Hitchhiking in India

Journals and logs of experiences of two travelers as they hitchhike the Sub Continent. The blog started as a journal for the 150aDay challenge in May 2010. Ajay and Inder hitchhiked North East India for 40 days on a shoestring budget of 150 INR a day. The money was supposed to be spent only for food and water. They did complete the adventure with a budget of 221 INR per day. They lost weight but gained immense knowledge and pleasure from the trip. The blog is live to track their further hitchhiking escapades. They also collect experiences and travelogues from fellow hitchhikers who take up the challenge of Hitchhiking this vast Indian topography. Do you have questions about hitchhiking ind India? Use the Ask button or address them to @hitchhikeindia
What's happening right now? @ajaymreddy

Hi TumblrhitchToday is International Day for Monuments and Sites, also known popularly as ‘World Heritage Day’.
To celebrate this day, we are planning a social media campaign to bring heritage and world heritage into focus and I need your help in order to make this work.All I you need to do is this - post the following message on your facebook wall or twitter along with your photo from a world heritage site.
“In celebration of World Heritage Day on 18th April, I am posting my pic(s) from a World Heritage Site that I have been to. Please help raise the awareness of heritage sites protection by copy pasting this status on your wall along with your picture(s) at the world heritage site. Let’s encourage the World to appreciate these legacies of mankind, at least for one day in a year! @gounesco.”
Don’t know if you have been to a world heritage site, check the list here - you help us in this effort? Please do!Regards,Ajay ReddyGoUNESCO - Global travel challengesFacebook | Twitter | Instagram | +GoUNESCO | LinkedInApril 18th - World heritage day - Let’s tell everybody!About GoUNESCOGoUNESCO is a UNESCO New Delhi supported online travel challenge that makes discovering world heritage fun. 1. Travel to a world heritage site2. Upload your photo on GoUNESCO - gounesco.com/start3. Earn points4. Win challenge.You can participate even if you have traveled in the past!Check which world heritage sites you have been to from this list.

The following is a guest post by Gautam Doulani. Gautam is a student of Computer Science Engineering at New Horizon College of Engineering, Bangalore. Dreams like he’s going to live forever and lives like world is getting over in 2012. Though the post is not about hitchhiking per se, it has the adventure and free spirit imbibed in it. 

It’s 3 in the morning, everyone is asleep. That’s when I come up with this plan. Wiki had recently launched this program called ‘wikilovesmonuments’ where in one can upload pictures of monuments mentioned by wiki so that wiki can use them. This was the first time wiki had asked me for something and I just couldn’t say no.So I rented a cycle, lied to mom and set out to get those pictures.

Route- Bangalore-Kolar-Chittor-Kanchipuram-Mamallapuram-Chennai. Total Distance- Appoximately 400 kms.

The timing for the trip was perfect. I left during our monthly assessment exams which meant no one would even realise that I was gone.

Before I could even reach Kolar I wanted to come back but it just wasnt an option. The cycle had been paid for for the next 5 days and returning would mean having to write the exams. I kept going and I am glad I did.

The monuments in Kolar were so rare and unknown that people staying metres away from it couldn’t tell me where it was. Somehow by the end of day 1 I had pictures of 3 monuments in my camera and I cycled myself to a city called Perambur in Andhra Pradesh appoximately 130 kms away from Bangalore. Just for your knowledge, it was here that Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated.

I was supposed to cover the monuments in Chittor on day 2 but the monuments were too far and scattered. The camera remained in my bag and my bum on the saddle all day. I made it to Kanchipuram by evening but only after hitchhiking a few kms. I had to find some specific temples out of the millions of temples in this place. Challenge Accepted. It was like taking part in the Amazing Race, I didn’t know the language and couldn’t pronounce the names of the temples either.

I was tired but then I knew things couldn’t get any worse. I was to ride to Mamallapuram which is at sea level which meant the road would mostly be downhill. I was wrong. The road was pathetic which is a nightmare if you are cycling if you know what I mean. I did what I had to do and continued.

To get the pictures of the monuments in Chennai I had to go to this place called St. George’s fort which happens to be adjacent to the Secretariat which is where the CM Jayalalita works from so the security was super tight here. When I finally entered there were no monuments. It has been turned into an army recruitment centre. So typically Indian.So I got onto a bus and got back to bangalore.

Most Memorable moment- I had just entered Tamil Nadu and trust me it’s very very hot there. I noticed a bunch of school kids having fun in a pond. They invited me to join them but for some reason I didn’t and continued cycling. I had probably cycled a kilometre when I had that ‘what the heck’ moment and the next moment I was with those kids in the pond. Freestyle is called my style and the butterfly stroke is fish style there and they love John Cena (evident from the pic).

Scariest Moment- I was cycling downhill at a very good speed. There was a bus parked infront of me and there was a truck honking from behind. There was just enough space for the truck. When you have been cycling for 3 days, you really don’t want to use the brake. I thought I could pass the bus but at the very last second had second thoughts but by then it was too late. I was on the way of the truck. Had those truck’s tyres been a month older I would have been crushed to death or if my heart had been a month older I would have died of heart attack.

What I learnt out of the trip? 
I learnt that snakes have infra red vision and that’s the reason they don’t eat rotten food cause by then the food would have stopped emitting infra red rays. This came from the smartest and the prettiest girl I have ever met. If you don’t believe me then please visit the Madras Crocodile Bank on a sunday. She volunteers there during the weekends.

People ask me why I go on such weird trips. In fact a guy at a traffic signal in Chennai was like ‘why this kolaveri?’. I can’t explain it. You will have to experience it yourself. It’s magical. It makes me feel free. I was even humming songs I never knew I had heard.

