Kavya Saxena is on a solo road trip to promote village tourism

Kavya Saxena  

After 12 months and countless miles of travelling solo, Kavya Saxena is richer by innumerable friends, unmeasurable kindness from people and the knowledge that busts myths about Indian highways being unsafe. The one thing that she wants to speak about the most is about tourism in India.

Ever since she started her journey in September 2020, Kavya has been touring the countryside of India on a Mahindra Scorpio S11 to understand life away from online deliveries, high-end grocery stores and high-speed routers. She says, “I want to tell people that tourism in India is not just about seeing Indian cities, shopping for curios at premium handicraft boutiques, beach holidays or beautiful viewpoints atop a hill or mountain.”

Kavya has travelled to almost all Indian states except Maharashtra and wants to focus on travelling to villages, where travellers can experience first hand, the life of our farmers and learn about their food, crafts and crops. For this, she draws upon her extensive experience as corporate HR personnel for over 10 years with companies like Indian oil, Tree of Life Hotels & Resorts, Vajor.

Kavya Saxena shares her experience from Arunachal Pradesh

Kavya Saxena shares her experience from Arunachal Pradesh  

“I want to take people on a journey of the craft to understand the ecosystem, geography and the raw process of the craft. Also, I am fascinated by homes in rural India. The architecture, planning and materials used is the knowledge that is passed down from their ancestors. This is followed by the food they eat — the real Indian food that comes from one’s farm and not from a grocery store. There is a lot to learn about slow and conscious living. Indian villages are a treasure trove of cultural heritage in the true sense.”

As regards to highways and women travelling alone, Kavya says she found people extremely helpful and forthcoming, even when she did not know the native language of the state. She observed that people in villages are either very forthcoming or they completely shut you out. “There is no in-between in their communication. It is either black or white,” she adds.

Most of the people, especially artisans, she met stay in touch with her on the phone. They share pictures of their art with her she about her travels. A delighted Kavya says, “Technology has kept us integrated. During my first month I didn’t bother to take notes so I have lost a few contacts . My strongest bonds were made in Nagaland, Arunachal and Odisha.”

The grass work craft from Odisha

The grass work craft from Odisha  

Explaining why she focuses so much on handicrafts, she says, “I love handmade stuff, always have and always will. I grew up around rangrez (traditional dyers) so crafts have always been my mainstay.” Using the popular Hindi idiom, ghar ki murgi daal barabar, Kavya says it is funny how a State’s native crafts still evoke curiosity within that State. “When I put up a post of silver filigree jewellery from Cuttack, I was surprised to see many queries from within Odisha.

Kavya has always enjoyed travelling. She recalls, “Growing up in Jaipur, my love to explore and learn comes from my trips as a child, with family. In my adult years, while in Delhi I used to mostly use my weekends to travel to nondescript locations.” As she playfully puts it, “being on the move has been the only constant.’ So when she decided to take a sabbatical from corporate life last year (2020), it seemed like a natural transition.

She recollects “The circular city life hit me hard when I spent the entire lockdown in my Gurgaon flat. I loved the luxuries but I was worried about pay cuts. With people losing jobs, I was worried how I could afford such a lifestyle. I learnt much later that we actually need less to feel fulfilled.”

Yet her solo journey was no impulsive, spur of the moment decision; it took months and years of planning, reviewing and working out a final plan that would sustain her mentally, physically and “most importantly, financially. Since this is not a sponsored trip, I am dependent on my savings for the journey,” she says. She has spent ₹ 5 lakhs so far.

This solo journey is not her only venture, she is also a motorsport enthusiast who had participated and won the Royal Rajasthan Rally in 2015 . After extensively touring West Bengal, Northeast and currently in Odisha, Kavya says she might go back for another Northeast trip.

Despite all the adventure, Kavya says nomadic life is not fanciful. It is taxing and if one plans to do a solo road trip, she/he should learn a few basic mechanical repairs. “Best will be to begin with, tyre change,” she says.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 4:31:39 PM |

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