Meet Ajanta Mahapatra, a woman who travelled 68 countries in colourful saris

D. Krishna Prasad
·4-min read

According to a study, India’s travel and tourism industry has suffered a loss of about Rs 5 lakh crore.

With the increase in the number of cases and deaths, even the best travel destinations, which are a flight away, no longer seem welcoming.

In spite of so much happening around the world, Ajanta Mahapatra, or the ‘Traveling Sari’ is painting vivid rainbows on the sky traveling across the globe in a sari.

Here’s her story...

Traveling Saree with the Indian flag
Traveling Saree with her Indian flag

Since she was a child, she has been travelling and racing the wind. “I’m not a blogger or influencer, but I believe in getting inspired and hopeful to be someone's inspiration too,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle India.

Born in Odisha and raised in Assam, her father (now retired) worked with ASI (Archeological Survey of India). “Because of him, I first got an opportunity to travel within Indian boundaries. During our summer holidays, we travel to the seven sisters. I owe this to him. The world map has been my favourite thing since I was a baby,” says Ajanta.

While she has a full time career in Corporate Affairs, traveling simultaneously has not taken the backseat.

She believes in the art of balancing; she earns and travels like a free soul.

So far, she has covered 68 countries in saris. She plans to continue this as long it is possible.

Challenges faced

When asked about the challenges she faced as a traveler, she said, “I have been traveling from the era when selfie was not a thing and the iPhone was not popular. I used to travel with a very basic phone along with a map in my hand.”

“I have traveled to countries like China, South Korea, Arab countries, Greece, half of the European countries, and many more. Challenges are ubiquitous, but there is something called "sign language” that helped me a lot when language was not a common forte in some of the aforementioned countries,” she reveals.

Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park

The other challenge she faced was about food. Some people are picky and choosy with food habits, so is Ajanta.

“I prefer vegetarian food and that is still the hardest thing to find in some counties. However, the stay has never been a problem for me because you always get hostels and budgeted hotels everywhere,” she said.

Carrying the Indian Cult

The idea to drape a sari came into her mind in 2017, when one of her friends randomly commented on a sari pic on Facebook:

“You should start blogging with the name of the tales of the traveling saree,” the message said.

“That’s when I thought, why not? From that day onward, I swear it has been a hell of a ride. As they say, treacherous roads always lead to beautiful destinations. Besides, wherever you go saree gets all the attention, which is quite absolutely true. All the time I used to get comments on my sarees from across the world like: Namaste India, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai,” she says.

On contrary, obviously traveling in sari seems a bit heavy than you know tees and jeans, but to be very honest, traveling in a sari is super comfortable too. I never had problems draping one. After all, India has been known for this amazing attire for thousands of years.

“Because of social media, we are making it a big deal, but if we look at it in the other way, 70% of our Indian women do chores or go to work and travel in a sari. If they can, why can't I,” questions Ajanta.

View this post on Instagram

THE TRAVELLING SAREE + MUMMIES . . ⚠️ . . So, here we are in the National museum of Egypt. Even if you are not a history lover, you will be pleasantly surprised with the museum. The monuments and the ancient Egyptian history are marvelous and it's beyond a history lover, I can spend hours curious mind has so many how and why questions...example, how did they do this then? They had no technology.... how did they know, this can be done this way?? I can't explain what runs in my mind..sometimes I am confused myself. Anyway, this is one must visit places in Egypt to find the exclusive artifacts and props of Pharaoh's. My most favorite part was the king TUT'S TOMB and the royal mummy's exhibits..the showstopper. Cameras are strictly prohibited in these places ..I couldn't capture their mummies however, if you swipe right, you could see the mummies of other royal people..I am going to put a lot of photos in my stories with details...if you are interested, please check my Egypt stories..any questions you will have, I will be more than happy to reply❤🤗 . . . Saree by : @suta_bombay . . . #thetravellingsaree #sareethattravels #sareestory #sixyardsofelegance #egyptmuseum #cairo #egypttourism #explorepage #wanderlust #i_hobbygraphy #ifoundawesome #nomadsofindia #indiantraveller #indiantravelblogger #travelblog #travelblogger #egyptianmummies #girlswhotravel #artofvisuals #mypixeldiary #indiangirlstravel #travelmemories #india_gram

A post shared by |Ajanta Mahapatra|🇮🇳 Namaste🙏 (@thetravellingsaree) on May 18, 2020 at 8:18am PDT

She also said that she has met many Indian travellers on her journeys. “I feel good when they say that traveling in a sari is daring and inspiring. I thank them for motivating me to do better in life.”

What about finances?

As traveling required proper financial condition, good planning and savings can get you there.

“I plan way in advance. I am not a last-minute traveler. I don't believe in last min pack bags and travel. I do very deep research of the places I want to go, google places, read their reviews on travel review sites and Instagram, and then plan my budget on how much I want to spend and start saving for my trip and travels,” mentions Ajanta on managing her trips.

However, being a female traveler, regardless of any country, you have to be very careful about the places you are planning to travel to. I don't know about others but I take precautions.

For instance, “I do not go out in late evenings, be your own caretaker and you will be good.”