Travel Category

Vibrant Gujarat - The land of Gandhi, Patel and Modi


Gujarat is not just the land of Gandhi , Patel and Modi , it’s a lot more than that , and is actually a treasure trove for tourists. With lots to offer , it could actually rival neighbouring Rajasthan as a hot spot for tourist arrivals. 

With numerous tourist attractions, varying Landscapes, Wildlife Reserves , World Heritage Monuments, Arts and Crafts , etc , the state of Gujarat could well be a stand alone 8 or 10 day destination. 

I traveled to Gujarat earlier this week, after several years , and actually only touched the proverbial tip of the iceberg . Our first stop just after landing at Ahmedabad airport was the Gandhi Ashram , the place where Mahatma Gandhi , the father of our nation, spent several years . The exhibits are interesting and have a lot of Indian Independence related history, but as a tourist attraction, it could do with a bit of upgrading. On to our destination, the Little Rann of Kutch , which is a huge ( huge as in almost 4000 sq kms ) expanse of flat land , a white salt desert expanse that stretches from horizon to horizon, home to unique animal and bird life , the Indian Wild Ass as well as thousands and thousands of Flamingos and other migratory birds . Using the beautiful Rann Riders Camp as our base , we did excursions to the Modhera Sun Temple and the Patan Stepwell .  The Patan Stepwell , a UNESCO World Heritage Site , set in beautiful gardens is spectacular, as is the Modhera Sun Temple . 

Post a couple of excellent Safaris in the Little Rann of Kutch,  where we had very knowledgeable naturalists from the Rann Riders Camp driving us through the vast plains of the Rann, and pointing out its unique flora and fauna , our next stop in Gujarat was the mighty and collosal “ Statue of Unity “ . 

Standing an extremely tall 182 meters , the Statue of Unity is the world’s highest statue ( by a mile , since the next highest is actually only about 130 meters ) of India’s iron man Sardar Patel , one of the leaders of India’s independence movement, and also one of the architects of the modern Indian Republic. The Statue of Unity was actually unveiled during late 2018 , and ever since then , visiting it was on top of my agenda. Then came Covid, all plans going awry , so just as soon as I could plan this , I did .. and I’m so glad I did ! Hearing the stories or reading about its size, doesn’t really give you any idea of how big the statue is ! It’s only when you get there , that you actually appreciate its size and other attributes. The Gujarat government has actually outdone itself , when it comes to the museum ( comparable with anything at the Smithsonian) and the facilities and  attractions around the statue . It’s only a two hour drive from Baroda ( or Vadodara as it is now called ) and about a 4 hour drive from Ahmedabad, so very very accessible and at the risk of repeating myself, well worth a visit . Excellent accommodation and other facilities, actually far exceeded my expectations.

Next stop , Baroda , or Vadodara as it is now called , another destination that deserves a place on the tourism map , even if it’s just for a day . The piece de resistance of Baroda is the Laxmi Vilas Palace , said to be the world’s largest residence. Spread over 700 acres , it is said to be four times the size of Buckingham Palace . The erstwhile Royal family of Baroda still resides in a part of the Palace , and a section of it is open as a museum. Well worth the visit !

We did all of this in four days , and in conclusion, Vibrant Gujarat is certainly an Incredible part of Incredible India . 

Jaipur: UNESCO Walled City and Creative City of Folk Arts and Crafts


Jaipur is a city with various charms. The royal city of Rajasthan is not just home to forts, palaces and incredible architecture, it is home to intricate arts and crafts. The walled city has joined the ranks of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India and is also a UNESCO inscribed Creative City of folk arts and crafts. The Pink City as is lovingly called has a rich history of performing culture and craft production. UNESCO celebrates the distinct artistic identity of Jaipur. On a visit to the city, take a look at the creation of the arts and crafts.

Under the patronage of the Kachwahas, different art forms were laid and developed. Today, Jaipur has 30 different crafts forms, and at least 7 mainstream performing arts with 36 craft industries (karkhanas) of different kinds of crafts from textile production to stonework.

The traditional bazaars and popular markets of Jaipur offer a look at these impressive workmanship and shop for these treasures. Here is all that you need to know about the Jaipur’s creations.

1. Blue Pottery

Jaipur Blue Pottery

Jaipur has a reputation for blue pottery. The craftsmanship is used to make objects like flower vases, lamp shades, crockery, jewellery boxes, serving trays and other things. The pottery stands out as it is made of unique quartz stone and has vibrant blue and golden designs, or animal and bird motifs.

