4. The Spider Inspiration

@Kirkpatrick-Fleming, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.

This simple and beautiful village of Kirkpatrick-Fleming is what we encountered during our journey from Leeds to Glasgow. There was the city of Carlisle, the Lake District and this one included in the list. We took an exit to reach this wonderful village of natural beauty. May be this was the soul of the island which stays somewhat similar to what it was in the early Medieval Ages. It had undisturbed natural beauty and smaller buildings and houses along with those smaller roads which had turns and unchecked vegetation on the sides which called for photography. You just can’t ignore them, they call out to you.

This place owes it’s name to the parish church dedicated to St. Patrick, but the parish was certainly not our preferred destination; may be one of the very few occasions when churches and cathedrals took a backseat on a trip which included about fifty churches. It was a camping and caravan site which had more caravans than I had ever seen together. It was a manor surrounded by lots of empty space and natural beauty, but not separated from civilization. This peaceful, picturesque place was the idyll which they mentioned; as I knew Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem Marmion had it’s elements somewhere around there and the hero Lochinvar might have crossed these areas.

Actually none of these was the reason it was a target of my eye and camera, it was because of a man I first knew through Mel Gibson’s multiple Oscar award winning 1995 epic historical drama movie, Braveheart; my favourite history based movie. No, it was not William Wallace, the hero of the movie and the Age of Empires Training Campaign I am talking about; it is about Robert the Bruce, the former King of Scotland. William Wallace, the character immortalized by Mel Gibson, was the tragic hero; the true patriot, but here we have that followed after his execution; as they say in Braveheart: “In the Year of our Lord 1314, patriots of Scotland – starving and outnumbered – charged the fields of Bannockburn. They fought like warrior poets; they fought like Scotsmen, and won their freedom”. This gives the much deserved credit to Bruce, who was depicted as someone with a little opportunism, lack of confidence and confusion in Braveheart giving all the heroics to Wallace. But it was Bruce who lead the battle after the execution of Wallace; he was the man who finally succeeded.

As an English Literature student, Scotland never came into my books that much, but as we keep changing the point of view, just for this one occasion, as there are always two sides to a story, the heroes were the Scotsmen and the English were the invaders. There was the manor, there was the statue of a knight on horse and another knight, both of whom are not given any description. But what was more interesting was the spiders drawn on the side of the boards. My motorbike when unused, was home to better looking and cute spiders, but these were not that kind of local spiders, as these ones had further significance. My spiders are missing anyway and I won’t ask any of you to find them.

As we went further into the interiors of the eighty acre estate woods, we came up across what we were looking for. It was the cave; the place where Bruce went to hide after suffering defeat in the hands of the English. Edward I was searching for him with all his abilities and Bruce sent three months alone in there. It was supposed to be the symbol of fear and failure and devastation of his home country, but there he was to be inspired by a spider which was trying to spin it’s web; it would keep falling, but gets up to try again and again. This gave him the spirit and won the Historic Battle of Bannockburn even as he was outnumbered ten to one. The legend of the Spider lived on and so did the fame of Robert the Bruce, the king of Scotland.

Just like this battle marked the beginning of freedom for Scotland, it was also my inspiration; it helped me to keep trying again and again; it served me well enough to lead me on a path which was corroded and full of gutters to my target without stopping half way through. Every time I want to quit, I look at a random spider with it’s webs; even if it doesn’t look that nice, it is a symbol of the never-quit attitude. I would never clean the spider webs of my room, it will stay there on the roof as it is my inspiration in this mindless room of concrete. Please note that Spider-man, Spider-women or any other genetically mutated spiders of any scientific experiments or accidents won’t count.

Diving out —>

TeNy

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3. My Canterbury Tales

@Canterbury, Kent, England.

