TEHRAN—Nested in a lonely bowl of mountains, ringed by 1500-year-old walls in northwest Iran, the UNESCO-listed Takht-e Soleyman was once a principal fire temple of the Zoroastrian faith in ancient Persia.
Takht-e Soleyman is now a major travel destination for domestic and foreign travelers who want, even for minutes, to experience its peaceful atmosphere. Important to learn is what exists Today is only fragments. This way, you shouldn’t expect Persepolis-style carvings. However, the site’s sheer age and magnificent setting are attractions enough.
Overlooking a lake with a backdrop of a snowcapped highland, the ancient interweaves a scenic natural context with a rich harmonious composition. It reveals architectural achievements of outstanding universal values, which from artistic, religious, mythical, and historical points of view, emerge from the synergy of a man-made and spectacular natural setting.
They established the ensemble in a geologically anomalous location where the base of the temple complex sits on an oval mound roughly 350 by 550 meters. It encompasses a lake roughly 80 by 120 meters and a Sassanid-era Zoroastrian temple complex dedicated to Anahita, an ancient goddess of fertility, parts of which were rebuilt in the 13th century during the Ilkhanid era.
They say Takht-e Soleyman’s name isn’t based on real historical links to the Old Testament King Solomon but was a cunning 7th-century invention by the temple’s Persian guardians in the face of the Arab invasion.
In the 13th century, Takht-e Soleyman became a summer retreat for the Mongol Ilkhanid khans. The remnants of their hunting palace are now covered with a discordant modern roof forming a storeroom (often locked) for amphorae, unlabelled column fragments, photos, and a couple of ceramic sections of those ancient gas pipes.
According to Britannica Encyclopedia, its surrounding landscape was probably first inhabited sometime in the 1st millennium BC. Some construction on the mound itself dates from the early Achaemenian dynasty (559–330 BC), and there are traces of settlement activity from the Parthian period.
Under tourists’ eyes
In what follows, a selection of comments that foreign visitors have already posted to TripAdvisor, a fairly popular travel website, has been given:
‘It was worth the whole journey to Iran’
Takht-e Soleyman is an incredible place as well as Zendan Soleyman. Moreover, there is a small village between the two from where you can hike to the archaeological site (Takht-e Soleyman) and the mountain/volcano (Zendan-e Soleyman). I have spent four hours all together between the two sites and the village and would love to come back soon. You can also sleep in the village in a recently refurbished traditional house. Strongly recommended! (Eugenio_G694 from Milan, Italy)
This is an interesting site to visit with a lot of the structures still visible. It is in a stunning location surrounded by beautiful mountains. The lake within the site is large and with a guide to explain the various structures, the whole complex comes to life an$ you begin to appreciate what a magical place this is. (Sus1952 from Palmerston North, New Zealand)
‘An inspiring site, together for the mysteries of the earth and for the history of men’
This place is far from everything. On our trip, as well as on most visitors’ journeys, Takht-e Soleyman required at least three hours’ drive from our previous stop, Maragheh, and after our departure, three hours more for our next stop, Sanandaj. Yet it would be foolish not to stop here, as long as possible. In fact, this is one of the not many places in the world where you can “breathe” equally the mystery of nature and the charm of the millennial history of men. The mystery of nature, because the water saturated with calcium flowing here after tens of thousands of years, and that finally created the hill of about 60 m. on which stands the site, along with the pond that crowns the hill’s summit (about 60 m deep as well, for a diameter of 70 m, therefore astoundingly deep), reminds us of the thrilling charm of the land that hosts us all; it makes us think of what is hidden under the landscapes we usually see. The fascination of human history also appears evident, because the mythical thought of our ancestors couldn’t be struck by this evidence of the “chthonic” powers, that is, of the restless depths of the earth; as it did for the “Phlegraean Fields” near Naples, or the Bromo volcano on Java island. In fact, even in this case, the ancient inhabitants have built a mythology around some natural phenomena, the mythology that makes this spot not just one of the sacred places of Zoroastrianism, but “the” most sacred place.
