Inner View · Personal reflections · When a Picture Leads

Silent Travels

Be a traveler, not a tourist. That’s the latest fad, I hear. Of course, like many other things touted as part of the contemporary lifestyle, this travel bug is also mostly limited to the urban middle- and upper-middle classes. [Aside: These are mostly sections of media-fed, westernised, modernised India and strangely most of our popular culture is built on the idea of mass-selling their lifestyle choices, because rest of the India perhaps has no ‘lifestyle,’ only life!]

Everybody and everybody’s cousin is  a traveler now, whatever that means. With lots of pictures too in case there is a need to verify and validate that ‘traveler’ credential. Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, and many other virtual platforms are full of such ‘travel’ photographs – exotic locales, adventure sports, fun moments, cross-cultural encounters, and what not.

I won’t deny that as and when I can afford I also enjoy visiting new places or experiencing what those places have to offer. Though in the last few years most of my travels have been of the nature of pilgrimage, that timeless Indian tradition of tirtha-yatra, the travel that is meant to help us find a truer home.

During the last few years I have also come to realise that regardless of  whether one travels to a faraway place for a fortnight or spends a quiet weekend in a nearby eco-village or visits a big city for a few days, what makes any travel more than an ‘escape’ from the mundane, more than a ‘change’ from the daily routine is not what happens during the holiday, but after.

What makes any travel more than a touristy experience is what we bring back from the experience. And I am not speaking of the tangible goodies collected via mall-hopping or visiting the homes of rural artisans or seashell-gathering at exotic beaches. I am speaking of the intangible silences we manage to bring back, silences that refuse to be expressed through any travelogues.

The essence of the travel experience is perhaps not to be found in the several places of interest one visits or the fun activities one manages to do during the holiday, but in the quiet imprint that one continues to carry within long after the travel is completed. It is generally felt much later, perhaps after all the excitement of holidaying, all the noise of the newness is over.

This essence is a subtle thing, quite subtle. Perhaps like that feeling of silence which we could manage for a few exceptional moments, silence that allowed us in those moments to listen, really listen to what those places, sights, people, experiences were telling us.

Those silences were transitory and momentary. Like all silences are. But their memories can be relived. In fact, they must be relived if we are to not just be a traveler of the worlds outside, but also of the worlds inside. If we are to not only remain in movement, but also learn the wisdom of being still. If we are to not only remain wanderers, but also grow in the wisdom of being rooted.

So will you join me today as I try to re-live and re-hear some of the silences I experienced during one particular travel last year?



Stay grounded
Thandi Sadak at Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Bangalore



Rooted in the heart
Somewhere in the Lalbagh Botanical Garden



Be still
On way to Nandi Hills, Karnataka



Seek wisdom in stillness
A step at an old temple in Nandi Hills



Be still and grow
A tree somewhere in Nandi Hills



To view more posts in the series, When a Picture Leads, click HERE.

To read more Personal Reflections on the blog, click HERE.

To enjoy more Inner Views, click HERE.

Linking with ABC Wednesday, T: T is for Travel

45 thoughts on “Silent Travels

  1. That’s a quite good perspective. I too feel one should enjoy his/her travel during the journey and Kong after it has been completed…for that is a true bliss!

  2. I travelled extensively with my parents before I got married. We had ‘road trips’ much before they became hip and happening. Pictures were taken by the Kodak camera and understandably in limited number.
    Somehow I still remember those times lot more than the trips we take now. Probably that’s because the moments of silence you mentioned were much more…

    1. Thanks, Varsh for sharing your experience, it adds much to the point I am trying to convey in the post. I agree, travel in those days when we had low technology meant more in some ways.

  3. I’ve experienced the intangible silence that you write about Beloo. It’s really something beautiful. Being plunged back into the hustle and bustle of a city makes you wonder whether all of it is really worth. Then again, since we are so accustomed to this, we eventually will get bored of peace and quiet and want to be plunged into this chaos again.

    It’s important to take a break as long as a fortnight at least once in six months. Makes us sit back and take perspective. Brilliant post, as always…

    1. Thank you, Vishal for sharing about your experience. I suppose, most of us have this kind of oscillation between those moments of silence and the chaotic noises that seem to surround us from all sides, but mostly from within us 🙂
      Thanks for your kind words of appreciation!

  4. Completely agree. Actually stumbling back into routine feels jarring once you’ve had that time off. I recently experienced it. Being away from technological distractions, things like TV etc. also contributed to the peace. I think we all need to take time out and travel for whatever it does for us but most definitely for peace.

