In Europe, after a student passes out of the University, he invariably goes out for traveling. It is a part of his education. He looks around him from the world of books to the world of men. He supplements his theoretical learning by personal experience. He sheds his insularity and chisels his angularity. The need for this is not properly understood in our country. One reason is perhaps our poverty. But Ramanath Biswas, a Bengali youth, traveled to the ends of the earth without a copper in his pocket. Nowadays, of course, college often organised expeditions and excursions.
Traveling teaches many things. It makes history real, Historical accounts of the glory of ancient India remain unreal until we visit the great ruins of Vijayanagar, Nalanda etc. To read of the Battle of Plassey is one thing, and to see that scene of our humiliation around Hazarduari off Murshidabad (Lalbag) is another. It is quite another to see architectural achievements at Delhi and Agra, the palace gardens at Kashmir. Travelling also gives us a true conception of the geographical and geological resources of our country. It creates in us the desire for exploration and discovery.
But travelling has more indirect lessons to teach us. The mind of the man who travels widely gets enriched; his outlook is broadened; he learns that the world is a much bigger place than thought of the local and the global are so widely different. The wider he travels, the greater the benefit. He will shed his prejudices quickly; he will take to new ideas more promptly. And the same time, comparison with others will create in him a more thoughtful appreciation of the virtues of his own people.
Travelling also develops resourcefulness. During our travels, we are faced with many unforeseen difficulties. We may not know the language of one place, and so feel utterly helpless. A hundred other difficulties may arise. The traveler will be found more resourceful in devising means to overcome these. These are lessons much greater than mere book learning. The traveler becomes what we call an all-round man.
Travelers who leave accounts of their travels become the allies of the historian. We are thrilled to read how Huen Tsang in the 7th century witnessed the Kumbha Mela at Allahabad, and Macro Polo mixed with South Indians in the 13th century. Travelers with a scientific outlook become explorers; those with an imaginative mind become the brief chronicles of the time.
In order to benefit from travelling we must learn to avoid certain pitfalls. The traveler must learn to value truth. He is a teacher and he can educate others out of the fullness of his knowledge and experience. He gives us first-hand knowledge of men and matters of a foreign country. He brings the distant nearer.