The year of jet-setting

The year of jet-setting

Puneeth RajKumar, Actor

If there was one destination that I really loved visiting in 2015, it was Cannes. It was a family holiday and we were on a cruise. Cannes was a stopover that was almost like a gem waiting to be discovered. It was a beautiful experience as it is a small city with lovely weather, restaurants and people. And despite the onslaught of tourists, I felt that the city retains a class of its own.

Cannes has numerous restaurants that dot the beach, making it the perfect place to unwind. Moreover, it is only an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Monte Carlo, so it’s a great place to holiday. If you visit the place during the famous film festival, you will not only get to watch some good international cinema, but also see a lot of filmmakers and actors here.

We went to Cannes in May and the weather was just right — it was cool and not too cold. I intend to go back soon and this time I plan to hire a car and explore more. I think France is one of the nicest places to holiday like the rest of Europe, and this place really appealed to my senses. Also, I must specifically mention that the French food served in many of the themed restaurants here is an absolute must-try.

I think the best way to discover this cute little beach town is by walking around, shopping and eating, feeling the local vibe, which is great fun.

It’s hard to point out what I liked best about the place, but I guess it is a combination of everything I have said about the place that made me connect to Cannes.


SONAKSHI SINHA, Actress

My most enjoyable holiday in 2015 was easily the vacation I had on my own in Maldives, where I clubbed the break after a photo-shoot that was done there. Why was it my top favourite break among the vacations I had this year? Simply because I love water! I am passionate about diving and I have resolved that some day I will get a diver’s certificate.
The best thing about Maldives is that it is the best place to enjoy water. I swam to my heart’s content and indulged in snorkelling. The beaches there have the most amazing and clean waters you can hope to find anywhere.

I was right there in a different universe — the underwater world. There I was, swimming with the dolphins and the turtles besides the fish. And it was so soothing as well as exciting that I would not come out sometimes for five to six hours at a stretch.

As I said, I love water, I love travelling, and I am crazy about photography, so when I came back, I put up a lot of pictures on Instagram. My dream now is to go to our own Andaman and Nicobar Islands which, I have been told, is equally amazing for water lovers like me.

Ricky Kej, Musician

Dharamsala. The first place that comes to my mind is this. The trip was basically a work visit in October for three days, and it turned out to be a blissful, thought-provoking and enlightening experience.

My latest album, Shanti Samara, is about environmental consciousness. For recording its tunes, I thought I needed some Buddhist influence. So I, along with my team, got in touch with the Sherabling Monastery to seek their permission for our stay there. The monastery was beautiful. There were ice-capped mountains when we looked out of its windows. And the air! The air was very, very pure. They served us vegetarian fare — nutritious, simple and delicious.

Actually, the stay inside the monastery during the first two nights was a little unnerving because of the dead silence. The extreme kind anyone can imagine. I had trouble falling asleep. It required some getting used to. I realised I had to give in to the whole atmosphere to enjoy it.

We recorded music both in the monastery’s huge prayer hall and in nature. The mike picked up sounds of birds’ chirping, monks’ chanting. The music turned out to be excellent with natural elements.

The trip was also inspirational because of the conversations with the monks — about philosophy, about nature, and how man needs to live in co-existence with nature. The monks lead a different life, living practically in the middle of nowhere. They seemed happier than us.

Shriya Saran, Actress

I recently visited New York, Paris and Rome along with my family. I loved it there. Paris is stunning and Rome is romantic. They are small, warm, cosy places where you can wander throughout the day in their narrow bylanes, looking at small shops.

Paris is glamorous. It has boutiques from almost all fashion brands. You can spend hours and days just window-shopping at these boutiques.

If you get tired of fashion, Paris is also steeped in history. Apart from the Eiffel Tower, there is the lovely Louvre Museum with its unbelievable collection of paintings, sculptures and other objets d’art. One visit isn’t enough. You need days to view the exhibits. Then just outside the city is the Palace of Versailles. The history and the architecture are absolutely captivating. We were mesmerised by the Hall of Mirrors.

From Paris we flew to Rome, which is equally beguiling. Every feet of the cobbled streets of Rome has its own history. The city, which is over 2,000 years old, is home to several historic sites including the Vatican, Colosseum, and of course, the Trevi Fountain where one makes a wish.

Apart from these historic places, I enjoyed binging on pizzas and gelatos. You just can’t have enough of them. I stopped counting calories while savouring these local delicacies. 
The best part of these two cities is that both the days and nights are equally enchanting. I can honestly say that no film has ever done full justice to both these places.

Tarun Tahiliani, Designer

I’ve always been crazy about Africa. It’s probably the last and only untamed destination I’ve been to, both for its game and, more importantly, the people, who till now have lived in tandem with the rhythm of the land. The horizon seems wider; the sky belongs to a bigger globe.

I will never forget the feeling I had while walking up and looking down into Gorongosa. Since I’ve always been crazy about the humble handmade authenticity of tribal artefacts, this continent is a treasure trove of creativity and ingenuity. I’ve driven for days, flown hundreds of miles through untamed Africa on microlights, and landed when cold, on land with wild horses. This is how it all began. It summed up in a few words of my brilliant writer friend Adam Levine who talks of being sick of drumming on dark disco floors and foraging in supermarket shelves, and his longing to walk where he turns the tar road back to dust and his dogs can run wild and free. That’s Africa for me.