2. Lac Bangles

Lac bangles

A fashionable creation, bangles in Jaipur are made of lacquer, a type of varnish from wood. These bangles are strikingly beautiful with bold colors and artistic designs of colorful beads, stones or mirror work.

3. Gems and Metal Jewelry

Jaipur jewellery

Jewelry making in Jaipur is as old as the city itself. Crafted in all its sparkling forms in the gold, silver and diamond with delicate Meenakari, Jadau, and Kundan work these handmade crafts make them look gorgeous. The traditional Thewa jewelry has its own charm as well. The jewelry ranges from necklaces, anklets, headgear, pendants, bracelets, nose rings, earrings, etc. Jaipur is also famous for its precious stones and gems.

4. Textiles

Textiles are also a specialty of Jaipur. These textiles are hand-made in vibrant shades and made unique with block printing and different styles. Bandhani sarees are among the famous creations of Jaipur as are odhnis, shawls, scarves, and more turbans. Plant based paints and hand-made designs are the reason the textiles are uniquely wonderful.

5. Miniature Paintings

Another handcrafted treasure of Jaipur are miniature paintings. Made from natural paints derived from plants, minerals, and shells the art does not fade through time. A special feature of the paintings are sparkling effects that is created by crushed powder of precious or semi-precious stones.

6. Wooden Furniture

Jaipur is well-known for its marvellous wooden furniture. They have unique design and motifs, especially latticework. The beautiful wooden furniture includes chairs, stools, cabinets, picture frames, jewelry boxes, household items among many others.

7. Puppets

Puppets in Jaipur

Colourful puppets are one of the best souvenirs of a holiday in Jaipur. Finely crafted by craftsmen at almost every market of the city, puppets are used for home décor or play toys for children.

8. Jootis

An essential part of Rajasthan’s traditional attire, jootis meaning shoes are one of the finely crafted treasures of the city. Worn at the time of festive seasons, marriage ceremonies and special occasions, they are beautifully made from camel leather and embellished with stones and embroidery.

9. Rugs and Carpets

Jaipur is known for the finest hand-made carpets and rugs. Woven in rich colors, patterns, and designs, the wool or silk rugs and carpets are best used as home décor items. You can either watch the artisans weave or shop for the finished products.

10. Marble Handicrafts

Jaipur is world-famous for its handicrafts made of marble. In the bustling city shop for marble statues, sculptures, furniture, table tops, flower vases, serving trays, etc. The fantastic display are perfect for souvenirs.

The arts and crafts of Jaipur are known to offer a fabulous shopping experience. So, when a plan a trip to Jaipur, look beyond the forts, palaces and sightseeing. Explore the creativity and the incredible cultural heritage.


India’s 14 Gems on UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity


India’s cultural legacy is thousands of years old. Its vast and diverse heritage comprise of not just monuments but traditions, rituals and way of life. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization makes effort to keep intact the cultural heriatge. It has an elite list of sites that 13 such gems of India that make its name on the UNESCO representative list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity.



A form of Sanskrit theatre practised in Kerala, Kutiyattam is synthesis of Sanskrit classicism and local traditions of Kerala. The theatrical production has unique characteristics that include neta abhinaya (eye expression) and hasta abhinaya (the language of gestures) are prominent. It is performed in theatres called Kuttampalams, which are located in Hindu temples.

The tradition of Vedic chanting 

Tradition of Vedic Chanting

The verses of the Vedas were traditionally chanted during sacred rituals and recited daily in Vedic communities. It is known for the rich content of its oral literature and the ingenious techniques employed by the Brahmin priests. Only 13 of the over one thousand Vedic recitation branches have survived. Four noted schools: Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and Orissa are under threat



 A theatrical prodcution of Ramayana, Ramlial is performed across northern India during the festival of Dussehra. The staging of the Ramayana is based on the Ramacharitmanas by Tulsidas. Most representative Ramlilas are those of Ayodhya, Ramnagar and Benares, Vrindavan, Almora, Sattna and Madhubani.

Ramman              ·       

It is a religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas. Performed every year in late April, in the honour of the tutelary god, Bhumiyal Devta at the twin villages of Saloor-Dungra in  Uttarakhand.It reflects the environmental, spiritual and cultural concept of the community



It is a ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala  performed annually in ‘Bhagavati Kavus’, the temples of the goddess. It was performed in different villages along the rivers Chalakkudy Puzha, Periyar and Moovattupuzha. It performs the mythological tale of a battle between the goddess Kali and the demon Darika.

