Getaways

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. 

Fountain at walberg-castle

Till I visited Belgium, I did not know that a town named Sint Niklaas existed. I knew that a town called Santa Claus is situated in the State of Indiana in the USA, but had not known that the Flemish town in Belgium is considered to be the hometown of Santa Claus!

Golgotha Jerusalem

Bengaluru: After visiting Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus Christ, we proceeded to Galilee. A region in northern Israel, this is the land where Jesus walked. We saw the Sea of Galilee, a huge freshwater lake which is below the sea level. It is also the second lowest lake in the world. This is the lake where Jesus is said to have performed many miracles.  

Temple  of Apollo

When our driver-cum-guide Dmitri asked me as to what place in Greece I want to see most, I replied unhesitatingly “Delphi”. He was surprised and asked me the reason. I told him that as an admirer of Greek history, I am curious to see the place whose prophecies changed many events in the world.  Dmitri said that whenever ancient Greeks and Romans had to take decisions on very important matters they sought to hear the words of the gods in the form of oracles. Greeks believed that God Apollo would speak through the priestess Pythia from his temple in Delphi.

Auckland: From jumping off Sky Tower, flying fox ziplines, taking a free fall with a bungee or wine-tasting on Waiheke Island, Auckland provides a mesmerising mixture of serenity and adventure to those seeking to add some thrill to their lives. The city's vast harbour, quiet islands and vibrant landscapes offer an exciting and accessible mix of urban, water and wildlife activities, giving tourists and visitors a whole lot of enjoyable options during their stay.

Loktak lake with hundreds of floating islands

Imphal: If you want to explore the raw beauty and rich culture of Manipur, one of the eight northeastern states, but are unsure about where to stay, here's some good news for you. Manipur's Tourism Department, in collaboration with private players, has come up with an innovative idea to attract more holidaymakers: state-funded homestays in far-flung corners. And the state government is also mulling a ropeway over the Loktak Lake, northeast India's largest fresh water lake.

Wenseslas square

As a student of literature, I knew the term Bohemian, which meant having an unconventional taste in music, art or literary pursuits, was associated with the people of Bohemia (Czech Republic). And my desire to visit Prague stemmed from this. On visiting Prague, I was proven wrong. 

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