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Ladakh - Planning The Trip

Over 2000 Km by road, in around 10 days. Stunning landscapes, wonderful people. That sums up our Ladakh trip. But how did it actually work? How did we make it happen? Read on to find out!  Leh, the capital of Ladakh , is accessible by air and road. Flying into Leh is the easiest, and time-saving option, while the road is the time consuming one, but with the added advantage of driving past some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country. Each option has much to recommend it, and we chose the road for just one reason – altitude sickness. Altitude sickness was one of my biggest concerns, since I suffer from motion-sickness. Yes, I do travel a lot, but that is despite my condition, and, over the years, have learnt how to handle it. I struggled with it when we visited Nathu-La in Sikkim, and wondered if I would be able to manage a week at the even higher altitudes that we would encounter in Ladakh. This was the reason we stuck to a basic plan, of only 9 days in Ladakh, though we

Wish you all a happy 2014!

Wishing everyone a  Wonderful,  Colourful  and  Happy New Year...  May 2014 make your deepest desires come true. 

Memories of 2013 - Books, Reviews and so much more!

How can I think of wrapping up the 2013 retrospective without talking about books? This has been a year when I have (sort of) caught up with my reading. I have never, ever, been without a book in my hand. But, over the years, my reading had reduced, and recently, had been restricted to reading for Samhith, and thanks to buying more books for him, I have bought fewer for myself. The change began some time in 2012, but 2013 upped the pace. I began receiving more books for reviewing, till, eventually, I had to refuse some, since I didn't have enough time to read! It has been an interesting journey, reading books I probably wouldn't have bought, reading authors I had never heard of, genres I would tend to avoid, and in the process, re-discovering the love I have for the written word.

Memories of 2013 - Festivals, Events, and other such interesting stuff

The year began on a festive note with the much awaited Kala Ghoda Fest. When I clicked this photo of one of the installations, little did I know how important a part cycles and the city would play in the coming year!

Memories of 2013 - Birds

When it came to birds, the theme this year was  - See birds when you least expect them!   Changeable Hawk Eagle

Memories of 2013 - Rediscovering Mumbai

I have lived in Mumbai for almost 30 years, and, having wandered around freely and happily, thought I knew the city well. It is only this year that I realised how little I knew about it, especially its hidden secrets. One of the first revelations was a visit to Sewri with the Travel-Logs, who opened my eyes to the incredible history which remains unknown to most of its inhabitants. The Parel Shiva Heptad

Memories of 2013 - Travel Vignettes - Goa

The Goa I have seen, twice, is the Goa of the travel brochures - the Churches, the Beaches, the seemingly never ending stretch of the sand and the sea. When I took Samhith and my mother to Goa this time, we saw all those too, for the simple reason that it was all new for them!

Memories of 2013 - Travel Vignettes - Gokarna

When I think of Gokarna, this is the image that comes to my mind....

Merry Christmas!!!! X Mas Memories of Shimla

Since the last few days, I have been reminiscing on the blog about the year gone by. Today, for the special occasion of Christmas, I am taking the reminiscing a bit further, going back to the wonderful X mas we spent last year, at Shimla! 

Memories of 2013 - Travel Vignettes - Jog Falls

What can I say about my visit to the Jog Falls this year, except, once again, show you a pic!!!!

Memories of 2013 - Travel Vignettes - Mysore

If Wayanad was an eye opening trip, Mysore was sheer bliss. Continuing our Mom and Son vacation at the Heritage city, the zoo was easily the highlight of the trip! While Samhith was fascinated by the Jaguar, it was a Russel's Viper that he eventually adopted, as part of the zoo's admirable animal adoption programme. 

Memories of 2013 - Travel Vignettes - Wayanad

Our trip to Wayanad was probably the 'Trip of the year'! To begin with, it was partly sponsored by Thomas Cook, and it was a new experience for me, to have someone plan my trip! Second, and more importantly, this was the very first time Samhith and I went on a vacation alone! And finally, Wayanad itself was so unexpected, it was truly a journey of discovery! From the Indian Rock Python we saw in the wild...

