Early this year, I was invited to be a part of a TEDx event, TEDxEMWS in Mumbai, to talk about my project and my passion - World Without Borders. Needless to mention, I loved sharing my vision of the world, how traveling and sharing can play a huge part in making it possible.

As part of this project over a period 365 days, I spoke to one person everyday, no matter where in the world I was, collected their dream and life story and shared it with the world through Instagram;I called this project 'Tell me your dream'. Spread over six countries and countless cities, the project was also a transformational journey for me as a traveller, and a human being.

Sharing my vision that evolved with this project with everyone today :)

siddhartha joshi the wanderer world without borders dream
At the TEDxEMWS event in Mumbai

A world without borders, no more a dream...


One fine evening in the heart of Kabul, three friends meet – Inna from Dubai, Louis from Switzerland and Amrita from India. Their plan? To embark on a self-driving road trip of a lifetime – from Kabul to New Delhi, with pit-stops at  Peshawar and Lahore in Pakistan. And their biggest concern? - Who will be the first one on the wheel as no one wanted to give up on their chance to drive :)
world without borders
The three travellers...

It might sound like an impossible dream right now but less than 100 years back it was not all uncommon. But guess what, there is a reason why it’s actually not as far-fetched as it might sound.

Before we talk more on that, let me take you back in time when I was still young. Having spent my childhood in multiple villages, towns and cities in North and West India, I never quite belonged to one place, but became a part of wherever I went. It was around this time that a very inspiring group of doctors called Médecins Sans Frontiers or Doctors Without Borders won the Nobel Peace Prize. Their work was inspiring. They not only did what they did but excelled at it, and despite the borders, continued their work to provide medical aid to all, especially those in the conflict zones. Inspired by them, an idea germinated in my head and I started calling it, even more ambitiously, World Without Borders. I was still young and had absolutely no clue what this meant, or what I could do with it. In fact I didn’t even have a name for it back then - it was just an entry in my diary.

It was much later when I travelled across the world that the context of my dream became clearer to me. The world opened up to me and I felt that I belonged everywhere. I collected stories wherever I went and shared them through my travel writings and pictures. I realised the immense power both collecting and sharing stories had, as readers could connect with people and places without even being there. Travel wasn’t just breaking barriers in my head; it was also doing the same for many others. It felt like I was weaving an invisible web of interconnected people with stories of real people, and real places.

Last year I decided to take a leap further by doing something special to give my dream of World Without Borders a big impetuous. This was the birth of a very humble project – Tell Me Your Dream. It was a means for me to discover the world around me, no matter where in the world I was. So every day I spoke to a new and often unknown person, collected their life story and their dream, and shared it with the world through Instagram. I collected 365 dreams from more than 45 cities across 6 countries. People in India and later abroad who followed these dreams also started exploring their neighbourhood to share the dreams they had collected. It was amazing how these stories could inspire people to get out and connect with their surrounding ecosystem as well. What began as a personal project for me, soon acquired a life of its own and became much larger.

world without borders
Some people I interviewed...
world without borders
More travels, more interviews...

As I collected these dreams, the world around me changed as well. It might sound simple, but trust me it can get challenging when you approach a stranger in a strange new country and pick up a conversation out of thin air. But again each of these conversations were treasures and told me more than a guide book, a travel show or even a blog ever could. In a few quick conversations I could come very close to being a local and get the true vibe of the city. I have been invited for beer, tea, food, stay and more by the people whom I interviewed.

world without borders
Making personal connections with people I met...

But wait a second – how do these dreams help in making my own dream possible?
Because it turns out, collecting and sharing people’s dreams is the key to a world without borders.

Let's look at this with some examples...

So what do you think Manual who is an adventure sports guide at Interlaken, Switzerland, Rami Saidat a mosaic artist from Madaba in Jordan, Kailashnath Garibdas Chaturvedi who is a Sadhu at Mathura, Lee Chong Hua, a bus driver in Singapore and Eliza, a beggar on the streets of Pune have in common?

