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This world is a more beautiful place than we would have ever imagined

July 16, 2020
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Currently, people are being crammed with a lot of negative thoughts, especially due to the prevailing situation of this Covid-19 pandemic. People are forced to stay inside their homes (a cage confined by four walls) though it is in the form of advice from the world's health governing bodies. It has been a challenge for many of us, including me, to cope with this forced confinement. One thing that has kept me strong, energetic, and optimistic during this unfortunate time is none other than the memories of my travel and expeditions to different parts of our country. That's why I am writing this short article to cherish my good old memories and present before the audience the positive impact traveling has on someone's life.

But before delving into one of my travel stories, I will briefly tell you about the kind of traveler I have been for the past few years. I am an avid trekker and a cyclist who loves hanging around the world on his feet or pedaling his bike. I have done trekking to Kanchenjunga base camp trek in Sikkim, the Gaumukh-Tapovan trek in Uttrakhand, the Dodital lake trek in Uttrakhand. I have also explored several places in the Indian Himalayas on my bicycle, and I must tell you it is an altogether different experience than you would have while traveling inside your motor-cage (that is your motor vehicle). Also, I am an avid running enthusiast, so, without a doubt, I have also traveled to several cities too just to run a marathon there (haha). I would also love to pedal across the beautiful country of Georgia.

So, following my kind of traveling style, I recently embarked on a self-supported cycling expedition with three of my equally enthusiastic friends. The journey would start from New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal to Gangtok via Nathu La (a high-altitude mountain pass along the Indo-China border) in Sikkim, India. Though previously I have also cycled to other high altitude passes along the Indo-china border like Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim, Sela and Bum La in Arunachal Pradesh. But this expedition was very important to us because we were doing it self-supported. By self-supported, I mean, we were about to carry all our stuff on our bicycles, and there is no supporting vehicle with us during the expedition. This expedition was organized by the Adventure Sports Club, IIT Kanpur, not a commercial body but is being administered by the students of IIT Kanpur.

I have always believed that "It is the journey that matters, but not the destination." So, to cope up with the physical and mental challenges during this expedition, we started training ourselves well before several months from the start of the actual expedition. We used to do a lot of physically intensive training, and, of course, it is not just physical; it's all mental. It is not just that you prepare your body physically by doing these exercises but also train/strengthen your mind. After months of preparation and training, we finally embarked on the expedition in March 2020 (just before the onset of the severity of this pandemic in India). But as always, nothing goes as per planning, and despite carefully working out every nuance of this expedition, the destiny had something different to offer. We couldn't get permission to go beyond the Rongli check post (in Sikkim) with our cycles as the weather was not conducive. There was a lot of snowfall beyond Rongli at higher altitudes, i.e., towards Nathu La, because of which roads were not very favorable for driving. That exactly where our training comes into the picture, we were mentally and physically quite strong, so we chalked out another plan instantly, and that was to visit as many places in Sikkim as we can on our bicycles. Believe me; it was one of the best cycling touring I have ever done in my life. We visited quite many places in central and north Sikkim and interacted with so many people that we would never forget.

Finally, I would like to highlight that traveling is not just for enjoyment, but there is more to it. When you come out of your comfort zone and travel around the world, you witness that how conducive and peaceful the surroundings are, as opposed to a lot of negativity spread around by the news channels (and other media). Also, you get the chance to interact with so many people from different cultures and upbringing, you listen to them, you witness their lifestyles, and you don't realize, but it makes you so humble and liberal that you start respecting everyone's individuality (and that's something no books and motivational talks can teach you). 

I would recommend that everybody start investing more time into the well-being of their body and mind and start exploring the world around them with an open heart. Nature would not disappoint you, my friend. This pandemic has taught us many things, and we should embrace the fact that a human is a social animal and needs nature as much as other creatures on the planet do.

You can also read more about top travel places of your choice on TBO Academy to plan your next travel.

Mahesh Singh Bisht