With the message 'Plant Tree, Save Nature, Save Water', Parimol Kanji, a 55-year-old man from Kolkata, West Bengal, is on a mission to travel across India on his bicycle.. Having passed through several states, he is presently in Jammu and Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar, waiting for reopening of the Srinagar-Leh national highway to resume his expedition – to Ladakh and then many other states.
Kanji started his journey on January 1, 2021, from Kolkata with the aim of "exploring India". "Being a lonely poor man, I made up my mind to explore India on my bicycle. Starting from my hometown Kolkata, I travelled through Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and now Jammu and Kashmir," he said. "My next destination is Ladakh, then Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand from where I want to visit Nepal, and then North East states of India." Parimol has been staying here at a room offered to him by the Regal Lane Traders Association since April 9 when he reached Srinagar. "I am waiting for the Srinagar-Leh national highway, which is closed due to snow, to reopen and resume my mission," he said.
The idea of 'Plant Tree, Save Nature, Save Water', Parimol told Greater Kashmir, came to him on the way after exploring some states. "I saw many places where there is a dearth of water, many don't even have water at all; and several places where people just waste or misuse water. Similarly, while coming through the polluted cities, I realised the gift of nature and the importance of its conservation among which plantation of trees comes foremost," he said. "Then I made this the theme of my expedition."
Being penniless, Parimol said it was God who feeds him and provides him with shelter during nights. "I have never slept hungry. God sends people who feed me; some even offer shelter during my stay for a day or two at any place. In Srinagar, I am even provided with a room and food. I am grateful to them," he said.
When asked what he experienced so far, Parmiol said, "India is a vast and plural country. Most of the people are good and peaceful. I did not experience any kind of fear or threat on my way."
After staying in Kashmir for over two weeks, Kanji said he was "shocked" as "media showed us an entire different picture of Kashmir". "I too was of the opinion that Kashmir is all about guns and violence but what I am seeing here is contrary to what is being portrayed in the media. I must say that the people of Kashmir are the best I came across throughout my expedition. May peace prevail everywhere," Kanji said.