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J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 8 • ` 1 5 0 • VO L . 6 I S S U E 7 • N AT G E O T R AV E L L E R . I N

NEW YEAR

DOUBLE ISSUE

BEST OF THE

WORLD 20 INTERNATIONAL DESTINATIONS TO PACK YOUR BAGS FOR

RUSHING TO RUSSIA

THE BEST OF INDIA

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE 2018 FOOTBALL WORLD CUP

18 ESSENTIAL TRAVEL EXPERIENCES FOR YOUR ITINERARY


N AT I O N A L G E O G R A P H I C T R AV E L L E R I N D I A

january2018 VOL. 6 ISSUE 7

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VOICES

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BEST OF INDIA

20 WHERE’S MY PASSPORT? Would you choose Northern England over Antarctica? A writer weighs in

26 SIDHPUR, GUJARAT Once home to the Dawoodi Bohras, the city holds a mirror to a glorious past

22 WAYFARING Seeing the world with a fresh gaze, not borrowed eyes from Google searches

30 BAWALI, WEST BENGAL Grungy yet elegant, a rajbari-hotel near Kolkata evokes 250-year-old ways of life

24 CREW CUT To really know a city, drop by during a mega sports event

37 GETHIA, NAINITAL Nineteenth-century charm and hillside views at Two Chimneys hotel

44 AMRITSAR, PUNJAB Difficult histories and a sliver of hope at the newly opened Partition Museum 48 BARABANKI, UTTAR PRADESH Thrills and frills at the colourful, 10-day Dewa Mela gathering 56 MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA The Royal Opera House gets a new lease of life 57 JAIPUR, RAJASTHAN The India Music Summit entertains and educates

SUDHA PILLAI

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38 UNAKOTI, TRIPURA Giant sculptures near the India-Bangladesh border are a journey back in time


Regulars 18 Editor’s Note | 176 Travel Quiz 58 MECHUKA, ARUNACHAL PRADESH

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Nestled amid snow-capped peaks, a little-known small town packs a punch 60 FORT KOCHI, KERALA At the 2018 Kochi Biennale this December, tuck into the town’s best biriyani and coconut-soaked fish 62 SHEKHAWATI, RAJASTHAN Be a royal for the weekend at two historic retreats 68 BIJAPUR, KARNATAKA History seeps through every street of this monument-studded city 70 RISHIKESH, UTTARAKHAND The rush of diving from India’s highest bungee jumping point 71 CHAMPA GALI, DELHI Coffee and conversation at the capital’s new haven for hipsters 72 PHALTAN, MAHARASHTRA Meals under trees, lush grape farms and other small joys in Satara 74 HAMPI, KARNATAKA A new hotel takes inspiration from the historic boulder town 76 ARAKU VALLEY, ANDHRA PRADESH

Hot-air balloons and smoky bamboo chicken make a tiny hill station an adventurer’s delight 78 LAMAYURU, JAMMU AND KASHMIR

Moon-like terrain and millennia-old formations in Ladakh

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84 20 SPECTACULAR PLACES FOR 2018

This year, ditch the old must-see lists and soak yourself in places like the locals do. Tint textiles with marine snails in Oaxaca, dive for underwater caves in Albania, and befriend lemurs in Madagascar. See old worlds with new eyes.

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BEST OF THE WORLD


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THE EVENT 138 WHEN THE WORLD RUSHES TO RUSSIA

This June, all eyes are on Russia, the host country of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. As you cheer your favourite team, take the time to explore this storied land. While Moscow is a masterclass in Russian history, St. Petersburg is the place to experience ‘White Nights.’ Dreamy sunsets and coastline are Sochi’s main draw, and Kazan thrums with Tartar culture. 160 KOREA IS READY. GET, SET, GO Next month, South Korea plays hearty

host to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Discover what’s more to the mountainous region of Gangwon apart from Olympic venues (hint: zip lining over dreamy islands and cable cars in the mountains). End the sports party in Seoul, where hawk-eyed ajummas run food markets, and futuristic buildings abut centuries-old temples. 170 INSIDE HARRY POTTER’S CHAMBER OF SECRETS

Celebrate 20 years of J.K. Rowling’s magical world at a special exhibition at London’s British Library. Annotated sketches by the author, deleted chapters and handwritten scribbles are guaranteed to make Potterheads of the most stubborn muggles.

