Kaas Plateau : Valley Of Flowers

Kaas Plateau Valley of Flowers

Sometime in 2009, we were driving through rural Maharashtra searching for a location for a film shoot. Near Satara, along an unknown hill road, we noticed large patches full of yellow wildflowers. Pleasantly surprised by this phenomenon, we took photographs and moved on. Around 3/4 years later we learnt the location was Kaas Plateau and … Read more Kaas Plateau : Valley Of Flowers

Oh Berlin!

Perhaps one of the most culturally rich and significant cities of the world, Berlin has in many ways shaped a lot and gone through a lot as well. First documented in the 13th century, and founded at the crossing of two important trade routes, Berlin became the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg (1417-1701), Kingdom of Prussia (1701-1918), German Empire (1871-1918), Weimar Republic (1919-1933), and the Third Reich (1933-1945). It was bombed out in the World War II, split into two with a 96 mile long wall becoming a symbol of the Cold War, and then re-united, thereby symbolically ending the Cold War, and uniting a Germany split by Allied Powers after the World War II. It has now become the cultural (as well as political) capital of Germany, and perhaps an important one in the world as well, with its vibrant art, music, movies and startup scene.

When visiting Stuttgart, we were sure we wanted to visit Berlin as well. A big multicultural city, Berlin is also kind of artsy and hence a little bohemian. It is one of the largest startup capitals of Europe. There is a wide choice of food, music and party for every taste and budget.

What to do in Berlin?

We decided to stay in Berlin’s Mitte district in the hotel Lulu Guldsmeden located in a building made in 1850. The Mitte District is the first and oldest district of Berlin City. It encompasses the historic core of Berlin City and includes landmarks like the Museum Island, Reichstag, Potsdamer Platz, Alexander Platz, Berlin Hauptbanhof, Checkpoint Charlie (Berlin Wall), Brandenburg Gate, etc. Plus lots of nice cafes and restaurants. Because of its rich history and culture, we were sure this is where we wanted to stay.

What strikes you is the magnificent architecture and its sheer scale. The older buildings are like monuments, built carefully and with love. You cannot but help think of all that this wonderful city has gone through. During the second world war, the British dropped over 45,000 tonnes of bombs on Berlin, the Americans, around 25,000. A lot of the standing buildings were destroyed. At the end of the war, the city was split, the Berlin Wall built. But thankfully freedom and resilence shone through, the wall was brought down and Germany united once again!

Standing at the corner outside our hotel, our first views of Mitte in Berlin.

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Varanasi, An Ancient Spiritual City By The Ganges

Built in the 11th Century, Varanasi, also known as Benaras and Kashi, is the spiritual capital of India, and also of Hinduism. Established on the banks of the holy river Ganga, it gained further cultural significance in the 16th Century under the Mughal King Akbar, who heavily patronised the city and built two large temples … Read more Varanasi, An Ancient Spiritual City By The Ganges

Capturing San Francisco on Analogue!

San Francisco on Analogue Film

Shooting on analogue film remains a special and an immersive experience! Here we captured the streets of San Francisco, on the beauty of an expired film negative. Expired film can often surprise you, making your images edgy, giving it unexpected hues. Whatever the case, the images certainly look eternal! This Kodak Ektachrome, colour slide film, … Read more Capturing San Francisco on Analogue!

Tungareshwar : A Wildlife Sanctuary Near Mumbai

Grasshopper in Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary

That Mumbai lies at one end of the Western Ghats can be seen from the beautiful hills just outside this large mega-city. Barely 50-55km from Mumbai, after Sanjay Gandhi National Park ends lies the beautiful forest of Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. Located on the hills, the highest point here is about 660 metres. We had driven … Read more Tungareshwar : A Wildlife Sanctuary Near Mumbai

Sequoia National Park: In The Snow

Sequoia Tree Trunk

One of our main excitement for visiting Yosemite National Park was getting to see  the Giant Sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganticum). These beautiful trees can grow to over 300 feet in height and about 30 feet in diameter, making them the largest living things by volume! And they are only found in select groves (most of … Read more Sequoia National Park: In The Snow

Lone Pine, California : A Gorgeous Town In The Mountains

Serendipity plays a huge part in traveling, and perhaps that’s what leaves you with a good feeling after a travel. We discovered Lone Pine, California, out of sheer good luck. From Los Angeles we wanted to visit the Death Valley National Park. After much searching, we couldn’t find any place inside the park, since everything … Read more Lone Pine, California : A Gorgeous Town In The Mountains

Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, In The Rains

When we hear of the Koh-I-Noor ot Daria-I-Noor or the Hope Diamond, we probably associate these with diamonds, wealth, stories, mystery etc. But what’s common to all these famous diamonds is they were all mined arouind Golconda region. Golconda means round hill. This region was famous for its diamonds and as such a vibrant economy … Read more Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, In The Rains

A Day In Aurangabad : Bibi Ka Maqbara

With a few days off, and an itch to road trip in the rains, we decided on Aurangabad followed by Lonar. This is one stretch we hadn’t been to, and the time at hand perfectly enabled us to quickly freeze the plans and leave. Aurangabad is roughly 340 km from Mumbai (240 from Pune) and … Read more A Day In Aurangabad : Bibi Ka Maqbara

Viratnagar, Rajasthan : Steeped In History

During our grand Rajasthan road trip last year, we dropped by Viratnagar, a nondescript little town, which is so steeped in history that it deserves a special trip of its own. And while we are yet to make that trip, I am collecting my thoughts on this once glorious city, also known as Bairat. Bairat’s … Read more Viratnagar, Rajasthan : Steeped In History

Lonar : The Ancient Town

We completed our Lonar trip with a day spent in the town, exploring the Daitya Sudan Temple. The earlier two posts, about the Lonar Crater and the Lonar Crater Temples are also worth looking at. This ancient village/town has more to it than these two areas, and in our limited time, we tried to explore it.

Lonar is a tiny village/town in Maharashtra where, about 50,000 years ago, a giant meteor crashed into earth, creating a large circular lake of 1.4 km diameter, which has saline water. In the circumference of the lake are 10 ancient temples, perhaps from the 9th Century AD.

The Lonar MTDC Resort is the place to stay, although an old PWD Guesthouse is also available on prior notice. We recommened MTDC anytime, as here it was neat, clean and rather unoccupied.

The town has an ancient temple called ‘Daitya Sudan Mandir’. Legend has it, Lord Vishnu had killed a Daitya, Lavanasur, here. Next to the temple is a Bramha – Vishnu – Mahesh temple. The idol of Mahesh is missing and has been replaced by an idol of Garuda.

The temple of Daitya Sudan is considered a fine example of the Hemadpanthi style of architecture. The temple has three niches, each dedicated to Chamunda, Surya and Narasimha. Each niche feels like a complete temple in itself. The walls and ceilings of the temple are elaborately carved with various figurines depicting various scenes from the scriptures, scenes from everyday life and stories. Try and keep a day only for this temple.

Apart from the temple, we came across a fascinating ancient ‘step well’ from the times of the Chalukya Dynasty. Locally called the ‘Limbi Barav’, the well is in a state of dis-repair, but fenced by the Archaeological Society Of India. On each of the four walls is a niche for idols which are now missing. On the east side is a balconied pavilion. There are Saptamatrikas carved on the space inside the balcony, suggesting there must have been an idol of a goddess. These seven ‘mothers’ can be “Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshvari, Indrani, Kaumari, Varahi, Chamunda and Narasimhi.”

 

PWD Guesthouse Lonar
The old Public Works Department Guesthouse is located favourably overlooking the Lonar Lake.

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