Life · Photography

Throwback To 2020.

January 2021 and time for the annual, “Where in the world did the last year go by?”

2020 was to be my ‘Year of Travel’. I was in Aurangabad in Maharashtra, exactly at this time last year. I had explored the Ajanta caves but it was Cave 16 , also know as Kailash Temple at Ellora Caves that stopped me in my tracks. I had read of it in school but seeing in person, it took my breath away.

Kailash temple in Aurangabad
Mammoth magnificence!

I remember looking up at the pale blue sky and imagining giant hands making a square shaped hollow in a mountain. Then carefully placing the temple, its soaring pagoda and carved columns inside the square, for this was not a cave at all.

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this was a temple carved out of a single piece of rock.

Another astonishing fact was that it was chiseled by hand, starting from the top to the bottom. (I know I sound like a History nerd but some lessons are never forgotten especially when learnt for an exam decades ago). This was sheer poetry in stone.

Then of course there was the hill station of Lansdowne; the featured image is from there. That was the last place I visited before it became the ‘Year of the Lockdown and Travel Restrictions’.

2020 was also to be the ‘Year of Removing Social Distances’ before Social Distancing became the word of the year. Early in the year, I broke bread with the Van Gujjars, a nomadic tribe living in the jungles of Uttarakhand. We, an excited bunch of city slickers descended on their dera (homestead) in the jungle to have a memorable outing.

It certainly was in every respect.

I discovered Van Gujjars devotion to their cattle. They reminded me of the Masai tribe in Africa in this respect, both counted their cows and buffaloes as their wealth.

Imagine, good old barter system still worked in their community, although lately they had begun to realise the importance of cash through sale of milk and ghee.

Their homesteads were simple mud houses that lasted a season. No permanent construction was allowed within the jungles. I didn’t see any signs of a TV or a cell phone either.

Perhaps that’s all we need to live – four walls and a roof.

Caught in the act?

Peeping into one such mud house, I found this little goat transfixed by me. Right away, I was transported into Heidi’s world in the Alps. This was no Switzerland but the goat could have walked straight out of the pages of Johanna Spyri’s book.

Looking from my vantage point, the yellow stacks lit up like gold in the afternoon sun. I could see how they inspired Van Gough to paint something similar.

Check out the young lad in white. Within minutes, he had expertly tossed a huge bundle across his shoulders and fed his numerous buffaloes.

As city dwellers, we were an object of curiosity for the Van Gujjars. The kids watched us with fascination; they wouldn’t converse except among themselves. This little baby was left by his mother while she joined the other ladies to organise a meal for us.

The Gujjar ladies were extremely shy. They good naturedly allowed us to follow them around and help but wouldn’t say much. Perhaps we were oddities for them too. The little girl hidden in the shadows gave me the biggest grin when she saw I was about to click. Beauties, right? No wonder they happen to be part of my favourite photos of 2020.

Then the March Madness happened. Days slipped into weeks and months turned into a blur. It finally became the ‘Year of Quarantine’.

I never thought I’d say but in spite of all its downs and ups, it was a memorable year. I binge read, binge ate, binge watched and chilled. Soon after, battled the world’s greatest kicker of a pain in the head. Made me realise the importance of living ‘here and now’ and what retirement would look for me in a few years.

I know I’d still be blogging furiously then, with a little help from the Lens – Artists ladies. Their themes, quotes and words of wisdom are my weekly treat.

So was this quote…

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.  β€“ Edward Abbey

To a year filled with health, happiness and harmony… cheers!

Lens- Artists Challenge: Favourite images of 2020

RDP Saturday: Goodbye/ hello

21 thoughts on “Throwback To 2020.

  1. Cheers to you too, happy and healthy new year free of all viruses, and thanks for an inspiring post. It sounds to me as though you are young enough to plan lots more travel so I’m envious. I’ve reached the age when many places are now out of bounds. I might have managed them last year but two years down the line? I doubt it.

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    1. Thank you Mari for raising my spirits . I never realised how much I loved exploring places till I began blogging. I’m still catching up. My friend Manjari says, “Travelling shakes you out of your slumber and routine. It makes you realise what a beautiful world we live in.” I’m with her on this. Till we travel freely again, we have our memories as I’m sure you do too,to keep us buoyant.

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  2. Oh I so LOVED your post this week Sheetal, from start to finish. First, I’d never heard of the Temple which is astounding – carved by hand from solid rock. Amazing. And then I loved every one of your characterizations of the months as they went by. I’d also not heard of the Guijar so that was both interesting and enlightening for me. It must have been quite something for you to be among them. And finally I loved the quote you chose to end with. A perfect ending to both your post and our shared year. Thanks so much for the lovely mention of what our challenge means for you -and my hope, like yours is that we will be part of this community for a long time to come. All the best to you in this New Year of hope and renewal.

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    1. Thank you Tina for your wonderful words, I cherish them all.

      Kailash temple was a surprise to me as well considering India is a land of temples. We have all sorts- ancient , modern and each state showcases a different style of architecture. This one literally made me think, ‘move over Ankor, Kailash is here’.
      As for the Gujjars, honestly we had heard of them but that was it. So this was an opportunity for us as well to interact with them in their surroundings. Luckily it all happened before the pandemic became a pandemic and the months of travel restrictions and social distancing happened.
      Thank you Tina for your warm wishes . To 2021, cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved your story, Sheetal! An adventure with a lovely people and a beautiful way of life. Your story telling is intriguing. Love your images as well – the goat standing in the room – unforgettable. May your new year bring positive vibes from the start!

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    1. Thank you Ann Christine for those exhilarating words of appreciation. I’m thrilled and smiling from ear to ear , but then you probably know that already. As for the goat image, it was indeed unforgettable. When I saw it standing inside the Gujjar house, I was no less surprised . I had to snap this one as proof that it happened.

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  4. So glad you made it beofre the year of the Lockdown, Sheetal! Love all the photos and your travel stories, especially the little baby! The capture of yellow stacks is very special.
    All the best for 2021!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy, your words make me want to dance. Thank you for appreciating all my pictures and for singling out the baby and the hay stacks. I was actually very proud of them. To sharing more stories in 2021, Amy . Have a marvellous year.

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  5. Happy New Year and all the best. What a beautiful post. The carved temple stopped me in my tracks a an image, can’t even imagine how it would make me feel in real life. Just jaw dropping

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    1. The temple was gorgeous, Helen. I spent most of my time wandering about, clicking pictures and yet I could not capture half its magnificence. Unfortunately, I also lost most of the photos with exception of one or two. I still say, seeing is believing. Nothing quite beats it in real life.

      Also I finished Barbarians and I can’t wait for season 2. That was indeed a good show . Thanks for the tip. Have an awesome 2021.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Health, harmony and cheer sound good to me, Sheetal. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I was concerned for your pain in the head though. Hope you’re feeling fully fit again and good to go whenever the opportunity arrives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jo for your wishes. I’m surprised you picked that up. The headaches were excruciating but are under control. Feeling better already. To health and harmony in 2021 , Jo . Cheers!

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