All posts filed under: India

Adalaj Ni Vav: A Stepwell In Gujarat Like No Other

Located about 12 kms outside the north end of Ahmedabad, Adalaj ni Vav acts as one of the prominent historic establishments and many tourists’ first choice to see a stepwell, around Ahmedabad. Other than its impressive ancient structures, what sets it apart from the other stepwells in Gujarat is its spectacular mix of Indo-Islamic architecture and design. And that’s not it. Its completion speaks of a story that goes in the usual Bollywood style of the bygone days – containing the bits of love, war and hatred! The Story Behind Its Existence The legend has it that Adalaj ni Vav was originally commissioned by King Veersinh, sometime during the early 15th century, who was ruling the town of Adalaj at that time. But before its completion, King Veersinh got into a fight with a neighbouring King Mehmud Begada, and lost his life. As a result, the construction work for Adalaj ni Vav stopped. When King Veersinh’s wife Rani Roopba got the news, she vowed to complete her husband’s work and schemed to trap King Mehmud …

Stepwells Of Ahmedabad: Taking You Back In Time

From Baroda, in South; to Patan, in North – Stepwells (or vavs, as locally known) can be found almost all across Gujarat. For hundreds of years, their efficiency in storing water, in response to the semi-acrid climate and seasonal fluctuations, helped the local population strive and survive. Today vavs represent rich history, and act as prominent historical sites for architecture students and tourists alike. It is believed that some of the vavs must have been built at Mohanjodaro during the Indus-Valley civilisation. Ahmedabad, too, has two prominent vavs, both of them an extraordinary heritage site to visit. I ended up visiting them after an undeniable request from an auto rikshaw driver in Ahmedabad, according to whom, Mata Bhavani and Dada Hari vavs are an important cultural heritage, gifted to his city. Hopelessly driven by his encouraging gamut, I decided to give them a visit. My first stop was Dada Hari ni Vav, a carefully designed 500-year-old, which was originally built under the reign of one of the most prominent sultans of Gujarat named Mahmud Begada. A …

Bodhgaya — What To Expect From The Birthplace Of Buddhism

The birthplace of Buddhism. The crucible of a new philosophy. The epitome of knowledge and compassion. That’s what Bodhgaya is! Located in the Gaya district, in the Indian state of Bihar, Bodhgaya is a tiny little town where prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment beneath a Pipal tree, some 2500 years ago. In terms of blessedness, consider this tiny temple town for Buddhists what Mecca is to Muslims, or Varanasi to Hindus. Unsurprisingly, the town attracts thousands of Buddhist pilgrims from around the world, who come for prayer, study and meditation – with some in their flaming red robes, and other, in Turmeric and Saffron ones. Though of course the most hallowed spot in Bodhgaya is the Bodhi tree which flourishes inside the Mahabodhi Temple complex, the many Buddhist monasteries and temples that mark its bucolic landscape, built in their national style by foreign Buddhist communities, no less add to the city’s charm. Every country in the world, which has a Buddhist population, including Japan, Burma, Bhutan, and Nepal, among others, have erected their own respective monasteries and temples in Bodhgaya. …

Where To Travel In India: My 9 Personal Faves From 2016

2016 turned out to be a promising year for my travelling stint. If the entire year put together, I think I spent more than 300 days on the road. I covered a part of Southeast Asia, a bit of Nepal and much of India (now only left with 6 Indian states, including Gujarat and Rajasthan, and they are next in my list). Where most of the places I visited were great, some were exceptionally better. Better in a way that they carried the essence of Indian culture, its diverse landscapes, and represented India as a rich travel package. So if I were to recommend any places from those I visited in India, in 2016, they would be… Alappuzha Backwaters, Kerala Alappuzha, also known as Alleppey, is home to a vast network of waterways and a few thousand houseboats. And the experience of sailing downs its interconnected lagoons and smaller canals, while overlooking the paddy fields of succulent green, curvaceous rice barges and village life along the banks, is totally magical. You can also call it romantic. …

11 Travel Tips For Varanasi

Varanasi turned out to be such an amazing city, that I had to have at least 3 posts about it. I recently shared an intro to Varanasi about where to stay and how to best experience the town. I also told you what to expect at the Ghats, which are famous for cremation ceremonies. But then I realised that none of them address the basic etiquette, you must follow, while you’re here. Being the spiritual capital of India, Varanasi can be confusing. Right from “can we click pictures of burning pyres” to “how to deal with touts” – people have their doubts. In an effort to answer those random but important questions, here are the 11 most important tips you need to know: 1) Come to Varanasi, but don’t come here first. Varanasi is wild, particularly for those who are new to Indian culture. Watching dead bodies lit on fire, and naked sadhus whitewashed in ash, can scary you to a degree that you would not want to leave your hotel room. So before coming here, …

From Street Scene To The Ghats of Varanasi: What To Expect!