They all dream. Not only do they dream, but they do so about something very similar – deep down they are not dreaming for themselves, but dreaming for their children. They are dreaming for their education, their safety, their happiness…

Let’s look at another example:

We have Sudharma, a famous Bharatnatyam dancer from Chennai, Katarina from Greece who runs one of the most famous restaurants in Goa and Gokul Kamble, a car mechanic from Pune. What do you think they dream of?

To Travel the world!

So what's the point?
You see, unless we look closely it’s easy to miss the point here - the point being that people who might seem completely unconnected, are in fact connected through their hopes and aspirations. No matter how different we might appear to be physically, we have enough that unifies us. This is not to say that we are all alike, in fact, if you look at their life stories – you will see that each one has led a unique life, and each one has a very interesting individual movie-like story. But despite all the complexity embedded in life around us, we have enough commonality that unifies us at a very human level.

The Philosophy of World Without Borders
World Without Borders is a dream, a thought, a philosophy and it’s not something that can happen overnight. This would not be one uniform world, but a world with a uniform belief – that of humanity. If magically all the world leaders get inspired by my talk and immediately decided to amend constitutions and do away with the borders, will the world survive? Most likely, no. I recognize that there has to be a process, and I feel the first step of this process is to connect people – connect them at an emotional level, a very personal level where most differences disappear. And that’s what I tried to do by connecting them with their dreams.

So where is the project now? I have now expanded the scope of the project geographically but made it more focused in its content and purpose. I am taking the project forward this year with two of our neighbours across the border - Pakistan and Afghanistan. Even if we can’t break physical barriers right away, we can start by breaking them virtually. I am reaching out to many talented budding photographers and artists in these countries and connecting them with their counterparts in India. It’s just a baby step for now and I hope that someday I will be able to visit these countries and share dreams from across the border.

world without borders
A portrait by Hassaan from Pakistan 

A Travel secret
Let me end this talk by sharing a small secret of what I have discovered by collecting and connecting the dreams of people – a way to travel, a way to explore and a way to make World Without Borders a reality. When you travel, and I hope each one of you hears me – do keep in mind that you are privileged to travel and your travel experiences can have a far greater impact than you can possibly imagine. Travel as much as you can, travel as far wide as you can, break down any internal barriers, let go of all inhibitions, and pick conversations with strangers and collect stories. But most importantly share them with the rest of the world. By the simple actions of collecting people’s stories and sharing them, we could all be a part this invisible web which connects the world.

To some, World Without Borders might be a utopian dream, to me it’s a work-in-progress. I invite you to join me in this journey to break down the borders that hold us in place, because only when we learn to explore and accept, can we truly be one.

On TEDx channel




Tell me your dream in Media

The project has also received tremendous recognition in India across both print and digital media, and I am thankful to everyone who supported me through it. In these testing times, we have a long way to go before we can make it possible.



You can read other stories on the project here:

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The Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah (Urdu: اعتماد الدولہ کا مقبرہ‎) in Agra is a monument of exquisite beauty which is unfortunately now forgotten and rarely visited by the millions to tourists who throng Agra to catch a glimpse of the more majestic Taj Mahal. Older than Taj, the tomb was actually the first Mughal building ever to be built in marble.

Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah Agra
Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah

Also known as the 'Jewel box' or 'Baby Taj', the tomb also represents the love of a daughter for his father as it was queen Nur Jahan who commissioned it for her father Mir Ghiyas Beg.

Did you also know that Mir Ghiyas Beg can also be given the credit for Taj Mahal? :)

A brief history

So who was I'timād-ud-Daulah? Why was such a beautiful tomb built in his name? Was he a royalty in the court of Mughals?

Well, the story of I'timād-ud-Daulah is perhaps even more interesting than those of many Mughal kings who came before and after him. In fact his story of rags to riches can inspire us even today, even though luck had a great role to play in it. The story is part-mistry and part-legend and it's quite tough to separate the two now.

