The story in pictures of a trip to Rameswaram..

Pamban Bridge



Sometimes when I see the temples in India, I get the feeling of seeing something that is not of this earth. Who are these Gods and Goddesses elaborately carved on the temples? Beings who look like humans but with multiple hands and multiple heads..Is it just the sculptor’s way of depicting something that is considered omnipotent and omniscient or was there some time when such other worldly beings really came and passed on some knowledge to the mankind? It all seems quite implausible and mind boggling if you start to think about it but then again, who can claim to know all the secrets of this universe?

For more such otherworldly images, look here.

In the Crowd but Different

There are times when you see someone who stands out from the crowd and then it feels great to have a camera!

While walking through some streets, I found this gem below. Although there was no crowd here, these “two” ladies would have stood out even in a sea of people!

And another time, one gets some pictures without working for it. Like this one in red jacket who kind of photo-bombed in my otherwise quite normal photo. I think at that time, I was a bit irritated as I’d been trying to take a picture of the palace with some difficulty as it had begun to rain. But later, I kept the picture for the contrast it provided. Reminded me of Matrix scene with the training video in which there is a woman in a red dress :).

For more such “standing out of the crowd” kind of pictures, take a look here.

Verona contd..

In the last post, I ended with the story of Isabella and Corrado but that’s not the end of my stories of Verona.

Continuing on our exploration of Verona, we came across a lovely square with Fra Costera – a monk standing on a pedestal above the arch with a stone ball in hand. The legend says that this ball will drop if an honest person passes by under the statue. It has of course not fallen down so far ever, for who is really honest in this world?

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Fra Costera waiting for a honest person

At the center of the square, Dante stands looking at everyone. Verona was the place where Dante seeked refuge when he was exiled from Florence.  Probably as a gratitude, he dedicated the Paradise part of his masterpiece – Divine Comedy – to Verona, more specifically to the Cangrande – the library of Verona which is on the left hand side in the picture below.

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Dante in contemplation

At some places we saw the symbol of city – a dog with a ladder. And almost everywhere we could see the colors of the city – red and white. See the cathedral below with the red and white stones to get an idea.

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The Duomo of Verona

We came across Emilio Salgari at the bibliothek, who was the creator of Sandokan – the 19th century fictional pirate


Creator of Sandokan

We passed by the Church of St. Thomas where Mozart played a concert while still a child, Porta Leoni, the church of St. Fermo and St. Rustico, a street going into the Veronetta – small Verona. On the hills, we could see the Medieval Military buildings.


Our tour ended at the oldest bridge of Verona – the Ponte Pietra. You can see the different colored stones there – the white ones are from the original bridge and had fallen into the river when the German army blew the bridge during the second world war. The locals pulled out those stones painstakingly from the river and rebuilt the bridge over a period of 10 years piece by piece.

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Ponte Pietra

Then our guide sat down to answer our queries and give suggestions on what we could do next depending upon our interests. We thanked her with tips and took our leave.

Since we had only about 2 hours left to return to our bus, we decided to do the touristy task of visiting Juliet. I wanted to see the Cathedral first so three of us took a different route than the other three co-passengers from the bus. The Cathedral was nice – not as magnificent as in Florence or Milan but serene. A service was ongoing inside as it was a Sunday, which felt so lovely.

Then we found our way towards Juliet. I couldn’t catch her alone for even one moment. So here she is with someone who also, probably like me, felt inappropriate to grab Juliet’s breast which is supposedly the thing one should do here. I wonder who came up with that stupid idea in the first place. A side note – the same statue of Juliet – albeit not golden – stands in Munich too!


Juliet with her admirers

Then we went to grab something to eat before heading back to the bus and call it a day.

It was a long journey back home but the beautiful sunny day in Verona somehow kept the heart warm when I had to step out into the freezing cold night to get to home…


The Journey Back..



After the tiring day at Venice, the tour came to the camping site and it was time to get some rest. The bus was supposed to start early morning so I tried to make the best of the time by sleeping as soon as possible. But I somehow woke up too early and couldn’t get back to sleep. Anyway, finally after everyone was ready, we started on our return journey. The great thing – we stopped at Verona. That was wonderful because of two reasons – a) the sun was out b) we’d left the mad crowd in Venice.

Once we got down, I rushed towards the place where the walking tour was supposed to start from. Having missed the opportunity in Venice, I was quite determined to not miss it here. So I reached the venue along with the two other girls that I had made friends with in the tour. We had some time to kill. The tea and some french fries at the McD there was not hurting anyone, so we sat down to get ourselves fuelled for the tour.


Then we started the tour, quite on time, when the guide and all the people who wanted to take the tour were assembled.

The guide told us Verona means “terrace on the river”. The city is on the river Adige and has a history of more than 2000 years! It was a Roman settlement in the 1st century BC. The most important ruling family was the Scaligeri family (also known as Scala) which ruled for around a 100 years between the 13th and 14th centuries. Then it came under the rule of Venice in 1405 AD. Later, it was taken over by Napoleon, then Austria before becoming part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866. It is a Unesco world heritage site today. Quite a history!

So the first thing that the guide showed us was this huge arch with a clock on it. This is the entrance to the old city. It is called Portoni della Bra.


Portoni della Bra

Then we made our way to the statue of the Bard who had chosen Verona as the setting of the romantic tragedy “Romeo and Juliet”.

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We briefly passed from the Arena – which is like a mini colloseum. We got to know that the word “Arena” actually means “sand” which was spread in such theaters to absorb the blood of the fighters (men, animals..all the same).

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The Arena

Then the guide took us to the Castel Veccio also called Castello Scaligero. The walls of the fort were great overlooking the river and seemed quite popular for photos.


