What The Best Kept Secret Village of South India Taught me.
People tend to do something right , even though, they enjoy themselves in something else. And the best example of it is, the fact, that so many people I met love the countryside and village life for it's calm , simple and ordinary ambience. Yet they choose to build their life around bustling cities with their stressful ambience. Why we do it , is a deep resonance of the sub conscious mind and it's will to achieve a perfect life , even without knowing what actually " perfect " means for each of us individually. I won't go into that detail, for it's a detour of how our mind works but most of us do what we feel right, rather than what we actually enjoy. The total nuisance is in the Rights and Wrongs, inbuilt in us by years of conditioning in school , family and society.
Anyways , Everytime you visit small villages around the places you travel you get a slight conviction that it's not always peaceful to be trying to be right. And that is exactly this small village and it's residents taught me , while on my time there.
India throughout has picturesque landscapes. The India villages find their places in those extraordinary surroundings to a wanderer's eye. During my recent tour in South India, in the state of Tamil Nadu , I came to know about this village from a local wanderer and definitely made time to visit here with my ongoing traveler from England. It's an worthy effort to seek beyond the ordinary, and that for a Tour Guide means, better service and recognition from his traveler. I couldn't miss out on that opportunity. For a whole day we decided to live and explore around this well kept secret village.
My traveler and I , both enthusiastic about this bountiful surrounding we were in, decided to hike around the farmlands before heading in to the village . Eric , my traveler from England was a farmer himself and felt at ease and amazement both at the same time. He knew more about the crops that were growing than me. Probably because he is from the same kind of terrain, where as I am more local to the lofty high Himalayas and the agriculture there.
Prominently five crops were to be seen around. Majority was garlic. The whole area can be called a Garlic Haven, which reflects in the local food we tasted later. Second was the carrots. The sweet and tasty carrots. Other than this you find beans , peas and paddy. In a year they have three types of crops and do the crop rotation, which helps them keep the work on land going.
The farm lands are curated and organized in precise accuracy to use up the land as much as possible to most optimum ability. Tiny trails going through them were chosen by us to walk around, as we saw in far , the local men with strong bulls ploughing for the next set of vegetables.
The people of Poombarai are as beautiful as their village from souls. The farmers in the field were so delighted to have us in their field, they offered their produces for us to taste. It was a first time for me to taste carrots straight out of souls and that was delicious. Peas were sweet as well , but I have had it in Himalayas too. Though the love involved in gifting them to us made it special on many ways. I am not a avid vegetable lover , but if I find this kind of it more, I have no complaints.
Lastly every part we went through, we were invited to eat food with them. We could only oblige a few, since of our already vegetable filled-up tummies.
What stuck me most, is though, people belonged to different sectors in financial conditions, that was evident yet all of them lived almost in same ways. Their houses looked the same , and the food eaten. It didn't matter how much they earned , it is their way of living that connected them.
Once we were passing by a house located distant from the main village, in the base of the farming fields. The farmer and his wife was having meal when we were passing by their farm. Without knowing our language, they just with gesture showed us, if we wanted to eat with them.
That was eye opening, to do it to strangers , in middle of your meal randomly. I can't imagine anyone doing that in the technology evolved more educated cities that we are from.
This people work hard to produce the food that we only eat as parasites , and just like me , I am sure a lot of you too, have no idea how to farm or actually create them. It is of no secret that we of all are the most dependant race. The ones that we live in the cities and have no idea of how to produce our own food. And it is such that why we have to keep living there and do things that seem right, just because it covers up our inability to live an independent life enough. Our dependency makes what seems right , and our dependency also does not let us enjoy the things we do. At the end , I am sure most of us would like to know , how to produce our own food, and live this content life that reflects in smiles of the people of Poombarai.
What is your take on this ? Have you ever felt useless because you can't produce your own food ? Let me know. Thoughts are personal and garnered while my tour guiding trip of South India in February last week.
