• 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…

  • Views of the Indian Ocean from the ramparts at Galle Fort
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    Postcards from Galle Fort

    If there is one place where you can see the rise and fall of western empires, it must be Galle in Sri Lanka. And nothing encapsulates that better than Galle Fort. View of the Galle Clock Tower from the Moon Bastion It was originally built by the Portuguese in 1588. Then along came the Dutch who fortified it further from 1649. The British, not wishing to be left behind, went about with their own modification from 1796. It was finally the Sri Lankans who, immediately after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, went about restoring it to its present glory. Views of the town within the walls of Galle Fort Today,…

  • The SeaGlass Carousel
    America,  Blog,  Travelogue,  USA

    Battery Park City – not your usual park

    When it comes to parks in NYC, most visitors have Central Park in mind. And that’s where they’ll head. However, a short subway ride to downtown Manhattan brings you to another world that’s far removed from the ‘glamour’ of Central Park. Battery Park City. View of New Jersey City Battery Park City is different from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city. Surprisingly, it also offers a lot for a visitor or even a resident of NYC. In fact, if you’re too lazy to walk to the ferry terminals to take the ferry and say hello to the Statue of Liberty and understand what Ellis Island 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…

  • Live Oak Brewing Co logo
    America,  Blog,  Resources,  Reviews,  Travelogue,  USA

    Relax at Live Oak Brewing Co’s Taproom

    If you are looking to try out some great food, drinks and music, then I’m not sure if there are too many places that beat Austin, Texas. Sure, I missed out on the music. So, I won’t comment on that. But the food and drinks are something else altogether. Selection of beers for the day A few years ago, when visiting a friend’s mom there, we decided to go check out a craft brewery. Without having done any research, I was at a loss, trying to figure out the best place where we could head. Thankfully, our host knew of a couple of places. Outdoor picnic table and benches with…

  • 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,…

  • Centimetre VII
    Austria,  Blog,  Europe,  Resources,  Reviews,  Travelogue

    Vienna’s friendliest bartender is at Centimetre VII

    The next time you are in Vienna Austria, why not take time off your sightseeing and make a trip to Centimetre VII. Once there, find yourself a comfortable table with a view, or sit at the bar, order your favourite pint and get down to feeling right at home. A customer sits by himself enjoying his lunch at Centimetre VII Vienna That’s what we did when we were in Vienna. On our first full day in the city, we found ourselves outside Alser Strasse Station. As we tried to figure out how to reach our first destination for the day, figuring whether we go north, south, east or west, something…

  • 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…