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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Wadi Rum: Martian Landscapes on Earth

As a person, I have always loved Mother Nature and her creations. As a traveler, I have been privileged to see some of them at extremely close quarters. One such Mother nature’s benevolent creation that captivates the attention and imagination of one and all is Jordan’s Wadi Rum. This spectacularly scenic desert valley has been immortalized through umpteen number of movies from all across the world. Some of those famous movies are Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’, Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen and Lawrence of Arabia. While this place looks amazingly beautiful in the movies, it is a surreal experience to stand in the middle of this mountain desert.

Exotic desert highway of Wadi Rum, Jordan

I was bowled over by its sheer raw appeal, its inhospitable environment, its striking landscapes, its gorgeous red color tones, its crystal clear night sky that shows you the galaxy, its rich prehistoric connection, its amazing desert culture and its unlimited avenues for adventure on my recent holiday to Jordan.

Local meeting in the gorgeous desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan

Everything about Wadi Rum appealed to the adventurer in me. May be, it is because I am a sucker for deserts and desolate landscapes or may be it is because this place is really special. After all, this place that is nicknamed ‘The Valley of the Moon’ is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it should have some special attributes to have been given the heritage tag.

Photographing the stunning landscapes of Wadi Rum, Jordan

Covering 720 square kilometers of dramatic desert wilderness in the south of Jordan with rolling sand dunes, huge mountains of sandstone and granite and narrow canyons and fissures, Wadi Rum is full of adventure. Whether you opt for a 4 wheel drive, a camel or your own feet, you are bound to have some serious fun. Rock climbing, dune surfing or sand boarding and dune bashing would have to be the top 3 adventure activities in this region.

Camel Parking Lot - Wadi Rum, Jordan

Climbing Jebel Umm Ad Dami (6,040 feet) and Jebel Rum (5,689 feet), the two highest peaks of this region have to be two of the most popular climbs in this region. Covering a mix of hiking, rock climbing and technical climbing, these peaks are said to offer views of the Red Sea and the Saudi border on a clear day. Even if you don’t end up seeing the Red Sea, I am pretty sure that there will be no dearth of adrenaline rushes.

Setting sun casts a golden glow on the desert camps of Wadi Rum, Jordan

If you wish to go easy on the adventure part, there is that sunset camel safari, a scenic jeep drive, a stay in a Bedouin tent, sleeping under the stars, eating traditional food, seeing concealed ancient rock drawings and so much more. Jordan’s largest wadi that has been inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, is not short on action, be it cultural or adventure.

A Bedouin and his camels walk the deserts of Wadi Rum, Jordan

If you are a history buff, you will love the petroglyphs at the Khaz’ali canyon that dates back to the Thamudic times, the Nabatean temple and the Anfashieh inscriptions from the Nabatean and the Thamudic period.

A Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp

My personal favorites are sand boarding at the red sand dunes of Umm Ishrin, a camel safari at sunset, the traditional Bedouin tented camp experience, sleeping under millions of stars and the feeling of being at home in the middle of one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet.

A Wadi Rum sunset is a surreal experience

Whatever your interests might be, if you happen to one of those who absolutely adore Mother Nature’s special creations, you have to make your way to Wadi Rum, especially on your next holiday to Jordan. I am pretty sure that you will be stupefied with its natural splendour.

The famous big watermelons of Wadi Rum, Jordan

And when you do manage to find your way to Wadi Rum, do chomp on some of the sweetest and juiciest water melons of the world.

How to get there:

Red sand dunes of Wadi Rum amidst the mountains

Lying in the south western corner of Jordan, Wadi Rum is closest to the coastal city of Aqaba that offers an international airport and great road connectivity. It is also fairly easy to drive from Amman and Petra. Having your own mode of transportation would be advisable unless you have a lot of time at hand.

Planning for Wadi Rum:

The mountain desert landscape of Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum is usually dry, bright, hot and cold all at the same time. Hence, it is best to carry one warm jacket, a scarf to protect you from the sun, some moisturizer, a good pair of sunglasses and a good pair of walking boots.

