Meet the women bikers from Hyd who rode 17,000 km, covering 11 states, 5 countries

The four bikers are the first South Indian women’s group to hit the newly opened India-Myanmar-Thailand highway.
Meet the women bikers from Hyd who rode 17,000 km, covering 11 states, 5 countries
Meet the women bikers from Hyd who rode 17,000 km, covering 11 states, 5 countries

In a first, four women bikers from Telangana have achieved the rare feat of travelling 17,000 km, covering 11 Indian states and five South-East Asian countries. In fact, they were the first women’s group from South India to take the newly opened India-Myanmar-Thailand highway.

The women who took part in the challenging ‘Road to Mekong’ expedition, Jai Bharathi, Shilpa Balakrishnan, Piya Bahadur and Shanti Susan, are all residents of Hyderabad and members of The Bikerni, an association of women bikers. The intent of the expedition was to promote cross-cultural diversity and Indian tourism.

The bikers, who endured tough road and weather conditions, returned home after two months of their cross-border travel.

The trip began on February 11 and ended on April 8, when they reached Hyderabad.

The 11 Indian states they toured include Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The Asian countries they explored include Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

The bikers were accompanied by a 8-member crew of documentary filmmakers and support staff from Telangana Tourism.

An exhilarated Jai Bharathi, who was the expedition director for the trip, says, “It was my small dream to explore Thailand on road, and experience the new highway connecting India, Myanmar and Thailand. After learning about my interest, the Telangana government proposed the idea of sponsoring the trip in return for promoting Telangana and Indian tourism.”

Bharathi leads the Hyderabad chapter of Bikerni. An architect by profession, she has been regularly doing long bike tours for the last five years. To accommodate her passion for biking, she has been freelancing since 2013.

“It was an amazing experience to go on such a long trip covering five countries. More than the trip, it was the paperwork involved that was more painstaking,” quips Bharathi.

Bharathi and the officials from Telangana Tourism involved in the trip spent nearly 6-8 months just on the paperwork.

“Though we were supposed to begin the road trip much earlier, the trip got delayed due to the paperwork involved. We also had to drop the idea of visiting Bangladesh, as we couldn’t get a visa.”

Bharathi adds, “For cross-border travelling, you need to get proper documentation done, so that there are no hassles. It was a tedious task.”

To accomplish the expedition on time, the crew was well-prepared. Shilpa from the group attended a workshop on how to fix bikes, in case they ran into any problems.

While Bharathi and Shilpa have experience in long rides, both Shanti and Piya had never done a long trip before.

“This was the first time we (she and Piya) went on such a long trip, it was an overwhelming experience,” says Shanti.

Shanti is a police officer. The Hyderabad Police Commissioner had generously offered her a paid leave to take part in the expedition.

She says that the people in all the countries they visited were friendly and accommodating. “It was wonderful to learn about their culture and understand the diversity that prevailed in each region.”

Bharathi expresses happiness that they completed the expedition without any untoward incident. “Touch wood, we didn’t meet with any accident or faced any hassles.”

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute