Palampur: of Bollywood and Dauladhar range

The best stories are always chanced upon: the unknown restaurant that served the yummiest food, the stranger who helped when least expected, catching the train at the last moment, waiting for the delayed flight at the airport & finishing that pending book on Kindle or the road that led to a beautiful place that wasn’t…

Have you found your travel story yet?

“When one door closes, another opens. Or you can open the closed door. That’s how doors work.” – Douglas Adams No Rocket Science! Life isn’t much complicated either. Figure out something that gives you happiness and do more of it. That’s it. Simple! Our generation is quite blessed in those terms. We somehow were born…

Shades of Karnataka: a photo story

India is more than the beaches of Goa, the picturesque mountains and lakes of Ladakh, the backwaters of Kerala and the hill stations of Shimla and Ooty. India is definitely more than that. Each of the 29 states offers a different experience to the traveller inside you. All you got to do is – explore….

The burnt & broken: Shaniwarwada, Pune

Bajirao-Mastani hit the Cinema Halls last year and took us on a visual treat. The movie got me thinking about many things & I resolved to read the translated copy of the famous Marathi novel ‘Rau’ & pay a visit to the much decorated (going by what the movie showed) Shaniwarwada in Pune. I could…

On your plate, from the streets of India!

With many fine dining restaurants & bars mushrooming here and there, burning a hole in the pocket has become easier than ever. These restaurants will ‘Sir and Ma’am’ you, serve exotic-sounding dishes in small bowls and plates (quantity enough for a bite or two) & take away all your money. In fact, the more I…

Where all that shines is Gold: Jaisalmer

The land is barren and the farms are dry. The weather is harsh and the temperature is very high. You would think that this can mar the spirits of the locals. But no ma’am, no. You are wrong. The place beams, the buildings shine & the locals,the locals sparkle under the hot Sun with a…

A little place of books: Waari Book Cafe, Pune

“Reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where we are.”  A book comes with no reservations. You can safekeep a book, begin it at your own pace, go back, flip forward or close it and take a nap. The book doesn’t mind & the book never moves. You will always…

Republic India; Incredible India!

India will celebrate its 68th republic day tomorrow on 26th January, 2017. The pride of the country will be seen in march pasts, rallies and other cultural programs as part of the republic day parade at Rajpath. Many television shows will lose their audience to the live telecast of republic day parades tomorrow because India…

Orchha: the erstwhile capital of Bundelkhand

India is a country of colors. No matter where you go, you are bound to discover a new color – a sketch of the forgotten past with strokes of victories coupled with dabs of eloquent art and architecture. At a distance of 485 kms. from Delhi, between the heroic Jhansi & monumental Khajuraho, lies a…

A wondrous morning & ‘Waah Taj’!

“Let the splendor of diamond, pearl, and ruby vanish like the magic shimmer of the rainbow.  Only let this one tear-drop, this Tajmahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever .” -Rabindranath Tagore  More than three centuries ago, a muslim emperor built an ivory-white monument in the memory of his Persian…

The highest Gateway in the world: Buland Darwaza

“The world is a bridge, pass over it, but build no houses upon it”, reads the Persian inscription on the main gateway, Buland Darwaza.  Akbar wanted to commemorate his conquest over Gujarat. He decided to do something extraordinary. Feasts were organized regularly & competitions were a regular affair, he wished to do something magnificent &…

The aloof tiger and the lazy Python of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

15 years ago when I visited Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary for the first time, our guide told us about a tiger that lived in the sanctuary and came by the lake in the evening to drink water. It was an excursion trip organized from KVS (Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan). I was in 9th standard and for the…

A walk down the ancient India: Pattadakal

At a mere distance of 22 kms. from the famous Badami caves, exists the rustic village of Pattadakal. Located on the left side of the Malaprabha river, Pattadakal lives graciously, away from the madness of the contemporary world. Evidence suggests that Pattadakal came into being around 6th or 7th century when the Chalukyas decided on…

Incredible India: 12 places for 12 months!

It was a Friday evening of humid April this year. Around 4 pm of that fateful evening, I found myself battling for breath. My life jacket was intact, but I could not come above the surface. Water started to get better of me. I was telling myself that nothing would happen. At best, I would…

Sunburn or not, new year means Goa!

Some places evoke a feeling of belonging. You long for them. All the unsettling thoughts and turmoil inside you begin to smooth over, in such places. You come here again and again & do the same things over and over. With the passage of time, you develop rituals. And these rituals only become meaningful when you are…

The pursuit of tea & the road to Munnar!

I am never alone. Because I always have a cup of tea to keep me company. I was 8 when I had my first cup of tea. It was a monsoon evening with a clear but clouded day. I played ‘nine tiles’ that evening. After an hour, I came back home a winner but drenched. …

Gwalior: Where she fought gallantly, the queen of Jhansi!