Nearby Attractions:

The Martian landscape of Wadi Rum, Jordan

Red Sea, Petra, Amman and the Dead Sea. As Jordan is a fairly small country, most of its top attractions can be reached within 4 to 5 hours.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

My First TED Talk: TEDx IIT Guwahati

This is for all those people out there who wish to live their dream, but for some reason choose not to…Hopefully, this post will charge your belief system with some positivity.

Earlier this year, I gave my first TED talk at the TEDx event organized by IIT Guwahati. Located by the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra, I was one among 6 speakers who had come to share their life story. This TEDx event  themed ‘Pushing the limits’ unfolded in the lush green campus of IIT Guwahati on a foggy winter morning where I was the youngest speaker. Even though technically I was one among 6 TED speakers at one of India’s most prestigious institutions, I was a tad nervous as this was my first TED talk and I was amidst some really successful individuals. Giving me company were the following personalities: an extremely successful actress, a man with 120 innovations to his name, a honorary research professor, a social activist and a lady who has been fighting human trafficking in the North East since she was 17 years old. As you can see, it was quite a power packed and diverse bunch.



I am just a simple guy who loves to travel and who turned it into an active lifestyle and career. However, these 5 other fellow speakers were not only pushing their limits, but they were working for the betterment of society. As I was the last of the 6 speakers at this TEDx event, I was privileged to listen to some of India’s kindest people from the front seat and got to interact with them at close quarters. Each one had their own unique story, but one thing ran common through all of them…a strong belief system, hard work and the willingness to live their dream. And all of it left me starry eyed and with a sense of happiness…that I was one among them and that I did choose the path less trodden. I hope all these TED talks inspire you to push your limits and live your dream, whatever it might be.

My Talk – Do What you Love
I don’t know how many of you know my background. I am a middle class Tamil Brahmin boy who was born into an orthodox family and who grew up in a small town in East India with an upbringing that dictated the necessity of good education, good job and slowly making your way to a comfortable life. Like most regular Indians, I did just that and some would say that I did pretty well at that. In spite of having achieved the so called measures of success, I felt empty within and my journey as a travel blogger began there. I started traveling to find a way to cover this emptiness. Soon, it became my way of living and a career. Of course, I had my fair share of failures and I had to pick myself up quite a few times after falling flat on my face, but it was so much fun and I would do it again without battling an eyelid. This talk titled ‘Do What you Love’ talks about this story of mine, why I think travel is the best learning ecosystem, why I think it is essential to fail and why I think it is perfectly alright to chase your dream, however stupid or crazy it might be. I hope you enjoy the talk!




Sanjoy Hazarika – Boat of Hope

Sanjoy Hazarika is a honorary research fellow at Centre for Policy Research and holds the Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew Chair at the Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi. Hailing from Assam, Dr. Hazarika is an active documentary film maker and has worked towards many causes in the North East of India. This talk of his titled ‘Boat of Hope’ is about how he and his friends created a mini pharmacy and hospital on boat to help the people of Assam who lived on the islands of the Brahmaputra and who had no access to even basic medicines and healthcare. He started with just a dream and after a lot of hard work managed to provide medical care through a simple boat that floated on the Brahmaputra from island to island. A very touching story!




Seema Biswas – Taking Bold Roles and Challenges in Indian Cinema

Seema Biswas is the lady who played the character of ‘Phoolan Devi’ in the 1994 super hit movie ‘Bandit Queen’ directed by Shekhar Kapur. She is known for the strong roles she plays in so called controversial movies. This talk of hers is about how she evolved from a simple village girl who loved to dance like her mother and went on to join theatre and then mainstream movies. This is her story of how she survived the insults of the people of her village, the hard life of theatre and the life in Kolkata and Mumbai. An amazing story!




