Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Great Indian Road Trip - 1 [Delhi- Kishengarh- Udaipur- Ahmedabad-Delhi]

The best way to learn and discover about a country is by measuring it by feet or by road. Given the love for travel and the amount of learning that it offers, me and my husband usually do a long roadtrip every year squeezing out time over the long weekends and sometime even taking official call in the car parked under tree. :)
This time around we decided to head out of Delhi not knowing which direction to take. Given the good condition of roads in Rajasthan, we headed towards Jaipur starting around mid day. Reached Kishengarh and decided to take a halt overnight in one of the 1859 havelli turned into hotel. The hotel is quite serene and beautiful and one of the few good heritage properties on the stretch. We started our day and headed towards destination Udaipur. The road to Udaipur is well constructed and usually a pleasant drive. There is a short stretch between Kishengarh and Beawar which is under construction and single lane leading to slow drive. The way onwards is quite interesting, specially the way it starts panning out into mountains and city of lakes.  The small towns on the way are basic and studded with temples and roadside economy. People are helpful in general and incase you are fond of anything coming off street. You can get all kind of things to try, freshly cut radish, peanuts, roadside chaat, rajastani dahi bade and mewar kulfi. So, don't forget to keep enjoying the real India while on your way.
There is a road stretch of about 50 odd kilometres which is drive up/into the lake city Udaipur. The serene mountains give a feel of wonder and amazement if you were really in the land of sand dunes. Local people are quite friendly and pleasing. You cover the mountain way up to reach a wonder land. We headed straight to the fateh sagar lake to see the wonderful palace right in the middle of lake. The palace is a 5 star hotel, leaving the lake's periphery for general public to enjoy. The walk around the lake takes you to some real lone and beautiful places and gives a complete 360 degree view of the beauty. Having enjoyed the serenity of the lake from a quite corner, we headed to pichola lake, a tip to city palace (from outside) and then a round around the city. We then decided to head further into Gujarat and see how the land of lakes transition kilometre by kilometre into new culture and life.
Ahmedabad touched our heart with simplicity, the city still has value for money. A visit to Sabarmati ashram and how well the river has been kept and developed is must do. It was time to give ourselves the gujarati food treat and we decided on thali buffet at sasu ji.. the food was finger licking. We took a way off to visit the Sabarmati bank and decided to start our journey backward..

A great journey, where nature transitions from sand dunes to lakes to simplicity of plains. By the end of the journey, I could only think that ours is not a nation of one culture, one caste or one king. It is the diversity , co existence and wealth of nature that makes India and on every road that we drove, every city that we passed by and every stranger that we talked to was written a story of survival and optimism. Before you head out of India, do give your own country a chance to mersmerize you, but look at it with your eyes and lens.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Delhi Food Diaries - Priya PVR

Delhi is a city of color and vibrance. It throws all kind of options to its residents to live and create memories. Some of the fondest memories of this city are around the street food or local joints which have gained their popularity by food, pricing or simplicity. We are here to explore the unknowns which suited our pocket money as students and which still suits our taste buds and want for heart to heart service and simplicity that India stands for. As my husband fondly calls it "Local Optima".
This time around we decided to dedicate our sunday evening exploring the food at Krips restaurant in Priya complex. It has the old dhaba feel and its rate card tries to keep its words with growing complexity of options and decor all around. What we were looking for was simple food - Chawal, Rajma and tandoori roti. The place stood upto to our expectation and promise. Food was simple and tasty. All in all a place worth trying. Dont forget to try the meetha pan on the entry of Priya PVR. This will be a perfect ending to a wonderful evening of youth and true Delhi experience.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The queen of mountains - Mussorie

Yep, this wasn't my first trip.. Mussorie has been a destination for summers since childhood, but this time it was with a new friend called husband.. While descending from Lansdowne, we decided to explore Uttarakhand more and hence drove to the old crowded favourite. The drive uphill is easy and hence going to mussorie is safe and quick as compared to what it used to be few years back. We decided to stay in Padmini Palace hotel in there. This is a well constructed, old victorian style hotel and has a room which is constructed on top of the valley with 3 way view from the room. The hotel has pleasing ambience and good service, the location is accessible to all the key visiting points. Some of the points i noticed about the city were, that it was too crowded and commercialised as compared to what it used to be. Positive side is that it is a place where you can spend more time as life is comfortable and you have many options to explore and spend time. Like some of the places to try good food apart from the usual street side food :P, The meeting Point - this is a very small and old roadside Tibetian eating joint. The meeting point is very tastefully decorated with wall writing, graffitti and offers limited but tasty range of tibetian food. Do try the honey- ginger tea if you happen to visit the same. A bit farther on mall is lovely omlette shop, i dont eat eggs, but my husband found it impressive. It is more about the way the small shop has evolved to be hot favourite of so many people; what really touched me was the humiltiy of the owner and his motto to make the best and purest; just like me, he dsnt eat eggs; so he really does not what what the world drools over tastes like. :)

