MOWGLI’S MESMERISING LAND – PENCH

You know nothing about the “wild” unless you’ve experienced the mysteriousness of Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh, where fresh air, sounds of the jungle and feline-sightings await

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After three hours of tossing and bouncing on the bumpy road from Kanha to Pench, my parents and I are about to reach the suppositional cradle of the underwear-clad, little Mowgli. As we drive closer to Sarrahiri, a hamlet near Karmajhiri gate of Pench National Park, we are surrounded by grassy lands with organised patches of plantation on both sides.

The bright green landscape, peppered with tile-roofed mud homes, seems like a heavenly rural scene straight out of a Bollywood film!

We heave a sigh of relief after checking into our tree lodge perched on top of a Mahua tree. Next few minutes are spent relaxing in the balcony that offers uninterrupted views of the deciduous forest; I am delighted to spot some brightly-coloured birds and butterflies while sipping on warm ginger tea. I feel like I am in nature’s paradise where magic is about to unfold.

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Pench Tree Lodge by Pugdundee Safaris offers spacious, luxurious tree houses that give you those jungle feels. Yes, these tree houses come with a private balcony where you can relax/read a book to spend some quiet time amid nature.

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BASICS OF TOURING EUROPE BY TRAIN

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Touring Europe by rail is romantic, inspiring, and if you’re travelling for the first time, a bit complicated. You get to the station and hop on the right train? No, it isn’t that easy. When it comes to European trains, you need to plan in advance and take a series of decisions before you step on the train, and this is likely to make you feel dizzy! So, before you dream of taking in the unmatched scenery from your cosy compartment, here’s what you must know Continue reading “BASICS OF TOURING EUROPE BY TRAIN”

BEYOND THE JUNGLE OF KANHA

A jungle safari (or many) is definitely on the top of your list when visiting one of the most beautiful national parks of India – Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh – and it should be so, unquestionably. But while chasing the call of the wild, you’re likely to miss out on the little delights the nearby villages dole out.

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While the trend of ‘do it like a local’ isn’t going anywhere, I list down some meaningful experiences to make sure your trip to Kanha is etched in your memory for all the right reasons. And the best part? Your phone doesn’t work at most locations. That’s a sure sign you need to “switch off” from the chaotic city life!

Put up in a Gond-inspired hut
You’re never going to feel like a local if you’re staying in an apartment-style hotel, no matter how luxe the rooms and facilities may be. Instead, put up in a cottage inspired by traditional Gond (Adivasi people of central India) architecture, made using locally available materials such as mud plaster, stone, terracotta tiles and rough-hewn timber beams.

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Tucked away in the little tribal hamlet of Narna, these eco-friendly huts boast of furniture made from waste and recycled wood and blend in seamlessly with acres of natural forest around. Kanha Earth Lodge by Pugdundee Safaris borders Kanha’s buffer zone, and makes for an ideal option.

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TO DOS IN THE 20-MINUTE CITY – ADELAIDE

Cool, cultured and casual are the words that aptly describe South Australia’s capital city – Adelaide.  When here, keep these at the top of your list

LET A BAMBOO TREECYCLE TAKE YOU AROUND

P9390183These eco-friendly bicycle tours (starting $5) are cheaper than catching a bus, train, or taxi

When in Adelaide, travel slow, literally. How about going around the city in an eco-friendly passenger bike built from bamboo? The treecycle is run by young, fit and charismatic home-grown caddies who know the city well and promise to show you around with all their passion, providing interesting insights now and then. All you got to do is download the Eco Caddy app and choose your favourite caddy to pick you up. With Adelaide being the 20-minute city – it’s called so as everything is pretty close and easy to get to – with a flat terrain, it’s perfect for bike rides. Plus, there’s so much buzz that if you move through it too quickly, you’re likely to miss out on the fun. When travelling in this treecycle, you can easily hop on and hop off wherever you like!

GET ON THAT ROOF

0719182Z-AOCLD6A161008H5~AO62820719182ZVY (2)If you’re a cricket-loving Indian, you’re definitely in for one of the most exhilarating adventures at the picturesque test cricket ground – Adelaide Oval. Register for a 2-hour guided climb across the stadium’s unique roofline, put on your suit and safety harness and enjoy stunning views of Adelaide, stretching out to the Adelaide Hills on one side and the coast on the other. Or book an evening climb to see the city bathed in magical twilight glow. At the end of the tour, you not only return with an achievement certificate and a printed snap for memory, but also knowing a lot more about the city. Continue reading “TO DOS IN THE 20-MINUTE CITY – ADELAIDE”

WHEN THE SWISS MOUNTAINS ARE CALLING…

… heed the call. Every summit in the bucolic country offers a unique slice of Swiss bliss

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity

― John Muir, Our National Parks

They say you have to climb up a large mountain to appreciate how small you are and Switzerland offers ample towering mountains for you to explore the world outside and the one within you. You cannot help but marvel at their breathtaking beauty. Whatever the season, you have the opportunity to appreciate unspoiled nature at its best – dainty wild flowers, dramatic rock faces, cascading waterfalls, snowy peaks, fresh and pure mountain air and a unique feeling of calm and tranquility…

Mt Säntis

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Seeking a pleasurable high-altitude excursion? Head to the hamlet of Schwägalp that’s a favourite with the locals.