I'timād-ud-Daulah, or Mir Ghiyas Beg as he was known as during his young age, was and Amir form Persia (currently day Iran) but lived a poor life. To change his fortunes he decided to leave his motherland and go where anyway who wanted to build a fortune did - towards India, which immensely prospered under the Mughals and was a throbbing centre of trade and culture. This was the time of Akbar and both art and architecture was reaching its pinnacle under him.

inlay work Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah Agra
The inlay work on the walls of the tomb

However, his journey was marked by robbery and birth of a daughter in Kandahar (present day Afghanistan). Already short on resources, he contemplated leaving his daughter behind but better sense prevailed and the family looked upon her as someone who will change the fortunes of the family. She was, thus, appropriately named Mehrunnisa which literally translates into 'Sun of the Women'. As luck would have it Mir Ghiyas Beg found a good job and rose through the ranks and became a Chief Minister under Akbar's son Jehangir. He also conferred the title of I'timād-ud-Daulah (Pillar of the State).

Unfortunately Mehrunnisa was windowed at a young age, and lived with her father. She was known for her exquisite beauty and when Jehangir (yes the same guy who earlier loved Anarkali) saw her for the first time, he completely fell in love with her and they soon married. After she became queen she was given the tile of Nur Jehan and over the next few years she became one of the strongest women ever in the Mughal empire, often even more powerful than her husband and often took decisions for the empire on his behalf.

When Mir Ghiyas Beg passed away in 1622, Nur Jehan commissioned the first ever Mughal building in marble as an ode to his father.

The tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah

Even though the tomb is not as majestic or beautifully proportioned as Taj Mahal, in many ways it was the prototype on which Taj was later built. However, in some ways the tomb even surpasses the beauty of Taj when it comes to the exquisite inlay work on it's walls. The tomb was also the first one which was built on the banks of river Yamuna, a zone which was till then used only for gardens (unfortunately only one such garden survives now).

front gate Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah Agra
Entrance to the tomb in red sandstone

Like all Mughal buildings, the tomb is completely symmetrical. Some might call it's proportions a bit too strict, but to me it simply shows the skill of the workers who made this possible.

The tomb has another gate which is red sandstone and another gate which overlooks river Yamuna on the back. It's located on the opposite side of Taj Mahal, though you can't really see Taj from here. When I visited it was winters and the day was quite foggy, but otherwise it's easy to see on the other side of the river.

The walls are made of marble with inlay work in semi-precious stones from Rajasthan. You can also see cypress trees on the wall, which simply shows the connection of Mughals to the land they came from.

inlay work Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah Agra
More details...
yamuna river Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah Agra
Overlooking river Yamuna

How to reach Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah

It will be tough to go on your own, so take an hand-rickshaw, an auto-rickshaw, or an Ola or Uber cab to go there. It's just across river Yamuna near Ambedkar bridge.

Here is a map to help you plan better:




Entrance fee

Foreigners: Rs 110/-                          
Indians: INR Rs 10/-                        
Children below 15 years of age are allowed free entry.                        

Timings:

Open on all Days
Morning to sunset

waiting guard Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah Agra
A guard at the tomb
Located at a distance of about 23 miles from San Francisco, Stinson beach is one of the most popular beaches for swimming and other fun activities in Northern California. It's white sand and the gorgeous views are a big draw for holiday makers from the city, and that's precisely the reason why a bunch of us planned this mini-road trip to explore the famed Californian coast :)

The drive is full of such stunning views...

However, it's not just the beach, but also the drive along the iconic highway CA 1, which makes the place even more special. Though you can drive upto the beach in less than an hour, it's worthwhile to travel slow, stop at multiple places on the way. Then you can swim at the beach, watch the sun going down, pop some ice cream and then head back home.

Let's begin with the Golden Gate!

So the drive actually begins at the most famous landmark of the city - Golden Gate, which also makes for a great driving experience. Or if you want, it's highly recommended that you simply walk the bridge and then hop on to your friends' car on the other end. Either way, get off the highway after the bridge and walk to the viewing point to have a good luck at this engineering marvel. It was a lovely sunny day when we went on this drive, but I can personally vouch for the fact that it's really beautiful on a cloudy or a misty day as well. Mist adds mystery which is quite unmatched by anything else...

