Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Jan 2: Ride to Sarnath, Stop in Varanasi(part 1 of 3)

Started at 6:15 from hotel Rain Basera in Kudra. My idea of using the
middle chainring had seemingly ended all chain problems. A shorter
gear in front means more pedalling is needed. And I wanted to reach
Varanasi early to have some hope of getting my bike repaired. At the
minimum, I intended to buy a chain suitable for a gear cycle.

After 50km of riding at a fast clip, I was out of Bihar and in Uttar
Pradesh. Celebrated that with breakfast at a place called Naubatpur!

By 12:30, I was inside Varanasi. I realized I had taken the wrong road
- I would have been in a better position if I had gone to Sarnath
first over Mughalsarai. I had blindly followed the national highway,
and that had me do an extra 10km extra. The highways being built now
bypass the towns and cities, so I need to be careful in the future.
It's very useful to look at the GPS receiver's map at times - it shows
the older version of the highways, which are now local roads, and
hence shortcuts.

For today, I had two activities in mind - visiting Sarnath and getting
my bike fixed. It made sense to visit Sarnath first, since bike repair
had the potential of eating up as much time I had. So, off to Sarnath
- 13km away from a place called Lanka in Varanasi. It wasn't hard to
find the road as the locals were quick to point out the road.

Reached Sarnath at 2. The biggest problem in all tourist places is
finding a place to park the bike, and making sure that the bags are
not touched. I first reached the ruins of Sarnath. I ate at a roadside
stall in a bid to get some parking consideration, but bad luck, he
wouldn't take the bike in his care. There was parking for motor
vehicles, and the caretaker was willing to let me park the bike. But
he absolutely refused any responsibility of the bags. He said
'bhaaisaab, ye choron ka shehar hai, bach ke rahiye'(this is a city of
thieves, be careful).And I had thought Bihar was the only place to
worry about! However, he pointed me towards a place which had bike
parking. For rupees 3, both my bike and bag got parking.

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