the epic solo rajasthan road trip: because travel heals pain

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My mother passed away on 19 July this year from old age. She was 84. It is now almost three months since she’s been gone, yet the pain is still raw. She went too fast. I knew she was going to go to the other side one day. One day. Just that one day was some distant occurrence which I naively believed was not going to happen in my lifetime. We all believe our parents will live forever.

If you are a follower of my blog, you would have noticed the change in the title. I have added ‘Toshi’ as my middle name. Toshi was my mother’s maiden pet name. By adding it to my online spaces it keeps her alive for me.

We were chalk and cheese. Fought and hugged. She was the most loving human being I had ever come across. And through all of life’s trials and tribulations, she was my constant best friend.

More than anyone else, she also knew my need to travel. To wander. To explore. She understood travel was my one source of inspiration, as well as escape. A source of pragmatic knowledge and elusive wisdom.

It is no surprise then that as I struggled, and still struggle, to cope with my loss, my sister, as if in serendipity, suggested I turn to travel.

Rajasthan seemed the most natural choice. Its Covid-19 numbers are minuscule. As a state focussed on tourism for its economy, its infrastructure, even in current times, well-structured and reliable. Last, but not least, when it comes to history, heritage, pristine nature, hospitality topped with an endless list of attractions … oh well, India’s desert state generously peppered with tales of royalty and valour stands head and shoulders above the rest.

I leave for a 35-day solo road trip through Rajasthan’s vast expanse day-after-tomorrow morning, on Sunday, 17 October. The research and design of my itinerary helped me face life in the immediate weeks after Mummy left. I believe the upcoming five weeks will help me reconnect with life once again. To still remember and love her, but with less tears in my eyes and a smaller lump in my throat.

Rajasthan Road Trip Map

The google map above is the route I will be taking. From Rajasthan’s familiar iconic towns such as Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur to the remote, hidden gems of the Shekhawati and Jhalawar. From the call of the wild in Ranthambore and Sariska to the call of the spiritual in Pushkar and Ajmer. From the golden sands of Khuri in the Thar to the verdant Aravali hills of Alwar. From living inside the forts in Jaisalmer and Chittorgarh, to a palace in Bikaner and a simple homestay in Jodhpur. It is all there.

Once back home I will embark on my blog posts. Do join me as I share my journey right here. Till then, stay safe, stay healthy, and most importantly, treasure your loved ones. Life is fragile. Keep your loved ones super close to your heart. ❤

photo essay: in search of bundi’s prehistoric rock paintings

Destination, or the journey? In travel, it is often hard put to distinguish between the two.

When I went to Bundi in Rajasthan a fortnight ago, I had no clue that merely 30 kilometres south of the town were 101 sites of prehistoric rock art painted 15,000 years ago. They were discovered by a one Mr. Kukkiji in 1997, who was to take me to the sites himself. What I knew less of was the charms of the paintings’ backdrop—the caves lined tranquil wide rivers, on whose lush shores the Bhil, an Indian Adivasi tribal had made their homes. Continue reading

global travel shot: the prehistoric rock paintings of bundi

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The image above is that of an antelope in a forest, next to a trap waiting to catapult it to its death. Nope. This is not somewhere in the interiors of France or Spain, more commonly associated with prehistoric art, or even in Bhimbetka where India’s prized rock art collection lies.

It is instead on the insides of a cave lining a tributary of the river Chambal in Gararda, Rajasthan, 35 kilometres from Bundi, my base a fortnight ago.

Painted 15,000 years ago in mineral colours, very few people know of it. Just a handful come from the far corners of the world to marvel at its beauty, and timelessness.

And if it were not for a local sweetmeat-shop-owner-turned-archaeologist, we would not know of it either. He discovered the site in 1997 and has passionately been creating awareness of it ever since, unearthing 101 caves festooned with prehistoric art to-date. His name is Kukkiji. Continue reading