Riding Solo | Bharat Mala
Nitin Khattar and I first came in touch during his Solo Ride across Golden Quadrilateral, We have been sharing our ride plans and experiences, as he is back to his routine after his Bharat Mala ride, he is kind enough to answer our few questions and share his experience.
So Nittin , tell us somthing about yourself and the rides
I (Nittin Khattar) am basically from Sonipat, Haryana and was working as an IT professional at Sopra India Pvt Ltd, Noida – took LWP (Leave without Pay) for the Journey. I am an avid traveler and Biker, started this idea called – “Ride For Nation” which is my attempt to give something back to the society by creating awareness on socially relevant issues using the medium I like most i.e. ‘Motorbike Riding’.
Season – I
Solo Ride across Golden Quadrilateral [19 Dec’14 – 10 Jan’15] – 6404 KMs of solo ride across India promoting “Clean India” and “Traffic Awareness”.
- Also was an Active CSR Volunteer for my organization taking several Initiatives related to Cleaning, Environment, Education, Sanitation etc.
Season – II
I recently completed my second Self-Sponsored, self-conceptualized Initiative promoting awareness among citizens via social media and while on roads on 3 different Agendas –
- Thank You to our National Heroes To Visit the Border Towns adjoining all Border Nations, along with Indian Coast Guard & Indian Navy centers to give ‘Thank You’ cards to our Soldiers from Defence & Paramilitary Forces stationed on the Border/Coastal regions. A small gesture from my side to our National Heroes.
- Promoting Road Safety & General Awareness among general public/corporate, school/college children in form of meetings/presentations – Prepared different presentations for Adults (focusing on current trends and numbers) and Children ( both in English/Hindi to make them aware on Road Safety Measures while coming to School)
- Tourism to cover 50-60 percent of Major Indian Tourism across the Borders and Coastal Belt of India.
Initial Plan was to Cover 55-60 Stations of different Armed Forces and to take 35-40 Sessions on Road-Safety but ended up Covering 130+ Stations of Our Brave Armed Forces and Took 11 Sessions (3 Colleges, 3 Schools, 5 Corporate)
Route Taken with Forces
Ride started from Noida and moved towards Rajasthan, Gujarat, Western Coast, and Eastern Coast, North-East, Uttaranchal, Himachal, J&K, Punjab and back to Noida.
To Thank BSF (Pakistan & Bangladesh Borders); Assam Rifles (North East); ITBP (China Borders); Sashastra Seema Bal (Nepal Borders); Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard (Western & Eastern Coast); along with Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Border Roads Organisation (BRO), CISF, CRPF among other forces Posted along the North-East / Kashmir / Ladakh sectors.
- Skipped Bhutan and Myanmar Borders due to Heavy Monsoons in North East
- Skipped Kashmir as advised by Sr Army officers at Ladakh Sector due to volatile situation there but Cards distribution for Kashmir done at Jammu & Pathankot (as mentioned in #Final_Status Pic)
- Card Number 1 Given to – NSG Manesar
- Card Number 500 to – BOP Banbasa (Sashastra Seema Bal)
- Card Number 1000 to – BOP HinduMalkot (BSF)
- Station Number 100 – Pooh (Indian Army)
How did you come up with this ride?
Come 15th Aug or 26th Jan, our whole country wakes up with a feeling of Nationalism, that’s good no doubt, but what about remaining days in a year.. Moreover, this feeling restricts mainly in the ‘Social Media’ only or in other words – in our present generation, ‘Virtual Thank You’ has taken Prominence over the ‘Personal Thank You’..
For last 3-4 years, this thought was in my mind that –
- How can a Soldier sitting at a Border Post (with very limited connectivity) will Read our ‘Virtual Thank You’ on facebook/whats app?
- What I can do in this regard?
- Without myself doing anything concrete, it won’t be possible to preach or guide others towards the ‘Personal Thank You’ thing..
- Other issue is – Majority of Indian Population is not at all aware about which force is guarding which borders, whether there is any coastal security mechanism and this is experienced during my Journey as 90% of people I met had no idea idea about the different forces, A Soldier’s Life at Borders…
So, one fine day, in middle of a Road Trip only in Uttarakhand, on 25th July 2015, this Idea first struck my Mind – to Go on a Motorbike Ride, that too Solo, across all Indian Borders and Coastal Routes to PERSONALLY Thank that ‘SOLDIER’ who is keeping our Land and Water Boundaries Safe and with that to Make People aware of Our Different forces, about the lives of our Soldiers, the Ground realities in whatever capacity I can… A SMALL GESTURE, A SMALL APPRECIATION for What Our SOLDIERS ARE DOING – Though they don’t expect anything from us, But THEY DESERVE THIS and THIS IS THE LEAST WE CAN DO FOR THEM.
Plus, with this Route I could see, explore and experience some of the Major Tourist Points, hidden natural beauty of our ‘Incredible Nation – INDIA’
In the End, I was happy with the fact that I will do this because I Wanted to do this… regardless of any Outcome – I just Wanted to Do this ‘Unique Mission’ of Personal Thank You and to Travel as much as I can.
