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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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Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City

15 Nov

If you are planning a trip to Istanbul anytime soon and love history, culture and architecture; then you have to pick up a copy of “Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City” by Hilary Summer-Boyd and John Freely. This is a not your standard guide book and nor does it talk about what to see, do or where to eat in Istanbul. Instead, through its 23 walking routes (strolls), it takes you on a journey through Istanbul’s history, its people, its battles, the rulers and their idiosyncrasies, the myths and folklore, the stories of various old structures that survive (at times for more than a century) to share their tales, and so much more.

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Planning tips for a one week trip to Turkey

17 Oct

We are just back from a week-long trip to Turkey and loved everything about this country and its diversity – from the epic and diverse landscapes, to the delicious vegetarian food, the beautiful mosques, so much ancient history and the awesome urban culture. While one week is definitely not enough to visit even the main sites here, we had limited leaves and decided to cover as much as we could in this time. And as always, left the rest for our next trip here 🙂

Hot Air Balloon at sunrise, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

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Visiting Kenya on a Budget

18 Aug

Africa. A continent I had been meaning to visit for as long as I can remember. But somehow all my plans were shelved during the planning stages itself after seeing the initial estimates of costs related to the trip. You are right, it just seemed very expensive. Stories from friends and online articles showed such large numbers that Africa seemed beyond my reach for a very long time. However when my wedding date was confirmed for the end of May, I felt that a new beginning deserved visiting a new continent and decided to seriously try and figure out ways to visit Kenya on a budget. And here’s how you can visit it too without emptying your bank account.

A Lion at the Maasai Mara, Kenya, Africa

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A long weekend in the Garden of Streams – Jhira Bagh Palace, Dhar, Madhya Pradesh

11 Apr

In the last few months my travel plans seem to have a mind of their own and I have travelled to majority of the places that I had not originally envisaged. Changes have been galore and several airlines have made a lot of money on my cancellations. Thankfully though via another unexpected change in plans I found myself in Jhira Bagh Palace in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh for a long 4 day weekend trip. And I am so glad that my earlier plans did not work out.

Jhira Bagh Palace, Dhar, Madhya Pradesh

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