Some call it the city of dreams, some call it the millennium city, but most agree that Mumbai is certainly the financial capital of the city. That makes it a popular destination for travellers from across the world, many of them visiting the city for work, and for them Mumbai is often the gateway to India. There are loads of conventional things to do and that list is long and certainly worth trying out. However, if you are looking for some unusual experiences in Mumbai, you have come to the right place. I am always on the look-out of places in a city which guide-books don’t often talk about it, and this list is for people like, and also for others who have done the usual stuff and are now looking to do something new :)

top unusual things to do in mumbai
Five unusual things to do in Mumbai!

Exploring India’s largest slum - Dharavi

Located right in the heart of Mumbai, Dharavi once had the ignominy of being the largest slum in Asia. It’s lost out of that title to Karachi in Pakistan, yet it remains one of the most interesting areas to explore in Mumbai. What started as a small village for the fishermen in the 19th century, is now home to industries with a value of over 1 billion USD. From plastic waste segregation to leather-work, to stitching, cooking and more, a walk in the huge slum will give you a completely new perspective of how life works in Mumbai.

top unusual things to do in mumbai
Dharavi in Mumbai

You can walk all by yourself as well, but then there is much less to learn and you will also be an unwanted and introducing outsider for the locals. I would suggest taking a walk with one of the locals who run an organisation called ‘Be the local tours’. The company was started by a bunch of youngsters who wanted to change the perception of Dharavi from a dirty and unsafe slum to a place which actually makes Mumbai run. The tour costs upwards of Rs 500, and if you want a tour alone, it would cost Rs 1000. To me it was a very small fee for an experience which is not just unique, but also so humbling.

Explore the Street Art of Bandra

Once a suburb of Mumbai, Bandra is now one of the most posh and happiest parts of the city. Originally occupied by the Portuguese, this part of Mumbai was later acquired by the East India Company. It’s now full of cafes and hang-out joints, and that attracts loads of travellers to Mumbai.

top unusual things to do in mumbai
Street Art of Bandra

However, Bandra is not all about food and if you walk into the lanes where the actual locals live, you will discover completely new things about the neighbourhood. The small area even has it’s local newspaper and there is a lot to be discovered there. However, my favourite part of Bandra is it’s sprawling culture of street art. Walking in the lanes and by-lanes of old lanes and bylines of Bandra splattered with some gorgeous street art makes you realise how even something new can also add beauty to an already beautiful, yet old neighbourhood.

Sweating it out with traditional Indian wrestlers in an Akhara

An akhara is a space where the traditional Indian wrestling, Kushti, is practiced. This form of wrestling came to India from Iran where it was called Koshti. In Maharashtra an Akhara is called Talim, and surprisingly even in a metropolis like Mumbai, a few talims exist where young boys and men still come and practice this ancient sport.

top unusual things to do in mumbai
A match of Kushti

Mumbai used to have about 50 such Talims, but now only a few exist. The most prominent and popular one among those is called Shree Laxminarayan Vyayam Shala and it’s located at the end of Arthur Road next to the railway line. It’s a closed akhara where about 7-8 boys live full-time, but on many days upto 20 men come and play.

Witnessing a match of Kushti is surely a unique experience and these pehalwans are actually very friendly and do not mind getting clicked at all. However, it’s best to reach a little early and ask for permission and do interact with them to learn about their lives and aspirations.

Sharing a cup of tea at world’s largest open launderette

Mahalaxmi is more famous for the Race Course and it’s derby races, but there is something else also which makes the locality unique. Mahalaxmi is also home to world’s largest launderette, simply called the Dhobi Ghat.

top unusual things to do in mumbai
Dhobi Ghat at Mahalaxmi

The place is buzzing with activity early in the morning and it’s perhaps the best time for a visit. Laundry from hotels, hospitals and homes is cleaned in tons every single day. With time, the washermen have also evolved and added some equipments like dryers, yet the place remains quite authentic to a dhobi ghat from the bygone era.

Access to Dhobi Ghat is completely free of cost, but often local boys can come and demand a fee. I was asked to shell out Rs 300 as I was an Indian and the running rate for foreigners is Rs 500. I negotiated and paid Rs 100 even though I knew it was simply extortion. However, I wanted to click pictures and this allowed be unhindered access to the entire area.

And yes if you do make friends there, you are bound to be invited for tea in a house, just like I was :)

Date with a leopard!

