The popular MTB Himalaya - An unimaginable experience with passionate Mountain Terrain Bikers around grand hills of Himachal Pradesh

MTB Himalaya has always been special !    I covered MTB Himalaya first time in 2010 and it remains special for me. There are lot of reasons for that - made lot of good friends, get to explore some awesome places from my home state, felt inspired by passion of these bikers who come from different parts of the world. Not only that, this event challenged me as a photographer and I went through different emotions during that week. All those moments leave you with learnings. You may acknowledge those learnings at that moment or later, but you have opportunities to find out what could have been done differently and how. I went back to MTB again and saw this event improving every time.

MTB Himalaya has always been special !

I covered MTB Himalaya first time in 2010 and it remains special for me. There are lot of reasons for that - made lot of good friends, get to explore some awesome places from my home state, felt inspired by passion of these bikers who come from different parts of the world. Not only that, this event challenged me as a photographer and I went through different emotions during that week. All those moments leave you with learnings. You may acknowledge those learnings at that moment or later, but you have opportunities to find out what could have been done differently and how. I went back to MTB again and saw this event improving every time.

Today when I look at all those photographs I am not finding anything interesting and that’s the biggest challenge any photographer faces as we keep learning on daily basis and hence expectations keep changing from ourselves. Having said that there are some photographs which remain special because of stories or emotions associated with them. This blogpost shares some of the photographs along with some really interesting experiences/stories associated.


If you don't know about MTB Himalayas, MTB Himalaya is an annual mountain bike race held in the mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh, India. It started in 2005 and the race covers nearly 650 km (400 mi), 16500 metres of climbing at an average altitude of 2200 meters in a span of 8 days and is one of the toughest MTB stage races in the world. and more can be checked here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTB_Himalaya

If you don't know about MTB Himalayas, MTB Himalaya is an annual mountain bike race held in the mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh, India. It started in 2005 and the race covers nearly 650 km (400 mi), 16500 metres of climbing at an average altitude of 2200 meters in a span of 8 days and is one of the toughest MTB stage races in the world. and more can be checked here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTB_Himalaya

During 8 days of MTB Himalaya race, you see different hues in the sky as you go through some of the beautiful trails in Himalayan State of India. Above photograph is a depiction of Himalayan colours you experience during these 8 days of Mountain Terrain Biking. To me, that means that the event not only put challenges in front of Mountain Terrain Bikers but also offer them rewarding experiences on the way. 

Above photograph is clicked during my lunch break. I used to keep my lunch with me as Photographing moments was first goal and I was completely fine delaying my lunch. When I clicked this photograph, I was starving and on top of that I was demotivated as I had not clicked a single good photo that day. If I remember well, this photograph was clicked on the way to Jalori Pass. It's Tyler McMohan, who is from Colarado and lives in Nepal.

Above photograph is clicked during my lunch break. I used to keep my lunch with me as Photographing moments was first goal and I was completely fine delaying my lunch. When I clicked this photograph, I was starving and on top of that I was demotivated as I had not clicked a single good photo that day. If I remember well, this photograph was clicked on the way to Jalori Pass. It's Tyler McMohan, who is from Colarado and lives in Nepal. 

Above photograph shows a kind lady who saw us resting on road side when we were tired on hike-n-bike day. She started chatting with us to know about the cyclists and offered tea at her home, which was few yards away from the road. We didn’t have time as we had to continue our walk. She went back and brought these juicy apples for us. Wish that she is staying healthy during these days and enjoying organic produce from her own farms. How can someone forget such sweet experiences. Whenever I look at this photograph, I feel great about these moments and god bless such experiences to all humans.

Above photograph shows a kind lady who saw us resting on road side when we were tired on hike-n-bike day. She started chatting with us to know about the cyclists and offered tea at her home, which was few yards away from the road. We didn’t have time as we had to continue our walk. She went back and brought these juicy apples for us. Wish that she is staying healthy during these days and enjoying organic produce from her own farms. How can someone forget such sweet experiences. Whenever I look at this photograph, I feel great about these moments and god bless such experiences to all humans. 

