A few years back I took India to Nepal road trip. This was the first time I stepped out of the Indian territory to see how the world looks outside of India. Even today, after almost 8 years, I get goosebumps whenever I see the pictures of the epic journey. I did this trip on a motorcycle which I rode to many places in the Himalayas. The 150cc Bajaj Pulsar had been a good companion on all those journeys.
Reason for choosing Nepal for a bike trip from India
Indians enjoy a free & unrestricted movement in Nepal. That means Indian citizens can enter without a passport or visa and go anywhere in Nepal and stay for an unlimited number of days. Similarly, Nepali citizens also enjoy the same benefits in India. This is the reason people of Nepali origin can be found almost everywhere in India. Also, there are many people of India origin based in Nepal since ages. The royal Shah dynasty of Nepal is believed to have its roots in Rajasthan, India. Of course, history had nothing to do with my road trip. The only reason for choosing Nepal for this road trip was free entry. Although vehicles registered in India do not enjoy the ‘free movement’ status. You need to get a permit to enter Nepal on your bike or car. Read this article to know the procedure to enter Nepal by own vehicle.
Another reason to plan this road trip was the proximity of Nepal border from Delhi. Nepal is closer than Shimla or Manali for Delhiites. Its one of the entry points is located at Banbasa, near Tanakpur (Uttarakhand) which is approximately 349 kilometres away from Delhi. It takes around 6 to 7 hours to cover this distance. I took the route via Moradabad, Rudrapur & Khatima. There were some rough patches which make the journey arduous.
Day 1 – Delhi to Moradabad
(21st January 2009)
160 kilometres in 3 hours
After the office hours, I started my journey around 6 pm. It took around 3 hours to reach Moradabad. The road was not good at that time. Widening of the highway was in process. Also, the high beams of the oncoming traffic were making me almost blind. So I decided to call it a day. Instead of searching a hotel, I searched for the ‘Dharmashala’ where I stayed in December 2005 while going on a bike trip from Delhi to Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand. Though while searching the Dharmshala I found a place to stay in a Gurudwara located inside the city. Gurudwaras are the perfect place to stay for budget travellers in India.
Day 2 – Moradabad – Bardia National park (Nepal)
316 kilometres in 11 hours
The road from Moradabad to Rudrapur passes from small villages. It is almost a dirt road at some places. On the way, there is a famous Gurudwara called Nanakmatta. Don’t miss the diversion towards the right after you reach Banbasa. The highway goes towards Tanakpur city whereas I had to go towards the right. I left Moradabad at 7:30 am and reached Nepal border at 12:30 pm. It was an easy ride of 5 hours.
How is Banbasa border
Just after taking left from the national highway towards the border I spotted bikes with red number plate and numbers in Hindi (Devanagari). Nepalese come to shop here for their daily needs. As the Indo-Nepal border is open people don’t have to take permission. Indian check posts were not checking each and every person. I was also not stopped for checking even after having lots of uncommon things like Delhi number plate, uncommon saddle bags on the bike (Cramsters) and helmet.
No clear demarkation at India-Nepal border
I kept on moving. My eyes were craving for ‘Welcome to Nepal’ gate as it was in my imaginations. But soon I realised that I had already entered in Nepal. I was stopped at a checkpost by the security guards in blue uniforms. They were Nepalese policemen. Their uniform colour is blue. I was asked to get the entry permit for the bike to enter Nepal.
Crossing the India-Nepal Border by Motorbike
I have written in details about the documents required to cross the India-Nepal border on a motorbike. Click here to read. The fees for getting the vehicle’s permit is required to be paid in Nepalese currency, i.e. Nepalese Rupee. Though they also accept Indian Rupee, but there are chances of getting cheated in this case. The agents who work on behalf of the officials can rip you off with a very bad exchange rate. So its better to approach a money exchanger before doing all the paperwork.
The guards directed me to a money exchanger just next to the customs office. Got 1600 Nepalese Rupee (called NC or Nepalese currency) in exchange of Rs 1,000 (Indian Currency). Paid him Rs 10 (IC) as the transaction fee, however, he refused to give a transaction receipt. Later I came to know that he was not an authorised money exchanger. I think there was no official money exchange point at this border post in those days.