Golden Gate!
The bay...

Now there is a very good reason why this highway is so famous - it's one of the most beautiful roads to drive on, not just in California but the whole world. And the good thing is that stunning views start right after you leave the city and continue all the way. While we are on the topic of the highway, let me also recommend a visit to Point Lobos National Reserve which is accessed by this very road.

By the way did you know that this road was built all the way back in 1930s?

There are multiple stopping points and we stopped at many as we were in no hurry. We knew that the beach would be cold so the destination was not as relevant as the journey. Having done many road trips in different countries, including by a bus in Tamil Nadu, I know it's always worthwhile to be on the road more.

Muir beach overlook

If there is one stopping point I can strongly recommend, it would be the Muir Beach Overlook. There is a 450m long wooden pedestrian bridge which connects the parking lot to the viewing area and then a hike takes you down the beach.

friends beach california
Padam and Kanishk, somehow managed to take this before they posed for me again!
And that's me!

This part of the highway was extremely windy and I was there without a jacket, and my balls literally froze! But it was fun nevertheless. But there were others having even more fun, like sitting on a bench and writing. Could it be a novel in the making?

Stinson beach finally!

Anyway, it was time to move on to the Stinson beach to enjoy the evening walk. By the time we reached there, the sun was already on its way down and that gave me good light to click some. I clicked a lot, but regretted not carrying swimming trunks. The water was freezing cold but there were many others in the water - if they could do it, so could I. Alas I couldn't.

We drove back as the sun set, stopped by Sausalito for dinner and then headed back home to Palo Alto. I could go on and on about how charming the Italian town of Sausalito was, but the town deserves another story just on itself because I went there so many times, and always came back more cheerful :)

Th parking actually looks pretty at the beach :)
A busy man...
And here is the dreamy beach...

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Houseboats and Srinagar are completely inseparable, and a visit to the city is rather incomplete without actually staying in one, even if it's just for one night. But did you know that the history of these houseboats is fairly recent and they introduced on the Dal lake of Srinagar only in the 19th century? Actually when the Europeans wanted to settle down in the state but local laws prevented them from buying land. So an ingenious guy decided to build these boats instead and it became homes for Europeans back then :)

So when I was in Srinagar staying in a houseboat was high on my agenda. Here is a story of about my experience of staying in a houseboat on the iconic Dal lake :)

review srinagar houseboat dal lake
Living room of my houseboat
review srinagar houseboat dal lake
Front porch of the houseboat

Since I have been to Srinagar a few times, many have asked me about whether I would recommend living in a houseboat in Dal Lake, Srinagar. So I am starting a two story series on Houseboats on Dal Lake – living inside and living outside.

So let me start with the story that we all want to see and enjoy. Living within the luxurious beautiful houseboats. These houseboats are basically hotels within the lake, albeit more personal and homely in nature.

While I was in Srinagar, I stayed in two different houseboats. Since I stayed for longer in the second one, let me share stories from there. Lets start with the very interesting name of the houseboat – Apollo Eleven! Well most houseboats have amazingly innovative names and this one was no different – it was named after NASA’s moon mission in 1969. I have no idea why the owners decided to derive their inspiration from this, but it certainly makes a very catchy name!

review srinagar inside houseboat dal lake
Some lovely light in the dining room...
review srinagar inside houseboat dal lake
The room are all on the right...and at the end...
review srinagar inside houseboat dal lake
Look at the ceiling - the wood-work is called Khatamband

The place is run by local guy, who came here as a young boy when he was just fifteen from a village near Gulmarg. At 24 now, he is the sole caretaker and has a young apprentice from his own village. The owner is a rich guy who lives in the city and we never really saw him.

Each houseboat usually has one to five rooms, and almost all of them are identical with an attached bathroom. The rooms are actually very plush and you can spend hours just sitting inside, reading a book or listening to music. Or you can also sip umpteen cups of Kashmiri Kehwa, though be prepared to miss it like hell when you go back home :)

Things to do in a  houseboat!

