The construction of the Taj Mahal in the 17-th century took 22 years (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Connecting with the White Marble of the Taj Mahal

  The grand finale of my trip to India is neither a massive fort nor a sumptuous palace,  it's a mausoleum: the Taj Mahal. For some of the Indian celebrities interviewed on the occasion of its 350th anniversary (in 2004) the love story was Read More

Where the Tooth Relic is kept. (Roberta Sotonoff)

Attending the Perahera Festival in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Tammattam drums throb in the distance. The steady boom, boom, boom of these small-sized, kettle-like drums grow louder. Their rhythm is almost hypnotic. Then comes the sound of cracking whips. A troupe snaps them to the drum beats. For the next four Read More

Maitreya Buddha Statue in Thikse Gompa, Ladakh, India

Learning About Tibetan Buddhism in Thiksey Monastery, Ladakh, India

In the corner of a small, dark room, a monk in red robes sits huddled over a book. In candlelight he shows me pages of neat text in long rows, and explains the writing is Tibetan. The book, like the hundreds of others crammed on the shelves on the Read More

The Narrow Gauge Train to Darjeeling, North India (©photocoen)

Taking a Narrow Gauge Train to Darjeeling, India

It's still dark when we walk downhill to the train station. Although the train will only leave at seven, we have been advised to arrive an hour early, as there are few seats. The Sikkim narrow gauge diesel train runs all the way up from the town Read More

Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) in Kathmandu, Nepal

Visiting the Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal

The Swayambhunath stupa in Kathmandu looks exactly like a pilgrimage destination in Asia should. There is a giant white dome, and below it, the eyes of the Buddha watch over the Kathmandu Valley. Hundreds of small candles are placed around rows and Read More

The Karni Mati Temple in Deshnok, India (©photocoen)

Searching for the White Rat in the Karni Mata Temple, India

Can you imagine walking among thousands of rats without freaking out? I couldn't, but I did, anyway. When I was reading my guidebook it sounded exciting, exotic if you like: visiting a rat temple -- a place where thousands of rats can eat, sleep Read More

Harvesting tea leaves with pruning shears. (©Coen Wubbels)

Hiking Through Munnar’s Tea Plantations in Kerala, India

The world is an ocean of green. We're surrounded by undulating hills blanketed with dark green and soft green tea plants. So many tea plants, all immaculately pruned without an inch sticking out anywhere, is no less than overwhelming. It's a work of Read More

Birds like to use the dead trunks and branches as lookout points (©Coen Wubbels)

Bamboo Rafting in Kerala’s Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, India

Tiger footprints. We stop in our tracks. Excitement rises. Our guide kneels and studies them, and concludes they are old ones. Disillusion comes with a hidden sense of relief. There is a gun-carrying guard with us, but still. We set off once more Read More

A Pilgrim Rings the Bell at the entrance of the Amarnath Cave (©Coen Wubbels)

Joining a Hindu Pilgrimage to the Amarnath Cave in India

The ultimate goal is almost in sight: an ice stalagmite. A holy one, mind you. I flop down on an ice-cold stone and vigorously rub my feet, which have turned blue. They lost all feeling after I climbed stone steps without number in subzero Read More

Yellow-footed Green Pigeon

Wildlife Touring by Jeep in Kaziranga National Park, India

The rhino calf lay sound asleep next to its mother, who was busy grazing not more than 20 feet from the road. Indian rhinos are ancient-looking creatures: They look like they should be sharing the earth with dinosaurs (or, at least, woolly mammoths Read More

Bagan Pagodas

Exploring the Temples of Bagan, Myanmar, by Bicycle

"One more photo. Please??" I wrap my arm around the young girl's tiny waist and smile. It is barely 9 am, but I have already posed for at least 20 photos that will soon decorate homes around Myanmar. Everyone around me is dressed in their Sunday Read More