Asia

[Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India] Exploring Heritage on a Train Journey

The tracks to Shimla The start of our summer vacation in Himachal Pradesh: Plane to Delhi, train to Chandigarh, and it was now time for a train (special one, though) to Shimla. Off we headed from a hotel in Chandigarh to Kalka station. The auto zoomed (a bit shakily) on the Chandigarh-Shimla highway toward Kalka, often overtaken by flashy cars. We held on tight until our route turned off the highway and onto the narrower road to Kalka.

[Himachal Pradesh, India] A Cool Summer in Himachal Pradesh

On a previous vacation, we had fallen in love with the mountains and forests of Uttarakhand. So when summer came calling again, an escape to the Himalayas was the first idea that crossed my mind. This time around, B and I voted for Himachal Pradesh, and Junior readily gave his stamp of approval. The call of the mountains. Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India. After much thought (grey cells in action!), research (Google at our command!

[Vengurla, Maharashtra, India] The Beautiful Beaches of the Konkan Coast: Vengurla

View from Fort Tiracol. Tiracol, Goa, India. From atop a hillock, we gazed at the shimmering waters of the Arabian Sea below. To the left, the Terekhol (Tiracol) river (hidden from our view) proceeded to its rendezvous with the sea. And beyond the river, in the distance, lay a clean sandy stretch of beach. We squinted our eyes and thought we saw a couple of tourists ambling along in the sand.

[Tarkarli, Maharashtra, India] The Beautiful Beaches of the Konkan Coast: Tranquil Tarkarli

The long stretch of sand is (almost) as flat as a pancake. Small waves crash in the distance and leisurely withdraw from the shore. Beige-colored crabs scurry along, visible one moment, out of sight the next. A couple of starfish lie still on the shore. Dozens of hungry plovers dig feverishly into the sand to find their meal. High up in the sky, a sea eagle flies home victoriously, with a struggling serpent held firmly in its talons.

[Ajanta, Maharashtra, India] Awed by the Timeless Wonders of Ajanta – II

Saving the Best for Last:

We had explored many beautiful caves at Ajanta on the first day. But Caves 1, 2, 9, and 10 — some of the most popular ones — were on our list for the second day. Yes, we had saved the best for last. From the spectacular murals of Vajrapani and Padmapani in Cave 1 to the rock stupa and beautiful art in Cave 10, the treasures didn’t cease to amaze us.


[Ajanta, Maharashtra, India] Awed by the Timeless Wonders of Ajanta – I

Lost and Found:

At the vantage point atop a hill, a marvelous sight unfolded in front of our eyes. A beautiful horse-shoe-shaped gorge framed by a dusty brown background. A series of rock-cut caves embedded along the U-shaped curve in the hillside. It was here that John Smith, while on a hunting expedition in 1819, discovered the existence of the Ajanta Caves, a site that had disappeared into oblivion for a long time.


[Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand, India] On Cloud Nine at Naukuchiatal

A crimson sunbird perched among red gladioli. If that isn’t camouflage, what is? Find the bird! Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand, India.   Beyond the garden adorned with flowers of various hues lies a calm lake. Surrounded by gently sloping hills. A man rows a small boat across, creating beautiful patterns of ripples. Welcome to Naukuchiatal, the lake with nine corners. A garden and a lake beyond. Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand, India.  

[Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand, India] The Irresistible Allure of a Small Town in the Hills

Of forests and mountains. Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand, India. Where you can forget about “to-do” and “to-see” lists. Where you can leave watches and phones behind. Where you can (temporarily, at least) disregard worry and hurry.   Where you can set out to stroll with no specific destination in mind. Where you can pause on a narrow village trail to gaze at the beautiful valley below. Where you can rest your feet at a small tea stall and engage in a lively conversation with a local resident.