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I S S U E 6 • N A T G E O T R A V E L L ER . I N

Happy Places GOA

Why everybody loves the sunshine state


Soaking up some Danish cheer


Dragons and Dumplings


Mystery and beauty at a yoga retreat

n a t 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

december july 2016 2016

Contents Vol Vol 55 Issue 16

H oa ff p ptyh p e l gr a c ieds


AtLoves HomeGoa in... Everybody From experiencing susegad to holidays Transylvania?

without agenda, there is always a new Travelling through thislease mython life in the sunshine state filled land, a house-hunting By Saumya Ancheri, Neha Dara, couple looks forKamakshi their dream Ayyar, Fabiola Monteiro, Diya Kohli, and home—and finds much more Niloufer Venkatraman By Amy Alipio Photographs by Catherine Karnow

74 74

Love Story How Danes Spell She wants one last journey, to Happiness a place of peace and beauty. He

The Rebirth The Getaway Game Aof madAwe dash to Taipei for 72 hours of

Outdoors and in—soaking up some brings her to Italy, to Lake Como Copenhagen cheer By Lorenzo Carcaterra By Saumya Ancheri Photographs by Massimo Bassano


dragons Just whenand he’sdumplings seen it all in a city that soars Text by Mickey Rapkin and lost his sense of wonder, Photographs Botswana happensby Dina Litovsky By Todd Pitock Photographs by Raymond Patrick


Chasing Venus


Bliss Index

Mystery, beauty, yoga, and missing Be it snow yoga in Montana’s mountains baggage on the trail of Botticelli’s goddess or booze-free raves in Shanghai, these in Tuscany 11 experiences provide a mental and Text by Melina Bellows physical reboot Photographs by Catherine Karnow Text by Jennifer Barger Japan’s Past Licence Illustration by James Taylor



Worlds away from fast-forward Tokyo, the island of Shikoku preserves time-honoured traditions and country hospitality By Don George

xx 64 Caption xxxxxDenmark Copenhagen, xxxxx


national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016



The Song of Trinidad Drumming and dancing, singing birds

and sound waves—this Caribbean island to the beat of its own steel pan Thrill marches toText by Eric Felten

Jaw-dropping, hair-raising, Photographs by Aaron Huey even gravity-defying, these 10 drives, from around the world, bring out all the clichés By Freda Moon

XXXXXXXXXXXX L. Toshio Kishiyama/Moment (XXXXXXXXX) Open/getty images

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DECEMBER 2016 • `150 • VOL. 5


I S S U E 6 • N AT G E O T R AV E L L E R . I N

52 Take Five

Inspired spaces where artists and writers once lived

20 Clan Rules

Sh o r t B r e a k s

Discovering a new world, one bicycle ride at a time

22 Guest Column

n a vi g a t e

24 Wellness

From Bihar to Krakow, spiritually and physically moving pilgrimages

26 Book Extract

Fierce and friendly encounters with the tigers of Ranthambhore National Park

30 The Essence

Learning the Swedish art of fika, with coffee, sweet treats, and a friend

From Mumbai Happy Places GOA








On The Cover From high mountains to big cities, some special spots around the globe fill visitors’ hearts and minds with good cheer. This image by Canadian photographer Lise Gagne captures the joy of a group of friends at New York City’s tourist hotspot Times Square, as they take a selfie.

116 From a century-old guardian deity to chic cafés and pubs, a day in Pune straddles many eras


120 Cocooned in comfort at the Ahilya Fort by the Narmada river

astrakan images/Apelöga/dinodia photo library (café), WLDavies/E+/getty images (Giraffe) lisegagne/istock (cover)

A well-travelled Dalai Lama defines the journey to happiness


34 Tech Travel

Discovering Bengaluru on a techie treasure hunt

40 48 Hours

Wildlife, modern skyscrapers, and Swahili culture mingle in Nairobi city

46 The Experience

Stepping into a Famous Five adventure at a lighthouse in Wales

50 The Comeback

Inside the newly restored Royal Opera House in Mumbai

regulars 14 Editor’s Note 16 Notebook 122 Inspire 128 Travel Quiz december 2016 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA


Editor’s Note |

n i lou f e r v en katra m a n


our mission

I consider travel the salve that makes the daily grind bearable and the blossom at the end of a cold snap


the excitement in our home is steadily rising. Though the departure is still a month away, my daughter asks a new question every day—about meeting lions, and giraffes, and hippos, and her parents’ friends she’s never seen before. Well before the trip even begins, the anticipation is generating warm, fuzzy delight. Every now and again I find it absolutely essential to plan such a treat. It doesn’t need to be associated with a milestone birthday or anniversary, though of course those are great excuses too. With the kind of stressful urban pace we keep, a trip anywhere at all is increasingly becoming a necessity. We need to insert some contentment and zest into our routines, and travel is such a memorable way to do that. To friends in Mumbai who say they can’t spare more than a weekend, I suggest they go to Matheran, to Lonavla, even to Borivali National Park if nothing else is possible! I consider it the salve that makes the daily grind bearable, the blossom at the end of a cold snap, the glue that individuals and families need to keep the madness at bay. So as another supremely hectic year rolls into memory, give a little thought to a trip you could treat yourself and your dear ones to. More precious than gold or diamonds, more fun than a party splurge, and definitely more gratifying than a night of getting wasted in a bar. If you’ve never treated yourself to a vacation, you so deserve it; if you’ve never travelled a great distance to surprise a loved one, maybe the right time is now.

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.

national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016

Artiga Photo/Corbis/getty images


y friend has a zero-ending birthday coming up in a few days. In celebration of this milestone, she is being treated to two back-to-back surprises she definitely never suspected or imagined. Last week she travelled to Bangkok for a weekend with a friend. To her great surprise, the husband had organised for three more of her girlfriends from around the world to be there as well. And the ladies have now whisked off for a few days in Chiang Mai. That girly-holiday treat which Facebook tells me includes zip lining, base jumping, and foot spas ends about 24 hours from now. And, just as my friend reaches Bangkok airport to fly back to Mumbai, she’s going to get surprise number two. Her ticket home has been cancelled and rebooked for three days later. Waiting for her at the airport are going to be said husband and their two young children. I can just picture a whole lot of smiles, even tears, and so much joy! I can imagine her talking about this next year, ten years from now, forever. Many years ago, my husband travelled 12,000 kilometres across the seas to surprise me. It was a thrilling moment, one of shock, incredulity, and confusion knowing that at the time the journey had emptied his bank account. I ended up taking a week off from my work and had to frantically catch up later, but it was so well worth it; the happy memories of that trip are still fresh in my mind so many years later. As this year draws to an end, I have a big, welldeserved treat planned for the family. It’s not a surprise. In fact with our current work schedules no thunderbolt like that could possibly work. What I’ve planned, after considering everyone’s schedules, is a 20-day break in South Africa. This trip is a happymaking splurge that fulfils two of my longcherished travel goals: to visit friends I’ve been meaning to see for over decade, and to go on a real African safari. Notwithstanding the somewhat tedious process of getting all the arrangements and paperwork in place,

