Indore residents Dilip Chauhan, 61, and his wife Pooja, 57, were never keen on a quiet life post-retirement. They are defying age constraints to take a pan-Indian road trip atop a Royal Enfield bike.
The couple has been touring since September 27, 2017, and planned to cover 5,500 kms in 150 days from Leh to Agra.
They have a 34-year-old daughter who also lives in Indore. Their only son died in an accident four years ago.
“We lost no time after my retirement early last year. We were so keen to head out and see the world around us. Our primary motto behind this journey is to tell young people that life continues after retirement,” Dilip told TOI.
Dilip who was a manager at the State Bank of India branch in Indore underwent training to prepare for the trip, as did Pooja. They began taking long walks and jogging during mornings and evenings. They also shook up their food habits for enhanced fitness. Dilip ensured they took long bike rides with added weight on the vehicle.
The Chauhans began their journey from Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain. They travelled via Ajmer, Bikaner, Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Dalhousie, Srinagar, Leh and Ladakh. The Chauhans contacted locals through biker clubs and stayed with them in the towns they travelled through. The fact that Dilip would be riding a bike after 15 years did little to deter them.
“Age may affect the body, but not the mind. And it is the mind that challenges the body to keep moving on. What keeps the mind going? The realisation that you live only once, being unafraid of uncertainties, and a desire to explore the diversity of the universe,” the couple told the publication.
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Unfortunately, all was not well on the journey. The couple met with an accident on the Yamuna Expressway near Agra, a month into their expedition, in October. Dilip fractured his collarbone, and Pooja suffered a hairline fracture in her ribcage. They had to pause their journey for four months.
But as soon as they recovered, they were raring to get back on the road and resume their journey from where they had left off. It was Pooja who was determined to complete the mission they had started.
They restarted their tour from the exact place they had been forced to call it off. The couple was asked to undergo physiotherapy, and Pooja took a class in the same. They took the time to do stretches and basic exercises while on the trip to avoid straining their injuries.
The Himalayan leg of their journey was especially challenging. They had to brave rain, snow, sub-zero temperatures with bone-jarring wind chills and hairpin-bends.
The expedition revealed an entirely different side of India to them, upholding its cultural diversity.
“We celebrated Dussehra with the wonderful hospitality of a Muslim family in Srinagar and Diwali with friendly a Nepali family in Dharamshala,” Pooja said.
The couple is greeted by biking communities in every city that they travelled through and a Whatsapp group where their travel log is updated.
On an average, they cover 300 km a day. Their highest in a day was 480 km covered in 14 hours from Bikaner to Amritsar. They are currently in Vijaywada and will be moving along the east coast through Chennai, Kanyakumari, Kerala to hit the west coast from Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat covering another 10,000 km.
After this trip, the couple intends to explore every district of the country. It is their way of celebrating life and being one with nature.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)