“To Travel is to live” – Hans Christian Anderson
I have always believed that humans were born to travel… to reach out to places and experience them. But somehow we have found ways to confound ourselves in our lives by making it busier ‘n’ busier with things, which keep us stuck to one location. Some are lucky…their work gives them a chance to travel but then their travel is again restricted to the power-point presentations…hotel check-ins…and catching sleep in their flights. This is not the kind of travel I was referring to.
Travelling to a location is getting a feel of that place in every sense possible…from food to culture…from dressing to mannerism…from meeting new people to actually living with them to experience them. The more you travel the more your soul feels liberated. There is a unique sense of freedom attached to travelling which can only be lived.
Recently I have been lucky enough to visit countries outside India, which has been a part of conscious effort that I took to simply travel and literally live places after I met a life threatening accident in 2009. It made me realize that one never knows which one is your last day…so why not live each one to the fullest.
This June only I was travelling to Europe for the first time and that is when I realized that we ourselves don’t give respect and weightage to our heritage. I was standing in front of one of the most popular destinations in Brussels – The Manneken Pis and the crowd was going crazy to get them snapped with the creation. I too followed the suite but couldn’t stop myself from giggling at the fact that all these people were going mad for something which was smaller than the size of my head 😀 . The biggest disappointment came when I went to see the Mona-Lisa in person. I thought it would be a huge painting or something bigger than it actually is. I simply kept wondering what wrong did the other 2000 odd paintings do to do not deserve any attention as everybody was running to see ‘The Mona-Lisa’.
The more I travel the more I realize that there is hardly any place in the world like our own country India which gives us so many diverse locations to visit. From world-class beaches in Goa and Pondicherry to the mesmerising Ladakh…from the soul soothing Rameshwaram to the serene honeymooning Munnar…we have it all.
We have our own ‘Scotlands’ in Coorg and mini France in Auroville. With Russian scribed menus and more Russians holidaying than in Russia we have a lot to offer in Goa. Even the Sunburns and VH1s could not keep Goa off its calendar. The cheap booze just adds the silver lining to Goa and Pondicherry.
If you are the spiritual kind then you are in the best country of the world. From Varanasi to Rameshwaram…From Haridwar to Jaggannath Puri…From Dwarka to Amarnath…it’s not about the location but it’s about choosing a deity and you are sure to find a historically beautiful place associated to that deity. There is even a temple in Ujjain where you’ll find liquor being served as ‘prasad’ to ‘Bhairon Baba’.
If you are a mountain lover I will fall short of words but India will not fall short of hill stations and snow capped ranges to take your breathe away. Whether it’s the north where you’ll have the ranges of Leh…Ladakh…Kashmir Valley…n so on…or in the north-east where there is a hill named after nearly every tribe that lives there. You need to be in Sikkim to understand what I mean by when I say ‘Soul Soothing’. In the west we have the sand laden yet chilling ‘Mount-Abu’ while the ‘Nilgiris’ giving an awesome cooling touch to the south.
Leave alone the beaches of Goa and Pondy…visit the beaches of Andaman and Lakshwadeep to be spellbound. Or if you simply want to enjoy the view with your chilled beer and no one in close proximity to disturb you then you have places like Gokarna and Kashif beach.
There must be a reason why Kerala is known as ‘God’s Own Country’ and the only reason is because of its natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes, which it holds. The backwaters in Kollam and Kochi are a treat for the solace seeking ones while place like ‘Waynad’ are for the rain lovers.
Talking of the rains how can we forget that India is the home for the place with the highest amount of rainfall in the world. Mawsynram holds this unique record with reainfall almost all round the year, in fact the state in which it is itself known as the ‘land of clouds’, Meghalaya.
If you talk about monuments and historical places you will be surprised that every other dot on the map of India holds a special place in history with its share of heritage and monuments on India’s timeline. We stand at Eiffel Tower in awe while forgetting our own Wonder of the World, ‘The Taj Mahal’ which makes the foreigners awestruck for ages. Even cities like Jaipur and Lucknow can boast off places like ‘Hawa Mahal’ and ‘Imam Bara’ respectively, which are architectural geniuses in their own way. Its about picking up a city and you are sure to find monuments or places to see at least for a day or two.
To add to all this…each and every place in India has its own Culture…Language…the kind of food we eat and even the colour of the soil. So before you decide to shell your big bucks on foreign lands…try giving India a chance…and I am sure you won’t be disappointed. And the biggest reason why we love our India because this is where our home is.
This blog is part of Blogger Dream Team
Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul