Are you one of those who hesitate to sit beside a woman on wheels? If yes, think again since we are telling you this unimaginable trail of Nidhi Tiwari, a woman driver who, along with her 2 friends Rashmi Gururaja Koppar, Dr. Soumya Gopinath drove to a whopping 23,800 kms crossing 17 countries in a short span of 95 days. Sounds unbelievable? Read on.
It all started with an innocent dream of Nidhi Tiwari which she nourished throughout her life to go on a transcontinental expedition. An outdoor education expert, Nidhi has a lot of driving experience within India including high- altitude driving. When she came up with the idea of an expedition from India to London, many laughed at her. But determined to fulfill her dream, she began searching for sponsors and after 6 months of relentless hard work, she convinced Mahindra First Choice to sponsor her dream voyage.
Understanding the potential of the journey, more and more sponsors joined hands such as the ministry of youth affairs and sports, ministry of external affairs India, Lenovo India, Via.com, @Round Table India Area 6, MS Ramaiah Memorial Hospital, Social Empowerment by Empowering Women SEEW, and Tea Trails India.
Although, Nidhi wanted to go on a solo expedition, the sponsors felt the need of having 2 more partners for the trip; however, Nidhi was to be the only person on the wheels. The more the merrier, Nidhi agreed and soon found two lovely companions in Rashmi Gururaja Koppar, and Dr. Soumya Gopinath.
With a target of covering 600kms per day, the trio started their dream journey on 23rd July, 2015 from Delhi in their 2013 model Mahindra Scorpio which had already travelled 68,500kms before. It was a tough decision as they didn’t have any backup vehicle, no spare driver, bare necessities, and an unknown road ahead. They had to surpass every odds all by themselves and prove the world that it can’t look down upon ‘woman drivers’. They aimed at encouraging other women to come forward and fulfill their dreams.
The three mothers, all in their mid-30s started their journey from Delhi, India crossed major countries like Myanmar, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Finland, Czech Republic, and Germany to finally reach the United Kingdom. They passed through dense forest areas, rocky terrains, broken roads, and braved snow and rainfall but did not give up. Although Nidhi was the one on wheels, Rashmi Gururaja Koppar, and Dr. Soumya Gopinath were the perfect companion for the trip.
Rashmi, the mother of a young girl is a hotel management professor and lived every moment of the trip to its fullest. She was a great help to Nidhi with navigation. She feels the best part of the trip was being able to meet so many different people and soak-in their warm and friendly gestures. She says the trip reaffirmed her faith in humanity.
Dr. Soumya Gopinath, who is a physical therapist in a renowned hospital and a mother of 2 young boys recalls the time when they were stuck in Myanmar and took over 5 days to cross a distance of 200kms due to the broken bridges and bad weather. The friendly locals and their warm gestures melted the heart of the ladies and made their journey a lot easier. Even today the ladies swear by the goodwill of the local people of Myanmar.
When quizzed about which country they loved being in, they unanimously voted for Finland. While for Nidhi Finland was a driver’s delight, for Rashmi and Soumya, it was a paradise with abundance of natural beauty and lovely people.
Having seen the jaw- dropping reaction of people for driving such a long distance as a solo driver, Nidhi explains that driving is not a task instead it’s therapeutic for her. She happily admits talking with the vehicle in her mind during the expedition. For her, the Mahindra Scorpio was more than just a car, it was a companion with whom she was fulfilling her childhood dream.
Crossing the Arctic Circle was a major breakthrough for the expedition of these 3 strong-willed ladies. The ladies recall that after reaching Russia they had a choice of either driving straight on their route to Lithuania via Latvia or turn for the Arctic Circle. Having realized that the milestone of Arctic Circle is hardly a 1000kms away, they re-routed and drove to Rovaniemi in Finland. It was a detour from their early schedule, but they felt it was totally worth taking a chance to cross the Arctic Circle and become the first ever Indian group to cross it on wheels.
The trip had its shares of highs and lows. They faced many hardships such as visa regulations, language problems, money extracting highway patrol police, and un-friendly weather conditions, but what kept them going was their strong will, amazingly beautiful surroundings and their love for travel. While together they were a gang on fire, they all had their out- of- comfort zone moments, but they stuck together and enjoyed their journey to the fullest.
After practically living in the car and moving continuously for over 95 days, their astounding trip came to a winning end on 27th October, 2015 when they reached their final destination- London. With every milestone on the journey documented by the Facebook page of WBB (Women Beyond Boundaries), a community started by Nidhi Tiwari; the trip has become a benchmark and a huge source of inspiration for many other women who are hesitant to come out of their comfort zone and challenge their limits.