Nilgiri Mountain Railway: Retracing the journey of an English schoolboy

Nilgiri Mountain Railway: Retracing the journey of an English schoolboy

As a boy, I've grown up in the Nilgiri mountains. My memories of these hills, apart from a plethora of other aural experiences, have definitely been interspersed with the rhythmic taka-taka-taka of the heritage steam rail pounding up the acutely inclined rack and pinioned mountain-side or listening to it choo-choo-ing down the less dramatic, but more densely inhabited hill towns of Ootacamund and Coonoor.

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Mysore Morning

Mysore Morning

Yogic chants float in through the open shutters, the cadences straining through the floating white cotton. The chanting is joining the preparations. The night is ending and the day will start. The chant now doubles. Two sets of voices. A very slight delay moves the sounds between harmony and echo, a subtle sound that I am aware of but cannot catch, like listening to the ticking of two clocks.

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The Temples of Halebid & Belur - All of life set in stone...

The Temples of Halebid & Belur - All of life set in stone...

As well as the carvings on the exterior walls, the pillars inside the temple - which hold up its roof - are breathtaking in their design and individuality - no two are alike. The dark and cool interior offers a refuge from the spring sunshine, yet looking out, through the passage, the glossy blackness of the interior sucks the daylight into the shrine.... 

.... one can still be impressed by the craftsmanship and marvel at the intricacy of the carvings. For the Hindu family this is the perfect place where stories can be passed on, where the imagery will reinforce the moral of the tale, and where, as the child grows up, all of life is laid before them, including the demands of adulthood - at a height of six foot. 

 

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Mysore: The Market, the Palace and a little flute music

Mysore: The Market, the Palace and a little flute music

This wonderful building was defined against the night sky by the light from over 98000 light bulbs, and in the warm Sunday evening air people from all over gather together to enjoy the spectacle. Families play with light balls, throwing them in the air and trying to catch them before they roll away under hundreds of feet; young lovers stand with their back to the palace, mobile phone at arms length for that all important selfie, and all of us just rejoice in the brilliance all around us.

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Madurai: Meenakshi Temple

Madurai: Meenakshi Temple

The Meenakshi Temple in so many ways demands superlatives. The splendid precinct, the towering gateways, the colourful statues and the vibrant life - all are breathtaking. Alas, the distracting thing is its transformation from temple to attraction. Meenakshi is one of only a small number of occasions when I am very aware of the throng of tourists.

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Mylapore Moments : Stories of people & Myths / Beliefs of Gods & Goddesses

Mylapore Moments : Stories of people & Myths / Beliefs of Gods & Goddesses

As we walk barefoot around the temple, our right shoulders to the building, because the left side is not as respectful, Lakshmi regales us with stories about a few of the multitude of gods of the Hindu faith. Shiva, to whom Mylapore temple is dedicated is the god of destruction. When Shiva dances, all is destroyed. To Western minds this concept may seem negative, but from destruction come new beginnings. After Shiva has danced, the only thing that remains is the skull he holds in his hand, from which will come renewal and rebirth.

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Paddy planting - a 60 year old dream fulfilled with explorIndya & the Kumars

Paddy planting - a 60 year old dream fulfilled with explorIndya & the Kumars

The most important part of the trip was my mother's 75th birthday and her greatest wish had always been to plant rice, in situ; The Kumars arranged a 2 night stay with the rice planting time in Kerala, where she was able to fulfil a 60 year dream in a magnificent area, lush, green and gorgeous.

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Incredible India: Travelling Gluten-free throughout South India

Incredible India: Travelling Gluten-free throughout South India

Porridge and toast, a survival of the British rulers, can be smoothly set aside if one indulges oneself with mouth-watering Dosa (crispy crepes made from rice and lentil flour), or Idli (steamed cake made from rice and lentil flour) accompanied by Sambar (spicy soup with vegetables) and coconut chutney. Fresh fruit and freshly squeezed fruit juice as well as Sakkarai Pongal (tasty risotto-like sweet rice dish) and yoghurt, or many other South Indian plates prepared on basis of vegetables, rice and lentils supplemented most of the breakfast buffets additional to the well-known continental specialities which we voluntarily avoided. With its gluten-free food variety in South India, we were able to leave the gluten-free breads, cookies and bars at home!

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