Travel

Story-based walking tours come to Thiruvananthapuram

A view of the West Fort Gate in Thiruvananthapuram

A view of the West Fort Gate in Thiruvananthapuram   | Photo Credit: C.RATHEESH KUMAR

Storytrails introduces a story-themed walk through Thiruvananthapuram’s Fort area

There is more to a city than its sights, sounds and flavours; there is its history, culture and its day-to-day life. And offering people glimpses of these, is Storytrails, a Chennai-based business venture on culture tourism that conducts story-based walks and short tours. Storytrails, which conducts trails in Chennai, Madurai and Puducherry, will be introducing a trail in the city this Sunday.

Aditi Radhakrishnan

Aditi Radhakrishnan   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Says Aditi Radhakrishnan, who runs the city-based branch of Storytrails, with her business partner, Anil S.H.: “We are starting with a trail called ‘The Kingdom of Gods’ trail. This two-hour walk will take guests through bylanes around the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. And it will enthral you with tales of kings and queens, and of gods, goddesses and ghosts. The trail also traces the evolution of social customs and practices in Kerala. We visit the Amma Veedus, go to a dance school, and go past a couple of temples…as we cover stories that span 2,000 years.”

A company that began 10 years ago, Storytrails, “is not a sightseeing tour per se. Our trails don’t attempt to show you tourist landmarks in the city. Unlike sightseeing tours, these curated trails focus on stories behind everyday sights and are a means to showcase the local way of life to visitors.…,” says Vijay Prabhat Kamalakara, founder of Storytrails.

And so, with the help of ‘story tellers’, and using “scripted” stories as a medium, the story tellers take tourists and residents on specially curated trails to explore life in the city. “It’s like walking down the streets with a local friend who can weave in the history, myths and fascinating trivia so that you can develop an understanding and a connection with the city,” he says.

The stories, says Vijay, need not only come from history. A local custom or an everyday ritual can often hide fascinating stories. “Our stories cover a wide-range of subjects — history, mythology, architecture, dance, food, jewellery, mysticism... And we find that there is a large segment of travellers who appreciate these local insights and are keen to soak in the unique flavours of each city, going beyond the usual tourist landmarks. We will be gradually adding trails in Thiruvananthapuram. Up next, is a Spice Trail that will be introduced shortly.”

Each trail is based around a theme and path, so it’s not one particular neighbourhood that is showcased. Instead, each trail takes one through places and experiences that are relevant to the theme. “The stories may not explain everything you see around you, but they will at least get you thinking, about why we do the things we do. Why do we wear a bindi? Why do we ring a bell in the temple? There is always more than one story to everything we see. Our work is to uncover a layer, and dig out such stories...,” says Vijay.

The Kingdom of Gods trail is available daily from July 15. The trails are available in the morning at 8 am and in the evening at 4 pm. Those interested in joining in the trail can register online at www.storytrails.in.

Diary of a storyteller

Akila with a group of visitors during the Peacock trail

Akila with a group of visitors during the Peacock trail   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Akila Raman has been a story teller with Storytrails for the last 10 years. A former history professor, she will be leading the Kingdom of Gods trails’ first few sessions. However, she doesn’t make up stories or narrate only mythological tales. “Whatever we present, we present in the form of a story, for all said and done a story stays longer in your head. It could be something scientific like how to build a gopuram, which we present in a fun way.”

A lot of research goes into each trail, she adds. “And we are also on a constant lookout for new stories and how best to deliver them.”

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 4:45:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/explore-thiruvananthapuram-like-never-before/article24351090.ece

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