• Photo essays

    What a beautiful world #4 – The Longest Train Ride

    One of the most fascinating aspects of travel in India, are it’s extensive rail networks. And what better way to explore the diversity of the country, than by getting on board the longest train ride India has to offer. Snaking it’s way from Kanyakumari at the southern tip to Dibrugarh in Assam in the Northeast, train no 15906 is eponymously named the Vivek Express after the revered Indian philosopher Swami Vivekananda. Befitting moniker as well, since the Swami toured the Indian subcontinent extensively, wishing to understanding the conditions prevailing in British ruled India in the late 19th century. National geographic photographer Matthieu Paley got on board the Vivek express and…

  • Photo essays

    What a beautiful world #3 – the Nilgiri Mountain Railway

    Nilgiris 1989. John Sullivan, the father of Ootacamund, in a letter to Thomas Munro the future governor of Madras. * This is the finest country ever…it resembles I suppose Switzerland more than any part of Europe…the hills [are] beautifully wooded and [there is a] fine strong spring with running water in every valley. To be fair, Ooty has lost much of its charm to crass commercialization. There are tourists thronging all the roads leading to the hill station and much of the city center. But there are a few experiences that still retain their old world charm, like taking a ride in the decades old Nilgiri Mountain Railway, built by the Britishers…

  • Photo essays

    What a beautiful world ! #2 – Grand Trunk Road

    There can be no doubt about the fact that Steve McCurry is one of the greatest photographers ever. Award winning contributions to leading publications notwithstanding, there is a very humane, down-to-earth appeal that is immediately evident in all his photographs. One of my favorite photo essays are his vignettes of the Grand Trunk Road. This road crisscrosses the Indian subcontinent, stretching from Kabul to Kolkata, and is dripping with history at every turn. Virtually all of these photographs will transport you to a different era, in a different place. Pay attention to the way he captures the proletariat in these places, going about their daily lives, while cinematic scenes unfolding in the background (for e.g., a…

  • Photo essays

    What a beautiful world ! #1 – Skardu in Gilgit-Baltistan

    India’s neighbor, and erstwhile inseparable part of the family is no different when it comes to being blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. How naive it is though, to be a tiny part of a massive universe and see more of the differences between us than the similarities. In his series of photo essays from the magical land of Skardu-Baltistan (geographically contiguous with Ladakh and the Tibetan plateau), Bukhari gives us a glimpse of the treasures that his country, Pakistan, has been blessed with. After going through it, there lingers a romantic hope that someday, there will be no borders.   “I was walking on a narrow strip, when a window of a nearby home…

  • Snow at Solang valley Manali
    Himachal Pradesh,  Photo essays,  Travel Bag

    Dreams of snow – a getaway to Himachal Pradesh

    The mercury has touched the higher 30s here in Bangalore and there has only been a slight respite in the form of short drizzles. With very few destinations in south India that offer an escape from this heat (even the Nilgiris record temperatures in the high 30s during summers), the mind wanders on its own, to my getaway to Himachal Pradesh in north India and its blissful summer escapes. Images of snow capped peaks, the gorgeous yellow evening sunlight lighting up coniferous forests, sparkling morning dew drops and emerald green rivers flowing over rounded white stones keep cropping up every now and then. Such is the longing to get away…

  • A hot tea in Dharamsala
    Best of the Travel Bag Tales,  Himachal Pradesh,  Karnataka,  Photo essays,  Tamil Nadu,  Travel Bag

    The smaller moments in travel

    Often during my travels, I ponder about the reasons why I travel and about what I’ll take back from my experiences. Most of it till now, has been about breathtaking moments that are steeped in visually arresting sights. Sometimes, it is also about astounding architectural creations that have withstood the ravages of time and the elements and given me a peek into fascinating historical accounts of the times gone by. However, bundled in between these are the smaller moments – the ones that have filled me with pure joy or added that bright spark to a trip and occasionally, left a profound influence on my opinion about various aspects of…