How often are you asked, ‘What’s your favorite destination?’ And how many times have I failed to answer this question.
On my recent visit to Sanchi, my fourth, I recapped my first visit as a college student, with my backpack and a half imperial sized portfolio with news print sheets for drawing. I reiterated the visit by taking the same train, traveling unreserved cramped in with fellow countrymen, waiting for long durations while the passenger train stood still letting the express trains pass by, and trekking up to the stupa. Enroute, I crossed what used to be a shanty broken down Madhya Pradesh Tourism guest house, where I spent a night with frogs, a couple of lizards and unusually large insects. That was in 1999.
Today as I sit at the stupa overlooking the landscape, I am yet again drawn towards the calm beauty of the Sanchi district. Time has stood still since my first visit, the hills remain as calm and unchanged and the wheat fields sway silently in the spring breeze. In between the hills, are three railway tracks that connect northern India to central, meandering through the hills. Two trains, one of them a common blue colored passenger train and another, a brown coloured goods trains seem to move silently towards each other, like two earthworms, and finally disappearing either in the horizon or for a brief stop at the reclusive Sanchi station.
For how many years this landscape hasn’t changed and the air remains clean. How many times have I come to this spot to enjoy this view and to calm myself from the urban mess. This is Sanchi.
To answer the question I started the blogpost with; a country like India doesn’t allow you to have a favorite. There are many favorites, like Sanchi, that make time stop, and relieve you of all your thoughts or take you down memory lane. Like Tranquebar, Sanchi would always remains one of them.