Three days in Dharamsala over the New Year’s holiday.

Dharamsala [location] is about as close to being in Tibet you can get and still be in India. Strictly speaking, we visited McLeod Ganj, sometimes known as upper Dharamsala. This quaint little town clings to the hillside, with narrow streets and buildings packed closely together.  It is a major tourist destination, because it is the home of the Tibetan government in exile, and a beautiful place with friendly people. Read on and check out the photos.

Dharamsala sunset.
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To and from Dharamsala

An arduous journey – both ways!

It’s 2am and time to stop for a tea break.  The sleepy roadside teawallah, bundled up against the damp chill, fires up his two-burner stove and puts the tea on. Platters of fried snacks beckon, but I’m not sure how long they’ve been there. In any case, greasy food is not advisable: in a few minutes we’ll be back on the dark road, barreling at high speed up twisty narrow mountain roads in dense fog, Bollywood music cranked to the max, swerving around heavy trucks coming downhill. Read on, and hang on: this is a rough ride…

It was cold and dark, but the roadside teawallah took off his outer wrap for this photo.
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We’re off to Delhi and the north.

We visited Delhi just after Christmas.  I had heard good things – incredibly rich history, diverse cultures, and fantastic food – and bad things – crowded, terrible smog, and horrendous traffic. In retrospect, Delhi is all those things, and more. Read on, and check out the galleries: photos of sights, photos of people.

Humayun’s tomb: the tomb built for Humayun, the emperor, by his wife. [Delhi]
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Mysore and Christmas

A night in Mysore before a quiet family Christmas at home.

We spent a night in Mysore [location], before heading back to Bangalore on Christmas Eve. We had been to Mysore back in October, but wanted to visit again so my parents could see the palace and other sights. The palace is truly amazing, indeed, if they would only let me take photos inside I could share with you the carved ceilings, elaborate woodwork, and huge marble palace rooms.

The Dudley team (past, present, and future), at the Mysore Palace. Grandpa Jack, David, John, Andy.

We also visited the Mysore silk factory, which was fascinating, and deafening!  Vast rooms full of electric looms, clattering away, spinning and and then weaving gorgeous bolts of pure silk, or silk woven together with gold.  It hurt the ears, and yet most of the workers had little ear protection.   Again, no photographs allowed, so here is Pam shopping for silk at a nearby shop.

Pam looks at saris in Mysore.

We visited a gift shop, because this region is well-known for its inlaid wood furniture.  We spent many hours there, watching the woodworkers, choosing some pieces to send home, and examining the beautiful silk. As a gimmick, on our arrival the shopkeeper had one of the woodworkers instantly and freehand sawed a delicate carved initial for each of our kids. We bought a beautiful table made of inlaid wood: 

we bought this inlaid-wood table at a Mysore furniture workshop.

Christmas Day was quiet, spent in our apartment at home. The kids were thrilled to receive an iPod nano each.  Amazing how Santa read their minds!  Now, if we could just get them to put the dang things down and look outside the window….

See photos.

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.


At the end of our Kerala trip (see previous entry), we drove up into the Western Ghats to spend a few days at the Orange County Resort in Coorg [location] [in 2021, I think that resort is now at this website].  Coorg is famous for coffee plantations and cool green hills. Read on, and check out the photos.

Coffee beans ripen on the bush.
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Kerala, Part 4: Kochi and Kannur

Back to the Kerala coastline for two nights, then back up into the Western Ghats.

Back on the coast, in Kochi, we stayed one night in the peninsula of Fort Cochin [location].  The highlight there was a visit to the harbor front, where we stopped to help some fishermen work the famous “Chinese” fishing nets – an ancient technology introduced to the area by Chinese fishing fleets hundreds of years ago and still in use today [location]. Read on and check out the photos from Kochi and photos from Kannur.

In Kochi, Andy, Pam, Mara, and John help raise the Chinese fishing nets in Kochi. At rear is our driver, Ashok.
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Kerala, Part 3: the hills

Up to the cool ridge of the Western Ghats.

After our visit to the backwaters, we headed inland and uphill, to the cool ridge of the Western Ghats. Although we stayed only one night, we took a boat safari through a tiger refuge, watched demonstrations of Kerala martial arts and traditional dance, toured a spice plantation and a tea plantation, and rode elephants. Read on, and check out the photo gallery!

We finish our elephant ride in the hills of Kerala. David, Mara, Andy, John, Pam.
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Kerala, Part 2: the backwaters

Exploring the backwaters on a kettuvallam.

After a swim on the beach at sunrise, we left Thiruvananthapuram and drove north about 4-5 hours to Alleppey, gateway to the famous Kerala backwaters [location]. The “backwaters” of Kerala are an extensive network of brackish lowland lagoons, lakes, and canals that have been developed over centuries into rice paddies and villages. We spent two days exploring this interesting area. Read on, and check out the photos!

Our kettuvallam, the Bay Pride, seen from the water. (Kerala backwaters.)
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Kerala, Part 1: the coast

A few days on the famous Malabar coast.

I’m stepping back to December.  All our January travel kept me from sorting the 2,500 photos I took on our travels through Kerala and Dharamsala in December.  Read on about the First stop: Kerala (December 12-20).

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Trains – and luggage

Read the rules carefully.

When I visited IIT Madras we took the train from Bangalore to Chennai. Before we left I checked the luggage regulations.  I was struck by some of the rules, notably,

  • dead poultry are not allowed as luggage.
  • live poultry, on the other hand, are ok. The fee: Rs30 (60 cents).
  • elephants are ok, too; Rs1500 ($30).
  • horses Rs750 ($15).
Chennai Central train station.

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.