It is therefore required for this visit, even more than for other sights in Iran, to enter the spirit of the civilizations that have interacted with the environment, and to fully understand it. Otherwise, you will be bewildered by the almost un-decipherable complex of the ruins that are included between the pond and the walls of the Sassanid era. If you have the time, walk up for a few hundred meters on the hill overlooking the ticket office and the rest area: you will have the most gorgeous view of the site. One last observation: when I visited this site I was reading “The Valleys of the Assassins” by Freya Stark. From this book, I learned that “Takht-e Soleyman” (that is, “Throne of Solomon”) is also the name of a summit of the Alborz Mountains, northwest of Tehran. And I later found that another mountain of this name is found in Pakistan (Balochistan region). Discovering that the king and prophet Solomon in the Islamic tradition has a reputation as a great traveler, builder, and “tamer of monsters” (see the “Zendan-e Soleyman”, a few hundred meters from the pond) has set up for me a further reason of charm in this visit. (Brun066 from Florence, Italy)
‘Off the beaten track but worth it as long as the weather holds!’
Very few Western tourists venture this far, but this Zoroastrian fire temple sits in an amazing landscape. The few buildings that are left are ruins, but the site is surrounded by an ancient wall and has amazing backdrops of snowcapped mountains. The weather is very changeable, so wrap up warm when the sun goes in. (rdella from the UK)
‘A UNESCO site not to be missed’
What an incredible historic site. Sassanids warriors and kings, Zoroastrian fire, and Anahita water goddess worshipers all co-existed here. Even when the Mongols appeared, they did not destroy it but appreciated its deep Crater Lake and volcanoes around. It is amazing that it is so well preserved after so long… (Miriahm D. from Colorado, the U.S.)
‘This is amazing’
The site is on a volcanic vent combined with an artesian well. It was covered in silt from various discharges over the centuries until the early last century. The pool of water is very deep and fissures, the source of the water, go even deeper. The high mineral content helps fertilize the surrounding orchards. Intriguingly, the site was important for the Persians and then also the later Ilkhanid Mongol invaders, who modified it. The on-site guide was excellent and brought it all to life (including the 12 fortresses which surround it). This is a compelling visit, especially when you consider the full context. (PeterC489 from London, England)
“Travel is the best teacher.” — a cliché, but something that has stayed with me over the years while I have forgotten most of my other childhood teachings.
In 2017, my husband Marzban and I decided to leave our Mumbai urban life of consumption and competition behind and lead an alternate life of simplicity and consciousness. This was easier said than done! What does it mean to live simply and consciously? To seek answer to this question, we decided to take up a journey around the country on roads less travelled, through smaller towns and villages, to see how others lived. We wanted this to be a slow journey and not a destination-to-destination travel. As Milan Kundera beautifully says, “There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting.”
The journey was going to be unplanned. We decided to leave in 2020 after completing our projects on hand (we are architects by profession). We stopped formal education for our then 7-year-old son Arzaan and decided to un-school him through the journey. Unfortunately, in March 2020, Covid-19 struck and a lockdown was announced. We spent two months cooped up in our pigeon hole apartment in Mumbai and left in June 2020 with the first relaxation of travel rules. We loaded up our pick-up truck which was to be our home for the next few years and headed out of Mumbai.
Our first stop was a farm at Mulshi, Maharashtra where we had built a home with natural materials. We decided to spend the monsoon there learning the basics of farming through paddy farming. The biggest challenge was to slow down our pace of life and become sensitive to the cycles of nature which we had neglected staying in a city. Waking up and sleeping with the sun was an alien concept. Electricity and water supply were taken for granted without much reverence for natural resources. Slowly we got tuned to the withering of plants in rains, breeding cycles of insects and bugs, movements of earthworms and many other miracles of nature. Children adapt very quickly to different ways of living; it is the adults who take time letting go of their set patterns. With the help of the locals, we learnt to sow, transplant and care for the paddy.
We experienced the tyranny of cyclone Nisarg which had missed its mark on Mumbai and landed south-east of the city. It devastated a lot of homes in the village. The monsoons in Mulshi are notorious and surpass Cherrapunji in volume. More than the rains, the winds create a greater havoc. Along with the villagers, we learnt the local tricks of holding the roof down, banking the fields with stones and ultimately surrendering to Mother Nature. Finally, after Dussera we harvested the paddy and threshed it. Arzaan too went through the 5-month cycle of working on the farm. Contributing physical labour in growing of rice made us and Arzaan look at each morsel of food with a renewed respect. Wasting a grain of rice on the plate felt painful.
Post Diwali, we decided to move on and went to Indapur on Mumbai-Goa highway which is a small town where the potter-artist Rajesh Kulkarni has his studio. We spent a month understanding and learning the process of terra-cotta pottery, one of the oldest skills known to human beings. We learnt to identify various kinds of soils, understood the components that make the soil viable for pottery, learnt making of the right mix, working with the material free hand and then on the wheel. Arzaan took to clay like fish to water. Firing is another skill altogether. A month wasn’t enough to hone our skills, but it exposed us to another way of living life consciously.