Shopping

Another fun activity to do is to sit on the front porch and do some shopping. There are many floating shops selling anything from fruits & vegetables, to Kashmiri pashmina and local exotic jewellery. If they sense your interest, they will come inside and show you there complete collection. I am not at all the shopping types, but was really curious to see the number of things that they can carry in a tiny shikara and the kind of negotiations that take place if you want to buy something.

Visit to the vegetable markets

If you are a bit more adventurous and enjoy early mornings, I would very strongly recommend a visit to the fantabulous floating vegetable market of Dal lake which takes place every morning within the lake itself. The market is for the locals and actually starts before sunrise, so if you want to actually go there leave sometime after 4am (it would be very cold then even in summers).

srinagar floating vegetable and flower market dal lake
Some gorgeous red carrots

Here is my personal favourite tip - don't drink any tea of kehwa before you leave because finding a loo at a floating market is not easy. I had this problem and had to knock on the house of a local Kashmiri home and use their toilets. The women of the house had a hearty laugh at my condition but to me they were angles front the sky.

Shikara rides

Now this is something which will happen by default as the only way to reach the houseboats is using another boat - the shikara. But you can do a shikara ride anytime during the day, and trust me it can be a very romantic as well. You can ask your shikara driver (they are very discreet) to take you a bit away from the crowd and he will do that for a small tip. Laze around in the sun, hold hands (try not to kiss in open though), and do all the love talk :)
As we walked through the semi-forest like walkway to our resort, I knew that home was near. We had started early in the morning from King's lodge at Bandhavgarh and had taken a few pit-stops on the way. It was mid-summer, pre-monsoon days, the land was dry and the skies pregnant with expectation of rains. This also meant that the weather was far from comfortable for us all. This was the last week before the National Parks closed across central India, and I was willing to look beyond the humidity and enjoy the promised wildlife the next day. But today was going to be a rest day...

review kana earth lodge pugdundee safaris
Kahn Earth Lodge
review kana earth lodge pugdundee safaris
The comfortable common seating area and library...

My stay at Kanha Earth Lodge

I had heard a little about Kanha Earth Lodge, but had almost no expectations and simply wanted a room to stretch my legs. But the moment I reached the reception, I was stunned by the rustic beauty of the place. Made in the local Gond tribal architecture, all construction work is done using local stone and waste wood. One look at the place and you can easily imagine why this place won the Best Eco Friendly Lodge award a few years back.

Unfortunately I didn't have my hut to myself, but eventually it didn't matter as much because I barely spent any time inside. A quick shower later all my tiredness was gone and I was ready to walk through all the 16acres of land where the lodge is located. The property is located just about 30 minutes from the Khatia/ Kisli gate, and is also far away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy areas where most travellers live.

review kana earth lodge pugdundee safaris
The huts from outside...
review kana earth lodge pugdundee safaris
The room inside..the balcony is blissful!


My favourite part of the Earth lodge is the infinity pool set between the Mahua trees. Even if you don't like swimming, it's just divine to sit besides the pool and watch the sun going down. This is even more fun when you relax by the pool after a long day at the forest :)

review kana earth lodge pugdundee safaris
The infinity pool..

Unfortunately my stay at the Lodge wasn't long enough for me to soak in all the beauty of the place; such stays are never long enough, aren't they?

Here is a quick tip: if you are a budget traveller who is in Kanha simply to see the national park, you must pick a place close by the forest gate. But if you are looking for a holistic and a much more fulfilling vacation, Kanha Earth Lodge is the place for you.

Early Bird offer

Also, did I mention that there is an early bird offer going on right now? The park is of course closed, but this is the time when all the good places get booked for the next season.

