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the Pleasing Potpourri that Pondicherry is – in Photos

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What is Pondicherry and What is it not

I fell in love with the energy of Pondicherry — the heartbeat of it — even before I could notice what this coastal city offered. 

The union territory of Pondicherry (renamed to Puducherry) might be popular for the leftovers from French colonialism: ubiquitous bakeries, wine bars and restaurants, narrow lanes studded with monochrome baroque buildings, and the French-speaking Tamils. Or for being the crucial port it became as early on as in the 3rd century of the iron age people. The ancient ceramic burial urns, wine jars, fish garum amphoras, and the Palaeolithic axe discovered around Pondicherry (Tamil Nadu) and now kept in the city’s museum do impress upon one the history of the town that seemed to have existed since time is known. 

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Fish Soup, Crazy Streets, and Night Markets in Saigon

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Adventures in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

When I went to Vietnam in 2016, I found myself in a green paddy-filled country. Under the shadows of their bamboo hats, locals flitted between places unhindered by the large bamboo baskets they carried. Birds sang from their cages hung on balconies. Streets were lined with stalls selling soup, grilled meat skewers, rice paper rolls, and fruits.

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My Journey With Street Food of Malaysia – A Photo Essay

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A narrative photo essay on street food in Malaysia

Eating Street Food of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur

My experience with the street food of Malaysia began in Kuala Lumpur(KL). I arrived late at night in KL. I had chosen a hostel close to Chinatown to eat there as often as I can. I checked in the Travel Hub guesthouse and took a bed in a female dorm. 

A long transit from Bali to Malaysia had left me famished. Overeating has been my die-hard habit. Now I try to eat less for a healthy and sustained living. But then, I gorged on traditional Malaysian food without a thought. I don’t like to overthink calories when I travel. Who would?

From being baffled by the cornucopia of Malaysian cuisines, restaurants, and dishes to knowing where and what exactly I wanted to eat, I had a long rendezvous with the Malaysian food. This food memoir is my attempt to recreate my month-long food journey in Malaysia.

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A Stunning Sunset at Mandalay’s Irrawaddy River

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A Myanmar Sunset on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, Mandalay

I saw one of the most ethereal sunsets of my life on the banks of the Irrawaddy River in Mandalay. That Myanmar sunset was enough to convince me to wake up before 5 every morning for my twenty day trip in Burma.

It was the last day of 2019. My friend and I had just spent the day roaming around Mandalay ruins, discovering pagodas and ancient temples in the historic town of Innwa, and strolling around Innwa villages. There was a hot pot lunch in between at a place called the Little Panda Hotpot and BBQ Buffet. It wasn’t one of my brightest ideas to stop for a hot pot when we had hired an auto-rickshaw to show us around Mandalay. But the kind driver waited patiently for an hour. Also, I could not be blamed for the do-it-yourself hotpot for I didn’t know the restaurant would ask us to grill and cook everything ourselves without even helping us light the fire under our wok. Let us blame everything on the language barrier.

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A Surreal Drive Up to the Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Bali

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A Misty Day at the Ulun Danu Temple, Bali

Located on the shores of the Lake Bratan in the Bedugul region of Bali, the Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, or Pura Ulun Danu, is a popular Bali temple and one of my favorites. The road to the temple undulates up and down with majestic views of the Bedugul highlands throughout— the Ulun Danu temple is at a height of 1500 meters.

When I visited the Pura UlunDanu I didn’t know that the drive would be so surreal and that we were driving to the second largest lake in Bali which irrigates the entire Bedugul region’s rice fields.

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Saying Goodbye to Myanmar at Mount Popa Bagan

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A Monkey-Filled Hill of Myanmar – Mount Popa, Bagan

Mount Popa near Bagan was my last stop in Myanmar. Just before my friend and I were to take a bus from Bagan to Yangon to fly back to India, we decided that we should see this 1518-meter high extinct volcano on the outskirts of Bagan.

How could we not go when every travel blog about Bagan spoke of the Popa mountain. And the pictures of the panoramic view from Mt Popa looked ethereal.

While we couldn’t see something even close to those gorgeous sunset hues that Google promised, for the sky was cloudy that day, we did have a unique, eye-opening experience all the way from Bagan to the Mount Popa volcano.

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Bicycling Around Yangon’s Dala Village – A Photo Essay

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A Journey Into the Streets of the Village of Dala, Yangon

One fine day in December, I was cycling around in the Dala village near Yangon in Myanmar. Across the river from Yangon, Dalla Township is located on the southern bank of the Yangon river.

Though the Dala township comprises of some 50 villages, bounded by the Yangon river in the north and east, the Twantay Canal in the west, and Twantay Township in the south, I was in the main Dalla village. And I was not alone.

It was one of those rare tours that I sometimes convince myself to take in foreign lands. With Unchartered Horizons Myanmar, I was set to have a local experience in Dala, a hamlet on the banks of Yangon river.

