In violation of the common refrain – the one where the journey matters more than the destination? The one everyone keeps on quoting without really appreciating the depth of its meanings? – there are certain places where the destination matters more than the journey.
Dodital in Uttarakhand is one. The Rann of Kutch is another.
Dhikala, deep within the heart of the Jim Corbett National Park is another.
Sitting right at the edge of a cliff, Dhikala overlooks the massive grasslands within the park. The road leading up to it runs straight through a thick forest of Sal, and sometimes if you’re lucky – as me and my dearest buddy were once, ten summers back – the flowers fall off the trees onto you in carpets, welcoming you like the heroes we imagined ourselves to be.
The magnificence of Dhikala is such that it cannot be captured fully by neither photographs, nor by words. As Salman Rushdie wrote in “Joseph Anton” about the South American plains, photographs or words provide only one stationary frame. To experience their true, immense beauty, one must travel through Dhikala.
This provides a delicious (seeming) paradox – for travelling through Dhikala is a transition; ergo, the journey should matter more than the destination. But that is diametrically opposite to what I am arguing.
You see, we, as humans, are in a perpetual state of both being and becoming. It is vital to attain a balance between the two – to both exist and transit in each moment.
“We must be still and still moving, into another intensity.
For a further union, a deeper communion.
Through the dark cold and empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise.
In my end is my beginning.”
-T. S. Elliot
And while the journey is the joy of travel, and while places like Dhikala can be cherished only by passing through and not seeing them through single-frame windows, there are some places where the journey must be broken, in contemplation.
And that is what the beauty of Dhikala encapsulates. It is one of those places where we arrive, not travel through. It is one of those places where I have experienced an intensely spiritual connect – not in terms of divinity; but in terms of deep introspection.
Such places are, after all, spiritual. And I have a hunch as to why this is the case. Dhikala, Dodital, the Rann – their beauty is so overwhelming, so pristine that it crushes the “me”, at least momentarily.
And it is in that moment of tranquility that real conversation can occur. After all, “Jab Main Tha Tab Hari Naheen. Ab Hari Hai Main Naaheen”.