In this thought provoking feature, Romesh Bhattacharji discusses the importance of taking time to slowly explore the beauty of the Himalaya and surroundings by motorcycle. He also shares with us some mountain motorcycle routes in India, and his motorcycling experiences in the 1970s. Romesh can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Every year, countless motorcycles go tearing through the Himalaya, the Zanskar, and sometimes touching the Trans Himalaya. They're none the wiser about the giant mountain systems they pierce through, on roads that have been built with so much sacrifice and labor.
They create records like Delhi to Khardung La and back in 82 hours! With digital cameras having made photography easy for morons even, beautiful photographs are immediately put on countless web sites. Continuing the fetish for publicity, larger and larger groups go "raiding" (an obnoxious and disrespectful word) the Himalaya.
Every year a TV documentary or two also crops up. All have interviews exaggerating the difficulties met, and very little of the magnificent views of the mountains, lakes and passes.
I recently saw a TV program of some motorcyclists talking of the "incredible" feats that they had done. One of them, speaking to the camera from Kunzum La, was saying that the road was rough and sometimes non existent! This statement was wrong. The road is 34 years old, with a daily bus service for more than two decades. Some friends and I had motorcycled on this road in October 1975.
There is no need to pad stories with such exaggerations. This happens only when little knowledge of the mountains is inversely proportionate to one's ego. By rushing in and out, people miss out on many stunning topographical features.
I list a few mountain motorcycle routes in India, so that they can be noticed by some interested "marauders" later on.