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Road Trip : Visiting St. Augustine

Road Trip : Visiting St. Augustine

Shruti my elder daughter took us for a 10 day road trip across Florida which turned out to be a thrilling experience. The first location which we visited was St. Augustine. It took us about 06 hours to get there by road from Atlanta. We stayed at Southern Oaks Inn which gave us a vintage experience.

St. Augustine is a city on the northeast coast of Florida. It lays claim to being the oldest city in the U.S. Founded in 1565 by the Spanish this city is known for its Spanish colonial architecture.

The fort named, Castillo De San Marcos,Stands tall along the bay. You just cant miss it. It is believed to have been constucted to protect St. Augustine from the pirates.

Well preserved colonial buildings are beauty to watch and walk around.

If you are on a short tour and want to see everything then I suggest you take hop on and off trolley tour.

For a colonial experince take a walk in St Georges and adjacent streets post sunset.

Another building worth having a look at is the Lightner Museum. The front portion is the city hall and the museum is at the rear.

When here do make it a point to walk around the Flagler College and soak in its splendour.

The Light House Museum is another place worth visiting.

The best place to spend some time here in the evening is the Riveria. Take a ride on the horse carraiges too.

Three generations at the oldest house in the USA.

While here do make it a point to visit the Cathedral Basillica, the oldest church in town, the intereiors are beautiful.

There is much more to St. Augustine and I plan to make another visit.

Trip to Mahabalipuram

Trip to Mahabalipuram

We visited Mahabalipuram some time back but some how missed on putting the details in my blog. While returning from Andaman in 2016 we had a day halt at Chennai and this is when we made a trip to Mahabalipuram. Mahabalipuram is famous for its monuments which are now a world heritage site.

Built during the Pallava dynasty, the group of monuments at Mahabalipuram are a collection of 7th and 8th century CE religious buildings in the coastal town of Mamallapuram, Kanchipuram district, Tamil Nadu.

The site has 400 ancient monuments and Hindu temples, including one of the largest open-air rock reliefs in the world: The Descent of the Ganges or Arjuna’s Penance.

There are Ratha temples with monolithic processional chariots, built between 630 and 668; mandapa viharas (cave temples) with narratives from the Mahabharata and Shaivic, Shakti and Vaishna inscriptions in a number of Indian languages and scripts; rock reliefs; stone-cut temples built between 695 and 722, and archaeological excavations dated to the 6th century and earlier.

Sharing few photographs taken during the trip.

Krishna’s Butterball (above) is a gigantic granite boulder resting on a short incline in the historical town of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, India. The boulder is approximately 6 meters high and 5 meters wide and weighs around 250 tons.

Varaha Cave Temple

Mahabalipuram lighthouse is the oldest Light House in India and was commissioned here in 1887.

A view from Mahabalipuram Light House.

Mahishasuramardhini Mandapa is an example of Indian rock-cut architecture dating from the late 7th century, of the Pallava dynasty. It is a rock-cut cave temple located on a hill, near a lighthouse, along with other caves in Mamallapuram. It is the one of the finest testimonials of ancient Vishwakarma Sthapathis. [Wikipedia].

Coconut Water is something you will find at every corner here. Do buy and drink this to keep yourself hydrated as it gets very hot here.

The Shore Temple is so named because it overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal. It is a structural temple, built with blocks of granite, dating from the 8th century AD. At the time of its creation, the site was a busy port during the reign of Narasimhavarman II of the Pallava dynasty. ( Wikipedia).

Bhima Ratha is the most massive of the five rathas.

Dharmaraja Ratha

Nakula Sahadeva Ratha and its standing elephant

A must visit destination, give you a sense of India’s past splendor.

Nepal Trip : Kathmandu and places near by

Nepal Trip : Kathmandu and places near by

Nepal is a tourists delight, there is something here for every one. For those who can trek for days and live off their backpack, there is the beauty of the Himalayas to explore and cherish the best, the nature has to offer. For those who are short on time and want to be vehicle bound, Kathmandu and Pokhara  are the places to explore. This blog is about my days spent in and around Kathmandu with my camera exploring its heritage and spirituality. This is more of a photo essay, in case you want to see a larger view of an image, click on it.

Patan Durbar Square  is one of the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of its attraction is the ancient royal palace where the Malla Kings of Lalitpur resided. There is so much to explore and learn here about the rich heritage of Nepal. This place lies in ruins currently due to the massive earthquake of 2015. A massive effort is on to restore its crumbled glory. I just couldn’t stop taking photos here, just sharing a handful.

Golden Temple close to Patan Darbar Square has the finest metal craftsmanship which I have seen. A must visit while travelling to Kathmandu, Nepal.

Pashupatinath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and  is one of the most important religious sites in Asia for devotees of Lord Shiva. The temple was built in the 5th century and later renovated by Malla kings.  It is also a cremation site where the last rites of Hindus are performed.

Swayambhunath is an ancient religious architecture atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. The Tibetan name for the site means ‘Sublime Trees’, for the many varieties of trees found on the hill. Wikipedia

You  get birds eye view of Kathmandu Valley from here. There is lot of peace here. Beware of the monkeys and there are lots of steps to climb too.

Buodnath  is a stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. Located about 11 km from the center and northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, the stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal. The Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath dominates the skyline; it is one of the largest stupas in the world. Wikipedia 

Chandragiri Hill about an hours drive from Kathmandu is 2551 meters above sea level. This hill is connected with both Buddhist and Hindu religions. The hill provides panoramic views of Kathmandu Valley and the Himalayan ranges from Annapurna to Everest on a clear day. A cable car takes you to the top in about 15 minutes.

