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"All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road." – Jack Kerouac, On the Road: the Original Scroll.
This is precisely what I needed—a wheel in my hand and four on the road. I was super excited when my husband and I decided to escape to the hills after a gruelling and traumatic year of medical emergencies.
My husband had just recovered from cancer and spinal surgeries, and the doctors had permitted him to travel after a yearlong fight with bad health. He was not allowed to drive, so I was in the driver's seat. What fun!!
Speeding into a new sunrise
I don't care how long it takes, but I'm going somewhere beautiful.
A weekend getaway was like a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. Coimbatore, a heritage destination in south India, was on our bucket list for a long. I wanted to visit the Adiyogi Shiva statue at the Isha foundation at the foot of the velliangiri hills. The focal point of the Isha Center is the Dhyanalinga- a meditative space.
We started very early, at 5 am, as I had planned to cover a reasonable distance before sunrise to avoid heavy traffic. Coimbatore is about 367kms from Bangalore, with good highways connecting the two cities. The route passes through small towns in the state of Tamil Nadu. A trip on the open road is one of the best ways to see any new city and take in the city's sounds and signs.
I packed a bag full of snacks and drinks to make the journey memorable. We stopped at a few places along the way, and it was great to get some fresh air and see some local attractions.
It took us about 7 hours to cover the distance between Bangalore and Coimbatore, with frequent stopovers to enjoy a cup of coffee and chat with locals.
Before checking into the hotel, we decided to have a south Indian meal at the famous Shree Anandhaas restaurant and relish traditional south Indian dishes. The restaurant was close to our hotel.
The next day was reserved for the Isha Yoga centre at the Velliangiri foothills. The day was cloudy, and it was raining. Rains made the drive to the Isha Yoga centre even more pleasant.
The Adiyogi Shiva statue is an architectural masterpiece. The 112feet tall and 147 feet long statue dedicated to Lord Shiva is a symbol of inner peace. It is featured in the Guinness book of world records.
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Away from the city's hustle and bustle, the temple's environment is tranquil, and you can experience positive vibes while meditating.
Our next stop was some of the famous historical temples.
Coimbatore is famous for its textile industries and cotton production. The shopper in me could not resist visiting the shopping street.
Travel is one of the greatest teachers.
A road trip is always an opportunity to explore the unexplored. While this was not the first time I was driving long distances, some important life lessons I have learnt from the drive to Coimbatore,
- Relax, let go of the fear and go with the flow.
Fear of unknown challenges on the road, dealing with different languages and cultures, breaking down, road diversions, and getting lost was some of the everyday worries I would deal with and get stressed while driving. On introspection, I realized that instead of enjoying the drive, I was allowing fear to rob me of happiness. Road trips taught me that travel has the power to connect different cultures, languages and traditions. There are good people who always come to your help. So, relax, let go of the fear and enjoy the drive.
2. Staying calm.
We are so used to controlling and planning our mundane activities that when caution and planning go out of the window and you meet unexpected happenings on the road, you get stressed. But staying calm and having a laid-back attitude can make your journey enjoyable.
During the trip to Coimbatore, Mr Google decided to change the travel route. I thought I had lost my way. A wrong road bend made google maps to replan the route. When we realized what had gone wrong, we had a hearty laugh. It increased our travel time, but it allowed us to see some more new places on the way. We went with the flow. It gave us some time to poke around small towns, soaking in the scenery and exploring some exciting traditions.
I stopped looking at my watch and instead took in the scenic green fields and colourful people that we passed by. We Spent time chatting with locals while sipping a cup of coffee.
3. Patience is a necessity.
Be patient while driving. However good your planning, something will always go wrong and upset the apple cart. Traffic jams, road diversions, construction activities, and sometimes religious activities can block your way.
Avoid road rage. You meet some careless drivers who overtake you or try to speed past you on the highway. Staying calm without losing your temper is the best thing to do. Be careful, do not speed and overtake from the wrong side to save time.
Embrace the chaos and enjoy the trip.