Video creator and popular travel influencer, also an actor, Shenaz Treasury, has travelled across the length and breadth of India as part of what she describes as her ‘Happiness Project’. The aim is to offer a daily dose of positivity to her followers. Some of her recent adventures in India include Kashmir, the Andamans, and Meghalaya.
On a personal note, travel for Treasury is a way to not just explore a new place but to also gain new experience, and do something that is absolutely different from everyday reality. "Meeting new people, learning about new cultures, and most of all being in the lap of nature really excites me. Travelling to stunning places makes me feel calm and peaceful, and motivates me. I love to try different cuisines, and when I am travelling all my senses are activated as I am looking at beautiful things, smelling new fragrances, tasting new food, and touching trees, I am a tree hugger," Treasury says.
Challenges of being a solo female traveller in India
However, being a full-time traveller is not easy for women especially in a country like India, and Treasury has also had her share of encounters to prove that. “I have travelled around the world, and as a female solo traveller, one thing I have learnt is that unfortunately, India is the most unsafe country for a woman to travel alone,” she says. In Varkala, after being followed by a couple of guys on the beach, she got so terrified that she started taking a friend along.
"However, I love India and I am always travelling around here," Treasury affirms.
"I have travelled to Columbia, Mexico, Peru, all on my own. These are supposedly dangerous countries but there you might get mugged. However, in India, the lack of women's safety is a sad reality. Now I have learnt to be more aware. I don’t go out and party at night on my own. I know when someone is following me, I know where to look. Whenever I am travelling alone abroad, I make sure to stay informed about where I might get mugged. I try to dress down, without valuables, and always just fit into the place I travel to," Treasury says.
Shenaz Treasury shares three states in India that must be on your travel bucket list:
1. Andamans over the Maldives
With multiple visas and immigration stamps on her passport, Treasury continues to choose India over other parts of the world. "People keep talking about the Maldives but I feel that Andamans, especially Havelock Island, is more exciting. The water is beautiful, it's a jungle island, has a rich local culture to explore; I can't wait to go back," she says adding that, unlike the Maldives, it offers, both, adventure and relaxation.
She recalls her adventure with scuba diving when she received her license. "I got my scuba diving license in Andamans, but it was not easy. I had to go underwater, take off the weight belt, and save someone. Getting a scuba diving license takes a lot of skill. It takes four days, and you have to study a lot. But now, I can scuba dive even with a friend," she adds. A scuba diver is supposed to remove, adjust, or replace the weight belt, in order to maintain control over depth, buoyancy, and body position. Learning to save not just yourself but also your co-diver is an important lesson taught as a part of the scuba diving training.
Talking about the east and the west side of the Andamans, the former she says is calm and has a blue-green sea, much like the Maldives while the west side she adds has choppy seas in gorgeous blue.
If you're ever in Andamans, Shenaz Treasury recommends fish curry and rice at the Full Moon Café and an eco-conscious stay at the Barefoot Resort, which is built in the jungle.
2. Kashmir over Switzerland
Speaking of her recent trip to Kashmir, Treasury believes the place is underrated. "I had always heard of Kashmir as stunning and gorgeous. When I reached there, I realised that it is so much more beautiful than described, it could beat Switzerland any day! The people are so warm and hospitable and so happy to see us travelling there, they really need tourism to grow. I enjoyed that beauty and the rawness of Kashmir," she says.
In her Instagram and YouTube videos, Treasury shows visitors enjoying a host of activities on can take up at the Dal Lake such as shikara ride, enjoying fountain showers, shopping at the floating market and water skiing, as well as eating kababs and trout fish in Srinagar.
She recommends staying in a houseboat, exploring places such as Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonmarg and trying out local Kashmiri cuisine. In an Instagram post, she recommends visiting Gulmarg not just in winter for the famous shikara ride, but in July to witness a bed of lavender-coloured, Lupin flowers. Betaab Valley in Pahalgam, where people come for camping, picnic, photography, to play cricket, or to just simply take a walk. A hike to the Thajiwas Glacier in Sonmarg is also a must-do according to Treasury.
3. The sacred forest and living root bridges of Meghalaya
Treasury stayed in Meghalaya for one-and-a-half months during the lockdown and even took her first dose of the COVID vaccine there, so the state holds a special place in her heart. “Meghalaya was beautiful, I loved how eco-conscious it is. You can go trail running, hiking, kayaking. You can live a very active life and the waterfalls are just amazing. Wherever you go there is a waterfall to jump in. They also have a café culture with beautiful music. There are bands playing everywhere, and people are really cool and extremely well dressed,” she gushes.
Talking about the sacred forests of Meghalaya, Treasury adds that the people worship these forests, and are extremely careful about not taking a single thing in or out of there. "You cannot leave anything there not even a hairband or a scrunchy and there is no littering. When you leave the forest they check you properly, and even if there is a leaf on you, you are supposed to take it off because it is considered a bad omen," she explains. Mawphlang Sacred Grove in the East Khasi Hills is one of the biggest sacred forests in Meghalaya. It lies near the Mawphlang village. Apart from the East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya's Jaintia Hills district is another place full of sacred forests.
Of the living root bridges of Meghalaya, she says, they are actual bridges formed from the rubber tree, and can’t be found anywhere else in the world. In an Instagram post, about the double-decker root bridges of Nongriat, she talks about climbing down 3,200 steps to reach the natural root bridges. “Most of Meghalaya's living root bridges are located near Cherrapunjee. The bridges were discovered by Denis Rayen, who, along with his wife, Carmela, started the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort. These bridges are now world-famous. According to Denis, the ordinary bridges would rot under the heavy rain of Cherrapunjee, but the living root bridges just get stronger as they get older," her post further reads.