We are super excited to announce a new podcast made by travelers for travelers: Talk to Travel Better Podcast! In this podcast, we will have exciting guests and we’ll talk everything about traveling. Here’s our first episode: offbeat destinations in India. Check our second episode here.
During this episode:
- We meet our guest Gitanjali from India
- We discuss about offbeat destinations in India
- Gitanjali suggests offbeat destinations in India
- We talk about safety tips when traveling to offbeat destinations in India
You can listen to it by pushing play down here, and you can read the content of the podcast that we transcribed below. It also includes links!
Talk to Travel Better podcast, episode 1: Offbeat destinations in India
Welcome to Talk to Travel Better! A podcast made by travelers for travelers. During each episode, we discuss different destinations and give you tips so you can travel better.
Talk to Travel Better podcast is brought to you by Talk Travel App, which is a voice mobile application that enables travelers to speak in their own preferred language to destination experts and quickly find answers to your travel related queries. This app reduces the time and effort needed to plan travel and provides a more rich and authentic travel experience to travelers. So don’t forget to check it out. It is available for iOS and Android, and you can download it right now.
Also, don’t forget to check their blog at talktravelapp.com, where they have great destination guides. And follow them on social media as Talk Travel App.
Justine: So welcome to Talk to Travel Better, my name is Justine and I will be your host.
For this episode, we will be discussing offbeat destinations in India, security tips and all the information you need to know to plan your trip.
So thank you very much for being here, Gitanjali. She is a travel blogger by passion, content manager by profession and a social entrepreneur by life’s calling. Her blog, Travel by Karma is about offbeat destinations and curated experiences for being an army officer’s wife. She says that they don’t see a place as a tourist but practically live in those touristy towns. She has been featured in YourStory, The Times of India, Times Now, She The People, The Better India, Woman’s With, Huffington Post India, Dainik Jagran, and other renowned online publications. Gitanjali is also the founder of InfertilityDost, India’s first fertility wellness platform that helps couples cope with infertility through the power of content, community, and counseling.
Justine: So, thank you so much after that really nice introduction. How are you today, Gitanjali?
Gitanjali: My pleasure, Justine. I’m really god and hello from India.
Justine: I’m actually in Mexico. So this is really nice, what the Internet does nowadays. That we can speak from the other side of the world. As I said in your introduction, you talk in your blog most of the times about offbeat destinations in India. So, in your opinion, what do you think is the best way to know the real India? Going offbeat or going to better-known places?
Gitanjali: Definitely going to offbeat places because that’s where the real India lies. I think that’s the best way to see India. Otherwise, you will only see what you are shown through big cities lens.
Justine: What would you say it would be an offbeat destination or what places would you recommend for people to go when they’re in India?
Gitanjali: So again, it depends a lot on what exactly it is what you’re looking to explore. If it is hills that attract you, India has beautiful offbeat destinations that provide, you know, the charm and the beauty and the silence and amazing panoramic natural beauty around. One of the places that I recommend is Uttarakhand. It’s not very commercialized. Only the real treckers or real travelers who take time to travel, the slow traveler types.
It’s a beautiful place covered all around with the mighty Himalayas. I was there in Uttarakhand for about one and a half or two years and I had an amazing experience. This as it, yeah, so you can, you know, you can be there understanding how yoga works, introspecting, being in silence, taking Ayurvedic classes, learning Ayurvedic, Indian ethnic cooking style, trekking, exploring.
A lot of these places are named as religious places in India. People from the west are of course not very comfortable going to the religious places, but you have to see it from this perspective that they are religious for Indians who believe. And you go and get a peek, a sneak peek into the culture which intrinsically related to religion in India.
The other place it is very close to my heart is the northeast part of India, because again, very, very pristine, not commercial at all. A little difficult to reach but now it’s easier. But it’s more like a slow traveling and exploring things. Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are two states which I recommend. This one place called Majuli, I recently went there and being an Indian I was so surprised to explore this place because I could never think that such a place exists! It’s a river island really cut off from India and tribals stay there and it was a beautiful experience. We had to take a boat to reach that island and it was by 5 or 6 in the evening, it was completely silent and people were so warm.
Justine: Also, I feel like for example, when you’re from a country, in my case I’m Mexican, so going like the offbeat road in your country sometimes feels like discovering a new country, no? Isn’t that something that happens when you go to offbeat places?
