So finally Preeti has begun her cycle expedition from Srinagar…

Total Travel on Day 1 : 345 kilometers (from 8am on 12/02/2023 to 4am on 13/02/2023)

Total cycling time : 20 hours

Route: Qazikund Tunnel, Chenani – Nashri Tunnel (J&K’s Chenani-Nashri Tunnel renamed as Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Tunnel. It is India’s longest road tunnel with a length of 9.28 km.) , Udhampur, Pathankot

10….9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1… GO…. The expedition’s flag off from LAL CHOWK Srinagar….. Preeti has now started cycling towards Pathankot … at the flag off, officials from ANJ were present. Along with them Mr. Baba Firdous (the GSPFP representative from J&K), Mr. Waseem Malik (Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department), Mr. Mushtaq, a representative from the EMS (BVG group 108 Ambulance Services), journalists, and locals were also present.

The national President of the NGO GSPFP, Dr Anant Baghwat who has been striving for Hindu – Muslim unity in J&K, has also extended his valuable support to Preeti’s Expedition.

The snow fall which had stalled (one of the reasons)  the start of the mission on the 11th of February 2023 was still persistent…. Temperature ranging from minus 6 to minus 8 degrees Celsius … bone chilling cold…. bad condition of the roads…. a light drizzle … AND a ton of traffic on the road….. Preeti started the mission in these adverse conditions…. She rode the Mountain Bicycle which was procured especially for this mountainous terrain.  With wet hand gloves and shoes (owing to the drizzle), numb fingers and face (owing to the bone chilling cold) …. Team member  Anand  Kansal escaping a dangerous accident  narrowly which could have caused serious injury to him…. And many more challenges faced by Preeti and the team hasn’t deterred them at all…. They have overcome all big and small challenges nature has been throwing at them and have moved ahead!

The route from Srinagar to Pathankot has two big tunnels…. Preeti needs to cross these…. The first one “The Qazikund Tunnel” is India’s second longest tunnel (8.45 kilometers) and the second one “The Chenani –  Nashri Tunnel”. The snow fall had stopped by the time Preeti and the team reached the Qazikund Tunnel. This tunnel is a four-lane highway and is the safer one of the two… Preeti cycling ahead of the ambulance, the pilot car, and the support team’s car was quite a view for the bystanders…. The Chenani – Nashri Tunnel renamed the Syama Prasad Mookharjee tunnel is a two-lane tunnel going through Patnitop. This is India’s longest tunnel (9.028 km). This tunnel had a traffic line of almost ten kilometers. The team members and the officials from the NHAI were busy clearing the road for Preeti and ensuring a safe passage for her.

Had Preeti not received the support and help from all the people involved, she would have reached the destination (Pathankot) atleast 4 – 5 hours late than planned.

While crossing both the tunnels the EMS services (108), the CEO of BVG Group Shri. Dyaneshwar Shelke were on their toes to ensure safe passage.

In the meanwhile, the bicycle’s 4th and 5th gears were not working as expected….. The team called break for a repair person in Udhampur and got the bicycle fixed. This was Preeti’s first and single break since starting from Srinagar. She kept herself hydrated and had energy bars on the go…..

By afternoon the cold had reduced…. She was cycling past the lush fields of saffron…. Night fell soon… the traffic was less but the truck traffic had increased…. Preeti’s speed decreased but her determination was still the same….

After cycling for almost 325 kilometers, the team reached Pathankot ….20 hours of cycling and an average speed of 15 kilometers (including rest time). Preeti and her team stopped for rest in the premises of a Shiva Temple in Pathankot ……

After a few hours of rest, Preeti and her team are ready for the next destination……

This journey from Srinagar to Pathankot is the most demamding part of the expedition which tested Preeti’s physical and mental strength … and she has passed with flying colours!

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

Original Blog By : Kavita Pipada
English Translation By : Girija Shirurkar