clan ru l es

The Other Family Discovering a new worlD, one bicycle riDe at a time


o more running or squash. Switch to swimming or cycling,” Dr. J said to me examining my knee. I was aghast and felt like I had just been read a death sentence. I was 38 years old. I had been running for ten years and playing squash since I was 15. This couldn’t be happening to me. After a few days of moping, I decided to pick myself up, dust off negative feelings, and move on. The writing on the wall was clear, the choices were limited, I had to go out and buy a bicycle. As I aimlessly pedalled the streets of Mumbai at 5 a.m., familiarizing myself with every pothole, I watched my friends running and chatting. I cursed my luck. But with each passing sunrise, the runners faded a bit from my horizon and cyclists I had never noticed before began to emerge. At first my cycle rides were slow and the weekend rides tended to eat into family time, which was at a premium. But slowly I began to get absorbed into the culture of cycling. I met more and more cyclists; everyone with a different agenda and fitness level, until I eventually became good friends with a small group of avid cycling enthusiasts. All of us had a common thread, we were looking to push ourselves in ways we hadn’t before. We were people who liked to travel on bicycles and cycled wherever we travelled. Before I knew it, I had joined a growing band of people around the world called MAMILs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra). The group I became a part of was called Wurlee 545, named after the morning starting time and location in Mumbai, and was fabulous. Aged 30-60, we came in all shapes and sizes, everyone looking to be fitter and faster, with interesting personalities, fascinating stories, and wanderlust. And, of course, we all had families we needed to get back to after our workdays. My first trip with them, that stretched beyond a threehour ride, was an expedition to do the Tour of the Nilgiris. There is something incredibly simple about a bicycle and the experience was phenomenal; it set the tone for more aggressive annual cycling trips. Our next expedition saw us riding from Manali to Leh. Exploring the Himalayas on a bicycle is not something I had ever imagined I would do. The wide expanse of clear sky above, the wind in my face, and not a sound of a motorised vehicle around me— it was exhilarating. As we all huffed and puffed up the 17,500-foot-high Tanglang La pass, my friends slowed down to help

Aditya Daftary is a Mumbai-based radiologist who likes to wander. While in the city, he spends more time on his bicycle than in his car, and hopes that soon family vacations will also be the same.

me keep up with the group. Words of encouragement, bottles of water, electrolytes, and nuts were shared. When we reached the top, we all felt exultant at our achievement and darted down the mountain to our campsite at 15,000 feet, where a hearty meal and smiles of the rest of the group awaited us. It was hard work and a tremendous achievement, which was followed by collective laughter. It was on this trip that I felt that my travel companions had started to become a kind of family. Next, our group decided to use the love for bicycling and wanderlust to do a charity ride from Delhi to Mumbai. We worked like a well-oiled machine. Logistics, training, and fundraising were all handled with aplomb. Besides our own enjoyment of the journey, we also raised a significant corpus for a great charity. As we rode into Mumbai at the end of that trip, I could hardly believe what we had achieved. The magnitude of the physical achievement faded in comparison to the companionship and camaraderie that the team had further built. Every once in a while, someone in the group travels and comes back with stories of renting a bicycle or taking one along to explore their destination on two wheels. We share pictures with the group and discuss where our next ride should be. As the WhatsApp group buzzes to life almost daily with new suggestions, ideas, technical tips and tricks, my wife sees the smile creep across my face and knows I will be off on a new adventure very soon. Little did I realize that my “death sentence” would mark the beginning of some wonderful travel adventures with a riding group that’s like a second family to me.

ray photography

Voices |

december 2016 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA


Notebook |





Best of Web

God’s Own Country Bid the year goodbye in Kerala, amid palm-fringed views, Ayurvedic massages, and tranquil boat rides. Pick the ideal getaway, from luscious meals in Calicut to ritual theatre in Kannur and surf lessons in Varkala. See Getaways>Inspire Me!

Adventure For All

Munnar, Kerala

offbeat bollywood

mountain stay

art by the sea

Set tours of stars’ homes, dance classes, and karaoke nights feature in this quirky Mumbai guide to the beating heart of the Hindi film industry. See Trip Ideas>Culture

Find a home in the Himachali village of Beral, with abundant nature and wholesome food. See Trip Ideas>Mountains

Copenhagen’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is a delight for families, art buffs, and seekers of quiet. See Trip Ideas>Culture

Go to for more web exclusive stories and travel ideas

Picture Postcard

An Evening in Paris


There is a special spot diagonally across the flying buttresses of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, by the banks of the River Seine. It’s where people drink wine, read, and watch the boats go by. Sitting there and watching the illuminated city by night was one of my favourite experiences in Paris, and something that I shared with a friend before her maiden trip to the city. This is the postcard she sent me, as she imagined me in the picture. It is a still from a French documentary film, and captures the city’s great beauty through a simple image. It is also made special by her words which tell me she too walked the same streets and sat by the languid Seine. Now Paris belongs to both her and me. —Senior Associate Editor, Diya Kohli

national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016

■ Train for a trek by walking up stairs with a loaded backpack. Start by climbing ten storeys 4-5 times, and increase the number steadily. ■ Pick a tour operator with experience in the region and local guides who understand the area’s topography and weather. ■ Families bond over adventure travel. In a raft, everybody must work together and listen to each other. ■ Sailing is not as expensive as you think: Sign up for a 15-hour beginner’s course for `20,000 to learn to sail solo. ■ Andaman & Nicobar Islands are a beautiful, affordable place to learn scuba diving. A beginner’s course costs `18,000-22,000 and takes 3-4 days. Next MeetUp: 9 December 2016, 7.30-9 p.m. Venue: Title Waves bookstore, Bandra (West), Mumbai.

Jakub Michankow/Flickr/Creative Commons (tea garden)

At the NGT Meetup in November in Mumbai, adventure-trip organizer André Morris, sailing instructor Ayesha Lobo, and music educator Priyanka Pandit, who plans adventure holidays for her family of five, chatted with NGT India’s Deputy Editor Neha Dara about adventure trips anyone can take.

