Crossing the uncharted territory: Chaari Dhaand

Its 4 am and I am driving on a surface that looks more Martian than that of our planet. The baked, grey earth over which we are driving is the Rann of Kutch. The stars are shining overhead in an ink black sky. We have no maps, no road signs or signals, no GPS coordinates…

A sip of coffee in Coorg….

Kodaimelanadu or Kodagu or Coorg: the name itself conjures up images of verdure – gushing cascades, babbling brooks, green hills, gorgeous dales, gurgling rivers all together flaunting the munificence of Mother Nature.  Oh! Add coffee plantations to it. A compulsive coffee drinker like me cannot find a better place than Coorg, for a sip. After…

Akko and its thousands of years of history

An ancient city in the far north of Israel, Acre or Akko is one of the oldest cities in the world, with more than 5,000 years of existence and imprints from the greatest of empires in history. Romans, Islamists, Moors, Crusaders, Ottomans, you name it: They were all here. And so were the great explorers…

My first impressions from Bethlehem and West Bank Wall

Bethlehem is more than a religious duty or a romantic view of a church. It has life, and stories that speak even from its walls. Looking back I wonder, the million-plus tourists and pilgrims who come every year to Bethlehem, what thoughts do they take back? What thoughts do you have about Bethlehem? Being up and close to the Israel-Palestinian conflict Bethlehem evoked many thoughts in me. In this blog I bring my first impressions of Bethlehem and the West Bank Wall.

Jerusalem: A photo journey

Is it even possible to capture the beauty of Jerusalem in just one post? For history and spirituality, few places come close to Jerusalem. It’s an uncontested crucible of faith, infinitely fascinating with unfathomable complexities, and intertwining tales of co-habitation of cultures. So can one bundle all of one’s thoughts and observations in one blog?…

Within the walls of Jerusalem

Before Columbus, they say, Jerusalem was thought of as the center of Earth. Today, the treasured, sacred lands of Jerusalem, where the three monotheistic religions found their roots, still remains the center, albeit of multicultural dialogues and global diplomacy. The fabled walls of the holy land enclose a tangle of sacred buildings, a colourful bazaar,…

Switzerland’s sweet-heart, Lucerne

To travelers, Lucerne conjures many sights and feelings. Tranquil, pristine, and nestled at the foot of Mount Pelatus, Lucerne has long been the tourism capital of Switzerland. With the old wooden bridges with centuries-old paintings, a church with a white-faced clock and gold hands, the old town with narrow lanes housing some secret old apothecary…

The harmony of Colmar

The trip to Strasbourg was a relief. While Paris was blanketed in gray smoke, Strasbourg came out as a surprise with occasional fluffy, white clouds, patches of clear, blue sky, and sunbursts interspersed with rainbows. It was precisely this which made me extend my stay in Strasbourg. The feeling of sitting leisurely, outside the splendid…

Freiburg: Germany’s huge eco-gem

Sitting at the foot of the Black forests wooded slopes, Freiburg is a sunny, cheerful town, adorned with cobblestone paths, and café rimmed plazas. The whiff of medieval charm, cheerful city under the shadows of Black forests, and delicious food could be a reason enough to pencil in some time to feel the warmth of Freiburg.

Bruges: A fairy-tale sojourn

Romantic cobblestoned streets, dreamy canals, crooked bridges, comfy sidewalk cafes, houses looking like made of gingerbread, charming market square, and an eclectic mélange of art, culture, and history, sure no city can get more lovey-dovey than this. Bruges has for long been pulling visitors with its medieval world charm. And all one needs is a leisurely stroll to enjoy this Belgian city. Bruges is so small, and packed with heritage, that there is absolutely no need to rush or get stressed to see everything. Bruges feels a museum, seamlessly alluring one with its splendid church spires, and the old fairy-tale, regal French touch.

Heidelberg: Town that inspires artists

Ever wondered that artists, authors, composers, and painters would come, see, and get inspired by a ruined castle by the river. And this would set German art and literature to take new wings. This is an inspiring tale of Heidelberg. Heidelberg is a quintessential German town nestled in the Black forest, with half-timbered, and Baroque…

Going cuckoo for a magical charm of Ghent

Ghent might be less renowned than its classy neighbor Bruges, but it is still bags full of history and culture. Across the canals, are Ghent’s narrow lanes, that take to fascinating squares with splendid churches, magnificent castles, and comfortable cafes and bars. In the Middle Ages, Ghent grew both in reputation and riches on cloth and wool and was the second-biggest town in Europe, after Paris. Today the medieval heritage still lives, on an old merchants’ street that runs along the bank of the Leie River, while the city keeps reinventing itself and accommodate the contemporary culture.

To the heritage villages of Himachal Pradesh

Pragpur, a quaint little village in Himachal Pradesh’s scenic Kangra Valley, became the first village in India to be branded a heritage village. Pragpur was founded in the late 16th century by the Kuthiala Soods in memory of Princess Prag Dei of the Jaswan royal family. With its winding lanes, wooden slate-roofed houses, the village…

Spiti: The untouched land

Five days on and Spiti had been a promised traveler’s delight. These had been days full of explorations, welcoming smiles, giggles, and developing a bond with Spiti. The hospitality of Kaza had taken me over. All you need to do is to break the ice with a smile, say ‘Juley’ (greetings and respect), and engage…

Spiti: The hill of temples

This was my fourth day in Spiti valley, and with every turn, I was getting more acclimatized and acquainted with this middle land. I didn’t have to spend hours to learn that this cold desert, a heady mix of barren mountains, unexpected bursts of green fields, and deep gorges formed by the fierce Spiti River,…

Dhankar: Somewhere perched high

The 1000-year-old Dhankar, perched precariously on jutting rocks on a mountaintop. The Dhankar monastery is listed among the 100 most endangered monuments in the world by the World Monuments Fund. The old monastery is on a constant fight with the elements of nature. While it’s still in good terms with snow, and an unimaginable amount of it, it is losing battle against increasing and disturbing patterns of rainfall, a fall-out of global reality of climate change.

Tabo: About a life untouched

An eight hour journey, on the world’s most dangerous roads, can be both tiring and exhilarating. But the views of the craggy peaks whooshing past the window, the spectacle of a turquoise ribbon of river cutting through the valley, hundreds of falls and streams merging into the river, and the bends taking you from one…