Memories of 2013 - Travel Vignettes - Coorg

Our trip to Coorg was on a sudden impulse. Three short days were nowhere near enough to do justice to the beauty or the heritage of the region. The first image that comes to mind, when I now look back on those three blissful days is this....

Church of St. Augustine, Old Goa

A solitary structure r ises over the ruins, and stands out starkly against the unexpectedly blue sky. The monsoon is still on, but the clear skies encourage me to explore. And here I am, at the St. Augustine’s Complex in Old Goa. Once upon a time, this was a sprawling complex, consisting of a church, a chapel, and also a convent, with dining rooms, infirmaries, guest houses et al, all built by the friars of the First Augustinian Order, who arrived in Goa in 1572. 

2013 - Looking Back

As the New Year approaches , it is time for a retrospective – a look at the year that has gone by. It has been a memorable year in more ways than one. Filled with ups and downs, it is a year that will remain imprinted in my memory for a long, long time.

Flemish Masterpieces in Mumbai

A huge horse towers over you, and the rider stares down. The image is so realistic, you find yourself looking up at him, wondering who he was, and why he has such a supercilious look on his face. It is easy to forget you are looking at a painting… it is not just any painting, though, but one of the works of Anthony Van Dyck – Portrait of a nobleman on his horse. On another frame, Neptune rides the waves, his trident by his side, horses he created from the foam rearing up to go…. Behind him are ships he is protecting, from the fury of the skies. At first, all you can see in the skies are clouds. A second look shows you the chubby figures blowing the wind with their rounded cheeks, one carrying lightning. A little beyond, a dark cloud seems to be letting out tentacles, waiting to grasp the ships, but Neptune’s outstretched arm seems to be warning them away. Time seems to have stood still, in this depiction of Peter Paul Rubens’ ‘Neptune abates the storming waters’.

Skywatch Friday - A view from Fort Aguada, Goa

Friday is almost over, but not quite, and the day has been just too hectic...  which is why I am posting this pic now for Skywatch Friday... This was the view from Fort Aguada, Goa, and that is where my thoughts are, as the weekend looms ahead... a weekend that promises to be even more hectic than the week gone by. No, I am not travelling anywhere, but am stuck at home, with piles of work to do, but lots to look forward to as well! Meanwhile, for those of you who haven't seen it on my Facebook Page yet, I have been listed among the 'Top 31 Professional Indian Travel Bloggers' by the Hop Around India website.   Thank you so much, all of you, for reading and commenting, which is what encourages me to write! Have a great weekend folks , and for more such beautiful skies from around the world, visit the Skywatch Page! 

Spot That Bird! White Cheeked Barbet

Sitting on the balcony of my room at the Club Mahindra Kodagu Valley (Coorg) , I heard this bird long before I saw it. From this pic, can you guess why?

Book Review : India A to Z, An Alphabetical Tour of Incredible India

A for Aadhar, B for Bazaar , C for Cricket, D for Dabbawala… and so on… goes this version of the alphabet – a very identifiably Indian version. India A to Z: An alphabetical tour of Incredible India, compiled by Veena Sheshadri and Vidya Mani, for Puffin Books, with illustrations by Sony Bhaskaran and cartoons by Greystroke manages to put forth a huge amount of information, combining it with a good dose of humour and titbits of fun facts.

Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion Museum, Mysore

In a city filled with palaces and museums, the Jayalakshmi Vilas is probably the least known palace converted into a museum. Nestled within the serene environs of the Mysore University, it is off the regular tourist circuit, which probably explains why it is practically unknown, even to locals.

Alexandrine Parakeets

Rose Ringed Parakeets are regular visitors to our home, and, considering that they are so visible, (and also so audible, and thus easily spotted), I have clicked them often. Yet, as the winter shows signs of setting in, and the parakeets come visiting more often, I cannot help sharing some more recent clicks. All these have been clicked in the last week. And it is thanks to Mridula that I realized that what I had clicked weren't the usual Rose Ringed Parakeets I usually see, but Alexandrine Parakeets !

