BANDIPORA: Volunteer adventure tourism club Biking Legends has lived up to its name for riding a toughest 170-kilometre road, vrooming through Razdan Top, the highest mountain pass, at an elevation of 11,672 feet here in Bandipora district, to promote adventure tourism in remote Gurez Valley.
Joined by the Kashmir Bikers from Srinagar, the Legends braved the harshest weather conditions to reach Dawar, 85 kilometres from Bandipora district headquarters, on Sunday.
Though the road is officially closed, given the slippery conditions and blockades at various places, it is the first time the road is through so soon, with a warning because of scanty snowfall. It would otherwise take no less than six months for the Border Road Organisation to make it through in May end.
The men, who mostly ride Enfield motorcycles, made it back to the headquarters on Sunday evening after riding for at least 20 hours. They spoke to Kashmir Reader of the events they termed as “true adventure”.
“For about 15 kilometres, after crossing Tragbal Top on Sunday, we met strong rains and snow. For me, it was the most difficult part as snow reduced visibility and made it extremely nail-biting,” said Suhail, 27.
Razdan Top, which is the highest pass on the way to Gurez Valley, remains the toughest terrain for drivers. The gorge on the sides is dangerously deep and would make anyone’s heart race. To increase friction and reduce slip, it has been laid with brick and tiles.
“The road at Razdan Top was frosty; the chill coupled with the winds made it worth it to touch the limits of fear,” said Srinagar’s Ahmad Maki, 19.
Due to avalanches and landslides, bridges over various streams have been cut to protect them from getting washed away, so the bikers had to wade through freezing and fast-flowing waters.
“At Zadkhushi Nalla, which comes immediately after riding down Razdan Top, the water was running and freezing cold; many bikers skidded while crossing it. Though we got wet, but at the end we made it through safe,” Mohammad Umar, a biker from Bandipora, said.
The group said the same situation arose at Dahi Nalla, several kilometres from it.
However, for most of them, the toughest ride was from Khopri to Dawar in Gurez centre.
“The 19 kilometers from Khopri to Dawar were filled with landslides, and rocks blocked the major part of road. It took us more than five hours to cover this extremely tough and slippery stretch. We would get down to clear a way for us by removing the blockade,” Yawar Khan, 29, said.
The administration also supported them by providing ambulances and first aid at certain places where they could reach.
Legend Riders is a club of Bandipora volunteers who are on a mission to promote adventure tourism, all with their own pocket money. The club has won much appreciation since it started promoting adventure tourism in North Kashmir.
Deputy Commissioner, Bandipora, Khurshid Ahmad Sanai said, “The initiative by youth will help in boosting tourism in the region.”