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Thursday, August 18, 2022

This Pune Girl Hitchhiked Solo 2200Km Across Maharashtra & Explored 41 Villages & 22 Beaches

A lot of women, who are travel enthusiasts, are breaking stereotypes and embarking on solo trips through mountains, beaches, forests and scenic roads. While a solo trip itself needs a good deal of courage, most women go for planned trips with fixed tourism packages. But Shraddha from Pune took the solo trip game a notch higher. She set out to explore the interiors of Maharashtra all by herself majorly through public transport and hitchhiking. Yes, there were risks involved. But she had the soul of the adventure to transcend all the fears and uncertainties. Here’s Shraddha taking over to narrate her incredible journey.

Solo Female Traveller From Pune Traveled 2200+ Km Across Maharashtra By Public Transport and Hitchhiking
I am Shraddha – a Pune native, an Indian and a Chartered Accountant. I left my career in the corporate sector to become a full-time world traveller. I am currently exploring my home country – India. And I have been to four countries in Europe. Here I am going to narrate the story of my solo journey in Maharashtra. I travelled over 2200 km across Maharashtra majorly by public transport and hitchhiking in a short span of 21 days. This journey was challenging yet fun at every step of the way. I visited 41 villages and cities, went to 22 beaches and saw 18 temples from different eras. From trains to ferries to buses to bikes I travelled in 7 different types of transport.

I travelled majorly by public transport and hitchhiking. To be precise I covered almost 1367 km by Mstrc buses and 760 km by hitchhiking. I had a rented bike for 58 km and I covered another 15 km I covered by foot. That is roughly 2200 km across Maharashtra, which comes to an average of 105 km/day. The distances were calculated using the best route on Google maps, which means the actual distances are even more.

More than a journey, to me, this trip was a learning experience too. I learned hitchhiking, pole fishing, setting up a tent, building up a campfire, bird watching and yes, I picked up the hack of making decisions quickly.

My Maharashtra itinerary was something like this – I went slowly from Pune to southern Maharashtra till Kolhapur. After Kolhapur, I diverted my route to Malvan. Then I continued along the coastline from Malvan towards North till Murud. After Murud I came home to Pune and rested for 3 days. Then I resumed my earlier planned trip from Mumbai towards northern Maharashtra. My trip ended with a sunrise trek at Kalsubai – The highest peak of Maharashtra.

Minimizing My Carbon Footprints
My intention behind using public transport for this entire trip was to minimize my carbon footprints. But I overestimated the efficiency and availability of state-run public transport. The proudly called Laalpari or MSRTC buses in Maharashtra are way better than the public transport in any other state in India. But they were still not enough for me. In several places, I was stuck with no public transport or the buses had some odd timings which were not suitable for me. And that led to hitchhiking for about 760 km in the most rural parts of Maharashtra.

Moreover, I used only 1 plastic packaged water bottle, and that was because the hotel refused to give me their regular tap water. Everywhere else I insisted on drinking regular tap water and I ended up drinking from numerous dams, rivers and wells across Maharashtra.

Hitchhiking As A Solo Female
I did the majority of the travelling and especially hitchhiking during the day, in broad sunlight. I always planned to reach my hotel before sunset. I still remember my first hitchhiking experience. I stood awkwardly showing my hand to random bikes outside the Wai bus stand. At the same time, I was trying to memorise all that I had read about hitchhiking on the internet.

I had figured out that going with a bike would be safer than hitchhiking inside a car. But that was physically very challenging and painful in the mountain ghat roads. I constantly felt that my over-packed rucksack was pulling me down whenever the road was going uphill.

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