“No, impossible! I shall not surrender my Jhansi!” On June 18th, 1858, a 29 year old widowed queen of Jhansi, with courage in her veins and valor in her blood, fought against the British and lay her life in the battle of Gwalior, trying to save her state from the British. The British (greatly outnumbering…

A box of chocolates – Kodai Kanal.

My mother never told me that life was a box of chocolates. She had a list of adjectives that Life was – demanding, whimsical, eccentric, and mischievous –  but it was never a box of chocolates in her dictionary. Chocolates were instead a treat for us reserved to be enjoyed only on special occasions like…

Fantastic beasts and here to find them: National Zoo, Delhi

Adjusting the TV antenna to improve the reception, showing off the new Sony Walkman, blowing big bubbles after chewing the gum, safekeeping our white canvas school shoes, playing carom with family for hours, meeting your friends in the colony park in the evening, waiting by the phone receiver for hours and dialling any number (yeah,…

A 1500 year old tale set in stone: Aihole temples, Karnataka

In ancient India, people relied on temples for learning, financial assistance and education. Temples were the know all, be all. Locals deposited their Gold and currency in the temple treasury chests and retired peacefully to sleep every night. Temples were a sacred place where the destiny was made and remade. So sacred were the temples that…

Top 7 destinations to Holiday this December for winters have come!

Winters, like Santa Claus, brings a bag of goodies with itself every year: late mornings, envelopes of mist, the momentary relief from chilling cold over sips of piping hot chai (tea) served over a plate of pakoras (fritters) & holidays. Holidays are the best part about winters and of course, the tea. Most would like to…

The Great Indian Parantha of Amrik Sukhdev, Murthal!

I have a theory – When something is denied to you, you crave it even more. And when that something is food, your cravings know no limits. Good food takes you to another world and that world is still untouched by the woes of real life. In that world, only happiness and only happiness exists….

Leave the worry at home & bask in the glory of Tagore beach, Karwar

I have inquisitive eyes that twinkle at the slightest joy. That’s what people tell me at least. And rightly so; my eyes do a lot of talking. And they specially become chatty when I go on a holiday. While on road, they are mostly anxious about what’s going to happen next and perpetually hop from…

NO to Shacks, YES to getting high: an unusual day in Goa!

The entry to the fort is a modest walk of 5 minutes like the beginning of a great musical. Once you enter the fort, you see a sprawling area all around you with space to organize many orchestras together. In the middle, there is a four-storeyed light house that must have aided in guarding the place. It still stands tall like a soldier of the armies that must have camped here, Standing tall, the fort refuses to budge, keeping a watch to ensuring that it’s city is safe and sound.

Hidden gems of India: Sparkling Kapu beach of Udupi, Karnataka

Those who want to skip the craziness of everyday life of a metropolitan; who want to experience what ‘quiet’ feels like; who do not fear the silence and can muster the courage to talk with self when no one is watching and no one is listening – would love the serene and undiscovered beach of Kaup in Udupi, Karnataka.

Bare bodies and bare souls, Varanasi

We began with the Ghat where people were bathing and swimming like they were in a pool. A mere dip in the river was supposed to wash away their sins. However, the bare, unclad bodies did not bother anyone and no amount of constant stares could bring embarrassment to the subject.

Toy train ride from Kalka to Shimla: Don’t even think about it!

Beware of every blog that talks highly about the toy train ride from Kalka to Shimla; none of the authors have actually been through the journey themselves. The one who has traveled in the Shimla-Kalka toy train understands the pain of aching muscles, hurting joints & stiff neck. After 6 long hours when the torture ends, you come out of the train a little shorter & a lot crazier.

Toy train ride is only meant for kids below 10 years of age. With seats meant for dwarves, one can hardly adjust their bu** cheeks on the cushion. The space is enough only for one person which is why the other one sits half on the seat & half in the air.

This wasn’t enough which is why the Railways decided to play a game. They declared all compartments, general. So, anyone who has a ticket can board the bogie & stand above your head while you sit half on seat & half in the air. The only thing that salvages this journey is – the few moments of scenic routes during the journey.
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The fight for the window seat:

The railways want to have all their fun at the expense of toy train passengers which is why they have screwed up the seat numbering in the toy train. The window seat numbers indicate aisle seats while the aisle seats are numbered by the window. You can imagine the amount of fights that happen because of this.

Oh, did I use the word ‘aisle’?! Sorry, there is nothing like an aisle in a toy train. Since they can’t expect the passengers to hop above one another, they left a space of hardly 1 foot between two seats. One can’t even stand there.

As far as the luggage goes, you may very well keep it on your head since there is no space available to keep it. Or better, seat the luggage on the joke they call seats. And you sit over your luggage. That way, there will be at least one body part of yours that won’t pain at the end of the journey.

