Dancer And Actor Raghav Juyal Talks About Travel, Films, And Food
Popularly known in India as the "King of Slow Motion" because of his signature dancing style, dancer and actor Raghav Juyal spoke to Outlook Traveller about his home state of Uttarakhand, the new projects he is working on, and his love for the dish "chole katlambe," which is exclusive to Dehradun.
What are the essentials you would recommend every solo traveller to carry?
I recommend adopting a minimalist approach when packing for your travels. Instead of carrying large suitcases, opt for a sturdy backpack that comfortably accommodates all your essentials. Limit your clothing choices to a couple of versatile shirts and pants to keep your luggage light. Consider investing in a quick-dry towel, which takes up minimal space and can be a lifesaver. Packing some dry fruits and light snacks is smart for on-the-go sustenance. If you're heading to hilly terrain, don't forget to include a windcheater in your essentials. Sticking to the basics and traveling light'll make your journey much more enjoyable and hassle-free.
You're from Uttarakhand, where there has been an issue of overtourism. What do you have to say about that?
Addressing the challenge of over-tourism requires a thoughtful and organised approach. One effective strategy is to cap the number of travellers allowed to visit a destination during specific periods. This controlled approach ensures that tourists do not constantly inundate the area. Overtourism is a persistent issue even in places like Himachal Pradesh, where the influx of tourists has led to drastic changes in local infrastructure, resulting in overcrowded housing and hotels.
The consequences of uncontrolled tourism can be dire, especially when natural disasters strike. It's crucial to prioritise planned tourism development in hilly regions. Take, for example, the northeastern state of Sikkim, where a well-planned and clean environment sets a positive example. We should strive to replicate such planning and cleanliness in northern hill stations, where littering and over-tourism pose significant challenges that must be addressed.
Do you travel often? What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
For me, there's no place in the world quite like Dehradun. I visit this city regularly, and I genuinely believe that once you've experienced life in Dehradun, it's hard to find another place to compare. Dehradun and its neighbouring gems like Rishikesh and Mussoorie stand out as one of the best destinations globally. These places' unique charm and allure make them truly special, and they have left an indelible mark on me.
If you had to guide first-time travellers to Dehradun, which places would you suggest they check out in the city and the delicacies they should try?
Dehradun has a lot to offer, especially for food enthusiasts. One must-try delicacy is "chole katlambe," a signature street food unique to the city. Interestingly, the name 'Dehradun' is derived from 'dera,' which means a temporary home. During the partition, many people settled in Dehradun, bringing their cultures and cuisines, including chole katlambe, which you won't find elsewhere in India. Additionally, don't miss out on the delicious Pahadi cuisine and the crowd favourites, momos, and thukpa.
In terms of places to visit, many hyper-local and niche spots may not have proper names, but I recommend exploring the George Everest House, a must-see attraction. For a delightful breakfast, head to Chaar Dukaan, known for its irresistible pancakes. If you want to venture further from the city, consider a trip to Chakrata; it's a stunning destination. While exploring, having a car can be convenient.
One humble request to all travellers is to be responsible and considerate. Take care of your belongings, and please avoid littering. Ensure that you carry back any waste you generate and dispose of it properly, preserving the region's natural beauty.
Looking at your social media, one can guess that you are a waterbaby. Is that true?
Indeed, water holds a special place in my heart as it has a unique ability to bring me inner peace and tranquillity. Whenever I immerse myself in water, whether a pool, lake, or ocean, I instantly find a sense of calm that nothing else can disrupt. This connection stems from our early existence inside our mother's womb, surrounded and protected by the amniotic fluid. Similarly, when I'm underwater, it's as if I'm transported to a world where external worries and conflicts cease to matter. Everything becomes insignificant, and it's like entering a serene, otherworldly realm, akin to what I imagine going inside a wormhole might feel like.
What are some advice that you would like to give travellers, especially those who are travelling to Uttarakhand?
I have one essential piece of advice for all travellers: Have a fantastic time, but please do not litter. Hill people, like us, cherish a calm and peace-loving lifestyle. We value tranquillity and harmony and do not appreciate excessive violence, drama, or rash driving. So, as a responsible traveller, respecting our local way of life is crucial.
Additionally, I want to emphasise the importance of caution regarding rivers. There have been unfortunate incidents of tourists drowning, so please care when near water bodies. By being responsible and mindful of these aspects, you can make your visit to hilly regions like Dehradun enjoyable and respectful of the local community.
You are an avid trekker and have climbed several mountains in India. Which other places would you like to trek to outside India?
Two destinations at the top of my bucket list for quite some time are Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Machu Picchu in Peru. I have a strong desire to explore these remarkable places, and I hope to make that dream a reality in the near future.
Tell us about any new projects you're working on.
I have a significant project in the works but cannot divulge the details now. However, I'm thrilled to share that I have several other projects. The "Gyaara Gyaara" teaser is already out, and I'm eagerly awaiting everyone's response. Additionally, I've had the privilege of collaborating with esteemed production houses like Dharma Productions and Excel Entertainment, and I must say, I feel like I'm living my dream.