It was Hariprasad’s dream to reach the heights of Khardung La by motorcycle, the tallest point in the Indian border up to where vehicular traffic is possible. Khardung La (Khardung Pass, la means pass in Tibetan) is a high mountain pass located near the Khardong village, in the Ladakh region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Ride to Khardung La, a Himalayan road is awe inspiring and daunting.
The Khardung La Pass is the highest point along the route which is the world’s highest motorable road. Runners get spectacular mountain views of the Karakoram range and the Stok massif, running past mountain villages and summer pasture land of the yaks of the Nubra Valley and North Pullu. From Khardung La it’s all downhill to Leh.
Hariprasad had, along with his friends George, Umesh and Sasi started the journey on three bikes from Panangad on August 7th. Hari and George rode individually while Umesh and Sasi were together in one vehicle for pillion ride.
George was forced to end his trip in Bengaluru after his bike broke down. Umesh and Sasi had to revoke due to ill-health while in Agra. Hari rode on. He reached Jammu & Kashmir on the fourteenth day after traversing the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.
National Highways were chosen for the route. GPS could not be relied on as the mobile phone went kaput. Hari had to rely on the old fashioned way – by plotting the distances covered on the map he had. Areas covered each day were marked on it. Distances of up to 690 kilometers were covered in a day by travelling at 100 kilometers an hour.
Knowing the diversity of culture ,having the different tastes, Hari continued his journey. He used to write the name of the places he covered in a diary.Used to rest when he wanted. When he noticed the board ‘Jammu Kashmir’ his mind overwhelmed with emotions. His mind slowly said that his dream place is near by, it is nearby.
He spent some time with the soldiers of Kargil. ‘The warmth of the reception I got there is beyond decipherable. Kargil is one of the coldest places. I really wonder how the soldiers are living in this snowcapped heights.
“Got the opportunity to see Tiger Hills in Kargil. I consider this as a blessing to me and of course it is a great experience too. Kargil war took place there. Hills act as boundary of India and Pakistan”.
It rained snow at two places on the upward journey from Leh. During the 3.5 kilometer tunnel ride in Himachal Pradesh, water drizzled like rain in the tunnel. The only damage was a broken shock absorber for the bike en route to Maheli. He got another rider’s help to reach a workshop in an interior village and rectified the damage.
After reaching Chandigarh, the return journey of the bike was in the cargo wagon of a train. Finance was the main issue; else the return trip could also have been carried out in the bike.
Hariprasad who hails from Panangad, Ernakulam is a Senior Sales Executive and Trip Coordinator at St. Mary’s group, the authorized dealers of Royal Enfield in Kochi. He was granted unconditional leave for the Kashmir trip. Hariprasad has an advice for the youngsters who wreak havoc on bylanes with the new generation motorcycles. These bikes are designed for riding. Bylanes are not suited for it.
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