lingaraj lassi bhubaneswar

My first Punjabi lassi was in Delhi in 2001. It was that shop under the tree in Ber Sarai. We had just landed in Delhi a couple of days before, I was to join Dschool and a friend had to join IIMC. We were looking for a place for him. Anyway, the lassi. It came for 15 bucks, a tall steel glass, all white with froth at top. He kept it on the counter. I waited. I had paid 15 in advance, he was not…Continue Reading “Lingaraj Lassi, Bhubaneswar”

shiraz at bangalore soma vineyards

Magic is an overworked term. Eating burgers magical, almost everything on insta is magical, having a coffee with a friend is magical. But anyway, let me not push the boundary and go with magical this once. Soma Vineyard is owned by Darby Raju and Aruna. Raju is the kite and Aruna is the nail in the ground that keeps it tied. Raju is flamboyant, a mine of information and a great host – someone you could be highfiving and hugging within an hour of meeting….Continue Reading “Bangalore Soma Vineyards – A must do in Bengaluru”

hotel maurya pinetop

On top of Nandi Hills, there is this government run restaurant. It has mixed reviews at best. It is really cheap and has brilliant views and most said it’s only the view that is good. But either my taste buds are bad or those guys are snooty. Let’s settle for them being snooty. The place is right at the top of the hill, in front of Nehru Nilaya. The food was cheap. It seems breakfast is served only on weekends and govt holidays, the menu…Continue Reading “Food at Hotel Maurya Pinetop, Nandi Hills”

For an anti-religious person, Nandi temple was something of a special place. More on that later, but how many have seen this before? Hint: It’s rudra Ganesh, not the usual rupa of Ganesh that you see but very powerful nonetheless. The lovable god that we can cuddle but what a warrior. His first showdown being with the mighty Shiva. This one is a traditional rendition of rudra ganesh. Gods have many rupas and ganesh, despite the calm demeanor and all association with prosperity, he was…Continue Reading “Rudra Ganesh, Nandi Hills”

raja rani temple odisha

I am the wrong person to write about temples. Because, I hate them. Most of them. At least, the ones with deities inside. I am indifferent to mosques and churches. Why? I have never been harassed in a mosque or hounded for money in a church. Actually, no one really cares when you are there in an Indian church. Apart from the peculiar Indian habit of leaving shoes outside, churches here are really nice, calm and friendly places. Mosques have ruled about shoes and head…Continue Reading “About Rajarani temple in odisha and a few others”

bharatpur bird sanctuary

This is a time sensitive post, in fact, an urgent one. The season is on till March and if you don’t go by then, you will have to wait another eight or nine months to see the bird mela. We entered the park around twelve in the noon and were at four thirty. In roughly four and half hours and may be going only two miles in, we had spotted more birds than we had expected in a whole trip. Let me count them out…Continue Reading “Trip to Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan”

baati at alwar dhaba

On recent trip to Alwar, we spotted this incomplete looking shack by the roadside. There was a charpai, a cooking station with a stove and a tarpaulin roof. It looked like a food place but given that no one stopped by we were not too sure. We decided to stop on the way back. It was a dhaba. The guy had nothing ready. He explained all that he could cook and how much time it would take. We decided on the dal baati in twenty…Continue Reading “Impromptu dal baati, Alwar”

bhangarh

Okay, I have to rub my hands and warm up to start this post. I personally know people who had a good time here and to some extent I did too. But if you are here to get spooked, forget it. Given that I didn’t do any research or see in photos beforehand, I was surprised by the scale of the ruin. It is not just a fort, it is a city. Coming to the scary part, if you are there on a busy weekend,…Continue Reading “Bhangarh – what’s scary is not inside the fort”

rock garden chandigarh india

Chandigarh is a good place to be in when the weather is good. If you are travelling from Delhi, Chandigarh is good for a weekend stay. Hotels usually offer good deals, there are good old and new hip places to eat at and then you can always spend the afternoons in the rock garden and spend the evenings at the Sukhna Lake. The rock garden, by the way, is not what it used to be. They are expanding the garden and now there is a…Continue Reading “Rock garden, Chandigarh”

sharma sweet shop gulab jamuns

A few days back, I got into this massive online brawl about gimmickry and marketing vis a vis substance when it comes to restaurants. A Delhi restaurant named Hotmess claimed itself to be the first aphrodisiac themed restaurant with the standard regular menu of burgers, pizzas and mezze platters and blah blahs and duhs. Paid bloggers and partisanship snuffed a debate that could have led to something. Anyway, here is me dipping a naked toe into the beehive again. A few years back, we were…Continue Reading “Sharma Sweet Shop, Amritsar and food marketing”