Uddhab Bharali

This man is a serial innovator. He has more than 118 patents to his name.  He makes very limited money, but he doesn’t care. All he wants to do is create innovations that serve mankind and animal kind. Meet Uddhab Bharali, a man of short stature, but of tall laurels. He has been featured on the Discovery Channel, is a recipient of the ‘President’s Grassroots Innovation Award’ and many other felicitations. As an engineer, I immediately fell in love with his innovations that cost not more than 50 or 100 rupees. Be it a simple fork based paddy seeder, an artificial tea cup holder for an amputee, a prosthetic leg for a disabled dog, cheap wheel chairs or a pomegranate de-seeder, his innovations are simple, to the point, meant to serve humanity and really cheap. This is one person the whole of India needs to stand up and notice. We need many individuals like him.

The video is yet to be uploaded. I will share it here as soon as it goes live.

Ravindranath

Ravindranath ji is one of those un-tiring social activists. He is an important member of the Barefoot college in Rajasthan. His talk was about how he turned flood ravaged regions in Assam into successful villages and communities by creating new and alternative livelihoods. He is one of those people who works towards creating training systems and successful livelihood options for the so called failures in society.

The video is yet to be uploaded. I will share it here as soon as it goes live.

Hasina Kharbhih

This lady has married human trafficking with traditional fashion. Sounds different, right? Well, Hasina Kharbhih, who hails from Shillong, did just that when she started her NGO at the tender age of 17. Her goal was to prevent migration of women from the North East to other parts of India, which led to them being trafficked to different parts of the world. She did this by tapping into the creative local fashion. Hasina created an ecosystem where the women of the North East could design and create scarves, wrap arounds and other apparel from the comfortable confines of their home. Their fashionable and traditional clothing then gets sold into the international market as fashion apparel and accessories. This talk of hers talks through this fantastic journey!

The video is yet to be uploaded. I will share it here as soon as it goes live.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Chemrey Monastery: Must Visit on your Next Ladakh Holiday

Ladakh is one of India’s hottest mountain holiday destinations of India and hence I am pretty sure that it is on the travel bucket list of most of you all. Its snow capped peaks, its rarefied and pristine atmosphere, its rich Tibetan Buddhism connection and its raw and gorgeous nature attract all kinds of visitors from around the world.

Stunningly beautiful Chemrey Monastery surrounded by mustard fields and the high Himalayas, Ladakh

Typically, it is places such as Leh, Khardung La, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Rancho’s school, Thiksey monastery and Magnetic hill that attract the visitors in hordes. But, if you look a little bit beyond that, you will discover treasures that will blow your mind. Take the winter trek on the Zanskar river or a sojourn with the stars at Hanle as examples. They are off the track, but they give you that once a lifetime experience.

Chemrey Monastery, Mustard Fields and the Himalayas of Ladakh, India

While both the above examples require you to be more adventurous, you can visit similar exotic places, but less adventurous and thus more amicable to the regular traveling crowd. A prime example of that would be Chemrey monastery that I visited during my recent summer festival trip to Ladakh. The surprising thing is that I had crossed this 400 year old monastery like over a 100 times, but never felt compelled to visit it. This time around, I made an exception and I was really happy that I did so.

Rich agricultural land right below Chemrey monastery, Ladakh

Founded in 1664 as a memorial to King Sengge Namgyal, the Chemrey monastery is located on a hill that overlooks the dusty route from Kharu to Chang la pass. With an aura similar to the high altitude monasteries of Spiti valley, Chemrey commands a stunning view of the valley below that is blessed with fertile agricultural land and where one can see bright yellow mustard fields every summer.

Red Spinner next to monk desk at Chemrey Monastery

Run by a small group of Drukpa monks and their students, this monastery is home to some ancient Tibetan texts, a giant brass statue of Padmasambhava, a revamped Guru Lakhang and a brand new library full of important religious texts and scripts. The fading murals of Sakyamuni, Kalchakra, Akshobhya and the thousand Buddha are also one of its key highlights.

Smiling Monk of Chemrey Monastery, Ladakh

Summer months also see the popular Chemrey Angchok festival that is definitely worth experiencing. The main reason to visit this monastery would be for its peaceful atmosphere and the fact that you might be like the only visitor. Unlike other monasteries of Ladakh that have gotten super busy and crowded during the summer months, Chemrey stands as an exception.

