Ibn Battuta, Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo – to name a few – all brave, adventurous men who not only explored the world but also chronicled their travels. One cannot but admire the spirit of such people who set out all those years ago when travelling was not easy. And that is an understatement!! They ventured out from the comforts of the familiar into strange far-off unknown lands in search of mystery, adventure, romance, excitement and the experience of charting new paths and discovering new places. All without GPS mind you!! 🙂
Quite unlike my style of travelling I must say. I like my trip to be a carefully planned one. When on a trip, more than anything, I need to know where and what my next meal will be!! Being a vegetarian that is quite the challenge in strange places believe me! And one cannot really enjoy an adventure on an empty rumbling stomach, me thinks!! 🙂
Sharing this sentiment with me is our small group of like-minded friends with whom I’ve gone on many a trip through the years. Our very first trip together as a group will remain the most unforgettable the most adventurous and by far the best trip.
Just like Christopher Columbus set out to discover a direct water route from Europe to Asia but he never did – instead he stumbled upon the Americas!
Quite like him, we set out to explore Jaipur the enthralling historical city in India’s most flamboyant State of Rajasthan, but we never did – instead we landed up in new places which we hitherto had never even thought about visiting.
It was a very carefully planned and well organised trip from Udupi in Karnataka to Jaipur in Rajasthan. Train bookings, hotel bookings, sightseeing bookings all neatly arranged almost a month before the trip. We could hardly wait to check out the hugely popular Pink City and all it promised to offer us – Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort, Jantar Mantar and the famous shopping streets of Bapu Bazar.
However fate had other ideas for us. Our well thought-out and well-planned trip turned overnight into a BlindDate!!
We were to leave by the Udupi-Delhi Shatabdhi departing at night from Udupi Station. Four days before our travel date, it began to rain and how!! Heavy, incessant and unrelentless, the rains caused landslides which in turn led to delayed or cancelled train services on the Konkan railway line. We were not sure what we ought to do. With small children with us, we didn’t want to take unnecessary risks. But we had so looked forward to this trip – our very first one together as a group! The news that our train would be running as scheduled helped us decide at the last minute and we set off with advices and injunctions from relatives and friends ringing in our ears.
All was well for the 1st two hours of the journey. Then the train started halting after every half-hour or so. We chugged along in sporadic fits and bursts. Early the next morning news filtered down through the coaches that more landslides had occurred on the route further and things looked pretty doubtful. So the men in our group went into a huddle and came up with the decision to alight at the next big station the train would halt at.
Turned out to be GOA!!! Unscheduled, unexpected and unplanned. The beaches, the natural greenery, the quaint villages and the people enthralled us and we had 3 fun-filled days taking in the sun, sand and the sights of Goa.
Once we’d been there and done that, next what? None of us was wanted to return home. We were in the mood for more. So the men put their heads together once more and we found ourselves on a night bus trundling towards places we had never even dreamed of visiting. Bagalkot and Bijapur in the north of Karnataka.
Once again unexpected, unplanned and unscheduled! The 2 days we spent there visiting the Badami caves, the Jain Temples,the Gol Gumbaz were an eye-opener for us. It was an excellent opportunity to discover the striking differences in food, language and way of living from North Karnataka to South Karnataka. The spirit of the place got to us so much that on the last night of our stay there we dropped in at a rustic kitchen serving up authentic fresh-from-the-tava jowar rotis with the typical brinjal curry and garlic chutney. I’m glad we did that. The smell of butter melting on hot rotis and the taste of those feathery-soft rotis still lingers!
The same night saw us inside a bus back to Udupi, back to our homes. Half-an-hour into the journey, we made yet another not-so-surprising discovery – it appeared that none of us were too keen on getting back just then. So once again the men got together – a few maps were consulted, a few phone calls made. The result – a request was sent up-front to the driver to put us down at Murudeshwar near the town of Bhatkal, about 100 kms from Udupi. Our mood must have been infectious because the driver very obligingly made an unscheduled stop right in front of a decent hotel just for us, at precisely 2.00 in the morning! And the conductor and co-passengers helped to pass on the luggage and our sleeping children down too!! 🙂
And once again there we were – unexpected and unplanned – at a place we least thought we would be! After a day of taking in the huge statue of Siva and the beach at Murudeshwar, we hopped into a mini van and made a day-trip to the impressive Jog Falls in Simoga; or as it is called locally – The Gerusoppe falls, the 2nd highest plunge waterfall in India. The Falls, playing hide-and-seek with the clouds, the froth and the foam, gave us a feel of Heaven on earth! Enchanting, hypnotic, mesmerising we couldn’t take our eyes off them. We left that place with happy hearts, relaxed minds and a feeling that ‘All’s right with the world!!’
Finally urged on by our respective families back home, we packed our stuff one last time and headed back to Udupi – the place from were it all started!!!
Since then, we’ve been on many other trips to places around the world, but needless to say, this trip of ours is the most unforgettable and enriching. We were destined to explore and discover new sights, smells and tastes right in our backyard so to say!!
We are still thankful that we had the courage that rainy night years ago to say yes to the unknown and to set off on our Blind Date with the World!!
Thank you Lufthansa for this opportunity to pen down the wonderful memories of the thrill of an unplanned trip and of discovering amazing new experiences at every turn.