On a discovery trail

On a discovery trail

Travel need not always be about discovering new places or having exciting adventures. It can be about revisiting one's past, walking down memory lane and enjoying the simpler things in life, writes Chaitali Patel

Palakkad Fort

I stood looking at the dry moat circling the Tipu Sultan Fort in Palakkad, but it was the ginormous rain trees surrounding it that caught my attention. Rooted to the ground for maybe hundreds of years and ably supported by their gnarled trunks, their canopies covered a large area, offering much-needed respite from the sweltering summer heat of southern India. An old man sat under one such tree engrossed in the newspaper he held. Behind him, groups of schoolgirls in their uniform and pigtails fastened with red ribbons were chatting and giggling. It was an ordinary scene and one that I have seen innumerable times as I was
growing up. Still that afternoon, I looked at this sight with wonder that doesn’t come from seeing something new, but rather, from encountering that which is familiar, steeped in nostalgia.

We were a group of writers spending the day in Palakkad town, ticking off the main sights and scouring markets for food souvenirs to carry back. It was not a bucket list trip or anything particularly remarkable, but there was a simplicity to the things that we did and the way we spent our time in this nondescript town, that made it special.

Our first stop was the jewel of the town’s history — the Tipu Sultan Fort. Built in 1766 AD by Hyder Ali, the fort’s walls stand proud and resolute, but nothing much remains on the inside. We passed by a small functioning temple near the entrance leading to a large open area within. A handful of families were about enjoying the manicured gardens dotted with twisty mango trees. Oddly enough at the back of the gardens, a part of the fort functions as the Palakkad Sub Jail. We chanced upon a small museum that had black and white photos of the fort before and after restoration, and photos of various other historical sites from around India. In a country that’s blessed with enough history to fill tomes, a lack of imagination when it comes to sharing and educating the masses about the past was shockingly glaring.

Closer to sunset we made our way to Malampuzha Dam. I found my corner of solitude and sat down to take it all in. In between the distant laughter, muffled chatter, the faint rumble of thunder, the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and on the surface of the water, I found a silence that lay buried within. It had been an eventful day with small discoveries and many joys, and together they gave me a sense of rootedness and contentment, and that was more than what I could have asked for.