On Saturday, Rama Krishna will visit Qutb Minar. It is a significant event for him — the 38-year-old will be visiting a historical monument for the first time.
Krishna, who is 100 per cent visually impaired, will be participating in a first-of-its-kind heritage walk for differently abled persons, being organised by Planet Abled — a travel company that promotes travel and leisure activities for the differently abled.
Planet Abled is the brainchild of Neha Arora, 31. Born to a visually impaired father and a polio-affected mother, she tried looking for easy travel options for her parents.
It was the difficulties she faced in ensuring comfortable travel for her parents that gave birth to the idea of Planet Abled. Last November she quit her high-paying job with an MNC to focus full time on her initiative.
“My parents are fond of travelling. They would tell my sister and me to go ahead and enjoy, as they did not wish to hinder us. But we were reluctant to travel without them,” Arora said.
Arora believes that differently-abled people have the same desires, but “learn to compromise” on their wishes. Planet Abled, Arora says, would work towards utilising the active senses a person possesses. “A blind person, for example, may not enjoy a sunset or sunrise much. For them, something tangible would be far more interesting. Similarly, there is no point in organising a concert visit for a hearing impaired person unless it includes a dance performance,” Adora explained.
The heritage walk on Saturday is a pilot event for Planet Abled. It will begin from Qutb Minar and proceed towards Quli Khan’s tomb in Mehrauli Archaeological Park. Jamali Kamali tombs, Metcalfe’s canopy, Rajon ki Baoli and Balban’s ruins will be covered along the way.
Heritage enthusiast Vikramjit Singh Rooprai, who is involved with the event, said the team was flooded with requests for participation. “However, we limited the number of participants to 15 as a smaller group is easier to handle. Many people are coming from as far as Kanpur, Mumbai and Lucknow. This will the first outing for many of them.”
Rooprai said Qutb Minar was chosen as a venue as, being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has lots of facilities. He has been conducting dry runs and identified accessible paths for the wheelchair-bound. Each participant will be assisted by a volunteer and other facilitators during the six-hour tour, which includes lunch. Planet Abled has also arranged for wheelchairs and sign-language interpreters.
For Rama Krishna, who is from Bengaluru, the tour is a boon. “I am excited. I have attended many concerts in Bengaluru, but this is my first visit to a monument,” he told Newsline.
Lauding the initiative, disability rights activist and one of the participants Nipun Malhotra echoed his sentiments. Malhotra, who has been living in Delhi since 1997, said he had hardly seen any historical sites in the city. The census puts the number of differently abled persons at 2.21 per cent of the Indian population, but many activists say the figure is grossly underestimated. Initiatives like Planet Abled, Malhotra said, have rightly identified the differently abled “as a huge market. But even otherwise, the initiative is great because it will help the differently abled to socialise.”
Rooprai plans to organise similar walks at Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and Safdarjung Tomb. Next in the pipeline for Planet Abled is a food walk in Delhi, followed by pottery and photography workshops.