104 steps leading to the darkest waters of History: Agrasen ki Baoli, Delhi

“Kahan jana hai madam” “Agrasen ki Baoli” “Kya? Connaught Place?” “Nahin, Agrasen ki Baoli. Aapko nahin pata kya? Mandi house ke paas hai” “150 lagenge warna rehne do” With a long face, I checked for an Ola & booked a micro in exactly 2 minutes. The same story repeated. The Ola cabbie didn’t know ‘Agrasen…

Full of Eerie: Chunar Fort, Mirzapur

The Assistant Director of Gangs of Wasseypur died while filming at Chunar Fort, Mirzapur. The local priest says that he continuously flouted the rules of the fort in spite of numerous warnings & thus met his fate.  A travel enthusiast couple visits the fort & meets a guide who shows them the dungeons where they…

Rely on God when you ride a horse in Kufri, Shimla

A stretch strewn with rocks, boulders & stones; a ride that’s 15 -20 mins. long & your fate that’s entirely dependent on the mood & prowess of your horse that’s taking you uphill, crossing the muddy, swamps & maneuvering its way to Mahasu Peak. Oh, we are talking about the much-recommended experience of Kufri, Shimla –…

Rejuvenate in Nilgiris; 11 things to do in Ooty

After crossing 36 hairpin bends & breathing tons of fresh air, we reached Ooty from Mysore, in 6 hours. A city that knows no season other than Spring, Ooty (or Udhagamandalam), is a beautiful hill station in the Nilgiri hills. Beautiful mountains, green valleys, tall Eucalyptus trees & colorful flowers all around have together given the town…

Rendezvous with Gods in Somanathapura

Somanathapura is a small town, some 35 kms. away from Mysore. The town is famous for the Chennakesava Temple (Kesava orKeshava temple). These temples were built by Soma, a Dandanayaka (commander) in 1268 CE under Hoysala Empire King Narasimha III. That was the time when the Hoysalas were the major power in South India. Read more about Somanathapura temples…

Where the 70s come alive: Beatle’s Cafe in Rishikesh!

“Oh yeah I’ll tell you something I think you’ll understand When I say that something I wanna hold your hand” When the Fantastic Four – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr played ‘I want to hold your hand’ in the 1960s, it was the dawn of a new era.  As they balanced the chords & managed…

Photo blog: Cultural Heritage & Architectural Wonders of Somanathapura

Whenever I think that I have traveled a great deal in India with a few places left to visit; a new place pops up on the maps & I would be awestruck by its beauty & magnificence. In our last trip to Gaganchukki & Barachukki falls, we visited Somanathapura temples and absolutely loved them. Like the ruins of…

Be a part of your own Jungle Book at Bandipur National Park!

Each one of us has a ‘Mowgli’ in us, waiting to manifest. All we need is a good, green Jungle (forest). Unleash your ‘Mowgli’ in Bandipur National Park. Who knows you might even spot a ‘Bagheera’ in the Jungle & befriend a ‘Baloo’?! Where the Deccan Plateau meets the Western Ghats, God created Bandipur National…

Art Abound: National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi

‘Bride’s Toilet’ paints a beautiful picture of married and single women, celebrating the precious moments of life in simple ways. ‘Brahamacharis’ is a masterpiece illustrating how diversity exists in similarity. If you look in the eyes of the dark guy (at the left) of the painting, you feel he is looking at you back. Like he knows, you are trying to fathom the mystery of the painting, but won’t be able to do it unless he gives away the secrets. Try it!

This weekend, go visit – National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi

How I had a narrow escape while white water rafting at Rishikesh

Water Sports remain sports until something goes wrong. For me, it went all wrong. Well, nearly! To unwind from a long, exhausting week, I planned my weekend to Haridwar & Rishikesh last month. I planned for white water river rafting hoping that it will beat my Monday blues atleast for a month. With much excitement,…

11 ways to come closer to the divine in Vrindavan, Mathura!

I grew up watching Shri Krishna. I participated in the dramas that were organised on the eve of Janmashtami. I was frequently dressed as Kanha & a few times dressed as Radha; I remember that. Lord Krishna has always been a naughty figure of god – the one that taught us love. The one that…

The house of the Gods & the monkeys, Vrindavan.

Brindavan mein radhe radhe Sunrak gaon mein radhe radhe Kalideh per radhe radhe Adyedapat mein radhe radhe Taan gali mein radhe radhe Maan gali mein radhe radhe O’man gali mein radhe radhe Gokunj gali mein radhe radhe Siva kunj mein radhe radhe Prem gali mein radhe radhe Shringar bat mein radhe radhe Cheer ghat mein…

Bonjour! Beaches of the French Colony of India – Pondicherry!

“L’amour est la poésie des sens.” –  Balzac; meaning  Love is the poetry of the senses. Pondicherry (or Puducherry), a French colonial settlement in India until 1954, is a Union Territory bordered by Tamil Nadu state. The city still has the French touch with French architecture, French streets serving cheese & street signs reading in French. In many…