Now this one is totally bizarre! :)Not many people know that Mumbai is also home to a national park, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, located within the city limits. Extremely well connected by public transport, the park is a perfect weekend getaway and allows you to spend time in the lap of nature. The park is also home to Kanheri caves which are a series of Buddhist caves.

There are about 250,000 people who live within the park, along with about 20 leopards. Due to the close proximity, man-animal conflict is not unusual and these big cats have often been spotted in the slums as well as the nearby campus of IIT Mumbai. There was a time when Mumbai also had a sizeable population of tigers, but only leopards survived.
top unusual things to do in mumbai
Titled "The Alley Cat", Nayan Khanolkar’s winning photograph of a leopard was taken in the Aarey Milk Colony. Photo: Nayan Khanolkar/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Leopard spotting is really not something that you can plan, and will most certainly depend on your luck. Leopards don’t often attack humans, but such attacks have become more frequent now because of human encroachment in the park. Be careful if you see one…

Here is a brillaint piece on National Geographic for further reading.


Just like Kolkata, Mumbai is also a layered city which became what it is today due to the migration of population over the land few hundred years. The above five are simply illustrations of what all the city has in store for us and is meant to simply stir the explorer in you to go and explore the city beyond the obvious.

Do leave a comment below if you also have a story of some curious experiences from the city. I would love to do something new next time I visit the city :) 
There are temples which leave a mark on you, and then there are temples where their entrances take your breath away. The Mukteshwar Temple located in the heart of Odisha's capital, Bhubaneshwar, is one such place where the arched gateway is far more famous than the temple itself.

Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
Gods with flowers at Mukteshwar Temple
Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
Intricate carvings of Mukhteshwar Temple
Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
Temple complex
Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
Riding a mythical animal
Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
Woman with a snake

So what's its story?

Well, the heavily decorated archway is a detached structure which was built in 900 AD and heavily inspired by the Buddhist architecture. This was the time of revival of Hinduism in India, though Buddhism was still strong in pockets and left it's mark on multiple temples constructed across India.

Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
Gate of Mukhteshwar Temple
Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
Detailed view of the gate
Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
Buddha face
Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
Another Buddha face

It's a simple structure of two columns which support a curved toran (archway). The temple itself is one of the smallest that you will find around, but the carvings here are considered to be one of the best. Compare this to the Torans of Vadnagar, Narendra Modi's hometown, and you will understand what I mean by different in size.

The carvings on the toran are mainly of beautiful women in sensuous poses, along with beads and flowers. However it's the face in the center which is most interesting - it's exactly how you would imagine Buddha to be. In fact about ten years ago when I visited this temple for the first time with my close friend Sanjeeb, this is something we discussed in detail. He is an architect from Odisha and knows quite a lot about the evolution of temple architecture in India. Of course back then, Odisha was known as Orissa and Sanjeeb was Sanjeev, but that's a different story altogether :)

However, it's not just the toran but the entire temple which is full of stunningly gorgeous carvings. It's rather small for a temple from that era, but the detailed work on the stones make up for it's size. Now, I have visited many many temples in Odisha, including the famed Sun Temple at Konark, but I confess that the detailing seen at the temple here remains unsurpassed.

Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
Lovely carvings
Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
And more carvings :)
Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
Despite the damage, many carvings survive
Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings
A beautiful lady
Mukteshwar hindu Temple bhubaneshwar odisha orissa carvings

Intrigued? Read more about the temple and it's other related stories at Breathing life into stone.

My recent trip to Mukteshwar Temple

My recent trip to the Mukteshwar temple was much different. I went there when the sun was much less punishing and the weather much cooler. It was an unplanned visit but I was keen to revisit nevertheless as I also wanted to talk to the priest at the temple and know a bit more about the place. As it turned out, I did speak to a helper to the priest as the priest barely spoke any Hindi and also asked him about his dream :)

What is your dream Rameshji?

"Everyone dreams of more money and so do I. Money is necessary to make life possible."

Ramesh works as an assistant to the priest at the legendary Mukteshwar temple at Bhubhaneshwar, Odisha. His work includes keeping the temple premises clean, prepare the blog for the gods, but there is a different priest who offers prayers to the Lord in the temple.

Built in the 10th century, the temple is often described as one of the jewels of Odisha. However, he didn't always work here. Coming from the town of Konark, he has done this job in many other temples as well.

