Ganga Aarti at Haridwar

Factored in some time for the evening prayers (conducted daily) at Har-ki-Pauri  when I overnight-ed at Rishikesh on my way to Garhwal this summer. It seemed, so had the entire world…and its uncle. Though it took me well over an hour to make the 15 kms between the two spiritual centres, it was worth every minute of the muggy June evening.

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Virasat-e-Khalsa Heritage Complex

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After winning an international competition to design this repository of Punjab’s heritage and culture at Anandpur Sahib, the much-feted Israeli architect Moshe Safdie, is said to have studied the Sikh faith for a couple of years before coming up with the design. Borrowing heavily from the vocabulary of fort architecture – bastions, moats, drawbridges, ramparts – he succeeded in his intention to accord it a 300-year-old flavour.

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Floral Exotica

So, it’s not like I didn’t get to see any flora when I was at the VOF in June this year. I did. Just don’t ask me what it’s called! You should also know, being wildflowers, they (mostly) come in two dainty sizes: tiny and small; none of those prize-winners-in-waiting that adorn your pots and proudly-crafted gardens. Often, images can be a tad misleading as they are shot in macro mode even though the first picture in this post is of a type that is organically large. See for yourself.

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Valley Of Flowers

For obvious reasons, treks to a number of high-altitude valleys in the Garhwal region have been aborted this year. Possibly for the next couple of years even. One thing is quite definite though: given the nature of over-riding circumstances, it is unlikely that stakeholders can secure temporary arrangements in the steadily closing window they have till September, maybe October.

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When Quiet Flowed The Alaknanda

These images are from last month, from my visit to that region in Garhwal we are now referring to as the very epicentre of  the Uttarkhand tragedy. Mostly light showers, with an intermittent heavy one, trailed us as we wound along the beauteous  Alaknanda and its many confluences.  Read more »

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Homestays

A rapidly increasing number of home-owners are welcoming visitors from across India–and abroad–into their homes and their lifestyle; for brief as well extended home-stays. Encouraged by the government, people are putting to good use their extra bedrooms by letting them out to discerning travellers willing to imbibe a culturally different way of life. A complete departure from the facility-rich albeit impersonal environs of a hotel, home-stays are indeed answering the home-away-from-home call.

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Summer Sojourn

This has earlier appeared as a lead article in The Tribune’s Travel Special edition of 19th May.

India-born Sir Cliff Richard, I’m wagering a guess, had no experience of the famed Indian summer when he sang Summer Holiday, “….we’re going where the sun shines brightly, we’re going where the sea is blue, we’ve all seen it on the movies, now let’s see if it’s true”! For us residents of the North Indian plains, you will agree, summer is the least favourite time of year.  And with the season staring us ominously in the face, we are already plotting our escape from the imminent soaring temperatures, blistering heat, and dust-laden hot winds.

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Shop Art 14th – 21st May

DSC_0028Starting tomorrow, Gunher a sleepy little hamlet just outside of Bir, Himachal Pradesh’s premier para-gliding destination, is set to witness an art exhibition of a singular nature. The culmination of a three-week residency comprising contemporary artists from India and abroad, Shop Art is the brainchild of Frank Schlichtmann. Owner of the local 4TABLES Cafe and Gallery, Frank has rented un-utilised village shops and invited a number of conceptual artists to occupy them as their studios during the residency. Read more »

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Away For The Summer

I will be away for a better part of the summer gathering stories to share here on Cutting Loose. I might attempt to post now and then, but that may detract some from the pleasure of being on the road. You understand, right?

Miss me, regardless :-)

 

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The Big Top

It all started in Egypt, I’m told, where acrobatics, balancing acts, rope walking and spectacles of human skill and daring were recorded as far back as 2500 BC. Though the circus (Latin for ‘circle’) as we know it today harks back to the amphitheatres of ancient Rome, devoted largely to chariot races, gladiator combat, animal slaughter, mock battles and similar blood sports.  Of which the Circus Maximus was said to be the most spectacular.

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