The Bombay Balchão walk with author, Jane Borges and Swapbook in Mumbai

24 Jan

Walking around in Mumbai, especially in the older parts of the city, is like walking through a treasure trove of the city’s history. In some instances, these treasures are hidden, just waiting to be unearthed. But in many cases they are in plain sight and all you need to do is pay attention. I love exploring my own maximum city and whenever I am not traveling and have the time, I join a group or some friends to walk around some of Mumbai’s old neighbourhoods. On one such weekend I joined a group of friends from Swapbook and author, Jane Borges, as she took us on a quick tour of the various locations featured in her recently released book, Bombay Balchão – talking about the old Christian neighborhoods of South Mumbai, their history, culture and the people.

Dabul, an old Christian neighbourhood of Both Mumbai, Maharashtra

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Photo Essay: The Unique Ottoman Gravestones of Istanbul, Turkey

19 Jan

Walking around any old cemetery has always turned out to be a lesson for me – in terms of local customs, tombstones, designs, local history, culture, genealogy and design. With shortage of space and paucity of time, most modern cemeteries are built to to be completely utilitarian, but in many older cities you still stumble upon ancient cemeteries that were definitely more than just graveyards to bury the death. And on our recent trip to Istanbul, Turkey we came across the Ottoman culture of cemetery and tombstone design.

Ottoman tombstones at the Sulemaniye Mosue, Istanbul, Turkey

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The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane

7 Jan

I had discovered books by Robert Macfarlane (“Macfarlane”) quite by accident. I had attended a panel on travel writing in a Literature Festival and as part of the discussion, William Dalrymple (“Dalrymple”), one of my favorite authors, described  Macfarlane ’s writing as “Prose that he (i.e. Dalrymple) can only dream of writing”. It took me a while but I picked up  Macfarlane’s first book, Mountains of the Mind, and finally understood what  Dalrymple  meant by his statement. It was a beautiful prose combined with adventures, mountains and stories to create a sublime read.  Macfarlane’s “The Wild Places” was my second book and I loved it even more than his first one.

The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane

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Photo Essay & Guide – Visiting the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey

4 Jan

A trip to Turkey is incomplete without a visit to the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus. Ephesus (Efes in Turkish) was once one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire and one of the grandest cities of the ancient world. While it was at its peak grandeur under the Romans, it has a much longer history with many great civilizations i.e. Greek, Persian, Roman and Christian. Though in ruins today, it is still a must visit to see the beautiful temples, baths, palaces, homes, markets, streets and imagine the everyday lives of the ancient Romans.

Ancient ruins of Ephesus, Turkey

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A Visit to a Christmas Market in a Cave in Valkenburg, Netherlands

21 Dec

I love festivals and everything associated with them – from the decorations & lighting, to the traditions followed, to the gifts exchanged and most importantly to all the very tasty food. While Diwali is a favorite time to be home in India, being in a place to which a festival is local, is a definite “cherry on top” for any trip. Last year I was in Netherlands in mid-November and as luck would have it, my friends P & J told me that the first Christmas market was opening in Valkenburg, Netherlands that weekend. Apart from being the first Christmas market to open, this market is truly unique as it is held inside a cave.

Very many Santas at the Christmas market, Valkenburg, The Netherlands

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My review of the Kundalika Rafting, a Nature Trails Resort in Kolad, Maharashtra

11 Dec

For our recent trip to Kolad, I was researching for accommodation options when I came across Kundalika Rafting – a Nature Trails Resort, an eco-tourism resort with a focus on nature and generating local employment. The online pics and reviews were good, so we booked a one-night stay in a superior deluxe tent. They had multiple options and packages (for meals and activities) available and I booked our stay to include dinner and breakfast (there didn’t seem to be any other options close to the resort). We didn’t book any adventure sports / activities in advance and chose to decide on them after arriving at the resort.

Our camp, Kolad, Maharashtra, India

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A Quick Weekend Trip – River Rafting in the Kundalika River in Kolad, Maharashtra

1 Dec

Any mention of river rafting instantly conjures images of a raft on the waters of the mighty river Ganga in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. And for as long as I can remember I have wanted to go for this amazing adventure sport. But for one reason or another my rafting plans have never materialized.  I closely missed another rafting opportunity in May this year but then quite by chance, I figured that river rafting is done on the Kundalika river in Kolad, Maharashtra. There are quite a few other activities on offer too, but the most famous one is river rafting and A & I decided to go check this out.

Driving to Kolad, Maharashtra, India

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