Trees and mustard plantations flash by , as fast as, memories of a forbidden kiss from a lost lovers do, in my mind. I am stagnant here, as scenes and stories rush by , with nothing but a glimpse presented to me. My mind sometimes procrastinate what things could have been , if I peeked more into the scenes. Just like what more could have been, only had I decided to stay.
It is of no surprise, that a human heart, mostly connects to things it has lost. It's our beauty and curse , that we seek tragedy in our natural existences, may be.
The tiny houses in cluster at the far, and people with colourful dresses near in the fields look upon me, without ever seeing me, actually. I see them , faceless , just like dots and lines drawn in a fast moving photograph. There herds of livestock relaxed , shapelessly lying across the great greens.
The people living or existing.
My mind urges to ask what do they see from those fields?
All they see may be is a bleak existence on a huge serpent running across iron trails. That must be how trains and people standing on them looks like.
May be they think , where are we off to. And some of them surely dream of going away too, a cold wanderlust, hopelessly hammering in their mind. How useless they might feel , knowing they can't do that at the exact moment. Same as I felt when I wanted to tell someone how much I love them , yet did not.
My mind play games, unwanted to my heart, yet in totality we must endure. A soothing sense prevails, as the sunset sky takes over.
Sunsets are beautiful everywhere , just like a baby's laughter and a warm hug. From the rushing train , it looks like a ball of orange fixed upon you. Everything is moving , coming from future moving to past , but the two you stay in their places. The promise of being together for once justified.
The scenes are magical , every blunt landscape catches a reddish hue. The color of life absorbs everything all around . Suddenly there is no grief , there is nothing missing , no lacking. There is no thoughts in the mind, a complete silence.
Just the canvas universe has painted upon, and my eyes fixed at it. The brain , heart and soul has come together, silent and meditating in this magic that follows for sometime.
But just like everyone and everything, soon betrayal takes it place. The color slowly evades , just like death takes over life. The orange ball giving optimism changed golden, only to be vanishing second by second. It's illuminated sphere from the bottom half mixes with the grey sky. Before you put your mind into it, accept the laws of existence, it disappears. The ball is almost hidden by trees and forest that line up the horizon. Without saying a proper goodbye , it just vanishes.
May be it is truly hard to say good bye, for there is no good in it. More so when you love someone.
Personal Views written on my train journey from Kolkata to Delhi Feb 12 , 2020.
Kindly keep an eye on my space as I write my thoughts on my life as a wanderer and tour guide. If you connect to what I write , kindly contact me and let me know how you feel.
How sad it is , that we forget the things once we loved so hard. Or is it just human to be so. Every year we fall in love with people and places , only to make memories and then leave them behind. We do it , out of intention or context out of our control , I know not.
We go back again to new places , fall in love in newer stories , but we are never the same as the person we did it first time.
May be the magic doesn't diminish , but it does change. And change may be is not so bad after all.
The first time I went so up close to Himalayas on a trek, I lost myself all. And with every step I took , I gave away parts of me , that I could never found , even after taking thousands of journeys back to the mountains again.
It is the same with everyone who takes the first step walking into the Himalayas. Every time , I take people for the first time in mountains, they have a different hue. Some come back , some do not , yet none of them come back like they did the first time.
Every corner you turn, you are mesmerized by the high mountains that spear through sky. Your eyes limit your vision but your soul takes you to the deepest places. You imagine how it might be on those ridges, on those tops that are blurry to your eyes.
You forget you have a name , a identity, all you are today is a creature in love with the most divine. You know you were meant to be here. Every moment you grow into your feelings, like there is no tomorrow and there was no yesterday. You are one with everything around here , today.
You don't categorize yourself in certain boxes that human laws and interpretation created. You don't remember your goals or any intention to be anything more than what you are here. For you don't need to reach anywhere anymore, you are just content and complete. You are beautiful and silent in your wholeness , just like the Giants standing in front of you.