Door handle of the temple inside Chemrey Monastery, Ladakh

May be, it is its remoteness or its slightly far away location that keeps visitors away. Whatever the reason, it is for those who wish to fall in peaceful love with the mountains and experience the beautiful life of the monks.

Stunning Chemrey Monastery of Ladakh, India

If you are adventurous, you can opt to stay in the monastery or even better volunteer here. Facilities will be basic, but the experience would be rich. In any way, do ensure that this place is on your itinerary for your next Ladakh holiday!

How to Reach Here
Green agricultural land below Chemrey Monastery, Ladakh

Chemrey Monastery is located about 40 kms from Leh on the Kharu Chang-la highway that eventually connects to Tangtze, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri and Hanle. The best way to get here is to have your own transport. If you opt for the local bus, do be prepared for some uphill walking.

Go Here For
Ladakh's Chemrey Monastery as seen from the mustard fields below

Picturesque location, remoteness and tranquility.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Hemis Monastery Festival 2016 through 20 Vibrant Pictures

Last week (July 14 and 15, 2016), I was standing above 13,000 feet in the center courtyard of a 344 year monastery of the Drukpa order. Tucked deep in a hidden valley flanked by mighty high Himalayan peaks, this place is home to the Hemis monastery and one that is the traditional venue for the Hemis festival, which is held in honour of Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) – the founder of the Drukpa lineage.

This is one of those unique festivals where you get to see Buddhist monks dance to a tune of traditional music and religious scripts. Over 2 days, nearly all of Ladakh’s action seems to get diverted here as locals and tourists alike come to see the vibrant and colorful masked dancers enthral the audience. What made this festival even more special this year was its Kumbha mela like status where they revealed a 400 year old silk thangka painting of Guru Padmasambhava amidst lots of fanfare and deep spiritual resonance. This embroidered thangka is revealed only once every 12 years and hence this year’s summer festival of Ladakh was even more special.

I had traveled all the way from Bangalore to Leh just to attend this festival. After a brief acclimatization stint at Leh, I parked myself right in the media corner of this ancient monastery and got to see this sensational festival up close. Here are 20 vibrant pictures of this amazing Hemis Monastery Festival from my media corner.

Dancing Guru Dorje Drolod at Hemis Monastery, Ladakh

One of the more scary masks from the festival, this represents Guru Dorje Drolod, one of the eight manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava.

Guru Rinpoche Thangka that the public gets to see once every 12 years

This is the silk thangka of Guru Rinpoche that gets unveiled once every 12 years and one that was shown to the public for a few hours on the 1st day of this festival. 

Young Monk looks skywards during Hemis Monastery Festival, Ladakh

Monks of all age groups attended this festival. I like this photograph a lot as it symbolizes a spiritual look towards heaven.

Music and Color galore at Hemis Monastery Festival, Ladakh

Monks dressed in colorful attire and playing the gyaling, the traditional ritual clarinets of Ladakh.

The innocent wrinkled face of an elderly Ladakhi lady at Hemis Monastery festival 2016

The Hemis festival was not all about monks, masks and dancing, but also about the locals who came out decked in full traditional attire.

Smiling masked dance performer at Hemis Monastery Festival, Ladakh

A smiling masked performer started the Hemis monastery festival’s dance sessions.

The start of the Hemis Monastery Festival dance performances

The entire festival followed a religious script and it included monks of all ages from the Drukpa lineage of the Hemis monastery.

A sea of red Drukpa caps at Hemis Monastery Festival 2016

The monks corner of Hemis monastery. The monks of the Drukpa lineage (you can make them out by their traditional caps) came out in huge numbers to watch their brethren perform.

Guru Tsokye Dorje or Padma Vajra at Hemis Monastery Festival 2016

Guru Padma Vajra, one of the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche enthralling the crowd.

An elderly Buddhist local woman attending the Hemis Monastery Festival of Ladakh

The creases and wrinkles of an elderly Ladakhi woman.

Young monk doubling up as a musician during Hemis Monastery Festival 2016

A young monk playing the drums and also doubled up as a singer.

Hemis Monastery Monk getting his picture clicked in front of Guru Rinpoche Thangka

Even the monks seemed to be bitten by the phone camera bug!

