Ankit Arora has been pedalling around the country on his bicycle for over 1,000 days now. He has all of rural India and has contributed to making sustainable alternatives with several communities. He has helped people living in the rural part of the country make mud homes with recycled material. For over four years now, he has been working with farmers to teach the practice of natural farming. Ankit is a former journalist and left his career to discover the country's authentic culture and the lives of the country's ordinary people. He secured himself a place in Limca Book of records and the India book of records.
What All Has His Journey Shown Him?
While speaking to The Logical Indian, Ankit says, "I have seen half of India: covered 15 states in North, West, South and Central India, and 8 Union Territories. On the road, I discovered a new face of India — where organic farming flourished, an alternate education system enlightened young minds in creative ways and kindness was a way of life. This journey is about finding the forgotten stories of love & humanity which we have refused to accept. I have travelled all these locations without any money for the past four years."
Ankit shared further," While pedalling across rural India, I engage in right from working with farmers to making wooden sculptures in Maharashtra and Bangalore, weaving khadi shirts, making mud houses for villagers of a remote hamlet in Anantapur district, Nagpur and Tamil Nadu, making coconut shell cutlery and jewellery, learning natural farming and forest conversation from the tribals, learning Thanjavur art, Madhubani art, tribal gond art to learning the 400-year-old wooden toy making art in Etikopakka, learning the rural arts — Kondapalli in Andhra Pradesh to making the musical instrument Veenas in Nuzividu; my journey has connected me with people in more ways than one."
Built A Self-Sustaining Village In Krishinagar
Arora recently built a self-sustaining village in Krishinagar in Tamil Nadu. He tells The Logical Indian, "The self-sustaining village is in the heart of nature, and the communities could practice all sorts of art, craft and could do organic farming." The cyclist made a big mud sofa and used plastic waste recycling techniques to build mud houses. For instance, he stuffed plastic bottles with wrappers and designed bottle bricks, which resembled traditional bricks. Along with other villagers, he collected alcohol bottles from nearby rivers and the Hogenakkal waterfalls and used them for construction. Moreover, he helped to make organic termite repellants by using herbs like neem leaves, kadukai seeds, green chillies, garlic, turmeric and lime. They named the village 'Innisfree farm'.
Explaining his journey along with the villagers, Arora said, "In the farm, we now have two mud houses, two wooden and thatched houses, two dry toilets, one mud sofa, two mega size ponds for rainwater harvesting. We also use wooden, coconut and mud vessels in our kitchen, which I have made from the waste wood and coconut shells. We also practice various art and craft with waste wood and coconut, including wooden chopping boards, coconut shell bowls, artistic face masks, and earrings. That is also attracting the local villagers and ladies who are now interested in such activities. We are also growing our vegetables like spinach, tomatoes, green chilli, okra, bitter gourd, and many fruit trees like mango, tamarind, jackfruit. We are self-dependent on our vegetables and fruit supply."
"This is a long continuous journey and there is a bigger reason for these travels—Love for the land and to understand who/what She is. I will continue my journey and finish the rest of India – learn, teach, farm, grow, drive the message of sustainable living, make mud-houses, revive forgotten and hidden Indian art and craft, help others lead a happy and sustainable life as I continue my journey of self-discovery".
Further describing his endeavours, he told The Logical Indian, "I will be learning more about natural farming, natural houses from different parts of India and will be implementing that knowledge base to create more self-sustainable space or villages wherever I am visiting within India. I am documenting the everyday life of people from different walks of life in Indian society."
Journey Is More Than Any Record Now
Ankit set out of the home to make a Guinness Record; however, the journey has changed his perspective, and he no longer wishes for the record. He has covered 15 states in North, West, South and Central India and eight Union Territories. "The journey taught me that there was so much more to learn from people and their respective cultures. My objective for this journey is to several homes away from my home and merge the cultures", he concluded.
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