India’s Heritage Walkers are Giving History a Kiss of Life

The growth of heritage walk groups that combine exploration with conservation are helping many rediscover India's ancient and modern layers, alive under a millennial skin.

Paloma Ganguly

April 10, 2019

India’s Heritage Walkers are Giving History a Kiss of Life

When Sanghamitra Goswami first saw a baoli while on a history walk, she was transfixed.

The baoli — a water-harvesting structure found in northern and western India — laid bare its gigantic geometric body, calling her down 100 odd steps into its cavernous heart. In brash Delhi, as cars whizzed past outside, the Agrasen Ki Baoli welcomed her into the folds of history. Some say the baoli dates back to the Mahabharata; others say it is haunted.

In the last six years, Goswami, a Delhi-based graphic designer, has participated in at least 15 history walks, including in Ahmedabad and Amritsar. "History comes alive on these trips. I go to hear stories. I also go to meet like-minded people. Even if I'm the only one apart from the walk leader, I still go."

Over 10 million foreign tourists visited India in 2016-17. A much larger number - over 1.6 billion - were domestic tourists.