If you've been wondering where my writing has gone - here's the answer. Read on to find my latest works.
Kandy is a delightful little city with an old-world charm. Whether you are wandering around the Dalada Maligawa or pottering about the streets of the town, you can never miss the slower pace and gentler attitudes of the people. Even the busy bustling streets are deserted and quiet after dark, and most exchanges with locals will leave with a feeling of peace and calm. Here are a few snapshots from our time there.
The most visited attraction in Kandy is also its most shining jewel, and an important religious center for Buddhists from all over Sri Lanka. For a place that is visited by thousands of pilgrims and tourists every day, the temple is curiously peaceful. It is a living temple and you will come across people – both monks and lay folk – at prayer or in deep contemplation. The buildings in the complex have been in use for centuries – the first version of the temple was built in 1595 CE. The temple is a masonry structure with a wooden superstructure, and there are elaborate decorations on many parts of it.
Hampi is the modern town that sits by the ruins of the City of Victory, Vijayanagara, capital of the once mighty Vijayanagar Empire. Local tradition also says that it is the site of the Kingdom of Monkeys, Kishkinda, and birthplace of Hanuman, the monkey god. In fact, every guide will tell you that the landscape of broken rocks is nothing but what is left after the terrible battle between brothers Vali and Sugreeva over the kinship of Kishkinda.
This is also typical of the Indian habit of conflating history and mythology, making Hampi the perfect Indian destination where the past lives on.
Dan Brown can hardly be called the most inspired or the most inspiring of authors. However, his books are my guilty pleasure (Angels and Demons are in my top ten list. Yes. I am not ashamed to admit it.), and Inferno’s Florence parts were so well written, Vidya and I knew we had to go and see it for ourselves. Our time in Florence, therefore, was for all intents and purposes, in the amazing Dante Alighieri’s footsteps, inspired by Dan Brown’s Inferno.
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
We stayed in the historic town centre of Florence in a b&b that was within shouting distance of the Florence Cathedral, ordinarily called Il Duomo, the sprawling medieval building that dominates the town. The historic centre of Florence itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and represents the best of Renaissance architecture. The Duomo sits, huge and sprawling and beautiful and majestic and dominating, in the centre of Florence. There is no escaping it – wherever you go, there is some part of the Duomo you see. Even when you are facing completely away from it, the reflections of the Duomo look back at you mockingly. So you don’t try to escape it, Instead you learn, very quickly, to accept it and revel in its massive benign presence. You make a game of it – trying to spot it from wherever you are.
Edinburgh was for us a stop-off point for the Jacobite Express and a Scottish Highlands tour. Read all about the places we went to and our wonderfully amazing guide, James Stewart, But wait - where is the Jacobite Express? You'll have to wait a few more days for that I'm afraid!
Darasuram - one time part of the capital of the mighty Chola empire - is home to the imposing and living Airavateswara temple, categorized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. After being on our wish list for a decade and a half, it finally got ticked off last January. Here's an account of the trip, as well as a bunch of pictures. Bonus: a quick visit to a silk weaver's workshop-home!