Readers’ Responses | Travel Dreams of the Forever Young

Recapping the thrills of youthful journeys, from getting lost in new neighbourhoods and connecting with strangers to cross-border backpacking.

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Our readers share their fondest memories of impromptu college trips. Photo By: Gorkhe1980/Shutterstock

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Soaked in South Bombay

In my first year of college, I travelled to Bombay, and by the end of our second year, COVID-19 had entered our lives. It was raining the day we took a cab to South Bombay to see Marine Drive. We got to the place around 6 p.m. and decided to enjoy the view from the promenade. As soon as I crossed my legs and sat down, a huge wave of water swept over me and left me drenched. I needed an immediate change of clothes so we walked over to the nearby street market to buy some. I left my phone with my friends while I changed into new clothes in a street market bathroom I found (with great difficulty). I came out only to find them gone, along with my phone, perhaps assuming I would eventually catch up to them. I spent another 20 minutes panicking about getting lost in a new city with no wallet or phone until I was able to join my crew again.

—Ada Kohli, New Delhi

 

Far from home in Uttarakhand

In February 2020, I was in Uttarakhand, worlds away from my home in Trinidad. I had made good friends while studying in Dehradun, and one night, I left with a few of them for a trek to Nag Tibba. We left in the wee hours of dawn, stopped for breakfast at a bus stop and headed to Pantwari, a village from where we commenced our trek. After helping one of my friends who had taken ill, we lost track of our guides and spent hours trekking until we encountered another base camp, where a kind stranger offered to direct us back to our designated camp.

—Shivani Elisa Deonarine, Trinidad and Tobago

 

Bengaluru to Benaras, by way of Jhansi

My batchmates and I were returning to Benaras from Bengaluru’s Christ University where we had travelled to represent our alma mater. Because we did not manage to get a ticket on a direct train, we had to break our journey for eight hours in Jhansi, which turned out to be the “break” of our lives. We got off the train at Jhansi and waited around for dawn, left our luggage in the cloakroom, took a quick shower in the railway restrooms and were off. Upon discovering that we were at the border of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, we decided to visit Orchha fort. It was winter and the fort appeared magical in that weather. It all seems like a breeze now but, at the time, it seemed like a crazy plan had come to life.

—Palak Sarkar, Kolkata

 

A beach to call our own in Tarkarli

In 2006, I went on a college trip to Tarkarli in Maharashtra with 20 of my college mates. Overnight, we booked a tempo and randomly decided on this destination. We had no smartphones, and the only search function we knew was “to ask around”.

When we reached our destination at 2:30 a.m., the place was completely dead. Somehow, in the dark, we found the beach and slept under the stars. We woke up drenched from an early morning tide. Having happily gorged on eggs and chai at a cycle vendor, we managed to find a beach villa that was basically an empty house with two rooms and one large common room. There were some bedsheet hammocks tied up in between coconut trees in front of the house, which served as our own private beach garden. We ate at the back of a fishmerman’s house, strolled on the cleanest beach, drank the freshest coconut water and recounted ghost stories at night. Nothing from that trip made sense or had any purpose, but it still stands out like the clear blue water and silver stars from that day.

—Anukriti Som, Bengaluru

 

Readers’ Response | Travel Dreams of the Forever Young 1

The Nag Tibba campside is a short four-hour drive from Dehradun. Photo By: Ultimate Travel Photos/Shutterstock (top);

 

Grounded in Goa

In 2006, we travelled for a national collegiate event to Mangalore from Kolkata. At Margao in Goa, we were supposed to change trains but, because we had mistakenly booked the wrong tickets, we were unable to do so. Luckily, we were able to arrange for general tickets for a train to Udupi next morning. That night, 40 of us spent the night on the platform. I remember sleeping quite well. Next morning, we took one of the most breathtakingly scenic rail routes through the Western Ghats, feasting on the natural beauty of Dudhsagar waterfalls in its full glory.

—Alokananda Nath, Berlin

 

Backpacking across South Asia

For our graduation, we gave ourselves the best present: a backpacking trip in South Asia. The plan was to visit as many countries as possible until we ran out of money. We spent three months in India, and almost one month in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar each, before the pandemic got us evacuated back to Europe. We visited more than 20 cities in eight different states in India. We slept in people’s homes, spoke some Hindi, ate coriander, chapati, lots of raita and paneer butter masala, travelled hundreds of kilometres by train, learned to ride a scooter, visited lovely beaches and mountains, local farms, ancient temples, big cities and small conservative villages, where we learnt about Indian traditions.

