With Corona Virus Around, When Should You Travel

Coronavirus Travel Advice: When should you travel again? The simple answer is, not until there is an affordable and accessible treatment and or vaccine available for a few months.

What is Corona Virus? There are many kinds of Corona Virus out there and when we get a cold and cough infection, about 20-30% of the time it could be some kind of Corona Virus. The one that is pandemic in the world right now has a new novel strain called SARS-Cov-2 and the disease it causes is called Covid19. Read the NYTimes article linked here to understand what it is and how bad it is. Although many people have recovered, (in fact a majority of people who got infected, recovered), Covid19 can be quite fatal for many people too.

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Ranthambhore Fort

One of the things that make Ranthambhore National Park so mesmerising is the backdrop of the majestic Ranthambhore Fort. So a visit to the fort is a must. As we entered the fort one evening, the sun was already down on the horizon, and we weren’t too sure of spending too much time inside. It looked just too ‘touristy’. Soon a local guide started following us, while we didn’t want him. After much negotiation, we agreed to let him ‘guide’ us through a tour of the fort. It turned out, as usual in such places, to be a good idea.

The Ranthambhore Fort has seen many ups and downs and our guide Lal Singh narrated them all, some fact, some legend. As we walked through the stone corridors, the large Pols (or doors), the narrow winding steps, the Badal Mahal, Hameer Palace etc, his stories enacted the scenes in our minds. We felt our blood boil at the back stabbing of Rana Hameer Singh, the heart saddened at the mass Jauhar of the fort women, we heard the footsteps of infantry, and the horses running up the stone steps.

From the Badal Mahal and the higher regions of the fort, we sat and soaked a commanding view of the Ranthambhore National Park and the Padam Talao. We imagined the tigers basking by the lake amidst the tall grass. We heard the Bulbuls sing, the Indian Robins chase flies in the bush. We wished we had come with more time.

Built around 944 AD at an altitude of 700 metres above the surrounding plains by the Nagil Jats, the fort was also known as Ranasthambha or Ranasthambhapura. There is a Buddhist Bharhut Stupa inside the fort. established around 3rd Century BC, by the Maurya King Ashoka. One of the pillars bears an inscription which reads:

Moragirihma Nāgilāyā bhikhuniya dānam thabho.

Meaning: ” Pillar-gift of the Nun Nagila of Moragiri.”

Moragiri mentioned here is a town in Satara district, Maharashtra. Thus Nagil clan was in existence during Ashoka’s period as followers of Buddhism. (From Wikipedia).

Over centuries the fort passed through the hands of many ruling dynasties. The majestic architecture and its history of the Ranthambhore Fort make it a must see in the small dusty town of Sawai Madhopur.

Guide Map of Ranthambhore Fort.
Guide Map of Ranthambhore Fort.

Ranthambhore Fort Steps and Chatri
The winding steps up the fort are designed very well to slow down an enemy assault.

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Jawhar, Maharashtra : Celebrating Dussera With The Tribals

Jawhar is a dusty little town in the Thane disctrict of Maharashtra. There is nothing much in the town itself, but we were pleasantly surprised to discover their Tribal Dussera Celebrations. Many tribes from the region get together at the town square in an all night dance and celebration in true tribal dress, music and … Read more Jawhar, Maharashtra : Celebrating Dussera With The Tribals

The Story of Todgarh

Nihal Mathur at Todgarh.
Nihal Mathur at Todgarh.

A guest post by the wonderful Nihal Mathur, the original travel writer, film maker, researcher, a great friend and a personal icon.

Todgarh is named after a British Lieutenant Colonel James Tod – who was born in Scotland in 1782. In 1799 he enrolled with the British East India Company and the following year – 1800 – he came to India as a Marine at an early age of 18. In 1801, he was selected as a survey officer. His great service was the scrupulous care with which he documented and mapped the entire regions now comprising Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.
But it was his long lasting relationship with Rajputana that earned him immortality. This country of Rajput Princes became in his own words “home of my adoption,” as he affectionately called it. And indeed, the best part of his life was enthusiastically and usefully devoted in Rajasthan where Tod collected materials on the history of the Rajput clans who ruled most of the area at that time. Tod’s work drew on local archives, Rajput traditional sources, and monuments and edicts.
In 1818 he was appointed political agent for the states of western Rajputana, where he conciliated the chieftains and settled their mutual feuds. As the Resident British officer in the state of Rajpotana he approached this task with sympathy and understanding for the Rajput princes, many of who remained his admirers and friends.
1819 In appreciation of his work in the Merwara Region, the Maharana of Udaipur renamed Barsawada, a village in his monarchy, as ‘Todgarh’. The name comes down to us today.

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Tarapur, Maharashtra

Tarapur is a sleepy little town/village some 45km north of Virar, near Mumbai. These images are from my FTII Diploma Film recce in the summer of 2005. A lot must have changed since then. The town was a narrow road with houses on both sides. Tarapur used to have a prominent Parsi population, which has dwindled since. The town has some very interesting and beautiful old houses. The major occupation at the time was making gold jewellery dies by hand. I had one of the best Parsi meals of my life at the Parsi Dharamshala in Tarapur. During the recce we had literally stayed in a garage kind of place called ‘Master Lodge’, where the bathroom had a water mug with baby scorpions under it. Another place I want to revisit.

Pink Temple in Tarapur, Maharashtra
A lovely pink Temple in Tarapur, Maharashtra

Tarapur, Maharashtra
Horse Cart in Tarapur, Maharashtra

Tarapur, Maharashtra
Lovely old homes in Tarapur, Maharashtra

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