Smart looking monk from Hemis Monastery, Ladakh

Every monk seemed to have come out in their finest attire and look. This handsome looking monk seemed to catch the attention of my lens.

The masked dancing monks of Hemis Monastery, Ladakh

The Hemis festival is full of color, drama and action.

A stunning blue Dakini dancer during the Hemis Monastery Festival 2016

The Dakinis or the divine fairies represented through these monks wearing the brass masks.

Hemis Monastery festival at a close glance

A Black Hat Dancer and his tantric dress.

Monk carrying traditional music instrument at Hemis Monastery, Ladakh

A monk carrying a big traditional music instrument right before the start of the dance performances.

Young Monks of the Drukpa lineage...one can identify them by their caps

Young monks of the Drukpa lineage were also an integral part of the audience.

Young Buddhist Monk from Hemis Monastery, Ladakh

A pure and innocent look. This adorable young monk captured my attention amidst a sea of red/maroon. 

The Eight Manifestations of admasambhava at Hemis Monastery Festival 2016

The Eight Manifestations of Padmasambhava, one of the more important performances of the Hemis Monastery Festival.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Love Road Trips? Personalize your Road Trips using GoRoadTrip

It is that time of the year when road trips are possibly at their romantic best. Whether you like the wind whistling through your hair on a motorcycle, you like the world go by from the cosy confines of a car or you like the adrenaline rush when you indulge in some off-roading on your 4x4 jeep, all kind of road trips have their own special charm. It doesn’t matter whether you are a college student, a young couple, a middle aged person traveling with your family or even an elderly couple, once you have been smitten by the road trip bug, you are bound to always end up planning road trips.

I am also one of those who love road trips. My favorite mode of transport is a motorcycle. In fact, most of my initial travels across India were on my Royal Enfield motorcycle. But, like most road trippers, I have always struggled to find a simple way in which I can independently plan an interesting road trip itinerary in the matter of a few minutes. Due to lack of resources, I ended up with just a road atlas and a rich zest for adventure. But, not everyone can travel like that. And that is where a solution like GoRoadTrip comes to the rescue.

GoRoadTrip - Road Trips made easy

This young Bangalore headquartered online portal and mobile app allows you to build your own personalized road trip vacations. Unlike standard travel booking websites that allow us to rent cars, book hotels, book activities or book a standard packages, GoRoadTrip.com thinks differently and allows you to plan your own sweet road trip.

I see this innovative product as a game changer in this space. Here are the salient highlights of this GoRoadTrip product and why I think you will fall in love with it.

1) Endless Customization and Personalization

Let’s make one thing clear! All of us love choices. As road trippers, each of us come with a unique set of whims and fancies. This means that, we want to customize our road trip, but due to lack of a solution in the market, we either planned it in our own individual silos or surrendered our fate to the cliche booking sites. That is where GoRoadTrip has created a fantastic platform.

They offer customization to the last degree and the best part is that you can do it yourself either through their online website or their mobile app. To start with, you can choose your destination, your starting point, your preferred maximum one way duration, your month of travel and your preferred holiday theme (temples, beaches, nature, wildlife, etc.) from a list of over 100 cities in South India.

Personalized Road Trip Planning through GoRoadTrip

Once you have the basic planning out of the way, the system asks for additional information such as duration of trip, tentative or finalized date of journey, if you wish to stopover for sights enroute or head straight to the destination, your budget type (frugal, economy or luxury) and if you wish to build your own itinerary or choose from the itineraries already in the marketplace for your given route and choice parameters.

If you choose to build your own plan, you can choose everything from the route, the places you wish to see, the hotels you wish to stay in, the restaurants where you wish to stop for an enroute meal, the activities that you want to indulge in and much more. The number of options under each variable is immense and thus allowing you great flexibility.

In a nutshell, it gives you immense flexibility, options and information to help you seamlessly build your own personalized road trip holiday.