A Realization 1 yr later –
On 26th July, 2015, the very next day, I met my Riding Mentor Mr. Biswajit Bharali and discussed the idea with him in presence of his wife and one of my friends and it was mutually decided, that come what may, this RIDE is ON.
Now, we didn’t realized that time that the day it’s finalized is KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS, as we were not sure what and how it’s going to take place… But, this year, On 26th July 2016, some facebook memories made me Realize that this ‘Ride For Pride’ dedicated to Our Soldiers was actually Materialized on Very Important Day of ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’
Was it just a co-incidence or was it meant to happen like this… I don’t know
Why did you choose a Royal Enfield bike for your ride?
I’m A Hardcore Royal Enfield Fan for last few years now… Its stable as can handle heavy loads, its comfortable for long runs, flexible as we can use it on both On and Off Roads, highways and hills, it’s a Royal Machine which is best for someone like me who loves to Ride at a nominal speed of 60-80 kmph
For this RiDE, I chose my Bike – Named as ‘NANDI’ – My Most Trusted Companion, My PRIDE since 3rd Dec 2010, a Royal Enfield Electra Model, 350cc, covered 1 lakh+ kms so far together.
Can you describe your experience? What has been your take-away after this ride?
The one word in which the Entire Ride experience can be described is GRATITUDE…
- Gratitude to the Almighty – that after Travelling Solo across the length and breadth of our country, to facing the BIGGEST Test of Weather (5 Months Ride in Extreme Summers in South India (Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, TN, AP, telangana, Odisha) to 65 Days North-East during peak season of ‘Dreaded Monsoons’.) to Facing some of the Worst Traffic Jams to Riding in some of the Remotest Regions of our Country – with Only Me as a Single Tourist… to Riding through every possible landscapes, wildlife areas, night rides, deserts, hills, extreme areas (not safe for tourists) … to Visiting the High Security areas of 12 different forces to thank them that too without any official letter, without any Media/NGO/other support – and finally to Reach Back home Safely after completing My Mission.
- Gratitude to Our Brave Forces (Indian Defence + Paramilitary Forces) – For keeping our International Boundaries across Indian Borders & coastal Safe, for doing the toughest job ever for our Country, for Standing Proud day-in and day-out in Extreme Cold to extreme hot to jungle areas, to extremist areas, during rains to staying for months away from their families – For Keeping us Safe
- Gratitude to My Support System – My friends who gave me funds (as a debt) to start my mission, Our RIDING Community (My ‘Backbone’ who gave Unconditional Support from Day 1 itself across India – Stay, Food, Managing some issues, local support).
- Gratitude to INDIAN PUBLIC for their unconditional Love and support – – Randomly people helping with stuffs like Tea, Water bottles, Lunch, even stay, guiding through cities… Experiencing INDIA – The landscapes, food, cultures, customs, people that changes with every few kms but Still the UNITY, that Oneness we Have – That ‘Incredible Support’ I Got where no one ever asked me My Religion, My Caste/Creed or anything… Humanity overtaking everything else and everyone was there – Ready to Help, the unconditional help.
Take away after the ride
- Experience with Our Soldiers… The Moments like –
- Sharing food with Soldiers, Stay at Mess’, almost VIP treatments at some of the places
- Signing a ‘Visitor Diary’ (meant for vip/vvip/celebrities only) at my First Border Post Visit – BOP Bawlianwala (Jaisalmer Sector) – restricted for civilians but got permissions thanks to BSF
- DREAM Visit, Stay and Interaction with Instructors at One of the World’s Most Lethal Training Schools by Indian Army – The CIJW School, vairengte (Mizoram) and CBS Bhalra.
- To Get Inside IAF’s SUKHOI 30MKI – India’s Most Advanced Fighter Jet
- To Visit some of the SHIPS of Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard
- Visit to some of the restricted posts, to get some of the insights of functioning’s
- Got Almost 150 Messages/autographs and Gifts from our soldiers during the journey on my “Message Diary”
- Earning People i.e. Making Relations – Thanks to the Support I got, now I can proudly say that I have some close contacts in almost every major city/town of India… A lifetime relation is built with fellow riders, companions
- Experienced almost 50-60% of Major Indian Tourism – the food, culture, landscapes and Humanity.
- A ‘Unique Achievement’ of Covering All 4 Extreme Corners of INDIA ( in a Single Solo Ride on a motorbike) where a Civilian/Tourist can Go –
WESTERN most corner (Koteshwar Mahadev, Kutch) – 20th Feb 2016
SOUTHERN most corner (Vivekanand Memorial, Kanyakumari) – 21st April 2016
EASTERN most corner (Kibithu, Arunachal Pradesh) – 13th July 2016
Northern most corner (Turtuk, J&K) – 2nd Oct 2016
- From Planning to implementing to Riding and managing all work that too without any concrete backup, without any machinery support but just depending on “On-Road Support”.I have now earned the confidence to be able to do anything in any situation within the limited resources.
