An overland adventurer, off-road jeeper and outdoor educator, Nidhi specializes in long distance and high altitude driving, OTR jeeping, and outdoor education. Basically a driver at heart, having spent extensive period of time in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, what began as a quest to trek every possible trail, soon turned into leading people on hikes or outdoor leadership and then came jeeping. Originally jeeping started as a necessity to reach from one hamlet to another. The torrential monsoons in the ghats honed her driving skills. From there on, there has been no looking back.
For Nidhi, the quest to push boundaries is innate. Soon came long-distance driving. By then, a mother of two and an Army wife, her first women only drive with the kids was from Bangalore to Ladakh in 2007. From then on, drives to Ladakh, Lahual & Spiti, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and the north east have dominated her driving record. Her international exposure comes her stints in the US, South Africa, Europe and more recently the solo drive from New Delhi to London (crossing 17 different nations).
In 2015, she conceptualized, planned, and led the 1st All Women Expedition from New Delhi to London. She is also the first woman driver to drive a transcontinental distance of from Delhi to London. Post that she has driven for automobile majors like Mahindra & Mahindra, Porsche, Isuzu etc.
2016 was a landmark year for her when she undertook what she terms as “the most intense journey of her life” – India’s 1st Overland Solo to Siberia. She is now the First Indian to drive to the Pole of Cold and on the Road of Bones from Yakutsk to Magadan in north eastern Siberia.
Over the years, having questioned constantly stereotyped and having spent most of her time with vehicles on highways & remote roads typically considered a man's domain, Nidhi feels a strong need to empower women to occupy this space. Her work with different communities has taught her that socio-economic freedom and empowerment only comes mobility. And that's her dream for WBB.
WBB - Isuzu Himalayan XOL (April 2017)
Delhi – Shimla – Kalpa – Pooh - Sangla - Harsil – Nelong – Delhi
Drove an Isuzu D Max on a 10-day extreme terrain drive in the beginning of summer 2017, drive strewn with multiple land slides and diversions; finally connected Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh to Harsil in Uttarakashi
India's 1st Overland Solo to Siberia (Dec 2016 – Jan 2017)
Yakutsk – Oymyakon – Magadan – Yakutsk (North Eastern Siberia in Sakha Republic and Magadan Oblast, Russia)
First ever drive by an Indian on the Road of Bones from Yakutsk to Magadan(called the world’s most dangerous road). First ever drive by an Indian to the Pole of Cold (coldest inhabited place on earth) – Oymyakon. First ever Solo to Siberia by an Indian Average temperature on drive -50 degrees, lowest experienced was -59 degrees centigrade. Distance – 5080kms,Time taken – 17 days, start & finish point:Yakutsk, Sakha Republic, Russia, Vehicle used: Toyota Landcruiser Prado modified to Arctic conditiions, average driving time in a day: 12-14 hours.
WBB – Porsche Himalayan XOL (June– July 2016)
Delhi– Srinagar – Kargil – Padum – Batalik – Leh – Nubra – Pangong Tso (via Shyok)– Chushul – Nyoma – Keylong – Battal – Kaza – Komic- Shimla – Delhi
22 day extreme overland expedition (XOL) to highlight the connect between mobility & empowerment undertaken in a premium SUV – the Porsche Cayenne. Single driver and expedition leader
New Delhi to London (July 2015 to Oct 2015)
New Delhi (India) – Myanmar – China – Kyrgyzstan – Uzbekistan – Kazakhstan – Russia – Finland – Estonia – Latvia – Lithuania – Poland – Czech Republic – Germany – Belgium – France – London (UK), 2015: 23800kms
First women to single-handedly drive a transcontinental distance of 23,800kms; also led the expedition with an all women team.
LOC & LAC Expedition (May 2014-June 2014)
Delhi – Pathankot – Srinagar – Zozila – Drass – Kargil – Hambutingla – Batalik – Dha – Byama – Khaltsi – Nyoma – Leh – Khardungla – Diskit – Hunder – Koksar – Shyok – Tangste - Pangong Tsu – Chushul – Tso moriri – More plains – Sarchu – Baralachala – Darcha – Jispa – Keylong – Manali – Chandigarh – Ambala – Delhi.
First private vehicle to take the Koksar – Shyok road; route reached Pangong lake without crossing the Khardungla. The route touched both Line of control (LOC) at Batalik and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Chushul. Also the first circuitous route that did not touch any place twice; tricky off-road sections at Shyok, Chushul sections.
Spiti Circuit (May – June 2013)
Delhi – Chandigarh - Shimla – Saharan – Sangla – Kalpa – Nako – Tabo – Kaza – Key & Kibber – Kunzum la - Lahaul – Chandartaal – Khalsar – Rohtang pass – Manali – Chandigarh – Delhi.
extensive stream crossing in Lahaul which put driving and four wheeling skills to test.
Last Point Expedition (August 2012)
Delhi – Chandigarh - Manali – Keylong – Jispa – Darcha – Baralachala – Sarchu – More plains – Pang – Tsokar – Tso moriri – Mahe bridge – Chushul – Pangong Tsu – Changla – Shakti – Karo – Leh – Khardungla – diskit – Hunder – Turtuk – Leh – Kargil – Drass – Zozila – Srinagar – Pathankot - Delhi
touched Turtuk near North glacier (Siachen) which is the last point on Indian soil. At Turtuk border post, Indian and Pakistani troops stand eye-to-eye in closest proximity (as compared to all of the LOC); area had just opened for tourist traffic; one of the first few to arrive there. Drive on treacherous sandy off-road stretches between More plains and Tsokar (all dirt track).
