My Travel Dream for 2019
“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before”, Dalai Lama. Day 5 of “One Day, One Blog” — a challenge I set for myself for the month of January 2019.
In 2017, I wrote about 5 awesome places I have never been to. It was more than a wish-list. It was based on my perceptions about 5 places. Perceptions created by images captured in my head from storybooks, movies and sometimes pure daydreaming.
At that point in time my mode of travel was thus — sit on my couch and dream about ideal life conditions which would allow me to travel. Some of these ideal situations included completing all professional responsibilities, a mythical scenario where I am 100% sure no crisis will erupt which only I can resolve, no upcoming family function I must attend, have a tonne of money not earmarked for anything else and of course the place should have 5 star luxury available at pittance.
Thankfully I have changed since then. I make impromptu travel plans, slum it out in general compartments of trains, make peace with staying in service apartments and so on.
Therefore I am more hopeful of this list becoming a reality than my fantasy list.
This is a very India-focused list and if I even complete 50% of this, 2019 will be a swell year for me 🙂
(1) A Solo trip across Kerala
I am a Malayalee and therefore you may be wondering why my home-state is in this list. Very simple.
It is often places we have easy access to that we ignore the most.
Another reason is to investigate my perception of safety about Kerala. I have traveled around India and stayed in hotels (alone). While there have been nights when I have got freaked out ( like the night in Jorhat where I was possibly the only occupant in rather nice hotel) and didn’t sleep a wink all night, on the whole I do not have problems solo travels.
But whenever I think of travelling alone in Kerala, I hesitate. I do not know if its my perception that remote places in Kerala do not have good accommodation for women. Perhaps I am more susceptible to the affliction called “what will people think” in Kerala.
I want to cover the northernmost districts of Kerala — Kasargod, Kannur, Wayand, etc. I have a few good friends from these places who would be happy to arrange my stay at their homes but I want to see them from the eyes of a solo traveler.
I want to go trekking in Idukki, spend a day at Gavi, explore Thenmala and walk on the banks of Nila at Palakkad.
It might even be fascinating to visit Thrissur( where I was born and where almost all my family is still based) as tourist.
(2) A road trip to Chidambaram and Thanjavur
I first learned about the Brihadesvara temple at Thanjavur in our ICSE text books. The construction marvel of placing an 80 tonne granite stone at the top of the temple tower when there were no cranes or any such machinery had caught my imagination since then.
Chidambaram — The name of the city comes from two words”Chit” meaning wisdowm and “Ambaram” meaning Sky. Isn’t that a magnificent concept! A sky full of wisdom. [ I have read another theory which says name comes from the Tamil word Cirrambalam, meaning ‘little hall’]
Both cities are known for their temple architecture and I would love to spend time observing the wonderful creation of man.
(3) The village of Doda in Kashmir
This visit is inspired by an awesome lady I follow on instagram — Sabbah Haji (@imsabbah). She is an amazing woman who returned to her village and started a school when she realized that two generations of people had no access to schooling.
The images she shares of students are far more enticing than any picture of Kashmir I have seen so far.
(4) The Great Rann of Kutch
“Kutch nahi dekha to kuch nahi dekha”* — A line delivered by Amitabh Bachchan in the Gujarat Tourism advt always sounded a bit corny to me. But that has never effected my desire to visit what is called the “wild west” of India someday.
Rann of Kutch is another imagery that caught my imagination from old school lessons. A salt marsh located in the Thar Desert must be an awe inspiring sight.
Of course, once I am there I would love to visit the village artisans who make all those amazing handicrafts Gujarat is famous for.
As clichéd as it may sound, I sense that Chhattisgrah is a part of India that is waiting to be discovered. The political instability aside, I believe this will be a journey worth remembering for the opportunity to learn more about India’s tribal culture, the archaeological discoveries and of course, the Chitrakot falls.
Mussoorie made it to this list purely due to my stalker tendencies. I have always been a little in love with Ruskin Bond. I will probably loiter around his house till I catch a glimpse of one of my favorite authors, till they chase me away.
(7) North East of India
The seven sisters and their brother deserve nothing short of a month in terms of duration of visit. And that was my plan for November-December 2018. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t have been practical with the imminent relocation.
This one is absolutely at the top of the charts for me. While I look forward to doing all the usual “instagram” worthy stuff while out there, I will also definitely do a trek through the forests of Arunachal Pradesh.
(8) West Bengal
I have been to Kolkata numerous times. As much as I love the city in winter, I would love to travel to the remote corners of the state now.
Thanks to all the stories I have read as a child, I have an incredibly romanticized notion of West Bengal in my mind.
Cooch Behar is definitely on my list. Thanks to all my Bengali friends, I am sure I will have tonnes of other recommendations.
The ultimate romantic fantasy — to sleep amongst the sand dunes of Jaisalmer, under the starlit sky with a and a cool breeze.
It’s super fun to make a travel wish-list even if you do not know when and how you will travel. Do make such a list for yourself. I would love to know the places in India that you would like to visit.