Karanji Lake, Mysore

A flock of Grey Hornbills flew across, their calls echoing over the surface of the calm lake. A pair of Cormorants perched on the dried branch of a tree, stretching their wings, trying to dry them before the sun set. On the lake, a bunch of spot billed ducks swam peacefully, quacking to each other every now and then. On the other side of the lake, more birds – egrets, herons, and cormorants, returned to their nests, calling out eagerly to announce their arrival. Every now and then, a peacock screeched, its harshness muffled by the thick foliage around. Sitting on a bench placed conveniently near the lake, we simply sat and watched the birds, enjoying the peace here, in this oasis of birdlife in the heart of a city.

Events in Mumbai this week and the next

It's a busy, busy time for me. There is so much to do at home, and there are so many events I want to attend as well. I don't know if I am going to be able to manage all, but here is a list if you are interested.... The Earth Mela is on, , and today is the last day. The venue, as usual, is the Maharashtra Nature Park, and there are plenty of workshops and talks happening. Check the schedule here . And if you are there, do drop into the photo gallery, where some of my photographs will be on display - for the very first time!!! And, since I am not too sure if you can make it, please do click photos for me! If you like books , head over to the Bandra Kurla Complex, for the NBT Book Fair. The fair started on the 29th and is on till the 3rd of December, from 11 AM to 8 PM. So, hurry, go immerse yourself in books! Next week, there are more interesting things happening. First, there is the Junior Writers Bug, this time happening at Maharashtra Nature Park over t

Book Review: Aisle Be Damned by Rishi Piparaiya

Rishi Piparaiya, in his book, ‘Aisle Be Damned’, quotes Paul Theroux – “There is not much to say about most airplane journeys. Anything remarkable must be disastrous, so you define a good flight by negatives: you didn’t get hijacked, you didn’t crash, you didn’t throw up, you weren’t late, you weren’t nauseated by the food. So you’re grateful.”

Skywatch Friday: Abbey Falls

Located in the heart of Coorg, the Abbey falls are on every tourist's itinerary. In the monsoon and the months following, the water cascades 21 m in a rush, drenching the surroundings with its spray, and rendering the whole area slippery and dangerous. In the summer, however, we see a far tamer version....

A Photo Walk through Mysore Zoo

What can I say about the Mysore zoo that hasn’t already been said before? There is no doubt that it is among the best zoos in India – one that actually makes you want to visit again… and again. So inviting in fact, that on our summer trip to Mysore, we visited the zoo twice! And having done that, the least I can do, is give you a photo tour…

Exploring Madikeri Fort

A flash of white in the window captures my attention. From this distance, all I can make out is a figure standing. I don’t have binoculars, but my camera serves me just as well. The zoom lens shows me a figure, dressed in white, a red sash tied neatly across, a government official of some sort, talking to a policeman. It suddenly strikes me how apt the situation is. At one time, this was a palace, where the king and his ministers would have had conversations with his guards and officers. Today, it is the District Collector’s office, and it is a government official conversing with a police officer. Once again, how apt!

Crocodile at Mysore Zoo

Remembering our trip to Mysore in May, and trying to catch up with writing about it, I came across this photo I had clicked of one of the crocodiles. Both, Samhith and I agreed that this shouldn't have to go with the many, many photos in the zoo post coming up, but deserves a post to itself. Do you agree? The eye does look suitably intimidating, doesn't it? Especially with all those teeth!

Starfish in Goa

Partly buried in the sand, it wouldn't have attracted attention, but for the fact, that we were searching for shells. 

