I was lucky to be born in an Indian city that is surrounded by several heritage sites and mountains, which meant that I enjoyed my childhood exploring them on foot or being driven to them in my father's Fiat 1100 car. If I am honest, I therefore never realized exactly when I caught the travel bug but it was surely after we returned from what I coined then as the “Great Rajasthan road trip”.
After moving to England I was delighted to get a job with Audley, which offered me the opportunity to share my experiences and passion for India. Being adventurous, I have been back to explore the intricately carved temples of the south, enjoyed a slow cruising along the mighty Brahmaputra, tracked tigers in some of the lesser known parks of central India, seen the hill tribes of the northeast, visited remote monasteries and tea bungalows at the foothills of the Himalayas — and, I have to mention my epic motorbike trip through the Spiti Valley.
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Q&A with Harsha
What's your most vivid travel memory?
On a morning safari in Kanha National Park I chose to explore one of the quieter zones — Sarhi. We'd heard that a mother had given birth to three cubs and she wasn’t to be seen in the other zones of the park (often, they prefer to spend days in the quieter side of the park as they don’t want to move a lot as the cubs are feeding). Being one of the less explored areas of the park we were engrossed in enjoying the natural beauty when suddenly our tracker spotted some movement at a distance behind some rocks which formed a sort of a cave. Our driver cut the engine, bringing us to a grinding halt. A pack of langurs were enjoying an aerial view of something, which sadly wasn’t visible to us. The jeep was parked by a small wooden bridge and to our utter surprise two small cubs popped out of the cave and franticly crossed the road as their mother sat there in the bush. When I pointed my binoculars at the rocks I noticed the third cub had gently stuck his head out and seemed very worried to make that journey across the road on its own. The mother couldn’t come out in the open as she knew we were there — though at a distance. It was quite a stressful moment for everyone but eventually the last one, which did a look a bit weak, gathered courage and crossed the road. What a sight.
What's the best local dish you have ever tasted?
Not something that is easily available on the menu but whenever I travel out of the deserts of Rajasthan, I never miss an opportunity to enjoy a “Khad ka Pind”. A practice followed by the soldiers who cooked their meat underneath the ground so that here are no visible fires by which they would be spotted. After marination the meat is wrapped in bread and packed in a jute gunny bag and buried in a pit topped with charcoal and mud to allow it to slow cook for a few hours.
Where would you travel to next?
Being a keen biker I have explored the arid mountains of Ladakh on my Royal Enfield, however, I have never had the opportunity to witness the austere beauty of its winter landscape, a perfect time to go in search of the magnificent snow leopard. For me it's an adventure of a lifetime and right up there on the top of my list.