The lofty ideals of Rotary reached Himalayan heights, literally, with a car rally traversing 7,800 km across India, Nepal and Bhutan with 22 members from 10 different clubs of RID 3131 enjoying the chills and thrills of this high-adrenaline journey.
Led by PDG Subodh Joshi, the Rotarians travelled in seven cars adorned with stickers on Rotary’s key campaigns such as WinS, global warming, polio eradication and organ donation with an aim to educate the people along the way. The cross-country Himalayan rally was flagged off from Panvel by DG Shailesh Palekar and after travelling a distance of 600 km, the Rotarians reached Indore, their first halt. PDG Sanjeev Gupta made arrangements for a comfortable stay, while DGN Gajendra Narang felicitated the rallyists at a special meeting.
In Jhansi, a press meet was arranged to explain Rotary’s achievements. At Bareilly, the Rotarians were taken around a physiotherapy centre and a Jaipur foot manufacturing unit. “We are inspired and motivated by the rally participants who have devoted so much time to Rotary and for spreading awareness on causes like polio, WinS and global warming,” said Abhishek Katru from RC Bareilly Heights, RID 3110.
A grand welcome
At Gadda Chauki in Nepal, Rotarians from RC Dhangadhi, RID 3292, gave a rousing welcome to the car rallyists. Nepal Tourism Minister of State Maya Bhatt welcomed the Indian Rotarians at a special event in Dhangadhi. In Butwal, the delegates were taken around the medical projects being executed by the local club — a hospital, cath lab, MRI centre and dialysis unit, put up at a total cost of around ₹10 crore.
The rally then moved through Palpa, Pokhara and on the way to Kathmandu, the participants visited the Manakamana temple perched on a mountain. PDG Keshav Kunwar welcomed them in Kathmandu from where they took a mountain flight to see Mount Everest at dawn. “This sort of car rally helps in spreading the good work that Rotary has been doing in removing polio from the world and protecting children from waterborne diseases. It also brings awareness among the people to protect themselves and their children from the dreaded disease,” said DGN Rajib Pokhrel, RID 3292.
After visiting the Pashupatinath temple and receiving felicitations from the DGN and other PDGs, they drove towards Itahari where Interactors greeted them with music and dance.
Sudhanshu Gore from RC Pune South donated ₹12,000 to cover one-year expenses of an orphan girl. Back in India, the car rally reached Darjeeling and DGN Subhasis Chatterjee made arrangements for a comfortable stay. The sunrise in Darjeeling amidst zero-degree temperature was a memorable experience.
In Phuentsholing and Paro in Bhutan, the temperature was minus 7 degrees and the road was fully covered with snow making this driving adventure a thrilling one. Thimphu is a well-planned city with great options for shopping. The Rotarians were taken around some service projects in Punakha followed by water rafting. From Ghelepu, the Rotary caravan entered India. At the Bangladesh border, the Indian Army gave them refreshments followed by a guided tour. The rallyists visited a blood bank project in Siliguri.
In Dhanbad RIDE Kamal Sanghvi received them at a grand recception. DGN Rajan Gandotra, PDGs Sandeep Narang and Sanjay Khemka also participated.
DG Nikhilesh Trivedi welcomed the rally members at Raipur for a luncheon interaction along with PDGs Rakesh Dave and Subhash Sahu. The car rally reached Nagpur, Maharashtra, after 20 days. A fellowship meet was followed by a prize distribution to the winners of a cricket tournament.
Enroute to Indapur, they were felicitated by Rotary Clubs of Bhigwan, Kurkumbh and Purandar. The Rotarians of Indapur greeted the rallyists with a musical band and the grand finale was held near Loni, Hadapsar with nine clubs led by DG Palekar and DGN Rashmi Vinay Kulkarni hosting a grand welcome ceremony.
Summing up this mega adventure, rally leader PDG Joshi says, “it was a wonderful experience reaching out to the neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bhutan on a Rotary platform. We could showcase many of the prominent Rotary activities throughout the car rally and it was a great opportunity to share Rotary ideas across the border.”