“Land of Gods” Circuit (October 2011)
Delhi – Dehradun – Rudraprayag – Karnprayag – Almora – Berinag – Munsiyari – Pithoragarh – Tanakpur – Moradabad – Delhi.
jewel around Uttarakhand; experienced many touch off-road stretches enroute – especially terrain in Garhwal region; touched Munsiyari – which is a deadline on Indian soil; from here there are no roads leading ahead – it’s a trek ahead to Milam glacier and further into Chinese soil. Gorgeous views of Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot by the side, the Panchachuli peaks stare in the face at Munsiyari.
International Border (IB) to LOC Expedition (July 2009)
Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Suratgarh - Bikaner – Ganganagar – Ferozepur – Wagah – Gurdaspur – Kathua – Jammu – Udhampur – Srinagar – Zozila – Drass – Kargil – Leh – Manali – Delhi.
traced IB to along Rajasthan and Punjab border to trace back memories of partition, 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. The contrast between areas that bordered the IB and the LOC were stark exposing the fragile relationship with Pakistan.
Crisscross Road trip (June 2008)
Bangalore – Pune – Mumbai – Surat – Ahmedabad – Bikaner – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Ajmer – Jaipur – Delhi – Moradabad – Haldwani - Nainital
first marathon drive reached Jaisalmer in 32hours. Undertook journey in a WagonR. South – west – north – east (of Delhi) – the map looked like a crisscross
First All-Women Road trip (May – June 2007)
Bangalore – Hyderabad – Nagpur – Bhopal – Gwalior – Agra – Delhi – Chandigarh – Manali – Rohtang pass – Keylong – Darcha – Baralachala – Sarchu – Pang – Upshi – Karu – Leh – Pangong Tsu – Leh – Khardungla – Diskit – Hunder – Leh – Kargil – Drass – Zozila – Sonmarg – Srinagar – Jammu – Pathankot – Chandigarh – Delhi.
many firsts on this one – first time was taking a bunch of women (mom, her sister, friends, kids!) all on one road trip where I was expected to keep all of them safe, drive on roads I hadn’t even imagined about, change tyres, take care of repairs – was overwhelming but taught me my first lessons on road.
OTR (Off-the-road) trips – Bangalore (2004 – 2007)
Having seen a jeep for the first time to becoming Bangalore’s first woman jeeper – the transformation was rigourous; involved many weekends of sweat, blood and stamina to endure weekend OTRs with jeep thrills (an online community of jeepers).
Highway drives (2003 – 2015)
From the time India’s roads were single lane to some roads now being 8 lane – bridging the north-south divide overland has enthused me for long – changing landscapes, people, places – many lessons learnt indeed.
Research, Hill tribes & Trails in Western Ghats of Karnataka – 2008-2009
Spent over 2 years documenting trails and lives of hill tribes and indigenous communities who inhabit the WesternGhats section of Karnatakafrom Coorg to Dandeli. The intent was to publish a book; though valuable data was gathered & photo documented, due to certain unforeseen circumstances, it went unpublished.
Environment Writing, Documentation, Project Management 2004 – 2008
Features, Jammu & Kashmir
extensive travel and research along the Line of Control in Kargil, Drass&Batalik to portray social realities and challenges faced by indigenous communities and the local population living in a conflict zone
Author, Environment Education textbooks, CBSE, Classes 6, 7, 8
Authored an innovative hands-on series of textbooks for a leading New Delhi Educational Publisher – Pinnacle India, in tune with the Central Board of Secondary Education syllabus. The books are being used in schools across the country.
Grassroots Work, Outdoor Leader, Media Advocacy 1995-2003
Field Coordinator, Western Ghats Restoration Project:
Coordinated a mammoth initiative to draw focus, conserve and restore the Western Ghats of Southern India through various field movements like establishing Forest Cooperatives, documentation and restoration of living and historical heritage etc
first Birds Check List for the Sharavathy Valley area
Wildlife census programs - large mammal census, bird counts and Tiger census across wildlife sanctuaries and national parks with the Forest Department, Govt. of Karnataka
Freelance Writer & Grassroots Activist:
Mobilized public opinion on conservation issues concerning the Western Ghats through publications in various regional and national dailies (Deccan Herald, Indian Express, Times of India) to highlight innovative strategies employed by locals towards the conservation cause
Outdoor Team Leader:
Led over 30,000people on outdoor programs –students, teachers, bureaucrats, Defense personnel, children, management professionals, corporate executives on field explorations to establish a trekking corridor in the Western Ghats
Trainer, Indian Institute of Adventure Applications:
Imparted outdoor training to rural unemployed youth to harness & orient their potential while eventually mobilizing a green movement in the hills of Karnataka
Freelance Journalism 1995 – 1998 - Travel:
Contributed regularly to regional and national dailies on off-beat destinations and unconventional travel ideas outdoors; Written extensively on adventure sports, wildlife, ethical and policy issues relating to adventure sports; profiled leaders and talented adventure sports enthusiasts in rock climbing, sport climbing etc.