There are times when your feet touch a place and then they don't stop moving till you reach someplace ahead of you. And then there are times when they touch a place and steadfastly refuse to move. I experienced both today; in nearly the same place. Fate took me to Sanchi today. A 6 am car ride to Jabalpur for work seemed pretty bleary. An hour into the drive, the driver says "Arre madamji, Sanchi ke stupa ka naam suna hai? Yeh raha. Jao dekh ke aao." I assumed that we would be back in half an hour. That was at 7:15. As of this moment that I type this, it's 9:30 and I still haven't moved from here.
I'm not giving history lessons. There's google and libraries for that. Historical and religious and archeological significance aside, for me the place felt like I'd taken a warm bath after an excruciatingly tired day. Something about the place washed over me, healing.
I spent a few days in Bhopal before I got here, so this calm wasn't new to me, but it was. It wasn't just the lack of noise, but there is an actual energy of peace.
The campus around the stupas is vast, and rocky. There are steps to climb, rocks to sit on, inscriptions to marvel and, and I could keep going. All you can see and smell and breathe and taste and feel is green-ness. That isn't a word, but I really couldn't care less.
Keep walking downwards, and just across from stupa 2 was a very small waterfall. A little while of slipping on rocks, and I could touch the water. Break the flow with my palms. I washed my face, and opened my eyes again. I couldn't really speak for a while. In that moment, a colleague who was with me started humming Luka Chuppi. "Maine jharne se pani Maa, tod ke piya hai." Suddenly, I knew what Prasoon Joshi felt, what AR Rehman felt. What Madhavan never did.
Maybe it was just me, maybe it happens to everyone here, but my feet just wouldn't stop until they'd reached the stupas, and once there, I had to actually push myself after some time because I have somewhere else to get to, sadly.
Temple walls that overlook small valleys, we sat on these. And couldn't bring ourselves to move after that.
The best part about this entire experience was that because it was so early, there was no one else around at the entire site except for us, the peacocks and the rains. Of course, we were all just visitors in the land of the stones and the whooshing winds and the little men and women on the sthambs. Probably emperor Ashoka was too, even though he had this built.
Somehow, I've managed to drag myself to the car. The wind is still hitting my face, but I think I left my sighs of contentment back at Sanchi.
Madhya Pradesh, it's not only your tourism ads that are brilliant. You've won my soul.