Go Trotting! with Anuradha Goyal
Anuradha Goyal, is an Innovation consultant by profession, a travel blogger and a book reviewer by passion. She has been blogging for eight and a half years now and as of today writes three blogs regularly – Innovation, Travel and Book Reviews – Photography being an intrinsic part of travel writing. At the moment Hyderabad is home to her, but this is the 14th city to be called so.
What is the best part of traveling in India?
India is so diverse in every sense of word that there is never a dearth of surprises. Even when you visit the areas you think you know well, there are some aspects waiting to surprise you. There are so many dimensions that one can explore and one lifetime is not enough to explore even one completely. Mystery wrapped in its layers of history, in the multitude of its cultures and different hues of nature make it a land that you can explore for the rest of your life and that is what keeps many travelers going.
Tell us about your most memorable travel experience in India?
Visiting Bihar was an eye opening, perspective-changing experience. Not only it has rich history and culture, birthplace to many religions but it is also a beautiful state. The monuments there were some of the best maintained and I found most of them very clean, roads were decent (at least in the parts I visited), people very simple and still very rooted in Indian ethos and food was a discovery. Trip to North East India was also special as it connected me to that psychologically cut off part of India. In fact after the trip I have a strong feeling that tourism exchange can do wonders in terms of creating a channel between what is known as mainland India and North East India.
Have you been to any place while traveling where the people made a distinct impression on you?
I would again say Bihar and North East, where the consumerism is yet to standardize people. Each person has his or her own views based on their experiences. In both the places people were simple and reminded me that simplicity is all we need in today’s complicated world.
In general during travels, we get to meet people whom we would not meet otherwise and each of these interactions has the potential to open up a new world for you.
What has been your favorite culinary experience?
Being a Pakka vegetarian limits my culinary experiences in most places. Having said that, Indore and Ahmadabad in India are a vegetarian’s Mecca, the street food in both the places is amazing.
Which is your absolute favorite place to visit in India? And why?
I love Madhya Pradesh, for the rich heritage it has, and the fact that its tourist’s places are not big bad cities and they retain the old world charm without the modern world congestion. In fact if there were only one thing you can see in India, I would recommend Kandariya Mahadev Temple at Khajuraho. I remember visiting that temple at night, during the day and then early morning when the temple was bathing in first rays of sun and it had a strange mesmerizing impact on me that will stay with me forever.
Which are your top three destinations in India?
I am slightly biased towards art, history & culture, so:
- Chandela Temples at Khajuraho
- Chola temples in and around Tanjore
- Arunachal Pradesh for the sheer Nature, colorful flowers & lovely people
Tell us about the places you have been to which is off the beaten track.
Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and NE India can be called off beat. But the most off beat places that I have done are small villages that are centers of excellence in themselves like Khurja in UP that makes Potteries, Amroha that makes Tablas and Dholaks, Cherial in Andhra that makes Cherial paintings, Bishnupur in West Bengal which is an art mart with its own weaving style, terracotta temples and conch shell carving techniques.
What do you always take with you when you are on a trip?
Only essential thing to be carried each time is my sense of curiosity and my camera. I do not like to travel with too many gadgets as I travel to be in the place I am visiting, rather than physically being there and mentally back in the same world.
What was your most recent travel experience? And where do you want to go next?
My last travel was Chola Temple trail in Tamil Nadu where I travelled from Chennai to Trichy via Mahabalipuram, Chidambaram, Gangaikondacholapuram, Darasuram and Tanjore. It was an education in Chola temple architecture and art forms like Chola bronzes.
I want to go to at least one new state out of the few that I am yet to visit this year. Which one, I am yet to plan.
How does travel affect you as a person?
It expands me, widens my horizon, it makes me feel one with people in places far and wide. I always say that I go to see a different land but I always come back finding a lot of similarities.
Any advice for those planning their dream trip to India?
Just go with open heart and mind, there are many mysteries in this ancient land with many layers of history, art, culture, and nature hidden in it. Choose a small region based on your interest and time available and see that thoroughly, do not tire yourself by running across the length & breadth of the country. Do meet the local people, beyond those in the travel business, and if possible eat at a local’s home.
Which places would you recommend for someone coming to India for the first time?
Totally depends on what they are seeking. But I would want them to see some of our world heritage sites to get a flavor of the heritage and natural expanse.
What was your favorite souvenir from India?
I buy books from places I visit that you would not get in regular bookstores – online or offline that get added to my library as a souvenir of the trip.
Any packing advice to first time travelers to India?
India or anywhere, travel as light as possible.
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