Tag Archives: Travel

{X} Xenodocheinology: For the love of hotels

Have you ever experienced Xenodocheinology?

Part of the travel experience, for me, is choosing the hotel. Our travel philosophy is to utilize the maximum resources on sightseeing and shopping, and keeping a very limited budget for our hotel stay.

If you thought limited budget = seedy little hotel/backpacker’s hostels/soulless hotels, think again. A little research is all it takes to find charming places to lay your head down at the end of a day of hard sightseeing.

A few of my absolute favorites are

The courtyard @ Inn Seventh Heaven

The courtyard @ Inn Seventh Heaven

Inn Seventh Heaven, Pushkar – Comfortable rooms, beautiful color schemes, friendly staff, a quiet, green courtyard and a lovely roof terrace make this our go-to place at Pushkar. We’ve driven down here for a holiday on numerous occasions, only to stay at Inn Seventh Heaven again.

Infinity pool, Samode Palace

Samode Palace, Samode – Known as one of the best Palace Hotels in Rajasthan, Samode is a place you must visit at least once. To be sure, it does not fall into the budget category by any stretch of the imagination, but considering that you will be doing nothing much except staying at the palace and driving down to the quaint village at the bottom of the palace, this is one extravagance that is totally worth it!

The library @ Arya Niwas

The library @ Arya Niwas

Arya Niwas, Jaipur – Although it’s been called a soulless hotel for a busy executive, for some reason, I love this place. It’s where we stay every time we visit Jaipur, and we visit Jaipur quite frequently. The green lawns, where you can sit sipping a cold coffee in the evening, the restaurant, which serves some yummy food, and the bonzais in the corridor will make you fall in love with this place.

So, have you ever experienced xenodocheinology?

{T} Travel Postcard #7: Tibetan Prayer Wheels

Tibetan-prayer-wheel

Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheel. Also sometimes depicted are Dakinis, Protectors and very often the 8 auspicious symbols Ashtamangala. According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition based on the lineage texts regarding prayer wheels, spinning such a wheel will have much the same meritorious effect as orally reciting the prayers. – Wikipedia.com

Every time I visit a monastery, I am struck by a few things: the cleanliness and aura of peacefulness; the gorgeous, brightly colored tangka paintings and murals adorning the walls; the larger-than-life statutes of the various avatars of Buddha, and the prayer wheel outside most monasteries.

Every time I walk around a monastery, running my hand along the prayer wheels, I feel a sense of peace and calm descend over me. Once, I even managed to work through a particular problem that had been plaguing me since a while. Monasteries, along with churches, often have this effect on me.

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{J} Travel Postcard #4: Joie de vivre

Tango_Class_Central_Park_New_York

There’s something in the air of New York. A certain joi de verve – a love for life. In the many parks and squares that dot the city, you’ll find people sitting around, reading, having a cup of coffee…a group of people skateboarding while the rest of the people watch and applaud…and in Central Park, you come across different sights – a fashion shoot, free tango dancing, rollerblading, musicians, a group of drummers with random strangers stopping and dancing. It’s exhilarating. Vibrant. Alive. Joyful.

And it’s something I sorely miss back home in India. That spirit that lets people dare to be different. To march to their own drum beat.

Which city do you associate with joie de vivre?

{I} Travel Postcard #3: Installation Art – New York

Madison_Square_Park_installation_art

It was a bright, sunny day. I was walking through Madison Square Park, when a 40-foot tall sculpture stopped me in my tracks. Something about the tranquility and other-worldliness on that face compelled me to stop, stare, and reflect. At that point, and every time I look at this picture, actually, I fell a sense of peace wash over me.

The name of the sculpture was Echo, and it was created by renowned Spanish sculpture Jaume Plensa.

From the plaque accompanying the sculpture:
“Inspired by the myth of the Greek nymph Echo, the sculpture depicts the artist’s 9-year old neighbor in Barcelona, lost in a state of thoughts and dreams. Both monumental in size and inviting in subject, the peaceful visage of Echo creates a tranquil and introspective atmosphere amid the cacophony of central Manhattan.”

Peace out!

{B} Travel postcard #1: Brooklyn Bridge

There are so many lovely photographs we take on holidays, a lot of which just end up on our computers. I’ve been wanting to start a series of Travel Postcards – one picture with a short little write-up – since a while now. What better way to kick-start it than with the A to Z challenge?

Travel Postcard Brooklyn Bridge, New York

New York’s iconic Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1883, was originally designed to carry horse-drawn and rail traffic with a separate elevated walkway along the center line for pedestrians and bicycles. That’s one of the biggest differences between the US and India – the culture of walking and cycling freely. There are wide open spaces where people can walk, play, cycle, skateboard, sit and read all around the city.

This is in stark contrast to India, where we have bridges and flyovers solely for vehicular traffic (which, admittedly, is much higher than in New York), with scant attention paid to pedestrians and cyclists. So bad is the situation that various cities have designated areas on Sunday where vehicular traffic isn’t allowed – the space is opened up to people, allowing them to walk or cycle without fear.

But one day a week does not a culture build. Will we ever get to the stage when people will eschew their cars in favor of cycling or walking short distances? I wonder…