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Showing posts from January, 2013

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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

Faces in the Crowd : Two strangers at Amritsar

For Faces in the crowd today, I have two strangers.... two people I clicked at the Golden temple, Amritsar....

Bhimashankar - a blend of spirituality and nature

Among the 12 sacred shrines of Lord Shiva known as the Jyotirlingams, the one nearest to me was the one which eluded me the longest! The 11 others are located all over India. The one I visited first was the farthest –Kedarnath, which is over 2000 Km away! Bhimashankar is barely 200 Km from Mumbai, and yet I had to wait for years.

Feathered Friends

There is one tree in our colony which is the meeting point of the birds. It stands on the edge of our common ground, giving a view of the temple, and a whole square filled with buildings. I have often wondered what it is that draws birds to this tree.... but recently, my thoughts have taken a different direction. I often see groups of birds perched on a particular branch of this tree..... A couple of weeks back, there were these three Coppersmith barbets....

A Festival and a Press Conference

Being stuck inside a bus all alone can be scary. Especially considering the times we are living in. I wondered whether I would be better off getting out, but the situation outside did not look too good either. In sharp contrast to the interior of the bus, the outside was filled with people – loud, hooting bands of guys filling trucks, tempos, and whatever vehicles they could find. I decided I was much safer inside, with the driver and conductor alone for company. For the umpteenth time, I wondered what I was doing, late in the evening, stuck in a bus, on my way to a press conference I wasn’t sure I wanted to attend!

Book Review: Thundergod : The Ascendance of Indra, by Rajiv G. Menon

There is something about mythology that attracts me. Having grown up on a steady diet of stories from Indian mythology, somewhere, there has always been an urge to rationalize the stories, to search for their roots, and somehow connect them to history. 

Happy Republic Day!

Sitting in our room at Mashobra, every morning, around 10, we could hear the distant sounds of a band. The day we went on a trek, we learnt that the sound came from the Government school at Mashobra.

Skywatch Friday - A Fiery Sunrise

The day after the spectacular moonrise  at Mashobra, the sun seemed to have decided that it needed to put up just as spectacular a display.....so, it was a fiery sunrise that greeted us... For more beautiful skies from around the world, visit the Skywatch page.

Meeting the Mummy at the Museum in Mumbai

Samhith sitting in one place is not something you can see very often. Samhith listening to something intently is even rarer! But, there was a time last week, when my little boy actually sat quietly (well, almost quietly) for over an hour, intently listening, asking questions in between, peering close to see the details he was hearing about. What was it that interested him? Nothing less than the Egyptian Mummy which has travelled all the way from London to our very own Mumbai! Photo Courtesy: Mummy - The Inside Story, Facebook Page ( https://www.facebook.com/MummyTheInsideStory )

5 things to do in winter in Shimla - when it doesn't snow!

When you plan your winter vacation in Shimla, you expect snow, even though you know very well that there hasn't been a white Christmas at Shimla in years!

Daulatabad Part 2: The Fort that was once invincible

We are walking down a dark passage , holding on tight to each other’s hand, trying hard not to stumble over the uneven surface. It would be scary, straight out of a nightmare, if we had been alone. However, we are not.

Daulatabad Part 1 : The fort and a phrase - a quirk of history

Returning from the Ellora caves , as the car navigated the twists and turns over the mountains, the ramparts of the fort came into view every now and then. A stretch of plain land surrounded by mountains, a perfectly conical hill in the centre, surmounted by a fort, a white structure gleaming  in the sun, a tall tower at the foothills rendering the scene perfect, its bright red colour a stark contrast to the brown that enveloped the fort. The Daulatabad fort was an inviting sight, even from a distance. However, it wasn’t the fort itself, but its story, that drew me to the place, which made me insist on a quick visit, in spite of the short time we had on hand.

Faces in the Crowd - Business in the rain

The monsoon at Mahabaleshwar is a sight to see. The pouring rain, the dense fog, lush green valleys and mountains everywhere your eyes can see.... and vendors selling hot tea and corn at every turning. 

Book Review : Raised from the Ground by Jose Saramago

It’s not just crops which are raised from the ground, but men who work the fields too are raised from the very lands they tend to. It is about these men that José Saramago writes about in ‘Raised from the Ground’.

Skywatch Friday - Sunset and Moonrise

During our recent trip to Shimla, we had a wonderful view of the hills from our room at the resort at Mashobra. We enjoyed watching the shadows lengthen over the hills and valleys, day after day, and on one of these days, were treated to this spectacular sunset... and moonrise!

Bibi Ka Maqbara

Shahjahan built a monument for the love of his life – his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The monument has come to symbolize love over the centuries. His son, Aurangzeb considered his father’s love of luxury and opulence with contempt, and chose an all too simple lifestyle dedicated to his religious beliefs. It was probably inevitable, considering that years of decadence had seriously depleted the royal coffers. None of the rulers after Aurangzeb managed to make their mark on Indian history – neither with their conquests, nor with construction. One of the prime examples of this is the Bibi Ka Maqbara.

