For the Gadling Photo of the Day, we like to feature a variety of photographers both amateur and professional, to show the range of great travel photos: from the “lucky shot,” to the cellphone pic, to the well-timed and set-up image. Some people just have a great eye, and sometimes more importantly, great access. Today’s Photo of the Day is another amazing one from Flickr user arunchs in India, backstage before a Kathakali performance. Kathakali is a traditional dance-drama from Kerala, known for the colorful, almost mask-like make-up, what we see being applied here. The performers look so casual in this candid, behind-the-scenes shot; it’s hard to imagine the stylized show they are about to put on. It’s not something you’d see every day, it took both special access and a good eye for composition and timing.
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[Photo credit: Arun Bhat]
Places of worship have long been points of interest for travelers. Solemn and usually quite ornate, these buildings provide a window onto a community’s history and values and often give visitors a much-needed pause while pounding the sightseeing pavement. Cathedrals are typical for this kind of touring. But have you ever thought to pay a visit to a synagogue?
My fascination with exploring synagogues began on a trip to Willemstad, Curaçao, home of Mikvé Israel-Emanuel, the oldest active Jewish congregation in the Americas built in 1651. Several years later, I had the opportunity to visit the Paradesi Synagogue in Cochin, Kerala, India. Constructed in 1568, it is the oldest “active” synagogue in India – “active” because there are fewer than 20 Jews left in Cochin, most having emigrated to Israel. Coincidentally, I learned about the Jews of Cochin from an exhibit at the 6th and I Synagogue, a historic synagogue in Washington, DC, that is now used primarily as a community center and arts space.
The Jewish diaspora is thriving in many parts of the world. Yet in places like Cochin and Mumbai, the local Jewish community is dwindling, giving impetus to visiting some synagogues before they are shuttered or left to become museums. The following are some of the synagogues I have seen or wish to explore on my travels.
Frommer’s has just released their list of what they think will be the top destinations for 2010. Culled from the suggestions of industry insiders and readers, the list covers every continent, meandering from India to Hawaii, Argentina to Vietnam. Along with listing each place, Frommer’s has also given reasons why each one should be on your list of destinations for the coming year.
How accurate is the list? Last year, the top destinations predicted for 2009 included Washington, DC; Cartagena, Colombia; Istanbul; Cape Town; and Berlin, all of which were popular with tourists, as they have been for several years. Including Berlin may have been a no-brainer. As the 20th anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall took place this year, of course the city would be well-visited. Other locations predicted to be hotspots have remained in relative obscurity. How many people do you know who went to Waiheke Island (New Zealand) or followed the Civil Rights Trail in Alabama?
2010’s list will probably be equally hit and miss when it comes to predicting the hot spots for the year. Included on the list is the Big Island of Hawaii, which I recently visited. Frommer’s says the Big Island has everything you need but still retains an untouched feel, and I completely agree.
But other destinations might not rise to the top of many travelers’ lists. Frommer’s says Mexico City will be big in 2010, but unfortunately the city may still suffer from the after-effects of swine flu paranoia. Cuba, another location on the list, isn’t open to Americans yet, but may see an increase in tourists from other countries. And lesser-known destinations, like Kerala, India; Tunisia; and the Isles of Scilly in England may see a boost in tourism thanks to the publicity they receive from the list.
Located in Thalipuzha, Vythiri, Wayanad, Kerala, South India, the Green Magic Nature Resort is nestled among 500 acres of tropical rainforest among coffee, tea, cardamom and pepper plantations. This dedicated eco-lodge — handcrafted from local materials by local artisans — features several tree houses rising 90+ feet above the forest floor. Built in giant banyan trees, access to the tree houses is via indigenous elevator: made of cane, the elevator rises and lowers in conjunction with a water counter-weight. Hope your bags are small.
Though the facilities are somewhat basic, the tree houses feature double beds with an attached bathroom that overlooks the canopy and features glorious sunsets. Food is prepared from fruits and veggies grown in an organic farm without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Want to know more about this all-natural getaway in remote India? Check out Palm Land Tours or read the trip report in Travel Intelligence, which also has a small photo gallery. For more images, check out redjar’s Flickr set.