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!

Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco : Still Vibrant, Still Mesmerising, Still Love

Haight – Ashbury was the epicenter of the 1967 Summer Of Love, a large movement in which more than 100,000 people, mostly young, sporting ‘hippie’ costumes and hairdos, converged here. Also known as Hashbury, this area became the centre of the alternative culture, where people rejected materialism, were suspicious of the government, did not support … Read more Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco : Still Vibrant, Still Mesmerising, Still Love

Oakland : The Art Hub Of The West

It is said that Oakland, California has the highest concentration of artists in America, and hence known as The Art Hub of The West. With a vibrant arts scene, this city is a must visit for lovers of the arts. Situated across the river from San Francisco, Oakland is only a BART train and a … Read more Oakland : The Art Hub Of The West

San Francisco : The City To Fall In Love With

What makes a city interesting? History, culture and the arts. San Francisco, also fondly called Frisco or San Fran has a rich history and a culture that gave birth to the flower power of the 70s. San Francisco is the cultural, commercial and financial centre of Northern California. It was founded on June 29, 1776 … Read more San Francisco : The City To Fall In Love With

Ellora Caves : A Marvel of Sculpture Art

Our drive to Aurangabad was combined with a visit to the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. I had only read of these magnificent monastery/temple complexes in school, and when an opportunity came up to travel to Aurangabad, we were thrilled to be able to visit these UNESCO world heritage sites, which have become of the top … Read more Ellora Caves : A Marvel of Sculpture Art

Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad : UNESCO World Heritage Site

I had always wondered why ancient Indian art was almost entirely sculpture and architecture and so little painting. An August trip to Ajanta Caves changed the belief completely. Located 100km from Aurangabad, Ajanta Caves are one of the finest remains of ancient Buddhist art, and it is said these cave frescos influenced many later paintings … Read more Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad : UNESCO World Heritage Site

Kaza : Key, Kibber and Langza

In the end of October 2016, we had driven down to Spiti Valley from Mumbai. We went through Jaipur – Chandigarh – Sarahan – Sangla – Nako and finally we reached Kaza. Most of the Spiti Valley is a high altitude cold desert, and as such water is scarce and so is the vegetation. And in … Read more Kaza : Key, Kibber and Langza

Sangla to Nako To Kaza: The Roadtrip Continues

Road to Kaza, Himachal Pradesh

Recap: We undertook this monumental road trip from Mumbai towards Spiti Valley at the end of October, 2016. Stops included Udaipur, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Sarahan and Sangla.

Our hosts at Sangla told us it was possible to reach Kaza the same day. So onward we left and wanted to halt for breakfast around Kalpa. But around breakfast time, I was stuck with a bout of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Nausea took over and I had to give up the driving seat. The sickness made me lose my appetite but we managed to get some khichdi, some of which I ate and mostly we packed for the onward journey.

But soon we realised that mountain roads aren’t to be taken lightly. From Pooh the road was just a gravel trail, winding around the mountains. My AMS got worse, and to add to it all, we got stuck at a major land slide. For over two and a half hours, we had to wait it out while earth moving equiopment from BRO (Border Roads Organisation) cleared the roads ahead. While we waited, the strong cool breeze blew stones at the car. It’s apprently quite common here, flying stones. The packed khichdi came in handy as we were stuck around lunch time and all were starving. Finally when the road was cleared, it was getting late. The entire stretch of road ahead was nothing but gravel which slowed us down considerably.

It was getting dark so we decided to noit move towards Kaza but halt at Nako, with the hope of staying over at Knaygoh Kinner Camps. We drove into the town at dark (must be around 7 pm) and asked a shopkeeper directions towards the Knaygoh Camps. A kind looking gentleman standing there asked us if we had a booking. We said no, and he nodded his head saying the camps have been shut for winters, and he owns the camps! He told us we shouldn’t have come at this time of the year, and especially without bookings in place!

Important lesson : In the mountains we had mistakenly hoped we could cover plain level distances in one day. We realised it was hopeless to try and cover Sangla to Kaza in one day. We had advance bookings for hotel stay in Kaza but not in Nako.

