Lepakshi: stories in stone

Lepakshi welcomes visitors with a giant Nandi statue on the main road, a granite monolith 4.5 metres high and 8.2 metres long, with intricate carvings all over. Like the main temple itself, this statue was built during the reign of King Achutaraya in the mid 16th century, and harks back to the majesty of the Vijayanagara empire. The…

A handy guide to Meghalaya

Meghalaya, meaning “abode of the clouds” must be one of the most evocative place names in India. The name for this northeast Indian state is apt, given that Meghalaya is home to Cherrapunji, long known as being the wettest place on earth (almost matched by its neighbour Mawsynram). Here is an easy Meghalaya itinerary around…

Where our cricket bats come from

The young employee of my Pahalgam hotel shrugged his shoulders dramatically when I asked him a probing question about that part of Kashmir. “I’m from Jammu, madam, I don’t know much about this place,” he replied, the indifference writ large on his face. I’m only here to make a living, he seemed to imply. Being…

Paradise rediscovered: a weekend in Srinagar

I muttered harshly to myself as I walked half asleep into Srinagar’s cool air at 5 am. The shikara was waiting at the pier when we reached, ready to take us to the floating market on Dal Lake. As we glided on the lake, the silence broken only by the rhythmic swish-swish of the wooden…

The mangroves of Pichavaram

After a couple of restful days in Tranquebar, we drive on to Pichavaram, for a look at the second largest mangroves system in India after the Sunderbans (in the world, as some sources claim). Despite this, Pichavaram is literally off the beaten track, seeing less than a hundred visitors everyday. The pier is practically empty…

The land of singing waves

There are many ways to enjoy the monsoon season. My favourite is to sit on an armchair on an open verandah with a cup of masala chai, listening to the pitter patter of raindrops falling on the roof. And if you add to it the music of giant sea waves crashing against rocks on the…

In search of Eden

It was during a long weekend in August that my husband and I decided to head out from our home in Delhi in search of the forbidden fruit. The Eden we had in mind was Thanedar in the hills of Himachal Pradesh. We set off well before dawn, driving on the smooth highway to Chandigarh…

Quiet flows the Lidder

It turns out that the best way to enjoy Pahalgam is to stay away from Pahalgam. No, I am not suggesting for a moment that anyone skip this most picturesque area in Kashmir. But the best – perhaps the only – way to enjoy it is to stay outside, as I do. On a recent…