Rajesh works with local potters all over the country who are slowly moving away from the family profession. His aim is to put the economic trust back into the art. Most of the traditional potters give up pottery because of deterioration of the raw material — clay and resultant low returns. The knowledge of what makes good potter’s clay was never passed on from one generation to the other (possibly because deterioration of something as omnipresent as soil was unimaginable then). So, Rajesh has taken upon himself to bring this technical knowledge to the traditional potters so that they can fill in the missing components into their local soil and once again continue the art without unnecessary expenditure.
After a month in Indapur, we continued driving down the west coast, zig-zagging up the Western ghats, down the Deccan Plateau and back on the coast. For the first time, we consciously experienced the Indian topography. Arzaan was always exposed to road trips. All three of us enjoyed motorbike trips when Arzaan was younger; but car journey is a different experience. Most times you are locked in a bubble, self-sustained with all the essentials that we carry and have minimal interactions with the outside. This was completely undesirable. We established four rules for the journey — no AC, no packaged food or water, no highways and no hotels. This automatically made us more open to the places we visited. Not hoarding of water made us stop every hour and drink the local water. No highways ensured we keep our journey non-destination based. No AC ensured we were in tune with the weather outside. And no hotels nudged us to interact with the people and share their accommodations. Every now and then, we would pitch a tent or seek refuge in a dharamshala. This was as close to a motorbike journey as we could manage.
We got an opportunity to volunteer at a forest living program in Angadibail in Karnataka. Savitha Naik, a well-known scholar of tribal cultures, runs a forest living and learning program called Rutu (season) program for the urban youth in the forests of western ghats of Karnataka. The youth aged between 11 to 18 years spend an entire season (in this case it was 12 weeks of Winter) in the forest, learning how to survive on forest resources, knowing about the local tribes and learning various arts and crafts from them. The experience at varied levels was unmatchable. We interacted with Halakki and Siddhi tribes of the region, learnt the tribal songs related to their seasonal activities, learnt quilting, basket weaving, foraging forest food, making ant chutney amongst other things. Everyday living in the forest was sans packaged food, chemical-based toiletries, any form of plumbing, electricity and any form of fossil fuel. There was no connectivity to the outer world of any kind. Kids along with adults were to look for firewood in the forest, cook on chulas, make our own tooth powder, soaps and shampoos out of natural materials and use a flowing stream as our open-air bathroom. The urban youth discovered the joy of writing letters to their parents and receiving a reply after two weeks. Virtue of patience, boredom, lack of constant stimulants and denial of instant gratification did wonders to kids and adults alike.
We explored the region through various treks. We learnt Kannada from local kids and taught them English. We took this opportunity to build a chicken coop in mud with the kids. We experimented with different colour mud plasters with lime as an alternative to cement plaster and paint and debated about pros and cons of vernacular architecture. At the end of the three months, we were a tight-knit family.
After this experience we continued our journey in the forests of Karnataka exploring Aghnashini and Sharavati river valleys and fell in love with the region. We continued further south along the coast and after reaching Kanya Kumari at the southern tip of the country, we came up the east coast zig-zagging the Eastern Ghats. The Eastern Ghats were very different from the Western Ghats. Much older and dispersed, they do not give the experience of traversing a mountain range but as occasional retreats from the plains. We stopped in Auroville and volunteered at Sadhana Forest.
Sadhana Forest is an ecosystem conceived by a family, Aviram and Yorit Rozin, that settled in India in 2003. Based on basic principles of compassion, collaboration, community living, gift economy, veganism, unschooling, water conservation and afforestation the family began their life on an arid piece of land and today they have transformed it into a diverse tropical dry evergreen forest. The actual learning was living with large number of volunteers that throng the place from all over the world and Sadhana Forest’s no door policy (literally — the place has no doors) welcome everyone unconditionally. Water conservation is serious business here — high irrigation demand crops are avoided in the meals, local millets and veggies requiring no to minimum irrigation form the diet. Water stations for hand wash, vessel washing and bathing work on simple systems that use minimal water. Dry toilets provide rich ‘humanure’ (human manure) for forest growing. Swales, ponds and catchment areas ensure not a single drop of water leaves the land. Waste segregation into multiple units made us responsible for our consumption. Many such systems and activities have been designed and implemented at Sadhana Forest to lead a life of awareness and complete responsibility.
We continued our journey up the east coast to Andhra Pradesh then headed west into Araku valley and the forests of Chattisgarh. We arrived at Hemalkasa at the state border of Maharashtra and Chattisgarh after a tiring convoluted road as there are no bridges across Indravati and Godavari rivers in this region. We had heard about Baba Amte and Prakash Amte’s life journey, but wanted to experience the place for ourselves. As we arrived at Lok Biradri Prakalp’s campus, the remoteness of the place was overwhelming. But more surprising was the level of infrastructure that had been established within the campus in such remote location which stands testimony to the years of hard struggle that the entire core team would have gone through. A full-service hospital, guest house for patient’s families, 800 students’ residential school, a dairy, a poultry and the rescued animal’s ark form the main campus. Serving this are community kitchens, petrol pump, skill building centers, and many infrastructural systems that we otherwise take for granted.
Other than on-campus activities, LBP runs many schools, health centers and other infrastructural activities in and around the region. A visit to one such school changed our perception about level of dedication that people can have towards education. Geographically Nelgunda is only 23 km away from LBP but we took an hour and a half to reach there. Accessible only on a two-wheeler, there is no discernible road to reach there. You zig-zag through the dense forest, cross multiple streams (there are no bridges built) that engulf the path, you slip, you fall and scrape yourself multiple times before reaching this beautiful region that seems to have stood still for the last few centuries. It is completely cut off from the rest of the country. No electricity, no cell phone coverage, no land-line and not even a post office. The kids walk anywhere from 2 to 10 km each way to reach the school and teachers make the journey that we made, every day from Hemalkasa. This kind of dedication is unheard of. This village is just one amongst hundreds of tribal villages further inside the forest, some which do not even feature in our country’s census survey.
We continued our journey westwards. By the time we arrived at Swaraj University, we were already on the road for a year and a half. Throughout our journey, the association of various institutes and individuals with Swaraj was uncanny and so it was inevitable that we landed up here. Contrary to our pre-conceived notion of a structured institute, the wooded campus and Mr. Mehta (founder of Tapovan Ashram) basking in the sun were the first images that greeted us as we entered. Over the period of ten days of our stay at Swaraj we learnt the essence of unschooling — not only for the children but for everyone in all aspects of their lives. A platform of blank canvas, written and painted over and again by anyone willing to experiment with their lives — immaterial of which path they have taken or which point in the journey they are at… this kind of unconditional, non-judgemental spaces are far and few.
During our stay at Swaraj, it was hosting a month-long camp for 11- to 16-year-olds and had begun the Unschoolers Ecovillage with two host families. We had an opportunity to witness how the teens organised themselves and pursued varied activities of their interest. Arzaan fit right in and we rarely saw him through those ten days. Teens would confidently approach any of the facilitators or the host families or even visiting families like ours with questions, guidance or for pure fun-filled chats.
Days were spent with the host families cooking, cleaning, helping in their farm activities, bathing in the lake and exploring the surrounding landscapes. Most interesting were the nights where we would all gather on the terrace (named Ojas) and chat, discuss and debate endlessly about each other’s experiences, journeys, world views. Memorable for me would be our heated discussion about the viability of community living in today’s individualistic societies and individualistic aspirations. Ideas of cashless societies, gift economies and delicate lines separating flat hierarchies from anarchies.
Our journey continues. It is now two years on the road. A lot is learnt, and a lot still stands to be explored. The two years have not been all hunky-dory. There have been times when we would be traveling for days without any definite purpose or any meaningful interactions. Such times would create self-doubts about our intent. Physical discomforts were many. Finding ‘clean’ (the definition of this word is under scrutiny) accommodations, comfortable weather and temperatures, palatable food, varied tastes, varied cuisines were all a part of these discomforts which we took up as a challenge to peel off our layers of urban conditioning. Contrary to popular beliefs, we have never had an experience of theft or discomforts from people. The common question that people ask is “how do you economically sustain yourself?” — to which our answer is simple. Our expenditure is less than half of what we would have otherwise spent staying in Mumbai. We volunteer from place to place either our physical labour or our architectural skills and get a place to stay and meals in return. Embracing the concept of ‘enough’ has been the toughest. We as urban dwellers feel that there is never enough money earned — but this travel revealed that there is always enough.
There have been many personal transformations over the last two years. Each of us has grown immensely patient — the concept of time flows very slowly on a travel of this nature and patience is an essential skill to hone. As city dwellers, we are quick to judge and pigeon-hole anyone or anything. Redundancy of this habit becomes evident. Each person is on a journey of their own and each one is at a different stage; judging and compartmentalising a person obstructs our own journey further.
