A Special Birthday: My First Solo Travel – Uttrakhand

It’s been an unusual set of recent months in my life. From taking a sabbatical to pure indulgence at home, with kids and life in general. Home, children & their exams seemed like the most meaningful, tangible goal I had. The absence of the busyness of exams by end-March was weighing me down. I was also becoming increasingly aware of a growing dissonance within me. I was beginning to reflect on my life, on the turn of recent events, on my past and how hazy the future appeared but amidst a lot of chaos and clutter. The yearning for...

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Hola Vacations!

Vacations are here and most of us have our trips well in place – researched, planned, booked and ready to take off! It may have taken us a few months to get everything done and now we cannot wait to take the yearly break we are so looking forward to. Yet, there are so many of us who have not been able to plan as much, research as much or have even thought of going someplace out of town. With the school vacations well into its second week, children are engaged in activities where they learn a new skill,...

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Journey into Paradise- Jammu & Kashmir Dairy

From the Mughals – who called it paradise on earth, to Bollywood films and songs – that romanced it for millions of Indians for ever, and to Bill Clinton- who gave it the dubious distinction of being the ‘most dangerous place on earth’ – picturesque and bountiful Kashmir has always captured visitor’s hearts and imaginations. The modern India state of Jammu & Kashmir is a huge state, with three focal points from the tourist point of view. These are Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Leh-Ladakh. Kashmir was once a major center of Sanskrit scholars, or pandits, from the times of Vikramaditya in 200 B.C ; then Buddhism came to the Kashmir Valley during the third century and after the rise of Ashoka, when it had the famous Chines traveller Huein Tsang visiting it, followed later by Sufi sages and Muslim invaders from Central Asia and Persia. It was eventually absorbed into the Mughal Empire,and it was Jahangir, so besotted with the valley’s beauty, who penned the famous Persian couplet: “Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, o hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast” (“If there is a heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here”). Later, in the 19th century, control over the valley passed from the Mughals to the Durrani Shahs of Afghanistan and later still to to the Sikh kingdom of Ranjit Singh, who in turn lost...

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