Hello there, I am Viraat Kothare, a former freelancer in software development, 2 time national record holder in hobbies & arts and International record holder in sports in group backward running. But now I am full time traveler and pursuing my passion of photography and travel research. I want to travel across the length and breadth of India and World in a phase wise manner focusing on its rich culture, traditions and architecture. I have keen interest in documenting and indexing various forts, caves, temples, monuments, museums, palaces, tombs, heritage sites, archaeological sites, stepwells, tourist sites, and festivals. And have been doing so for past few years mostly in the interiors of Maharashtra.
Being born and based out of Mumbai, I have been religiously going on an average 40 short trips each year for past three years. I have been traveling around 280+forts ,60+caves either solo or in group. When I travel, I come across stories of men and women who have traveled length and breadth of India and the world on bikes, cars, airplane just to checklist places and fulfill personal urge of personal thrill of circumnavigating the world. But, I feel one should explore and discover each city slowly and soak into its traditional culture, local cuisine. While exploring sights one should also learn a thing or two from the locals.
I firmly believe living life to fullest as experience matters to me the most than material stuff and keeping travel top-most priority. I believe over a period of time, the information and photos I collect of these offbeat locations will be invaluable to the society. Today’s time spent on research and exploration will help people travel to unknown places carrying immense cultural value.
How I started traveling
On a personal front, I started initially as a tourist going with family trips after reading through guide books from Lonely Planet and TTK guidebooks, 52 weekends from Mumbai etc or group tours. But then I realised that there are always sights which I could not cover either due to lack of research on my part or lack of knowledge from the group leader. Many a times, it was due to the fact that a particular place was not promoted as a sight to visit. This made me unhappy and hence I started experimenting with my trips. I started analysing and keeping a record of places most tourists visit. I found that they picked places which were easier to visit and chart out routes to cover maximum sights in shorter time. Hence, I started doing solo trips covering offbeat locations which are harder to reach.
Initially, I started going on solo trips with travel groups which covered offbeat places. But then I realized these travel groups (such as trekking groups for example) cover a single landmark and a few nearby places as explained earlier. They did this because of lack of time. But more can be achieved if we spend more time at a place instead of visiting only single landmark over a weekend.
My own travel venture
Hence, 2019 onwards, I am taking another step to travel slowly and explore lesser known, offbeat locations in Maharashtra and other states in the heartlands of India. And for this, I am only using public transport such as Indian Railways and state bus transport which go into the interiors. Being a planned traveller, I have my itinerary chalked out for next two years through travel research. I am glad to have support of my family and friends to fulfill my dreams and aspirations. On experimentation basis I started a private personal tours on sharing cost basis this year onwards and undertaking more than 7 trips in the coming 6 months, in Karnataka, Rajasthan, MP, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, taking a minimum of 3 people initially so everyone gets benefited with a variety of attractions.
I have created a Facebook group page by the name of Pradakshina, wherein I showcase my photography work and travel related information and showcasing as India’s first private photo mapping project of cultural and heritage sites. Many have suggested to showcase this information on Instagram and blog as well. My first blog on Ghumr is the first step in that direction. In coming days, I will write stories about my travel to most offbeat locations in India. Till then, here is a glimpse of my photo ebook covering Heritage Homes, Royal Houses, Palaces of India.
To end it, I would like to say to one and all travel as much as can, keep only memories and leave only footprints on earth.