Ab dilli door nahin (Delhi is not far now)

We have made it to INDIA! Thats right! No more border crossings, we have reached our home country and are over the moon. We arrived today afternoon from Nepal but not without a last minute hiccup. But more on that later. A bit about Nepal first.

Nepal for us was our entry back into civilization. After the remoteness of Tibet, the gravel roads, the extreme altitudes, the unhygienic conditions, the health problems etc. etc. Nepal was a welcome change. After doing the border crossing, we were back on the left side of the road. That took a bit of getting used to as 90% of the journey so far was on the right side of the road. Once we reached our hotel, the first thing we looked for in the room was the toilet. The room actually had a bathroom and a toilet, the bathroom had a shower, the shower had water and the water was hot! All boxes ticked. We were thrilled! It’s not that we have not seen all these facilities in bathrooms before, but coming from Tibet, it was a welcome change for us. Kathmandu is nothing like any place in Tibet. It is a bustling city full of cars and people, lots of streets with shops, vehicles blowing horns, traffic jams, pollution, basically just like any other big metropolitan. It felt great though. We also visited a salon where Pooja had a few hours to groom herself. (I too indulged in a bit of luxury and got a nice back and shoulder massage). It turned out that one of the guys at the salon named Anil was of Indian origin and he got really excited when we told him about our journey. He offered to show us around Kathmandu and we readily agreed. We are so lucky to keep meeting nice, friendly and helpful people:) So next morning he took us to Pashupati Nath, one of the most important temples in the country. It was a beautiful temple but extremely busy and in the absence of any queues or order, it can become a bit of a challenge to actually reach the main altar for worshipping.

We also visited an animal shelter in Kathmandu called Animal Nepal. The shelter was built a bit outside the city in a quiet area with nice views of Kathmandu. Mr Krishna Singh, the programme co-ordinator of the organisation, showed us around the facilities and explained the work they do. Animal Nepal like Friendicoes, is involved in rescuing stray dogs that are abandoned on the streets or dogs that are hit by vehicles on the road. Unfortunately, like Friendicoes, they too are short of funds as animal welfare is not a priority in Nepal. They are also lobbying to prevent the barbaric animal sacrifice in the name of religion in Nepal. We also got an opportunity to meet the Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Mr. Rakesh Sood and the First Secretary, Mrs Apoorva Srivastava who were very interested in knowing more about our journey and the cause.

From Kathmandu, we drove to a very famous forest area in Nepal called Chitwan National Park. Here we sat on the back of a female elephant called Ichchakali and went deep into the jungle in search of wild animals. Unfortunately, all we saw were a few monkeys and deer. But it was fun sitting on an elephant and going quietly into the woods. We learnt that the lifespan of elephants is similar to that of humans and to our amazement we also learnt that elephants can dig graves to bury a deceased fellow elephant and cover it with shurbs and bushes. Okay, these facts may be well known to you, but for me it was something totally new!

Not about the last minute hiccup. This morning, we left Chitwan and started driving towards the Nepal-India border called Sunauli. As you can imagine, we were in a great mood, everything was going as per plan and we were just smiling and enjoying the ride as we were getting closer and closer to the border. Then we reached a checkpost and an officer signalled for us to stop. He approached my window and asked if we are heading towards Sunauli. “Yes”, I said. “Maoists have burned 2 motorcycles ahead. Roads are closed and the border is closed. You cannot go much further.” he said. “Shit. Now what do we do”. I commented. My mind was filled with many things now. Will the border open today or not? Will our car attract the maoists and will we end up like the motorcyclists? Will we need to wait in Nepal for days? In any case, we were almost convinced that today we will not be able to go to India. We started driving ahead. Our plan was to keep driving closer and closer to the border till we reach the area where the police has actually closed the road and stay in a town which is closest to that point. The music was off, the conversations were off and the mood was off. Silently, I kept driving. Then a car ahead of us signalled for us to stop. “Oh god. Let them not be the maoists”. I whispered to myself. I stopped the car and 2 guys came out of the car and approached us. “Are you going to Sunauli?”, one of them asked. “Yes”, I said. “The border is closed. You cannot go much further. But we can tell you another border from where you can go to India.”, they said. That was a huge relief. Phew! These guys wanted to help us after we told them about what we are doing and where we are coming from. They removed all our worries and also invited us for a drink to their house. This is what I love about this trip. In a second, the dynamics change, the moods change, the routes change, the plans change, the conversations change and the directions change. So now we were following a car with two complete strangers who were leading us to their village for a drink with a promise to guide us to another border later. And indeed they did. We chatted with them for a few minutes in their nice little home in a small town of Nepal called Parasi.

