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

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

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

Grass Roots Wayanad : A Stay Amidst The Jungles

Our whirlwind Wayanad trip was very pleasurably spent at the wonderful Grass Roots Camp at Koilery. Run by Ravi and Rachel, coffee planters, Grass Roots is set inside a small coffee, areca nut and pepper plantation and  has extremely comfortable tents with large luxurious bath rooms attached. The meals are fresh, and prepared with much love.  You can book a stay at Grass Roots from here.

Though the tents overlook old tea estates, and there are plenty of walks around, spending a lazy day in your tent is very rewarding. We spent half a day bird watching and managed to photograph so many.

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Not sure but looks like a Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae)

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Tranquebar : A Tranquil Getaway Near Puducherry

It’s interesting how you discover something while looking for something else. In Puducherry, while trying to figure out how to reach the Chettinad towns, we learnt about Tranquebar, a 17th century Danish fort settlement, barely 2-3 hours from where we were. Tranquebar (officially known as Tharangambadi) also afforded us a chance to visit the Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary that we were so interested in. So we drove from from Pondicherry to Tranquebar, a distance of 120 km and a great drive.

Tranquebar has a very old and interesting history. It was was part of the Chola and Pandya kingdoms. In the 15th century, under the Thanjavur King, Raghunath Nayak, Tranquebar was an important international trading port. The Danish, under a treaty with the King, built Fort Dansborg, overlooked by Danish Captain Ove Gjedde, to have better control over the trade (mainly exporting pepper from India). Slowly the Danish took over Tranquebar, which was taken over by the British in 1801, and again returned to the Danish in 1814, and finally purchased by the British (along with other Danish settlements in India) in 1845.

The Danish sent the first Protestant Missionaries to India, who set up the first printing press of India, and the New Testament was translated into Tamil, for the first time, in this town.

The town is full of old Danish architecture. We couldn’t find much of the old Indian heritage left, apart from The Masilamani Nathar temple. Was the local architecture not able to stand the test of time? Tranquebar faced a horrid Tsunami in December 2004, which destroyed a lot of heritage, including a bit of the temple. But the town has recovered and extensive efforts to restore the heritage are on.

Visit this town if you are interested in tranquility and heritage. There are, thankfully, no noisy pubs, no beaches stuffed with loud ‘tourists’, no restaurants, not yet.

The main choice of stay is the lovely Bungalow On The Beach, a Neemrana Property.

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Early morning at the Tranquebar Beach.
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The Dansborg Fort, right on the beach.

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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

Gulmohar Homestay : A Beautiful Home

In our quest to find quaint and quiet places, we discovered Gulmohar Homestay. Just on the outskirts of Nashik city, Gulmohar is a beautiful home amidst a private farm. Large swaying trees, singing birds and many beautiful flowers surround the home run by Vinod and Kamala Parekh, along with their son Sumit and his wife Anjali. The rooms are spacious and clean, and the food delicious. Plus the loving family makes for great company.

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Kamala and Vinod Parekh are a lovely couple and make for engaging conversations.

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Majestic Aravallis: Road tripping in Rajasthan!

It is a great joy to take a driving holiday. You get to see and experience more of the land. And it is especially exciting when you are driving through Rajasthan. So we soaked the sun through our winter drive in Rajasthan around the majestic Aravalli Mountains, moving from Uaipur – Deogarh – Todgarh – … Read more

A trek through Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary

Many people tell stories of their glorious wonderful treks through stunning landscape. Well, this is the story of a completely different type. While staying at the Blue Mormon Resort at Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary, the hotel staff told us we could go for a moderate trek though the forest. They said we could find guides near … Read more

Champaner : A World Heritage Site

We took half a day off at Jambughoda Palace to visit the nearby Champaner World Heritage Site. It’s some 25km from the Palace and the drive is one of the most beautiful I have had in Gujarat. Clean winding road with Jambughoda Forest on either side. At Champaner, we visited Professor Ghanshyam Joshi, who has … Read more