Rohan Agarwal (19) from Nagpur-Maharashtra on a Walk & Hitchhike Journey across 100 Indian Cities Stops in Kudla, a journey he started on 25 August 2020, and he has plans to even travel out of India till Siberia, which he says will take him close to ten years to complete his mission- and all this he does with NO MONEY in hand! But he still continues pursuing his bachelor’s degree while travelling
Mangaluru: The Coastal Town, Mangaluru has been a pit-stop destination for many people who are on a mission either travelling by two-wheelers, four-wheelers and even by walking or hitchhiking. Following close on its heels after 23-year-old Youth Arun Garg hailing from Punjab Travelling by Foot from Kashmir to Kanyakumari had made a Pit stop in Kudla on 28 September 2021, a journey which he had on 10 May 2021 and plans to end in Kanyakumari by 10 October 2021, now we have yet another youngster of age 19, on an inspiring journey who has Walked and hitchhiked to over 100 cities across India without money and had stopped in Mangaluru a couple of days ago.
Meet Rohan Agrawal, 19 years old nomad student from Nagpur Maharashtra, who had started his journey on 25 August 2020 last year, leaving his home with just a backpack and Rs 2500 in his wallet. Little did he imagine that he would be able to travel to over a hundred cities with just that, thanks to the kindness of strangers who gave him a ride, fed him and welcomed him into their homes. Rohan had always been impressed with the gurukul system of education in which students had to undertake a Deshantan (journey across India), at least once during their course of study. The journey had to be completely on foot and the one rule was to never ask for food, shelter or anything else.
19-year-old ROHAN AGARWAL
The intention was to learn about India’s culture, its people, broaden one’s perspective on life and learn practical life skills. Rohan decided to imitate the same practice, with the exception that he would also hitchhike when possible. Reaching Mangaluru he had already completed around 400 days since he started his Yatra (journey) and will try to visit every state in India and will travel till Siberia. He has already crossed nearly 14 states and 3 union territories till now.
One may ask why the heck is this 19-year-old youth walking alone from his hometown across India. The answer is simple- He wants to explore the places in India, and also bring awareness on not to use plastic. All of us swear on our wanderlust and think that we are the craziest traveller ever. We feel that we would leave everything right now and just travel endlessly if we got one chance. If only we weren’t stuck in this job, if only we had no financial issues, if only we had no family constraints. If only we were ready to take the challenges that come hand-in-hand with the pleasures of travel. But there are people out there who are taking up these challenges to discover what travelling truly means. And Rohan is a perfect example.
Rohan says that before he became a traveller, He had hardly been out of his house. In fact, it was only when he was 17 that he went on a trip without his parents for the first time. He had travelled to Pune for a wedding and his parents had warned him that it might not be safe. During his trip, he tried to do a bit of sightseeing, but his phone was dying, he didn’t have his wallet with him at that point and his train was about to leave. He couldn’t contact his friends and nobody around trusted him enough to help him out. He realized that it was exactly how his parents had warned. That was until a kind policeman came up to him, asked him what was wrong, gave him some food and helped him call up his friends. That day Rohan realized that there certainly was kindness among people. He became more confident about travelling alone.
The next trip he took was to the Himalayas in 2019. He had been cold and hungry when a pujari in a temple welcomed him in, fed him and even gave him some warm clothes. From then on, Rohan took travelling seriously and on 25 August 2020, he decided to go on a long trip, at least for 60-70 days with just Rs 2,500 rupees in hand. He was able to travel to UP, Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal, Chandigarh, and many other places. Except for one unfortunate incident where he was robbed, and another where he was held as a suspect in police custody for three hours, most of his journey had been a good experience.
For instance, Rohan explains, “There was a man who ran a tea stall and noticed that I was trying very hard to get a lift for a long time. So he paid for my bus ticket. In Chandigarh, there was another man who took me into his house at 4 am. I couldn’t believe that such kind people exist. One guy even booked a train for me from Nagpur to Tirupati.” Though he took a solo journey, Rohan said that several friends and well-wishers poured their support which instilled confidence in him. Throughout his journey, until he had reached Mangaluru, he always found Good Samaritans helping him with accommodation and food. Powered by a dream and aiming to explore every part of India, it seems like Rohan is out on a record-setting journey.