Then we headed for this other border called Maheshpur. We reached the Nepal side of the border and were met by a “couple of cops”, they were indeed a couple. Both husband and wife were guarding the Nepalise checkpost together. They were amused at seeing our vehicle and not knowing much about what to do with us, they called their senior. The senior Inspector was I think woken up from a siesta as he came out of his office in a casual T-shirt and shorts. He was very courteous though and told us that this border crossing does not have a customs office and therefore, we cannot cross into India from here. When I insisted that we need to go today, he said we can go to the Indian side and try it out ourself. Knowing that India is only a few hundred metres away, how could we not give it a try? Both Pooja and I were like 2 little kids not wanting to accept a given fact. So we drove towards the Indian border at Maheshpur. From a distance, we saw the Indian flag and my heart skipped a beat. “There is our flag”, I said to Pooja. I drove faster and as we reached the barrier I stopped the car and admired the uniforms of the Indian border guards. My heart was beating faster now. I was getting emotional looking at India behind that barrier. I have gone to India numerous times by flight from London, but it never looked so inviting. We were finally at the gates of our home. Once we are past this barrier, everything and everyone will embrace us. But we would have to wait. The Indian border guards looked at us in disbelief when I told them about the journey. They told us the same thing that the Nepalise officer had said. There was no custom post at this border which meant they could not sign the vehicle into the country. They told us we could go at our own risk but if we did, it would become extremely difficult to ship Goofy back to UK. “Please dont mind, Sir”, said the Indian border guard and we took a U turn heading back towards Nepal. “This is a first. We never took a U-turn from any other country’s border post on this trip”, I said to Pooja. But it was not the mistake of the Indian border guards. It was our own fault that we went to a border post not meant for foreign vehicles. So we went back to the Nepalise border post where a good news awaited us. “Sunauli border is open”, the Inspector told us. I heaved a sigh of relief after hearing those sweet words. The Inspector invited us for some drinks in his office premises and later sent an escort on a motorbike with us. Another kind gesture by a stranger.

This time we reached Sunauli and it being a proper border post, we were faced with a huge board that said “Welcome to India”. We were back in business! We crossed the border and stepped into India. The custom process was a breeze after the officials saw Goofy and learned about our journey. We were offered drinks and in the meantime, the officers sorted out the paperwork for us. When we asked where we can find a good restaurant for Indian food, we were pointed back in the direction of Nepal. “In this area, good Indian food is available only in Nepal. You can leave your car here, walk to Nepal, eat lunch and walk back to India. “, they said. And so we did. So, for the second time that day, we again went back to Nepal from India, had a quick lunch and walked back to India.

Our co-ordinator in London pulled some strings and arranged a police escort for us to Gorakhpur from the border. I dont think it was needed, but we were so tired and the idea of a police car leading our way and clearing traffic to help us get to our destination quicker was very tempting. 3 police officers greeted us, sat in their car and sped towards Gorakhpur. It was difficult to catch up with them. I have never driven so fast in my life and Pooja was almost praying all the way. The result was that we reached Gorakhpur atleast an hour before we thought we would. We thanked the officers for their help and crashed into bed.

Today is our first night in India and I already feel that the journey is over. Atleast the challenges of a border crossing, the fun of not understanding a language, the curiosity while tasting foreign food, the uncertainty about spending the night in a new town and the confusion of counting a new currency are over. Stop.