ON THE COVER Diving, much like the first month of every new year, is all about anticipation. WORLD Though we don’t know what 2018 might have in store for us, we have decided to tumble straight into it with our backs bent and our arms stretched. Peter Amend shot this picture in Oahu, Hawaii, a destination we recommend you should pack your bags for in the next 12 months. The water here couldn’t be bluer, and fun couldn’t be better guaranteed. J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 8 • ` 1 5 0 • VO L . 6 I S S U E 7 • N AT G E O T R AV E L L E R . I N

NEW YEAR

DOUBLE ISSUE

BEST OF THE

20 INTERNATIONAL DESTINATIONS TO PACK YOUR BAGS FOR

RUSHING TO RUSSIA

THE BEST OF INDIA

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE 2018 FOOTBALL WORLD CUP

18 ESSENTIAL TRAVEL EXPERIENCES FOR YOUR ITINERARY

TAMAKI SUZUKI/INDIAPICTURE (WOMEN), CULTURA EXCLUSIVE/PETER AMEND/GETTY IMAGES (COVER)

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EDITOR’S NOTE SHREEVATSA NEVATIA

WRITE FOR A CHANGE

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can bring a lot more delight than social media. Readers often say that more than insight, they want information. They are not wrong. Distractions take up more time and it would be facile to remind ourselves we have too many of them. We have all learnt to push our cursors a little too quickly, and faced with this inattention, travel writers can only think they are stuck between a rock of extinction and that hard place of apathy. Their fight, though, is the good fight. They are neither stenographers nor advertisers. They perform a function that extends wanting to make you travel. They tell us, “This existed and we were there.” They are historians who have more fun. We here at National Geographic Traveller India are all agreed on one thing—our magazine can (and should) include all sorts of writing. We can do long form as deftly as we do listicles. Information and illumination are not a choice for us. We want to do both. In this first issue of 2018, we bring you lists, but even as we gallop from places to experiences, we do stop to get under the skin of our destinations. It’s possibly only because he wrote a book called What Am I Doing Here?, do I love Bruce Chatwin. (I ask myself that question a little too often.) My favourite travel writer had once said, “To lose a passport was the least of one’s worries. To lose a notebook was a catastrophe.” We’re hanging on to ours for dear life.¾

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TRAVEL WRITERS TELL US, “THIS EXISTED AND WE WERE THERE.” THEY ARE HISTORIANS WHO HAVE MORE FUN

ver a cup of coffee, a friend suddenly asked, “What’s your one major grouse against those who write for you?” The coffee was weak and I felt unusually irritable. “I wish their copy was as evocative as their Instagram accounts.” A bit of an enabler, this friend laughed. I invariably feel contrite when I have been dismissive or critical, but this time around, I felt only a little remorse. We now carry phones instead of notebooks. In the age of the clever hashtag, captions are more inventive than a writer’s prose. No longer does travel make us comfortable with our solitude. It is an experience we actively encourage friends and followers to participate in. Often enough only our vanity is up for examination, not our metamorphoses. This all might come across as too cynical. The note, I admit, is a little sour to begin the year on. But I am not about to prescribe digital detox. I love having my phone on me. It makes travelling convenient. I too take to Instagram when I am away, and I like it when I get two dozen or more likes. I really ought not to complain. This, if anything, is a pitch for immersion, and it is, moreover, a pitch for revival. Travel writing need never be dull. It can do more than gaze and graze at the navel. It can inform, yes, but it can also illuminate. Though self-serving, I‘ll insist travel magazines

OUR MISSION National Geographic Traveller India is about immersive travel and authentic storytelling, inspiring readers to create their own journeys and return with amazing stories. Our distinctive yellow rectangle is a window into a world of unparalleled discovery.

