India - A City with History
There’s something inherently beautiful about a country that regards its history and culture as highly as it does innovation and advancement. So few countries still straddle the line between past and future, and none do it as well as India. I spent 5 days in Thrichy, Tamil Nadu and it was a trip I will always treasure. The purpose of my trip was to get some answers: about my job, about settling down – the usual questions you throw out into the universe, hoping your prayers are answered. So I, along with my father, grandmother and uncle, set off on journey that would do more than just answer my questions.
Our routine began at 4am every day, as we had to be on the road by 5am. If you’re travelling through India, it’s highly recommended you hire a local driver –they’ll know exactly where to bring you safely. We went to a total of 11 temples, each one as majestic and ancient as the other. Temples are living, breathing monuments to Hindu Gods, and I will never forget the serenity or peace I felt, standing in the centre of those awe-inspiring architecture. Storytelling is an intrinsic aspect of Hinduism too; there is a story behind every God, and a story behind every temple. Each granite pillar is handcrafted, each carries with it the faith, belief and hope of an entire village.
We hit the ground running – on our first day there; we went to 3 temples, including Sri Rangam. This amazing temple was built in the 11th century, and it remains one of the largest, still functioning religious complexes in the world. You could get lost in the temple – it’s about 155 acres wide – and I certainly did. There was so much to look at, to learn, to absorb.
You wouldn’t associate Tamil Nadu with mountains and chilly air, but on our third day, we travelled nearly 3 hours to visit a temple hidden in the lush mountains. It was a long and winding journey, made all the more exciting (or scary), by the way our driver weaved up the road. Driving in India is another experience all together. We made it to the humble ashram and the first thing that hit me was the stillness. Mediation is practiced by gurus who wish to gain enlightenment, and this little temple in the mountains seemed to be the perfect place for such a task. It was actually my favourite place in our trip.
On our fourth and final day, we travelled to the seaside town of Kodikkarai, known colloquially as the “Nose of India”, just across the ocean was Sri Lanka. This temple, Kodi Kuzhagar was pretty special to my father and I, so we were equal parts nervous and excited. As we crossed the temple arch, we felt a sea breeze, like a gentle welcome, and all of that anxiety just ebbed away. We were the only ones in the temple, excluding the priests, which was a rarity. We spent an hour or so there, just soaking up the energy of the ancient temple. That’s the magic of temples; they’re vessels filled with stories, of Gods and their miracles, carved by hand in every stone.
If you’re looking for a country with history pouring out of every crevice, for mythology hidden in all of its architecture, for spirituality spilling over in its streets, then India is the place for you to visit.
To sum up: did my questions get answered? Well, the answer is…yes and no. In Hinduism, the secret to life is this: to know yourself is divine. If you can understand who you are without attachment or ego, you’re pretty much set for life. Going on this trip, I gained clarity, strength and inner peace. I know my path and I know what I have to do to achieve it. So, my next stop? Home.