Category Archives: Travel

Chandigarh to Palampur: Colours of Kangra

Andretta Pottery Studio

Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh is no stranger to art. In fact, it even lends its name to a mid-18th century school of miniature painting. In the mid-1800s, the British added to the charms of the valley by cultivating Chinese tea. In 1924, Irishwoman Norah Richards made Andretta, 12km from Palampur, her home, and urged other Lahore luminaries to follow suit. An actor and playwright, she was indulgently referred to as the “Nani of Punjabi Theatre”.

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Muziris, is it?

The Sea of Pain is Raul Zurita’s poignant ode to Galip Kurdi. The five year old who drowned alongside his mother and younger brother Alan–immortalised by a heart-rending image evocative of the Syrian refugee crisis–with nary a mention. Not even a fleeting one.  The Chilean poet’s installation at Aspinwall House, for the ongoing Kochi Muziris Biennale, invites visitors to wade through knee-deep water in a cavernous warehouse to read, literally, the writing on the wall.

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Where It Oil Began

“Dig, boy, dig!” urged 19th century prospectors, it is said, on getting whiff of what lay beneath. Whether Digboi came by its moniker as a result of wordplay, as is popularly believed, has passed into the realm of amused conjecture. Historians will have you know that Di is a prefix meaning stream in Singpho, and the prevailing reference–Diboi Nallah, minus the ’g’–may have somewhat encouraged it. What wasn’t mere inference though were the tell-tale signs of crude oil reported from the rainforest of Upper Assam as early as 1825. A Lt R Wilcox of the 46th Regiment Native Infantry, while on a survey of the Namchik River (roughly 40kms east of Digboi) had observed ‘great bubbles of gas and green petroleum’ rising to the surface at Supkhong. And that ‘the jungles are full of an odour of petroleum’. Tea-explorer Charles Alexander Bruce also spotted ‘many oil seepages upstream of Makum’ in 1828.

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The road to Narayan (aka god)…

img_20161027_141638_hdr…is never easy, I’m told, by many a seeker. Less so to the one I sought, as I discovered for myself only ten days ago. A tad off-piste for most visitors to Himachal Pradesh, Narayan Devta Temple–ancient shrine in honour of the local deity–is located in the Nawar valley of Rohru district.  I had made the acquaintance of this little-known nugget through a photograph and was raring for a closer encounter.  The opportunity presented itself soon enough during my stay at a farm near Kotkhai.

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Tirthan Anglers’ Retreat

A sorority-of-sorts reunion long in the making finally fructified this summer past. Siblings and school buddies decided to get away from it all for some rejuvenation. Given the relentless May swelter our respective cities of residence experience, an escape to Himalayan havens was a unanimous no-brainer. Besides, I was returning after a scorch proper from Ujjain where I had been parked for two weeks acquainting with the Simhastha Kumbh.

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Reflections of Aina Mahal, Bhuj

img_7697For a man of his artistic genius and versatility to nearly fade from the narrative within three centuries of his existence is a tad baffling. But for one-line references and the odd paragraph in numerable writings, travel guides, and coffee table books themed around Kutch arts and crafts, little is known of Ram Singh Malam, an incredibly multi-faceted craftsman, today. Were it not for the Aina Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), his greatly diminished but still abiding pièce de résistance, Malam could well have been an easily missed footnote in the history of the arts.

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Gone Fishing, Tirthan

IMG_9626Prejudice alert. Any place I can wake up to a dog curled up close at hand has an everlasting hold over my heart.  I make no bones about it. Nor am I averse to gushing about it. And should that place be set in one of the prettiest valleys of Himachal Pradesh, well then I’m a complete and unabashed goner.

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NEW YORK INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL (NYIFF 2016)

infinity-sThis post goes out especially for followers in the United States of America. Some of whom have, over the past few years, unfailingly pinged Cutting Loose for fashioning their travels around India. In turn, nothing has given me greater pleasure than showcasing to them an India beyond the obvious. If testimonials are to be believed, they’re clearly not missing the tried-and-tested.

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Inside A Rainbow

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Banni beauty

This was a first – signing up for structured travel to play catch-up with Kutch’s capabilities. It, Breakaway’s Textile Trail, had seemed like an enormously exciting way to acquaint myself with an Indian extremity hitherto unvisited. That it was going to unravel itself through brilliantly hued warps and wefts accorded it that much more of the proverbial colour.  As also the knowledge that our intimate group would be accompanied by an expert for edifying effects.

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Goa The Muse

IMG_8788The sea has its moments, yes, but I don’t much care for Goa’s beaches. Nevertheless I gladly wash ashore ever so often for a change of scene and cuisine. Of which the latter, in my mind, remains her irrefutable raison d’être. Languor permitting I have successfully indulged in a spot of exploration in between meals. This is how I ended up making the acquaintance of three enormously ardent men when there a couple of months ago.

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