Indian television host and actor Cyrus Sahukar set off on an epic road trip for the Fox Life show Great Escape with his buddy, actor Kunal Kapur. The duo took the slow route to explore the Himalayas from Dharamshala to Spiti over ten days, spending time in smaller towns and villages along the way. The Delhi-born actor, who now lives in Mumbai, recalls their adventures on the road including visiting the highest post office in the world, kayaking in Spiti and learning life lessons the hard way. We sat down with Cyrus Sahukar to chat about his show, Bollywood and his love for India.
Tell us about Great Escape. How did the bromance work out after the road trip?
“Kunal and I have been planning trips forever, from Goa to Machu Picchu, but never made it happen. This was a great chance to travel together, particularly as it was more of a travelogue than a TV show. There were no sound bites, they just put a camera in our car and we could do our thing.
Kunal loves adventure; I like sitting by the river and thinking about life. It’s enough of an adventure getting by on a daily basis in India, so I’ve never understood why anyone would want to throw themselves off a cliff! In the end, it turned out to be a great mix.”
Did you come across interesting characters on the road?
“We visited the highest post office in the world in Hikkim. The postman is the only link to the outside world and he walks 25 km every day to deliver postcards and letters. When he brings good news, he sits and drinks tea with the people he has delivered the letter to. If there’s bad news, he drinks tea with the people and shares their sorrow. We also worked with monks in the kitchen in a monastery. The simple way of life really blew me away.”
Returning to the city, do you have a favorite film that you feel best portrays Delhi?
“I thought Khosla ka Ghosla was quite spot on about the culture. Visually, I think Dilli 6 captured Old Delhi and the city very well. I grew up in Delhi in the ‘80s, where there was a block in every colony, every colony had a park and it was surrounded by a market. People knew each other. Over the years, it has expanded and become a great multi-cultural hub. I go back to Delhi very often and try to recreate the Delhi I like – the bookshop in Khan Market, a walk in Lodhi Gardens. Filmmakers are being inspired by the stories from the streets – they’re showcasing the nuances of the culture and interesting characters, like the guy selling jalebis on the streets who is also a wrestler. There’s a wealth of stories in Delhi waiting to be mined.”
Where would you recommend a traveler to India should go first?
“They should check out Delhi for the history – visit Old Delhi and Mehrauli for the colors and the food. Mumbai is amazing, because people usually have a different perspective of India. Mumbai is a mega-city like anywhere in the world. It’s electric. A Kerala backwater cruise is a must. Then go to the mountains to truly trip on India. The mountains in India are incredible.”
What are your places to visit in Delhi and Mumbai?
“I live in Bandra and every week, a new bar or restaurant opens. Recently, we went to Madras Café and ate our heart out, followed by strong filter coffee that could wake the dead. In Delhi, I go to Moti Mahal where the butter chicken comes free with a heart attack, but it’s totally worth it. I order the kebabs, daal makhani and the naan that is doing a backstroke in butter. Then you faint and get carried out!”
Where do you travel in India when you want to escape or for inspiration?
“I have a farm in Kamshet near Mumbai and I love to drive there in the monsoons. There’s barely any reception, everything is slow and the area is full of waterfalls.”
Finally, what does India offer that no other place can match?
“The great thing about India is that it’s many countries in one. The people are sweet, warm and helpful. India is mad and OTT – in one square foot you’ll find incredible benevolence and incredible lunacy. If you like that, there’s no better place than India to get it in one shot. If you’re an open-minded traveler, you’ll really have a great time.”
Discover some of Cyrus’s favorite spots in Delhi for yourself when you book a trip to India with Insight Vacations.
Words by Namrata Bhawnani