By Our Reporter
SHILLONG, Nov 20: A group of ten bikers are visiting Meghalaya as part of the North East on Wheels (NEW) Bike Expedition Season 2.
In this year’s expedition, 45 participants from different parts of the country with diverse professional backgrounds are travelling in three groups named after birds and animals found in the region – Rhino, Falcon and Myna.
During the ten-day expedition, the bikers will travel through almost all major cities and towns of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland besides Meghalaya.
The primary objective of the expedition is to showcase the natural beauty and rich cultural traditions of the people of the region and help promote its tourism.
The expedition is based on three themes – “Dekho Apna Desh” to promote domestic tourism which could be the single largest employer in the region, “Amrit Kaal” celebrating the 75th year of Independence & marching towards Amrit Kaal and Road Safety to create awareness among people on the need to follow protocols necessary to take maximum advantage of the improving road infrastructure.
During the journey, the riders will pay tributes to national heroes, interact with local communities and promote, through social media, the rich flora and fauna, cultural rainbow and performative character of the citizens supporting the cause of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ in true spirit.
Talking to media at the Tirot Sing Guest House, NEHU before proceeding to Dawki on Monday, Prasad Jog, who hails from Pune and is the coordinator of the bike expedition, said NEW was conceived to introduce the Northeast to other parts of the country, make people aware of its nature and landscapes and popularize bike riding. “We are also trying to promote road safety. I am pleased to see the road condition of this part of the country. It is very well maintained and not to forget the hospitality of the people,” Jog, who is also part of the backup team, said.
Saravana Perumal, who is a software engineer from Pondicherry and employed in the US, said this is one of best journeys he ever had. He said he is enjoying the beauty of nature and experiencing the kindness of locals.
“I met some amazing people and I learned a lot from them. You can get the kind of experiences that you get anywhere else in the world right here,” Perumal said.
According to him, the Northeast stands out because of its diverse flora and fauna, forests, waterfalls and the beauty that comes with them. He said he heard from one of the participants that the Northeast once contributed 26% to the GDP of India.
“I hope someday, it will contribute even more with the kind of infrastructure development that is happening today. And especially in the last decade or so, there has been a lot of improvement,” the ardent rider said.
Aamir Siddiqui, who is a specially-abled rider participating in the expedition, said NEW is an opportunity to know about the culture of the different tribes of the region.
“We belong to Delhi and there is a general feeling that the people from the Northeast are different from us. But how can we jump to such a conclusion without understanding its culture?” Siddiqui asked.
Talking about the Amazing Namaste Foundation that he is associated with, he said it promotes road safety as about 1 lakh people get killed every year in road accidents in the country.
Siddiqui also said that they are running a campaign to ensure that all tourist spots are made accessible to the specially-abled people with facilities which will help them understand the world better.
Govinda, a diminutive rider, expressed his gratitude to the Amazing Namaste Foundation for selecting him to be a part of the expedition. He said it is not physical disability but mental disability that prevents people from doing the impossible things.
The lone woman rider in the group, Vaidehi Hiremath said this was the first time that she covered such a long distance riding a bike.
“It was a great experience. The landscapes are very beautiful. I came across many wonderful people,” she said and admitted that she was not aware this part of the country has such people.
She also said that she will share her experience with others and appeal to them to visit the region and experience its beauty.