• 5 Kerala temple festival videos to make your Vishu special

    Kerala is a living kaleidoscope of folk art traditions that come vibrantly alive in the festive season. Enjoy this visual journey

    Kerala is a living kaleidoscope of folk art traditions that come vibrantly alive in the festive season. From Theyyam performances in Kannur to the Valliyoorkavu Festival in Wayanad, enjoy this visual journey through some of the ritual arts and festivals of Kerala.

    Theyyam at Madayi Kaavu temple, Kannur

    Kannur’s Madayi Kaavu, where the Mother Goddess or Bhagavathy is worshipped, is believed to be one of the oldest shrines in the region. The deity is appeased through votive sacrifices of poultry. Fishing in a nearby river is considered auspicious and the catch — known as Kavu Pidi (catch of the temple) is believed to be the gift of the goddess.

    The temple is noted for its Kaliyattam, the performances of the ritual dance-theatre of Theyyam performed by dancers wearing elaborate headdresses and costumes. Theyyam is endemic to Kerala’s North Malabar region and the Theyyam dancer is perceived as a representation of divinity. The dancer, accompanied by drummers, sings the ritual song. The

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  • Don't see it? It's the world’s first invisible skyscraper

    Don’t bother taking a selfie in front of the Tower Infinity coming up in Seoul. It’s invisible.

    Now you see it, now you don’t. When it comes up in Seoul, South Korea, the Tower Infinity will be the world’s sixth largest skyscraper at 1,476 feet (450 m). It will also be invisible.

    The mind boggles. How can a structure that enormous be completely unseen?

    The answer lies in technology. Prof. Ulf Leonhardt of the Weizmann Institute of Science told The Guardian that technology can be used effectively to completely hide the building, achieving an illusion of invisibility.

    In an ideal scenario, materials are used that allow light to be bent around the object. The light waves go around the object and straight again. However, this is practically applicable only in the case of very small objects. For an object as colossal as a skyscraper, architects and designers fall back on a simpler trick: camouflage.

    The image of the background scenery is recorded with great precision and projected with LED technology on the facade of the building that it appears to blend completely into the

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  • Blush, it’s cherry blossom season

    The blooming of cherry blossoms is an event to celebrate in Japan and other parts of the northern hemisphere. This year's late bloom has reached its peak

    It's ironic that some of the most beautiful flowering cherry trees do not produce any fruit. Yet, when they come into bloom in spring, entire landscapes blush a pale, rosy pink. The most celebrated blooms, of course, are in Japan when sakura or ume trees burst into flower. In fact, so ingrained in culture is this event that the Japanese have a special word for camping or picnicking under a flowering cherry tree - Hanami.

    During WWII, the cherry blossom was a symbol of nationalism in Imperial Japan and was used in propaganda to motivate soldiers. Japanese fighter pilots painted cherry blooms on their aircraft before they set out for war. In fact the first kamikaze (suicide mission) had a subunit called Yamazakura or wild cherry blossom. The cherry blossom is a leitmotif in Japanese poetry, particularly haiku, and in art. Irezumi, the traditional art of Japanese tattoo, also uses a richness of cherry blossom imagery.  

    Today, the martial significance of cherry blossoms has faded into

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  • Tales of food, love and adventure in Jodhpur

    Jodhpur is a riot of colour and food, tales of heartbreak, love, secrets and adventure.

    By Mowna Ravikumar and Anisha Oommen.

    We reached Jodhpur late on a Thursday afternoon. With 48 hours to explore the city, we had chalked out an itinerary that filled every waking minute. Rajasthan was to be a trip of many firsts for us – the first time ever in a desert, first time walking through sand dunes, and the first time tasting thick makhaniya lassi; we couldn’t wait to get started.

    Scenes from the old market.
    We spent our first evening at the Ghanta Ghar market in Jodhpur, which turned out to be a great way to get a feel of the city, living and breathing, before we explored its history and heritage. As we approached the old gates, heaps of deliciously brown rusk on carts stopped us in our tracks. In the nippy late-evening air, nothing was more tempting than crisp rusk with tea. The tea stall at the gate made us a thick, creamy brew flavoured with sweet spices (but left us baffled with their cryptic signboard).

    Walking through the market, the energy was chaotic, loud and lively. Bandhani dupattas, bangles

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  • Wacky, creepy, gross: The world’s weirdest tourist attractions

    Normal travel is boring. If you want something out of the ordinary, opt for the weird and the creepy. There's plenty of choice.

    When ordinary travel just won’t do, walk — or take a dip — on the weird side.

    The Japanese are not known to take spa treatments lightly but this one really blows the average spa out of the water. On a regular day, the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun in Kanagawa, Japan passes off as a hot springs spa and water amusement park. But that's just a cover. Here you can bathe in the beverage of your choice -- choose from green tea, coffee, red wine, sake, and miso soup. There's rose and chocolate, too, for those inclined. And charcoal, which visitors have rated highly on TripAdvisor and praised as good clean fun. In fact, so coveted is the wine pool that it only opens for 12 days a year. All of these elixirs are believed to contain revitalizing properties and they're doubtless fun to slosh around in, if you don’t mind wallowing in a pool full of something aromatic and sticky with a crowd of deliriously happy men, women and children of all ages and sizes.

    That’s not all.

