That India is quite diverse is a known fact and with its diversity comes ample opportunities for the curious traveller. I travel solo a lot, either on vacation or on work. Occasionally I extend my work in a new city to a mini vacation by taking time off. It is during my slow travels that I think of some things back home and I wonder if the sense of freedom I seek is available to me in its true sense.
I came across the news report of this award winning photograph today and it pained me immensely to see that conflict between these gentle giants and humans continue in India. Just look at the little calf being burnt, clearly he is shouting. How can one’s heart not cry? We adore the elephant to such an extent that we worship them, heck, one of our beloved Gods has an elephant head and yet these values don’t seem to come forth when survival with the pachyderms is in question.
Jungles and India have had their stories intertwined for ages now. Mythical stories of demons in dense forests of India from tales over 5000 years old to valorous hunters tracking man-eaters in thickets of the these wild forests, tales in this land abound. Once what was the private hunting ground of the Maharajahs of Mysore, today the protected tiger reserve of Bandipur offers a lot of opportunities to see animals in the wild. On a weekend, we spent driving onward to the national park nestled in southern India flanked by picturesque rustic beauty of the un-urbanized India in the form of quaint villages are bustling hill stations.
On a brief trip, I visited the cities of Jaipur and Udaipur, the lands of forts and palaces. Jaipur is the gateway to India’s largest state, Rajasthan located in the north west of the Indian subcontinent and is an overflowing melting pot of a myriad of colours, palaces that can tell tales from yonder by presenting itself in stories of friendship, of betrayal, of love and wealth steeped in rich history. Udaipur is tucked away a further 400 kms inwards tells us of wars, some of which have changed the course of India’s rich history.
After my recent trip to heritage rich Kathmandu, I was reminded of a fascinating destination just 50 kms from where I stay, no less a UNESCO world heritage site, in the city of Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram. Kanchipuram itself is by far one of the most culturally richest districts in the world and holds high religious significance to the Hindus. In this part of India, temples adorn every town and district and Kanchipuram houses over a hundred ancient temples, many of which still active today.