Umpteen travels with Yathra Mohan in ‘A Tourist’s Guide to Calicut’
74-Year-Old Veteran Travel Guide Yathra Mohan Tells About “Calicut Tour Guide”, a practical and interesting tour book on historic Kozhikode
“There were 40 of us, mostly men, on this bus trip to Goa,” remembers K. Mohan, aka Yathra Mohan. “I asked them why they weren’t taking their daughters. The answer was, “Goa is not a safe place for girls”. The trip changed their outlook. Mohan talks about the first trip he organized as a tour guide in 1984. After that, Goa became one of the top vacation destinations for Kozhikode residents, he says.
(Stay up to date with new book releases, reviews and more with The Hindu On Books newsletter. Subscribe here.)
Mohan, who won the title of Best Tour Guide from the Government of Kerala in 2009, has now released a book, Calicut Travel Guide. Commissioned by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the book is peppered with interesting history, facts, figures and stories. Mohan says the book is not only for tourists but also for locals who want to learn more about their city.
“A craze for traveling”
Now 74, the travel veteran was bitten early by the urge to travel virus and set out on a 40-day trek through India shortly after graduating from Malabar Christian College . He traveled by road, rail and on foot and, upon his return, left his family spice business to become a full-time tour guide. His fame grew with each trip, as he showcased locations across the country, planned new routes, and explored unknown retreats. His unmistakable style of telling stories associated with the land, its history and even offering keepsakes as farewell gifts has earned him the nickname “Yathra Mohan”.
- A tourist guide to Calicut celebrates the historic city with information, maps and photos. Supported by Intach and written by K. Mohan, renowned tourist guide, the book talks about the 38 communities that coexist in the city, but also the streets of the city with their own characteristics, heritage walks and places to see in and around. . the city. The book is available at buybooks.mathrubhumi.com and priced at 160.
“I wanted to travel and take people with them to show them fascinating places,” says Mohan who, even as a student, took his friends for car rides to the Kuttiyadi hydroelectric project, 60 kilometers from Kozhikode. These educational and recreational trips became so popular that Mohan began to receive requests from schools and businesses for day trips. “It started like that,” Mohan recalls.
“Understanding of other cultures”
He believes that travel is the ultimate learning; one that allows the understanding of other cultures. He gives his first trip as an example. “In Goa, the group were introduced to a variety of cuisines they had never seen or tasted. There was guitar music and slowly the people in the group joined in the dance. Suddenly the lights went out but it didn’t cause any fuss. The guitar played until the lights came back on. People said it was a safe place. Travel removes these preconceptions of cultures and places.
Another first for Mohan was to introduce the Valley of Flowers to the people of Kerala. He first went solo in the 1970s with his friend Narayan, another frequent traveler. “We prepared for the high altitude trips by jogging and exercising for a month before the trip,” he recalls, and remembers taking an oxygen canister and chocolates on those trips. . “The 2×6 kilometer sea of flowers waving in the breeze is an unforgettable sight.”
Read more | A Kerala Travel Experience powered by Clubhouse
The ‘Train Through Chambal’, another route he conceptualized, has become very popular with his customers. “He was loved for its scenery and the dangerous stories of dacoits plundering travelers in the past.” He recommends the Bahai Temple of pure architectural beauty. Mohan is invited by architectural schools to discuss the subject because he learned about structures after visiting them.
Modern travel is luxurious, he thinks, but lacks the essentials, which concern unexpected encounters, twists and turns. “Today everything is planned. We know the place before visiting it, the food, the tales … there aren’t many surprises and very little to discover. In addition, there is no interaction between people.
The five must-see destinations in Mohan “among many” are the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand, Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Jog Falls, Dal Lake and Jantar Mantar.