iran 2: soltaniyeh’s mongolian sultans and exotic bazaars in zanjan

soltaniyeh1

The adventure begins. I’m off to north-west Iran. There is something terribly exciting about visiting places away from the beaten path, meeting people who are not part of the global cloned collectivity. There is somehow always a heartwarming uniqueness in isolated individuality.

Western Iran is largely underdeveloped with a mixed history. Whilst it has enjoyed the spin-offs of being part of the famed Silk Road, it has also suffered the most in the Iran-Iraq war.

Soltaniyeh, a Mongol town built in the 14th Century, is my first stop. The mausoleum of the Mongol Sultan Khodabandeh, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has the world’s second highest dome at 48 meters high and 25 meters in diameter. Continue reading

iran 1: tehran … museums, palaces, bazaars, and mosques

Note: I travelled to Iran in October 2007 for two weeks. Iran has been one of my most memorable travels to date. I am republishing the series comprising 10 posts till this mid-June. Refreshing my personal memories. This is the first post in the series—on Iran’s capital city Tehran and its museums, palaces, bazaars, and mosques. Hope you enjoy the reads. 🙂

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meiran1“Why are you going to Iran???” “Coz I want to.” “But why? You’ve really gone cuckoo. Just look at the current global political scenario!!!” “I’m going because I want to go that extra mile. Cross that extra river. Go beyond preconceptions and expectations. Learn for myself what really is out there.” “You’ve gone cuckoo, period!”

Salaam. I’m off to Iran. It was not an easy task explaining my choice of holiday for the year. 🙂 But, hey, who cares. I’m going where my heart wants me to go. I want to walk through the ruins of Xerxes’ Persepolis, wonder at the beauty of Esfahan, and smile and play with Kurdish children before it is all too late. Before it all becomes another Baghdad, Kabul or Libya. Come along with me? Continue reading

beyond the unesco sites: what not to miss in ahmedabad

You have finished exploring the UNESCO-designated historic city of Ahmedabad. And combed through the sites to its north [Modhera, Patan and Sidhpur] and south [Lothal and Utelia] spanning a few millennia each in time. What now? Is there more?

There is in fact lots more, but if one had to pare it down to the absolute unmissable, what would that be? The one museum not to give a miss. The one restaurant where not eating at would be sacrilege. This post is about that—about the unmissables. Luckily, I was guided by friends who have lived in and loved Ahmedabad, with all its quirks and treasures. This is what they insisted I experience. Paying it forward, these are the top five experiences I insist you too have whilst in the city. 😊 Continue reading

36 hours in india’s only unesco world heritage city: ahmedabad

When Ahmed Shah I laid the foundations of his capital way back on 26 February, 1411, little did he know his legacy would earn the status of a World Heritage City six hundred years on. Nineteen years old at the time, Ahmed Shah I was the third Sultan of the Gujarat Sultanate (1407 – 1573). In July 2017, his city Ahmedabad beat Delhi, Mumbai, and Varanasi in the bid to become India’s first, and as of now only, UNESCO designated city. Continue reading

11 incomparable experiences only to be had when in bhopal

Let’s face it, Bhopal does NOT appear high up on travel bucket lists or itineraries. Why, even when considering to visit it, you may well be asked “What for???” I was, and that too repeatedly.

At the most, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh is seen as a stepping stone for Buddhist Sanchi. On its own, it is a bit of an enigma, its secrets veiled from casual inquiry. Which is a good thing, for it means you will have the “City of Lakes” to yourself, with very few tourists, and be in the company of locals instead. Continue reading

bhimbetka—the prehistoric rock art wonders of india

Every time I think I am “different” as a generation or a nationality, I am reminded of how alike I am to my ancestors and to those in other geographies. There is nothing unique about me. Nothing at all. But it is not really such a bad thing at all—this commonness or ordinariness of human existence—for it creates a bridge which spans time and space.

Okay, let me explain. I too record my life around me because I am consumed by a need to do so. And so did my prehistoric ancestors. I too express my joys and fears, and so did they. And so do you, dear reader, sitting in another city, another country. And so did your prehistoric ancestors in South Africa or France or the USA.

When looking at it from today’s digital lens, it comes as no surprise. But when one sees it from a stage set 10,000 years ago, it is a wonder how prehistoric people in disparate communities around the globe were expressing themselves in a similar way, using the same forms and tools, no matter where they lived and whom they were with. And we, in 2018 are to a large extent, the same as them. Continue reading