The Journey of Lifetime
I’m 22. I’ve covered several parts of India within this period. It’s not that I was not interested to go abroad, but hasn’t got an opportunity yet. I’ll snatch on to one when I get. If someone asks me which was the best trip of my life, I’d straight away say, our IV(Industrial visit). Being an engineering student it was a thing that happens usually in the 5th semester. So this is a journey I went two and half years before. I have the title as journey of lifetime because, it has been the best in my life.
13 days, 59 boys, 2 staff, 6500 km, Train, Bus, Taxi
With expense less than INR 15000.
Itinerary- Thiruvananthapuram, Agra, Delhi, Nainital, Delhi, Pune, Goa, Thiruvananthapuram.
Sounds interesting? Then I hope you’ll enjoy this.
Let me make the cost of travel clear. You might be wondering how someone could manage all those places at this cost. We travelled majority of the distance in train. Mass booking had concessions. It summed up around 6000 per head. Then we had a travel agent (Ripples Holidays). They planned the road trip and the cost for them per person was 6700. So along with this, food everything summed to 15000. Also as it was nearly three years back, the cost was comparatively less. Today if we go exact trip, I’d assume that expense will be around 18000.
After celebrating the ThiruOnam, we started the journey next day, that’s on the third Onam day, September 17, 2013. Kerala Express started sharply at 11.15 AM. If I remember correctly all of us were sitting in the same bogey. Within few minutes everyone was settled and different friend gangs started to do things of their interests. Playing cards, discussing things, sleeping and so on we spend around 47 hours. 19th morning, 10.30 AM we reached Agra. Two A/C buses were arranged there by Ripples Holidays. After the gang rape incident of 2012 in Delhi all tourist buses were mandatorily named as ‘Tourist’, painted white and weren’t allowed to use curtains. We started our road journey from there. Within sometime we reached our first place. The Agra Fort.
The spectacular red colored fort and its aesthetic is not something that we will easily forget. There are several things in the fort that’ll amaze us. But I’ll mention two: the columns and the decoration. The column/pillars are constructed in such a way that communication is possible between people standing next to it. That was awesome and everyone tried it. This shows how advanced was the construction technology even then. The next thing is the decoration on the ceilings. They are just outstanding. The amount of detailing that goes into all finer things is just extra ordinary. The gold polished ceilings has started to wear out due to time and invasions. The insides, the courtyards, and each everything were just amazing. Also it was funny to see the open bed rooms of the kings. While we were walking through this red beauty, we saw the river Yamuna. Apart from that we saw a white building that everyone should visit once in their lifetime, the Taj Mahal. The building that stands as a representative of love has inspired many generations ever since.
After a short journey from Agta fort we reached Taj Mahal. Actually the journey was in electric vehicle. This was introduced few years back as the pollution was causing the white marbles of Taj Mahal to degrade. After taking ticket, we entered the premises of the Taj Mahal. A visual treat was awaiting us there. First the optical illusion on the visibility of Taj Mahal is beyond the words. Just as we entered the gateway opposite the main building we could see the astounding view. Many people were trying for different kinds of photos. I also took one like holding the pointed top of Taj. The way from the gate to the building is also very beautiful. The reflection of the water and all were pleasing. After removing our sandals we entered the building. The platform on which the building stands is very tall. We climbed the steps and reached there. It was exact symmetry from all direction externally. It had 4 large, tall towers for watchmen. The inside is brilliant. The main attraction of this Persian style beauty is the tomb. Actually it’ll be no justice to the marvel if I explain it. It’s just amazing. We came out and went through the nook and cranny. Rather than explaining, you can check out the images for a better understanding.
From there we started to Delhi around 7pm. The Yamuna Express Highway is the most spectacular road I’ve travelled in my life. But due to speed limitations our bus was going at 70kmph all through. It was ridiculous considering how straight and vacant the road was. But the driver was adamant as it was against the rule to go above. The road was so spectacular that we can ride through it while sleeping (just joking). We reached Delhi at mid night. We were all tired and we just wanted to sleep. The hotel arranged was good and we slept well. Next morning we roamed around the city. We visited the Lotus temple. That is a beauty. The ambience there is just extra ordinary. We travelled in metro for the first time. We went into some local markets. In one of the market my friend was cheated. He saw a pen drive for INR 50. Very cheap, isn’t it? He brought that and while we reached room when we checked it, we found it to be a wooden piece covered with plastic. Though a thought of going back and getting things settled came in our minds, we didn’t do that as we had little time to catch train for our next destination, Nainital.
On that evening, that is 20th evening we boarded train from Delhi cantonment station. The Ranikhet express started at 8.00PM. It was a beautiful train journey. We made lots of fun in that journey. All others in the train were listening and watching us. We slept little and reached Kathgodam railway station at 5 in the morning. This station was the closest to Nainital and was like a base station for the journey to Nainital. We had a bus and a Tavera for the journey from there to Nainital. That journey was excellent. The turns, hairpins and all were funny. It was starting to get colder. But I managed without a sweater. I should say that we went in off-season. We reached the top in around 40 minutes. There a hotel facing the gorgeous Naini lake was arranged. The name of the hotel was Ambassador. After a small rest and break fast, we started our journey to explore Nainital. I should say that it is one place, one should visit. The people are nice and fair. I still has the taste of the chocolate tea that I drank there. Several SUVs were arranged and we started our journey ‘upwards’.
