Mar 082013


A Special Post on Women’s day about 4 Women who travel and lead

The Times They Are a-Changin’ sang Bob Dylan in 60s and trust me the times have not stopped changing since. The challenge is we as a society are not willing to accept that the patriarchal rules formed many moons ago unilaterally by men are way beyond their expiry date. There has been a lot of hue and cry in the country about safety of women traveler, and everybody and their uncle coming up with GYAN about the same.  So I thought on Women’s day why not talk to some women who travel regularly and for a change take their insights and experience and present here on desi Traveler blog. Yes the world is not safe, yes women are targeted everywhere but these women are showing that they are not scared and are willing to take on the world and come out winners. Those who think they can make today’s women follow rules of yesterday, those morons are the ones I think should be scared.

So without wasting time let me introduce you to 4 women who travel regularly both for work and for the sake of travel, they travel solo as well as in  group as the need be. So here they are in alphabetical order

The first one is Bhavana Nissima, who has just moved to Hyderabad and we are already seeing her take on the Hyderabad and Hyderabadis on her Facebook posts. She is very difficult to describe as she wears so many hats a blogger, academician, social activist, photographer, new age media guru and to fulfill these roles she has to travel a lot. I sincerely hope she does not start a dedicated travel blog as she will put people like me out of business!

Q1. When did you first travel alone and for what: 

Ans: I first traveled alone (as in solo) at 17 to Mumbai to visit my uncle. But I traveled without my parents for the first time at 16 with a bunch of kids. It was my post-Class X exams treat. I went to the Himalayas to an Ashram for a fortnight. The trip was fun because our train got docked after a major train accident and we had to take multiple trains and buses to finally reach our destination.

Q2. Any trips that you lead for your friends, family or college etc…

Ans: I don’t lead family/friends trips per se. But yes, I do “spur” trips  with my friends. Mostly I like travelling solo.

Bhavana Nissima with rural women in a village

Bhavana Meeting some women in a village

Q3.  Your most challenging trip

Ans: I don’t know how to answer it. I don’t think I found any place very challenging. In Nicaragua they spoke complete Spanish and had only beans, rice and plantains for vegetarians like me. But I was mistaken to be a Nicaraguan so I faked my way through!

It was tiring to travel almost continuously last year –to keep my spirits up, deal with exhaustion, continuous food and water change, none of usual exercise, sleeping in multiple places, spending most nights in trains and buses. But it was so much fun.

picture of an old indian women

An Old Lady Clicked by Bhavana

Q4. Most memorable trip

Ans: I have to say last year my Bharat Darshan trip was fantastic–10 states, 14+cities and 65+ villages. It was heaven. I traveled alone everywhere and made tons of friends and talked so much and had so many cups of very sweet Chai! Learnt about agriculture, about people, housing saw their music and sometime dance and had many moving moments during this period.

Bhavana nissima (4)

Bhavana is not your average touristy types

Q5. Any tips/insights for women traveler

Ans-I wrote this post for women travelers – Solo WomanTravelling—Do’s and Don’ts  

You need to be in spirit to travel–it is breaking the chain, breaking through the society as you know it, rediscovering yourself–what you gain from travelling is not new vistas or new knowledge, but a transformed you. Nothing is more wonderful and satisfying than that.

 Our second traveler is Jamila Kapasi.  A Hyderabadi by birth and a traveler and adventure junkie by choice. She is an active member of GHAC and has led many expeditions outside city for GHAC.  She  has been to some  of the toughest treks and enjoys all kind of adventure activities like rappelling, rock climbing, mountaineering, canoeing, para gliding etc. Over to Jamila

Q-When did you travel alone and for what?

A-The first time I traveled alone was when I made a business trip to Chennai. Well adventure follows me wherever I go. All I was expecting was a quiet and a peaceful bus journey but that was not in store. The bus broke down, we were stranded on the highway for a good 4 hours in the middle of the night and ultimately all 48 of us passengers boarded a passing sleeper bus (of the same travels) , hijacked their seats and reached our destination a good 6 hours late.

