• Tibetan prayer flags that adorn Boudhanath Stupa
    Asia,  Blog,  Nepal,  Travelogue

    Boudhanath Stupa – the great tower

    As the plane takes a turn and starts its decent through Kathmandu valley, peer a little through the window on the left hand side and you will see a huge circular dome, with two large eyes intently watching you as you watch it. This is Boudhanath Stupa. The eyes of Buddha at Boudhanath Stupa Nepalis refer to it as simply Chorten Chenpo, which translates to ‘Great Tower’ or simply ‘Great Stupa’. Towering at 36m high, it is one of the largest stupas in the world. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, since 1979. An incense burner As you leave the hustle and bustle of the busy road behind,…

  • Bhairava Nath temple
    Asia,  Blog,  Nepal,  Travelogue

    Bhaktapur – the city of devotees

    As the minibus gets out of Kathmandu city and weaves its way through heavy traffic to Bhaktapur, you know you are journeying back in time. And long before you reach your destination, the first sights that catch your eye is the rooftop of the magnificent Nyatapola Temple. Narrow alleys inside Bhaktapur Immerse yourself in culture Depending on who you speak with, Bhaktapur or Khwopa, is known variously as the City of Culture, Living Heritage, Nepal’s Cultural Gem, An open museum and City of Devotees. There is a reason why it would have so many names. With its great architecture, detailed woodcarvings and intricately designed statues, the Malla dynasty did well…

  • Thiksey Monastery with the Indus Valley plains below
    Asia,  Blog,  India,  Travelogue

    Thiksey Monastery – Kingdom in the sky

    Perched on an outcrop, at an altitude of 3,600m and approximately 18km from Leh, on the highway to Manali, is a place so unique, it is like a kingdom onto itself. This is Thiksey Monastery or Thikse Gomba. The mountains of Leh A bit of history In the early part of the 15th century, Je Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelug School or Yellow Hats, sent six of his disciples to remote regions of Tibet to spread the teachings of the new school. Tsongkhapa gave one of his disciples, Jangsem Sherab Zangpo, a small statue of Amitayus and directed him to meet the King of Ladakh seeking his help. The King…

  • A boatman gets his boat ready for the day
    Asia,  Blog,  India,  Travelogue

    Break of dawn at Manmandir Ghat

    There’s something magical about rivers. Silent and serene most of the times, and yet devastatingly powerful when they choose. The Ganges, especially when you are in Varanasi, is one of them. The best time to gaze at its beauty is early in the morning, just before the sun rises, from any of the 85 ghats that dot the bank. Steps leading to a small temple The highlights of a visit to Kashinath temple is to make it for the first aarti, or prayer offering. It’s offered before the sun rises, between 3 and 4 am every day. However, you need to be there much before that, as there normally is…

  • Fishing on the Umngot River
    Asia,  Blog,  India,  Travelogue

    Discover a gem in Meghalaya

    Hidden away in the southern tip of Meghalaya, around 100 km from the Shillong and barely 2 km from the international border with Bangladesh, is a picturesque town with lush greenery, crystal clear waters and clean air that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere. That town is Dawki. View of Umngot River Dawki (Duki or Dauki) has the only direct road route that connects it with Bangladesh, and initially served as a trading town between the two countries. In fact, Dawki is well known for its coal mines and limestone exports. An elderly local woman Crystal-clear waters of the Umngot River However, of late, several visitors have discovered its…

  • Pangong Tso in all its glory
    Asia,  Blog,  India,  Travelogue

    Shadow under the clouds

    How often do you see a photograph of a place and think you’re looking at a painting so life-like, it just doesn’t feel real. That’s the effect that Pangong Tso had on me when I would see photographs in magazines. Pangong Tso with the strip of land where the movie ‘3 Idiots’ was shot And then, years later, as I laughed through a Hindi movie set in this stunning locale, with a landscape that is so rich and still so different, I was still trying to convince myself that is isn’t real, but just an elaborate film set. Idiot that I was, I should have known better. The road to…

  • Nighttime at Muttrah Souq
    Asia,  Blog,  Oman,  Travelogue

    Arabian fantasies

    Whether you like it or not, in a mood to bargain over a souvenir or just do a bit of window shopping, claustrophobic or comfortable in a crowd, a visit to a souq is an absolute must. Especially when you travel to some of the Middle East and Levant countries. Traditional lanterns hang on the ceiling It’s the same when it comes to Muscat, Oman. And one of the best places to experience it is in Muttrah Souq. It’s also called Al Dhalam by the locals, which translates to Market of Darkness. That’s because there’s no natural light that comes through. Frankincense burning in a shop For a first-time visitor,…

  • Asia,  Blog,  India,  Travelogue

    Bara Bazar

    Going to a market isn’t among my favourite things. However, at the insistence of a friend I was staying with, we headed to Iewduh, the local market in Shillong one early morning. We needed to buy grocery supplies to feed over 100 guests at his residence that evening. A crowded alley in the market Turns out Iewduh (pronounced yyoh-dohh), or Bara Bazar as it is popularly known as, is one of the oldest and biggest markets in the Northeast in India. It’s also one of the most cramped markets I’ve been too. Too bad if you’re claustrophobic. Even worse if you get lost. Finding your way to that exact same…

  • Discarded Toyota Land Cruiser J series
    Asia,  Blog,  Oman,  Travelogue

    The legend’s graveyard

    Driving through the highways in Oman, there’s one sight that you’re sure to see, time after time. A Toyota Land Cruiser J series. Beaten. Rusty. Or spanking new. And still cruising. Two Toyota Land Cruiser J series pickups resting while their drivers take a break. Am not sure why, but the 2-door SUV and the 2-door pickup seem to be a favourite vehicle of choice for many Omanis, and especially fishermen by the coast. On any day, you can spot several of them rumbling along the highway, desert roads and along the beaches in varying condition. Shiny brand new, or rusted and beaten down, they all seem to keep going…

  • Main entrance to the Museum of Ethnology Hanoi
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    Museum of Ethnology

    The country’s biggest ethnic group may be the Viets – around 86% of the population. To understand more about the rest of the ethnic group, you would need to visit the furthest corners of Vietnam. Or, you could simply head to the Museum of Ethnology. Example of Hmong House An introduction A proposal to set up the museum was first approved on the 14th of December 1987. Constructed continued for a little under eight years, when on the 12th of November 1997, it opened its doors to the public. Sitting on a 10-acre property, about 8 km outside Hanoi, the exhibition building, in the shape of a Dong Son drum,…