It is once again that time of the year, when you get an opportunity to break free from the daily grind, as you traverse through the breathtaking Himalayan landscape. Royal Enfield’s Himalayan Odyssey returns for its 13th edition in July, wherein 50 participants will ride through magnificent roads, choppy ground, and some of the ‘highest mountain passes’ over 2500 kms.
Anyone who has a hunger for travel has Ladakh and the cosseted Leh in their bucket list. The lust for adventure has led a range of travelers to the Himalayas, who are seduced by the tranquility of this charming land surrounded by imposing hills. Those who have experienced the enigma of this landscape located at an altitude of over 11,000 feet swear by its allure. Nothing can quite match up to the joy of waking up to the cerulean sky and the alpine Himalayan peaks. The hills and the mountains have their own spirit. They appear to look over you like a guardian, as they gradually wrap you in a blanket of calm and serenity. They call out to you as if to say, “Go on. Live!”
Rightfully regarded as one of the most preferred travel havens in the country, Leh is home to an airport with flights from at least four metro cities in India and can also be accessed via trains. Yet, it is a destination best reached via a road trip. Other than the plentiful scenic landscapes, travellers get to drive, or ride, through the Magnetic Hill — a stretch of road encountered between Kargil and Leh. Located on the Leh-Kargil-Baltik national highway, vehicles can climb uphill, defying gravity, on their own!
Then, there’s the visually-arresting Pangong Lake, 60 per cent of which is located in Tibet. It is the same famed lake that featured in the last few minutes of the Bollywood movie 3 Idiots. Fenced in by arid hills, one is sure to witness an assortment of shades of blue in the lake’s waters.
There’s no chance of missing out on the far-flung yet fascinating Nubra Valley, a cold desert cradled in an enclave by jagged mountains. Then there’s the world’s second highest motorable road — Khardung La. Situated at an altitude of above 18,000 feet, it finds quite the favour among bikers.
For bikers, the true spirit of adventure is in making memories not only for oneself, but also for everyone they meet through this journey. Riding is a way of life. It inspires you to look within and find your inner peace. Along with the memories, every journey leaves you with a bag full of stories; stories that’ll keep you company on a cold winter night, years later, stories that will inspire your nephew to embark on n this adventure some day.
Since the first Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey in 2003, this jaunt over the ‘holy grail’ of motorcycling has endeavored to not only bring man and nature together, but also provide a shot at spiritual piquancy. Over the past ten years, a multitude of riders have turned to the Odyssey in the pursuit of adventure and rumination and found so much more as they travelled through the charming Ladakh to Leh and Khardung La.
The Chennai-based Royal Enfield will also see the debut of the women’s only Himalayan Odyssey. Organised with She Travels on a Royal Enfield (STRE), the Himalayan Odyssey — Women (HO-W) will accept up to 20 participants who will go on ride to what is often referred to as the ‘Purple Rain’ of motorcycling. Keeping in line with the idea of an ‘all women’ entourage, only women will be assigned as the service staff, technicians, doctors, and crew for the HO-W ride.
It is amusingly easy to remain shrouded by métier, but what do you do when your being yearns for moments of revelation and peace? When you ache to set out for an experience? Part company with the tedium, shake off the blues, and ride along to add some colour to the monochrome routine.
The Royal Enfield motorcyclists participating in either of the aforementioned formats of the Himalayan Odyssey will travel over 2,500 kilometers and experience a remarkable assortment of landscapes over a period of 17 days. The expedition will be flagged off from the sweltering national capital, Delhi, onwards to Ladakh and its valleys garbed in snow. In addition to the melodramatic, and yet quite sensational change in both weather and landscape, riders will also be confronted by one of the most hostile environments for motorcycling in the Himalayas, all the way from Narkanda, Sarchu, Jispa and Leh to Khardung-La that also happens to be one of the highest motorable roads in the world. Feeling the adrenaline rush yet?
Each corner on the route traced out for this sojourn in the midst of the mountain range that separates the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau harbours the promise of an incredible panorama. There’s Leh, swathed in a veneer of traders and Buddhist commemorative monuments, the Hatu Peak in Narkanda, and the quaint village of Jispa among several such unforgettable sights that await the Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey rider.