Strolling down Ranikhet mall, haggling over fancy candles and honey, can be fun. But if you were to drive up a further 10 clicks to a town called Jainoli and then start trekking down, the little hamlet Kothiyan that lies in front of you is wondrous hinterland. This is what the stories in this issue will tell you, to go on a different trip this summer. If a path is not well-trodden, there is usually a good reason for it, it is said. Off-the-beaten-track is cliche, a business model. But within this divide, there are still many routes worth checking out. A couple of days at Kothiyan and you realise the village is not desperately trying to be different. Its people are just leading their normal lives, eating their daily grub, humming the same old songs. The difference, really, is you. That you’re there. Heck, doesn’t a three-day ride in a caravan to Pachmarhi from Bhopal sound like fun?
Ibn Batuta was one of the first adventurers to veer off the beaten track, leaving Tangiers in Morocco to come as far as present-day south Delhi in the 14th century, as Sam Miller says in these pages, and found fantastic fables to take back home. There are still many tales to collect from various parts of the country: how to catch crabs, to swim with the sharks, to let tea explode in a flavour medley, to lay awake all night to watch fireflies. Time to put on Ibn Batuta’s boots, no shoehorn of course, and take off.