Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Safest Destination For Solo Women Travellers

I can say that without an iota of qualm that Gujarat is the safest destination in India for women solo travellers. Although I don’t usually categorise any destination as safe or unsafe – I like to be cautious in any given place, I found Gujarat to be a really safe destination for solo female travellers. I’m happy to add it to my list of ‘top solo travel destinations in India’.


As soon as I boarded the train from Secunderabad, the vivid images of Gujarati women, garbed in colourful saris and kurtas hinted at what Gujarat would turn out to be – a happy and genial haven of lovely people. Besides, I met a very nice family on the train, who very graciously helped me with my luggage when I reached Ahmedabad.


Since I had researched about Ahmedabad that it’s one of the safest cities in India, I already had positive feelings about it. I was happy to find Ahmedabad as safe as it’s reputed to be. I didn’t find anything odd or unfamiliar about it. Since my main destination was Bhuj (Kutch) and I had a few hours to kill in Ahmedabad, I roamed around with my luggage everywhere. I went to Sabarmati Ashram and Kankaria Lake. I liked the fact that the auto guys were helpful, too. I’d say it’s pretty easy to get around in Ahmedabad. 


If I had to list my reasons for travelling alone in Gujarat, I’d say the below mentioned experiences should really nudge you to plan a solo trip to Gujarat –

Gujaratis are amiable folks.

The people of Gujarat are not just friendly, but full of life, too. It doesn’t take very long to build conversations with them. It’s an easy-going feeling to be in Gujarat. You can talk to anyone on impulse. There’s no need to be too reserved or guarded.

After so much of noise over crime against women in India, walking alone on the streets of Ahmedabad, in the late evening, was kind of a welcome break – I dragged my luggage everywhere looking for a cyber café where I could take an important photo copy. That’s when a shop-owner came to usher me to a café. Much to my dismay, as I began to walk with him, I realised that the place looked dreary – it barely looked like there could be any shop, let alone a cyber café. At first, I refused to go forward, but comprehending my caution and concern, my usher assured me that there was nothing to be scared of. And, as I walked a few steps ahead, I saw a little cyber café tucked away in a corner.    


Kutch is even better.

Although Kutch is part of Gujarat, it seems more like a world of its own. The people of Kutch are simple, traditional and hospitable to the core. I travelled to Bhuj on an overnight bus from Ahmedabad. To be honest, I was a bit wary of doing so until I hopped on the bus and settled in my seat. The journey was smooth and I woke up to a beautiful morning in Bhuj. The bus conductor dropped me at a point where I could find transport to reach where I needed to go.


The village folks extend genuine hospitality.

‘Hospitality’ is said to be the backbone of travel industry. But, it’s mostly sold than offered freely. There is a difference between a sugar-coated hospitality and genuine graciousness. I found the village folks in Kutch to be genuinely hospitable. They smiled, greeted, waved goodbyes and showed concern out of sheer cordiality. What I valued more was when a local helped me find an appropriate conveyance for my day jaunts, when a young damsel escorted me to my homestay in the late evening, and when I didn’t have to worry about my safety, because people around me (who were strangers) were happy to have me in their midst.


Culture is the soul of Gujarat.

I believe any corner of the world is safe for both men and women if it’s culturally rooted. The people of Gujarat and Kutch are still clenched to their traditions, and that reflects in their attitudes. They dress, eat and live traditionally. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to neutralize cultures, but being ingrained to your roots has its own rewards.

Being a solo woman traveller in Gujarat was easy – not just because I could take care of myself, but because the people of Gujarat made it an easy experience for me.

Do you have a special solo travel memory that you’d like to talk about today? Please share it in the comments!


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32 comments:

  1. lovely post... thanks for sharing Renuka. Gujarat is awesome and Ahmedabad is my favourite as I have spent a lot of my school vacations there :-)

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    1. Oh, great! Although I didn't spend much time in Ahmedabad, I still felt a very warm vibe there. Kutch was even better!