The Mahendra Rajmarg – Longest highway of Nepal
Soon after getting the documents I was again back on the road. This is known as Mahendra Rajmarg. ‘Rajmarg’ means the National Highway. This is the longest and the most crucial highway for Nepal connecting it from East to West. That is why it is also called East-West Highway. It is longer than 1,000 kilometres. This highway was built by the Indian road building authorities like CPWD & PWD. The maximum part of my ride was on this highway. I can say this was one of the best highways I have travelled till now. Somewhat like NH8 or highway connecting Jaipur-Bikaner or Bikaner–Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. With little traffic and arrow straight road, I was able to cruise at 80kmph very easily most of the time. Almost 90% of this highway is in the Terai region of Nepal, i.e. the foothills of Himalayas.
Gadda chowki to Bhuri gaon
After crossing Mahendra nagar and Shuklaphaanta national park, I reached Atariya. This is the first junction on this highway for the nearest Indian border. Turn right towards Dhangadhi border, left for Darchula and keep going straight for Bhuri gaon. I took a halt to tank up petrol and get more NC from a bank. Found a petrol pump/Gas station on the left side of the junction point. The owner of the petrol station saw an Indian bike and came to talk to me. He originally hailed from Rajasthan and got settled here. He gave me a rough idea about the highway ahead. Thereafter, I went to the nearby bank called ‘The Bank of Kathmandu’ to get more Nepalese currency. Surprisingly even the bank refused to give a transaction receipt. But didn’t charge anything extra for the transaction. This bank is located at stone’s throw distance from the junction point on the right side of Dhangadhi road.
Soon after crossing Mahendra Nagar and Shuklaphaanta national park I reached Atariya. This is the first junction on this highway for the nearest Indian border. Turn right towards Dhangadhi for the border, left for Darchula, straight for Bhuri gaon. I took a halt to tank up petrol and get more NC from a bank. Found a petrol pump on the left side of the junction point. The pump owner came from Rajasthan and settled here. He gave me a rough idea of the highway and nearby places. Then I exchanged more NC from ‘The Bank of Kathmandu’. However, even the bank refused to give a receipt but didn’t charge anything for the transaction. I have uploaded latest videos and some more information on touristhelpline.com This bank is located at stone’s throw distance from the junction point on the right side of Dhangadhi road.
Milestones – Not in English
Most of the information and milestones are written in Devnagari (script of Hindi & Nepalese language) so Non-Hindi or Nepalese people may find it difficult to read them.
Night stay at Bhuri gaon
I hope you remember that I performed this journey way back in 2009. So the facility of the mobile network in Nepal was restricted. My Airtel’s network had stopped receiving signals just after crossing the India-Nepal border. As it was my first out of the country visit, my mother was worried. I had to call her because it was getting dark. It was 6 pm and I stopped at a village called Bhuri Gaon to search for a telephone booth. Bhuri gaon is one of the villages situated in Bardia national park range. Called my mother from a local ISD booth and paid Rs 35 for a 1-minute call. I decided to stay in that village. There were 3-4 lodges in the village, which were the only option to stay. I paid Rs 200 at ‘Hotel Waling’ and got a room.
Day 3 – Bhuri Gaon to Butwal
250 kilometres in 7 hours
Today started late at 11:00 am. Next town was Kohalpur, which is 2nd junction point for Indian border. Turn Right for Nepalgunj Indian border, Left for Surkhet & go straight for Butwal.
Reached Butwal around 6 pm. This was the biggest town I saw till now in Nepal. It is again a junction point for Sunouli/Gorakhpur Indian border. Turn Right to go to the border & left for Pokhara. This town has ample options of hotels and lodges. I stayed at Hotel Sindoor for Rs 600.