MTB Himalaya route is very special with diverse terrains to challenges technical skills and physical stamina of riders participating in this Mountain Terrain Biking race. Above photograph shows an aerial view of Satluj river navigating through huge mountains of Himachal Pradesh. The road from which this photograph is clicked was pretty scary and a local road connecting lot of villages with main highway connecting Shimla with Spiti Valley. This is just a sample photograph. During 8 days, you get to see countless views which are better than each other in one way or another.  This photograph was clicked during another lunch break when first rider had reached the break point. I clearly remember Ajay Pandit Chhetri was first rider to reach the mid day milestone. This guy literally flies on his bike. We had lot of time, so sat together to chat about his biking journey while facing this grand view, you see in above photograph. The photograph you see on left side is clicked around same spot and he is Ajay Pandit Chhetri, winner of MTB Himalaya that year.

MTB Himalaya route is very special with diverse terrains to challenges technical skills and physical stamina of riders participating in this Mountain Terrain Biking race. Above photograph shows an aerial view of Satluj river navigating through huge mountains of Himachal Pradesh. The road from which this photograph is clicked was pretty scary and a local road connecting lot of villages with main highway connecting Shimla with Spiti Valley. This is just a sample photograph. During 8 days, you get to see countless views which are better than each other in one way or another.  This photograph was clicked during another lunch break when first rider had reached the break point. I clearly remember Ajay Pandit Chhetri was first rider to reach the mid day milestone. This guy literally flies on his bike. We had lot of time, so sat together to chat about his biking journey while facing this grand view, you see in above photograph. The photograph you see on left side is clicked around same spot and he is Ajay Pandit Chhetri, winner of MTB Himalaya that year. 
Along with all great fun, we also faced some challenges during these days of MTB Himalaya. Photographers & Media people had one vehicle which stopped working near Baghi Pul in Kullu region of Himachal Pradesh. It was evening time and our vehicle was being fixed. We thought of walking around the river flowing around Baghi pul market. That's when I noticed this near by hill where last rays of the setting sun were hitting these trees around huge mountains of Himachal Pradesh. Just before this, some of the media folks planned to take a dip in river flowing through Baghi Pul market. The photograph on the side shows one of the media person diving into the river full of chilled water in the month of October.

Along with all great fun, we also faced some challenges during these days of MTB Himalaya. Photographers & Media people had one vehicle which stopped working near Baghi Pul in Kullu region of Himachal Pradesh. It was evening time and our vehicle was being fixed. We thought of walking around the river flowing around Baghi pul market. That's when I noticed this near by hill where last rays of the setting sun were hitting these trees around huge mountains of Himachal Pradesh. Just before this, some of the media folks planned to take a dip in river flowing through Baghi Pul market. The photograph on the side shows one of the media person diving into the river full of chilled water in the month of October. 

Above photograph remains special for me because of this place. Any photographs from Kullu-Sarahan doesn't do justice to it's beauty. This is my favourite place from MTB Himalaya race. Usually this place is chosen for day break for all riders. There are some spectacular waterfalls around Sarahan and during our break day we did a small hike to reach the biggest waterfall which was visible from our camping ground. As you can see in above photograph, this camping ground is surrounded by snow covered mountains and star studded sky. And few things you can't see in the photograph are - water-streams around camping ground, waterfalls and lush ground which is almost 50 times of the camping area you see in above photograph.

Above photograph remains special for me because of this place. Any photographs from Kullu-Sarahan doesn't do justice to it's beauty. This is my favourite place from MTB Himalaya race. Usually this place is chosen for day break for all riders. There are some spectacular waterfalls around Sarahan and during our break day we did a small hike to reach the biggest waterfall which was visible from our camping ground. As you can see in above photograph, this camping ground is surrounded by snow covered mountains and star studded sky. And few things you can't see in the photograph are - water-streams around camping ground, waterfalls and lush ground which is almost 50 times of the camping area you see in above photograph. 


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Above video shows musical evening at Kullu-Sarahan camping site. Usually there are some special evenings during the 8 days long MBT Himalaya. In this video, you hear some local folk music & folk instruments. It was a brilliant scene to see riders from different parts of the global shaking their bodies on local Himachali music. 

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Kullu-Sarahan will always remain a special place and a pace which reminds about lot of experiences with my buddies Surbhit, Sumit Sond, Ankit Sond and Jimsee - a gang of photographers and videographers. 