Ramesh has one son and three daughters, but he doesn't want his son to continue the family tradition. He hopes that with education he will get a good job and make his life better.
Located at an elevation of 429 meters, Dead Sea, shared between Jordan and Israel, is the lowest point on earth. Not just that, the Sea is also world's deepest hyper-saline lake with a salinity of 34.2% percent, which literally makes it dead, and hence the name Dead sea. Though the lake doesn't harbour life, the region is famous the world over as the birth place of some of world's most popular religions, including Christianity and Islam.

dead sea jordan travel guide photography
Dead Sea in Jordan 
dead sea jordan travel guide photography
Salt formations in Dead Sea, Jordan

The main river that feeds the Dead Sea is river Jordan (I love the river simply because of it's name). However, it's not like the rivers we have in India, but much smaller in size. Once the river reaches Dead Sea, it empties into the sea but has no where else to go as the sea is completely landlocked. Because of the hot climate, this water is evaporated leaving behind a highly salty waterbody, and this process has been going on for centuries making this a popular destination from at least the time of Queen Cleopetra!

Here is a short account of my fantastic time at the Dead Sea on my last day in Jordan. The experience made the trip even more memorable for me...

Both Deepti and I were very restless over the long drawn lunch at the restaurant, after a leisurely massage with dead sea minerals. Our meals in Jordan had been extremely slow and yum, but with the light falling quickly, I was now ready to hit the water in the world's lowest elevation.

dead sea jordan travel guide photography
A view of the sunny beach of Dead Sea

No one hears our pleas for mercy and our late lunch took a few more hours before we got anywhere close to the resort with the beach. More drama followed as we were completely lost in the huge resort and spent about half an hour just locating our rooms. The moment I found the room, I quickly stripped, put on my swimming trunks and ran to the Dead Sea beach.

Though I already knew that you can't drown in the dead sea, I was still amazed when I lay down on saline water and my body stayed afloat. This is something to be experienced to be believed, no words can describe it.

dead sea jordan travel guide photography
That's me floating away in Dead Sea :)

Soon others joined in and we realised how difficult it was to keep the saline water out of our eyes. On multiple occasions a few drops went into my eyes and this was another feeling that's hard to explain. It's one of the worst possible things that can happen to you, and every effort must be made to prevent it. Once it was so bad that I had to step out of water (which is also quite a task) and take a shower in fresh water close by. Before going in again, I smeared lots of dead sea mineral-rich mud (this would be worth a few hundred dollars outside Aqaba) and I think this made me visually more appealing. Haha...Just kidding :)

I had taken my GoPro for pictures but forgot to use it till much later, and by then the light had completely fallen. But frankly I didn't care as I was so busy enjoying the unusual feeling of floating like paper in water.

dead sea jordan travel guide photography
Time for a Dead Sea selfie :)

Practical information about Dead Sea in Jordan

Where to stay?

The Jordanian side of Dead Sea is full of high-end resorts with only one budget option - Dead Sea rest-house. I stayed at a rather swanky resort and completely loved it. Here are some of the popular resorts on the coast:
1. The Kempinski Hotel Ishtar
2. Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea
3. Holiday Inn Dead Sea
4. The Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa

What all to do?

1. The number one thing to do here is enjoy the water, and it's obviously possible even if you don't swimming. If you are afraid, do it at a resort and you might even be able to borrow a floating vest.
2. Massage with Dead Sea minerals at one of the spas is also a must-to-do. I loved my massage so much that I slept there and my masseur (she was so polite) had to nudge me out of slumber at the end of it!
3. Enjoy a lavish Jordanian meal )

Tips for Dead Sea

1. Protect your eyes, if water goes into them you are screwed for the rest of the day!
2. If you have any cuts, no matter how small, prepared to be stung by them. Similarly if you have shaved recently, even that could sting.
3. If you are even a little uncomfortable, seek help of life-guards
4. You can only swim while the light is there, so make plans accordingly. This is due to the proximity with Israeli border really close by.
5. Carry a book if you want, but don't trust those images which show people reading a book while floating, those are just for pictures. You will be far more confirmable reading a book by the side of the sea.
6. Finally, don't miss out on the mud-bath next to the sea. And guess what, it's FREE :)

Other stories from Jordan:

If you enjoyed my story from Dead Sea , do check out some other stories from Jordan below.

Is Jordan Safe For Travel? Here Is The Answer!
Wadi Rum (وادي رم الاردن) - A Travel Guide To Jordanian Desert
Petra In Jordan: The ‘Lost’ City Of And Secrets Of The Tombs
Vegetarian Food In Jordan - The Comprehensive Guide!
Jumping Across Jordan! So Much FUN :)
Life Of A Bedouin In Jordan - A Story Of Dreams


Note: As I was mostly in water, many of the pictures used above are provided from Jordan Tourism Board through their Media Centre.