Let’s not forget, the journey is not over yet. Tomorrow, we go to Kanpur. Day after to Agra and on Sunday the home run to Delhi. I want to enjoy the remaining few days as much as possible. I am going to try to take one day at a time just like I have always tried to do during this trip. But, as they say…

Ab dilli door nahin.

Tushar

62 Responses to “Ab dilli door nahin (Delhi is not far now)”

  1. Pallavi says:

    yeah yeah pooja n monty…many many congratulations….jai hind! there had to be a little drama anti clomax…the border scene was funny ! see u guys soon ! take care enjoy the romantic taj : )

  2. Prashant says:

    YAY!!!! Champagne time… and even you have to have some Tushar ;)

  3. Rati R. says:

    Hi Pooja & Tushar,

    I have been reading your blog from the time you started your journey on the road but never gave a comment. First of all i would like to pass my congratulations and well wishes to both you and Pooja.

    When you said that you saw the Indian flag @ Maheshpur and how you felt about it, I was so emotional myself that i had a tear in my eye, I can definately feel that.

    I would like to add, while the officers sorted out your paperwork @ Sunauli, you were offered drinks. I believe this way of courtesy was not shown to you at any other border crossing check post. “THIS HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA”.

    Enjoy the last 2-3 days to the fullest.

    Take care & Good luck,
    Rati R.

    P.S. – I am living in Melbourne (Australia) for past 3 years. First thing I do in my office is to check ur blog. My home town is also Delhi, and I truly miss it. My passion is travelling, photography and adventures. And ur blog is perfect mix of 3.

    • Tushar says:

      Hi Rati, thanks for the lovely comments. I wish you commented before also, it wouldve been so encouraging for us:) But its really very nice to hear from you and to know that you too felt the passion that we felt during the journey. It is truly a dream come true for us to have reached India safely and we are very excited about reaching delhi day after tomm.

      Please do keep in touch!

      Regards

      Tushar

      • waqar says:

        hey tusharr my hobby is to travel a loot of places by car but can u temme wt wos d total expenditure whn u strtd frm london until u reached delhi i meant to say abt d visas of 15 countries wat was d total amt of visa per person as i may be travellin frm mumbai to london frm innova..

  4. Shikhar Tyagi says:

    Hey Tushar, Pooja,

    CONGRATULATIONS!! for finally entering into India after nearly one and a half month long drive through two continents. I have been following your blog right from the first day of your Lonenly Planet blog but this is the first time I am writing a comment. Its definitely very remarkable trip for both of you. All of your experiences of driving through so many different countries across the continents, getting to know all these new and diverse cultures, meeting new people, experiencing tough driving/living conditions, and that too for a noble cause, is really worthy of high praise. I am really impressed with how you guys did your homework, planned everything well and executed it equally well. Now so close to your finish line, I am sure you would have got that extra adrenaline pushed into your blood.
    All of the photographs are very beautiful and memorable for life. In my opinion (based on your blog), your drive from Kasgar to nepal border in china has been most difficult but extraordinarily great. I wish you all the best for rest of your trip and a safe flight back home to UK.
    -Shikhar

    • Tushar says:

      Hi Shikhar, thanks for your wishes:) You are absolutely right! In terms of scenic beauty and terrain, Kashgar to Nepal border was extremely difficult but most beautiful. Like I said in one of the blogs, the scenery makes up for the bad roads. Honestly, a part of me is a bit sad now that the journey is coming to an end but we have plans once we reach delhi. We would like to work on a book and will start looking into that now.

  5. Ashish Sharma says:

    hey Tushar and Pooja….. congrats!!! finally u reached to ur destination “INDIA”…… after a long, tired and adventerous journey…… great yaar :-) …. where r u going to stay in Delhi…. can we meet???? i am staying in central delhi….

    • Tushar says:

      Hi Ashish, we live in Mehrauli. It will be nice to meet up for a drink sometime. We will be in Delhi till end of this month. Lets keep in touch and set a time and date when its best for all of us:)

  6. H V Kumar says:

    What a relief! You are also lucky – things in Nepal could have been worse.

  7. Shivani says:

    heyyyyyy…

    HEARTY WELCOME TO OUR HOME COUNTRY….You both have made it…..Congrajulations….

