Go Trotting! with Charukesi Ramadurai
Charukesi Ramadurai is a freelance writer and photographer living in Bangalore. She got introduced to blogs very early and has been blogging for over 9 years now.
What is the best part of traveling in India?
Definitely the friendliness of people wherever I go – even as a single traveler, I have never felt unsafe anytime (though I manage to not do foolish things when I travel alone). People in India are greatly curious about others and it really helps if you open up a bit about yourself and your life / family back home. I love exchanging stories with locals – and also (very important!) get their recommendations on what to do off the beaten track, where to eat that is untouristy and so on. The other great part about traveling in India is the variety of experiences – every trip can be special and unique.
Tell us about your most memorable travel experience?
This has to be the two weeks my husband and I spent in Ladakh a couple of years ago. I have always wanted to do the road trip from Manali to Leh but since this was before the season began, the mountain passes were not open and we had to fly into Leh. But what a wonderful experience that was! Flying right above snow covered mountains and landing on a narrow strip in Leh. We did explore the region a bit, taking trips to the two most famous high altitude lakes Pangong and Tso Moriri but a lot of the time we spent walking around in the Leh market or chatting with other travelers at our lovely guesthouse away from the city center. I cannot exactly say what was special about this trip – perhaps it was a combination of many things – the landscape, the people, the absolute peace and quiet (I did mention that we went before the tourist season – highly recommended because in peak season, it is filled with tourists).
What has been your favorite culinary experience?
There are several – I try local food wherever possible – but one of my best experiences is having a home-cooked Sikkimese meal in Gangtok. We were staying at this lovely guesthouse (more like a homestay) and the lady of the house made an absolutely delightful dinner for us. Topped off with Chang, the local miller beer, that remains one of my most memorable culinary experiences in India.
Which is your absolute favorite place to visit in India? And why?
I have quite a few favourites – Ladakh, of course, which I have already mentioned. Also Hampi in Karnataka, where every corner in every temple has a story to tell; the brown barren landscape makes Hampi seem even more grand and awesome. Mcleodganj, the home of the Dalai Lama, is another favourite, a place I can visit again and again. I also love Kerala, Rajasthan (the usual suspects) and anywhere in the Himalayas.
Tell us about the places you have been to which is off the beaten track.
I would mention here the 8th century temples built by the kings of the Chalukya dynasty in North Karnataka. They are considered to be the starting point for South Indian temple architecture. Although people travel to nearby Hampi by the dozens, few are even aware of the existence of these temple towns – Badami, Aihole and Pattadakkal. As a result, my friends and I had them more or less to ourselves when we visited, and were able to spend hours in photography there.
How does travel affect you as a person?
I find that the more I travel, the more open I get for new experiences and for having my preconceptions questioned and even destroyed.
Any advice for those planning their dream trip to India?
Read up as much as you can and having done that, be prepared to be surprised. Your India experience may be nothing like you read about or expected. So for that, be open to new experiences, some of which may be rather uncomfortable (or unfamiliar) at first! If on your first trip, try to stick to a few places or one region, rather than try to cover the length and breadth of this vast country.
Which places would you recommend for someone coming to India for the first time?
Usually first timers stick to what is known as the golden triangle – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – this gives a great introduction to some of the best experiences that India has to offer. If you have the time, extend it to more of Rajasthan or somewhere in the Himalayas. I also highly recommend Kerala and the temple towns of Tamilnadu (Madurai and Thanjavur especially) and Madhya Pradesh, which has a lot to offer – Khajuraho, Orchha, Mandu.
Read more about Charukesi or connect with her here: