The occasion is one of the most powerful and feared Mughal King, Aurangzeb's, birthday and a huge durbar is organised in Delhi so that all the neighbouring kings could visit and pay their regards and gifts. The splendour of the moment can take you back in time when India was known as 'sone ki chidiya' or The Golden Bird, and no matter what you thought about Aurangzeb, his birthday celebrations are bound to leave an impression.

But wait, this doesn't quite look like Delhi, and I haven't gone back in time in a Time Machine! Moreover, I thought I was in Germany in the capital city of King Augustus the Strong, and was supposed to be exploring the baroque architecture of the city. So what's going on?

Aurangzeb mughal king green vault dresden germany
Aurangzeb in Dresden 

Well I am inside the mythical Green Vault of Dresden which houses the largest collection of treasures in the whole of Europe. It was founded all the way back in 1723 by Augustus the strong, and since then it has expanded both in size and riches. The vault was completely decimated in the bombing of Dresden in 1945, though it's riches were hidden away in another fortress. These were then confiscated by the Red Army and taken to Russia, and were returned only much later. 2004 onwards most of these treasures have been on display at the museum.

Aurangzeb mughal king green vault dresden germany
The court of Aurangzeb
Aurangzeb mughal king green vault dresden germany
Impeccable detailing with jewels and other valuables 

Housed within the Green Vault is one of it's most prized possession - a miniature representation of the Mughal Durbar celebrating Aurangzeb's birthday. It represents Europe's idea of what the rich Mughal court looked like, and to my naive eyes, it looked quite an excellent representation of what India might have been back then.

Read more: Europe's forgotten treasure chest

This masterpiece comprises 4,909 diamonds, 164 emeralds, 160 rubies, a sapphire, 16 pearls and two cameos and was made by the Dinglinger goldsmith family between 1701 and 1708. Augustus the Strong spent almost 60,000 talers currency back then) for it, more than he did for the construction of his mighty Moritzburg Castle, which his quite an amazing feat in itself.

Aurangzeb mughal king green vault dresden germany
Other visiting kings coming with gifts for Aurangzeb
Aurangzeb mughal king green vault dresden germany
Awe-inspiring detailing! 

Practical details to visit

Here are the details in case you want to visit the Green Vault in Dresden.

Opening hours
New Green Vault and Historic Green Vault
10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Tuesdays

Admission Fees
Ticket Historic Green Vault
admission fee: 12,00 Euro, incl. audioguide
children until 17 years: free

VIP-Ticket Historic Green Vault
admission fee: 20,00 Euro

Admission into the Historic Green Vault without fixed time.
Valid on all opening days of the Historic Green Vault (closed on Tuesdays).

Evening Ticket Green Vault 
admission fee: 15,00 Euro
It was the end of a long and hot day and I was completely sapped of energy, but I still wanted to climb up the steps of the ruins of the Roman Theatre at Petra. I was happy to reach right on the top, but as soon as I turned back to climb down, it hit me. It seemed like I was dreaming for the first few seconds, but then it just got worse. I was stationary and the world around me was moving. One step forward and I would've tumbled down the steps.

Thankfully this was just a dream and none of actually happened. Yes, I did visit Petra and climbed the steps, but there was no vertigo attack on my way down. However, I did have a mild vertigo attack once in a bus on my way from Pune to Mumbai while I was trying to type a long story on my mobile phone. I almost puked in the bus and my managed to give my sleeping co-passnegers quite a start. Thankfully, the moment passed after I closed my eyes and resolved not to touch my phone till I reached Mumbai.

managing vertigo travel
Vertigo - the feeling of the world moving around you (pic credit: Pixabay

However, for many, vertigo could be a challenging problem, yet it doesn't stop them for living the life of a traveller to the fullest. Some of them get scoffed at for being weak, yet they carry on - living one experience at a time, never hindered by a health condition which is not as uncommon, yet manageable most of them times.

So what is Vertigo?

Well it's a condition when you feel that the world around you moving, when actually everything is stationary. It can give a feeling of dizziness, vomiting, nausea, blurred vision, loss of balance and sweating.

Also, vertigo can affect anyone, even if you don't have any history of the it. Every year almost 5% of the people have a vertigo attack every year.

Do's and Don'ts during Vertigo attack 

So if you are traveling and get an attack, there is absolutely no need to panic as the disease is completely manageable. For example, if I actually had an attack of vertigo in Petra, the best thing for me would have been to simply sit down on the steps, close my eyes and let the moment pass. Simple, right! Of course, things are not so easy always.

For instance if you are driving and nausea hits you, the best thing to do would be to stop the car, and wait for the dizziness to pass. Another instance is when you are camping in the night and need to go out - carry a flash light with you.

