Passion drives you to achieve what you hold very dear to your heart. There are challenges all through that journey that come with a surprise but the fire inside you keeps you going. Traversing through the length and breadth of the country, creating National and World records, experiencing surrealistic moments and more so inspiring generations to come, to follow their passion – Durga Charan Mishra who loves riding and driving along with his wife Jotshna Mishra who loves to be the one to push her husband to pursue his dreams are Guinness World Record holders for the Longest Journey by car in a single Country in the year 2014. But the journey with bikes and cars for the Odia couple dates back to the year 1999.
“In the year 1999 I took off to Kargil, right after the war to hand deliver greeting cards for the soldiers made by school students in Delhi. I had the permission to ride to the final destination from the Ministry of Defence for this expedition. I reached Srinagar on 13th August and then had to cover another 220 kms from Srinagar to Kargil. I was instructed to take the permission from the Col. B.K. Singh in Sonmarg to complete my expedition. The call did begin with lot of resistance but since the cards were made by young children specially for the jawans he couldn’t help but grant me the permission. After I was given the green signal, I started the journey once again to 14,000 ft above sea level – Jhojila Pass. The roads back then were in a pretty bad shape. I crossed Draas, which is the second coldest place in the world and finally reached Kargil. I consciously did not look at the depth of the valleys, because I knew if I saw that I would get chills. Absolutely scary yet breathtakingly beauty. I also had a nerve-racking experience. Pakistan had blown up a diesel truck of the Indian Army and it was burning right in front of my eyes. I somehow quickly went past it”.
“I was the first civilian at Kargil after the war and stayed there for two nights,. I also got the opportunity to interact with the Army. The most unforgettable part of this trip was staying in a Bunker for one night. There would always be a pot of water boiling so that the steam would control the temperature and also the food would be cooked using the same steam”.
The year 2002 saw the tragic attack on the World Trade Center in the United States of America. Mr. Mishra along with his wife went on a World Peace Expedition entrusted by Gandhi Darshan Samiti – Rajghat in Delhi. We were to deliver a stone that had World Peace etched on it to Kardung La which is 18383 ft. above sea level. “ We left from Delhi on 13th August and reached our destination on 21st August. We were so touched to see the Army men in tears. It was Raksha Bandhan and to see civilians, that too a woman was something that overwhelmed them. In fact they made us hot tea. I will never forget the delicious taste of that cup of tea for a lifetime. Surreal”.
The stone stays buried inside heaps of snow for most part of the year and is featured in numerous International magazines. However the purity of the job entrusted to them was something the couple maintained and never publicised about being the people to complete this National expedition. “ We didn’t want any fame out of this. We were purely doing it for India. It is still unbelievable”.
2004 took another exciting turn in the expedition journey of Durga and his wife. The couple took on The South Asian Tour for 63 days, 16840 kms, cutting across India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka.
“ The following year I undertook the India International Himalayan Expedition by Royal Enfield and NDTV. It started from India Gate in New Delhi with 56 participants from both India and other countries. The funny part is in physical appearance; I don’t come across as a biker. I am not like one of those leather jacket, rugged looks kind of a person. Interestingly no one spoke to me the day we met. All the youngsters were in their own huddles. Our first stop was Chandigarh where the first press conference was also scheduled to be held. A few participants did have a vague idea about the records I had achieved in my biking journey. As the Press conference began. The CEO of Royal Enfield chose to introduce me first by stating the records I had made. This was a funny sight, because everyone’s eyes were now on the person they didn’t think could even complete the expedition”.
The expedition moved forward 350 kms and now reached the second halt, Manali. “ the youngsters would ride extremely rashly and take frequent smoke breaks. However for me the experience I had in riding was enough to keep me away from all the rash riding. As soon as we reached Manali I decided to go and play football while the younger lot was tired and resting. They all only asked me one question ‘Why don’t you get tired’.
The expedition came to halt thanks to heavy snowfall in the region. The 56 participants along with the crew stayed in tents and were unable to proceed further for the next three days. Once the way was clear we successfully completed it.
