high and the dust, oh god the dust is everywhere!

Nothing could have prepared us for the onslaught that was Kathmandu. KTM is a concoction of sorts with its touristy yet formal ethos. Formal mainly because of the host of embassies present here, security is tight. Roaming the streets of Kathmandu, one can find adventurers and tourists of many nationalities. A melting pot, not of cultures but of people – in pursuit of their next big experience.

Kathmandu is a gateway into Nepal. A crash course in how to get around in the rest of the country. Hotels here are generally soft on the pocket, memorabilia on the other hand is not, we got ripped off a lot here! Evenings are lively in KTM and the cuisine too is varied and up to the mark. No matter where you’re from, you will find your food here.

The people of Kathmandu are slightly different from the rest of Nepal (we say this largely because of our hotel manager & shop keepers who we encountered). Although they treat everyone the same, when it comes to money, one needs to be careful. The streets are safe and most importantly, fuel is available 24/7.

Nepal Nirvana
Boudhnath Stupa – Kathmandu

We, as usual, made the mistake of trying to do too much in time that was better suited to explore rather than endure. Here, we discovered another trait of the mountains.

No matter how much one tries to hurry, the mountains will slow you down. Someone somewhere has rightly said, “you never cross the Himalayas, these mountains merely let you through”. We had a motorcycle issue on the day we rode out of Kathmandu. Although we did reach our destination for the day, it wasn’t before we’d crossed an entire landslide. This stretch took a lot from us mentally, our machines were fine though.

Never underestimate the rigours of mountain motorcycling, ever. We realised here, that even trying to anticipate what the road ahead would bring was futile. Instead, it was best that we slept well, ate well and rode hard.

Nepal Nirvana

Photography on this motorcycle road trip was kept to an absolute minimum. We only shot when we had the energy and will to do it. Many a times, we let million dollar scenes pass by just because motorcycling was our first priority. It had to be, for us to keep to our schedule, we couldn’t spare a moot minute. Lesson learnt.

We were now making our way across mainland Nepal. Riding through the lush countryside, we were met with beauty beyond comprehension. The toil we had been through was worth every minute. The views were overwhelming!

Nepal Nirvana

 POKHRA

Nepal Nirvana

 Goa of Nepal! Pokhra!

The beach town vibe of Pokhra is inescapable. Chilled out people, good music and great food made Pokhra our favourite place to ditch the motorbikes (for once!) and plonk ourselves for some R&R.

Nestled within the Annapurna valley, Pokhra is where everyone comes to start their journey into the Annapurna mountain range. These are treks which, according to your taste, can stretch from one day to about 20 days. Safe to say, we were not up for THAT much walking, we love our bikes too much! 😛

Instead we chose to sit back, relax and wake up freakishly early to watch the first light fall on the Annapurna Mountain Range.

Nepal Nirvana

First Light

Watching the first rays of Sunlight fall on these mountains was such a gripping experience for all of us that we hardly even spoke to each other while watching the Sun rise.

It was a very cold morning and we were all very sleepy but as soon as the light-show began, it was like mountain magic. We just sat there in the cold wind, sipping one chai after another, looking.

Nepal Nirvana

Himalayan Sunrise

And that was that. Fifteen days had gone by without us even thinking about going back home. Yet, we had to turn the handle, twist the throttle and push back into India. Nepal as an experience was over. Or was it?

On our way back from Pokhra to Lumbini, we rode our bikes on the most spectacular mountain roads of the entire trip! More than a hundred kilometers of silk-smooth roads, twisting through the Himalayan foothills, it was like Nepal had saved the best for last. This was the cherry on the icing for our motoring heartbeats. We were a happy bunch by the end of this ride.

Nepal Nirvana

Divine Motoring!

Secretly, we were all in love with Nepal and its antics. Here, some met their limits, others pushed theirs and for some it was just another day on the road to Nirvana :).

We are yet to have our fill of this wonderful country. It is our promise, we will go back.

Nepal Nirvana

“The kiss of the mountain air is everlasting.”

Motorcycles & Mountains!

Check out our video from this motorcycle trip!