Growing up in Lucknow, a regular teenager with interests in music and sketching, I never anticipated that my life would be so eventful before I hit 22. My peers in Pune are baffled that a fashion designing student has a history with bikes and stunts. They call me a MotorHead as my life revolves around two-wheelers. And this life took a crazy turn when I undertook my unlikely conquest of the highest motorable road in the world.
On 02, September 2015, I began my journey from Jammu on a TVS Scooty Zest 110 to Khardung La Pass at 18,380 feet. Conquering Khardung La is on top of the bucket list of every passionate rider and it was no different for me. So here I was, finally pursuing THE dream and I was about to take on Khardung La with a Scooter!
When the team at TVS Motor Company first approached me for a dream ride to Khardung La, I was elated at the thought of riding their performance bike all the way to the top. I have been riding a TVS Apache since 2013 and this was familiar territory. However, to my surprise, they told me it is the TVS Scooty Zest 110, which will be my travel companion. My first reaction was, “Really?”, but I gradually warmed up to the idea when I realized that it would be a quite an exciting challenge. My father bought me my first scooter fueling my passion for riding so this seemed like an apt way to fulfil my childhood dream. Impulsively I rode the Scooty Zest to Lonavala overnight and as I sipped on tea and gorged on Maggi, I knew this was the perfect scooter to take to Khardung La.
My journey began smoothly from Jammu courtesy the good roads, complemented by the nimble nature of my Scooty Zest which provided super power and good suspension making the ride comfortable. In a matter of few hours, I reached Patnitop and decided to halt for the night. The next day began with the breath-taking view of deep gorgeous valleys and the changing colour of skies, pathways lined with trees. I ensured that I took umpteen pit stops to recoup in the lap of nature before reaching Srinagar. As I offered my morning prayers on the houseboat, overlooking the calm waters of the lake, I was reminded of Amir-e-Khusru Deluvi’s words “Agar firdous baroye zameen ast, hami asto, hami asto hami ast (If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this). After a scrumptious breakfast, – I traversed to my next destination Kargil, the centre point of the 1999 Indo-Pak war.
As I rode, I hit plenty of rough patches. Dodging the bus drivers and the heads that turned at the sight of a girl in full riding gear, was now a routine exercise. Before I knew it, I was on the first mountain pass, the Zoji La pass,. Thankfully, the TVS Scooty Zest 110 was a great companion and quite a mean machine with its great suspension, efficient handling and comfortable seating. As the sun started to set, I reached Kargil, passing through the Suru River and crossing tiny hamlets that offered a close view of life in Pakistan and Line of Control, for both the countries.
After a night well spent in Kargil, I began the ascend to Leh, battling a long convoy of Army trucks, a mix of rough patches, straight roads, sharp bends as the peppy TVS Scooty Zest 110 stuck its tongue all out to the naysayers. Riding through different mountain passes including the Namik La and Fotu La, known for its moonscape rock formations was quite memorable. It was here that I overtook three cruiser bikes and the elation of the feat propelled me all the way to Leh, where the last leg of my journey awaited me.
The next day, I left for the highest, scariest and the most challenging ride of my life- the Khardung La Pass. A long, winding road track, full of stumbling rocks, depleting oxygen levels and disorienting altitudes resulted in moments of dizziness, nausea and fear. There were moments when I doubted myself but my unrelenting companion in this journey, TVS Scooty Zest 110 proved to be the fighter, keeping my spirits up. It was at this point that I felt thankful for my fitness regime and my zeal to ride. Fortunately, this distance was not more than 50 KM and I kept myself focused on my ultimate road post that would read, “Welcome to Khardung La, the world’s highest motorable road at 18,380 feet!”
Eventually, I made it to the top on the TVS Scooty Zest, two days ahead of schedule, and did my much promised handstand!
While riding back from Khardung La, we stopped by the famous Pangong Tso lake where I looked carefully at my travel companion which withstood winds, hail, snow, rough terrain among other things. I remembered my apprehensions about taking on the Himalayas on a scooty, I had come a long way since that day. I had come to Khardung La. On a TVS Scooty Zest 110.
It was with deep contentment that I continued my journey to Amritsar, reminiscing in the enthralling experience and marveling at the fact that I had made it safe. The magnitude of what I had done hit me when the ‘India Book of Records’ named TVS Scooty Zest 110 the first scooter to scale Khardung La pass, at 18,380 feet!
Girls in college still come up to me and ask me if it really happened but mostly then want to know how it was done and if, I could help them do so too. That has been my biggest victory. I look back on the days of riding against winds, which are fiercer and more powerful than the Scooty, swerving off the road to avoid tumbling stones and the changing temperatures and ask myself if I would do it again?
And the only answer that comes to me is, “When do I start?”
Here we have some videos of Anam’s ride to the top of the world.
Check out a whole bunch of images of Anam Hashim’s laudable adventure in the gallery below