A journey into the wilds often takes me on a date with dawn. I rose one morning to greet the sun only to find it lost somewhere amid many layers of clouds. It took me a little time to realize that it was the mist that played the central character here. Lending a mysterious aura to the landscape, it teased the traveller, revealing itsy-bitsy patches of green and wrapping the scenery in its fold. A temporary facade of white blinded the eye until the mist just melted away. And then I saw it. Girdled by mountains, covered with dense forests, here was a landscape that a pantheist would write an ode to. And that is when you realize that the phrase “God’s own country” is not all marketing jargon.
I crossed into the Kerala border from Coorg in Karnataka just as dawn broke. The road was brimming with traffic as some of the heavy vehicles were heading into town. I have always found it a bit intriguing when I cross a border of the state and move into another. I crossed the mandatory check posts
Blog Posts by Lakshmi Sharath
An early morning walk in this Wayanad forest makes you realize that the phrase 'God's Own Country' is not all marketing jargonBy Lakshmi Sharath | Lakshmi Sharath – Mon 9 Dec, 2013 1:11 PM IST
A journey into the wilds often takes me on a date with dawn. I rose one morning to greet the sun only to find it lost somewhere amid many layers of clouds. It took me a little time to realize that it was the mist that played the central character here. Lending a mysterious aura to the landscape, it teased the traveller, revealing itsy-bitsy patches of green and wrapping the scenery in its fold. A temporary facade of white blinded the eye until the mist just melted away. And then I saw it. Girdled by mountains, covered with dense forests, here was a landscape that a pantheist would write an ode to. And that is when you realize that the phrase “God’s own country” is not all marketing jargon.Read More »from A misty morning in Tholpetty
There's more to Pushkar than the famous cattle fair. The lake, its legends and the ghats are the very life of the pilgrim town where foreign tourists flockBy Lakshmi Sharath | Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment – Thu 28 Nov, 2013 12:22 PM IST
The mood is sombre and the sky dark. The lake, however, is so placid like a transparent sheet of glass reflecting our mood. Standing at the ghats with other pilgrims, I wonder how Brahma, who is believed to have created this peaceful lake from the petals of a lotus flower, could be cursed by his wife Savithri.Read More »from Pushkar, not just for the cattle fair
The silence is soothing but for some murmuring of chants from the ghats. All of a sudden cracks appear in it and the peace is shattered. There is quite a commotion as men yell and shout at each other, gesticulating violently. A medley of tourists and pilgrims like us look alarmed but locals and vendors seem rather indifferent to it. “This is Pushkar, madam," says a vendor selling a bundle of bright red turbans. “You will see loads of arguments here because of the curse but everything will be finally settled and peaceful -- like the lake," he adds.
The lake is the nerve centre of Pushkar. The cattle fair may have brought in the tourists, but it is the lake that tells the story of
Dr Bhang may try to seduce you with his cannabis-laced drinks, but you don’t need them to get high on Jaisalmer’s living coloursBy Lakshmi Sharath | Lakshmi Sharath – Thu 7 Nov, 2013 12:39 PM IST
My tryst with Jaisalmer starts with Dr Chandar Prakash Vyas in his tiny little lassi shop located in the fort. The day is overcast with dark monsoon clouds and I am very thirsty. A couple of foreign travellers from the UK are seated on small stools, while a trio from Hyderabad is huddled in the corner. A couple of rugs are sprawled around and I sit on one of them, my back cushioned against the wall. A huge kitschy picture of Shiva in Kailash adorns the walls behind me and a television blares in the front, showcasing Antony Bourdain from an episode of No Reservations, entering this shop. Everybody is asked to pay attention to the episode as Babu or Chandar uses it as a way to introduce himself.He is neither a practitioner of medicine nor does he hold a doctorate in any discipline. Yet, he is an authority on bhang and he is fondly referred to as Dr Bhaang. His lassi shop was the official bhang shop in Jaisalmer until a year ago as his competitor, he claims, has got the tag now by Read More »from High on life in Jaisalmer
Mehrangarh – the Citadel of the Sun – has made itself more popular after its cameo in The Dark Knight Rises but everything else in Jodhpur sparkles with an ageless, timeless beautyBy Lakshmi Sharath | Lakshmi Sharath – Tue 5 Nov, 2013 2:41 PM IST
It was well after sunset when I met Habib. I was standing outside Umaid Bhawan Palace, high up on Chittar Hill, drenched, hoping to get a ride down to the streets of Jodhpur. It had been raining since afternoon and almost all of Jodhpur seemed to be indoors, celebrating the fury of nature. There were hardly any tourists but for a few foreigners.