Wool

Skeins of wool.............. some set to be wound, some already wound, ready to be knit into sweaters, mufflers, socks or booties.... My fingers itched to pick up knitting needles again... craft something for Samhith... but when will I use them? Unless of course, next winter turns out to be just as cold as this one in Mumbai! 

Aurangzeb's Tomb

He was among the last of the powerful Mughal Emperors. He might not have been among the most popular, but for 49 years, he ruled over the bulk of the Indian Subcontinent. We remember him more today for the temples he razed and the mosques he built over them. And yet, we cannot but help lift an eyebrow in surprise and admiration when we learn that he refused to use the royal treasury at his disposal, choosing instead to knit caps and copy the Quran anonymously and use the proceeds from the sales for his personal expenses. Aurangzeb stands out from among the Mughal emperors in many ways – his fanatical zeal for Islam, his intolerance for all other religions, and above all, the simplicity of his lifestyle, which is reflected in his last resting place. The board informing us of the Emperor's tomb is mounted on a wall with peeling paint and old posters

Happy Sankranti / Pongal to one and all!!!

  இனிய பொங்கல் வாழ்த்துக்கள் तिळगुळ घ्या आणि गोड गोड बोला

Faces in the Crowd - Children

We were at Shegaon, offering our prayers at the samadhi of Shri Gajanan Maharaj, visiting the places related to his life....It is said that the saint first appeared near a Banyan tree, as a young man. It was under the very same banyan tree that I came across these children.

Book Review: The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai

When I was sent ‘The Artist of Disappearance’ for review, I was thrilled. I had heard and read so much about Anita Desai, but had never read any of her works. This was the book I chose to carry along on my trip to Shimla, and it was meant to give me company at least for a couple of days.

Skywatch Friday - Sun and Snow

When we arrived at Narkanda, the sun was high in the sky, and really bright. I cursed it at first, because I could hardly click a decent photo with the sun in my eyes....

Temples of Mahabaleshwar

The rain lashed at us, and the puny umbrella I was carrying was practically of no use. Once again I cursed myself for not carrying a raincoat, knowing well that I hated raincoats, and much preferred getting wet. It wasn’t getting wet that I really minded, but holding on to the umbrella and trying to walk. There were shops on either side, but most were closed. The few that were open offered us scanty protection from the rain, but at least I could concentrate on not slipping on the steps by walking under their awnings. We were walking towards a temple which is believed to be the origin of one of India’s great rivers, and, seeing the water flow beneath our feet, it was eminently believable!

Trees

On our recent journey to Chandigarh , we were the only passengers in our coach after most disembarked at Delhi. 

Ajanta Caves: Part 2

This is a continuation of my earlier post, so please read AjantaCaves : Part 1 , before reading further. I was most impressed by the Chaitya-grihas. 

Ajanta Caves : Part 1

We drive through winding roads, with nothing but thick forests all around us. Our destination is nowhere in sight. A stream meanders along, and here and there are bridges. The road and the bridges are the only signs of human activity.

Faces in the Crowd - Temple vendor at Nashik

One of my resolutions this year is to post as often as I can. And to make it a bit easier for myself, I have decided to use some of the photos I have clicked, but never used. And some of these photos are of complete strangers - people I saw and clicked on my travels, but people I know little about. Hence the title, Faces in the Crowd .... And here is the first one.....

Book Review : The Man before the Mahatma by Charles DiSalvio

Skywatch Friday - Mountains and Monuments

The best thing about Shimla is its colonial architecture, and the beautiful views of the surrounding Shivalik ranges and Himalayan peaks. Having just returned from a visit to the erstwhile summer capital of the country, I can't stop thinking of the beautiful views we woke up to, for a whole week. So, for Skywatch today is one such view... from the Mall at Shimla.

Grishneshwar Temple, Ellora

“Madam, itna jaldi jaake kya karoge? Mandir mein aapko kuch bhi nahin milega!”  ( Madam, why are you going so soon? You will find nothing in the temple now. ) were the words we heard from our driver as we drove to the Grishneshwar temple near Ellora. He had protested the day before, when we suggested leaving early, but we were adamant. We hadn’t come to Aurangabad to sleep or relax. We wanted to visit the temple and then head over to the Ellora caves and later, if possible, visit Daulatabad Fort before catching our train back to Mumbai. The driver didn’t seem to share our enthusiasm.

The last days of 2012

Over the last week , while I enjoyed one last vacation before the year came to a close, I wrote posts reminiscing about the year gone by... the places we visited, the events we attended. It is now time to move on into the new year and enjoy whatever it brings. I do not usually make New Year resolutions, but have one in mind this year.... to write more often. Last year, I travelled a lot.... almost every month! and sometimes more than once a month!!! I hope I get more opportunities for travel this year, but I also hope I can catch up with writing about all the places I have been to!!  However , before I move on to writing detailed travelogues,  there is one more post to add to "Memories of 2012" - Our Winter Vacation!

New Year Wishes

As you read this, I will be in the train, heading back home after my winter vacation. I thought a lot about what I should wish all of you, but there is no better way to put my thoughts down than this beautiful poem I found on the net....