A video I made while off roading with the Moto Explorers Club of Kashmir.
It was really an exhilarating experience going with these guys and hitting trails which look near impossible for normal vehicles to even drive on. All the drivers are locals and as such well acquainted with driving around on the Mountains.
This particular trail was a Forestry Department trail which connected Surendra Village to the Meadows of Ditwas in the Bandipora area. These trails are used by the Forest Department to bring down timber from the Forests using the big "Platforms"as they are called.
It was a challenging trail but thankfully the trail was mostly dry and we managed to reach the Meadows within 3 hours of hitting the trail. But it was an absolute body shaking experience and its only recommended for experienced drivers/ riders.
This Club is made of enthusiasts who get together on Sundays and go to various unexplored trails in the Valley. Every one brings their lunch and have a picnic of sorts when they reach the destination. Its a really great atmosphere and we were lucky to have a great Guitarist and singer with us who enthralled us with his renditions of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's classic "Yeh Jo Halka Halka Suroor Hai". And we all had lunch which came from 10 different homes. All together is a great spirit of the Mountains.
And for those people who might take slight offence at the sight of these vehicles going through these Forests and Meadows some facts I would like to point out :
1. The Vehicles always follow trails which already exist, sometimes forestry or sometimes kacha rastas. The only time they usually go off trail is when they Park or or forced to take a detour.
2. The Club follows discipline and all members have to follow the essential Rules. For example there is always a Rover (lead vehicle) and a Sweeper (vehicle at the right back). All Vehicles remain together. Some tools and spares are carried and they have a magician called Shabir bhai who can fix anything.
3. The Club has a strict zero litter policy and all waste is carried back. Even waste left behind by others but this particular area was remote so there was hardly any litter.
4. The Club, which has a drone as well, usually makes a note of the environmental conditions around the Trail. This time we took serious note of the number of fallen trees which seem to have been illegally felled by burning fires right at the base. We
have enough photographic evidence to make a representation to the concerned authorities These areas are out of bounds for most people so the Timber mafia has a free run, until they realize that these guys turn up and spoil the Party. Also we used the Drone to get an overview on the Forest as well. The Drone is used with prior permission taken from the Local Police.
5. Lastly and importantly driving in Kashmir has its challenges due to the situation. There are special challenges, for example, we ran into an Army convoy. And for 12 off roaders to overtake an Army convoy is quite a demanding task if you understand what I mean. And then there are uncertainties when you are in the Jungles of getting into confrontation with wildlife or unfriendly humans (due to any number of reasons).
But its all worth it.
Next time you are in Kashmir do give the guys a buzz and join them, in case you have a vehicle which you think is upto the task.
Video from yesterday. Ditwas Trail, Bandipora, Kashmir.