    1. Yes, I always need a vacation after a vacation, so that I can leisurely get back to the routine 🙂 My recent trip to Delhi/NCR was however hardly a vacation, it was more hectic than any other trip I have taken, with lots of commute and spending time in govt offices etc….couldn’t wait to get back home 🙂 But other more consciously planned travels often manage to give me those rare moments of bliss which seem to evade in our day-to-day lives.

  5. This is just a different perspective Beloo.While the social media is full of posts on travels, locations that are remote and beautiful, those IG photos all that fad, travel is something different. It’s the experience, the learning and all that you see after you see what you had never seen before.

      1. Thanks, Parul! I am happy this perspective resonated with you. You are so right, it is what we ‘see’ after and beyond all that we see that makes the travel truly a meaningful and even transformative experience in some ways.

        (And thank you, I understood that you meant ‘such’ 🙂 )

  6. Traveller, tourist.. seriously these terms hardly mean anything at all. You’re right about bringing back a bit of peace with you. Just back from a vacation I find I see life in a bit of a perspective. Travel gives me time away from the daily rush to pause and rethink the things I normally do put of pure habit. It makes me realise that I need to slow down a bit, push the kids a little less, let things go a little more.

    1. Thanks, Tulika for sharing your perspective. Indeed some time away from our daily lives gives us moments to introspect and re-assess things. Provided we let that happen 🙂 Otherwise, vacations can also mean more entertainment and distractions!

  7. I’ve felt that silence. Actually, I love silence. Whenever I go for a trip, I try to get some time for myself, only myself. I go for a walk alone or just sit by the window of the hotel. And, I relive those moments later, when I’m back to the humdrum of the city, those are my very special moments, my trinkets… 🙂

    The photos are wonderful, thought-provoking, along with their respective titles… 🙂

    1. Thank you, Maniparna! I am glad you found the photos thought-provoking. And great to know a bit about how you use some of your vacation time. Those snatched moments of time spent in silence can indeed be deeply rejuvenating.

  8. Hello Beloo,
    I used to love travelling but now i find it impossible to deal with long distance travel and
    all that it invokes,due health issues. We do have lovely trips around the UK, which I’ve
    written about over the years.
    I enjoyed reading about your travels and the photographs,,I like you thoughts on silence
    then the noise and business of the city, but any where you go, there;s no place like home .

    Best wishes,
    ABCW team.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with the sentiment that there’s no place like home! And perhaps travels to other places makes us recognise this truth even more 🙂

  9. I agree completely with what you say about journeying inward. My recent trip was just that, without distractions of even photographs as you remember 🙂 I simply close my eyes and experience the peace I had felt in the ashram both at Tiruvannamalai and Pondy. That is precious and no amount of mementos can make up for it.

    1. Isn’t it wonderful to experience such travels that are more about an inner journey? We must be grateful for experiencing such moments. I am just so happy that I could be a small part of this special trip you recently took 🙂

  10. Travel is about “what we bring back from the experience” – that’s a beautiful and a very interesting way to put it. Now that I reminisce, there are so many different experiences that each trip brought… So many different feelings and silences.

    1. Happy to hear that this perspective resonated with you and made you reflect on your travel experiences. Thanks for this wonderfully introspective comment.

  11. As your 1st line goes like this “Be a traveler, not a tourist”… In my small town we call the ‘travelers’ as ‘tourist’. Just saying.

    But the simple perspective of your post is very different to what I have just said.
    The photograph and their one-liners expressions are something special and different.

  12. Tranquility after the visit to any place of interest which is solely dependent on one’s perspective of vacationing is felt through this meaningful post of yours. I do reflect on the journey and become nostalgic on the trip and this does get me on a high..

  13. Tremendous! Only you could have written it, Beloo:) I greedily absorbed every word of it…am glad I could! Thanks a lot:)

  14. Hi . Great post . The focus of the article is great . Beautiful imagery . I love travelling . And I feel , the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes . I’m glad to have cherished this experience along with u . Thanks for sharing this post . Keep up this good work . Good day :)!

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Fatma. I am so happy you enjoyed this post and connected well with the spirit of what I was trying to convey here.
      Welcome to my blog!

  15. Very beautiful piece. I believe the notion that travel is not only an outwardly experience but also very much a inward journey to be very true if one wants to really be able to have real encounters with the people and the culture and stay mindful of it. We’d love if you’d check out our post on mindful traveling!

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog and for your thoughtful comment on this post. Yes, it is the inward journey that is often more meaningful than the outer experience. Will definitely be stopping by your blog sometime soon. Thanks again.

  16. Such an honest post. I always found travel to be a journey to discovering yourself and gaining insights, as you said more of a piligrimage than anything else.

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