Travelling through 32 districts of Bihar
The state, unfortunately, fares quite low on the parameters of education, employment or industries – poverty being a primary reason. The youngsters either opt for government jobs or move out to build their career elsewhere. Entrepreneurship, for most, is still a far-fetched dream.
Yashi and Sukriti were almost on the verge of moving out of their home state in pursuit of better career prospects. But, their one Google search took their lives on an entirely different trajectory. “More than starting an offbeat travel website, we wanted to portray a different face of Bihar to the outsiders. With this in mind, we travelled through 32 districts of Bihar. Little did we know that a whole new world would open before us,” Yashi expresses.
The undiscovered destinations not on Google Maps
The duo visited off the grid places and unearthed heritage sites and panoramic locations which nobody was aware of. Many of these places did not exist on Google Maps until Yashi and Sukriti uploaded photos from there and marked it on the map. “Hardly anybody ever knew about the beautiful Kashish Waterfall in the Kaimur Hills of Bihar. Hidden from the maps, the place has a mysterious aura of its own. We have done an amazing drone shoot of the entire region and explorers from all over the world are pouring in their inquiries ever since,” she narrates. She adds that there are as many as fifty such waterfalls in the state which people are unaware of.
The two co-founders photographed and documented every little detail of their entire journey through unexplored fortresses, deserted townships, mythological locations and aboriginal settlements.
An ‘abandoned’ fort as magnificent Chittorgarh
“You know, there is the Rohtasgarh fort near the Son River valley, which we found to be as beautiful as the famous Chittorgarh fort of Rajasthan. Local folklore says that the Rohtasgarh fort was built by Rohitāśva, son of the legendary king Harishchandra. For the past few decades, rumours of the fort being inhabited by Naxalites has made it completely inaccessible to tourists and even local residents. Moreover, a popular media house did a blunder by randomly portraying the fort as ‘haunted’ – just to gain TRP. So, nobody ever comes here now,” Yashi informs.
When Yashi and Sukriti reached the fort after a tiring 4-km trek, they were graciously welcomed by a group of elated locals who were relaxing there. Though unmaintained, the two of them were left spellbound by the sheer magnificence of the fort. They had a similar experience at Raj Darbhanga palace as well.
“The ruins of Madhubani’s Rajnagar Palace resemble that of the Greek city Athens. There is an ancient temple in Dumraon Tehsil near Buxar, which was built identical to Greek Parthenon. Almost nobody knows about the Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve near Nepal border or about Sitamari, the mythical birthplace of Sita,” Yashi enlists a few of the many wonders of Bihar they discovered.
At present, Bihar Bytes work as a travel blog which uses social media to invite travellers from across the globe. The response has been overwhelming till date, as the founders assert. They coined the hashtag #BiharSunnoNahiDekho which has gone viral. “Once a lady strongly expressed her disappointment about Bihar after knowing where we are from. When we asked her to tell us the reason, she said that she had just heard it. That’s when we decided to bust the myths through this hashtag,” explains Yashi.
When they streamed a Facebook Live video from Rohtasgarh Fort, within an hour the number of viewers crossed 55,000. Bihar Bytes has not had to look back ever since. Aside from individual tourists, many private enterprises are taking interest to come, explore and popularise Bihar. Non-residential Biharis are showering praises on Bihar Bytes. However, the founders admit that limited assistance from the government has not been of much help.
Their journey, especially as two women entrepreneurs or women solo travellers, has not been bereft of roadblocks. Being women, they also faced a lot of undue questions. But, Yashi and Sukriti strongly believe that Bihar has a lot of untapped tourism potential. It will open a huge opportunity for employment for the rural population. Bihar Bytes is striving towards achieving this.