Society

On the wings of wanderlust

Members of Vivekananda Study Circle, a socio-cultural organisation in Technopark, during their trip to Leh Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement



They’re all birds of a feather. No wonder that techies in Technopark bitten by the travel bug are flocking together to hit the road in search of adventure. In the past few months, for instance, at least four different groups of techies have made their way to offbeat destinations/tourist hotspots across the country.

A few members of Vivekananda Study Circle (VSC), a socio-cultural organisation on campus, are just back from a marathon road trip to Leh-Ladakh. “The Himalayan ride was a dream for many of us keen bikers and that’s why we decided to step outside our comfort zones and go on an adventure. Group travel is a great way to share the experience,” says Praveen Kumar P.V., a test analyst and the secretary, VSC, who organised the trip. There were 11 people in the group, including two women, and they covered almost 3,000 km in 10 days, mostly through uninhabitable terrain and dirt roads, including the treacherous ‘Shakthi route’ from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso Lake, which even seasoned bikers fear to tread.

Meanwhile, Stephen Jawahar, a senior systems analyst, and four of his buddies from different companies on campus, who call themselves ‘Roadeez,’ hopped on their bikes to travel all the way from the city to the other end of the country – Rameshwaram. “I had been planning a solo trip on a bike for some time but when I told my friends they were also gung ho about it. I had once gone the distance solo in a jeep but riding the route on a bike really connects you to the land, nature, people and culture of the place,” says Stephen, also a travel blogger and photographer. “We’ve decided to go for road trips every three months,” he adds, already dreaming of their next road trip to picturesque Meghamalai in August and Valparai in November. They are also gearing up for a 10-day, 2,500 km bike trip across South India.

Most travel groups seem to have a definite plan of action for trips, not always only for pleasure. Earlier in the year, 38 members of VSC climbed up Agasthyamala to collect garbage strewn along the popular trekking route. “We brought down over 70 kg of garbage,” says Praveen. They’ve also gone as a group to Kanyakumari to see their namesake’s statue, presumably, and visit tribal settlements in Bonacaud, “to spread the Onam cheer.”

The city unit of Sanchari, an online collective of keen travellers, many of whom are techies, on the other hand, often organise one-day trips to nearby destinations such as Braemore Estate, Ponmudi, Neyyar, Sasthampara, Kappil Beach and the like. “All of us are keen trekkers and/or bikers and we go to destinations where we can do both,” says techie and travel blogger Sajna Ali, one of the administrators of the group.“We usually run a poll on where to travel to and when and go by what the majority says,” she adds.

Women techies are also going places, albeit to destinations much closer to home, which involve, at the most, a day or two of travel. For them, unanimously, it’s a matter of safety and security in numbers. Members of Appooppanthaadi, a city-based group of sprightly women travellers that has a number of techies, have climbed up Kurishumala in Thenmala – twice, gone for a picnic to historic Udayagiri Fort and travelled to Chikmagalur, Karnataka, to savour the undulating greenery. They’ve also been off-roading in Ramakkalmedu in Idukki and trekked to Vazhavanthol waterfalls. They’re all set for their seventh trip next weekend, to see the famed sunrise at Kolukkumala tea estate in Munnar, a journey that involves 12 km off-roading and overnight camping. “Next month we plan to scale Meesapulimala, the second highest peak in Kerala. Our membership has grown organically – friends, friends of friends and so on – and exponentially since our maiden trip and we now have a revolving list of people who sign up for the trips. We’re aiming for at least three trips a month,” says Sajna, who started the group.

WHEN TRAVELLING IN A GROUP…

It’s all about sharing: The burden does not fall on one person and everyone can share the tasks/responsibilities. Says Sajna: “Appooppanthaadi has formed a core planning team with eight members. We also have two trustworthy drivers who take us for the trips and their suggestions have proved invaluable when it comes to planning pick-ups, routes and stopovers. Also, if it’s a long trip we take a guy along to help us out. He takes photos too, leaving me to look after the others and their toddlers/kids, who often come along for the trips.”

Help is at hand: “If a vehicle gets stuck or gets lost, like we did on a deserted stretch of highway to Leh, having others with us was a boon,” says Praveen. If travelling on a bike, Stephen recommends that riders carry along accelerator and clutch cables, fuel, oil, a couple of spare tyres, and so on, in case of an emergency.

Be on time: “Even if one person doesn’t turn up on time it can mess up everyone’s schedules,” says Stephen.

An itinerary keeps the peace: Experienced travellers suggest sticking to the itinerary, especially if it's a big group. “Everyone is bound to have their own ideas on what they want to see/do. For example, before our trip some people had wanted to go to Gulmarg, which is two and a half hours in the opposite direction from Srinagar. If we had diverted from the itinerary it would have been difficult to get to Leh via Kargil, 335 km away, on the same day,” says Praveen.

MEMORABLE MEETING

Prior to the departure VSC got in touch with the military camp in Pangode and were granted permission to visit the military camp at Agham, Ladakh.“We got to spend a couple of hours there and learn about life in a military camp ,” says Praveen. “At Chang La Pass, some members of our group got altitude sickness and soldiers posted there were kind enough to let us rest in their bunker,” he adds.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 12:20:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/On-the-wings-of-wanderlust/article14502997.ece

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