Continuing about Kullu-Sarahan, this photograph shows star studded sky around Sarahan village in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. You can see Milky way in this photograph. That was the time when I was not carrying a good tripod. There is always an 'I wish' situation but I was ok that evening given we were having lot of fun around this star studded sky and around bon-fire. Soon after we went inside our tents and tried some local stuff with our favourite Old Monk.




Continuing about Kullu-Sarahan, this photograph shows star studded sky around Sarahan village in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. You can see Milky way in this photograph. That was the time when I was not carrying a good tripod. There is always an 'I wish' situation but I was ok that evening given we were having lot of fun around this star studded sky and around bon-fire. Soon after we went inside our tents and tried some local stuff with our favourite Old Monk.






Are you wondering why above photograph of dandelion flower head composed of numerous small florets is important in this post about MTB Himalaya? It's clicked around one of the camping sites of MTB Himalaya - Shainj. There are a hill full of dandelion flowers - a little far but clearly visible due to direct sun light hitting these flowers. It was early morning when we climbed the hill, clicked few photographs, came back to the camp, took bath and started the day. It was a very special beginning of the day. Who doesn't want to make best of the hills? Almost everyone thinks about getting up early and walk around to soak the freshness of mountains. And these flowers motivated us to start the day well.


Are you wondering why above photograph of dandelion flower head composed of numerous small florets is important in this post about MTB Himalaya? It's clicked around one of the camping sites of MTB Himalaya - Shainj. There are a hill full of dandelion flowers - a little far but clearly visible due to direct sun light hitting these flowers. It was early morning when we climbed the hill, clicked few photographs, came back to the camp, took bath and started the day. It was a very special beginning of the day. Who doesn't want to make best of the hills? Almost everyone thinks about getting up early and walk around to soak the freshness of mountains. And these flowers motivated us to start the day well. 

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While talking about morning schedule, above video comes to my mind. This was shot early morning in Shainj, before starting the race day. The video shows Aneesh Airborne Awasthi playing tricks with his bike. 

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Here is another video of Aneesh Airborne Awasthi writing his name on this huge ground in Kullu-Sarahan. Apart from technical skill of Aneesh, please do pay attention to this huge ground on top of a high mountain. 

Above photograph reminds me of mixed emotions. Our vehicle had reached Jalori pass which was lunch point for the day. We were quite early there and the someone suggested that why don't you take a quick hike to Sarolsar lake & come back. By that time all bikers would be at the spot and done with their lunch.

Above photograph reminds me of mixed emotions. Our vehicle had reached Jalori pass which was lunch point for the day. We were quite early there and the someone suggested that why don't you take a quick hike to Sarolsar lake & come back. By that time all bikers would be at the spot and done with their lunch. 

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We picked our lunch and started the hike. It was certainly lot of fun but our time estimates didn't work and when we came back everybody had left. I felt very bad as it meant that I won't be able to click photograph during second half of the day as all riders had left. Are you wondering that our car could have reached them? There was no chance to catch these riders as they ride faster than 4 wheelers on those terrains. So my the end of the day, I am unhappy about the fact that I didn't do my duties well and I wished if I should not have gone for the Sarolsar lake & waited at Jalori pass. 

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Above video shows a performance by Rohit Sharma and Saurabh Chauhan at Sarolsar lake. It was lot of fun but as I said the day ended with a guilt. It was a huge learning for me during the event. 

Architecture always attracts Travellingcamera and during these 8 days in MTB Himalaya, I visited some of the most beautiful villages of Himachal which have very different architecture than Himachal I had seen in the past. Above photograph shows a village temple. Just look at the details, colours & usage of local stuff used for building this temple. While walking through the village, we saw lot of houses in this village which are built in a way that locals can be comfortable in chilling weather around these hills. These houses are also made by keeping in mind that locals need to preserve their crops for long time.

Architecture always attracts Travellingcamera and during these 8 days in MTB Himalaya, I visited some of the most beautiful villages of Himachal which have very different architecture than Himachal I had seen in the past. Above photograph shows a village temple. Just look at the details, colours & usage of local stuff used for building this temple. While walking through the village, we saw lot of houses in this village which are built in a way that locals can be comfortable in chilling weather around these hills. These houses are also made by keeping in mind that locals need to preserve their crops for long time. 

