All posts filed under: India

A Photo Essay of Madikeri, Coorg : 50 Shades of Green

Kodagu, popularly known as Coorg is a beautiful part of Karnataka that I visited last year. We stayed in a picturesque town called Madikeri, which is the district headquarters. Framed by the Western Ghats, Coorg is rich and diverse in its flora and fauna, as we experienced up close, through a walk into its rainforests as well as a hike to Nishani peak, organised by our hotel, Taj Madikeri. The Taj Madikeri is built in a stunning location, surrounded by 180 acres of rainforests on all sides. They organized a walk with Nitin Subbiah, a naturalist and our guide and we were intrigued with his deep knowledge of the many mysteries of the forest, the unique balance of nature, the many examples of the harmony that exists between the flora and fauna – from funnel web spiders that create their home and trap their prey, to strangler trees, wild elephants, exotic butterflies, mushrooming of spices and coffee, this was an incredible walk that was enjoyed across age groups (our group spanned three generations from age …

A Guided Walking Tour of Lodhi Art District with St+Art India

Early this year, I stumbled upon Instagram photos of some very striking wall murals in Delhi’s Lodhi Colony, and as I traced their origins, I learnt that they were part of a focused effort by an organization called St+Art India, a non-profit that aims to bring the art experience outside of a traditional gallery, into public spaces, thereby making it accessible to all. The Lodhi Art District, as it’s now getting popularly known, is their largest project so far. Outside of Delhi, the foundation has also beautified spaces in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore, with Chennai coming up next. When St+Art announced the walking tours for Delhi, I immediately signed up for a slot this October. The weather gets better and this would be a perfectly fine reason to walk around one of the most scenic parts of Delhi, with tons of art around. This is a paid tour, but of course you don’t really need to pay since this is an “open air museum”. I just thought it would be more fun in knowing the …

5 Unintentional Discoveries in Kutch

At one point in my life, I loved planning my trips to a T, but I have come to realise that a strict itinerary leaves very little room for spontaneity. There have been times when I have come back home feeling underwhelmed with my travels, largely due to excessive research and having a feeling of “seen it before”. So, sometime last year, I decided that whenever I traveled, I would keep certain aspects like transport and stay finalized before the trip. I could add an odd experience that may be harder to book on the spot. And I would leave the rest to be figured out once there. Interestingly, this has led to some amazing experiences that wouldn’t have happened if I was too caught up in “living my plan”. The internet is a great tool to find information and build your own travel plan yourself. But sometimes, knowing too much and trying to fit it all in takes away from the spirit of exploration and impulse. In Kutch, the top 2 things on my …

The Artists of Kutch

After the spectacular Rann of Kutch, the agenda was to station ourselves in Bhuj over a couple of days, explore the town as well as the artistic villages of Kutch. Our first stop was Nirona, made famous by PM Modi after he gifted a Rogan art painting created in this village, to then President Barrack Obama during his US visit in 2014. As we got down from the car, a swarm of school children, seemingly underwhelmed with new faces, walked past, waving and smiling. We decided to follow the crowd that had descended from a bus full of tourists, crossing a few narrow alleys and brightly painted doors framed with bougainvillea, and we ended up reaching the Khatri household, master craftsmen of the Rogan art. The art form is intriguing to observe, and the Khatri’s willingly give a live demo. We quickly seat ourselves on the plastic chairs and charpoy in the courtyard. Out comes a piece of fabric, and a round tray with many bowls holding the different colours of the paint, which is …

Setting foot on the Great Rann of Kutch

I looked outside the aircraft window, feeling optimistic and excited about the next few days. There were many things that still remained unfigured on my itinerary, but information online wasn’t extensive, and I had been too tied up this time to plan better. What resulted was an itinerary that left a lot of room for spontaneity, but I had a good feeling that it would all work out. Mainly because the part I was most interested in was already chalked out. And I wasn’t thinking of much else. Other than the Rann of Kutch. I landed in Ahmedabad, checked into the hotel and met up with the others in the group. For dinner, we decided to eat at the New Irani Restaurant in old city. It was fantastic food for the meat eaters with the lamb curry, mincemeat kebabs and biryani, not so much for the only vegetarian in the group who had to do with Rotis and Egg Bhurji. It was an uneventful evening and we decided to call it a night as the …

