BEAVERCREEK — While it may not have been his preferred mode of transportation, cyclist Dnyaneshwar Yeotkar rode into the parking lot of the Hindu Temple of Dayton in a car.
Yeotkar, who is in the second year of his bicycling journey around the world, had a part fall off of his bike somewhere just outside of Dayton and needed assistance from his international family of friends to get him to the Temple, Oct. 4.
The 26-year old has been on a World Bicycle March for Peace & Friendship to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of the late peace activist Mahatma Gandhi.
Yeotkar began his trip on Nov. 18, 2016 in the town of Sevagram, India, which was the location of Gandhi’s residence and monastery. Yeotkar’s goal is to finish the slightly more than 46,602-mile (75,000 kilometers) journey by Oct. 2, 2020, which would be the 151st anniversary of Gandhi’s birth.
“This is a journey around the world that’s a small tribute dedicated to all those people who have dedicated their whole lives for peace and non-violence,” Yeotkar said. “I’ve decided to cycle around the world to show the soft power of non-violence, love and peace.”
During his travels, Yeotkar visits with schools, colleges and universities to talk about Gandhi and others like him who have promoted the ideal of peace through non-violent means. He’s already been through India, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Bali, Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea and now most of the United States.
“So this journey has been amazing,” he said. “I live with the people. I ask them for food and a place to stay. I stay with the local people. I don’t have any sponsors, so this whole journey depends on the people.”
After the US portion of his tour, Yeotkar will bike through Cuba. He’s then set for a tour of Latin America, Europe, parts of Russia, the Middle East and Africa before ending his journey in Pakistan.
“Every experience is not just bad, but good. This is a lesson of life. I’m learning a lot of things about myself every day,” he said, when asked to describe some of the tougher experiences he’s had so far.
He rode past a wild tiger while biking through Myanmar, had most of his luggage stolen early on in the journey and domesticated dogs have enjoyed chasing him through most countries, but the most harrowing part of the trip so far came one night in Thailand when he was attacked by a pack of wild dogs.
The wild dogs knocked him off of his bike and one bit him on his right leg. Yeotkar went to a hospital in the southern part of Thailand seeking medical aid, but the hospital wouldn’t treat him without money. Fortunately, a teacher from one of the schools he had spoken in earlier in the day gave him a place to stay and recuperate.
Yeotkar said he watched as the teacher spent at least two hours watching YouTube videos in order to learn how to prepare Indian food for him.
During one school visit, Yeotkar became ill and passed out. His bitten leg had become swollen and he had a high fever. Doctors at the same Thailand hospital said he had rabies, and treated Yeotkar.
“For the eight days, I stayed with that teacher’s family. They didn’t speak my language, but they cooked Indian food every day — something different each day — just from watching YouTube. After eight days, I never touched any meat. They took very special care of me,” he said.
Yeotkar said the teacher’s dedication toward helping him is just one example of the kindness people have shown him along his journey around the world.
“We judge each other’s countries, and we judge other people all the time in the 21st century,” Yeotkar added. “I’m here to show that you don’t need to judge each other by the color of our skin or by what country we are from. I think every country is a great culture, and they have nice people everywhere. It’s the 21st century, but we haven’t lost the values of peace, love and friendship.”
In a little over two years from now, Yeotkar will have crossed 75 borders, 75 countries, and will have stopped off at 265 destinations on his solo journey to promote world peace. Beavercreek’s Hindu Temple of Dayton was one of those destinations. His progress can be followed online at peacewheel.org or on facebook.com/peacewheel.org/ .
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.