    Shivani

  8. Sankha says:

    Hi Tushar

    Welcome back to India. .At last you touch the soil of mother land…Crossing the Nepal border indeed a good experience. Walking back to Nepal for lunch and then again walk back to India…it’s like going to a neighbour place for lunch and coming back to home. This is all the fun about the border. I have heard that in some houses in the indo Bangladesh border has a unique situation…the house’s bed rooms falls in to India and kitchen in the Bangladesh (I think it’s must be a joke) border line can not run through a house. :)

    Your journey in its last leg…though there would be no border crossing any more no confusion over counting money no language problem but I think you miss these all.

    Take care and tell us how do you greeted in delhi…

    Bye
    Sankha

    • Sankha says:

      PS. no pictures this time…:) waiting for the nepal pics…

      • Tushar says:

        i think you are right about the houses on the borders. i have also heard stories that at some borders, when you sleep, your legs are in one country and face in another! sounds funny dont know if its true or not!

        we will miss all the challenges, the ups and downs but fortunately we have the blogs which we can always go back to and read. they will be a good way to remember all our experiences. will post more pictures soon:)

  9. Rajiv Goel says:

    Yes Diili Door Nahin. Delhi is ready to welcome you with its open heart. Love u both. Rajiv Goel

  10. Nikhil says:

    Hey guys,
    Congratulations!!!! U guys have almost achieved it!!! Ab Dilli door nahin yar!!!
    U guys have rocked all u r way to Delhi from London!! I don’t know how u guys r feeling but, i am truly excited!!!

  11. Yogin says:

    Congratulations to the both of you!

    Though I’m far away from India right now, I’ll still say, Welcome home friends!

    Cheers,
    -Yogin

  12. Vijay Yadav says:

    Hello Tushar and Pooja
    Glad to know you people have come to India.
    When i read your blog only then i reminded a thing which i should have told you earlier but foolishly forgot.
    When we went to Sikkim and few kilometeres in Nepal and Bhutan (permissible without pasports and other documents) a taxi driver told me that in Nepal there is rule that if any driver hits someone on the road (no matter who is on fault) and the person is injured permantly, for example loses any part of body, then the driver will be responsible for all his taking cares and all needs decided by the law of land, depending upon the status of both parties.
    My eyes opened and heart sunk when he told me that such situation do not arises so easily. Because normally when driver sees that one is hit, he hits again to kill the already injured. ‘AISE MEIN LAKH – DEDH LAKH KA FINE DEKE AADMI BARI HO JATA HAI’ he said. And he was so normal saying that, ‘TO MAARNA HI PADEGA NA; NAHI TO HUM LOG KABHI BHI UBHAR NAHI PAYEGA….” he further added.
    I am sorry i forgot to tell you that please drive carefully. I reminded when I read that u had to drove fast.
    Well 1st i want to know that is it really true as per their law and as per what people(drivers) do.
    2nd, if yes, then please you dont forget to tell others wo go to Nepal and drive like I forgot.
    Thanks and take care. It was so funny to read that u had to drive RHS and then LHS. I totally forgot this fact and didnt care to notice ur side in last pics. nor did i ever thought of such difficulties.

    vijay

    • Tushar says:

      hi vijay, dont worry about not having told us this. fortunately, we exited nepal without any incident whatsoever and I am not aware of any such laws or rules. I hope there is more value for life there than what you have described. otherwise, it will be truly very sad. i will def pass your comments to others who want to visit nepal.

      anyways, i think we must be extremely careful while driving in every foreign country and not only in nepal. the laws in any country will favor the local people against the foreigners and that can be true in india as well.

  13. Harish Sharma says:

    Namaste Tusshi/Poo,

    Welcome to India………….it’s so nice & proud feeling after reading this…..Well I am so happy don’t know but some sort of smile is on my face that finally after tolerating so many problems you are in India……so once again welcome both of you…..

    thanx
    harry

    • Tushar says:

      and im smiling after reading your comments:) its so nice to see that you are sharing our passion and are so happy for us;) thanks for your wishes harish:)

      • Harish Sharma says:

        Hi Tushar,

        Thanks very much for reply….just told to my UK Team people about your journey they r so excited to know abt this…….well done…..*****

        Thanks
        Harry

  14. Padhys' from Oz says:

    Hmmm…..lunch in Nepal, tea in India…sounds good to me!!!
    Every Maoist story is a scare. Will be good to have u home.

