It is an immense pleasure and utmost privilege to have a guest post by India’s first woman professional motorcyclist – Moksha Jetley, here at DoW blog… Call her a 51-year-young single mother, an iconic adventure traveler, a passionate bike rider, a professional motorcyclist, a trendsetter, a change-maker or a woman with substance and yes with a difference too… the praising verbs just fall short for what she has done and achieved in the adventure dimension of Traveling. Of course, not to forget that she is close to a role model for many Indian women too… Hats off to such high spirit and passion for riding as well as traveling at such age of life. Truly portraying the spirit of #EveryWomanIsALeader
She has extensively travelled right from the most adventurous parts of trans-Himalayan high altitude region including Leh – Ladakh, Lahaul – Spiti etc. to the beautiful plains and deserts of Rajasthan. However, the solo ride to Sach Pass is some achievement I feel miles further than anything. It is a dream for an adventure lover especially bikers to ride to Sach Pass, the most difficult, deadly and dangerous of all the passes AFAIK… “Riding all the way to Sach Pass and that too solo and beyond imagination, by an Indian Woman…” well I just can’t stop thinking that I am dreaming. But, reality is, that she has done it and I feel honored that she accepted my request to publish her story of the ride to mightiest Sach Pass at the blog here. Please read ahead to virtually feel this ride of her lifetime written for all of us here at DeViL on WheeLs… A Big Thank You to Moksha for sharing it!!! You can reach her at Back-n-Beyond Travels.
A Teaser… Narrow roads with deep gorges, The truth of Sach Pass
Moksha’s Solo Bike Tour to Pangi Valley & Sach Pass
When I look back, I really don’t think so I could do it alone but then things just happen in life, without any planning or expectations.
I, normally, prefer to take a mechanic with me when I am touring any unknown territory especially high mountain region. But this time, it wasn’t meant to be like that. I wanted to tour Pangi valley so that I could design a different itinerary for my clients and I did hear that it was a beautiful, very challenging and adventurous route. I had been trying to check this route since last year but somehow I couldn’t make it.
I was determined to go for it this year so that I could put my new itinerary on my website. I did talk with my mechanic about that and he did agree to go along with me but he wanted me to postponed the tour till end of Sept. It so happened that I had two clients from Israel and they were to do a motor-biking tour to Leh and they were taking a mechanic and back up vehicle till Rohtang Pass which was supposed to be very tough with deep mud for more than ten kilometers. I got ready with them as I didn’t want to miss my recce tour. We all left on 7th Sept. early morning. Rohtang pass was again a big pain and it took us three hours to cross it. Luckily, there was no rain at that point of time.
All alone with my beautiful bike
We all went together till Tandi which was nearly 105km from Manali. It was the first and only petrol station in the entire area. I got my bike and two five liter cans filled up and from there I turned towards Udaipur which was 45km further. The road was good but single all the way with many beautiful streams and waterfalls . The valley was very deep and steep with river Chandra Bhaga flowing along. I couldn’t get much information about this entire route. I only knew that it was going to be a hard trip. On the way I could see small villages and all with beautiful and massive houses. I got the impression that they might be guest houses but when I asked a young woman on the way, she informed me that they were all personal homes. I was amazed to see those big and beautiful buildings. I reached Udaipur at 7.30pm and it was already dark. I was told that there were only govt. guest houses available. I was tired by this time and after locating a PWD guest house, I parked my bike inside and sat there waiting for the caretaker to come whom I couldn’t find at the outset. Thank God I didn’t have to wait for a long time. He was reluctant to give me any room without a proper reservation. Somehow, I could manage to get one. The guest house was huge and rooms were comfortable and properly maintained. There was no provision for food and I was informed that I could go to a nearby dhaba. There were two more young guys staying in that guest house and both were from HCL. They were going to check the nearby restaurant. I requested them to get some food for me and they were happy to do that for me. Later, we sat together and had a lot of discussions and a good dinner.
My beautiful bike… my best companion, never fails me anywhere
My next destination was Killar, a comparatively big town and a sub-division. The other towns on the way were Tindi and Shore. The road to Killar was all gravel and dusty with a lot of waterfalls to cross. One particular waterfall was too deep with a lot of small stones. Thank God there were a few young boys around and one of them helped me pushing my bike out of that waterfall. I had lunch on the way and everywhere people were tremendously amazed at me, seeing a woman riding alone in high mountains. I was stopped by a young woman near Shore and she thought I was a man riding a bike. She asked me for a lift and when she realized I was a woman, she laughed a lot. She was very sweet and offered me two fresh apples which she was carrying. Later, again a Nepali young boy stopped me for a lift. He was very nice and when we approached Killar, the main town was up 3km from the main road, he guided me straight into PWD rest house. The best thing I like in travelling is..getting a chance to meet wonderful and different people. I was able to get a room without much hassle. Killar was a beautiful place with nature all around. Local people were very helpful and interesting. I had plans to stay just for a night there but next day the weather was not clear so I decided to spend another day . I rode around the city in search of a mechanic shop but there was none. My bike was full of mud so I did the washing myself, checked engine oil, put more petrol in the tank, cleaned the plug, making my bike ready for a next day’s rough and tough ride. Next day, I started early morning towards sach pass which was around 50km. I just can’t put into words how the ride was. Practically no road, full of big stones, deep gorges, thick forests, snow peaked mountains, massive waterfalls, everything offering mammoth challenges, riding in that area was more of a spiritual experience.
