There are roads which take you across the landscape and then there are roads which take you through it. There are roads which tame the land, ripping across forests, cutting through mountains, flying over rivers of water and of people and then there are roads which meander through the gaps of the jungle, tumble over the curves of terrain, bend into river valleys and mingle with culture.
Roads of the second sort, the ones which are about experience rather than the speed are what most riders lust for. Although, such roads are being hunted down, killed to make room for the highways, ironically, such routes are still alive in and around wildlife reserves. Similar is the case for most of my favorite routes and for the road from Mohana to Kuno.
When we gathered on 26th January, to leave for our ride to Kuno, it was still dark, cold, foggy. 5am was a bit too early to start a day ride in the winters, but I wanted to experience a foggy morning on the narrow roads which start from Mohana, which is a 60km from Gwalior.
There initial 40km or so were continually foggy. Walls of white mist waited on random stretches of diversion dotted highway towards shivpuri, strangling our view, sprinkling mystery onto our venture. Still, fueled by experience, we went forward tearing the nothingness of the mist with the yellow glow of tungsten.
Working our way through the Shivpuri highway till Mohana was taxing, as this road is eternally under renovation. But the left turn from Mohana towards Bairad changed our mood, view, pace. The stretches of tarmac leading across hills, fields, barrens, villages and rivers was were wavy both sideways and sheer. A rider could neither sink in his saddle nor let his limbs loose. There were sections where you saw the rider riding far ahead sink into the tarmac, disappear and then eventually rise again.
Mist filled the voids of the forest on either sides of the road, into which were had to occasionally plunge when a bus would come towards us, owning the full width of the tarmac. Like there are times when a computer mouse pointer morphs into a sandglass because the processor takes time to comprehend the task at hand, I also need time in such moments. To comprehend what I see, to breathe some more air and to click a memory.
As we neared Bairad, we found maybe 20km of the road dug up. Its seems that the second sort of road is being hunted to make way for the first sort. Will it be the last rendezvous? I don’t know, but all good things end, leaving us to quest elsewhere for wonder. Onwards from Bairad, we reached Pohari, from where the road is again enjoyable.
Towards the Dak Bungalow in Kuno, we went through a forest which was painted in various shades of dull red. Our previous visit took us through a forest with few leaves, this visit presented something new. Dak Bungalow disappointed us. There was no lunch to be had in the train coach, as MP tourism is turning the Bungalow into something modern.
So, we found a small dhaba which served us good food. Post lunch we twisted our throttles of make use of the long straight stretch of road leading towards the ghat. This stretch is ruler straight, making its way through the forest, making for a beautiful experience. The top of the ghat was till where we had to head. We spent some time on the top, grabbing a view of the landscape and then returned.
The journey back to was swifter as the mist had been cut through by sunlight and stops of pictures were fewer. A good trip overall packing inspiration for more.