Youngsters from Kerala take arduous climb to Kedarnath on bikes

Ashwin Manoj at Kedarnath.

Ashwin Manoj at Kedarnath. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

When Ashik Reji and Ashwin Manoj, 21-year-old friends from Kerala, reached Gaurikund, the base camp for the arduous trek to Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand, on their cycles in a far-from-ideal climate late last month, police officials deployed there stopped them.

They were told in no uncertain terms to leave their bikes behind. The youngsters were equally persistent and eventually the uniformed men gave into their persuasive skills to let them take their bikes.

But that proved to be the easiest part as the intimidating trekking path of nearly 20 km lay ahead of them. While a climb on a horseback, a costly helicopter ride, or being carried on shoulders by human carriers were the alternatives available to trekking, a bike ride was firmly out of question.

“We could ride hardly about 3 km, while we either pushed our bikes or carried it on our shoulders for the rest of the stretch. By all accounts, we are the first to make our way to Kedarnath from Kerala on bikes,” said Reji, a resident of Pampakuda near Piravom who had set out for the adventurous campaign to discover India this New Year.

Ashik Reji at Kedarnath

Ashik Reji at Kedarnath | Photo Credit: The Hindu

People descending from Kedarnath were shocked to see them with their bikes and even warned that they would never make it. With reports of landslips, it appeared an ominous prophecy. But eventually they did it in what appeared to be a never-ending 10 hours.

While they were in awe of the breathtakingly beautiful landscape, they were equally floored by the kindness of the people residing by the famed Kedarnath temple. “They marvelled at our adventurous spirit and passion. While we had originally planned to leave the next day, we eventually stayed back for four days, with local residents arranging food and accommodation for free,” said Manoj.

They now plan to visit Badrinath and Mana, the last Indian village before the border with Tibet, and the Valley of Flowers National Park before leaving Uttarakhand.

The two had started their journey with a mere ₹600 reposing their faith on the kindness of people along the way. Eight months covering as many States in the biggest adventure of their lives so far, that trust has never failed them, leaving them even more excited.

“We plan to cover the rest of India and Nepal and Bhutan as well before returning home in 2024,” said Reji.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2022 7:34:21 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/youngsters-from-kerala-take-arduous-climb-to-kedarnath-on-bikes/article65715905.ece