Indian Woman Travellers, Leading the Way into 2014 – Part 4

Before we begin, let me apologize for not being able to publish the 4th part of this series in April. I was a part of the Kerala Blog Express through most of March and because of that could not manage to collect the necessary information for the post.

In order to get the series back on track, the 4th and the 5th part of the series will be published in May. Well I’m learning things about blogging everyday and I hope to plan these posts much better and keep the series going on schedule from now on! 🙂

This is Part 4 of the monthly series featuring Indian Women Travellers. For this series, a set of questions were sent to Indian women travel bloggers with the aim of finding out a bit more about their lives and what motivated them. The underlying purpose of this series is to get more people from India and around the world to get inspired and seek out the many fantastic adventures and sights that India has to offer.

To know more about this series, please read the post – “Indian Women Travellers, Leading the Way into 2014 – Part 1”.

Featured here in Part 4 are 7 women travellers from India who have gone beyond the norms and decided to take the path less trodden.

1) ARATI KUMAR-RAO (http://www.ficusmedia.com/)Arati Kumar Rao

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Since i was little.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: I love nature, i love learning, i love exploring. Travel is just a means to doing all that. Of course, you dont have to travel far for any of those!

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: It’s only when this question is asked (and it’s asked often!) that I am conscious of it. So far I have never been made to feel unwelcome or unsafe. That said, there is no point being foolish. 

If i had to pick one challenge, it is when traveling solo as a photographer, sometimes i wish i had someone who could help me with equipment – especially when it is raining and i’m shooting 🙂

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: More than a particular destination, i would urge people to explore. to eschew packaged tours and to wander by themselves a bit. so many little things (bookstores, coffee shops, chaikhanas, farms, homes) even in popular places are best discovered in one’s own way. But … stay safe and enjoy every moment!

Follow Arati on Twitter – @aratikumarrao

2) MANSI PAL (http://chaiaroundtheworld.com/)Mansi Pal

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: The travel bug was genetically transferred to me by my father. Ever since my first job, my only savings have been my travel memories and not PPFs, NSCs and RDs.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: My father took me to the Andamans when I was 10 and a voice deep down told me, “Mansi! This is your Chocolate Factory.” Since then, discovering places has been a way of life for me.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: The absence of clean toilets on highways and the freedom my male counterparts enjoy – the ability to take a leak where there are no toilets without someone watching my back (no pun intended).

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: I think everyone should do the Valley of Flowers trek. It is a beautiful and strenuous experience but so worth it. 

And, if you love trains like I do and you look forward to a train journey because you love watching the shunting of train engines, make friends with the loco pilot of your train. My friends and I got talking with a local pilot during one of our train journeys and the next thing I knew, we were inside the train engine after the train started. Definitely a conversation starter for a long time.

Follow Mansi on Twitter – @mansipal

3) JYOTHY KARAT (http://jyothykarat.com/)Jyothy Karat

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Professionally, for five years.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: Photography!

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Finding clean toilets, figuring what to do with your expensive equipment when you gotta… well, go…, learning to trust strangers and most importantly learning when/who ‘not’ to trust. 

Did you just need one challenge? Oops!

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: Go scuba diving in Pondicherry. Learn to appreciate the marine eco system (or what is left of it) – that world that exists underwater which we persistently choose to ignore.

Follow Jyothy on Twitter – @jyothykarat

4) BHARTI SINGH (http://suitcaseofstories.in/)Bharti SIngh

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Since childhood.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: My father was in Indian Navy and had a transferable job. We used to move to a new city every few years. As a kid I used to look forward for the next transfer, making new friends, new school, new playgrounds etc. This love for the new and unknown stayed with me even after I grew up.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Personal safety is a big concern in India and I am always on my guard in a new place. This comes in the way of striking conversations with strangers because somewhere at the back of my mind I am too cautious. It’s not like all places are dangerous but one tends to be careful. 

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: I strongly recommend starting with your own city. Look beyond the cliches and you’ll be surprised what your own city can offer. We often get too busy with our routine and overlook what’s around us. I’ve met foreigners who know more about our cities than some locals.

