Backpacking India Part-II: A Parallel Journey by Kusum Sanu on Scrapbook.

From my previous backpacking trip (Part-I) I have learnt one thing! When traveling not to have a dictating plan … have complete flexibility. No restrictions of booked train reservations, flights or hotels. Take the available public transport to get to the next destination. Moving forward from one town to another, passing through the forests and deserts, carrying a load-full of bitter-sweet memories, lingering taste of local food, lessons learnt from the past mistakes, knowledge gained from the strangers and a 40L backpack with bare necessities.
What does travel mean? Moving from one place to another for few days, stay in a hotel, eat in restaurants and collecting pictures? Different people have different definitions for travel, different reasons to travel … I too have my own reason! I have an intense inner compulsion to travel! It doesn’t matter where I am heading to, I should be on the move looking forward to something! Where will this search for unknown things end? I have no idea.
With the backpacking trip in the state of Madhya Pradesh- The heart of Incredible India they say, I pushed myself to the edge … Since then, in unknown places I find myself wiser than before! Not to pre-judge anything or anybody, understand more of a situation, have more sympathy and compassion, at the same time know how to differentiate fake from the reality. I have realized people in India are more interested in personal information. At times, I cook up a story instead of telling truth. I find people are interested  in  stories more than reality, otherwise Bollywood wouldn’t be such a huge industry 🙂 And also, I got used to hop over the disgusting spit and cross the roads without loosing my life or limbs.
Travelling in India is a very different experience, the country is so diverse. Physically it is one single journey. And then, also is a cocktail (journey) of religious, spiritual, adventurous, cultural and heritage all combined. I call my trip was a Parallel journey… Visiting and exploring new places had  unexpected opportunities of pilgrimage. Along with the adventure of traveling I was enjoying the knowledge of legends associated with the places. From my childhood I have been listening to the stories of Hindu mythology from my very religious Mother. And I was thrilled to visit those places which stand as proof of those stories.
I visited the cities of IndoreBhopal and Jabalpur, followed the call of the wild toChambalKanhaPench and Bandhavgarh National Parks, tried to read the history on the stones of ManduMaheshwarBhojpurVidishaGyaraspurUdaypurChanderiKhajuraho andOrchha, got soaked in the beauty of the forests and waterfalls of Pachmarhi, admired the valor of Rani Lakshmibai in Jhansi, Shivapuri and Gwalior, followed holy River Narmada from her birth place Amarkantak to her confluence with River Kaveri in Omkareshwar, had Ram Darshan in Chitrakoot, wandered on the streets of sacred city- Ujjain, got lost on off beaten paths to VidishaGyaraspurUadaypur and Bhojpur, and visited the principal center of Buddhism-Sanchi. The list of destinations and monuments apart, the experiences along the journey to them were life changing.
I took buses and trains for transport. I took a train from Gwalior to Bhopal, my 2-AC ticket was still in waiting list #1 even after the chart was prepared. I hardly knew anything of general compartments in trains, I never knew ladies compartment existed! I was nervous and excited at the same time! The travel had brought an opportunity to experience something which I had never done before! I purchased the ticket and waited for the train to arrive. When the train arrived there was a deluge of people and I was shocked to sense that! Before I could react I was helplessly pulled away by the crowd. There was no chance of getting out of that mass of people. And then without even realising I was inside … there was no place to sit or to keep my backpack. A kind women told me to get on the upper berth pointing at a little space and I obeyed her. Then she told me I would be comfortable there otherwise me and my luggage wouldn’t survive! Few others asked me why was I in this compartment. Why shouldn’t I? I asked. According to them foreigners have a lot of money to spend and hence shouldn’t crowd the general bogie and be in reservation compartments instead! I was not comfortable with that kind of hostility. I sat there for 5 hours wondering why people of Madhya Pradesh thought I was a foreigner! Couldn’t get an answer!! My wild guess would be my hair and my backpack!

Getting off the train was another adventure all together! A flood of people was trying to get off the train and another flood was trying to enter through those narrow doors! After 2 minutes the siren blared! People went frantic … So I got off the train on the other side of the platform, yes that is on the tracks, only to realize the siren blaring was from another train!! Ha ha … what a mess?! Now, after walking on the tracks I tried to get on to the high platform. A kind grown-up boy pulled me up along with my backpack! I feel in those 5 mins of “disembarking drama” I might have lost a KG of weight because of anxiety! I was worried that if I missed the station I might have to take another train back and travel in general compartment!!! I would never forget my 40-days backpacking trip to Madhya Pradesh and the journey in (ladies) general compartment. Even saved the journey ticket as a souvenir 🙂

Look for me to report on individual destinations and many interesting things about Madhya Pradesh in coming weeks 🙂

PS: The picture of a male- Marsh Harrier (?) was taken at Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary,Karnataka.
—Leave a comment to tell me about your dramatic experience 🙂

You might also want to read other posts in Backpacking India series … Click HERE for list of links.Credit – This AWESOME article is on Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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