Prakriti Varshney is a 22-year-old adventurer whose physical state resides in the Delhi plains but her soul lingers throughout the Himalayas. According to her father’s retellings, she has always been the one with the fiery adventure streak. Brought up against the typical feminine norms, her father acknowledged the latent strength in her in the early years itself. He moulded her into a self-sufficient human, and she owes a lot to him for this.
A graduate in Fashion and Apparel Designing, Prakriti realized during her very first work experience with a start-up that this is not her cup of tea! Living a life with a mundane, robotic routine is not what she desires. There was sufficient money but always a restless mind. Overworked, she was in a perpetual dilemma “What am I grinding myself for?” and she couldn’t find a suitable answer. That’s the day she quit a life with a routine to start a journey without a specific road-map.
Adventure and Exploration are the two terms that drive her to do things-let it be about trying a new cuisine or learn about a new form of art. Her first solo trip was to Spiti Valley on a shoestring budget. The trip covered a span of 8 days on a budget of mere 4000 rupees. She carried along certain essentials like a tent and a sleeping bag, commuted in roadways, hitchhiked from one village to the other and interacted with new people around. It was a phenomenal experience for her.
Her next planned trip is to North East for a month starting next week, followed by two months, January and February in Leh and Ladakh. She prefers travelling solo because then you’re all about your own self and at your own ease. She loves solo trips because she can have her own plan of action and there is no room for friction due to disagreements. It is certainly risky to travel alone, but the liberating experience is worth the risk.
Prakriti is a full-time traveller. On being asked about her first and foremost confrontation with her family regarding her profession, she did reveal that apart from her survival in harsh climatic conditions, her parents were worried about her safety when she planned her very first expedition, to which she agrees to some extent. Being a girl, one has to face some sort of unnerving experiences every day, and hers was a decision to travel thousands of kilometres away from home. Her priority is not to tick off the places on her bucket list but to travel to learn, grow and absorb whatever is out there. She is open to change and doesn’t necessarily follow a schedule during her travels. She mentions, “If I like a place more than the others, I might decide to stay for a longer period to satisfy my soul than to keep following the itinerary.”
She lists down some of her favourite destinations from India: Spiti Valley – Closest to heart, this land has everything to offer, from larger than life landscapes to exquisite art to never dying culture to the sweetest and kindest people. Even after 6 rounds in the same year, it always feels like something more to explore. Auroville – A place where in the middle of chaos, you will find calm. If you seek serenity and fun together, this place is a must. Ride a bicycle, do meditation sessions, chase butterflies in the botanical garden, try different cuisines, grab some eateries & head to the beach to witness the spellbinding sunset.
Uttrakhand – The state is a wholesome package for travellers. It is famously termed “Devbhoomi” (the abode of Gods), for Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath maintain that chaste aura. Whitewater rafting and Yoga in Rishikesh, legendary Ramjhula and Lakshmanjhula, serene blue lakes in Nainital, presence of wild animals in Jim Corbett National Park, around 500 species of flowers in Valley of Flowers, and land of some of the highest mountain peaks in the world – Nanda Devi, Kamet, Hardeol, Chaukhamba, Trishul- in short, a pit stop for most of the adventures you seek.
Kanyakumari – The southernmost point of India surrounded by sea on three sides, the place offers one of the most scenic sunset and sunrise views.
Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh – It is a spot known as the highest paragliding site one would never regret having a bird’s eye view. Her travel essentials include her LifeStraw (not when travelling in the Himalayas), a diary and a pen to journal her excursions, sunscreen lotion, a waterproof bag, and of course her camera and earphones. Prakriti enjoys the most her moments of solace. She could sit in a corner of the road for hours and observe everything that is around her. She is also fond of meeting strangers in unknown places, with a myriad of stories and experiences. She hasn’t travelled around a single state in an exhaustive manner as of now but has covered certain towns, cities and even villages in around 17 states so far. She has planned to cover two more in the next two months. She feels it is essential to roam about every niche of a state to be thorough with it, and not just pay a visit to certain famous tourist spots. Although she has been to Dubai and Oman in her teenage years, she has decided to take up international travelling only after she has explored sufficient amount of her own country.
Travelling has transformed Prakriti’s core as a whole. According to her, it is an essential method or resource for learning which teaches you what you cannot grab through books. Bonding with strangers, having faith in your instincts to trust, give in to the universe, and never give up even when you fall apart. A lesson she abides to is “We can go way beyond our limits.” She recounts an anecdote of her visit to Shrikhand Mahadev, one of the toughest pilgrimages in India. During the initial phase, she made her mind to give up due to incessant exertion and injury in her knee, but she was determined to complete her journey. The sight of the 72 feet tall Shivling after the commencement of a tedious journey was definitely something to vouch for!
Varshney shares an interesting tale from one of her travel adventures. “While I was in Spiti Valley for two months, August-September, I decided to hike to Key Monastery which was about 14 km from Kaza. After walking for about 6 km, I witnessed a splendid view at the turn of a road. I remained frozen to that spot for almost two and a half hours. I was unaware of the curiosity I created among passers-by, until a couple passing by on a motorbike decided to halt. They too were on the way to Key Monastery. At first, they thought that I might be taking a break due to exhaustion, but they saw me sitting at the same spot while returning hence they stopped by and asked. I burst out laughing and had no answer to their query! They even offered a ride back to Kaza but I was completely embarrassed by now.”
Words by Laveena Behl
Images by ©Prakriti Varshney
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