Bhadrakali temple Warangal

Warangal, which is under a list of tentative sites submitted to UNESCO for declaration as a World Heritage Site, is surprisingly not on the map of an average Indian tourist. It is merely 150 kms from Hyderabad. Its Kazipet Railway Station is in the trunk rail route (the towns Kazipet, Hanumakonda and Warangal together are counted as Warangal Urban area). The stone Gate of Warangal Fort is a part of the State Emblem of Telengana.

Dakhla (Morocco): This quiet town, situated at the tip of a narrow peninsula abutting the Atlantic Ocean and part of the Western Sahara, is buzzing with sudden activity with over 1,000 delegates from across the world descending on it for a forum to deliberate on development in Africa and South-South cooperation.

Opera House

Having grown up with news of Vietnam War throughout my formative years, I had long desired to see Vietnam. My first impression of the country on landing in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly at Saigon) was that it is hot and humid and full of people. The red flag with golden star was omnipresent reminding one of the Communist rule. On the way to our hotel, we encountered chaotic traffic and felt we were in India!

Dubai: Board an Emirates flight and all the complaints that one is accustomed to in most budget airlines are instantly sidelined. Comfort and luxury set in as you prepare to take off. You land at a spectacular airport, drenched in glitz and pomp. This is Dubai, the city that literally spells luxury.

Tai Chi at roadside

It was the Chinese New Year when we landed in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, as we had heard that the city is at its best during this time. Our guide suggested that we should begin our tour by visiting Ha Long Bay. Located 170kms away from the capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the bay has thousands of lime stone hillocks and is famous for its scenic beauty. Known to have been inhabited by humans for more than 10,000 years, each island in the bay has thick tropical vegetation, with some islands having huge caves called ‘grottos’. Many movies have been shot here.

Sculpture of tiger in front of  Central Station

The main purpose of my visit to Oslo was to see the building where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded. The other reason was to see a Fjord. When I arrived at Rygge Airport, I was surprised to know that the airport is 60kms away from Oslo (another airport is closer to the city). We travelled more than an hour by bus to reach the City Centre. During the journey I noticed that Norway is a country of tunnels.  In fact, even to reach Oslo city, we travelled through a very long tunnel.

View of roman theatre from Citadel

On my way to Tel Aviv in Israel, I decided to take a short break at Amman, the capital of Jordan, and see the surrounding places including Petra and the Dead sea. When I landed at Queen Alia International Airport, I did not know that Amman itself is one of the most visited Arab cities. Located on the East Bank Plateau, Amman is built on seven hills and because of its modernity, it attracts a large number of visitors from far and wide.  It is also safe city.

New Delhi: Have you seen the pictures of the iconic Eiffel Tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris? A large ethereal photograph of the 19th century architectural marvel welcomes one to "La Vie A Paris," an exhibition of photographs by Rupin Thomas. The photograph of Eiffel Tower, like most others on display, brings a different perspective to the much known tourist site.

Blue Mosque

Being an ardent fan of James Bond movies, it was my desire to visit Istanbul, where a number of his movies were shot. When an opportunity came my way to visit the city located both in Asia and Europe, I grabbed it with both hands.

Most people go to Somnath, located near Veraval in Gujarat, to visit the Somnath temple. The town of Prabas Patan, where the temple is located, is commonly referred to as Somnath because of the jyotirlinga temple, said to be the first among twelvejyotirlingas.  In school, we had read that Mohammed of Ghazni had attacked this temple in 1024 and taken away huge treasures, and that the temple was plundered a number of times by many other rulers. Hence, I expected to see an ancient temple similar to Virupaksha Temple of Hampi.

Railway Station

I went to Krakow purely because it was the nearest airport for visiting the holocaust sites at Auschwitz-Birkenau. After visiting the concentration camps, I decided to explore Krakow, since I had a day at my disposal. Situated on the river Vistula, Krakow was once the capital of Poland (1038-1569) and was quite famous in the 13th Century. It was a town where merchants from all over Europe congregated for commerce. In 1945, when Germany occupied Poland, it was the capital of German government.

Entrance to Diu fort

We visited Diu purely by chance.  We were on our way to the Gir Lion National Park in Gujarat, but as the park was closed, someone suggested us that we visit Diu, which is hardly 45 minutes’ drive from Gir.  On the way to Diu, our taxi driver informed us that a large number of Gujaratis visited Diu since there is no prohibition there. True to his words, we were greeted by many liquor shops and beer parlours as we entered Diu. The scene reminded us at once of Goa.

Manali: Traditional apple-growing villagers around this tourist resort in Himachal Pradesh are wrapping themselves up in thick blankets as they prepare to observe silence for almost a month in a hoary religious tradition. The silence comes with the belief that the gods have returned to the heavens and are in deep meditation. Noise from the earth would disturb them. And if they get angry on being disturbed, it will bring misfortune for the villagers and for their livestock.

Sagrada Familia

Barcelona has something for every tourist. It has lovely beaches, mountains, architectural marvels, art museums, sports, food and wine, and entertainment. Ranked as one of the major global cities, Barcelona has seven buildings of architect Antoni Gaudi, all of whom are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. On checking into my hotel, I visited one of the seven beaches of the city near the Olympic Stadium. The long sea coast was full of revellers.  The beach is quite close to the Barcelona port, and we could see huge cruise ships docked there.

A view of Bhopal from Upper Lake

Bhopal, a city of lakes, is one of the greenest cities in India. Founded in the 11th century by Raja Bhoj, who was known for his interest in art and literature, Bhopal continues to be a city of art and culture. 


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