Srinagar, An Insider’s Guide

Exploring Srinagar is largely a matter of personal choice: the delight of a shikara is its stately, unhurried pace; a cycle ride around is the perfect answer for seeing what you want. Stop every ten feet to take the perfect shot without disturbing anybody, travel by yourself if you are a loner, or with a…

Palitana, The Temples Of Eternal Spirituality

No photograph, however powerful, can capture the essence of Palitana. Because antiquity, myth and a sense of spirituality are what imbue this lonely hilltop with an intangible dimension, quite apart from the visual. Of the 24 tirthankars (apostles) of Jainism, 22 are said to have attained spiritual awakening on the hill of Shatrunjay, a 2.3…

What’s Cooking in Kerala

With 360 miles of coastline and over a thousand miles of backwaters, Kerala is something of a paradise for seafood aficionados. There are reminders everywhere: Rows of giant Chinese fishing nets are poised at the edge of the water near the port of Kochi and fishing boats with foamy piles of drying nets idle at…

Taiwan

About as large as Sri Lanka, this island is one of Asia’s easternmost outposts, wedged in between China to the west, Japan in the north and the Philippines in the south. Taiwan may be best known for its computer peripherals industry, but it’s a largely undiscovered gem for those who are looking for somewhere off…

Singapore’s Peranakan Connection

Are the Peranakans more Malayan or more Chinese? The jury’s still out on that one, but first things first: who exactly are they? They’re the offspring of the marriages between Chinese men and Malay women that took place mostly in 18th century Singapore, as Chinese settlers – traders, workers and merchants – arrived from all…

The Kashmir Book Shop

The Kashmir Book Shop In the heyday of tourism in Kashmir, books were the last thing that visitors thought of buying. The 1970s and ‘80s were when silk carpets and woollen shawls constituted the main shopping of the tens of thousands of tourists that holidayed in the Valley. So, the two bookshops that stood opposite…

The Story Behind Hainanese Chicken Rice

On a recent trip to Singapore, I made my way to the Mecca of Hainanese Chicken Rice: Purvis Street. Right by the uber fashionable Bugis Junction, no more striking contrast can be found. Purvis Street has started the inexorable change towards modernization, but when I first visited Singapore in 2002, it was an old-fashioned double…

The Walnut Grove

One thing I never tire of during my travels, is to see how the same plant, crop or tree is used so differently in various places where it grows. Take the chinar, for example. It dominates the horizon in Kashmir, especially in autumn when each tree in the Valley looks like a giant globe of…

The Teardrop-shaped Melting Pot

If you think of Sri Lanka as a minuscule island that lies to the south of India, you may be right, but if you think that it is too small to offer much diversity, you had better plan a trip there sometime soon. Because if indications are anything to go by, the somnolent country that…