If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
- If by Rudyard Kipling
I began my journey with a thought. During the years I frequented Tirupathi, I realised that the times when I visited the temple by climbing up the seven hills on foot (as opposed to the times when I took the bus to go up to the temple), the few seconds I stand in front of the Lord in the sanctum sanctorum transcends itself into an inexplicable devotional orgasm. The fours hours of climb and a further few hours of standing in the unending queues made a very strong impact when I finally stood in front of the Lord. Keeping this in mind, in spite of not being in hiking-shape, I decided to trek into the Grand Canyon to experience it in a stronger manner. I must say that my hunch paid off. I went till the 3 mile rest house on the Bright Angel Trail (a 6 mile round trip) and came back after an ass-busting 5 and a half hour hike. After resting for a couple of hours, I stepped out and stood at the South Rim. As I stood there for a few minutes in silence, tears streamed out of my eyes. No crying out loud, no sobbing! Silent tears streamed down my eyes as I stood watching in awe the layers and layers of rocks in front of me.
The Grand Canyon is the Taj Mahal of the Natural World! Just the way that no photograph can capture the beauty of the Taj, no photo can ever capture the awe that the Grand Canyon inspires. It is a place of limitless and indescribable beauty. One would take multiple photographs of probably the same place in a space of a few minutes because one would have spotted something new in the landscape and imagine that it was not captured in one of the previous photographs - or as the day progresses, one would see the Canyon in an entirely new light. After a while, I took off my shades to see what was in front of me with the naked eye. There are times in life when you mustn't see the world through a glass darkly.
The story of Abhimanyu in Mahabharata has a great moral. Never get into something when you have no clue of what it takes to haul your ass out of it. Just the way the Canyon looks different as light falls on it in a certain way at different times of the day or when one moves from one place to another, the adjectives one uses to describe the Canyon change when one is going down the canyon and when one is coming back to the top. What I thought was magnitacular and spectaficent as I walked down, turned out to be cruel and punishing on the way up. One would be well advised to take all the photographs on the way down because one would be busy taking oneself on the way up. The best thing I did on my way up outside of drinking a lot of water and Gatorade is read out loud my favorite poem - If by Rudyard Kipling.
As I saw the beautiful, awe inspiring great shapes in front of me, I thought if it were in India, how a shape here would have been called a temple tower, another an elephant, yet another a frog and so on and so forth. In fact, we would have probably declared the Grand Canyon ‘The Abode of Gods’. The irony of the matter is, when I later was at the Antelope Canyon, the guide instead of telling the history of the place, details of how the beautiful shapes were formed in the sandstone and things to that effect went on about how here is a heart, here a lamp, here a bear etc. I would have been so much better off if I were left by myself to admire the great and beautiful formations and the surreal effects they evoke. Not for nothing are they called Indians I guess.
The rest of my trip was about driving through the desert of Arizona – I drove a 1000 miles in 4 days. The Horseshoe Bend in Page is a location where the Colorado River takes a 270 degree turn around a huge rock. As you will see below, the Horseshoe Bend is one of the most incredible and terrifying sights you would ever see. The trek to this place is about 3/4 mile from the road and we see it from a height of 1000 feet from a unprotected-by-railings cliff. But for a good friend of mine insisting that I don't miss this place, I would have totally not known of its existance. I tip my non-existing hat in her direction. The Horseshoe Bend is a jaw-dropping sight - so terrifying that and I imagined if there is indeed a hell-fire, this is how it would be.
Note to self: When I put a 'Do Not Disturb' sign outside my hotel room, I only mean I don't want my room to be cleaned during the duration of my stay.
I now leave you with the pictures...