Detours that matter

YEAR IN REVIEW

Detours that matter

For Lakshmi Sharath, this year, the journey was her destination. Join her on her sojourns across the State, as she offers insights into what makes some journeys special.

Journeys are not just about sights and sounds.They are about moments and memories. They are also about a state of mind. Sometimes, one wants an element of security in a journey. At other times, it is the little surprise that shows up on the way that makes the travel worthwhile. But mostly, it is about a spontaneous moment, a sudden decision and a willingness to let go of all the cares of the world that makes this escape special.

Most of my trips have been rather unplanned and it suits me that way. In one of my journeys, I decided to push it to the extreme. We woke up one Saturday morning with the intention of heading out of Bangalore on a day trip.

The destination was, however, unknown. It was a pleasant morning with the fog tip-toeing on us, but we soaked in it for a while as we munched on soft idlis and debated destinations. “Maybe Chitradurga?” suggested the husband as we veered our way towards Tumkur Road. We had barely driven a few kilometres on the road when we saw an arrow suggesting that we could head to Mysore.

We were tempted. We pulled over and discussed the possibilities of a getaway from Mysore as well. Being indecisive is sometimes a wonderful feeling. It opens up a new train of destinations, a window of opportunities and a road full of detours that would take you to different places.

It did dawn on us at the very moment that all that we carried on us was a bit of money, our mobiles and a camera bag.  And of course, the car. But then, who would want to carry baggage when we wanted to keep our minds and bodies light and carefree ? We proceeded forward and were almost near Tumkur when a friend wanted to join the party. But he wanted a change of direction and being flexible helped. So, we did a U-turn and got on to the Hassan route to meet him mid-way at a petrol pump on the highway. We picked them up, including his sporting five year old daughter and finally planned our getaway on the fly.

We had our last pit-spot at Hassan where we bought some essentials, made a few calls to book accommodation and were finally on the way to Sakleshpur, with practically no agenda. We made several detours, to temples, dams, churches, forts and yet, all that I remembered was that the journey was my destination. We made our choices at every cross-road and soaked in the experience.

People make places

Many a time, “a been there done that destination” often shows up in a new light and a new perspective when you see it through the eyes of a local, for I believe journeys are about people who make these places.

I was in Mysore during Dasara and I spent more time on the streets than in the palace. I met Murugesh, an artist who designs miniatures of the Mysore palace and who told me proudly that he would one day like to create a mini-Mysore in his workshop.

In another corner of Mysore lived painter Venkatesh who recalled the times when his family used to tie turbans for the royal visitors. But the most interesting encounter was with Nayak, a tailor whose ancestors used to  ress up the royal guests in durbar costumes. “ We used to rent out  more than 500 coats in a day ; sometimes we have stitched more than 50 in a day,” he said rather wistfully, adding that the durbar is now a tradition of the past.

Inspiration comes from many corners of the world. For me, it came from a 60-year-old priest, Seshadri Deekshit from Teerthahalli, who at the age of 25, had cycled all over India at one go. “I just wanted to have some achievement to my name,” said the priest, adding that it took him more than 1,000 days on the road , as he showed his cycle to me. And I met him while I was on a road trip across Kerala and Karnataka over a weekend.

That’s a lifer!

This year has taken me to some new places and I have had some firsts as well. In birding parlance, we call it a lifer when we spot a new species of birds. And so I was in Ganeshgudi, a birding haven where the avian species performed for me.

They sang, they bathed, they hopped and posed for us as I photographed them. My lifer was the multi-hued Indian pitta, while I had a spread of blues waiting for me as I spotted the Asian fairy blue bird, the verditer fly catcher, the Malabar whistling thrush, Tickell’s blue flycatcher and the white bellied blue flycatcher.

Journeys have a tinge of nostalgia as well. I visited the north Karnataka region of the State for the first time as a 21-year-old, while I was trying to understand the essence of heritage. A sudden unplanned moment took me to these monuments after years, last week. I had to attend a family wedding to Jamakhandi and I chose to make most of this opportunity re-visiting Bijapur, Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal.

While I stood there awestruck, remembering my first visit here as a college student on a photography tour, I realised that journeys are eventually about discoveries. No matter how many guide books you read, how many web sites you devour, the joy of discovering something new on the road is inexplicable.

And that is how I discovered that Jamakhandi, which I assumed was a dusty nondescript village was an erstwhile princely town and is home to one of the most beautiful palaces of the Patwardhan dynasty, built on a hillock.

Standing there and listening to the call of the birds, I thought to myself that my journeys have not just helped me discover new places, but they have helped me unearth a new facet of me. An ability to enjoy the smallest surprises that life throws on the road. 

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