Follow Bharti on Twitter – @hippyboxx

5) NICKOLAI KINNY
(http://nickolaikinny.wordpress.com/ & http://www.travelbud.in/discover.html)Nickolai Kinny

 

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Since i was 6 but solo and by myself for over 9 years now.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: Since I was 8 I knew traveling was my calling, I figured I may not always have the time or the money so I have to find a job that pays me to do it. Ever since my purpose for life was clear I did everything in my part to find that job… I graduated in tourism studies and did my masters in tourism management and decided writing was my feat and so I took up travel writing and content writing in tourism.Travel has thought me how little you need Inorder to survive in this world and also how to classify a want and a need. My idea of myself changes every time I come back from a new destination or trip…because I react in ways unknown , I am effected by experiences I would never have, had I stayed in the city and visited the mall over the weekend. So i wouldn’t call it an addiction, but more a lifestyle.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Safety is major concern and its surprising how everyone around you will bring it up more than you’ve even thought about it. People often ask if I know self defense or why and how I travel by myself. I have a standard answer for these question… I believe it’s either about how bad you want it or how bad you need it everything else in terms of safety, timing, apprehensions and planing becomes secondary because all of that can be dealt with, with a little bit of smartness, precaution and guts. I think life’s too short but also long enough to be spent exploring, learning and exposing yourself to new scenarios and avenues to have fully lived ones time on earth. 

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: I think everyone should #indiatravel to Bir in Himachal Pradesh, Badami in Karnataka and Elephant island in the Andamans.

Follow Nickolai on Twitter – @Miss_Mused

6) ANKITA MAHABIR (http://living-n-escaping.blogspot.in/)Ankita Mahabir

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Haven’t stopped since I was 18. Got my degrees and worked along the way too.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: I was born with wanderlust I think. I don’t remember a time when I was not addicted to travel, adventures and new experiences.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: It’s tough and tiring to have to think twice about your actions in certain countries. The simple act of going into a local bar and grabbing a drink is unthinkable in a lot of places. It’s frustrating to miss out on these experiences sometimes but somewhere along the way you learn to see the benefits more than the negatives. 

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: Hong Kong Islands. It’s the only place I’ve felt 100% safe and I’ved hiked and camped solo without any problems whatsoever.

Most people think of big buildings when they think of Hong Kong but that’s only a part of Hong Kong. The natural beauty and scope of outdoor activities in HK is phenomenal.

Follow Ankita on Twitter – @living_escaping

7) SHARVARI MANAKAWAD (www.youtube.com/motoreels & www.facebook.com/motoreels)Sharwari Manakawad

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: My parents have been avid travellers and nature lovers themselves. So since when have i been travelling i have no memory of, only pictures.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: I have always been fascinated with the Atlas. When I was introduced to travel, it changed me. I started actively taking initiative to find like minded travellers/motorcycle tourers and make the journey.So many unexplored places, so many unknown cultures, so many friends to make, authentic local food to try, so much to discover. You travel once and you will love it, and you will want to do it again and again.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: The challenge begins once my Helmet comes off and the culture shock kicks in (Woman Adventure Travel Motorcyclist) in India … Until then I have my #Spirit (My Yamaha) to take care of things. 

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: The scenic route between Bombay To Goa (using old Coastal Highway) that we took out of curiosity to see where would the road after Kashid lead to. We rode a hundred kms by the coast to Srivardhan, discovered Anjarle overlooking the massive Arabian sea, Aare Ware a virgin beach with thousands of migrated cranes, riding the flat plateau stretches of Ratnagiri that I like to call “Wild Wild West” and finally some authentic konkani seafood at Tarkarli before feeling all hippy at Vagator. You realise how adventurous it is when you are taking 6+ ferries as the road ends, and spot abandoned historic ruins.

Follow Sharwari on Twitter – @MissManakawad

This is the fourth post of the series ‘Indian Women Travellers’ and subsequent posts will be published on the first week of every month. If you know of other Indian women travellers or travel writers who you think should feature here, please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section.

More of us need to know about these phenomenal women and get inspired.