Food for Thought

An Intercontinental Burger Quest I was at a baseball game in New York in 2012 when I met one of my life’s greatest loves—the Shake Shack Shroom burger. One bite into its crisp patty, and sunshine-yellow cheese oozed out. I was smitten. I’ve pined for that Shroom burger ever since. Earlier this year, I was flying back to Mumbai from Barcelona via Dubai. I’d heard that the Dubai airport had a Shake Shack counter. I prayed that my flight gates would land close to it, since I only had only 90 minutes to make my connection. As luck would have it, my flight landed nowhere near the burger counter, the aero bridge didn’t work, and our bus to the terminal took a scenic route to drop us off. I had about an hour to take an intra-terminal train, make a mad dash to Shake Shack, and rush back to my boarding gate. On most days I wouldn’t have thought I could make it, but the memory of that yummy goodness gave me strength. All along, the theme song from Karan Johar’s

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham played in my head, because my reunion with the Shroom Burger was exactly like the one Shah Rukh and Jaya Bachchan had in the movie. I’m happy to report that I made it, with under five minutes to spare. That meal filled a three-year-old, burger-shaped hole in my heart and is the most breathtaking airport meal I have ever had. —Online Features Writer, Kamakshi Ayyar


Jungle Calls

Space Travel

Kamakshi Ayyar (Burger), Fabiola Monteiro (mosaics), Erwin D’Rose (picnic)

Spotted in… Paris

On a recent whirlwind trip through the jungles of Madhya Pradesh, one of the highlights of our forest safaris was the different breakfast spots we’d stop at mid-morning after a gratifying exploration of the jungle. We ate under a sprawling mahua tree at the edge of an elephant camp, and next to a forest department watch hut overlooking a watering hole. But the most spectacular setting of all was this rocky outcrop beside a reservoir at Satpura National Park. A swarm of wandering glider dragonflies swirled in the air, as our naturalist told us tales of a recent tiger spotting in the area. Tree branches shook as langurs frolicked among them, sending the birds that were sunning themselves on treetops, flapping into the sky. No cup of coffee or brownie has ever tasted better. —Deputy Editor, Neha Dara

Last year, while travelling through Europe I spent a weekend in Paris during which I’d set aside time to stroll around Montmartre, the city’s art district. I’d read that legends like Monet, Dalí, and Picasso worked in and around the area, and I was eager to see street artists with their easels, replicating everyday Parisian scenes on their canvases. Instead, my first glimpse of art in Montmartre was… a Space Invader! I’d read about the anonymous street artist Invader a few years ago. He (or she) leaves small, colourful mosaic space invaders—inspired by the arcade game—on street corners around the world, and here I was, face to face with one of them. I was star-struck. I went on to see two more Space Invaders that day. One I spotted right around the corner from the first, and another later in the day in the Les Halles neighbourhood. Now, every time I find myself in a new place, I visit Invader’s website to check if there’s a mosaic waiting for me nearby. —Online Features Writer, Fabiola Monteiro december 2016 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA


navigate 34

tech travel Discovering Bengaluru on a techie treasure hunt


48 hours Wildlife, skyscrapers, and Swahili culture mingle in Nairobi city


the comeback Inside the newly restored Royal Opera House in Mumbai

At Bodh Gaya in Bihar, a fig tree such as this one shaded Buddha on his journey to enlightenment.

Mind, Body, Soles Pilgrimages that move you spiritually and physically

The spiritual hub of Buddhism is Bihar’s Bodh Gaya, whose famous fig tree was said to have sheltered Siddhartha Gautama as he meditated for seven days during his quest for enlightenment. Today, the tree (a descendant of the original) and the nearby pyramidshaped Mahabodhi Temple are among Buddhism’s holiest sites. Mount Kailash Tibet

This nearly 22,000-foot TransHimalayan mountain in southwest Tibet is an important site for Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. Pilgrims circumambulate a 52-kilometre path at the base


of the mountain—Hindus to pay their respects at Shiva’s abode, Buddhists to honour the Buddha Demchog, and Jains in reverence to their first tirthankara. St. Paul Trail Turkey 

This rugged, almost 500-kilometre path partly follows St. Paul’s journey to spread Christianity. Leading from Perg or Aspendos to Antioch (now known as Yalvaç), the route forges past fragrant pine forests and mirage-like lakes. Sri Padaya (Adam’s Peak) Sri Lanka

A sacred footprint enshrined on the summit of this 7,329-foot-summit in southern Sri Lanka is venerated by

national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016

followers of four major faiths—Hindus, Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists. Pilgrims undertake one of three treks to reach the summit and pray to the sacred footprint, usually travelling through the night in the hope of catching a beautiful mountain sunrise. Route of Saints Krakow, Poland 

Wawel Hill features a 14th-century cathedral with 19 chapels and an ornate cluster of tombs, including one of Poland’s patron, St. Stanislaus. See embroidered scenes from his life on a 500-year-old robe displayed in the cathedral museum. On foot, follow Krakow’s Route of Saints, which links 16 beautiful churches.

Diane Cook & Len Jenshel

Bodh Gaya Bihar, India 

Navigate | navigate

T He t he Co MebaC m e baC k

Back For an Encore ollowing Google Map’s directions to the Opera House, I find myself outside a sweet shop in Girgaum, a historic neighbourhood in south Mumbai. The signboards around me indicate that I have arrived. Yet, there is no sign of the famed building that gave the area its name. When I finally turn a corner, I gasp in amazement. This shining white beauty in the heart of Girgaum is the newest old kid on the block. It is a window into the city’s grand baroque past and a piece of living history that both residents and visitors can enjoy once again. Inaugurated by King George V in 1911, the 574-seater Royal Opera House hosted operas and films from around the world, drawing the city’s elite to its doors. As the popularity of cinema grew, so did the opera house’s lure as one of the city’s premier movie theatres hosting the most popular films of the time. In 1952, Maharaja Bhojrajsingh of Gondal bought the space and it continued screening films till the 1990s, when it

was finally shut down due to losses. Exactly 23 years later, the opera house has finally reopened its doors after undergoing a remarkable facelift. The Gondal family commissioned conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah to restore the building in 2010. It took six years for her team of civil contractors, conservators, stagecraft and acoustic specialists to refurbish the old structure and renovate the interiors to fit modern standards of comfort and safety. The building’s status as a heritage structure threw up numerous challenges as the team worked to convert the Opera House into a modern state-of-the-art performance venue while retaining its original design. In some cases, layers of later renovations and plasterwork were removed to reveal the original baroque detailing. In others, damaged bits were carefully recreated after consulting old records. Today, the interiors are in a rich red-and-gold palette befitting a grand opera house. The wooden panelling and

detailed plasterwork has been repainted. The historic ceiling has been restored to its original baroque style and the royal boxes have been refitted. The foyer with its beautiful Minton tiling is decorated with elegant marble statues and magnificent 19th-century chandeliers. Walking through, I imagine that the three-level auditorium looks exactly as it would have a century ago. The first few events after its reopening included an operatic performance by Mumbaiborn soprano Patricia Rozario as well as the opening ceremony of the city’s MAMI film festival. Asad Lalljee, curator of programming at the Royal Opera House has an exciting roster of events scheduled, ranging from traditional operas to TED talks. The plan is to make the Royal Opera House a centre for the performing arts again, and return a piece of heritage to the city. At par with some of the great opera houses of the world, this is an invaluable addition to Mumbai’s urban landscape, and another reason to visit the city. The century-old Royal opera house, which reopened in November, has brought baroque grandeur back to Girgaum.

