The 20th of july.2002, 8.50 am..I was standing on the worlds highest motor able road..khardung-la at an altitude of 18380ft above sea level .with my bike a green Royal Enfield of 1969 vintage….a big board proclaimed a welcome by project Himank..and another board on my left welcomed me to the highest temple in the world khardungla-baba.Incidently I was the first member of our group to reach the pass. Myself and my bike had been in top gear coming on the 40km ride from leh..as we went around the hairpin bends …both the wheels fighting it out to keep themselves firm footed on a single plane.. As I passed fellow friends pushing their bikes up…as I fought for balance…we were having fun…. going around the corners and having a blast. As I gunned the throttle the wheels moved about with a will of their own… digging in angrily into the gravel ,throwing up a huge cloud of dust ….. as we took each and every small shortcut through the unforgiving mountains, risking it a bit…but with confidence levels at all-time high levels. In the next one hour we had more and more bikes coming in bringing up the number to a 70 odd bikes ..the highest ever number of motorcycles to make it on the pass…..we were 102 people in all including all our support members, also the highest number of civilians on the pass ,we were told by the army personnel…a festive atmosphere hung in the air. As the army personnel distributed free tea, people were dancing and rejoicing, cameras were on a major clicking spree…the “Been There ,Done That” picture. for everyone there except for me it was a mission ,successfully completed….but for me the journey had just begun !!!! I was to travel all the way from there to Kanyakumari the southernmost tip of India a good 7,500 kilometers away, on the route I had planned to take .Having already done 3,800 kilometers from Bangalore to reach on the top of the world…it was a huge figure to accomplish .
The 16th of August, 27 days later ,the 39th day of my journey… .i count off the remaining kilometers, feeling something swelling within me as it drops to 50..twenty ten…expectancy? Satisfaction? Joy? Relief?. And then at, 5.30 pm i am there lands end. the blue band of ocean slices my vision in half. and the tarmac can go no further. From my right the vast semi-circular ripples from the Arabian sea meet the bay and fuse with the Indian ocean, I was sitting in Kanyakumari on the beach, waiting for the sun to set ..we (myself n my bike) had successfully completed our mission….riding around 12,000 kilometers ..Through 14 states…. 39 days of living on the road…through forbidden terrain….unfavorable weather conditions, like scorching heat in Delhi, freezing cold in Kashmir and pouring rain on the coast for 10 days ..we were exited on have achieved something……I celebrated with a great feeling within me to have survived the whole thing….
My idea of nirvana has always been nature…waking up with the sun shining on my face…listening to the bike thumping away as the birds chirp in my ears ….eat away with the pleasant aroma of the food exiting my taste buds as they get cooked on a crackling fire beside me. The smell of the flora and fauna around me rejuvenating me .A wonderful siesta in the cool shade as the digestive juices work inside my stomach to digest the meal. forget of an instrument called the “watch” and how to use a calendar .sleep peacefully as the moon stares and the stars wink at me……..
Its been an amazing journey and an awesome ride ever since I left Bangalore on the 7th of July till I returned on the 17th august 40 days later after riding through 14 states throughout India. Meeting fellow bikers all over the country….my journey traversed through the less frequented roads between heaven and earth crossing the highest ever motor able road in the world ”khardungla” in ladakh and the southern most tip of India “kanyakumari” .A whiff of cultures, lifestyles, traditions ,hospitality and food of a wonderful country called India …in short I returned to Bangalore …after a taste of a beautiful country called India… A melting pot of cultures, colors, flavors and smells, full of spirits. all bundled into one ..Adventure at its very best….
Its been a journey of a different kind…unlike taking away on a holiday cocooned in a musty bogie of a train, or the “semi-sleeper” of a bus or the air conditioned comfort of a Boeing 737.,flashing around a couple of currency notes and deciding what i want to eat for breakfast or dinner…..and look around and decide what kind of ambience i want to have in the place I was going to stay… this was of a different state looking for adventure at its raw state, believing that adventure begins where the tarmac ends…and not minding rattling mountain paths ,tyre slashing rocks lurking under glacial melts flowing in full force, hairpin after hairpin leading into some of the worlds highest motor able passes. all generously tossed with a dash of low oxygen, fog cold and lack of everyday facilities on desolate stretched for days together…the Himalayas was just right for me. yes that has been what the ride in the Himalayas have been…and I did survive it all… bringing in the true spirit of adventure within me … I returned home with a great sense of satisfaction and achievement. with memories to cherish for a lifetime……Prashant