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Karachi to Kanchenjunga

In September, South Asian governments are expected to sign a motor vehicles and railway agreement to open up stunning new horizons for travel lovers across the subcontinent, reports Neelesh Misra.

delhi Updated: Aug 03, 2008 01:44 IST
Neelesh Misra

Hundreds of kilometres apart, two friends sat at their homes in India and Pakistan on a lazy Saturday, dealing with a shared fantasy.

In Pakistan was hugely popular singer Shafqat Amanat Ali — who mesmerised India with the chartbuster Mitwa — in his Lahore home, dying to zip off in his car across the border into India, for as long as the roads take him.

Back in Mumbai is Raghu Ram — the man who gave Indian viewers the hugely popular television show Roadies, which has taken contestants on gruelling journeys across thousands of kilometres across India, Thailand and Malaysia. His dream — to journey across Pakistan by road.

A subcontinent crisscrossed for centuries by seekers, wanderers and hermits is waking up to travel again. In September, South Asian governments are expected to sign a motor vehicles and railway agreement to open up stunning new horizons for travel lovers, with plans to revive old and forgotten road links, build new ones and expand rail routes across the subcontinent.

That will bring down costs in expensive times and boost economies — and is also a romance many would love to live. The External Affairs Minister believes that will help “seamless travel from Kabul to Male”.

“Oh man, how I would love to go to India in my own car — I would like to go wherever the road takes me,” Ali, 43, said on telephone from Lahore. “On my first visit to India in 2003, I travelled by train from Delhi to Mumbai. That was truly the journey of my life.”

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