2) Great integration with TripAdvisor 

These days, most of us invariably check TripAdvisor for reviews and ratings. After all, no one seems to command a more holistic review system of the hotels and tourist attractions across the world. GoRoadTrip extends this TripAdvisor functionality from within its solution. Whether you are choosing a activity, a place to see, a hotel to stay or a restaurant to eat, you can easily check the ratings and review of it on TripAdvisor. This helps in authentic and super quick research.

3) Intelligent Route Planning

Sometimes, we road trippers underestimate terrain difficulty, miscalculate distances, ignore detours and others that lead to significant delays and a trailing set of headaches. GoRoadTrip solution alerts the user of possible mistakes while building your personalized itinerary and thus ensuring a smooth and trouble free road trip.

4) Real Time Connection with Maps

GoRoadTrip allows you to see your entire itinerary through an interactive maps feature either on the web or through the app on your phone. This covers everything from routes, pit stops, places of interest, hotels, destination and much more.

5) Simple and Intuitive Android App

Currently, GoRoadTrip provides all of their amazing functionality for Android users through a great mobile app. From choosing items to building your itinerary and from route maps to a handy travel guide, this guide contains all the user-friendly features of the product. And the best part is that, their mobile app interface is super simple and what I call idiot-proof.

6) Ability to Create Itineraries and Share with Others

Your detailed road trip itinerary planner with pit stops, hotels, attractions and much more

Road trips are sometimes big fun when you travel in large groups. But, then there are the hassles of group booking, meeting together to plan, settling accounts and all that, which we all want to skip. What I like about the GoRoadTrip itinerary is that once you build a good plan, you can save it and make available to anybody and that includes your friends, family and other fellow road trippers. Thus, everyone can do their own bookings, planning and preparations. And when you all jam up together, you are just enjoying the well planned road trip.

As you can see, GoRoadTrip is quite an innovative product idea and I see it changing the road tripping landscape in South India, if not the rest of the country as they scale their operations outwards. If you love road trips, you should definitely check them out. Happy road tripping this monsoon!

Disclosure: I have collaborated with GoRoadTrip to provide this detailed review. All the thoughts in this review are strictly my own and based on my assessment of their technology product and services rendered.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bring your Favorite Destinations into your Home

As travelers, we fall in love with certain aspects of our holiday destinations and so wish to bring it home with us. These could be stuff from the vintage hotel, the architecture and design that we see, the iconic art of the place, the food, the smells and that overall special feeling. I am not just referring to souvenirs, which we all do carry back as decorative items and gifts, but a whole lot more.

I am talking about that architectural design concept, that furniture design, that classic look, that fine art, those special accessories and all those day to day products that can adorn your home. These could come in handy while designing your new home or re-decorating your old home.

Here are my favorites. Some of them are already in my home while the others have been kept as design ideas for my new larger home whenever that happens.

Mosaic from Jordan

Gorgeous Tree of life mosaic being painstakingly created at Madaba, Jordan

When I think of that special flooring, those ancient mosaics of Jordan come to mind. These mosaics have adorned churches from the 1st century and have depicted maps of the Holy land and the baptism site of Jesus. Won’t it be a fabulous idea to have a wall or floor of a room to be decorated with these small, diverse and colorful stone pieces? I think they would look majestic, especially if the mosaic depicts something like the tree of life or something exotic, but carrying a simple, yet deep meaning.

Carpets from Iran

Exquisite silk Persian carpets at the grand bazaar of Isfahan, Iran

I am a big lover of carpets. Carpets act as a great accessory for any room in the home. Be it for praying or a meditation session, around the coffee table for those fun sessions with family and friends or to jazz up your living room, carpets enable all of this and much more. I own and have gifted carpets from Kashmir, Iran and Turkey. My favorite carpet is the one made out of Persian silk and one that carries ancient miniature art from Iran. The woollen ones made by women living in the villages of Iran are much cheaper and extremely rugged.

Ceramics from China

Exquisite Benjarong Crockery of Thailand

I am sure all of you know about bone china. A true legacy of China, these ceramics add a new dimension to your table ware. Their colors and unique designs is definitely something that I would love to have in my kitchen and dining room. An adaptation of this chinese art is the Benjarong painting of Thailand, which when applied to Bone China oozes royalty all along.

