All posts filed under: India & Around

Magic in the Mountains: On the Walnut Trail with the JW Marriott, Mussoorie

Editor’s note: Mussoorie is a hill station in the Dehradun district in Uttarakhand, situated around 290 kms north of New Delhi. It’s often called the Queen of the Hills, as it is situated in the foothills of the Garhwal-Himalayan ranges. The adjoining town of Landour, which includes a military cantonment, is considered a part of ‘greater Mussoorie’. Fellow travel blog, foodie and writer Mukta Chakravorty recently took off to the salubrious climes of Mussoorie, where she enjoyed the hospitality of the JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove and Spa. In Part 1 she writes about rediscovering her love of the hills and appreciating the gracious hospitality of people who live in these parts. It is always the same with mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them – Ruskin Bond, Rain in the Mountains: Notes from the Himalayas The majesty of the mountains never fails to amaze me. I spent the initial years of my childhood in Dehradun, when it still hadn’t become a capital city. From the …


Sunshine and sussegad: A few of my favorite Goan beaches

Tranquility, blue skies, warm waters, seafood and adventure for those who seek it – the beaches in Goa are known for different things. But to truly enjoy Goa’s sandy white beaches, knowing your way around them is essential. With an amazing stretch of sun-kissed beaches in the region, it would be a shame not to make the most of your trip by visiting some of the best ones. So, where do you start. Here’s a list of them – from the busy to the quiet and serene – perfect when you’re looking for – perfect any kind of travel, mood and occasion. Just pick and go! Way back then: A photograph taken nearly a decade ago on one of Goa’s beaches Candolim Beach Located close to Baga Beach, and 15 kms from the city of Panaji, it’s a perfect location to relax under the sunny skies and often empty stretches. It also happens to be one of the first beaches I visited in Goa. If you want to avoid the milling crowds of the more …


Rustic and unique: A glimpse into the crafts of Nirona

It’s a sunny day when the taxi driver pulls up in a rather non-descript looking village and drops me in front of an ATM. I don’t really see what he wants me to see. Yet. And then I see this guy, holding a smart phone, standing beside the ATM and I realize that there’s some invisible pact that my taxi driver and this person are already a part of. I don’t want to know too much. He comes forward and leads me on to my first stop in Nirona village. I am a few days into my Gujarat trip, starting from Bhuj and today my aim is discovering arts and crafts. I’ve always been inclined towards handmade and anything time consuming and local. And Gujarat is well-known for its variety when it comes to crafts so I won’t run out of things to see and experience. Craft is a truly fascinating domain. When machines and robots have taken over, there is even more charm to something handmade. Some call it a dying art, which some …


Tales from the jungle: Shergarh Tented Camp

Walking down a narrow path, fringed by bushes and trees, I couldn’t see too far ahead. But the road did lead somewhere – to the most beautiful cosy house welcoming you after what seemed like a very long road journey. A little further ahead, the path leads you to a large courtyard with sofas and chairs strewn around; relief for a tired traveller. The house has a wide verandah running all the way through, reminiscent of a Kerala style house. On one side is a water body and to the right, a large pond, reflecting the lush greenery. It was right out of a novel. It was perfect. I felt like I’d come home. The main house with the large courtyard: A place to relax! But let’s go back in time. I met Katie and Jehan Bhujwala in Goa, one of my favorite places to head to when I want to “get away”. In this piece of paradise called Olaulim Backyards created by the delightful Savio and Pirrko Fernandes, over delicious fresh fruits and cashew …


Ancient connections to come alive through “Ghadai”, an initiative by the Kumbhars (potters) of Kutch

The arts and crafts from the Kutch region are well known today. There is a lot of interest in the fabrics, the weaves, the prints, silver jewellery, copper artifacts and these products are in demand not only in India, but all over the world. Yet, one craft which is not getting the focus and appreciation it deserves is pottery. Reviving the ancient art of Kutch pottery The history of pottery in the Kutch region dates back 5000 years at least. Pottery products have been excavated from the archaelogical site of Dholavira, an ancient city belonging to the Indus Valley civilisation. Talking to Meera Goradia, the director of the Kutch-based NGO KHAMIR, I get to know a little more about the efforts being taken to bring alive the tradition of potters in the region. There are many who have stopped their craft, mainly due to a loss in livelihood. In some villages, the potter’s wheel now lies unturned. Yet in others, there is renewed interest as the craft has also started integrating aspects of newer and …


Scent of cardamom and taste of fresh honey: A visit to the Kalarickal Heritage Bungalow

There’s something about a bungalow that was constructed in the 1800s. It feels like stepping back in time. The way the doors close. The old style latches and windows. The feel of the cool red floor under your bare feet. But the TV and the WiFi suddenly brings you back to present tense also giving you a sense of modern comforts! A part of the bungalow which has been renovated for guests. Photo courtesy: KH Plantation A bit of history – “the current owner’s grandfather, K K Kurian Kalarickal, settled in this area (Idukki district) in the early 1900s when the hills were still thick with forests and wildlife. He was among a few pioneers to make his way into the mountains and begin cultivating them.” Luckily, this area is untouched and still verdant and retains much of it’s charm. K K Kurian built this original bungalow in 1918 and for many years it was a landmark in Idukki. It doubled up as a village office for planters and visitors who came for advise. The …