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What you see are mammoth mountains enclosing you and free-roaming goats and cows dotting the lush green landscape while nibbling on fresh grass. Ride a cable car that departs every 30 mins up to the peak of Mt. Säntis. At 8,209 ft, it is the highest mountain in eastern Switzerland. The very shape of the summit— an arc of jutting rock that swings up to the jagged peak housing the station — is spectacular. In perfect weather conditions, you can get a 360 degree view of five other countries – Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy – all at the same time!

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HOW ABOUT DOING DC DIFFERENTLY?

If you’re visiting the US capital for the first time, it can be tough to sort through the maze of its must-see sites. Go beyond-the-norm and do DC just like a local

Lincoln Memorial? Check. Smithsonian troves? Done. National Zoo? Clicked a selfie with the pandas. But there is a lot more to do in DC beyond visiting its astonishing museums and historical sites. Have you had a bite of the very bucolic Georgetown’s famed cupcakes or flicked through 500 years of news history at the Newseum? If you haven’t, here are a few unusual things to do when in Washington DC. This way you won’t wind up ensnared in queues for most of your trip.

GEORGETOWN
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Washington’s oldest and wealthiest neighborhood, Georgetown, can be divided into four sections – the marketplace along M Street, the university, the historic residential neighborhood where miniature cottages stand side by side with rambling mansions, and the waterfront. Stroll or bike along the tree-lined paths that offer wonderful views of the Potomac river, indulge in some serious designer retail therapy, step into the town’s past with a visit to Tudor Place, a Federal-style mansion of the Custis-Peter family, or spend an evening enjoying sunset drinks aboard a cruise. You won’t regret a visit to Dumbarton Oaks. The lovely oasis boasts of galleries filled with Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and European art, as well as acres of meticulously tended historic gardens. You can easily spend a day in Georgetown as the vivid street scene invites you to linger.

TIP: Georgetown is almost always crowded at night. Driving and parking are difficult, so it’s wise take a bus or taxi.

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GOING SLOW IN ST GALLEN

In the hilly, pre-Alpine landscape set against the imposing backdrop of the Alpstein Massif by Lake Constance, St. Gallen is a place where the air is still pure, grass meticulously trimmed, green and lush and stress is a relatively unknown concept. In other words, it’s the perfect place to take time out of your hectic schedule and just be on your own timetable.

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A STEP BACK IN TIME   

When in St Gallen, you’re just an hour away from Zurich yet far away from city vibes. Spend a day walking at your leisure, admiring its one-of-a-kind architecture you get to see at every turn.

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Abbey Precinct houses the cathedral and the library, and is a real treat. With its twin towers, the Baroque-era cathedral defines the cityscape of St Gallen. Know more about the monumental sacred building that has a lavishly-painted interior, richly decorated with stucco work and paintings. Once there, let the stillness of prayer and meditation envelop you

SWISS CITIES - ART & ARCHITECTURE

In the beautiful rococo hall of Abbey Library, marvel at 1,70,000 printed books, more than 2,000 original medieval handwritten manuscripts and ancient maps. After all, there’s a reason it’s known as the “pharmacy of the soul”

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TOP 10 COFFEE SPOTS IN DUBAI

Whether it’s a latte you’re after or a double shot of espresso, there’s no shortage of independent cafes in Dubai to satisfy your every coffee urge. With the help of Kim Thompson, one half of home-grown roastery Raw Coffee Company, I bring you spots you can head to when you’re in need of a caffeine fix. Be part of our burgeoning cafe culture of Dubai!

1. Try everything on the menu at The Brass

the-brass-lavendar-latteLavender latte at The Brass

Tucked away in City Walk is this shiny new gem, which boasts one of the most extensive coffee menus in the city. They’ve got all the classics – latte, cappuccino et al – with a plethora of original blends, including Lavender Honey Latte, rosewater-infused white coffee, a dairy-free Coconut Latte … Aficionados can take it a step further and nominate how they want their coffee delivered: via French press, siphon, cold drip or pour-over.
Address: City Walk, Al Safa Road

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LET’S KEEP IT PLAIN

Take a few steps back in time by visiting the Amish County in Lancaster and regain the peacefulness you have been longing for

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Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”

Eddie Cantor, American performer

Our lives move at such a fast pace – being stuck in a traffic jam is a chance to make a quick phone call, travelling home on the local is an opportunity to compile the grocery list and the quick lunch break is the time to finish pending bank work. We often wish we could slow down a bit so that we could have a few more hours in the day to be able to focus on the satisfying simple pleasures our life has to offer.

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FLOCK HERE FOR FALL FOLIAGE

Enhance your autumnal excursion by appreciating the romance of nature at these destinations that provide wonderful settings for leaf-peeping

QUEBEC, CANADA

Bridge over Canyon Ste-Anne
View the spectacular Canyon Sainte-Anne from the highest suspension bridge in Québec, at 60 meters above the gorge. A memorable sight in fall!

Head to Montréal and Québec cities – bustling metropolises with a perfect blend of poise, playfulness and history. The towns and villages here have English names, but everything else is French: language, lodging and food. In autumn, millions of maples turn red and gold. Treat your eyes to scenic landscapes by hiking the Parc national de la Jacques Cartier, go bird watching at Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area or Marais du Nord, kayak or canoe at Vallée Bras-du-Nord valley or get your fill of fresh air at one of the urban parks. Another highlight the “Magic of Lanterns” event at The Montreal Botanical Garden. Hundreds of hand-painted Chinese lanterns, floating on ponds and hanging from trees beneath starry skies offer a stunning eye candy on a bracing autumn evening.

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