The Trip That Awakened ….
I don’t remember the date when Surbhi told me about the historical tour. I was not excited hearing about the trip. My friend was very much interested and she wanted me also to come. I asked my dad and he also told it will be a good experience. So I decided to go for the cultural tour organized by the SFIH (Students Forum For Indian Heritage). Right after the day of exam, all were busy packing things to go to their home. I too did pack. Somewhere in the mind, I too felt like going home. I didn’t want to go for the trip. But as I payed the money, I had to go. We started to the college by 10am on 17th morning. We are told we will have a presentation about the places we are going to visit. I was not even sure of the names of the places then. I came to know that Biju sir, Chandrasekhar sir, Indira maam, Meenu maam, Siva kumar sir and Nagendra sir are going to assist us on the trip. There was a session where all of us were made to introduce ourselves. Biju sir asked to say the reason why everyone of us are coming for the tour. I thought for a minute. I didn’t want to say “simply”. So I said I’am coming because of the love for the country. That was not completely a lie. I did love the country and that was also one of the reasons that I decided to go for the trip. Then we had a powerpoint presentation about Hampi, one of our tour destination. Neha and Bahadur were explaining about the place. They first gave a brief history about the Indian culture and then went on to the place history. Hampi seemed interesting. Me as an artist got fascinated by the sculptures and buildings.
Those were the type of places that I have seen only in textbooks. And now going to see a place like that in original was actually a bit exciting. I felt for the first time that the trip is not a waste. But still most of the people who were going to come with me were unknowns. I was a bit disappointed about that. But still the excitement made by the presentation could overcome that.
We had a small talk by Bijuji. He assigned different responsibilities for each person coming for the trip. I was given waste management. I was happy to get assigned by some work. I felt as if I have got something to do.
We set our journey by around 3pm in our amrita vaahini ,the ochre yellow painted amrita college bus. As the bus started moving, chanting of ashtothari and sahsranama started. I felt a bit bored as I never used to chant any of these. Nobody at home compelled me to do any chantings and I never cared to do. I kept texting on my mobile to some of my friends who were on their way to home. After the chanting was over, some film songs were played in the bus. Most were my favorite songs. I felt good. Interesting! Some of the fun lovers in the bus started to dance. I too did some steps, sitting on my seat. The normal procedure of mine as in every tour trips. The bus moved and moved. We had the food at Ettimadai campus. The supper at around 11pm. Then we walked around the college area . It was for the first time that I’am going to Ettimadai campus. Though I couldn’t see everything clearly, I enjoyed what I saw. By 12:30am, we started the journey to Bangalore campus.
I slept. When I woke up, I was at Karnataka. We had to change our bus to another one. We were taken to the Bangalore campus.On the way I saw the richness of Bangalore. It reflected the wealth of India.
I looked at the tall buildings with admiration.How developed the country is. Great!!The bus moved. We were taken to the guest house in the hostel at the campus. I took a nice bath and got ready for the day. We had our food at Bangalore Amrita Mess. It was better than ours.
We left to the archaeological center. After spending some time in finding out the location of the room we had to go,we finally entered the conference room. The room seemed a bit professional. Two of the officers gave us classes about Hampi.But I slept in between. I didn’t actually want to. Still I couldn’t help. But I was awake at the core parts of the talk. They told us about the history of Hampi.
Hampi believed to be the ancient “kishkinda” of Ramayana. It is the capital place where the prosperous Vijayanagara empire flourished. Krishnadevaraya (1509 – 1529 AD) and Achutharaya (1530 -1542 AD) were the most celebrated rulers of the dynasty. Krishnadevaraya was defeated by the Deccan Muslim confederacy . The place is spread around a vast area of 41.8 sq km. Hampi is declared as the “WORLD HERITAGE MONUMENTS ” by UNESCO in 1987 in recognition of their outstanding contribution to humanity in the field of art and architecture not only in Indian context but also in the international sphere during those particular periods.
