Connected by a love for travel

Club culture

Connected by a love for travel

Keeping track of your school friends is hard. Planning a trip with them is even more tough. But where there is a will, there is a way; as is shown by a group of school mates who have kept their camaraderie alive through a common love for travel.

‘Monks on wheels’ is a trekking and camping group that was started by a group from Hymamshu Jyothi Kala Peetha Composite PU College with an aim to introduce people to the offbeat travel destinations within a motorable distance.

“We always had it in our mind that we wanted to do something like this but the plan took shape only recently,” says Abhinav Talgeri, a techie and one of the co-founders of the group.

“Our first trip was to Agumbe and Gokarna and back; there were 11 of us. Today we have almost 3500 members on our Facebook page.” Initially envisaged as a biker group, ‘Monks on wheels’ changed its structure later. “Many people messaged us saying they did not have bikes but they don’t want to miss out on the fun. So now we arrange buses or cars for the ones who don’t have bikes. We all travel together, only the modes are different,” adds Abhinav.

Abhishek Murali talks about his first trip with the group. “We organised a trek to Tadiyandamol in Coorg last year, which is the second highest peak in Karnataka. The organisation part and taking care of things was an entirely new experience for us. This place is located on the border of Kerala and Karnataka and the view was breath taking. It totally summarised the kind of experiences we wanted to give people. While Coorg itself is commercialised, finding an offbeat place within it was the trick and it turned out to be an amazing adventure.”

“We ensure that even in the stay is in places which are unusual. Our next trip to Chikmaglur in March will see the participants staying in tents in the middle of a coffee estate,” says Abhinav.

The places are decided based on the suggestions the members put forward, explains Uttara Rajgolikar. “We meet once a week or so and look up reviews of places we can visit. The entire trip is usually an overnight one and the places are ones that are a manageable distance away; usually hill stations or areas where trekking is possible,” she says adding that the increasing number of members means an increase in the fun factor too.

“Earlier it was mostly friends who joined us but now we have a fresh set of faces for every trip. I am getting to meet people from all walks of life.”

Such is the lure of travel for these people that co-founder Yogendra K Gowda makes it a point to travel all the way from Mumbai for these trips. “Except for 1-2, I have been there for all the treks,” he says with a laugh.

About the rationale behind the name, Yogendra says, “We had a huge brainstorming session to pick out the name. Since it was initially supposed to be a riding club, we wanted something with wheels. The word monks came up somehow and it signified all that travellers are — unworldly, lost in their own world and under no earthly pressure. We felt it fitted perfectly.”

Unworldly they may aspire to be but this group takes care to follow all the rules of the road while they are on their journeys.

“We give the participants instructions on what to carry and wear, both during the journey and the trek. The riders have to mandatorily wear their riding gear and maintain the standard riding formation where we have a leader to guide the group and a sweeper at the end to ensure that no one is left behind,” says Chethan Kumar, another co-founder.

“An average speed of 70-80 kmph is maintained on highways while it is around 40-50 kmph in the ghat region.”

When a large number of people come together, there is bound to be some hesitation and awkwardness initially. “Not really,” says Vindhya Ramasubramaniam.

“It feels like a huge family. We strive to create a bond in the primary stages of the trip itself through ice breaking sessions and so on. We encourage them to interact, talk about themselves, talk about others — generally, we get them to come out of their comfort zone. We ensure that everyone is comfortable with each other within a short span of time; a reason why we got 50 five star ratings for our last trip,” she adds.

Rajitha Menon
(The club can be contacted at 7760092812)

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