World Bicycle Day: Meet the tea maker who travelled from Kerala to Kashmir | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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World Bicycle Day: Meet the tea maker who travelled from Kerala to Kashmir

ByMallika Bhagat, New Delhi
Jun 03, 2021 12:10 PM IST

Nidhin Maliyekkal, a 23-year-old lost his job due to the Covid-19 pandemic but decided to fulfil his dream to travel, by taking up a journey from his home state Kerala all the way up north, and stopped cycling only after he reached Kashmir. On the way, he sold tea to make ends meet!

Imagine covering a distance of 5647kms on the humble bicycle! This astonishing feat has been achieved by 23-year-old Nidhin Maliyekkal, who cycled from his hometown Thrissur in Kerala to Kashmir. And, he sold tea to make ends meet while on this journey.

Nidhin Maliyekkal, a tea maker from Kerala, rode from his home state to Kashmir on his humble bicycle.
Nidhin Maliyekkal, a tea maker from Kerala, rode from his home state to Kashmir on his humble bicycle.

“I love to travel! What started with short journeys locally grew into a passion,” says Maliyekkal laughingly, when asked what inspired him to undertake the unbelievable cycling trip. “I used to make tea and juice at a restaurant in Thrissur. But because of the pandemic, I lost my job. While at home I decided that I needed to step out and fulfil one of my dreams of cycling to Kashmir. And that was my moment!”

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On his journey, Nidhin Maliyekkal would set up his tea stand after a long day of cycling, and make and sell tea to survive.
On his journey, Nidhin Maliyekkal would set up his tea stand after a long day of cycling, and make and sell tea to survive.

Strapped for money, Maliyekkal sold his camera in order to repair his younger brother’s cycle – their only vehicle in the house – to accomplish the voyage. “My camera was my only saving, but I needed to repair the cycle that my brother uses. My parents had no clue that I barely had any money. I set out with a mere 170 in my pocket, and decided to sell tea on the way to fund my journey,” he says describing the initial struggle.

On January 1, this year, he set out with bare essentials such as a tent, a kerosene stove, flask, tea and two pairs of clothing. He recalls, “I didn’t know the route, but people have been incredibly kind to me throughout my journey. Someone sent a water bottle for me, another gave me a helmet, and a shop owner also made a placard that I hung on my cycle to describe my journey. I would cover a certain distance, and then find a good location to sell tea. Then I would wrap up for the evening and set out in search of petrol pumps, small dharamshalas and gurdwaras to spend the night. I don’t think I could have completed the journey if I hadn’t got the help of these kind-hearted people.”

The cyclist from Kerala covered a distance of 5647kms, in 120 days!
The cyclist from Kerala covered a distance of 5647kms, in 120 days!

From Gulmarg to Baramulla, Dal Lake and Tulip Garden, Maliyekkal has seen them, and expresses how surreal the experience has been. Sadly, he had to forego his desire to make the entire journey back on cycle. “After I reached Delhi, a lockdown was imposed in the city. So someone I had met on the trip arranged a lorry to drive me back to Thrissur, where I reached on April 30, wrapping up my 120 day trip,” he adds.

Having lived a life of penury and deprivation, Maliyekkal shares how the journey gave him a sense of confidence. “It was surely daunting, but I just wanted to do this for myself. Achieving something doesn’t depend on what you have, but how far you are willing to go for your dreams. You don’t need a fancy car or bike to travel, even a cycle is enough for one who really wants to do it. If I can, anyone can,” he says.

Maliyekkal, who wishes to work in the film industry, says he has been approached by a few directors.
Maliyekkal, who wishes to work in the film industry, says he has been approached by a few directors.

And the same hope and positivity he applies to his dream of working in the film industry as well. Maliyekkal confesses, “I want to be an actor, script writer, and director — I have big dreams. It is one of the reasons I wish to travel. And I want to study the culture of India, and for that I believe seeing this country in its entirety is important. And after hearing about my journey, a few directors have reached out to me... Who knows, I might just tick another thing off my list!”

Author tweets @bhagat_mallika

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