Walking tours may be a great way to explore a city, and more so when you have a guide who puts together a mix of history, culture and performance art among other specialisations to transform the touristy experience.
Navina Jafa, has for the past decade been turning convention on its head by being a “study leader” to select groups of people, which include leading global political dignitaries, and letting them discover India’s cultural heritage.
Jafa, who specialises in walks, has in her first book Performing Heritage: Art of Exhibit Walks (Sage Publications), talked about the concept of heritage walks with focus of their ability to exhibit cultures, and offered suggestions on making a career and a business venture out of this activity.
Jafa takes people on curated tours across Delhi, Ladakh, Spiti, Sikkim, Central India, South India, Gujarat, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Having trained in Kathak and being a concert artist, Jafa transfers her love for performance to her tours. “During one walk, I created a tour that I titled ‘Dining Opera’ in which a performance of living tradition was crafted while the audience was served a traditional meal,” says Jafa.
The cover of the book, with the Ugrasen ki Baoli on it, ensures a depth and history that is well preserved in the pages, but with a remarkable energy — that of history in motion, as one walks and talks and gets to be an active part of the process rather than be a static, silent spectator.