Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
Mother and child take a break from walking under a blistering sun at the Red Fort of Agra in Agra, India

Click on title to view photo in large format. I’d spent the morning walking around the Red Fort of Agra, one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Agra, India. The sun beat down mercilessly, but I soldiered on, driven by astonishment over the staggering architecture of the Fort. My jaw dropped open at the entrance, a towering red sandstone arch covered in magnificent carvings. It was just a tiny taste of what lay within the soaring walls of the 16th century fortress. Read More

The bus braked suddenly, jolting me awake. I blinked rapidly, trying to reconcile the scene outside my window. Somewhere between Agra and Delhi, India, hundreds of sheep crossing the highway had brought us to a dead stop. Slender women draped from head to toe in black gauze walked gracefully among the animals, prodding them with wooden staffs. Ever so slowly, the bleating flock meandered to the opposite side and we resumed our journey.

Woman in a village near Delhi India makes patties from cow and buffalo dung and sells them for use as fertilizer and fuel

Woman in a village near Delhi, India makes patties from cow and buffalo dung and sells them for use as fertilizer and fuel

I was amused but not surprised. After eight days in Delhi, nothing shocked me. Raw sewage ran down the center of dirt lanes where houses had no access to water or proper sanitation. Women sat by the roadside pounding cow and buffalo dung into patties for use as fuel and fertilizer. Men urinated against walls in public places. Carry-wallahs toted enormous loads on their backs from one end of the city to another. And everywhere, every moment, men hawked food and merchandise from Lilliputian storefronts that lined the roads. Read More

Dignified elderly man poses for me at Fatehpur Sikri Palace in Agra, India

Click on title to view photo in large format. I turned a corner during my visit to the Fatehpur Sikri Complex and found this stately gentleman. He sat up straight, smoothed out his tunic, and motioned for me to take a photo. He seemed the perfect ambassador for the two-mile square site, where red sandstone buildings were adorned with some of the most exquisite, elaborate carvings I have ever seen.

Fatehpur Sikri was built by Emperor Akbar and served as capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585. Akbar abandoned the site in 1585 when Read More

Young men relax on the grounds of the Hauz Khas Archeological Site in South Delhi, India

Click on title to view photo in large format. With a population of nearly 17 billion, the National Capital Territory of Delhi is the largest metropolitan area in India and the fourth largest metropolitan area in the world. Given the sheer masses of people who make Delhi their home, it might be easy to assume it is unlivable. Fortunately, however, the capital of India is also one of the greenest cities in the world. Approximately 20 percent of its geographical area is green space, and the government continues to focus on growing more trees and strictly monitoring tree cutting. Read More

There’s a lot of chatter these days about cultural immersion and authentic travel experiences. One of the best ways to have such experiences is to stay in a local home or a B&B. I’ve traveled the world for the last ten years, staying in dozens of local homes, and I can tell you with authority that not all homestay properties are created equal. Every once in a while, however, I come across a gem like Prakash Kutir Homestay in South Delhi, India.

Diwali lights adorn the front of Prakash Kutir Homestay

Diwali lights adorn the front of Prakash Kutir Homestay

I first learned about Prakash Kutir B&B/Homestay in September 2015, when owner Ajay Gupta contacted me by email:

I would here like to take this opportunity and introduce myself and my family as homestay owners in the heart of South Delhi, India which goes by the name and style – Prakash Kutir B&B – named after my father and literally meaning – “The House of Light.”We have been successfully running the accommodation for the past five years and welcoming guests from all parts of the world with open hearts into our family, making them feel at home whilst enjoying many a conversations with them over fresh home cooked Indian breakfast or a hot cup of coffee.

Ajay invited me to be a guest of his family and experience their particular brand of hospitality first hand. It took me a while to get there – more than a year, in fact. I finally boarded a Delhi-bound plane this past October, clutching my passport with its new 10-year Indian visa. Read More

Portrait of woman at Lajpat Nagar Central Market in Delhi, India

Click on title to view photo in large format. To experience the true Delhi, visit Lajpat Nagar Central Market, located at the center of the Lajpat Nagar residential neighborhood in South Delhi. The district developed during the 1950’s, as Pakistani refugees streamed in following the 1947 partition between India and Pakistan. Over time, it has evolved into one of the most sought-after communities in Delhi. Read More