  15. Hareesh says:

    CONGRATS!!!!

  16. Ashish says:

    WELCOME HOME……. :)

  17. Subhashani & Vinimay says:

    Hi Pooja & Tushar,
    Welcome. Looking forward to finally meeting you guys. How do we get in touch with you. We are planning to come to Agra and be part of the last part of your travel. It has been exciting traveling with you guys through the different places.
    is there a meeting point or any phone number through which we can get in touch. You can mail it on my email id or SMS me at +91 981 105 5724 or +91 989 906 5724
    Looking forward to Sunday.
    Meanwhile have great time.

    P.S. In case we are not reaching Agra will let u know but will definitely be there at Delhi border.

    • Tushar says:

      hey guys, sorry i think i missed this message. we are already in delhi. but lets meet up sometime soon. pls email me when you guys are free and i will call you sometime to fix up a place. see you soon:)

  18. Kay Dee says:

    Woohoo, just 124 miles to go! This amazing journey is a brilliant example of grit and determination. Doing what you love is a dream for many and that dream has come true for both of you. I am sure you will reminiscence this travel with a tear in your eyes and unmeasurable pride in your hearts. This is no MEAN feat, well done both of you. Enjoy!

    • Tushar says:

      thanks a lot kaydee. its finally over. it has not sunk in yet. dont know how i will feel in the morning when there will be nowhere to go.

  19. Lynda says:

    Good morning to you both on the last day of your epic journey. I am sure you are now looking forward to a but of a relax and NO DRIVING for a little while but also think it will be strange to settle back into normal life. your blog has made it clear to all what an incredible trip you have had and I admire your bravery for undertaking the trip – and certainly join in the international sigh of relief that you are safely back on friendly soil. well done on what you have achieved – and I hope you raised sufficient funds for your charity to feel a difference.

    I hope to see you both soon,

    with love,

    Lynda

    • Tushar says:

      hey lynda, ur absolutely right when you say that it will be strange to get back into normal life. i dont know how i will get over the great experiences and challenges and find the inclination to get back to the daily grind. but soon we will have to get back to the real world.

  20. shiva says:

    Folks, Good job. I really admire what you guys have done. Now it will be fun to drive around South America or Africa. You should get the travel channel folks to cover you and in India, NDTV or Times Now should work. Good work. Keep it up and drive safe.

    • Tushar says:

      thanks shiva. we were covered by all major news channels in india on our arrival today. do lookout on india tv, zeetc, aajtak and sahara and hopefully you will be able to see some info about us there.

  21. Manpreet says:

    Hey Congratess my friend…..have a great great time in delhi!!!

    Take care
    Manpreet

  22. Kay Dee says:

    I demand another blog or a de-addiction serum! Lol, you think you are stuck with nowhere to go….spare a thought for us all. Reading your blogs was almost second nature, I am craving for more. Share the grand finale with us after the dust has settled and you guys have unwinded to the hilt.Cheers buddy!

    • Tushar says:

      haha we will be posting a blog very soon. sorry we have become lazy after the super welcome we got in delhi. too many distractions! but we will be posting one more blog very soon:)

  23. Gavaskar says:

    Hai ,Tushar, Pooja,

    HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS!! for finally entering into India after nearly one and a half month long drive. Just now i had time to sit in system… sorry for the late wishes.