Royal opeRa House MuMbai staff pHotogRapHy


A historic performing Arts venue reopens in mumbAi by Diya Kohli

In Focus |

happy pl ac es

Everybody Always a New Lease on Life: Getting to

l ves goa

the Heart of the Sunshine State

James Sparshatt/Perspectives/getty XXXXXXXXXXXX (XXXXXXXXX) images (beach), sundari/shutterstock (boat), de asís/age fotostock/dinodia photo library (child), Hubskyi_Mark/shutterstock (yoga)

■ g oa

In Focus |

happy pl ac es


y distinct memory of Goa is of palm-fringed shorelines rushing past our car windows on a family road trip, 1980s tunes blaring from the stereo system in my lap. It seemed so laid-back after the bustle of Mumbai, even the salty breeze smelled of holiday. I next visited Goa over a decade later, for a friend’s wedding. In the 24 hours I was there, I watched dolphins flit by my boat, ate the most delicious (and cheap!) seafood, twirled poi sticks for the first time, and watched shooting stars fly over the wedding drum circle. I was hooked. A year later, on the last night of a last-minute girls’ trip, a young man came over to our table at Arambol’s Loekie Café after singing at the open mic, drawn by the resemblance of one of my friends to a news anchor on Canada’s CBC. It was a wonderful evening, marred only by a couple of drunk cops who


national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016

broke up the party. Little did we guess that the magic would last. Two years later, I watched my friend marry the man from that night, with a teary joy that cemented one belief: Good things happen in Goa. It was here that I returned for a road trip on my 30th birthday with my best friends, to revel in the carefree vibe that made us feel like we were back in college. My last visit to Goa was for the Zambhala spirituality festival—three days of meditating under the stars and in the sea, being introduced to concepts and people who taught us not to settle for less in our daily lives. On that same trip, I interrupted a burglar in our hotel room, and fortunately lost nothing. Goa isn’t all twinkling cocktails and glorious sunsets, but there’s something in the air (or the water) that makes me feel like the world is a good place to be in.


By Saumya Ancheri

■ g oa

TIME SLOWS DOWN By Neha Dara he first time I went to Goa, I arrived on a hot and sweaty day in the middle of summer. I remember sitting at a restaurant and chafing at how long it was taking to get a glass of water. My friend, who I was visiting, lazily waved a hand, brushing off my complaints. In Goa, time works differently he told me, introducing me to the concept of susegad, a word that every visitor to Goa picks up sooner or later. It’s the quality of unruffled contentment that permeates the place, and draws many of us to it. Over a weekend spent on the back porch of my friend’s bungalow, an old Portuguese style place he had bought cheap and fixed up, I contemplated this elasticity of time. I noted how everything seemed to move slower than usual: The drop of water sliding down the side of my glass, the fly hovering over a plate of garlic prawns, the swirl of smoke rising from a cigarette, palm fronds nodding lazily in the breeze. My thoughts

“ In

slowed down, my body stilled, and I seemed to move slower too, but more fluidly, more at ease with myself and my surroundings. I’ve gone back to Goa many a time seeking that ease and never come away disappointed. Oddly enough, though time slows down in Goa, my holiday there always gets over sooner than expected. Over the years, I’ve been at the other end of the equation, telling friends and family I’ve travelled to Goa with to take it easy. Once you’re in Goa, whether you want to dial things down or not, Goa compels you to adapt to its languid pace. The process begins right at the airport, where on my most recent visit, the attendant at the prepaid taxi counter made small talk while slowly counting out my change, oblivious to the line snaking through the arrivals area. There was a time when I would have complained; now I just smile and think to myself, “This is Goa.”

ferently he told me, orks dif intro w e m i duci t , ng Goa m

e to

the ” concept f susegad o



december 2016 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA


In Focus |

happy pl ac es

unwind, always allowing u ily, Goa spells s to slu m a f r u mp into ss” “For o relaxing nothingne


n my mind Goa has always been the happy family holiday place. For many of us who live in the western or southern half of India, Goa is something of a no-brainer vacation spot. Children are always occupied when there is sand and water and Goa has no dearth of either. Hotels are available in every price bracket, for every kind of budget. Even planning a last-minute trip is easy—you will find something that works. I went to Goa as a little girl on a family trip. I went there as a newly-wed on a holiday I won through a contest. Goa is where my husband and I have taken our daughter several times. Even though I was barely nine on my first trip, I remember it vividly as a place of much fun, just as my daughter does now. She associates Goa with happy times: that bouncy hotel bed, sand


national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016

castles, all day in the pool, chocolate pancakes for dinner. The great thing about a family holiday in Goa is that I can go there without a list of things to do. I’ve been there with grand expectations and none at all—and both times I’ve been satisfied. For our family, Goa spells unwind, always allowing us to slump into deep, relaxing nothingness. We go to eat lots of seafood and drink rum and Cokes, and enjoy the sunshine. We go to walk aimlessly on the beach, to frolic in a warm ocean, to play in the sand and sink our toes into its comforting softness. Goa works so well for a family because we can head there without an agenda. Sleep late and we miss nothing. Sleep early and we miss nothing. We’re there to meet no one in particular. Do nothing more than bliss out.


By Niloufer Venkatraman

■ g oa

SOLO SPARKS By Kamakshi Ayyar ’ve been visiting Goa even before I learnt to read properly. I’ve built castles on its beaches, spotted dolphins in its waters, and eaten bebinca until I couldn’t move. Each of these trips was in the company of family or friends, and mostly we stayed at one of the larger resorts. But a few years ago, I went to Goa on my own. I had a couple of days off between jobs and decided to take up a family friend’s offer to stay at his gorgeous heritage home in one of Goa’s quiet villages. Though it was just a four-day trip, I was nervous about spending so much time by myself; the only company in the house was a friendly caretaker. I packed extra books, even a pack of cards if I felt the urge to play Solitaire. As it turned out, I didn’t need any of it. My time alone allowed me to discover a side of Goa I’ve always missed, a side beyond the high walls of resorts that hug the beaches. I fell into a routine on my first day: It started with a basket full of warm, freshly baked poyie, a local bread that I still dream about, slathered in chunky, golden, peanut butter. I then squeezed in a solid hour of reading, followed by at least three hours in the pool in the backyard. It was the monsoon, so I fashioned a small makeshift shelter for my speakers so I could listen to Jamie Cullum while I floated on my back and

looked up at the wondrous grey clouds. Lunch done, I’d strap on my sandals, grab an umbrella and wander the village paths around Anjuna. Most of the stores would be shuttered, their owners enjoying an afternoon siesta; a couple of kids would be walking back home from school. The afternoon stillness made my ears ring; all I could hear were the dragonflies buzzing about and the monsoon breeze blowing gently. My mind was a blank slate, and I felt a lightness as I concentrated only on putting one foot in front of the other. Incredibly green fields, tall, swaying coconut trees and picturesque, windy cliffs were just some of the landscapes I encountered. The evenings were spent chatting with the local villagers whilst I loaded up on more poyie for dinner (eaten with delicious aloo curry and dal the caretaker made), before watching the sunset from the nearby Chapora Fort. Those four days cemented Goa’s place in my heart as one of my favourite getaways. I had the time to think, and more importantly to do nothing, a luxury I never have in chaotic Mumbai. I barely touched my cellphone or looked at a screen of any sort. I experienced an internal detox, the Goan susegad, that was new to me; it’s something that will keep me coming back for the rest of my life.

