Postcard from Rishtan, Uzbekistan

Postcards from… is a new series and is all about one picture perfect postcard from a place I have recently travelled to. I was in Uzbekistan (my second time!) last week, revisiting some old favourites and visiting new places.

This postcard is from Rishtan in the Ferghana Valley of Eastern Uzbekistan, famed for its fruits, art, and automobile manufacturing units. No prizes for guessing what is the theme of this postcard is. 🙂

Rishatan, Ceramic Artist, Rustom Usmanov, Uzbekistan
Oct. 14, 2018: Display at the workshop of the master ceramic artist, Rustom Usmanov at Rishtan in Uzbekistan 

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Tranquebar, Trankebar, Tharangambadi, Tamil Nadu, Danish Colony, Colonial Heritage, History, East Coast, Coromandel Coast

Exploring Tranquebar

There are two ways to explore the former Danish colony of Tranquebar (or Trankebar as the Danes spell it) or Tharangambadi (as it is known officially). The first is as a day trip from Pondicherry or Nagapattinam or any of the nearby temple towns and the second is to base yourself at Tranquebar, like I did, and then explore the town at leisure.

Tranquebar, Trankebar, Tharangambadi, Tamil Nadu, Danish Colony, Colonial Heritage, History, East Coast, Coromandel Coast

This coastal town is on the east coast of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, about a 100 km south of Pondicherry. Either way, you will soon discover that the sea and the citadel of Fort Dansborg at Tranquebar are its best known sights.

In fact, the first thing a visitor to Tranquebar will see is the Dansborg citadel — to me, it looked like a giant slice of commercial kesar ice cream shimmering (or melting) in the heat.

And if you stay at The Bungalow on the Beach, like I did, then a view of the sea and the Dansborg Fort, is a constant (see the header and the photo on the left).

Continue reading “Exploring Tranquebar”

A holiday at Wallwood Garden in Coonoor

My first night at Wallwood Garden in Coonoor was a memorable one. I had arrived earlier that evening and was shown to my room immediately by Geetha, the manager. “You must be so tired — first the flight from Mumbai to Coimbatore, and then the drive to Coonoor ! Since you’re a writer and will appreciate some quiet, we have put you in Camphor.” Writer? Me? I was so chuffed at being called a writer that the rest of Geetha’s words about the room and its amenities didn’t register as I was mentally preening. Till she mentioned the word “room heater”. I snapped out my self-absorbed reverie to see her pointing towards the said contraption and showing me how it worked. “Surely, I won’t need this, right? I asked. I may also have giggled nervously. “I’m afraid you will for it gets very cold after sunset. Besides, there are extra blankets and quilts in the cupboard should you need them,” Geetha said seriously. “You did read the mail we sent about the weather and appropriate clothing for Coonoor, didn’t you?” I hadn’t read the mail, but wasn’t going to tell her that. “Of course, of course,” I said airily, ushering her out of the room.”I’ll be fine and will manage”. That night I needed two blankets + one quilt + the room heater to “manage”. I don’t know when I stopped shivering and went to sleep. I woke up the next morning to the most awful racket; it took me a few seconds to figure out that the sky wasn’t about to come crashing down on my head and that it was a family of monkeys partying on the roof. And that’s how my holiday at Neemrana’s Wallwood Garden began ! Continue reading “A holiday at Wallwood Garden in Coonoor”

A holiday at The Bungalow on the Beach in Tranquebar

When I arrived at The Bungalow on the Beach in the sleepy coastal town of Tranquebar — or Tharangambadi as it is locally known — around 11 am on that humid and muggy August day last year, I was in a bit of a funk.

My train to Karaikal (the nearest railway station) from Chennai had arrived nearly 4 hours late, which meant that I had missed breakfast (my most important meal of the day) and also a morning’s worth of exploring Tranquebar. Not only was I hungry, I also had the beginnings of a migraine which, I knew from past experience, had the potential to ruin my holiday.

My mood did not improve over the peaceful drive from Karaikal to Tranquebar or the first sight of the blue-green waters of the Bay of Bengal or the beautiful heritage Bungalow that was going to be my home. The warm welcome at the Bungalow did make me feel a little better, but by that time all I wanted to do was to do was to sleep off my migraine.

But when I was ushered into Princess Louise, which is what my room was called, all thoughts of sleep vanished. 🙂

Continue reading “A holiday at The Bungalow on the Beach in Tranquebar”

Hadoti Map, road Trip, Travel, Rajasthan, Hadoti trip, Google Map, Travel Map, Places I Travelled to

The Hadoti Trip Planner

The Hadoti region of Rajasthan covers 4 distrcits — Bundi, Kota, Jhalawar and Baran — and till I visited it in November 2016, this was the only region I had not explored in the state. It was a much awaited trip, one that threw up many surprises and one that left me with a “why didn’t I visit before?”. It was a trip of many firsts as well, including the first time I travelled with One Life to Travel (OLTT), and one that will rank in my list of memorable trips.

In fact, when I look back at my Hadoti trip in November last year, the word that comes to mind is ‘serendipity’.

How else would you explain a trip that started off as as a Bundi trip but ended up being a JhalawarJhalrapatanKolviRamgarhKotaBijoliaBadoliBundi trip? How else would you explain a 3-day trip becoming an 8-day trip? How else would you explain the said 8-day trip leading to so many (19 at last count!) blogposts? How else would you explain connecting with people you’ve never met before and becoming friends?

Its been almost 9 months since my return and I have been reliving the Hadoti trip since I started blogging about it here in April ! If I enjoyed writing about that trip, your response to the posts was even more so. So many of you wanted to know more about the trip and the places I visited — more than what I had blogged about — with regard to itineraries, tips, etc.

And so here I am with a Hadoti Trip Planner based on what you asked via blog comments/ mails/ messages. 🙂

Continue reading “The Hadoti Trip Planner”

Stepwells of Bundi, Indigenous architecture, Art and Architecture, Baoris, Stepwells of India, Rajastham Bundi, Hadoti Trip, Hadoti, Vernacular architecture

The stepwells of Bundi

This post is dedicated to Kukkiji without whom, it would probably never have been written.


It was past 8 in the evening and our OLTT travel group had just returned to our hotel in Bundi after a day’s exploration of temples and palaces. It had been a wonderful, but long, day and I was tired in the best possible way.

It was also the last day of our Bundi trip and we would all be returning home the next day — most would head off to Delhi in the morning, while Niti (my friend and co-traveller for the Hadoti Trip) would leave for Mumbai in the afternoon.

Saraswati

As I was getting out of the vehicle, Kukkiji, our guide stopped me. [1]

“Sister, one minute. Don’t go for I want to show you something.” Saying this he passed his cell phone to me which had a picture (left) on its screen.

“Where is this?” I asked in wonder.

“Here. In Bundi only. Just a couple of kilometres from your hotel.”

“Which temple is it in?”

The response was broad smile and a “It is not in a temple; this is at the entrance to a baori (stepwell).”

Baori? You mean there are more baoris in Bundi? More than the four you showed us?

“Sister, Bundi city alone has around 52 baoris and there are more outside the city limits. I knew you would be interested in them; that is why I showed this photograph to you.”

“I want to see this, Kukkiji. I have to see this. I want to see all the baoris.”

“Meet me outside your hotel at 9 am tomorrow. You can’t see all, but you can see some of the baoris before you leave,” said Kukkiji.

Continue reading “The stepwells of Bundi”