When it comes to travelling within India, one can never get enough of Rajasthan. The arid desert landscape set against the backdrop of the Aravalis is a perfect setting for the vivacious colours that pervade every aspect of life in Rajasthan. The muted golds and browns of the shifting sands of Sam and the cool blue waters of the lakes in Udaipur are in absolute harmony with the arts, crafts and architecture of this region. From swirling gathered skirts, pleated kedeos, myriad embroideries and varied use of inks and dyes in block prints and kalamkari patterns — Rajasthan is a repository that can be drawn upon and used to perfection in contemporary designs. The painted havelis of Shekhawat, the miniature paintings from Kishengarh, Mewar or Deogarh and the wall art on rural huts or sandstone carvings on fort and palace walls — it is like being in an open air art gallery that houses masterpieces in every corner.

To me, Rajasthan is the storehouse of the world’s finest traditions that co-exist with the rapid urbanisation and hectic pace of today’s world.

KRITI SANON, Actress

My favourite holiday in 2015 was when I went to Malaysia — and later Singapore — in June. I was invited to the IIFA Awards in Malaysia with my entire family — my parents and sister Nupur. This was my first holiday with my family in almost six years. Since I began studying Engineering, there had been no opportunities to go out together.

I was even more excited because it was the first holiday I was taking with them abroad, and especially because Nupur had never gone out of India before.

The fact that I won the award, and my entire family was there to see me receive it, was the icing on the cake! We then clubbed it with a vacation in Singapore. And Singapore was so exciting! We went to all the tourist sites — Sentosa, Night Safari, Universal Studios among them — but Nupur and I really freaked out shopping there.

The venues and sights and everything else were like a bonus. What was significant and memorable about this trip was the fact that we were together after a long time as a family. And we just enjoyed being with each other!

Sidharth Malhotra, Actor

My dad was in the Merchant Navy and every summer we would get a chance to see him on the ship. That’s how I started travelling. I thought I had seen and experienced some of the best of places across the world, but I was wrong. Little did I know that New Zealand would be a trip of many firsts for me!

New Zealand offered me my first skydiving experience. I also walked on the perimeter of Southern Hemisphere’s tallest building at a staggering height of 192 metres above the skyline, played cricket on a glacier with New Zealand cricket legends, met New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to discuss Bollywood, rugby, and more; visited a 2,000-year-old tree Tane Mahuta in my quest to learn more about the Maori culture.

Tane Mahuta in the Waipoua forest in Northland region of New Zealand is important to the Maori people. The name of the tree means ‘Lord of the Forest’. It is the largest of the Kauri variety and has a real towering presence. I even got a temporary traditional Maori moko (tattoo) inked on my forearm.

In a short span, I experienced the warmth and hospitality of Kiwis, who welcome you with open arms in their lives. One of the best aspects of the country is that travellers can experience hospitality across the region. I was also happy to meet many Indians during my trip. Indians are one of the largest ethnic groups in New Zealand, with Hindi being the fourth most widely spoken language in the country!

Ritu Kumar, Designer

I have been travelling a lot as a designer to several places around the world. I feel the happiest when my travel takes me to places where I can interact with the local craftsmen of the region.

One of the most memorable trips that I undertook this year was a road journey through the regions of Kutch and Gujarat. I was asked to be on a jury to evaluate the work of young craftspeople from Kutch. After spending two days in the region, we travelled by road to the small town of Patan. This has an interesting world heritage monument, a stepwell Rani ki Vav, built in 1063 AD. It is still as alluring as it must have been before. Next in this region that was of great interest to me was one of the most intricate weaving traditions of double Ikat, being done till today by the master weavers, the family of Salvis of the famous Patola weaves.

We then visited Radhanpur. The centre where a little museum has been set up in the midst of Ahir and Rabari villages, some 15,000 women work on embroideries in the region. We studied the work that we had initiated there and met the most colourfully dressed women of the area.

A road trip took us to Ahmedabad, where we visited the Calico Museum set up in 1949 by industrialist Gautam and his sister Gira Sarabhai. A visit to this museum of the most incredible textiles of India is a delight and a must for art and fashion lovers. A most exciting discovery of a forgotten region of this desert country was truly memorable.

Sanjna Kapoor, Theatre personality

The magic of Ruaha National Park, Tanzania’s largest national park, cannot be captured in words. Luckily, we managed to capture some of it in photographs. My husband, son and I were fortunate to have spent 19 days this summer in the remote and off-the-beaten-track Kwihala Camp in the midst of Ruaha.

The Ruaha lions are famous for their ability to bring down large prey like elephants and giraffe. I was not sure if this was a sight I really wanted to witness. And this is what I prayed ‘not to see’! We managed to witness amazing beauty and excitement. From the spine-chilling thrill of sipping our morning coffee in pitch darkness at 5 am and being greeted by the crunching of bones by a pride of lions less than 15 feet from our tent, to the near-escape of a puff adder from being trampled by my ‘gruffalo’ feet on one of my walks. And, on another walk, I had a close encounter with a herd of wild elephants, and a few minutes later, followed by mating lions! The thrills were endless. To top it all were the incredible baobab trees. The baobab forests displayed these graceful giants in all their individuality and brilliance. They looked like dervishes dancing out their ancient memories under the magnificent African sky.

Apart from the rugged landscape with its beautiful rocky outcrops that got lit superbly by the setting sun, it was the endless crossing of the animals over the Mwagusi Sand River that made this part of the national park so attractive.


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