The idea of detachment we learnt from our son — each place we visited brought us a new family and Arzaan with his lack of inhibitions would adapt them as his own. At the end of our stay, we would be sceptical about leaving this family comfort behind, but Arzaan as easily as he had attached himself would say goodbye and move on. Detachment is not lack of attachment. It is being able to rid our sense of possession of people and things behind. The only advice, if any, that we can have for people considering such life journeys is that there will never be a right time, there will never be enough earned or saved — the journey will never come out of a logical decision taken, it will always be a leap of faith. Sooner you take it the better.
The fears that we live with, in the city, slowly disappear. We were never anxious about Arzaan’s education. The redundancy and the harm caused by conventional education was evident to us prior to this journey. The education that Arzaan has received through this journey is priceless. His confidence, his independence, his sensitivity to nature, his unique understanding of the world, of the values leave us astounded. At the young age of 9, he is already equipped to handle conflicts and navigate through the world. We long to relook at the world through his eyes.
It is the ultimate laid-back experience, but for me it started as a power trip. Literally, I discovered this unbelievable idyll just a 3-hr train ride away from Mumbai, when the equally incredible Nergis Irani launched a one-woman crusade against the thermal power plant being set up by the Bombay Suburban Electric Supply in Dahanu, the chikoo bowl of Maharashtra. I had passed Gholvad several times on train journeys to Ahmedabad—quaint, sleepy stations characterised by locals selling small baskets of just-picked fruit and bundles of lemongrass and peppermint leaves with which Parsis flavour their tea. I had no idea of the deep, dark groves that lay beyond the pedestrian platform.
Then Nargis Irani descended on my office like a Persian army. Her feisty Irani genes made up for whatever she lacked in the ‘warrior-queen’ department. As an environmentalist, she would have fought such desecration anywhere, but in the Gholvad she had an emotional stake, as these chikoo orchards had been planted by the Iranis, many of whom had cleared the grass-covered tracts with their bare hands when they had arrived here a hundred or so years ago. This tough, if rustic, race had been impoverished by discrimination in their native Iran and they too made the journey that their fellow Zoroastrians, the Parsis, had made nearly a millennium earlier. Some set up tea shops in Mumbai, but the more intrepid fanned into the interior, confident that land was land, even if in an alien country. With their own input of hard work, they were certain that it would sustain them, as it had their fore-fathers back home.
The house of the man who first brought chikoos to this area still stands near Dahanu Railway Station, the lush acres flourishing in the care of his grandsons. Those who followed old Mr Irani acquired and tamed their own sprawling acres. Grandchildren went away, lured by city jobs and the promise of golden opportunity abroad. Many returned. The land was as forgiving as it was yielding.
Things to see and do? The answer to this is ‘nothing’. The idea here is to chill. Wake up to the cock’s crow and open your eyes to a canopy of dark chikoo leaves. These orchards smell of the resins of the trees. Walk down the winding country road and smile at the curious women—rural cliches in their short ‘towel’ wraps above which rise their bare midriffs and bosoms. They sashay past with a self-assured swing, a chatter of berribboned sparrows as they go to water and weed, pluck and pack in the orchards.
Mud pots ‘grow’ out of every stunted toddy palm; they say slake the thirst of a day’s labour and fill the night with the drumbeat of abandon. Hens fret and strut about the reed and mud huts before meeting their fate in a festive cauldron.
Gholvad—rising above Bordi and merging unmarked into Dahanu and the surrounding villages—has no pin-downable focal point. It’s only orchards, and the homesteads of the people who cultivated them.
Location: Gholvad is on the road to Bordi, on the coastal highway after you turn left from Kasa Khurd towards Dahanu.
No hotels, no cars, no plans—how this Mumbai lawyer has covered 4,600km across India
Phiroze Palkhivala is cycling around the country, sleeping under the stars, bathing in rivers and savouring food at local’s homes
“I just love cycling. Second, I love travelling. And when you put the two together, it’s magic,” says Phiroze Palkhivala, the Mumbai-based lawyer who has been travelling solo across India on a bicycle since the beginning of this year. The 55-year-old’s main aim was to explore Indian culture in a sustainable way. His only rules are—no hotels, no vehicles and no itineraries.
Phiroze in Kutch, Gujarat
How he does it
Palkhivala tries to keep a general plan in mind after doing some basic research online. Then, he invariably meets a local who recommends another site, and the plan changes. So, he usually goes with the flow.
