The cold, foreboding terrain of Ladakh and the vicious road that ribbons through the highest motorable pass in the world is, for a good reason, extolled as a biker’s paradise.
Unfailingly, high on any biking enthusiast’s wish list will be the conquering of this bikers’ Mecca.
A trio from the State capital is preparing for this journey, along with seven others who will join them from Kozhikode and Mumbai. For them, there is another cause attached to the trip to start on July 10.
Their itinerary is clear but even if a couple of dates get shuffled around, on July 26, they must reach Dras in Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir.
It was in 1999 that the name of the town became familiar to the rest of India. The incursions into Kashmir by Pakistani troops turned Dras into a warzone where fighting continued for 60 days until July 26, 1999. (The day is observed as Kargil Vijay Diwas).
Every year, this day is observed — in honour of the soldiers who lost their lives in the battle.
“There are so many of these ‘days’ that are celebrated but the sad fact is that apart from a few government-organised or military functions, there is hardly any recognition from the public of this event in Indian history,” says K.S. Sreejith, one of the bikers.
He has once before made the same trip, so he is armed with enough experience to know how better to traverse this route.
The harsher memories include the complete lack of any luxury that includes clean and functional toilets along the route, eateries or restrooms.
“All of us have grown used to expecting some comforts but these bike rides will toughen you up in no time,” he says.
Brian Thomas, 21, is another adventurer taking part in this trip.
Though he holds an impressive resume in terms of biking, this, he thinks, is a hard task. The third person is B.P. Balamurali Krishnan. The trip of the bikers group does not stop at the high reaches of the north. After reaching Dras in Kargil, the three men will proceed to Srinagar, down to Amritsar, Jaipur, Ahmadabad, Mumbai, Goa, and down to Kanyakumari before returning home on August 15.
The three bikers will use Yezdi motorcycles, the manufacture of which stopped in 1996. So, there is no chance of company sponsorship unlike in other similar trips using bikes of existing companies.