Travels In China – 10: The Hanging Temple


The jaw- dropping Hanging Temple of China is one of the world’s forgotten wonders     The Hanging Temple clings to the side of the mountain in apparent defiance of gravity. Its forty odd rooms and a maze of passageways contain seventy eight religious statues and carvings made of copper, iron, terracotta, and stone. The temple…

Travels In China – 9: The Yungang Grottoes


  Buddhism reached China along the Silk Route during the Han Dynasty in the first century AD. The establishment of Buddhism in China is evident in the many scripture-filled caves and structures surviving from this period. The Mogao Caves near Dunhuang in Gansu province, the Longmen Grottoes near Luoyang in Henan and the Yungang Grottoes…

Travels In China – 8: Road To Datong


    The main reason for going to Datong in northern China is to visit its most famous sight – the Yungang Grottoes. The 53 main caves there contain over 51,000 intricate, ancient Buddhist statues. It takes six and a half hours to get to Datong from Beijing by train. Datong is the former western…

Travels In China -7: Temple Of Heaven


Worshipping Heaven instead of a God may seem strange. But in ancient China, the Zhou Dynasty which reigned between 1050-256 BC, initiated a new social order and religious system, centred around a supreme sky god Tiān (天), a “deity who rules Heaven and Earth.” Under this system, Heaven Worship became a state religion and Tian was considered responsible…

Travels In China – 6: The Summer Palace Of Qing Emperors


Situated just 15 km from Beijing, the 270 year-old Summer Palace of the Qing emperors is the largest and most well preserved royal garden in China. Its 290 ha contain a lake and a hill incorporating the Fengshui notion of ‘Mountain’ and ‘Water’ and over 3000 pavilions, towers, bridges and corridors     When the Palace…

24 Hours In Belgrade


  The two nights in Belgrade was at the tail-end of the Balkan summer holiday. Two weeks in Montenegro went quickly, Croatia was only a brief visit and the day on the Bar to Belgrade railway was remarkable. It was my first time in the Bosnian capital. The rented apartment was in a leafy suburb.…

Bar To Belgrade – The Ultimate Balkan Train Journey


“Call me Strawberry” the woman in the cafe said. She piled my plate high with sausages and beans and smiled sweetly     We were having an early breakfast at the cafe in front of the railway station in Bar before catching the morning train to Belgrade. I took a sip of thick black coffee…

Montenegro – Footloose In Bar


They say the only reason to come to Bar is to use the city as a base for visiting the fascinating ruins of Stari Bar (Old Bar) in the mountains behind. For me, the real reason is the celebrated Bar to Belgrade railway, one of Europe’s most spectacular train rides.   Getting There The modern town…

Montenegro – Up & Down Kotor Bay


There can’t be many places as beautiful as Kotor Bay. One sunny summer morning we hired a boat for the day and sailed from Krašići to the top of the bay, stopping to swim in the Blue Cave, explore old Yugoslav navy submarine tunnels and eat a slow lunch at a lovely, isolated cafe in…

12 Things To Do In Mannar


Jutting out into the Palk Strait and connected to mainland Sri Lanka by a three kilometre long causeway, Mannar is just thirty kilometres from India. The dry, sandy and laid back Mannar Island where donkeys roam the streets, is surrounded by blue seas. It is a great place for a few days stay and here’s…