The distance he covers per day depends largely on his sleep and on the weather. “The maximum I’ve covered in a day is around 116km on this trip..”.
The sky morphs into his ceiling at night, as he sleeps out under the stars, since he is not big on hotels. “Everything becomes very expensive,” he explains. “Besides that, I just naturally love to be outside. I love to camp. Even if I am in an ashram, I request them to let me sleep outside. I don’t even use the tent now. I’m lugging it around just in case I’m in a place where it’s raining. Ultimately, the simpler you make everything, the more beautiful everything becomes.”
Collecting experiences across incredible India
Since the start of his trip in January 2021, Palkhivala has bicycled extensively across Maharashtra and Gujarat. From visiting Asia’s largest ship-breaking yard in Alang, Gujarat, to praying at the Nishkalank Mahadev Temple in Bhavnagar (which remains submerged during high tides and emerges during low tides), Palkhivala’s atypical experiences refuse to remain confined to the pages of an itinerary.
Whilst on the road, no two days are alike for him. From cycling through a casuarina forest in Nargol to wheeling past coconut palms down the streets of Chorwad in Gujarat, Palkhivala was often caught off-guard. His experiences excelled beyond just sight-seeing.
A steep trek to the Bahrot Caves in Dahanu, Maharashtra, made by the Parsis of yore took Palkhivala back to his cultural roots. Visiting the Sri Ram Temple in Bagdana, Gujarat (which, according to the locals, can withstand an earthquake of up to 10 on the Richter Scale), and watching a man spin cotton into rope within minutes using a charkha, left him marvelling at Indian skill and craftsmanship.
A ‘Mini Kumbh Mela’ in Junagadh gave him a chance to interact with sadhus. A month later, he found himself cutting vegetables with strangers to prepare for a feast at Navnath Dhuno in Girnar. Unfortunately, a few of his valuable items were stolen here.
So, what’s in his bag?
Palkhivala’s baggage looks slightly different from your usual suitcase or haversack. His essentials include a few clothes, a stove, daily provisions to cook, a GoPro camera, an emergency kit and a water bottle. “I carry them in panniers, which are specially made to attach to a bicycle. I have a rack behind the seat and one in the front which fits on the front fork. So, there are three bags on the rear rack, and two bags which are attached to the sides of the front rack. There’s also one small bag which attaches to the handlebar. Here, I keep things that I may suddenly need on the road. I just have to open it and it’s right there.”
His main bags are also sealed and waterproof, in case of an occasional downpour. “Each time I have to open the bag, I need to release three clips and then the bags have to be rolled open, which takes a little time,” he explains.
Where does he bathe?
From bathing in a 100-year old hot spring in Bhavnagar to a cold dip in the Narmada River en route to Vadodara, Palkhivala’s anecdotes on bathing are equally interesting. However, the general lack of hygiene on the road rankles. “I learned to bathe out of buckets that aren’t clean by cleaning them. Sometimes even water from a tank wasn’t hygienic. Buffaloes would drink water from the same tanks. But you just learn to adjust; there’s no other alternative.”
Palkhivala strongly advocates responsible and sustainable travel, which is one of the main reasons he opts to pedal his way through countries. For him, the humble two-wheeler not only fulfils the job, but excels in doing so. “I would never have experienced the things I have if I travelled conventionally.” Palkhivala, who has previously pedalled through Taiwan, Iran, Turkey and Georgia, strongly believes that the bicycle is a vantage point from which any place can be discovered. The views remain unfiltered and the traveller’s pace subjective. “When you are on a bicycle, you get to experience every bit of the road, the people, the culture and the environment. You’re travelling slowly and noiselessly. You’re not polluting the planet and you become much more observant of your surroundings. In fact, people also become much more observant of you.”
Read more of this exciting story and pictures at –
We are pleased to inform Patrons that the Sanatorium will become operational from October 01, 2020 onwards.
The facility will be completely sanitized before it makes Guests welcome.
Keeping in mind the good health of Guests and Sanatorium Staff, use of our facilities will be made available on the following conditions to be adhered to by all Guests:
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5. Till further notice, the maximum number of Guests permitted in each room will be not more than 3 (three), and maximum number of total Guests in the sanatorium will not be more than 15 (fifteen).
These Conditions and Rules have been framed keeping in mind, maintaining the good health of Guests as well as our Staff and all are advised to diligently comply with the same.
Guests wishing to use the facility from October 01, 2020 onwards may contact the Manager of the Sanatorium on either of the telephone numbers mentioned above.
