I was always inspired by hippies. They work for six months of the year and travel the rest of the time,” says Dr Jagannathan Srinivasaraghavan, who has travelled to 772 countries. But his thirst for discovering more remains unsatiated.
“Before I left for the US in 1977, I had travelled almost the length and breadth of India. My father worked in the Railways and I made most of those passes to visit places,” says Srinivasaraghavan, who is a forensic psychiatrist, professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at University School of Medicine in Southern Illinois, and a globetrotter at heart.
“A month after reaching the US, I took the Greyhound bus and did a round trip from New York to Chicago, southwest cities, Toronto and the Niagara Falls. I did all this in nine days, of which I spent seven nights in the bus.”
Srinivasaraghavan completed his four-year residency in three years from a hospital affiliated to Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, Illinois, in 1980.
Till 2016, Srinivasaraghavan—popularly known as Dr Van—covered eastern and western Europe, Iceland, Arctic region, Antarctica, Australia, northeast and southeast Asia, China, and the Central Pacific islands. “The beauty of all these places is stunning,” he says.
In 1986, he took a 10-day trip to remote places in Indonesia and a 20-day trek to Kala Pathar in the Everest base camp at an altitude of 18,192 feet. The next year saw him traversing extensively through Africa.
Recollecting his most memorable experience, he says, “I travelled to Antarctica in January 1985 and to the North Pole in April 1985. From there I went to Camp Opal at 86 degrees, and further up to 90 degrees north, where all directions face south. I remained there for 81 minutes.”
He is the first Indian to hoist the Indian flag at the North Pole. He visited the South Pole in December 2011 for the 100th year anniversary of Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer who led the Antarctic expedition of 1910-12, which was the first to reach the South Pole on 14 December 1911.
The 66-year-old is ranked ninth in the world travellers list on mosttraveledpeople.com. Of the 875 places on the website map, he has visited all except 93. Only last week, he flew to Chagos Archipelago.
He says, “One experience that will always be close to my heart was on Christmas Island, when I gave psychiatric assistance to 42 refugees rescued from a boat that had crashed on the Flying Fishing Cove rocks at 6.30 that morning.”
Islands in the pacific Rangiroa in Tamutou north of Tahiti is his favourite destination. “Now I will go to Tahiti with my wife,” says Srinivasaraghavan, who is among the 20 travellers interviewed and highlighted in Chasing 193 Volume 2 authored by Ryan Trapp.