Neeharika’s trip of a lifetime

City-based Neeharika Satyavada is this year’s ‘Kerala Blog Express’ winner

April 17, 2018 11:41 am | Updated 11:41 am IST - Hyderabad

A travel blogger who loves her off grid road trips, Hyderabad’s Neeharika Satyavada was the only Indian who won Kerala Blog Express this year, an annual bloggers campaign organised by the Kerala Department of Tourism in the state.

Every year 30 bloggers from across the world are chosen to go on a two week road trip in Kerala and this year, in its 5th edition there were bloggers from 28 countries and Neeharika was the one chosen to represent India.

Interestingly, Neeharika took up photography only a couple of years earlier which then lead her to start her blog, Map in my Pocket , while still pursuing a full time job as a digital strategist for a camera retailer. She confesses that she was thrilled when she learnt that she was the only person chosen from India and adds, “I hadn’t been to Kerala earlier and there couldn’t be a better way to start exploring this land known for Mother Nature’s abundance than on a road trip that covered the entire length of the state from the south to the north. Add to that, the opportunity to meet fellow bloggers from so many countries and the fact that I was the only one chosen from our country; I was excited me was and proud too.”

The 30 bloggers toured the length and breadth of the picturesque state for two weeks with all the logistics taken care of. This city-based travel writer and photographer puts her experience in a nutshell when she calls it a trip of a lifetime and shares, “It was a great learning experience in terms of the exposure that I gained travelling with such a diverse group and being on the go all the time with a schedule that demanded we beach hop, savour local food, immerse ourselves in the local culture and heritage, interact with the press and the hotels that were hosting us, all in the span of a day. It was a one of a kind experience.”

In a world when online bloggers are the new celebrities, social media influencers do have a challenging time as one needs to be logged in all the time. Passion is the key here and Neeharika admits that it takes a lot of work to be constantly reinventing and bringing something new with each new post on her blog. She adds, “Blogging isn’t your regular nine to five job that chose you. It is a job that you choose yourself, fully aware that there won’t be any returns either monetary or otherwise till you are well established in your niche. You decide for yourself the timings, the rules, the work, the deadlines even. So, yes it does take a lot of work. You are responsible for doing everything yourself from creating the content to the design and SEO of your blog to the social media promotion. That means you are never off the job. But then you are doing only what you love and voluntarily chose and doing it exactly the way you want to.”

Photography has moved from a niche career to being a sought after profession in the past couple of years so is it difficult to bring something new to each picture to be ahead of the curve? “No, it’s not” asserts this mentee of the legendary Raghu Rai before adding, “Life is an inspiration in itself. Photography to me is less about the technicality and more about what you see and the story that you want to tell, so there is always something to shoot and moments to capture.”

Neeharika calls her recent trip to Kerala extremely different from any she has taken so far and explains, “Usually when I travel I pack my itinerary with things that interest me. I always make it a point to visit an artisan village, an ancient temple or even take the scenic route to stop for shooting landscapes. But when you are on a press trip for bloggers then the stops you make are also oriented towards opportunities for Instagrammable content and not necessarily photo stories. Again, that is inevitable when you are travelling in a group, because 30 people would be interested in 30 different things. But that is what will add beauty and dimension to the content that will eventually come out of the Kerala Blog Express.”

A winner of Telangana State Tourism Award for heritage photography, the next trip on this photographer’s bucket list is either a month of volunteering in the Spiti Valley or the great lakes trek in Kashmir.

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