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​Write to me at natgeoeditor@ack-media.com or Editor, National Geographic Traveller India, 7th Floor, AFL House, Lok Bharti Complex, Marol Maroshi Road, Andheri East, Mumbai- 400059.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA | JANUARY 2018


BEST OF INDIA

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t looked like a movie set that was never dismantled, gathering dust and a life of its own in its neglect. The magnificent mansions in the hot, dusty town of Sidhpur in north Gujarat were largely shuttered and locked, as though to keep the present at bay. Occasionally, a door would open and the silhouette of a woman dressed in a traditional Bohra ridah would appear, like a wraith from another era, as though uncertain about which century she inhabited. A man with a beard like soft, white candyfloss sat perusing a newspaper at a barred window, sunrays bouncing off his white-and-golden embroidered cap typical to male Bohra attire. We asked his permission to take his picture, and he smiled his assent with a slight inclination of his head. In Sidhpur, the Gujarati Dawoodi Bohra community, largely traders, flourished between 1820 and 1930. They built monumental mansions with stuccoed facades, ornate pilasters, trellised balconies and gabled roofs— perhaps to state, in no uncertain terms, that they had arrived. However, postIndependence the community settled 26

Sidhpur Gujarat

WAKING THE SLEEPING BEAUTY OF GUJARAT MOST OF SIDHPUR’S SETTLERS, MAINLY DAWOODI BOHRAS, HAVE MOVED OUT. THEIR MANSIONS, HOWEVER, HOLD A MIRROR TO THE TOWN’S GLORIOUS PAST TEXT & PHOTOGRAPHS BY GUSTASP AND JEROO IRANI

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA | JANUARY 2018

in different parts of the country and overseas in search of greener pastures, and their houses became repositories of a discarded past. Instagrammable frames popped up every now and then in the community’s neighbourhoods (vohrawads), awash in Mediterranean colours—ochre, green, blue, salmon pink, and beige. A little boy, for instance, with a school bag strapped to his back emerged from a dark doorway; a stray sunbeam highlighted his innocent, upturned face staring into a bright future. These nearly forgotten mansions indeed appeared at times to turn away from the present, and at other times, new life bubbled in the most unexpected corners. The streets of the vohrawads are organised into a grid, and the line-up of narrow, linear homes made us feel like we had been transported to a European city. “The architecture has a variety of influences,” noted Sebastian Cortes in response to our email questions. The American photographer’s multi-city exhibition, ‘Sidhpur: Time Present Time Past,’ shone a spotlight on the nondescript town. “I would feel safe

TYPOGRAPHY (NUMBERS) LUKE LUCAS

In Sidhpur, avenues resemble a colourful, tiered cake. The homes of the Dawoodi Bohra community are neoclassical buildings awash in warm salmons, lilacs, peaches and mint greens.


BEST OF INDIA

The central courtyard of The Rajbari Bawali is usually the venue for cultural programmes organised in the evenings.

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amar Mondal’s baritone reverberates through the open central courtyard of The Rajbari Bawali hotel, as Sanskrit shlokas roll off his tongue, accompanied by the conch and beats of the drums. His aristocratic ancestors once called this two-storey rajbari home. Now, he visits the 250-year-old mansion every day to talk to the guests about its history and conduct evening prayers on the steps of what was once the thakur dalan (public courtyard), where most social ceremonies were held. Today, the thakur dalan has a restaurant where a full Bengali lunch is served in traditional terracotta dishes. The two wings of the Rajbari rise around the courtyard and are a product of seven years of tedious restoration. Recycled cast iron fittings, pillars and Burma teak, and many parts of the original house including shutters and grills have found a new home here. Oldworld charm melds with grungy at the Rajbari; there are vintage knick-knacks such as brass pots and sculptures in rooms, and most walls have exposed slim bricks that I learn were custommade at a kiln in Murshidabad, to resemble the original home. Beyond the central courtyard and the Rajbari’s two wings, there are two ponds, a swimming pool, clusters of rooms detached from the main building, and a spa. 30

