Buyukada, a Turkish idyll

I walked along the curving street edged along the walls dripped with Ivy. The silence was meditative, existing in such a contrast to the hubbub, and the salmagundi of cultures, and styles Istanbul is. Behind the walls, pines loomed above Ottoman mansions. With no sound but for my footsteps, I walked further in, till the…

Pamukkale: The Turkish castle of cottons

Pamukkale is a unique destination. Stretching for over a mile and a half, this dazzling white travertines and hot springs of calcium carbonate look splendid against the green Turkish countryside. It’s so easy to laze around in these sweeping limestone white cliffs, with dazzling blue pools. The whole experience is definitely more than being at some embellished geological formation. And possible nowhere on earth you can find such immaculately designed natural formations, with exquisite examples of man’s creations. Next to the pools are the remains of an idyllically located Greek-Roman spa city, Hierapolis.

History comes to life in Ephesus

I wasn’t surprised to learn that many travelers just travel to West Turkey primarily to visit Ephesus. Ephesus is one of the most well-preserved Roman ruins in the world, and no surprise it draws over two million visitors annually. A UNESCO heritage site, Ephesus is a window to life in ancient times. Ephesus grew from…

Bowing to the Apollo in Side

I set out early to explore the outskirts of Antalya, more to be on the wheels of history strewn on the Aegean coasts. My major halt was to be at the once-docile fishing village of Side. It’s just that the old vibes of Side have liberally refashioned to suit themselves to souvenir peddlers and restaurant…

Antalya: Shades of blue

Possibly my most indelible thoughts on Antalya came, as my flight swept over Turkey’s south-western coastline to Istanbul. Looking at the shades of blue and turquoise of the waters, my thought was ‘Ah, so that’s why it’s called the Turquoise Coast.’ I looked around the airplane, almost everyone was looking out, might probably be having…

My first impressions of Israel

There would only be a handful of places that can evoke as many emotions as Israel does. Its breathtaking landscapes, cultural history as old as tales can go, the eerie stillness of the deserted landscapes and the far north, the ancient streets of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and the cultural kaleidoscope that the cities are, and…

Inside ancient Jaffa

It’s a balmy evening on Jaffa’s sea-front and I’m in a busy restaurant overlooking the ocean and a jumble of small fishing boats out for their daily catch. The table is spread with a feast of salads, and on the side is pita bread with the most loved Israeli recipe hummus. On the promenade in…

Masada: A fortress of myth

In the midst of that almost Martian landscape emerges the fortress of Masada, like a mirage in the Judean desert. A barren landscape, the Dead Sea in the distance, and perched on the top of a mountain, a centuries-old fortress holding tales of a fall of a Judea empire and rise of a Roman one.

The gay abandon of Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is young, hip, liberal, and a city always bombilating with energy. The high octane vibe of the city is always, almost tangible. And as the day sets over the Mediterranean coast, the walkway of Tel Aviv pulsates with its famous residents, and the start-up city jumps and jives as the music from the…

Haifa and its many ideas

Haifa, the sun-splashed metropolis, some half an hour from the historic city of Akko, has a hip side to itself which waits to be discovered. Perched between two important destinations of the biblical significance, Nazareth and Akko, Haifa rarely figures as a tourist destination and is treated more as a stop-over. Until recently, Haifa was…

Getting spoilt for food in Akko

Akko, an ancient seaport in Northern Israel, packed with tales of war, culture, faith, and a history spanning for over a century, serves up mouth-watering meals from dueling hummus shops to indulge worthy seafood restaurants. As a traveler looking for Middle Eastern culinary experience, Akko leaves you spoilt with choices and chances. Your quest for…

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,…