From riding solo to the mountains to exploring food in Punjab and walking through the labyrinth of Benarasi lanes, here are eight travel documentaries with a fresh perspective about India that will awaken the travel bug in you.
The shining sun, the cooling breeze; the sounds of nature, the joyous rain; the deep sea, the vast mountain; the towering trees, the mind-boggling streets; the foreign tongue, the exciting flavours: travelling to an unknown place truly opens up your mind to a variety of experiences and possibilities of encounters with interesting people. This vacation, rent a bike and ride to the mountains, or book a train and explore little towns. Here are a few inspiring documentaries to get those bags packing:
Hit the Road
Ever wondered what it’s like to travel 1300 kilometres in a rickshaw? In this adventurous documentary, Ric Gazarian and Keith King undertake the Mumbai Xpress, a 12-day autorickshaw rally that goes all the way from Mumbai to Chennai, braving monsoon rains, cold, and heat. Produced by an Armenia-based film studio, this 80-minute experience is filled with funny witticisms and exciting encounters.
Riding Solo to the Top of the World
This is every motorcycle owner’s dream come true. Gaurav Jani takes up the picturesque but slightly risky ride from Mumbai to Ladakh. In this solo ride (no film crew, just him, his bike, and a camera), he cruises his way to Changthang Plateau, considered one of the most remote places in India. It’s truly a triumph when he reaches his destination – after all the minor glitches, self doubts, personal wins, and heartwarming stories from people he meets on the way. Produced by Dirt Track Productions, with music by Ved Nair.
One Crazy Ride
A 2009 production by Dirt Track Productions, this travelogue follows five friends on a ride of a lifetime. It takes us on previously unexplored routes towards Arunachal Pradesh, through the Himalayas. They face crazy weather, risky paths and routes untouched by humans, but come through with it together, as a team. It’s an amazing experience to watch as the five of them face their fear of the unknown.
The Maze of Lanes
A beautiful tribute to Varanasi, or ‘Benaras’, as it’s called in this documentary, Kalpana Subramanian’s view of the city is new and refreshing. Also known as Mauj Masti, her view of the intricate lanes and narrow pathways is that of enchantment, mystery and curious complexity. The 6-minute documentary takes us through these lanes, as the narrator talks about the legends associated with this maze.
Parts Unknown: India
Season 3 of the CNN global series called Parts Unknown hosted by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain starts off with an episode dedicated wholly to the flavours of Punjab. Watch as he takes us through the colours, tastes, and aromas of what he calls the ‘breadbasket of India’. He also explores the Sikh culture, and through the episode makes us realise how even vegetarian food can be a delicious, lip-smacking deal in Punjab.
Will and Tom undertake an enormous journey on a cycle for a cause – to promote sustainable travelling. They cycle from Rishikesh to Mumbai and Bengaluru in six weeks, inspiring us with ideas on travelling the most eco-friendly way. The crowd-funded documentary initiative is one of its kind with a positive message.
Way Back Home
An amazing series dedicated to exploring the lesser known regions in the valleys of the Himalayas, this documentary released on MTV Indies is the latest offering on the secrets of the mountains. Hosted by Rohan Thakur, it’s also a musical tribute to the beauty and serenity of the snow-capped peaks and its people. Produced by Shoelace Films, it is styled like a movie, with his own music.