Oleh_Slobodeniuk/E+/getty images


december 2016 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA


In Focus | Hap py P l ac es



For the best view of towering Taipei 101 and the city skyline, head to the top of Elephant Mountain.


national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016



â– Taiwan

A mad dash to Taipei for 72 hours of dragons and dumplings in a city that soars


by m i c k e y r a p k i n p h oto g r a p h s by d i n a l i tovs k y

december 2016 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA


In Focus | Hap py P l ac es


7 am

Dude, where’s my hotel? ➜ I show the cab driver my hotel on my phone’s map, but the address appears only in English. He pulls over to try to figure things out. Frustrated, he whips out his own iPhone, calls up the Google Translate app, and speaks into it in his native tongue. It translates his words directly into English. It doesn’t work perfectly—unless he really does want to “melt me down”—but soon we find the hotel. This was some real Star Trek stuff. Travelling to new cultures can be humbling in the best way.

9.48 am

Marvel at the MRT ➜ Taipei’s subway system (MRT) is only 20 years old but it’s intuitive and clean and (best of all) cheap—between NT$2065/`42-135 per ride. The locals wait in single-file lines for the train and a whimsical jingle plays when the thing approaches, sort of like the neighbourhood ice cream truck.

10.25 am

9 am

Caffeine! ➜ Taipei’s coffee culture dates back to the Japanese occupation; hence the vintage Japanese siphon equipment on display at one of the city’s original coffee houses, Fong Da, which opened in 1956. But the full Nordic caffeine experience is on offer at Fika Fika Cafe, in the Zhongshan District, where single-origin brews are served in a minimalist setting straight out of a glossy lifestyle magazine. Barista Taylor Kuo is serious about her macchiato. When I leave mine on the counter a beat too long, she insists on brewing me a new cup so I can enjoy it the only way one should: piping hot. Pair it with a piece of house-made “rabbit cake,” which is a pretty awesome name for carrot cake.

mobbed at art central ➜ The National Palace Museum is home to, arguably, the finest Chinese art in the world, a 1,000-year-old collection culled from China’s emperors. (Check out the Ju ware porcelain, among the rarest anywhere.) The museum is Taipei’s answer to the Louvre—and just as crowded. Chinese tourists swarm the building, making it tough to navigate. A friend later comments on the flood of mainland Chinese visitors, joking: “Chiang Kai-shek stole their art. They’d like to see it again.”

12.30 pm

Perfect Noodles

11.48 am At the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, I catch the changing of the guard, an hourly affair where soldiers move with the precision of Beyoncé. 76

national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016

Noodles, a family-owned dive (and favourite of American chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain) that’s been serving up Taipei’s savoury bowls since 1963. The line at Yong Kang is already out the door but I’m seated quickly, sharing a small table alongside two college students from mainland China. I skip the “steam hog large intestines” and opt for a bowl of the half-cattle tendon/ half beef noodles in a Sichuanstyle hot broth. The tender meat falls apart on my fork.

illustrations by: andrew joyce

➜ It’s time to hit Yong Kang Beef

■ Taiwan

Visitors to Lungshan Templeoffer prayers and incense.

1.11 pm in the presence of greatness ➜ Hsing Tian Kong Temple, in the Zhongshan District, welcomes about 10,000 visitors every day. I approach a temple helper, an elderly woman dressed in a qipao, a traditional robe in baby blue with a high collar. She looks like Estelle Getty, the American actress who played Grandma Estelle in Stuart Little, and offers to cleanse my soul. She asks me my name and proceeds to shake burning incense all around me. I admit, I sometimes struggle with the existence of God. Yet her kindness and grace are so overwhelming that I find myself on the verge of tears. Hsing Tian Kong Temple is dedicated to Guan Yu, the patron god of businessmen; visitors come to have their fortune interpreted. After choosing a stick with a number on it, I head inside where a man dressed in a robe interprets the Chinese characters on my fortune. “What did you ask the saviour?” he says. “Um, I recently moved to Los Angeles,” I say, “and things haven’t been working out exactly as I’d planned. Did I make a mistake?” He nods his head then looks at the slip of paper. I am totally dazed but I remember him saying: “You have to open your heart. Dig deeper.”

2.47 pm

11.17 pm

Tea With a Master

Gone Shrimping

➜ Still thinking about Life’s

➜ I am on Zhishan Road in an

Big Question, I make my way to Dihua Street—one of the oldest thoroughfares in town. I stumble into a tea shop called Chen Wey Cha Yuan, where an ageing shopkeeper takes a break from his calligraphy to brew a pot of DongDing oolong tea (which tastes almost milky). He answers questions patiently, then unwraps a cheesecloth to reveal a prize: a rare tea called Oriental Beauty.

open-air building, seated by a giant pool, trying to catch live shrimp with a wooden pole. People of various ages sit beside me on plastic chairs, nearly three dozen in all, fishing rods dangling in the water. The ponytailed man who rents me the rod shows me how to bait the hook with a piece of liver. Two girls in sweatpants laugh at me as the slippery liver escapes my hands. The man does it for me, then throws the lure in the water. I wait. Then I wait some more. I’m about to quit when I feel a tug. I’m ashamed to admit this next part but, when I pull the shrimp from the water, I’m afraid to touch the thing—which squirms like crazy. One of the girls grabs the crustacean with her bare hands and drops it in my bag.

december 2016 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA


t he ess e n c e

In the “land of the hummingbird,” valleys trill with birdsong and coastal formations such as Cathedral Rock on Paria Beach frame the sea.


national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016


Journeys |

Drumming and dancing,

singing birds and sound waves—

this Caribbean island marches

to the beat of its own steel pan

By Eric Felten • Photographs by Aaron Huey

the song of trinidad

Journeys |

t he ess e n c e

Thundering. Clangouring. The air around me throbs and shatters with the sound of steel pans. I’m in Queen’s Park