Cheers! 🙂

Advertisements

Indian Woman Travellers, Leading the Way into 2014 – Part 3

This is Part 3 of the monthly series featuring Indian Women Travellers. For this series, a set of questions were sent to Indian women travel bloggers with the aim of finding out a bit more about their lives and what motivated them. The underlying purpose of this series is to get more people from India and around the world to get inspired and seek out the many fantastic adventures and sights that India has to offer.

To know more about this series, please read the post – “Indian Women Travellers, Leading the Way into 2014 – Part 1”.

Featured here in Part 3 are 7 women travellers from India who have gone beyond the norms and decided to take the path less trodden.

1) ANURADHA SHANKAR (http://anushankarn.blogspot.in/)Anuradha Shankar

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Well, I have been travelling since I was a kid, but as a blogger, my journey began about 7 years ago.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: To be honest, I have loved travelling since I was a kid, always ready to accompany my many uncles to wherever they wanted to go 🙂 However, I started travelling in earnest once I got married. Since then, it has been a journey of discovery – travelling with my husband, my in-laws, my son, and alone too. The more I travel, the more places I want to go… and I have no idea when the love became an addiction!

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Safety has always been a high priority… something that has been ingrained in me since the days I started exploring Mumbai alone as a student. Looking out for warning signs and taking precautions has almost become a way of life when I am travelling alone, or even with my 10 year old son. The biggest challenge though, is interacting with people who seem to think that a woman has no right to travel alone. Sometimes it can get irritating when people get too inquisitive about my reasons for travelling by myself, or in their view ‘without my husband’. 🙂

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: There are so many places in India itself that people do not know about. Take any rural area in any part of India, and you are sure to stumble on to something interesting! Besides, there is so much to see even in the more ‘well known’ places in our country. All we need are the eyes to see the intricate details and stories hidden all over the place.

For example, Wayanad is known for its nature and adventure activities, but there are some real gems of heritage hidden all over the district! From popular to abandoned temples, ancient caves and tombs which tell stories of brave freedom fighters, there is so much to see there! The same goes for Gokarna, which is only known for its beaches and temples. However, just a bit away is Mirjan Fort, which was such a wonderful experience for us!

Follow Anuradha on Twitter – @anushankarn

2) NUPUR PRADHAN (http://tuggingtheluggage.wordpress.com/)Nupur Pradhan

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Since forever! Summer holidays were never spent at home. My parents are travel addicts and we have done some crazy road trips as a family.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: To be honest, I have no idea what got me addicted. There are so many things, so many experiences! It is so overwhelming. The freedom that comes with travel. The mind is so clutter free. I learn new things about myself during every trip. I am a pathetic swimmer but I didn’t know I could white water raft so good. I would’ve never known until I tried it. These little things have the biggest impact.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: In India the biggest challenge is lack of toilets and the cheap stares. You can never trust anyone and let your guard down. Half of the holiday time goes in thinking about all this.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: An island of Devbaug, just off Karwar. Walking is the only way around the island. It hardly get any electricity supply, its just you and the nature. The beach is absolutely beautiful and the only people around you are the guests and the resort staff. A great place to unwind!

Follow Nupur on Twitter – @tuggingdluggage

3) ELITA (http://nomadicthunker.blogspot.in/)Elita

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: With parents ever since I’ve been little. Solo since a year and a half ago.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: Sheer ecstasy of experiencing a place other than home, meeting people other than the ones I’ve known, witnessing nature in her full bloom. Plus every time I’d return back from some travel destination or another I’d realize it changed the way I saw the world around me.

Being on the go is a very different high and I’m constantly learning. I wrote something about it here: http://nomadicthunker.blogspot.in/2014/01/igosolo-what-i-learned-in-10-days.html

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: The constant stares. But then people are curious to know why you’re a lone female traveler!

And that sometimes travel-dos aren’t solo traveler (male and female) friendly (i.e., everything starts with a plan/package for 2! :-/ ).

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: While I’d actually recommend anyone to “travel for travelling’s sake”, a lesser known place I’d recommend is this little beach at Trasi (Kundapur) near Udupi in Karnataka. It’ll always be a special place not only because it was my first solo travel destination but also because it’s one of those non-touristy (read: clean) beaches meant to simply beach-bum (read: mentally check-out).

