• Sigiriya Rock from Pidurangala Rock
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    The attempt on Pidurangala Rock

    I travelled to Sri Lanka for the second time over the New Year holidays. This time instead of the coast, I opted to explore the wonders of the interior – Kandy, Ella, Dambulla and on to Sigiriya. The initial stairs leading up to the top of the rock (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) Like everyone else, I initially Googled best things to see in Kandy, Sri Lanka and ‘Sigiriya Rock’ came up on every list. Hardly surprising, as Sigiriya Rock or ‘Lion Rock’ is one of the island’s most revered and popular destinations. It may seem to be a large rock formation at first, but it is much more. The rock…

  • Passing through the tea estates on the way to Ella
    Africa,  Asia,  Austria,  Blog,  Bosnia and Herzegovina,  China,  Croatia,  Czech Republic,  Europe,  Hungary,  India,  Morocco,  Norway,  Romania,  Slovakia,  Slovenia,  Sri Lanka,  Sweden,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    In praise of train travel

    What’s it about long-distance train journeys that brings out the little child in me. A sense of happiness each time I take my seat, listening to the train as it whistles past towns and the countryside. Hurtling through tunnels or racing with the setting sun. There is something that is magical and wonderful about train travel, letting me be the little kid that I always will be. Whizzing through a tunnel between Mostar and Sarajevo Hours spent watching from a window or door of a moving train, as scene after scene unfold. Striking up conversations with complete strangers as they get in at different stations, heading to places near and…

  • The sand dunes of Hunder
    Asia,  Blog,  India,  Travelogue

    The sand dunes of Hunder

    When you visualise deserts, chances are the first visuals that come to mind is the vast emptiness of the Sahara, with its extremely hot temperatures, or closer here in India, the famed Thar desert. Until I ended up in Hunder, in the Nubra valley. An oasis in the midst of the sand dunes I’ve seen plenty of photographs and friends recount their experiences travelling through an area marked by a stunning lake, beautiful monastaries and mountains that simply take your breath away. Sand dunes with the mountains as backdrop However, nothing prepared me for what I experienced in Hunder, about 150 odd kilometers from the capital Leh. Nestled within the…

  • Sri Kailasanathar Swamy Devasthanam
    Asia,  Blog,  Sri Lanka,  Travelogue

    A splash of colour with your prayers

    It’s Colombo’s oldest Hindu temple, having stood on these very grounds for more than two centuries. It’s also one of the most beautiful and colourful temples you will see. This is Sri Kailasanathar Swamy Devasthanam. Entrance to the temple (Photo credit: Neel Mitra) The first time I remember seeing colourful temples was when I was travelling through the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a kid. The, many years later, on visits to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, I did see the local temples there, making for a beautiful mental picture with their bright colours against the blue sky. Until I landed in Colombo. A statue of Ganesh adorns part…

  • View of the bridge with the academy in the background
    Blog,  Bosnia and Herzegovina,  Europe,  Travelogue

    Make haste slowly

    It measures 38m long, has an unusual loop that runs right in the middle and best of all, is designed by three students. Go take a walk on the Festine Lente in Sarajevo. View of Festine Lente bridge I was looking for the Latin Bridge. The same bridge that brought Sarajevo into the limelight and had the whole world at war with itself in 1914. Not like it is hard to find. On a good day, expect to see curious tourists milling around the bridge and the building wall close by. Surprisingly, it was this other pedestrian bridge that caught my fancy. The Festine Lente, or looping bridge. It translates…

  • Plaza dancing outside a shopping mall in Shanghai
    Asia,  Blog,  China,  Travelogue

    Plaza dancing

    A walk through the streets of Shanghai can throw up a lot of surprises, especially in the suburbs, away from the main tourist areas. Like an open-air dance session in full flow in a public sidewalk. Shoppers on the streets of Shanghai I frankly didn’t know they have a term for it – Guang Chang Wu. It’s also called plaza dancing or public square dancing and has been very popular among the middle-aged throughout China since the 1990s. Public square dancing The routine is simple. The neighbourhood gather around at a park or, in this case, a large public sidewalk, and dance through well-choreographed routines as music plays in the…

  • The Sea-to-Sky corridor
    America,  Blog,  Canada,  Travelogue

    From the sea to the sky

    Often, the journey is a lot more interesting, and beautiful, than the destination itself. One such journey is the legendary Sea-to-Sky corridor. Views of Howe Sound on the Sea-to-Sky corridor Chances are, if you are driving from Vancouver to Whistler, then you will find yourself cruising on the Sea-to-Sky corridor, or British Columbia Highway 99 (BC 99). While the two points are roughly about 120km apart, it has some of the most awe-inspiring scenery I’ve seen so far. So, a drive that would ordinarily take an hour and a half at the most, takes that much longer. With landscape as beautiful as this, it is hard not to make a…

  • The Three Graces
    Blog,  Europe,  Travelogue,  UK

    The Three Graces

    When in London City next, make sure to catch two installations around Piccadilly. While one is obvious, the other one is something you will need to crane your neck up to and is a lot more interesting – The Three Graces. Statue of Eros outside Piccadilly Circus station On every visit to the city, having passed through Piccadilly Circus so often, I have barely ever noticed my surroundings, absorbed as I am with the throngs of people that come here and other worldly distractions. Until one summer day, on my last visit. Taking a break from all the window shopping, I stepped out of one of many stores and decided…

  • The Haas Haus
    Austria,  Blog,  Europe,  Travelogue

    The Haas Haus

    How do you seamlessly unite the past with the present? Or the historical with the modern? And still not rub purists the wrong way. For that, you don’t need to look further than Haas Haas in Vienna. The mirror facade on Haas Haus I’m sure that would have crossed Hans Hollien’s mind, when he went about designing this masterpiece in 1987. Walking through the historical part of Stephansplatz, you can’t help but notice Haas Haus building, or Haas House. It’s in stark contrast to the other buildings in its surroundings, including Vienna’s oldest architectural masterpieces – St Stephen’s cathedral, which is bang opposite this building. St Stephen’s cathedral Its history…

  • Posters on the wall on Schitu Magureanu street
    Blog,  Europe,  Romania,  Travelogue

    Art above and below

    When I head to a large city anywhere in the world, the first thing I try and figure out is how to move using local transport – buses, trams or the metro. Bucharest didn’t disappoint. Advertising billboard inside Izvor metro station Moving around like a local Whether it is buses, trams or the metro, over years of travelling, it’s finally sunk into my head that it is the quickest, cheapest and most effective way to move around the city. The afternoon after checking into my hotel, I collected a map of Bucharest, and made sure the receptionist explained anything and everything there was to be explained. This included making sure…