See India By Motorcycle With Back ‘N’ Beyond Travels
India’s First Female Motorcyclist Tour Guide Moksha Jetley Revs Up Her Engine Leading Women On Tours Through Southeast Asia
By Heather Cassell
Ever dream of cruising along the Arabian Sea from Kerala to Goa by motorcycle or riding up to the Taj Mahal? How about taking on the Himalayas roaring through the twisty mountain roads and going on some off-roading adventures?
You can do all these things with Moksha Jetley, owner of Back ‘N’ Beyond Travels (Villiage Shuru, P.O. Prini, Manali Pin-175143, +91 98167 73636 or +91 94188 03636; ; Back-N-Beyond.com), in Himachal Pradesh, India leading the way.
Back ‘N’ Beyond Travels specializes in year-round motorcycle tours throughout India as well as in Nepal and Tibet.
“India is an incredible country, full of diversity,” says Moksha, chatting about the variety of travel destinations that offer a combination of art and architecture, culture, and extreme adventure within India.
“One can visit India throughout the year,” she continues talking about summer adventures in Northern India and winter escapes to Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Central and South India.
Moksha and her team of four, including herself and her daughter Prachi Jetley, currently offer 11 tours that last anywhere between 13- to 15-days annually. Five of the tours are for women-only and six others are open to any qualified rider, throughout India – but particularly to Leh to Leh, Kinnaur-Spiti, Pangi-Spiti, Rajasthan, and Goa – Nepal, and Tibet along with offering customized tours.
The tours are usually small, only up to 8 guests per trip, and range from simple road trips to advanced traveling through difficult terrain and off-roading. The tours are often led in English, German, and Hindi.
Guests don’t camp out, unless they request that as their lodging option during one of Back ‘N’ Beyond Travels trips, they are usually comfortable staying at three- to five-star accommodations, says Moksha. The tours include all accommodations, motorcycles, backup services and vehicles, domestic transportation, including all in-country flights, and transfers, and nearly every meal. Pricing for the tours begin at $1,950 and go up from there depending on the trip.
Prachi greets guests upon arrival in New Delhi. Guests are then lead out on into India landscape roaring down the roads and on some trips even backroading through some rough terrain with Moksha and one of her other tour guides leading the way.
A Dream Realized
Moksha has been passionate about motorcycling since she was 15, but it took her until she was 46 years old to realize that she could turn her passion into a dream job and become India’s first professional motorcyclist female tour guide.
“Women bike riders is a new concept in India,” says Moksha, 53, who was born and raised in Hissar in Northern India, which at that time was a part of Punjab. In recent years, Hissar has become a part of the State of Haryana.
Moksha followed the traditional path for an Indian woman. She married and gave birth to her daughter, but that is where her path diverged. Unlike other Indian women who suffered at the hands of their husband’s family and wish for a son, Moksha took her baby daughter and fled, she told India Today. Unable to return home, she found her way to Chandigarh, India where she began a career in hospitality working as a family’s chauffeur and later moved into working in hotels. Eventually, she moved to Manali, India in 2007 after working for a number of years in Kathmandu, Nepal. It was in Manali that Moksha noticed many motorcycle tours departing from Manali to Leh and Spiti, India.
“Since, I myself was a rider, I thought, ‘Let me see if I am able to ride on rough and tough roads in [the] Himalayas,’” Moksha says.
In 2008, she signed herself up for a motorcycle tour out of Manali to Leh at her daughter and two friends’ encouragement.
“To my amazement, I could do it easily. Then there was no looking back,” she says.
Before the end of 2009 she launched Back ‘N’ Beyond Travels and was leading tours through Goa, the Himalayas, and Rajasthan.
Taking Women on the Road
“I don’t see much difference between men and women bikers,” says Moksha. “Those who come to India for riding in [the] Himalayas come with a lot of experience and they are all tough riders.”
However, she noticed that there were many women riders in Australia, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States who prefer to ride with only other women. So, she created women-only tours to cater to women motorcyclists and found that it was fun leading and riding with other women riders like her.
In 2010, she led her first all-women motorcycling tour with the gals from Towanda Women Motorcycle Tours out of New Zealand and guests from Austria and Germany.
“They all loved the incredible ride,” says Moksha, who wants to see more women motorcyclists in India and across the globe exploring India, Nepal, and Tibet.
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