2006 Durga Charan Mishra and his wife were on another mission. This time it was setting a Limca Book of Record – Longest Journey by a couple on a motorcycle. 177 non-stop hours of riding on a 350 cc Bullet covering 21,146 kilometers. Goosebumps, right?
“ Our journey began at 5.30 am on 22nd September 2006 from Leh and we reached Kanyakumari on 29th September. Our target was 177 hours, but we made it in 169 hours covering 13 states of India. The team at Limca Book of Records had given us rules and regulations to be followed all through our trip along with a prescribed route for the same. We were also given a logbook with 36 police station checkpoints where we were expected to physically enter our details. There were no National Highways during that time. We only rode on a single lane. In fact even mobiles were not very popular back then. We covered 330 kilometers on the very first day and experienced extreme temperatures o-20 to + 35 all along our journey. Each region had its own weather – so we were practically riding in rain, snowfall, wind and to top it all, on slippery roads thanks to the sun melting the snow”.
The couple had to face numerous challenges, right from landslides, temperature fluctuations, bad road, and water accumulation on the roads. Their journey took them through five passes from Leh to Manali including the Tang Lang La Pass that is the 2nd highest pass in the world – 17857 ft. The journey from Manali to Chandigarh was covered on a National highway following which there is a flat road up to Kanyakumari.
“ When we go on expeditions, every minute there is a new experience, sometimes even the ones we can never describe in words. Something that comes to my mind at this moment is when we were riding on an Army road, which was covered by cloth. Their cars would pass through it with ease, however when I was riding over it and applied the break, the wheel skid and ended up breaking the windscreen. I was hurt on my nose, which started bleeding. Interestingly, I could not feel anything apart from numbness owing to low temperatures”.
Durga Charam Mishra and Jyotshna Mishra have not only undertaken their bike expeditions to set records and satisfy their passion to ride. The couple has taken up numerous causes of National relevance and travelled across villages in India. “ Some of my expeditions to address social causes include Eye Donation, Help Age India, Save The Girl Child, Female foeticide, AIDS Awareness among others”.
“In 2010 we traversed across 13 states of India right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and took up the cause of the Girl Child Education. 13 states, 62 districts, 620 villages. We had the opportunity to speak to many children and adults and share words of wisdom and bring their attention towards the importance of educating the girl child. We knew we had to reach the foundation of the problem rather than touching the surface area of the issue at hand. In many societies across the country people look down upon a woman who gives birth to a girl child. If they have two daughters then you are not allowed to attend marriages and other religious functions. The woman is constantly blamed and is socially tortured. We’ve heard heart-wrenching stories of the girl child kept inside a big pot covered with a lid, leading to so called natural death. We stressed upon the fact that women of our country are forerunners in possibly every field – Be it setting their foot in space, hold important political positions, excel in competitive exams and spearhead social causes”.
Sky was the limit for Durga Charan Mishra and his wife. The next milestone the couple wanted to achieve was the world renowned Guinness World Record. “ I shared my past biking expeditions with the Guinness team but they rejected my request to attempt creating a record. As per the team’s past experience, more than 4000 applications would go from India but no one would take up the challenge”.
Unperturbed by the rejection, Mishra kept pursuing the team through constant email communication. “ They finally accepted our request and we set out to complete 19000 kms in 54 days. We had to abide by the various agreements that laid down rules and regulations very strictly. We started on the 27th February 2013 and completed our ride on 21st April 2013. The most important rule was that we couldn’t repeat any route on the journey. The problem began here. The distance from Kashmir to Kanyakumari by road is 3800 kms and if we had to complete 19,000 kms we would have to cover the same lap thrice and also not repeat any road twice. Challenging but exciting”.
The husband wife duo was a solid team. While he would concentrate on riding and keeping a check on the route, she was responsible fill the log book and take pictures throughout the journey. “ We were being tracked by a dedicated team of Guinness employees each and every minute of our journey. Sometimes due to the lack of network, the GPS system would stop working and that meant a lot of additional stress for us. Apart from all this, we were even expected to physically enter our details at assigned police stations across the country”.
