We’ve been at my parents’ home in Thane (Mumbai suburb, some 35kms NE) since last Sunday. It has been a nice break. The MP tour was both fun and tiring. All those monuments and World Heritage sites had zapped our energy completely. We were totally looking forward to putting our feet up and doing absolutely nothing for a few days. And that’s exactly what we did …
I had planned out a proper itinerary for 18 months before even stepping on the flight to India. We had made a list of all the places we wanted to go to and then prioritized it based on weather, festivals and/or proximity to family. I added in a couple of weeks of visit to Thane and Gurgaon in between the traveling, figuring that we wouldn’t want to spend more time than that in any one place. At the end of all that research and planning, we had an itinerary that looked quite overwhelming. Venu (Madhu’s older brother) took one look at it and immediately proclaimed it to be quite impractical . He was sure we would never be able to do so much running around. But Madhu and I were absolutely confident that we could do this; after all we had put so much effort into the planning!
But Venu was so right! Ever since we came to India I have barely looked at my beautiful and painfully prepared itinerary. Our travel has been more or less dependant upon which family we want to visit when . We’ve been planning our route either going north towards Gurgaon or south towards Thane, visiting places/states that happen to fall on the way. I usually like things to go according to plan; last minute or unplanned changes always unnerve me. So if someone had told me in the US that we would completely ignore our itinerary and wing it, I would have been absolutely appalled . But, surprisingly, our current style of traveling has turned out to be perfect … just the way it should have been planned in the first place! Our breaks with family have helped to rejuvenate and also stock up on supplies that we keep running out of. Moreover, we have been able to enjoy the travel a lot more leisurely than I had originally planned it to be. So it’s all been good!
I won’t say that the time and effort spent on preparing the itinerary has been completely wasted; it has definitely helped us in many ways. Firstly, our geographical knowledge of the country vastly improved during the period of research, especially in terms of which states are where and their climactic conditions. This is very crucial for a country the size of India. And secondly, more importantly, today we can just refer our notes to figure out where to head next without having to spend too much time in last-minute research. This has been invaluable, especially because, once on the road, we tend to plan for just the next day or two and never more! Actually, we’ve come to love this flexibility – it has made travel a little more adventurous!
Now that we have both rejuvenated and stocked up, we are ready to head out again. And this time we plan to tour the state we grew up in – Maharashtra. According to my notes, we will need about 25 days, including a few days in Mumbai. We spent all our growing years in this city, but it’s funny how much of it has still to be seen and explored . The state is home to 4 World Heritage sites – Victoria Terminus and Elephanta Caves in Mumbai, and Ajanta and Ellora caves near Aurangabad. And apart from these, is Maharashtra’s varied landscape – Konkan/Malwan coastline, the hill-stations of Matheran and Mahabaleshwar, and urban cities like Pune, which is also where Madhu went to college. It’ll be interesting to see how many days all of this will eventually take – can’t wait to start !