Bawali West Bengal

NOT JUST A HOUSE FOR MR. BISWAS A FEW HOURS FROM KOLKATA, THE RAJBARI BAWALI IS A STUDY IN UNDERSTATED GRANDEUR TEXT & PHOTOGRAPH BY RUMELA BASU

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Mondal’s prayers drag me out of the Ivory Suite Done up in warm tones of ivory and beige, it has a vintage fourposter bed, a sitting room with comfortable couches and cushy ottomans upholstered in fine linen and a selection of books. The collection, I note, is smaller than the hotel’s library, which has cushioned teal armchairs and a swing, ideal for a night-time cuppa and a book. Having opened about a year ago, The Rajbari Bawali is still lesserknown, much like the eponymous village around it. On a village walk organised by the hotel, Priya, a staff member at the Rajbari and a resident of the village tells me about her home. A prime horticulture hotspot, Bawali is also where most of the denim pants going into Indian markets are stitched on a mass scale. A Shiva temple nearby, tranquil riverside views, stories of the ruins of temples and jalsaghars (country estates where noblemen entertained guests and organised dances) and a thriving football culture define life in the village. And just round the corner from a temple ruin and a cycle-repair shop, a wall opens up to the understated grandeur of The Rajbari Bawali.¾ ESSENTIALS The Rajbari Bawali is a threehour drive from Kolkata airport and has 28 rooms; www.therajbari.com; doubles from `9,600.


BEST OF INDIA

Barabanki Uttar Pradesh

YOUR FAIR SHARE OF FUN

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COME OCTOBER AND DEWA WILL DAZZLE. THE TINY TOWN, 35 KILOMETRES NORTHEAST OF LUCKNOW, IS HOST TO DEWA MELA, AN ANNUAL 10-DAY FAIR MARKING THE URS (DEATH ANNIVERSARY) OF REVERED SUFI SAINT WARIS ALI SHAH. THOUSANDS TURN UP TO PAY HOMAGE, BUT TO ALSO HAVE FUN, FLIRT, LAUGH AND GET ENTERTAINED. TEXT & PHOTOGRAPHS BY RAHUL MISRA

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Dewa Mela thrums with an energy that’s more Holi-like than holy. Thousands of devotees throng here to partake in the festivities, dig into halwaparatha, chomp on kebabs and sip Kashmiri chai popular in this part of India. Given the sheer volume of people who turn up every year, one giant Ferris wheel isn’t enough so Dewa Mela always has at least two. Evenings are particularly cacophonous, punctuated with screams of revellers in boat-shaped rides and children, still in their school uniforms, gliding down LED-lit slides.


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BEST OF INDIA

Shekhawati Rajasthan

HOW TO BE A WEEKEND ROYAL

The Alila Fort Bishangarh, about a two-hour drive north of Jaipur, towers over the surrounding landscape like something out of a Walt Disney fairy-tale movie. JANUARY 2018 | NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA

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PHOTO COURTESY: ALILA FORT BISHANGARH

TWO COLOURFUL RETREATS, THE MAJESTICALLY RESTORED ALILA FORT BISHANGARH AND THE ICONIC MALJI KA KAMRA, PRESENT RAJASTHAN AT ITS MOST GRAND AND ECCENTRIC BY ZAC O’YEAH


In Ethiopia, Harar’s old town is a maze of alleys lined with bright pink, purple, and blue walls.

