Nothing beats chancing on untapped lands. India’s eastern state of Orissa is one such place, as Intrepid leader Pulak Mohanty reveals…
“Returning to my home state is akin to rediscovering the essence of travel. Back to basics and the timelessness of rural life. Palm-fringed rice paddies shimmering in the morning sun. Fishing boats returning to shore, women carrying bamboo baskets brimming with fresh vegetables and the chime of brass bells ringing out from the temple.
My hometown Puri, one of India’s four holy hot-spots is a Mecca for pilgrims, priests and more than a few mad cows! After wandering the medieval lanes of the old quarter I enjoy a stroll along the beach gazing out at the Bay of Bengal and chatting with the fishermen about their catch.
My biggest buzz though comes from trekking in the hills of India’s most populous tribal area. Following ancient trails through dense jungle to meet any one of the 62 different tribal communities appeals to my sense of adventure and brings me back time and again. Joining their weekly markets when tribal natives descend from their highland huts to barter forest produce and trade in trinkets, I listen to the exchange of ancient songs and stories. It’s easy to give into the rhythm of life here and forget all sense of time.
However I am most comfortable cruising along the tranquil waters of Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest salt water lagoon. Watching the birds and playful dolphins, camping under the stars and feasting on succulent seafood. Setting my eyes on the blazing sun sinking into the water on the distant horizon makes me never want to leave!”