Savannah, a big patch of green in the heart of Port of Spain, capital of the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, and I can barely move. To my right, more than a hundred musicians hunch over their pans, their hands moving in a choreographed flurry as they strike at their steel drums. To my left, 120 more play just as furiously. In front of me, yet another steel-pan orchestra makes its own riot of sound as it competes with its rivals. We all are backstage at the finals of Trinidad’s top steelband competition, Panorama, held the Saturday night before Carnival. Ten large bands have lined up along the paved track that leads to the Grand Stand stage. Each is jamming in a final rehearsal before the contest begins, hurtling through its competition piece. My ears try to absorb the astonishing clash of grooves and melodies, astonishing in part because the sound is earsplittingly loud without electronic amplification. It’s as if the modernist Charles Ives had composed in the Caribbean. Many of us think of steel drums as the default sound of the Caribbean islands, a sort of aural equivalent of an umbrella drink. But this percussive instrument belongs to Trinidad: The improbable feat of turning discarded oil drums into sweetly melodic instruments was conceived in the rougher and rowdier neighbourhoods of Port of Spain. Called pan locally, the steel drum is a deceptively difficult instrument to master. Unlike the piano or, my instrument, the trombone, where notes are arranged in a line, on a pan a C isn’t next to a C sharp, it’s on the opposite side of the bowl. This both flummoxes and captivates the jazz trombonist in me. Always on the hunt for new sounds and musical ideas for my own jazz orchestra, I couldn’t wait to get to this, the world’s most intense—and joyful—showcase of pan playing. I’m in the middle of a crush of fans who have come to help their favourite bands by “pushing pan.” Sets of steel drums sit


national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016

on wheeled racks; fans and pannists together roll each band’s drum battery along the pavement and, eventually, up the ramp to the stage. I wedge my way through the crowd looking for bands familiar to me. I spot Phase II Pan Groove, one of the top “large” steel bands in recent years, headed by “Mozart of the pan” Len “Boogsie” Sharpe. The players, in exuberant red, yellow, and green vests and caps, show the easy confidence of front-runners. Nearby I find the Supernovas, a young band fresh from the northern hill town of Surrey. Until last year, the Supernovas had competed only in small-band competitions. Now they’ve bulked the band up to 120 players and, in their first go at the Panorama semi-finals, almost bested Phase II. It doesn’t hurt that they’re led by Amrit Samaroo, son of one of the great original pan men. I grab a Trini-brewed Carib beer from one of the stalls that line the track and press through the fans until I can no longer move. Above, a banner proclaims “Desperadoes.” The fans right here aren’t just more plentiful, they’re more intense. As is the music. Somehow, in the tightly packed quarters, people are dancing to the fierce rhythms of the Desperadoes Steel Orchestra. This band, affectionately known as Despers, connects right back to pan’s mean-street origins in the years around World War II, when no respectable Trinidadian parents allowed their

■ t r i ni da d an d to bago

the green-winged motmot (it seems embarrassed to be making any sound at all) and the squeaky chittering of thrushes. The bearded bellbird (“bearded” thanks to its throat wattles) makes a noise like a race-starter’s buzzer, followed by what sounds like the banging of a lead pipe on an old brake drum. “That buzzer sound is a warning to other male bellbirds or intruders to back off,” says guide Caleb Walker, “while the clanking is a come-hither call.” The green-backed trogon alternates a mewling whistle with the toot-tooting of a third-grader taking up the recorder. But to my ears, the best of all will be the extravagant call of the yellow-tailed crested oropendola, a song that starts with the roll of a toy snare drum and surges into a comical calliope arpeggio. Midway into this new game of mine I discover birds I’d much rather see than hear. Topping the list is the scarlet ibis, Trinidad’s national bird, which visits Asa Wright but congregates in the Caroni Swamp, an estuarine reserve south of Port of Spain ot that anyone in Trinidad needs a reason to start a that will be my next stop. First impressions underwhelm: Hard competition; Trinidadians will turn almost anything by a highway exit I find a dirt parking lot and a small dock into a contest. Among the dozens that lead up to where a jumble of boats with bench seats moor in a canal. Carnival will be one for “Calypso King” (best calypso One boat is inviting passengers, so I board and we head out. singer) and for “Soca King” (best singer of the island’s Within minutes the canal gives way to mangrove-cloistered modern, calypso-derived pop). Trinis, as Trinidadians call estuaries that open onto a string of serene tidal lakes. As the themselves, even consider the singing of birds a sport—not surlate-afternoon sky eases from blue to prising on an island that counts more dusky mauve, clusters of scarlet ibises than 450 bird species and honours an Trinidad culture is built (more like electric-crimson ibises, so eight-time Calypso King named Mighty intense is their red-pink hue) swoop Sparrow. In a park one afternoon, I spot around habits of sociain low and fast over the water and, in men hooking birdcages to stands. The bility, especially “lima flurry of flapping, pull up to roost in bullfinches inside begin tweeting and the mangroves. There are so many of whistling in what are known as “bullin’ ing,” a trinidadian term them, thousands, that their red feathsessions,” which can last the day and include no small amount of betting on for hanging out. One can ers against the green foliage make the trees look like giant pyracantha (firewhich birds will sing the most. “make a lime” anywhere— thorn) bushes. Birdsong is both lure and reward For a place only 13 kilometres from at the 1,500-acre Asa Wright Nature at a bar, at a park, by the the capital, Caroni Swamp feels imCentre, a top Caribbean birding spot that sits high in the crease of a mountain side of the road—anytime probably remote. The same could be said about Trinidad. Whether by east of Port of Spain. I barely have my choice or an admirable indifference to touristy imperatives, bag out of the car trunk when I’m startled by some unseen Trinis have not gone out of their way to make their natural atfowl’s hoarse call, followed by what sounds like the klaxon honk tractions easy to get to. I’m eager to visit Paria Bay, a secluded of an old Parisian taxi. Crickets, frogs, and breeze-blown trees cove known for a natural stone arch. I could reach it by driving provide a background hum. the winding roads into the hilly Northern Range, to road’s end Perched on the hillside before me is an elegant dowager of at the village of Brasso Seco, then embark on an hours-long a plantation house, white with narrow green shutters. Birdhike. Or I could hire, as I now do, a fishing boat at the coastal watchers armed with binoculars and telescopic lenses flock to village of Las Cuevas, an hour’s drive northeast of Port of Spain. the veranda, which overlooks a valley lush with ferns and palms I find a sharp-nosed skiff skippered by Barry; on board is a fishand flowering vines. A disproportionate number of the birders erman named Neil. The sky is cloudy as the boat slaps across seem to be retired computer-science professors, but I also chat rough waters past the hamlet of Blanchisseuse. Neil stands with the leader of a Canadian Bee Gees tribute band. at the prow scanning for rocks and reefs as we wend our way Guides on the veranda and along the forest trails help with bird around jutting cays topped by lonely trees. spotting, pointing out everything from green-winged parrots Tarps strung just behind Paria Beach flag where a handful of (difficult to see in the foliage) to deftly darting hummingbirds. families live; otherwise the cove feels deserted. At the far end Many birds initially are identified by their song, which rallies of the sand I make out a high stone arch buffeted by waves. the musician in me. I pick out the modest little whooping of

kids to have anything to do with the instrument. As one early pan innovator, Carlton “Zigilee” Constantine, said of the bands in the 1940s and ’50s, “You must have a little villain in you” to be a pan man. Bands would fight, sometimes violently, over girls, turf, songs. Typical was this 1950 headline in the Trinidad Guardian newspaper: “Steelbands Clash; Corrosive Fluid, Cutlasses Used.” The Desperadoes formed in Laventille, a gritty neighbourhood in the hardscrabble hills that overlook Port of Spain. A lingering “bad-john” reputation remains a measure of the group’s authenticity, which clearly is valued by the loyal following I see here on the track. Some say that street brawling gave rise to the Panorama competition, devised to channel any hooliganism into something more productive around the time Trinidad and Tobago achieved independence from Britain in 1962.