The first place to stop was the Eco Cave Gardens. It was a first time experience for me as I’ve not visited any caves. The ambience was amazing. The way through underground was challenging. It was dark and difficult. But was worth it. This was not that adventurous, but still was great. After that we went little further and explored the place. We couldn’t go to the highest point of Nainital as the weather was not permitting. We took several snaps standing besides the valley. The beautiful scenery from top is still there in my eyes.
After coming from top, many among us went for ropeway. I didn’t go due to some reason. I still regret over that decision. I should’ve gone. My friends said it was amazing. After that night, next day, the Sunday, we went for boating in the Naini Lake. The boating was just amazing. At that time it was just 50 per head for an hour. The trip was worth with it. We enjoyed out time in and around the different places on that day.
The next day we had our train back to Delhi at evening 8.40. So before we go back to a Kathgodam to catch the train we visited another place. That was Sattal. This place is part of the epic associated with Ram, Sita, Laxman. Some of my friends went across the river through the ropeway, not the one similar to Nainital, but a primitive one. After spending some large chunk of time there, we started our journey back to Kathgodam. At 8.40 the train, Ranikhet express to New Delhi started. We reached Delhi early morning and that was Tuesday 24th, one week since we started journey.
Again the train to Pune was afternoon and we had a half to spend at Delhi. Some went out shopping. The most memorable thing that day was the lunch. Being seven days since we had proper meals, we were sort of starving. The Kerala House was a blessing that day. We went there and had a spectacular lunch there. Thanks to the cooks there, it was sumptuous. The food was a blessing for a 7 day tired body. It has given us the strength to go forth in the journey.
We took the Goa express from New Delhi to Pune. It was a 25 hour journey and reached Pune at 4.30PM on the 25th. It was pretty cheap to eat from the hotel opposite to the railway station. We had some nice food and went to the hotel for resting after some small sight seeing.
On the 26th of September was the day we allotted for Industrial Visit. We visited the Volkswagen plant at Chakan. We were amazed to see the cars being made, tested, and rolled out in front of our eyes. It was a day well spent at the Pune. But in Pune we didn’t had enough time for sight seeing. We saw things while travelling only. That evening itself we started our journey to the dream destination. The train to Goa started at 4.35 from Pune and we reached Madgaon at around 6 in the morning.
Bus was ready there to take us to our hotel, near Colva beach. The bus trip was just amazing. The similarities to Kerala were remarkable. After getting to the hotel, we got refreshed and started our journey across different places in Goa. In between few of our classmates have decided to explore the places in bike. I and my friend decided to get the bike next day. We visited the Fort Aguada. More than the fort what amazed me was the view of the sea from the fort. We took few snaps besides that. Then we visited few beaches that day. The Colva beach, Agonda beach and Palolem were few of them. We couldn’t spend much time as we had to plan according to schedule of bus. All the beaches were so beautiful. I should say that 2 or 3 days is not enough to explore Goa. If you can spend some time at all the places it will be beautiful. After coming back to the room, we went for a night walk to Colva beach. Oh my goodness, that was the most amazing thing that happened to me in the trip. We lied on the beach and I’m still in awe of that night sky. The night life in Goa Is beyond words.
The next morning I and my friend got a bike for rent. Another thing worth mentioning here is that, all such bikes that were given for rent had yellow number plates. This was the first time I came to know that bikes can have yellow number plates. We got a pulsar 150 for a daily rent of 450 Rupees. We filled petrol for 150 Rupees and started the journey. Those roads were small but good enough for 80+kmph riding. One thing to keep in mind there while taking bike for rent is that you should be able to bring it back in the same shape. Otherwise you’d require paying hefty amounts. Anyway nothing such happened. We rode towards North Goa direction. We reached Panaji. The buildings, the beaches all had high level legacy in it. We visited the tomb of St.Francis’ Xavier, the Basilica of Bom Jesus and some other places nearby. Then we went to see beaches. The Baga beach was one among the vest in the nation. We visited that and then we visited the Calangute beach. We visited the Miramar beach also. That was a day really well spent. I don’t know when I can visit Goa again, but the memories that it gave in that trip is still with me.
The two days were awesome. Now it’s time to return. On the thought of return I felt very bad as I felt the journey was over too quickly. We boarded the train from Madgain station and reached Trivandrum Central next morning.
I might go for a trip with same itinerary, but I’m sure never will I get the enjoyment I got in this trip. I might go across the nations, but I don’t think I’ll get anything better than this. And special thanks to Ananthajith Thenan, our class representative and other who were in being instrumental in organizing such a fantastic trip. Also the service by Ripples Holidays was awesome. And finally thanks to Indian railway because we didn’t lost much time waiting for trains or delays. I still remember the person who accompanied us in that trip. Agra is must visit for Indians. One of the world’s seven wonders is located there and you shouldn’t miss that. Nainital is a good place for people who like cold places. It’s one of the best locations to go with family. Goa, I consider is one among the best location to visit in India as a bachelor. Also make sure you don’t go for two or three days, but at least for a week.
(All the images attached were clicked by my classmates and dear friends Arjun GS and Bobin Xavier. Special thanks to them also)
Travelogue by: Febin V Thomas