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GLO BAL E N COU N T E RS ON A LOCA L LEV EL


Why Go Now: Find the most surprising city in East Africa The busloads of tourists at rockhewn churches and castles in northern Ethiopia haven’t yet discovered the laid-back east, anchored by the enchantingly contradictory

touts Ethiopia’s best beer, strongest khat (a ubiquitous narcotic plant), friendliest hyenas, and not least, highest quality coffee in a country renowned for its beans. Follow your nose to the aromatic factory to watch workers roast, grind, and bag coffee on old-fashioned machines. Stock up: Alleyways in Harar are rarely found twice. —Nina Strochlic

JANUARY 2018 | NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA

DAVID KIRKLAND

Harar, Ethiopia

city of Harar. With 82 mosques, three of which date back to the 10th century, Harar— which bills itself as the “City of Saints”— welcomes the devout. Yet this is no place for the ascetic. In Harar, a onehour flight from Addis Ababa, cafés dole out spicy fava bean stew and craftswomen sell brilliantly dyed baskets. French poet Arthur Rimbaud once lived on one of these narrow streets, abandoning writing for the coffee and arms trades. Harar

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BEST FOR CULTURE

Friesland, Netherlands Why Go Now: Feel the frisson of Dutch creativity

While Amsterdam is all frenetic energy, Leeuwarden, which was named European Capital of Culture for 2018, is a serene refuge. Birthplace of M. C. Escher and Mata Hari, the town is known for its annual flower market and its world-class ceramics museum. But in the bid for Cultural Capital, Leeuwarden stressed a larger role, as the capital of the Dutch province of Friesland, and its Frisian pride comes well earned. With its own language, flag, anthem, and regional animal (the swan, carved into farmhouse rooftops), Friesland

clings firmly to its arcane traditions and does everything a bit differently. The province also offers mud walking on the Wadden Sea and the singular sport of canal pole-vaulting. Craft towns include Makkum, producing coveted tin-glazed pottery since the 17th century, and Vermeerworthy Hindeloopen, where the furniture is hand painted with swirls of candy-coloured garlands. Frisian sugar bread, laced with ribbons of cinnamon, lives up to its sweet name, for one last regional surprise.  —Raphael Kadushin

Cleveland, U.S.A. Why Go Now: Meet up— and meat up—in a revived industrial city

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Onion-domed churches and cold-brew cafés on streets a-flicker with gas porch lights might summon images of Kraków or Budapest. But this is Cleveland. The big-boned Ohio city built by Eastern European immigrants and Midwestern moxie ripples with

new cultural energy. Tap into it at the eight theatres on Playhouse Square or at indie-music venue Beachland Ballroom. At restaurants the Black Pig and the Plum, young chefs bone, carve, and reimagine Cleveland’s long love affair with meat. Downtown’s

deco skyscrapers, including iconic Terminal Tower, get new life as work-andliving spaces, reviving neighbourhoods like Hingetown and the Waterloo Arts District. Quirky shops offer everything from freshpressed vinyl to woodfired pizza.

RUBEN DRENTH

In Leeuwarden, a former canal dock now seats cafégoers.


WORLD

The Bab el Okla gate leads to Tétouan’s medina.

Vienna, Austria Why Go Now: Honour gamechanging artists

At the close of the 19th century, the upstart Secession art movement shook the Austrian capital to the core. In contrast to Habsburgapproved painting and sculpture, these progressive multidisciplinary artists, headed initially by Gustav Klimt, leaned toward applied and decorative arts, and internationalism over nationalism. They met in grand coffee-houses such as Café Sperl and erected the Secession Building, known for its “golden cabbage” leaf-work dome. In addition to Klimt, two other leading members of the Secession group—Koloman Moser and Otto Wagner— died in 1918. To mark the centennial, several museums, including the Belvedere and the MAK, will host exhibits to celebrate these outwardlooking innovators.

