How Hampi turned out to be the Perfect Place for a Perfect Birthday – by Yamini Gupta

When I first heard about Hampi, it was for one of my girlfriend’s 30th birthday. We were looking for a weekend getaway and i remember one of my friends wholeheartedly recommending Hampi. Now honestly, I wasn’t quite excited with the idea of visiting a historical place on a birthday. So when we left from Hospet to Hampi at sunrise, in my head I had already imagined spending the next few hours looking at temples and structures and learning the history behind them. It was so expected, that it was no longer exciting.

But boy, I was so wrong. It was just 15 minutes into the auto trip; when the landscape began to change. Giant monolithic rocks sparsely began to appear on the horizon. They were huge. Beyond any measure, beyond my capacity to fathom what could possibly they be doing there. Stand-alone rocks, just lying in isolation, with no signs of a parent mountain around. And then with every passing km, my jaws dropped more. My presumptions were wrong, when I had thought that Hampi was ordinary. That what more it can possibly offer than a couple of history and architectural lessons.

Yamini Gupta - AAO Travel Tribe Stories Hampi

Instead, it was magical. It was an era that had stood so still through time, that it engulfs you. It made me believe that I am a part of it. Living and breathing in it. By the end of that day, we had started making up stories and acting like the kings and the queens of the place.

We spent hours role-playing, getting lost from one ruin to the next, searching for the purpose of the rocks and structures that had stood intact on top of each other for ages. Though the day ended soon, I often find myself extending and revisiting it in my thoughts and dreams. It was the perfect place for a perfect birthday.

– Travel Story submitted by Yamini Gupta

Human Values are same irrespective of where you are on this Mother Earth – by Srishty Jain

Learning that human values are same irrespective of where you are on this mother earth.

We were in New Zealand and were doing car trip. It was in 2011 and the Google Maps were not very popular. We rented a tomtom- a GPRS device. The trip was going awesome and we were enchanted by the beauty of New Zealand.

That day, we started from Rotorua and had to reach Tauranga. I was operating the tomtom- it gave me two options – Tauranga bay road and Tauranga. I selected Tauranga bay as I thought that would be near the beach. We kept driving and the destination was nowhere to be seen. We could not find anyone on the road. Then the road ended and GPRS was showing some more distance, we drove in the hope that civilization would appear, but could not find anyone.

Shristy Jain - AAO Travel Tribe Stories

We finally reached a beach which was completely unchartered, virgin, pristine and so calm. The sun was about to set and I could see the moon on the horizon. We could not fathom why it was so empty? Suddenly we had sighting of one kind soul and we immediately went to him and asked about Tauranga. He looked at the address and told us that we came towards the wrong direction and our destination was 450km away from that point.

Shristy Jain - AAO Travel Tribe Stories 2

The place where we were standing was a small village with no restaurants or hotels. We were shocked. Looking at our quizzical faces, this person took us to his house where he was having a small get together. His wife in the middle of the party cooked vegetarian pasta for us and let us join their celebration. They insisted us to spent the night with them. We knew they had other guests from the town.

Srishty Jain - AAO Travel Tribe 3

We thanked them for everything they did for us that night and left their place feeling so grateful to our hosts. The couple gave us a good wishes note which is still with us and reminds us of our eventful day.

The whole incident taught us a lifetime lesson that human values of helping each other, sharing meal and making them part of your life are same across the world and they always leave a lifelong impression on you!!!

– Travel Story submitted by Srishty Jain

A Delightfully Disturbing Evening in Hampi – by Arya Malayali

I was always fond of travelling. Who isn’t? But every journey told me different stories. Nothing was ever same.

Few years back, I happened to pack my bags to Hampi. Being an UNESCO heritage site, it does what it should. It depicts the story of Vijayanagara empire through many temple complexes. From the art to architecture to every single tiny element you see there fits there and only there, it’s unbelievably beautiful.

One evening there, I climbed up a relatably small rocky hill unsure of what was waiting for me behind a Stone temple. It wasn’t much, just another sunset but not like any other. I could see the entire stretch of Vijayanagara empire till my eyes could see. The ruins of an age bygone that still seemed charmingly rich. I wanted the years to go back and I pictured myself living as one of them. It left me with thoughts and imaginations that were unknown to myself till then.

Arya Malayali - AAO Travel Tribe Stories


But it wasn’t just the picturesque view, I tell you. I realized I was surrounded by so many people so the silence around me was as surprising. They were all waiting at peace for the sun to disappear. Maybe they were also thinking about how it would have been to be living there, like me.

Strangers, they were all yet I felt connected to every one of them. I am sure everyone around me felt that way too. So different we all were but tranquil we felt inside.

The place was delicate and dynamic at the same time. Giving all the answers and making me ask questions to myself. Confusing yet contenting. Delightfully disturbing.

This surreal evening is probably one of my most precious memory I cherish and hence an achievement.

– Travel Story submitted by Arya Malayali

Yes, love can happen at first sight – Travel Story by Niharika Arora

My old fears were far from the ones I have now. They were materialistic and egoistic. Now that I get exposed to such beauty, I have a realization which keeps the power to stop every raging useless war within me. And, Edmund Hillary said, “it’s not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.”

Delhi to Chhitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India is a voyage of 15 h (602.3 km), covering the deadliest Hindustan-Tibet road. It is caprice as the charm of Devbhoomi unfolds, a different language, exquisite and enchanting & an addictive natural beauty. The experience of driving beneath millions of stars is inexplicable, with the beauty around pacifying fears.

After an arduous journey on the precarious route, we reached Chhitkul at around 4 am in pitch darkness. We had to sojourn in the car, wrapped in blankets and still our breaths were going heavy and bodies shifting to numb mode.

We tried to sleep in the hope of a new and a better day, strengthening our psyche and will.
It was 7 am & we stepped out of the frosted car to rejoice our frozen bodies with the sight of a sunlit village in front of us.

Yes, love can happen at first sight.

AAO Travel Tribe Niharika Arora

There was a smile on each person’s face, a thing common in the entire village, a symbol of pure happiness and contentment that binds them in a single thread and gives them the strength to face difficulties together.

I had this unquenchable feeling while returning, not knowing if anything else would ever transcend this heaven again.

– Travel Story submitted by Niharika Arora