“On two wheels across India” by Darcy Mahady

Travelling and photography are two of my biggest passions right now.  Being able to combine the two for me brings me happiness that is hard to convey with words.  I bought a $200 one way ticket to India after becoming fixated with the disputed region of Kashmir. I came to India with no set plan on how I would get there, what I would do or what types of pictures I would be taking.

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Peak hour at one of the many train stations along my journey
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A guard at Jaipur’s Amber Fort

After a week that passed in a blur of trains, buses, rickshaws and taxis, I found myself on the doorstep of Kashmir, Manali in Himachal Pradesh.  Along with 5 people I had known for less than 3 days while staying in Manali, a plan was hatched.

The plan was to ride motorbikes 500 kilometres on what is often touted as one of, if not the most dangerous highway in the world.  The road snakes it’s way North East over and through the Himalayan Mountain Range.  At a rough estimate I would say maybe 50% of the road is actually paved, the rest is whatever the unpredictable weather turns dirt into. Mud, ice, rocks, you name it.

The constant threat of landslides and the fact that India and Pakistan are still at war over this very region makes the task ever the more daunting.

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The Riding Party (Left to Right ~ Bart, Neil, Mike & Dan)

Our destination? The city of Leh, a beautiful, isolated desert city perched amongst the Himalaya at an altitude of 3500m deep in the Kashmiri region of Ladakh.

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Men transporting supplies on horseback along the highway to Leh

My kit for the entire journey consisted of a shawl bought from a local market, a pair of gloves my dad uses to ride his bicycle around Melbourne, a pair of converse skate shoes, pants I wear to my office job, a helmet that didn’t fit properly and a windbreaker I got from the Salvation Army for $6AUD.

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Heavy machinery clearing landslides along the single lane highway was a regular sight as the       Border Roads Organisation waged it’s annual war against the elements to ensure the road stayed open.

The road tested myself and my riding partners in ways that we never could have imagined.

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Farmers from villages high in the Himalaya bring down their Pashmina Goats to the cities to trade their exceedingly valuable wool for supplies to keep them going through the harsh winter.
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Chemrey Gompa, a Tibetan Buddhist place of worship on the way to Pangong Lake in Ladakh

We crossed mountain passes on par with Everest’s base camp and at various points along our journey, we found ourselves riding through hail, a sandstorm, and a Blizzard

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Somewhere along the way to Leh.  The size of the powerlines next to the lake really give you an idea as to the scale of the surrounding landscape

 

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A man overseeing the transport of resources high up into the mountains via zipline

Other complications such as altitude sickness and mechanical failures simply come with the territory.

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Keylong in the beautiful Bhaga Valley.  The first major stop on our trip and the last place to refuel for over 250km – unfortunately I missed the memo and found myself out of petrol days later on the side of the highway
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Sarchu, our halfway point where we spent a night sharing a tent.
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One of the many friendly faces from my week travelling up to Manali to begin my ride – Jaipur, Rajasthan
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Views from atop Rohtang Pass (altitude 3978), the first major obstacle on our trip, and the gateway to the state of Jammu & Kashmir

 

About Darcy

Me

I am a 20 year old photographer from Melbourne. I’ve been doing photography for four years, mainly focusing on street and music photography.

On this trip I used Kodak Portra 400 and Fujifilm Velvia 50 all in my Nikon 35Ti, I have been exclusively using compact cameras for 12 months now, and don’t see that changing any time soon. Next stop Vietnam.

links:

www.instagram.com/darcymahad.y

Contributor: All images used with permission for AFPS.blog by Darcy Mahady