Apart from this, mussorie has many walking trails like, camel back, kempty falls, usual walk on the mall and various restaurants including the Nirulas', Dominos and CCDs of the world. What you can not miss is the corn cob, the roadside pakodas and momos when you need a quick bite. All in all, a comfortable hill station with more than enough to do and many options for foodies. Dont look for simplicity in people and keep your eyes and ears open..

The Untouched Beauty of Uttarakhand - Lansdowne

Ever wondered what is untouched mountain beauty ?? Whats so special about simple people and not having many luxuries to indulge in.. Here is a place to explore.. Lansdowne in Uttarakhand is a millatary training area, amidst pristine hills and a very small market square with limited material life.. My husband and me decided to visit the place and booked a stay in Blue Pine resort around 5 kms before Lansdowne. We drove for around 6-7 hours from delhi and reached at the day settled in for evening. Our first reaction to the place was silent and dull, not many luxuries.. We negotiated our way to the room on hill top, initially the ascend up looked very difficult to us but we braved it and the view from room's terrace more than covered up for it.. We were amidst mountains.. We asked a question to attendant, "Surendra, yaha koi ata hai?".. "haan sahab, subah chidiya ata hai.. ".. :D He wasn't joking, he meant what he said, his simplicity touched us and we settled into the peace and purity that the place had to offfer, what added the experience was the brilliant food that came our way, neatly so, one of the best food served; not many options, but what was in menu was prepared by the recipie every bit.. Our terrace had brilliant view of the balcony and at few meters ascend one could see the snow tip. We managed to sneak out to the city, visited the market square to taste the momos and local food. We managed to make a visit to the view point, which wasnt greatly hyped about, a very small and beautiful lake where one could spend some time walking up and experiencing the city. Manage a few walking trails to view the mountain life and visit a few temples. All in all, a place to get away from city hassle, but make sure you visit it during the weekday, weekends might be different with resorts all full as the stories had it.. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Travels 2012 - The Turkish Delight