    Get high on creepiness at Mexico's Island of Dolls

    If getting creeped out is your

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  • Fata Morgana - An illusion your eyes can’t believe

    No prank we play can match up to the tricks Mother Nature has up her sleeve. Fata Morgana, a bizarre mirage, is one example. Take a look and be amazed

    On All Fools Day you were likely the subject of a joke. Hope you took it well. No prank, however, matches up to the tricks Mother Nature has up her sleeve. One of her most bizarre sleights of hand involves faraway objects, warm air and light. Yes, we’re talking of mirages.

    In a Fata Morgana, ships appear to float above the horizon

    Yari Piras was standing on a beach in Cagliari, Italy, when he spotted an unusual sight. A boat appeared to be sailing quite a distance away from him but its appearance was warped.

    Watch this video and be pleasantly fooled.

    You’re doubtless familiar with these intriguing illusions. Driving on a road on a hot day, you have seen the horizon shimmer with water. And we’ve all heard stories of marooned desert travelers attracted to visions of oases only to find nothing but more scorching sand.

    Those are inferior mirages. There are superior mirages. The terms don’t mean that one is better than the other; they refer to the complexity of the phenomena.

    First, let’s demystify mirages. Mirages, quite simply, are optical

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  • In search of the pyramid of my dreams

    This fascinating journey through Egypt’s pyramids will leave you wiser and hungrier for the experience

    By Raji Sunderkrishnan
    As my flight hovers over Cairo I crane my neck to glimpse the pyramids, unsuccessfully. I’ll see them when I return to Cairo at the end of my journey around Egypt. I’d saved the best for last: Cairo’s most famous resident, the Sphinx, flanked by the Giza pyramids.
    Or, so I thought.

    The Pyramids at Giza are in the middle of Cairo

    The Giza pyramids
    Perched on your camel, all you can see is the vast, brown desert melding into the horizon. As you go over a dune, silhouettes of the three pyramids appear amidst the swirling sand. You direct your camel towards these marvels and stop in your tracks as you come close. You let the enormity of the structures sink in; it leaves you tongue-tied. There’s not a sound except for the swooshing sand, probably carrying messages from deep within these magnificent tombs.
    You drive into a parking lot, from an entrance near a Pizza Hut. You jostle your way through surging crowds. The pyramids are smack in the centre of bustling Cairo. There are buses obstructing your view and

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  • A dead river comes to life

    Desert rivers are dead most of the year but when they come alive, they are a spectacle to behold. What makes desert rivers special? And how do these natural phenomena work?

    This video shows the River Zin, which is usually a dry bed in Israel’s Negev Desert, reborn as fast-flowing waters filled its channel and raced towards the Dead Sea on March 14. Heavy rainfall on the mountains nearby brought the spectacular flash flood to this dusty creek. Bystanders watch as a large muddy wave advances slowly across the desert, filling up creeks and hollows and surges forward across the Negev Desert.

    Another, perhaps more spectacular, video shows a similar scene from an aerial point of view. Using a drone camera, storyteller Leon Portman captures the flooding of a seasonal river in the Arava Desert of Israel. 'For only a couple of days every year does the Arava Desert receive enough rainfall to create rivers,' writes Portman. 'When this does happen, however, the canyons in the desert swell with rushing water in the middle of the desert. This spectacular footage of the canyons was taken with DJI Phantom 2 and GoPro 3+.'

    Desert rivers are astonishing natural phenomena.

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  • 12 Hours in McLeodganj

    It was not a trip that went according to plan, but it was encouraging for a young woman travelling solo in India

    By Priya Aggarwal

    I had been waiting a long time for my first solo trip. A young woman on the move alone in India would raise many eyebrows but I was geared for it. I reached Kashmere Gate interstate bus terminal in Delhi in the evening and when I bought a bus ticket for Dharamshala, it dawned upon me that I was really doing it. From there I would catch another bus for McLeodganj, which is just a half-hour’s drive away.

    The cricket stadium in Dharamshala, just before McLeodganj

    It began well. I was seated next to a Korean Buddhist nun who had been staying in India for 10 years. It is not uncommon for monks and nuns to accompany you on a bus ride to McLeodganj. The place has been the seat of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama since his exile from Tibet. I feel that due to the virtues of their religion, Buddhists are a very peaceful and compassionate people. I can vouch for it even more now. The face of an old woman selling necklaces at a stall still lingers in my mind; she gave me a wide smile as I passed by even without buying anything. This is

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  • Walking in Fontainhas, Goa's historic Latin quarter

    Goa reveals itself to the tourist in ways untold. A walk through Fontainhas and São Tomé, which constitute the Latin quarter of Panjim, is not just a journey back in time but a hat-doff to a state’s zeal to keep its colonial legacy alive

    There are so many Goas - to each holiday-maker his or her own. The Goa of blissed-out beaches. Of punch-drunk partying and long, sunburned-to-a-crisp weekends. The Goa of lager and baked crab at Calangute’s Souza Lobo, of feni and sorpotel at Margao’s Lounginho's. Of dancing dirty and dainty. Of Shigmo and Carnaval. Of cathedrals and temples. Of river cruises, monsoon rafting and mangrove safaris. Of sea-forts and mansions and endless afternoons of siestas and sossegado. Of surprisingly cheap and cozy monsoon beach shacks far, far from the madding radar of TripAdvisor...

    How much more can one discover in a state with a 100-km coastline? As if in answer, on a weekend trip early this month, I was revealed another aspect of Goa. The Goa of vintage. A Goa whose Latin heritage thrives after more than four centuries since the Portuguese established their dominion on the west coast of India.

    A street in Panjim's Latin quarter

    The Portuguese were the first European colonialists to assert a reigning foothold in India. A seafaring

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