Pune, 31st January 2024: Driven by a clear goal, individuals often catalyze transformative changes in society, etching their names in history. Inspired by such a vision, Utam Dhoka and Akash Rathod have successfully undertaken a pilgrimage across India on bicycles, spreading the message that pilgrimage sites in India are accessible through cycling.
Following numerous triumphant ventures, this year saw Utam Dhoka and Akash Rathod completing an 1100-kilometre journey from Pune to Girnarji-Somanath in a mere 9 days.
Commencing from Adinath Society on Pune-Satara Road, this endeavour covered the 1100-kilometre stretch to the Jain pilgrimage site of Girnarji in Rajkot, Gujarat, concluding on January 18, 2024. The expedition encompassed visits to the Datt Mandir in Girnarji and Somanathji. Utam Dhoka spearheaded this cycling campaign, supported by Akash Rathod, Suresh Pitani, and Vir Utam Dhoka. Despite facing adverse weather conditions, they consistently covered distances of 120 to 130 kilometres daily, ultimately reaching the Girnarji pilgrimage site.
This expedition serves as a testament to the accessibility of all pilgrimage sites in India by bicycle. Utam Dhoka has previously traversed various pilgrimage sites in approximately seven states, totalling a distance of 5400 kilometres. This initiative, initiated in 2019, underscores the significance of health alongside pilgrimage visits. Commencing from Pune’s local pilgrimage sites such as Dagdusheth Mandir, Chaturshringi, and Shankar Mandir, the journey expanded to encompass longer distances, including destinations like Shirdi, Tuljapur, Pandharpur, Gateway of India, and Antariksh Parshwanath Jain Teerth, covering a distance of 500 kilometres in just three days. Their unwavering confidence in cycling culminated in the completion of a 2100-kilometer journey from Pune to Shikharji in Jharkhand in 2023, accomplished in 17 days.
Aged 47 and deeply connected with the Jain community, Utam Dhoka resolved to embark on pilgrimages to Jain pilgrimage sites by bicycle. Additionally, as a manufacturer of Julie bags in Pune, he sets a precedent for the youth on balancing business with health and religious practices.
Looking ahead, Utam Dhoka and his team are committed to visiting all Jain pilgrimage sites in Rajasthan, including Kedarnath, by bicycle. They serve as beacons for the youth, championing the ideals of health and spirituality.