december 2016 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA


t he ess e n c e


Journeys |


national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016

â– t r i ni da d an d to bago

Wendell StephenJay Reyes

Emerald shades sparkle in a white-tailed, goldenthroated hummingbird’s plumage and in a costume at Carnival.

short breaks 116

from mumbai The historic wadas, steamed modaks, and hip cafés of Pune


stay Cocooned in comfort at a fort complex by the Narmada

Time Travelling in Pune From a century-old guardian deity to chic restaurants and pubs, a day in Pune straddles many eras | By Chaitali Patel


national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016

discover was the older part of the city where life still goes on as it has for generations. On our guided tour of old Pune, history unfurled at every corner (; from `250 per person; Sat-Sun 7 a.m.). It is also possible to explore old Pune on your own, starting at Shaniwar Wada and visiting the many historical sites that are within walking distance, or following the trail below.

EXPLORE Of Kings and Leaders

The Peshwa ruler Bajirao I built his grand residence Shaniwar Wada on the right bank of the Mutha River. Tales abound of the magnificence and opulence of Shaniwar Wada, but a fire in 1828 reduced the

The ruins inside Shaniwar Wada complex can be seen from the first floor hall above Delhi Gate. hemant patil/dinodia photo library


n elderly woman deftly strung jasmine buds into garlands at her flower stall outside the Kasba Ganpati temple. She looked up at us occasionally—a motley group of individuals exploring the older parts of Pune on a crisp winter morning. Her routine existence was, for us, a peek into the heart of the city. Pune has always been one of my favourite weekend getaways from Mumbai with friends or family. The city’s pleasant weather provides a welcome respite from Mumbai’s balmy climate, as does its laid-back vibe. Yet after many encounters, I realised there was a side of this city unknown to us. I knew its IT prowess and cutting-edge automobile companies. I knew the leafy avenues of Pune Cantonment, and the chic cafés and boutiques of Koregaon Park, but what I was about to

complex to ashes. Today, it is a shadow of its former self. Among the few standing structures are the fortified boundary walls and the Dilli Darwaza or Delhi Gate— named because it faces Delhi directionally. We walked around gardens set amidst ruins, trying to recreate in our imaginations the grand structure that was a symbol of Peshwa power and might. Behind the pomp and glory of the past are stories of betrayal that led to the eventual fall of the mighty Peshwas. After Bajirao I’s son Balaji Bajirao died, the mantle eventually fell to his youngest son, Narayanrao. Barely a year after he ascended the throne, his jealous uncle and aunt plotted his murder. Narayanrao was chased down the corridors of Shaniwar Wada, and eventually brutally killed by the conspirators. It is said that even today, on a full moon night, you can hear his desperate cries for help (Shivaji Road; open 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; entry Indians `15, foreigners `200). A few minutes’ walk from Shaniwar Wada is the reconstructed Lal Mahal, Chhatrapati Shivaji’s official residence in the city. Shivaji spent his childhood and married his first wife Maharani Saibai here. In 1645, he moved to Torna Fort on the outskirts of Pune and Lal Mahal fell into ruin. Despite the historical significance of the site, the reconstructed mahal was not very visually appealing so we didn’t stay long. We lingered instead at Kasba Ganpati temple, closely tied to Pune’s history. The temple was originally built by Shivaji’s mother Jijabai next to their home, to house a Ganesha idol that was found in Pune. This idol of the Kasba Ganpati is considered the gramadevta or the guardian deity of the city. In old Pune, the belief in Kasba Ganpati has survived the test of time.



150 km


D ay s

Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned for two years in the magnificent Aga Khan Palace in Yerwada (left); The original Bhau Rangari Ganapati statue from 1892 is made of paper and pulp (right); Spicy, tangy, and sweet, bhakarwadi is the ubiquitous Pune snack (bottom).

In a Celebratory Mood

Walking five minutes southwest down narrow lanes, we came to the 19th-century home of Bhau Lakshman Javale, an acclaimed Ayurvedic doctor. Born into a family of dyers, and fondly known as Bhau Rangari, he and two others started the public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi as we know it today. In the late 1800s, at a time when Indians across different castes were not allowed to interact and congregate, Bhau Rangari’s sarvajanik Ganeshotsav became a way of uniting people. A few buildings away from his house, the original idol from 1892 made of paper and pulp is still displayed in a small shelter. Modest in size, but not lacking in impact, Ganpati is shown slaying a demon, symbolizing freedom from the colonizers ruling India at the time. As we turned onto bustling Bajirao Road, we saw majestic Vishrambaug Wada. Despite the chaos around, the red facade was a restful sight with an ornamental balcony overlooking the road and carved pillars, each said to be made from a single teak tree. In the early 1800s, Peshwa Bajirao II built this complex as his residence, and lived here until he was arrested by the British. The wada today houses an exhibition on Pune’s history through the centuries, a handicraft shop run by a local NGO, and a post office. The mansion’s intricately carved wood pillars and window frames offer a peek into its glorious past. Our guide tells us that when the mansion was built, the Peshwa would spend `60 a year, a small fortune at the time, to hire people to light hundreds of oil lamps around the complex (open Tue-Sun 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; entry `10). Across the road from Vishrambaug Wada, I spotted an outlet of the iconic Pune sweet and farsan store, Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale. I dashed over to get my hands on every Punekar’s favourite snack: bhakarwadi, a savoury and spicy namkeen, december 2016 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA


ephotocorp/age fotostock/dinodia photo library (palace), dinodia photo library (idol), sta/shutterstock (food)

Heritage Holiday

F ro m M u m ba i

with a hint of sweetness. It was barely an hour since the shop had opened, but packets of fresh hot bhakarwadi were flying off the shelves (Bajirao Road, Sadashiv Peth; 020-24473208; Around Town

Even outside its old city, Pune has plenty of history. In Yerawada, nine kilometres away, stands the splendid Aga Khan Palace. In 1892, Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III commissioned the building, set in a 19acre plot, to generate employment in a city then struck by famine. The building played a vital role in India’s freedom struggle, as it was here that Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba Gandhi, his secretary Mahadev Desai, and Sarojini Naidu were imprisoned. The rooms on the ground floor display paintings and rare photographs depicting the life of Gandhi. Also on display are some of his personal belongings like letters, clothes, utensils, and books. Walk across the well-maintained gardens to the side of the building to see the samadhis of Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadev Desai, both of whom died here in captivity (open daily 9 a.m.-5.30 p.m.; entry Indians `15, children under 15 free; foreigners `100). Back to the Present