Disclaimer: I was in Jordan on invitation of Jordan Tourism BoardAll views and stories shared on the blog are unbiased and based purely on my experiences. 

We were on our way back from Pangong Lake, and luckily I was sitting on the front seat of the mini-bus next to the driver. The non-existent road added to the thrill, especially when we started driving downhill after Chang La pass, and the views in front was simply breathtaking.

drive ladakh pangong lake sunset chang la pass
Driving into a sunset in Ladakh...

We were briefly slowed down by this jeep which we had to follow till we reached the end of this beautiful section of curved roads. I was a bit upset that the open jeep was in my way of capturing an otherwise beautiful landscape, but this changed soon as the sun started to set, dust clouds rose up and a few kites flew right into my frame. Here is one of the pictures before the sun set completely...

And here are some words, a rare insight into my mind when I travel :)

My eyes see the world, yet my mind looks away,
Looking for a meaning unknown, yet known deep within.
I see shapes in the clouds, I feel rhythm in the harsh noise around. Illiaz takes a moment off from the wheels, looks at me and smiles.
I smile back, happily content in the moment.

What do I want from the world around? Why is it that I am forever seeking?
It's all already known to us all, they say.
But what you see is not what I see, just as what I see is not what you see. But we know this already, don't we? Do we?

Yet both realities co-exist, just like you and me.
But who are you, I ask?
'I am you, just like I am everything else here. Didn't you know we are all one?'

A thin smile on my face, I gaze yet again at the mountains,
Content that the mountains and and I were one, just parts of each other.

As I sat down on a comfortable chair overlooking the small hidden garden in the backyard, Inge brewed some fresh coffee for me in the kitchen. I had just walked in feeling cold after walking through light Stavanger rains, but I already felt at home here. As Inge brewed coffee, I looked around and tried to soak in the atmosphere of the house. This visit to an old house of Gamle Stavanger was special and I wanted to make the most of it. But there is a short story behind how I was sitting inside a few hundred years old house and waiting for coffee brewed by none other than Stavanger's very own celebrity chef - Inge Anda.

inge and a celebrity chef stavanger norway
Hello Inge Anda :)

Old houses draw me like nothing else, especially when they are still being used as living spaces. There is some magic about them that's impossible to express in words and can only be experienced in person. With these thoughts in my mind I walked one cold early morning in Gamle Stavanger, hoping to not just explore the houses but also stories connected with them. I had conveniently forgotten that I wasn't in India and knocking on someone's door uninvited was highly inappropriate, so I walked for a long, accosted by a cat, took many pictures, but felt the visit was incomplete. What's a visit to old town if you can't even meet and talk to the people who lived there? In my opinion nothing much...

I came back and immediately pinged my saviour in such cases, TI, and asked him for help. Somehow I assumed that being a local he would certainly know someone living in those few old houses - someone who would also be willing to invite me over and have a chat with me too! Well as it turned out, TI set the wheels of my karma in motion and soon enough found someone who would actually be happy to have me over. And this was none other than Inge Anda. I called him up immediately and made an appointment for an early evening chat at his place later in the week.

And that's how I ended up sipping hot coffee and binging on chef's own handmade chocolates.

gamle old stavanger norway house photo interior
The lovely large mirror on the wall...
Just like most other meetings, I had absolutely no agenda and was just looking forward to knowing a true Stavanger local well and maybe sharing his story with the world. Inge is a rather famous chef but food was something we barely talked about, except of course his love for baking.

He grew up in a small farm outside Stavanger and very early in the life he knew that he wanted to be a chef. While is brothers helped their father do the farm work, he preferred spending time in the kitchen with his mother and cooking food. He never thought of anything else but becoming a chef and this wasn't at all a challenge for him. He studied at Norse Hotellhøgskole and very quickly went up the ladder of success.

gamle old stavanger norway house photo interior
The hidden little garden :)
Inge didn't just live the house, he knew quite a bit about the history of the house as well. The house had two different parts which were constructed in the year 1839 and then in 1854. Later these were combined in 1990 into the present day house. Owning a house in Old Stavanger is not like living anywhere else and when you buy a house you get a plan of regulation - there is regulation on colour of the house, colour of the door and what all modifications you can do in the house.

