Svatma: The Soul of Thanjavur

“The only surviving Classical Civilization in world!” Michael Wood, the famous English historian and broadcaster, said of the Tamils and the glorious city of Thanjavur has been at the heart of their culture for over a thousand years. As pompous as that may sound, every word of it rings true even today because antiquity still lives on amidst evolving modernity.As I drove through the city, my imagination was already well on its way to creating its own…

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Narendrajee, guardian of the keys

The first encounter with the driver may be intimidating. When I come out of the plane, out of the airport, at first I feel the early symptoms of a jet lag: disorientation, lassitude, even annoyance. My eyes wonder, eagerly seeking familiarity, until I see a small white board with bold black letters, a waving hand, and knowing looks. We finally recognise each other and I smile, as if meeting an old friend. Joining hands before his chest,…

Almost touching the sky – Ladakh

Upon arrival in Leh, every traveller experiences a moment of euphoria. The glorious light dazzles us into wearing sunglasses. It is cold, for an early September: just three degrees centigrade. Stepping out of the aircraft, I relish the tang in the air wafting towards me almost like a caress. It feels good to be once again in this tiny airport somewhere in the Himalayas, in the company of a handful of travellers with Tibetan features. Dorje was there…

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Srinagar, the enchantress – Kashmir

From the Karakorum to the Pamir Knot, the abode of snow is the tilted crown of India. Mystics and sages have always found refuge from the mundane in the Himalayas, the modern traveller meets on those high valleys a fascinating humanity and gains a different perspective. At last, the disturbances subsided, Srinagar, as an elegant aging lady, recovering from a long illness, claims back her best morning and evening light. Watching the sunrise over the old city remains an experience of incomparable…

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At Samode Palace, the invention of flavours

The kitchen of a restaurant contains many hidden treasures rarely open for outsiders to see. At Samode Palace, regardless of the formalism de rigueur and chic baroque atmosphere, the waiter genuinely invites the client inside as soon as the latter points at the menu with dozens of questions. Please, come and see! When you push the door of the upstairs kitchen, chefs bustle about, play masterfully with the ringing saucepans and move in a coordinated rhythm that allows no faux…

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