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Namaste India: Exploring South India

 

I was born an Indian, which meant that I was part of the most diverse country in the world. Thus, whenever life blessed me with an opportunity to travel around, I would jump straight into it. Up until this very day, I have always looked forward to holidays for a chance to pack my bag and go on an exploration. Having travelled to almost all the major cities, India taught me to appreciate even the simplest things in life.

Once during a two-month long vacation, I grabbed my tote bag and decided to explore the place that I called my hometown and its neighbouring state. The Indian culture is diverse, but the culture of Kerala is exquisite. Right from my childhood, I was brought up as a typical Indian lady, but this place left me smiling like a kid at a candy store every time I went out on a tour.

The busy streets were lined with buses, rickshaws, mini stores, and textiles shops that displayed mannequins clad in Sarees and Salwar (Indian traditional attire). The coconut-palm-adorned beaches at Trivandrum and lethargic backwater rides in Alappuzha can be equally calming and enthralling at the same time. Additionally, the Kathakali dance—a classical art form, the appetizing sadhya, elephant festivals, and snake-boat races kept me fascinated on my very first journey along the southern coastline.

While Kerala featured a typically tropical climate, Tamil Nadu was enveloped in a sacred aura. The journey through this state evoked my inner spirituality with its stunning temples and immense faith in Hinduism. I moved to Mamallapuram nestled in the southern part of Tamil Nadu. The super rock-cut shrines here taught me that there would be no other place in this world where even stones would tell a story. The backdrop of traditional Tamilian culture and sacred temples soon transformed to ostentatious churches and French seaside colonies at Pondicherry. After roaming around the city for a couple of days, and enjoying the delicious seafood, it was time for me to return back home.

Days passed by as I busied myself with the day-to-day responsibilities, all the while getting my bank account ready for my next trip. The freshness of living in my hometown kept me fascinated, and I was falling more and more in love with the traditional culture and practices. Though I became comfortable in my role as a content writer, I still wanted to go on an exploration so badly.

A year later, another two months of vacation came by and I decided to finish my exploration of South India. I caught the next train that left to Andhra Pradesh and landed at Hyderabad, which is now the capital of a newly formed State called Telangana. It was Holi, ‘Festival of Colours’ on the day I reached the place and a billion smiles welcomed me. By the time I found a place to stay, I was bathed in a myriad of colours. The more I stayed at Hyderabad, the more I wanted to explore but time was short and I had to move to the next place.

It was during my trip to Karnataka when I found my true love: Bangalore —my love offered a lot for me to see. The bars, the microbrewery, the endless fields of grapevines, and a city buzzing with life that was what Bangalore was all about. The city kept me enchanted with the well preserved colonial architectures, lush green parks, and green spaces. My relationship with Bangalore grew stronger as its true beauty unfurled in front of me through the various sightseeing tours. During my days there, I went for walks and jogs in the morning; something that I never even thought of doing back in my hometown.

My fairy-tale dreams were turned to reality by the Bangalore Palace which resembled the Windsor Castle in many ways. Before travelling back home, I bought a bottle of freshly brewed beer from a winery and boarded the bus. The wine kept me company during dull evenings reminding me of all the beautiful memories of Bangalore.

A couple of years later, whenever I am asked about the most exciting trip of my life, my mind always rushes back to those days that I spent exploring South India. I was an introvert my whole life and I still am, but this trip changed me and helped me do things on my own.