As Inge showed me pictures of his house in other books, he also told me about how he came out to his family as a gay man. It surprised me a little but even he was a bit afraid and apprehensive to tell his parents about his life. He tackled this very smartly though. Being a famous chef he was interviewed for a book on Stavanger and he talked about his sexuality there. So he decided to simply ship a copy of this book to his parents over Christmas :) Of course, the family accepted him as he was and even welcomed his partner home.

inge and a celebrity chef stavanger norway
An old article in the magazine...
gamle old stavanger norway house photo interior
His house over the years...

Now Inge specializes in wedding menus and wedding supplies and has cooked for more than a hundred weddings over the past three years. He also organises cooking classes for executives in organisations - cooking food together can be a truly wonderful team-buildings exercise. With his good nature and humour, I can totally imagine him doing a great job - in fact, someday I too would love to attend such a class under him :)

We talked about many more things, especially his passion for travel. His travel experiences put mine to shame, but also inspired me more. He travels for leisure as well as for work. A while back he spent days exploring the chocolate shops of NYC as he wanted to open a chocolate shop here in Stavanger too. The economic downturn put a stop to his immediate plans to have his own shop, but he makes his own signature chocolates which can bought at other shops. I do hope he gets to start his own exclusive stores soon though...

inge and a celebrity chef stavanger norway
Inge Anda relaxing by the window

Here are some of the more interesting questions I asked him...

So tell me a bit more about Stavanger of today?
"Well, Stavanger was quite a successful city in Norway primarily because the oil industry is located here. However, last two years have been tough with the oil prices collapsing and many people losing their jobs even here. The city had so many expats, but most of them have returned back home.

The oil industry changed many things in the city, especially the influence of USA. When I was young, eating Pizaa and watching movies was a luxury, but it all came to the city with the boom in oil industry. Back then there were only two restaurants in Stavanger...things have changed so much today."

What inspires you?
"My brain works really fast and new ideas keep coming to my head all the time. So I always have a small notebook that I keep with me to capture these ideas. These ideas come as a flash out of nowhere and can simply disappear unless I capture them somehow.

Travel is another big inspiration. When I travel outside I see new things and they always inspire me. I travel to about six countries every year and they all always inspire me."

What is your dream Inge?
"Dreams depend on where in life you are. The higher you go, the more ambitious you become. Right now I am 47 and I am in good health. I dream that I could live the last ten years of my life once again and I would live them a bit differently.

When I was younger, I should not have moved to Stavanger but to a bigger city, taken more chances and made it big."


Inge hasn't been to India and I tried my best to convince him to make a trip here. He is such an open-minded person and I feel he would love the country. From travel we moved to politics and then back again to food, and I was always impressed by his knowledge of the world affairs.

It was still raining outside and I was tempted to stay back and hear more stories, but it was time to go. Meeting Anda Inge had opened up another facet of Stavanger, and in fact Norway, which I had never quite explored before - life of its people. I am sure my next visit to the city will allow me to explore its people much more.


Oh by the way, this is a part of my mini-series, #StavangerDiaries - tiny stories of daily life from the Oil capital of Norway, Stavanger. And what am I doing here? Well, mostly working, but also collecting these snippets of life.

Located at an altitude of 16,618 feet, Tso Ltak is a beautiful high altitude lake on the way to it's more famous cousin - Pangong Tso. Nestled in a lovely valley a few kilometres ahead of Chang La pass, which also happens to be world's third highest motorable pass, the lake is often skipped by travellers as they are often in a hurry to reach Pangong lake and spend most of the time there.

However that's not always the case. Recently M Kumaran, a Chennai based environmentalist became the first person to paddle across this lake to raise awareness about conversation of water bodies. 

Read more on Deccan Chronicle: Chennai man creates paddling record 

Tso Ltak hidden lake of Ladakh
Tso Ltak - the hidden lake of Ladakh

Coming down from the mountain after Chang La pass, the lake is visible from a distance as a blue dot nestles between high and dry mountains on all sides. As we neared the lake, we sighted few yaks who were chilling out in the morning sun and grazing on the precious grass around the lake. This was an invitation to everyone with a camera and off we went to check out the cold waters of the lake.

Tso Ltak hidden lake of Ladakh
Getting down on my knees...

The Yaks were least interested in me and continued munching, while I tried to take at least one decent shot, an endeavour in which I failed miserably. Not the one to lose heart, I trekked down to the bottom of the valley to the lake. It was early September and winters were yet to start, but predictably the water was freezing cold. I could manage to dip my hand once and decided to delay playing with water till it got a bit more warmer.

Tso Ltak hidden lake of Ladakh
Munching yak
Tso Ltak hidden lake of Ladakh
Many more munching yaks

Tso Ltak is just one of the many lakes of Ladakh, and perhaps one of the smallest ones at that. If you do plan to explore more lakes of Ladakh, check out this article to learn more.

