the forgotten kasbahs and ksars of morocco’s high atlas mountains


[Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs]

A high-pitched Amazigh love song is playing on a loop in the car stereo. Abdul, my cab driver decides to give it company with deft dance moves from behind the steering wheel even as he swings the car around hairpin bends. He does not speak English. I don’t speak Arabic, Amazigh or French. We are high up in the High Atlas Mountains in Southern Morocco.

Should we crash down the rock face would anyone be able to trace us, I ask him with hand signs. He signals I should not worry, and grins. These mountains are his home. I tell myself I should be afraid. Instead, I have a huge smile plastered on my face as well.

Oh, how I love these blood-red, barren mountains spread all around us, till as far as the eye can see! Majestic, mysterious, and millions of years old. There is no other sign of life under the ultramarine blue sky, except for our car and glimpses of a green oasis which ribbons its way in the plunging valley below.

I am on my way to Telouet, a crumbling mud-brick Kasbah [palace] 5,900 feet high up in the mountains. I had chanced upon the name when reading up for my Morocco trip and though outside the tourist circuit, I just knew I had to visit it. Continue reading

a walk through 175 year old khotachi wadi


The Virgin Mother with Infant Jesus, Khotachi Wadi Chapel wall painting

Just behind the buzz and lights of Chaupati aka Chowpatty beach in Mumbai’s third southern most island Girgaum, is a historical precinct – the village of Khotachi Wadi.

When a friend’s facebook update showed up saying that she was taking a guided walk through the precinct, I, a rather self-acclaimed art and history buff, nearly jumped with joy and excitement, determined not to let this opportunity go by. 🙂 An itinerary which consisted of endless strolls and complimentary high tea in a 155 year old bungalow, over lazy conversations with its fifth generation owners, was both the carrot and the cherry. Continue reading