Thursday, 21 March 2013

Rishikesh: Lights on the Water

At dusk people go down to the banks of the Ganges to make offerings. We buy little woven baskets of flowers, incense and a candle. In the darkness all you can see is the offerings floating down the fast-moving river. With the evening wind, some of the candles are blown out as they touch the water, or even before. But the ones that last make a magical journey downstream...

Music: Meditations on Landscape by Delphine Dora (

Monday, 18 March 2013

The India Adventure Part 2: Rishikesh...

Oh I really did like Rishikesh. It is a holy city of Shiva, on the Ganges, the shops and ashrams and other buildings are strung along the two sides of this great rushing river, linked by two suspension bridges. The bridges and some of the streets are so narrow that only pedestrians, cows, and slow-moving motorbikes can pass by. All three wind patiently, and sometimes impatiently, stepping sideways to dodge each other as we go. Monkeys sit on the bridge, spectating, and stealing food if you happen to have it in your hand or a transparent bag.
 Lunchtime on the Laxman Jhula bridge
 The Ram Jhula bridge
 Shiva. This was my favourite statue in Rishikesh!
 The heart of Hanuman
 Another statue of Shiva
Fabric tied to a tree outside the temple - symbol of devotion?

In the old town of Swarg Ashram, beggars and religious men (sadhus) line the roads, begging bowls lined up in front. Religious pilgrims from other parts of India swarm to the temples. In the sister town of Laxman Jhula, backpacker cafes jostle with shops selling harem pants, yak-wool jumpers and hiking gear, and signs for yoga classes, past life regression, and palm reading. Jeeps hasten along the narrow roads, nearly wiping out the pedestrians as they honk their horns insistently.

 Street food, Swarg Ashram
 Our home away from home, the Oasis Cafe
 Street scene, Laxman Jhula
 Donkey laden with bricks, Laxman Jhula
 Sadhus watching a performance, Swarg Ashram
Local children, Swarg Ashram

 Beggar, Swarg Ashram
 The family that followed me, got about 40 different photos taken with me... and then I got one of them!
 Women in sarees, Laxman Jhula
 The glorious Ganges
The Ganga, the day we went for a swim

This is the city where the Beatles came, and the ashram where they stayed is now abandoned, but visitors can still wander through the crumbling buildings and weed-choked surrounds. The vibe is strange, lively, a bit eerie. 

 Entrance to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram, where the Beatles stayed
 Accommodation huts

 A pagoda shaped like a mushroom?
 The yoga hall
More space-age scenes - a pod on top of a building

An abandoned hall

Rishikesh is filled with good memories for me, good experiences and great friendships!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The India Adventure... part one...

India is one of those places that drives you crazy and amazes you all in the same breath. It is the quintessential travel destination - you really know you've gone somewhere when you get off the plane, or more particularly, when you start to negotiate for a taxi to leave the airport.

India gave me so much, so I'm giving you a little taste... this first post covers Mumbai, Kerala and Goa. Rishikesh and Dharamsala will be in subsequent posts.

The dynamic, complicated and fascinating history of India is everywhere you look. It is hard to describe the feeling you get when you're there, all I can say is that whatever India has been, and is today, it is most certainly itself.

I'll mostly let the photos speak for themselves, but I'm happy to take any questions!

Navigating the taxi queue... Mumbai

 Local tourists at the Gateway to India, Mumbai
 Taking a photo of me taking a photo... Trivandrum Zoo, Kerala
An old colonial house, now a museum, Trivandrum

...and then I went to stay at an ashram (view from the apartment block, of the Kali Temple)
 In a fitting ending to my stay at the ashram, I then starred in a 'Mollywood' film in Cochin...

 This little cafe in Cochin became our favourite haunt - tea and cake, how can you top that? At Teapot.
 Gorgeous Portuguese architecture in Fort Cochin.

Boating on the backwaters, central Kerala

A houseboat in all its decayed splendour

More gorgeous Portuguese architecture in the Goan capital of Panaji
Cows... and cricket... on the beach, Vagator, Goa