But just like life , moments come to pass. You revert back to your sane , mature mind. You follow the rules specified to keep this world in terms. You have to end this journey, go back to where you are normal. We can't be divine, we can't be ecstatic , we can't be forever in love. Can we?
You console yourself, trying to see things that really pull you back from the mountains. The good in the bad that you left behind.
You console yourself, that you will be back here soon. Like the last day of our school , how we say we will always be in touch.
It's a promise to yourself. Knowing you were never good on promises , just like any of our species. All this, just to let go of that moment where you felt complete.
You go back , suffering in the fever of reminiscent, flashes of what had been cropping up in your mind. The photographs and conversations , adding fuel to the fire. But you're sensible , you control , fake your soul into believing this is normal. You have a life , a identity to live, people who love you waiting for you back there.
There is no other choice. That's the way the world works. Yet why do you feel a lump in your throat, a heavy heart unspoken.
A month pass , you don't think of it that much anymore. You feel no pang of what you left behind. Like a dream we wake up from and never remember the details , the moments lived on the mountains, pass.
It doesn't disturb anymore to think about it, and you don't even force yourself to think of it. It's just there, like all other places and people that you once loved and left behind.
I guess it is a good for a thing, isn't it? For if we never did that and stayed back where our heart felt home , we would hurt so many of us that loved us.
A many of broken souls , hide well behind the words they wrote.
So tell me , how does it feel to let go ?
As more and more Indians are traveling , places are slowly turning into destinations that adhere to crowds and more Instagram friendly population only. Yet there are a lot of us , in search of places which are quite less visited or known. The small village of Pedong and my experience there will be one such. I did not hear about this place till last year, and January meant a good time to explore, and begin the year 2020.
Situated in the borders of West Bengal and Sikkim , in north east region of India, Pedong is a small village nestled in the laps of Himalayas. Surrounded by dense terai forest , a bird watchers paradise , Pedong is an ultimate destination for the nature loving folks.
The surrounding hills of Pedong give a lot of options for hiking, and which of course caught my heart. Small hamlets and hill top view points adore the region surrounded. Hiking through the dense jungle trails, discovering the bounty of nature while on it , makes up for a special experience here. From local berries in the forest , to an abundant healthy population of variety of birds, bush walking is all worth doing here.
The hiking trails also take you to other smaller villages situated at higher altitude. It is very much possible to spend a day or two and then come back. A lot of view points adore this regions, with breath taking views of Himalayas that border with Tibet and China.
Pedong is also well connected by road. It is the first night halt if you want to do a road trip in the Old Silk Route. The old silk route is the tail of the ancient silk road that connected China and India. Today it is one of the best road trip circuit, less visited yet unsubstantiated beauty. The road trip can be done in car, but motorcycles are more prefered. I was fortunate enough to find a co traveler , to explore the region near by. We rode to beautiful villages of Lolegaon, Lava and Rishop through misty forest tracks and mingled with the clouds and fogs.
All this villages have unique view of the Himalayan higher peaks, but are mostly covered in clouds and fog , except in early morning. So i will advise you ride more during those hours.
Pedong is also home to an ancient Tantric Buddhism monastery. The region flaunts its spirituality in beautiful monastries nestled in hills and covered by forests. The prime population of Pedong is Buddhism with a majority of Christianity too, The nearest big town to Pedong is Kalimpong , which is a colonial town built under the influence of British Raj.
It is easy to reach Pedong for backpackers or any travelers. Buses to Kalimpong are very frequent from Siliguri , the nearest town with train station and airport. From Kalimpong , shared taxis ply with in half an hour to reach this beautiful village.
It is a perfect destination for a two day stop , from a busy schedule of life. And if you are planning Sikkim, this should act as your country side experience to the beautiful state.
All in all , Pedong which is off the beaten path is sure to win hearts over with its rawness and simplicity. Travelers cannot forget the experience and surely would recommend others to visit here soonest.