—Martin and Lexy, Bulgaria

 

Freewheeling in Puducherry

I was studying in Chennai in 2019 when I took off to Puducherry for Christmas. Nine of us hopped on a bus to the place booking a villa along the way, hardly believing that the trip was indeed happening. Between long walks along cobbled streets, laidback café meals and the blissful Auroville, two days blew past in a jiffy. No planned trip would’ve been this fun.

—Trinetra Paul, Kolkata

 

Restless in Rajasthan

I remember travelling with my college friends to Rajasthan for a New Year’s holiday. After a memorable train journey, we reached Jaipur and went to see the City Palace and Jantar Mantar. The next morning, we went on a safari in Ranthambore where we didn’t spot any tigers but still enjoyed ourselves. That night, we let our hair down with good food, a bonfire and plenty of dancing.

—Runesh Ghag, Mumbai

 

Losing our way in the hills

In 2002, my friends and I boarded a train from Mumbai to Delhi and then hit the road for a ride towards the hills. We had made no bookings at all. In Delhi, we struggled to find a car for hire. My friend’s parents let us borrow their car and driver and finally we were off for a beautiful journey along Pathankot-Dalhousie-Khajjiar-Chamba-Dharamsala-McLeodganj-Palampur-Baijnath-Manali. In Dalhousie, the mountains were majestic, and we sang songs and sipped rum at night, swathed in moonlight and a cool breeze. The next day, our trip took us past the saucer-shaped meadows of Khajjiar and the town of Chamba; we were hoping to reach Dharamsala by the evening. But we lost our way after Chamba and managed to find Dharamsala only late in the night. We zeroed in on a cosy place to crash for the night and woke up to mesmerising views of snow clad peaks in the morning.

—Swapnil Jadhav, Pune

 

Readers’ Response | Travel Dreams of the Forever Young

Dudhsagar Railway Bridge sports spectacular views of the majestic Falls. Photo By: Von rohitnair.photos/Shutterstock

 

Gujarat’s tiny rustic hideaway

 In February, when the weather across India is ideal for travel, three city girls from Vadodara, Kolkata and Jabalpur, grabbed the bus to Idar, Sabarkantha, Gujarat. After a 45-minute drive we reached a quaint village called Narshinpura. We spent four days there, walking and cycling through the lush corn and potato fields. In the evening, we tasted fresh milk tea straight from the cowshed. We also spent our allowance on souvenirs from the colourful wood-craft shops of Idar’s Kharadi Bazaar. I’m sure I gained a few calories. What does one expect after gorging on theplas with butter and chaas?

—Shatabdi Dass, Jabalpur

 

Manali to Srinagar in strange company

I was doing a summer mandatory internship for my master’s course in clinical psychology when I chanced upon a travelling community and their itinerary for a circuit trip from Manali to Leh and then Srinagar. Soon I was on a bus to Manali with 20-25 strangers, ambling around Mall Road, tasting siddu for the first time, enjoying live music in a place called Sunshine Café. For the next few days, we went to several scenic destinations around the Himalayas. Our last stop at Srinagar included a shikara ride across the Dal Lake. I am 22 and hanging around strangers, who were all almost 30, was a life-changing experience and a great way to prove to my family that I could handle myself quite well on my own.

—Radhika Gupta, Gurgaon

 

Storming into Kodaikanal

Worried for my safety, my parents never let me travel by myself, so my pal and I lied about a sleepover at a friend’s and travelled from Chennai to Kodaikanal instead. Only two days ago, Tamil Nadu had declared a red alert on account of a storm. The bus ride to our destination was the scariest ride I have ever been on. By the time we reached a bus stand in Kodaikanal, the cyclone had arrived and we wanted to go home but all the transport had been suspended. Somehow we reached the villa we were meant to stay in, and remained there—all the while, there was no internet or electricity. The villa’s security guard had also left and there was nothing to eat but the snacks we had carried with us for the journey.

—Vishnu Priya, Chennai

 

Fast times, riding high

In our third year of engineering, 14 of us rented seven motorcycles and travelled across Goa. We had many crazy encounters, some of them hairy situations during which we managed to keep our cool. My cousins ask me about the stories from that trip often.

—Suman Vikram, Hyderabad

 

Hard-knock trek to Triund

In spring my friends and I decided to take a trip to Himachal Pradesh from Delhi just before our term-end exams since it was our final year. After seeing a beautiful waterfall near Bhagsunag, chilling in an amazing cafe near the waterfall and watching a fight between wild goats and dogs, we retired to our rooms. The next morning, we left for a trek to Triund, which was an adventure from the get-go, as we kept slipping on rocks. One of my friends got injured and we decided to take a break. After a while, we got the hang of how to trek, and the views I witnessed that day were the best in a very long time.

—Prateek Chaudhary, Delhi

 

To read more stories on travel, cities, food, nature, and adventure, head to our web forum here or our new National Geographic Traveller India app here.

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