    Cheers
    Gavas

  24. C D Nayak says:

    Hi Tushar & Pooja .
    Great Job . well done
    you are a great source of inspiration for millions of people across the globe .
    please make your next plan to visit by road across the globe
    Thnx
    C D Nayak

  25. C D Nayak says:

    Hey Tushar & Pooja
    please post your photographs & importants media clips like that of IndiaTv in the site
    thnx
    C D Nayak

    • Tushar says:

      dear cd,
      the next dream is to drive around the world. mind is a funny thing. if one dream becomes a reality you start dreaming of something bigger.

      i will post more pics and all media clippings soon and will also try to upload the india tv interview also

  26. Arti Tandon says:

    Hi Tushar and Pooja,

    I have been following your blog as a silent spectator and have loved every minute of it. I want to congratulate you on the remarkable journey you’ve taken to help animals everywhere. I applaud you both . Its been truly touching to see such love you have for animals and very inspiring indeed.

    I am a volunteer with Michael Mountain’s Zoe and Stubby Dog Inc in the US as well as with Friendicoes and am based out of Delhi. I would love to do a write-up for Micheal on a little bit more on your expeditions and your future plans. This would truly be an honour. So I wanted to check with you on your plans for Delhi and what and when will it be convenient for us to meet/talk. I am available at 9650011334.

    Arti Tandon

  27. Jay Shah says:

    Hello Tushar and Pooja

    Congratulation for your Completed a journey

    I want to know that total how much expenses has been happen to your travel ever you can count it if yes than please know me

    Thanks

    Jay Shah

  28. Sushil Kr. Vashisth says:

    Tushar and Pooja,

    Firstly…. Congratulation…. i heard about you some time back…. and was really thrilled to hear about you…. and happy to hear about your journey…. I gone through your blog and read your experiences… it’s amazing… I sorry for my late wishes… hope you will accept…… I sincerly wish to congratulate you… and wish you a very happy life….

    with warm wishes,

    Sushil Kr. Vashisth

  29. dermot kenny says:

    Hey congratulations….came across your website from an article about your trip in a newspaper out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.. Unlike your mammoth journey I drove from Nova Scotia to Belize. A journey of about 7000 km. I now live in Mexico and have driven around most of Mexico. Great pictures and good luck with your next adventure.

    • Tushar says:

      hey dermot, nice to hear from you. ur journey sounds really exciting. i am dreaming of another journey which will give me a chance to drive through mexico. in the meantime, we are working on a book about our journey.

      thanks for writing:)

  30. chandan.roy says:

    Hi Pooja,

    Very proud of you for the great trip. I always fantasized on such true when young.
    I didnt know any thing about this until yesterday yhe 4 th April when Gul called and told me about it.
    Not being emotional but Hari and I wanted to do a similar trip in his Bullet from Korba. Time flies, You came to Korba when you were about 2 years (always crying and never to leave Guls arms) Mohini was probably around 6 years. Time flies , every thing changes around you but all that remains are the pleasant memories with Hari and me at Korba. Lost a great friend and what a personality.

    Have a great life,Dont grow any Older as that makes me feel older!!
    Say hi to Tushar.
    God Bless
    Love
    Chandan Uncle

  31. Varun Datta says:

    Hi Tushar and Pooja,
    I think I am a bit late for the congratulations and the like but still many congratulations for this wonderful achievement.
    I actually am planning to do a Delhi-London road trip on my bike.
    I have a Royal Enfield 350 cc Bullet and wanted to know is the trip feasible on this bike??
    A reply from you will be highly appreciated and helpful.

    Regards,
    Varun Datta

  32. Sandeep Dhawan says:

    Hi Guys,

    Wow…!! Aweseme, I have just read in a newspaper some light yrs ago, on the front page, that is it possible to have a road journey between London-Delhi.

    But the imp question..How..? Will Pakistan, Afghanistan etc allow to travel tourists via road, it is safe?

    The route you had taken is the ideal route for entering Europe from India, definitely after Consulate’s formalities and all…yes, yes..now is it possible and may b you were the first one to make it possible..

    Wish you all the best for your mission..

  33. Vineet says:

    Guys, I just stumbled across your blog. I cannot fathom how you guys managed this journey. I complain to my wife when i have to drive 500 Miles in California. You guys have done an amazing job and wish I could do something as remotely as what you have done. I wish to drive to Leh ladhak someday (from Delhi). Hope I can make it.

    Btw where do I see your pictures, again fantasic journey.

    Cheers,

    Vineet

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