Smooth sailing on Poovar

While in India’s southern tip, a cruise on the backwaters may be de rigueur. But given how popular Kerala is as a tourist destination, it is also a good idea to eschew the familiar for the unexplored. In other words, think Poovar instead of Alleppey, using Trivandrum as a base instead of Kochi. It is…

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…

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…

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…

Friday photo: Vada Pav

As my teeth sank into the soft cloud of pav and the crispy vada, it was almost as if I was biting into the original taste of Mumbai. It was a perfect contrast of tastes and textures: the chewy blandness of the pav acting as a foil to the piquant crunchiness of the vada. A…

Past continuous: a peek into Bikaner

Not many people know this, but Bikaner’s story began with a runaway prince. Rao Bika, the eldest son of Maharaja Rao Jodha from the neighbouring kingdom of Jodhpur left his father—and crown—in a huff in the late 15th century to seek his own fortunes and set up a kingdom with his own name. What he…

A vegetarian food pilgrimage in Israel

Almost two centuries ago, French gourmand Jean Brillat-Savarin wrote, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” In all my travels, nowhere has this been truer than in Israel, as I find out during a recent whirlwind trip. While there is a lot of cuisine in common across the places…

The magic of Machu Picchu

Just over eighteen months ago I stood in front of Machu Picchu, taking in the magnificence of this 15th century Incan citadel. Like the voices around me attested breathlessly, it was a dream come true for me too. When I look back at the photographs from this fabulous trip to Peru, one of the images…