Castel Veccio with King Tut!

There were two rulers from the Scaligero family with the same name – Cangrande – first one was good and the second one as cruel as they come  (nicknamed – Can Rabbioso – Angry Dog). He was assassinated by his brother. The rule of the Scaligero family didn’t last for too long after that. Within 25 years or so, Verona was part of the Venetian rule.

In 1805, the castle was used as the Barracks for Napoleon’s army.

On the road close to the castle, we saw some embedded white marble pieces and our guide asked us to make a note of them. Then we reached a beautiful stone arch overlooking the river. It was Arc de Gavia – Gavia being an influential Roman family in 1st century. Napoleon’s army had dismantled the arch to make way for advancing easily.  100 years later, the people of Verona collected the pieces and resurrected the arch in front of the river. The marble pieces seen earlier were at the original location of the arch.

We reached the Jupiter Gate which must have had the temples of Roman Gods in the past. The San Seno Gate was where the Roman soldiers holding bags collected tax there – hence the name Porta Borsa (Gate of Bag). Once we went through that gate, we also saw a small piece of wall which had the Head of Medusa, thereby confirming that there must have been some Roman temples in that area.

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Porta Borsa

Then the guide showed us the place of origin of something very Italian – the Pandorro – which is the traditional Italian Christmas Cake! Domingo Meligati made the first Pandorro in 1894 in his bakery on this street.


Home of the Pandorro

We passed Piazza Herbe which was the ancient Roman city center and the market for spices, the column of San Marco which shows the Lion with open book indicating it was constructed in the time of peace, the Justice Square – with a statue of a lady pointing a sword towards the skies asking for justice for the 14000 people killed in 1915 by Austrian armies in the WWI (in the old time, there used to be executions of convicts here).

We also saw the Rib of a whale hanging between two buildings on a street. It was actually the advertisement for the pharmacy that has been there since the 1700s when the whale bones were supposed to have medicinal properties!

Since we were in the city of the romantic tragedy, we came across another symbol of doomed lovers. It was a well. The protagonists of this story were Corrado and Isabella from the 16th century. The story goes that Corrado pursued Isabella incessantly but Isabella played hard to get. Then one day a fed up Corrado accused her of being as cold as the water in that well. Isabella asked him to jump into the well and see for himself if the water was indeed as cold as he thought. She was probably indicating to him that she wasn’t as cold but as the young men in love in the world of stories do, he took it literally and jumped into the well. Isabella, overcome by this turn of events, jumped into the well, to be forever with Corrado.

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At this story, I should probably stop and continue in my next post with the remaining things I want to write about Verona. Until next, arrivederci!

Venice Reloaded

I had been to Venice a really long time ago. It is an interesting city but all I recall is that I was just too exhausted and the weather was too grey for my liking.

As fate would have it, I was there again recently and – believe it or not, with the same conditions – I was exhausted and the weather was again – GREY.

Somehow Venice doesn’t seem to even try to impress me :-).

I don’t know what can I say has changed in the city between my first trip and now. I saw the same canals, the same gondoliers, the same crowds, and the same pigeons…

The Lone Gondolier then


The Lone Gondolier now

Coincidentally, this fits the theme of the photo-challenge.

But at least one thing was different – this time I saw the Carnival madness in town.

Anyway, the dressed up people graciously posed for photos.


All Dressed Up

Alright, that’s a very well done scary makeup (and there was a whole zombie army of those)

It’s kudos to the management there that there was no stampede and nothing untoward seemed to occur. The crowd was so huge that it reminded me of some of the famous pilgrimage places in India! If you don’t know how it is, then consider yourself lucky. You are not missing anything.


And the Crowd

I don’t know if Venice would call me again but if it does, then I do hope that it would be in better conditions. As they say, “third time is a charm”!


DSC09646I can’t believe that it was only last week that I was in Gdansk. The city gate that remains from the old times but without a city wall anymore around it, kind of shows how temporary is our own existence and hence, the experiences in that existence. You can read all about that trip here.

Submitting this entry for the week’s photo challenge temporary.


Polish Dancing – Polonaise

After a restful sleep despite the very cold night, I woke up on my own at the usual Monday morning time. Then tried to go back to sleep as I didn’t have to go to work. “To get up or not to get up, that is the question” as a modern day Shakespeare would say. Ultimately I got up at 7 when there was some light outside. And when I looked out of the window, the thought that had been nagging me since yesterday finally cleared up. I realized that the houses reminded me of Amsterdam.

Rows of houses slowly coming to life with the rising sun

Slowly I proceeded to get ready. Realized that the shoulders and neck that have been painful since two months due to an accident, were again aching. Got an idea to apply warm compress to the sore points with the help of the heater. Did that and it helped.

Then I made myself some coffee, had the leftovers from last night’s dinner as breakfast along with an Indian snack mixture (I had a packet with me) and checked out of the hotel. The receptionist stored my luggage safely so that I could go out freely.

I had registered online yesterday for a walking tour that was supposed to start at 10:30 am. I had plenty of time before that to stroll around. So instead of going to the main part of the town, I just took some other turns and came across interesting buildings. I have no idea of their identities though at the moment.

A building with some wooden sculptures

Came across an indoor market which reminded me of Bangalore! The outside is much more beautiful though of this market.

Exterior of the Indoor market

Also came across flower and fresh vegetables market where locals were buying their day’s or week’s supplies.


Then after taking some more pictures and unsuccessfully trying to see the monastery (the door didn’t open), I went towards the meeting point for the walking tour. The story of the walking tour to come in the next post as now I am exhausted after having a majority of my time spent outdoors on a very cold day. 

Until next..dobranoc!