Pune has always attracted the young and the elderly. For retirees, the slow pace of life, the small-town vibe, and pleasant weather are the biggest draws. A large number of renowned educational institutions specialising in everything from economics and film to law, bring thousands of students to the city, resulting in a thriving cultural scene. Koregaon Park, known for the hippie German Bakery and the controversial Osho Ashram, is the perfect neighbourhood to experience this modern side of Pune. Between large palatial bungalows and parks, you will find some of the city’s finest boutiques, restaurants, and bars. Arthur’s Theme is known


national Geographic Traveller INDIA | december 2016

Young people hang out at Café Mocha in Pune’s chic Koregaon Park neighbourhood (left); The High Spirits Cafe is popular for its daily live performances (right); The statue of Bajirao I stands outside the Delhi Gate of Shaniwar Wada (bottom).

for its delectable European fare (No. 2, Vrindavan Apts, Lane No. 6; 020-26152710). The all-vegetarian Italian joint Dario’s serves up delicious handmade pastas (Lane 1, North Main Road; 020-26053796; Many Punekars take pride in growing and eating organic food; to sample some farm-to-table produce, go to the restaurants at ABC Farms. Started in the early 1990s, this group of restaurants uses fresh produce grown on their farm on the city’s outskirts (Survey No. 35/36; 020-26880555; This is also a city with a superb live music scene with most of the action centred around Koregaon Park. From jazz to rock, there is a band for everyone and a gig on most nights of the week. The High Spirits Cafe (North Main Road, After Kalyani Bridge; 8600063174;, Swig Bar & Eatery (28/2, SBI Training Centre, North Main Road; 9960466417), and Shisha Café (ABC Farms; 020-65200390; are favourite venues in the city, with an exciting roster of local and international acts through the week. Pune is a beer lover’s paradise with numerous microbreweries offering craft beers ranging from traditional weiss (wheat) brews to adventurous ones with underlying flavours like Ratnagiri mango, lemongrass, and jaggery. Effingut Brewerkz is popular for its traditional beers with interesting spice and fruit additions (Serenebay, Lane 6, South Main Road; 8390907410; Independence Brewing Company is an elegant space with tasty wheats and malty stouts on offer (79/1, Zero One Complex, Pingale Vasti, Mundhwa; 020-66448308; Doolally or the 1st Brewhouse as it is now called is among the earliest microbreweries in the country, serving up a flavour packed apple cider (The Corinthians Resort and Club, NIBM Annexe, Mohammed Wadi; 020-30189660;

melanie stetson freeman/christian science monitor/getty images (Café), REENA JOY (band), dinesh shukla (statue)

Short Breaks |

■ m aharas htra STAY With a large number of business travellers, Pune has international chain hotels like the Taj, JW Mariott, Hyatt, and Hilton. In Koregaon Park, the O Hotel offers stylish accommodation coupled with the advantage of a great location. Designed by South African designer Les Harbottle, the rooms offer a mix of comfort and aesthetics. Facilities include a gym, spa and salon, swimming pool, meeting and banquet rooms (North Main Road; 9503000024; pune.ohotelsindia. com; doubles from `7,000). Hotel Shreyas, located off the busy Apte Road, offers great value for money. The hotel has 46 rooms, in-house dining and conference facilities (1242 B, Apte Road, Deccan Gymkhana; 020-25531963;; doubles from `1,960).


Pune Airport

Aga Khan Palace




German Bakery Osho International Meditation Resort

Koregoan Park

Shaniwar Wada Fort N

Gramdaivat Shree Kasba Ganpati Mandir

Lal Mahal



Vishrambaug Wada

Ukadiche modak is a steamed Maharashtrian delicacy that’s an essential part of Ganesh Chathurti celebrations.

two from `600). For Pan-Asian food, head to Malaka Spice (Lane 5, North Main Road, Koregaon Park; 02026156293;; meal for two from `2,000), which is a restaurant and bar coupled with an art gallery. Kayani Bakery on East Street is an old-time Pune institution and a fantastic place to stock up on food souvenirs like the melt-in-your-mouth, buttery Shrewsbury biscuits. Other favourites are their khari, nan khatai, and a variety of cakes. Go early as everything sells out fast (6, Dr. Koyali Road, East Street; 020-26360517; Mon-Sat 7.30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3.30-8 p.m.).

the guide


The second largest city in Maharashtra, Pune is 150 km southeast of Mumbai. Considered the state’s cultural capital, Pune was once the seat of the Maratha empire and home to an important British cantonment, now under the Indian Army.

Getting there

Air Almost all major airlines connect Pune to the metro cities in India. The city also has limited connectivity to a few international destinations such as Dubai, Frankfurt, and Abu Dhabi. Rail Pune is connected to most major cities in India via rail, including the Jhelum Express and Goa Express that run daily from New Delhi. Numerous daily express trains also run between Mumbai and Pune. Road The Yashwantrao Chavan Mumbai-Pune Expressway is a scenic six-lane, high-speed road connecting the two cities in approximately 3 hours. The road weaves through the Sahyadri mountain range and is particularly fabulous during the monsoon, with low-hanging clouds, verdant mountains, and plenty of waterfalls. Deluxe buses ply the route regularly (about 4 hr; from `300 one-way; most bus services can be booked online).

getting around

Inside the city, use autorickshaws, buses, and taxis to get around. Private taxi operators like Ola and Uber operate here. Most hotels can organise transport on request.


Pune is known for its moderate to cool climate most of the year. Summer (Mar-Jun) is hot and dry with temperatures occasionally going up to 40°C with cooler nights. During the monsoon (Jun-Oct), temperatures are 22-28°C. Winters (Nov-Feb) are cool and dry, with minimum night temperatures sometimes falling to single digits. december 2016 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA


shashank mehendale/ephotocorp/alamy/indiapicture (food), Aashna Jhaveri (map)

Pune has always prided itself on having great local Maharashtrian favourites as well as food from other parts of India and the world. Located on the busy Fergusson College Road, Pune’s popular South Indian restaurant, Vaishali is worth a visit at any time of day (1218/1, FC Road; 020-25531244; vaishalihotel. in; meal for two from `500). Getting a table here is a matter of great patience and effort. Try their waferthin sada dosas, and crisp-but-soft sabudana vadas, and wash it all down with some strong filter coffee served in tall glasses. The Maharashtrian thali at Hotel Shreyas is authentic, and popular with locals, especially during Ganapati. Ukadiche modaks or steamed modaks are available year-round (020-25531963;; meal for

National Geographic Traveller India December 2016  
National Geographic Traveller India December 2016  

Preview of the December 2016 issue of the Indian edition of National Geographic Traveller.