After everything I consider uploading those photos tougher than the journey. The upload wizard wikipedia provides is simply very bad. I could hardly uploaded a couple of photos which means I basically did everything for nothing literally. Wiki, I love u anyway.

If you have similar or more weirder adventures, we’ll be more than happy to post it here. Just one rule - it should be adventurous. You can mail the post at indersen [at] gmail [dot] com 

Something’s come up and im heading back to hyd today after cutting my trip short. It’s been one unpredictable trip already and this just crowns it. Will do this trip later sometime.

I woke up today with a plan to go to nagpur after the run. Alas, that was not to happen. My luck turned ok when I got a great ride till pune. I still was hoping to get to Konark first. But then I saw there was a train leaving to Kolkata before the one to Bhubaneswar. Considering that there are two UNESCO sites accessible from Kolkata and one of them the Sunderbans, I had my path set out for me. I bought my general ticket to howrah and waited for the train. Now, I know that the trains going to Kolkata are usually crowded. But man, this was something else! A few hundred people rushing to get about 100 seats. My limping self unfortunately could not make it in. So I am now sitting inside a sleeper compartment after paying a fine (traveling in the an upper class). The train has not started yet, but it looks like there are plenty of people like me here. Looks like the sleeping bag will make itself useful tonight. If there is place on the floor, that is.

I’m done with the Satara half marathon and now am hitching a ride with a couple of runners back to Pune. Apparently there aren’t any buses to Nagpur from Satara. But now my plans are up in the air. I might just take a train to one of the next destinations - general compartment of course. It rained during the entire race and but was a lot of fun. It was tough too, the unpaved stretches of road were quite hard on the feet. That’s my excuse for taking this stretch of the trip easy :).

I’m done with the Satara half marathon and now am hitching a ride with a couple of runners back to Pune. Apparently there aren’t any buses to Nagpur from Satara. But now my plans are up in the air. I might just take a train to one of the next destinations - general compartment of course. It rained during the entire race and but was a lot of fun. It was tough too, the unpaved stretches of road were quite hard on the feet. That’s my excuse for taking this stretch of the trip easy :).

I am in Satara today, have a half marathon to run tomorrow. We took some time to go out a bit in the morning today. This place is beautiful - See for yourself! Ajay

First the things different this from the last trip -

  • It is a solo trip this time.
  • A different part of the country. Last time it was the north-east, this time it is central and eastern india.
  • Plan - I’m combining two travel challenges this time - go-UNESCO and hitchhiking. The plan is to start at Satara (where i run a half marathon on sunday - 7th october) and then visit the UNESCO world heritage sites in the east of India - Konark, Sunderbans and Darjeeling.
  • The duration is much shorter - just one week. Work and all, you see.

But there are so many things same as last time -
  • Hitchhiking again! Although, it might not be possible to hitchhike all the time and i may have to take public transport. It still is a budget trip though.
  • It’s all on the go - I only have tickets to Satara and a plan till the marathon, after that it’s going to be get to the next destination however i can. If i get a truck to Darjeeling, i’ll take that too!
  • Blogging - yes, you’ll see all the updates posted here while i’m on the trip. I’m trusting my Lumia and the 3g data connection to do a good job at this. Hopefully, i will be able to upload videos from the road too.
  • I will hopefully meet a lot of interesting people too.

Let’s get started on this new adventure then.
If you live along the planned route and want to host/travel together/meet up/share tips/anything, let me know! Email hitchhikingindia at gmail dot com with your phone number and i’ll give you ring.

Ajay

One of the most important part of you when you hitchhike or go on a budget travel is your travel bag or backpack. In conventional travelling, the primary function of your travel bag is to hold your stuff. That’s it. In a hitchhiking trip or a budget travel where you travel on trucks, public transport, shared auto rickshaws (tuk tuks), the bag transcends into much more. Apart from holding your stuff, it serves as a pillow, backrest, bumrest and sometimes even as bedding. In places where I couldn’t hitchhike due to reasons varying from security concerns and lack of transport, I used public transport such as local trains. But to keep the expenses under 150 rupees per day I travelled only in the General Class. Well many Indians know how a general class conditions can be. I had to sleep in the walkway and guess what was my sleeping bag? My backpack.

The bags have to be sturdy. Apart from multiple functions, they are tossed around quite a bit. When I was hitchhiking from Aizawl, Mizoram to Assam, the cleaner of the truck just tossed our bags over the roof. I had my netbook, recorder and DSLR in it and for next 8 hours that fact troubled me a lot. Luckily, my travel bag was sturdy enough to protect them.

Travel bags have to be water resistant. Well I didn’t want to risk my gadgets and clothes and covered everything in polythene. I got the taste of the world’s heaviest rainfall at Cherrapunji  and the polythene  saved my day. Imagine my reaction when I had to run for cover as I had my DSLR out in the open when it started to rain.

In all the midst of travelling, one thing you never want to happen apart from losing your documents or money is your travel bag giving up on you. Just imagine if you are running to catch your transport and your travel bag just, lets say, opens up itself. No one wants to be in that situation. I love my 55 litre backpack because of this single reason.  Even after enduring all the adventures with me on my hitchhiking trip, it never gave up on me and trust me I packed it to the brim. You can read a previous post if you want to know what all we packed in our backpacks.

Inder

I did finally get a ride Sunday. It was a big SUV that stopped. When I got in, I found myself seated in a vehicle among three immigrants from India. I was sitting in back with the teenaged son. The father, who was driving, said he had “only stopped because my wife said she was afraid you were one of those people with dementia, who was lost. I was afraid if I didn’t pick you up, I’d be hearing about it from her all day long!”