Follow Elita on Twitter – @ElleLogical

4) AMRITA DAS (http://travellingidesofmarch.wordpress.com/)Amrita Das

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Ever since I can recall. What started of as family trip, soon became solo experiences and now to a career opportunity.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: Firstly, freedom. Travelling is being free. I don’t mean it as an ‘escape’ but when we travel we are uninhibited and live in the present. That is a rare experience and travelling makes me feel absolutely alive.

Secondly, the difference in lives. In India, the lives around is keeps changing if we travel 100 kilometers (sometimes lesser) in any direction. I’m fuelled by my curiosity and always want to know people and their stories.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Acceptance. Some of us don’t need people to travel with or don’t see a need to ‘settle down’. This is what we do and it makes us very very happy. 

And clean loos, everywhere!

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: Visit Kashmir as an explorer. Get necessary permissions and go to Uri. It is remarkable how the lives around the LOC are so sensitive and so interesting. As the terrain gets tougher, you’ll feel warmer with the locals. Be prepared for it to change a little something in you. It definitely changed me in more than many ways.

Follow Amrita on Twitter – @Amrita_Dass

5) FREYA (http://blog.fatema.in/)Freya

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: By myself? I first travelled alone in 2004.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: People, places and culture, oh and food. I love talking to people, immersing myself in history and eating new stuff. 
Travel was the best way to experience more of all of this.

And while traveling I get to know myself better, I test my limits, free my mind… all of that. It’s why I enjoy traveling alone sometimes.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Nothing that sticks out really. There’s little women can’t do that men can. 

The challenge I guess was being on the guard more and taking more safely precautions because I was a woman compared to a man.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: The Rann of Kutch – it teaches you humility. You realise just how insignificant and powerless you are in the grand pattern of things.

Ladakh – The beauty nature can create puts all artists to shame. It’s a place to discover God, cause this beauty can’t be man-made.

Sorry I gave you two. Couldn’t choose. 🙂

Follow Freya on Twitter – @Freya3377

6) SUDHA GANAPATHI (http://thatandthisinmumbai.wordpress.com/)Sudhagee Sudha Ganapathi

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: It seems like always. But travel, as most people would understand it, began in after I started working in 1996.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: Addiction is a pretty strong word, especially since I consider travel as a way of life. 🙂

Having said that, travel has meant many things to me over the years. My perception of travel underwent a major shift about 5 years back, when my brothers gifted me with a digital camera, just before I left for a year-long stay to London. I did not take to the camera immediately, and it was after much nagging by them from across the seas, that I started to use it. 

That’s when I realised how photographs complemented my observations, and how I could share them with family and friends almost immediately. That was a travel-changing moment for me. These days, I rarely travel without a camera in my bag. I may not use it, but it is always there.

The best thing about travel is the unexpectedness of the journey, the destination and the thrill of living it out every moment. Much like life itself.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Though I am a woman who travels solo sometimes, I am quite uncomfortable with such a label. Like many other women, I have been travelling before this term became fashionable. 

My choice to travel solo or in a group, or with a friend or friends depends on sheer convenience and chance. I have planned group trips only to find everyone dropping out and turning my trip into a solo one. The reverse has also happened when supposedly solo trips have turned into friends joining in at the last minute. What I’m trying to say is that, for me, it is ultimately about travel and not about whether I’m travelling solo or not. 

I can’t really recall any challenges or issues that I have faced because I was travelling solo. If anything, I found that people were more helpful, once they got over the shock that I was alone. 🙂

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: Mumbai. In my opinion, there is no other place in India that is as unexplored or under-rated as this city of mine.

Beyond the usual Elephanta Caves, film stars’ bungalows, and the dirty beaches, lies the remains and remnants of a history that stretches back to over 2000 years. Most Mumbaikars are not even aware of their city’s rich heritage – the other rock-cut caves in the city, its 7 existing forts, the fantastic museums, the varying architectural styles across the city, the quaint villages, it’s vibrant art district… The list is endless.

I have lived in Mumbai for 21 years now and am still discovering something from its past, the latest being Mumbai’s own ship-breaking yard. I didn’t even know the city had one !

