All of 15 years old, Manasvi Baheti recently rode a tandem with her father from Manali in Himachal Pradesh to the Khardung La mountain pass in Jammu & Kashmir.
The tough 500-kilometre expedition through the Himalayas would be a formidable challenge for all but the most ardent adventure enthusiasts, but it proved a liberating experience for the Class X student who beat her 100% visual impairment to accomplish it.
Manasvi and her father Kailash’s adventure was part of an initiative that has been touted as India’s first blind-and-sighted tandem expedition in the Himalayas, and they were one of 10 pairs who rode through Manali-Leh-Khardung La in less than two weeks. Manasvi was the youngest participant.
The expedition was organised by an organisation named Adventure Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF), which aims to promote inclusion by enabling people with disabilities and those without to participate in adventure sports together. Founded in 2014, ABBF works across five verticals — trekking, scuba diving, paragliding, and mountaineering.
“Our purpose is to establish a connect, build empathy and, most importantly, remove the awkwardness associated with ‘disability’,” ABBF founder Divyanshu Ganatra said. He was all praise for the expedition’s youngest participant, saying, “Manasvi is a spirited girl. This is a tough ride even for professionals, but the way she overcame the challenges was phenomenal.”
Manasvi’s mother Sangeetha said, “Cycling was something Manasvi enjoyed as a child. We had to look for a tandem for a very long time. Tandems manufactured by an international brand were recently imported here, and we were their first customers.”