Every year, a very skilled team from India Army join MTB Himalaya and it's awesome to see their fitness, dedication. And the other fact I always loved is Army's willingness to provide such opportunities to passionate bikers on job. This group of Indian Army bikers is always excited and full of energy all the time. Great bunch of people to interact and hear some interesting stories from their personal & professional life.

Every year, a very skilled team from India Army join MTB Himalaya and it's awesome to see their fitness, dedication. And the other fact I always loved is Army's willingness to provide such opportunities to passionate bikers on job. This group of Indian Army bikers is always excited and full of energy all the time. Great bunch of people to interact and hear some interesting stories from their personal & professional life.  

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Above photograph shows a biker passing by while 2 villagers came to the road to witness the race. This was very touching moment for me to see how so many villages witness this event, which exposes them to something is special as well as inspiring. Every year, MTB team also plans social awareness campaigns & help communities with appropriate resources during the race. 

Above photograph shows another special camping site of MTB Himalaya - Dhomri ground near Narkanda. This is the place which is used for skiing during winters. Due to this skiing ground there are some local kids who have made their name in the world of Skiing globally. And look at the layout and surrounding. Who wouldn't want to spend a night at such location. This was last night before we all reach back in Shimla for conclusion. Surbhit & Jimsee were partners to have a good evening at this place. 3 of us sung lot of songs - Surbhit sung a few Rajasthani folks song, Jimsee sung some Mangolian songs and I attempted Himachali folks songs. All of us were enjoying but also thinking why that was last night of MBT Himalaya.

Above photograph shows another special camping site of MTB Himalaya - Dhomri ground near Narkanda. This is the place which is used for skiing during winters. Due to this skiing ground there are some local kids who have made their name in the world of Skiing globally. And look at the layout and surrounding. Who wouldn't want to spend a night at such location. This was last night before we all reach back in Shimla for conclusion. Surbhit & Jimsee were partners to have a good evening at this place. 3 of us sung lot of songs - Surbhit sung a few Rajasthani folks song, Jimsee sung some Mangolian songs and I attempted Himachali folks songs. All of us were enjoying but also thinking why that was last night of MBT Himalaya. 

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Above is view of beautiful Tani Jubber lake near Narkanda. It was one of our camping site during MTB Himalaya. There is a school ground near this lake where we had installed our tents. 

During 8 days of MTB Himalaya, as a photographer, I not only clicked photographs of Bikers and the action but also some grand landscapes we witnessed. Many times we would go ahead and wait a place which could help us click some memorable photographs of bikers coming behind us. At times, there used to be huge time gap. That used to be the time to pay attention to surroundings and click landscapes like what you see above.

During 8 days of MTB Himalaya, as a photographer, I not only clicked photographs of Bikers and the action but also some grand landscapes we witnessed. Many times we would go ahead and wait a place which could help us click some memorable photographs of bikers coming behind us. At times, there used to be huge time gap. That used to be the time to pay attention to surroundings and click landscapes like what you see above. 

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During the event, there are teams of volunteers who are appointed at different places on the route to pass water & snacks for riders if they need. Photographers group used to prefer take one of that spot to wait for riders and this used to the great way to know each other. Above video shows volunteers and media people shaking their bodies on a Himachali folk song near Narkanda. Watch the video and enjoy. It's funny :) 

There is huge crew in MTB team to support this event for 8 days. There is a sizeable team who manage camping & food arrangements. They have to unpack from one location and move to that night's location. Install all tents and prepare evening snacks and dinner. In the morning breakfast is served at the camp and lunch is carried in separate cars with appropriate stuff like drinking water, juices etc.

There is huge crew in MTB team to support this event for 8 days. There is a sizeable team who manage camping & food arrangements. They have to unpack from one location and move to that night's location. Install all tents and prepare evening snacks and dinner. In the morning breakfast is served at the camp and lunch is carried in separate cars with appropriate stuff like drinking water, juices etc. 

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The guy above is part of that crew and during break days, we got to spend some time together while we were soaking sun. He is from Chamba and a greta story teller. We shared some interesting stories about him changing his professions in different parts of the state. During this conversation, we also sang some Himachali songs and he was star of the mehfil. Below video shows him singing one of the popular folk songs of Himachal.  

I am sure I can continue writing about endless experiences fro MTB Himalaya events, but let me stop here and would love to hear your thoughts through comments section below. 

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