It was a long awaited holiday after one long year and absolutely worth the wait. This year i decided to visit Istanbul. As i stepped in the city, i could feel the culture and warmth of people. I knew i was in for a non verbal connect for next 7 days as i dint know Turkish, but something told me i will be fine. I started with figuring out my way with public transport as thats the key to any travel i do in key cities of Europe. It is through this connect that i get the real feel of people, culture and facilities in a city. I had booked a hotel in the center of the city, the famous Sultanehmet. The square which houses the hagia sophia, blue mosque and many other monuments which stand as a testimoney to harmony and strategic importance of the city which stands on two continents. Yes, this is the only city in the world to be located on two continents Europe and Asia and owns the shortest path which connects the two continents.
So, i figured out that trams and metros cover the city from all angles and also found that it is pretty much what i will need to cover my travel plan for the week. I bought the tokens and boarded the tram to my hotel. My hotel was pleasant and its being in the center helped as i could watch the beauty of the city till wee hours and could experience the tourist buzz and good food after long days of exploration. My day started with Hagia Sophia which stands splendid with its huge dome and some preserved wall and cut stone crafts. I moved on to see the topkapi palace which houses some of the rare jewels, islamic precious and thrones which i found particularly interesting. What i could not help noticing was the importance of stones, turquoise color, flower based carvings all over. This seemed to be key to turkish art and existence along with the honor of hosting one of the world's richest cuisine. The center of the city thrives on tourism with corn, local turkish bread, the doldurma( ice cream) man all running into their routine to greet and meet the strange new faces everyday. Interestingly, quite a few would not know english or any other language commonly used in europe, but this does not come in the way. My day ended with walking past a street where people will woo you to their restaurants by holding you on street and showing you the menu. Yes, the food business here is quite competitive. I finally managed to make a choice to try the mezze platter which sort of became staple for me in turkish food given that i am veg.
I went on to see blue mosque, experienced the bosophorous cruise both day and night time as i love water and sea over follwoing days. The coming days also saw me walking through the grand bazar and spice bazar which host the colorful and vibrant turkish porcelain art. It happnes to be the world's oldest shopping mall with 200 + shops. What you will find in abundance in turkey is fruits and dry fruits, this shows how food endowed is the nation with thriving farming. Not only this, if you happen to cross galata bridge you will see trail of people fishing for the restaurants serving fish by the bosophorus. This happens to be one of the must eat and must try spots for fish lovers. I also happned to visit the prince's islands which is an hour's ferry ride from Istanbul. The island boasts of culture and beauty and probably a spot to spend some time peacefully by some silent corner near the sea. This is the place where i made friends with a lady who happened to talk me through the transition of culture and modernity in turkish society, about how women here have made choices and are free to do so. This country definitely boasts or tolerance and growth in every way. May be the talk i had with this lady in island or my sign language talk with an old man by bosophorus, it all showed that poeple here have a heart larger than life and mind that looks forward. If you happen to change upon it, do not forget to taste Kampir, which is baked potato full of salad of your choice. Well, i dint know turkish, but that dint come my way.. We talked.. All my travels teach me one thing, there is something very local about every country and its people, but there is one thing which connects all, curiosity to know and find the human connect.. You will find this in abundance in Turkey.. It is absolutely lovely and one of its kind where modernity blends so well with culture.. :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Life so far in 2012..
It was an interesting weekend, yes, a weekend after rather long time; when i explored something new. I have been neck deep into some work or other. 2012 seems to be the most unwritten year of my life so far. Dont know i like it or not, it seems i did not even have time to make that judgement. Lots of people visited London and lots of them left. I just realized i have become more and more mechanical about everything in life; i dont feel good , bad, happy, sad. I dont complain about many things and i dont resist or try to stop or change anything either. Somehow my mind has evolved to accept everything, i dont ask too many questions. I dont like too many things, i dont hate too many things, i dont want too many things either. The year so far has not got much to be talked about. I did some walks around the London city to learn about the history and culture. The poets, the architects, the authors, the plague, the fire insurance firms, the industrial town and the story behind when lion drinks, london sinks, the lovely hampstead village.. Made some good friends during the walks. I learned that world is a small place yet again, when i met some complete strangers who happned to be the post grad college mates of my grad room mate and how one connection led to other. :) I tried some good food: Must try: Turkish coffee and nice ambience -- Kahve Dunyasi, La pain Quotidien - I love the ambience and woody look, maroush on edware road, Manna for sunday roast and chef's special salad, la parel for mexican, chai roti for good indian food and ofcourse my fav boba milk near shaftesbury avenue.. there were revists to wales, burmingum and a short trip to leicester.. i watched my first opera in royal albert hall ( i dint like it much, its artistic but boring), and flamingo dance in stadler wells, which was good, then also a show on royal symphony orchestra in barbican center which was good.. but no, i have not managed to go to turkey and norway yet, this is on my priority list for the year. I dont know if i like 2012 so much.. It did not start so well and summers are not as bright.. PS: i dont even feel like writing anymore..

Monday, December 26, 2011

Confessions of a shopaholic.. :P

Yep, this is not essentially something which will help me get rid of my guilt, but nevertheless i need to give it a go somewhere. So, i am a proud owner of some of the nicest dresses in London. Why? I dont know, i liked them. How? i have no idea, i just thought they looked good and i should wear them sometime , someday; so why not buy them and squeeze into my almirah.. With whom?? I havent figured out yet, but may be dinner with special friends where i will have to force everyone to come well dressed, so that i could dress up.. But the fact of life is, i love them.. i have worn them 20 times since morning and am happy to wear and show them to anyone who asks me to do so.. :P
One of the dresses is black in color and other is red from neck to knee.. and then there is another black print frock which is out of the world simple and beautiful.. apart from this i also have a net top and a black JC frock which i thought i would return, only to be stopped by a friend, "No, this is too good, just keep it.." "Ok, if this is meant for me, it cant go anywhere.. :P".. havent checked my bank balance yet, but then i dont want to; those numbers dont mean a thing to me, these colors mean so much to me.. i dont even want to keep them in my almirah, i am going to have them all around me so that i could wake up from my sleep and see them.. :) I will also have to buy a red shoe else i can not wear the red dress.. some more tasks at hand before i reach there.. :)

Thank you God for giving me all these clothes today.. I know that not always can you buy what you like and you need to put a limit to everything.. I just wanted to do it today and i think i will stay low profile for next 6 months..