Nubra is a cold desert at 10000 ft above sea level and the color of the sand is unlike anywhere in India. These dunes lie close to the Hunder village that sits like an oasis in the middle of the cold desert. The weather is not friendly here and it gets pretty cold once the Sun hides behind the clouds. The strong breeze keeps blowing the fine sands, reshaping them into new shapes.
The drive from Leh to Nubra Valley goes through Khardungla Pass, said to be one of the highest motorable road in the world. Goes without saying the view was just mesmerising as we motored along the golden mountains towards snow capped peaks. I’ve always had this desire to travel the world – but nothing beats exploring your own country.
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.
The vivid blue skies of Bangalore pushed me out of the cozy sanctity of my home towards this little known hillock in Avani. Just about 80 km away from the bustling city of Bangalore this site finds its name in the legendary tale of Ramayana. Yes, this hill, hidden far away from away from the casual tourists is said to be the location of the ancient ashram of sage Valmiki, who sheltered Sita during her exile, where she gave birth to Luv & Kush.
Today we go to explore a Shiva temple raised to cleanse the sins of Rama and his brothers. The Avani village forms an intricate part of the story of Ramayana, as the birthplace of Luv & Kush. The shivalings at the Ramalingeshwara Temple here is said to be established by the Ayodhya princes themselves to absolve them of their sins of waging war against the twin adolescents.
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.
Today I went to explore the quiet town of Anegundi. As per the legend of Ramayana, the city used to be known as Kishkindha where Bali and Sugreeva, the monkey kings used to rule. The monkeys though have been driven away by the growing number of foreign tourists and it is just the mystifying boulders that remain to tell us the story of what was once a strange but interesting kingdom.
Before we head back to Bangalore, we decided to stop at the Mahabalipuram’s old lighthouse. India’s oldest lighthouse, built around 640 AD by Pallava king Mahendra Pallava stands next to the newer and modern lighthouse. The credit for this visual treat goes to the department of lighthouses and light ships which felicitated the re-opening of the lighthouse for the public, ending a decade-long ban over fears of terrorist threats.
The Tiger Cave is not really a cave and tigers do not live here either. It is a rock-cut Hindu temple complex with carvings of tiger heads around the structure, located in the hamlet of Saluvankuppam near Mahabalipuram. These rock-cut structures with tiger-head like shapes are believed to have been constructed in 7th century by Pallavas.