This week we have a special guest post by Krishna Ganatra from Happy Travelling Girl, an organization dedicated to making traveling a safe reality for women. They share with us their top trips for travelling solo in India.
I was reclining at one of the pillars at Vitthal Temple in Hampi. We had been cycling since morning and, being peak season, Hampi was packed with travellers, tourist and school children. My travel buddy, Megha, and I had been in town three days and had been feeling the odd sensation of being strangers in our own country.
Everyone, especially school children, was fascinated by us. Two hippie Indian girls alone and clad in bandanas and cargo pants was indeed a rare scene. From the uncomfortable stares, to guys asking for pictures with us, to kids asking us which country were we from, to a local drunk guy asking a fellow traveller to get us to his restaurant at night to party, Hampi was an experience I could never forget. But it forced me to consider how and why I was considered as a foreigner in my own country and why female travelers are such a rarity.
Being an Indian, I am well aware of the issues a woman faces when she decides to travel solo. Most of us are faced with a curious question from strangers as well as our near and dear ones: “Why would you want to travel solo”. Nonetheless solo travel is picking up in India and so is female travel. Women in India are now traveling to explore new places as well as themselves, though solo travel as a concept if fairly new for other people to understand in India.
Initially I faced many issues and objections from my family to pursue it, the core reason being my safety. Given the reported rape cases, indeed my parents were concerned, but gradually they understood it. I believe safety is more about your mindset. Every country has many good people and handful of bad and India is no different.
So while I roam around exploring the country freely, I have also taken up the responsibility of ensuring that I travel cautiously and safely. Here are a few quick tips that I would like to share with all the women travellers who wish to explore India solo!
1) Do your research about the place you wish to explore
Before you travel, get thorough research done, plan your road map. India is a diverse country in terms of people, culture and even travel. You would find everything here including mountains, deserts, beaches, wildlife, backwaters, adventure opportunities and the most important one being spirituality. Thus, before planning your travel, think which experience you would like to soak yourself in.