Meera Anil studied to be a civil engineer, but made a mark as a presenter of television shows. Everybody who has watched a stage show, television event, or an award night is familiar with Meera. Her stylish way of presentation has earned Meera numerous fans.
Ask Meera about her hobbies and she would have only one reply; travelling. "Whenever I feel drained out, travelling gives renewed energy and makes me happy," she says.
Meera shares her favourite trips with Onmanorama.
Love for solo journeys
Mostly preferring to travel alone, Meera says the main benefit is that a trip can be planned according to one person’s likes and dislikes. "You don't need to consider another person’s preferences. The freedom solo trips offer is what I like most," she explains.
Though her schedule has been become busy by day, Meera finds time to travel at least once a month.
After her engineering course, Meera studied journalism. But she is glad to have ventured into the field of presenting shows as it gives her the chance to travel often.
Many people prefer destinations abroad to attractions in India. "However, I want to know our own country better. There are diverse sights in India itself that people who travel to foreign destinations miss," says Meera.
"Most of my travels are to places of historical and cultural importance. Having studied civil engineering, I enjoy visiting ancient forts and temples, examining their architecture as well as the engravings. I have been fortunate to take a tour of several historic forts," elaborates Meera.
Once, while travelling to Hyderabad airport after a show, Meera had some free time. She decided to visit some attractions nearby. Her car driver took Meera to Golconda Fort. "It was a stunning sight. A stately fort surrounded by a beautiful garden, many of the ramparts were in ruins. There was not enough time to take a tour of the fort as I had to catch the flight," says Meera.
But soon after coming back to Kerala, she made a trip to Golconda. Built hundreds of years ago, the fort still holds a visitor in awe. Located about 11 km from the city, Golconda was the capital of the Qutb Shahi monarchs. It was built in several phases, but frequent wars destroyed most parts of the fort. Even then, there are many sights at the fort which attract tourists from all places. They include the offices of the ministers, rooms where jewels were kept, the main structure on the hilltop, a temple and a mosque.
Another unique feature of Golconda is the acoustics. A clap near the entrance situated at the foot of the hill would be heard at the hilltop. Meera says that she will always remember that visit.
Another place that Meera loves visiting is Mumbai. "It amazes me during every trip. The city never sleeps. Moreover, people belonging to different regions speaking various languages and following distinct traditions live together there. Mumbai city is always crowded with not only local people but also a large number of travellers. This makes Mumbai alive round the clock," she explains.
However, along with a beautiful face that flaunts shopping malls, Marine Drive, temples, India Gate, zooming cars and cabs, Mumbai has a dark side too. Slums like Dharavi where lakhs of people live and smaller colonies where thousands reside are among the sights in Mumbai that many find disgusting. Only after films like 'Slumdog Millionaire' were released that many people knew about this face of the city.
Mumbai has yet another aspect too. To experience it, one has to reach Aarey colony. It is a pristine spot away from the crowded city. "It is virtually a green forest offering fresh air. I have visited it on numerous occasions," says Meera.
Unforgettable trip with Vikram
Among the most loved memories of Meera is a trip with Vikram, the super star. "I was lucky to travel with him being a presenter. We travelled to Chennai to interview Vikram. The interview was scheduled to be held at a hotel in Chennai. However, Vikram did not like the setting and suggested that we travel to some picturesque location," recalls Meera.
Along with the cameraman and makeup man, Meera went in Vikram's own car. "It was a unique experience. The interview was conducted on the banks of a lake at Pallavaram. I spent only very little time with Vikram, but it was unforgettable," she says.
There was another development that thrilled Meera. "For the interview, I was wearing a white skirt. Vikram sir wrote 'Love' on it. I have kept that skirt as a prized possession," she elaborates.
Adventures with Mohanlal
Every trip with Mohanlal is thrilling, says Meera. "From the time you enter a flight, Mohanlal would have arranged some prank. While travelling for a show, everyone was seated in the plane. The air hostess gave something to drink. It was horrible. That drink, which tasted like some bitter Ayurvedic medicine, was served on Mohanlal’s instructions," she says.
On another occasion, Mohanlal arranged plastic apples to be distributed instead of the real ones. The trick was realized only after the others bit the apple.
In yet another incident, chocolates were replaced with stones in the packages. "All this adds to the thrill of travelling with Mohanlal. He creates situations which all will remember long after the trip," says Meera.
In contrast, a journey with Mammootty presents another picture. "Mammootty is silent during the trip and sits at his place with a phone. Out of respect to him, everybody will keep quiet," reveals Meera.
A scary trip
Some people find horror enjoyable. "I am one among them," says Meera.
"I had heard numerous horror stories but was never frightened," she adds.
"That was how I learnt about the Bhangarh Fort in Rajasthan which is considered one of the scariest places in India. I soon travelled to Bhangarh. An eerie atmosphere prevailed there. Several people were killed in the fort and their souls are believed to be haunting the premises," explains Meera.
"Moreover, many incidents of kidnappings had also taken place at Bhangarh. As a result, entry is not allowed into the fort after 6 pm. When we reached there it was already past that time and permission was not granted to see the fort. When we insisted on going inside, the authorities there said that we could do that at our own risk," continues Meera.
It was not simply fear that Meera felt at that time. "Some strange power, in fact, prevented us from venturing into the fort," she says.
A budget trip
Meera recommends a trip to Phuket, the biggest island in Thailand, for a budget trip. "Phuket has beautiful beaches, rain forest, mountains and a diverse culture. The main beaches on the island are Patong, Kamala, Karon and Kata," she informs.
Another interesting aspect of Phuket is that the local people hold tradition and rituals dear. The cuisine of the place is also fantastic, according to Meera. A visitor can enjoy the dishes without burning a hole in the pocket by heading to the street food outlets instead of the top hotels.
Moreover, the nightlife in Phuket is also interesting, she points out.
Her dream trip
Even though Meera has embarked on numerous journeys, her dream trip is yet to materialize. "I wish to travel from Hyderabad to Kanyakumari and stop at every place along the way which is important historically and culturally to learn more about it," she winds up.