They also showed us a presentation. It was good. In turn, we also showed them the presentations made by Surbhi , Neha , Ravi and others in the gang. They were actually impressed seeing our interest. Actually, others were not like me. They were more enthusiastic.The session was informative. It could increase the interests of mine in histories. Sir was mentioning the importance of preserving the archeological remains. And the need to conserve them and advised us not to damage any of the monuments or works that we see.
We left the place. We went back to Bangalore campus. Had lunch. We started from Bangalore campus by evening to Hampi. Such continuous journeys were not very familiar to me. But it was not very tiring. Our teachers took special care in reciting the ashtothari and lalithasahasranama everyday. I wondered the way some of my friends recited all those tough slokas that fast. I tried reading the slokas. Looking at the book and reading itself seemed difficult for me. At home, nobody compelled me to recite any slokas. And I too took least interest in joining my Dad with his slokas at the prayer time. I actually was not aware of the goodness of chanting. Though I have read it for my culture exams, it was not practically got into my head. I just closed my eyes and listned to my friends while they chanted. We halted at a petrol bunk to have our dinner. After the dinner,all the paper plates to be disposed were collected by me and some of my friends who were assigned the waste management duty. We did it perfectly.And we were appreciated by Bijuji. I felt happy. Bus started again. Time passed. I slept in the bus. The bus stopped at around 4 in the morning,the next day. I looked through the window. I saw some monuments in rocks out. But it was dark. Not very clear. We didnt get down there. The bus moved a bit more. And we were asked to get out of the bus. It was a small cottage out there. All the girls were made to get into the room. It was a big hall. We all slept there till 6. And started that days destinations by 7.
Our first target was Virupaksha temple. The temple seemed same as the kind of the temples I’am familiar with in Tamil Nadu. Lord Shiva was the main deity there. I prayed well. I could see many monkey families there. I did smile at some of them and they too smiled at me. I thought of my great great grand fathers who were like them. The ancestors! I felt funny!!
The guide who accompanied us gave a nice lecture about the temple. I found it a bit difficult to understand as it was in Hindi. But I could follow the main points. The inverted shadow of the gopuram of the temple been projected at somewhere inside through a small hole was having an interesting science behind it which could create a curiosity in all of us. For the first time, I thought of the Indian engineers of that time. I thought of their advanced brains.
We also saw the hemakunta hill,Lakshmi Narasimha,Under ground shiva temple,Lotus Mahal and the royal center which was spread over a great area. It consist of a small plateau with the ruins of palaces,administrative buildings etc.. The guide explained about the system of attached toilets that existed at the period of the Vijayanagara Kings. And also the water pipeline system which shows the modernity of the cities. These were the stuffs that I have learned in my history classes. But when I saw them through my eyes, the effect was different.
It was afternoon when we went to the elephant stables. I was actually wondering that these people maintained a stable even for the elephants. It was brilliant.
Biju ji accompanied us through the way. He was asking us many questions like how the workers might have built such big monuments. At a time with no technological developments as today, how difficult might have been for the workers for constructing such enormous buildings? What might be the binding material that they might have used as there were no cement developed before? Apart from just the construction works,they have managed to put designs all over the monument and had decorated it so well. How did they put those designs so well? How might they have carried such big stones that they used in their buildings? These questions were not very tough? But this made me think in a different perspective. Till then history was only theoretical for me. I didn’t go through its practical version. The people in histories were just like characters in a fiction story for me. But now I could feel the life in them. They were also just humans like us and still they managed to build such great monuments with such perfections that is still lasting. I could feel the magic then. I was inspired then. I could feel the transformation happening in me. I was enlightened. Each small building seemed wonders for me thereafter.
Bijuji asked all these questions not because he thought we knew the answers. He wanted us to think. To realise!! And he was succeeded (in my case). He was telling us that the engineers,architects, workers and everyone who contributed to these marvelous works were extemly dedicated to their works. Their passion for the work was enormous. They didn’t do any work for getting money. Because of the love for their work, they get satisfaction when they complete a work. And it is this love that creates the perfection,the beauty. What is lacking in todays world is this dedication,love and perfection. People are so self centered that they does everything for themselves. A person who does service or showed pure dedication to something without expecting anything back is considered a fool.A stupid who doesnt know any business tricks. So there are not many people who are completely dedicated to their works today. There comes the point of difference between todays India and the India before. The mind set of people have changed.