If you’re travelling alone, and are unaccustomed to the frenzies of India, Varanasi might just be the craziest Indian city for you to travel through! Varanasi, also known as Benares, is considered as the holiest of all Hindu towns, bringing people from all over the world to see the religious ceremonies that take place there. As believed in Hinduism, death in Varansi brings salvation. By getting a cremation on one of its ghats, you get a direct ticket to heaven. Throughout India’s long history, it is in Varanasi, that many prominent figures – including Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi – have spent time on the Ganges River, meditating and practicing spirituality. But that doesn’t mean that you’d find people meditating or chanting god’s name here, or in any way, living their life in a subtle manner. Street Scene In Varanasi Is Wild If you think that the street scene in India is crazy, in Varanasi it is wild. Consider Varanasi as New Delhi on steroids. Nowhere have you been and nothing you’ve seen, in your entire …

Introduction To Varanasi

When I first arrived in Varansi, I had its most clichéd picture in my head: a group of people surrounding the burning pyres on a ghat, a few lost sadhus whitewashed in ash, and the daily Ganga Aarti. Though I knew that the town is more or less comprised of 80+ connected ghats, running to a length of almost 10 kilometres – visualizing it anything more than the many recent spiritual towns of India, was quite impossible. During my first 15 minutes of arrival, I remember attesting it to the auto rikhshaw driver, that I’m finding Varanasi quite similar to Haridwar, or “Rishikesh without mountains”. I asked him if he has ever visited Uttarakhand. He rejected, in the most uninteresting manner. But as the time went past, and I thoughtfully overstayed in the town, one day after the other, I realised that Varanasi was perhaps not anything like Haridwar, or Rishikesh, or any other Indian town for that matter. After all, it is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited place on earth – dwelling …

Scuba Diving Myths: Debunked!

What’s keeping you out of the ocean? Is it the fear of drowning or getting stung by a lionfish? Some of you might also be thinking that diving is expensive. Before doing my first, I had my own doubts too. But my biggest fear was running out of air while I was still underwater. “Has any of the trainees has ever run out of air, in their cylinder, while diving with you,” I remember asking my instructor, Jason, moments before our first dive. Though we were cautiously trained about how to share air and avoiding other diving hazards, I was unsure of rescuing anyone (or even myself) if anything went wrong. And I think these doubts are only natural. The day I dived and posted a few pictures on my Facebook page, a lot of people asked me about my experience followed by their personal query – something that seemed to be putting them off from trying it. So now that I’ve done a few dives and have moreover qualified as an Over Water Diver, …

From My Homestay… A Quick Guide To Kabbinakad, Coorg

I remember when I first spoke to Sharath, asking if I can visit them and explore the coffee plantation and the nature around their homestay, in Kabbinakad, Coorg, he replied in the most candid manner. A part of his response also sounded a little customary – following the usual banalities of any hospitality business. He wrote, sounding ostentatious, that they would be happy to show me the best of nature and Coorgi hospitality. “What a polished statement,” I thought. But it was until I actually visited his place that I realised it was indeed among the best, and most unspoilt nature, I have ever seen. And the hospitality Coorgis were always known for, was no less remarkable, either. I first visited Coorg, some 6 months ago, experiencing one of the many camping sites around the place – and the experience always stayed in my memory, quite afresh. But this time as I reached Kabbinakad, located around 30 kms towards east of Madikeri, I found it much different, and perhaps more surreal. I remember losing myself …

GOA Travel Guide

I avoided Goa for a long time, travelling the length and breadth of India on several trips, but never making it to the vacation hot-spot known for beaches, sunsets and parties. I always thought that Goa must have lost its charm, due to waves upon waves of Indian and western European tourists that travel there. But I was wrong. I travelled this amazing little part of India (in Nov’16) for nearly a month – with most of the time spent on its beaches in the south, and I immediately fell in love with it. I loved its atmosphere, the beaches, all-night crazy parties and a laid-back tropical vibe. What’s better is, from first timer honeymooners to crazy college party mongers, there is something for everyone here. You can find beaches as dead as a village in the far-out corners of Himalaya, to those hosting all-night raves. There’s sun, sea, sand, seafood and pretty much everything else you need to make your holiday better. Come here to lose yourself in a heavenly experience. Come here for a great holiday. …