Home of the Dalai Lama

Having traveled across the Tibetan world, it was about time to visit the home of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of Tibetans in exile. After fleeing Tibet in 1959, the Dalai Lama and his entourage settled down in the small town of McLeod Ganj in northern India.

In addition to Tibetan refugees, the quaint town caters mostly to foreign tourists who flock here to take part in one of the Dalai Lama’s public meetings, learn about Buddhism, enjoy the Tibetan community, or hang out in one of several Wi-Fi cafes.

Just a short walk from the town center is the Tsuglagkhang complex which contains the official residence of the Dalai Lama Continue…

Srinagar Pictorial

Srinagar is seriously one of my favorite places in India! (Do I keep saying that?) I love the culture, the delicious food, the hospitality, the houseboats… everything. And CAKE, don’t get me started on the cake.

Yes, conflict is part of the reality of Srinagar, but so is beauty. It’s a fascinating region. So great, in fact, that it deserves a full Srinagar Pictorial.

Reality of Kashmir

As we mentioned before, Indians refer to Srinagar as “heaven on earth.” Kashmiris often joke that God created heaven on earth and man made it hell. To us, Srinagar was indeed paradise, if somewhat rough around the edges.

We are no fools. We knew about the political situation and the ongoing problems, but Kashmir is the safest it’s been in years. This was the time to go. Our first night on the housboat was just perfect – the calmness of the lake and the amazing sunset lulled us into thinking Kashmir is safe. But the situation was deceptive. It didn’t take long before our first reality check. Continue…

Srinagar, Kashmir

Every city with canals is compared to Venice, but Srinagar with its many lakes and narrow waterways definitely merits the comparison. It’s a water city.

In this video, we’ve tried to capture the serenity of the city’s waterscape and Mughal gardens as well as the frenzy of the old town. Get a glimpse of Srinagar’s famous wooden mosques, its markets and, of course, its handicrafts. Watch Kashmiri carpets being made, and take a peek at the beautifully painted papier mâché, items so typical of the region.

Mount View Houseboat Virtual Tour

In addition to volatility and beauty, Srinagar is world famous for its houseboats. Unfortunately, it’s also notorious for its houseboat-related tourist scams. Choose the right boat, and your stay is a dream. Choose the wrong boat, and that dream quickly becomes a nightmare. To ensure you have an enjoyable experience, it’s very important to have a good recommendation.

French Thomas discovered the Mount View houseboat while he was here during the summer and strongly recommended it to us. Hearing about the suggestion, Emma and Richard stayed here as well while we were trekking in Zanskar. They also loved it.

When we walked in, we were convinced. The faded grandeur, the retro furniture, the great collection of old books and travels guides – exactly what we were looking for. And with its peaceful location on Nagin Lake rather than touristy Dal Lake, we were sold.

To share this discovery with you guys, we’ve created our first virtual tour of our favorite Kashmiri hideaway. Enjoy.

Journey to Kashmir

Those of you who recognize the name Kashmir may be asking yourselves, “Why the hell would Tony and Thomas risk going to one of the world’s most volatile regions? Are they insane?”

True, Kashmir has been a hotspot for the last two decades and has built quite a reputation for itself. The only predominately Muslim region to stay behind when India and Pakistan split, Kashmir has been the main source of tension between the two countries ever since. In 2000, President Clinton declared Kashmir “the most dangerous place in the world.” Not really a shining recommendation to visit the area.

What many of you may not know is that Kashmir is legendary throughout India as Continue…

TnT Take a Break

We’ve been getting emails because we haven’t updated in the last couple of days. Sorry, we didn’t want to scare anyone, we’re both fine.

Thomas and I are taking off to find a beach somewhere along the Konkan Coast south of Mumbai to hide out for a while. We are both exhausted and obviously shaken from the attack. In the meantime, we are going to let the previously written postings for Ladakh and Kashmir cover our absence. We will post relatively quickly to reduce the gap between our blog location and our actual location. As many of you are realizing, the present gap is quite large due to our lengthy trek across Zanskar. (You’ve got to do it before you can write about it.)

Don’t skip out on our upcoming Kashmir coverage because it is a SPECTACULAR region, one of our favorite places in India. We had to move up our postings on Nubra (scroll down to find them) to make space for the “Attack on Mumbai” posting. Make sure to read Nubra Valley Through Bella’s Eyes – a very special posting, and one that Bella worked hard on. Everybody leave a comment for Bella, so she can read them online.