It has been a month full of contemplation, facing and withdrawing.. And it was after a month of frustration, aversion to routine and impatience to get out of it and go someplace new, that I could finally gather my thoughts and write this-
I’ve been writing of all the places I’ve been to, the experiences I’ve had and the places and adventures on my bucket-list; some of them would be ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experiences and some would just have to wait. It was amidst this reminiscing and musing, that the thought sprung – should I leave, what would I be leaving behind? The answer was a sudden realization, overpowered probably by all the far off destinations occupying my thoughts and overshadowed by the dislike for the parts of routine nagging me.
It is not often that I sit in silence, watching the daybreak and its alluring shades and experiencing its aura. But the few occasions when I was up or better still, on the road in the wee hours of mornings, turned out to be some of my best memories in the city. Here are some of the captures on the cycling trails and trips in and around the city and those simple stories behind them, which make them an irreplaceable part of my life.
We’ve prided ourselves on being in the locality where some of the essential facilities are available at the closest distances. However, at an equally close range is an escape into the quaintness and calm of the villages encircling the busyness of the city.
In contrast to the shrill alarm and the mad rush that follows, to get to the college in time (not to mention, you’re still the last one to enter), their day begins with the chirping of the birds and unfolds, unbound by the ticking of the clock and surrounded by grace… to soak in the tender sunshine and cool, fresh breeze and sheer simplicity and pace of their lives is good enough a reason to sometimes chuck the schedule and blend into theirs…
A little ahead are the waterfalls, and there stands the ruins what must’ve been a temple once, a few boats, a temple in the backdrop and few around me, a village on the other side of the river, a man leading his cart along the bridge that leads to it, white birds drifting above the water, and a gentle rumble of the water where the fall ends (it is a loud gush during this time of the year when it pours, attracting hundreds of people but its pleasant flow and solitude is what I’d prefer over it). Often, I just sit there, doing nothing ( a contrast to my usual restlessness 😉 ) and share their silence, muse at their stories… that is the closest I’ve ever come to meditation! 🙂
I got a new bike, Merida (how could I proceed without squeezing in the name! 😉 ) , and our first trip and few following ones were to the Pandavleni Caves.
The caves derive their name from the mythological legends of Pandavas; built by the Buddhist kings, these caves are about 1200 years old. There are various ‘Virahas’ and a beautiful ‘Chaitya Gruha’, prayer hall, housing the stupa.
Walking into the prayer hall, you’re transported into the era and surrounded by an imperceptible shell of peace; leading you away from the cheerful horde of visitors and trekkers, and into its engulfing solitude, one step at a time… The feeling is inexpressible! And the play of light and shadows on the walls and idols of the caves as the sun rises is simply beautiful!
At the foot of the caves is the “Dadasaheb Phalke Smarak’ , a memorial to the ‘Father of the Indian Cinema’. This is the ‘Buddha Vihar’, in the extensive area of the smarak, silhouetted by the rising sun.
In these and other small getaways with friends and family, I discovered the sanctuary and love of the familiar which we often surrender to our curiosity of venturing into the unknown.
The tiny villages that cross us in the outskirts of the city, the Cantonment area of Deolali, small lakes and hills we accidentally discover on our cycling trips adding to our naïve joys, the Pandavleni Caves, scenic beauty of Trimbakeshwar during the rains, small routes we take and nameless destinations we stop at, sometimes to snap a picture, to watch the lake, to soak in the morning sun, to share a ‘chai’ are the small memories of my hometown that I would forever cherish, even as I continue to be inspired and awestruck by the unknown.
And turns out, the best of those were made when I (somewhat reluctantly) refused to press ‘snooze’! 🙂