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Vamsi & Charu's avatar
08:27 AM
01 August 2009
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Lost on the way from Lhasa

Posted By Vamsi & Charu
It is really early in the morning and still dark when we set out for a walk. There is a whiff in the air, not the smell of fresh momos, this one lingers longer; the nostalgia of hundreds of Tibetans for the motherland that they have left behind. Of course I am imagining it. I have just finished reading the Dalai Lama’s autobiography and am thinking about the history of the place and the people.


It was over fifty years ago, on March 31, 1959 that the Dalai Lama entered India after a gruelling and dangerous journey across the Himalayas. He was offered refuge in India and land up on a hill in Himachal Pradesh, in McLeodganj also known as Upper Dharamshala. Today, it is a bustling community, populated largely by Tibetans, who have slowly recreated their lives here. So in the market, there are the thukpa vendors, the women selling assorted jewellery and sweaters, the locals from the plains below, the foreigners in search of their personal nirvana, and finally the monks in their bright maroon and yellow robes.

Big momo small momo

There is really nothing much to see or do in McLeodganj, a friend has warned us. And that is indeed the best way to spend time here – in a blissful routine of nothing-doing. Our days are filled with late lazy breakfasts, mid-morning momo snacks, long walks up and down the winding hill roads browsing through the second-hand bookshops, lunch at Nick’s Kitchen – rooftop restaurant with stunning mountain views, followed by afternoon siestas and evenings in the monastery watching the glorious sunset in the distance.

All our prayers…


Actually it is not true that there is nothing to do here; every tiny tea shop and building offers trekking and assorted mountain adventures, including an alluring trek all the way up to Triund, at 3350 meters the closest point to the Dhauladars. However, that sounds too much like work, and like with most people who visit McLeodganj, we decide – conveniently – that this is a time to look inwards.



The only exception is a morning at the Church of St.John in the Wilderness, hidden in the mist, followed by a drive to Naddi village. Our lone car is parked in the middle of a mountain road, the tall deodars whispering their secrets, little children scurrying about like busy ants in the school yard way down in the valley and the Dhauladars within touching distance. Almost. And we stand there watching their snow-capped peaks of early winter now visible through the trees, now hidden by the cotton-candy clouds.

It is truly a time and place to look inwards.

Vamsi & Charu's avatar
02:00 PM
31 July 2009
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Snacks and the city

Posted By Vamsi & Charu
There was some news a couple of years ago about street snack stalls in Delhi facing the chop but nothing came of it finally. So now there are the samosas and kachoris, the moong and mirchi pakoras, the fried papad (especially in winter), the fruit and alu chaat.

Spicy snacks


Man and meat - Mohammad Ali Road

Getting roasted

Chutney in a previous life

Chutney in a previous life

Then to wash down, not away sadly, the sins of street food…

The lassi lad

Nimbu paani

And then to end, the mithai...

Milk + sugar = sin


Vamsi & Charu's avatar
02:13 PM
30 July 2009
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All that glitters

Posted By Vamsi & Charu
The temple at Amritsar must be the most peaceful place of worship I have ever been to, and certainly the cleanest. We visited twice during the day and again at night, especially to catch the reflected glow of the temple in the pool…

Gold framed

People were friendly and everyone we made eye contact with, smiled at us, and my bulky camera evoked a lot of interest.

He first glared at me, and then posed with a smile for my camera…

Standing guard

The temple at night


This is one of my all-time favorite images - it was not unusual to see people sitting by the pool, by the walls, either meditating or in silent prayer - somehow adding to the atmosphere of quiet and calm.



And in the market outside, this, and many interesting sights…

Off with his foot!

Off with his foot!

Vamsi & Charu's avatar
03:05 PM
29 July 2009
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Fluttering and dancing in the breeze

Posted By Vamsi & Charu
Everywhere I turn in Sikkim, the prayer flags. Red and yellow and white. Some old and faded, some new and bright. But all of them confident of their place under the Sikkimese sun.

Wikipedia says - Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to ‘gods,’ a common misconception, rather the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.

Early in the morning at Lachung village in North Sikkim - it is bright by 4 a.m. - as we are walking lazily on this tiny bridge, mother and son walk up briskly, the mother holding the flags rolled under her arms. She sits by the side and unrolls the long strip and they both carry it to a convenient place somewhere in the middle of the bridge.



As we watch, the boy clambers up the metal railings with practiced ease and starts tying up the flags. The mother, far from being concerned (atleast apparently) stands down and barks out orders in am imperious tone. It is important to get it right… move to the right, tie it harder... (I assume from the way her hands dance along with the flags; she is speaking in the local language)



The boy sits on top of the bridge, the Teesta in one of her more placid points flowing way under him, balanced on a thin strip of metal. Faith has been known to make people do stranger and more dangerous things…

On top

Now, back in Bombay, I sit typing this, in a mood that is certainly vacant and pensive, thinking back on the two weeks in Sikkim…

They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude…

Buddhist prayer flags

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About us

Charu is a travel writer & photographer who publishes regularly in a number of magazines and dailies. She's usually either traveling, or planning her next travel spree. To support her itchy feet, she doubles up in her spare time as a qualitative market researcher.

Vamsi is usually found driving Charu around - within Mumbai as well as around India & executing her next round of travel plan. He is a digital marketing consultant. We live in Mumbai & are currently involved in making our love for travel our career too.


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