What does Travelling mean to the new age??









When I asked my 5 year old, if she wanted to go far where Papa’s car won’t be able to go too easily, she very readily agreed but had a few concerns of her own. She wanted an exact replica of her first travel which was from Pune to Chennai. All that the trip included was air-flights to and fro and accommodation in one of the city’s most centrally located top-notch hotels. A little binge on junk food and a visit to a kids’ play zone. That was pretty much the itinerary and that was exactly what the little one expected of every travel – travel by air, stay in fancy accommodation and not to be pestered to eat vegetables.

What has happened to the old-fashioned middle-class way of taking a vacation? Where is travelling by the train wherein you arrange all your things like newspaper, radio, bananas etc. on the berth and the side tray getting ready for a long journey gone? Going to a new place meant either you hunt down and re-connect with your far-off relatives residing in the city or you look for the cheapest accommodation rarely accompanied by discounts or even basic amenities. Having queried about all these lifestyle changes, the next query arises that of the historic importance of the place. Children are definitely willing to learn a little history of the certain new place but I am not too sure how much do they look forward to it. Many a times they agree to accompany you to the forts or temples because they have already been given the incentive of visiting a play zone post the spiritual or historic visit.

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Jai Bholenath ! Jai Shri Ram ! Har har Mahadev !Rameswaram_temple

Rameshwaram means Ram’s Eashwar, i.e. the Lord of Shri Ram, In this case Bhagwan Shiv.

Rameshwaram  is on an island a short way away from the Ramanathpuram town on the mainland, home to the Ramanathswamy temple, a temple very sacred to the Hindus.

Since its a major pilmgrimage destination, this article is likely to have a bent that way.

Ramanathpuram being a coastal coast, you feel the sea well before you see the sea on the way to Rameshwaram, crossing over the iconic road  and rail bridge, most recently glamorised in the blockbuster movie “Chennai Express”. Although I should’ve put it the other way – the beauty of the sea there added glamour to the movie.

If you reach there by bus, which I did – all you have to do is follow the flow of devotees, along the straight road and indeed shortly the tip of the high tower of the temple gets visible. All you have to do is keep following in the direction.

The area around the hotel is full of lodges and small hotels and dharamshalas – to cater to the pilgrims who come on short visits. I walked around the temple, admiring it – it was one of the first major famous South Indian temples I’d been to – it was extremely grand . Walking around, I was also looking out for a place to stay.

It was mid-morning. I had come on an overnight bus from Bangalore, and I was rested. This was my first stop on my 3 temple town itninerary – the next 2 to be Madurai and Thanjavur.

On my second round around the temple, I shortlisted a lodge right next to the temple and checked in – a simple, neat, small room – clean and functional.

I straightened up in a few minutes and rushed out again, eager to see the sea this time. It is right behind the temple. Or the temple is right on the sea – shore (I never realised it like that till now).

The big vast sea. It looks specially beautiful and white-ish in Rameshwaram. I think Shiv temples are all situated in nature-beautiful/ inspiring places. For example, it is said, in the Himalayas the image of Shivshankar mediating, is of the mountains themselves.
Something vast, pure, serene. In this case the wide sea.

Somebody must have been moved to think of Sadashiv, who is the soul of everything and is indeed everything, and build a temple here – in this case Shri Ram. Continue reading


laketrailChicago is a beautiful American city. I’ve heard people go on and on about New York and LA, but I was in Chicago for a few months in summer and I didnt want want to be anywhere else.
I hear Chicago winters go upto -20 to -30 degrees Celcius at it lowest. Would’ve been like hell for me. I dont know why I mention it because I got days getting warmer one after the other leading up to a bright toasty summer.

Within days of me getting there, in April-May the town brought out flowering trees in trucks and planted them in front of downtown’s skyscrapers. They rolled out grass carpets in the 40 km long lake-front stretch and summer was here.

Michigan lake is beautiful. One of America’s great lakes – shimmering, sparkling under warm, blue skies – it amused me to see signs that said “No ice-skating on the lake” ! Continue reading


rupmati-mahalI set off around noon from Indore for Mandu. Mandu or Mandavgarh is an evocative city in ruins about 100 kms from Indore. The ride was scenic and calmly in the bright afternoon sun. The local bus was very comfortable, and the fact that it had bright, lovely tribal-like patterns all over it only added to the trip. One of my co-passengers politely enquired about where I was from and where I was going to. On knowing, he indicated the strong sunshine outside and casually remarked that summer was off-season, and monsoon sees the tourist crowd when Mandu looks really beautiful.

I checked (?) into the dharamshala of the ram mandir – a double bed room with an attached bathroom ! I couldn’t make out too many residents in my neighbourhood, but it did comprise of a mosque, looking old and full of character just like the mandir I was put up in. Also in the immediate vicinity was a much newer, posh Jain mandir – with landscaped gardens and marble guesthouses – and very serene like all places of worship. Continue reading