Here are the details :)

Buy 2N/3Days Package or 2 Nights on Jungle Plan and get the third Night complimentary including meals & taxes.
Offer open till 31st July 2016 for bookings between 1st October 2016 to 30th June 2017.
Email: sales@pugdundeesafaris.com or enquiry@pugdundeesafaris.com
Phone: 91-124 - 2970497, 2571404, 2570404
Mobile: +91 8800637711

Note: As National Parks have very limited entry into zones, early booking ensures park safaris in preferred zones.

review kana earth lodge pugdundee safaris
Enjoying a cosy meal by the stream...

p.s. Of course all the pictures shared above are gorgeous, but I haven't taken them as I was too busy soaking in the beauty of the place :)

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Disclaimer: I was hosted at the property by Pugdandee Safaris. All the views expressed about are completely my own an based on personal experiences. 
I always feel cities are the most enchanting early in the morning, before everyone gets up and when you can still hear the chirping of the birds in the city Center. The city is the same, yet quite different. I think it's actually easy to belong to the city when you can absorb it a but more, and in many cities mornings are perfect for this...

street photography morning guwahati assam rickshaw
He had swag :)
street photography morning guwahati assam rickshaw
Brings back childhood memories...


My feelings about the fantastic city ambiance were reinforced by Guwahati on a recent visit to the city. Since it's so much in the east, sunrise happens really early in the morning (before 5am) and I got up just at the right time to walk out of my hotel and explore the streets. Just the previous night the mayhem of the traffic had not much inspired much confidence in walks in the area, but the morning was so much different.  As the sky changed colors with the rising sun, people doing early morning activities also came out. Some did pooja at the temple, while others just carried things around to shops for the busy day ahead.

street photography morning guwahati assam rickshaw
This dude got up only to be photographed :)
street photography morning guwahati assam rickshaw
Hard work starts early in the morning for some...
street photography morning guwahati assam rickshaw
An old woman disappearing into an alley...

However, the most interesting for me were are hand-rickshawallas who waited patiently for customers to come. Please don't get me wrong, I am completely against the practice of humans pulling other humans to transport them and would rather have these men rehabilitated in better jobs. But we know that it's unlikely to happen soon, though by the next generation they will certainly become much less common. They try to send their kids to school so that they can have a better life. I know this because I have interviewed many of them in the past and always been impressed by their vision for their next generation.

street photography morning guwahati assam rickshaw
Customers are few at this hour, so conversations are possible...
street photography morning guwahati assam rickshaw
The busy Guwahati market...empty though!
street photography morning guwahati assam rickshaw
Giving me company in the walk

We don't see them much where I live, so was very fascinated by them and went and spoke to a few. They were happy to see this guy with long hair interested in taking their portraits and happily posed for me. Talking to them also took me back in time to Kanpur, a big city in Uttar Pradesh, where we once had a bad accident when our rickshaw toppled over. This was even more interesting as the accident happened in a hospital where we had gone go see a relative patient. We all survived though!

Sadly recent visits to Kanpur have failed to revive my fond childhood memories, and by that I don't mean the accident at the hospital. Hmmm...such digression from the topic. I always end up doing it...

Anyway, my morning continued into a wonderful day ahead which first started off with capturing some local fishermen in a village close-by catching fish in traditional ways, and later in capturing life of Bamboo...more on this soon :)

street photography morning guwahati assam rickshaw
Respect for all the hard work!
Sometimes you take a picture and it becomes really special to you only much later in life. This is one such picture of a little girl I briefly met at the Pushkar Mela a few years back.

portrait indian girl pushkar black and white rajasthan
The girl with the haunting gaze...

She was walking with her younger brother who was dressed up as little Krishna and every photographer's delight. As the little Krishna posed for everyone, I could see her looking away longingly. I found everything about her far more fascinating, and reached out for a quick chat. As no one was interested in her, we had a few quick moments together as I asked her a few questions. I quickly forgot her name but her haunting eyes stayed back.

Much later on one fine day I remembered her out of blue, searched for her image and found it sitting quietly in a folder. I was as intrigued as I was before and so decided to edit it a little and share it.

So what do you think? What could her eyes be saying?

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p.s. Interested in buying a print? Write to me :)
Located at a distance of about 12 km from Udampur and 65 kilometre from Jammu city, Krimchi temples tell a tale of Jammu and Kashmir which is now long forgotten. Built around the 8th-9th Century, the temples are located on the ancient route to Kashmir on the banks to Birunala and some of these are considered to be the oldest in the entire state.

