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Amritsar: the jewel of the Punjab

Amritsar, capital of the Punjab region of India, is a city with a character all its own. Sitting close to the border with Pakistan since partition in the 1940s, it has a large Sikh population and is home to the greatest temple in the Sikh religion. I fell in love with the city, which is a little less crazy than some others in India, a little more ordered, at least by local standards.… Keep reading

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central asia heritage 1

Central Asia: rebuilding a heritage

I spent a couple of weeks this summer in Central Asia, visiting the Silk Road nations of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

These countries have had a chequered history. From a rich heritage as trading posts, and at the heart of Timur’s vast empire, all three nations have natural beauty but also magnificent historic cities, fortresses, mosques and madrassahs which play a substantial part in their heritage.… Keep reading

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The night train from Bukhara: Travels through Uzbekistan

It’s quarter to ten on a Wednesday night, and I’m standing on a station platform in Bukhara, Uzbekistan.

I’m here on a trip-of-a-lifetime, bucket-list kind of adventure – and that’s saying something for someone who travels as much as I do. But for many years now I’ve dreamed of visiting the beautiful squares and madrassahs of Uzbekistan, with their towering turquoise domes and exquisite mosaic façades.… Keep reading

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swimming with manta rays

Swimming with manta rays in the Maldives

The Maldives are simply magical, but one of the most memorable moments of my time there was the day I swam with a manta ray.

swimming with manta raysWe had travelled by wooden dhoni through the islands, stopping off twice a day to snorkel on the spectacular reefs that litter the shores. However, between the shallow waters of the atolls are much deeper channels, and these are when you find the manta rays.… Keep reading

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