A group of friends, who love adventure travel, decided to attempt a rare challenge to secure a place in the coveted Guinness Book of World Records. Inspired by a European duo that visited 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within 24 hours, they decided to travel across seven similar sites in India only via public transport such as suburban and metro rail, buses, auto rickshaws and meter taxis.
Coimbatore-based Princy William and her husband Steffan Ajay, who call themselves the Touring Turtlez, share with DT Next the roller coaster ride that followed during the attempt. “Totally, 21 members, including five children and five women, undertook the challenge and most of us into adventure travel — there was Tenzing Norgay awardee from Hyderabad too, Shekhar Babu Bachinepally, who has scaled Mount Everest,” says Ajay.
The team had to beat all the prerequisites set by the European record holders right from the number of people participating, number of places visited, modes of transport taken and so on. “We chose to cover Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi by starting with the Taj Mahal, Agra fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Bharatpur National Park, Humayun’s tomb, Red Fort and ending at Qutub Minar,” he explains. The team’s intention was to raise awareness on sustainable mobility, and to prove that India is well connected, through this challenge.
It took them 11 hours and 32 minutes to complete the task, after which they met with the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia. Ajay recalls, “Even he was surprised to learn that it was possible to cover three states and seven monuments within 12 hours!” Highlighting how well India is connected, he adds, “If rural settings are so accessible by sustainable modes of locomotives, urban dwellers have no excuse not to rely on public transport every day. Vehicular emission and air pollution are so high in the three states that we travelled to because of which many of these heritage sites are irreversibly damaged.”
Though the challenge took a toll on the participants due to the intense summer heat, it had its fair share of surprises too. According to Princy, “One of the most memorable moments was when the school in which one of the kids who was part of our team called its Delhi branch and intimated them of our scheduled visit to Qutub Minar. When we reached, nearly 40-50 kids aged four were waiting with banners, food and juice to greet and cheer us on!”
Despite the rickety buses, sweltering heat, dusty roads, minimal restroom breaks and barely any food or rest — all while racing against the clock — she says she thoroughly enjoyed taking part and winning this challenge.