Have you ever had moments when you start to wonder why you are doing what you are doing? How did you ever convince yourself to get out of bed one beautiful morning and end up where you are? Our life has numerous such occasions, and more often than not, we tend to act on our impulses.
One such situation where you might start asking yourself if you have gone crazy is when you realise you are at the starting line of a road trip across an entire country. This isn't any regular road trip mind you. We are talking about the one and only 'Rickshaw Run'. An ambitious undertaking of herculean proportions, this is a journey which is not for the faint-hearted. There is no set route, no way of knowing if you will reach your destination and you most definitely will get lost. But that is the magic of this unique adventure. The only constants on this trip are who you choose to travel with, and your not so trusty colourful tin can (your very own pimped out Rickshaw) allocated to you.
What is the Rickshaw Run?
Organised by the Adventurists, a group dedicated to providing thrilling experiences for all the daredevils out there, the Rickshaw Run is not just a reckless run but an adventure with a purpose. In teams of upto three or by yourself, you have to travel from the starting point to the designated city at the finishing line. The starting point of each run is usually the ending point of the previous run. The time limit is about two weeks but may vary from region to region and on the routes. You get to discover different places, new faces, different cultures and yourself while helping to save the world at the same time. Save the world? How you ask? By raising money for a charity of course. The ultimate goal is to raise at least INR 70,685 at the end of the run. Half of what you collect is donated to the 'Cool Earth' foundation while the other half goes to a charity of your choosing.
Did You Think All Of This Would Be Free? Well, Watch Out
It is highly likely that most will turn away after reading what comes next. The best things in life are free. Sadly, this one isn't. For an entry fee of INR 1,79,905, you get a Rickshaw for you and your team. That comes down to INR 59,968 per man (or woman).
Along with the rickshaw, you get a free two-day crash course on how to drive and fix it. The paperwork (even recklessness must be insured) is essential too, and that comes for around INR 8,025. The extra thing you have to pay is a deposite for any rescue missions which might be needed in case you reach a situation where you cannot continue further on your journey. The deposit is a massive INR 45,809 to INR 90,154 but don't worry as it refundable once you finish the race.
How Does It All Start?
A cricket match, some good wishes and an enormous party are held before you are left to your wits and fate. After that, the only goal is to reach the designated finish point with a pocketful of money within the time limit. How you do it is entirely in your hands.
Curious About Where You Can Take The Journey Through?
The Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka or the Himalayas are the three regions you get to choose from to undertake this massive journey.
India - Embrace The Beauty Within Her Chaos
Here in India, the Rickshaw run takes place in January, April and August. You get a little over two weeks to reach the finish line. If for a moment, you think about booking accommodation in advance, then rest assured you will fail this journey. Travelling through India is all about the uncertainty and embracing the chaos. The roads are sometimes good and most times bad. The weather across regions can change like the mood swings of a teenager. One moment you might find yourself standing in awe in front of the majestic Taj Mahal, while in the next you will be sipping on some chai at a local dhaba, pondering how to fix your Rickshaw before the morning sun rises. You don't get to plan of how you will experience India, India decides that for you. The one thing you can do is point your Rickshaw in the general direction of your destination, cross your fingers and take whatever is thrown at you.
Sri Lanka - A Small Country With a Big Heart
Sri Lanka looks like a piece of cake from the outside. But from the moment you begin your run, you will never have felt more wrong in your life. The struggle is real when you have to look for the bumpy and less maintained roads. You get to traverse thousands of kilometres through lush jungles, mountain ranges and vast tea plantations. The calm and misty villages and the golden beaches lined with palm trees are perfect stopovers for you to regain your senses on your journey. The best part about Sri Lanka is its people. They offer unmatched hospitality and warmth. When you receive help from strangers without the obligation of giving anything in return, you know you are among the purest of souls. In Sri Lanka, the journey you take is not just about you and your team. It is instead a collective of all the stories and experiences you share with its people.
The Himalayas - A Daunting Ride Through The Majestic Mountains
The Himalayas? In a tuk-tuk? May the force be with you. It doesn't get crazier than this. Driving through the roads at such high altitudes in a seven horsepower rust bucket calls for some serious guts and determination. This run takes place from June to September as the weather during this period is less harsh for travel. The chances of your Rickshaw breaking down are almost 100%, and on this route, repairs and spare parts are hard to come by. So, you can cross your fingers, pat your (not so trusty) vehicle time to time and hope for the best.
Interested? Here Are The Dates For 2019
If you seem interested and are crazy enough, then for January 2019, the Bangalore to Jaisalmer edition is still open for bookings. The period for the journey is from the 2nd of January to the 15th of January, but the initial proceedings begin on the 30th of December. On the other hand, if you like the monsoons better, you can consider the Cochin to Jaisalmer edition which effectively starts from the 10th of August to the 25th of August.
So, you might ask yourself again, why do it in the first place? The answer to that is because you can and should. In life, the best experiences are never planned for. It is every human being's birthright to experience places, the people and their culture in their most naked state. On top of it all, you get to contribute towards a cause you believe in. That itself should make you feel like a superhero. They say not all heroes wear capes. In this case, they are mostly stubborn adventurists choosing to live in the moment.
What do you get at the end of it all? A massive celebration awaits you at the end. Awards are given out to those who cross the finish line, and a huge party is held where you share your stories and experiences as you drink the night away. But most of all, you get the experience of a lifetime ? an adventure which you can look back on, 40 to 50 years down the line and smile upon as you share it with your family for the umpteenth time.