Rohith Subramanian rode a bike through all 29 Indian states in five months. He shares his experiences and tips.
On January 15, 22-year-old Rohith Subramanian set out on his Royal Enfield 500cc Desert Storm to do what many only dream of. Over five months, he toured the length and breadth of the country, covering all 29 states, and 6 union territories. The Bengaluru-based avid biker started off from Tamil Nadu and wrapped up the great Indian trip in Telangana.
“On one random day, I told myself, ‘Let me go out there and do what I want to do’. And just like that, the idea for this journey came up,” says Subramanian. He is currently in Jakarta, Indonesia, on another adventure. This time, the idea is to visit South East Asian countries.
So, how does a 22-year-old manage to fund such an expensive drea? “Crowd-funding and brand sponsorships,” says Subramanian. In fact, Subramanian is the co-founder of FundMyDream, a platform he himself used to raise over `5 lakh fund his travels. Soon, brands like Wrangler (clothes sponsor), Zeus (gear sponsor) and Ustraa, among others, came on board.
Travel is a form of education, they say. Subramanian, too, has had his fair share of learnings. “If there’s one thing my journey so far has taught me, it’s that the only thing constant is you. Everything around you – people, landscape, weather, culture – keeps changing,” he says, adding, “It also taught me to stay grounded and in the moment, because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
After getting his fill of South East Asia, Subramanian hopes to go on a Europe tour (32 countries), before exploring other continents.
He shares a few essential pointers if you want to zoom away for an adventure of your own.
Dos and don’ts
1. Be relaxed and don’t overwork or stress yourself.
2. Don’t expect or assume anything. A city might turn out to be bigger or smaller than imagined.
3. Don’t do something stupid and call it adventure. There’s a thin line between being stupid and adventurous. Don’t cross it.
4. Be responsible and cautious while riding. Don’t try out any stunts on the road.
5. Remain in touch with people you can fall back on in case of an emergency.
6. Don’t over pack. Carry six T-shirts, four denims, and a couple of shorts and toiletries. There’s no point carrying along winter clothes for Kashmir when you’re starting from Tamil Nadu. Keep it light because picking it up locally is also more economical.
7. As a rider, you will invariably feel tired. Sometimes you’ll suffer excruciating sun, at times really harsh winters, and occasionally, snow. When I was riding, I could feel the season changing. So, be prepared to deal with season change in terms of your biking gear.
8. Make sure you strike a conversation with locals and the people while travelling. It’ll go a long way. You will get to know about local spots, different (often easier) routes, contacts for the next stop.
9. At all times, keep a medical kit, puncture kit and spares for your bike handy. I carry all the parts I could replace myself, as well as parts that are rarely found at a mechanic’s shop.
• Remember Gurudwaras offer you food and shelter without a price. All you need to do is some voluntary work, if possible.
• If you don’t want to spend on your stay, you can sleep at any bus stop or railway station in India. You might need to buy platform tickets at certain places though. Safety is not a concern because you’re just one among the hordes of people sleeping there. As long as you can keep your ego aside, there won’t be an issue.
• Homestays are another option. I have randomly knocked on people’s doors and it has worked out amazingly for me. Backpacking hostels around the country are also a decent option.
• In case you run out of cash, you can hitchhike – something many people in India do.
• Once you cross Mumbai, dhabas are aplenty, especially as you approach north. You can also spend the night at one.
On a budget…
• When you’re backpacking, you’re on a shoestring budget. I happened to carry `1.5 lakh for five months, which
was inclusive of fuel (which alone cost me 60k).
• Everyone should keep in mind unexpected expenses which can arise due to health troubles, or instances where you need an alternative stay option.