I spent 5 days in Hampi, an ancient city on the Tungabhadra river in Karnataka.
Ask any Indian about Hampi and they’ll rave about the historical significance of the Vijaynagar Kingdom’s capital city. They’ll animatedly discuss how Hampi was once the most prosperous and largest medieval-era city, boasting of magnificent stone-carved temples and one of the world’s biggest trading centers; how Hampi survived multiple invasions and attacks before being tragically reduced to ruins in 1565 by five Deccan Sultans.
The Indians will then enlighten you on the spiritual and mythological aspects of Hampi – how the city is the pilgrimage spot where Rama and Lakshmana met Hanuman, Sugriva and the monkey army; how Hampi is the place where Pampa pursued Shiva and resolved herself to yogic meditation and asceticism.
Ask any foreigner who has visited Hampi and they’ll rave about the incredible chill out zones, solid marijuana, and dope “hippie culture”.
This dichotomy is so drastic, it’s comical.
My initial reaction to this was to hate on “modern day hippie” – surely they know that smoking a lot of weed, having dreads, scooting without chappals and paying too much for trinkets at local markets does not make them a hippie (!!!).
But then I dwelled on my annoyance a little more. I soon realized that it is less to do with the image one is trying to build, but more to do with the way one travels. We often see travel as a holiday we take to escape all responsibilities of daily life. So, we adopt the mentality where vacation equates to a total freedom to pursue whatever makes us happiness. This makes us travel without much care and quickly forget that our vacations are technically enroachments upon someone else’s home. We forget that respect is different in every culture, we forget we’re guests in someone else’s country.
I spent a lot of my time in Hampi thinking about how I travel and more importantly, what travel means to me.
To me, traveling has always been so much more about exploring new places and seeing new sights. The word ‘traveling’ is about a series of isolated Moments,
Senses and Perceptions welded together by a journey. You are not just going to a place, you are indulging in a whole new and uniquely You experience.
Travel is about the aimless wander, stumbling upon small wedding ceremonies tucked behind ancient ruins; travel is about the refinement of plans, frantically scribbling on the back of pamphlets words dictated by strangers; travel is about dirtying your feet, following a spark of curiosity past running streams and balancing boulders to a small white cave with engraved footprints of the gods.
Travel is about observing, silently watching local culture to understand and become One; travel is about listening, waking up to the morning moos of a herd of sacred cows; travel is about breathing, connecting yourself with the depths and pulse of the universe; travel is about touching; transforming yourself to a different era under the soft caress of your fingertips.
Travel is about patience, where inner peace takes longer than time; travel is about giving, where currencies are more than coins and notes; travel is about gratitude, where thanks are given and felt with the heart; travel is about Feeling, watching the world pass by in daze as your inner self combusts with thoughts and aches with tenderness.
And to pay homage to a recent favourite book, travel is always about the “Here and Now”.
Hampi is the dreamy place where I learned the above. Thank you, Hampi for teaching me how to travel.
(Sent from Hampi, India)