They say the Himalayas call you back. I understood this in last one year. I spent two weeks in Lahaul-Spiti valley in Himachal last year. Soon after I was invited to Gulmarg. My year began with experiencing Ladakh in winters right in the first week of January. In April, May of this year I found myself in Kanchenjunga range of the Himalayas in Sikkim and Darjeeling. In the monsoons, I was in Landour exploring the Garhwal region of Himalayas. So yes, Himalayan highs keep calling you back if you take the first step to go and visit them.
Most of the Himalayan region is thinly populated. More often than not you are alone on the fragile roads paving their way through myriad landscapes. In the lower regions, they are lush green with vegetation. Upper regions can be either snow laden or naked.
Himalayan roads, especially the ones leading to Ladakh are favorite with bikers. Every few km we would meet a bunch of bikers driving on the roads, crossing the streams or stopping by the camps. In fact, in my mind, bike tourism has been the cornerstone of tourism in some regions of Himalayas.
A couple of days back, I was looking at some YouTube channels that talk about Himalayan journeys. I landed on this playlist talking about 11 women from across India driving to the highest motor-able road in the world at Khardungla Pass. What piqued my interest in their journey was the fact that they drove in the delicate TVS Scootys. Each one of had a scooty in their favorite colors and it was lovely to see them driving on the demanding terrain of Himalayas. I can only imagine the joy of driving to the highest point you can drive to. It must have been accentuated by the fact that they drove there in an unconventional manner.
I read more about their story and learned that young Anam Hashim did the same journey alone a year earlier. She drove the TVS Scooty Zest 110. Hats off to you Anam. This year she was joined by Megha Chakraborty, Kainoor Mistry, Roshni Somkuwar, Garima Kapoor, Ebronah Dorothy, Pallavi Fauzdar, Antara Pal, Trupti Sarmalkar, Surbhi Tiwari and Shruti Naidu. The girls were chosen through a rigorous process from the 50,000 applicants who applied to be a part of this ride.
It is lovely to see the bond that they developed among themselves, the bond that they developed with their scootys and the bond that they developed with the Himalayas. It would be an understatement to say that they were on a Himalayan High.
When one of the girls talks about the colors, I was reminded how I first saw the color of frost on the frozen Zanskar river. The color became more meaningful for me since then. I also connected well with their anticipation of the whole experience. Yes, today, we can see millions of images and tons of videos of the place before we actually land there. However, the feeling of standing there is something no image or video can replicate. When you stand there all your senses are absorbing the experience. The atmosphere there changes you – you become one with it. You are on a Himalayan High that is not comparable to any other high in life. You are reminded of how small you are in front of the mountains, you are reminded of the fact that, mountains can emerge from the oceans.
Watching these videos was like going on a journey with these 11 women and reliving my own journeys to the Himalayas. When I read about Aman’s solo journey, it reminded me of my solo wanderings in Bhutan many years ago. Their group journey reminded me of all the other journeys that were done with friends and family.
Finally, every journey inspires future journeys. The experience of these 11 women inspires me to take yet another journey to experience Himalayas highs.
Are you inspired too?