Badami : The Marvelous Cave Temple Art

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We had never planned on visiting Badami. In fact we were in Hampi and while returning, we decided to give Badami a quick look. But Badami turned out to better our expectations. The capital of the 6th Century Chalukya Dynasty, Badami is famous for its rock cut temples in the cliffs of red sandstone that … Read more Badami : The Marvelous Cave Temple Art

Vishrambaug Wada : The Magnificent Heritage of Pune

It’s always so inspiring to walk through the lanes of old cities and discover countless heritage structures and tonnes of history. Pune is one such city and having been the seat of the Maratha empire, was the political centre of the Indian subcontinent in the 18th Century. It thus has plenty of history and heritage to offer. Pune is  considered the cultural capital of Maharashtra. And in one congested lane of old Pune, Morale Bajirao Road, lies the magnificent Vishrambaug Wada.

Vishrambaug Wada was built in 1807 AD and took some six years to complete construction. Bajirao II preferred this Wada to the Shaniwar Wada and stayed here for over 11 years after which he was arrested by the British and detained at Bithur near Kanpur. (Subsequently the Brits took over Pune).

In 1821 a Sanskrit school was started at Vishrambaug Wada. Government Engineering College, Deccan College and Pune University and Agricultural College all started out in these premises. In 1930 the Pune Municipal Corporation bought the property from the British Government for a sum of about a lakh of rupees and the PMC operated out of this building till about 2003. Now the PMC has undertaken a restoration of the Wada under the Heritage Corridor Plan.

Since we had reached in the evening in thinning light, and much of the Vishrambaug Wada is under renovation, we couldn’t shoot more pictures.

Pune Market
The lanes around the market comprise Old Pune, and have bustling markets in them.
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Stepping inside Vishrambaug Wada one sees the wonderful architecture and woodwork.

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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

Pondicherry : A Gorgeous Town Full Of Heritage Beauty

After a beautiful road trip from Mumbai, we reached our destination, Pondicherry, also known as Puducherry. Although we were here for work, we always wanted to visit this beautiful old town, full of heritage buildings, spirituality, art, food and culture. And Pondicherry didn’t let us down even one bit. Here’s a bit of what to see in Pondicherry.

Pondicherry, officially known as Puducherry, is a city in the Union Territory of Puducherry. It’s a coastal town in the state of Tamil Nadu. Since Pondicherry was once a French colony, the city has a strong French influence over architecture, art, culture, food and also language. The streets still have French names like Rue Damas etc.

We stayed at the Hotel De Pondicherry, an old colonial era building, which has a great restaurant as well as promixity to the beach.

There’s plenty to do in this lovely city, after you have had your ample naps and relaxations! You could go for walks in its streets, hang around in lovely cafes, go for art galleries, shop around, visit one of the many museums or monuments, there are some old and beautiful temples and churches, or try the wonderful food. You could also visit one of the many Aurobindo centres, some for meditation, some have excellent libraries and they also make a wide range of hand-made paper.

Puducherry is distinctively divided into White Town and, well, the rest of it. White Town is where all the colonial heritage beauty is. If you want to stay in Pondicherry, do ensure you stay inside White Town (unless you want otherwise). The other part of town is like any other congested Indian city.

What to do in Pondicherry: Go for walks, visit musuems, libraries, read books, take long naps in the hot afternoons, hang out at cafes and art galleries, shop, and eat wonderful food.

Also go visit Aurobindo Ashram. They have libraries, hand made paper stores, meditation centres etc.
Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple
is an ancient temple, built before 1666AD.
Visit the Basilica of Sacred Heart Of Jesus, a fine example of Oriental Gothic Architecture.
The Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges (The Church of Our Lady of Angels), in Rue Dumas, is notable for its masonry – which uses the finest of limestone mixed with white of the egg – making for a texture identical to that of white marble. Visit this Church at around 5:30pm to catch some awesome light coming in through its ceiling dome stained glass.
The Cathedral Of Our Lady Of Immaculate Conception was built around 1692 AD. Do visit.
Meeran Mosque is the oldest Mosque in Puducherry, built over 350 years ago. We couldn’t see it, but try and do.

Do visit the Pondicherry Museum. They have a fantastic collection of the history around this region.

Do go for evening walks on the Beach Road Promenade.

Nearby: You can visit Auroville, hardly 10km from Pondicherry. If you want to see their meditation theatre, you must book in advance. Auroville has wonderful landscape, libraries, cafes, meditation centres, places to stay etc. You could also book a place to stay in lieu of voluntary service. Check for these at Auroville.

Tranquebar, about 4hours’ drive from Puducherry / Pondicherry to Tranquebar is a wonderful 17th Centure Danish fort town.

Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary is roughly 4.5 hours from Puducherry and has blackbucks, wolves, many species of resident and migratory birds. There is also the Ousteri Wetland and National Park, which is essentially a bird sanctuary but also has many marine species. It’s some 10km from Puducherry.

Arikamedu is an ancient archaeological site with remains of a Roman settlement. It’s about 7 km from Puducherry.

Where to stay and what to eat? : There’s plenty. We are writing another post for that!

We stayed at the lovely Hotel De Pondicherry
We stayed at the lovely Hotel De Pondicherry
Pondicherry street.
The beautiful streets of Pondicherry are worth many a walk.

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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 Champaner : A World Heritage Site

Bhor Rajwada, Maharashtra

In one of our drives, we were passing through a small town and couldn’t help but stop at the sight of a large and beautiful palace. We found out this was the Rajwada of Bhor. The town of Bhor (once a princely state) is located some 51 km south of Pune, close to the Bhatgar … Read more Bhor Rajwada, Maharashtra

Murud Janjira

Update: I had first visited Murud Janjira about 10 years ago. I had experienced a beautiful drive by the sea, which is now gone, and sadly the sea side has been bought over and converted into private properties. I am updating this articles with some new photos.

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The Nawab’s Palace at Murud Janjira.
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The beautiful seals at the palace gates.
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This beautiful corve of the road retains its excitement event after 10 years…
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One of the buildings inside the palace compounds. Probably was servant quarters or something like that.
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An old school inside the town of Murud Janjira.
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The Murud Janjira Court. This tiny town is packed with history and has plenty of architectural heritage. I need to make another trip, this time, with plenty of time.

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Sinhagad Fort near Pune

Sinhagad Fort is easily accessible from Pune by road. The best seasons are monsoons and winters. There is a parking lot at the top where one can safely park the car and then explore the fort ruins by foot. As with most popular destinations, avoid the weekends. You get some of the most amazing bhajji … Read more Sinhagad Fort near Pune