He began his career with TV show ‘Kya Hadsaa Kya Haqeeqat’, and then gained fame with his character in ‘Kahiin To Hoga’. Apart from television, Rajeev Khandelwal has enacted in many popular films and hosted quite a number of TV shows. Here is a one-to-one with him on his love for travel.
You started out as a TV star and became a huge success with Kahiin To Hoga in 2003. But given the gruelling schedules of the telly world, were you able to indulge in your passion for travelling?
Where there is passion there is always the time…I have always maintained that my world does not comprise of work alone, it coexists with the other equally important aspects and interests of my life. I remember soon after I bought my new car, I took off on this solo trip to Jim Corbett in 2005 despite my terribly busy schedule, when the popularity of the character Sujal that I was playing in this TV serial was at its peak. In any case, I realized very early in life that ‘Me’ time is very important- it helps me detach completely from the pressures of my busy, professional world.
But, considering you’re such a known face from the TV and film world, do you manage to remain anonymous and enjoy your ‘Me’ time?
I mostly travel to places that are not on the usual tourist radar, so the crowds there are very less. But yes, because I do television, films and now web too, I do end up meeting people who recognize me. But I’ve had only delightful experiences till date because first and foremost, I feel I am a people’s person and love interacting with them. Secondly, when you meet fellow travellers it’s not ‘who you are’ that matters, it’s ‘how you are’ that does. The initial excitement of meeting a celebrity is just very momentary because travellers come with their own agenda.
Tell us about the place you enjoyed shooting in?
I really loved shooting in Switzerland. It was delightful because the place is pretty from any direction or angle. Secondly, the small towns are very sparsely populated so it was a very different experience to go to a restaurant, pub or a departmental store with just a handful of people there. Also the locales there are so pristine and beautiful that you feel refreshed all the time.
Since you hail from Jaipur, do your friends from other parts of the country and world ask you for suggestions for places to visit there? If yes, would you share some of those that you recommend to them?
Yes, a lot of people ask me to make them itineraries and I happily do so. I, almost each time, recommend a place called Jawai Bandh and the Khimsar sand dunes along with the other popular places like Jaisalmer and Barmer. But, for me, the Real Rajasthan exists in places away from the popular cities.
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Tell us about the place you last visited
I recently drove from Chandigarh to Tirthan Valley in Himachal and from there to Lahaul-Spiti and back to Chandigarh. The drive from Lahaul to Spiti is one of the most challenging journeys in the world. I went with two of my friends and we really had the time of our lives there. Besides the terrain, what added to our adventure and excitement was that the FIFA World Cup was on and we saw each match post the quarters in a different setting- sometimes, next to a flowing stream, sometimes on top of a mountain, sometimes with the hotel staff in a remote village.
Anything special that you carried back from your travels?
Besides the number of memories which are very, very special, I sometimes pick up random local things. Like this antique ‘hukka’ that I got from the interiors of Kashmir. I saw this old man in a roadside shed smoking it and requested him to give it to me. I paid him four times its price and even bought him a new hukka. He was more than happy and needless to say, so was I. I also have these spears that I picked up from Nagaland about 20 years back. They are special because that was my first visit out and it was quite an adventure getting them all the way home.
Who is your best travel companion?
I am my best travel companion. I don’t need anyone to travel with me. But if I have to pick anyone, it would have to be my wife as she can adapt to any situation or circumstance. She can enjoy luxury and rough it out too, if need be. We have done many trips together both in India and abroad and yet remain ready to take off at any given moment.
What is it about a place that first captivates you?
It’s the air that always hits me first. Every place has its own distinct scent- be it Mizoram, Kashmir, Goa or Rajasthan etc. And then it’s the people and their lifestyle.
Any interesting incident you remember that’s related to your travels?
Once, two of my college friends and I were stuck in the snowfall in the Spiti Valley. Ours was among the handful of vehicles that were allowed to go in as the roads had just opened and there we were, stuck for 8 hrs in the middle of nowhere! The tourists and some locals in other cars recognised me so there was this initial excitement but, after a while, we were all in the same boat of stranded people waiting for help to arrive. And once we realised that the snow-clearing vehicle would be there in a few hours’ time, the party started and this was in almost sub-zero temperature. The locals managed to light a fire somehow and we all sat around it chatting and eating whatever was available in those cars. When the bulldozer arrived, each and every vehicle was towed out. Adversity sometimes gives you many precious moments and lovely memories.
Despite having travelled across the world, there must still be many places on your wish-list?
I am ticking off Iceland this year from that list. Finland, Mongolia, Antarctica and Kenya/Tanzania are still some of the few countries left on my wish list.
What does your travel kit generally carry?
Trekking/walking/running shoes, multiplugs, shorts, dry fruit, sunscreen and rest is customised according to the place I am travelling to.
All images were provided by Rajeev Khandelwal