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Hampi Photography – A Walk Through History

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Hampi Photos: Stories in Stones

I visited Hampi twice, once in 2014, and then again in 2019. Though I have been to Hampi two times and have spent about ten-eleven days in the area, I am still nothing less than dazed by not just the ruins and temples of Hampi, but by the green Hampi villages, the crispy dosas that have a different flavor in that part of Karnataka India, the variety of animal life that is running around Hampi fearlessly, but now more so in national parks such as Daroji, and how it all just dovetail so perfectly together.

My Bangalore to Hampi road journey was no less than an adventure. In the linked guide you can read all about that Bangalore-Hampi road trip studded with aesthetic windmills. This 7,000 words guide is also almost a Wiki for exploring Hampi monuments, its surrounding villages, experiencing its local life and food, and understanding Hampi’s history.

As I have already written about the logistics of traveling and the history of Hampi in the aforementioned travel guide, allow me to jump right into Hampi pictures. I clicked most of these photos with my Nikon DSLR and Google Pixel. Other photos (mostly old Hampi photos) have been taken from around the internet to contrast between the past and new Hampi. I have also added some ancient photos just to give more context to a temple or a carving or a view in case I didn’t have enough relevant pictures.

I hope you enjoy these Hampi images for I had a lot of fun putting this Hampi photography essay together. Machu Picchu could be one of the world’s wonder, Bali is on everyone’s bucket list, Himachal Spiti’s Valley is a craze amongst travelers, but Hampi stands right there in the line.

Let’s go.

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Finding Stories and Street Art in Penang

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Update Jan 2024: Malaysia reopened its international borders on 1 April 2022. Get Malaysian government’s complete rules for travelers planning to visit Malaysia on the official Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tourism website. I’ve also listed down the guidelines and compliances in this article on Kinabatangan river wildlife. My guide to Malaysia visa for Indians is recommended, …

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Natural Hot Springs, Chai, and the Timeless Manikaran Sahib

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A timeless journey through Manikaran

While sauntering around in Manikaran’s narrow lanes on my recent trip to Parvati Valley, I reminisced about my childhood journeys to Shukkartal and Haridwar with my family.

Like in those religious towns, time didn’t seem to have passed in Manikaran Sahib either.

Young girls dressed up in traditional bright Kullu dresses and Himachali topis waited to be clicked. Streets were lined with kitschy souvenir shops that flaunted neon plastic toys, rudraksha malas, and brass bracelets.

Devoted Sikhs with their Kirpans hanging around their waist walked swiftly towards the Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara. Hindu families strode to the Shiva and Ram temple to bathe their young ones who trailed behind eyeing the hot jalebis and crispy samosas that were on display at the local sweet’s shop.

If only their mother could buy them a hundred grams of jalebis the children might walk faster. But the mothers were already thinking about quickly getting their little ones undressed and bathing them in the Manikaran hot water springs. They also had to pay their respects to Guru Nanak Ji or the Ram and Sita adorned in the Sikh and Hindu temples.

After all, the history of Manikaran dictates that the town was touched by both the Hindu gods and Guru Nanak Sahib though at different times.

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Spiti Valley Images – Pictures No-One Puts On Instagram

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Spiti Valley Images Showing the Real Spiti

Snow-capped peaks, inky sky, copper mountains, creamy cubicle homes, lean Spitians jostling around, and fat sheep and cows — this is Spiti Valley Himachal, one of the remotest valleys in the Indian Himalayas.

People have been clicking pictures of Spiti valley for decades. But since the advent of social media, Spiti Valley images have flocked to all Indians’ and foreigners’ Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Maroon-robed monks (mostly young) jumping on the swirling roads. Himalayan peaks standing tall and a river swiftly snaking in front of them. Icy summits with creamy Spitian villages in front. Selfies with Spitian women on the road. Key Monastery standing tall. Pictures in front of the dominant mountains. A few close-ups of flat-roofed Spiti homes.

We have seen all of the above Spiti images. But the more natural, unposed, and truthful Spiti valley photos don’t make it to Instagram. Perhaps the silence that envelops the stunning Spiti and the isolated Spitian life is too much to handle even in pictures.

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Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan – In 45 Photos

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Covid-Related Travel Update Jan 2024: India is now open to travelers. Find the application process for an e-visa to India on this official Indian government website.

Pushkar City and Pushkar Fair Photography Tour, Rajasthan

I went to Pushkar a few days before the Pushkar fair started.

Nearby villagers had arrived at the Pushkar fair ground with their cattle, and some were still on their way. Though the ground was still being set up, the animal trade had started.

A few hundred thousand tourists, photographers, and locals from nearby villages attend the Pushkar Mela every year (mela is fair in Hindi). But as the big influx of tourists was not to come until the camel fair started, the grounds were yet to fill up.

Even though I was only carrying a phone camera, I decided to treat my visit as a Pushkar photoshoot. While walking in the tiny streets of the Pushkar bazaar and wandering on the ghats of the Pushkar Lake, I not only clicked some Pushkar images I am happy with, but I also captured some deep-felt emotions.

Now without saying much, let me take you on this photo tour of Pushkar.

Related Read: Hampi, Karnataka in Pictures 

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