To visit Pedong , or to know more, Kindly consult or message me. For a video experience of Pedong, click here
The sun scorched state of Rajasthan is famous for its deserts and rich culture. However , under the shadow of that popularity lies abundant wilderness and some elusive wildlife. It was this year , that finally I decided to pay a visit to this state and track one of the most elusive big cat of the wild.The leopards!
While leopard population is quiet good in India, yet due to its shy behavior , it is very less seen in the wild. If you're among big cats and wildlife lover like me, this blog will surely instigate a probable plan in mind.
To go leopard sighting was one of the most exciting thing I have done till date. The journey took me to the south of Rajasthan , in the region of Jawai dam.
Unlike the natural landscape of Rajasthan of desert and barren plains , Jawain boasts of greenary and vegetation quiet well around the area. The region is formed of ancient volcanic rocks , that forms the hills around the area. This hills are the homes to leopards, since it provides perfect lairs and caves to have a healthy lifestyle for the big cat.
The Jawai lake is a prominent spot to seek migratory birds and crocodiles , and it is here where our first safari to track a leopard started , early in the morning. The lake is beautiful enveloped between hills , and gives a beautiful outlook to the region.
In monsoon , the lake expands over hectares of area , submerging the grassland and swamp plains around it. Other times, this plains are used by local rural farmers to produce their crop.
Farming like most of India , is primary occupation , complimented by animal rearing in daily life. Herds of buffaloes , sheeps and goats can be seen tended to by the local people. This livestock not only aids the people living here , but also is one of the primary food base for the leopards that live in the hills around.
Surprisingly , the presence of leopards in the area have been for more than hundreds of years , and till now , no human has ever been reported dead , by its attack. This surprising co existence of leopards and humans in the Jawai region , is one of the most interesting cases of wildlife.
The hillocks put up perfect places for the leopards to ply their trade. Regardless of humans in vicinity , they are quiet comfortable here. Such is the behavior of the wild cat, that upon morning and evening , some certain places and known as favourite for the leopard population , where they come out to bask in the rising and falling sun.
This places are to be kept a watch , and the movement of leopards through carcass of kills, pug marks can be tracked. What helps in sighting is the knowledge of the huge area of Jawai which spans across many a miles, and only using gypsy jeeps , this region can be well patrolled for sighting leopards.
The gypsy are perfect for safari in this region. And not only does it serve to go around for leopard hunting but is an adventure in itself, The safari jeeps go up and down the hillocks , which is quiet a fearful experience, as without a experienced hand at helm, mishaps are eminent. This risk also makes the experience of tracking fun leopards fun. With binoculars and a steady eye , one has to go from hillock to hillock searching for the big cat. Slowly but surely , Jawai is gaining popularity with the wildlife lovers, as no region in the world can give such high probability to track a leopard in its natural habitat.
The tracking needs patience and love for wildlife, as long hours waiting can be eminent while on the drive.
The rewards for such hard work is the grace of the big cats lurking in the hills. They are well camouflaged with the brown boulder colors , and takes a little experience to get used to, in tracking them. The caves of the hills are their home, and while the leopards decide to reproduce , they change their positions to further places , which adds a toll in tracking them. They need a safe place to produce their litter which is why , they vanish from the eyes and from regular places that they generally ply around.
Other than live stocks , the Jawai region has a number of Nilgai , wild boars and other prey base for them to hunt.
While live stock is endangered and killed by leopards , the people of Jawai are aware enough not to kill them back. They are rightly compensated for the loss of the livestock by the authorities here. Due to the high population of leopards in the region, tourism is expanding , which brings good money to the region. What needs to be seen is how in coming years, commercialization is balanced with the preservation of wildlife here. Like the humans and leopards have co existed together here, it is of such prayer , that business and conservation finds its balance too.
To go on this exciting adventure of leopard tracking in Rajasthan , you can consult me for advice!
Note from the Author
" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. Sharing with you all, those memories and stories , and wishing you all , that someday you guys travel far and wide too. I am not a great writer , so ignore my grammar and spellings, read it with feelings, and you might just be affected with the wanderlust to hit the road"