And that’s the thing about Mumbai. It’s heritage and history are not always in plain sight and presents a real challenge for a discerning traveller.

Follow Sudha on Twitter – @sudhagee

7) RUTAVI MEHTA (http://www.photokatha.in/)Rutavi Mehta

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: 10 years.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: Being from the profession of Hospitality and Marketing, I always travelled for work and never got opportunity to explore places. Later along with an interest in photography, I thought travel would take me to see places and make me learn different cultures, meet various people. And today while I write this, I m now working with Kerala Tourism as one of my travel project.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Travelling solo was something that I always avoided as I am one of those women who needs a partner. But then later, group travel and waiting for some made a stop in travel. My first solo trip was to Srinagar, followed by Pushkar. The only major challenge I faced in India while solo travelling is security towards woman. In India each state has different security, if you know those secrets, you are happy solo traveller.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: Sri Lanka is beautiful. Unwind yourself close to India; cheap & serene beaches; great wildlife there. 

Follow Rutavi on Twitter – @rutaagayire

This is the third post of the series ‘Indian Women Travellers’ and subsequent posts will be published on the first week of every month. If you know of other Indian women travellers or travel writers who you think should feature here, please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section.

More of us need to know about these phenomenal women and get inspired.

Cheers! 🙂

Indian Women Travellers, Leading the Way into 2014 – Part 2

This is Part 2 of the monthly series featuring Indian Women Travellers. For this series, a set of questions were sent to Indian women travel bloggers with the aim of finding out a bit more about their lives and what motivated them. The underlying purpose of this series is to get more people from India and around the world to get inspired and seek out the many fantastic adventures and sights that India has to offer.

To know more about this series, please read the post – Indian Women Travellers, Leading the Way into 2014 – Part 1.

Featured here in Part 2 are 7 women travellers from India who have gone beyond the norms and decided to take the path less trodden.

1) ANITA BORA (http://www.anitabora.com/blog/)Anita Bora

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: More than 10 years now.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: For me, it was stepping out of my comfort zone. Of trying to appreciate little things. How much we take our lives for granted is something I realised when I got to see how so many people live their lives. On half of what we have. And yet – there is so much life, colour, zest all around. I wouldn’t have known otherwise in the confines of my four walls. Travel helps me appreciate more, to see things from a different perspective. It also teaches me patience, understanding and makes me humbler. Life is one long journey. It’s not the destination that counts. But all the moments, experiences, sights and sounds in between that make it richer and fuller and for me the answer is in travel.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: I actually have not had very horrific experiences, touch wood. I do my research carefully and make sure I don’t wander around places where I shouldn’t be. I find rural India quite non-threatening actually. Cities are much scarier 🙂 Travelling in India for a woman sometimes is a pain due to the lack of rest rooms and proper toilets. Believe, it can get quite frustrating sometimes. But other than that, I’ve had great experiences so far. I am all for travelling solo. I think it gives you another perspective totally.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: Instead of that, what I’d like to recommend is that people take an effort to step out and see the world. Make the time! And when I say world, I don’t necessarily mean book themselves a flight out of the country. Sometimes, it’s just an eye opener to visit a village, a small town, stay with locals, home stays, spend a few days just taking in the sights and sounds. Don’t tick of stuff on a list. You will survive if you missed out one temple or sunset point. And don’t rush from place to place. I rarely do “touristy” sights. I try and experience every place a bit differently, sometimes I don’t even have a plan and let things evolve and always come back with great memories.

Follow Anita on Twitter – @anitabora

2) RAKHEE GHELANI (http://rakheeghelani.com/blog/)Rakhee Ghelani

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Since I was 6 months old.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: I am a curious person and just love seeing new places, exploring cultures and learning new things. I haven’t found a better way to do that, then through travel. 

I also like the freedom of travel. By stepping outside of my daily life, travel lets me break free of preconceptions and ideas.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: To be honest, I have never really thought about it as challenging. I wanted to travel and was happy to go on my own so I did. I have been travelling solo for over 15 years, to countries like Bolivia, Malaysia and Egypt, as well as India. I just make sure I am street smart.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: Every traveller is different, but my personal favourite travel destination was the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. I love seeing animals in the wild, and here the animals are fearless. It really is an incredible place.