Standing in the parking lot, I looked down from Chittar Hill as the colours of twilight embraced the town. No auto driver was willing to take us down and it was still raining. Finally, Habib agreed after negotiating a small sum for the two-minute downhill ride. He was in a hurry to drop us as he had been hired for the day by a couple foreigners who were still at the museum in the palace.
As we got off the auto near the gate, he thrust a card in my hand and said, “Look me up on TripAdvisor Madam. I am very safe for single women.” And even before I could react, he was off in a whirlwind, up the hill to ferry his clients.
Later in the night asRead More »from An afternoon in Jodhpur
A small seaside town in Poland on the Baltic Coast is a page out of a children’s book come true.By Lakshmi Sharath | Lakshmi Sharath – Wed 16 Oct, 2013 11:49 AM IST
Read More »from Gdansk: On a fairytale trail in Poland
Fairy tales are not just about handsome princes and beautiful princess. They are filled with men with crooked noses and women with crooked hats, witches and wizards casting many a spell, castles that are enchanted and grow on beanstalks or are made of candy.
In a small seaside town in Poland on the Baltic Coast is a fairytale house that has no giants or witches or princesses living in them. Krzywy Domek in Sopot is a page out of a children’s book come true. The first time you look at it, you wonder if your eyes are playing tricks on you. This peculiarly designed building is called The Crooked House. It stands out as an old sagged building that is bent out of exhaustion and is part of a shopping complex today. This 43,000 sq ft home with three storeys was inspired by the works of Polish illustrator Jan Marcin Szancer and Per Dahlberg, a Swedish artist from Sopot, and is considered one of the strangest buildings of the world.
But the charms don’t end here. Healing potions have found
What's the point of visiting Kashmir without falling down in the snow and ice?By Lakshmi Sharath | Lakshmi Sharath – Thu 26 Sep, 2013 3:02 PM IST
Bubli stood alone in a little patch of green, looking absolutely disinterested in the crowd that had just gathered around her. She was probably missing her Bunty. In a region where every grove, forest, glacier and valley has been immortalised by every actor known to Bollywood, it came as no surprise to me that the ponies would also take the names of Bunty and Bubli. I was one of those standing around her, while she was being cajoled to take me on a ride to the Thajiwas glacier in Sonmarg in Kashmir. But she seemed more interested in grazing in the meadows than carrying me up the hills.
I stood there for as long as I could, mesmerised by the meadows. The green was all-consuming. There were no dark and mysterious woods here, no whispering streams, no winding paths uphill- just a never-ending carpet of soft, silky grass. I wished I could run here barefoot forever. But here I was, clad in an ill-fitting pair of boots, waiting for Bubli to oblige while she refused to leave her favouriteRead More »from Smitten with snow in Sonmarg
Notes from a quiet morning spent on Kashmir's beautiful Nagin LakeBy Lakshmi Sharath | Lakshmi Sharath – Tue 3 Sep, 2013 11:49 AM ISTIt was the quintessential Kashmir moment. On a placid lake floated a tiny boat brimming with delicate blooms in vibrant hues. It seemed like the picture postcard had just come alive. Even clichés here were refreshing. It might be an antithesis but sitting on the ornate wooden balcony of the houseboat on Nagin Lake, watching a shikara emerge out of the smoky mist, while silver-lined clouds floated past mountains throwing reflections on the dark blue water, I could not help but feel overwhelmed. I could watch this scene over again and again and replay it in my mind’s eye.
