"I felt fearless. There is nothing in this world that I feel I can't achieve," she said.
The idea of travelling excites everyone and we all have some places on our bucket list. While we see so many people around us going on solo trips, a woman travelling alone still hasn't become a norm in India. Safety concerns hold us back from having the fun of setting out on our own, meeting new people and discovering a new connection with our own self.
But 27-year-old Roshni Sharma shed all these inhibitions, picked up her bike and kick-started her journey from Kanyakumari that ended in Leh, covering 11 states that came along her way.
An engineer by profession, Roshni hails from Naraura village in Uttar Pradesh. In the month of June last year, she embarked upon the journey of a lifetime that not just added a new horizon to her personality, but also inspired many others.
She passed the lofty Himalayan mountains, tough terrains, high passes of Rohtang, Sarchu, Pang and Tangalangla and rode through the dangerous glaciers that tested her endurance.
She had started to prepare for the arduous journey 7-8 months prior to setting out. The planning included chalking out a route plan, confirming the route, convincing parents, buying a bike and other necessary equipment. She also learned about the bike to be able to handle it in case it broke down and also paid some extra attention towards her fitness.
Before her cross-country trip, Sharma had done more than a few solo bike trips like Bangalore-Pune-Bangalore and Bangalore-Chennai-Bangalore. But even for a seasoned biker, an expedition across the length of the country through notorious regions and dangerous highways like the Leh-Manali Highway presented new challenges and lots of disbelief.
Roshni claims she feels liberated riding around in the midst of nature . With her trusted bike, she rode all the way from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, all on her own. She is India's first female to do so, and she covered 11 states in 19 days.
If anything, her stereotype breaking experience of traveling alone in India might give many women the final and much awaited push to pack their bags and stop waiting for people to go with them. The thought is scary but Roshni's example and first hand experience makes for an inspirational story which had it it's own doubts, but conquered all.
Roshni also believes that the myth about solo women travelers first needs to broken in the minds of the traveler themself.
Talking about the expedition, Roshni said, "Biking is my passion and by taking this expedition, I want to spread a message among women, especially young girls, to come out of social taboos and live a free life." Well a great source of inspiration to many lone travellers, especially women.
Sharma defies all the stereotypes associated with not only women, but women from small towns unexposed to the glitz and glamour of India’s most urbanised cities. A lone wolf in the vast expanse of the country, between dhabhas and highway lodges, a few small accidents even, Sharma’s feat is reflective of what a woman on a mission can achieve.
- By Bhavya Bhatia