Travel content creator and YouTuber Raunaq Sahni a.k.a. Monkey Magic has achieved his biggest milestone yet by touring River Ganga from source to end! He captured his 4-month journey in a YouTube series and also launched his debut photo book “Melodies of India!” With 5,000+ copies already pre-ordered, Raunaq left on a book tour to hand-deliver them to his doting fans in 7 cities.

Seated on the banks of the sacred Ganges one morning, he received a subtle yet compelling message from the river herself – to embark on a journey tracing the length of the Ganges. Thus, the concept of “Melodies of Indiaˮ was born. He began his expedition from the mystical origins of Gomukh to the tranquil shores of Gangasagar.

Raunaq captured the nationʼs essence through evocative photographs. The travel creator shared his experience in the form of an 11-episode series on his YouTube channel “Monkey Magic. He also shared his profound exploration in his photo book collection, featuring 150 photographs and stories of culture along the Ganga.

Melodies Of India

As a talented travel creator and now an author, Raunaq’s book offers readers a unique perspective on the rich tapestry of Indian heritage. Through 5,000+ pre-orders alone, he has set a new record in the history of creators. Raunaq is the first Indian creator to produce a book in this content series. He described writing ‘Melodies of India‘ as a surreal experience.

Raunaq Sahni Monkey Magic travel content creator YouTuber Melodies of Ganga journey book launch tour photographs

It took him a while to collate it all, but the end result made it worth the wait. Expressing his excitement, Raunaq Sahni stated, “Writing and publishing ‘Melodies of India’ has been a dream come true. I am deeply grateful for the overwhelming support from readers who have embraced this journey with me. It is truly humbling to see the book resonate with so many people.

The Book Tour

Monkey Magic kicked off his pre-launch tour on June 2. He met his fans of all ages and distributed pre-ordered books across 7 cities, including Jaipur, Surat, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Varanasi. The tour concluded with the grandest launch in Delhi today, June 16.

Witnessing this LIVE in Mumbai was the most wholesome experience. Raunaq took the audience through the pictures he clicked and the various cultures he experienced on his trip. His fans were beyond delighted to interact with him and get their hands on ‘Melodies of India!‘ A fan said that hearing Raunaq’s stories felt like he lived his dream through the YouTuber. Another attendee was deeply inspired by Sahni. A third revealed that his family watched his entire YouTube series in one go and loved it!

When we asked him which picture amongst the 150 that he clicked was his favourite, he pointed to this particular one:

Raunaq Sahni Monkey Magic travel content creator YouTuber Melodies of Ganga journey video series book launch tour photographs stories fans

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With a decade-long career in film documentaries and YouTube videos, Raunaq Sahni is driven by an unwavering passion for photography and filmmaking. For him, visual storytelling is more than just a skill, it is an intrinsic part of his identity. We had a chat about his incredible voyage and book. Read on:

The thought of traveling from the starting point to the endpoint of Ganga is quite powerful yet daunting. What made you want to do this?

This journey was never pre-planned in a proper way, it just happened.. it had to happen. Ever since I laid my eyes on Ganga in Rishikesh back in 2017 I wanted to spend more time with her and around her. I wanted to see the place where she originates from. But I could never gather the courage to do so..

In June 2017, I went to Rishikesh for the first time and as fate would have it, things happened and I, some 19 years old, found myself walking from Rishikesh to Haridwar via Rajaji National Park. It was an experience that I could never forget. The rush of emotions I felt while walking in pitch dark through the national park, the fear I felt, the 6 wild elephants I saw just across the Ganga canal, all of this turned something inside of me and I started to crave more such experiences. It was only after the wait of 6 long years that I could gather the courage and go to Gaumukh, the source of Ganga.. and thatʼs how this journey started.

If you had to sum up your entire journey in a few lines, what would they be?

The chaos that consumed me just a few months ago has settled now. I carry Ganga in my heart, I carry Ganga in my mind. Sitting on the banks of Ganga as I write this, I take a deep breath, phew. Perhaps, for me, maybe this was all this journey was about.. just a deep deep breath.

