Travel

All aboard for adventure

Some of the intrepid travellers of Appooppanthaadi on their maiden trip to Kurishumala and Rosemala Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement



It was literally a walk on the wild side for a bunch of women with a yen for adventure. That perhaps explains why the intrepid travellers of ‘Appooppanthaadi,’ a new, city-based forum for women bitten by the travel bug, made their way to scenic Aryankavu, trekked the road less taken up into the wilds of Kurishumala nearby, then traversed off-road into the jungle, where several close encounters awaited.

“We named the group Appooppanthaadi for a reason. Just like our namesake, the milkweed that flits about where the wind takes it, we all dream of travelling wherever wanderlust takes us,” says Sajna Ali, a 29-year-old software engineer in Technopark and a keen solo traveller.

No surprise that the idea for the women-only travel group came from Sajna herself. “I’ve been a travel enthusiast ever since I made a solo trip to Odisha, four years ago, after a couple of friends pulled out at the last minute from a long-planned trip. I found that travelling solo was liberating; I didn’t have to stick to schedules; I could go wherever I wanted to, I could stop and eat anytime I wanted to or not take a break to eat... Since then, I’ve been to all across South India, from Dhanushkodi and Gandikotta to Pattadakkal and Udupi, all by myself. I blog about my experiences [Solo Traveller’s Diary] and people keep asking me to take them along on my next trip. I have found that there are a lot of women who dream of travelling but something or the other is holding them back. This group is essentially a platform to help them explore their dream destinations,” says Sajna.

She put up fliers about the trip online and inside Technopark. Soon, enquiries flooded in and just like that Appooppanthaadi was up and running, with several women, from different walks of life – techies, students, homemakers, professionals and the like, from the city, Kollam and even Muvattupuzha, signing up for a bit of fun.

Bindu Meher P.M., a 46-year-old human resources executive in Technopark, was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon.

“I’ve always been the outdoors type and am one among the few women to have climbed Agasthyakoodam. I’m a cancer survivor. I enjoy travelling, especially to destinations where you can be one with nature, but no one was willing to take me. I was very excited to hear about the trip and signed up immediately. We were all strangers but like-minded strangers. We formed a Whatsapp group to get to know each other before the journey,” says Bindu.

Sajna planned the trip; charting the route, arranging pickups and drop offs, jeeps for off-roading, guides, breakfast and lunch... “It took a fair bit of organisation, particularly to pick everyone up from the respective houses or pre-arranged spots and finding good places to eat along the way,” she says.

“For some women it’s the fear of travelling alone that puts them off, while some don’t travel because they can’t visualise the destination as package. For others it might be due to financial constrains.

“There’s a solution to all that in our women-only travel group. For example, if someone can’t afford their share of the cost of the trip, we can all pitch in and they can pay us back at their leisure,” she adds.

Eventually, eight women made it for the maiden one-day trip to Kurishumala and into the forest at Rosemala too, to get a panoramic view of the Thenmala Dam reservoir, cocooned by verdant hills.

“We may have met as strangers but we travelled as a family. We all hit it off right from the word go. There was much fun and camaraderie,” says Neelima O.G., a student of Travancore Medical College, Kollam, who came along for the trip with her friend and college-mate, Jasna. “I love to travel but safety and security are a main concern. But when you are travelling with other women it’s like safety in numbers, a sort of a safety net which also gives you the strength/courage to explore your dreams, knowing that the others will be looking out for you. For instance, there was no defined path up to Kurishumala and we each had to find our own way up but the others were always only a call away, especially when some of us encountered a couple of bison! Fortunately, the bison ran away,” she adds, with a laugh.

The Appoopanthaadis have already chalked out their next trip. Next month, they’ll be hitting the road to Chikamagalur, Karnataka, home to coffee estates and bounteous nature, via the ancient towns of Belur and Halebidu, home to splendorous 12th century architecture of the Hoysala Empire. The adventure continues…

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2021 1:09:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/travel/appooppanthaadi-an-allwomen-travel-group-from-thiruvananthapuram/article8585058.ece

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