Meet Naveen: A doctor by profession and true-blue adventure junkie by every other mean

TNN Bureau. Updated: 6/28/2016 4:44:10 PM This Person: Then and Now

Of all the forms of adventure, motorcycling is probably the most dangerous and thus most thrilling, pumping the adrenaline like no other. Trail riding on a motorcycle, raises the danger quotient up to several notches and doing it on a trail, which is so dangerous that none has even tried it before, can be done only by a person who love his passion more than anything else. Naveen Kotwal, a doctor by profession and a true-blue adventure junkie by passion, has done the impossible in his successful Motorcycling Trail Riding Expedition from Gulabgarh to Machail, a 32 KMs perilous trail to Chandi Mata temple in Kishtwar district.

Hailing from the scenic town of Bhaderwah, Naveen was born with a thing for nature and was always tilted towards adventure, despite of coming from a family which had 12 doctors in 3 generations before Naveen. After coming from USA in 2005, Naveen decided to form an adventure company, providing opportunity for adventure sports like Hiking, Camping, Para Gliding and Rafting in the state, but the desire to do something exclusive saw him shifting his focus to trail riding, which he practiced and aced at various levels.

As he became a doctor, working with the department of Health and Family Welfare, J&K in 2010, he kept working his way up as a seasoned trail rider, conquering the Shivalik range of mountains. “In our state, Shivalik Mountains are a great playground to learn and hone your skills in trail riding. They offer you a great mix of challenges, a little bit of everything, yet are not too dangerous. I did years of practice in these hills, doing trails like Naina Devi, Mantalai and Sudh Mahadev,” says Naveen. But the search for greater challenges saw Naveen exploring out of Shivalik range, in the Western Himalayan region, the area considered very dangerous for trail riding.

“Machail trail came to my mind, providing hugely difficult conditions, being a dicey precarious trail running next to Bhot Nallah for all the 32 KMs of its length. Without a second doubt, I decided that this was it,” Naveen recalls. He bought a bike and devised it heavily as per his needs, from chopping it and de-assembling it to only bare essentials to altering the gear ratios and using the off-road tyres. After 3 months of meticulous planning, which included obtaining permissions from Administration, Security, getting together the filming crew and arranging for cooks, helpers etc, Naveen finally embarked on this endeavour on 6th of this month through the traditional route of Gulabgarh-Liundi-Massu-Saoogi-Kundhail-Chotu-Chashoti-Hamoori and finally reached Machail on 10th.

Talking of the difficulties faced by him enroute, Naveen says, “The sheer scale of this trail was very challenging as it offers almost everything from Mud, Slopes, Rocks, Stairs, Moraine, Loose gravel as well as river crossings. The expedition was very demanding as the trail was very technical, leaving no margin for error. You cannot lose your focus for even one second as the track is very narrow, around 2 feet in width, right next to the edge with Both Nallah flowing down. 100 metres below Security people told me later that they were mentally prepared for a disaster. The trail drains you completely, physically and mentally and it tested the limit of my perseverance and endurance.”

The expedition had a profound effect on the people of the area. In Naveen’s words, “Their hopes and emotions came together, in the form of tears, when they saw a bike, or any vehicle for that matter, for the first time there. Everyone, from kids to adults, were clapping and crying simultaneously.” On asking what moves him to take up on these challenges, Naveen smiles before speaking, “Life is a limited holiday. We are not here on earth forever and this is all we have. So instead of waiting for better days to come, I believe in going out and living it to the full. I find my peace in being one with the nature and hence devote my time in enjoying what I love, instead of wasting it in earning more money than I need. While you are exploring outside, you are basically looking inside your soul. This, for me, is more of a spiritual trans formative journey than merely a motorcycling expedition.”

It might surprise you, as it did to me, but besides being a trail rider and a doctor, Naveen is the drummer of the oldest rock band of the state, along with running a successful adventure sports company. These, and many other facets of his life, will be covered in coming editions of The News Now.

By Sahil Rasgotra

Updated On 6/28/2016 4:59:53 PM

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