Written by RESHMI S.
Travel is not always physical. The physical journey to a place would mean nothing when the soul is caged. The presence of an individual is declared when the body physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually co-exists. This co-existence, for me, can be arrived at, just by reading books.
Through books, I explore the unexplored lands, the sacred lands, the unimaginable lands, the dreamlands. I don’t have pictures of my travel to put up on Instagram. Most of the times, I can’t even find these places on any part of the planet or the universe. There is no concrete evidence of my travel. They are a collaboration of the creative author who constructed these places and my imagination.
I don’t have to pack my bags, plan for the trip, check for the weather, allocate the budget or check for the right spot. Two of us can read the same book but the experiences can turn out to be entirely different. Our journeys can even be poles apart because here, travel is very personal. It becomes an experience that is shaped by my perception of the places that the character and I go through.
I have made a list of seven beautiful places from seven great books that made me a traveller.
The valley of the blue moon or Shangri-La is one of the beautiful fictional places ever created. This infamous place offers an adventurous paradise. The characters are instantly drawn to this place and so did I as I read Lost Horizon written by James Hilton. The mountains, valleys, plants, trees and the people live in harmony making everybody jealous of such exuberant beauty. But Charles Mallinson (one of the characters) doesn’t want to stay in such a place. Explore and find out why.
Sunk under the ocean in a day, the kingdom always holds onto its name for being the most powerful and advanced of all times. In The Maracot Deep, this majestic kingdom is re-created from the perspective of Arthur Conan Doyle. He took me into the discovery of Atlantis along with Professor Maracot and his team. The journey to this mystical undersea world was top notch.
Similar to Atlantis, Ys is also swallowed by the ocean. King Gradlon is known to have ruled this city. The best part of Ys, as narrated in The King of Ys series by Poul Anderson, is the palace of the king. The architecture of the palace is incredible, made of gold, cedar and marble. Again, this place with its own kind of people and civilisation has managed to mark its name in the list of beautiful fictional places and find its place in my heart.
High-speed rail (250 miles/hour), GPS tracker that can be installed under the skin, Synthetic fire attached to costumes, programmed closets that fit individual tastes on clothes, parachute delivery are housed in the Capitol. Who wouldn’t love some high-grade technological advancements? The idea of the Hunger Games, though cruel, was quite an extraordinary technological thought by itself. Suzanne Collins created a new-age dystopian fiction – The Hunger Games – with plausible characterisation and brilliant picturization.
This fictional place of Malgudi is located in the banks of the also-fictional river Sarayu. The beloved untamed river Sarayu flows in the Mempi forest which is again fictional. The town of Malgudi is nothing out of the ordinary. However, with everything falling apart in the city these days, Malgudi, the bustling yet calm town, managed to become the escape place where I could be with people who co-existed with nature, free from all the worries in the world. Swami and Friends and many other works of R.K. Narayan took me to the good old days of life in towns which were untampered by the advent of industrialisation.
6. The Emerald City
Image by Joshua Woroniecki from Pexels
In the land of Oz, is located the Emerald city, greener than any other region. The yellow-brick road, leading from the Munchkin country, paves the way to this city. So, what’s new? The architecture – specially made of green glass and emerald – of the Royal Palace and the Wizards provided me with a completely new magical experience.
As a green lover, I found Frank Baum’s The Emerald City of the Oz as an extremely attractive green land ever.
Nobody wants to grow old. Although a children’s novel, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan was a good read for me as I never wanted to lose touch with the innocence of childhood. The Neverland was just an added bonus to go on an adventure but to return looking and feeling the same
The beauty lies in the imagination of the mind and the stylistic writing of the author. I felt this Neverland never ceased to create wonder and entertainment for all the children and for all the children in the adults.
This is an account of the best places I travelled sitting at home. I admired the characters, who became my friends for life. The protagonist and I became one. The character laughed, I laughed; the character cried, I cried; the character travelled to create an identity, I went along to find myself; thus, making the whole journey my own. I became the “Alice” from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland who encountered a mystical land when she fell into a rabbit hole. I became Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe who got stranded in an estranged island.
I can proudly say that I travelled more than any other traveller on this Earth through books. They took me around, not just to my city, or state or country or abroad; they took me to the centre of the Earth, they took me to the skies and space above; they took me to different planets, they took me to another whole new dimension of existence.
These fictional places – like the Malgudi (Swami and Friends), Shangri-La (Lost Horizon) and many more to come – were enchanting so much so that I wished for them to be real. Never did they fail to create an impact on my life.
I am sure every one of us wanted a letter of admission from the “Hogwarts” at some point in our lives.
The Harry Potter Series was a dream come true for me. J.K. Rowling will always be worshipped for her creation. But why? It is because she made the impossible, possible.
She created a land with her words and gave her readers free passes to inhibit them along with her characters. She took all of us through one of the most adventurous journeys ever. Did I move from my cosy couch? No. Did I get tired? No. Did I see witches and wizards? Yes. Did I see magical creatures and dragons? Yes. So, does this make me a traveller? Hell YES!
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Reshmi is a Content Writer at The Strong Traveller. She is an avid reader and a student of literature. Reshmi being a writer by day and a reader by night, she loves exploring new horizons of thoughts and loves to go by the quote “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change!“