This is a story of my unplanned visit to this architectural wonder...

krimchi lost hindu temples of kashmir udhampur jammu
The Lost temples of Krimchi in Kashmir
krimchi lost hindu temples of kashmir udhampur jammu
The elaborate entrance to the temple

A long time back (well much before I started this blog), I used to travel just by myself a lot and one such trip took the to the state of Jammu and Kashmir for a project in the villages around Srinagar. This was still a time when was Kashmir was considered a hotbed for terrorism and tourists were rare, if not absent. I was also pretty aimless on the roads and jumped at anything new that came my way.

I had already spent a few days in Jammu and hadn't liked the town much due to the heat there. On a chance encounter in the bus from Jammu to Srinagar, I met someone who told me about some ancient temples in the area. I am a sucker for anything old, so I took some directions form him and made an impromptu stopover at Udhampur to visit these temples. I had set a daily expenditure limit for myself and hotel expense was capped at Rs 150/ night. So I took a room in a shady lodge where my bus driver also stayed with the cleaner and decided to explore these ancient temples the very next day.

krimchi lost hindu temples of kashmir udhampur jammu
One of the few solitary temples at the complex...
krimchi lost hindu temples of kashmir udhampur jammu
The style is unique, yet closely resembles the temples in Uttarakhand
krimchi lost hindu temples of kashmir udhampur jammu
A few surviving carvings...


One of the places I visited was Krimchi temples, located about 12 kilometres from the city. There were no buses so I simply took a jeep and then hiked to the village. Interestingly there was simply no one that I met during the hike, except a few local men who waved and smiled. I guess my long hair made me stand out quite a lot then!

Legend of Krimchi temples

It is believed that Raja Kichak of Mahabharata was the creator of this town as well as all the temples. Later when the Pandavas were in exile, they spent many years living here.

This legend has also given these temples another name - Pandava temples.

So why were the temples destroyed/ abandoned? Well, I don't know the real answer but according to the legends it was the Pandavas themselves who destroyed the city. Why? Hmmm...I haven't dug so deep into scriptures yet :)

Architecture of Krimchi temples

The temples are extremely beautiful and even more so for me as I didn't expect this to come out of my chance encounter. In other words I was simply blown by the temples! They were pretty much in ruins, yet quite majestic.

krimchi lost hindu temples of kashmir udhampur jammu
Another view of the temples
krimchi lost hindu temples of kashmir udhampur jammu
The very Roman columns
krimchi lost hindu temples of kashmir udhampur jammu
What's on top?
krimchi lost hindu temples of kashmir udhampur jammu
Lord Ganesha on top of the column...

The one thing that stuck me the most was the influence of Roman architecture in these temples. The perfectly carved columns certainly looked like a version of Doric style columns from ancient Rome. This was not so surprising as trade was common between the two civilisations back then (I wonder what happened now - I never a thing about Greece in India)., and the temples were located on a trade route so ideas must have traveled. Maybe a Roman architect himself came over and helped execute this ;)

While we are at it, I also found the temples quite close to the architectural style of temples in Uttarakhand. Since I come from the state, I have explored some very interesting and not-so-popular places there too, and also did a small series on Temples of Almora, which will give you a visual representation of what I am talking about.

The ASI description is a bit bland on architecture, but perhaps more accurate than some of my own conclusions.

'This group of temples consists of four large and three small Shiva temples and they are marked from one to seven. Five of these temples are raised on the common platform. All temples, except one, face east and are built on a similar plan comprising a Garbhagriha with curvilinear shikara and antarala with sukanasika. On eo the temples has pillared mandala in front of astarala which seems to be later. The garbhagriha is built on triratha and Pancharatha plan externally and square internally.'


krimchi lost hindu temples of kashmir udhampur jammu
Detailed carvings
krimchi lost hindu temples of kashmir udhampur jammu
I can only imagine what this place would have looked like in its heydays...
krimchi lost hindu temples of kashmir udhampur jammu
Its mostly original stones, but some are new as the structure on the left

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

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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.
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