We hiked to the Shanti Stupa, one of the iconic structures in Leh. Located at a height of almost 12000 ft – overlooking the city, it was commissioned in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist, Gyomyo Nakamura with the aim to promote world peace. The stupa is always surrounded by enthusiastic tourists and its next to impossible to take a photo without one.
Today I go on a heritage walk to the majestic Vittala Temple, dedicated to Vitthala, the South India name of Vishnu. Built around the 15th Century CE, and expanded several times by succeeding kings of the Vijaynagar empire with the most extravagant architecture and exceptional craftsmanship, the temple is the main attraction of Hampi.
We drive deep into rural Bengal to witness the exquisite terracotta temples of Bishnupur. These extensively decorated temples were created during the 17th century using only baked mud and have somehow managed to survive the ravages of time.
While on my evening walk today, I dropped in at Ukimido Pavilion. Ukimido is a hexagonal gazebo over the Sagiike Pond in an aloof area of Nara Park. During summer evenings the floating pavilion is illuminated and it feels very relaxing sitting in the center of the pond surrounded by enchanting lights.
Suizen-ji Jōju-en is a traditional Japanese garden landscaped around a natural spring pond. It was built by the Hosokawa family in the 17th century. The most interesting aspect of the garden is that it reproduces the 53 post stations of the Tokaido, the road, which connected Tokyo with Kyoto during the Edo Period, in miniature form, including a small Mt. Fuji.
Bandai Bridge is considered as the symbol of Niigata and is one of the city’s most scenic spots, especially at night. After dropping our luggage at the hotel, we walked down to the bridge from the Showa period, lit up like a Christmas tree over the Shinano River. The 1964 quake shattered Niigata, but the arch shaped, stone bridge stood strong among the rubble even as everything around it crumbled.
We step back in time to the Jōmon period at the Sannai-Maruyama Ruins. The ruins in the southwest of Aomori is the largest ruins of a Jōmon-period village in Japan. Most of the excavated items have been reburied for preservation, but a few excavation sites and artifacts are on display along with reconstructed dwellings, giving us a sense of the daily life of ancient times.
Jozenji-dori is the soul of Sendai, the city of trees. Zelkova trees line the boulevard on both sides for about 700 meters, running east to west through the heart of the city. We were double lucky to be there at the time of the Tanabata festival when the entire road leading to Jozenji-dori was filled with colorful Tanabata decorations.
We take a hike along the Goshiki-numa trail in Bandai-Asahi National Park, that runs along five mysterious ponds each with its own tinge of blue water. These ponds were created by the lava from the eruption of Mt. Bandai in 1888, where one can witness the volcanic minerals dissolving in the water, imparting each pond with its own shade of color ranging from green to whitish blue.