Q-How many trips have you led for GHAC??

A-   I have led more than 30 treks for GHAC. These include local hikes, treks to different peaks, rappelling and climbing sessions and adventure sports.

Q-The most challenging trek you have been to?

Ans I could count two of my treks as the most challenging trip for me. On a personal level, a trek which tested me in all levels was the one which I made to Harishchandragad in the Sahyadri range.  It made me realize that stamina, endurance, physical fitness and a good pair of shoes can make all the difference. Having lacked all of the above physical attributes due to being severely ill a couple of days before the trek and making a wrong selection in the pair of shoes which gave me absolutely no grip on the slippery surface, completing that trek was one of my biggest challenge and achievements as of date.

bare hand rock climbing in Hyderabad

Rocks are to be climbed

Jamila Climbing

No Hurdle is Big Enough For Her To Climb

Another trek I cherish is Manyamkonda hills in Mehboobnagar district.  The aim of the trek was to climb a hill and reach a temple on the top of it by afternoon. Our bus would be waiting at the top of our hill. Unfortunately we climbed the wrong hill and by the time we realized our mistake it was already dark. Having no torches, rope, food or water and only using the torch-light from our cell phones, we reached the bottom of the hill exhausted, dehydrated and tired at midnight.

Jamila Camping

Smiling with the Stars

Q-Most memorable trip?

A-Well I think every trip that I have ever made has a story or some event or some incidents that make it exciting and memorable. I can’t narrow it down to a single trip.

Q-Any insight you want to share with fellow women travelers?

A-Just enjoy, travelling is all about having fun. So enjoy every place that you go to.

Now let us meet Kiranmai Kondaveeti : You will find her teaching during the weekdays but it will be very tough to catch this long distance runner on weekends. If she is not busy attending EBC or Everest Base Camp, she would be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro the highest peak in Africa. Yes dear reader she has done both besides attending more than 100  meetups with GHAC itself. Over to Kiranmai

 Q-Please tell us  how your adventure activities started in Hyderabad

Ans:  I Attended Volunteer training program with  GHAC, that  gave me confidence about trekking.

I started by attending meet-ups for hiking, bouldering, rock climbing, rappelling, chimney climbing, rafting & trekking and  GHAC boosted my confidence levels and led me to take-up challenging treks.

Kiran near Mt. Kilimanjaro

No Summit is High Enough

Q: Your most challenging trip

Ans: Kilimanjaro: Just 4 days of accent and 2 days of decent as per plan made me alert to be fit to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Q: Please tell us more about Mt. Kilimanjaro

Ans: Each day we trekked an average of 10 km for 6 hr and targeting 1000 meters of altitude and 10 degrees of downfall of temperatures. Each day had its own weather conditions and sometimes the weather changed within minutes, unbelievably. I experienced very hot sun, very cold nights, chilled mornings, hail storms, white clouds, and snow fall. Within a short time we passed through different ecological zones from Rain forests to no vegetation barren lands to snow line. I can just say God is great in his creation.Mumbai from where we started  is meters above the sea level,  and we landed at Kilimanjaro airport from there  after 5 hrs of drive we reached Marangu Gate which is 1700 meters above sea level.

Then from Marangu Gate —- Marangu Hut —–Horombo Hut – —Acclimatization day –—- Kibo Hut

Our final day of summit started at mid night on a full moon day and I started by staring at the mountain many time bigger than Kalapathar at Everest Base Camp. Kilimanjaro was looking beautiful, mysterious and majestic bathed in moonlight.

It took time for me to digest its height and targeted my legs to take-up the challenge. In those 8 hrs of my life each second was a big challenge. I still remember every one of those beautiful moments with snow falling around me almost surreal.

Q- Please tell us about your most memorable trip

It h as to be Everest Base Camp: One of most awesome moments of my life. Though I was in group I enjoyed being alone and had  moments to explore myself. While trekking I will be alone with my thoughts. I sure want to go again to Everest Base Camp.