Recalling one instance when he almost starved to death, Rohan says, “Someone dropped me off at the steps to Tirumala and I was told I’ll get free food on the way. I started climbing, I reached halfway, but I didn’t find any food. Then I climbed almost 11 km to the top, only to find out that the free meal would be served only after four hours. It was a very difficult wait, especially because I had resolved I wouldn’t ask for anything. After 30 hours I finally got food and that has been the sweetest food I’ve had to date.
Rohan has several stories of kindness to share. He loves to hear people’s stories, learn about their culture and tell them his stories too. He has gotten rides on bullock carts, trucks, mini trucks and bikes, apart from a lot of walking. Throughout his journey until now, he had a few train and a few bus tickets sponsored. “People have always been kind to me, given me shelter, fed me, given me a ride and gone out of the way to help me. I’ve stayed mostly in people’s houses and once a couple invited me to a hotel. I post on social media about my travel and inform whatever connections I have. People have always responded and welcomed me. I found Kerala especially welcoming. There are several groups for solo travellers that I post about my travels on.”
However, the most inspiring part of Rohan’s travels is that he has managed to continue his studies as well. “Studying and travelling together is not easy, but it is possible. Sometimes due to the lack of network, I have to stop wherever I get the network and listen to the lectures. I’m currently pursuing my second year B Com from G S College of Commerce and Engineering, Nagpur. I plan to do distance learning in my third year.”
When asked how long he plans to keep travelling, he says, “Tourists can plan. I cannot plan how long I’ll be travelling. It depends on how long people will host me and help me.” While it’s human to doubt people’s intentions when they try to help, Rohan says that he has learnt to always trust people. “I believe that people are generally kind and helpful. People have helped me in everything from lift, food, and shelter and even phone recharges and warm clothes and so much love. People have given me the nicest place in their home to sleep, the best food to eat, go out of their way to assure I may reach the destination or place I have been going to, treated me like their son and brother and what not!
I remember a family that was very poor; they don’t make eggs in their home. But they brought it for me because they wanted to give me some good energized food for the next day’s adventure. And there are thousands of stories of humanity. I don’t know what’s the reason behind people showering so much unconditional love to me! I got invited to a Kannada wedding and people were so curious to come up to me and ask several questions and learn some things and share their experiences too. That’s why I’m travelling, to let people know that you just need to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world,” he says.
When asked about his one-day stay experience in Mangaluru, he said that Mnagaloreans are kind, friendly and provide the best hospitality. “Among all the places I stayed during my journey, my host in Mangaluru provided me with the best food, and above all, the friendship and hospitality shown towards me were unbelievable. Wish I had spent a couple more days here, and my interaction with journos at Mangaluru Press Club was great, especially with Team Mangalorean”.
Rohan set out on this journey to explore the country, broaden his thinking and learn life. Almost 400 days later, he says that he has become very patient, learnt to believe more and learnt to give as we receive. For instance, he may not have had money to offer in exchange for food and shelter, but he offered a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. He comforted a man who wanted to commit suicide, he volunteered in several NGOs, and when someone hosted him in their house, he offered to clean the place, wash the clothes, make tea or cook. He helped a 75-year-old Hungarian lady who took him to learn English and manage her home. He worked in exchange for food in Dhabas because he resolved not to ask for anything for free.
In the future, Rohan hopes to start a school for underprivileged children in his ancestral town in Rajasthan. While his parents don’t really approve of his journey, Rohan believes that they are from different generations and their perspectives on life are not the same. He believes that he doesn’t always have to agree, but he does respect them and stays connected. My journey is about learning from a different way and showing humanity still exists amidst show much negativity in the air. Thank You Team Mangalorean and Mangalorean.com for allowing me to share my thoughts and experiences of this journey. Love and Peace!