The couple covered 21,146 kms in 54 days instead of the 19,000 kms that they challenged at the beginning of the journey. However, destiny had some other plans for them, “ Just two days before we could close our record, someone from the United States of America on a Harley Davidson completed 27,000 kms. So before we could create a record, someone had already gone way beyond ours. We had no means to check who was making records in which country. We had put in a lot of effort and it certainly was very disappointing. Nevertheless we did a lot of recognition from American and European Record Companies. But nothing can beat Guinness”.
“This disappointment gave m sleepless nights. I had the urge to get what I had dreamt about. A very strong one. We didn’t give up”.
Durga Charan Mishra wrote to the Guinness World Record Team once again. Just a few weeks of emailed correspondence and they had a brand new challenge in front of them. The team suggested they could attempt creating the record of the longest journey in a car in a single country. The journey started on 23rd February 2014 in our Maruti Wagon R. We were expected to drive at a maximum on 95-kms per hour as per Indian traffic rules. The target ahead of us was 18,000 kms. The food we ate throughout the journey would be extremely simple and in measured quantities because we had to be fit and fine all through and not let the food be a roadblock for our drive”.
Mishra would do a through study of the roads, climate and alternate routes before the starting the trip. It was very important to have complete knowledge about it in order to successfully complete the journey. “We would even take note of the green cover on the route, because driving in non-green area would lead to lesser oxygen and cause lethargy. We would also study the average rainfall of every area and figure out the alternate route for such regions, just in case there was an natural or man made crisis”.
The couple started their day at 4.30, completed their daily chores, pack and leave at 6 am sharp. “ I would meditate, while my wife would do her pooja. A complete check of the car and a study of that particular day’s route would be done by me before we left. A glass of water with honey was my secret recipe to keep me cool headed and calm the whole day. What this does is, keeps the blood pressure under control and help you keep your calm when all kinds of people are driving on the road. On such journeys you ought to be mentally strong. Every night depending on where we are, we would find accommodation usually on highways to make our journey more convenient. All we wanted was an economical, clean and safe place to spend the night in”.
“The other most exciting part of the journey was meeting different kinds of people. Interacting with people from different states, cultures, backgrounds helps you learn so much. Even the 15 minutes that we would stop for lunch, we would talk to everyone right from the owner to the boy you brought us food to the table”.
Starting from Puri we proceeded towards Rourkela, Ranchi- Guwahati-Nagaland- Gorakhpur- Allahabad – Nagpur – Raipur – Hyderabad – Madurai – Kanyakumari- Bangalore- Hasan- Pune- Aurangabad – Mumbai – Ahmedabad – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Jhansi – Jaipur – Amritsar – Delhi – Varanasi – Durgapur – Kharagpur. We completed 18456 kilometres and set our Guinness World Record. Phew”.
“While taking trips of this nature you have to absolutely love driving. This applies for any kind of work you take up. If you love doing it, half your job is done. If you fail at some point, it keeps you awake to run after your dreams. Only because I failed for the first attempt did I get a chance to see the country and take this experience once again. I sometimes feel bad about why I got the Guinness so early in my journey. There is nothing beyond a Guinness World Record”.
People often asking what is next? And all I have to say is we are ready to take on many more challenges that come our way.
Year 1999, All India tour covering 17,070 kms. (National Record)
Year 2002, World Peace Expedition” covered all the eight passes of Himalayas.
Year 2004,South Asia Expedition (India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) 16,840 kms,
Year 2005, participated in Himalayan Expedition
Year 2006, Leh – Kanyakumari in 169 hrs 45 min. (Limca Book of Record)
Year 2007,Grand Trunk Expedition (on the eve of 60 year of Indian Independence)
Year 2008, Sekhawati Rajasthan Expedition
Year 2010, Kashmir to Kanyakumari
Year 2011, Delhi to Bhubaneswar
Year 2013, Longest journey by couple on motorcycle, 21,146 km (World Record)
Year 2014, Longest Journey by car in a single country, (GUINNESS WORLD RECORD)