Not always does a road trip of 3000 odd kilometers come around asking you to join and be a part of. Not always does it happen in the Indian Himalayas. But when you do get that call, you know you just pack your bags and leave. No questions asked. Especially when the road trip is going to take you to the “Highest Motorable Road in the World“. Yes! In double bold.
Out of 500 bloggers from all of India, I had the chance to be one among the 20 to be part of the First and Highest Bloggers Meet at Khardung La. Gold!!! At the beginning of this year in an interview with Livingit, I mentioned I wouldn’t rule out a trip back to the Himalayas. And I’m nothing short of joyous today at the fact that this dream of mine came true for the fourth time in 3 years. I think the best solution is to pack and move to the Himalayas like I always wanted.
This road trip to the Highest Blogger Meet and back took 10 days, 5 SUVs, 7 scouts and 20 bloggers covering 4 States and 2 Union Territories of India breaking two new records and stamping our names in the India Book of Records. I don’t think this feat would have been possible without the meticulous planning by the organizers to make this a resounding success in a place where everything could go awry.
I’m going to break this down to let’s say a series of posts to make it easier for me to write and for you to read. Fair enough, right?
The Road Trip
We traversed across 4 states and 2 Union Territories in Northern India, namely Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh covering 3000km (Refer to the map above for the GPS coordinates and locations for technical proof) making it a circuit trip that people generally die to go on. The trip evoked fond memories of my backpacking journey on the very same route 2 years before when I took it the other way around. This route from Delhi through Srinagar to Leh through Manali and back is usually a motor biker’s dream haul. The road trip was organized by OYO, a technology company redefining the hospitality industry in India and abroad and Scout My Trip, the Ultimate Road Trip Planner.
The entire caravan of 5 SUVs was carefully coordinated by 7 scouts some of them who happen to be bloggers as well as outstanding motorists having immense knowledge of the requirements for such a trip. Yes, one of them actually forgot to carry a wrench to change punctured tires. But hey, no harm in making the trip more exciting. There’s no fun when all goes according to plan on a road trip. And it did turn out that the scout (the one who forgot to carry a wrench) actually took not one but two punctures to the chest. Thankfully with the little help from the ever helping Indian Army, the wheels were back on. Please buy a wrench if you plan to go to Ladakh, it makes things awfully easy.
Here they are:
- Deepak Ananth from Kerala, Co-founder, CEO, Scout My Trip, Mr.Cool Executive Officer.
- Vineet Rajan from Tamil Nadu, Co-founder, CMO, Scout My Trip, the Joker would love to ask him, why so serious??
- Neeraj Sinha from Uttar Pradesh, CTO, Scout My Trip, also a living-walking and talking encyclopedia of Ladakh.
- Samarth Sankhla from Maharashtra, unofficial Bollywood dance buff when not on the wheel.
- Amit Nikam from Maharashtra spends time as a doctor when not road tripping.
- Shakeel Khan from Delhi, a scientist with only one aim in life, “Need for Speed”!!
- Pratik Jain from Odisha, a doc in the making and the youngest person on the trip.
Don’t get me started on their nicknames but that’s coming soon in another post.
Highest Blogger Meet
As part of the road trip, we passed through Khardung La, the Highest Motorable Road in the world and also held the first and highest blogger meet in history creating two records in one go. All bloggers and scouts gathered at this pristine alpine location and shared stories and experiences at a whopping altitude of 18000 ft. for two hours. Beat that!! Which was then followed by a session of everyone’s favorite high altitude snack, Maggi.
The big OYO reveal
Little did we know about this grand OYO reveal. But at the Highest Blogger Meet OYO decided to treat the blogging community and the world. OYO launched the OYOnauts program, a one-of-a-kind platform that intends to be the definitive site where travel enthusiasts, bloggers, photographers, and writers can share their travel tales in the form of pictures, blogs or stories to earn an expenditure free adventure to the destination of their choice across India, Nepal, and Malaysia. All expenses paid is always cool, right?
OYO has certainly pushed up a notch with their competitors inspiring people to travel and share experiences.
There wouldn’t have been a road trip without the bloggers. This trip was through and through a team event and everyone equally gave in their share of fun, entertainment and of course blogging and photography gyan (knowledge). It’s a blogger meet after all right.
Here’s a list of these bloggers and their respective blogs. I’m pretty sure you would want to see what the fuss is about. But remember to hit the back button to come back and read the rest of the story here, please. 😀
- Abhinav Singh – asoulwindow.com
- Ajay Sood – travelure.in
- Ami Bhat – thrillingtravel.in
- Anuradha Goyal – inditales.com
- Karan Bhalla – drifterplanet.com
- Khursheed Dinshaw – urbanescapades.in
- Lakshmi Sharath – lakshmisharath.com
- Medhavi Davda – ravenouslegs.com
- Mridula Dwivedi – traveltalesfromindia.in
- Neha Kapoor – thelifestylestew.com
- Ragini Puri – frommywindowseat.com
- Raza Rahil Hussein – holidaypost.in
- Shubham Mansingka – travelshoebum.com
- Swati Jain – buoyantfeet.com
Yes, you can have organizers, scouts, bloggers, location, what not, but there’s really no road trip without wheels. So without further adieu here are the “transformers” of the trip.
2 Mahindra Scorpios, 1 Mahindra XUV500. 1 Mahindra Bolero and 1 Mahindra Thar. Mahindra will be proud. No, seriously! Only Mahindra can take these roads up there. FACT!
The road trip was not without its thrills and adventures of the road. But also exciting views, splendid vistas, passing through high altitude villages, war zones, fuel run outs, traffic tickets, police and army checkpoints, accommodation woes, high altitude sicknesses, LANDSLIDES, engine failures, tire punctures and wi-fi/network outages. We traveled across some of the world’s toughest terrains and scenic border locations on the planet. On a side note, the trip was even indirectly blessed by the Dalai Lama on his way from Khardung La.
We hopped from one pass to another proving that Ladakh is indeed a land of high passes, a land of unimaginable beauty and only shows itself to the ones who actually make the effort to go there. From the map above, you could probably make out the route’s close proximity to borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China.
Now that you are sufficiently prepared to read the rest of the trip and a whole galore of photographs coming your way, I would like to stop this post here but I’ll leave you with this lovely video.
More on this trip to follow soon but I would love to hear from you.
Pin this image!!!
*All views expressed here are my own.