The pain of visiting an Indian hill station on a long weekend – experiences from Kasauli

The walk to town wasn’t a hard one, but it was different this time, and not in a positive way. My dream of enjoying a long, peaceful stroll in the hills was shattered with the constant blaring of horns and the long line of cars, leaving very little space for a pedestrian. Suddenly in the standstill traffic, I see a window roll down and out comes a hand throwing a plastic bag down the hilly slopes. I approached the mall road and the situation was worse. There were too many cars and not enough parking spots. The police tried to turn back the cars, but I saw that many drivers were unwilling to listen hence creating a bottleneck. I walked further to visit the shops I always do and get my supplies, but there was barely any space to walk around without getting jostled. A lot more restaurants had opened up. The shops were all full. Business was booming it seemed. The street was littered with plastic bottles, wrappers, cans and empty packets of chips. …

A perfect homestay at Naukuchiatal

It feels almost unreal that we are halfway into February, 2016 is moving a bit too fast, isn’t it? I had a wonderfully slow start to the year though, in the serene hills of Nainital, surrounded by friends, in a cozy hill cottage overlooking Naukuchiatal Lake. It was a New Year getaway but let me confess that I am not a big fan of celebrating the onset of another year. I find the whole thing overrated, especially in the cities, who you pay thousands for going to an overcrowded party, where the food and drinks suck big time, the service is disappointing, and you are likely surrounded by college kids getting hysterically drunk and throwing up before the clock strikes twelve. So, predictably, over the past few years, I have completely abstained from the whole Delhi party scene on NYE, preferring getting together at a friend’s place, or even better, going out of town if it’s a long weekend. This year, we found a cozy lake facing cottage in Naukuchiatal which seemed perfect for our …

A rustic retreat at Himalayan Village, Sonapani

I was weary with work, frustrated with the hustle of city life and craving some quiet time last week. And the soaring temperatures in Delhi were adding to my woes. All I wanted was to get away to somewhere, nowhere and just do nothing at all. Recharge my drained batteries. And what better way to do this than to retreat to the hills with my partner in crime, my sister 😛 Himalayan Village, Sonapani in Uttarakhand has been on my mind for some time, having heard wonderful reviews from many but somehow, it never materialized until now! So we packed our bags, took the train from Delhi to Kathgodam, and a two and a half hour (very snaky)cab ride later, we were at our destination. Himalayan Village I don’t really know how to define this place, it is not a hotel or a resort but more like a homestay. The owners Ashish and Deepa stay on the property, along with their two children Aru and Vanya, and a big mountain dog called Jhumroo(who I found mostly …

Hotel Review – The Asian Confluence, Shillong

I had a lot of expectations from Meghalaya before my visit this October and like I shared earlier, it turned out to be a mixed bag of sorts with some great experiences, some disastrous and a few borderline average. Anyway, our plan involved staying in Shillong and using it as a base to explore the Living Roots Bridges, Cherrapunji, Barapani and the likes. Every single review I read online mentioned staying in Police Bazaar where apparently all the action was. It was peak time and since we did not find any available hotel in this location, we booked ourselves in the relatively unknown (to the online world) Polo Bazaar. I thought, what the heck, how bad could it be? To put things bluntly, I hated it! The hotel in itself was okay but the view was horrible, noisy and far from what I had imagined. It seemed like such a waste to come this far and stay in such an uninspiring place. We decided to head out and try our luck at Police Bazaar again, and all I will …

A Unique Trek to the Long Living Roots Bridge, Cherrapunji

I had read many travelers rave about the fascinating “living roots” bridges in Meghalaya, grown naturally by the Khasi tribe from the roots of the Ficus Elastica tree. These bridges take decades to grow and are extremely strong and one of a kind in the world. This was enough to get me excited and go see what the fuss is all about 😉 So on a beautiful October afternoon in Meghalaya, me and my friends see out on this exploration. We had an option to choose between the Double Decker Living Roots bridge and the Long Living Roots Bridge – as the name suggests the Double Decker bridge is two bridges, one underneath the other and approximately 3200 steps one way from the starting point. The Long Bridge is a single bridge, about 1600 steps one way from the starting point and takes about two to three hours to complete. It was already afternoon, coming back in the dark seemed tough, and since everyone wasn’t in the mood for an extended trek, we decided to check out the Long Bridge. Truth …