Scroll to top
Keen to grow your brand
Reach out to us at
Keen to grow with us?
Reach out to us at
The Lab Mag Headquarters
D-115, Dron Marg
Defence Colony, New Delhi - 110024

On a skateboard across India: How Ritik Kratzel travelled from Manali to Kanyakumari

From quick thinking, and navigating, to meeting new people and a shift in perspective. Here's a deep dive into a solo travel experience.
Skateboard in India

What is about movies such as Into The Wild, Nomadland, and Wild — movies of adventure, embracing one’s company, and travelling alone that entices people to watch it? Perhaps it’s fulfilling the lust for solo travel, letting go of inhibitions, embracing one’s own company, getting the opportunity to meet people and learn about new cultures and lifestyles, or simply the freedom from being in the present and doing something you love. Now picture a boy in his twenties travelling across India on his skateboard in 90 days.

While scrolling on a hot May afternoon, I came across a reel where a young boy was skating away on a skateboard in India, vlogging the adventure as Day 14/100 of his journey from Manali to Kanyakumari. Intrigued, I clicked on Ritik Kratzel’s profile and saw that he was on a mission to skateboard to travel across India, from Manali to Kanyakumari in 100 days. As I scrolled through his profile, I realised that I had the same enticing feeling after watching the above movies. I wanted to know more about this person!

A freelance web developer by profession, 21-year-old Kratzel hails from Manali. This idea was in the pipeline for a while but he finally made the call to embark on his adventure on the first of January this year, because what better day to start this journey on a skateboard across India than the first day of the year? Kratzel celebrated the completion of his journey on March 30 – 10 days before his goal.

The inception of this idea

Initially, he had mentioned on his Instagram how he wasn’t a professional skateboarder. My curiosity got the better of me and I couldn’t help but ask why he chose the skateboard instead of something else. “Since childhood, I would go to school on my skateboard and that is how I got interested,” he clarifies. His school is located in a hilly region, which meant that he walked a little, followed by covering the remaining four kilometres on his skateboard. “It was a daily routine and my body was trained,” he explains. “Slowly I started going a little further [on my skateboard] and thought why not go to Kanyakumari, the endpoint,” he says matter-of-factly.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ritik Kratzel (@ritikkratzel)

Going on such an adventure alone can be daunting, especially for someone on their first solo journey. “Initially,” starts Kratzel, “I was also not sure if I could do it. There was a person who did it before and died in an accident so I was aware how risky this can be.” If someone is doing this in India, especially at the age of 21, the obvious thought would be the family’s support and their reaction. “My family didn’t believe I could do it,” agrees Kratzel. “They thought I would return after my first day or even after reaching Chandigarh. But I didn’t [go back home] after a week and that is when they realised I was serious about this.” He admits that he had to convince his parents because travelling across India can be risky. “But once I left, I kept going.”

Mapping out the route

The initial route he had in mind covered the Western coast of India. He would start from Manali in Himachal Pradesh, and go on to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and finally Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu.

As someone who has gone on road trips from Mumbai to Goa and even parts of Karnataka, I can guarantee this route would have been a sight to behold! However, as he started, and reached a little ahead of Patiala, he realised that a skateboard was not allowed on an expressway and there was an alarm. In such a situation, Kratzel had to think on his feet and quickly changed his route to avoid this problem. His new route followed the NH44 (formerly NH7), the longest National Highway connecting Jammu and Kanyakumari. This new route was 3,500km and made alterations from his older route. He had to drop Gujarat, Goa, and Kerala and instead he skateboarded through Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka and the rest of the states remained the same.

The baggage of skateboard travel

Packing was pure trial and error for Kratzel. “I left with two-to-three pairs of clothes, my camera, and other photography accessories but on my first day I was in a bad state,” he admits. “At my first stop in Kullu, I realised that I had a lot of stuff so I kept one pair of clothes besides what I had worn and some camera accessories and couriered the rest home.” This soon became a solution for Kratzel as he shopped in bigger cities and would send it back home while keeping his bag light.

