When Srinivas Reddy from Vijayawada recently set off on a solo bike trip, little did he know it was going to be an adventure of a lifetime! Steering clear of the conventional practice of cruising down the road on a Bullet, Srinivas set off on a trip to Srinagar on his humble Apache 150cc.
The 35-day expedition spanned across 8,152 kilometres. “The idea behind the expedition was to spread the message of world peace and awareness about child abuse,” says Srinivas, adding, “I was apprehensive that my bike was an ordinary one and unsuitable for long drives. Also, since I had not serviced it for long, I was worried that it would break down.”
Challenges were aplenty on this road trip. In fact, Srinivas admits to feeling scared while driving alone in remote places like Nubra, Pangong, Kargil and Baltal.
“Finding the proper route map and driving through tough terrains and Spiti Valley (600 kilometres from Shimla) were hard. The route has several water crossings and the road was riddled with stones. Also, getting used to the freezing temperatures, travelling alone and sleeping during the nights was a bit tough,” he shares.
But he overcame all the odds and managed to reach the world’s highest motorable point, Khardungla. After meeting the jawans at the Kargil border, he went on the Amarnath yatra along with his friends. But the trip was about to turn into a nightmare when he realised they were caught in the midst of landslides!
Srinivas says, “We got stuck in the landslides. There was chaos everywhere, people were screaming and panicking. We saw debris falling and people died on the spot. The walkway was just 5 feet and if anything went wrong, death would have been certain.” He adds that due to the messy situation, no one paid heed to the security personnel’s call. “The rockslide itself was somewhat dramatic! Even though the security personnel were shouting and asking people to move away, no one could hear them as there was major chaos. A few people even died of cardiac arrest too. This was our first mountain expedition and we had no idea how to handle the situation. We also witnessed mules and horses falling down the huge valley.”
The deadly landslides took place for around one hour and we had to move away to another area, upon someone else’s advice. “The routes remained suspended because of landslides and shooting stones. The helicopter services were also limited and there was a minor flash flood too,” he recounts, adding, “After we came down, we saw several people who were badly injured in the landslides. We were shattered! The police and other security forces like SDRF, MRT and ITBP personnel were fully engaged in rescue operations. Even the doctors worked overtime to save the pilgrims hit by the landslides.”
Srinivas can finally breathe easy. “Due to God’s grace, we were able to come back safely. We all had an exceptionally lucky escape when a rockslide occurred. But we will forever remember the couple of hours when we were worried about our lives,” he concludes.