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  2. Thanks for sharing such useful information. After reading your post I am feeling an irresistible urge to visit Kutch. And btw, the photos are lovely as usual :)

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    1. Thanks Moon :-) Yes, you must visit Kutch. I'm sure you will enjoy it. Just plan your trip nicely.

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  3. Yes, I have a special solo travel memory when for the first time I was driving Royal Enfield and for the first time I was driving in higher mountains and for the first time I was going to Triyuginarayan (near Sonprayag). The road was not well made nor too much width and all around was jungle and deep valley and I was driving alone. Not a single other vehicle or person was on road and I was afraid a little for few km but then I talk to self to continue and I reached Triyuginarayan.

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  4. Obviously I'm not a huge solo traveler but I've dabbled. And I agree that it's nice when you really feel safe. It's wonderful that you were able to walk alone at night and that men actually helped you in these places. One of the hardest parts of living in Jakarta is that I'm constantly going all around the city alone. As a woman it can be really unsettling at times, especially at night!

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    1. Yes, it's never really safe for a woman to walk alone in any corner of the world, but I guess, we need to judge our surroundings and do accordingly. Like in my case, I walked alone in the late evening, because it was a crowded area with lots of hotels, shops and a train station around.

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  5. Really nice post! i want to go here....

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  6. What a fantastic, beautiful, positive piece!! Thank you for sharing this - I am currently in Chennai, and it's so difficult to convince people that India is not simply the headlines of attacks on women. We need more of this out there - and Gujarat looks simply divine, whether male or female :)

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    1. Yes, we need to spread the word about India being a safe and an inviting place for solo travel. How is Chennai treating you? Must be very hot by now! Make it to Hyderabad, too. Maybe we can catch up.

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    2. Ahhhh I only just saw this now - and I've left Chennai :( We must make a time and place to catch up - I'm sure we would have lots of stories to swap :)

      And yeah Chennai? "Hot" is the word!!

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  7. Well, the rule of "golden mean" is more than applicable here - India is so friendly that it's easy to relax and forget about your defenses, and this is where unpleasantness might begin. At the same time, being paranoic about real and potential dangers is not the way either. beautiful description and pictures of Kutch, Renuka.

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    1. Thank you, Antonina! :-) Yes, being cautious all the time is the key to keeping dangers at bay anywhere. But of course, you can't let the fun slip out of your hand by being too cautious. A solo traveler has to trust his/her instincts.

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  8. Having lived in Gujarat for few months myself, I will agree with you that Gujarati people are friendly and helpful. However, I don't agree that Auto guys are helpful. I had a different experience at Ahmedabad. Auto guys try to charge at least five times the normal fare from outsiders. Yet, the auto guys never made me feel unsafe except the money part. One more things, Can't the comment show my Gravatar Image?

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    1. Well, different people have different experiences. I did not mention anything about whether auto guys charge right or not. I just said that they are helpful. I really liked the fact that they guided me well about the city and were polite, too. As far as your gravatar image is concerned, I will check that. :-)

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  9. Glad to know about your good experience, i have had not-so-pleasant encounter with Gujaratis in the US.

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    1. I have no experience with Gujaratis in the US. But what I experienced in Gujarat was endearing.

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  10. Never heard of these places before!! Great to hear women can feel safe here :) Added to my bucket list!

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    1. Yes, women can feel safe in Gujarat. :-)

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  11. That was an uplifting post! Just wanna rush off now. It sounds and looks amazing Renuka - and the way you describe it makes it so tempting:-) Gorgeous:-)

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    1. Thanks Eli :-) I'm sure you will love Gujarat!

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  12. The blog is so interesting and informative for all travel enthusiasts.

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  16. Hi Renuka,
    Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences in Kutch. Im very much looking forward for a trip from Mumbai to Kutch in jan. It will mostly be a solo journey, as none of my friends showed interest especially because of the 15 hrs train travel. Do you have any inputs to share with me which I should be careful about during train travel and public transport in Kutch? Have already started following your blog.

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    1. Kutch has a great transport system. Take buses or other shared vehicles. Stay away from taxis except for Rann of Kutch. The locals of Kutch are helpful and nice. Just be confident and at the same time careful.

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