Follow Rakhee on Twitter – @rakheeghelani

3) BHAVNA MENON (http://www.thelastwilderness.org/)Bhavna Menon

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Almost 17 years.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: In my opinion, travel in itself is an addiction! Once you start, there is no going back, however my inspiration for travelling has always been and probably always will be – wildlife. Whenever asked, I would always choose a reserve or a National park as a holiday destination.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Thankfully, I haven’t really faced a challenge as such. However as a solo traveler its always important to take the necessary precautions and travel safe.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: As a wildlife enthusiast, I would recommend people visit all the tiger reserves in our country not only because they are stupendously beautiful, but also because as Indians, it’s important to be able to appreciate our natural heritage.That apart, the North-East (Arunachal, Assam etc.) is definitely worth a visit for the sheer remoteness and pristine beauty!

Follow Bhavna on Twitter – @B_menon86

4) PARUL SHARMA (http://www.longingtravel.com/)Parul Sharma

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: On and off for an year.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: I have always loved travel. I used to dream traveling evrey weekend and then go permanent. Though responsibilities have still not given us the freedom to travel full time. This makes me crave travel even more. it is something that i try and incorporate in our lives in every way. Another reason I love traveling is the variety of food that comes with it. I love eating and have to still find a cuisine that I don’t like.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: People usually talk about feeling unsafe and not being able to travel with ease. These are a problem and they become bigger as you go to interior parts of the country.

What many miss is the lack of toilets. My biggest concern is availability of clean restrooms around the country. Most public toilets are unclean and not even worth setting foot into.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: India has been well travelled and documented over the years but still there are few places that people don’t really know about. One is the temple belt of Karnataka. If you are interested in temples and heritage do pay a visit to Pattadakal, Aihole and Badami.
Another place I would recommend is the Manas National Park t is beautiful and very close to the Bhutan border. Before we started on the GoUNESCO journey I had not heard about any one of these and I usually am quite aware of places to see.

Follow Parul on Twitter – @messreorganized

5) SNIGDHA JAIN (http://getsetandgo.wordpress.com/)Snigdha Jain

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Over 3 years.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: My first backpacking trip to Europe turned out to be much more than just a holiday. It led me on a path of constant exploration of new cultures, places, history, art, culture, people and myself (in the process).

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Convincing my family on the safety aspect of a place, keeping my guard always on and the limitation of not being able to camp solo just anywhere I want. 😦

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: There are many places and experiences that I would recommend but my favorite place till date has been Slovenia and the best experiences have been interactions and learnings from people of rural India (especially happiness in simplicity) and Cambodia (meaning of hope).

Follow Snigdha on Twitter – @traveler_budget

6) PRACHI JOSHI (http://www.deliciouslydirectionless.com/)Prachi Joshi

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Since childhood.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: My parents made it a point to take one vacation every year, so I have been used to travelling since I was a kid. I guess that has rubbed off on me as I grew older and I have tried to take a trip (or more!) every year. Discovering new places, meeting people and experiencing a different culture is quite addictive; and I can travel anywhere for good food 🙂

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Security has been an increasing concern within India…

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: If you visit touristy Venice, I’d recommend hopping onto a vaporetto and visiting the city’s cemetery island – San Michele. It’s lesser known than the other islands of Murano & Burano, but much more peaceful and really worth a visit.

I wrote about this in detail in my article for Nat Geo Traveller. Read it Here.

Follow Prachi on Twitter – @DelishDirection

7) BHAVANI RAMESH (http://merrytogoaround.com/)Bhavani Ramesh

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: I’d like to believe I’ve been traveling since I started earning but if I go with what I think travel means to me now, which is a much sharper and keener interest in my surroundings, then I would say the last few years. Though on a philosophical note aren’t we traveling from the first breath?

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: It will have to be the joy in the newness of every minute, the excitement in the complete lack of familiar and the thrill of discovery for yourself… because even if millions of people have seen the Taj, you see if for the first time, you experience it for the first time and you feel it for the first time when YOU go… and that’s completely and totally your own experience.