Design Concepts of Traditional South Indian Homes

Traditional South Indian Homes

As a person who hails from an orthodox Tamil Brahmin family, I have grown up liking swings in the living room, an elevated seating space at the entrance of the house, a classic decor made up of wooden beams, pillars and thick set wooden doors and last, but not the least, the amazing open-air garden and free space located right in the middle of the house. Some of these traditional design concepts are not just limited to traditional Tamil brahmin households, but can be seen in the Chettinad community of Tamil Nadu and in any made traditional communities of Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra. When I do build my big home in the middle of greenery, these traditional design concepts would definitely be a part of it.

Beach Inspired Furniture

Brighton Beach Inspired Dining Table

For a lot of us, beaches signify relaxation and letting go. Our home also provides the same feeling to us. I believe beach-inspired furniture makes a great fit in a well lit area of the home, especially the outdoor lawns or gardens, the porticos or may be around the swimming pool, if you can afford to have one. Simple, yet classical furniture made out of solid wood, like arm chairs, rockers, coffee tables, dining tables and some more. Take the Brighton beach inspired dining set from Urban Ladder as an example. Such solid wood furniture would look chic as the main dining table or as a second one in your portico area.

Classic British Leather Furniture Inspired by the Colonial Era

I am a big sucker for solid wood and leather furniture from the classic era. You see them in bars and libraries of five star and other luxury hotels around the world and in the offices of important executives fairly high up in the company ladder. They are super comfortable and they look rich, really rich with their gorgeous leather. I personally own a couple of such furniture and have big dreams of designing some more furniture inspired from this British colonial era.

Miniature Art from Odisha

Amazing Patta Chitra miniature art of Raghurajpur, Odisha

Fine Art always adds a special touch to one’s home. The rich have always had fine taste for such fine art. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it costs a lot of money to own fine art. From a traditional Indian perspective, Tanjore paintings, Patta Chitra, Tado Patra, Tribal Art and other mythology inspired paintings look beautiful in one’s home not just by look, but by the beautiful message that it carries. Personally, I love the miniature art, especially Patta Chitra from Odisha’s Raghurajpur.

Masks from Indonesia

Masks from Indonesia

In ancient days, people created masks for worshipping the lord, to act as spirit guardians or to protect them from the evil eye. In India, masks are used to ward off evil. In Thailand, they are used to portray a specific character in a traditional dance ceremony. In Indonesia, each of its islands is home to ethnic tribes and these masks denote their rich traditions. Many other countries also have a similar mask culture, like the Mardi Gras festival of New Orleans. Personally, I love the masks from Indonesia primarily due to their sheer vibrancy of colors, rich intricate designs and the fact that there are many of them.

Big Altars and Butter Lamps from Buddhist Monasteries

Even though I am a Hindu by birth, I find peace in the Buddhist way of preaching and meditating. In a typical Indian home, we place a lot of importance on the prayer room. My prayer room would be spartan with a big altar and contain a big butter lamp (made from copper). This would be the room to meditate and pray. This concept is borrowed from the Buddhist monasteries all over the world, especially the ones in the Indian Himalayas, Tibet and Burma.

Prints from Africa

Zebra prints of Africa - gorgeous animal prints

Both wildlife and the African continent are close to my heart. The world over loves animal prints. Some love them as real skin (which us animal lovers dislike) while the others love the prints inspired by the animals of this region. Be it curtains, carpets, upholstery or even wall papers, such animal print based themes find a home almost everywhere. I think zebra prints possibly are the most beautiful.

Provincial Vintage French Designs

How can we have an article about travel inspired design concepts and not have a French element in it? Sounds weird, right? Which, is why I have kept my best for the last. The French have always had great taste in art, design and creativity. After all, provincial vintage design elements, be it in France or other French colonies around the world, are so pleasing to the eye. They would make fantastic additions to the design theme of any home the world over. They are classy, pleasing to the eye and as the French say, they are ‘chic’.

What are your favorites? Which destinations would you bring into your home? Do share through the comments below.

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