Skateboard in India

Photos: Ritik Kratzel

He started his journey across India on his skateboard in January so the weather was cold in the northern states and his “Pahadi jeans” did the job. However, as he approached Maharashtra and southern states, the heat got to him and he would shop along the way and repeat the process of couriering his stuff back home.

To realise his cross-country dream, Kratzel aimed to cover around 40km each day. However, remote places proved to be a challenge where finding accommodation was difficult. “In [rural] Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, I couldn’t find a place to stay so instead of 40km, I had to do 70 or even 80km a day,” he says. To avoid spending the night in a small village, if a town or a city would be at a distance of a few kilometres, he preferred skateboarding a little further before calling it a day.

His daily schedule included leaving around 8 am and reaching around 7 pm. However, as he reached Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, he gained speed as felt more energised so he would then leave by 10 am and still finish his daily goal of 40km by 5 pm. We have all experienced the sweltering heat this year and March was when it started being unbearable and Kratzel experienced it first hand as he approached Maharashtra. “[To avoid the heat], I would start as early as 6 am so that I can reach by stop by noon or 1 pm and spend the rest of the time indoors.”

Most of his halts were only to sleep and rest. Only in bigger cities such as Chandigarh, Nagpur, Hyderabad, and such, he kept aside a day for sightseeing, shopping, and couriering it back home. To ensure that the sudden temperature rise didn’t affect his health he thought on his toes and made it a habit to try and walk in the sun from Punjab to prepare himself for rising mercury in the South.

Safety first

As a woman, I admit being a tad bit envious of the male privilege that made such a trip possible for 21-year-old Kratzel. I cannot fathom going on such an adventure in India – robbers, criminals, unsanitary washrooms, the lack of safe and hygienic options as accommodation, and the constant threat of being sexually and physically assaulted, abused, and severely injured are just a few of the things at the top of my mind right now.

Skateboard in India

Photos: Ritik Kratzel

Kratzel also had his safety checkpoint in place. “I had an extra stick in my bag, you know the kind that can expand into a bigger one?” He was aware of the risks of his journey – thieves, dacoits, accidents, and even people. However, his biggest safety risk was stray dogs who would chase him and he feared getting into a road accident because of being chased by dogs. In places near dhabas and where he spotted many dogs, he would step off his skateboard and start walking. He also factored in safety issues by people. “In risky and deserted areas, I would avoid taking my camera out but eventually realised people were not much of a concern. Most were sweet, helpful and none of my stuff was stolen,” he clarifies.

“When I reached Madhya Pradesh,” he says, “locals and cops would warn me that some areas would be risky but I had no option. I have passed by a 100km stretch with just small villages and it did seem risky so I would walk some stretches as well,” he explained. He admits that he had to cross areas with jungles on either side and saw monkeys but he was lucky that nothing happened.

A change of perspective

Along the way, Kratzel met many people, cops, and locals, who he now calls friends. He shared meals with cops as they chatted, fed him food, stayed at people’s houses, enjoyed local home-cooked food, and befriended fellow travellers on the way. Madhya Pradesh was the state where he was warned to be careful but surprisingly, that state, where he spent 18 days was the most memorable part of his journey. “I entered from Gwalior and I did have a problem finding accommodation but the locals were not what I had been warned about. They offered me a place to stay, fed me, and even gave me contacts of their relatives in nearby towns for me to spend the night,” he recalls.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ritik Kratzel (@ritikkratzel)

“I had a negative assumption based on the things you see and read in the news but in reality, I realised that people are not bad. There are many helpful people as well,” he concludes.

Now back home, Kratzel plans to use the remaining of his 10 days from the 100-day plan to skateboard to Leh-Ladakh so that he can proudly say that he travelled from Ladakh to Kanyakumari on a skateboard.