Madurai: A Town Where History is Part of Everyday Life

For a holiday in south India soaking in history and heritage, it would be pretty difficult to beat Madurai. The town is easily accessible and the main attractions can be covered in a couple of days, with time to spare for healthy and delicious breakfasts (the Tamil people seem dedicated to chutney innovations and it’s worth it) and a spot of shopping.

Madurai City

History:

Madurai was most prosperous, in wealth and culture, under the first and second rule of the Pandya kings, and later under the Nayaks.

Apparently, the town traded with ancient Rome and Greece and flourished under the Pandyas, till it was captured by the Cholas in the 10th century. The Pandyas took it back in the 13th century and built it up as a literary hub. Continue reading “Madurai: A Town Where History is Part of Everyday Life”

Luxury Trains in India

The Journey and The Destination

So, someone had the wicked-good idea of converting the journey, and not just the destination, into a special holiday. And thus luxury trains were born. And if any place can fully capture that awesomeness of a train journey, it has to be India, with its forests, palaces, temples, people and legends.

But not all trains are equal, so we’d like to show the green signal to the outstanding ones below. And while the carriages are distinctly designed in old-fashioned opulence, including personal butlers, they are also fitted with all the modern necessities—wifi, spa, gym etc.
Continue reading “Luxury Trains in India”

Offbeat Honeymoon Destinations

Heavenly Honeymoons – Build Forever Memories With That First Trip Together

How glorious to get away with your new partner after the seemingly endless, and quite definitely a little stressful, manoeuvrings of the wedding. Couples today like to plan this most anticipated outing together based on a shared interest; sometimes it is food, sometimes it is history, and sometimes adventure, and it always comes with the excitement of that first shared experience.

San Sebastian, Spain:

Set near the France border town of Biarritz and a few hours by car/train from Barcelona, the coastal Basque town of San Sebastian offers easy access from other popular destinations. But once you are here, it would take a great deal temptation to pull you away from this quaint coastal town set on the Bay of Biscay that is a foodie seventh heaven. Apart from the beautiful beaches and an easy-going atmosphere, San Sebastian is a base for globally top-rated chefs and is home to an upscale tapas called the Pintxo. So, it could be a decadent vacation with great wine and world-class food.

San Sebastian, Spain

Galapagos islands/Peru, South America:

How does swimming with sharks and sea lions sound? Or hiking up a mountain for spectacular views of an ancient citadel? For adventure fans looking for a honeymoon to remember, the Galapagos islands, which is in Ecuador territory, or a less than three-hour hike up Peru’s Huayna Picchu, which offers breathtaking views of the Inca civilisation structures on the nearby hill of Machu Picchu, will surpass all expectations. Continue reading “Offbeat Honeymoon Destinations”

Monsoon and Green Goa

It is difficult to keep a good thing secret for too long anyway. While for decades everyone headed to Goa’s famed beaches in Anjuna, Candolim, Vagator and Colva, and on tours of the churches and old bungalows, visitors are slowly discovering that there is a charming verdant personality to this tiny state that comes alive with the rains.

Indian monsoons give a different dimension to the land anyway. In Goa, you feel that nature turns green in an almost sci-fi manner; it’s so lush.

green Goa

Thankfully, Goan hoteliers agree that the tourist season is no longer confined between October and May. We may have fewer parties and events to head to, when the monsoon starts in mid-May and hits its stride in June, but that means it is more tranquil. Continue reading “Monsoon and Green Goa”

Coorg in the Rains

Coorg in the rains!

We chose to travel by car from Bangalore to Orange County Resort in Coorg. In retrospect, it was a long winded route to take; Mangalore would have been a smarter idea! As it turned out, the drive was long, but it was worth every hour spent on the road. Coorg, or Kodagu, is home to the Kodavas, who were a warrior community. Kodagu was a separate state during British rule, but was merged into Karnataka after India’s independence. Not without reason, Kodagu is rated as one of the top hill station destinations in India.

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Our first stop was Orange County, which turned out to be a haven of monsoon delight! The website of the hotel had used the words ‘bygone era of the Gentleman Planter’ and it could not have been more descriptive! Surrounded by coffee plantations, the resort was indeed a step back into another era. But the best part of the whole experience, was, of course, the rain! There’s something to be said for the lush, verdant greenery that only the monsoons bring to India. Continue reading “Coorg in the Rains”

Footprints in The sand

A trip to Rajasthan has always held the allure of stepping back into magical times. The splendour of the erstwhile Maharajas. The lilting strains of ‘kesariya balam’ haunting the sand dunes. Those goose bump raising stories of chivalry and bravery, of battles fought for honour and name. While Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur have remained etched in my memory as the vibrant Pink City, the ethereal white city and the right royal Blue City, my imagination has always been captured by the ruins of Chittorgarh.

sand

My first visit to Chittorgarh, which is just 90 kms away from Udaipur, was made when I was in college, over 35 years ago.  We stayed in a train bogey for 15 days, being shunted around all over Rajasthan in the most unceremonious and unromantic way… not how I thought I’d be introduced to this beautiful state. I swore then that I’d come back and do it the right way- in palace hotels, and all the trappings that go with them! Continue reading “Footprints in The sand”