Tétouan, Morocco Why Go Now: Be dazzled a new by Moroccan art

Intricate carvings, handwoven carpets, and other traditional Moroccan crafts have long influenced renowned artists and designers like Henri Matisse and Yves St. Laurent. But in Tétouan, a northern port city about 65 kilometres east of Tangier, a grassroots movement is redefining Moroccan art. Contemporary artists such as Safaa Erruas, whose ethereal paper installations incorporate pins, needles, and other dressmaking elements, find community at such places as Green Olive Arts. Here visitors can meet local artists at open studio events. “I love to wander the ancient cobblestone streets,” says Green Olive Arts director of studios, Rachel Pearsey, a California transplant, “drawing the layers of history and life.”

Founded by Berbers in the third century B.C., Tétouan, Morocco, is home to the National Fine Arts Institute and the Tétouan Museum of Modern Art, as well as Morocco’s most complete medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Labrador, Canada Why Go Now: Get acquainted with aboriginal culture in a new national park NORTH AMERICA 6 3

EUROPE 2 4 5

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AFRICA SOUTH AMERICA

ASIA LAUREN DI MATTEO, NG MAPS

Following the road less travelled leads to Canada’s new AkamiUapishku-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve. Getting around the 10,700-square-kilometre national park requires significantly more effort. No roads cross this remote northern Labrador wilderness. Though the park is in its infancy, aboriginal peoples—Innu, Labrador Inuit, Southern Inuit, and Métis—have stewarded this land for generations. Today, First Nations communities are developing visitor experiences such as boat trips, craft workshops, and guided walks. In Cartwright, tour operator Experience Labrador takes hikers along the white-sand Wunderstrand, the park’s 50-kilometre front porch.

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ANTARCTICA

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THE EVENT

When the World Rushes to Russia

A TUMULTUOUS POLITICAL PAST, A COMPELLING HISTORY AND A THRIVING MODERN PULSE—THE 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP IS A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE ITS HOST COUNTRY’S EXCITEMENT AND INTRIGUE

By Aanchal Anand

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Russia always revs up for big football events. This young fan takes to the Red Square before a Champions League final. JANUARY 2018 | NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA

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OLEG NIKISHIN/STRINGER/GETTY IMAGES

RUSSIA


THE EVENT

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RUSSIA

World Cup 2018: Giving delight a scorecard

YOU MIGHT BE A CASUAL OBSERVER OR A DIE-HARD ENTHUSIAST. EITHER WAY, TRAVELLING TO SEE FOOTBALL’S MOST AWAITED SPECTACLE IS A JOURNEY GUARANTEED FOR THE MEMORY BOOKS

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F

ootball, as the popular notion goes, is not just a sport. It is a cocktail of hopes and dreams, flukes and accidents, disappointments and betrayals. Football has the power to consume nations. Who can forget Diego Maradona’s 1986 “Hand of God” goal, which spurred Argentina’s victory over England, and was savoured as the healing revenge for Argentina’s defeat at the hands of Britain in the Falklands War just four years before? Or Zinédine Zidane’s infamous headbutt in 2006 that arguably cost France the World Cup to Italy? Travelling to the World Cup is a chance to earn all the bragging rights with three simple words, “I was there.” If the World Cup isn’t on your bucket list, it should be. No number of action replays on the television can replace the feeling of an electrified stadium reverberating with cheers. Even a slow game can turn at a moment’s notice. Remember the Brazil 2014 Final between Germany and Argentina when both sides held out so strongly that it looked like only a penalty shoot-out could settle that contest? Then came Mario Goetze in the 113th minute with a surgical volley that sneaked past Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero. The crowd erupted and it sent German Chancellor Angela Merkel into the air with her arms raised high. You can never be too big or too composed for this sport. What happens outside the stadium is as memorable as what happens inside. When you travel for a World Cup, you join a tight community of fans that flourishes both inside and outside the official venues. FIFA sets up “Fan Fests” or public areas where fans can come together to view matches on big screens for free while enjoying local food and drinks. Here, strangers become friends and friends become family. You may not always agree on which side to support but you understand the highs and lows that everyone experiences. There is camaraderie in the hugs you share and tears you wipe. Football creates conversations


