Hyderabad: A 35-year old Indian engineer has completed an epic journey of 14,000 kilometres on a solar-powered autorickshaw.
Naveen Rabelli, originally from Hyderabad, started his journey from Bengaluru in February and reached London — the final leg of his journey — on Saturday, September 10. He crossed a total of 11 countries over the course of eight months.
Rabelli, an automotive engineer, converted a Piaggio Apé to feed from the Sun back in 2014. He was stuck in traffic when the idea of converting auto-rickshaws to draw solar power occurred to him.
Soon, he purchased the vehicle using his savings and two years later, after funds arrived from the Telangana tourism board, Rabelli set off on his overlanding adventure.
“I set off from Bengaluru, took a ship to Iran and that was the start of the big journey,” he told the Deccan Chronicle.
Besides two blown batteries, a flat tyre in Vienna and the theft of his passport in Paris, the journey, according to Rabelli, was “fantastic”.
“I met hundreds of people. The tuk-tuk brought a smile on so many faces and just seeing everyone gathered around the vehicle with their questions was motivation enough. I spent no cash on fuel, stayed at perhaps just five hotels and yeah, made lots of friends.”
Rabelli’s vehicle was converted to accomodate living space and photographs reveal hundreds of the messages on the vehicle’s walls. Travelling through the vastness of Iran and Turkey, Rabelli admits the terrain was challenging.
“There is this incident I remember. I was suffering from a sore throat when one of the villagers in Iran offered me this strange cigarette. I thought it was drugs and tried to politely refuse but the local insisted I smoke it.”
“Turns out, it was a common form of medication for sore throat there — and it was horse dung. My throat was fine after that,” he said.
The engineer - through his Mission Tejas - is advocating the use of zero-emission vehicles and is asking the world to cut down on carbon emissions. “I’m quite small to have a message for the entire world, frankly. All I wanted was to show people that it’s possible to travel long distances without fuel - without harming the environment. I hope, through my journey, the young generation start thinking up new ideas and technology that have the potential of saving the planet.”
Rabelli is now set for a big reception in London and is being invited to talk at an event on Tuesday - to promote zero-emissions living.