Read more: Lakes of Ladakh

To reach Tso Ltak

The lake is conveniently located right on the road which leads to Pangong Tso, so it's impossible to miss it. Look out on the right after you come down to the valley after Chang La pass, the lake will be on your right. In any case, here is a map for reference:

Share and spread the love :)




Zwinger Palace was built in Dresden, the capital of Saxony, during the reign of Augustus the Strong in the year 1709, and has been famous ever since for it's stunning baroque architecture. I was exposed to baroque style of architecture in person only when visited the city and this quickly became one of my most favourite parts in the city.

Here is a ten picture photo-story dedicated to Zwinger Palace for the lovely lifelong memories...

zwinger palace baroque architecture best pics
An old couple walking around in Zwinger Palace (Dresden castle in the background)
zwinger palace baroque architecture best pics
The Roman style entrance
zwinger palace baroque architecture best pics
The Crown gate
zwinger palace baroque architecture best pics
The museum at Zwinger Palace
zwinger palace baroque architecture best pics
Look at that detailing!
zwinger palace baroque architecture best pics
Romancing at Zwinger Palace
zwinger palace baroque architecture best pics
Entrance to the museum
zwinger palace baroque architecture best pics
A cherub looking at the crowd below...
zwinger palace baroque architecture best pics
Zwinger early in the morning
zwinger palace baroque architecture best pics
Dresden Castle across the street

Share and speed the love :)





Disclaimer: I was in Germany on invitation of the German Tourist Office and Saxony Tourism Board. Needless to mention, all views expressed are unbiased and based on my own personal experiences.

Located in the Manwal village of Udhampur, Kala Dera temples are believed to have been built in the 10th and 11th century by the Dogra rulers of the region. Kala Dera literally translates into Black stones and these are dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Here is the story of Kala Dera temples.

kala dera temples lost kashmir picture
Ruins of Kala Dera Temples...
kala dera temples lost kashmir picture
A lovely entrance...

My trip to Kala Dera Temples

As I walked into the temple, I was not at all surprised to find a guard at the entrance. Very curious to see me, he allowed me in with a strict warning not to take any pictures. When I asked why, he had no answer but warned me against it. This was not unexpected as these were years when militancy was still commonplace and any recording device was looked upon with suspicion.

Well, this was a time when digital cameras were not yet common, but also now unknown, and mobile cameras and mobile photography was unthinkable. I reluctantly agreed to not use my camera, though secretly I didn't know if I will be able to follow the absurd orders. The lack of any sign prohibiting photography gave me some confidence to use my camera, and I took a few quick pictures. I had no idea who I would show these pictures to, but I took them in any case.

kala dera temples lost kashmir picture
Some temples have very little that has survived oner the years...

There are two sets of temples and they are divided into I and II.

Kala Dera Temple I

These temples have barely survived and not much remains which will intrigue with visitor architecturally. The temple is located on a high platform and is approachable by a flight to steps. The designs on the walls and architecture are a mix of geometrical as well as non-geometrical.

The fluted columns are reminiscent of Roman columns that I also saw at the Temples of Krimchi. It is assigned to the 10th Century AD.

kala dera temples lost kashmir picture
Some Roman style columns...

Kala Dera Temple II

This temple is a compact and a better preserved than its counterpart. The lantern type ceiling is supported by fluted columns and is surprisingly well preserved.

There is also a headless Nandi at the entrance which must have occupied a central position in the temple plan. It is assigned to the 11th Century AD.

To reach Kala Dera Temples

The temples are locate at a distance of 28 kilometre in a small village called Manwal on the Dhar road. You can of course drive down, else take a mini-bus like me and get down at Manwal.

There is a short hike after the road gets over and then the temples appear. Few people visit these temples, so if you are lucky you might get to enjoy the place all by yourself :)

kala dera temples lost kashmir picture
Kala Dera Templs

If you plan to read more on these temples, check out this link which has much more detailed information about them.

Planning a visit to Kashmir soon? Read these stories to get some more inspiration :)

An evening at Shah-e-Hamdam in Srinagar
Srinagar's Heritage walk through old city
Floating vegetables market of Srinagar
A brief history of Srinagar's houseboats


This is a part of a new series called 'Lost temples of Jammu and Kashmir'. Long forgotten in history, I feel it's our responsibility to bring out stories of these architectural and cultural marvels, and keep them alive.
Previous PostOlder Posts Home