Bhaktapur is known for its glorious architecture; sky-high temples built in pagoda style – which is believed to be the stairway to the heaven, fine clay pottery, and massive royal courtyards whose existence date back to the 12th century, where devotees, still, celebrate their pre-historic festivals by equal amount of gusto and passion. It is a UNESCO heritage site. The city is about an hours drive from Kathmandu.

…….and that’s us enjoying the awesome sunset from roof top of Sambhala Hotel, Kathmandu.

Though Nepal and its towns will take a lot of time to recover from the ravages of the 2015 earthquake, there is a lot see and explore. A blog cannot do justice so I have decided to create a Photo Book on Nepal to include my visit to Kathmandu and Pokhara which will be soon announced on this very website. Best Wishes.


Ajanta Caves through my lens

Ajanta Caves through my lens

About 107 Km from Aurangabad, Maharashtra in India lies the Ajanta caves(30 in all) declared as an UNESCO heritage site in 1983.

When you are driving towards the Ajanta Caves from Aurangabad, about 12 kilometers short of the caves you will come across a very prominent Y Junction. Go left and you will reach a view point from where you get this birds eye view of the caves. You will subsequently have to drive back to reach the main entrance of the caves.

A visit to the Ajanta caves in early 2018 cast a mesmerizing spell and the memory of the magnificent murals, paintings and sculptors still linger on.

History has it that the sculpting of the caves began in 200 BC and continued for many centuries. For some unknown reason the caves were abandoned in 900 AD and fell prey to the elements of nature. These were accidentally re-discovered by Capt John Smith in 1819 during a hunt while he was chasing a tiger.

The rock cut caves are a reminder of rich heritage of India and its people. The sculptures glorify Buddha as a teacher and those who sculpted it certainly aimed to etch memories in stone for generation to come. Absolutely awesome, amazing and divine !!

If history interests you then Links and a video at the end of this blog may interest you.

I for one soaked in the awesome beauty of art which can be seen in these caves. Absolutely amazing. Sharing with you photos taken during the visit in random order.

The murals in few caves are amazing and speak volumes for the Indian Artisans.

The murals mostly depict the life of Buddha and Jataka Tales, however, few do portray the day to day life of kings of those days.

It took centuries to sculpt the caves and the sculptures within, and yet the whole thing looks so well coordinated. The art form was passed from generation to generations who continued to create an awesome story depicting the life of “The Buddha”.

Unfinished caves ??

I don’t really have words to describe what I have posted above. I presume the pictures tell the story.

If history of these caves interest you then you may like to click on the links below to know more. My aim was to take you through a pictorial journey of the Ajanta Caves, I hope you enjoyed it.

Trip to Orchha

Trip to Orchha

A visit to Orchha finally came through during our road trip in February 2018. The visit was overdue and it gave us great pleasure to tick it off from our bucket list.

The historic town of Orchha, nestled on the banks of river Betwa, was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela Rajput Chief, Rudra Pratap. The town seems frozen in time, with its many monuments continuing to retain their original grandeur even to this day.  There is a lot to see and photograph here. During your visit do make it a point to view the sunset from across the river, it’s mesmerizing.

Orchha is a heritage sight and a must see for those who want to soak in India’s history and past splendor. There is a story hidden in every nook and corner so it may be worthwhile to take a guide. Monuments worth visiting are the Raja Mahal, Jehangir Mahal, Chhatris and Chaturbhuj Temple. Keep an hour or so to get across the river and enjoy the sunset from there.

You may also like to visit the Bird Sanctuary and enjoy rafting in Betwa River.

To have a visual glance at the place, view the gallery below. Click on the thumbnails for an enlarged view.

Badamai : Cave Temples

Badamai : Cave Temples

On the second leg of our sight seeing we arrived at Badami from Bijapur on 02 February 2014 and were amazed by the cave temples there.

Badami was the capital of the Early Chalukyas, who ruled much of Karnataka in the 6th to 8th centuries. The town is known for its ancient cave temples carved out of the sandstone hills. The cave temples are hallmark of ancient Indian art and culture.

Temple caves

The Badami cave temples are composed of four caves, all carved out of the soft Badami sandstone on a hill cliff. The temple caves represent different religious sects. Among them cave 2 and 3 are dedicated to god Vishnu, cave 1 to Shiva and the fourth (cave 4) is a Jain temple. The first three are devoted to the Vedic faith and the fourth cave is the only Jain temple at Badami.  The cave temples date back to 600 and 700 CE. Their achitecture is a blend of North Indian Nagara Style and South Indian Dravidian style. Each cave has a sanctum sanctorum, a mandapa, a verandah and pillars. The cave temples also bear exquisite carvings, sculptures and beautiful murals. Important part of historical heritage at Badami cave temples are inscriptions in old Kannada script. There is also the fifth cave temple in Badami – Buddhist temple in natural cave which can be entered only on all fours.

The first cave has Natraja carved out of stone in 18 dance poses. You need to view from different directions to see all the poses.

The second and third caves has Vishnu in ten different avatars.

The fourth cave is dedicated to Mahavira.

You find monkeys all around in a playful and naughty mood. Be careful, they are known to have snatched purses and raided cars. Keep your car window closed and hold your purse tight, preferably leave them in the car.

How to Get to Badami Cave Temples

The Badami Cave temples are extremely famous and they attract a lot of tourists. Badami is well connected through many bus routes. The town also has a railway station. Belgaum, located at a distance of 150 km from Badami, houses the nearest airport. Badami can also be approached from Bijapur which is approximately 100 km.


The Heritage Resort is located in close vicinity of the cave temple. Click here for more details.

The cave temples are poetry carved in stone and a must see.