Kashmir, Red Corridor, Garo Hills - Lessons From My Travels Through Insurgent Parts Of India


I am a travel writer with a keen interest in culture and wildlife. When it comes to culture, my focus is on languages, customs, cuisine (vegetarian), lifestyle, economics and folklore. Over the years, I have developed a skill of asking the right questions along with observing and carefully analyzing both the said words and the unsaid. I travel mostly to areas with distinct and diverse tribal cultures.

And, every now and then, the tribal areas fall in volatile parts of our country. Areas with insurgency and separatist movements. It is always a tightrope when it comes to travelling in areas frequented by, according to the government – terrorists, Naxalites, Maoists and rebels. The vociferous valley in the north, the much-feared Red Corridor, the smoky hills in remote northeast and the fierce mountains of Garo have all taught me something. Lessons that one can’t find in classrooms and textbooks. The naked truth that the mass media or the internet will never show.

One Kashmir, Many Kashmirs

I spoke with Kashmiris from various walks of life and here are some excerpts from my conversations with the erstwhile paradise.

There are two things in Kashmir that surprised me.

Firstly, no one I spoke to was interested in talking about Kashmiri culture, cuisine, language or folklore. They were only interested in talking about politics. This disappointed me greatly. I wanted to, and actually still want to write about the culture, food and language of Kashmir along with some folk stories. I even mentioned repeatedly during the conversations that let’s talk about the culture but they were least interested. So, after spending a week in Srinagar, I decided to visit rural parts of Kashmir in search of culture.

Photo of Naranaag, Kangan by Varun Suchday

I visited the hilly hamlet of Naranag. I was surprised by what I found there.

For the complete article, please visit my blog - Winds of Travel. You can also follow me on Instagram - ThirdWorldStoryTeller.