"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

journeys

Looking Back

It had been a holiday of extremes.
Altitude, temperature, bleakness, beauty, exhaustion and spirituality: all had played their parts.

We visited a far-away, alien culture and were greeted with friendly innocence and hospitality.

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It was a truly amazing experience which I will never forget.

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Main picture taken in Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. All other pictures taken in Cochin Airport, Delhi and Ladakh.


Aspiring To Altitude: Arrival

We finally arrive in Ladakh


The Wanderer Returns

Sicut cervus desiderat


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Picture taken in the Kerala backwaters of Cochin.


The Leaving..

A beautiful week with my dear son and his lovely wife has passed all too quickly.
I head for North Island,
and a week of profound quietness..
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Picture taken beside Lake Te Anau, New Zealand.


A Shared Journey

Pictures taken from a considerable distance, on the Kerala Backwaters. 
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Let The Train Take The Strain

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A is the affable guard whom you square:
B is the “Bradshaw” which leads you to swear:
C is the corner you fight to obtain:
D is the draught of which others complain:
E are the enemies made for the day:
F is the frown that you wear all the way:

From The Tourist’s Alphabet by Mr Punch’s Railway Book

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Pictures taken while changing train, on my journey from Wiltshire to Cornwall, during the English summer.

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Homeward Bound

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Our tour was over:
Ten days exploring the wondrous temples and palaces of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
We were now homeward bound.

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Our journey had spanned a small arc of the subcontinent, from the Arabian Sea to the Indian Ocean.


We had crossed the Western Ghats to watch wild elephants, then slowly ambled our way through the Deccan Plateau:
From modern beaches and ancient temples to British architectural fantasies and bland concrete hotels;
Bustling towns to ruined cities

We enjoyed meals in both grand restaurants and humble bamboo food-stalls.
Tea fuelled our road travels while cool beers soothed our evening stops.
We had explored and watched and wondered.
Our time spent in observation of people
At work, rest and at prayer.

Like life itself,
An amazing journey encompassing delight, despair and discovery.

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From Sea To Shining Sea

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The previous day’s journey had been hard and tiring:
Over 350 km (more than 200 miles), which is a
 long distance on Indian roads.
But our week of meandering travels had taken us from my home on the Malabar coast to the beaches of Tamil Nadu.
We had crossed a narrow southern portion of India’s great diamond, from the Arabian Sea to the Indian Ocean

Today the journey would be easier and more leisurely.
We began by driving from Mahabalipuram to Pondicherry:

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A route punctuated by rock-carvings, sea-salt harvests and an ocean promenade. 

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Back On The Road

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It was Friday. We had been travelling for eight days.
The wonders of Hampi and Mysore still floated in and out of my thoughts.
The diverse temples were almost merging into a single amorphous memory.
But our travels were not over.
It was time to get back on the road.

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Before setting out again, there is usually the small matter of re-packing to be dealt with:

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My own packing skills show neither forethought nor patience.
Nowadays, I collect together what seems necessary, then leave my kind staff to do the rest.
A few minutes later, having compared my selection with what he thinks proper, Anu will invariably return with suggestions, such as:
“Papa, I think maybe you wanting some inner-wear*?”
 (*Indian English for underwear)

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He is practically always right. My planning is well on the way to becoming reliably unreliable.


Perhaps I am better suited to observing life from the sidelines.
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On The Road

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A long journey lay ahead of us.
Leaving our hotel in Belur early, we decided to take breakfast on the road.

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On my first visit to India, any thought of eating in one of the countless, road-side restaurants induced emotions ranging from a tight-lipped “I think not” to something verging on hypochondriacal terror.


Their cleanliness and décor can prove challenging to a Western eye.

But I have since learnt that the food served is invariably tasty, cheap and safe!
As expected, breakfast in this establishment was far better than any we had eaten in our tourist-class hotels.

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Back on the road, there was little to do but observe:

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Take lunch:

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Then observe once more:

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While the scenery changed:

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Until finally we reached Hampi,

Our hotel,
Cool showers
And cooler beers. 

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The Mango Mountains

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Having left the hotel in Mysore we headed north.

Along the roadside were serried ranks of fruit sellers, each with pyramids of fresh ripe mangos on their carts.

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With so much competition, the vendors were signalling passing traffic to stop and buy.
Using the excuse of it being a good idea to stretch our legs, we decided to make a brief stop
And indulge.

Incredibly sweet, beautifully ripe and dripping with juice: they were delicious.

It took almost a full bottle of mineral water to clear the stickiness from my hands!

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The Temple On The Plains: Part 2

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We had experienced darshan.

Now the rest of the temple complex was to be explored. 

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Along with its people:

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The Temple On The Plains

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We left the temple on the hill and crossed a small part of the massive Deccan Plateau.
Simon, our driver, had marked the 1,000 year old temple at Nanjangud as the next place to be explored.

Compared with Gopalswamy, this temple was vast and crowded.
Having entered the complex, we joined a tightly packed queue to enter the heart of the building. The line’s great length was concealed by its snaking around countless corners and through a maze of columned passages.

It was a little like queueing for a popular ride at Disney World.

But without the benefits of skilled crowd-management.

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Finally, our destination was revealed.

We were to receive darshan

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Through The Wilds Of Wayanad

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Our route from Calicut climbed the Western Ghats into the Wayanad hills.

There we stopped for refreshment while Simon, our driver, phoned ahead to arrange bookings for the night’s accommodation.

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We came across a couple of mahouts with their elephant. 

All were busy washing.

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Our journey then continued through avenues of bamboo,

Into the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.

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Embarking On Adventure

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When setting off on any trip from Fort Cochin, first you must reach the mainland.
The ferry can cut miles of congested city roads and bridges from your route.

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Local ferries are small and invariably there’s a queue of cars, 2-wheelers and auto-rickshaws waiting.
The first boat to arrive usually fills well before it is your turn to embark.
Twenty minutes of gently excited anticipation are part of the conditions of travel.
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It’s a romantic beginning to any adventure.

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The Journey Is The Destination: Part 12

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“But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”

Khalil Gibran

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Picture taken in Hampi


The Journey Is The Destination: Part 11

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“The Child is father of the Man”

William Wordsworth

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Picture taken in Hampi, Karnataka, during ritual temple bathing.


The Journey Is The Destination: Part 9

The pleasures of travelling together

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Picture taken in Hampi


The Journey Is The Destination: Part 8

Carrying her burdens with grace.

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“Grace was in all her steps, Heav’n in her Eye, In every gesture dignity and love”

John Milton


This posting was inspired by a friend who makes light of her considerable burdens. The picture is from my travels in Karnataka.


The Journey Is The Destination: Part 7


Pierced by the Light

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Picture taken in Tamil Nadu, during my travels


The Journey Is The Destination: Part 6

 

A temporary descent

 

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Photographs taken in Hampi, during my travels in Karnataka


The Journey Is The Destination: Part 5

Roadside Stations of the Cross

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Picture taken from the car, whilst on my travels

 


The Journey Is The Destination: Part 4

A marriage begins

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Picture taken as we pass a Hindu wedding on my travels in Karnataka.


The Journey Is The Destination: Part 3

The attraction of spiritual accessories

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Picture taken on my travels in Karnataka