Age is no bar when it comes to travelling and exploring the marvelous beauty of nature, and Panchkula-based teacher, Neeru Saini has recently proved the same!
A true hodophile at heart, 51-years old Neeru recently completed a solo motorbiking trip to Kashmir while covering famous tourist spots in Srinagar, Gulmarg, Sonmarg and Pahalgam.
She cherished this out-of-the-world experience while driving her bike and covering more than 1800 kms in (an almost) hilly terrain and freezing temperatures with snow all around her.
In an exclusive interview, we speak to Neeru to know more about her adventurous trail to Kashmir!
Tell us about your adventurous trail to Kashmir?
I recently completed my adventurous trip to Kashmir which is famously known as the heaven on earth.
Initially I had planned to go up to Kargil which unfortunately went down the drain due to the blockage of roads caused by heavy snowfall. However, in the back of my mind, I still wanted to visit Kashmir as I was intrigued to see that beautiful place and explore the Kashmiri lifestyle.
Whatever we were listening about the condition of the state was certainly not as smooth but, my heart refused to listen to it. The urge of visiting Kashmir increased year by year, just like my age. So, I finally decided to take the plunge!
I did all the required homework from sorting out the routes to checking the temperature, weather and the condition of the roads. This certainly required a lot of technical and mental preparation and for that, my daughters, Prerna Saini, 28 who is married now to my son-in-law Ravi Kashyap 31, and Devanshi Saini, 23 were seen to be the backbone of this adventurous trip as they encouraged me to go and fulfil my dream. Last but not the least, I would also like to mention my classmate, Brigadier Ranjan Gupta for supporting and arranging my stay in the army mess.
I had started on the 25th of October and I tried to cover tourist spots in Srinagar, Gulmarg, Sonmarg and Pahalgam. It was an out-of-the-world experience covering all these places on my bike. I had covered more than 1800 km, most of them in hilly terrain and with many places that had its temperature in minus degrees. The trip lasted for 6 days.
Have you been on such long trips before?
Yes, I’ve been on multiple long trips before like Shrikhand Mahadev, Bhrigu Lake – Biyas Kund, Chitkul- Sangla – Sarahan, Northeast Shillong Darjeeling Gangtok and Guwahati etc. I consider myself a trekker, a venturesome person or someone who seeks adventure and loves to go on such tours to new places.
What motivated you to say yes to this adventure?
I bought my bike in December 2020 and learned to ride a motorbike only after that. I can never forget the experience and the joy that came with it. I felt like I had gained wings and wanted to fly as far and as long as I can. My first major solo bike tour was to Manali in June where I covered a distance of 600kms and later to the Dadesh village of Thanedar tehsil near Narkanda in late July where I covered 400kms.
These smooth tours helped me build confidence in my riding skills and boosted my desire to travel and explore more adventure tours.
What were some challenges that you encountered? How did you overcome them?
(By the grace of God) I didn’t find many challenges, though I noticed a few things in Kashmir. The first one being that there was a lot of checking at Police check posts, which I didn’t mind as these were safety protocols by the Government. Another observation was that a lot of traffic jams were caused by trucks (to a point that it made the 2-way road look like a single lane!). Luckily, travelling on the bike didn’t make this seem as big of a challenge as it could have been.
What kept you going?
My desire for the soul-searching solo rides accompanied by the nice chilly weather, the mesmerizing views, my adventurous instinct to meet different people and to know their culture, food, life and much more kept me going. The historical places and the natural beauty attracted me to a great extent.
What’s your next destination?
I’m planning to visit Rajasthan as my next tour for December and then for next year, I will finally hit for Leh Ladakh, travelling on the highest motorable road and then maybe Kargil from the Manali route in June.
There are many dreams and plans that I have hoped to fulfil after my retirement. One is to visit Europe which I can’t do right now as the tour will probably last for months.
One inspiring message for all our readers?
I would like to encourage everyone to not give up on their dreams. To keep their dreams alive and give themselves a chance to chase them. We have got only one precious life. So, why try to live like a machine, rather we should be able to listen to our heartbeat loud enough to feel alive. Don’t snub your wishes with excuses of responsibilities or age or any other reason.
To the younger audience, I would like to say to not give up early, dream big, and chase your dreams as they have their whole life ahead.
Finally, through this medium, I would like to inspire and motivate fellow women motorcyclists or those women who aspire to be the one to invade the male-dominated field of motorbiking and travelling solo. This is the true essence of women empowerment!
“I would really like to applaud and salute the Indian Army for their genuine hospitality, discipline, and hard work.”