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Why Riding In The Himalayas Is So Different From Riding In The Rest Of India

India. A land of many weathers, terrains, and peoples. This country has such a varied landscape and ecology that it deserves to be its own independent continent. A long coastline courtesy of the peninsular layout of the country, a desert to the west which got separated by the Indus river delta, a multitude of rivers crisscrossing the length and breadth of the country, verdant forests dotting the landscape, and last but not the least, multiple mountain ranges including the Sahyadri, Nilgiri, Satpura, and the Himalaya, tallest of them all and the tallest in the world.

There are 25 major mountain peaks in the world, 19 of which call the Himalaya home. The five tallest peaks are also situated in the tallest mountain range on this planet. To put things in perspective, Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in the African continent rises 19,314 ft above sea level. Border Roads Organisation India recently constructed a restricted access mountain pass in the Himalaya that lies at a height of 19,300 ft above mean sea level. The mountain pass is called Umling La and is currently accorded the honour of the highest motorable road in the world.

Motorcycle Riding In The Himalayas

Red-Panda-Adventures-Himalaya Mountain Tour

So what sets the Himalayan experience apart from the rest of the places India has to offer? Surely other mountain ranges in the country are also equally challenging? The answer is two-fold. Firstly, the geology of the Himalaya is vastly different from the other ranges owing to the fact of these mountains being pushed up above the sea due to tectonic activity. The Himalaya are still changing with some peaks sinking and others rising.

When the Himalayan meets the Himalayas

Due to the constant unstable tectonic activity, mineral-rich strata of the Earth’s crust has been raised to the surface to form these massive mountains. None of these minerals or pure elements support the growth of plants and greenery. Whatever flourishes in the Himalaya is usually next to a mountainous river basin. This makes the Himalaya the highest desert in the world.

This leads us to the second part of the answer. Owing to the sheer altitude the mountain range commands over the surrounding terrain, weather is a volatile element in the Himalaya. Rivers are prone to flash floods, valleys are prone to cloudbursts, and meltwater from the many glaciers dotting the mountains regularly disrupts the lives of the natives and travelers that abound this place. Add to that the height of almost all notable places above sea level, and you have to add another layer to the mix: altitude sickness. At around 11,000 ft and above sea level, the air begins to get thinner leading to low oxygen levels.

The smallest mountain pass in the Himalaya is the Jalori pass in Himachal Pradesh which sits more than 9,000 ft above sea level. Two of the more popular mountain passes, Zoji La in Jammu & Kashmir as well as Rohtang Pass, also in Himachal Pradesh are more than 13,000 ft in altitude. So trouble brews early in these mountains.

Himalaya Biking Tour

Additionally, due to sparse tree cover on the steep and tall sides of the Himalaya, the entire mountain range keeps throwing up random landslides all over. Some are little more than a clump of shooting rocks while others are so massive the Indian Army and BRO needs four to five days to clear the road of the debris. The weather is generally cold up there which leads to blizzards that can snow in critical routes for days on end. Indeed, an entire valley (Spiti) lies out of bounds to outsiders for six months of the year due to snow blocking access.

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As a final challenge, the Himalaya acts as a natural border between China and India, with half of Jammu & Kashmir currently occupied by Pakistan, making border roads a very volatile location. The roads have been theatres of battle in the past, with monuments to the losses erected in Kargil and Rezang La.

Despite all of the above factors that seem to be against the idea of a good time on a ride through these mountains, the Himalaya still attracts more and more visitors every year, from India as well as the entire world. One of the biggest reasons why the mighty mountains attract so many visitors is the sheer size of each one of these proud structures.

Struggling through treacherous, life-threatening terrain, braving inclement weather, side-stepping freak natural calamities that regularly occur throughout the range, when you reach your destination and finally get to gaze at the mountains, you are awed and humbled by their commanding yet welcoming presence. You know you will never see anything as massive as the Himalaya anywhere, at least not on this planet.


Himalayan Mountain Ranges


During our childhood days, we would draw outlandish shapes for landscapes and colour them equally weirdly, never knowing the fact that such places do exist on the Earth. But they do. The Himalaya is a kind of mountain range that does not conform to a set pattern when it comes to geological formations. You can see red rocks somewhere, while huge conical sandstone formations will welcome you in another part of the range.

Due to their massive dimensions, these mountains also influence the play of light and shadows around them, leading to new and unique views each day. While it has to be experienced to be believed, the Himalaya does really hypnotise with its raw, unparalleled beauty. You cease to acknowledge the fact that this place is in fact, a desert.

So it’s not a request; it’s an earnest exhortation: Ride among the Himalaya once in your lifetime!

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nash tupil

On my bucket list, was an himalayan motorbike tour. My wish was fulfilled through Red Panda - and I had an adventure of a life time. Very experienced lead and sweep drivers, with back up 4 wheeled vehicle for any emergency. Curated stays in relatively unknown, spartan but hygienic and comfortable places. Loved staying inside a plastic tent and also Bamboo house. Very well done by our Captain Balaji!! Thank you.

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Loknath Rath

A leap of faith was what it was.. I had not ridden a bike for last 25 years and this hum drum of a covid lockdown was wearing me down. So when Bala sent an WA invitation to ride with him for 8 days of #khukriride, it ignited a spark (pun intended).Those 8 days in Jan 2021 spent riding with Bala & Jojo across NE himalayas were full of thrill, splendor, captivating & enervating. Meticulous planning right from bike selection to route planning, excellent homestays interspersed with local knowledge and intel made this ride a memorable one. I would strongly recommend this ride to anyone who has some interest in riding and adventure. Am sure if I can do it at my age..anyone can. My best wishes to Bala & his team at #redpandaadventures. You are helping many arm chair enthusiasts like me realise a new meaning of life.

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arvind kittur

Red Panda Adventures, Thank you very much for giving me an experience of a life time. The entire expedition as I would like to call it was well managed with a lot of passion, enthusiasm and most importantly servicing the smallest need of every participant. Bala ji is a very knowledgeable, kind hearted and a humble person and an excellent host and a great sport, am sure he misses the “Tawang special” we gave him. Big thank you to Hrushikesh for having my back and making sure I completed every obstacle on my way, and not to forget Lama ji a wonderful person with such positive energy. A big shout out to all the people who took care of us in a very special way at all the Home stays. Highly highly recommend Red Panda Adventures

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Jobo Kuruvilla

Friendly and experienced riders. If your’re looking for a premium motorcycle tour/experience and an adventure on two-wheels — hit up Red Panda Adventures. Their rides will help you “escape the ordinary”, and it is worth every penny!

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karan singh Sood

What a great experience it's been renting a motorcycle from Red Panda. Inspite of the fact that I'd only signed up for renting a motorcycle, these guys went all out helping me plan the entire ride. Not just that, they were only a call away throughout the 20 days of my trip, helping me sort the minor troubles I faced with the motorcycle while on the road. For anyone who's planning to travel the northeast region of India, I absolutely and wholeheartedly recommend renting a motorcycle/signing up for an organised motorcycle tour with these guys. Thank you so much Bala & team for helping me plan a ride I'm gonna cherish for the rest of my life. Cheers

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