Rahul Raj at Umling La Pass | Photo: Mathrubhumi
26-year-old Rahul Raj had conquered 19,024 feet Umling La Pass on a bicycle which he bought for Rs 600. Though many people discouraged and made fun of him, he realised his dream on a second-hand bicycle by having just Rs 7000, which he saved for the trip.
The journey began on April 20, 2022 without informing any of his acquaintances. Initially he covered only 60 kilometres daily and after reaching Karnataka he improved the pace of the journey. At Gokarna, he befriended another bicycle traveller and Kozhikode native Musfir and continued the trip along with him. Rahul was thrilled to share his travels by relishing the sights of Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kashmir and Chandigarh. Rahul’s bicycle subdued the highest motorable road in the world by riding through the Umling La Pass in Ladakh.
Rahul and Musfir
Rahul hiked the hills and reached the Umling La Pass by walking for 80 kilometres with his bicycle from Hanle village in Ladakh. From there, he also headed to Demchok, located on the Indo-China border. He sustained on water and biscuits, enduring the chill which hindered him from cooking food. A few days were spent in army bunkers and he had food offered by the army personnel, said Rahul.
During the daring trip, Rahul had narrow escape from two accidents. Amidst the journey, a pickup van hit Rahul and he had minor injuries on his hand. Later, he had a close call from an avalanche. A person was killed and another sustained severe injuries when the same avalanche hit a bus.
Rahul was puzzled when the north Indian families enquired his caste when he requested space for setting up his tent. His savings ran out during the return journey when he reached Gujarat. However, the money sent by his friends and support extended by the people he met en route helped him return home safely.
Engineering graduate Rahul is son of Ernakulam- Mamala native Rajan and Jhansi.