Read More »from Sunrise in Kashmir
There are certain moments when you travel, when the mind is emptied of all thought and time stands still. This was one such, except that it stretched on for hours. Dawn had broken, but the sun had no intention to shine from behind the clouds. I was finally distracted by a bird, a little grebe, chasing another and rippling the water.
I had the houseboat to myself. Perhaps the lake as well. The sound of silence was music
August 22 marks the date 375 years ago when a fishing hamlet on the Coromandel coast changed hands and became Madras, and then Chennai. Here are 30 ways to spend the day here.By Lakshmi Sharath | Lakshmi Sharath – Thu 22 Aug, 2013 4:50 PM IST
“What’s in a name?" asked Shakespeare. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
I would say the same about Madras or Chennai, the city that I call home. The city is unique. It is both archaic and young at the same time. It encompasses regions like Mylapore and Triplicane that are beyond 1500 years old, or a young settlement that grew around Fort St George that is under 400 years old. And today apparently happens to be an anniversary when a piece of paper changed hands between the local Nayak chieftains and the British 375 years ago, which gave the latter a fishing hamlet. Fort St George was built here and the settlement, Madras, eventually grew into the city, adding villages to its boundaries. If you are travelling to the city sometime, here are 30 things that you can do, touristy, offbeat, local, all-inclusive.
1. Drive on the beach road early in the morning - start from Royapuram or Ennore and drive all the way up to Besant Nagar or ECR if you like .
2. Watch theRead More »from 30 things to do on Madras Day
Battling fear as the water pressure intensified under the ocean, Lakshmi Sharath’s buoyant spirit kept her going as she snorkelled in the ocean. And then, on the shore, a walk through dense jungleBy Lakshmi Sharath | Lakshmi Sharath – Tue 20 Aug, 2013 2:58 PM IST
The little boy looked all excited in his shiny orange life jacket as his parents held onto his arms and tossed him into the shallow waters of the South China Sea in Pulau Redang. Sitting on a rock at the edge of the beach in the Marine Park, the family gazed at the blue-green ocean off the Malaysian island, while the boy played with the waves. Surrounding them were millions of tourists, creating a riot of colours as their orange life jackets lay scattered amidst the many shades of blue of the sea. But none of this was as colourful as the world beneath the ocean. I could look at the sea for hours and count the number of blues and call it azure or aquamarine, but the hues of the marine world were a different palette of colours entirely, lost to those who looked just at the surface.Read More »from Two magical worlds in Redang
I stood a little away from the beach watching the tourists snorkel as they dipped their heads into water and bobbed on the waves closer to the shore. A short flight of steps took me up a path and from there I
Some of India’s best kept secrets cannot be found on a map. Tucked away inside golden fields with lotus ponds surrounding them are small, little-known ancient temples that are steeped in history. Marale and Mosale are two such.By Lakshmi Sharath | Lakshmi Sharath – Wed 17 Jul, 2013 2:57 PM IST
Read More »from The hidden Hoysala temples of Marale and Mosale
When I embarked on the quest of traversing rustic Karnataka looking for lesser known Hoysala temples, little did I know that I would stumble upon an obscure village that may hold clues to the origins of the dynasty. I am not referring to Angadi, the soseyuru of the ancient Hoysalas, where myth and history converge, where legends claim that Sala slew the tiger and founded the dynasty at the behest of his guru or where historians claim that the oldest ever Hoysala monuments were built. I am referring to a pair of twin temples found in picturesque villages and my trail began with one of them – Marale. Located between Belur and Chikmagalur, it is home to one of the earliest twin temples of the Hoysala dynasty.
I learned that Marale had an interesting link with the origin of the dynasty. An inscription here threw some light on the history of the Hoysalas, who were referred to as Male chiefs of “chieftains of the hills” and were considered vassals of the Chalukya kings. The village was
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