Having lived in India and UK I find both places have their pros and cons. I lived in India all my life and spent my childhood to adulthood in Pune. When the opportunity presented itself, 15 years ago to tour UK (London), I did not know what to expect, except took it as a new experience. As I’ve lived in London and Pune, I cannot comment for the rest of the UK or India but from the little I know Pune and London have their own interesting quirks. To clarify, there is no bias for either place, this is purely based on my experience and time spent there.
If it’s the Work setting -obviously the first thing to sustain one self is to work, and moving abroad makes it no different. At the time, for a girl (who had barely travelled from Pune to mumbai alone) to explore the job market in London, it was not only daunting for me but simply put terrifying. Upon landing up a good job, the first thing that dawned on me was the work culture. Yes a lot of work places in London are micromanaged, bureaucratic and politically driven but a majority are pretty relaxed, employee motivated and interesting to work at. The good thing is work done well here is appreciated, applauded and rewarded, something which is important for the employee morale. Have you heard of Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF)? Working in London, I realised companies mostly follow the TGIT – Thank God It’s Thursday rule! Well in London the weekend well begins from Thursday afternoon, with jolly good humoured colleagues (well mostly) all through Friday – all in anticipation of the “much needed” DRINKS.. heading to the pub! People work hard (or hardly) all week and spend their weekend enjoying it off, thereafter once Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday come, they are weaning off hangovers and the cycle happily continues! Not to say a similar culture doesn’t exist in India – a place where the older generation believed in saving their earned money, their kids and grand kids would want to spend and enjoy life. Kal kisne dekha or kal ho na ho (thanks shahrukh khan eh!)
A lot of corporates in India work with international companies and follow their working hours- with employees doing their bit. It’s important if it’s a “work horse” environment they should be rewarded or atleast appreciated.. Companies are playing catchup to this, as for the employees- the ones that deal with situations proactively and tactfully survive. The rest? well might just change to another job and another until they get what they want!
Moving on to children’s education; London boasts universities colleges attracting millions of students every year, however their basic primary education was questionable until schools tweaked syllabus and now are decent to say the least. Yes their high schools and universities are still worthy of the attention they receive. An interesting aspect is their methods – these are very different with focus on practical learning, logical thinking and understanding what is being taught. It’s not a run of the mill “mugging up” like few Indian schools. Again I’m not berating. It is this very education in India that has made me what I am today.. the kids in India are brilliant so if the Indian education boards incorporate more practical, logical aspects in their curriculum, I imagine the kids will find learning more fun than a chore. When I speak of the competitive nature in Indian schools it’s unbelievable. It’s a rat race where everyone wants to be the best. In this queens land, it’s more easy going, a focus on children’s ability and enhancing of their strengths while working on their weaknesses. One way this is possible is their classes have around 18-20children max which means the teachers can concentrate better. Think of that as opposed to 50-55 kids? A Taare Zameen par moment!
I’m no one to Judge but the strange thing is some of these clever kids in India study their hardest, give high level exams and few of these end up working abroad, possibly as they understand the prospects or know the life-work balance that exists or simply see the £ or $ clinking. Well it is what it is and may not require delving deeper.
Coming to regular life; beautiful Pune, once flourishing with trees and bungalows is slowly converting to high rises, has crazy traffic and becoming commercialised. What’s not changed is the afternoon siesta times for some shops to remain closed and once reopened staying open till 9pm or so. Most people own a 2 wheeler in Pune and that makes commute so much easier, though crowded and busy. So life here is pretty much relaxed and hectic and interesting.
In London some shops start by 9amand close by 6pm. Again timings in summer for few differ with them remaining open for longer. What’s interesting is the accessibility and infrastructure in London which is pretty impressive and with a decent income one can live well here. On the flip side though, most of the items are imported from various countries so the post brexit transition will be an interesting one! Also demand for our “Indian” products is high and many of the things we take for granted in India be it spices, masalas, Ayurveda to simple mangoes is restricted to “Indian recognised Wembley or southhall stores.” I have seen gunny sacks with vegetables like muddy potatoes are considered to be “ordinary” in our Pune markets, while in London such sights are rare. If potatoes of this status are found, they are respected, elite, organic and highly priced. keeping different customers financial considerations in mind, supermarkets in London have the “basic” title to many of their products. Here quality is not compromised and remains affordable. Always a plus I think.
In many places, it’s all about the presentation. As they say you are paying for the idea and clever marketing. However ordinary a product is if it gets spruced up and presented well, you have a win win!
