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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Meet this daring woman rider who scaled the scariest mountain passes

Pallavi Fauzdar, who owns four motorcycles, has made several records in solo biking.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2019 17:58 IST
Oliver Fredrick
Oliver Fredrick
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Pallavi Fauzdar is also a social activist and recipient of the Nari Shakti Award by the President of India in 2017 and Outstanding Global Woman of UP in 2016.
Pallavi Fauzdar is also a social activist and recipient of the Nari Shakti Award by the President of India in 2017 and Outstanding Global Woman of UP in 2016.(File Photo)

‘Don’t be a gama in the land of Lama’. The saying, quite famous on the sign boards along the routes leading to Ladakh, apparently implies that one should adapt to the rough terrains of Ladakh, similar to the saying ‘When in Rome, be a Roman’.

Until July 7 2015, the day when a Delhite and a mother of two Pallavi Fauzdar embarked upon her first solo bike ride to Ladakh, it was a mere saying. But later she realised it was actually a way of life, especially in the land where there is no second chance and one mistake can be your last. Fauzdar’s never say die spirit and the saying; both helped her in conquering all 16 passes, including eight that were above 5,000 metres, registering her name in the Limca Book of Records for being the first woman to ride eight mountain passes above 5,000 m (above sea level) in a single trip.

But her first journey, which she said was aimed to find her own identity and prove to the male-dominated society that there was nothing which a woman could not do, was not easy.

It started in 2015 when after many short trips, Fauzdar eventually decide on the first solo ride of her life. “My decision was purely an outcome of anger, perhaps due to continuous underestimation from the male-dominated society. I decided to prove them all wrong in my own different way,” recollected Fauzdar, here in the state capital to deliver the Tehrim Dass Memorial Lecture scheduled on Saturday at Avadh Girls’ Post Graduate College.

She said strong determination and anger against gender bias acted as a stimulant, making her ride through the tough mountain passes in Ladakh. “Prior to my trip, only five passes above 5,000 m—Khardung La, Lachung La, Taglang La, Marsimik La and Chang La—had been covered in a single trip by motorcyclists, but I went ahead to discover three more—Satatho La, Kaksang La and Hor La.”

She considers herself among the fortunate ones, who rode back alive from one of the toughest motorable mountain passes as more than 30 riders had lost their lives that year on the same route due to bad weather conditions.

She said it took her around 20 days to complete the ride. “I was a different Pallavi by then and the biggest change I noticed after returning was in society’s approach towards a women. It further pushed me to touch other heights and to motivate other women to cherish their dreams,” she added.

She then made another record for being first woman solo motorcyclist to ride to Mana Pass, at an altitude of 5638 metres (above sea level), located in Uttarakhand.

This was followed by many other rides, including one to the North-East that was enough to prove her mettle. She owns an old cast iron Bullet, a Triumph, a Ducati Scrambler and a Avenger.

Born and brought up in Agra, Fauzdar who is also a social activist and given the Nari Shakti Award by the President of India in 2017 and Outstanding Global Woman of UP in 2016, said, “I want women to come out of their shells, live their dreams to prove their mettle. There is nothing which a woman can’t do. If I can do it, you also can,” she said.

She also thanked her family, especially husband Parikshit Mishra, an army officer and her two sons for supporting her throughout.

Discussing her future plans she said she was planning extensive social work, especially in the field of women and child development. “I personally want to carry out extensive social work across the country, especially in the North-East that is in dire need of help. I want to motivate all women so that they may not undergo the situations that I confronted in the past,” she added.

First Published: Feb 09, 2019 10:26 IST