Avanish’s journey to being a traveler is one marked with serendipity. A living and walking testament of Lao Tzu’s adage “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving”, in a recent chat with ixigo, Avanish Maurya gets candid about the explorer that lies at the heart of his backpacking spirit.
Q. When did you first know you were a traveler?
A. When I was in Engineering college in Ghaziabad, I had the opportunity to visit Vaishno Devi and from then I knew I had to travel. It was about 10 years ago, 2002. One of my friends had a railway pass and I borrowed it from him. I was actually on my way to Shimla but back then I didn’t know anything about the routes and ended up reaching Jammu. When I reached Jammu, I wondered where the much talked about snow and snow-capped mountains were. I reached Jammu’s bus station and took the bus ticket for the nearest destination that turned out to be Katra and that’s how I ended up by reaching Vaishno Devi Shrine, and since then every year I make a trip to that holy shrine. That random trip made me a backpacker and 11 years later that search of snow-capped mountains is still going on.
Q. Which is your favorite travel memory?
A. Traveling to the Valley of Flowers in 2011. The place was so serene and beautiful. I went there with my wife in August when it was raining, the flowers were in full bloom and it seemed like a heaven. Another beautiful memory is posing in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Visiting The Pyramid Complex of Giza was a dream come true.
Q. What are the 5 things you never travel without?
A. Camera, Backpack, Maps, Mobile and Credit Card.
Q. Which is your dream destination?
A. Actually I have no bucket list. I wish to see each and every corner of this beautiful world without making a bucket list. Yet, there are some dream destinations and some can wait always. There are some places that I intend to explore very soon like Australia and the Caribbeans and if possible, Antarctica.
Q. Which is your worst travel memory?
A. I think when we (I and my wife) visited Spiti valley last year. We started out on a trek to Komik village and while two people had suggested 2 different but definite routes to Komik, I decided to take the 3rd one which I discovered when I came across a signboard indicating that route. We started out at 5 AM and had forgotten our water bottles back at the hotel. I thought in next 2-3 hours we would be in a village, where we could easily get the breakfast and water. Eventually we ended up being lost and not making it to Komik. We reached Kaza at 6 PM. It was our 11-hours long, failed trekking attempt to Komik village. But whenever we see the pictures of the landscapes of that trek, it still gives us a great pleasure that we at least spent some time in lap of the nature with beautiful surroundings.
Another worst memory was meeting with an accident while riding solo on my motorcycle for 9-days trip to the Eastern Part of Rajasthan in 2011. I visited Ranthambhore National Park, Bundi, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Haldighati, Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur and enjoyed them all. It was the second last day of my trip, when I had an accident, a fatal accident, near Ajmer in the evening around 8 PM. It damaged my motorcycle, I had a fracture in the left shoulder, but thankfully survived. I spent night there on a road-side dhaba without any medical assistance with severe pain. Next day, somehow, I managed to reach Jaipur and from there one of my friend assisted me till Delhi. Lesson learned that day was ride hard but ride safe.
Q. Which is that one place that left you awestruck?
A. It was snorkeling in Hurghada, Egypt. It is located on the Red sea coast and was an incredible underwater experience. It was a love at first sight with underwater marine life and now, I am planning to get the Scuba-Diving certifications in coming years. Then there is also the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. Another amazing, awe-inspiring experience. I was there for 3 days and visited the temple daily. I particularly remember watching the sunrise at 4 AM in the temple.