We visited a museum next. And then we got back to the bus. It was evening when we reached Vittala Temple. We had to walk around 1km to reach the temple. Me and my friend walked with Chadrasekar sir. He told us about the history of India. And then he made a statement like “people today have lost their connectivity with their past”. I didn’t understand it totally. And he said many more things about the invaders who destroyed all such marvelous monuments. Samarppanaananda swamiji who was accompanying us said about the diamond markets on the sides of the way to the temple. I thought about the prosperity of the kingdom. The diamonds being sold in heaps on the road side. Something which is unimaginable in todays world. And there were no theft at those time because all were rich and none had to steal. I felt the richness of the country. A dream world with no poverty where all live in happiness and prosperity.
We saw the Pushkarani on the way to the temple. It was nice. We reached the temple and the carvings on the walls of the temple were awesome. Many stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata were carved there. Also the imagination of the sculptor in making so many figures in the same stone that seemed different from different views showed the technical excellence of the person who made it. When the temple was lighted I saw the most beautiful sight that I ever had in my life. My heart was filled with happiness seeing the beauty of the magnificent temple on the rocks with the orange light spread on it. None of us wanted to leave the place. But we had to.
Sir said we are leaving to Dhavangiri. I sat near the window side in our place in the bus. I gazed through the window at the people and the streets on the road side. It was not the India that I saw at Bangalore. The place was not reflecting the prosperity of the nation. I didn’t see people with the proud of richness in their eyes. I thought about those diamond markets and compared with the markets that I saw now. The country seemed poor. Where has all the wealth gone? Why our country is like this today? Who made it like this? Now I understood the essence of the comment that Chandrasekhar ji made before about the connectivity with the past. I felt sad about the present India. I felt like we(Indians) lost everything. I had the same feeling that I had when we lost the relay race on the sports meet. My group was determined to win the relay race that day . But we couldn’t make up.The pain of loss was terrible that day and I troubled a lot not to cry fearing others’ teasings. I felt the same pain thinking about my country who lost all her wealth and pride. May be not all. But still.. I want the country to regain everything. But don’t know how to!!
I didn’t want to think too much because the thoughts were very disturbing. I slept. We halted at Amrita school at Davangiri and left to Belur the next morning. The journey was a bit long. We did climb a mountain on the way. And then got down. I saw coffee being cultivated on the sides. We reached Belur by after noon. The sculptors on the temple were mind blowing. The finishing it had was excellent. I don’t have words to explain what I saw. If I could see the person who made the sculptures,I would like to salute him for such a dedicated and fantastic work. Next we left to Halibedu, which was also similar to the temple at Belur. But many of the sculptures were destroyed due to the muslim invasions.
We had a laughter yoga session by Samarppananda swami at Halibedu. We all were made to laugh forgetting the surroundings. Mind felt relaxed after the session. We had great fun. All people there were staring at us jumping and laughing like mad men. I really enjoyed a lot.
That was the end of our tour destinations. Next day we had a session at Bangalore campus where we were asked to give the feedback about the tour. Bala sir at the CIR department of Bangalore campus was there with us for the session. He gave a nice lecture. I remember his words questioning the Indians like “where have the genes of our ancestors gone”. That made to introspect about the present and the past. I realized the responsibilities of the youth, in whose hands the future India lies.Later on everyone of us gave the feedback. We went for some shopping.And then started back to Kerala.
On the way back on the bus, I asked many of my doubts that I had about chanting ti Bijuji. He explained most of them beautifully with ammas teachings. I understood the worth of doing archana and I decided to do it everyday. And now I have succeeded in doing it till today.
The tour was an eye opening trip for me. Now,while writing this words,I am not the one who was ignorant about the responsibilities of Indian youth,who wanted to merely exist in this world and die like any other animal. I believe in doing things. And India and her glory of the past is my inspiration. I am proud to be an Indian. I consider that it is the punya karmas of my poorva janma that Iam born as a Hindustaani.!!I bow to mother India.