Imagine you have 8 days in India to get the adventure travel juices flowing and get out of your comfort zone.
What do you do?
You jump on a motorcycle and blaze into the sunset! Here’s 7 reasons why:
1. Natural Beauty
The Himalayas are the rooftop of the world.
It’s unlike anything you’ve seen before. Gobsmackingly beautiful jagged peaks rise out of the Earth, punching through clouds as if piercing the heavens. Thousands of white icy cold waterfalls cascade down sheer rock. Words can’t describe how beautiful it is. Awe inspiring.
2. Out of the Comfort Zone
Out of the comfort zone and into the awesome zone!
This ain’t your ordinary road. It’s closed 8 months of the year – covered in snow and ice. The Indian military work non-stop for four months to keep it open during ‘summer’ clearing rock slides, snow and other obstacles. When open there are many challenges to overcome.
Firstly, it’s really, really… really high. The mountain pass of Khardung La near Leh is the highest motorable road on Earth, rising 5,602 metres or 18,379 feet above sea level. That’s higher than Everest Base Camp. Be prepared for altitude sickness and cold conditions, even in summer.
Snowmelt makes rivers of roads providing incentive not to fall off – not only for the ice cold water that splashes over your boots, but for the fact that you’ll be washed off the cliff and plummet several hundred metres to your death should you to fall.
Fast moving trucks roar past and care not for your adventure. Beware and make room for them as they will not for you.
This is not a ride for the faint hearted. But hey, that’s why you want to do it, right?
Thing is, as tough as these challenges may be, you can and will overcome them. When you do, when you come out the other side having pushed through adversity, having overcome mental, physical and emotional resistance you feel something that is hard to describe. Combine euphoria, with satisfaction, empowerment, happiness, respect and humility and you might be close. Hmmm, no it’s too hard to describe. You’re going to have to do it for yourself!
3. Royal Enfield
The Royal Enfield. What a gorgeous bike. It’s not the fastest, it’s not the toughest and it’s certainly not the most reliable. But it oozes soul. The longer you ride her, the greater the connection. Within a day or so it starts to feel like a part of your body.
Although little things (sometimes bigger things!) go wrong quite regularly, it’s so simple mechanically that you can fix it yourself. If you can’t fix it, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a local who can.
It has a gravelly tone and purrs deeply with every twist of the throttle. The look and shape has barely changed since the British first imported them in 1949. Very Triumph, very Steve Macqueen. Very Indian and very cool. The only way to get around in India.
Who hasn’t enjoyed an Indian curry and a slice of naan bread? Like most international cuisine, go to the source to taste the best. The spices, the flavours and the price are all much more palatable than back home. The experience of exchanging Rupees with a local on the street as they wobble their head in that distinctly Indian shake/nod hybrid roll certainly ads authenticity to the experience and probably makes it taste even better!
The people are unique. Like most things in India, they’re diverse, intense and sometimes frustrating. But you must make the effort to get to know them. If from the UK, Australia or another cricket playing nation, you’ll enjoy a distinct advantage when it comes to breaking the ice. They LOVE cricket. Moreover, you’ll meet a great range of people, many of whom have a different take on life to the traditional western perspective. Make the effort to connect with them and learn from them.
Indian people are deeply spiritual.
You don’t have to disappear into the mountains meditating with monks. No matter where you are on the spectrum from mindful meditator to someone with a passing curiosity – India will deliver. And for a real traveller, a trip to India is not complete without experiencing Indian spirituality.
India is the birthplace of yoga and there’s plenty of yoga/meditation retreats in the sub-continent. It’s also home to an incredible diversity of faiths. It’s therefore surprising to see that, at least from an outsiders perspective, all these faiths to get along. In the north of India it’s not uncommon for you to have a Muslim mosque, a Buddhist stupa and a Hindu temple – all within a call to prayer from one another. It’s remarkable and for those with more than a passing curiosity, there exists a great opportunity to immerse yourself a little deeper and understand various spiritual perspectives.
Above all else, riding a motorcycle through the Indian Himalayas is fun. Really FUN! Enjoy.
Ridden in India before? I’d love to hear about your experience. What would you add or remove from the list?
Oh and, if you made it this far, you’ll love this short video which gives you a taste of the ride in under 5 mins:
Chris Ball is founder and CEO of AdventureHoney, a website where you can book cool things to do when you travel in Asia.
YEEEESSSSS! Want to do this so bad. There’s just something special about these mountains…. they’ve got X-factor. What was the actual route you took on this ride?
There sure is @vicjessimo!
My actual route: Flew into Delhi then flew north to Kulu, transferred overland to Manali. Hired a bike one way in Manali (Sonu from Hardev Motors ) and road it one way to Leh. That’s pretty much it 🙂