paan shop odisha

I was driving to Satkosia crocodile reserve and spotted this by the roadside when the traffic was slow. The name of the shop is ‘musa bhaina paana dokana’ which literally translated would mean mouse brother paan shop. Anyway, the shop looked interesting, colourful and alone under a huge tree and there was enough space to park by the roadside. So, we stopped. Apparently, the shop specializes in raja meetha paan, but that almost means nothing. Raja is a monsoon welcoming festival that lasts only three…Continue Reading “Musa bhaina paan shop, Khurda, Odisha”

mango binge in rataul

Despite all the romance about Indian summers, these are tough times. One day out in the sun and I realise I have transitioned from a village lad to a city boy. I was born and spent the initial years of my life in a thatched roof house in a village without any air coolers. In the humid coastal Odisha, they don’t work anyway. Those palm leaf handfans were all the respite that one got from the heat. From that to trying to rush from one…Continue Reading “Trip to Rataul – Discovering mangoes with Sohail Hashmi”

You don’t fall in love with hotels. They are not homes. You stay for a night and move on. Thankfully, Jaipur Inn is an inn. And, I love it. It was love at first sight. On the way back from a trip to Ajmer and Pushkar, we were tired, broken and sad. We were looking for hotels in Central Jaipur but could not make up our minds. A dear friend recommended Jaipur Inn, the same guy who had suggested Sunset Point. So, we were looking…Continue Reading “Jaipur Inn – Bani Park, Jaipur”

The dynamics of travel affect your experiences at the most basic level. Most of our countrymen know nothing of Odisha. Of the few who know know little more than Puri and Konark Sun temple. But it is not just about outsiders, many of us inside the state have not done justice to the state’s beauty too. Anyway, this preamble was needed to justify my reaction at finding this amazing place in a far off tourist destination in Odisha – Pantha Nivas at Chilika Lake. We…Continue Reading “Pantha Nivas, Rambha, Chilika Lake”

We used to have a house in Salepur, home of Bikalananda Kar rasgula, the most famous shop in Odisha. My paternal village is nearby too. The rasgulas are sweeter, the syrup thicker and they last longer due to high sugar content. My favourite ones, though, are white tiny ones from Govindpur, a place near my maternal village. Between Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, there is a small place known as Pahala. Almost fifty sweet shops on each side of the road for nearly hundred meters – this…Continue Reading “Pahala – The Rasgulla district of Odisha”

Kerala is god’s own country but that does not make it any less confusing. So many destinations, so many resorts and so many opinions. No matter what you chose, one has to go back, again and again. But each visit has to be planned carefully, so here is a little help. Thekkady is one of the scenic destinations in Kerala and Cardamom County is one of the places to be in Thekkady. Part of Raxa Collective and owned by Muthoot Group, it is bordered on…Continue Reading “Cardamom County, Thekkady”

This was on our third day in Kashmir. We had been to the mandatory sights in Pahalgam and had just come out of Verinag. The plan was to head to kokernag. Our guide was the local family friend we were staying with. Someone informed him that we could get fresh snow on Sinthan Top. Now, that’s a name that was relatively foreign even to him. So, we asked around for directions and ventured towards the the pass. It wasn’t a peak, it was a pass…Continue Reading “Sinthan Top – The hidden gem of Kashmir”

I have been to many old cities and have wondered why thousands of miles apart, they share the same characteristics. To say, they look the similar would be wrong. But there are so many common traits – Old Delhi, inner parts of Agra, old Srinagar, Lucknow and even Cuttack. There is a constant struggle between public and private space, infrastructure that’s stretched to the limits due to rising population, heritage buildings next to living encroaching one and a general sense of bemusement among the residents…Continue Reading “The Heritage walk of Old Amritsar – Part 1”

In recent past, this is the second time that we have got lucky. After two very good homestays in Chail, one of which I written exhaustively about, we got even a better turn of events in Kashmir. However, luck favours the brave. And, in this case, we had stood our ground. From the moment we booked the ticket, everything seemed to go wrong. The flight was rescheduled from an early morning one (8.15 a.m.) to 10 o’clock departure. It, eventually, took off at twelve o’clock,…Continue Reading “Travelling to Kashmir – Living like a local”

The ever insistent Sunny Deol, in one of the innerwear ads, gave a very philosophical advice – apna luck pehen ke chalo. I understood the true meaning of those deep words on our trip to Chail. Having never travelled in peak season before, I never knew how it feels not to find a place to stay, how to be talked down to arrogantly by hotel owners who suddenly behave like fathers of an eligible, successful NRI. Good reason apart, the primary reason why I have…Continue Reading “East View Homestay – the best place to stay in Chail”