Monday, March 31, 2014

Wanderlust.

A few months back I had read a quote attributed to Ibn Batuta- "An old, frail man set out to journey around the world and after a few months a young story teller returned." Without dissecting too much into the quote, just absorbing the essence of it, shows the beauty which lies at the heart of travelling. It gives you experiences, it gives you memories, it makes you a story teller. In the ongoing robotic and monotonous life the heart always yearns for a new journey, to explore a new place. But our inhibitions and so called commitments stop us in our path.

For me, wandering around is natural. Ive had many escapades in and around Pune. Especially on weekends. Numerous treks, bike rides, hikes, trails to get away to a quite place, be intimate with nature. It was frequent. All that ceased with my arriving in Singapore. Ive had not more than a couple of get away from the artificial life in the past year. Bintan was a superb experience, but it left the heart craving for more. Somehow those thoughts were suppressed once I came back to Singapore. However today, Tarika, a friend of mine shared a link of 20 awesome destinations in India, and that craving for wanderlust gushed forward.

Ah there is so much to see in India- leave alone the world! That is now going to be my next destination. Ive visited Rajasthan, Kerala, Orissa before, Maharashtra is my home state, and Ive been to many places there. Have done a few treks in Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, but still I feel I haven't seen a lot. India is colourful, it is vibrant, it is unique. The rate of change of the rate of change is very very rapid. Every 20 km, you find something unique. There is so much to see! I guess 1 lifetime is just insufficient!

Anyway, thinking along those lines, I drew up a list of 10 Destinations in India that I want to visit in the next 10 years. India is massive and can only be slowly explored in the next 10 years. I guess I need to find enough time and money to visit these, so giving myself plenty of time! Hopefully Ill get a job in India which demands lots of travelling! For me, travelling needs to be spiritually awakening. Stones and constructions may be beautiful, but the biggest connect is with nature.

I remember one such incident vividly. It was an obscure village in Orissa somewhere between Jagannath Puri and Bhubaneshwar. On the sea coast. There was no electricity. I was sitting in this Chandi devi temple situated right on the beach, and the only thing I could hear was the waves crashing outside and the occasional breeze that was stirring the temple bell. I crave for such moments of solitude in nature. Just experience the quite. The list ive drawn mostly considers that. Although Im quite sure Ill find some way to be in the noise yet be so away from it that it will barely affect me.(My trance mode as my University friends call it!)

Im sharing photos for the places which made me really feel to want to go there. Photo credits to the photographers.

My earlier wanderings have given me a glimpse of Kerala, Rajasthan, Orissa which I have captured on camera. Other places, I wasnt so fortunate. Its captured in my mind though.
Rajasthan

Munnar

Me at Konark, Orissa

Chandipurm Orissa, Rare sunrise.


Anyway, Here goes the to visit  list!

1) Valley of Flowers-Kedarnath-Rishikesh-Haridwar.
Ever since my mother completed this trek and told the tales, I have been craving to go here. Its a paradise. Ive been on a similar trek to a place called Har ki Dun, but it seems nowhere close.
Valley of Flowers
Kedarnath
Rishikesh
Haridwar
I hope this fragile region has recovered from the flooding last year.

2) Manali-Leh
A friend of mine, Amruta, had upoaded a few pics of her trip to Manali a couple of years back, and the place seems to be a must go. Mountains are always charming, and a little bit of snow in the background is always pleasing. Apparently Manali- Leh highway is fantastic.
Manali- photo by Amruta Dhavale.
3) Varanasi
Hemal, a friend of mine, who is probably the best photographer I know captured this snap during the evening aarti on the banks of Ganga at Varanasi. Its a fantastic picture. It made me want to see it and experience it.
Photo by Hemal.

4) Vishnuprayag, Nandprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag, Devprayag- collectively called as Panchprayag.
Ganga holds a special place in the heart of indians, and the confluence or Prayags of the 5 streams that make Ganga are specially marked. Its one of those things I really want to cover.
Vishnu Prayag- Alaknanda meets Dhauli Ganga

Nand Prayag- Alaknanda meets Nandakini

Karna Prayag- Alaknanda meets Pindar
Rudraprayag- Alaknanda meets Mandakini. Also famous for the man eating leopard and Jim Corbett.

Dev Prayag- Alaknanda meets Bhaghirathi- the chief stream of the  Ganga. Henceforth, the river is called by Ganga.
5) Meghalaya
A friend of mine had visited Meghalaya a few years back, and the description was mouthwatering. Given the political instability in North East, its high on the priority list to visit.

6) Beaches of Konkan- Anjarle, Kashid, Harihareshwar, Velneshwar,Kolthare, Diveagar etc.
Diveagar

Kihim

7) Hampi
Hampi was. It was the most prosperous city in India- which probably means in the world. It lays in ruins now. Sends a reminder of the poem Ozymandias by Shelly. The boulders and the magnificient buildings standing between it are a joy to look at.

8) Panipat
This obscure small town in Haryana is witness to three of the bloodiest wars fought in India. The 3rd is a cruel reminder for all Maharashtrians. For me, its a must visit place, to look at where my Bhau, my Vishwasrao, and 40000 warriors laid their lives.

9) Ladakh
A fascinating place. Desert mountains. Sand Mountains, pristine, pure, unpolluted. Ladakh is still a wilderness. Neha Kulkarni, a friend of mine had gone there some years back. The photos that she took were mouthwatering. Must visit for me.
A photo of Ladakh- Neha Kulkarni.

10) Rann of Katchh.
It is speculated that the mighty Saraswati River who is praised more than any other in the vedas emptied her waters here once upon a time. The river dried up, the sea dried up, leaving salt pans for as long as you can see. A complete wilderness, yet a unique habitat supporting some extremely hardy and tough animals. The Salt Desert indeed.


While this remains a fanciful dream as of now, there is one place closer to home which i desperately want to visit- Harishchandragad. The photographs taken by Vivek Kale are simply mindblowing, and the stories of Harishchandragad and its ability to land people in a Chakwa are legendary which makes it a must go.

Harishchandragad, Photograph by Vivek Kale.

Those photographs which have not been credited have been downloaded from the internet.

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