Thiruvananthapuram-based entrepreneur Naufar Jaleel has been bitten by the proverbial travel bug. He embarked on a journey through India on a modified autorickshaw on September 11, 2018. Naufar covered 19,000 km in 232 days on his TVS King 4S, named ‘Qalifa’, which runs on LPG and has a seat which can be converted into a vertical bed.
The 29-year-old started from the South, travelling through Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad; crossed Maoist-infested forests of Chhattisgarh, before moving up to Kolkata and travelled further into the Northeastern states. The sights were enthralling—living root bridge in Nongriat, Meghalaya, Emma Keithel (a women-only market) in Imphal and Aizawl, the beautiful capital of Mizoram. “I also attended the Papum Poma river festival in Arunachal Pradesh and the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland,” he says.
Thereafter, Naufar travelled across North India—Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. “Each state is like a country. Sometimes even though I was in one state I witnessed so many different cultures. In UP, Varanasi is so different from Allahabad and Lucknow,” he explains. During a three-year stint at a company in Sydney, Australia, Naufar had similarly backpacked across Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia.
During his trip in India, locals invited him to their homes for a meal and rest for the night. “There is something about an autorickshaw. Most have travelled in one. So they felt an affinity towards the vehicle, and for me as well.” He also stayed in temples, mosques, churches, gurudwaras and schools.
Throughout his journey, Naufar received free servicing and maintenance from TVS service centres all over the country. And, as a member of the Rotary Club of Kazhakootam, he also visited many clubs to raise funds for the victims of the 2018 Kerala floods. On April 28, Naufar returned home. “I have been infected by wanderlust. After a few months, I will set off again,” he ends.