Call me a romantic at heart but how enthralling is the idea of traveling through treacherous regions, navigating through miles and miles of sand in search of elusive lakes? In the modern era of adventure tourism, the word adventure is so loosely used that a bungee jump in a super safe place is categorized as adventure; where could I read of authentic traveler accounts with genuine adventures? My first introduction to such a swashbuckling adventurer was Peter O’Toole riding a camel in the vast expanses of the Arabian deserts with his beautiful agal in the movie Lawrence of Arabia fancied after the great British explorer T.E. Lawrence.
India has never been more ‘nationalistic’ in recent history. With the wave of elections and the upcoming big one in 2019, it is even more obvious that a string of jingoistic messages are being floated. In equal measure though, is the ‘liberal’ front of things questioning ideologies and far standing traditions. The term ‘liberal’ is a more recent concept in the history of time (earliest references are 17th century) wherein freedom of religion, a general acceptance of free thinking, open and transparent society are fundamental tenets. Traditionally India has been a unitized fabric of rulers and the ruled; and religion has been inseparable, as it is today. Mighty kings fought and expanded their vast empires stretching all the way from Afghanistan to parts of present day Burma even. Up until the 10th century, predominantly, three religions were practised: Hinduism, Buddhism & Jainism. I shall not get into the Aryan-Dravidian divide and shall discuss India as it stands. Let us start from the time when a coherent system of barter, metallurgy, pottery, politics, warfare and agriculture was developed. Religion and state were never separated and yet society prospered at various times and at other times there were setbacks. How has the country fared from the view of the modern ‘liberal’ tag during several phases of her existence?
Traveling through peak winter in cold places is never fun. On a recent work cum holiday trip I was presented with two options – take pictures at -20°C or stay warm in rented rooms. Needless to say, I chose the former. Working my way through parts of Boston, New York, Colorado and Minneapolis over the course of just a little under 4 weeks, I managed to get some wintry snowy pictures with shaking hands. I leave a few here.
Kanchipuram has always been one of the most important religious cities of the world. Housing over a hundred temples, all at least a 1000 years old, it has been a confluence of Shiva, Vishnu and Shakta tracts of Hinduism. The capital of the Pallava dynasties for centuries, the city is sacred to many as one of the most potent centers for spirituality. It is one of the Sapta Puris or Seven Cities (Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi, Kanchipuram, Ujjain and Dwarka). These cities are the select places of high spiritual elevation and spiritual masters have time and again been born in these places. On one warm summer afternoon, I visited the matha (an institute of asceticism usually started by a spiritual master) of one such exalted masters, Upanishad Brahmendra.
Having traveled through the slightly off the beaten path of Northern Spain, I thought it might be useful to pen down some practical information on how to travel through this part of the vast and beautiful country of Spain. I often found more information on the bigger and more popular cities of Spain but found it a little difficult to get easy information on this part. Its my humble attempt to list a few things that might be useful to someone planning to travel here someday!