Daily Strategy / Approach
My Strategy was Simple – Focus on ‘Day-to-Day Basis’ without thinking much about what/how such a long journey will take place…. Priority was to arrange Stay or at least a local support beforehand so that I can manage my other works with a peaceful Mind..
Regular Daily works include – Managing Unit Works, Social Media Handling (preparing stories to sharing them to replies), Connecting with some officers from forces, emails, sharing writ-ups to coordinate timings with them to Manage Stay / Food / Safe Parking for my Bike to Interacting with loads of Public – On roads during Breaks, to Rider Friends to managing Bike Issues, regular maintenance, to General Issues one face while On roads to Managing Cards Printing, Couriers, other related logistics.
& MOST Important – To RIDE with a FRESH and CALM MIND … A Daily Struggle, A Daily Learning it was, right from Day 1 to Day No.270
& The Best of All – Biggest Motivation, My Strength, My Energy was the ‘SMILE’ on the Faces of Our Brave SOLDIERS when they get to know my Mission, My Purpose.
Though I covered very-2 little Ground and could Personally Thank just about 800-900 Soldiers overall but I’m Happy and Proud that with such limited resources, at least this much happened …
How did you coordinate with the local bikers?
It started with few personal contacts I made during my Solo GQ Ride a year back… Later Social Media ( facebook & whats app) helped in getting bikers contacts.
I used to coordinate with my local contact 2-3 days before reaching a particular place… as updated earlier, rest all was taken care of by them only.
Were there any breakdowns, how did you manage them alone?
There were Tough Moments like –
In Entire Mission – Only at 2 Places (among those I visited) – I was not able to Give any Thank You Card ; Indian Coast Guard’s Mandapam Unit (Rameshwaram) where I was sent back and again ICG’s Vizag HQ where I was roaming inside the office but no one was willing to take the cards . Then spending my 30th Birthday alone at a Room at Aizawl – Most Depressing Birthday ever for Me in middle of the Biggest Adventure of my life.
- Still, Thanks to God – NO UNTOWARD Incident in Entire Journey
- Till Date, I don’t know how to fix a Tyre Puncture, know very Minute Mechanical learning related to bike – & again, was Blessed that There was NO BIKE BREAKDOWN anywhere in middle of Ride and faced only 2 Punctures that too after the day is over and I get settled.
- Health Issues – Back Pain affected me Most in regular intervals, leg cramps during 2nd and 3rd week of ride, 4/5 times Mild fever, loose motion for 3 days, other body pains were routine affair but worst was ‘Down with Viral’ for 5 days at arunachal.. Thanks to CRPF Namsai Unit, where I stayed during viral and recovered well on time – A day without fever and I was back on roads, eating anything, drinking anything and thankfully Body responded well.
Your future plans?
Currently I’m back on Job after 11 Months break, first priority is to remove the debt I took for this ride.
With this will keep following my Pasion, My Life i.e. “Travelling” – Other than Biking (which is like Meditation for me), I will now start focusing on Trekking (in Himalayas)… No other such a big Ride soon but will keep exploring our beautiful nation India in form of riding, trekking, travelling via public transports etc. J
Can you narrate a few interesting incidents in your ride?
The Ride was a daily adventure, a struggle to get my work done, a survival due to very limited funds… from Day 1 to day 270 – There were Moments – (both Positive and Tough as shared above) and there were indeed quite a few interesting incidents but to put them on paper will require a great deal of thought process ( as I will have to start recollecting my journey )
Message to General Public – Personal & Social Media –
My Message was Simple to who so ever I interacted with – No Need to leave everything like I did and to get on the roads but instead change the approach from ‘Virtual’ to ‘Personal’ thank you whenever you come across any Men in Uniform.
In Short –
“Whenever you See an “Indian Defence or Paramilitary Personal”, Just Say them a PERSONAL THANK YOU; They are Doing the ‘Toughest Job’ for us, They Deserve The Personal Thank You and it is the Least You can Do for Them”
IN The END –
A ‘Solo Rider’ Covering entire Border and Coastal Length to Personally Thank All INDIAN ARMED FORCES (Defence + Paramilitary at Most Secured Border Areas) without any Sponsors, or NGO Support, or Media Backing, Without Any Official Letter approving this Mission, with no one in his entire family from Armed Forces Background, with No Idea of any of the forces, way of functioning – someone who was totally dependent on ‘On Road Support’ and with Just a ‘Belief System’ – Somehow managed to complete the Mission and Reached Safely back his Home –
I can confidently say that Something Like this was never even Attempted before and All Thanks to The Blessings, Support and Wishes of Everyone around – IT JUST HAPPENNED or as I Believe – IT WAS MEANT TO HAPPEN, SOMEONE HAD TO DO THIS and I AM SIMPLY THE CHOSEN ONE J
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