Also I like the fact that in travel a lot of my interests come together, almost a perfect marriage. I like books, art, culture, heritage and of course food! And you get all of that together in one complete thaali when you experience a place through it’s stories, people, monuments, streets, restaurants. It’s very wholesome, very fulfilling, very addictive.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: I don’t know if it’s only as a woman traveler anymore, but just as a woman in India… overall it doesn’t feel safe anymore. 

My biggest issue is my wavering trust in my own intuition about people… Never been strong with that, and tend to think maybe am reading too much into stares and glances, or else I err on the other extreme of ignoring it… 

But having said that, it’s good to be a woman traveller in India… people open up and tell you their stories, they want to help you, guide you and sometimes offer to carry your bags… you just need to be safe and sensible!

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: I think the quest to find the ‘new’, the ‘off-beat’ is reaching an even bigger crescendo with everyday. Every traveller wants to talk about their ‘off-beat’, and every travel site is selling you their ‘off-beat’! It’s a tiring word. We need to admit there is nothing un-travelled today in the world.

I would say discover your own backyard!

There is so much to discover in each of our own cities but we tend to ignore that. When I travel to new cities, most people are blind to their city’s beauty and mystery. That got me thinking about how much I know about Mumbai – my current city of residence. I’ve made it a conscious effort to roam around a lot more, be more observant and find those stories about the city I live in. Must say that my association with Audiocompass definitely helps, as they pay me to write stories about my city! 

Follow Bhavani on Twitter – @bhavan1

This is the second post of the series ‘Indian Women Travellers’ and subsequent posts will be published on the first week of every month. If you know of other Indian women travellers or travel writers who you think should feature here, please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section.

More of us need to know about these phenomenal women and get inspired.

Cheers! 🙂

Indian Women Travellers, Leading the Way into 2014 – Part 1

India’s image as a travel destination took a serious beating in 2013. Reports of crimes against women dominated cafeteria discussions. A general air of gloom and despair had settled over the country and even the suggestion of women venturing out alone to explore this incredible land would be considered as blasphemy. Social media platforms were abuzz with warnings, advice columns and shared stories of uncommon courage. Foreign embassies had begun issuing warnings to their citizens about the risks involved in visiting India. Some popular online magazines and websites put India into the list of the world’s most dangerous countries to visit.

Although in the midst of all this chaos, many examples of incredible strength were brought to the fore, most people probably ignored Indian women travellers. These pillars of inspiration went about sharing images that made India so alluring to the world without once mentioning the phenomenal courage that they were displaying by proving the majority wrong. Their beautifully worded stories and brilliant photographs helped resurrect confidence in the hearts of many who till then had been skeptical.

Personally, I have been moved, inspired and encouraged by these women and this post is an attempt at saluting them for who they are. It would be impossible to list every Indian woman traveller in a single post and so this will be the first of a series of posts.

For this series, a set of questions were sent to Indian women travel bloggers with the aim of finding out a bit more about their lives and what motivated them. The underlying purpose of this series is to get more people from India and around the world to get inspired and seek out the many fantastic adventures and sights that India has to offer.

This, the first part of the series, features 7 of the top women travel bloggers from India.

1) LAKSHMI SHARATH (www.lakshmisharath.com)Lakshmi Sharath

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Since childhood I guess, but officially I’ve been travelling as a travel blogger for the last eight years.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: I have always been attracted to local cultures, heritage, people and sights & sounds of a place. I have been travelling and listening to tales from grandparents who were avid travellers. That got me hooked.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Security is always a big concern and one has to be very careful that you don’t get overfriendly even when talking to locals.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: There are several. It’s tough to recommend one, but I love rustic India. You will find something interesting everywhere.

Follow Laskhmi on Twitter@lakshmisharath

2) NEHA DIXIT (http://goodtimes.ndtv.com/Ndtv-Show-Special.aspx?ID=259&?ShowID=79)Neha Dixit

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Over 3 decades.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: Travel! 🙂

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Men don’t take you seriously!!! Not that you need their approval but that’s who you deal with all the time.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: Nagaland, because India is more than camel in a desert & backwaters! 🙂

Iceland – The northern lights changed how I view the universe.