Kiran near everest base camp

Just Another Day in Life of Kiran

Q-Any insight you want to share with fellow women travelers

Ans: You need to plan for lengthy tours so that we can learn more, I believe in “Acquire knowledge while exploring the world” Try to push your horizon limits, we can stretch more and more and more  at one point we find ourselves that we stretched beyond our expectations.

Friends let us meet now Rajani Pothineni, who works for a telecom company in Hyderabad but is a very active GHAC member and volunteer for the editorial team. My Pochampally trip was actually in her leadership and that is where idea for such post came in my mind.  As you will see she is a woman of few words and lets her travels do the talking.

Rajani Pothineni in Hampi sacred center

Rajani with Hampi Temple in Background

 Q  When you did first traveled alone and for what.

Ans- I first traveled alone in my degree when I had to go from Hyderabad to Durgapur in West Bengal via Kolkata (since my parents were staying there).

Q How many trips you have led for GHAC

Ans- 6 trips (all outstation ones)

Q Most challenging trip – Trip to Warangal with my office colleagues when things turned sour on our return journey.

Q- Most memorable trip –The recent trip to Khajuraho.  One of the best trips ever attended or conducted.

Rajani Pothineni doing rock climbing (1)

Rajani In A Rock Chimney

Q-. Any tips for women traveler – Be responsive to your environment and be bold.  There is nothing that you would not be able to handle. People are always helpful by don’t reveal your ignorance while travelling which might be taken advantage of by others.

Q-. Any other insight you want to share with fellow women travelers?

Ans Women are also the most finicky people who always grumble about small things like stay arrangement, food, timings etc.  Try to overlook small issues since they will not allow you to enjoy your travel


I would like thank all 4 of our guest today, Bhavana, Jamila, Kiranmai and Rajani to take time and respond to the questions I have sent them at such a short notice.  Each one of them is a leader in her own right and a proof that today’s women can do anything be it career, or travel or adventure activity continuously challenging the world and pushing the boundaries. Respect.

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  28 Responses to “4 Women Who Travel and Lead”

Comments (28)
  1. Though I went through this post so late, I am glad I did!. Nice to meet you all spunky people!. Thanks Prasad for introducing them to us.

  2. Dear Prasad, sorry for the late comment. I did a quick read of your post and shared it before I left for Delhi. I wanted to thank you for interviewing me–it felt good to be finally acknowledged as a traveler. The stories of the other women in this blog is very inspiring–women rock climbing and in mountains–I need to print and paste their pics on my wall. We need more of them. Thanks for introducing these lovely women.

  3. This is pretty awesome, to see so many solo women travelers in India! I’m very impressed! Not to mention the fact that some did the EBC and Kilimanjaro! 🙂

    It’s good to her of stories like this when you’re surrounded by negative stories all the time! Fantastic idea! 🙂

  4. Great stuff – very inspiring for men and women alike!
    It’s all about the ordinary women doing extraordinary things everyday.

  5. Lovely to read these solo travel accounts. I have travelled alone from the time I was 11 or so. The first one was a 25 mile bus ride to my maternal grand parents house. 🙂 Love to travel alone. Thanks.

  6. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  7. A fantastic post with very inspiring women. I know only Bhavana from the four and each one has inspired me. I am a very finicky person while travelling – always wanting everything to be in place but now it seems that one of the impediments to enjoy the process of travelling is being finicky. I have love to read about women who have scaled heights (literally) as slopes and rocks are my greatest challenges. I love heights but slopes always unnerve me.

    Thanks DT for hosting these smart and bold women.

    Joy always,

  8. Wonderfully inspiring!

  9. Wow! Thank you for introducing to four fabulous woman travelers and their thoughts on travel and life. Inspiring read, kudos to all of them for doing what they are doing in their own unique ways. Great post on an apt occasion DT! Best wishes to all 🙂

  10. Great way to celebrate women’s day Prasad. Thank You.

  11. Wow!! thats a good one for the special day!! While i have not met the other 3, I guess Rajani is always my fav 🙂 !

  12. Nice post of women travelers … !!
    Agree with Rajani about women being very inflexible while traveling. One of the fundamentals of traveling is to go with flow and being flexible.

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