In August 2016 I traveled to India to build homes with Habitat for Humanity. My very candid recap of the story here…
After a week of being in India (See Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6), I finally felt like I was getting it. We woke up early, ready for adventure. Habitat for Humanity Global Village does a really great job not only creating a memorable and very productive volunteer experience, they also want volunteers to explore the region they are visiting.
Sunday was set aside to see all the “must see” sights and we really packed them in. On the bus at 6am, home at 1am. A complete overload of gods, demi-gods, dates, rituals, religions, colors, and sounds. As much as we were impressed by the different sights, the locals were impressed by us. We took photos and selfies with people all day. It was like being a celebrity.
Morning coffee and traditional breakfast at a roadside cafe.
We continued our drive out of Bangalore City and arrived at Shravanabelagola. Here we hiked 750 steps up a mountain (barefoot) to reach this 58 ft tall, 1036 year old statue. Honestly, it was almost too much history to even understand. That said, we weren’t alone in our pilgrimage and were told that this is a major destination for families from all over India.
After all that hiking, we stopped at the bottom for a fresh coconut. As we loaded back into the bus, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the day of sightseeing that Habitat for Humanity had set up for us. In each location we went, having a local guide made the experience very low-stress and gave us an opportunity to really learn about what we were seeing.
Driving along the road, we saw entire houses, signs, statues – just about anything you could think of – covered in red and yellow powder. The Hindu religion is dominant in India and the importance of blessing can’t be understated. As we ascended the colorful stairs at the Chamundi Temple, it struck me how little I know about Hinduism.
Churches, temples, statues, shrines, catacombs, palaces…you name it, we saw it. We wrapped up our tour of the Mysore City and headed into The Palace, where we toured without cameras or shoes. As we walked out, the sun was setting and we waited in anticipation for the lights to come on. They did not disappoint.
As our weekend of being tourists came to an end, we all agreed on one thing. We felt like we had seen the sights and were ready to get back to work!