If you take Italy out of the list, this has always been the first thing on my long list of places to visit; to go to Canterbury, visit the Grand Cathedral which is not only the most important cathedral of the whole Anglican communion, but also the place of great historical importance, a destination for every History and English Literature student. It is the holy place which witnessed the brutal murder of Saint Thomas Becket of Canterbury, the Arch Bishop of that time. It is like, I had a dream; it was to visit the Canterbury cathedral; now my dreams have lost it’s soul as the dream came true last year even if it was not a perfect visit.

I have been waiting for this moment ever since I had a look at the greatest work of Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English Literature himself. Even as the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket was destroyed by Henry VIII, we can see that position clearly marked by a candle; that thing of wax which brings to us the memory of that theme of a wonderful work which we would never see as it is gone forever. There is still the Canterbury Cathedral; staying with it’s head held high even as bigger cathedrals have been built in England and all over the world. Whatever may happen, this is the place which will never fade.

Canterbury had everything for the historic city I imagined; it had those small roads which passed right under the medieval towers, the river Stour and the houses on it’s banks which looked dazzling in those rains and the Marlowe Theatre which was being renovated at that time; the last one reminded me of where I stood. It was where the man who wrote Dr. Faustus, The Jew of Malta and The Massacre of Paris was born. It was a hallowed place for every English Literature enthusiast. No, I didn’t really remove my shoes in reverence; I am just mentioning that this was that place.

It was the land of the contemporary of William Shakespeare, the man who might have been even a better known person if he lived longer. But for some reason, I was so lost in my sight of the Canterbury cathedral, the river side and my desire to get to London as soon as possible. The schedule had suddenly gone busy and my time at the historic city was limited. I bought a small souvenir, but it was never enough to remember the wonderful city or it’s Grand cathedral. The many photos still bring those memories back to me; what I should have visited taking many days, instead lasted only a few hours.

There was small welcome note, which was smaller than that of Carlisle and York cathedrals and a post card which didn’t look that big enough, but I have to say that the cover was good. They gave it in a stylish cover which had the symbol of the cathedral and it’s address. May be I should have bought more covers; may be the cover was not to be sold alone; who knows, but it was a missed opportunity; I should have done better than that there. It was the time they called the Canterbury festival and it was just before Halloween, but I never really halted my eyes on the festival, but my camera reminded me about it later to bring some pain. The great city of Canterbury deserved more attention from me.

To be honest, no city in the island nation other than Leeds got the deserved justice from me. My camera got most of what it wanted, even the history lover; but not the Literature enthusiast. Canterbury was just the city which deserved it the most. It is not that the soul of Thomas Beckett, Christopher Marlowe or Geoffrey Chaucer are going to come down and question me about it, but still there is a wound which hurts; it won’t heal by itself; there is no wolverine power which can heal it and there is no vampire which can suck everything out of it; the thing is forever. Canterbury is a city I visited and it is both my gain and my loss. It is a memory which makes me happy and sad at the same time. As I shall get into Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in detail, it is my source of inspiration which will lead me through. It is the cathedral which will power me, those memories shall guide me. It will remind me that I am the captain of my soul and the master of my fate.

Diving out —>

TeNy

2. Around the Serene Hills

@Kandy, Central Province, Sri Lanka.

My trip to Sri Lanka was not anywhere near a planned journey. It was nothing more than a co-incidence. This lovely place, once the capital of ancient Sri Lanka was not even a priority for me. But after I reached Kandy from Colombo Airport, situation changed. It was a wonderful hill town, not that developed and not too cold; it was scenic, it was lovely enough to inspire a poem and it was certainly religious.

As some people would know, Kandy has played a very important role in the history of this island nation. It was the last capital of the ancient kings of Sri Lanka and Kingdom of Kandy was one of the most powerful monarchies around. It has many old buildings around and serves as the largest city and capital of the Central Province. The district is also named the same.

The presence of the Temple of the Tooth, one of the most valuable relics of Lord Buddha makes this town a spiritual experience too. The Temple is a simple, but still wonderful looking building attached to the Royal Palace. The sanctuary is considered very much hallowed and there are restrictions on photography in some places. It is always flooded with tourists and they charge more for people from non-SAARC nations.