Day 4 – Butwal to Pokhara
I started to ride at around 9:30 am. Until now I was driving towards the east of Nepal. Today I took a left from the Mahendra National highway and started travelling towards the north. Soon I was out of the town of Butwal. Hilly road starts from here. The road condition beyond Butwal is ok.
I reached Pokhara in the early evening hours. It is indeed a beautiful town. Searched for a hotel near Phewa Lake. The Lake side road is just like Mall roads in our Indian hill stations. Lake side road is the most happening place in the town. I could see more foreigners than Nepalese. I was also one of them (Foreigners ;) ) so planned to stay at lake side. I got a room at Kiwi guesthouse for Rs 300. The guest house and the room was neat and clean.
As I anticipated before taking this journey, finding vegetarian food is not easy outside India. Despite having so much cultural similarities with Nepal, it was a tough task to find vegetarian restaurants. However, there were few of them who offered Indian food but an ordinary Marwari thali cost around Rs 200. I managed the whole trip in ‘Daal-bhaat’ (Rice & lentils) and noodles. North-Indians who are addicted to ‘Roti’ should either change their habit or have to shell a lot to get them in a costly restaurant.
I guess you are in paradise. What more do I have to say on this ;)
Pokhara to Sarangkot
Next day, I got up early at 4:30 am to see the view of the sunrise from Sarangkot. This is a viewpoint 15 kilometres away from Pokhara. Though the short distance took almost an hour to reach the top because of the steep ascent. The parking area for four-wheelers is way before the actual viewpoint. Tourists have to trek for 20 minutes to reach the top from the parking area. Though I continued riding on a rough stretch to reach closer to the mountain top. Although at times the ascent was very steep, especially at few turns, but riding at such places is just a cakewalk for ‘Sach pass’ tamers. ;)
Day 5 – Pokhara to Sunouli border
I was now 1000 kilometres from Delhi. Here starts the return journey. I took a detour on the outskirts of Pokhra for a short visit to another mountaintop called ‘Vishwa Shanti stupa’ (dedicated to ‘World Peace’). You can get a panoramic view of Pokhra town from the hill top. It is also another viewpoint to see the Annapurna mountain peak.
After few hours of the ride, I reached back to Butwal. I wanted to exchange the left over Nepalese currency to Indian Rupees.
First and last bitter experience in Nepal
I was left with Rs. 650 NC. Banks were closed until the time I reached Butwal. I had to cross the border by evening as I had bike’s permission till today. So rather wasting time in searching private money exchangers and paying them exchange fees, I went to a petrol pump to get the tank full. The person calculated the quantity of petrol for the amount. It was 7 litres approx. He rotated the meter manually to 7. Then he started pouring in, but just after 2-3 seconds he said — ‘Ho gaya’. I was shocked!! How is it possible to pour 7 litres of petrol in just 2 seconds!
I struggled for next 1 hour with the petrol pump owner & his workers to check how much quantity petrol of petrol can be poured into an empty vessel in 2 seconds. They were reluctant to anything. I had to call the police. But the corrupt police guard ‘ordered’ me to pay and leave. I had no other option left. Already a huge crowd had gathered. I was really disappointed by the attitude of the policeman. People said he was an Inspector, but he was not even wearing a nameplate. I left the place by paying the money and approached the District police office to complain against the policeman to the senior officials. Unfortunately, all the senior officers had left for the day. It was already 5:30 pm (Nepal time). I also had to cross the border and reach to a safe place before dark. So I decided to move on.
Reached the Sunouli border at 6pm. I felt pretty happy to see the ‘Welcome to India’ gate. It gave me a feel of my home. I stayed for the night in a nearby village called Nautanwa.
Day 6 – Sunouli border to Delhi – 26 JANUARY 2009
900 kilometres in 23 hours
I left the border town at 0530hrs. Delhi was around 900 kilometres away. This target became herculean due to the dense fog and pathetic highways in Uttar Pradesh. However, I achieved the target by riding almost continuously for 23 hours. I reached home at 4 am on 27th January.
Total distance travelled – 2100 (approx)
Total duration of trip – 6 days
Maximum distance covered in a day – 900 kilometres in 23 hours