Wah Taj!

Wah Taj!

Nearly 400 years ago, a man fell in love with a woman. And when she passed away, he decided to let the world know what she meant to him. What he left behind was a legacy of love – and untold cruelty. But what stands till today, is one of the most beautiful creations put together by man. And the light of the full moon…

Winged Wonders of Bharatpur

Winged Wonders of Bharatpur

Nearly 300 years ago, the ruler of the princely state of Bharatpur constructed a bund to channelise waters from Banganga and Gambhir rivers, to a nearby depression. Thus was born the wetlands of Bharatpur, christened Keoladeo Ghana after a temple in the vicinity. With the arrival of water, came the birds. And the marshes became the favourite hunting grounds for English masters and their princely…

Beauties from the Western Ghats

Beauties from the Western Ghats

The Western Ghats of India, are a nature lover’s paradise. Thousands of species of flora and fauna thrive here, some found nowhere else in the world. And among the Ghats’ crown jewels is the tiny village of Amboli. For most, it is a hill station to be visited in monsoons, for its magical mists and roaring waterfalls. But the mists hide another treasure – nature’s…

Dances in the mountains

Dances in the mountains

“Julley ji! Aaj aap bahut achhe time pe aaye. Aaj hamara bahut achcha festival hai.” With his bright smile, Tashi leads us up the narrow lanes of Demul – a tiny village, high above the Spiti Valley. It is summer in the Himalayas, and Demul is celebrating the Namkhan, its annual harvest festival. The whole village is gearing up for festivities, and ready to welcome…

Of Hoops and Flames

Of Hoops and Flames

In the middle of the night, a train is blaring its horns, announcing its arrival at a wayside station. A man, casually walks across the tracks and takes position on a tiny pedestal. In his hand, a blazing torch and a hoop of wire with a pouch that contains a metallic ball. He then waits for the train to come straight at him. He is…

Last Stand of the Lower Quadrants

Last Stand of the Lower Quadrants

Tucked away in a corner of the Punjab, lies a nondescript town named Dhuri. If you ask the locals, they claim that famous movie-star Dharmendra, spent his youth working there. The Indian Railways however, has a habit of attaching great importance to nondescript towns. Dhuri, for them is an extremely important junction. Four lines radiate – north towards Ludhiana, east towards Patiala, south towards Jind…

Ghost Cat Diaries

Ghost Cat Diaries

Continued from…. They say well prepared is half done. And prepare we did for this trip. After all, we were going to a place where the slightest mistake could kill us. The roads would be some of the world’s most dangerous. We would be walking in knee deep snow or along precarious ledges. All of this when daytime temperatures would be below freezing, and at…

The Terai Trains

The Terai Trains

“Almost every other week, one of the station staff sees a tiger around here. Occasionally, a leopard. Elephants, well in summer, they cross near the home signal in hordes!” That was the station master at Dudhwa introducing his station to us. Not that we were expecting any less at a station located smack in the middle of a national park. I for one, was secretly…

Riding the Sri Lankan Railways

Riding the Sri Lankan Railways

Early in 2017, I visited Sri Lanka with a friend. Apart from checking out major tourist attractions on the East and South coast, we also made it a point to ride as many trains in Sri Lanka as we could. Not only were they a cost effective mode of transport, they also allowed us to explore the country’s natural beauty from the comfort of our…

Tale of Two Kingdoms – Redux

Tale of Two Kingdoms – Redux

The fabled land of Rajasthan was actually a collection of princely states. Chief among them were the states of Mewar and Marwar, with their seats at Udaipur and Jodhpur respectively. From the late 19th century itself, Marwar was served by the Rajputana – Malwa railway, with lines extending from Ajmer to Delhi, Indore and Ahmedabad, and a branch to Jodhpur via Marwar Jn. Mewar. The…