In every place, different people are different. A bit variations in thinking, mentality but overall most demand respect and give respect where it’s due. Again as in other countries, London sees the favourite cultural divide where however secular a country tries to prove itself to be, the small niggle will always remain. Understandably so, as how would we personally like if “outsiders” came in and took our jobs! Well if some of the immigrants are more qualified than local applicants for a position.. Who do u think will get hired to do the job well? That seen in occasional scribes non British residents face.
In London, there are people in the Indian communities that stick together and encourage their own community/people to progress professionally. Simultaneously, in British culture there is no favouritism (or so we believe) it’s black or white and by the book, leaving little or no room for exceptions.
Concluding, I can’t stress the importance of grandparents. Many families abroad, also in India feel that void. That’s Something that can be logistically overcome by either of them travelling to the other. It’s a matter of choices one makes and ultimately how it’s managed or balanced.
I do believe, wherever in the world we remain, the Basic values of honesty, integrity, good manners and respect to name a few are important to instil, both within ourselves and our young ones.
The Dr.K.N. Bahadurji Memorial Sanatorium For Parsis at Deolali was inaugurated, and dedicated for service to the community on 15th August, 1902. It is spread over 12.5 acres of land, centrally situated on Lam Road just opposite the Agiary. The lush green compound celebrates nature at its best with a large variety of trees and plants.
There is a centrally situated Library building which consists of old heritage Parsi epics such as the Shah-Nameh, Jamaspi etc. A table tennis table and carom board is provided for those who would like to hone their skills. There is a pleasant sit-out designed on the terrace of the library building, where visitors can spend their evening in a manner most enjoyed by Parsis! The library also has an old Tower Clock which is still ticking and a Brass Bell which is rung every hour to signify the time.
On 28th Sept, 2014, as a tribute to Late Dr. K.N. Bahadurji on his 155th Birth Anniversary, the Trustees furthered the cause of dedicated service to the Senior Citizens by opening a “Doctor’s Clinic”. A Doctor visits the Clinic twice a week, examines all the Senior Citizens and is also available to the occupants residing in the Sanatorium premises.
The Clinic is equipped with the latest technology consisting of Fouler Bed, Oxy Generator, Nebulizer & Bi-pep Machine etc. kindly donated by the present Managing Trustee – Mr. Feroze D. Neterwala, in loving memory of his Late Father Mr. Dhanjishaw M. Neterwala.
The 5th edition of the Zoroastrian Return To Roots Program began in Mumbai, India today on December 19, 2018.
22 Zarathushti youth from USA, Canada, Pakistan, New Zealand and India gathered in Mumbai at the Cusrow Baug Pavilion to kick off the program.
Aban Marker-Kabraji, Co-Chair of RTR Program welcomed the RTR Fellows and briefed them about the history of the program and the ethos and principles on which the program is based. She emphasized the diversity of the program and thanked the institutional and individual donors who have put their faith in this program. Arzan Sam Wadia, Program Director of RTR briefed everyone about the upcoming daily program details over the next 15 days.
The group were given a brief history of the Cusrow Baug, Mumbai’s premier Zoroastrian housing colony by Hoshang Jal, the Secretary of Cusrow Baug Pavilion.
Homi Gandhi, President of FEZANA spoke of FEZANA’s commitment as a MoU partner in supporting RTR as an institutional partner.
The participants then made their way to the legendary Britannia for a scrumptious Parsi meal and a personal meeting with its equally legendary owner Boman Kohinoor.
Later in the afternoon, RTR Fellows were welcomed at Madison World, India’s premier advertising and marketing agency headed by the dynamic father-daughter duo of Sam Balsara and Lara Balsara. Here the Fellows got a masterclass in entrepreneurship, media, advertising and a detailed deep-dive in the story behind the hugely successful ad campaign for Jiyo Parsi.
Over the next two weeks Fellows will travel to Pune, Nargol, Sanjan, Udvada, Navsari and Surat before returning to Mumbai for the return leg.
As is customary, all the pre-planning leading up to this day and the daily logistics of the trip is run by RTR Alumni who come back year on year, to continue the program. Zubin Gheesta and Sheherazad Pavri from Mumbai, Kayras Irani from Auckland, Tanya Hoshi from Toronto and Cyrus Karanjia from Karachi are the alumni who will be assisting with the running of the program
Trail Blazers India, as RTR’s logistics partners since inception were represented by Hutokshi Marker, CEO and Kurush Charna, CTO who will travel with the group for the entire duration.