As we go out, we can see Buddhist pagodas around as well as their religious flag coloured Blue, Yellow, Red, White & Orange. It was a great sight to see those flags flying around as if to spread kindness, peace, compassion, purity, wisdom and all those virtues which the humanity has been clearly lacking in the last few decades. The Sri Lankan flags were also present, but the Buddhist flags stayed in my sight too much to let anything else catch my vision.

The random uncles of Kerala who were also on the tour didn’t look that impressed; they seemed to be unable to wait till they find a Ramayana site. It was quite late and so it wasn’t a bad idea, but I have to say that the peace and quiet of The Temple of the Tooth was something which was absent in any worship place I had visited until then. It was as if the place has always been hallowed, with blessings all around. It was like we could feel the goodness around there.

Kandy, the centre of Sri Lanka, with it’s wonderful people and a strong faith on the Enlightened one provided me with an experience which still lives strong in my heart despite of all the tours which followed. The beautiful lake at it’s centre and the stories behind it added to the awesomeness of the place. If I was given a choice to live anywhere in any of the SAARC nations, I would surely choose Kandy.

Diving out —>

TeNy

1. To the Pallava Lands

@Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India.

Why would I start with Mahabalipuram? It was not the first place I visited or the last. It is not even my favourite place. I have to admit that it never failed to keep me interested, but what is more interesting is it’s relation with the Pallavas. Kanchipuram was their capital, but Mahabalipuram, with no doubt deserves to be called their architectual capital. The rock-cut temples of Mahabalipuram is the Pallavas’ greatest gift to the world.

Pallavas were always discussed after the Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas, but I have found their legacy a class apart from the others. They were different and I have found something at Mahabalipuram which I never noticed at Thanjavur, Madurai or the other prominent capitals of the other South Indian Kingdoms. It was a perfect historical place with religion and spirituality added in an amount which is so balanced. In short, it had the perfect harmony.

You read the “The History of Tamil Nadu” and Pallavas always take a walk into your mind. Actually it never really left my mind. What you should always have is your camera though; and so as I walked with that capturing machine, what I had in mind was the rock and what was made out of it. The sun was furious and forced me into many soft drinks, but the shores of the wonderful fishing town was stronger.

The first thing to see is Arjuna’s Penance, depicting a story from Mahabharatha involving Arjuna. Varaha Cave Temple and a number of other cave structures follows it. There is a lot of open space around the rocks. The Sthalasayana Perumal Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and it is of the usual Tamil Nadu Kovil architecture as we compare it to the rock-cut structures all around. There is also a light house on a rock which has a stunning scope for photography.

Pancha Rathas or the Five Chariots form the best of them all. It has five structures carved of single stone. This is why you have to buy your tickets to get in and see this masterpiece. This is where the foreigners waste their time. Then you have the Shore Temple, a wonderful structure on the shores of Mahabalipuram. It has been undergoing some renovation and by the time I write this one, it should look near perfect.

Mamallapuram, as they call it these days, is an experience which stands apart. There is so much detail on every carved rock. It is a must for any History lover, especially the ones who spends time reading “The History of South India”, the people other than me, as I did it already. As regular buses are available from Chennai and Kanchipuram and as the roads are smooth with the exception of some speed breakers, there is absolutely nothing to stop you from taking a peek.

Diving out —>

TeNy

The journey begins here!

Here, your journey with me starts. I wish to share with you people, a few random places I visited. It is not written in any order and it is certainly not a review of tourist destinations which I want you to trust, as we are different and I don’t believe you are going to like what I enjoyed. It is about what I think about the place and what I want to share about it. It can be something special I encountered there, the people at that place or how that place influenced me. It can even be a simple description of what I saw or what has been going through my mind. The tone and style can change anytime and kindly don’t complain about it. Please forgive me for any possible errors as I am not perfect and I don’t have access to things from all dimensions. What I hear and what I understand can still be wrong.

Diving out —>

TeNy