Kalbelia folk songs and dances


Performed by kalbelia community of Rajasthan. Women dance replicating the movements of serpent. Men accompany them on the ”khanjari” percussion instrument and the ”poongi,” a woodwind instrument traditionally played to capture snakes. Special traditional dances are performed during Holi

Chauu Dance

Chauu Dance     

Performed in Eastern India, the dance enacts episodes from epics including the Mahabharata and Ramayana, local folklore and abstract themes. It has three distinct styles: Seraikella, Purulia and Mayurbhanj- the first two uses masks. Chhau dance is intimately connected to regional festivals, notably the spring festival Chaitra Parva.  Folk music played on reed pipes ”mohuri” and ”shehnai.”

Buddhist chanting of Ladakh

Buddhist Chanting of Ladakh

It is the recitation of sacred Buddhist texts by major sects viz. Nyngma, Kagyud, Shakya and Geluk.


 It is the ritual singing, dancing, the drumming of Manipur narrating the  lives and deeds of Lord Krishna.

Craft of the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru

Craft of the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru

Constitutes the traditional technique of manufacturing brass and copper utensils in Punjab. Metalwork defines Tathehara’s family and kinship structure, work ethic and status within the social hierarchy of the town.

Nowruz                ·       

Marks the Persian new year-celebrated on March 21st. The day is marked with a variety of rituals, ceremonies and other cultural events take place for a period of about two weeks.  Also celebrated in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan



Yoga is an ancient Indian art of unifying the mind with body and soul for greater spiritual, mental and physical well-being. It consists of a series of poses, meditation, controlled breathing, word chanting and other techniques.

Kumbh Mela 

Kumbh Mela

The largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on the earth. During the festival pilgrims bathe or take a dip in the Ganga River  It takes place every third year at one of the four places by rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain.

Durga Puja in Kolkata


India’s Pride at Tokyo Olympics 2020


India performs its best in the past four decades in Olympics 2021. This year, India was proud with its win of 7 medals. After the delay of the Olympics due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Olympics 2020 was conducted this year in Tokyo. India made history and here are the ones who made it.

India at Tokyo Olyimpics

Javelin throw - Neeraj Chopra (Gold)

Hailing from Haryana, the gold medallist has made history. It is the first time an Indian track and field athlete won a gold medal at the Olympics. His fantastic javelin throw has made a golden mark in the pages of Olympics.

Wrestling (57 KG) - Ravi Kumar Dahiya (Silver)

Also, hailing from Delhi’s neighbouring state Haryana, the wrestler won a silver medal.

Weight Lifting (49 Kg Women) - Mirabai Chanu (Silver)

The lady from India’s beautiful North East, Mainpur won a silver medal in weight lifting.

Women’s Singles Badminton - PV Sindhu (Bronze)

A popular sportswoman, P V Sindhu from Hyderabad has won many awards and titles in International and National Championships. She won a bronze for India at the Tokyo Olympics 2021.

Women’s Welterweight Boxing - Lovlina Borgohain (Bronze)

A first time athlete in the Olympics, the women boxer made her name in the pages of history with a bronze medal in Olympics 2021.

Hockey Indian Hockey Team (Bronze)

Bringing glory to India after four decades, the Hockey Team won the bronze medal for the country.

Wrestling (65 Kg) - Bajarang Punia (Bronze)

Last but not the least, the Indian wrestler won a bronze medal for India.

While the Indian Women Hockey Team missed the bronze medal, they surely made history with a tough fight to its opponents.

Travel in the Covid 19 era - Wildflower Hall , Mashobra ( near Shimla)


First trip out of Delhi since Covid changed life for all of us, and I must say, we couldn’t have chosen a better place to go to. Set among Pine and Deodhar trees at an altitude of about 2600 meters above sea level, a perfect getaway from the heat, dust and pollution of Delhi. 

At first we were rather apprehensive about traveling in Covid times, concerned about cleanliness and safety, but within a few minutes of getting to Wildflower Hall, we actually realised that we felt a lot safer there than we did in Delhi. The new normal, rigorously followed by the hotel, started with the car being sanitised prior to entering, our luggage being sanitised prior to entering, our temperature being checked prior to entering, staff all wearing masks and face shields, rooms sanitised daily etc . 

The experience was only slightly different to normal, with menus being QR codes, the walk through the lobby being with masks, but other than that it was like old times, and very very good with the legendary Oberoi hospitality.

The short 4 day trip has actually given us the confidence to be traveling (at least within India for the moment) again, and has also served the purpose of reaffirming my thoughts , that it’s the good, safe, professionally managed hotels and resorts that will see recovery earlier than the others. Travel is something ingrained in our DNA and it’s bound to bounce back, and safe travel is what everyone is going to be looking for, at least for the near future.