As it turned out, it isn’t easy to make your way through the haze of beliefs and prejudices while scaling the Himalayas, especially when you have lived the urban life in a city like Bombay. The colossal mountain range is more than just an abode of snow, taking shape of a dreamland each time you begin talking about it and all that you are left with are images of the meandering rivers, extreme weather and great heights.
Naturally, the Himalayas made for a fitting battleground for the 2017 Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya.
Every year since 1999, Raid De Himalaya has given us the most daring racers when it comes to cliff-edge thrills. This year’s edition was no different – over 150 crazy and rather heroic drivers and riders gathered at the starting point in Manali. The goal: traversing through the bad terrain of the Himalayas at race pace with temperatures as low as minus 10 degree Celsius – all without flying off the gut-punishing corners.
The 2017 edition of the Raid took place in the awe-inspiring backdrops of Kaza, Sarchu, Pang, Leh, Kargil and Pensi La. And while the mesmerizing route covered some of the highest and the most hostile roads in the world and assured us a plethora of Instagram-worthy pictures, it also gave me a chance to explore, admire and soak in the magnificence of this enchanted land.
As always, Day 1 at the Raid was rather subdued, with the competitors turning up at the scrutiny bays. It was at this point that the crucial task of putting the vehicles under the scanner began. The vehicles were looked at and inspected for their safety equipment like seat harnesses, fire extinguishers and a roll cage.
Every now and then we would hear from the organisers about how the Raid pulls one out of their comfort zone right from day one. This was evident throughout the scrutiny as participants were questioned for the tiniest of faults with their vehicles or paperwork.
This blazing orange Gypsy, however, cleared scrutiny in no time. Part of the long fleet of Team Army, it’s a serious bit of kit, complete with knobby tires, hood scoops, orange wheels and a side exhaust.