Sannimitam - Art for a noble cause

It isn’t often that I write about events on the blog, and even rarer that I announce events that are yet to take place. But this is a special one. Most of you who read my blog, have, at some time, heard me rave about my sister, Kanthi, who is an accomplished dancer. She is proficient in both, Bharatanatyam and Kathak, which speaks volumes of her talent, and those of you who follow my Facebook page would certainly have seen her photos at some point or the other. It is because so many of you have asked me about her forthcoming performances that I am writing this post. That, and the fact that this is a special performance.

Mysore Rail Museum

An old brake van doubles up as the ticket counter, and ancient iron seats are used as swings. Where else can you see such sights, but at a Rail Museum?

Skywatch Friday - Sunset at Varca Beach, Goa

Physically , I may be stuck in Mumbai, but mentally, I am in Goa, remembering the wonderful time we had there.

Book Review: Chokher Bali by Rabindranath Tagore, Translated by Radha Chakravarty

‘Choker Bali’ was written by Rabindranath Tagore as a serial in the periodical Bangadarshan from 1902 to 1903. In 1903, it was published as a book. In its preface, Tagore wrote “The literature of the new age seeks not to narrate a sequence of events, but to reveal the secrets of the heart. Such is the narrative mode of Choker Bali.” Reading these words today , a hundred and ten years after they were first written, I wondered if I am qualified to review a book by an author such as Tagore, and above all, such a path-breaking novel like this one, even if it is only a translation. However, having taken up this unenviable task, all I can do is put forth my thoughts on the book, and leave you to judge me, as well as the book for yourselves.

Indian Tiger Centipede

Over a foot long, it was longer than any centipede I had ever seen. Yet, it was certainly a centipede. That was the only thing I was sure of. 

The BEST Museum

A security guard at the gate signs us in, and points us to a building. “Third floor” he says, laconically. We walk the short distance, and are told we have to climb, for there is no elevator here. Three flights of stairs later, breathing heavily from the exertion, we finally arrive at our destination – the BEST Museum.

Tata Lit Live 2013 .... and Children's Day

Its Children's Day and kiddo is off to school, excitedly looking forward to all the events planned. Meanwhile, I am stuck at home, loads of work to do. This is where I would love to be, though... Tata Literature Live , or Lit Live as we know it, is back, and it starts today, with some interesting events for kids. If you can, do take your kids, and go, check it out. Here is the schedule for the kids' events. I will be attending some of the events either on Saturday or Sunday, so if you are planning to join, drop me a line and we can meet! For more details, visit the Lit Live website . You can also check them out on Facebook and Twitter .  You can see the complete schedule here . 

Indian Bullfrog

Frogs blend in so beautifully with their environment, that we would have completely missed seeing this one if I hadn't been trying to get photographs of a bunch of weeds this one was hiding in.  Trying to identify this one, I realized that what we studied in school about them was just the tip of the iceberg. I had no idea that there were so many different species in India alone. A quick course in frog species being out of the question, the closest I could come to an identification, based on size and photos on the net, was that this was an Indian Bull frog - apparently quite a common species - the one we hear with the arrival of the rains. But apparently, even these plentiful amphibians are under threat, because they are poached for their legs!! What a sad state of affairs! The most interesting article I came across while researching for this post is this one . Do read it, and post your comments on what you think.  And, if you happen to be a frog expert, and know the

Game Time at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum!

Have you ever seen this? In Tamil, we called it ' Pinnal Kolattam '. 

Fishermen at Gokarna

I walked to Om Beach, early in the morning, hoping to commune in solitude with the sea and the sun. Instead, I found that I was the late riser.... the place was filled with activity.... with those who belonged there a lot more than I did. 

Rama Temple, Gokarna

To my right , the waves rush to the shore, eager to merge with the sand. To my left, the same waves crash against the rocks, their spray diverting my reverie as I ponder over the beauty of nature, and wonder what first brought people here. Was it this beauty that encouraged them to build a temple here, or was it the fresh, sweet spring water flowing from the hill here that made this place special? No matter what the reason, I am glad my auto driver brought me here. We are at the Rama temple in Gokarna, just a few minutes away from the Mahabaleshwara Temple, yet offering so different a perspective.