While we are all stuck at home in what seems to be a never-ending lockdown, we thought to revive your wanderlust by sharing some of the most stunning travel adventures taken in India!
To provide you with expert-led advice on road trips and everything traveling – food, cuisine, culture, stays, experiences etc., we are excited to announce the Savaari Traveler of the Month series! We’ll feature one popular traveler and share their travel stories, favourite offbeat destinations and must-try regional cuisines, secret travel hacks and budget trip ideas amongst others. After all, who better to share travel advice and pro-tips than seasoned travellers who have travelled the length and breadth of the country!
This April, our traveller of the month is Ms. Divyakshi Gupta, popularly known as The Quirky Wanderer, the first Indian travel blogger to be interviewed by WordPress Discover! She has kindly taken time out of her blogging schedule and shared some delightful insights on traveling. In case you didn’t know, her travel content has been published in NatGeo Traveller, JetWings Magazine, Lonely Planet Magazine, Go Getter Magazine, Gulf Life Magazine and Air Asia’s Travel Sixty Magazine!
1. You’re an MBA. Yet you waved goodbye to your corporate life and ventured into traveling full-time. What is it that inspires you to travel?
Traveling for me is collecting stories and experiences that shape me as a human. To travel is to learn and to grow. It is therapeutic as well as a great teacher. Each and every place has something to give you and you unknowingly give back something to that place.
2. We are really curious about your domestic travel adventures. How many states have you traveled in the country?
I primarily have travelled in India and advocate India travel strongly. Thanks to my love for road trips, I have travelled to several states in my car. Apart from Maharashtra where I live, I have traveled to Gujarat, Goa, MP, Karnataka, Andhra, TN, Kerala, Pondicherry, Diu, Odisha, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi, UP, Himachal, Uttaranchal, Kashmir, Ladakh, Andamans and Sikkim. Have to explore the North East!
3. Can you share some of your travel hacks with us?
- I always strike up conversations with locals to discover the lesser explored side of a place.
- Visiting local markets is a great way to discover the local culture!
- I also try to sign up for a walk with a local to see their city from their eyes.
- If you love photography, wake up early to photograph the place without crowds.
4. While most of us love taking trips, we are constrained by resources. How do you plan a budget trip?
I book my tickets and accommodation in advance, scouting for offers and deals on aggregator sites. This is something that really saves money. I prefer staying in homestays, the authentic ones giving a rustic, real experience. I try to plan my trips in the off-season.
5. You’ve traveled extensively in India. What are your top 5 destinations?
I am a firm believer of the statement that one lifetime isn’t enough to explore the whole India. The country always amazes me with the kind of distinct experiences that one can get without burning a hole in their pocket.
- Sikkim: Sikkim is a delight for nature lovers, road trippers and mountain junkies. North Sikkim with hamlets like Lachen, Lachung and Yumthang are straight out of a postcard.
- Shekhawati: Ornate havelis with intricate architecture are scattered across unpretentious villages giving you a non-touristy vibe.
- Andamans: Andamans is so much more than Havelock and Neil. The trip to Baratang island through the mangroves to the limestone caves is so underrated. There are evergreen forests in Chidiya Tapu where I have seen the most enormous Tithpok trees. Jolly Buoy island is another gem where one can snorkel to see diverse corals and marine life.
- Southern forests of Annamalai, Parambikulam and Valparai: These lie on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which boasts of south west ghats and a diverse fauna and flora. While people flock to Kodaikanal, a trip to Valparai instead is a great option to stay in tea gardens and see the Nilgiri Tahr up close.
6. Trying local cuisines is as much a part of a trip as sightseeing. What are some food recommendations on your favourite road trip destinations?
- Have real Punjabi food when in Punjab (beyond paneer and chicken) which is made in Punjabi households – Pindi chole, Shalgam and Aloo wadi.
- Authentic UP cuisine: Pumpkin sabzi of Mathura, Nimona made of peas in Varanasi.
- Coffee of Kumbakonam, Chettinad cuisine in Tamil Nadu and Ghee roast dosa of Coimbatore.
7. Have you ever fallen in love on the roads?
I have fallen in love with trees that whiz by, with children who wave at passing cars, with farmers toiling on fields, with the skies that change colour, with landscapes that keep changing their apparel. I fall in love every single time I hit a road, in India. 🙂
8. What are the next 5 destinations on your bucket list?
- Pragpur belt of Himachal
- Explore the architecture of West Bengal through its havelis and terracotta temples
- Nagaland for Dzukou valley
- The heritage belt of MP (Orchha, Gwalior, Shivpuri)
10. Your favourite regional cuisine and where did you try it?
- I love Himachali cuisine that you get in homestays and Dhabas, especially the Dhaam
- Authentic Rajasthani food like Ker Sangri served in local eateries
- Sikkimese food with nettle soup and ferns
11. What is your craziest travel adventure?
Walked in the deep jungles of Jim Corbett at dusk and lost my way!
12. What motto do you live by when travelling?
Do it now so you don’t regret it later.