During the course of my internship, we had our weekends off. Seeing as that none of us have explored south India before, we decided to take some weekend getaways to learn more about the diverse culture that surrounds us.
Goa was our first side trip in India. Located along the Arabian Sea on the west coast of India, this former Portuguese colony boasts an array of beautiful architecture, colors, and beaches. It is teeming with life of both the natural and man made origins. When my cousin Manas heard of my plans to go to Goa with Jen and Cindy (the other two UM interns), he decided that it would be fun to go together as a group with his friends as well. We agreed and they all joined us for Goa. It was really nice having them there because they acted as our tour guides seeing that my cousin and his friends had visited Goa many times and knew all of the hidden gems to go to. Due to the short time we had in Goa, we only went to two places. The first place we went was Clearwater Beach, it is small beach about 15 minutes away from the more popular Arambol Beach. Over there, we went paragliding for the first time. If words could not express how scared I was to be gliding through the wind with just the instructor and a backpack with a parachute, then words could definitely not explain the serenity I felt once I was in the air. The feeling of flying is like no other. I really cannot describe it in words, it is something you have to experience. Because Clearwater Beach is not very popular (there were like 12 people max at that beach with us that day) we really felt like we had the whole beach to ourselves. The next and final day we went to Fort Tiracol. It was an old Portuguese fort turned heritage hotel. We stayed there for the better part of the afternoon and then left for the airport. Resting on the balcony of the fort sipping our iced coffees and mango lassis was a great end to our Goa trip!
The following weekend we went to Hampi. Instead of flying there like we did to Goa, we had to take the train or the bus. We planned our trip to Hampi on a whim so unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to ride the train as all the tickets were booked. However, we luckily found tickets for an overnight sleeper bus and so we took that to get to Hampi. That was the first time I had ever been on a sleeper bus in India. It was actually really fun. This trip also featured one of my other cousins, Saloni, she also became fast friends with the other interns and together we planned our Hampi trip. When we got to Hampi it was like we had stepped back in time. There were beautiful monuments and statues. Temples adorned the streets and the whole place had an atmosphere of mystery and intrigue. Fun fact, not only is Hampi the home of the remains of the last great Hindu kingdom in South India and a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it is also the place where Jackie Chan shot his film The Myth. Walking along the streets of Hampi was like walking back in time to when kings and queens ruled India with their palaces high in the sky with intricate detailed carvings and vast open spaces filled with lush greenery and life. However, what is left is dry and dusty ruins of the once great lands. Regardless though, there were many buildings with perfectly preserved carvings, a testament against time. I really enjoyed Hampi and wish to return for a second trip and this time with my parents.
Our last trip was to the kingdom of Mysore. Now a hub of art and culture, Mysore boasts a load of tourists coming to see its famous Mysore Palace light show, their markets, festivals, and temples. Mysore was by far my favorite trip because the atmosphere was so serene and peaceful. Another fact about Mysore is that it is a hub for yoga. A lot of tourists and serious yogis come from around the world to take lessons from the traditional yoga gurus of Mysore. One of my favorite parts of the Mysore trip was going to the Devaraja Market. Hailed as the best market in Mysore and a photography paradise, Devaraja does not disappoint. Upon going in there you don’t think much as the entrance is an abandoned alleyway but once you enter it explodes into a sea of color, light, and life. There are people from every corner selling their wares and it was so bustling that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the place. Our trip really was just quite the experience, one that I hope to revisit someday.