THE EVENT

Inside

Harry Potter’s Celebrating 20 years of J.K. Rowling’s world of magic at a special exhibition in London’s British Library By Stuti Agarwal

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Chamber of Secrets


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Beside it, behind the glass is the synopsis of the first Harry Potter book, typed out to accompany the opening chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which was circulated among many publishers. Fairly crumpled and stained, the document looks like it has been handled a lot. In fact, Rowling writes of eight rejections before the book reached Bloomsbury, where its fate was decided by founder Nigel Newton’s eight-year-old daughter. Her verdict, “The excitement in this book made me feel warm inside. I think it is possibly one of the best books an 8/9 year old could read,” was crucial in approving the proposal. Twenty years later, the handwritten verdict, also a little worse for wear, along with many other things that led to one of the most successful ventures in children’s publishing history, have been curated in an exhibition titled “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” by the British Library, London, to celebrate the anniversary of the first book of the series. And as was intended, I quickly find out, “there is a lot more to magic, than waving your wand, and saying a few funny words.”

Welcome to Hogwarts It is no Marauder’s Map, but Rowling’s annotated sketch of the layout of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, complete with the pumpkin

patch by the gamekeeper’s cabin, changing rooms for the Quidditch teams and the giant squid that inhabits the Black Lake, is as good an introduction as any to the castle that was the setting for most of the novels. A quick note by Rowling mentions how she likes putting on paper what she is painting in her mind. There’s a detailed drawing of how to open the gateway to Diagon Alley in six simple steps and a sketch of Herbology professor, Professor Sprout, which Rowling drew the night her mother passed away—an event, she mentions, that changed the course of the following novels making them darker. She even handwrote—illustrations and all—the Tales of Beedle the Bard, a magical children’s fairy-tale book mentioned in the Harry Potter books, as she did many of the chapters of the Harry Potter books that are also part of the Library’s collection. Accompanying Rowling’s artistry are Jim Kay’s illustrations of the first three books, which are just the skilled stir one needs in brewing a perfect Harry Potter love potion.

Potions and Its Close Cousin If there is one thing that seven years with Severus Snape have taught Potterheads, it is the importance of keeping a bezoar handy—a quick remedy introduced by Arabic physicians in medieval Europe. Much of what is on display looks at the history of magic that influenced Rowling’s writings, such as the real bezoar, held in a golden case that is a marker of its worth. As Snape said, not many understand the subtle science, and exact art that is potion making. Yet, if it is brewing that interests you, there is one curious artefact: the real cauldron that supposedly exploded when some Cornish witches were brewing a powerful potion by the sea. Many of the ancient books showcased mention that the cauldron is one of the most widely recognised symbols of magic in Western culture, mostly associated with women—witches with long, crooked noses, and chins curling up to touch them. Rowling immersed herself in both fact and legend for her books. The broom, bezoar and the orb are all properties of real European magical folks. The scroll, another European text, tells exactly how to make the philosopher’s stone. JANUARY 2018 | NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA

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PHOTO COURTESY: THE BRITISH LIBRARY

For anyone who is even half a serious Potterhead, the fact that Joanne Rowling thought up the world of Harry Potter on a train from Manchester to London in 1990 and scribbled it all on napkins, is a well-known one. “All of a sudden the idea of Harry just appeared in my mind’s eye. I can’t tell you what triggered it. I saw the idea of Harry and the wizard school very plainly,” reads an introductory note by Rowling.

National Geographic Traveller India January 2018  

Preview of the January 2018 issue of the Indian edition of National Geographic Traveller.

National Geographic Traveller India January 2018  

Preview of the January 2018 issue of the Indian edition of National Geographic Traveller.

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