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Showing posts from July, 2014

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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

Fort Kochi - Part 6 : Mattanchery Palace

The Mattancherry Jetty was busy, crowded, and lined with shops. A horde of tourists had just arrived, and amidst all the chaos, we couldn’t figure out where was the palace. It was our auto driver who pointed out the arched doorway, urging us out, obviously in a hurry to be paid and find his next customer. Walking inside, the first thing we saw was the temple of Pazhayannur Bhagavathy, and we wondered once again, if we were indeed at the right place. Thankfully, an ASI board pointed us to the staircase, which led us up to the first floor, where a wearied looking caretaker sold us tickets to visit the palace, which is now a museum.

Cheraman Juma Masjid - The First Mosque built in India

Eid Mubarak!! On the occasion of Eid, I take a break from my Fort Kochi posts to bring you something special, just for this occasion – an account of my visit to the first ever mosque to be built in India!

Fort Kochi - Part 5: The Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica

On the outside, it is a grand, Gothic structure, resplendent in its whiteness. 

Fort Kochi - Part 4: St. Francis Church - the Beginning of European History in India

A busload of tourists filled the church. While few knelt to pray, most just sat and looked around, and almost everyone clicked photos from their camera/phone. 

Fort Kochi - Part 3: Indo Portuguese Museum

At first sight , it is just one among the many grand houses lining the road. It is an unassuming structure, which gives no hint of the treasures displayed within. From intricately carved teak wood altars, to silver plated crosses, remnants of an old fort, to recovered bits of ancient churches – the Indo Portuguese Museum at Fort Kochi has all these and more! Can you see that structure where the car is parked? That is the museum. Doesn't look like one, does it? 

Fort Kochi - Part 2: Chinese Fishing Nets

“Go see the Chinese Fishing Nets” was what almost everyone told me, the minute I said I was going to Cochin! And why not! These nets are seen only in and around Cochin, and are a prime tourist attraction. Even the auto driver we hired to show us the sights was more enthusiastic about them than he was about the museums and art galleries I wanted to visit!

Fort Kochi - Part 1: First Impressions

What do you do when you visit a place for the first time? Do extensive research, or go unprepared, ready to be surprised? I chose the latter on my visit to Fort Kochi this summer, and within a day, I was so enchanted, I wished I could spend more time there! My experiences were too varied to fit into one post, so this is going to be a series... and here is the first one….

Birds From my Window - White Breasted Water Hen

Now that the monsoons are finally here, our regular monsoon visitor is back too.. the White Breasted Water Hen. This lone bird seems to appear and disappear with the monsoons each year, and I have often wondered where it goes off during the dry months. It is quite a shy bird too, which scuttles into the bushes at the slightest disturbance. It is called पाण कोंबड़ी in Marathi, and appears to be a common bird, though I have only seen it in the monsoons!  I live in Mumbai, in a colony lucky enough to still have plenty of trees and open spaces. The best part of living here are the birds I see from my window, every single day. "Birds from my Window" is a series, where I regularly feature photos of birds I see from my home. To see all the posts in this series,  click here . 

Old Magazine House, Ganeshgudi - a Birdwatchers' Paradise!

“I have never seen so many cameras at once!” was my first thought as I entered the Old Magazine House at Ganeshgudi, near Dandeli. I already knew of Ganeshgudi as a haunt of ardent birdwatchers, but even that hadn’t prepared me for their cameras or the size of the telescopic lenses which greeted us on our arrival! I wondered if I would be able to see any birds with my humble camera, and if I would even be able to take it out amidst such magnificent specimens! As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. While most of the ardent birding enthusiasts were indeed focused on getting the perfect images, there were enough birds around for us to see, and close enough for even me to get some decent clicks! However, the best part of Ganeshgudi was that we didn’t have to go to see the birds – they came to us! All we had to do was sit quietly and observe!