11 bikers rode into mid-winter Badrinath & were spellbound

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The Badrinath Shrine. Photo: Tilak Soni

11 bikers rode into mid-winter Badrinath & were spellbound

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Bikers line up at Badrinath. Photo: Tilak Soni

11 bikers rode into mid-winter Badrinath & were spellbound

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A biker gets stuck in snow. Photo: Tilak Soni

11 bikers rode into mid-winter Badrinath & were spellbound

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The group of bikers near the frozen waterfall at Niti valley. Photo: Tilak Soni

11 bikers rode into mid-winter Badrinath & were spellbound

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Overlooking Mana village near Badrinath. Photo: Tilak Soni

11 bikers rode into mid-winter Badrinath & were spellbound

Raju Gusain @rajugusain

This time of the year, Badrinath is usually a frozen snow-carpeted desert, the only sign of life stray babas, a few overseers of the temple the town is famous for, and its guardian policemen.

Silence reigns, punctuated by the occasional tolling of temple bells and the howling of winds. On the crisp 14 January morning, the quiet was shattered when 11 bikers roared into the town.

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Their trip was organised by Where Eagles Dare, an adventure tourism firm based out of Uttarkashi. The "daredevils" started out on 12 January, winding their way up through the Niti and Mana valleys. Their perilous journey on the Joshimath-Badrinath highway though was made a shade easier due to the poor snowfall this year.

When the handful of residents heard the motorcycles arriving in Badrinath, they rushed out to welcome them. They are not used to seeing people visit in this season, much less ride in on motorbikes.

After the portals of the Badrinath temple are closed for the six-month winter, nearly all the traders, tourists and others abandon the township - to return the following summer.

"The aim of the expedition was to promote winter tourism in Uttarakhand. We toured Niti and Mana valleys and the participants were thrilled with the tour," says team leader Tilak Soni. "The only thing that disappointed them was less than expected snow in Badrinath."

Still, he added, the snow-capped mountain ranges and utter silence were spellbinding.

In Badrinath, where the mercury read minus four degree Celsius, the biker team took a bath in the hot water spring near the shrine. They then rode out towards Mana, the last Indian village on the border with China, where they reached the next day.

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Raju Gusain @rajugusain