Shanta Kumar Negi of Knaygoh Kinner Camps kindly helped us look for alternative accommodation, which we found very unsuitable. It was a truckers’ lodge and honestly, looked very very run down. We have stayed at extremely modest places but this was too much. Meanwhile it was getting colder with a biting breeze blowing. After about an hour of talking, discussing, we managed to get one room only (for all five of us) in a guest house’s semi-basement. It looked good enough and we jumped on it, tired and hungry.

Since we had come off-season, there were no restaurants serving dinner. Everything was shut. The guest house kitchen was taken over by a very large and very loud family who were hell bent on cooking something exotic and time consuming for themselves on the kitchen’s lone stove. We managed to convince the over worked cook at the tiny restaurant in the truckers’ lodge to cook something simple for us. And he did, some delicious thukpa and noodles.

The night four of us shared one double bed while I, still sick with AMS, took a tiny cot on the side. It was tough, but fun!

The morning was sunny but cold. We woke up to see the guest house packing it’s gas stove. End of season.We chatted with another couple on a bike trip from Dharamshala, and told us how they slipped on the ice sheet near Nako Lake. I was too AMSd out to try the walk till the lake.

The truckers’ lodge cook made us simple dal, parathas and eggs. Remembering the last day’s land slide, we packed enough parathas for the road ahead. Shanta told us we could read Kaza the same day but should still keep a backup in Tabo. So off we left at around 9am.

The road head was generally fine but deteriorated near Sumdoh. We slowed down again. At around 2pm wew reached Tabo, only to realise everything was shut there as well. We wouldn’t find food too. The home stay that Shanta had suggested in Tabo had it’s water freeze in the pipes so it was shut too. We had no choice but to move ahead towards Kaza. It was already around 2:30, Kaza a good 50 km away. It would be a breeze if the roads were good, but not being sure, we left quickly, only to take a brief stop for our packed parathas by the Spiti River.

On the way towards Kaza, we passed Dhankar, and could see the lovely monastery on the hill. Tomorrow, we told ourselves, and drove on. We reached Kaza by around 6pm.

Sangla valley Road Skoda Yeti
Parts of the journey had pretty good roads.
Sangla valley
That road down there goes right next to the Spiti River.
Spiti Valley Village
Passing through pretty villages like this one, with trees that have turned yellow for the winters.
Nako, Himachal Pradesh.
This is Nako. A high altitude arid region. Please be respectful of the resources here.
Nako, Himachal Pradesh
The hills have been stepped for cultivation in the short summer months.

Read moreSangla to Nako To Kaza: The Roadtrip Continues

Nashik, Holy City : What To See

Nashik Hanuman Temple

Nashik is often called Dakshin Kashi, and is one of the holiest cities for Hindus. It has plenty of such attractions, so a visit to this beautiful city must include the following:

Trimbakeshwar Temple : Situated 30km west of Nashik, it contains one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, making it one of the holiest temples in India. The nearby Brahmagiri Hill is from where the holy river Godavari starts.

Sundanarayan Temple : On the elevated west bank of Godavari, this ancient temple has ancient carvings of Hanuman, Narayana and Indra.

Kumbh Mela : The largest religious gathering of humans in the world, Kumbh Mela comes to Nashik once every 12 years.

Kalaram Mandir : Built in 1782 by Sardar Odhekar of Peshwa, this temple has a black carving of Lord Ram, hence the name. There are plenty of gatherings and festivities during Ramanavami, Dussehra and Chaitra Padwa.

Pandavlene Caves : Around 8km away from Nashik, on the Mumbai – Nashik Highway is a group of 24 rock cut Hinayana Buddhist caves dating from around 1st Century BC. Elaborately carved out of rock, these are a must see. Around the caves is a small nature reserve and worth a walk.

Read moreNashik, Holy City : What To See

Kolkata : A Charming City Full Of Heritage

It’s difficult to cover Kolkata’s rich heritage in a blog post, but in a series of posts we shall try and cover what’s possible. Kolkata, spelt as Calcutta till recently, was the Capital of India for over 200 years, till 1911. As such, the city is steeped in history, architecture, culture, museums, libraries, universities, theatre … Read more Kolkata : A Charming City Full Of Heritage