You have mentioned on social media that you’re not a spiritual or religious person. Did this experience change that for you in any way?

When I started this journey I was curious to understand why people around Ganga call her mother. Yes, she does provide every basic thing to support life as we know it but I felt there was more… After this journey, I think I understand that now.. and for me, Ganga is now a dear friend. It has shown me another side of me that I did not know existed.

What is that 1 memory from your trip that you hold close to your heart?

While walking for some 80 km on the bank of the river, I encountered the ‘sand mafia‘ for the first time. It looked like a scene straight out of a South Indian movie. There were close to 200 men taking out sand from the river bed. As I tried to move past them minding my own business, one of them noticed a tripod in my bag and asked me to stop. The sand mafia near the region of Prayagraj are very dangerous.

They could have easily thrown me down the riverbed if they felt I was there to record them. One of them called me. Looking at my bag and tripod he inquired about my journey. But as he got to know what I was doing.. he grabbed me by the ‘kadaʼ (steel bangle) that I was wearing. He took me to the shore of the river where a big man with a huge mustache was sitting. I thought I was done for. But to my surprise, they made me sit down and offered me samosa & jalebi.. and packed some food for my further walk as well.

It was quite a long, strenuous and tedious trip too. What was the most difficult part about it?

The challenge I faced in Gangasagar was quite draining. I went there on the day of Makar Sankranti to attend Gangasagar Mela. It is said to be the second largest human gathering in the world only after Kumbh Mela. The chaos & lawlessness that I saw on the island – the massive sea of people pushing and shoving each other to reach the holy site of Gangasagar – broke my heart. Later news also broke out that 56 were killed in the stampede which I was very close to.

Out of all the cultures you witnessed on your journey, was there something that proved to be an eye-opening experience for you?

The Bagori village of Harshil near Gangotri was a unique experience. When I reached there the villagers were celebrating a festival called Pandav Nritya where they were supposed to sacrifice two goats, but to my surprise these goats were made out of pumpkins. Villagers attached legs to them, making a face to resemble pumpkins like goats.

They did all their rituals considering them as real goats and at the end of the festival they sacrificed two pumpkins. The villagers said they were against any kind of animal abuse but still wanted to uphold the cultural practices that have been going on since ages. This gesture won my heart.

How did you budget for such a long trip? What are the factors one should consider?

On the banks of the Ganga, there are many ashrams and temples where one can seek refuge. I had some savings but doing such a trip does not cost a lot of money.

Your book “Melodies Of India” has been a hit since pre-orders began. 5,000+ copies have already been sold and you’re out on a book tour now. How has that experience been and what is the reception like from your readers?

We have sold some 5,000 copies during the pre-order phase, which is a lot more than what I expected. Not many have read the book yet because it is only now that we are doing this tour and distributing the book. But I think many were impacted by the videos that I created of this journey and were curious to read an unfiltered version of it. I cannot wait to hear what everyone thinks about this book.

Any particular fan interaction or memory that made your day?

People have been coming from some 400-500 km away to attend these meet-ups, which is a huge huge deal for me. When I make videos I do not think much about the audience, I just try to present an authentic experience but now I know the impact these videos of mine are creating is huge in the lives of some people. People have cried in these meet-ups, some said the videos I made saved their lives, which I was totally clueless about. I think all this makes me more sincere towards my art.

Raunaq Sahni Monkey Magic travel content creator YouTuber Melodies of Ganga book launch tour fans

What can we expect next from Monkey Magic in terms of content?

My dream has always been to self-drive from New Delhi all the way to London in my own car. This is the kind of journey that I have craved since my teenage days. And now, next year, I will go on this journey, which will last for almost a year, passing through various countries as I drive towards London.

This entire adventure by Raunaq is so awe-inspiring and motivating. It has awakened my wanderlust spirit, making me want to plan an extensive expedition to explore the country!