Thursday, July 11, 2013

Travel and Self-discovery

Travel has been always part of my life. How it refreshes me, washes the mental dirt off along with resurrecting the mundane monotonous existence is something which I discovered only few years back. And the sooner I realized, took to it like an amphibian wanting the existence in both the worlds for living at ease.
Travel and it's effects on the human psyche can never be put on paper, it is truly beyond words and expressions.
And I believe in Mark Twain's following quote:

T"ravel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." - Mark Twain

How much more truer than factual existence it is as a proverb! Ok, coming back to the normal perspective of travel; it is not as much in the travel destination, but the sheer bliss and learning of the journey which is like catching the sail against splendid waves and becoming one with the entire paraphernalia associated. It is a stage where the formal cognition and meta-cognition stops. What a liberation?! :)

That's why I love traveling and exploring. And it reminds me of one famous quote by Robert louis Stevenson

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.”

I am going to mention the favorite of my travels or the places which take me beyond the normal "travel". These are around Bangalore and some in North part of India specifically in the state of Uttaranchal which is also called Dev Bhoomi (maybe that is why I find a transcendental touch there every time I go). Sad that it was stuck by natural calamity and lot of people lost their lives.

There are quite a number of places in my kitty, but am going to mention only those that are special 'although' none are insignificant. :)

I traveled as a novice first to ShivanaSamudram and Talakad which is off Bangalore by 130-150 kms. Shivanasamudram has couple of waterfalls called Gaganachukki & Barachukki, one of which has Asia's first hydel power plant Engineered by the Great Sir. M. Vishweshwaraiah. The first fall Gaganachukki is magnanimous in its look and movement and has been featured few times in Outlook Traveler.
The second one is in a secluded area. Enroute you can find some very old temples which are centuries old and I presume there was a flourishing Kingdom nearby.
Finishing these two falls, we stayed overnight near a Dargah which is a bustling local place behind the Gaganachukki falls. You get fresh water sumptuous fried fish and parattas over here, which kept us occupied in the evening. After that we got a small 1 room stay for four of us for 70 bucks (damn cheap eh?!:), which was somebody's house I guess or some shed.
Coming up from there on the inter-junction of the main road there is a Banyan tree which looks and feels mystical in the evenings.
In the morning we checked out came to the Banyan tree, sat there for a while and proceeded towards the excavated temple town of Talakad which is on the bank of the river Cauvery.
The ride/drive is through corn fields and is one to cherish with so many paddy fields on the way. The place itself is near the river but is a sand dune haven with trees forming a forest cover. In between these sand dunes is from where they've unearthed/excavated ancient temples. One among that is a supposedly cursed temple, which even though ingenious in architecture - has to be excavated frequently, owing to it getting submerged in sandy ground every few months. The view from here of the trees around and the call of some exotic birds is a refresher like no other. (the topography of the place is a total contrast to logic, and the sand dunes as per legend is because of the cursed land-please refer wiki for the info)
Once when I was at this particular submerging temple, an archaeologist decoded an old inscription which said - "A royal dancer lady will be dancing everyday 5.30 am here for a certain period as per the deal sanctioned by the Royal care taker, and she was given a small pouch of Gold coins in return."
After this you proceed through the sand dunes to the other excavated temples and then to the back of the river for some tea and snack. You can get an interesting coracle ride as well here, and it is safe as the waters are shallow.
The ride/drive back if in the night times is more interesting, as you can stop at tea shops, eateries and fill your forgotten stomachs. And if you have cloudless night, then like we saw you could see a starlit serene sky all the way along.

This wonderful trip initiated my Travel Odyssey and the love for architecturally beautiful and sculptural places in natural surroundings. :)

After this I have had the privilege to cover a number of places in Karnatka itself, which I think is a Traveler/Explorer's delight.
Some of the Prominent places are the following of which I'll be writing one at a time shortly:

- Hampi
- Belur & Halebeedu
- Badami, Pattadakal & Aihole
- Siddarabetta
- Madhugiri fort near Tumkur
- Maidanahalli Black Buck Sanctuary
- Lepakshi
- Turahalli
- Bheemeshwari
- Sakleshpur Railway track trek
- Chikmagalur from a detailed perspective (many offbeat places of interest)
- Melukote
- Shravanabelagola
- Kunti Betta (famed place where Pandavas lived for some time during exile)
- Pandavapura and Tonnur Kere
- Western Ghats attractions
- Tippu's fort in Sakleshpur
- Nandi hills
- Antargange caves
- Caves and a hidden fort in Anegundi (Hampi)

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