Malaika V.

 Articles by this Author

Mandi - a Small Town with Plenty of Character

Built along the banks of the river Beas, the diminutive town of Mandi is an important religious centre with a few hundred temples in its vicinity. Also called the “Abode of temples” or the “Varanasi of the hills”, Mandi enjoys the title of being one of the holiest hill stations in Himachal Pradesh.
Delhi, the capital city of India is a city of significant standing which is evident in the city’s varied diversity. It is the marriage of a modern cosmopolitan complex with India’s diversified antiquity. Elegant restaurants, imported cars, gleaming glass shopping malls and glitzy discotheques share space with the ruins of a bygone era - heritage monuments like the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid, that have been witness to history, meandering narrow streets of Old Delhi, the temples and monuments that have seen the rise and fall of many glorious dynasties.

Delhi is also a highly polluted city which is a result of very fast (and chaotic) development and a rapid rise in wealth and buying power in India.
Dharamsala popularly known as “Little Tibet” is also home to the Dalai Lama as well as a large Tibetan community who have made this their home. When China invaded Tibet in the late 1940s the Dalai Lama fled to Mcleodganj in the 1950's followed by thousands of Tibetan refugees. People are still making the seventeen day journey across the Himalayas today. Dharamsala's laidback lifestyle coupled with the potpourri of international visitors gives it a very international village feel. Being the current capital of the Tibetan political movement, Mcleodganj offers plenty of educational opportunities - films and documentaries, the Tibetan museum that speaks of suffering and pain endured by its people, the Dalai Lama's temple, speakers in restaurants all do their bit to educate people about Tibet's troubled past. China occupied Tibet in the early 1950s, claiming that it had always been part of China. In the past, the two countries had an entente cordiale - Tibet offered spiritual advice to Chinese emperors and China playing an important role in the administration of Tibet's government. This combined with Tibet's self induced isolation from the rest of the world made it easy for China to occupy the territory.

Nestled in the lap of the Kullu valley, Manali lies on the banks of the River Beas surrounded by imperial pine trees, alpine hills and a crescent of snow-capped peaks. Legend has it that Manali was supposedly named after Manu; the Hindu law giver who recreated life in Manali after human life had been destroyed in an all consuming flood. Divided into two two distinct settlements, New Manali, resembles an overcrowded tourist destination, with an influx of many north Indians trying to escape the blistering heat of the plains. Old Manali is perched further up the hill between mesmerizing deodar forests and lush meadows relatively untouched by the modern world.

Jaisalmer - A city in a time warp

Desolate, austere and aristocratic, the magnificent city of Jaisalmer looks like a shimmering sandcastle, rising out of the desert surrounded by a small growing town. Founded in 1156, by Rawal Jaisal Singh, this is one of the most entrancing cities in India with an ancient yet amorous aura right out of a fairytale. The city has a very small town feel to it, the entire city complete with intricate balconies, temples and minaret’s, narrow maze-like streets leading no where in particular, shops and elaborate havelis, all painstakingly carved out of yellow sandstone. Jaisalmer has a surreal almost magical feeling to it. It's all too much to take in at once, the emptiness of the barren, parched winter of the desert, embellished with sand dunes and a few green prickly thistles in between, the motley Gypsies dancing to the tune of drum beats, Camels carrying men in vibrant turbans. The barrenness of the desert is strangely calming.

Kangra - Quaint Hill Town in Himachal Pradesh

The charming town of Kangra is located on one of the most pictorial valleys in Himachal Pradesh. Bordered between the banks of the Banganga and the Manjhi Rivers, the lush green valley is surrounded by the magnificent white peaks of the Dhauladhar. The beauty and romance reminiscent of this beautifully spread valley covered with forests of deodar, apple orchards, green tea gardens and sloping terraced farms lies in its unblemished charm.

Kullu - Laid back charm and natural beauty

Kullu is popularly known as the “Valley of the gods” famous for its emerald green landscape overlooking the mighty Dhauladhar’s snowy-clad peaks and virgin valleys scattered in the back drop of the white peaked Himalayas, all seemingly caught in a bewitching exquisiteness. The laid back charm of Kullu's natural beauty is spell binding, with the grandeur of snow clad mountains, desolate pathways between the magnificent pine trees in dense forests, lush green ascending valleys, kaleidoscope of exotic flowers, babbling brooks splashing their way through orchards weaving their own magic.

Udaipur - A remarkable historical Indian city

Udaipur is a well preserved classic city. With its white washed onion domes and lattice windows overlooking the glittering lakes, the majestic City Palace and hundreds of crumbling heritage havelis stretching along one of its banks, Udaipur is one of the most remarkable cities in the world. The imposing City palace is magically transformed into a fairyland once the sun sets and pretty fairy lights garland the lakeside buildings, dazzling brilliantly in the water's reflection. It is truly a mesmerizing experience enticing tourists with its exotic beauty.

The city was founded in the mid 16th century after Maharana Udai Singh’s former capital of Chittorgarh was plundered by the Mughal emperor, Akbar. Legend has it that the city was named after Maharana Udai Singh, who on the advise of a holy man, laid the foundation stone of this arrestingly aesthetic location. The Maharana of Udaipur is also the leader of the Mewar Rajputs known to his people as the “Sun King” and has the royal emblem of the sun on his standard.

The Mewar dynasty is one of the oldest in the world. More than seventy six generations have been witness to the grandeur of the Palace which reflects the rich cultural heritage, and the equally impressive traditions of 'royal' regalia.