Six Women, Six Fascinating Journeys

The female traveller is making her presence felt in every corner of the globe and, in celebration, here's a collection of some of our favourite reads.  
Frida 1
The Museo de Arte Moderno or Museum of Modern Art, displays one of her most notable paintings, “Las Dos Fridas”, which depicts her abusive relationship with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera and was painted the year the couple got divorced. Photo by: Hemis/indiapicture

Finding Frida in Mexico City

“I head to my small bed-and-breakfast in the leafy suburb of Coyoacán, one block away from Frida’s former home. Coyoacán, or ‘the place of coyotes,’ is unlike the densely urbanised Mexico City that surrounds it from all sides. A former village on the southern shore of Lake Texcoco, Coyoacán likes its narrow cobbled streets, 16th-century Spanish-style pastel homes, and quaint cafés quiet. So nothing here prepares me for the drama of Casa Azul, that Frida painted a striking cobalt with brick red borders on the outside. Two papier mâché skeletons hanging off the blue ceiling guard its entrance. For several minutes, I stare transfixed at the doors, inhaling the indigo. ”

— Radhika Raj

Radhika’s love for Frida Kahlo runs deep. Read more in her story. 

 

Road Tripping on California’s Stunning Highway 1

California

The author found herself well-prepared for a Porsche ride in her Biggles glasses and red leather cap. Photo courtesy: isit California/Mason Trinca

“The cars are flagged off one by one, helmed by the senior-most of the divas, a majestic Courvette from the 1920s. We take a ceremonial ride through the track, which on race days must feel the scorch of hot tires, churning drivers’ stomachs as they take a speeding, 60-foot drop at a turn tellingly called the ‘corkscrew.’ But unlike race cars, we move with a stately elegance, just slow enough to let the beauty of the coastline and the hissing waters below seep into our consciousness. Whales and dolphins live in these waters, but we have no chance sightings. Every once in a while, swathes of mist descend to block the view—with the top down, it turns into a sensory experience. I take photographs of the crashing sea, the cliffs and the 86-year-old Bixby Creek Bridge. By the time we reach Big Sur, the first of our three stops, I’m dressed for the decadence in Biggles glasses and a red leather cap that my 58-year-old ‘road friend’ has pulled out of the glove compartment.”

— Sathya Saran

Read more about Sathya’s California adventures here. 

 

Mission Base Camp

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The writer jumping in joy as she descends towards Namche Bazaar, with the mighty Ama Dablam (in the background) watching every step. Photo Courtesy: Vaibhav Bharadwaj

“My journey to this difficult but hypnotic terrain began with a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, touted as one of the most dangerous airports in the world, also notorious for delays. What else can you expect of a route where the flight’s fate is majorly dependent on how sunny the mountain gods are feeling? As the 18-seater plane seared through clouds and bumpy air-pockets, I glanced around at my trekking group… The day we first met, the group exchanged trekking stories. I didn’t have much to add, this was my first multi-day trek. What if my gear is tougher than I am, I’d wondered, looking out of the window to spot a sliver of a runway rolled out at an elevation of 9,383 feet.”

— Tunali Mukherjee

Tunali felt invincible after conquering the Everest Base Camp trek. Find out more here.

 

How to Make Every Penny Count in Seoul

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Bright lights, tall buildings, broad roads—South Korea’s rapidly developing economy has made Seoul one of the world’s 10 most expensive cities. Photo by: kamponwarit/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus/ Getty Images

“Did you even go to Seoul if you didn’t pay your respects at least one altar of commodity culture? I mean without shelling out any bucks, of course. Near Seoul station is one temple to consumer retail: the Lotte Department Store, a branch of Korea’s best-known chain. Each of the little alleys inside the store has a salesperson at a makeshift counter with a free food sample to offer: I tasted pancakes, chocolate, ramen and other things before heading to the food court.”

— Bhavya Dore

Seoul may be prohibitively pricey, but Bhavya knows how to juice out the wons. Here’s her handy guide.

 

Travelling Down the Silk Road in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan 4

Uzbekistan is a land of stunning monuments and people brimming with warmth. While Tashkent is more westernised, women outside the capital often dress up in traditional attire (left). Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis in Samarkand is a sprawling complex of tombs and mausoleums ranging from the ninth to the 15th centuries. Many of Timur’s relatives, including his sister and niece, were laid to rest here (right). Photos by: Friedrich Schmidt/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images (woman); Ullstein Bild/Contributor/Getty Images (mausoleums)

“The Uzbeks seem to love India and Indians, and Bollywood is obviously a big part of the attraction. I have had a waiter in a Russian restaurant in Tashkent sing, “Main Shayar toh nahin,” from Bobby, while a cabbie in Samarkand reeled off names of the Kapoor khandaan, from Raj to Kareena. I bet they are ecstatic that the latter has named her son Taimur; to the Uzbeks he is, after all, the Great Emir Timur.”

— Prachi Joshi

A 10-day trip to Uzbekistan is an epic journey—Prachi Joshi has written beautifully about it for us. 

 

Tracing a River’s Soul, From Source to Sea

Nila

Kathakali dancers prepare for an electric performance at the 300-year-old Olappamanna Mana in Vellinezhi, Palakkad district. The 20-acre complex is one of the oldest cradles of culture along the Nila river. Photo by: Neelima Vallangi

“My next stop lay 25 kilometres northeast, in the heritage village of Vellinezhi on the banks of Kunthipuzha, a tributary of the Nila. I learnt that at least 40 art and craft forms, including training for Kathakali and Kutiyattam, statue making, Kathakali outfit design, and Adakkaputhur metal mirror-making, thrive here. Olappamanna Mana, an ancient feudal complex sprawled over 20 green acres, is at the centre of this cultural affluence. The family patronised the arts for decades, and it was here that the Kalluvazhi Chitta, the dominant style of Kathakali practised today, was born.”

— Neelima Vallangi

The Nila is perhaps Kerala’s most loved river. Neelima Vallangi journeyed along its banks—from source to sea—and returned with this feature.

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