north india

A Mughal tomb in Allahabad

Writer in Transit

I don’t have a single journal entry about my three months in India. I didn’t write anything about my time there, except for a post about the dancer that didn’t dance, in a Bombay beer bar. The scene – a slice out of a furtive, alternative reality, swallowed up in Mumbai’s underworld – spoke to me, forming sentences in my head. But those brief moments of inspiration stood alone.


Tollygunge Club, Calcutta

Remnants of the Raj Oh, Tollyclub, you make me love India again. You’re distinctly Indian, but you’re worlds apart from the India I usually travel [...]

Shiva International Lodge, Varanasi

“Our priority is the good Guest, Money is a secondary matter” This guesthouse-cum-homestay was recommended to us for its Ganges views and reasonable rates. These [...]

Hotel JK Palace, Allahabad

Branded soap and cockroaches Longing for a bit of midrange comfort, we headed straight for JK Palace after an overnight train. Well, we tried to [...]

Hotel Host, Agra

Thalis beside the Taj Only five minutes’ walk from the Taj Mahal, this guesthouse gave us a few extra minutes in bed before joining the [...]

Wongdhen House, Majnu-ka-tilla, Delhi

Friendly, efficient service in jewellery-tarnishing smog Majnu-ka-tilla, Delhi’s Tibetan quarter, provides a peaceful escape from India when you need it most. The food, the people [...]

Hotel Natraj, Ahmedabad

Laughably neglected, but cheap. When we saw the state of the bathroom at this crumbling old place, Iain declared: “I’m happy if a hotel has [...]

New Chetna Hotel, Jamnagar

Cosy in pink This hotel has several rooms facing Jamnagar’s blaring traffic-filled street, and one cosy room directly behind the reception desk. It feels more [...]

Bathers in dawn's golden light, reflected on the Ganges

Dawn on the Ganges

Sunrise and sunset are when the Ganges is most magical and most alive, with activity and with ceremony. Varanasi’s intense heat hasn’t yet descended on [...]

An Brahmin and a priah dog pass a door advertising Thums Up, India's spicy cola

Varanasi’s Doorways

Mark Twain visited Varanasi in 1895, while following the equator around the world. “Benares” he wrote, referring to the city by its Raj era name, [...]

Allahabad boatman

India’s Touts: Journal Entry, Day 75

India’s touts treat tourists like walking wallets. Why should tourists treat them any better?

A cycle-rickshaw driver in Allahabad

Rickshaw Art in a City Settled by God

Cycle-rickshaws rattle along streets across Asia, carrying freight as well as people, but Allahabad’s cycle-rickshaws were special: rural landscapes and Bollywood starlets, as well as animals and symbols of luck were hand-painted onto the carriages. The armrests were carved in the shape of fish, and occasionally the whole carriage had been carved – hollowed out to more closely resemble an animal, or sculpted at the edges in decorative waves and columns.

The Taj Mahal

Ticking off the Taj Mahal

Claire and I visited the Taj Mahal on Monday morning. It was a departure for us: despite spending nine months in India four years ago, [...]

Claire and Iain post-Holi, in Hampi

Holi: India’s Festival of Colours

Two days ago, the Times of India’s Delhi insert included an article on the “ten dirtiest things crazy revellers had played Holi with.” It was impenetrable, like so [...]

Travel and Nostaligia

Travel and Nostalgia

“What is the purpose, I wonder, of all this restlessness? I sometimes seem to myself to wander around the world merely accumulating material for future nostalgias.”