Traveling is an exciting way of exploring the world, learning and growing with each new experience. It opens up new horizons for us, wipes out a lot of doubts and fears about the unknown and unexplored territories, people and their cultures. Traveling on bicycle gives me the opportunity to travel with patience and courage, to meet the locals and explore their lifestyle and culture.
I have been traveling for over 3 years now and during my travels I have come across many people traveling in different ways and vehicles which is amazing. I started traveling on bicycle after 2-3 trips in Himachal, because I felt that I was missing a lot by getting on the bus from one spot and reaching a destination. Another reason I don’t like to travel in closed vehicles is that I feel suffocated and nauseous in cars and buses. But this doesn’t mean I dislike or disapprove of the people travelling by other means. I genuinely respect every individual’s choice and bicycle is mine. I travel, I feel, I observe, I experience, I understand, I explore and I express and share my journey through my observation and words.
I have met people who would boast of the speed with which they had covered hundreds of kilometres in a single day and I only wonder why are they doing this and where do they want to go? We have to stop running after the destinations if we really want to enjoy the process of life. This is one thing we have never been taught or told by either our parents, elders or the teachers that there is no fixed destination for anyone and all we have is the journey, the journey of life which is the sum of innumerable journeys throughout the years we live. We should be taught in schools the importance of traveling but unfortunately we aren’t even motivated at the higher education level. Traveling and reading are two activities we all should participate in because most of our learning comes from these. I started reading and traveling roughly at the same time and I am fortunate to be doing so.
In June 2019 I went to a Cycling Trip to Ladakh and Kashmir. It was a 25 day long arduous journey through the Himalayas. I had many many challenging yet memorable moments riding through those adventurous terrains. Cycling helped me enjoy and cherish each and every glimpse of those fascinating landscapes of Ladakh and the heavenly beauty of Kashmir. I started my journey on 14th June from Manali and cycling through the beautiful valley of Lahaul , gorgeous Baralacha la, evergreen More Plains and mighty Tanglang la I reached Leh on 22nd June. I rested for a day and half in Leh, spent most of the time sleeping or roaming around in the Leh market.
This was my second cycling trip to Leh, but towards Kargil its my first one so after a day’s rest I started cycling towards Kargil riding on a beautiful road by the Indus river. I went through many small beautiful villages on the way. Nimmu, Bodhkharbu, Lamayuru and Khangral being the most beautiful villages where one should stay overnight if you travel to that region. Comfortably in four days from Leh I reached Kargil. 20 years ago when I was a kid I heard the name of Kargil first time on the Radio and from elders, both of which were talking about this place in terms of war. Since then most of the time Kargil has been referred to as a site of war (Kargil war 1999) and I never even imagined growing up that one day I will travel to this place all alone on bicycle and 20 years later here I am and I can only see a place full of natural and cultural beauty and generous hospitality. In Kargil I stayed at one of my friend Tohwa Palay’s house and the family hosted me like one of their own.
From Kargil to Srinagar took me three days, on first day just before Drass the chain of my bicycle broke down so had a tough afternoon but in Drass I was welcomed by some generous Punjabi merchants and they invited me to stay with them for the night and it was one of the best on this trip. I stayed for three days in Srinagar, met my friends who went there from Chandigarh and we visited Gulmarg and roamed around the Dal lake. So I had a great time throughout the journey . The detailed experience with day to day itinerary of Manali to Leh Cycling is coming soon in part-2. Thank you for reading!