KOCHI: Traversing India on a motorcycle or in a car is a trend these days. However, Avin Raju, a 22-year-old travel aficionado from Angamaly, has bucked the trend. He has embarked on a journey to discover India on his Hercules bicycle.
The journey that began from Angamaly on January 27 has now reached Manali, covering Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh. “The plan was never to visit the whole of India but enjoy the vibe. I began my journey from Angamaly to Bekal Fort and took the coastal route. I have visited the villages of Maharashtra, Rann of Kutch, Porbandar,
Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat, Udaipur, Jaipur, Chittor, Mount Abu and Ajmer in Rajasthan, Taj Mahal and Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh,” says Avin. Having covered 3,500 kilometres on the cycle, Avin says he has spent around Rs 35,000 for the trip. “At some places, cycle ride wasn’t possible, so I kept my cycle at safe places and depended on public transport,” says Avin. But, his journey is far from complete. Now, Avin is working at a homestay in Manali.
“I knew my budget won't be enough for the entire trip. So, I am working to fund my journey. My initial plan was to work in Delhi. But, my friends advised against it. Though I searched for a job in Chandigarh, nobody was willing to employ someone for a short term. So, Manali was my last resort. My first job was with road workers before moving to a dhaba. So, food was not an issue. Now I am with a homestay and saving for the rest of my trip,” he adds.
The cycle Avin uses belongs to his grandfather. “My first trip on this cycle was to Ooty. This was the only vehicle at home. So, I thought why not visit these places on a cycle. My family knows I’ll be safe, so they aren't worried,” he says.
Avin says cycling to these places was a unique experience. “I took many breaks, sometimes spending three to four days in a state. It was never tiring. I have a sleeping bag and a tent with me. Sometimes, I slept in shop verandas and temples. Only at Vadodara and Chandigarh did I go for paid accommodation,” says Avin.
He had a bad experience too. “My mobile phone was stolen in Delhi. All the photos and videos were lost," he says. He also has many fond memories. “The hospitality of people in villages are amazing, especially those in Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra. They welcomed me wholeheartedly and fed me.”
Avin graduated from St Ann's College at Angamaly. He hopes to resume his trip in September. “I want to visit the north-eastern states, Nepal and Bhutan. I will be back in Kerala by next year,” he adds.