Here are a few more tips on what you an do to effectively manage a vertigo attack when you are traveling:

- During an attack of Vertigo, take hold of the nearest available support.
- Sit down as soon as you start feeling dizzy.
- Be in a position which is most stable and comfortable and keep yourself as still as possible.
- Get rid of things like rugs or electrical wires which may cause you to trip when you feel dizzy. It is also a good idea to use non-slip mats in the bathroom.
- Keep a night light on in case you need to get out of bed at night.
- Use a cane if you feel unsteady while walking.
- If moving is required, it should be done very slowly and carefully.
- Close your eyes or keep them fixed on objects in front of you.
- Eventually, once there is improvement, start moving gradually.

However, managing vertigo is not all about doing the right things, it's also about avoiding a few things, like doing anything fast - fast walking, fast driving etc.

Here's a list of things to avoid if you do get a vertigo attack:
- Don’t drive when you experience dizziness.
- Do not panic and do not be anxious.
- Do not move very quickly or rapidly.
- Do not turn your head suddenly.
- Avoid reading or working on a computer while travelling in a car, bus or train
- Avoid loud background music
- No matter where you go avoid rush hour

Technology to manage Vertigo

There are many ways to manage Vertigo, including medication, but exercises work the best for long term management. Yoga has been shown to be especially effective, and much has been written about the different asanas which can help like Karna Randhara Dhouti and Karnapatala Dhanadab.

However, it's not that easy to remember all the exercises and asanas so well, and this is where an app, VertiGo Exercise, comes into play to help us out. The app has a simple and easy to use layout for exercises for eyes and head. You can also pick an excessive based on you preferred posture - moving, sitting and standing.

You can also put reminders for doing the exercise (a feature I would certainly find useful) and for eating pills on time. There is also a diet guide which tells you want to what to eat and what to avoid.

Download the app here: VertiGo Exercise App

Have you also experienced vertigo during your travels, or otherwise? Please do share your story in the comments below.

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Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post to spread awareness about Vertigo and various means of managing it. I personally do not suffer from Vertigo.
Morbid was the first word that came to my mind when I saw the promo of CNN's episode on Varanasi, for their popular program on world faiths - Believer. I wasn't offended by what I saw because the visuals were not untrue and I had also seen it on my first visit to the city, when I was more curious to see the famous Manikarnika Ghat than take a holy dip in Ganges to wash of all my sins. I did visit the Ghat a couple of times and was reduced to tears on my second visit - both by the constant wailing of the loved ones who had come to say their last goodbyes, as well as the abject apathy showed to the corpses such were pushed into the river even before they were completely burnt.

So is there anything wrong with the show? Well, maybe I am jumping the gun even before the show is aired, I found something not quite right about the narrative. And more importantly with branding Varanasi as the City of the Dead. In all my visits there as well as books and articles I have read about it, this term has never come to my notice. So what's their source of information?

Anyway, without any further do, here are the two clips which are currently burning the internet.




In fact, if anything, Varanasi is the City of life, or the City of Light. Yes it's a place where people come from all over to breathe their last, but immersing the ashes in the river is actually the beginning of a new life. Hindus believe in reincarnation, and the process starts from leaving your mortal remains behind and then giving a new life. There is nothing morbid about death here, it's part of the cycle of life, or Kalchakra as well call it.

Only to someone who makes a transient visit and makes a superficial observation, would the city appear to be related to death. For anyone willing to dig deeper and explore the meaning of life and death, and how one leads to the other, Varanasi would be a city is spirituality, knowledge and enlightenment. The choice is in our hands, and what we chose to see.

Varanasi Things to do morning meditate boy male man young ghats
A young boy meditating on Varanasi ghat

I will wait to see the show to decide if I read too much from the promos, but I would also like to give the makers of the show the creative and intellectual freedom to present their version anyway. Maybe they will persuade me to open up my own mind and think widely, or maybe I will disagree. However, here should be space for both the narratives to exist, unless the agenda is something else completely, as some tweets suggest, though personally I don't think that's the case.

Most other media outlets have also slammed the show for being misinformed, racist and more. Here is a very well written and a strong article from Huffpost: Cannibals and Corpses: CNN’s Believer is Reckless, Racist and Dangerously Anti-Immigrant.

The other side of the story
However, the story won't be complete if we don't hear the other point of view. Reza Aslan, the host of the show, talks to Vogue in detail about the show and some of his unusual experiences.

He says about the show, “it’s a show about religion in the same way that Anthony Bourdain’s show is a show about food. It’s not really about food, and it’s not really about religion.”

So what does social media say about this?
The opinion on Twitter is certainly against the show and it's host, though most responses are also from us Indians. Here are some:





Though, of course, not everyone was as angry as most.



What are your thoughts on this? Leave your comments below! 
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