After cycling through Northern and Western states, Ankit was travelling across southern India for the past three years. When the COVID struck last year, he was in Anchetty town, Krishnagiri district. He stayed with a local family and was building a self-sustainable village. Last month, Ankit decided to travel to Chennai on foot. He left his bicycle in Anchetty and walked to Kanniyakumari. From there, he walked and hitchhiked to Chennai and reached here on August 2.
“I have pedalled half India — covering 15 states and eight Union Territories. I travel to learn about thousands of micro cultures, the wisdom of diverse crafts and indigenous ways that hold us together despite differences. My journey has connected me with people in more ways than one — taking me to the roots,” Ankit starts the conversation.
A former journalist, Ankit’s mission is to meet farmers and learn new things. Whenever he stops in a city or village, he talks to locals, students and shares his knowledge about India. He opines that students are not getting the real picture of the country through textbooks. “If I am travelling through villages, I stay with the farmers. Also, I get to meet people from the tribal communities, know about their culture, food, lifestyle and homemaking methods. Last year, during the lockdown, I came to Anchetty town, Krishnagiri district. The family with whom I stayed asked me about my dream after the cycling tour. I told them that I wanted to make a self-sustainable village — a community where one can practice all sorts of arts, crafts, organic farming and build natural houses. That family liked my idea and told me they will also join. So, on a small piece of land, we started organic farming and made three mud houses with natural resources and alcohol bottles collected from nearby rivers and Hogenakkal waterfalls. We have named the farm Innisfree farm. There is a poem titled Lake Isle of Innisfree in the Class 9 English textbook. The poem talks about a peaceful place where one can go and live with the local people. We wanted this farm to be such a place where anyone can come and live in peace,” the traveller smiles.
This is his second visit to Chennai. Earlier, was in 2018. “I will be going back to Krishnagiri after three days and continue my work there for some more days. Also, I wanted to meet more farmers from the neighbouring region. Later, I will be heading to central India. I guess I will be cycling for two more years visiting the rest of the states,” he concludes.