I ride a 350cc electra bike and I have travelled everywhere on this bike, carrying my bags on it and I never had any problem. But this time I felt that riding a 500cc might have been a better idea on tough roads as there was a point where my bike got struck into big stones on uphill side and I was not able to push it. I could see a few laborers’ tents at a distance. I blew the horn again and again and one man came out of a tent and he could understand that I was asking for help. He came and pushed my bike. Later I stopped near their tents and they offered tea to me which was extremely good. Looking around, I found that the laborer’s tents were in very depleted conditions. I was wondering how they must be living under those conditions.
Killar a big town in Pangi Valley
Before Sach pass, there was a check post. When I stopped there, I young guy walked towards me and started talking in broken English. I smiled and asked him in Hindi if he was thinking that I was a foreigner. He was so surprised that he was speechless for sometimes. There was a big tent and inside was the check post. I was asked to show my identification. There were nearly 10-12 men and they were all looking at me and one of them commented that he was so happy to see an Indian woman doing something different. I had a cup of tea there and by the time I started my journey again, it had started raining already. The road was all muddy but somehow I could control my bike. I had to ride my bike on first gear all the way to sach pass. There I could see a few vehicle stranded due to landslide. I had to stop there. I could have made my way out of this but there were a bus and a jeep parked in such a way that even a bike couldn’t pass. I had no option but to wait for the machine to come and clear the road which eventually came after two hours waiting. By this time, the rain was heavy and while riding the bike, I got fully drenched even though I was wearing my rain gears, I was feeling too cold and just wanted to stop some place where I could at least warm up my hands which were freezing and making me pretty uncomfortable.
Beautiful view from the road to Tissa
The ride from sach pass to the next check post was extremely tough in heavy rain. The road was coming down and it was very steep with sharp curves. Thank God it stopped raining when I reached the next check post. There was a very strict security and a policeman was taking video pictures of each and every vehicle and traveler. I got the same reaction from all of them…big surprise..a woman..on the bike..riding alone. I got down from my bike and entered a nearby tea shop, taking off my wet gloves. My hands were so cold that I requested a young police person to rub them. He helped me very happily. This time I realized that I was starved also as I started my journey without a breakfast. I had a hot tea with two boiled eggs. The head of this post informed me that I was the first woman in the world to cross sach pass alone on a bike. I was delighted to know that and I said,’ That’s record now’. They were all very nice and hospitable. I checked the further route with them and started my ride again. To my amazement, just after half a kilometer from this post, there were massive water falls on the road. The scene was breathtaking. I could see the force of water and big stones on the road. I wasn’t sure I could cross it without a help. Slowly, I tried to control the balance of my bike making my way in this waterfall. I had to stop my bike in the middle of it. I put it on side stand and took a few pictures, waited for some help to come by but I couldn’t see anybody coming left or right. I cleared a few stones ahead of my bike and loudly asked God to help me because if I had lost my balance and the bike would have gone down in the water and then I couldn’t have lifted it with a lot of baggage on it. I started my bike, putting my both feet firmly on the ground, lightly holding my front wheel break and slowly pushing my bike ahead. I had a big sigh of relief when I came out of that waterfall. By now, the sun was out and my wet clothes were not bothering me much. The next a few kilometers were very beautiful, lush green valley in which clouds were moving like a white feather in the air. The scenery was awesome. I was supposed to stay at Tissa, a small town on the way to Chamba. But i topped at Bairagarh which was a small village with a beautiful PWD rest house. It had also a small Dhaba, running by an incredible local lady and the food was very delicious. I had a good rest at this place.
The biggest and longest water crossing after Sach Pass
Next day, I had breakfast at the same Dhaba and started towards Chamba which was 100km from this village. Tarmac single road starts from here. It took only 4 hours for me to reach Chamba which was a big city. I had never been there so I went around the place on my bike. Here also I checked into Circuit house which was an old palace, very beautiful but poorly maintained. The caretaker of this guest house was a funny guy. Manali was nearly 400km from Chamba. Next day, I started from Chamba and came via Jot, Nurpur, Palampur, Mandi, Kullu, straight to Manali, ridding my bike for 12 hours.
River Raavi in Chamba Valley
It was a wonderful and a lifetime experience for me. Thanks to my dearest bike which didn’t fail me anywhere and of course God was always with me and sent me help as and when it was needed. Yes, it feels just incredible.
This guest post describes the spirit of “Women in Leadership” and that is the reason I am sharing this again with all of you. Just before I conclude this guest post, I will suggest you to check the competition held by www.shethepeople.tv on the topic ‘Women in Leadership’ where you all can also submit your entries which can win you an all-paid expense trip to an exciting destination, wish I could participate too ;)… I hope you enjoyed this guest post covering the joy of adventure to one of the most toughest of passes in India.