Clueless Compass is a curious moniker for travel bloggers Thara Nandikkara and Goutham Rajan. The latter chuckles when we ask him this. “We wanted to come up with a travel related name; something quirky, which captured our personalities. Thara is a bit clueless. I, however, am the opposite. I tend to plan and chart things out in advance, while Thara tends to go with the flow,” says Goutham.
The duo who were voted Top Couple Influencer by a leading travel platform, met in 2012 on Facebook. Ardent cinema buffs, the duo's online discussions over movies soon developed into a strong bond as they discovered they shared other similar interests. If their first trip together was to Kashmir while they were still dating, their second was to Rajasthan, for their honeymoon. And soon, the couple who discovered that they had been bitten by the travel bug, began exploring “less known” places.
“We purposely choose less touristy destinations for our international trips. Popular travel destinations are designed for tourists and the experiences, curated. If you want raw more authentic experiences, less touristy places are the best,” says Goutham.
According to Thara, detailed research is done before each trip. “We work, save and fund our own trips. Our regular job gives us enough money for a low-budget travel. We chart out our trips, use public transportation, stay in hostels or cheap hotels and keep close tabs on our expenses,” says Thara, adding that air tickets for international travel are booked well in advance.
The Bengaluru-based couple has covered around 20 states in India and close to 18 countries. “Our last international trip was to Kenya. It was in January 2020. We were scheduled to visit UAE and Japan this year but Covid-19 threw a dampener to the plans,” says Thara, who adds that they usually plan two international trips each year with “several short trips within the country”. They take turns to pick a travel destination. “For instance, the trip to Kenya was Goutham’s choice, while visiting Iran, was mine. Turkey, however was unanimous for both of us. Istanbul is a cultural feast for travellers. The history, architecture, music, and culture of this place will leave one wonderstruck,” says Thara.
Although they had to curb their wanderlust due to the pandemic, the duo finally managed to do a bit of travel last month. “We visited Denkanikkottai, a few kilometres away from Bengaluru and stayed at a quaint little farm house. I am from Malappuram and Goutham is from Thrissur. As we had not been home for quite a while, we visited Kerala. During our visit, we took short breaks and stayed at resorts at Lake Vembanad, Thekkady, Marrarikulam and Wayanad.”
If accommodation was secondary during their earlier days of travel, it has become primary now during the current global pandemic. “We choose to stay in places that adhere to the Covid-19 guidelines. A staycation is what we look for these days as it is relaxing and one can also work as if from home. It is nice to wake up in a different bed in a different place,” says Thara.
Among the destinations in India that the couple has visited, Rajasthan is a place close to Thara’s heart. “Both Goutham and I love architecture and Rajasthan is rich with it, be it palaces or forts. The food is fantastic too. I really enjoyed having dal bhati churma, a traditional Rajasthani dish. Those who enjoy shopping will have a field day,” she says.
You can read about their travels on www.cluelesscompass.com. Meanwhile, the couple share a few images of their trip to Rajasthan.
According to Thara, the decision to start a blog dedicated to their travel was made on New Year’s Day of 2018. Although they were already chronicling their journeys in Malayalam dailies and travel magazines, “we had just returned from Bali and wanted to do something new to mark the New Year.” And so, the duo started Clueless Compass on Instagram. “We both love travel photography and so having an account on Instagram made sense. As Thara has a way with words, we decided to start a blog,” says Goutham. The couple, who have 23.3K followers on Instagram say that they are eyeing at a trip to Puducherry to usher in the New Year.