Follow Neha on Twitter@NehaDixit_GT

3) SHIVYA NATH (http://the-shooting-star.com/)Shivya Nath

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: 4 years.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: Living in Singapore and escaping to the rest of Southeast Asia, first on a student budget, then as cubicle-bound soul!

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Getting my family to accept me going solo. They still don’t feel comfortable for it, but my storytelling (story-making) skills have improved over time. 😉

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: There are so many, but Turkey is closest to my heart. This is why – http://the-shooting-star.com/2013/11/27/my-million-reasons-to-visit-turkey/

Follow Shivya on Twitter@shivya

4) ANURADHA GOYAL (http://www.anuradhagoyal.com/)Anuradha Goyal

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: 40 years.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: My love for exploration.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Confined evenings and unavailability of washrooms.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: Bihar in India.

Follow Anuradha on Twitter@anuradhagoyal

5) NEELIMA VALLANGI (http://www.travelwithneelima.com/)Neelima Vallangi

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: 4 years.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: What started out as a simple vacation to Ladakh ended with me obsessing over mountains and nature. I love the mountains, the forests, the rivers, the waterfalls and everything natural. The natural diversity of India is so varied that it took me by surprise initially. Travelling in India has been amazing and the more I travelled, the more I realized there were more and more hidden gems waiting for me to explore, even in a country as well-explored as India.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Since I like to go completely offbeat and go to places where there is little or no tourist infrastructure but amazing stories to be found, I’d have to say getting to such places itself is a big challenge – remote places where there is no place to stay and even if it’s there, it is like a ramshackle. But not going isn’t an option either, so those days are filled with awe and dread at the same time. That is my biggest challenge.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: North East, I haven’t seen a place as exotic as the north east in India yet. It’s a shame so few people know or care about those states. I once had a fellow trekker ask me where in the world “Meghalaya” was! Bountiful forests, exotic yet hospitable tribes and the most amazing views of natural beauty make NE a must-visit for the intrepid explorer.

Follow Neelima on Twitter@i_wanderingsoul

6) SUPRIYA SEHGAL (http://www.supriyasehgal.com/)Supriya Sehgal

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: 2004 onwards.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: The idea of exploring places with cultural hooks by myself. To unearth a more deep rooted vibe than a touristic one.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Not too many at all; not gender specific atleast. Sometimes hotels and cabs are apprehensive to take a solo woman in India.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: Mahe. Sandwiched between the Arabian Sea and Kerala, its a brilliant pit stop for history enthusiasts. French speaking citizens, architecture, a veritable booze/petrol stop and an unassuming fishing village on the edge of the sea… Its simple and not overwhelming at all.

Follow Supriya on Twitter@supsonthemove

7) NISHA JHA (http://www.lemonicks.com/Travel/)Nisha Jha

Q: How long have you been travelling?
A: Around 18 years.

Q: What got you addicted to travel?
A: In my childhood, father’s transferable job took me to a new place every couple of years. The joy of meeting new people & learning about their culture/ languages interested me a lot. I guess that got me hooked to travel.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you face as a solo woman traveller?
A: Not to lose my self confidence that I can go & do things all alone. I know quite a few people who don’t even have a cup of coffee alone in a restaurant.

I’ve done solo backpacking trips (note the plural) abroad and in India which ran into months and it’s a challenge to travel in an alien place without knowing the local language. As a backpacker, it multiplies. There are many factors… looking for a budgeted accommodation, decisions on the spot, safety issues, emotional issues, home sickness etc. Here I am NOT talking about pre-planned, pre-booked travels.

Q: One lesser known destination or experience that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?
A: Any destination is lesser known till you discover it yourself. 🙂

Jokes apart, can’t name of any single destination either abroad or in India.
Experience – I’ll ask the womenfolk to go solo at least once in their life. What solo means to me is planning, deciding, travelling, exploring on your own terms without taking any help from anybody…

Follow Nisha on Twitter@cemonde


As mentioned earlier in the post, this is just the first post of the series ‘Indian Women Travellers’ and subsequent posts will be published on the first week of every month. If you know of other Indian women travellers or travel writers who you think should feature here, please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section. 

Cheers! 🙂