Love books? Top ten places to travel to!
From Tolkien's Middle Earth to Shantaram's Mumbai -- these are places you've read about in books. Now visit them!
In the movie Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen's protagonist finds himself travelling through time to the golden era of American literature, rubbing shoulders with his favourite authors and taking notes from the great Gertrude Stein.
Now, we may not be able to travel back in time like Allen's character but that place mentioned in your favourite book isn't such a bad idea, is it?
There are some cities that simply lend themselves to great stories. Mumbai is one such city. Immortalised in several novels, the colour and mood of the city was best captured most recently in Shantaram.
Written by Gregory David Roberts, a convicted bank robber who escaped from an Australian prison, made the slums in south Mumbai his home and turned his experiences into a book, Shantaram paints a vivid picture of the city that never sleeps.
If you want to tour the places mentioned in the book, fear not! Kishore Khare whose mother gave Roberts the name that made him famous -- Shantaram -- offers you his services in an air-conditioned cool cab for a small price.
Image: A man jumps in the air to hit a ball as people play cricket by the beach with an improvised stick for a bat and a piece of wood for wickets in Mumbai.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
Follow in on Lisbeth Sandler's footsteps in Stockholm
Stockholm tour operators haven't let go of the opportunity to make a quick buck following the stupendous success of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Guided tours take you through sites mentioned Larsson's dark books and follow in on the footsteps of his protagonists, Lisbeth Sandler and Mikael Blomkvist.
Image: An exterior view of Storkyrkan, the Stockholm cathedral
Photographs: Bob Strong/Reuters
Embrace the warmth of the Punekars
Through a collection of nine interlinked stories set in Poona (now Pune), Farrukh Dhondy's Poona Company narrates the tales of a set of disparate young men as they cope with what life throws in their direction.
In a style that is reminiscent of the Marathi author PL Deshpande, Dhondy's book and indeed his characters are funny, memorable and so very human you cannot help but notice that lump in your throat as you bid them goodbye on the last page.
Surely, the Pune of today is no longer what has been described in the book (published in 1980). But pockets of the city remain unchanged -- the Irani cafes, the temples and the heritage buildings still hark back to a time gone by -- and the charm of the city that's now pretty much an extended suburb of Mumbai still remains, its people (called Punekars) as quirky and warm and welcoming as ever.
Image: Shaniwar Wada -- Pune's iconic landmark
Photographs: Ramakrishna Reddy/Wikimedia Creative Commons
Tolkien's Middle Earth comes alive in New Zealand
No other country loves books the way New Zealand loves The Lord of the Rings (LOTR). It remains the only nation that has so brilliantly harnessed the potential of a book series to its advantage.
After having shot in New Zealand, The Lord of the Rings series has provided a steady source of income to the country through tourism.
Middle Earth (setting of Tolkien's saga) comes alive on a private farmland near Matamata in the North Island of New Zealand.
You can take a guided two-hour tour of the set from LOTR and the Hobbit trilogy and witness first-hand the venue where Tolkien's vision was brought to life.
Image: New Zealand's Hobbiton that has become immensely famous with Lord of the Rings fame as 'the place where hobbits live'.
Photographs: Krishna Badireddi
See Sikkim through the eyes of Kiran Desai
Set at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga, Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss tells the tale of a retired judge and his orphaned granddaughter, Sai. Through them, Desai eloquently depicts Sikkim reflecting on its beauty and spirituality.
Sikkim, like everything else, has changed drastically since the time the novel was published (in 2006). And the beautiful state recently topped the Lonely Planet list of best regions to visit in the world in 2014. That's one more (of the many) reasons to visit this gem of a destination.
Image: A view of Gangtok, Sikkim
Photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com
Unlock the Da Vinci Code in Paris
Who doesn't love a bit of mystery right? Add a best-selling novel (and a superhit film) to the list and you have a tourist manager's wet dream come true.
Follow Professor Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu's heart-stopping trail courtesy the several tours that take you the various landmarks from The Da Vinci Code.
Image: The Pyramide of the Louvre Museum designed by IM Pei is seen in Paris, France.
Photographs: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Explore the Kerala of The God of Small Things
Set in Aymanam in the Kottayam district of Kerala, Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things explores the wondrous state and the quirks of its society.
Visit the backwaters of Kerala, or (its few remaining) virgin beaches or simply trek up the mountains and spend your time in a tea or coffee estate with a book by your side. God's Own Country has something to offer for everyone.
Photographs: Bimal KC/Wikimedia Creative Commons
Chug along Hogwarts Express in Scotland
Scotland, believed to have been the source of inspiration for JK Rowling's books, is a wonderful place to visit even if you aren't a Potter fan.
If however you know your Avada Kedavra from your Confundo, a trip on the famous Hogwarts Express is a must. Hogwarts… what you ask?
Yep! The Jacobite steam train made popular as the Hogwarts Express courtesy the movies, operates between Fort William in the Scottish Highlands and Mallaig and chugs over the now-iconic 21-arch single track Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Image: The iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct
Photographs: Nicolas/Wikimedia Creative Commons
Experience Orwell's 1984 in North Korea
North Korea may not exactly be your typical tourist destination but the totalitarian state probably comes pretty close to George Orwell's finest books 1984.
Ruled by the Kim family, Big Brother-style surveillance isn't uncommon in North Korea and citizens must promise unwavering allegiances to its leaders.
Tourism in North Korea is a controlled and choreographed affair and it is compulsory to have a guide with you at all times and you are not permitted to travel beyond the designated tour areas without your guide.
North Korea's most popular (and also perhaps humiliating) tourist attractions are the Mass Games that are a spectacularly choreographed set of drill practices that celebrate among other things the nation's despotic leaders.
The Mass Games are in Lonely Planet's most recent list of 'sites to make you feel small'.
Image: In North Korea, Big Brother is always watching you! Seen here is the portrait of 'Eternal President' Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Photographs: Feng Li/Getty Images
Look for clues in Sherlock's London
Ok so it's a fictional address and the Sherlock Holmes Museum is isn't located on 221B Baker Street (it is located between 237 and 241) but surely that shouldn't stop you from visiting the iconic street that was home to Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson.
While the museum itself has several Holmes memorabilia including his study that overlooks Baker Street (and the 17 steps that lead from the hallway to the study) and is a must-visit, there are several tours mushroomed thanks to the BBC television series and the Hollywood movie franchise that will take you through various locations of Sherlock's London.
Image: Photo showing the address as 221B beside the location of the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London
Photographs: Jordan/Wikimedia Creative Commons