Terribly private, a stickler for punctuality, and gifted with a mad sense of humour, Amish Tripathi is the mind behind the riveting Shiva trilogy: Immortals of Meluha, Secret of the Nagas, and Oath of the Vayupturas. He shares with T+L the journeys that have played a role in his works.

I lean towards exploring the depths of the past, delving into what has happened hundreds and thousands of years ago. And travelling is a deep passion, it feeds my mental appetite. So, the two blend perfectly as I choose places to move through for the best learning.

It was in pursuit of a sense of the ancient that I visited Hampi in Karnataka almost 10 years ago. The sheer scale of the city, even in its ruins, is absolutely baffling. What I found most intriguing was the layout: the mammoth scale of the entire township from the breadth of the roads to the access to the temples—these were more than places of worship; they were centres of congregation for all the inhabitants, bringing in a sense of cohesion amongst the dwellers. The detailed mapping of the city of Meluha (in Immortals of Meluha) stemmed from my experience of Hampi. I will be drawing further from my experiences while shaping the sequel to Scion of Ikshvaku, my next book in the Ramchandra series.

Another location that stirred something deep within me was Santorini. I arrived in a cruise liner with my wife, Preeti, and the sheer magnificence of the location stunned me. It were as if a giant knife has sliced out that bit of land from within, like a scoop, with different layers of rocks visible in the horse-shoe shaped structure that stands today. It appears as if the sea then simply flowed in. I loved walking around the beach. From Santorini, I went up to the isthmus of Corinth, the narrow bridge which links the Peloponnese peninsula to the Greek mainland. The setting of the scenes in the Secret of the Nagas, of the huge ships being dragged from the sea to the land, germinated in my mind during my visit here.

My visit to Kenya and the first safari I went on with Preeti and our son, Neel, was a brilliant experience as well. We were travelling with our guide in a Land Rover when a leopard jumped onto the vehicle and stayed put there. It was a stunning moment—not knowing how to react with the beast inches away from my face. The four of us were completely silent. Her cubs arrived soon enough and that is when the guide stepped up on the accelerator as even if a single cub would have landed on any human, things could have got quite dangerous. But I got to study, at a very deep level the behaviour of the big cats. The trip demystified the social structure of the four-legged community. Then, there was a particular incident that I experienced with a herd of elephants that is indelible. It runs deep within me and I have brought it into the script of my next book. You’ll read it soon enough. I believe travel offers the best learning in life. Even during my early days as a struggling author, I always invested in travelling as it simply throws open the mind and the soul to soaking up new experiences.