Gitanjali: Exactly, exactly. And so since I’ve started exploring offbeat places… to tell you the truth, I don’t like the big cities. I’m like, what? There’s nothing here, what do I do? So there’s another place down south in India, which is again very close to my heart and I’ve been there a few times. This place is called Pondicherry and Tranquebar. Pondicherry has a French connection. It has Auroville, it was this small town, an international town in Pondicherry which was set up by Mother and Sri Aurobindo, and a lot of French people and Dutch people live in Pondicherry. So it has a confluence kind of culture and it’s very interesting to explore, it’s by the sea. It’s a very laid back town. Tranquebar is like the very last point on this axis of South India.
Justine: And do you think it’s easier to have local experiences in offbeat places?
Gitanjali: It’s easier in the sense that… I believe everything is about planning, especially when you’re coming from another country. You have to plan well. You have to reach out the right people, do a bit of research. Not just your Lonely Planet kind of research, because again, Lonely Planet is a very standardized template, you know?
Justine: So it’s not like saying that, for example, if you go to Delhi or like more known places you’re doing it wrong. Because that’s not the case. But I feel like some people prefer to have like the real feeling of a place and sometimes in big cities it gets difficult.
Gitanjali: Exactly the point. So that’s what at the core of it is… you as a traveler, who has to understand what you want from this experience and then take a call on it. We have Kerala, which is a big city. Kerala is very well organized. So you will have absolutely no difficulty in arranging. You just book a hotel as per your budget and then they will arrange everything for you.
But if you go to Uttarakhand, this is a little less organized. So you will have to do extra effort in finding out the right person, or the right cultural activity that you want to join in. And it needs more time.
Justine: And as a woman do you feel it’s safe going to offbeat places? Is there a difference between going to big cities and going to places as a woman? Is it safe?
Gitanjali: So no place for me is safe or unsafe. I would say it’s a matter of perspective. If you plan well and if you have made the right connections, it’s pretty safe. Offbeat places I feel is much safer than the big cities in India. Smaller cities are warmer because they take pride in saying that, “oh my God, there’s a foreigner or somebody, you know, from outside in our town, so let’s go an extra mile in helping that person.”
I’ve traveled solo quite a bit, internationally and also here. What I do is I book a good hotel. I don’t compromise in hotels because that’s where you fall back on. So if anything goes wrong, they can help you manage that and then the rest of the things work out. There’s so much technology these days, so many online tools and platforms that you make friendships beforehand, like Couchsurfing, and Airbnbs.
Night traveling in any part of the world, I feel it’s a difficult thing, especially for a solo woman. So maybe you can avoid that, plan out your day and have some numbers in India whom you can trust. Keep them on your speed dial, call them ago with this truck. I’m better.
Justine: What would be some tips for non-Indians to travel either to offbeat destinations or more popular ones? What would you say it’s basic for people to know?
Gitanjali: One: come with time. Try to go beyond places like Goa and Kerala because India has much more to offer. It might take you a bit more research and time to figure that out a place, the right place for you but explore more India.
Just come with an open mind. Leave the perceptions away. I remember meeting an old couple, a little older couple. I think a couple from Belgium or somewhere. And I met them in Jaipur, in a resort and I was asking them where you plan to go and everything. “Listen, I don’t know. We were told that this Jaipur, and we’re doing more cities like Delhi and Agra. And we’re flying back because we were told that this is the safest and the best that India has.” And when I started telling my stories, they were like “oh my God, we want to come back to India.”
I would say the basic tip is to have an open mind without any perceptions because the basic, basic thing of being a traveler is not to have any perceptions. The more open you are, the more accepting you are, the more you can experience. I believe myself, as a traveler, also have seen when I would just go to a place to check the touristy points. I would brag about it, but I would never soulfully enjoy that place. But when I stopped doing that and when I was more like, let me see what the place throws off to me. And it’s like some part of my schedule would be fixed and some part would be flexible for me to just experience and see what comes in the way. And I was like, too much more beautiful experiences that way.
Justine: Thank you very much for being part of this. Can you tell us where can we find you? Or where can we read your blog? Where can we see your tweets or photos?
Gitanjali: First, thanks so much for inviting me on this podcast. I look forward to many more people coming and visiting India, offbeat India. Also, my website is writergitanjali.com, you can find me as Travel by Karma, I’m almost everywhere. Yeah, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. So maybe you can just find me as @writerGitanjali or Travel By Karma.
Justine: Thank you very, very much. It was really nice to listen from you everything about offbeat places in India and we’ll surely be in touch.
Gitanjali: Yes, thank you so much. Now I have another destination on my list, Mexico. You have to tell me all about it.
Justine: Of course, it’s really nice, you will like it.
So that was today’s episode. Thanks so much to our guest today, and remember that this podcast is brought to you by Talk Travel App. And don’t forget to follow them at Talk Travel App in every social media platform and to check their blog because they have great destination guides on talktravelapp.com.
My name is Justine and see you next time!